Travels through France and Italy

Tobias Smollett

With an introduction by Thomas Seccombe


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Table of Contents


  1. Boulogne Sur Mer, June 23, 1763.
  2. Boulogne Sur Mer, July 15, 1763.
  3. Boulogne, August 15, 1763.
  4. Boulogne, September 1, 1763.
  5. Boulogne, September 12, 1763.
  6. Paris, October 12, 1763.
  7. To Mrs. M—. Paris, October, 12, 1763.
  8. To Mr. M—
  9. Montpellier, November 5, 1763.
  10. Montpellier, November 10, 1763.
  11. Montpellier, November 12.
  12. Nice, December 6, 1763.
  13. Nice, January 15, 1764.
  14. Nice, January 20, 1764.
  15. Nice, January 3, 1764.
  16. Nice, May 2, 1764.
  17. Nice, July 2, 1764.
  18. Nice, September 2, 1764.
  19. Nice, October 10, 1764.
  20. Nice, October 22, 1764.
  21. Nice, November 10, 1764.
  22. Nice, November 10, 1764.
  23. Nice, December 19, 1764.
  24. Nice, January 4, 1765.
  25. Nice, January 1, 1765.
  26. Nice, January 15, 1765.
  27. Nice, January 28, 1765.
  28. Nice, February 5, 1765.
  29. Nice, February 20, 1765.
  30. Nice, February 28, 1765.
  31. Nice, March 5, 1765
  32. Nice, March 10, 1765.
  33. Nice, March 30, 1765.
  34. Nice, April 2, 1765.
  35. Nice, March 20, 1765.
  36. Nice, March 23, 1766.
  37. Nice, April 2, 1765.
  38. To Dr. s — At Nice
  39. Aix En Provence, May 10, 1765.
  40. Boulogne, May 23, 1765.
  41. Boulogne, June 13, 1765.


  1. A Short List of Works, mainly on Travel in France and Italy during the Eighteenth Century, referred to in connection with the Introduction.
  2. Short Notes on one or two unfamiliar Words which Smollett helped to domesticate in England.
  3. Currency of Savoy in the time of Smollett.



By Thomas Seccombe


Many pens have been burnished this year of grace for the purpose of celebrating with befitting honour the second centenary of the birth of Henry Fielding; but it is more than doubtful if, when the right date occurs in March 1921, anything like the same alacrity will be shown to commemorate one who was for many years, and by such judges as Scott, Hazlitt, and Charles Dickens, considered Fielding’s complement and absolute co-equal (to say the least) in literary achievement. Smollett’s fame, indeed, seems to have fallen upon an unprosperous curve. The coarseness of his fortunate rival is condoned, while his is condemned without appeal. Smollett’s value is assessed without discrimination at that of his least worthy productions, and the historical value of his work as a prime modeller of all kinds of new literary material is overlooked. Consider for a moment as not wholly unworthy of attention his mere versatility as a man of letters. Apart from Roderick Random and its successors, which gave him a European fame, he wrote a standard history, and a standard version of Don Quixote (both of which held their ground against all comers for over a century). He created both satirical and romantic types, he wrote two fine-spirited lyrics, and launched the best Review and most popular magazine of his day. He was the centre of a literary group, the founder to some extent of a school of professional writers, of which strange and novel class, after the “Great Cham of Literature,” as he called Dr. Johnson, he affords one of the first satisfactory specimens upon a fairly large scale. He is, indeed, a more satisfactory, because a more independent, example of the new species than the Great Cham himself. The late Professor Beljame has shown us how the milieu was created in which, with no subvention, whether from a patron, a theatre, a political paymaster, a prosperous newspaper or a fashionable subscription-list, an independent writer of the mid-eighteenth century, provided that he was competent, could begin to extort something more than a bare subsistence from the reluctant coffers of the London booksellers. For the purpose of such a demonstration no better illustration could possibly be found, I think, than the career of Dr. Tobias Smollett. And yet, curiously enough, in the collection of critical monographs so well known under the generic title of “English Men of Letters”— a series, by the way, which includes Nathaniel Hawthorne and Maria Edgeworth — no room or place has hitherto been found for Smollett any more than for Ben Jonson, both of them, surely, considerable Men of Letters in the very strictest and most representative sense of the term. Both Jonson and Smollett were to an unusual extent centres of the literary life of their time; and if the great Ben had his tribe of imitators and adulators, Dr. Toby also had his clan of sub-authors, delineated for us by a master hand in the pages of Humphry Clinker. To make Fielding the centre-piece of a group reflecting the literature of his day would be an artistic impossibility. It would be perfectly easy in the case of Smollett, who was descried by critics from afar as a Colossus bestriding the summit of the contemporary Parnassus.

Whatever there may be of truth in these observations upon the eclipse of a once magical name applies with double force to that one of all Smollett’s books which has sunk farthest in popular disesteem. Modern editors have gone to the length of excommunicating Smollett’s Travels altogether from the fellowship of his Collective Works. Critic has followed critic in denouncing the book as that of a “splenetic” invalid. And yet it is a book for which all English readers have cause to be grateful, not only as a document on Smollett and his times, not only as being in a sense the raison d’etre of the Sentimental Journey, and the precursor in a very special sense of Humphry Clinker, but also as being intrinsically an uncommonly readable book, and even, I venture to assert, in many respects one of Smollett’s best. Portions of the work exhibit literary quality of a high order: as a whole it represents a valuable because a rather uncommon view, and as a literary record of travel it is distinguished by a very exceptional veracity.

I am not prepared to define the differentia of a really first-rate book of travel. Sympathy is important; but not indispensable, or Smollett would be ruled out of court at once. Scientific knowledge, keen observation, or intuitive power of discrimination go far. To enlist our curiosity or enthusiasm or to excite our wonder are even stronger recommendations. Charm of personal manner, power of will, anthropological interest, self-effacement in view of some great objects — all these qualities have made travel-books live. One knows pretty nearly the books that one is prepared to re-read in this department of literature. Marco Polo, Herodotus, a few sections in Hakluyt, Dampier and Defoe, the early travellers in Palestine, Commodore Byron’s Travels, Curzon and Lane, Doughty’s Arabia Deserta, Mungo Park, Dubois, Livingstone’s Missionary Travels, something of Borrow (fact or fable), Hudson and Cunninghame Graham, Bent, Bates and Wallace, The Crossing of Greenland, Eothen, the meanderings of Modestine, The Path to Rome, and all, or almost all, of E. F. Knight. I have run through most of them at one breath, and the sum total would not bend a moderately stout bookshelf. How many high-sounding works on the other hand, are already worse than dead, or, should we say, better dead? The case of Smollett’s Travels, there is good reason to hope, is only one of suspended animation.

To come to surer ground, it is a fact worth noting that each of the four great prose masters of the third quarter of the eighteenth century tried his hand at a personal record of travel. Fielding came first in 1754 with his Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon. Twelve years later was published Smollett’s Travels through France and Italy. Then, in 1768, Sterne’s Sentimental Journey; followed in 1775 by Johnson’s Journey to the Hebrides. Each of the four — in which beneath the apparel of the man of letters we can discern respectively the characteristics of police magistrate, surgeon, confessor, and moralist — enjoyed a fair amount of popularity in its day. Fielding’s Journal had perhaps the least immediate success of the four. Sterne’s Journey unquestionably had the most. The tenant of “Shandy Hall,” as was customary in the first heyday of “Anglomania,” went to Paris to ratify his successes, and the resounding triumph of his naughtiness there, by a reflex action, secured the vote of London. Posterity has fully sanctioned this particular “judicium Paridis.” The Sentimental Journey is a book sui generis, and in the reliable kind of popularity, which takes concrete form in successive reprints, it has far eclipsed its eighteenth-century rivals. The fine literary aroma which pervades every line of this small masterpiece is not the predominant characteristic of the Great Cham’s Journey. Nevertheless, and in spite of the malignity of the “Ossianite” press, it fully justified the assumption of the booksellers that it would prove a “sound” book. It is full of sensible observations, and is written in Johnson’s most scholarly, balanced, and dignified style. Few can read it without a sense of being repaid, if only by the portentous sentence in which the author celebrates his arrival at the shores of Loch Ness, where he reposes upon “a bank such as a writer of romance might have delighted to feign,” and reflects that a “uniformity of barrenness can afford very little amusement to the traveller; that it is easy to sit at home and conceive rocks and heath and waterfalls; and that these journeys are useless labours, which neither impregnate the imagination nor enlarge the understanding.” Fielding’s contribution to geography has far less solidity and importance, but it discovers to not a few readers an unfeigned charm that is not to be found in the pages of either Sterne or Johnson. A thoughtless fragment suffices to show the writer in his true colours as one of the most delightful fellows in our literature, and to convey just unmistakably to all good men and true the rare and priceless sense of human fellowship.

There remain the Travels through France and Italy, by T. Smollett, M.D., and though these may not exhibit the marmoreal glamour of Johnson, or the intimate fascination of Fielding, or the essential literary quality which permeates the subtle dialogue and artful vignette of Sterne, yet I shall endeavour to show, not without some hope of success among the fair-minded, that the Travels before us are fully deserving of a place, and that not the least significant, in the quartette.

The temporary eclipse of their fame I attribute, first to the studious depreciation of Sterne and Walpole, and secondly to a refinement of snobbishness on the part of the travelling crowd, who have an uneasy consciousness that to listen to common sense, such as Smollett’s, in matters of connoisseurship, is tantamount to confessing oneself a Galilean of the outermost court. In this connection, too, the itinerant divine gave the travelling doctor a very nasty fall. Meeting the latter at Turin, just as Smollett was about to turn his face homewards, in March 1765, Sterne wrote of him, in the famous Journey of 1768, thus:

“The learned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on, but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he passed by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote an account of them, but ’twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings.” “I met Smelfungus,” he wrote later on, “in the grand portico of the Pantheon — he was just coming out of it. ‘’Tis nothing but a huge cockpit,’ said he —‘I wish you had said nothing worse of the Venus de Medici,’ replied I— for in passing through Florence, I had heard he had fallen foul upon the goddess, and used her worse than a common strumpet, without the least provocation in nature. I popp’d upon Smelfungus again at Turin, in his return home, and a sad tale of sorrowful adventures had he to tell, ‘wherein he spoke of moving accidents by flood and field, and of the cannibals which each other eat, the Anthropophagi’; he had been flayed alive, and bedevil’d, and used worse than St. Bartholomew, at every stage he had come at. ‘I’ll tell it,’ cried Smelfungus, ‘to the world.’ ‘You had better tell it,’ said I, ‘to your physician.’”

To counteract the ill effects of “spleen and jaundice” and exhibit the spirit of genteel humour and universal benevolence in which a man of sensibility encountered the discomforts of the road, the incorrigible parson Laurence brought out his own Sentimental Journey. Another effect of Smollett’s book was to whet his own appetite for recording the adventures of the open road. So that but for Travels through France and Italy we might have had neither a Sentimental Journey nor a Humphry Clinker. If all the admirers of these two books would but bestir themselves and look into the matter, I am sure that Sterne’s only too clever assault would be relegated to its proper place and assessed at its right value as a mere boutade. The borrowed contempt of Horace Walpole and the coterie of superficial dilettanti, from which Smollett’s book has somehow never wholly recovered, could then easily be outflanked and the Travels might well be in reasonable expectation of coming by their own again.


In the meantime let us look a little more closely into the special and somewhat exceptional conditions under which the Travel Letters of Smollett were produced. Smollett, as we have seen, was one of the first professional men of all work in letters upon a considerable scale who subsisted entirely upon the earnings of his own pen. He had no extraneous means of support. He had neither patron, pension, property, nor endowment, inherited or acquired. Yet he took upon himself the burden of a large establishment, he spent money freely, and he prided himself upon the fact that he, Tobias Smollett, who came up to London without a stiver in his pocket, was in ten years’ time in a position to enact the part of patron upon a considerable scale to the crowd of inferior denizens of Grub Street. Like most people whose social ambitions are in advance of their time, Smollett suffered considerably on account of these novel aspirations of his. In the present day he would have had his motor car and his house on Hindhead, a seat in Parliament and a brief from the Nation to boot as a Member for Humanity. Voltaire was the only figure in the eighteenth century even to approach such a flattering position, and he was for many years a refugee from his own land. Smollett was energetic and ambitious enough to start in rather a grand way, with a large house, a carriage, menservants, and the rest. His wife was a fine lady, a “Creole” beauty who had a small dot of her own; but, on the other hand, her income was very precarious, and she herself somewhat of a silly and an incapable in the eyes of Smollett’s old Scotch friends. But to maintain such a position — to keep the bailiffs from the door from year’s end to year’s end — was a truly Herculean task in days when a newspaper “rate” of remuneration or a well-wearing copyright did not so much as exist, and when Reviews sweated their writers at the rate of a guinea per sheet of thirty-two pages. Smollett was continually having recourse to loans. He produced the eight (or six or seven) hundred a year he required by sheer hard writing, turning out his History of England, his Voltaire, and his Universal History by means of long spells of almost incessant labour at ruinous cost to his health. On the top of all this cruel compiling he undertook to run a Review (The Critical), a magazine (The British), and a weekly political organ (The Briton). A charge of defamation for a paragraph in the nature of what would now be considered a very mild and pertinent piece of public criticism against a faineant admiral led to imprisonment in the King’s Bench Prison, plus a fine of £100. Then came a quarrel with an old friend, Wilkes — not the least vexatious result of that forlorn championship of Bute’s government in The Briton. And finally, in part, obviously, as a consequence of all this nervous breakdown, a succession of severe catarrhs, premonitory in his case of consumption, the serious illness of the wife he adored, and the death of his darling, the “little Boss” of former years, now on the verge of womanhood. To a man of his extraordinarily strong affections such a series of ills was too overwhelming. He resolved to break up his establishment at Chelsea, and to seek a remedy in flight from present evils to a foreign residence. Dickens went to hibernate on the Riviera upon a somewhat similar pretext, though fortunately without the same cause, as far as his health was concerned.

Now note another very characteristic feature of these Travel Letters. Smollett went abroad not for pleasure, but virtually of necessity. Not only were circumstances at home proving rather too much for him, but also, like Stevenson, he was specifically “ordered South” by his physicians, and he went with the deliberate intention of making as much money as possible out of his Travel papers. In his case he wrote long letters on the spot to his medical and other friends at home. When he got back in the summer of 1765 one of his first cares was to put the Letters together. It had always been his intention carefully to revise them for the press. But when he got back to London he found so many other tasks awaiting him that were so far more pressing, that this part of his purpose was but very imperfectly carried out. The Letters appeared pretty much as he wrote them. Their social and documentary value is thereby considerably enhanced, for they were nearly all written close down to the facts. The original intention had been to go to Montpellier, which was still, I suppose, the most popular health resort in Southern Europe. The peace of 1763 opened the way. And this brings us to another feature of distinction in regard to Smollett’s Travels. Typical Briton, perfervid Protestant of Britain’s most Protestant period, and insular enrage though he doubtless was, Smollett had knocked about the world a good deal and had also seen something of the continent of Europe. He was not prepared to see everything couleur de rose now. His was quite unlike the frame of mind of the ordinary holiday-seeker, who, partly from a voluntary optimism, and partly from the change of food and habit, the exhilaration caused by novel surroundings, and timidity at the unaccustomed sounds he hears in his ears, is determined to be pleased with everything. Very temperamental was Smollett, and his frame of mind at the time was that of one determined to be pleased with nothing. We know little enough about Smollett intime. Only the other day I learned that the majority of so-called Smollett portraits are not presentments of the novelist at all, but ingeniously altered plates of George Washington. An interesting confirmation of this is to be found in the recently published Letters of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe to Robert Chambers. “Smollett wore black cloaths — a tall man — and extreamly handsome. No picture of him is known to be extant — all that have been foisted on the public as such his relations disclaim — this I know from my aunt Mrs. Smollett, who was the wife of his nephew, and resided with him at Bath.” But one thing we do know, and in these same letters, if confirmation had been needed, we observe the statement repeated, namely, that Smollett was very peevish. A sardonic, satirical, and indeed decidedly gloomy mood or temper had become so habitual in him as to transform the man. Originally gay and debonnair, his native character had been so overlaid that when he first returned to Scotland in 1755 his own mother could not recognise him until he “gave over glooming” and put on his old bright smile. [A pleasant story of the Doctor’s mother is given in the same Letters to R. Chambers (1904). She is described as an ill-natured-looking woman with a high nose, but not a bad temper, and very fond of the cards. One evening an Edinburgh bailie (who was a tallow chandler) paid her a visit. “Come awa’, bailie,” said she, “and tak’ a trick at the cards.” “Troth madam, I hae nae siller!” “Then let us play for a pound of candles.”] His was certainly a nervous, irritable, and rather censorious temper. Like Mr. Brattle, in The Vicar of Bulhampton, he was thinking always of the evil things that had been done to him. With the pawky and philosophic Scots of his own day (Robertson, Hume, Adam Smith, and “Jupiter” Carlyle) he had little in common, but with the sour and mistrustful James Mill or the cross and querulous Carlyle of a later date he had, it seems to me, a good deal. What, however, we attribute in their case to bile or liver, a consecrated usage prescribes that we must, in the case of Smollett, accredit more particularly to the spleen. Whether dyspeptic or “splenetic,” this was not the sort of man to see things through a veil of pleasant self-generated illusion. He felt under no obligation whatever to regard the Grand Tour as a privilege of social distinction, or its discomforts as things to be discreetly ignored in relating his experience to the stay-at-home public. He was not the sort of man that the Tourist Agencies of today would select to frame their advertisements. As an advocatus diaboli on the subject of Travel he would have done well enough. And yet we must not infer that the magic of travel is altogether eliminated from his pages. This is by no means the case: witness his intense enthusiasm at Nimes, on sight of the Maison Carree or the Pont du Gard; the passage describing his entry into the Eternal City; [Ours “was the road by which so many heroes returned with conquest to their country, by which so many kings were led captive to Rome, and by which the ambassadors of so many kingdoms and States approached the seat of Empire, to deprecate the wrath, to sollicit the friendship, or sue for the protection of the Roman people.”] or the enviable account of the alfresco meals which the party discussed in their coach as described in Letter VIII.

As to whether Smollett and his party of five were exceptionally unfortunate in their road-faring experiences must be left an open question at the tribunal of public opinion. In cold blood, in one of his later letters, he summarised his Continental experience after this wise: inns, cold, damp, dark, dismal, dirty; landlords equally disobliging and rapacious; servants awkward, sluttish, and slothful; postillions lazy, lounging, greedy, and impertinent. With this last class of delinquents after much experience he was bound to admit the following dilemma:— If you chide them for lingering, they will contrive to delay you the longer. If you chastise them with sword, cane, cudgel, or horsewhip (he defines the correctives, you may perceive, but leaves the expletives to our imagination) they will either disappear entirely, and leave you without resource, or they will find means to take vengeance by overturning your carriage. The only course remaining would be to allow oneself to become the dupe of imposition by tipping the postillions an amount slightly in excess of the authorized gratification. He admits that in England once, between the Devizes and Bristol, he found this plan productive of the happiest results. It was unfortunate that, upon this occasion, the lack of means or slenderness of margin for incidental expenses should have debarred him from having recourse to a similar expedient. For threepence a post more, as Smollett himself avows, he would probably have performed the journey with much greater pleasure and satisfaction. But the situation is instructive. It reveals to us the disadvantage under which the novelist was continually labouring, that of appearing to travel as an English Milord, en grand seigneur, and yet having at every point to do it “on the cheap.” He avoided the common conveyance or diligence, and insisted on travelling post and in a berline; but he could not bring himself to exceed the five-sou pourboire for the postillions. He would have meat upon maigre days, yet objected to paying double for it. He held aloof from the thirty-sou table d’hote, and would have been content to pay three francs a head for a dinner a part, but his worst passions were roused when he was asked to pay not three, but four. Now Smollett himself was acutely conscious of the false position. He was by nature anything but a curmudgeon. On the contrary, he was, if I interpret him at all aright, a high-minded, open-hearted, generous type of man. Like a majority, perhaps, of the really open-handed he shared one trait with the closefisted and even with the very mean rich. He would rather give away a crown than be cheated of a farthing. Smollett himself had little of the traditional Scottish thriftiness about him, but the people among whom he was going — the Languedocians and Ligurians — were notorious for their nearness in money matters. The result of all this could hardly fail to exacerbate Smollett’s mood and to aggravate the testiness which was due primarily to the bitterness of his struggle with the world, and, secondarily, to the complaints which that struggle engendered. One capital consequence, however, and one which specially concerns us, was that we get this unrivalled picture of the seamy side of foreign travel — a side rarely presented with anything like Smollett’s skill to the student of the grand siecle of the Grand Tour. The rubs, the rods, the crosses of the road could, in fact, hardly be presented to us more graphically or magisterially than they are in some of these chapters. Like Prior, Fielding, Shenstone, and Dickens, Smollett was a connoisseur in inns and innkeepers. He knew good food and he knew good value, and he had a mighty keen eye for a rogue. There may, it is true, have been something in his manner which provoked them to exhibit their worst side to him. It is a common fate with angry men. The trials to which he was subjected were momentarily very severe, but, as we shall see in the event, they proved a highly salutary discipline to him.

To sum up, then, Smollett’s Travels were written hastily and vigorously by an expert man of letters. They were written ad vivum, as it were, not from worked-up notes or embellished recollections. They were written expressly for money down. They were written rather en noir than couleur de rose by an experienced, and, we might almost perhaps say, a disillusioned traveller, and not by a naif or a niais. The statement that they were to a certain extent the work of an invalid is, of course, true, and explains much. The majority of his correspondents were of the medical profession, all of them were members of a group with whom he was very intimate, and the letters were by his special direction to be passed round among them. [We do not know precisely who all these correspondents of Smollett were, but most of them were evidently doctors and among them, without a doubt, John Armstrong, William Hunter, George Macaulay, and above all John Moore, himself an authority on European travel, Governor on the Grand Tour of the Duke of Hamilton (Son of “the beautiful Duchess”), author of Zeluco, and father of the famous soldier. Smollett’s old chum, Dr. W. Smellie, died 5th March 1763.] In the circumstances (bearing in mind that it was his original intention to prune the letters considerably before publication) it was only natural that he should say a good deal about the state of his health. His letters would have been unsatisfying to these good people had he not referred frequently and at some length to his spirits and to his symptoms, an improvement in which was the primary object of his journey and his two years’ sojourn in the South. Readers who linger over the diary of Fielding’s dropsy and Mrs. Fielding’s toothache are inconsistent in denouncing the luxury of detail with which Smollett discusses the matter of his imposthume.

What I claim for the present work is that, in the first place, to any one interested in Smollett’s personality it supplies an unrivalled key. It is, moreover, the work of a scholar, an observer of human nature, and, by election, a satirist of no mean order. It gives us some characteristic social vignettes, some portraits of the road of an unsurpassed freshness and clearness. It contains some historical and geographical observations worthy of one of the shrewdest and most sagacious publicists of the day. It is interesting to the etymologist for the important share it has taken in naturalising useful foreign words into our speech. It includes (as we shall have occasion to observe) a respectable quantum of wisdom fit to become proverbial, and several passages of admirable literary quality. In point of date (1763-65) it is fortunate, for the writer just escaped being one of a crowd. On the whole, I maintain that it is more than equal in interest to the Journey to the Hebrides, and that it deserves a very considerable proportion of the praise that has hitherto been lavished too indiscriminately upon the Voyage to Lisbon. On the force of this claim the reader is invited to constitute himself judge after a fair perusal of the following pages. I shall attempt only to point the way to a satisfactory verdict, no longer in the spirit of an advocate, but by means of a few illustrations and, more occasionally, amplifications of what Smollett has to tell us.


As was the case with Fielding many years earlier, Smollett was almost broken down with sedentary toil, when early in June 1763 with his wife, two young ladies (“the two girls”) to whom she acted as chaperon, and a faithful servant of twelve years’ standing, who in the spirit of a Scots retainer of the olden time refused to leave his master (a good testimonial this, by the way, to a temper usually accredited with such a splenetic sourness), he crossed the straits of Dover to see what a change of climate and surroundings could do for him.

On other grounds than those of health he was glad to shake the dust of Britain from his feet. He speaks himself of being traduced by malice, persecuted by faction, abandoned by false patrons, complaints which will remind the reader, perhaps, of George Borrow’s “Jeremiad,” to the effect that he had been beslavered by the venomous foam of every sycophantic lacquey and unscrupulous renegade in the three kingdoms. But Smollett’s griefs were more serious than what an unkind reviewer could inflict. He had been fined and imprisoned for defamation. He had been grossly caricatured as a creature of Bute, the North British favourite of George III., whose tenure of the premiership occasioned riots and almost excited a revolution in the metropolis. Yet after incurring all this unpopularity at a time when the populace of London was more inflamed against Scotsmen than it has ever been before or since, and having laboured severely at a paper in the ministerial interest and thereby aroused the enmity of his old friend John Wilkes, Smollett had been unceremoniously thrown over by his own chief, Lord Bute, on the ground that his paper did more to invite attack than to repel it. Lastly, he and his wife had suffered a cruel bereavement in the loss of their only child, and it was partly to supply a change from the scene of this abiding sorrow, that the present journey was undertaken.

The first stages and incidents of the expedition were not exactly propitious. The Dover Road was a byword for its charges; the Via Alba might have been paved with the silver wrung from reluctant and indignant passengers. Smollett characterized the chambers as cold and comfortless, the beds as “paultry” (with “frowsy,” a favourite word), the cookery as execrable, wine poison, attendance bad, publicans insolent, and bills extortion, concluding with the grand climax that there was not a drop of tolerable malt liquor to be had from London to Dover. Smollett finds a good deal to be said for the designation of “a den of thieves” as applied to that famous port (where, as a German lady of much later date once complained, they “boot ze Bible in ze bedroom, but ze devil in ze bill”, and he grizzles lamentably over the seven guineas, apart from extras, which he had to pay for transport in a Folkestone cutter to Boulogne Mouth.

Having once arrived at Boulogne, Smollett settled down regularly to his work as descriptive reporter, and the letters that he wrote to his friendly circle at home fall naturally into four groups. The first Letters from II. to V. describe with Hogarthian point, prejudice and pungency, the town and people of Boulogne. The second group, Letters VI.-XII., deal with the journey from Boulogne to Nice by way of Paris, Lyon, Nimes, and Montpellier. The third group, Letters XIII. — XXIV., is devoted to a more detailed and particular delineation of Nice and the Nicois. The fourth, Letters XXV.-XLI., describes the Italian expedition and the return journey to Boulogne en route for England, where the party arrive safe home in July 1765.

Smollett’s account of Boulogne is excellent reading, it forms an apt introduction to the narrative of his journey, it familiarises us with the milieu, and reveals to us in Smollett a man of experience who is both resolute and capable of getting below the surface of things. An English possession for a short period in the reign of the Great Harry, Boulogne has rarely been less in touch with England than it was at the time of Smollett’s visit. Even then, however, there were three small colonies, respectively, of English nuns, English Jesuits, and English Jacobites. Apart from these and the English girls in French seminaries it was estimated ten years after Smollett’s sojourn there that there were twenty-four English families in residence. The locality has of course always been a haunting place for the wandering tribes of English. Many well-known men have lived or died here both native and English. Adam Smith must have been there very soon after Smollett. So must Dr. John Moore and Charles Churchill, one of the enemies provoked by the Briton, who went to Boulogne to meet his friend Wilkes and died there in 1764. Philip Thicknesse the traveller and friend of Gainsborough died there in 1770. After long search for a place to end his days in Thomas Campbell bought a house in Boulogne and died there, a few months later, in 1844. The house is still to be seen, Rue St. Jean, within the old walls; it has undergone no change, and in 1900 a marble tablet was put up to record the fact that Campbell lived and died there. The other founder of the University of London, Brougham, by a singular coincidence was also closely associated with Boulogne. [Among the occupants of the English cemetery will be found the names of Sir Harris Nicolas, Basil Montagu, Smithson Pennant, Sir William Ouseley, Sir William Hamilton, and Sir C. M. Carmichael. And among other literary celebrities connected with the place, apart from Dickens (who gave his impressions of the place in Household Words, November 1854) we should include in a brief list, Charles Lever, Horace Smith, Wilkie Collins, Mrs. Henry Wood, Professor York Powell, the Marquis of Steyne (Lord Seymour), Mrs. Jordan, Clark Russell, and Sir Conan Doyle. There are also memorable associations with Lola Montes, Heinrich Heine, Becky Sharpe, and above all Colonel Newcome. My first care in the place was to discover the rampart where the Colonel used to parade with little Clive. Among the native luminaries are Daunou, Duchenne de Boulogne, one of the foremost physiologists of the last century, an immediate predecessor of Charcot in knowledge of the nervous system, Aug. Mariette, the Egyptologist, Aug. Angellier, the biographer of Burns, Sainte-Beuve, Prof. Morel, and “credibly,” Godfrey de Bouillon, of whom Charles Lamb wrote “poor old Godfrey, he must be getting very old now.” The great Lesage died here in 1747.] The antiquaries still dispute about Gessoriacum, Godfrey de Bouillon, and Charlemagne’s Tour. Smollett is only fair in justifying for the town, the older portions of which have a strong medieval suggestion, a standard of comparison slightly more distinguished than Wapping. He never lets us forget that he is a scholar of antiquity, a man of education and a speculative philosopher. Hence his references to Celsus and Hippocrates and his ingenious etymologies of wheatear and samphire, more ingenious in the second case than sound. Smollett’s field of observation had been wide and his fund of exact information was unusually large. At Edinburgh he had studied medicine under Monro and John Gordon, in company with such able and distinguished men as William Hunter, Cullen, Pitcairn, Gregory, and Armstrong — and the two last mentioned were among his present correspondents. As naval surgeon at Carthagena he had undergone experience such as few literary men can claim, and subsequently as compiler, reviewer, party journalist, historian, translator, statistician, and lexicographer, he had gained an amount of miscellaneous information such as falls to the lot of very few minds of his order of intelligence. He had recently directed the compilation of a large Universal Geography or Gazetteer, the Carton or Vivien de St. Martin if those days — hence his glib references to the manners and customs of Laplanders, Caffres, Kamskatchans, and other recondite types of breeding. His imaginative faculty was under the control of an exceptionally strong and retentive memory. One may venture to say, indeed, without danger of exaggeration that his testimonials as regards habitual accuracy of statement have seldom been exceeded. Despite the doctor’s unflattering portraits of Frenchmen, M. Babeau admits that his book is one written by an observer of facts, and a man whose statements, whenever they can be tested, are for the most part “singularly exact.” Mr. W. J. Prouse, whose knowledge of the Riviera district is perhaps almost unequalled out of France, makes this very remarkable statement. “After reading all that has been written by very clever people about Nice in modern times, one would probably find that for exact precision of statement, Smollett was still the most trustworthy guide,” a view which is strikingly borne out by Mr. E. Schuyler, who further points out Smollett’s shrewd foresight in regard to the possibilities of the Cornice road, and of Cannes and San Remo as sanatoria.” Frankly there is nothing to be seen which he does not recognise.” And even higher testimonies have been paid to Smollett’s topographical accuracy by recent historians of Nice and its neighbourhood.

The value which Smollett put upon accuracy in the smallest matters of detail is evinced by the corrections which he made in the margin of a copy of the 1766 edition of the Travels. These corrections, which are all in Smollett’s own and unmistakably neat handwriting, may be divided into four categories. In the first place come a number of verbal emendations. Phrases are turned, inverted and improved by the skilful “twist of the pen” which becomes a second nature to the trained corrector of proofs; there are moreover a few topographical corrigenda, suggested by an improved knowledge of the localities, mostly in the neighbourhood of Pisa and Leghorn, where there is no doubt that these corrections were made upon the occasion of Smollett’s second visit to Italy in 1770. [Some not unimportant errata were overlooked. Thus Smollett’s representation of the droit d’aubaine as a monstrous and intolerable grievance is of course an exaggeration. (See Sentimental Journey; J. Hill Burton, The Scot Abroad, 1881, p. 135; and Luchaire, Instit. de France.) On his homeward journey he indicates that he travelled from Beaune to Chalons and so by way of Auxerre to Dijon. The right order is Chalons, Beaune, Dijon, Auxerre. As further examples of the zeal with which Smollett regarded exactitude in the record of facts we have his diurnal register of weather during his stay at Nice and the picture of him scrupulously measuring the ruins at Cimiez with packthread.] In the second place come a number of English renderings of the citations from Latin, French, and Italian authors. Most of these from the Latin are examples of Smollett’s own skill in English verse making. Thirdly come one or two significant admissions of overboldness in matters of criticism, as where he retracts his censure of Raphael’s Parnassus in Letter XXXIII. Fourthly, and these are of the greatest importance, come some very interesting additional notes upon the buildings of Pisa, upon Sir John Hawkwood’s tomb at Florence, and upon the congenial though recondite subject of antique Roman hygiene. [Cf. the Dinner in the manner of the Ancients in Peregrine Pickle, (xliv.) and Letters IX. to XL in Humphry Clinker.]

After Smollett’s death his books were for the most part sold for the benefit of his widow. No use was made of his corrigenda. For twenty years or so the Travels were esteemed and referred to, but as time went on, owing to the sneers of the fine gentlemen of letters, such as Walpole and Sterne, they were by degrees disparaged and fell more or less into neglect. They were reprinted, it is true, either in collective editions of Smollett or in various collections of travels; [For instance in Baldwin’s edition of 1778; in the 17th vol. of Mayor’s Collection of Voyages and Travels, published by Richard Phillips in twenty-eight vols., 1809; and in an abbreviated form in John Hamilton Moore’s New and Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels (folio, Vol. 11. 938-970).] but they were not edited with any care, and as is inevitable in such cases errors crept in, blunders were repeated, and the text slightly but gradually deteriorated. In the last century Smollett’s own copy of the Travels bearing the manuscript corrections that he had made in 1770, was discovered in the possession of the Telfer family and eventually came into the British Museum. The second volume, which affords admirable specimens of Smollett’s neatly written marginalia, has been exhibited in a show-ease in the King’s Library.

The corrections that Smollett purposed to make in the Travels are now for the second time embodied in a printed edition of the text. At the same time the text has been collated with the original edition of 1766, and the whole has been carefully revised. The old spelling has been, as far as possible, restored. Smollett was punctilious in such matters, and what with his histories, his translations, his periodicals, and his other compilations, he probably revised more proof-matter for press than any other writer of his time. His practice as regards orthography is, therefore, of some interest as representing what was in all probability deemed to be the most enlightened convention of the day.

To return now to the Doctor’s immediate contemplation of Boulogne, a city described in the Itineraries as containing rien de remarquable. The story of the Capuchin [On page 21. A Capuchin of the same stripe is in Pickle, ch. Ill. sq.] is very racy of Smollett, while the vignette of the shepherd at the beginning of Letter V. affords a first-rate illustration of his terseness. Appreciate the keen and minute observation concentrated into the pages that follow, [Especially on p. 34 to p. 40.] commencing with the shrewd and economic remarks upon smuggling, and ending with the lively description of a Boulonnais banquet, very amusing, very French, very life-like, and very Smollettian. In Letter V. the Doctor again is very much himself. A little provocation and he bristles and stabs all round. He mounts the hygienic horse and proceeds from the lack of implements of cleanliness to the lack of common decency, and “high flavoured instances, at which even a native of Edinburgh would stop his nose.” [This recalls Johnson’s first walk up the High Street, Edinburgh, on Bozzy’s arm. “It was a dusky night: I could not prevent his being assailed by the evening effluvia of Edinburgh. . . . As we marched along he grumbled in my ear, ‘I smell you in the dark!’”] And then lest the southrons should escape we have a reference to the “beastly habit of drinking from a tankard in which perhaps a dozen filthy mouths have slabbered as is the custom in England.” With all his coarsenesses this blunt Scot was a pioneer and fugleman of the niceties. Between times most nations are gibbetted in this slashing epistle. The ingenious boasting of the French is well hit off in the observation of the chevalier that the English doubtless drank every day to the health of the Marquise de Pompadour. The implication reminded Smollett of a narrow escape from a duello (an institution he reprobates with the utmost trenchancy in this book) at Ghent in 1749 with a Frenchman who affirmed that Marlborough’s battles were purposely lost by the French generals in order to mortify Mme. de Maintenon. Two incidents of some importance to Smollett occurred during the three months’ sojourn at Boulogne. Through the intervention of the English Ambassador at Paris (the Earl of Hertford) he got back his books, which had been impounded by the Customs as likely to contain matter prejudicial to the state or religion of France, and had them sent south by shipboard to Bordeaux. Secondly, he encountered General Paterson, a friendly Scot in the Sardinian service, who confirmed what an English physician had told Smollett to the effect that the climate of Nice was infinitely preferable to that of Montpellier “with respect to disorders of the breast.” Smollett now hires a berline and four horses for fourteen louis, and sets out with rather a heavy heart for Paris. It is problematic, he assures his good friend Dr. Moore, whether he will ever return. “My health is very precarious.”


The rapid journey to Paris by way of Montreuil, Amiens, and Clermont, about one hundred and fifty-six miles from Boulogne, the last thirty-six over a paved road, was favourable to superficial observation and the normal corollary of epigram. Smollett was much impressed by the mortifying indifference of the French innkeepers to their clients. “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.” [In regard to two exceptional instances of politeness on the part of innkeepers, Smollett attributes one case to dementia, the other, at Lerici, to mental shock, caused by a recent earthquake.] Idleness and dissipation confront the traveller, not such a good judge, perhaps, as was Arthur Young four-and-twenty years later. “Every object seems to have shrunk in its dimensions since I was last in Paris.” Smollett was an older man by fifteen years since he visited the French capital in the first flush of his success as an author. The dirt and gloom of French apartments, even at Versailles, offend his English standard of comfort. “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, entirely destitute of wit or repartee.” While amusing himself with the sights of Paris, Smollett drew up that caustic delineation of the French character which as a study in calculated depreciation has rarely been surpassed. He conceives the Frenchman entirely as a petit-maitre, and his view, though far removed from Chesterfield’s, is not incompatible with that of many of his cleverest contemporaries, including Sterne. He conceives of the typical Frenchman as regulating his life in accordance with the claims of impertinent curiosity and foppery, gallantry and gluttony. Thus:

“If a Frenchman is capable of real friendship, it must certainly be the most disagreeable present he can possibly make to a man of a true English character. You know, madam, we are naturally taciturn, soon tired of impertinence, and much subject to fits of disgust. Your French friend intrudes upon you at all hours; he stuns you with his loquacity; he teases you with impertinent questions about your domestic and private affairs; he attempts to meddle in all your concerns, and forces his advice upon you with the most unwearied importunity; he asks the price of everything you wear, and, so sure as you tell him, undervalues it without hesitation; he affirms it is in a bad taste, ill contrived, ill made; that you have been imposed upon both with respect to the fashion and the price; that the marquis of this, or the countess of that, has one that is perfectly elegant, quite in the bon ton, and yet it cost her little more than you gave for a thing that nobody would wear.

“If a Frenchman is admitted into your family, and distinguished by repeated marks of your friendship and regard, the first return he makes for your civilities is to make love to your wife, if she is handsome; if not, to your sister, or daughter, or niece. If he suffers a repulse from your wife, or attempts in vain to debauch your sister, or your daughter, or your niece, he will, rather than not play the traitor with his gallantry, make his addresses to your grandmother; and ten to one but in one shape or another he will find means to ruin the peace of a family in which he has been so kindly entertained. What he cannot accomplish by dint of compliment and personal attendance, he will endeavour to effect by reinforcing these with billets-doux, songs, and verses, of which he always makes a provision for such purposes. If he is detected in these efforts of treachery, and reproached with his ingratitude, he impudently declares that what he had done was no more than simple gallantry, considered in France as an indispensable duty on every man who pretended to good breeding. Nay, he will even affirm that his endeavours to corrupt your wife, or deflower your daughter, were the most genuine proofs he could give of his particular regard for your family.

“If there were five hundred dishes at table, a Frenchman will eat of all of them, and then complain he has no appetite — this I have several times remarked. A friend of mine gained a considerable wager upon an experiment of this kind; the petit-maitre ate of fourteen different plates, besides the dessert, then disparaged the cook, declaring he was no better than a marmiton, or turnspit.”

The gross unfairness, no less than the consummate cleverness, of this caricature compels us to remember that this was written in the most insular period of our manners, and during a brief lull in a century of almost incessant mutual hostility between the two nations. Aristocrats like Walpole, Gibbon, and Chesterfield could regard France from a cosmopolitan point of view, as leading the comite of nations. But to sturdy and true-born patriots, such as Hogarth and Smollett, reciprocal politeness appeared as grotesque as an exchange of amenities would be between a cormorant and an ape. Consequently, it was no doubt with a sense of positive relief to his feelings that Smollett could bring himself to sum up the whole matter thus. “A Frenchman lays out his whole revenue upon taudry suits of cloaths, or in furnishing a magnificent repas of fifty or a hundred dishes, one-half of which are not eatable or intended to be eaten. His wardrobe goes to the fripier, his dishes to the dogs, and himself to the devil.”

These trenchant passages were written partly, it may be imagined, to suit the English taste of the day. In that object they must have succeeded, for they were frequently transcribed into contemporary periodicals. In extenuation of Smollett’s honesty of purpose, however, it may be urged that he was always a thoroughgoing patriot, [Witness his violently anti-French play, the Reprisal of 1757.] and that, coming from a Calvinistic country where a measure of Tartufism was a necessary condition of respectability, he reproduces the common English error of ignoring how apt a Frenchman is to conceal a number of his best qualities. Two other considerations deserve attention. The race-portrait was in Smollett’s day at the very height of its disreputable reign. Secondly, we must remember how very profoundly French character has been modified since 1763, and more especially in consequence of the cataclysms of 1789 and 1870.

Smollett’s vis comica is conspicuous in the account of the coiffure of the period and of the superstitious reverence which a Frenchman of that day paid to his hair. In tracing the origin of this superstition he exhibits casually his historical learning. The crine profuso and barba demissa of the reges crinitos, as the Merovingians were called, are often referred to by ancient chroniclers. Long hair was identified with right of succession, as a mark of royal race, and the maintenance of ancient tradition. A tondu signified a slave, and even under the Carolingians to shave a prince meant to affirm his exclusion from the succession.


A general improvement in English roads, roadside inns, and methods of conveyance commenced about 1715. The continental roads lagged behind, until when Arthur Young wrote in 1788-89 they had got badly into arrears. The pace of locomotion between Rome and England changed very little in effect from the days of Julius Caesar to those of George III. It has been said with point that Trajan and Sir Robert Peel, travelling both at their utmost speed achieved the distance between Rome and London in an almost precisely similar space of time. Smollett decided to travel post between Paris and Lyons, and he found that the journey lasted full five days and cost upwards of thirty guineas. [One of the earliest printed road books in existence gives the posts between Paris and Lyons. This tiny duodecimo, dated 1500, and more than worth its weight in gold has just been acquired by the British Museum. On the old Roman routes, see Arnold’s Lectures on Modern History, 1842.] Of roads there was a choice between two. The shorter route by Nevers and Moulins amounted to just about three hundred English miles. The longer route by Auxerre and Dijon, which Smollett preferred extended to three hundred and thirty miles. The two roads diverged after passing Fontainebleau, the shorter by Nemours and the longer by Moret. The first road was the smoother, but apart from the chance of seeing the Vendange the route de Burgoyne was far the more picturesque. Smollett’s portraiture of the peasantry in the less cultivated regions prepares the mind for Young’s famous description of those “gaunt emblems of famine.” In Burgundy the Doctor says, “I saw a peasant ploughing the ground with a jackass, a lean cow, and a he-goat yoked together.” His vignette of the fantastic petit-maitre at Sens, and his own abominable rudeness, is worthy of the master hand that drew the poor debtor Jackson in the Marshalsea in Roderick Random.

His frank avowal of ill temper at the time deprives our entertainment of the unamiable tinge of which it would otherwise have partaken. “The truth is, I was that day more than usually peevish, from the bad weather as well as from the dread of a fit of asthma, with which I was threatened. And I daresay my appearance seemed as uncouth to him as his travelling dress appeared to me. I had a grey, mourning frock under a wide greatcoat, a bob-wig without powder, a very large laced hat, and a meagre, wrinkled, discontented countenance.”

From Lyons the traveller secured a return berline going back to Avignon with three mules and a voiturier named Joseph. Joseph, though he turned out to be an ex-criminal, proved himself the one Frenchman upon whose fidelity and good service Smollett could look back with unfeigned satisfaction. The sight of a skeleton dangling from a gibbet near Valence surprised from this droll knave an ejaculation and a story, from which it appeared only too evident that he had been first the comrade and then the executioner of one of the most notorious brigands of the century. The story as told by Smollett does not wholly agree with the best authenticated particulars. The Dick Turpin of eighteenth century France, Mandrin has engendered almost as many fables as his English congener. [See Maignien’s Bibliographie des Ecrits relatifs a Mandrin.] As far as I have been able to discover, the great freebooter was born at St. Etienne in May 1724. His father having been killed in a coining affair, Mandrin swore to revenge him. He deserted from the army accordingly, and got together a gang of contrebandiers, at the head of which his career in Savoy and Dauphine almost resembles that of one of the famous guerilla chieftains described in Hardman’s Peninsular Scenes and Sketches. Captured eventually, owing to the treachery of a comrade, he was put to death on the wheel at Valence on 26th May 1755. Five comrades were thrown into jail with him; and one of these obtained his pardon on condition of acting as Mandrin’s executioner. Alas, poor Joseph!

Three experiences Smollett had at this season which may well fall to the lot of road-farers in France right down to the present day. He was poisoned with garlic, surfeited with demi-roasted small birds, and astonished at the solid fare of the poorest looking travellers. The summer weather, romantic scenery, and occasional picnics, which Smollett would have liked to repeat every summer under the arches of the Pont du Gard — the monument of antiquity which of all, excepting only the Maison Carree at Nimes, most excited his enthusiastic admiration, all contributed to put him into an abnormally cheerful and convalescent humour . . . .

Smollett now bent his steps southwards to Montpellier. His baggage had gone in advance. He was uncertain as yet whether to make Montpellier or Nice his headquarters in the South. Like Toulouse and Tours, and Turin, Montpellier was for a period a Mecca to English health and pleasure seekers abroad. A city of no great antiquity, but celebrated from the twelfth century for its schools of Law and Physic, it had been incorporated definitely with France since 1382, and its name recurs in French history both as the home of famous men in great number and as, before and after the brief pre-eminence of La Rochelle, the rival of Nimes as capital of Protestantism in the South. Evelyn, Burnet, the two Youngs, Edward and Arthur, and Sterne have all left us an impression of the city. Prevented by snow from crossing the Mont Cenis, John Locke spent two winters there in the days of Charles II. (1675-77), and may have pondered a good many of the problems of Toleration on a soil under which the heated lava of religious strife was still unmistakeable. And Smollett must almost have jostled en route against the celebrated author of The Wealth of Nations, who set out with his pupil for Toulouse in February 1764. A letter to Hume speaks of the number of English in the neighbourhood just a month later. Lomenie de Brienne was then in residence as archbishop. In the following November, Adam Smith and his charge paid a visit to Montpellier to witness a pageant and memorial, as it was supposed, of a freedom that was gone for ever, the opening of the States of Languedoc. Antiquaries and philosophers went to moralise on the spectacle in the spirit in which Freeman went to Andorra, Byron to the site of Troy, or De Tocqueville to America. It was there that the great economist met Horne Tooke.

Smollett’s more practical and immediate object in making this pilgrimage was to interview the great lung specialist, known locally to his admiring compatriots as the Boerhaave of Montpellier, Dr. Fizes. The medical school of Montpellier was much in evidence during the third quarter of the eighteenth century, and for the history of its various branches there are extant numerous Memoires pour Servir, by Prunelle, Astruc, and others. Smollett was only just in time to consult the reigning oracle, for the “illustrious” Dr. Fizes died in the following year. He gives us a very unfavourable picture of this “great lanthorn of medicine,” who, notwithstanding his prodigious age, his stoop, and his wealth, could still scramble up two pairs for a fee of six livres. More than is the case with most medical patients, however, should we suspect Smollett of being unduly captious. The point as to how far his sketch of the French doctor and his diagnosis was a true one, and how far a mere caricature, due to ill health and prejudice, has always piqued my curiosity. But how to resolve a question involving so many problems not of ordinary therapeutic but of historical medicine! In this difficulty I bethought me most fortunately of consulting an authority probably without a rival in this special branch of medical history, Dr. Norman Moore, who with his accustomed generosity has given me the following most instructive diagnosis of the whole situation.

“I have read Smollett’s account of his illness as it appears in several passages in his travels and in the statement which he drew up for Professor ‘F.’ at Montpellier.

“Smollett speaks of his pulmonic disorder, his ‘asthmatical disorder,’ and uses other expressions which show that his lungs were affected. In his statement he mentions that he has cough, shortness of breath, wasting, a purulent expectoration, loss of appetite at times, loss of strength, fever, a rapid pulse, intervals of slight improvement and subsequent exacerbations.

“This shortness of breath, he says, has steadily increased. This group of symptoms makes it certain that he had tuberculosis of the lungs, in other words, was slowly progressing in consumption.

“His darting pains in his side were due to the pleurisy which always occurs in such an illness.

“His account shows also the absence of hopelessness which is a characteristic state of mind in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis.

“I do not think that the opinion of the Montpellier professor deserves Smollett’s condemnation. It seems to me both careful and sensible and contains all the knowledge of its time. Smollett, with an inconsistency not uncommon in patients who feel that they have a serious disease, would not go in person to the Professor, for he felt that from his appearance the Professor would be sure to tell him he had consumption. He half hoped for some other view of the written case in spite of its explicit statements, and when Professor F— wrote that the patient had tubercles in his lungs, this was displeasing to poor Smollett, who had hoped against hope to receive — some other opinion than the only possible one, viz., that he undoubtedly had a consumption certain to prove fatal.”

The cruel truth was not to be evaded. Smollett had tuberculosis, though not probably of the most virulent kind, as he managed to survive another seven years, and those for the most part years of unremitting labour. He probably gained much by substituting Nice for Montpellier as a place to winter in, for although the climate of Montpellier is clear and bright in the highest degree, the cold is both piercing and treacherous. Days are frequent during the winter in which one may stand warmly wrapped in the brilliant sun and feel the protection of a greatcoat no more than that of a piece of gauze against the icy and penetrating blast that comes from “tile roof of France.”

Unable to take the direct route by Arles as at present, the eastward-bound traveller from Montpellier in 1764 had to make a northerly detour. The first stone bridge up the Rhone was at Avignon, but there was a bridge of boats connecting Beaucaire with Tarascon. Thence, in no very placable mood, Smollett set out in mid-November by way of Orgon [Aix], Brignolles and le Muy, striking the Mediterranean at Frejus. En route he was inveigled into a controversy of unwonted bitterness with an innkeeper at le Muy. The scene is conjured up for us with an almost disconcerting actuality; no single detail of the author’s discomfiture is omitted. The episode is post-Flaubertian in its impersonal detachment, or, as Coleridge first said, “aloofness.” On crossing the Var, the sunny climate, the romantic outline of the Esterelles, the charms of the “neat village” of Cannes, and the first prospect of Nice began gradually and happily to effect a slight mitigation in our patient’s humour. Smollett was indubitably one of the pioneers of the Promenade des Anglais. Long before the days of “Dr. Antonio” or Lord Brougham, he described for his countrymen the almost incredible dolcezza of the sunlit coast from Antibes to Lerici. But how much better than the barren triumph of being the unconscious fugleman of so glittering a popularity must have been the sense of being one of the first that ever burst from our rude island upon that secluded little Piedmontese town, as it then was, of not above twelve thousand souls, with its wonderful situation, noble perspective and unparalleled climate. Well might our travel-tost doctor exclaim, “When I stand on the rampart and look around I can scarce help thinking myself enchanted.” It was truly a garden of Armida for a native of one of the dampest corners of North Britain.

“Forty or fifty years ago, before the great transformation took place on the French Riviera, when Nizza, Villafranca, and Mentone were antique Italian towns, and when it was one of the eccentricities of Lord Brougham, to like Cannes, all that sea-board was a delightful land. Only a hundred years ago Arthur Young had trouble to get an old woman and a donkey to carry his portmanteau from Cannes to Antibes. I can myself remember Cannes in 1853, a small fishing village with a quiet beach, and Mentone, a walled town with mediaeval gates and a castle, a few humble villas and the old Posta to give supper to any passing traveller. It was one of the loveliest bits of Italy, and the road from Nizza to Genoa was one long procession for four days of glorious scenery, historic remnants, Italian colour, and picturesque ports. From the Esterelles to San Remo this has all been ruined by the horde of northern barbarians who have made a sort of Trouville, Brighton, or Biarritz, with American hotels and Parisian boulevards on every headland and bay. First came the half underground railway, a long tunnel with lucid intervals, which destroyed the road by blocking up its finest views and making it practically useless. Then miles of unsightly caravanserais high walls, pompous villas, and Parisian grandes rues crushed out every trace of Italy, of history, and pictorial charm.” So writes Mr. Frederic Harrison of this delectable coast, [In the Daily Chronicle, 15th March 1898.] as it was, at a period within his own recollection — a period at which it is hardly fanciful to suppose men living who might just have remembered Smollett, as he was in his last days, when he returned to die on the Riviera di Levante in the autumn of 1771. Travel had then still some of the elements of romance. Rapidity has changed all that. The trouble is that although we can transport our bodies so much more rapidly than Smollett could, our understanding travels at the same old pace as before. And in the meantime railway and tourist agencies have made of modern travel a kind of mental postcard album, with grand hotels on one side, hotel menus on the other, and a faint aroma of continental trains haunting, between the leaves as it were. Our real knowledge is still limited to the country we have walked over, and we must not approach the country we would appreciate faster than a man may drive a horse or propel a bicycle; or we shall lose the all-important sense of artistic approach. Even to cross the channel by time-table is fatal to that romantic spirit (indispensable to the true magic of travel) which a slow adjustment of the mind to a new social atmosphere and a new historical environment alone can induce. Ruskin, the last exponent of the Grand Tour, said truly that the benefit of travel varies inversely in proportion to its speed. The cheap rapidity which has made our villes de plaisir and cotes d’azur what they are, has made unwieldy boroughs of suburban villages, and what the rail has done for a radius of a dozen miles, the motor is rapidly doing for one of a score. So are we sped! But we are to discuss not the psychology of travel, but the immediate causes and circumstances of Smollett’s arrival upon the territory of Nice.


Smollett did not interpret the ground-plan of the history of Nice particularly well. Its colonisation from Massilia, its long connection with Provence, its occupation by Saracens, its stormy connection with the house of Anjou, and its close fidelity to the house of Savoy made no appeal to his admiration. The most important event in its recent history, no doubt, was the capture of the city by the French under Catinat in 1706 (Louis XIV. being especially exasperated against what he regarded as the treachery of Victor Amadeus), and the razing to the ground of its famous citadel. The city henceforth lost a good deal of its civic dignity, and its morale was conspicuously impaired. In the war of the Austrian succession an English fleet under Admiral Matthews was told off to defend the territory of the Nicois against the attentions of Toulon. This was the first close contact experienced between England and Nice, but the impressions formed were mutually favourable. The inhabitants were enthusiastic about the unaccustomed English plan of paying in full for all supplies demanded. The British officers were no less delighted with the climate of Nice, the fame of which they carried to their northern homes. It was both directly and indirectly through one of these officers that the claims of Nice as a sanatorium came to be put so plainly before Smollett. [Losing its prestige as a ville forte, Nice was henceforth rapidly to gain the new character of a ville de plaisir. In 1763, says one of the city’s historians, Smollett, the famous historian and novelist, visited Nice. “Arriving here shattered in health and depressed in spirits, under the genial influence of the climate he soon found himself a new man. His notes on the country, its gardens, its orange groves, its climate without a winter, are pleasant and just and would seem to have been written yesterday instead of more than a hundred years ago. . . . His memory is preserved in the street nomenclature of the place; one of the thoroughfares still bears the appellation of Rue Smollett.” (James Nash, The Guide to Nice, 1884, p. 110.)]

Among other celebrated residents at Nice during the period of Smollett’s visit were Edward Augustus, Duke of York, the brother of George III., who died at Monaco a few years later, and Andre Massena, a native of the city, then a lad of six.

Before he left Montpellier Smollett indulged in two more seemingly irresistible tirades against French folly: one against their persistent hero-worship of such a stuffed doll as Louis le Grand, and the second in ridicule of the immemorial French panacea, a bouillon. Now he gets to Nice he feels a return of the craving to take a hand’s turn at depreciatory satire upon the nation of which a contemporary hand was just tracing the deservedly better-known delineation, commencing

Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease,
Pleas’d with thyself, whom all the world can please . . . .

Such inveteracy (like Dr. Johnson’s against Swift) was not unnaturally suspected by friends in England of having some personal motive. In his fifteenth letter home, therefore, Smollett is assiduous in disclaiming anything of the kind. He begins by attempting an amende honorable, but before he has got well away from his exordium he insensibly and most characteristically diverges into the more congenial path of censure, and expands indeed into one of his most eloquent passages — a disquisition upon the French punctilio (conceived upon lines somewhat similar to Mercutio’s address to Benvolio), to which is appended a satire on the duello as practised in France, which glows and burns with a radiation of good sense, racy of Smollett at his best.

To eighteenth century lovers the discussion on duelling will recall similar talks between Boswell and Johnson, or that between the lieutenant and Tom in the Seventh Book of Tom Jones, but, more particularly, the sermon delivered by Johnson on this subject a propos of General Oglethorpe’s story of how he avoided a duel with Prince Eugene in 1716. “We were sitting in company at table, whence the Prince took up a glass of wine and by a fillip made some of it fly in Oglethorpe’s face. Here was a nice dilemma. To have challenged him instantly might have fixed a quarrelsome character upon the young soldier: to have taken no notice of it might have been counted as cowardice. Oglethorpe, therefore, keeping his eye on the Prince, and smiling all the time, as if he took what His Highness had done in jest, said, “Mon Prince” (I forget the French words he used), “that’s a good joke; but we do it much better in England,” and threw a whole glass of wine in the Prince’s face. An old general who sat by said, “Il a bien fait, mon Prince, vous l’avez commence,” and thus all ended in good humour.”

In Letter XIII. Smollett settles down to give his correspondents a detailed description of the territory and people of Nice. At one time it was his intention to essay yet another branch of authorship and to produce a monograph on the natural history, antiquities, and topography of the town as the capital of this still unfamiliar littoral; with the late-born modesty of experience, however, he recoils from a task to which he does not feel his opportunities altogether adequate. [See p. 152.] A quarter of Smollett’s original material would embarrass a “Guide”-builder of more recent pattern.

Whenever he got near a coast line Smollett could not refrain from expressing decided views. If he had lived at the present day he would infallibly have been a naval expert, better informed than most and more trenchant than all; but recognizably one of the species, artist in words and amateur of ocean-strategy. [Smollett had, of course, been surgeon’s mate on H.M.S. Cumberland, 1740-41.] His first curiosity at Nice was raised concerning the port, the harbour, the galleys moored within the mole, and the naval policy of his Sardinian Majesty. His advice to Victor Amadeus was no doubt as excellent and as unregarded as the advice of naval experts generally is. Of more interest to us is his account of the slave-galleys. Among the miserable slaves whom “a British subject cannot behold without horror and compassion,” he observes a Piedmontese count in Turkish attire, reminding the reader of one of Dumas’ stories of a count among the forcats. To learn that there were always volunteer oarsmen among these poor outcasts is to reflect bitterly upon the average happiness of mankind. As to whether they wore much worse off than common seamen in the British navy of the period (who were only in name volunteers and had often no hope of discharge until they were worn out) under such commanders as Oakum or Whiffle [In Roderick Random.] is another question. For confirmation of Smollett’s account in matters of detail the reader may turn to Aleman’s Guzman d’Afarache, which contains a first-hand description of the life on board a Mediterranean slave galley, to Archenholtz’s Tableau d’Italie of 1788, to Stirling Maxwell’s Don John of Austria (1883, i. 95), and more pertinently to passages in the Life of a Galley Slave by Jean Marteilhe (edited by Miss Betham-Edwards in 1895). After serving in the docks at Dunkirk, Marteilhe, as a confirmed protestant, makes the journey in the chain-gang to Marseilles, and is only released after many delays in consequence of the personal interest and intervention of Queen Anne. If at the peace of Utrecht in 1713 we had only been as tender about the case of our poor Catalan allies! Nice at that juncture had just been returned by France to the safe-keeping of Savoy, so that in order to escape from French territory, Marteilhe sailed for Nice in a tartane, and not feeling too safe even there, hurried thence by Smollett’s subsequent route across the Col di Tende. Many Europeans were serving at this time in the Turkish or Algerine galleys. But the most pitiable of all the galley slaves were those of the knights of St. John of Malta. “Figure to yourself,” wrote Jacob Houblon [The Houblon Family, 1907 ii. 78. The accounts in Evelyn and Goldsmith are probably familiar to the reader.] about this year, “six or seven hundred dirty half-naked Turks in a small vessel chained to the oars, from which they are not allowed to stir, fed upon nothing but bad biscuit and water, and beat about on the most trifling occasion by their most inhuman masters, who are certainly more Turks than their slaves.”

After several digressions, one touching the ancient Cemenelion, a subject upon which the Jonathan Oldbucks of Provence without exception are unconscionably tedious, Smollett settles down to a capable historical summary preparatory to setting his palette for a picture of the Nissards “as they are.” He was, as we are aware, no court painter, and the cheerful colours certainly do not predominate. The noblesse for all their exclusiveness cannot escape his censure. He can see that they are poor (they are unable to boast more than two coaches among their whole number), and he feels sure that they are depraved. He attributes both vices unhesitatingly to their idleness and to their religion. In their singularly unemotional and coolly comparative outlook upon religion, how infinitely nearer were Fielding and Smollett than their greatest successors, Dickens and Thackeray, to the modern critic who observes that there is “at present not a single credible established religion in existence.” To Smollett Catholicism conjures up nothing so vividly as the mask of comedy, while his native Calvinism stands for the corresponding mask of tragedy. [Walpole’s dictum that Life was a comedy to those who think, a tragedy for those who feel, was of later date than this excellent mot of Smollett’s.] Religion in the sunny spaces of the South is a “never-failing fund of pastime.” The mass (of which he tells a story that reminds us of Lever’s Micky Free) is just a mechanism invented by clever rogues for an elaborate system of petty larceny. And what a ferocious vein of cynicism underlies his strictures upon the perverted gallantry of the Mariolaters at Florence, or those on the two old Catholics rubbing their ancient gums against St. Peter’s toe for toothache at Rome. The recurring emblems of crosses and gibbets simply shock him as mementoes of the Bagne.

At Rome he compares a presentment of St. Laurence to “a barbecued pig.” “What a pity it is,” he complains, “that the labours of painting should have been employed on such shocking objects of the martyrology,” floggings, nailings, and unnailings . . . “Peter writhing on the cross, Stephen battered with stones, Sebastian stuck full of arrows, Bartholomew flayed alive,” and so on. His remarks upon the famous Pieta of Michael Angelo are frank to the point of brutality. The right of sanctuary and its “infamous prerogative,” unheard of in England since the days of Henry VII., were still capable of affording a lesson to the Scot abroad. “I saw a fellow who had three days before murdered his wife in the last month of pregnancy, taking the air with great composure and serenity, on the steps of a church in Florence.” Smollett, it is clear, for all his philosophy, was no degenerate representative of the blind, unreasoning seventeenth-century detestation of “Popery and wooden shoes.”

Smollett is one of the first to describe a “conversazione,” and in illustration of the decadence of Italian manners, it is natural that he should have a good deal to tell us about the Cicisbeatura. His account of the cicisbeo and his duties, whether in Nice, Florence, or Rome, is certainly one of the most interesting that we have. Before Smollett and his almost contemporary travel correspondent, Samuel Sharp, it would probably be hard to find any mention of the cicisbeo in England, though the word was consecrated by Sheridan a few years later. Most of the “classic” accounts of the usage such as those by Mme. de Stael, Stendhal, Parini, Byron and his biographers date from very much later, when the institution was long past its prime if not actually moribund. Now Smollett saw it at the very height of its perfection and at a time when our decorous protestant curiosity on such themes was as lively as Lady Mary Montagu had found it in the case of fair Circassians and Turkish harems just thirty years previously. [A cicisbeo was a dangler. Hence the word came to be applied punningly to the bow depending from a clouded cane or ornamental crook. In sixteenth-century Spain, home of the sedan and the caballero galante, the original term was bracciere. In Venice the form was cavaliere servente. For a good note on the subject, see Sismondi’s Italian Republics, ed. William Boulting, 1907, p. 793.] Like so much in the shapes and customs of Italy the cicisbeatura was in its origin partly Gothic and partly Oriental. It combined the chivalry of northern friendship with the refined passion of the South for the seclusion of women. As an experiment in protest against the insipidity which is too often an accompaniment of conjugal intercourse the institution might well seem to deserve a more tolerant and impartial investigation than it has yet received at the hands of our sociologists. A survival so picturesque could hardly be expected to outlive the bracing air of the nineteenth century. The north wind blew and by 1840 the cicisbeatura was a thing of the past.

Freed from the necessity of a systematic delineation Smollett rambles about Nice, its length and breadth, with a stone in his pouch, and wherever a cockshy is available he takes full advantage of it. He describes the ghetto (p. 171), the police arrangements of the place which he finds in the main highly efficient, and the cruel punishment of the strappado. The garrucha or strappado and the garrotes, combined with the water-torture and the rack, represented the survival of the fittest in the natural selection of torments concerning which the Holy Office in Italy and Spain had such a vast experience. The strappado as described by Smollett, however, is a more severe form of torture even than that practised by the Inquisition, and we can only hope that his description of its brutality is highly coloured. [See the extremely learned disquisition on the whole subject in Dr. H. C. Lea’s History of the Inquisition in Spain, 1907, vol. iii. book vi chap. vii.] Smollett must have enjoyed himself vastly in the market at Nice. He gives an elaborate and epicurean account of his commissariat during the successive seasons of his sojourn in the neighbourhood. He was not one of these who live solely “below the diaphragm”; but he understood food well and writes about it with a catholic gusto and relish (156-165). He laments the rarity of small birds on the Riviera, and gives a highly comic account of the chasse of this species of gibier. He has a good deal to say about the sardine and tunny fishery, about the fruit and scent traffic, and about the wine industry; and he gives us a graphic sketch of the silkworm culture, which it is interesting to compare with that given by Locke in 1677. He has something to say upon the general agriculture, and more especially upon the olive and oil industry. Some remarks upon the numerous “mummeries” and festas of the inhabitants lead him into a long digression upon the feriae of the Romans. It is evident from this that the box of books which he shipped by way of Bordeaux must have been plentifully supplied with classical literature, for, as he remarks with unaffected horror, such a thing as a bookseller had not been so much as heard of in Nice. Well may he have expatiated upon the total lack of taste among the inhabitants! In dealing with the trade, revenue, and other administrative details Smollett shows himself the expert compiler and statistician a London journalist in large practice credits himself with becoming by the mere exercise of his vocation. In dealing with the patois of the country he reveals the curiosity of the trained scholar and linguist. Climate had always been one of his hobbies, and on learning that none of the local practitioners was in a position to exact a larger fee than sixpence from his patients (quantum mutatus the Nice physician of 1907!) he felt that he owed it to himself to make this the subject of an independent investigation. He kept a register of the weather during the whole of his stay, and his remarks upon the subject are still of historical interest, although with Teysseire’s minutely exact Monograph on the Climatology of Nice (1881) at his disposal and innumerable commentaries thereon by specialists, the inquirer of today would hardly go to Smollett for his data. Then, as now, it is curious to find the rumour current that the climate of Nice was sadly deteriorating. “Nothing to what it was before the war!” as the grumbler from the South was once betrayed into saying of the August moon. Smollett’s esprit chagrin was nonplussed at first to find material for complaint against a climate in which he admits that there was less rain and less wind than in any other part of the world that he knew. In these unwonted circumstances he is constrained to fall back on the hard water and the plague of cousins or gnats as affording him the legitimate grievance, in whose absence the warrior soul of the author of the Ode to Independence could never be content.


For his autumn holiday in 1764 Smollett decided on a jaunt to Florence and Rome, returning to Nice for the winter; and he decided to travel as far as Leghorn by sea. There was choice between several kinds of small craft which plied along the coast, and their names recur with cheerful frequency in the pages of Marryat and other depictors of the Mediterranean. There was the felucca, an open boat with a tilt over the stern large enough to freight a post-chaise, and propelled by ten to twelve stout mariners. To commission such a boat to Genoa, a distance of a hundred miles, cost four louis. As alternative, there was the tartane, a sailing vessel with a lateen sail. Addison sailed from Marseilles to Genoa in a tartane in December 1699: a storm arose, and the patron alarmed the passengers by confessing his sins (and such sins!) loudly to a Capuchin friar who happened to be aboard. Smollett finally decided on a gondola, with four rowers and a steersman, for which he had to pay nine sequins (4 1/2 louis). After adventures off Monaco, San Remo, Noli, and elsewhere, the party are glad to make the famous phones on the Torre della Lanterna, of which banker Rogers sings in his mediocre verse:

Thy pharos Genoa first displayed itself
Burning in stillness on its rocky seat;
That guiding star so oft the only one,
When those now glowing in the azure vault
Are dark and silent

Smollett’s description of Genoa is decidedly more interesting. He arrived at a moment specially propitious to so sardonic an observer, for the Republic had fallen on evil times, having escaped from the clutches of Austria in 1746 by means of a popular riot, during which the aristocracy considerately looked the other way, only to fall into an even more embarrassed and unheroic position vis-a-vis of so diminutive an opponent as Corsica. The whole story is a curious prototype of the nineteenth century imbroglio between Spain and Cuba. Of commonplaces about the palaces fruitful of verbiage in Addison and Gray, who says with perfect truth, “I should make you sick of marble were I to tell you how it is lavished here,” Smollett is sparing enough, though he evidently regards the inherited inclination of Genoese noblemen to build beyond their means as an amiable weakness. His description of the proud old Genoese nobleman, who lives in marble and feeds on scraps, is not unsympathetic, and suggests that the “deceipt of the Ligurians,” which Virgil censures in the line

Haud Ligurum extremus, dum fallere fata sinebant

may possibly have been of this Balderstonian variety. But Smollett had little room in his economy for such vapouring speculations. He was as unsentimental a critic as Sydney Smith or Sir Leslie Stephen. He wants to know the assets of a place more than its associations. Facts, figures, trade and revenue returns are the data his shrewd mind requires to feed on. He has a keen eye for harbours suitable for an English frigate to lie up in, and can hardly rest until his sagacity has collected material for a political horoscope.

Smollett’s remarks upon the mysterious dispensations of Providence in regard to Genoa and the retreat of the Austrians are charged to the full with his saturnine spirit. His suspicions were probably well founded. Ever since 1685 Genoa had been the more or less humiliated satellite of France, and her once famous Bank had been bled pretty extensively by both belligerents. The Senate was helpless before the Austrian engineers in 1745, and the emancipation of the city was due wholly to a popular emeute. She had relapsed again into a completely enervated condition. Smollett thought she would have been happier under British protection. But it is a vicious alternative for a nation to choose a big protector. It was characteristic of the Republic that from 1790 to 1798 its “policy” was to remain neutral. The crisis in regard to Corsica came immediately after Smollett’s visit, when in 1765, under their 154th doge Francesco Maria Rovere, the Genoese offered to abandon the island to the patriots under Paoli, reserving only the possession of the two loyal coast-towns of Bonifazio and Calvi. [See Boswell’s Corsica, 1766-8.] At Paoli’s instance these conciliatory terms were refused. Genoa, in desperation and next door to bankruptcy, resolved to sell her rights as suzerain to France, and the compact was concluded by a treaty signed at Versailles in 1768. Paoli was finally defeated at Ponte Novo on 9th May 1769, and fled to England. On 15th August the edict of “Reunion” between France and Corsica was promulgated. On the same day Napoleon Buonaparte was born at Ajaccio.

After a week at Genoa Smollett proceeded along the coast to Lerici. There, being tired of the sea, the party disembarked, and proceeded by chaise from Sarzano to Cercio in Modenese territory, and so into Tuscany, then under the suzerainty of Austria. His description of Pisa is of an almost sunny gaiety and good humour. Italy, through this portal, was capable of casting a spell even upon a traveller so case-hardened as Smollett. The very churches at Pisa are “tolerably ornamented.” The Campo Santo and Tower fall in no way short of their reputation, while the brass gates so far excel theirs that Smollett could have stood a whole day to examine and admire them. These agremens may be attributable in some measure to “a very good inn.” In stating that galleys were built in the town, Smollett seems to have fallen a victim, for once, to guide-book information. Evelyn mentions that galleys were built there in his time, but that was more than a hundred years before. The slips and dock had long been abandoned, as Smollett is careful to point out in his manuscript notes, now in the British Museum. He also explains with superfluous caution that the Duomo of Pisa is not entirely Gothic. Once arrived in the capital of Tuscany, after admitting that Florence is a noble city, our traveller is anxious to avoid the hackneyed ecstasies and threadbare commonplaces, derived in those days from Vasari through Keysler and other German commentators, whose genius Smollett is inclined to discover rather “in the back than in the brain.”

The two pass-words for a would-be connoisseur, according to Goldsmith, were to praise Perugino, and to say that such and such a work would have been much better had the painter devoted more time and study to it. With these alternatives at hand one might pass with credit through any famous continental collection. Smollett aspired to more independence of thought and opinion, though we perceive at every turn how completely the Protestant prejudice of his “moment” and “milieu” had obtained dominion over him. To his perception monks do not chant or intone, they bawl and bellow their litanies. Flagellants are hired peasants who pad themselves to repletion with women’s bodices. The image of the Virgin Mary is bejewelled, hooped, painted, patched, curled, and frizzled in the very extremity of the fashion. No particular attention is paid by the mob to the Crucified One, but as soon as his lady-mother appeared on the shoulders of four lusty friars the whole populace fall upon their knees in the dirt. We have some characteristic criticism and observation of the Florentine nobles, the opera, the improvisatori, [For details as to the eighteenth-century improvisatore and commedia delle arte the reader is referred to Symonds’s Carlo Gozzi. See also the Travel Papers of Mrs. Piozzi; Walpole’s Letters to Sir Horace Mann, and Doran’s Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence. (Vide Appendix A, p. 345)] the buildings, and the cicisbei. Smollett nearly always gives substantial value to his notes, however casual, for he has an historian’s eye, and knows the symptoms for which the inquirer who comes after is likely to make inquisition.

Smollett’s observations upon the state of Florence in Letters XXVII and XXVIII are by no means devoid of value. The direct rule of the Medici had come to an end in 1737, and Tuscany (which with the exception of the interlude of 1798-1814 remained in Austrian hands down to 1860) was in 1764 governed by the Prince de Craon, viceroy of the Empress Maria Theresa. Florence was, indeed, on the threshold of the sweeping administrative reforms instituted by Peter Leopold, the archduke for whom Smollett relates that they were preparing the Pitti Palace at the time of his stay. This Prince governed the country as Grand Duke from 1765 to 1790, when he succeeded his brother as Emperor, and left a name in history as the ill-fated Leopold. Few more active exponents of paternal reform are known to history. But the Grand Duke had to deal with a people such as Smollett describes. Conservative to the core, subservient to their religious directors, the “stupid party” in Florence proved themselves clever enough to retard the process of enlightenment by methods at which even Smollett himself might have stood amazed. The traveller touches an interesting source of biography when he refers to the Englishman called Acton, formerly an East India Company captain, now commander of the Emperor’s Tuscan Navy, consisting of “a few frigates.” This worthy was the old commodore whom Gibbon visited in retirement at Leghorn. The commodore was brother of Gibbon’s friend, Dr. Acton, who was settled at Besancon, where his noted son, afterwards Sir John Acton, was born in 1736. Following in the footsteps of his uncle the commodore, who became a Catholic, Smollett tells us, and was promoted Admiral of Tuscany, John Acton entered the Tuscan Marine in 1775.

[Sir John Acton’s subsequent career belongs to history. His origin made him an expert on naval affairs, and in 1776 he obtained some credit for an expedition which he commanded against the Barbary pirates. In 1778 Maria Carolina of Naples visited her brother Leopold at Florence, and was impressed by Acton’s ugliness and reputation for exceptional efficiency. Her favourite minister, Prince Caramanico, persuaded the Grand Duke, Leopold, to permit Acton to exchange into the Neapolitan service, and reorganize the navy of the southern kingdom. This actually came to pass, and, moreover, Acton played his cards so well that he soon engrossed the ministries of War and Finance, and after the death of Caracciolo, the elder, also that of Foreign Affairs. Sir William Hamilton had a high opinion of the” General,” soon to become Field-Marshal. He took a strong part in resistance to revolutionary propaganda, caused to be built the ships which assisted Nelson in 1795, and proved himself one of the most capable bureaucrats of the time. But the French proved too strong, and Napoleon was the cause of his disgrace in 1804. In that year, by special dispensation from the Pope, he married his niece, and retired to Palermo, where he died on 12th August 1811.]

Let loose in the Uffizi Gallery Smollett shocked his sensitive contemporaries by his freedom from those sham ecstasies which have too often dogged the footsteps of the virtuosi. Like Scott or Mark Twain at a later date Smollett was perfectly ready to admire anything he could understand; but he expressly disclaims pretensions to the nice discernment and delicate sensibility of the connoisseur. He would never have asked to be left alone with the Venus de Medicis as a modern art-critic is related to have asked to be left alone with the Venus of Rokeby. He would have been at a loss to understand the state of mind of the eminent actor who thought the situation demanded that he should be positively bereft of breath at first sight of the Apollo Belvedere, and panting to regain it, convulsively clutched at the arm of his companion, with difficulty articulating, “I breathe.” Smollett refused to be hypnotized by the famous Venus discovered at Hadrian’s villa, brought from Tivoli in 1680, and then in the height of its renown; the form he admired, but condemned the face and the posture. Personally I disagree with Smollett, though the balance of cultivated opinion has since come round to his side. The guilt of Smollett lay in criticizing what was above criticism, as the contents of the Tribuna were then held to be. And in defence of this point of view it may at least be said that the Uffizi was then, with the exception of the Vatican, the only gallery of first-rate importance open to the travelling public on the Grand Tour. Founded by Cosimo I, built originally by George Vasari, and greatly enlarged by Francis I, who succeeded to the Grand Duchy in 1574, the gallery owed most perhaps to the Cardinal, afterwards Ferdinand I, who constructed the Tribuna, and to Cardinal Leopold, an omnivorous collector, who died in 1675. But all the Medici princes added to the rarities in the various cabinets, drawing largely upon the Villa Medici at Rome for this purpose, and the last of them, John Gaston (1723-1737), was one of the most liberal as regards the freedom of access which he allowed to his accumulated treasures. Among the distinguished antiquaries who acted as curators and cicerones were Sebastiano Bianchi, Antonio Cocchi, Raymond Cocchi, Joseph Bianchi, J. B. Pelli, the Abbe Lanzi, and Zacchiroli. The last three all wrote elaborate descriptions of the Gallery during the last decades of the eighteenth century. There was unhappily an epidemic of dishonesty among the custodians of gems at this period, and, like the notorious Raspe, who fled from Cassel in 1775, and turned some of his old employers to ridicule in his Baron Munchausen, Joseph Bianchi was convicted first of robbing his cabinet and then attempting to set it on fire, for which exploit the “learned and judicious Bianchi,” as Smollett called him in his first edition, was sent to prison for life. The Arrotino which Smollett so greatly admired, and which the delusive Bianchi declared to be a representation of the Augur Attus Naevius, is now described as “A Scythian whetting his knife to flay Marsyas.”

Kinglake has an amusingly cynical passage on the impossibility of approaching the sacred shrines of the Holy Land in a fittingly reverential mood. Exactly the same difficulty is experienced in approaching the sacred shrines of art. Enthusiasm about great artistic productions, though we may readily understand it to be justifiable, is by no means so easily communicable. How many people possessing a real claim to culture have felt themselves puzzled by their insensibility before some great masterpiece! Conditions may be easily imagined in which the inducement to affect an ecstasy becomes so strong as to prove overpowering. Many years ago at Florence the loiterers in the Tribuna were startled by the sudden rush into the place of a little man whose literary fame gave him high claims to intuitive taste. He placed himself with high clasped hand before the chief attraction in that room of treasures. “There,” he murmured, “is the Venus de Medicis, and here I must stay — for ever and for ever.” He had scarcely uttered these words, each more deeply and solemnly than the preceding, when an acquaintance entered, and the enthusiast, making a hasty inquiry if Lady So-and-So had arrived, left the room not to return again that morning. Before the same statue another distinguished countryman used to pass an hour daily. His acquaintance respected his raptures and kept aloof; but a young lady, whose attention was attracted by sounds that did not seem expressive of admiration, ventured to approach, and found the poet sunk in profound, but not silent, slumber. From such absurdities as these, or of the enthusiast who went into raptures about the head of the Elgin Ilissos (which is unfortunately a headless trunk), we are happily spared in the pages of Smollett. In him complete absence of gush is accompanied by an independent judgement, for which it may quite safely be claimed that good taste is in the ascendant in the majority of cases.

From Florence Smollett set out in October 1764 for Siena, a distance of forty-two miles, in a good travelling coach; he slept there, and next day, seven and a half miles farther on, at Boon Convento, hard by Montepulciano, now justly celebrated for its wine, he had the amusing adventure with the hostler which gave occasion for his vivid portrait of an Italian uffiziale, and also to that irresistible impulse to cane the insolent hostler, from the ill consequences of which he was only saved by the underling’s precipitate flight. The night was spent at Radicofani, five and twenty miles farther on. A clever postilion diversified the route to Viterbo, another forty-three miles. The party was now within sixteen leagues, or ten hours, of Rome. The road from Radicofani was notoriously bad all the way, but Smollett was too excited or too impatient to pay much attention to it. “You may guess what I felt at first sight of the city of Rome.”

“When you arrive at Rome,” he says later, in somewhat more accustomed vein, “you receive cards from all your country folk in that city. They expect to have the visit returned next day, when they give orders not to be at home, and you never speak to one another in the sequel. This is a refinement in hospitality and politeness which the English have invented by the strength of their own genius without any assistance either from France, Italy, or Lapland.” It is needless to recapitulate Smollett’s views of Rome. Every one has his own, and a passing traveller’s annotations are just about as nourishing to the imagination as a bibliographer’s note on the Bible. Smollett speaks in the main judiciously of the Castle of St. Angelo, the Piazza and the interior of St. Peter’s, the Pincian, the Forum, the Coliseum, the Baths of Caracalla, and the other famous sights of successive ages. On Roman habits and pastimes and the gullibility of the English cognoscente he speaks with more spice of authority. Upon the whole he is decidedly modest about his virtuoso vein, and when we reflect upon the way in which standards change and idols are shifted from one pedestal to another, it seems a pity that such modesty has not more votaries. In Smollett’s time we must remember that Hellenic and primitive art, whether antique or medieval, were unknown or unappreciated. The reigning models of taste in ancient sculpture were copies of fourth-century originals, Hellenistic or later productions. Hence Smollett’s ecstasies over the Laocoon, the Niobe, and the Dying Gladiator. Greek art of the best period was hardly known in authentic examples; antiques so fine as the Torso of Hercules were rare. But while his failures show the danger of dogmatism in art criticism, Smollett is careful to disclaim all pretensions to the nice discernment of the real connoisseur. In cases where good sense and sincere utterance are all that is necessary he is seldom far wrong. Take the following description for example:—

“You need not doubt but that I went to the church of St. Peter in Montorio, to view the celebrated Transfiguration by Raphael, which, if it was mine, I would cut in two parts. The three figures in the air attract the eye so strongly that little or no attention is paid to those below on the mountain. I apprehend that the nature of the subject does not admit of that keeping and dependence which ought to be maintained in the disposition of the lights and shadows in a picture. The groups seem to be entirely independent of each other. The extraordinary merit of this piece, I imagine, consists not only in the expression of divinity on the face of Christ, but also in the surprising lightness of the figure that hovers like a beautiful exhalation in the air.”

Smollett’s remarks about the “Last Judgement” of Michael Angelo, (that it confuses the eye as a number of people speaking at once confounds the ear; and that while single figures are splendid, the whole together resembles a mere mob, without subordination, keeping, or repose) will probably be re-echoed by a large proportion of the sightseers who gaze upon it yearly. But his description of the “Transfiguration” displays an amount of taste and judgement which is far from being so widely distributed. For purposes of reproduction at the present day, I may remind the reader that the picture is ordinarily “cut in two.” and the nether portion is commonly attributed to Raphael’s pupils, while the “beautiful exhalation,” as Smollett so felicitously terms it, is attributed exclusively to the master when at the zenith of his powers. His general verdict upon Michael Angelo and Raphael has much in it that appeals to a modern taste. Of Raphael, as a whole, he concludes that the master possesses the serenity of Virgil, but lacks the fire of Homer; and before leaving this same Letter XXXIII, in which Smollett ventures so many independent critical judgements, I am tempted to cite yet another example of his capacity for acute yet sympathetic appreciation.

“In the Palazzo Altieri I admired a picture, by Carlo Maratti, representing a saint calling down lightning from heaven to destroy blasphemers. It was the figure of the saint I admired, merely as a portrait. The execution of the other parts was tame enough; perhaps they were purposely kept down in order to preserve the importance of the principal figure. I imagine Salvator Rosa would have made a different disposition on the same subject — that amidst the darkness of a tempest he would have illuminated the blasphemer with the flash of lightning by which he was destroyed. This would have thrown a dismal gleam upon his countenance, distorted by the horror of his situation as well as by the effects of the fire, and rendered the whole scene dreadfully picturesque.”

Smollett confuses historical and aesthetic grandeur. What appeals to him most is a monument of a whole past civilization, such as the Pont du Gard. His views of art, too, as well as his views of life, are profoundly influenced by his early training as a surgeon. He is not inclined by temperament to be sanguine. His gaze is often fixed, like that of a doctor, upon the end of life; and of art, as of nature, he takes a decidedly pathological view. Yet, upon the whole, far from deriding his artistic impressions, I think we shall be inclined rather to applaud them, as well for their sanity as for their undoubted sincerity.

For the return journey to Florence Smollett selected the alternative route by Narni, Terni, Spoleto, Foligno, Perugia, and Arezzo, and, by his own account, no traveller ever suffered quite so much as he did from “dirt,” “vermin,” “poison,” and imposture. At Foligno, where Goethe also, in his travels a score of years or so later, had an amusing adventure, Smollett was put into a room recently occupied by a wild beast (bestia), but the bestia turned out on investigation to be no more or no less than an “English heretic.” The food was so filthy that it might have turned the stomach of a muleteer; their coach was nearly shattered to pieces; frozen with cold and nearly devoured by rats. Mrs. Smollett wept in silence with horror and fatigue; and the bugs gave the Doctor a whooping-cough. If Smollett anticipated a violent death from exhaustion and chagrin in consequence of these tortures he was completely disappointed. His health was never better — so much so that he felt constrained in fairness to drink to the health of the Roman banker who had recommended this nefarious route. [See the Doctor’s remarks at the end of Letter XXXV.] By Florence and Lerici he retraced his steps to Nice early in 1765, and then after a brief jaunt to Turin (where he met Sterne) and back by the Col di Tende, he turned his face definitely homewards. The journey home confirmed his liking for Pisa, and gives an opening for an amusing description of the Britisher abroad (Letter XXXV). We can almost overhear Thackeray, or the author of Eothen, touching this same topic in Letter XLI. “When two natives of any other country chance to meet abroad, they run into each other’s embrace like old friends, even though they have never heard of one another till that moment; whereas two Englishmen in the same situation maintain a mutual reserve and diffidence, and keep without the sphere of each other’s attraction, like two bodies endowed with a repulsive power.” Letter XXXVI gives opportunity for some discerning remarks on French taxation. Having given the French king a bit of excellent advice (that he should abolish the fermiers generaux), Smollett proceeds, in 1765, to a forecast of probabilities which is deeply significant and amazingly shrewd. The fragment known as Smollett’s Dying Prophecy of 1771 has often been discredited. Yet the substance of it is fairly adumbrated here in the passage beginning, “There are undoubtedly many marks of relaxation in the reins of French government,” written fully six years previously. After a pleasing description of Grasse, “famous for its pomatum, gloves, wash-balls, perfumes, and toilette boxes lined with bergamot,” the homeward traveller crossed the French frontier at Antibes, and in Letter XXXIX at Marseille, he compares the galley slaves of France with those of Savoy. At Bath where he had gone to set up a practice, Smollett once astonished the faculty by “proving” in a pamphlet that the therapeutic properties of the waters had been prodigiously exaggerated. So, now, in the south of France he did not hesitate to pronounce solemnly that “all fermented liquors are pernicious to the human constitution.” Elsewhere he comments upon the immeasurable appetite of the French for bread. The Frenchman will recall the story of the peasant-persecuting baron whom Louis XII. provided with a luxurious feast, which the lack of bread made uneatable; he may not have heard a story told me in Liege at the Hotel Charlemagne of the Belgian who sought to conciliate his French neighbour by remarking, “Je vois que vous etes Français, monsieur, parceque vous mangez beaucoup de pain,” and the Frenchman’s retort, “Je vois que vous etes lye monsieur, parceque vous mangez beaucoup de tout!” From Frejus Smollett proceeds to Toulon, repeating the old epigram that “the king of France is greater at Toulon than at Versailles.” The weather is so pleasant that the travellers enjoy a continual concert of “nightingales” from Vienne to Fontainebleau. The “douche” of Aix-les-Bains having been explained, Smollett and his party proceeded agreeably to Avignon, where by one of the strange coincidences of travel he met his old voiturier Joseph “so embrowned by the sun that he might have passed for an Iroquois.” In spite of Joseph’s testimonial the “plagues of posting” are still in the ascendant, and Smollett is once more generous of good advice. Above all, he adjures us when travelling never to omit to carry a hammer and nails, a crowbar, an iron pin or two, a large knife, and a bladder of grease. Why not a lynch pin, which we were so carefully instructed how to inquire about in Murray’s Conversation for Travellers?

But-the history of his troublous travels is drawing to an end. From Lyons the route is plain through Macon, Chalons, Dijon, Auxerre, Sells, and Fontainebleau — the whole itinerary almost exactly anticipates that of Talfourd’s Vacation Tour one hundred and ten years later, except that on the outward journey Talfourd sailed down the Rhone.

Smollett’s old mental grievances and sores have been shifted and to some extent, let us hope, dissipated by his strenuous journeyings, and in June 1765, after an absence of two years, he is once more enabled to write,

“You cannot imagine what pleasure I feel while I survey the white cliffs of Dover at this distance [from Boulogne]. Not that I am at all affected by the nescio qua dulcedine natalis soli of Horace.

“That seems to be a kind of fanaticism, founded on the prejudices of education, which induces a Laplander to place the terrestrial paradise among the snows of Norway, and a Swiss to prefer the barren mountains of Soleure to the fruitful plains of Lombardy. I am attached to my country, because it is the land of liberty, cleanliness, and convenience; but I love it still more tenderly, as the scene of all my interesting connections, as the habitation of my friends, for whose conversation, correspondence, and esteem I wish alone to live.”

For the time being it cannot be doubted that the hardships Smollett had to undergo on his Italian journey, by sea and land, and the violent passions by which he was agitated owing to the conduct of refractory postilions and extortionate innkeepers, contributed positively to brace up and invigorate his constitution. He spoke of himself indeed as “mended by ill-treatment” not unlike Tavernier, the famous traveller — said to have been radically cured of the gout by a Turkish aga in Egypt, who gave him the bastinado because he would not look at the head of the bashaw of Cairo. But Fizes was right after all in his swan-prescription, for poor Smollett’s cure was anything but a radical one. His health soon collapsed under the dreary round of incessant labour at Chelsea. His literary faculty was still maturing and developing. His genius was mellowing, and a later work might have eclipsed Clinker. But it was not to be. He had a severe relapse in the winter. In 1770 he had once more to take refuge from overwork on the sunny coast he had done so much to popularize among his countrymen, and it was near Leghorn that he died on 17th September 1771.



Letter I

Boulogne Sur Mer, June 23, 1763.

DEAR SIR — You laid your commands upon me at parting, to communicate from time to time the observations I should make in the course of my travels and it was an injunction I received with pleasure. In gratifying your curiosity, I shall find some amusement to beguile the tedious hours, which, without some such employment, would be rendered insupportable by distemper and disquiet.

You knew, and pitied my situation, traduced by malice, persecuted by faction, abandoned by false patrons, and overwhelmed by the sense of a domestic calamity, which it was not in the power of fortune to repair.

You know with what eagerness I fled from my country as a scene of illiberal dispute, and incredible infatuation, where a few worthless incendiaries had, by dint of perfidious calumnies and atrocious abuse, kindled up a flame which threatened all the horrors of civil dissension.

I packed up my little family in a hired coach, and attended by my trusty servant, who had lived with me a dozen of years, and now refused to leave me, took the road to Dover, in my way to the South of France, where I hoped the mildness of the climate would prove favourable to the weak state of my lungs.

You advised me to have recourse again to the Bath waters, from the use of which I had received great benefit the preceding 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 Paris.

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 Naples.

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.

Letter II

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.

Letter III

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 service.

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 purgatory.”

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.

Letter IV

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 country.

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 France.

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 provocation.

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.

Letter V

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-inlaw, 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-inlaw, 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 tomorrow 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.

Letter VI

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 veracity.

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

Letter VII

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 extravagance.

When I talk of the French nation, I must again except a great number of individuals, from the general censure. Though I have a hearty contempt for the ignorance, folly, and presumption which characterise the generality, I cannot but respect the talents of many great men, who have eminently distinguished themselves in every art and science: these I shall always revere and esteem as creatures of a superior species, produced, for the wise purposes of providence, among the refuse of mankind. It would be absurd to conclude that the Welch or Highlanders are a gigantic people, because those mountains may have produced a few individuals near seven feet high. It would be equally absurd to suppose the French are a nation of philosophers, because France has given birth to a Des Cartes, a Maupertuis, a Reaumur, and a Buffon.

I shall not even deny, that the French are by no means deficient in natural capacity; but they are at the same time remarkable for a natural levity, which hinders their youth from cultivating that capacity. This is reinforced by the most preposterous education, and the example of a giddy people, engaged in the most frivolous pursuits. A Frenchman is by some Jesuit, or other monk, taught to read his mother tongue, and to say his prayers in a language he does not understand. He learns to dance and to fence, by the masters of those noble sciences. He becomes a compleat connoisseur in dressing hair, and in adorning his own person, under the hands and instructions of his barber and valet de chambre. If he learns to play upon the flute or the fiddle, he is altogether irresistible. But he piques himself upon being polished above the natives of any other country by his conversation with the fair sex. In the course of this communication, with which he is indulged from his tender years, he learns like a parrot, by rote, the whole circle of French compliments, which you know are a set of phrases ridiculous even to a proverb; and these he throws out indiscriminately to all women, without distinction in the exercise of that kind of address, which is here distinguished by the name of gallantry: it is no more than his making love to every woman who will give him the hearing. It is an exercise, by the repetition of which he becomes very pert, very familiar, and very impertinent. Modesty, or diffidence, I have already said, is utterly unknown among them, and therefore I wonder there should be a term to express it in their language.

If I was obliged to define politeness, I should call it, the art of making one’s self agreeable. I think it an art that necessarily implies a sense of decorum, and a delicacy of sentiment. These are qualities, of which (as far as I have been able to observe) a Frenchman has no idea; therefore he never can be deemed polite, except by those persons among whom they are as little understood. His first aim is to adorn his own person with what he calls fine cloaths, that is the frippery of the fashion. It is no wonder that the heart of a female, unimproved by reason, and untinctured with natural good sense, should flutter at the sight of such a gaudy thing, among the number of her admirers: this impression is enforced by fustian compliments, which her own vanity interprets in a literal sense, and still more confirmed by the assiduous attention of the gallant, who, indeed, has nothing else to mind. A Frenchman in consequence of his mingling with the females from his infancy, not only becomes acquainted with all their customs and humours; but grows wonderfully alert in performing a thousand little offices, which are overlooked by other men, whose time hath been spent in making more valuable acquisitions. He enters, without ceremony, a lady’s bed-chamber, while she is in bed, reaches her whatever she wants, airs her shift, and helps to put it on. He attends at her toilette, regulates the distribution of her patches, and advises where to lay on the paint. If he visits her when she is dressed, and perceives the least impropriety in her coeffure, he insists upon adjusting it with his own hands: if he sees a curl, or even a single hair amiss, he produces his comb, his scissars, and pomatum, and sets it to rights with the dexterity of a professed friseur. He ‘squires her to every place she visits, either on business, or pleasure; and, by dedicating his whole time to her, renders himself necessary to her occasions. This I take to be the most agreeable side of his character: let us view him on the quarter of impertinence. A Frenchman pries into all your secrets with the most impudent and importunate curiosity, and then discloses them without remorse. If you are indisposed, he questions you about the symptoms of your disorder, with more freedom than your physician would presume to use; very often in the grossest terms. He then proposes his remedy (for they are all quacks), he prepares it without your knowledge, and worries you with solicitation to take it, without paying the least regard to the opinion of those whom you have chosen to take care of your health. Let you be ever so ill, or averse to company, he forces himself at all times into your bed-chamber, and if it is necessary to give him a peremptory refusal, he is affronted. I have known one of those petit maitres insist upon paying regular visits twice a day to a poor gentleman who was delirious; and he conversed with him on different subjects, till he was in his last agonies. This attendance is not the effect of attachment, or regard, but of sheer vanity, that he may afterwards boast of his charity and humane disposition: though, of all the people I have ever known, I think the French are the least capable of feeling for the distresses of their fellow creatures. Their hearts are not susceptible of deep impressions; and, such is their levity, that the imagination has not time to brood long over any disagreeable idea, or sensation. As a Frenchman piques himself on his gallantry, he no sooner makes a conquest of a female’s heart, than he exposes her character, for the gratification of his vanity. Nay, if he should miscarry in his schemes, he will forge letters and stories, to the ruin of the lady’s reputation. This is a species of perfidy which one would think should render them odious and detestable to the whole sex; but the case is otherwise. I beg your pardon, Madam; but women are never better pleased, than when they see one another exposed; and every individual has such confidence in her own superior charms and discretion, that she thinks she can fix the most volatile, and reform the most treacherous lover.

If a Frenchman is admitted into your family, and distinguished by repeated marks of your friendship and regard, the first return he makes for your civilities is to make love to your wife, if she is handsome; if not, to your sister, or daughter, or niece. If he suffers a repulse from your wife, or attempts in vain to debauch your sister, or your daughter, or your niece, he will, rather than not play the traitor with his gallantry, make his addresses to your grandmother; and ten to one, but in one shape or another, he will find means to ruin the peace of a family, in which he has been so kindly entertained. What he cannot accomplish by dint of compliment, and personal attendance, he will endeavour to effect, by reinforcing these with billets-doux, songs, and verses, of which he always makes a provision for such purposes. If he is detected in these efforts of treachery, and reproached with his ingratitude, he impudently declares, that what he had done was no more than simple gallantry, considered in France as an indispensible duty on every man who pretended to good breeding. Nay, he will even affirm, that his endeavours to corrupt your wife, or your daughter, were the most genuine proofs he could give of his particular regard for your family.

If a Frenchman is capable of real friendship, it must certainly be the most disagreeable present he can possibly make to a man of a true English character, You know, Madam, we are naturally taciturn, soon tired of impertinence, and much subject to fits of disgust. Your French friend intrudes upon you at all hours: he stuns you with his loquacity: he teases you with impertinent questions about your domestic and private affairs: he attempts to meddle in all your concerns; and forces his advice upon you with the most unwearied importunity: he asks the price of every thing you wear, and, so sure as you tell him undervalues it, without hesitation: he affirms it is in a bad taste, ill-contrived, ill-made; that you have been imposed upon both with respect to the fashion and the price; that the marquise of this, or the countess of that, has one that is perfectly elegant, quite in the bon ton, and yet it cost her little more than you gave for a thing that nobody would wear.

If there were five hundred dishes at table, a Frenchman will eat of all of them, and then complain he has no appetite. This I have several times remarked. A friend of mine gained a considerable wager upon an experiment of this kind: the petit maitre ate of fourteen different plats, besides the dessert; then disparaged the cook, declaring he was no better than a marmiton, or turnspit.

The French have the most ridiculous fondness for their hair, and this I believe they inherit from their remote ancestors. The first race of French kings were distinguished by their long hair, and certainly the people of this country consider it as an indispensible ornament. A Frenchman will sooner part with his religion than with his hair, which, indeed, no consideration will induce him to forego. I know a gentleman afflicted with a continual head-ach, and a defluxion on his eyes, who was told by his physician that the best chance he had for being cured, would be to have his head close shaved, and bathed every day in cold water. “How (cried he) cut my hair? Mr. Doctor, your most humble servant!” He dismissed his physician, lost his eye-sight, and almost his senses, and is now led about with his hair in a bag, and a piece of green silk hanging like a screen before his face. Count Saxe, and other military writers have demonstrated the absurdity of a soldier’s wearing a long head of hair; nevertheless, every soldier in this country wears a long queue, which makes a delicate mark on his white cloathing; and this ridiculous foppery has descended even to the lowest class of people. The decrotteur, who cleans your shoes at the corner of the Pont Neuf, has a tail of this kind hanging down to his rump, and even the peasant who drives an ass loaded with dung, wears his hair en queue, though, perhaps, he has neither shirt nor breeches. This is the ornament upon which he bestows much time and pains, and in the exhibition of which he finds full gratification for his vanity. Considering the harsh features of the common people in this country, their diminutive stature, their grimaces, and that long appendage, they have no small resemblance to large baboons walking upright; and perhaps this similitude has helped to entail upon them the ridicule of their neighbours.

A French friend tires out your patience with long visits; and, far from taking the most palpable hints to withdraw, when he perceives you uneasy he observes you are low-spirited, and therefore he will keep you company. This perseverance shews that he must either be void of penetration, or that his disposition must be truly diabolical. Rather than be tormented with such a fiend, a man had better turn him out of doors, even though at the hazard of being run thro’ the body.

The French are generally counted insincere, and taxed with want of generosity. But I think these reproaches are not well founded. High-flown professions of friendship and attachment constitute the language of common compliment in this country, and are never supposed to be understood in the literal acceptation of the words; and, if their acts of generosity are but very rare, we ought to ascribe that rarity, not so much to a deficiency of generous sentiments, as to their vanity and ostentation, which engrossing all their funds, utterly disable them from exerting the virtues of beneficence. Vanity, indeed, predominates among all ranks, to such a degree, that they are the greatest egotists in the world; and the most insignificant individual talks in company with the same conceit and arrogance, as a person of the greatest importance. Neither conscious poverty nor disgrace will restrain him in the least either from assuming his full share of the conversation, or making big addresses to the finest lady, whom he has the smallest opportunity to approach: nor is he restrained by any other consideration whatsoever. It is all one to him whether he himself has a wife of his own, or the lady a husband; whether she is designed for the cloister, or pre-ingaged to his best friend and benefactor. He takes it for granted that his addresses cannot but be acceptable; and, if he meets with a repulse, he condemns her taste; but never doubts his own qualifications.

I have a great many things to say of their military character, and their punctilios of honour, which last are equally absurd and pernicious; but as this letter has run to an unconscionable length, I shall defer them till another opportunity. Mean-while, I have the honour to be, with very particular esteem — Madam, Your most obedient servant.

Letter VIII

To Mr. M—

LYONS, October 19, 1763.

DEAR SIR — I was favoured with yours at Paris, and look upon your reproaches as the proof of your friendship. The truth is, I considered all the letters I have hitherto written on the subject of my travels, as written to your society in general, though they have been addressed to one individual of it; and if they contain any thing that can either amuse or inform, I desire that henceforth all I send may be freely perused by all the members.

With respect to my health, about which you so kindly enquire, I have nothing new to communicate. I had reason to think that my bathing in the sea at Boulogne produced a good effect, in strengthening my relaxed fibres. You know how subject I was to colds in England; that I could not stir abroad after sun-set, nor expose myself to the smallest damp, nor walk till the least moisture appeared on my skin, without being laid up for ten days or a fortnight. At Paris, however, I went out every day, with my hat under my arm, though the weather was wet and cold: I walked in the garden at Versailles even after it was dark, with my head uncovered, on a cold evening, when the ground was far from being dry: nay, at Marli, I sauntered above a mile through damp alleys, and wet grass: and from none of these risques did I feel the least inconvenience.

In one of our excursions we visited the manufacture for porcelain, which the king of France has established at the village of St. Cloud, on the road to Versailles, and which is, indeed, a noble monument of his munificence. It is a very large building, both commodious and magnificent, where a great number of artists are employed, and where this elegant superfluity is carried to as great perfection as it ever was at Dresden. Yet, after all, I know not whether the porcelain made at Chelsea may not vie with the productions either of Dresden, or St. Cloud. If it falls short of either, it is not in the design, painting, enamel, or other ornaments, but only in the composition of the metal, and the method of managing it in the furnace. Our porcelain seems to be a partial vitrification of levigated flint and fine pipe clay, mixed together in a certain proportion; and if the pieces are not removed from the fire in the very critical moment, they will be either too little, or too much vitrified. In the first case, I apprehend they will not acquire a proper degree of cohesion; they will be apt to be corroded, discoloured, and to crumble, like the first essays that were made at Chelsea; in the second case, they will be little better than imperfect glass.

There are three methods of travelling from Paris to Lyons, which, by the shortest road is a journey of about three hundred and sixty miles. One is by the diligence, or stagecoach, which performs it in five days; and every passenger pays one hundred livres, in consideration of which, he not only has a seat in the carriage, but is maintained on the road. The inconveniences attending this way of travelling are these. You are crouded into the carriage, to the number of eight persons, so as to sit very uneasy, and sometimes run the risque of being stifled among very indifferent company. You are hurried out of bed, at four, three, nay often at two o’clock in the morning. You are obliged to eat in the French way, which is very disagreeable to an English palate; and, at Chalons, you must embark upon the Saone in a boat, which conveys you to Lyons, so that the two last days of your journey are by water. All these were insurmountable objections to me, who am in such a bad state of health, troubled with an asthmatic cough, spitting, slow fever, and restlessness, which demands a continual change of place, as well as free air, and room for motion. I was this day visited by two young gentlemen, sons of Mr. Guastaldi, late minister from Genoa at London. I had seen them at Paris, at the house of the dutchess of Douglas. They came hither, with their conductor, in the diligence, and assured me, that nothing could be more disagreeable than their situation in that carriage.

Another way of travelling in this country is to hire a coach and four horses; and this method I was inclined to take: but when I went to the bureau, where alone these voitures are to be had, I was given to understand, that it would cost me six-and-twenty guineas, and travel so slow that I should be ten days upon the road. These carriages are let by the same persons who farm the diligence; and for this they have an exclusive privilege, which makes them very saucy and insolent. When I mentioned my servant, they gave me to understand, that I must pay two loui’dores more for his seat upon the coach box. As I could not relish these terms, nor brook the thoughts of being so long upon the road, I had recourse to the third method, which is going post.

In England you know I should have had nothing to do, but to hire a couple of post-chaises from stage to stage, with two horses in each; but here the case is quite otherwise. The post is farmed from the king, who lays travellers under contribution for his own benefit, and has published a set of oppressive ordonnances, which no stranger nor native dares transgress. The postmaster finds nothing but horses and guides: the carriage you yourself must provide. If there are four persons within the carriage, you are obliged to have six horses, and two postillions; and if your servant sits on the outside, either before or behind, you must pay for a seventh. You pay double for the first stage from Paris, and twice double for passing through Fontainbleau when the court is there, as well as at coming to Lyons, and at leaving this city. These are called royal posts, and are undoubtedly a scandalous imposition.

There are two post roads from Paris to Lyons, one of sixty-five posts, by the way of Moulins; the other of fifty-nine, by the way of Dijon in Burgundy. This last I chose, partly to save sixty livres, and partly to see the wine harvest of Burgundy, which, I was told, was a season of mirth and jollity among all ranks of people. I hired a very good coach for ten loui’dores to Lyons, and set out from Paris on the thirteenth instant, with six horses, two postillions, and my own servant on horseback. We made no stop at Fontainbleau, though the court was there; but lay at Moret, which is one stage further, a very paltry little town where, however, we found good accommodation.

I shall not pretend to describe the castle or palace of Fontainbleau, of which I had only a glimpse in passing; but the forest, in the middle of which it stands, is a noble chace of great extent, beautifully wild and romantic, well stored with game of all sorts, and abounding with excellent timber. It put me in mind of the New Forest in Hampshire; but the hills, rocks, and mountains, with which it is diversified, render it more agreeable.

The people of this country dine at noon, and travellers always find an ordinary prepared at every auberge, or public-house, on the road. Here they sit down promiscuously, and dine at so much a head. The usual price is thirty sols for dinner, and forty for supper, including lodging; for this moderate expence they have two courses and a dessert. If you eat in your own apartment, you pay, instead of forty sols, three, and in some places, four livres ahead. I and my family could not well dispense with our tea and toast in the morning, and had no stomach to eat at noon. For my own part, I hate French cookery, and abominate garlick, with which all their ragouts, in this part of the country, are highly seasoned: we therefore formed a different plan of living upon the road. Before we left Paris, we laid in a stock of tea, chocolate, cured neats’ tongues, and saucissons, or Bologna sausages, both of which we found in great perfection in that capital, where, indeed, there are excellent provisions of all sorts. About ten in the morning we stopped to breakfast at some auberge, where we always found bread, butter, and milk. In the mean time, we ordered a poulard or two to be roasted, and these, wrapped in a napkin, were put into the boot of the coach, together with bread, wine, and water. About two or three in the afternoon, while the horses were changing, we laid a cloth upon our knees, and producing our store, with a few earthen plates, discussed our short meal without further ceremony. This was followed by a dessert of grapes and other fruit, which we had also provided. I must own I found these transient refreshments much more agreeable than any regular meal I ate upon the road. The wine commonly used in Burgundy is so weak and thin, that you would not drink it in England. The very best which they sell at Dijon, the capital of the province, for three livres a bottle, is in strength, and even in flavour, greatly inferior to what I have drank in London. I believe all the first growth is either consumed in the houses of the noblesse, or sent abroad to foreign markets. I have drank excellent Burgundy at Brussels for a florin a bottle; that is, little more than twenty pence sterling.

The country from the forest of Fontainbleau to the Lyonnois, through which we passed, is rather agreeable than fertile, being part of Champagne and the dutchy of Burgundy, watered by three pleasant pastoral rivers, the Seine, the Yonne, and the Saone. The flat country is laid out chiefly for corn; but produces more rye than wheat. Almost all the ground seems to be ploughed up, so that there is little or nothing lying fallow. There are very few inclosures, scarce any meadow ground, and, so far as I could observe, a great scarcity of cattle. We sometimes found it very difficult to procure half a pint of milk for our tea. In Burgundy I saw a peasant ploughing the ground with a jack-ass, a lean cow, and a he-goat, yoked together. It is generally observed, that a great number of black cattle are bred and fed on the mountains of Burgundy, which are the highest lands in France; but I saw very few. The peasants in France are so wretchedly poor, and so much oppressed by their landlords, that they cannot afford to inclose their grounds, or give a proper respite to their lands; or to stock their farms with a sufficient number of black cattle to produce the necessary manure, without which agriculture can never be carried to any degree of perfection. Indeed, whatever efforts a few individuals may make for the benefit of their own estates, husbandry in France will never be generally improved, until the farmer is free and independent.

From the frequency of towns and villages, I should imagine this country is very populous; yet it must be owned, that the towns are in general thinly inhabited. I saw a good number of country seats and plantations near tile banks of the rivers, on each side; and a great many convents, sweetly situated, on rising grounds, where the air is most pure, and the prospect most agreeable. It is surprising to see how happy the founders of those religious houses have been in their choice of situations, all the world over.

In passing through this country, I was very much struck with the sight of large ripe clusters of grapes, entwined with the briars and thorns of common hedges on the wayside. The mountains of Burgundy are covered with vines from the bottom to the top, and seem to be raised by nature on purpose to extend the surface, and to expose it the more advantageously to the rays of the sun. The vandange was but just begun, and the people were employed in gathering the grapes; but I saw no signs of festivity among them. Perhaps their joy was a little damped by the bad prospect of their harvest; for they complained that the weather had been so unfavourable as to hinder the grapes from ripening. I thought, indeed, there was something uncomfortable in seeing the vintage thus retarded till the beginning of winter: for, in some parts, I found the weather extremely cold; particularly at a place called Maison-neuve, where we lay, there was a hard frost, and in the morning the pools were covered with a thick crust of ice. My personal adventures on the road were such as will not bear a recital. They consisted of petty disputes with landladies, post-masters, and postillions. The highways seem to be perfectly safe. We did not find that any robberies were ever committed, although we did not see one of the marechaussee from Paris to Lyons. You know the marechaussee are a body of troopers well mounted, maintained in France as safe-guards to the public roads. It is a reproach upon England that some such patrol is not appointed for the protection of travellers.

At Sens in Champagne, my servant, who had rode on before to bespeak fresh horses, told me, that the domestic of another company had been provided before him, altho’ it was not his turn, as he had arrived later at the post. Provoked at this partiality, I resolved to chide the post-master, and accordingly addressed myself to a person who stood at the door of the auberge. He was a jolly figure, fat and fair, dressed in an odd kind of garb, with a gold laced cap on his head, and a cambric handkerchief pinned to his middle. The sight of such a fantastic petit maitre, in the character of a post-master, increased my spleen. I called to him with an air of authority, mixed with indignation, and when he came up to the coach, asked in a peremptory tone, if he did not understand the king’s ordonnance concerning the regulation of the posts? He laid his hand upon his breast; but before he could make any answer, I pulled out the post-book, and began to read, with great vociferation, the article which orders, that the traveller who comes first shall be first served. By this time the fresh horses being put to the carriage, and the postillions mounted, the coach set off all of a sudden, with uncommon speed. I imagined the post-master had given the fellows a signal to be gone, and, in this persuasion, thrusting my head out at the window, I bestowed some epithets upon him, which must have sounded very harsh in the ears of a Frenchman. We stopped for a refreshment at a little town called Joigne-ville, where (by the bye) I was scandalously imposed upon, and even abused by a virago of a landlady; then proceeding to the next stage, I was given to understand we could not be supplied with fresh horses. Here I perceived at the door of the inn, the same person whom I had reproached at Sens. He came up to the coach, and told me, that notwithstanding what the guides had said, I should have fresh horses in a few minutes. I imagined he was master both of this house and the auberge at Sens, between which he passed and repassed occasionally; and that he was now desirous of making me amends for the affront he had put upon me at the other place. Observing that one of the trunks behind was a little displaced, he assisted my servant in adjusting it: then he entered into conversation with me, and gave me to understand, that in a post-chaise, which we had passed, was an English gentleman on his return from Italy. I wanted to know who he was, and when he said he could not tell, I asked him, in a very abrupt manner, why he had not enquired of his servant. He shrugged up his shoulders, and retired to the inn door. Having waited about half an hour, I beckoned to him, and when he approached, upbraided him with having told me that I should be supplied with fresh horses in a few minutes: he seemed shocked, and answered, that he thought he had reason for what he said, observing, that it was as disagreeable to him as to me to wait for a relay. As it began to rain, I pulled up the glass in his face, and he withdrew again to the door, seemingly ruffled at my deportment. In a little time the horses arrived, and three of them were immediately put to a very handsome post-chaise, into which he stepped, and set out, accompanied by a man in a rich livery on horseback. Astonished at this circumstance, I asked the hostler who he was, and he replied, that he was a man of fashion (un seigneur) who lived in the neighbourhood of Auxerre. I was much mortified to find that I had treated a nobleman so scurvily, and scolded my own people for not having more penetration than myself. I dare say he did not fail to descant upon the brutal behaviour of the Englishman; and that my mistake served with him to confirm the national reproach of bluntness, and ill breeding, under which we lie in this country. The truth is, I was that day more than usually peevish, from the bad weather, as well as from the dread of a fit of the asthma, with which I was threatened: and I dare say my appearance seemed as uncouth to him, as his travelling dress appeared to me. I had a grey mourning frock under a wide great coat, a bob wig without powder, a very large laced hat, and a meagre, wrinkled, discontented countenance.

The fourth night of our journey we lay at Macon, and the next day passed through the Lyonnois, which is a fine country, full of towns, villages, and gentlemen’s houses. In passing through the Maconnois, we saw a great many fields of Indian corn, which grows to the height of six or seven feet: it is made into flour for the use of the common people, and goes by the name of Turkey wheat. Here likewise, as well as in Dauphine, they raise a vast quantity of very large pompions, with the contents of which they thicken their soup and ragouts.

As we travelled only while the sun was up, on account of my ill health, and the post horses in France are in bad order, we seldom exceeded twenty leagues a day.

I was directed to a lodging-house at Lyons, which being full they shewed us to a tavern, where I was led up three pair of stairs, to an apartment consisting of three paltry chambers, for which the people demanded twelve livres a day: for dinner and supper they asked thirty-two, besides three livres for my servant; so that my daily expence would have amounted to about forty-seven livres, exclusive of breakfast and coffee in the afternoon. I was so provoked at this extortion, that, without answering one word, I drove to another auberge, where I now am, and pay at the rate of two-and-thirty livres a day, for which I am very badly lodged, and but very indifferently entertained. I mention these circumstances to give you an idea of the imposition to which strangers are subject in this country. It must be owned, however, that in the article of eating, I might save half the money by going to the public ordinary; but this is a scheme of oeconomy, which (exclusive of other disagreeable circumstances) neither my own health, nor that of my wife permits me to embrace. My journey from Paris to Lyons, including the hire of the coach, and all expences on the road, has cost me, within a few shillings, forty loui’dores. From Paris our baggage (though not plombe) was not once examined till we arrived in this city, at the gate of which we were questioned by one of the searchers, who, being tipt with half a crown, allowed us to proceed without further enquiry,

I purposed to stay in Lyons until I should receive some letters I expected from London, to be forwarded by my banker at Paris: but the enormous expence of living in this manner has determined me to set out in a day or two for Montpellier, although that place is a good way out of the road to Nice. My reasons for taking that route I shall communicate in my next. Mean-while, I am ever — Dear Sir, Your affectionate and obliged humble servant.

Letter IX

Montpellier, November 5, 1763.

DEAR SIR — The city of Lyons has been so often and so circumstantially described, that I cannot pretend to say any thing new on the subject. Indeed, I know very little of it, but what I have read in books; as I had but one day to make a tour of the streets, squares, and other remarkable places. The bridge over the Rhone seems to be so slightly built, that I should imagine it would be one day carried away by that rapid river; especially as the arches are so small, that, after great rains they are sometimes bouchees, or stopped up; that is, they do not admit a sufficient passage for the encreased body of the water. In order to remedy this dangerous defect, in some measure, they found an artist some years ago, who has removed a middle pier, and thrown two arches into one. This alteration they looked upon as a masterpiece in architecture, though there is many a common mason in England, who would have undertaken and performed the work, without valuing himself much upon the enterprize. This bridge, as well as that of St. Esprit, is built, not in a strait line across the river, but with a curve, which forms a convexity to oppose the current. Such a bend is certainly calculated for the better resisting the general impetuosity of the stream, and has no bad effect to the eye.

Lyons is a great, populous, and flourishing city but I am surprised to find it is counted a healthy place, and that the air of it is esteemed favourable to pulmonic disorders. It is situated on the confluence of two large rivers, from which there must be a great evaporation, as well as from the low marshy grounds, which these rivers often overflow. This must render the air moist, frouzy, and even putrid, if it was not well ventilated by winds from the mountains of Swisserland; and in the latter end of autumn, it must be subject to fogs. The morning we set out from thence, the whole city and adjacent plains were covered with so thick a fog, that we could not distinguish from the coach the head of the foremost mule that drew it. Lyons is said to be very hot in summer, and very cold in winter; therefore I imagine must abound with inflammatory and intermittent disorders in the spring and fall of the year.

My reasons for going to Montpellier, which is out of the strait road to Nice, were these. Having no acquaintance nor correspondents in the South of France, I had desired my credit might be sent to the same house to which my heavy baggage was consigned. I expected to find my baggage at Cette, which is the sea-port of Montpellier; and there I also hoped to find a vessel, in which I might be transported by sea to Nice, without further trouble. I longed to try what effect the boasted air of Montpellier would have upon my constitution; and I had a great desire to see the famous monuments of antiquity in and about the ancient city of Nismes, which is about eight leagues short of Montpellier.

At the inn where we lodged, I found a return berline, belonging to Avignon, with three mules, which are the animals commonly used for carriages in this country. This I hired for five loui’dores. The coach was large, commodious, and well-fitted; the mules were strong and in good order; and the driver, whose name was Joseph, appeared to be a sober, sagacious, intelligent fellow, perfectly well acquainted with every place in the South of France. He told me he was owner of the coach, but I afterwards learned, he was no other than a hired servant. I likewise detected him in some knavery, in the course of our journey; and plainly perceived he had a fellow-feeling with the inn-keepers on the road; but, in other respects, he was very obliging, serviceable, and even entertaining. There are some knavish practices of this kind, at which a traveller will do well to shut his eyes, for his own ease and convenience. He will be lucky if he has to do with a sensible knave, like Joseph, who understood his interest too well to be guilty of very flagrant pieces of imposition.

A man, impatient to be at his journey’s end, will find this a most disagreeable way of travelling. In summer it must be quite intolerable. The mules are very sure, but very slow. The journey seldom exceeds eight leagues, about four and twenty miles a day: and as those people have certain fixed stages, you are sometimes obliged to rise in a morning before day; a circumstance very grievous to persons in ill health. These inconveniences, however, were over-balanced by other agreemens. We no, sooner quitted Lyons, than we got into summer weather, and travelling through a most romantic country, along the banks of the Rhone, had opportunities (from the slowness of our pace) to contemplate its beauties at leisure.

The rapidity of the Rhone is, in a great measure, owing to its being confined within steep banks on each side. These are formed almost through its whole course, by a double chain of mountains, which rise with all abrupt ascent from both banks of the river. The mountains are covered with vineyards, interspersed with small summer-houses, and in many places they are crowned with churches, chapels, and convents, which add greatly to the romantic beauty of the prospect. The highroad, as far as Avignon, lies along the side of the river, which runs almost in a straight line, and affords great convenience for inland commerce. Travellers, bound to the southern parts of France, generally embark in the diligence at Lyons, and glide down this river with great velocity, passing a great number of towns and villages on each side, where they find ordinaries every day at dinner and supper. In good weather, there is no danger in this method of travelling, ‘till you come to the Pont St. Esprit, where the stream runs through the arches with such rapidity, that the boat is sometimes overset. But those passengers who are under any apprehension are landed above-bridge, and taken in again, after the boat has passed, just in the same manner as at London Bridge. The boats that go up the river are drawn against the stream by oxen, which swim through one of the arches of this bridge, the driver sitting between the horns of the foremost beast. We set out from Lyons early on Monday morning, and as a robbery had been a few days before committed in that neighbourhood, I ordered my servant to load my musquetoon with a charge of eight balls. By the bye, this piece did not fail to attract the curiosity and admiration of the people in every place through which we passed. The carriage no sooner halted, than a crowd immediately surrounded the man to view the blunderbuss, which they dignified with the title of petit canon. At Nuys in Burgundy, he fired it in the air, and the whole mob dispersed, and scampered off like a flock of sheep. In our journey hither, we generally set out in a morning at eight o’clock, and travelled ‘till noon, when the mules were put up and rested a couple of hours. During this halt, Joseph went to dinner, and we went to breakfast, after which we ordered provision for our refreshment in the coach, which we took about three or four in the afternoon, halting for that purpose, by the side of some transparent brook, which afforded excellent water to mix with our wine. In this country I was almost poisoned with garlic, which they mix in their ragouts, and all their sauces; nay, the smell of it perfumes the very chambers, as well as every person you approach. I was also very sick of been ficas, grives, or thrushes, and other little birds, which are served up twice a day at all ordinaries on the road. They make their appearance in vine-leaves, and are always half raw, in which condition the French choose to eat them, rather than run the risque of losing the juice by over-roasting.

The peasants on the South of France are poorly clad, and look as if they were half-starved, diminutive, swarthy, and meagre; and yet the common people who travel, live luxuriously on the road. Every carrier and mule-driver has two meals a day, consisting each of a couple of courses and a dessert, with tolerable small wine. That which is called hermitage, and grows in this province of Dauphine, is sold on the spot for three livres a bottle. The common draught, which you have at meals in this country, is remarkably strong, though in flavour much inferior to that of Burgundy. The accommodation is tolerable, though they demand (even in this cheap country) the exorbitant price of four livres a head for every meal, of those who choose to eat in their own apartments. I insisted, however, upon paying them with three, which they received, though not without murmuring and seeming discontented. In this journey, we found plenty of good mutton, pork, poultry, and game, including the red partridge, which is near twice as big as the partridge of England. Their hares are likewise surprisingly large and juicy. We saw great flocks of black turkeys feeding in the fields, but no black cattle; and milk was so scarce, that sometimes we were obliged to drink our tea without it.

One day perceiving a meadow on the side of the road, full of a flower which I took to be the crocus, I desired my servant to alight and pull some of them. He delivered the musquetoon to Joseph, who began to tamper with it, and off it went with a prodigious report, augmented by an eccho from the mountains that skirted the road. The mules were so frightened, that they went off at the gallop; and Joseph, for some minutes, could neither manage the reins, nor open his mouth. At length he recollected himself, and the cattle were stopt, by the assistance of the servant, to whom he delivered the musquetoon, with a significant shake of the head. Then alighting from the box, he examined the heads of his three mules, and kissed each of them in his turn. Finding they had received no damage, he came up to the coach, with a pale visage and staring eyes, and said it was God’s mercy he had not killed his beasts. I answered, that it was a greater mercy he had not killed his passengers; for the muzzle of the piece might have been directed our way as well as any other, and in that case Joseph might have been hanged for murder. “I had as good be hanged (said he) for murder, as be ruined by the loss of my cattle.” This adventure made such an impression upon him, that he recounted it to every person we met; nor would he ever touch the blunderbuss from that day. I was often diverted with the conversation of this fellow, who was very arch and very communicative. Every afternoon, he used to stand upon the foot-board, at the side of the coach, and discourse with us an hour together. Passing by the gibbet of Valencia, which stands very near the high-road, we saw one body hanging quite naked, and another lying broken on the wheel. I recollected, that Mandrin had suffered in this place, and calling to Joseph to mount the foot-board, asked if he had ever seen that famous adventurer. At mention of the name of Mandrin, the tear started in Joseph’s eye, he discharged a deep sigh, or rather groan, and told me he was his dear friend. I was a little startled at this declaration; however, I concealed my thoughts, and began to ask questions about the character and exploits of a man who had made such noise in the world.

He told me, Mandrin was a native of Valencia, of mean extraction: that he had served as a soldier in the army, and afterwards acted as maltotier, or tax-gatherer: that at length he turned contrebandier, or smuggler, and by his superior qualities, raised himself to the command of a formidable gang, consisting of five hundred persons well armed with carbines and pistols. He had fifty horses for his troopers, and three hundred mules for the carriage of his merchandize. His head-quarters were in Savoy: but he made incursions into Dauphine, and set the marechaussee at defiance. He maintained several bloody skirmishes with these troopers, as well as with other regular detachments, and in all those actions signalized himself by his courage and conduct. Coming up at one time with fifty of the marechaussee who were in quest of him, he told them very calmly, he had occasion for their horses and acoutrements, and desired them to dismount. At that instant his gang appeared, and the troopers complied with his request, without making the least opposition. Joseph said he was as generous as he was brave, and never molested travellers, nor did the least injury to the poor; but, on the contrary, relieved them very often. He used to oblige the gentlemen in the country to take his merchandize, his tobacco, brandy, and muslins, at his own price; and, in the same manner, he laid the open towns under contribution. When he had no merchandize, he borrowed money off them upon the credit of what he should bring when he was better provided. He was at last betrayed, by his wench, to the colonel of a French regiment, who went with a detachment in the night to the place where he lay in Savoy, and surprized him in a wood-house, while his people were absent in different parts of the country. For this intrusion, the court of France made an apology to the king of Sardinia, in whose territories he was taken. Mandrin being conveyed to Valencia, his native place, was for some time permitted to go abroad, under a strong guard, with chains upon his legs; and here he conversed freely with all sorts of people, flattering himself with the hopes of a pardon, in which, however, he was disappointed. An order came from court to bring him to his trial, when he was found guilty, and condemned to be broke on the wheel. Joseph said he drank a bottle of wine with him the night before his execution. He bore his fate with great resolution, observing that if the letter which he had written to the King had been delivered, he certainly should have obtained his Majesty’s pardon. His executioner was one of his own gang, who was pardoned on condition of performing this office. You know, that criminals broke upon the wheel are first strangled, unless the sentence imports, that they shall be broke alive. As Mandrin had not been guilty of cruelty in the course of his delinquency, he was indulged with this favour. Speaking to the executioner, whom he had formerly commanded, “Joseph (dit il), je ne veux pas que tu me touche, jusqu’a ce que je sois roid mort,” “Joseph,” said he, “thou shalt not touch me till I am quite dead.”— Our driver had no sooner pronounced these words, than I was struck with a suspicion, that he himself was the executioner of his friend Mandrin. On that suspicion, I exclaimed, “Ah! ah! Joseph!” The fellow blushed up to the eyes, and said, Oui, son nom etoit Joseph aussi bien que le mien, “Yes, he was called Joseph, as I am.” I did not think proper to prosecute the inquiry; but did not much relish the nature of Joseph’s connexions. The truth is, he had very much the looks of a ruffian; though, I must own, his behaviour was very obliging and submissive.

On the fifth day of our journey, in the morning, we passed the famous bridge at St. Esprit, which to be sure is a great curiosity, from its length, and the number of its arches: but these arches are too small: the passage above is too narrow; and the whole appears to be too slight, considering the force and impetuosity of the river. It is not comparable to the bridge at Westminster, either for beauty or solidity. Here we entered Languedoc, and were stopped to have our baggage examined; but the searcher, being tipped with a three-livre piece, allowed it to pass. Before we leave Dauphine, I must observe, that I was not a little surprized to see figs and chestnuts growing in the open fields, at the discretion of every passenger. It was this day I saw the famous Pont du Garde; but as I cannot possibly include, in this letter, a description of that beautiful bridge, and of the other antiquities belonging to Nismes, I will defer it till the next opportunity, being, in the mean time, with equal truth and affection — Dear Sir, Your obliged humble Servant.

Letter X

Montpellier, November 10, 1763.

DEAR SIR — By the Pont St. Esprit we entered the province of Languedoc, and breakfasted at Bagniole, which is a little paltry town; from whence, however, there is an excellent road through a mountain, made at a great expence, and extending about four leagues. About five in the afternoon, I had the first glimpse of the famous Pont du Garde, which stands on the right hand, about the distance of a league from the post-road to Nismes, and about three leagues from that city. I would not willingly pass for a false enthusiast in taste; but I cannot help observing, that from the first distant view of this noble monument, till we came near enough to see it perfectly, I felt the strongest emotions of impatience that I had ever known; and obliged our driver to put his mules to the full gallop, in the apprehension that it would be dark before we reached the place. I expected to find the building, in some measure, ruinous; but was agreeably disappointed, to see it look as fresh as the bridge at Westminster. The climate is either so pure and dry, or the free-stone, with which it is built, so hard, that the very angles of them remain as acute as if they had been cut last year. Indeed, some large stones have dropped out of the arches; but the whole is admirably preserved, and presents the eye with a piece of architecture, so unaffectedly elegant, so simple, and majestic, that I will defy the most phlegmatic and stupid spectator to behold it without admiration. It was raised in the Augustan age, by the Roman colony of Nismes, to convey a stream of water between two mountains, for the use of that city. It stands over the river Gardon, which is a beautiful pastoral stream, brawling among rocks, which form a number of pretty natural cascades, and overshadowed on each side with trees and shrubs, which greatly add to the rural beauties of the scene. It rises in the Cevennes, and the sand of it produces gold, as we learn from Mr. Reaumur, in his essay on this subject, inserted in the French Memoirs, for the year 1718. If I lived at Nismes, or Avignon (which last city is within four short leagues of it) I should take pleasure in forming parties to come hither, in summer, to dine under one of the arches of the Pont du Garde, on a cold collation.

This work consists of three bridges, or tire of arches, one above another; the first of six, the second of eleven, and the third of thirty-six. The height, comprehending the aqueduct on the top, amounts to 174 feet three inches: the length between the two mountains, which it unites, extends to 723. The order of architecture is the Tuscan, but the symmetry of it is inconceivable. By scooping the bases of the pilasters, of the second tire of arches, they had made a passage for foot-travellers: but though the antients far excelled us in beauty, they certainly fell short of the moderns in point of conveniency. The citizens of Avignon have, in this particular, improved the Roman work with a new bridge, by apposition, constructed on the same plan with that of the lower tire of arches, of which indeed it seems to be a part, affording a broad and commodious passage over the river, to horses and carriages of all kinds. The aqueduct, for the continuance of which this superb work was raised, conveyed a stream of sweet water from the fountain of Eure, near the city of Uzes, and extended near six leagues in length.

In approaching Nismes, you see the ruins of a Roman tower, built on the summit of a hill, which over-looks the city. It seems to have been intended, at first, as a watch, or signal-tower, though, in the sequel, it was used as a fortress: what remains of it, is about ninety feet high; the architecture of the Doric order. I no sooner alighted at the inn, than I was presented with a pamphlet, containing an account of Nismes and its antiquities, which every stranger buys. There are persons too who attend in order to shew the town, and you will always be accosted by some shabby antiquarian, who presents you with medals for sale, assuring you they are genuine antiques, and were dug out of the ruins of the Roman temple and baths. All those fellows are cheats; and they have often laid under contribution raw English travellers, who had more money than discretion. To such they sell the vilest and most common trash: but when they meet with a connoisseur, they produce some medals which are really valuable and curious.

Nismes, antiently called Nemausis, was originally a colony of Romans, settled by Augustus Caesar, after the battle of Actium. It is still of considerable extent, and said to contain twelve thousand families; but the number seems, by this account, to be greatly exaggerated. Certain it is, the city must have been formerly very extensive, as appears from the circuit of the antient walls, the remains of which are still to be seen. Its present size is not one third of its former extent. Its temples, baths, statues, towers, basilica, and amphitheatre, prove it to have been a city of great opulence and magnificence. At present, the remains of these antiquities are all that make it respectable or remarkable; though here are manufactures of silk and wool, carried on with good success. The water necessary for these works is supplied by a source at the foot of the rock, upon which the tower is placed; and here were discovered the ruins of Roman baths, which had been formed and adorned with equal taste and magnificence. Among the rubbish they found a vast profusion of columns, vases, capitals, cornices, inscriptions, medals, statues, and among other things, the finger of a colossal statue in bronze, which, according to the rules of proportion, must have been fifteen feet high. From these particulars, it appears that the edifices must have been spacious and magnificent. Part of a tesselated pavement still remains. The antient pavement of the bath is still intire; all the rubbish has been cleared away; and the baths, in a great measure, restored on the old plan, though they are not at present used for any thing but ornament. The water is collected into two vast reservoirs, and a canal built and lined with hewn stone. There are three handsome bridges thrown over this vast canal. It contains a great body of excellent water, which by pipes and other small branching canals, traverses the town, and is converted to many different purposes of oeconomy and manufacture. Between the Roman bath and these great canals, the ground is agreeably laid out in pleasure-walks. for the recreation of the inhabitants. Here are likewise ornaments of architecture, which savour much more of French foppery, than of the simplicity and greatness of the antients. It is very surprizing, that this fountain should produce such a great body of water, as fills the basin of the source, the Roman basin, two large deep canals three hundred feet in length, two vast basins that make part of the great canal, which is eighteen hundred feet long. eighteen feet deep, and forty-eight feet broad. When I saw it, there was in it about eight or nine feet of water, transparent as crystal. It must be observed, however, for the honour of French cleanliness, that in the Roman basin, through which this noble stream of water passes, I perceived two washerwomen at work upon children’s clouts and dirty linnen. Surprized, and much disgusted at this filthy phaenomenon, I asked by what means, and by whose permission, those dirty hags had got down into the basin, in order to contaminate the water at its fountain-head; and understood they belonged to the commandant of the place, who had keys of the subterranean passage.

Fronting the Roman baths are the ruins of an antient temple, which, according to tradition, was dedicated to Diana: but it has been observed by connoisseurs, that all the antient temples of this goddess were of the Ionic order; whereas, this is partly Corinthian, and partly composite. It is about seventy foot long, and six and thirty in breadth, arched above, and built of large blocks of stone, exactly joined together without any cement. The walls are still standing, with three great tabernacles at the further end, fronting the entrance. On each side, there are niches in the intercolumniation of the walls, together with pedestals and shafts of pillars, cornices, and an entablature, which indicate the former magnificence of the building. It was destroyed during the civil war that raged in the reign of Henry III. of France.

It is amazing, that the successive irruptions of barbarous nations, of Goths, Vandals, and Moors; of fanatic croisards, still more sanguinary and illiberal than those Barbarians, should have spared this temple, as well as two other still more noble monuments of architecture, that to this day adorn the city of Nismes: I mean the amphitheatre and the edifice, called Maison Carree — The former of these is counted the finest monument of the kind, now extant; and was built in the reign of Antoninus Pius, who contributed a large sum of money towards its erection. It is of an oval figure, one thousand and eighty feet in circumference, capacious enough to hold twenty thousand spectators. The architecture is of the Tuscan order, sixty feet high, composed of two open galleries, built one over another, consisting each of threescore arcades. The entrance into the arena was by four great gates, with porticos; and the seats, of which there were thirty, rising one above another, consisted of great blocks of stone, many of which still remain. Over the north gate, appear two bulls, in alto-relievo, extremely well executed, emblems which, according to the custom of the Romans, signified that the amphitheatre was erected at the expence of the people. There are in other parts of it some work in bas-relief, and heads or busts but indifferently carved. It stands in the lower part of the town, and strikes the spectator with awe and veneration. The external architecture is almost intire in its whole circuit; but the arena is filled up with houses — This amphitheatre was fortified as a citadel by the Visigoths, in the beginning of the sixth century. They raised within it a castle, two towers of which are still extant; and they surrounded it with a broad and deep fossee, which was filled up in the thirteenth century. In all the subsequent wars to which this city was exposed, it served as the last resort of the citizens, and sustained a great number of successive attacks; so that its preservation is almost miraculous. It is likely, however, to suffer much more from the Gothic avarice of its own citizens, some of whom are mutilating it every day, for the sake of the stones, which they employ in their own private buildings. It is surprizing, that the King’s authority has not been exerted to put an end to such sacrilegious violation.

If the amphitheatre strikes you with an idea of greatness, the Maison Carree enchants you with the most exquisite beauties of architecture and sculpture. This is an edifice, supposed formerly to have been erected by Adrian, who actually built a basilica in this city, though no vestiges of it remain: but the following inscription, which was discovered on the front of it, plainly proves, that it was built by the inhabitants of Nismes, in honour of Caius and Lucius Caesar, the grandchildren of Augustus by his daughter Julia, the wife of Agrippa.


To Caius and Lucius Caesar, sons of Augustus, consuls elect, Princes of the Roman youth.

This beautiful edifice, which stands upon a pediment six feet high, is eighty-two feet long, thirty-five broad, and thirty-seven high, without reckoning the pediment. The body of it is adorned with twenty columns engaged in the wall, and the peristyle, which is open, with ten detached pillars that support the entablature. They are all of the Corinthian order, fluted and embellished with capitals of the most exquisite sculpture, the frize and cornice are much admired, and the foliage is esteemed inimitable. The proportions of the building are so happily united, as to give it an air of majesty and grandeur, which the most indifferent spectator cannot behold without emotion. A man needs not be a connoisseur in architecture, to enjoy these beauties. They are indeed so exquisite that you may return to them every day with a fresh appetite for seven years together. What renders them the more curious, they are still entire, and very little affected, either by the ravages of time, or the havoc of war. Cardinal Alberoni declared, that it was a jewel that deserved a cover of gold to preserve it from external injuries. An Italian painter, perceiving a small part of the roof repaired by modern French masonry, tore his hair, and exclaimed in a rage, “Zounds! what do I see? harlequin’s hat on the head of Augustus!”

Without all doubt it is ravishingly beautiful. The whole world cannot parallel it; and I am astonished to see it standing entire, like the effects of inchantment, after such a succession of ages, every one more barbarous than another. The history of the antiquities of Nismes takes notice of a grotesque statue, representing two female bodies and legs, united under the head of an old man; but, as it does not inform us where it is kept, I did not see it.

The whole country of Languedoc is shaded with olive trees, the fruit of which begins to ripen, and appears as black as sloes; those they pickle are pulled green, and steeped for some time in a lye made of quick lime or wood ashes, which extracts the bitter taste, and makes the fruit tender. Without this preparation it is not eatable. Under the olive and fig trees, they plant corn and vines, so that there is not an inch of ground unlaboured: but here are no open fields, meadows, or cattle to be seen. The ground is overloaded; and the produce of it crowded to such a degree, as to have a bad effect upon the eye, impressing the traveller with the ideas of indigence and rapacity. The heat in summer is so excessive, that cattle would find no green forage, every blade of grass being parched up and destroyed. The weather was extremely hot when we entered Montpellier, and put up at the Cheval Blanc, counted the best auberge in the place, tho’ in fact it is a most wretched hovel, the habitation of darkness, dirt, and imposition. Here I was obliged to pay four livres a meal for every person in my family, and two livres at night for every bed, though all in the same room: one would imagine that the further we advance to the southward the living is the dearer, though in fact every article of housekeeping is cheaper in Languedoc than many other provinces of France. This imposition is owing to the concourse of English who come hither, and, like simple birds of passage, allow themselves to be plucked by the people of the country, who know their weak side, and make their attacks accordingly. They affect to believe, that all the travellers of our country are grand seigneurs, immensely rich and incredibly generous; and we are silly enough to encourage this opinion, by submitting quietly to the most ridiculous extortion, as well as by committing acts of the most absurd extravagance. This folly of the English, together with a concourse of people from different quarters, who come hither for the re-establishment of their health, has rendered Montpellier one of the dearest places in the South of France. The city, which is but small, stands upon a rising ground fronting the Mediterranean, which is about three leagues to the southward: on the other side is an agreeable plain, extending about the same distance towards the mountains of the Cevennes. The town is reckoned well built, and what the French call bien percee; yet the streets are in general narrow, and the houses dark. The air is counted salutary in catarrhous consumptions, from its dryness and elasticity: but too sharp in cases of pulmonary imposthumes.

It was at Montpellier that we saw for the first time any signs of that gaiety and mirth for which the people of this country are celebrated. In all other places through which we passed since our departure from Lyons, we saw nothing but marks of poverty and chagrin. We entered Montpellier on a Sunday, when the people were all dressed in their best apparel. The streets were crowded; and a great number of the better sort of both sexes sat upon stone seats at their doors, conversing with great mirth and familiarity. These conversations lasted the greatest part of the night; and many of them were improved with musick both vocal and instrumental: next day we were visited by the English residing in the place, who always pay this mark of respect to new comers. They consist of four or five families, among whom I could pass the winter very agreeably, if the state of my health and other reasons did not call me away.

Mr. L— had arrived two days before me, troubled with the same asthmatic disorder, under which I have laboured so long. He told me he had been in quest of me ever since he left England. Upon comparing notes, I found he had stopped at the door of a country inn in Picardy, and drank a glass of wine and water, while I was at dinner up stairs; nay, he had even spoke to my servant, and asked who was his master, and the man, not knowing him, replied, he was a gentleman from Chelsea. He had walked by the door of the house where I lodged at Paris, twenty times, while I was in that city; and the very day before he arrived at Montpellier, he had passed our coach on the road.

The garrison of this city consists of two battalions, one of which is the Irish regiment of Berwick, commanded by lieutenant colonel Tents, a gentleman with whom we contracted an acquaintance at Boulogne. He treats us with great politeness, and indeed does every thing in his power to make the place agreeable to us. The duke of Fitz-James, the governor, is expected here in a little time. We have already a tolerable concert twice a week; there will be a comedy in the winter; and the states of Provence assemble in January, so that Montpellier will be extremely gay and brilliant. These very circumstances would determine me to leave it. I have not health to enjoy these pleasures: I cannot bear a croud of company such as pours in upon us unexpectedly at all hours; and I foresee, that in staying at Montpellier, I should be led into an expence, which I can ill afford. I have therefore forwarded the letter I received from general P— n, to Mr. B— d, our consul at Nice, signifying my intention of going thither, and explaining the kind of accommodation I would choose to have at that place.

The day after our arrival, I procured tolerable lodgings in the High Street, for which I pay fifty sols, something more than two shillings per day; and I am furnished with two meals a day by a traiteur for ten livres: but he finds neither the wine nor the dessert; and indeed we are but indifferently served. Those families who reside here find their account in keeping house. Every traveller who comes to this, or any other, town in France with a design to stay longer than a day or two, ought to write beforehand to his correspondent to procure furnished lodgings, to which he may be driven immediately, without being under the necessity of lying in an execrable inn; for all the inns of this country are execrable.

My baggage is not yet arrived by the canal of Languedoc; but that gives me no disturbance, as it is consigned to the care of Mr. Ray, an English merchant and banker of this place; a gentleman of great probity and worth, from whom I have received repeated marks of uncommon friendship and hospitality.

The next time you hear of me will be from Nice: mean-while, I remain always — Dear Sir, Your affectionate humble servant.

Letter XI

Montpellier, November 12.

DEAR DOCTOR— I flattered myself with the hope of much amusement during my short stay at Montpellier. — The University, the Botanical Garden, the State of Physic in this part of the world, and the information I received of a curious collection of manuscripts, among which I hoped to find something for our friend Dr. H— r; all these particulars promised a rich fund of entertainment, which, however, I cannot enjoy.

A few days after my arrival, it began to rain with a southerly wind, and continued without ceasing the best part of a week, leaving the air so loaded with vapours, that there was no walking after sun-set; without being wetted by the dew almost to the skin. I have always found a cold and damp atmosphere the most unfavourable of any to my constitution. My asthmatical disorder. which had not given me much disturbance since I left Boulogne, became now very troublesome, attended with fever, cough spitting, and lowness of spirits; and I wasted visibly every day. I was favoured with the advice of Dr. Fitzmaurice, a very worthy sensible physician settled in this place: but I had the curiosity to know the opinion of the celebrated professor F — who is the Boerhaave of Montpellier. The account I had of his private character and personal deportment, from some English people to whom he was well known, left me no desire to converse with him: but I resolved to consult with him on paper. This great lanthorn of medicine is become very rich and very insolent; and in proportion as his wealth increases, he is said to grow the more rapacious. He piques himself upon being very slovenly, very blunt, and very unmannerly; and perhaps to these qualifications be owes his reputation rather than to any superior skill in medicine. I have known them succeed in our own country; and seen a doctor’s parts estimated by his brutality and presumption.

F— is in his person and address not unlike our old acquaintance Dr. Sm — ie; he stoops much, dodges along, and affects to speak the Patois, which is a corruption of the old Provencial tongue, spoken by the vulgar in Languedoc and Provence. Notwithstanding his great age and great wealth, he will still scramble up two pair of stairs for a fee of six livres; and without a fee he will give his advice to no person whatsoever.

He is said to have great practice in the venereal branch and to be frequented by persons of both sexes infected with this distemper, not only from every part of France, but also from Spain, Italy, Germany, and England. I need say nothing of the Montpellier method of cure, which is well known at London; but I have some reason to think the great professor F — has, like the famous Mrs. Mapp, the bone-setter, cured many patients that were never diseased.

Be that as it may, I sent my valet de place, who was his townsman and acquaintance, to his house, with the following case, and a loui’dore.

Annum aetatis, post quadragesimum, tertium, Temperamentum humidum, crassum, pituitarepletum, catarrhis saepissime profligatum. Catarrhus, febre, anxietate et dyspnoea, nunquam non comitatus. Irritatio membranae piuitariae trachaealis, tussim initio aridam, siliquosam, deinde vero excreationem copiosam excitat: sputum albumini ovi simillimum.

Accedente febre, urina pallida, limpida: ad akmen flagrante, colorem rubrum, subflavum induit: coctione peracta, sedimentum lateritium deponit.

Appetitus raro deest: digestio segnior sed secura, non autem sine ructu perfecta. Alvus plerumque stipata: excretio intestinalis minima, ratione ingestorum habita. Pulsus frequens, vacillans, exilis, quandoquidem etiam intermittens.

Febre una extincta, non deficit altera. Aliaque et eadem statim nascitur. Aer paulo frigidior, vel humidior, vestimentum inusitatum indutum; exercitatio paulullum nimia; ambulatio, equitatio, in quovis vehiculo jactatio; haec omnia novos motus suscitant. Systema nervosum maxime irritabile, organos patitur. Ostiola in cute hiantia, materiei perspirabili, exitum praebentia, clauduntur. Materies obstructa cumulatur; sanguine aliisque humoribus circumagitur: fit plethora. Natura opprimi nolens, excessus huius expulsionem conatur. Febris nova accenditur. Pars oneris, in membranam trachaealem laxatam ac debilitatam transfertur. Glandulae pituitariae turgentes bronchia comprimunt. Liber aeri transitus negatur: hinc respiratio difficilis. Hac vero translatione febris minuitur: interdiu remittitur. Dyspnoea autem aliaque symptomata vere hypochondriaca, recedere nolunt. Vespere febris exacerbatur. Calor, inquietudo, anxietas et asthma, per noctem grassantur. Ita quotidie res agitur, donec. Vis vitae paulatim crisim efficit. Seminis joctura, sive in somniis effusi, seu in gremio veneris ejaculati, inter causas horum malorum nec non numeretur.

Quibusdam abhinc annis, exercitationibus juvenilibus subito remissis, in vitam sedentariam lapsum. Animo in studia severiora converso, fibre gradatim laxabantur. Inter legendum, et scribendum inclinato corpore in pectus malum, ruebat. Morbo ingruenti affectio scorbutica auxilium tulit. Invasio prima nimium aspernata. Venientibus hostibus non occursum. Cunctando res non restituta. Remedia convenientia stomachus perhorrescebat. Gravescente dyspnoea phlebotomia frustra tentata. Sanguinis missione vis vitae diminuta: fiebat pulsitis debilior, respiratio difficilior. In pejus ruunt omnia. Febris anomala in febriculam continuam mutata. Dyspnoea confirmata. Fibrarum compages soluta. Valetudo penitus eversa.

His agitatus furiis, aeger ad mare provolat: in fluctus se precipitem, dat: periculum factum spem non fefellit: decies iteratum, felix faustumque evasit. Elater novus fibris conciliatur. Febricula fugatur. Acris dyspnoea solvitur. Beneficium dextra ripa partum, sinistra perditum. Superficie corporis, aquae marine frigore et pondere, compressa et contracta, interstitia fibrarum occluduntur: particulis incrementi novis partes abrasas reficientibus, locus non datur. Nutritio corporis, via pristina clausa, qua data porta ruit: in membranam pulmonum, minus firmatam facile fertur, et glandulis per sputum rejicitur.

Hieme pluviosa, regnante dolores renovantur; tametsi tempore sereno equitatio profuit. Aestate morbus vix ullum progrediebatur. Autumno, valetudine plus declinata, thermis Bathoniensibus solatium haud frustra quaesitum. Aqua ista mire medicata, externe aeque ac interne adhibita, malis levamen attulit. Hiems altera, frigida, horrida, diuturna, innocua tamen successit. Vere novo casus atrox diras procellas animo immisit: toto corpore, tota mente tumultuatur. Patria relicta, tristitia, sollecitudo, indignatio, et saevissima recordatio sequuntur. Inimici priores furore inveterato revertuntur. Rediit febris hectica: rediit asthma cum anxietate, tusse et dolore lateris lancinanti.

Desperatis denique rebus, iterum ad mare, veluti ad anceps remedium recurritur. Balneum hoc semper benignum. Dolor statim avolat. Tertio die febris, retrocessit. Immersio quotidiana antemeridiana, ad vices quinquaginta repetita, symptomata graviora subjugavit. — Manet vero tabes pituitaria: manet temperamentum in catarrhos proclive. Corpus macrescit. Vires delabuntur.

The professor’s eyes sparkled at sight of the fee; and he desired the servant to call next morning for his opinion of the case, which accordingly I received in these words:

“On voit par cette relation que monsieur le consultant dont on n’a pas juge a propos de dire l’age, mais qui nous paroit etre adulte et d’un age passablement avance, a ete sujet cy devant a des rhumes frequens accompagnes de fievre; on ne detaille point (aucune epoque), on parle dans la relation d’asthme auquel il a ete sujet, de scorbut ou affection scorbutique dont on ne dit pas les symptomes. On nous fait scavoir qu’il s’est bien trouve de l’immersion dans l’eau de la mer, et des eaux de Bath.

“On dit a present qu’il a une fievre pituitaire sans dire depuis combien de temps. Qu’il lui reste toujours son temperament enclin aux catharres. Que le corps maigrit, et que les forces se perdent. On ne dit point s’il y a des exacerbations dans cette fievre ou non, si le malade a appetit ou non, s’il tousse ou non, s’il crache ou non, en un mot on n’entre dans aucun detail sur ces objets, sur quoi le conseil soussigne estime que monsieur le consultant est en fievre lente, et que vraisemblable le poumon souffre de quelque tubercules qui peut-etre sont en fonte, ce que nous aurions determine si dans la relation on avoit marque les qualites de crachats.

“La cause fonchere de cette maladie doit etre imputee a une lymphe epaisse et acrimonieuse, qui donne occasion a des tubercules au pomon, qui etant mis on fonte fournissent au sang des particules acres et le rendent tout acrimonieux.

“Les vues que l’on doit avoir dans ce cas sent de procurer des bonnes digestions (quoique dans la relation ou ne dit pas un mot sur les digestions) de jetter un douce detrempe dans la masse du sang, d’en ebasser l’acrimonie et de l’adoucir, de diviser fort doucement a lymphe, et de deterger le poumon, lui procurant meme du calme suppose que la toux l’inquiete, quoique cependant on ne dit pas un mot sur la toux dans la relation. C’est pourquoi on le purgera avec 3 onces de manne, dissoutes dans un verre de decoction de 3 dragmes de polypode de chesne, on passera ensuite a des bouillons qui seront faits avec un petit poulet, la chair, le sang, le coeur et le foye d’une tortue de grandeur mediocre c’est a dire du poid de 8 a 12 onces avec sa coquille, une poignee de chicoree amere de jardin, et une pincee de feuilles de lierre terrestre vertes on seches. Ayant pris ces bouillons 15 matins on se purgera comme auparavant, pour en venir a des bouillons qui seront faits avec la moitie d’un mou de veau, une poignee de pimprenelle de jardin, et une dragme de racine d’angelique concassee.

Ayant pris ces bouillons 15 matins, on se purgera somme auparavant pour en venir an lait d’anesse que l’on prendra le matin a jeun, a la dose de 12 a 16 onces y ajoutant un cuilleree de sucre rape, on prendra ce lait le matin a jeun observant de prendre pendant son usage de deux jours l’un un moment avant le lait un bolus fait avec 15 grains de craye de Braincon en poudre fine, 20 grains de corail prepare, 8 grains d’antihectique de poterius, et ce qu’il faut de syrop de lierre terrestre, mais les jour on ou ne prendra pas le bolus on prendra un moment avant le lait 3 on 4 gouttes de bon baume de Canada detrempees dans un demi cuilleree de syrop de lierre terrestre. Si le corps maigrit de plus en plus, je suis d’avis que pendant l’usage du lait d’anesse on soupe tous les soirs avec une soupe au lait de vache.

“On continuera l’usage du lait d’anesse tant, que le malade pourra le supporter, ne le purgeant que par necessite et toujours avec la medecine ordonnee.

“Au reste, si monsieur le consultant ne passe les nuits bien calmes, il prendra chaque soir a l’heure de sommeil six grains des pilules de cynoglosse, dent il augmentera la dose d’un grain de plus toutes les fois que la dose du jour precedent, n’aura pas ete suffisante pour lui faire passer la nuit bien calme.

“Si les malade tousse il usera soit de jour soit de nuit par petites cuillerees a casse d’un looch, qui sera fait avec un once de syrop de violat et un dragme de blanc de baleine.

“Si les crachats sent epais et qu’il crache difficilement, en ce cas il prendra une ou deux fois le jour, demi dragme de blanc de baleine reduit on poudre avec un pen de sucre candit qu’il avalera avec une cuilleree d’eau.

“Enfin il doit observer un bon regime de vivre, c’est pourquoi il fera toujours gras et seulement en soupes, bouilli et roti, il ne mangera pas les herbes des soupes, et on salera peu son pot, il se privera du beuf, cochon, chair noir, oiseaux d’eau, ragouts, fritures, patisseries, alimens sales, epices, vinaigres, salades, fruits, cruds, et autres crudites, alimens grossiers, ou de difficille digestion, la boisson sera de l’eau tant soit peu rougee de bon vin au diner seulement, et il ne prendra a souper qu’une soupe.

Delibere a MONTPELLIER le 11 Novembre. F—. Professeur en l’universite honoraire.

Receu vingt et quatre livres.

I thought it was a little extraordinary that a learned professor should reply in his mother tongue, to a case put in Latin: but I was much more surprised, as you will also be, at reading his answer, from which I was obliged to conclude, either that he did not understand Latin; or that he had not taken the trouble to read my memoire. I shall not make any remarks upon the stile of his prescription, replete as it is with a disgusting repetition of low expressions: but I could not but, in justice to myself, point out to him the passages in my case which he had overlooked. Accordingly, having marked them with letters, I sent it back, with the following billet.

“Apparement Mons. F— n’a pas donne beaucoup d’attention au memoire de ma sante que j’ai on l’honneur de lui presenter — ‘Monsieur le consultant (dit il) dont on n’a pas juge it propos de dire l’age.’— Mais on voit dans le memoire a No. 1. ‘Annum aetatis post quadragesimum tertium.’

“Mr. F— dit que ‘je n’ai pas marque aucune epoque. Mais a No. 2 du memoire il trouvera ces mots. ‘Quibusdam abbinc annis.’ J’ai meme detaille le progres de la maladie pour trois ans consecutifs.

“Mons. F— observe, ‘On no dit point s’il y a des exacerbations dans cette fievre ou non.’ Qu’il. Regarde la lettre B, il verra, Vespere febris exacerbatur. Calor, inquietudo, anxietas et asthma per noctem grassantur.’

“Mons. F— remarque, ‘On ne dit point si le malade a appetit ou non, s’il tousse ou non, s’il crache ou non, en un mot on n’entre dans aucun detail sur ces objets.’ Mais on voit toutes ces circonstances detaillees dans la memoire a lettre A, ‘Irritatio membranae trachaealis tussim, initio aridam, siliquosam, deinde vero excreationem copiosam excitat. Sputum albumini ovi simillimum. Appetitus raro deest. Digestio segnior sed secura.’

“Mons. F— observe encore, ‘qu’on ne dit pas un mot sur la toux dans la relation.’ Mais j’ai dit encore a No. 3 de memoire, ‘rediit febris hectica; rediit asthma cum anxietate, tusse et dolore lateris lancinante.’

“Au reste, je ne puis pas me persuader qu’il y ait des tubercules au poumon, parce que j’ai ne jamais crache de pus, ni autre chose que de la pituite qui a beaucoup de ressemblance au blanc des oeufs. Sputum albumini ovi simillimum. Il me paroit done que ma maladie doit son origine a la suspension de l’exercice du corps, au grand attachement d’esprit, et a une vie sedentaire qui a relache le sisteme fibreux; et qu’a present on pent l’appeller tubes pituitaria, non tubes purulenta. J’espere que Mons. Faura la bonte de faire revision du memoire, et de m’en dire encore son sentiment.”

Considering the nature of the case, you see I could not treat him more civilly. I desired the servant to ask when he should return for an answer, and whether he expected another fee. He desired him to come next morning, and, as the fellow assured me, gave him to understand, that whatever monsieur might solicit, should be for his (the servant’s) advantage. In all probability he did not expect another gratification, to which, indeed, he had no title. Mons. F— was undoubtedly much mortified to find himself detected in such flagrant instances of unjustifiable negligence, arid like all other persons in the same ungracious dilemma, instead of justifying himself by reason or argument, had recourse to recrimination. In the paper which he sent me next day, he insisted in general that he had carefully perused the case (which you will perceive was a self-evident untruth); he said the theory it contained was idle; that he was sure it could not be written by a physician; that, with respect to the disorder, he was still of the same opinion; and adhered to his former prescription; but if I had any doubts I might come to his house, and he would resolve them.

I wrapt up twelve livres in the following note, and sent it to his house.

“C’est ne pas sans raison que monsieur F— jouit d’une si grande reputation. Je n’ai plus de doutes, graces a Dieu et a monsieur F— e. “ “It is not without reason that monsieur Fizes enjoys such a large share of reputation. I have no doubts remaining; thank Heaven and monsieur Fizes.”

To this I received for answer. “Monsieur n’a plus de doutes: j’en suis charme. Receu douze livres. F — &c.” “Sir, you have no doubts remaining; I am very glad of it. Received twelve livres. Fizes, &c.”

Instead of keeping his promise to the valet, he put the money in his pocket; and the fellow returned in a rage, exclaiming that he was un gros cheval de carosse, a great coach-horse.

I shall make no other comment upon the medicines, and the regimen which this great Doctor prescribed; but that he certainly mistook the case: that upon the supposition I actually laboured under a purulent discharge from the lungs, his remedies savour strongly of the old woman; and that there is a total blank with respect to the article of exercise, which you know is so essential in all pulmonary disorders. But after having perused my remarks upon his first prescription, he could not possibly suppose that I had tubercules, and was spitting up pus; therefore his persisting in recommending the same medicines he had prescribed on that supposition, was a flagrant absurdity. — If, for example, there was no vomica in the lungs; and the business was to attenuate the lymph, what could be more preposterous than to advise the chalk of Briancon, coral, antihecticum poterii, and the balm of Canada? As for the turtle-soupe, it is a good restorative and balsamic; but, I apprehend, will tend to thicken rather than attenuate the phlegm. He mentions not a syllable of the air, though it is universally allowed, that the climate of Montpellier is pernicious to ulcerated lungs; and here I cannot help recounting a small adventure which our doctor had with a son of Mr. O— d, merchant in the city of London. I had it from Mrs. St — e who was on the spot. The young gentleman, being consumptive, consulted Mr. F — who continued visiting and prescribing for him a whole month. At length, perceiving that he grew daily worse, “Doctor (said he) I take your prescriptions punctually; but, instead of being the better for them, I have now not an hour’s remission from the fever in the four-and-twenty. — I cannot conceive the meaning of it.” F — who perceived he had not long to live, told him the reason was very plain: the air of Montpellier was too sharp for his lungs, which required a softer climate. “Then you’re a sordid villain (cried the young man) for allowing me to stay here till my constitution is irretrievable.” He set out immediately for Tholouse, and in a few weeks died in the neighbourhood of that city.

I observe that the physicians in this country pay no regard to the state of the solids in chronical disorders, that exercise and the cold bath are never prescribed, that they seem to think the scurvy is entirely an English disease; and that, in all appearance, they often confound the symptoms of it, with those of the venereal distemper. Perhaps I may be more particular on this subject in a subsequent letter. In the mean time, I am ever — Dear Sir, Yours sincerely.

Letter XII

Nice, December 6, 1763.

DEAR SIR — The inhabitants of Montpellier are sociable, gay, and good-tempered. They have a spirit of commerce, and have erected several considerable manufactures, in the neighbourhood of the city. People assemble every day to take the air on the esplanade, where there is a very good walk, just without the gate of the citadel: but, on the other side of the town, there is another still more agreeable, called the peirou, from whence there is a prospect of the Mediterranean on one side, and of the Cevennes on the other. Here is a good equestrian statue of Louis XIV, fronting one gate of the city, which is built in form of a triumphal arch, in honour of the same monarch. Immediately under the pierou is the physic garden, and near it an arcade just finished for an aqueduct, to convey a stream of water to the upper parts of the city. Perhaps I should have thought this a neat piece of work, if I had not seen the Pont du Garde: but, after having viewed the Roman arches, I could not look upon this but with pity and contempt. It is a wonder how the architect could be so fantastically modern, having such a noble model, as it were, before his eyes.

There are many protestants at this place, as well as at Nismes, and they are no longer molested on the score of religion. They have their conventicles in the country, where they assemble privately for worship. These are well known; and detachments are sent out every Sunday to intercept them; but the officer has always private directions to take another route. Whether this indulgence comes from the wisdom and lenity of the government, or is purchased with money of the commanding officer, I cannot determine: but certain it is, the laws of France punish capitally every protestant minister convicted of having performed the functions of his ministry in this kingdom; and one was hanged about two years ago, in the neighbourhood of Montauban.

The markets in Montpellier are well supplied with fish, poultry, butcher’s meat, and game, at reasonable rates. The wine of the country is strong and harsh, and never drank, but when mixed with water. Burgundy is dear, and so is the sweet wine of Frontignan, though made in the neighbourhood of Cette. You know it is famous all over Europe, and so are the liqueurs, or drams of various sorts, compounded and distilled at Montpellier. Cette is the sea-port, about four leagues from that city: but the canal of Languedoc comes up within a mile of it; and is indeed a great curiosity: a work in all respects worthy of a Colbert, under whose auspices it was finished. When I find such a general tribute of respect and veneration paid to the memory of that great man, I am astonished to see so few monuments of public utility left by other ministers. One would imagine, that even the desire of praise would prompt a much greater number to exert themselves for the glory and advantage of their country; yet in my opinion, the French have been ungrateful to Colbert, in the same proportion as they have over-rated the character of his master. Through all France one meets with statues and triumphal arches erected to Louis XIV, in consequence of his victories; by which, likewise, he acquired the title of Louis le Grand. But how were those victories obtained? Not by any personal merit of Louis. It was Colbert who improved his finances, and enabled him to pay his army. It was Louvois that provided all the necessaries of war. It was a Conde, a Turenne, a Luxemburg, a Vendome, who fought his battles; and his first conquests, for which he was deified by the pen of adulation, were obtained almost without bloodshed, over weak, dispirited, divided, and defenceless nations. It was Colbert that improved the marine, instituted manufactures, encouraged commerce, undertook works of public utility, and patronized the arts and sciences. But Louis (you will say) had the merit of choosing and supporting those ministers, and those generals. I answer, no. He found Colbert and Louvois already chosen: he found Conde and Turenne in the very zenith of military reputation. Luxemburg was Conde’s pupil; and Vendome, a prince of the blood, who at first obtained the command of armies in consequence of his high birth, and happened to turn out a man of genius. The same Louis had the sagacity to revoke the edict of Nantz; to entrust his armies to a Tallard, a Villeroy, and a Marsin. He had the humanity to ravage the country, burn the towns, and massacre the people of the Palatinate. He had the patriotism to impoverish and depopulate his own kingdom, in order to prosecute schemes of the most lawless ambition. He had the Consolation to beg a peace from those he had provoked to war by the most outrageous insolence; and he had the glory to espouse Mrs. Maintenon in her old age, the widow of the buffoon Scarron. Without all doubt, it was from irony he acquired the title le Grand.

Having received a favourable answer from Mr. B — the English consul at Nice, and recommended the care of my heavy baggage to Mr. Ray, who undertook to send it by sea from Cette to Villefranche, I hired a coach and mules for seven loui’dores, and set out from Montpellier on the 13th of November, the weather being agreeable, though the air was cold and frosty. In other respects there were no signs of winter: the olives were now ripe, and appeared on each side of the road as black as sloes; and the corn was already half a foot high. On the second day of our journey, we passed the Rhone on a bridge of boats at Buccaire, and lay on the other side at Tarrascone. Next day we put up at a wretched place called Orgon, where, however, we were regaled with an excellent supper; and among other delicacies, with a dish of green pease. Provence is a pleasant country, well cultivated; but the inns are not so good here as in Languedoc, and few of them are provided with a certain convenience which an English traveller can very ill dispense with. Those you find are generally on the tops of houses, exceedingly nasty; and so much exposed to the weather, that a valetudinarian cannot use them without hazard of his life. At Nismes in Languedoc, where we found the Temple of Cloacina in a most shocking condition, the servant-maid told me her mistress had caused it to be made on purpose for the English travellers; but now she was very sorry for what she had done, as all the French who frequented her house, instead of using the seat, left their offerings on the floor, which she was obliged to have cleaned three or four times a day. This is a degree of beastliness, which would appear detestable even in the capital of North-Britain. On the fourth day of our pilgrimage, we lay in the suburbs of Aix, but did not enter the city, which I had a great curiosity to see. The villainous asthma baulked me of that satisfaction. I was pinched with the cold, and impatient to reach a warmer climate. Our next stage was at a paltry village, where we were poorly entertained. I looked so ill in the morning, that the good woman of the house, who was big with child, took me by the hand at parting, and even shed tears, praying fervently that God would restore me to my health. This was the only instance of sympathy, compassion, or goodness of heart, that I had met with among the publicans of France. Indeed at Valencia, our landlady, understanding I was travelling to Montpellier for my health would have dissuaded me from going thither; and exhorted me, in particular, to beware of the physicians, who were all a pack of assassins. She advised me to eat fricassees of chickens, and white meat, and to take a good bouillon every morning.

A bouillon is an universal remedy among the good people of France; insomuch, that they have no idea of any person’s dying, after having swallowed un bon bouillon. One of the English gentlemen, who were robbed and murdered about thirty years ago between Calais and Boulogne, being brought to the post-house of Boulogne with some signs of life, this remedy was immediately administered. “What surprises me greatly, (said the post-master, speaking of this melancholy story to a friend of mine, two years after it happened) I made an excellent bouillon, and poured it down his throat with my own hands, and yet he did not recover.” Now, in all probability, this bouillon it was that stopped his breath. When I was a very young man, I remember to have seen a person suffocated by such impertinent officiousness. A young man of uncommon parts and erudition, very well esteemed at the university of G— ow was found early one morning in a subterranean vault among the ruins of an old archiepiscopal palace, with his throat cut from ear to ear. Being conveyed to a public-house in the neighbourhood, he made signs for pen, ink, and paper, and in all probability would have explained the cause of this terrible catastrophe, when an old woman, seeing the windpipe, which was cut, sticking out of the wound, and mistaking it for the gullet, by way of giving him a cordial to support his spirits, poured into it, through a small funnel, a glass of burnt brandy, which strangled him in the tenth part of a minute. The gash was so hideous, and formed by so many repeated strokes of a razor, that the surgeons believed he could not possibly be the perpetrator himself; nevertheless this was certainly the case.

At Brignolles, where we dined, I was obliged to quarrel with the landlady, and threaten to leave her house, before she would indulge us with any sort of flesh-meat. It was meagre day, and she had made her provision accordingly. She even hinted some dissatisfaction at having heretics in her house: but, as I was not disposed to eat stinking fish, with ragouts of eggs and onions, I insisted upon a leg of mutton, and a brace of fine partridges, which I found in the larder. Next day, when we set out in the morning from Luc, it blew a north-westerly wind so extremely cold and biting, that even a flannel wrapper could not keep me tolerably warm in the coach. Whether the cold had put our coachman in a bad humour, or he had some other cause of resentment against himself, I know not; but we had not gone above a quarter of a mile, when he drove the carriage full against the corner of a garden wall, and broke the axle-tree, so that we were obliged to return to the inn on foot, and wait a whole day, until a new piece could be made and adjusted. The wind that blew, is called Maestral, in the Provencial dialect, and indeed is the severest that ever I felt. At this inn, we met with a young French officer who had been a prisoner in England, and spoke our language pretty well. He told me, that such a wind did not blow above twice or three times in a winter, and was never of long continuance, that in general, the weather was very mild and agreeable during the winter months; that living was very cheap in this part of Provence, which afforded great plenty of game. Here, too, I found a young Irish recollet, in his way from Rome to his own country. He complained, that he was almost starved by the inhospitable disposition of the French people; and that the regular clergy, in particular, had treated him with the most cruel disdain. I relieved his necessities, and gave him a letter to a gentleman of his own country at Montpellier.

When I rose in the morning, and opened a window that looked into the garden, I thought myself either in a dream, or bewitched. All the trees were cloathed with snow, and all the country covered at least a foot thick. “This cannot be the south of France, (said I to myself) it must be the Highlands of Scotland!” At a wretched town called Muy, where we dined, I had a warm dispute with our landlord, which, however, did not terminate to my satisfaction. I sent on the mules before, to the next stage, resolving to take post-horses, and bespoke them accordingly of the aubergiste, who was, at the same time, inn-keeper and post-master. We were ushered into the common eating-room, and had a very indifferent dinner; after which, I sent a loui’dore to be changed, in order to pay the reckoning. The landlord, instead of giving the full change, deducted three livres a head for dinner, and sent in the rest of the money by my servant. Provoked more at his ill manners, than at his extortion, I ferreted him out of a bed-chamber, where he had concealed himself, and obliged him to restore the full change, from which I paid him at the rate of two livres a head. He refused to take the money, which I threw down on the table; and the horses being ready, stepped into the coach, ordering the postillions to drive on. Here I had certainly reckoned without my host. The fellows declared they would not budge, until I should pay their master; and as I threatened them with manual chastisement, they alighted, and disappeared in a twinkling. I was now so incensed, that though I could hardly breathe; though the afternoon was far advanced, and the street covered with wet snow, I walked to the consul of the town, and made my complaint in form. This magistrate, who seemed to be a taylor, accompanied me to the inn, where by this time the whole town was assembled, and endeavoured to persuade me to compromise the affair. I said, as he was the magistrate, I would stand to his award. He answered, “that he would not presume to determine what I was to pay.” I have already paid him a reasonable price for his dinner, (said I) and now I demand post-horses according to the king’s ordonnance. The aubergiste said the horses were ready, but the guides were run away; and he could not find others to go in their place. I argued with great vehemence, offering to leave a loui’dore for the poor of the parish, provided the consul would oblige the rascal to do his duty. The consul shrugged up his shoulders, and declared it was not in his power. This was a lie, but I perceived he had no mind to disoblige the publican. If the mules had not been sent away, I should certainly have not only payed what I thought proper, but corrected the landlord into the bargain, for his insolence and extortion; but now I was entirely at his mercy, and as the consul continued to exhort me in very humble terms, to comply with his demands, I thought proper to acquiesce. Then the postillions immediately appeared: the crowd seemed to exult in the triumph of the aubergiste; and I was obliged to travel in the night, in very severe weather, after all the fatigue and mortification I had undergone.

We lay at Frejus, which was the Forum Julianum of the antients, and still boasts of some remains of antiquity; particularly the ruins of an amphitheatre, and an aqueduct. The first we passed in the dark, and next morning the weather was so cold that I could not walk abroad to see it. The town is at present very inconsiderable, and indeed in a ruinous condition. Nevertheless, we were very well lodged at the post-house, and treated with more politeness than we had met with in any other part of France.

As we had a very high mountain to ascend in the morning, I ordered the mules on before to the next post, and hired six horses for the coach. At the east end of Frejus, we saw close to the road on our left-hand, the arcades of the antient aqueduct, and the ruins of some Roman edifices, which seemed to have been temples. There was nothing striking in the architecture of the aqueduct. The arches are small and low, without either grace or ornament, and seem to have been calculated for mere utility.

The mountain of Esterelles, which is eight miles over, was formerly frequented by a gang of desperate banditti, who are now happily exterminated: the road is very good, but in some places very steep and bordered by precipices. The mountain is covered with pines, and the laurus cerasus, the fruit of which being now ripe, made a most romantic appearance through the snow that lay upon the branches. The cherries were so large that I at first mistook them for dwarf oranges. I think they are counted poisonous in England, but here the people eat them without hesitation. In the middle of the mountain is the post-house, where we dined in a room so cold, that the bare remembrance of it makes my teeth chatter. After dinner I chanced to look into another chamber that fronted the south, where the sun shone; and opening a window perceived, within a yard of my hand, a large tree loaded with oranges, many of which were ripe. You may judge what my astonishment was to find Winter in all his rigour reigning on one side of the house, and Summer in all her glory on the other. Certain it is, the middle of this mountain seemed to be the boundary of the cold weather. As we proceeded slowly in the afternoon we were quite enchanted. This side of the hill is a natural plantation of the most agreeable ever-greens, pines, firs, laurel, cypress, sweet myrtle, tamarisc, box, and juniper, interspersed with sweet marjoram, lavender, thyme, wild thyme, and sage. On the right-hand the ground shoots up into agreeable cones, between which you have delightful vistas of the Mediterranean, which washes the foot of the rock; and between two divisions of the mountains, there is a bottom watered by a charming stream, which greatly adds to the rural beauties of the scene.

This night we passed at Cannes, a little fishing town, agreeably situated on the beach of the sea, and in the same place lodged Monsieur Nadeau d’Etrueil, the unfortunate French governor of Guadeloupe, condemned to be imprisoned for life in one of the isles Marguerite, which lie within a mile of this coast.

Next day we journeyed by the way of Antibes, a small maritime town, tolerably well fortified; and passing the little river Loup, over a stone-bridge, arrived about noon at the village of St. Laurent, the extremity of France, where we passed the Var, after our baggage had undergone examination. From Cannes to this village the road lies along the sea-side; and sure nothing can be more delightful. Though in the morning there was a frost upon the ground, the sun was as warm as it is in May in England. The sea was quite smooth, and the beach formed of white polished pebbles; on the left-hand the country was covered with green olives, and the side of the road planted with large trees of sweet myrtle growing wild like the hawthorns in England. From Antibes we had the first view of Nice, lying on the opposite side of the bay, and making a very agreeable appearance. The author of the Grand Tour says, that from Antibes to Nice the roads are very bad, through rugged mountains bordered with precipices On the left, and by the sea to the right; whereas, in fact, there is neither precipice nor mountain near it.

The Var, which divides the county of Nice from Provence, is no other than a torrent fed chiefly by the snow that melts on the maritime Alps, from which it takes its origin. In the summer it is swelled to a dangerous height, and this is also the case after heavy rains: but at present the middle of it is quite dry, and the water divided into two or three narrow streams, which, however, are both deep and rapid. This river has been absurdly enough by some supposed the Rubicon, in all probability from the description of that river in the Pharsalia of Lucan, who makes it the boundary betwixt Gaul and Italy —

— et Gallica certus
Limes ab Ausoniis disterminat arva colonis.

A sure Frontier that parts the Gallic plains
From the rich meadows of th’ Ansonian swains.

whereas, in fact, the Rubicon, now called Pisatello, runs between Ravenna and Rimini. — But to return to the Var. At the village of St. Laurent, famous for its Muscadine wines, there is a set of guides always in attendance to conduct you in your passage over the river. Six of those fellows, tucked up above the middle, with long poles in their hands, took charge of our coach, and by many windings guided it safe to the opposite shore. Indeed there was no occasion for any; but it is a sort of a perquisite, and I did not choose to run any risque, how small soever it might be, for the sake of saving half a crown, with which they were satisfied. If you do not gratify the searchers at St. Laurent with the same sum, they will rummage your trunks, and turn all your cloaths topsy turvy. And here, once for all, I would advise every traveller who consults his own case and convenience, to be liberal of his money to all that sort of people; and even to wink at the imposition of aubergistes on the road, unless it be very flagrant. So sure as you enter into disputes with them, you will be put to a great deal of trouble, and fret yourself to no manner of purpose. I have travelled with oeconomists in England, who declared they would rather give away a crown than allow themselves to be cheated of a farthing. This is a good maxim, but requires a great share of resolution and self-denial to put it in practice. In one excursion of about two hundred miles my fellow-traveller was in a passion, and of consequence very bad company from one end of the journey to the other. He was incessantly scolding either at landlords, landladies, waiters, hostlers, or postilions. We had bad horses, and bad chaises; set out from every stage with the curses of the people; and at this expence I saved about ten shillings in the whole journey. For such a paltry consideration, he was contented to be miserable himself, and to make every other person unhappy with whom he had any concern. When I came last from Bath it rained so hard, that the postilion who drove the chaise was wet to the skin before we had gone a couple of miles. When we arrived at the Devises, I gave him two shillings instead of one, out of pure compassion. The consequence of this liberality was, that in the next stage we seemed rather to fly than to travel upon solid ground. I continued my bounty to the second driver, and indeed through the whole journey, and found myself accommodated in a very different manner from what I had experienced before. I had elegant chaises, with excellent horses; and the postilions of their own accord used such diligence, that although the roads were broken by the rain, I travelled at the rate of twelve miles an hour; and my extraordinary expence from Bath to London, amounted precisely to six shillings.

The river Var falls into the Mediterranean a little below St. Laurent, about four miles to the westward of Nice. Within the memory of persons now living, there have been three wooden bridges thrown over it, and as often destroyed in consequence of the jealousy subsisting between the kings of France and Sardinia; this river being the boundary of their dominions on the side of Provence. However, this is a consideration that ought not to interfere with the other advantages that would accrue to both kingdoms from such a convenience. If there was a bridge over the Var, and a post-road made from Nice to Genoa, I am very confident that all those strangers who now pass the Alps in their way to and from Italy, would choose this road as infinitely more safe, commodious, and agreeable. This would also be the case with all those who hire felucas from Marseilles or Antibes, and expose themselves to the dangers and inconveniences of travelling by sea in an open boat.

In the afternoon we arrived at Nice, where we found Mr. M— e, the English gentleman whom I had seen at Boulogne, and advised to come hither. He had followed my advice, and reached Nice about a month before my arrival, with his lady, child, and an old gouvernante. He had travelled with his own post-chaise and horses, and is now lodged just without one of the gates of the city, in the house of the count de V— n, for which he pays five loui’dores a month. I could hire one much better in the neighbourhood of London, for the same money. Unless you will submit to this extortion, and hire a whole house for a length of time, you will find no ready-furnished lodgings at Nice. After having stewed a week in a paltry inn, I have taken a ground floor for ten months at the rate of four hundred livres a year, that is twenty pounds sterling, for the Piedmontese livre is about an English shilling. The apartments are large, lofty, and commodious enough, with two small gardens, in which there is plenty of sallad, and a great number of oranges and lemons: but as it required some time to provide furniture, our consul Mr. B— d, one of the best natured and most friendly men in the world, has lent me his lodgings, which are charmingly situated by the sea-side, and open upon a terrace, that runs parallel to the beach, forming part of the town wall. Mr. B— d himself lives at Villa Franca, which is divided from Nice by a single mountain, on the top of which there is a small fort, called the castle of Montalban. Immediately after our arrival we were visited by one Mr. de Martines, a most agreeable young fellow, a lieutenant in the Swiss regiment, which is here in garrison. He is a Protestant, extremely fond of our nation, and understands our language tolerably well. He was particularly recommended to our acquaintance by general P— and his lady; we are happy in his conversation; find him wonderfully obliging, and extremely serviceable on many occasions. We have likewise made acquaintance with some other individuals, particularly with Mr. St. Pierre, junior, who is a considerable merchant, and consul for Naples. He is a well-bred, sensible young man, speaks English, is an excellent performer on the lute and mandolin, and has a pretty collection of books. In a word, I hope we shall pass the winter agreeably enough, especially if Mr. M— e should hold out; but I am afraid he is too far gone in a consumption to recover. He spent the last winter at Nismes, and consulted F— at Montpellier. I was impatient to see the prescription, and found it almost verbatim the same he had sent to me; although I am persuaded there is a very essential difference between our disorders. Mr. M— e has been long afflicted with violent spasms, colliquative sweats, prostration of appetite, and a disorder in his bowels. He is likewise jaundiced all over, and I am confident his liver is unsound. He tried the tortoise soup, which he said in a fortnight stuffed him up with phlegm. This gentleman has got a smattering of physic, and I am afraid tampers with his own constitution, by means of Brookes’s Practice of Physic, and some dispensatories, which he is continually poring over. I beg pardon for this tedious epistle, and am — Very sincerely, dear Sir, Your affectionate, humble servant.

Letter XIII

Nice, January 15, 1764.

DEAR SIR — I am at last settled at Nice, and have leisure to give you some account of this very remarkable place. The county of Nice extends about fourscore miles in length, and in some places it is thirty miles broad. It contains several small towns, and a great number of villages; all of which, this capital excepted, are situated among mountains, the most extensive plain of the whole country being this where I now am, in the neighbourhood of Nice. The length of it does not exceed two miles, nor is the breadth of it, in any part, above one. It is bounded by the Mediterranean on the south. From the sea-shore, the maritime Alps begin with hills of a gentle ascent, rising into mountains that form a sweep or amphitheatre ending at Montalban, which overhangs the town of Villa Franca. On the west side of this mountain, and in the eastern extremity of the amphitheatre, stands the city of Nice, wedged in between a steep rock and the little river Paglion, which descends from the mountains, and washing the town-walls on the west side, falls into the sea, after having filled some canals for the use of the inhabitants. There is a stone-bridge of three arches over it, by which those who come from Provence enter the city. The channel of it is very broad, but generally dry in many places; the water (as in the Var) dividing itself into several small streams. The Paglion being fed by melted snow and rain in the mountains, is quite dry in summer; but it is sometimes swelled by sudden rains to a very formidable torrent. This was the case in the year 1744, when the French and Spanish armies attacked eighteen Piedmontese battalions, which were posted on the side of Montalban. The assailants were repulsed with the loss of four thousand men, some hundreds of whom perished in repassing the Paglion, which had swelled to a surprising degree during the battle, in consequence of a heavy continued rain. This rain was of great service to the Piedmontese, as it prevented one half of the enemy from passing the river to sustain the other. Five hundred were taken prisoners: but the Piedmontese, foreseeing they should be surrounded next day by the French, who had penetrated behind them, by a pass in the mountains, retired in the night. Being received on board the English Fleet, which lay at Villa Franca, they were conveyed to Oneglia. In examining the bodies of those that were killed in the battle, the inhabitants of Nice perceived, that a great number of the Spanish soldiers were circumcised; a circumstance, from which they concluded, that a great many Jews engage in the service of his Catholic majesty. I am of a different opinion. The Jews are the least of any people that I know, addicted to a military life. I rather imagine they were of the Moorish race, who have subsisted in Spain, since the expulsion of their brethren; and though they conform externally to the rites of the Catholic religion, still retain in private their attachment to the law of Mahomet.

The city of Nice is built in form of an irregular isosceles triangle, the base of which fronts the sea. On the west side it is surrounded by a wall and rampart; on the east, it is over-hung by a rock, on which we see the ruins of an old castle, which, before the invention of artillery, was counted impregnable. It was taken and dismantled by marechal Catinat, in the time of Victor Amadaeus, the father of his Sardinian majesty. It was afterwards finally demolished by the duke of Berwick towards the latter end of queen Anne’s war. To repair it would be a very unnecessary expence, as it is commanded by Montalban, and several other eminences.

The town of Nice is altogether indefensible, and therefore without fortifications. There are only two iron guns upon a bastion that fronts the beach; and here the French had formed a considerable battery against the English cruisers, in the war of 1744, when the Mareschal Duke de Belleisle had his headquarters at Nice. This little town, situated in the bay of Antibes, is almost equidistant from Marseilles, Turin, and Genoa, the first and last being about thirty leagues from hence by sea; and the capital of Piedmont at the same distance to the northward, over the mountains. It lies exactly opposite to Capo di Ferro, on the coast of Barbary; and, the islands of Sardinia and Corsica are laid down about two degrees to the eastward, almost exactly in a line with Genoa. This little town, hardly a mile in circumference, is said to contain twelve thousand inhabitants. The streets are narrow; the houses are built of stone, and the windows in general are fitted with paper instead of glass. This expedient would not answer in a country subject to rain and storms; but here, where there is very little of either, the paper lozenges answer tolerably well. The bourgeois, however, begin to have their houses sashed with glass. Between the town-wall and the sea, the fishermen haul up their boats upon the open beach; but on the other side of the rock, where the castle stood, is the port or harbour of Nice, upon which some money has been expended. It is a small basin, defended to seaward by a mole of free-stone, which is much better contrived than executed: for the sea has already made three breaches in it; and in all probability, in another winter, the extremity of it will be carried quite away. It would require the talents of a very skilful architect to lay the foundation of a good mole, on an open beach like this; exposed to the swell of the whole Mediterranean, without any island or rock in the offing, to break the force of the waves. Besides, the shore is bold, and the bottom foul. There are seventeen feet of water in the basin, sufficient to float vessels of one hundred and fifty ton; and this is chiefly supplied by a small stream of very fine water; another great convenience for shipping. On the side of the mole, there is a constant guard of soldiers, and a battery of seven cannon, pointing to the sea. On the other side, there is a curious manufacture for twisting or reeling silk; a tavern, a coffee-house, and several other buildings, for the convenience of the sea-faring people. Without the harbour, is a lazarette, where persons coming from infected places, are obliged to perform quarantine. The harbour has been declared a free-port, and it is generally full of tartans, polacres, and other small vessels, that come from Sardinia, Ivica, Italy, and Spain, loaded with salt, wine, and other commodities; but here is no trade of any great consequence.

The city of Nice is provided with a senate, which administers justice under the auspices of an avocat-general, sent hither by the king. The internal oeconomy of the town is managed by four consuls; one for the noblesse. another for the merchants, a third for the bourgeois, and a fourth for the peasants. These are chosen annually from the town-council. They keep the streets and markets in order, and superintend the public works. There is also an intendant, who takes care of his majesty’s revenue: but there is a discretionary power lodged in the person of the commandant, who is always an officer of rank in the service, and has under his immediate command the regiment which is here in garrison. That which is here now is a Swiss battalion, of which the king has five or six in his service. There is likewise a regiment of militia, which is exercised once a year. But of all these particulars, I shall speak more fully on another occasion.

When I stand upon the rampart, and look round me, I can scarce help thinking myself inchanted. The small extent of country which I see, is all cultivated like a garden. Indeed, the plain presents nothing but gardens, full of green trees, loaded with oranges, lemons, citrons, and bergamots, which make a delightful appearance. If you examine them more nearly, you will find plantations of green pease ready to gather; all sorts of sallading, and pot-herbs, in perfection; and plats of roses, carnations, ranunculas, anemonies, and daffodils, blowing in full glory, with such beauty, vigour, and perfume, as no flower in England ever exhibited.

I must tell you, that presents of carnations are sent from hence, in the winter, to Turin and Paris; nay, sometimes as far as London, by the post. They are packed up in a wooden box, without any sort of preparation, one pressed upon another: the person who receives them, cuts off a little bit of the stalk, and steeps them for two hours in vinegar and water, when they recover their full bloom and beauty. Then he places them in water-bottles, in an apartment where they are screened from the severities of the weather; and they will continue fresh and unfaded the best part of a month.

Amidst the plantations in the neighbourhood of Nice, appear a vast number of white bastides, or country-houses, which make a dazzling shew. Some few of these are good villas, belonging to the noblesse of this county; and even some of the bourgeois are provided with pretty lodgeable cassines; but in general, they are the habitations of the peasants, and contain nothing but misery and vermin. They are all built square; and, being whitened with lime or plaister, contribute greatly to the richness of the view. The hills are shaded to the tops with olive-trees, which are always green; and those hills are over-topped by more distant mountains, covered with snow. When I turn myself towards the sea, the view is bounded by the horizon; yet in a clear morning, one can perceive the high lands of Corsica. On the right hand, it is terminated by Antibes, and the mountain of Esterelles, which I described in my last. As for the weather, you will conclude, from what I have said of the oranges, flowers, etc. that it must be wonderfully mild and serene: but of the climate, I shall speak hereafter. Let me only observe, en passant, that the houses in general have no chimnies, but in their kitchens; and that many people, even of condition, at Nice, have no fire in their chambers, during the whole winter. When the weather happens to be a little more sharp than usual, they warm their apartments with a brasiere or pan of charcoal.

Though Nice itself retains few marks of antient splendor, there are considerable monuments of antiquity in its neighbourhood. About two short miles from the town, upon the summit of a pretty high hill, we find the ruins of the antient city Cemenelion, now called Cimia, which was once the metropolis of the Maritime Alps, and the scat of a Roman president. With respect to situation, nothing could be more agreeable or salubrious. It stood upon the gentle ascent and summit of a hill, fronting the Mediterranean; from the shore of which, it is distant about half a league; and, on the other side, it overlooked a bottom, or narrow vale, through which the Paglion (antiently called Paulo) runs towards the walls of Nice. It was inhabited by a people, whom Ptolomy and Pliny call the Vedantij: but these were undoubtedly mixed with a Roman colony, as appears by the monuments which still remain; I mean the ruins of an amphitheatre, a temple of Apollo, baths, aqueducts, sepulchral, and other stones, with inscriptions, and a great number of medals which the peasants have found by accident, in digging and labouring the vineyards and cornfields, which now cover the ground where the city stood.

Touching this city, very little is to be learned from the antient historians: but that it was the seat of a Roman praeses, is proved by the two following inscriptions, which are still extant.


By the Senate of Cemenelion, Dedicated to His Excellency P. Aelius Severinus, the best of Governors and Patrons.

This is now in the possession of the count de Gubernatis, who has a country-house upon the spot. The other, found near the same place, is in praise of the praeses Marcus Aurelius Masculus.


Inscribed by the three corporations under the authority of the Senate, to their most worthy Patron, His Excellency M. Aurelius Masculus, in testimony of their gratitude for the blessings of his incorruptible administration, his wonderful affability to all without Distinction, his generous Distribution of Corn in time of Dearth, his munificence in repairing the ruinous aqueduct, in searching for, discovering and restoring the water to its former course for the Benefit of the Community.

This president well deserved such a mark of respect from a people whom he had assisted in two such essential articles, as their corn and their water. You know the praeses of a Roman province had the jus sigendi clavi, the right to drive a nail in the Kalendar, the privilege of wearing the latus clavus, or broad studs on his garment, the gladius, infula, praetexta, purpura & annulus aureus, the Sword, Diadem, purple Robe, and gold Ring, he had his vasa, vehicula, apparitores, Scipio eburneus, & sella curulis, Kettledrums, [I know the kettledrum is a modern invention; but the vasa militari modo conclamata was something analogous.] Chariots, Pursuivants, ivory staff, and chair of state.

I shall give you one more sepulchral inscription on a marble, which is now placed over the gate of the church belonging to the convent of St. Pont, a venerable building, which stands at the bottom of the hill, fronting the north side of the town of Nice. This St. Pont, or Pontius, was a Roman convert to Christianity, who suffered martyrdom at Cemenelion in the year 261, during the reigns of the emperors Valerian and Gallienus. The legends recount some ridiculous miracles wrought in favour of this saint, both before and after his death. Charles V. emperor of Germany and king of Spain, caused this monastery to be built on the spot where Pontius suffered decapitation. But to return to the inscription: it appears in these words.


Freely consecrated by Aurelius Rhodismanus, the Emperor’s Freedman, to the much honoured memory of his dear Consort Flavia Aurelia of Rome, a woman equally distinguished by her unblemished Virtue and conjugal affection. His children Martial and Aurelia Romula deeply affected and distressed by the Violence of his Grief, erected and dedicated a monument to their dear deserving Parent.

[I don’t pretend to translate these inscriptions literally, because I am doubtful about the meaning of some abbreviations.]

The amphitheatre of Cemenelion is but very small, compared to that of Nismes. The arena is ploughed up, and bears corn: some of the seats remain, and part of two opposite porticos; but all the columns, and the external facade of the building, are taken away so that it is impossible to judge of the architecture, all we can perceive is, that it was built in an oval form. About one hundred paces from the amphitheatre stood an antient temple, supposed to have been dedicated to Apollo. The original roof is demolished, as well as the portico; the vestiges of which may still be traced. The part called the Basilica, and about one half of the Cella Sanctior, remain, and are converted into the dwelling-house and stable of the peasant who takes care of the count de Gubernatis’s garden, in which this monument stands. In the Cella Sanctior, I found a lean cow, a he-goat, and a jack-ass; the very same conjunction of animals which I had seen drawing a plough in Burgundy. Several mutilated statues have been dug up from the ruins of this temple; and a great number of medals have been found in the different vineyards which now occupy the space upon which stood the antient city of Cemenelion. These were of gold, silver, and brass. Many of them were presented to Charles Emanuel I. duke of Savoy. The prince of Monaco has a good number of them in his collection; and the rest are in private hands. The peasants, in digging, have likewise found many urns, lachrymatories, and sepulchral stones, with epitaphs, which are now dispersed among different convents and private houses. All this ground is a rich mine of antiquities, which, if properly worked, would produce a great number of valuable curiosities. Just by the temple of Apollo were the ruins of a bath, composed of great blocks of marble, which have been taken away for the purposes of modern building. In all probability, many other noble monuments of this city have been dilapidated by the same barbarous oeconomy. There are some subterranean vaults, through which the water was conducted to this bath, still extant in the garden of the count de Gubernatis. Of the aqueduct that conveyed water to the town, I can say very little, but that it was scooped through a mountain: that this subterranean passage was discovered some years ago, by removing the rubbish which choaked it up: that the people penetrating a considerable way, by the help of lighted torches, found a very plentiful stream of water flowing in an aqueduct, as high as an ordinary man, arched over head, and lined with a sort of cement. They could not, however, trace this stream to its source; and it is again stopped up with earth and rubbish. There is not a soul in this country, who has either spirit or understanding to conduct an inquiry of this kind. Hard by the amphitheatre is a convent of Recollets, built in a very romantic situation, on the brink of a precipice. On one side of their garden, they ascend to a kind of esplanade, which they say was part of the citadel of Cemenelion. They have planted it with cypress-trees, and flowering-shrubs. One of the monks told me, that it is vaulted below, as they can plainly perceive by the sound of their instruments used in houghing the ground. A very small expence would bring the secrets of this cavern to light. They have nothing to do, but to make a breach in the wall, which appears uncovered towards the garden.

The city of Cemenelion was first sacked by the Longobards, who made an irruption into Provence, under their king Alboinus, about the middle of the sixth century. It was afterwards totally destroyed by the Saracens, who, at different times, ravaged this whole coast. The remains of the people are supposed to have changed their habitation, and formed a coalition with the inhabitants of Nice.

What further I have to say of Nice, you shall know in good time; at present, I have nothing to add, but what you very well know, that I am always your affectionate humble servant.

Letter, XIV

Nice, January 20, 1764.

DEAR SIR — Last Sunday I crossed Montalban on horseback, with some Swiss officers, on a visit to our consul, Mr. B— d, who lives at Ville Franche, about half a league from Nice. It is a small town, built upon the side of a rock, at the bottom of the harbour, which is a fine basin, surrounded with hills on every side, except to the south, where it lies open to the sea. If there was a small island in the mouth of it, to break off the force of the waves, when the wind is southerly, it would be one of the finest harbours in the world; for the ground is exceeding good for anchorage: there is a sufficient depth of water, and room enough for the whole navy of England. On the right hand, as you enter the port, there is an elegant fanal, or lighthouse, kept in good repair: but in all the charts of this coast which I have seen, this lanthorn is laid down to the westward of the harbour; an error equally absurd and dangerous, as it may mislead the navigator, and induce him to run his ship among the rocks, to the eastward of the lighthouse, where it would undoubtedly perish. Opposite to the mouth of the harbour is the fort, which can be of no service, but in defending the shipping and the town by sea; for, by land, it is commanded by Montalban, and all the hills in the neighbourhood. In the war of 1744, it was taken and retaken. At present, it is in tolerable good repair. On the left of the fort, is the basin for the gallies, with a kind of dock, in which they are built, and occasionally laid up to be refitted. This basin is formed by a pretty stone mole; and here his Sardinian majesty’s two gallies lie perfectly secure, moored with their sterns close to the jette. I went on board one of these vessels, and saw about two hundred miserable wretches, chained to the banks on which they sit and row, when the galley is at sea. This is a sight which a British subject, sensible of the blessing he enjoys, cannot behold without horror and compassion. Not but that if we consider the nature of the case, with coolness and deliberation, we must acknowledge the justice, and even sagacity, of employing for the service of the public, those malefactors who have forfeited their title to the privileges of the community. Among the slaves at Ville Franche is a Piedmontese count, condemned to the gallies for life, in consequence of having been convicted of forgery. He is permitted to live on shore; and gets money by employing the other slaves to knit stockings for sale. He appears always in the Turkish habit, and is in a fair way of raising a better fortune than that which he has forfeited.

It is a great pity, however, and a manifest outrage against the law of nations, as well as of humanity, to mix with those banditti, the Moorish and Turkish prisoners who are taken in the prosecution of open war. It is certainly no justification of this barbarous practice, that the Christian prisoners are treated as cruelly at Tunis and Algiers. It would be for the honour of Christendom, to set an example of generosity to the Turks; and, if they would not follow it, to join their naval forces, and extirpate at once those nests of pirates, who have so long infested the Mediterranean. Certainly, nothing can be more shameful, than the treaties which France and the Maritime Powers have concluded with those barbarians. They supply them with artillery, arms, and ammunition, to disturb their neighbours. They even pay them a sort of tribute, under the denomination of presents; and often put up with insults tamely, for the sordid consideration of a little gain in the way of commerce. They know that Spain, Sardinia, and almost all the Catholic powers in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Levant, are at perpetual war with those Mahometans; that while Algiers, Tunis, and Sallee, maintain armed cruisers at sea, those Christian powers will not run the risque of trading in their own bottoms, but rather employ as carriers the maritime nations, who are at peace with the infidels. It is for our share of this advantage, that we cultivate the piratical States of Barbary, and meanly purchase passports of them, thus acknowledging them masters of the Mediterranean.

The Sardinian gallies are mounted each with five-and-twenty oars, and six guns, six-pounders, of a side, and a large piece of artillery amidships, pointing ahead, which (so far as I am able to judge) can never be used point-blank, without demolishing the head or prow of the galley. The accommodation on board for the officers is wretched. There is a paltry cabin in the poop for the commander; but all the other officers lie below the slaves, in a dungeon, where they have neither light, air, nor any degree of quiet; half suffocated by the heat of the place; tormented by fleas, bugs, and lice; and disturbed by the incessant noise over head. The slaves lie upon the naked banks, without any other covering than a tilt. This, however, is no great hardship, in a climate where there is scarce any winter. They are fed with a very scanty allowance of bread, and about fourteen beans a day and twice a week they have a little rice, or cheese, but most of them, while they are in harbour knit stockings, or do some other kind of work, which enables them to make some addition to this wretched allowance. When they happen to be at sea in bad weather, their situation is truly deplorable. Every wave breaks over the vessel, and not only keeps them continually wet, but comes with such force, that they are dashed against the banks with surprising violence: sometimes their limbs are broke, and sometimes their brains dashed out. It is impossible (they say) to keep such a number of desperate people under any regular command, without exercising such severities as must shock humanity. It is almost equally impossible to maintain any tolerable degree of cleanliness, where such a number of wretches are crouded together without conveniences, or even the necessaries of life. They are ordered twice a week to strip, clean, and bathe themselves in the sea: but, notwithstanding all the precautions of discipline, they swarm with vermin, and the vessel smells like an hospital, or crouded jail. They seem, nevertheless, quite insensible of their misery, like so many convicts in Newgate: they laugh and sing, and swear, and get drunk when they can. When you enter by the stern, you are welcomed by a band of music selected from the slaves; and these expect a gratification. If you walk forwards, you must take care of your pockets. You will be accosted by one or other of the slaves, with a brush and blacking-ball for cleaning your shoes; and if you undergo this operation, it is ten to one but your pocket is picked. If you decline his service, and keep aloof, you will find it almost impossible to avoid a colony of vermin, which these fellows have a very dexterous method of conveying to strangers. Some of the Turkish prisoners, whose ransom or exchange is expected, are allowed to go ashore, under proper inspection; and those forcats, who have served the best part of the time for which they were condemned, are employed in public works, under a guard of soldiers. At the harbour of Nice, they are hired by ship-masters to bring ballast, and have a small proportion of what they earn, for their own use: the rest belongs to the king. They are distinguished by an iron shackle about one of their legs. The road from Nice to Ville Franche is scarce passable on horseback: a circumstance the more extraordinary, as those slaves, in the space of two or three months, might even make it fit for a carriage, and the king would not be one farthing out of pocket, for they are quite idle the greatest part of the year.

The gallies go to sea only in the summer. In tempestuous weather, they could not live out of port. Indeed, they are good for nothing but in smooth water during a calm; when, by dint of rowing, they make good way. The king of Sardinia is so sensible of their inutility, that he intends to let his gallies rot; and, in lieu of them, has purchased two large frigates in England, one of fifty, and another of thirty guns, which are now in the harbour of Ville Franche. He has also procured an English officer, one Mr. A — who is second in command on board of one of them, and has the title of captain consulteur, that is, instructor to the first captain, the marquis de M— i, who knows as little of seamanship as I do of Arabic.

The king, it is said, intends to have two or three more frigates, and then he will be more than a match for the Barbary corsairs, provided care be taken to man his fleet in a proper manner: but this will never be done, unless he invites foreigners into his service, officers as well as seamen; for his own dominions produce neither at present. If he is really determined to make the most of the maritime situation of his dominions, as well as of his alliance with Great-Britain, he ought to supply his ships with English mariners, and put a British commander at the head of his fleet. He ought to erect magazines and docks at Villa Franca; or if there is not conveniency for building, he may at least have pits and wharfs for heaving down and careening; and these ought to be under the direction of Englishmen, who best understand all the particulars of marine oeconomy. Without all doubt, he will not be able to engage foreigners, without giving them liberal appointments; and their being engaged in his service will give umbrage to his own subjects: but, when the business is to establish a maritime power, these considerations ought to be sacrificed to reasons of public utility. Nothing can be more absurd and unreasonable, than the murmurs of the Piedmontese officers at the preferment of foreigners, who execute those things for the advantage of their country, of which they know themselves incapable. When Mr. P— n was first promoted in the service of his Sardinian majesty, he met with great opposition, and numberless mortifications, from the jealousy of the Piedmontese officers, and was obliged to hazard his life in many rencounters with them, before they would be quiet. Being a man of uncommon spirit, he never suffered the least insult or affront to pass unchastised. He had repeated opportunities of signalizing his valour against the Turks; and by dint of extraordinary merit, and long services not only attained the chief command of the gallies, with the rank of lieutenant-general, but also acquired a very considerable share of the king’s favour, and was appointed commandant of Nice. His Sardinian majesty found his account more ways than one, in thus promoting Mr. P— n. He made the acquisition of an excellent officer, of tried courage and fidelity, by whose advice he conducted his marine affairs. This gentleman was perfectly well esteemed at the court of London. In the war of 1744, he lived in the utmost harmony with the British admirals who commanded our fleet in the Mediterranean. In consequence of this good understanding, a thousand occasional services were performed by the English ships, for the benefit of his master, which otherwise could not have been done, without a formal application to our ministry; in which case, the opportunities would have been lost. I know our admirals had general orders and instructions, to cooperate in all things with his Sardinian majesty; but I know, also, by experience, how little these general instructions avail, when the admiral is not cordially interested in the service. Were the king of Sardinia at present engaged with England in a new war against France, and a British squadron stationed upon this coast, as formerly, he would find a great difference in this particular. He should therefore carefully avoid having at Nice a Savoyard commandant, utterly ignorant of sea affairs; unacquainted with the true interest of his master; proud, and arbitrary; reserved to strangers, from a prejudice of national jealousy; and particularly averse to the English.

With respect to the antient name of Villa Franca, there is a dispute among antiquarians. It is not at all mentioned in the Itinerarium of Antoninus, unless it is meant as the port of Nice. But it is more surprising, that the accurate Strabo, in describing this coast, mentions no such harbour. Some people imagine it is the Portus Herculis Monaeci. But this is undoubtedly what is now called Monaco; the harbour of which exactly tallies with what Strabo says of the Portus Monaeci — neque magnas, neque multas capit naves, It holds but a few vessels and those of small burthen. Ptolomy, indeed, seems to mention it under the name of Herculis Portus, different from the Portus Monaeci. His words are these: post vari ostium ad Ligustrium mare, massiliensium, sunt Nicaea, Herculis Portus, Trophaea Augusti, Monaeci Portus, Beyond the mouth of the Var upon the Ligurian Coast, the Marsilian Colonies are Nice, Port Hercules, Trophaea and Monaco. In that case, Hercules was worshipped both here and at Monaco, and gave his name to both places. But on this subject, I shall perhaps speak more fully in another letter, after I have seen the Trophaea Augusti, now called Tourbia, and the town of Monaco, which last is about three leagues from Nice. Here I cannot help taking notice of the following elegant description from the Pharsalia, which seems to have been intended for this very harbour.

Finis et Hesperiae promoto milite varus, Quaque sub Herculeo sacratus numine Portus Urget rupe cava Pelagus, non Corus in illum Jus habet, aut Zephirus, solus sua littora turbat Circius, et tuta prohibet statione Monaeci.

The Troops advanc’d as far As flows th’ Hesperian Boundary, the Var; And where the mountain scoop’d by nature’s hands, The spacious Port of Hercules, expands;

Here the tall ships at anchor safe remain Tho’ Zephyr blows, or Caurus sweeps the Plain; The Southern Blast alone disturbs the Bay; And to Monaco’s safer Port obstructs the way.

The present town of Villa Franca was built and settled in the thirteenth century, by order of Charles II. king of the Sicilies, and count of Provence, in order to defend the harbour from the descents of the Saracens, who at that time infested the coast. The inhabitants were removed hither from another town, situated on the top of a mountain in the neighbourhood, which those pirates had destroyed. Some ruins of the old town are still extant. In order to secure the harbour still more effectually, Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, built the fort in the beginning of the last century, together with the mole where the gallies are moored. As I said before, Ville Franche is built on the face of a barren rock, washed by the sea; and there is not an acre of plain ground within a mile of it. In summer, the reflexion of the sun from the rocks must make it intolerably hot; for even at this time of the year, I walked myself into a profuse sweat, by going about a quarter of a mile to see the gallies.

Pray remember me to our friends at A—‘s, and believe me to be ever yours.

Letter XV

Nice, January 3, 1764.

MADAM — In your favour which I received by Mr. M— l, you remind me of my promise, to communicate the remarks I have still to make on the French nation; and at the same time you signify your opinion, that I am too severe in my former observations. You even hint a suspicion, that this severity is owing to some personal cause of resentment; but, I protest, I have no particular cause of animosity against any individual of that country. I have neither obligation to, nor quarrel with, any subject of France; and when I meet with a Frenchman worthy of my esteem, I can receive him into my friendship with as much cordiality, as I could feel for any fellow-citizen of the same merit. I even respect the nation, for the number of great men it has produced in all arts and sciences. I respect the French officers, in particular, for their gallantry and valour; and especially for that generous humanity which they exercise towards their enemies, even amidst the horrors of war. This liberal spirit is the only circumstance of antient chivalry, which I think was worth preserving. It had formerly flourished in England, but was almost extinguished in a succession of civil wars, which are always productive of cruelty and rancour. It was Henry IV. of France, (a real knight errant) who revived it in Europe. He possessed that greatness of mind, which can forgive injuries of the deepest dye: and as he had also the faculty of distinguishing characters, he found his account, in favouring with his friendship and confidence, some of those who had opposed him in the field with the most inveterate perseverance. I know not whether he did more service to mankind in general, by reviving the practice of treating his prisoners with generosity, than he prejudiced his own country by patronizing the absurd and pernicious custom of duelling, and establishing a punto, founded in diametrical opposition to common sense and humanity.

I have often heard it observed, that a French officer is generally an agreeable companion when he is turned of fifty. Without all doubt, by that time, the fire of his vivacity, which makes him so troublesome in his youth, will be considerably abated, and in other respects, he must be improved by his experience. But there is a fundamental error in the first principles of his education, which time rather confirms than removes. Early prejudices are for the most part converted into habits of thinking; and accordingly you will find the old officers in the French service more bigotted than their juniors, to the punctilios of false honour.

A lad of a good family no sooner enters into the service, than he thinks it incumbent upon him to shew his courage in a rencontre. His natural vivacity prompts him to hazard in company every thing that comes uppermost, without any respect to his seniors or betters; and ten to one but he says something, which he finds it necessary to maintain with his sword. The old officer, instead of checking his petulance, either by rebuke or silent disapprobation, seems to be pleased with his impertinence, and encourages every sally of his presumption. Should a quarrel ensue, and the parties go out, he makes no efforts to compromise the dispute; but sits with a pleasing expectation to learn the issue of the rencontre. If the young man is wounded, he kisses him with transport, extols his bravery, puts him into the hands of the surgeon, and visits him with great tenderness every day, until he is cured. If he is killed on the spot, he shrugs up his shoulders — says, quelle dommage! c’etoit un amiable enfant! ah, patience! What pity! he was a fine Boy! It can’t be helpt! and in three hours the defunct is forgotten. You know, in France, duels are forbid, on pain of death: but this law is easily evaded. The person insulted walks out; the antagonist understands the hint, and follows him into the street, where they justle as if by accident, draw their swords, and one of them is either killed or disabled, before any effectual means can be used to part them. Whatever may be the issue of the combat, the magistrate takes no cognizance of it; at least, it is interpreted into an accidental rencounter, and no penalty is incurred on either side. Thus the purpose of the law is entirely defeated, by a most ridiculous and cruel connivance. The meerest trifles in conversation, a rash word, a distant hint, even a look or smile of contempt, is sufficient to produce one of these combats; but injuries of a deeper dye, such as terms of reproach, the lie direct, a blow, or even the menace of a blow, must be discussed with more formality. In any of these cases, the parties agree to meet in the dominions of another prince, where they can murder each other, without fear of punishment. An officer who is struck, or even threatened with a blow must not be quiet, until he either kills his antagonist, or loses his own life. A friend of mine, (a Nissard) who was in the service of France, told me, that some years ago, one of their captains, in the heat of passion, struck his lieutenant. They fought immediately: the lieutenant was wounded and disarmed. As it was an affront that could not be made up, he no sooner recovered of his wounds, than he called out the captain a second time. In a word, they fought five times before the combat proved decisive at last, the lieutenant was left dead on the spot. This was an event which sufficiently proved the absurdity of the punctilio that gave rise to it. The poor gentleman who was insulted, and outraged by the brutality of the aggressor, found himself under the necessity of giving him a further occasion to take away his life. Another adventure of the same kind happened a few years ago in this place. A French officer having threatened to strike another, a formal challenge ensued; and it being agreed that they should fight until one of them dropped, each provided himself with a couple of pioneers to dig his grave on the spot. They engaged just without one of the gates of Nice, in presence of a great number of spectators, and fought with surprising fury, until the ground was drenched with their blood. At length one of them stumbled, and fell; upon which the other, who found himself mortally wounded, advancing, and dropping his point, said, “Je te donne ce que tu m’as ote.” “I’ll give thee that which thou hast taken from me.” So saying, he dropped dead upon the field. The other, who had been the person insulted, was so dangerously wounded that he could not rise. Some of the spectators carried him forthwith to the beach, and putting him into a boat, conveyed him by sea to Antibes. The body of his antagonist was denied Christian burial, as he died without absolution, and every body allowed that his soul went to hell: but the gentlemen of the army declared, that he died like a man of honour. Should a man be never so well inclined to make atonement in a peaceable manner, for an insult given in the heat of passion, or in the fury of intoxication, it cannot be received. Even an involuntary trespass from ignorance, or absence of mind, must be cleansed with blood. A certain noble lord, of our country, when he was yet a commoner, on his travels, involved himself in a dilemma of this sort, at the court of Lorrain. He had been riding out, and strolling along a public walk, in a brown study, with his horse-whip in his hand, perceived a caterpillar crawling on the back of a marquis, who chanced to be before him. He never thought of the petit maitre; but lifting up his whip, in order to kill the insect, laid it across his shoulders with a crack, that alarmed all the company in the walk. The marquis’s sword was produced in a moment, and the aggressor in great hazard of his life, as he had no weapon of defence. He was no sooner waked from his reverie, than he begged pardon, and offered to make all proper concessions for what he had done through mere inadvertency. The marquis would have admitted his excuses, had there been any precedent of such an affront being washed away without blood. A conclave of honour was immediately assembled; and after long disputes, they agreed, that an involuntary offence, especially from such a kind of man, d’un tel homme, might be attoned by concessions. That you may have some idea of the small beginning, from which many gigantic quarrels arise, I shall recount one that lately happened at Lyons, as I had it from the mouth of a person who was an ear and eye witness of the transaction. Two Frenchmen, at a public ordinary, stunned the rest of the company with their loquacity. At length, one of them, with a supercilious air, asked the other’s name. “I never tell my name, (said he) but in a whisper.” “You may have very good reasons for keeping it secret,” replied the first. “I will tell you,” (resumed the other): with these words he rose; and going round to him, pronounced, loud enough to be heard by the whole company, “Je m’appelle Pierre Paysan; et vous etes un impertinent.” “My name is Peter Peasant, and you are an impertinent fellow.” So saying, he walked out: the interrogator followed him into the street, where they justled, drew their swords, and engaged. He who asked the question was run through the body; but his relations were so powerful, that the victor was obliged to fly his country, was tried and condemned in his absence; his goods were confiscated; his wife broke her heart; his children were reduced to beggary; and he himself is now starving in exile. In England we have not yet adopted all the implacability of the punctilio. A gentleman may be insulted even with a blow, and survive, after having once hazarded his life against the aggressor. The laws of honour in our country do not oblige him either to slay the person from whom he received the injury, or even to fight to the last drop of his own blood. One finds no examples of duels among the Romans, who were certainly as brave and as delicate in their notions of honour as the French. Cornelius Nepos tells us, that a famous Athenian general, having a dispute with his colleague, who was of Sparta, a man of a fiery disposition, this last lifted up his cane to strike him. Had this happened to a French petit maitre, death must have ensued: but mark what followed — The Athenian, far from resenting the outrage, in what is now called a gentlemanlike manner, said, “Do, strike if you please; but hear me.” He never dreamed of cutting the Lacedemonian’s throat; but bore with his passionate temper, as the infirmity of a friend who had a thousand good qualities to overbalance that defect.

I need not expatiate upon the folly and the mischief which are countenanced and promoted by the modern practice of duelling. I need not give examples of friends who have murdered each other, in obedience to this savage custom, even while their hearts were melting with mutual tenderness; nor will I particularize the instances which I myself know, of whole families ruined, of women and children made widows and orphans, of parents deprived of only sons, and of valuable lives lost to the community, by duels, which had been produced by one unguarded expression, uttered without intention of offence, in the heat of dispute and altercation. I shall not insist upon the hardship of a worthy man’s being obliged to devote himself to death, because it is his misfortune to be insulted by a brute, a bully, a drunkard, or a madman: neither will I enlarge upon this side of the absurdity, which indeed amounts to a contradiction in terms; I mean the dilemma to which a gentleman in the army is reduced, when he receives an affront: if he does not challenge and fight his antagonist, he is broke with infamy by a court-martial; if he fights and kills him, he is tried by the civil power, convicted of murder, and, if the royal mercy does not interpose, he is infallibly hanged: all this, exclusive of the risque of his own life in the duel, and his conscience being burthened with the blood of a man, whom perhaps he has sacrificed to a false punctilio, even contrary to his own judgment. These are reflections which I know your own good sense will suggest, but I will make bold to propose a remedy for this gigantic evil, which seems to gain ground everyday: let a court be instituted for taking cognizance of all breaches of honour, with power to punish by fine, pillory, sentence of infamy, outlawry, and exile, by virtue of an act of parliament made for this purpose; and all persons insulted, shall have recourse to this tribunal: let every man who seeks personal reparation with sword, pistol, or other instrument of death, be declared infamous, and banished the kingdom: let every man, convicted of having used a sword or pistol, or other mortal weapon, against another, either in duel or rencountre, occasioned by any previous quarrel, be subject to the same penalties: if any man is killed in a duel, let his body be hanged upon a public gibbet, for a certain time, and then given to the surgeons: let his antagonist be hanged as a murderer, and dissected also; and some mark of infamy be set on the memory of both. I apprehend such regulations would put an effectual stop to the practice of duelling, which nothing but the fear of infamy can support; for I am persuaded, that no being, capable of reflection, would prosecute the trade of assassination at the risque of his own life, if this hazard was at the same time reinforced by the certain prospect of infamy and ruin. Every person of sentiment would in that case allow, that an officer, who in a duel robs a deserving woman of her husband, a number of children of their father, a family of its support, and the community of a fellow-citizen, has as little merit to plead from exposing his own person, as a highwayman, or housebreaker, who every day risques his life to rob or plunder that which is not of half the importance to society. I think it was from the Buccaneers of America, that the English have learned to abolish one solecism in the practice of duelling: those adventurers decided their personal quarrels with pistols; and this improvement has been adopted in Great Britain with good success; though in France, and other parts of the continent, it is looked upon as a proof of their barbarity. It is, however, the only circumstance of duelling, which savours of common sense, as it puts all mankind upon a level, the old with the young, the weak with the strong, the unwieldy with the nimble, and the man who knows not how to hold a sword with the spadassin, who has practised fencing from the cradle. What glory is there in a man’s vanquishing an adversary over whom he has a manifest advantage? To abide the issue of a combat in this case, does not even require that moderate share of resolution which nature has indulged to her common children. Accordingly, we have seen many instances of a coward’s provoking a man of honour to battle. In the reign of our second Charles, when duels flourished in all their absurdity, and the seconds fought while their principals were engaged, Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, not content with having debauched the countess of Shrewsbury and publishing her shame, took all opportunities of provoking the earl to single combat, hoping he should have an easy conquest, his lordship being a puny little creature, quiet, inoffensive, and every way unfit for such personal contests. He ridiculed him on all occasions; and at last declared in public company, that there was no glory in cuckolding Shrewsbury, who had not spirit to resent the injury. This was an insult which could not be overlooked. The earl sent him a challenge; and they agreed to fight, at Barns-Elms, in presence of two gentlemen, whom they chose for their seconds. All the four engaged at the same time; the first thrust was fatal to the earl of Shrewsbury; and his friend killed the duke’s second at the same instant. Buckingham, elated with his exploit, set out immediately for the earl’s seat at Cliefden, where he lay with his wife, after having boasted of the murder of her husband, whose blood he shewed her upon his sword, as a trophy of his prowess. But this very duke of Buckingham was little better than a poltroon at bottom. When the gallant earl of Ossory challenged him to fight in Chelsea fields, he crossed the water to Battersea, where he pretended to wait for his lordship; and then complained to the house of lords, that Ossory had given him the rendezvous, and did not keep his appointment. He knew the house would interpose in the quarrel, and he was not disappointed. Their lordships obliged them both to give their word of honour, that their quarrel should have no other consequences.

I ought to make an apology for having troubled a lady with so many observations on a subject so unsuitable to the softness of the fair sex; but I know you cannot be indifferent to any thing that so nearly affects the interests of humanity, which I can safely aver have alone suggested every thing which has been said by, Madam, Your very humble servant.

Letter XVI

Nice, May 2, 1764.

DEAR DOCTOR — A few days ago, I rode out with two gentlemen of this country, to see a stream of water which was formerly conveyed in an aqueduct to the antient city of Cemenelion, from whence this place is distant about a mile, though separated by abrupt rocks and deep hollows, which last are here honoured with the name of vallies. The water, which is exquisitely cool, and light and pure, gushes from the middle of a rock by a hole which leads to a subterranean aqueduct carried through the middle of the mountain. This is a Roman work, and the more I considered it, appeared the more stupendous. A peasant who lives upon the spot told us, he had entered by this hole at eight in the morning, and advanced so far, that it was four in the afternoon before he came out. He said he walked in the water, through a regular canal formed of a hard stone, lined with a kind of cement, and vaulted overhead; but so high in most parts he could stand upright, yet in others, the bed of the canal was so filled with earth and stones, that he was obliged to stoop in passing. He said that there were air-holes at certain distances (and indeed I saw one of these not far from the present issue) that there were some openings and stone seats on the sides, and here and there figures of men formed of stone, with hammers and working tools in their hands. I am apt to believe the fellow romanced a little, in order to render his adventure the more marvellous: but I am certainly informed, that several persons have entered this passage, and proceeded a considerable way by the light of torches, without arriving at the source, which (if we may believe the tradition of the country) is at the distance of eight leagues from this opening; but this is altogether incredible. The stream is now called la fontaine de muraille, and is carefully conducted by different branches into the adjacent vineyards and gardens, for watering the ground. On the side of the same mountain, more southerly, at the distance of half a mile, there is another still more copious discharge of the same kind of water, called la source du temple. It was conveyed through the same kind of passage, and put to the same use as the other; and I should imagine they are both from the same source, which, though hitherto undiscovered, must be at a considerable distance, as the mountain is continued for several leagues to the westward, without exhibiting the least signs of water in any other part. But, exclusive of the subterranean conduits, both these streams must have been conveyed through aqueducts extending from hence to Cemenelion over steep rocks and deep ravines, at a prodigious expence. The water from this source du temple, issues from a stone building which covers the passage in the rock. It serves to turn several olive, corn, and paper mills, being conveyed through a modern aqueduct raised upon paultry arcades at the expence of the public, and afterwards is branched off in very small streams, for the benefit of this parched and barren country. The Romans were so used to bathing, that they could not exist without a great quantity of water; and this, I imagine, is one reason that induced them to spare no labour and expence in bringing it from a distance, when they had not plenty of it at home. But, besides this motive, they had another: they were so nice and delicate in their taste of water, that they took great pains to supply themselves with the purest and lightest from afar, for drinking and culinary uses, even while they had plenty of an inferior sort for their bath, and other domestic purposes. There are springs of good water on the spot where Cemenelion stood: but there is a hardness in all well-water, which quality is deposited in running a long course, especially, if exposed to the influence of the sun and air. The Romans, therefore, had good reason to soften and meliorate this element, by conveying it a good length of way in open aqueducts. What was used in the baths of Cemenelion, they probably brought in leaden pipes, some of which have been dug up very lately by accident. You must know, I made a second excursion to these antient ruins, and measured the arena of the amphitheatre with packthread. It is an oval figure; the longest diameter extending to about one hundred and thirteen feet, and the shortest to eighty-eight; but I will not answer for the exactness of the measurement. In the center of it, there was a square stone, with an iron ring, to which I suppose the wild beasts were tied, to prevent their springing upon the spectators. Some of the seats remain, the two opposite entrances, consisting each of one large gate, and two lateral smaller doors, arched: there is also a considerable portion of the external wall; but no columns, or other ornaments of architecture. Hard by, in the garden of the count de Gubernatis, I saw the remains of a bath, fronting the portal of the temple, which I have described in a former letter; and here were some shafts of marble pillars, particularly a capital of the Corinthian order beautifully cut, of white alabaster. Here the count found a large quantity of fine marble, which he has converted to various uses; and some mutilated statues, bronze as well as marble. The peasant shewed me some brass and silver medals, which he has picked up at different times in labouring the ground; together with several oblong beads of coloured glass, which were used as ear-rings by the Roman ladies; and a small seal of agate, very much defaced. Two of the medals were of Maximian and Gallienus; the rest were so consumed, that I could not read the legend. You know, that on public occasions, such as games, and certain sacrifices, handfuls of medals were thrown among the people; a practice, which accounts for the great number which have been already found in this district. I saw some subterranean passages, which seemed to have been common sewers; and a great number of old walls still standing along the brink of a precipice, which overhangs the Paglion. The peasants tell me, that they never dig above a yard in depth, without finding vaults or cavities. All the vineyards and garden-grounds, for a considerable extent, are vaulted underneath; and all the ground that produces their grapes, fruit, and garden-stuff, is no more than the crumpled lime and rubbish of old Roman buildings, mixed with manure brought from Nice. This antient town commanded a most noble prospect of the sea; but is altogether inaccessible by any kind of wheel carriage. If you make shift to climb to it on horseback, you cannot descend to the plain again, without running the risk of breaking your neck.

About seven or eight miles on the other side of Nice, are the remains of another Roman monument which has greatly suffered from the barbarity of successive ages. It was a trophy erected by the senate of Rome, in honour of Augustus Caesar, when he had totally subdued all the ferocious nations of these Maritime Alps; such as the Trumpilini Camuni, Vennontes, Isnarci, Breuni, etc. It stands upon the top of a mountain which overlooks the town of Monaco, and now exhibits the appearance of an old ruined tower. There is a description of what it was, in an Italian manuscript, by which it appears to have been a beautiful edifice of two stories, adorned with columns and trophies in alto-relievo, with a statue of Augustus Caesar on the top. On one of the sides was an inscription, some words of which are still legible, upon the fragment of a marble found close to the old building: but the whole is preserved in Pliny, who gives it, in these words, lib. iii. cap. 20.


This Trophy is erected by the Senate and People of Rome to the Emperor Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Julius, in the fourteenth year of his imperial Dignity, and in the eighteenth of his Tribunician Power, because under his command and auspices all the nations of the Alps from the Adriatic to the Tuscanian Sea, were reduced under the Dominion of Rome. The Alpine nations subdued were the Trumpelini, etc.

Pliny, however, is mistaken in placing this inscription on a trophy near the Augusta praetoria, now called Aosta, in Piedmont: where, indeed, there is a triumphal arch, but no inscription. This noble monument of antiquity was first of all destroyed by fire; and afterwards, in Gothic times, converted into a kind of fortification. The marbles belonging to it were either employed in adorning the church of the adjoining village, which is still called Turbia, a corruption of Trophaea; [This was formerly a considerable town called Villa Martis, and pretends to the honour of having given birth to Aulus Helvius, who succeeded Commodus as emperor of Rome, by the name of Pertinax which he acquired from his obstinate refusal of that dignity, when it was forced upon him by the senate. You know this man, though of very low birth, possessed many excellent qualities, and was basely murdered by the praetorian guards, at the instigation of Didius Tulianus. For my part, I could never read without emotion, that celebrated eulogium of the senate who exclaimed after his death, Pertinace, imperante, securi viximus neminem timuimus, patre pio, patre senatus, patre omnium, honorum, We lived secure and were afraid of nothing under the Government of Pertinax, our affectionate Father, Father of the Senate, Father to all the children of Virtue.] or converted into tomb-stones, or carried off to be preserved in one or two churches of Nice. At present, the work has the appearance of a ruinous watch-tower, with Gothic battlements; and as such stands undistinguished by those who travel by sea from hence to Genoa, and other ports of Italy. I think I have now described all the antiquities in the neighbourhood of Nice, except some catacombs or caverns, dug in a rock at St. Hospice, which Busching, in his geography, has described as a strong town and seaport, though in fact, there is not the least vestige either of town or village. It is a point of land almost opposite to the tower of Turbia, with the mountains of which it forms a bay, where there is a great and curious fishery of the tunny fish, farmed of the king of Sardinia. Upon this point there is a watch-tower still kept in repair, to give notice to the people in the neighbourhood, in case any Barbary corsairs should appear on the coast. The catacombs were in all probability dug, in former times, as places of retreat for the inhabitants upon sudden descents of the Saracens, who greatly infested these seas for several successive centuries. Many curious persons have entered them and proceeded a considerable way by torch-light, without arriving at the further extremity; and the tradition of the country is, that they reach as far as the ancient city of Cemenelion; but this is an idle supposition, almost as ridiculous as that which ascribes them to the labour and ingenuity of the fairies: they consist of narrow subterranean passages, vaulted with stone and lined with cement. Here and there one finds detached apartments like small chambers, where I suppose the people remained concealed till the danger was over. Diodorus Siculus tells us, that the antient inhabitants of this country usually lived under ground. “Ligures in terra cubant ut plurimum; plures ad cava, saxa speluncasque ab natura factas ubi tegantur corpora divertunt,” “The Ligurians mostly lie on the bare ground; many of them lodge in bare Caves and Caverns where they are sheltered from the inclemency of the weather.” This was likewise the custom of the Troglodytae, a people bordering upon Aethiopia who, according to Aelian, lived in subterranean caverns; from whence, indeed they took their name trogli, signifying a cavern; and Virgil, in his Georgics, thus describes the Sarmatae,

Ipsi in defossis specubus, secura sub alta Ocia agunt terra. —

In Subterranean Caves secure they lie Nor heed the transient seasons as they fly.

These are dry subjects; but such as the country affords. If we have not white paper, we must snow with brown. Even that which I am now scrawling may be useful, if, not entertaining: it is therefore the more confidently offered by — Dear Sir, Yours affectionately.

Letter XVII

Nice, July 2, 1764.

DEAR SIR — Nice was originally a colony from Marseilles. You know the Phocians (if we may believe Justin and Polybius) settled in Gaul, and built Marseilles, during the reign of Tarquinius Priscus at Rome. This city flourished to such a degree, that long before the Romans were in a condition to extend their dominion, it sent forth colonies, and established them along the coast of Liguria. Of these, Nice, or Nicaea, was one of the most remarkable; so called, in all probability, from the Greek word Nike, signifying Victoria, in consequence of some important victory obtained over the Salii and Ligures, who were the antient inhabitants of this country. Nice, with its mother city, being in the sequel subdued by the Romans, fell afterwards successively under the dominion of the Goths, Burgundians, and Franks, the kings of Arles, and the kings of Naples, as counts of Provence. In the year one thousand three hundred and eighty-eight, the city and county of Nice being but ill protected by the family of Durazzo, voluntarily surrendered themselves to Amadaeus, surnamed the Red, duke of Savoy; and since that period, they have continued as part of that potentate’s dominions, except at such times as they have been over-run and possessed by the power of France, which hath always been a troublesome neighbour to this country. The castle was begun by the Arragonian counts of Provence, and afterwards enlarged by several successive dukes of Savoy, so as to be deemed impregnable, until the modern method of besieging began to take place. A fruitless attempt was made upon it in the year one thousand five hundred and forty-three, by the French and Turks in conjunction: but it was reduced several times after that period, and is now in ruins. The celebrated engineer Vauban, being commanded by Louis XIV to give in a plan for fortifying Nice, proposed, that the river Paglion should be turned into a new channel, so as to surround the town to the north, and fall into the harbour; that where the Paglion now runs to the westward of the city walls, there should be a deep ditch to be filled with sea-water; and that a fortress should be built to the westward of this fosse. These particulars might be executed at no very great expence; but, I apprehend, they would be ineffectual, as the town is commanded by every hill in the neighbourhood; and the exhalations from stagnating sea-water would infallibly render the air unwholesome. Notwithstanding the undoubted antiquity of Nice, very few monuments of that antiquity now remain. The inhabitants say, they were either destroyed by the Saracens in their successive descents upon the coast, by the barbarous nations in their repeated incursions, or used in fortifying the castle, as well as in building other edifices. The city of Cemenelion, however, was subject to the same disasters, and even entirely ruined, nevertheless, we still find remains of its antient splendor. There have been likewise a few stones found at Nice, with antient inscriptions; but there is nothing of this kind standing, unless we give the name of antiquity to a marble cross on the road to Provence, about half a mile from the city. It stands upon a pretty high pedestal with steps, under a pretty stone cupola or dome, supported by four Ionic pillars, on the spot where Charles V. emperor of Germany, Francis I. of France, and pope Paul II. agreed to have a conference, in order to determine all their disputes. The emperor came hither by sea, with a powerful fleet, and the French king by land, at the head of a numerous army. All the endeavours of his holiness, however, could not effect a peace; but they agreed to a truce of ten years. Mezerai affirms, that these two great princes never saw one another on this occasion; and that this shyness was owing to the management of the pope, whose private designs might have been frustrated, had they come to a personal interview. In the front of the colonade, there is a small stone, with an inscription in Latin, which is so high, and so much defaced, that I cannot read it.

In the sixteenth century there was a college erected at Nice, by Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, for granting degrees to students of law; and in the year one thousand six hundred and fourteen, Charles Emanuel I. instituted the senate of Nice; consisting of a president, and a certain number of senators, who are distinguished by their purple robes, and other ensigns of authority. They administer justice, having the power of life and death, not only through the whole county of Nice, but causes are evoked from Oneglia, and some other places, to their tribunal, which is the dernier ressort, from whence there is no appeal. The commandant, however, by virtue of his military power and unrestricted authority, takes upon him to punish individuals by imprisonment, corporal pains, and banishment, without consulting the senate, or indeed, observing any form of trial. The only redress against any unjust exercise of this absolute power, is by complaint to the king; and you know, what chance a poor man has for being redressed in this manner.

With respect to religion, I may safely say, that here superstition reigns under the darkest shades of ignorance and prejudice. I think there are ten convents and three nunneries within and without the walls of Nice; and among them all, I never could hear of one man who had made any tolerable advances in any kind of human learning. All ecclesiastics are exempted from any exertion of civil power, being under the immediate protection and authority of the bishop, or his vicar. The bishop of Nice is suffragan of the archbishop of Ambrun in France; and the revenues of the see amount to between five and six hundred pounds sterling. We have likewise an office of the inquisition, though I do not hear that it presumes to execute any acts of jurisdiction, without the king’s special permission. All the churches are sanctuaries for all kinds of criminals, except those guilty of high treason; and the priests are extremely jealous of their privileges in this particular. They receive, with open arms, murderers, robbers, smugglers, fraudulent bankrupts, and felons of every denomination; and never give them up, until after having stipulated for their lives and liberty. I need not enlarge upon the pernicious consequences of this infamous prerogative, calculated to raise and extend the power and influence of the Roman church, on the ruins of morality and good order. I saw a fellow, who had three days before murdered his wife in the last month of pregnancy, taking the air with great composure and serenity, on the steps of a church in Florence; and nothing is more common, than to see the most execrable villains diverting themselves in the cloysters of some convents at Rome.

Nice abounds with noblesse, marquisses, counts, and barons. Of these, three or four families are really respectable: the rest are novi homines, sprung from Bourgeois, who have saved a little money by their different occupations, and raised themselves to the rank of noblesse by purchase. One is descended from an avocat; another from an apothecary; a third from a retailer of wine, a fourth from a dealer in anchovies; and I am told, there is actually a count at Villefranche, whose father sold macaroni in the streets. A man in this country may buy a marquisate, or a county, for the value of three or four hundred pounds sterling, and the title follows the fief; but he may purchase lettres de noblesse for about thirty or forty guineas. In Savoy, there are six hundred families of noblesse; the greater part of which have not above one hundred crowns a year to maintain their dignity. In the mountains of Piedmont, and even in this country of Nice, there are some representatives of very antient and noble families, reduced to the condition of common peasants; but they still retain the antient pride of their houses, and boast of the noble blood that runs in their veins. A gentleman told me, that in travelling through the mountains, he was obliged to pass a night in the cottage of one of these rusticated nobles, who called to his son in the evening, “Chevalier, as-tu donne a manger aux cochons?” “Have you fed the Hogs, Sir Knight?” This, however, is not the case with the noblesse of Nice. Two or three of them have about four or five hundred a year: the rest, in general, may have about one hundred pistoles, arising from the silk, oil, wine, and oranges, produced in their small plantations, where they have also country houses. Some few of these are well built, commodious, and situated; but, for the most part, they are miserable enough. Our noblesse, notwithstanding their origin, and the cheap rate at which their titles have been obtained, are nevertheless extremely tenacious of their privileges, very delicate in maintaining the etiquette, and keep at a very stately distance from the Bourgeoisie. How they live in their families, I do not choose to enquire; but, in public, Madame appears in her robe of gold, or silver stuff, with her powder and frisure, her perfumes, her paint and her patches; while Monsieur Le Comte struts about in his lace and embroidery. Rouge and fard are more peculiarly necessary in this country, where the complexion and skin are naturally swarthy and yellow. I have likewise observed, that most of the females are pot-bellied; a circumstance owing, I believe, to the great quantity of vegetable trash which they eat. All the horses, mules, asses, and cattle, which feed upon grass, have the same distension. This kind of food produces such acid juices in the stomach, as excite a perpetual sense of hunger. I have been often amazed at the voracious appetites of these people. You must not expect that I should describe the tables and the hospitality of our Nissard gentry. Our consul, who is a very honest man, told me, he had lived four and thirty years in the country, without having once eat or drank in any of their houses.

The noblesse of Nice cannot leave the country without express leave from the king; and this leave, when obtained, is for a limited time, which they dare not exceed, on pain of incurring his majesty’s displeasure. They must, therefore, endeavour to find amusements at home; and this, I apprehend, would be no easy task for people of an active spirit or restless disposition. True it is, the religion of the country supplies a never-failing fund of pastime to those who have any relish for devotion; and this is here a prevailing taste. We have had transient visits of a puppet-shew, strolling musicians, and rope-dancers; but they did not like their quarters, and decamped without beat of drum. In the summer, about eight or nine at night, part of the noblesse may be seen assembled in a place called the Pare; which is, indeed, a sort of a street formed by a row of very paltry houses on one side, and on the other, by part of the town-wall, which screens it from a prospect of the sea, the only object that could render it agreeable. Here you may perceive the noblesse stretched in pairs upon logs of wood, like so many seals upon the rocks by moon-light, each dame with her cicisbeo: for, you must understand, this Italian fashion prevails at Nice among all ranks of people; and there is not such a passion as jealousy known. The husband and the cicisbeo live together as sworn brothers; and the wife and the mistress embrace each other with marks of the warmest affection. I do not choose to enter into particulars. I cannot open the scandalous chronicle of Nice, without hazard of contamination. With respect to delicacy and decorum, you may peruse dean Swift’s description of the Yahoos, and then you will have some idea of the porcheria, that distinguishes the gallantry of Nice. But the Pare is not the only place of public resort for our noblesse in a summer’s evening. Just without one of our gates, you will find them seated in ditches on the highway side, serenaded with the croaking of frogs, and the bells and braying of mules and asses continually passing in a perpetual cloud of dust. Besides these amusements, there is a public conversazione every evening at the commandant’s house called the Government, where those noble personages play at cards for farthings. In carnival time, there is also, at this same government, a ball twice or thrice a week, carried on by subscription. At this assembly every person, without distinction, is permitted to dance in masquerade: but, after dancing, they are obliged to unmask, and if Bourgeois, to retire. No individual can give a ball, without obtaining a permission and guard of the commandant; and then his house is open to all masques, without distinction, who are provided with tickets, which tickets are sold by the commandant’s secretary, at five sols a-piece, and delivered to the guard at the door. If I have a mind to entertain my particular friends, I cannot have more than a couple of violins; and, in that case, it is called a conversazione.

Though the king of Sardinia takes all opportunities to distinguish the subjects of Great-Britain with particular marks of respect, I have seen enough to be convinced, that our nation is looked upon with an evil eye by the people of Nice; and this arises partly from religious prejudices, and partly from envy, occasioned by a ridiculous notion of our superior wealth. For my own part, I owe them nothing on the score of civilities; and therefore, I shall say nothing more on the subject, lest I should be tempted to deviate from that temperance and impartiality which I would fain hope have hitherto characterised the remarks of — Dear Sir, your faithful, humble servant.

Letter XVIII

Nice, September 2, 1764.

DEAR DOCTOR — I wrote in May to Mr. B— at Geneva, and gave him what information he desired to have, touching the conveniences of Nice. I shall now enter into the same detail, for the benefit of such of your friends or patients, as may have occasion to try this climate.

The journey from Calais to Nice, of four persons in a coach, or two post-chaises, with a servant on horseback, travelling post, may be performed with ease, for about one hundred and twenty pounds, including every expence. Either at Calais or at Paris, you will always find a travelling coach or berline, which you may buy for thirty or forty guineas, and this will serve very well to reconvey you to your own country.

In the town of Nice, you will find no ready-furnished lodgings for a whole family. Just without one of the gates, there are two houses to be let, ready-furnished, for about five loui’dores per month. As for the country houses in this neighbourhood, they are damp in winter, and generally without chimnies; and in summer they are rendered uninhabitable by the heat and the vermin. If you hire a tenement in Nice, you must take it for a year certain; and this will cost you about twenty pounds sterling. For this price, I have a ground floor paved with brick, consisting of a kitchen, two large halls, a couple of good rooms with chimnies, three large closets that serve for bed-chambers, and dressing-rooms, a butler’s room, and three apartments for servants, lumber or stores, to which we ascend by narrow wooden stairs. I have likewise two small gardens, well stocked with oranges, lemons, peaches, figs, grapes, corinths, sallad, and pot-herbs. It is supplied with a draw-well of good water, and there is another in the vestibule of the house, which is cool, large, and magnificent. You may hire furniture for such a tenement for about two guineas a month: but I chose rather to buy what was necessary; and this cost me about sixty pounds. I suppose it will fetch me about half the money when I leave the place. It is very difficult to find a tolerable cook at Nice. A common maid, who serves the people of the country, for three or four livres a month, will not live with an English family under eight or ten. They are all slovenly, slothful, and unconscionable cheats. The markets at Nice are tolerably well supplied. Their beef, which comes from Piedmont, is pretty good, and we have it all the year. In the winter we have likewise excellent pork, and delicate lamb; but the mutton is indifferent. Piedmont, also, affords us delicious capons, fed with maize; and this country produces excellent turkeys, but very few geese. Chickens and pullets are extremely meagre. I have tried to fatten them, without success. In summer they are subject to the pip, and die in great numbers. Autumn and winter are the seasons for game; hares, partridges, quails, wild-pigeons, woodcocks, snipes, thrushes, beccaficas, and ortolans. Wild-boar is sometimes found in the mountains: it has a delicious taste, not unlike that of the wild hog in Jamaica; and would make an excellent barbecue, about the beginning of winter, when it is in good case: but, when meagre, the head only is presented at tables. Pheasants are very scarce. As for the heath-game, I never saw but one cock, which my servant bought in the market, and brought home; but the commandant’s cook came into my kitchen, and carried it of, after it was half plucked, saying, his master had company to dinner. The hares are large, plump, and juicy. The partridges are generally of the red sort; large as pullets, and of a good flavour: there are also some grey partridges in the mountains; and another sort of a white colour, that weigh four or five pounds each. Beccaficas are smaller than sparrows, but very fat, and they are generally eaten half raw. The best way of dressing them is to stuff them into a roll, scooped of it’s crum; to baste them well with butter, and roast them, until they are brown and crisp. The ortolans are kept in cages, and crammed, until they die of fat, then eaten as dainties. The thrush is presented with the trail, because the bird feeds on olives. They may as well eat the trail of a sheep, because it feeds on the aromatic herbs of the mountain. In the summer, we have beef, veal, and mutton, chicken, and ducks; which last are very fat, and very flabby. All the meat is tough in this season, because the excessive heat, and great number of flies, will not admit of its being kept any time after it is killed. Butter and milk, though not very delicate, we have all the year. Our tea and fine sugar come from Marseilles, at a very reasonable price.

Nice is not without variety of fish; though they are not counted so good in their kinds as those of the ocean. Soals, and flat-fish in general, are scarce. Here are some mullets, both grey and red. We sometimes see the dory, which is called St Pierre; with rock-fish, bonita, and mackarel. The gurnard appears pretty often; and there is plenty of a kind of large whiting, which eats pretty well; but has not the delicacy of that which is caught on our coast. One of the best fish of this country, is called Le Loup, about two or three pounds in weight; white, firm, and well-flavoured. Another, no-way inferior to it, is the Moustel, about the same size; of a dark-grey colour, and short, blunt snout; growing thinner and flatter from the shoulders downwards, so as to resemble a soal at the tail. This cannot be the mustela of the antients, which is supposed to be the sea lamprey. Here too are found the vyvre, or, as we call it, weaver; remarkable for its long, sharp spines, so dangerous to the fingers of the fishermen. We have abundance of the saepia, or cuttle-fish, of which the people in this country make a delicate ragout; as also of the polype de mer, which is an ugly animal, with long feelers, like tails, which they often wind about the legs of the fishermen. They are stewed with onions, and eat something like cow-heel. The market sometimes affords the ecrivisse de mer, which is a lobster without claws, of a sweetish taste; and there are a few rock oysters, very small and very rank. Sometimes the fishermen find under water, pieces of a very hard cement, like plaister of Paris, which contain a kind of muscle, called la datte, from its resemblance to a date. These petrifactions are commonly of a triangular form and may weigh about twelve or fifteen pounds each and one of them may contain a dozen of these muscles which have nothing extraordinary in the taste or flavour, though extremely curious, as found alive and juicy, in the heart of a rock, almost as hard as marble, without any visible communication with the air or water. I take it for granted, however, that the inclosing cement is porous, and admits the finer parts of the surrounding fluid. In order to reach the muscles, this cement must be broke with large hammers; and it may be truly said, the kernal is not worth the trouble of cracking the shell. [These are found in great plenty at Ancona and other parts of the Adriatic, where they go by the name of Bollani, as we are informed by Keysler.] Among the fish of this country, there is a very ugly animal of the eel species, which might pass for a serpent: it is of a dusky, black colour, marked with spots of yellow, about eighteen inches, or two feet long. The Italians call it murena; but whether it is the fish which had the same name among the antient Romans, I cannot pretend to determine. The antient murena was counted a great delicacy, and was kept in ponds for extraordinary occasions. Julius Caesar borrowed six thousand for one entertainment: but I imagined this was the river lamprey. The murena of this country is in no esteem, and only eaten by the poor people.

Craw-fish and trout are rarely found in the rivers among the mountains. The sword-fish is much esteemed in Nice, and called l’empereur, about six or seven feet long: but I have never seen it. [Since I wrote the above letter, I have eaten several times of this fish, which is as white as the finest veal, and extremely delicate. The emperor associates with the tunny fish, and is always taken in their company.] They are very scarce; and when taken, are generally concealed, because the head belongs to the commandant, who has likewise the privilege of buying the best fish at a very low price. For which reason, the choice pieces are concealed by the fishermen, and sent privately to Piedmont or Genoa. But, the chief fisheries on this coast are of the sardines, anchovies, and tunny. These are taken in small quantities all the year; but spring and summer is the season when they mostly abound. In June and July, a fleet of about fifty fishing-boats puts to sea every evening about eight o’clock, and catches anchovies in immense quantities. One small boat sometimes takes in one night twenty-five rup, amounting to six hundred weight; but it must be observed, that the pound here, as well as in other parts of Italy, consists but of twelve ounces. Anchovies, besides their making a considerable article in the commerce of Nice, are a great resource in all families. The noblesse and burgeois sup on sallad and anchovies, which are eaten on all their meagre days. The fishermen and mariners all along this coast have scarce any other food but dry bread, with a few pickled anchovies; and when the fish is eaten, they rub their crusts with the brine. Nothing can be more delicious than fresh anchovies fried in oil: I prefer them to the smelts of the Thames. I need not mention, that the sardines and anchovies are caught in nets; salted, barrelled, and exported into all the different kingdoms and states of Europe. The sardines, however, are largest and fattest in the month of September. A company of adventurers have farmed the tunny-fishery of the king, for six years; a monopoly, for which they pay about three thousand pounds sterling. They are at a very considerable expence for nets, boats, and attendance. Their nets are disposed in a very curious manner across the small bay of St. Hospice, in this neighbourhood, where the fish chiefly resort. They are never removed, except in the winter, and when they want repair: but there are avenues for the fish to enter, and pass, from one inclosure to another. There is a man in a boat, who constantly keeps watch. When he perceives they are fairly entered, he has a method for shutting all the passes, and confining the fish to one apartment of the net, which is lifted up into the boat, until the prisoners are taken and secured. The tunny-fish generally runs from fifty to one hundred weight; but some of them are much larger. They are immediately gutted, boiled, and cut in slices. The guts and head afford oil: the slices are partly dried, to be eaten occasionally with oil and vinegar, or barrelled up in oil, to be exported. It is counted a delicacy in Italy and Piedmont, and tastes not unlike sturgeon. The famous pickle of the ancients, called garum, was made of the gills and blood of the tunny, or thynnus. There is a much more considerable fishery of it in Sardinia, where it is said to employ four hundred persons; but this belongs to the duc de St. Pierre. In the neighbourhood of Villa Franca, there are people always employed in fishing for coral and sponge, which grow adhering to the rocks under water. Their methods do not favour much of ingenuity. For the coral, they lower down a swab, composed of what is called spunyarn on board our ships of war, hanging in distinct threads, and sunk by means of a great weight, which, striking against the coral in its descent, disengages it from the rocks; and some of the pieces being intangled among the threads of the swab, are brought up with it above water. The sponge is got by means of a cross-stick, fitted with hooks, which being lowered down, fastens upon it, and tears it from the rocks. In some parts of the Adriatic and Archipelago, these substances are gathered by divers, who can remain five minutes below water. But I will not detain you one minute longer; though I must observe, that there is plenty of fine samphire growing along all these rocks, neglected and unknown. — Adieu.

Letter XIX

Nice, October 10, 1764.

DEAR SIR — Before I tell you the price of provisions at Nice, it will be necessary to say something of the money. The gold coin of Sardinia consists of the doppia di savoia, value twenty-four livres Piedmontese, about the size of a loui’dore; and the mezzo doppia, or piece of twelve livres. In silver, there is the scudo of six livres, the mezzo scudo of three; and the quarto, or pezza di trenta soldi: but all these are very scarce. We seldom see any gold and silver coin, but the loui’dore, and the six, and three-livre Pieces of France; a sure sign that the French suffer by their contraband commerce with the Nissards. The coin chiefly used at market is a piece of copper silvered, that passes for seven sols and a half; another of the same sort, valued two sols and a half. They have on one side the impression of the king’s head; and on the other, the arms of Savoy, with a ducal crown, inscribed with his name and titles. There are of genuine copper, pieces of one sol, stamped on one side with a cross fleuree; and on the reverse, with the king’s cypher and crown, inscribed as the others: finally, there is another small copper piece, called piccalon, the sixth part of a sol, with a plain cross, and on the reverse, a slip-knot surmounted with a crown; the legend as above. The impression and legend on the gold and silver coins, are the same as those on the pieces of seven sols and a half. The livre of Piedmont consists of twenty sols, and is very near of the same value as an English shilling: ten sols, therefore, are equal to six-pence sterling. Butcher’s meat in general sells at Nice for three sols a pound; and veal is something dearer: but then there are but twelve ounces in the pound, which being allowed for, sixteen ounces, come for something less than twopence halfpenny English. Fish commonly sells for four sols the twelve ounces, or five for the English pound; and these five are equivalent to three-pence of our money: but sometimes we are obliged to pay five, and even six sols for the Piedmontese pound of fish. A turkey that would sell for five or six shillings at the London market, costs me but three at Nice. I can buy a good capon for thirty sols, or eighteen-pence; and the same price I pay for a brace of partridges, or a good hare. I can have a woodcock for twenty-four sols; but the pigeons are dearer than in London. Rabbits are very rare; and there is scarce a goose to be seen in the whole county of Nice. Wild-ducks and teal are sometimes to be had in the winter; and now I am speaking of sea-fowl, it may not be amiss to tell you what I know of the halcyon, or king’s-fisher. It is a bird, though very rare in this country about the size of a pigeon; the body brown, and the belly white: by a wonderful instinct it makes its nest upon the surface of the sea, and lays its eggs in the month of November, when the Mediterranean is always calm and smooth as a mill-pond. The people about here call them martinets, because they begin to hatch about Martinmass. Their nests are sometimes seen floating near the shore, and generally become the prize of the boys, who are very alert in catching them.

You know all sea-birds are allowed by the church of Rome to be eaten on meagre days, as a kind of fish; and the monks especially do not fail to make use of this permission. Sea turtle, or tortoises, are often found at sea by the mariners, in these latitudes: but they are not the green sort, so much in request among the aldermen of London. All the Mediterranean turtle are of the kind called loggerhead, which in the West-Indies are eaten by none but hungry seamen, negroes, and the lowest class of people. One of these, weighing about two hundred pounds, was lately brought on shore by the fishermen of Nice, who found it floating asleep on the surface of the sea. The whole town was alarmed at sight of such a monster, the nature of which they could not comprehend. However, the monks, called minims, of St. Francesco di Paolo, guided by a sure instinct, marked it as their prey, and surrounded it accordingly. The friars of other convents, not quite so hungry, crowding down to the beach, declared it should not be eaten; dropped some hints about the possibility of its being something praeternatural and diabolical, and even proposed exorcisms and aspersions with holy water. The populace were divided according to their attachment to this, or that convent: a mighty clamour arose; and the police, in order to remove the cause of their contention, ordered the tortoise to be recommitted to the waves; a sentence which the Franciscans saw executed, not without sighs and lamentation. The land-turtle, or terrapin, is much better known at Nice, as being a native of this country; yet the best are brought from the island of Sardinia. The soup or bouillon of this animal is always prescribed here as a great restorative to consumptive patients. The bread of Nice is very indifferent, and I am persuaded very unwholesome. The flour is generally musty, and not quite free of sand. This is either owing to the particles of the mill-stone rubbed off in grinding, or to what adheres to the corn itself, in being threshed upon the common ground; for there are no threshing-floors in this country. I shall now take notice of the vegetables of Nice. In the winter, we have green pease, asparagus, artichoaks, cauliflower, beans, French beans, celery, and endive; cabbage, coleworts, radishes, turnips, carrots, betteraves, sorrel lettuce, onions, garlic, and chalot. We have potatoes from the mountains, mushrooms, champignons, and truffles. Piedmont affords white truffles, counted the most delicious in the world: they sell for about three livres the pound. The fruits of this season are pickled olives, oranges, lemons, citrons, citronelles, dried figs, grapes, apples, pears, almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, filberts, medlars, pomegranates, and a fruit called azerolles, [The Italians call them Lazerruoli.] about the size of a nutmeg, of an oblong shape, red colour, and agreeable acid taste. I might likewise add the cherry of the Laurus cerasus, which is sold in the market; very beautiful to the eye, but insipid to the palate. In summer we have all those vegetables in perfection. There is also a kind of small courge, or gourd, of which the people of the country make a very savoury ragout, with the help of eggs, cheese, and fresh anchovies. Another is made of the badenjean, which the Spaniards call berengena: [This fruit is called Melanzana in Italy and is much esteemed by the Jews in Leghorn. Perhaps Melanzana is a corruption of Malamsana.] it is much eaten in Spain and the Levant, as well as by the Moors in Barbary. It is about the size and shape of a hen’s egg, inclosed in a cup like an acorn; when ripe, of a faint purple colour. It grows on a stalk about a foot high, with long spines or prickles. The people here have different ways of slicing and dressing it, by broiling, boiling, and stewing, with other ingredients: but it is at best an insipid dish. There are some caperbushes in this neighbourhood, which grow wild in holes of garden walls, and require no sort of cultivation: in one or two gardens, there are palm-trees; but the dates never ripen. In my register of the weather, I have marked the seasons of the principal fruits in this country. In May we have strawberries, which continue in season two or three months. These are of the wood kind; very grateful, and of a good flavour; but the scarlets and hautboys are not known at Nice. In the beginning of June, and even sooner, the cherries begin to be ripe. They are a kind of bleeding hearts; large, fleshy, and high flavoured, though rather too luscious. I have likewise seen a few of those we call Kentish cherries which are much more cool, acid, and agreeable, especially in this hot climate. The cherries are succeeded by the apricots and peaches, which are all standards, and of consequence better flavoured than what we call wall-fruit. The trees, as well as almonds, grow and bear without care and cultivation, and may be seen in the open fields about Nice. but without proper culture, the fruit degenerates. The best peaches I have seen at Nice are the amberges, of a yellow hue, and oblong shape, about the size of a small lemon. Their consistence is much more solid than that of our English peaches, and their taste more delicious. Several trees of this kind I have in my own garden. Here is likewise plenty of other sorts; but no nectarines. We have little choice of plumbs. Neither do I admire the pears or apples of this country: but the most agreeable apples I ever tasted, come from Final, and are called pomi carli. The greatest fault I find with most fruits in this climate, is, that they are too sweet and luscious, and want that agreeable acid which is so cooling and so grateful in a hot country. This, too, is the case with our grapes, of which there is great plenty and variety, plump and juicy, and large as plumbs. Nature, however, has not neglected to provide other agreeable vegetable juices to cool the human body. During the whole summer, we have plenty of musk melons. I can buy one as large as my head for the value of an English penny: but one of the best and largest, weighing ten or twelve pounds, I can have for twelve sols, or about eight-pence sterling. From Antibes and Sardinia, we have another fruit called a watermelon, which is well known in Jamaica, and some of our other colonies. Those from Antibes are about the size of an ordinary bomb-shell: but the Sardinian and Jamaica watermelons are four times as large. The skin is green, smooth, and thin. The inside is a purple pulp, studded with broad, flat, black seeds, and impregnated with a juice the most cool, delicate, and refreshing, that can well be conceived. One would imagine the pulp itself dissolved in the stomach; for you may eat of it until you are filled up to the tongue, without feeling the least inconvenience. It is so friendly to the constitution, that in ardent inflammatory fevers, it is drank as the best emulsion. At Genoa, Florence, and Rome, it is sold in the streets, ready cut in slices; and the porters, sweating under their burthens, buy, and eat them as they pass. A porter of London quenches his thirst with a draught of strong beer: a porter of Rome, or Naples, refreshes himself with a slice of water-melon, or a glass of iced-water. The one costs three half-pence; the last, half a farthing — which of them is most effectual? I am sure the men are equally pleased. It is commonly remarked, that beer strengthens as well as refreshes. But the porters of Constantinople, who never drink any thing stronger than water, and eat very little animal food, will lift and carry heavier burthens than any other porters in the known world. If we may believe the most respectable travellers, a Turk will carry a load of seven hundred weight, which is more (I believe) than any English porter ever attempted to carry any length of way.

Among the refreshments of these warm countries, I ought not to forget mentioning the sorbettes, which are sold in coffee-houses, and places of public resort. They are iced froth, made with juice of oranges, apricots, or peaches; very agreeable to the palate, and so extremely cold, that I was afraid to swallow them in this hot country, until I found from information and experience, that they may be taken in moderation, without any bad consequence.

Another considerable article in house-keeping is wine, which we have here good and reasonable. The wine of Tavelle in Languedoc is very near as good as Burgundy, and may be had at Nice, at the rate of six-pence a bottle. The sweet wine of St. Laurent, counted equal to that of Frontignan, costs about eight or nine-pence a quart: pretty good Malaga may be had for half the money. Those who make their own wine choose the grapes from different vineyards, and have them picked, pressed, and fermented at home.

That which is made by the peasants, both red and white, is generally genuine: but the wine-merchants of Nice brew and balderdash, and even mix it with pigeons dung and quick-lime. It cannot be supposed, that a stranger and sojourner should buy his own grapes, and make his own provision of wine: but he may buy it by recommendation from the peasants, for about eighteen or twenty livres the charge, consisting of eleven rup five pounds; in other words, of two hundred and eighty pounds of this country, so as to bring it for something less than three-pence a quart. The Nice wine, when mixed with water, makes an agreeable beverage. There is an inferior sort for servants drank by the common people, which in the cabaret does not cost above a penny a bottle. The people here are not so nice as the English, in the management of their wine. It is kept in flacons, or large flasks, without corks, having a little oil at top. It is not deemed the worse for having been opened a day or two before; and they expose it to the hot sun, and all kinds of weather, without hesitation. Certain it is, this treatment has little or no effect upon its taste, flavour, and transparency.

The brandy of Nice is very indifferent: and the liqueurs are so sweetened with coarse sugar, that they scarce retain the taste or flavour of any other ingredient.

The last article of domestic oeconomy which I shall mention is fuel, or wood for firing, which I buy for eleven sols (a little more than six-pence halfpenny) a quintal, consisting of one hundred and fifty pound Nice weight. The best, which is of oak, comes from Sardinia. The common sort is olive, which being cut with the sap in it, ought to be laid in during the summer; otherwise, it will make a very uncomfortable fire. In my kitchen and two chambers, I burned fifteen thousand weight of wood in four weeks, exclusive of charcoal for the kitchen stoves, and of pine-tops for lighting the fires. These last are as large as pineapples, which they greatly resemble in shape, and to which, indeed, they give their name; and being full of turpentine, make a wonderful blaze. For the same purpose, the people of these countries use the sarments, or cuttings of the vines, which they sell made up in small fascines. This great consumption of wood is owing to the large fires used in roasting pieces of beef, and joints, in the English manner. The roasts of this country seldom exceed two or three pounds of meat; and their other plats are made over stove holes. But it is now high time to conduct you from the kitchen, where you have been too long detained by — Your humble servant.

P.S. — I have mentioned the prices of almost all the articles in house-keeping, as they are paid by the English: but exclusive of butcher’s meat, I am certain the natives do not pay so much by thirty per cent. Their imposition on us, is not only a proof of their own villany and hatred, but a scandal on their government; which ought to interfere in favour of the subjects of a nation, to which they are so much bound in point of policy, as well as gratitude.

Letter XX

Nice, October 22, 1764.

SIR — As I have nothing else to do, but to satisfy my own curiosity, and that of my friends, I obey your injunctions with pleasure; though not without some apprehension that my inquiries will afford you very little entertainment. The place where I am is of very little importance or consequence as a state or community; neither is there any thing curious or interesting in the character or oeconomy of its inhabitants.

There are some few merchants in Nice, said to be in good circumstances. I know one of them, who deals to a considerable extent, and goes twice a year to London to attend the sales of the East-India company. He buys up a very large quantity of muslins, and other Indian goods, and freights a ship in the river to transport them to Villa Franca. Some of these are sent to Swisserland; but, I believe, the greater part is smuggled into France, by virtue of counterfeit stamps, which are here used without any ceremony. Indeed, the chief commerce of this place is a contraband traffick carried on to the disadvantage of France; and I am told, that the farmers of the Levant company in that kingdom find their account in conniving at it. Certain it is, a great quantity of merchandize is brought hither every week by mules from Turin and other parts in Piedmont, and afterwards conveyed to the other side of the Var, either by land or water. The mules of Piedmont are exceeding strong and hardy. One of them will carry a burthen of near six hundred weight. They are easily nourished, and require no other respite from their labour, but the night’s repose. They are the only carriage that can be used in crossing the mountains, being very sure-footed: and it is observed that in choosing their steps, they always march upon the brink of the precipice. You must let them take their own way, otherwise you will be in danger of losing your life; for they are obstinate, even to desperation. It is very dangerous for a person on horseback to meet those animals: they have such an aversion to horses, that they will attack them with incredible fury, so as even to tear them and their riders in pieces; and the best method for avoiding this fate, is to clap spurs to your beast, and seek your safety in flight. I have been more than once obliged to fly before them. They always give you warning, by raising a hideous braying as soon as they perceive the horse at a distance. The mules of Provence are not so mischievous, because they are more used to the sight and society of horses: but those of Piedmont are by far the largest and the strongest I have seen.

Some very feasible schemes for improving the commerce of Nice have been presented to the ministry of Turin; but hitherto without success. The English import annually between two and three thousand bales of raw silk, the growth of Piedmont; and this declaration would be held legal evidence. In some parts of France, the cure of the parish, on All Souls’ day, which is called le jour des morts, says a libera domine for two sols, at every grave in the burying-ground, for the release of the soul whose body is there interred.

The artisans of Nice are very lazy, very needy, very aukward, and void of all ingenuity. The price of their labour is very near as high as at London or Paris. Rather than work for moderate profit, arising from constant employment, which would comfortably maintain them and their families, they choose to starve at home, to lounge about the ramparts, bask themselves in the sun, or play at bowls in the streets from morning ‘till night.

The lowest class of people consists of fishermen, day labourers, porters, and peasants: these last are distributed chiefly in the small cassines in the neighbourhood of the city, and are said to amount to twelve thousand. They are employed in labouring the ground, and have all the outward signs of extreme misery. They are all diminutive, meagre, withered, dirty, and half naked; in their complexions, not barely swarthy, but as black as Moors; and I believe many of them are descendants of that people. They are very hard favoured; and their women in general have the coarsest features I have ever seen: it must be owned, however, they have the finest teeth in the world. The nourishment of those poor creatures consists of the refuse of the garden, very coarse bread, a kind of meal called polenta, made of Indian corn, which is very nourishing and agreeable, and a little oil; but even in these particulars, they seem to be stinted to very scanty meals. I have known a peasant feed his family with the skins of boiled beans. Their hogs are much better fed than their children. ’Tis pity they have no cows, which would yield milk, butter, and cheese, for the sustenance of their families. With all this wretchedness, one of these peasants will not work in your garden for less than eighteen sols, about eleven pence sterling, per diem; and then he does not half the work of an English labourer. If there is fruit in it, or any thing he can convey, he will infallibly steal it, if you do not keep a very watchful eye over him. All the common people are thieves and beggars; and I believe this is always the case with people who are extremely indigent and miserable. In other respects, they are seldom guilty of excesses. They are remarkably respectful and submissive to their superiors. The populace of Nice are very quiet and orderly. They are little addicted to drunkenness. I have never heard of one riot since I lived among them; and murder and robbery are altogether unknown. A man may walk alone over the county of Nice, at midnight, without danger of insult. The police is very well regulated. No man is permitted to wear a pistol or dagger’ on pain of being sent to the gallies. I am informed, that both murder and robbery are very frequent in some parts of Piedmont. Even here, when the peasants quarrel in their cups, (which very seldom happens) they draw their knives, and the one infallibly stabs the other. To such extremities, however, they never proceed, except when there is a woman in the case; and mutual jealousy co-operates with the liquor they have drank, to inflame their passions. In Nice, the common people retire to their lodgings at eight o’clock in winter, and nine in summer. Every person found in the streets after these hours, is apprehended by the patrole; and, if he cannot give a good account of himself, sent to prison. At nine in winter, and ten in summer, there is a curfew-bell rung, warning the people to put out their lights, and go to bed. This is a very necessary precaution in towns subject to conflagrations; but of small use in Nice, where there is very little combustible in the houses.

The punishments inflicted upon malefactors and delinquents at Nice are hanging for capital crimes; slavery on board the gallies for a limited term, or for life, according to the nature of the transgression; flagellation, and the strappado. This last is performed, by hoisting up the criminal by his hands tied behind his back, on a pulley about two stories high; from whence, the rope being suddenly slackened, he falls to within a yard or two of the ground, where he is stopped with a violent shock arising from the weight of his body, and the velocity of his descent, which generally dislocates his shoulders, with incredible pain. This dreadful execution is sometimes repeated in a few minutes on the same delinquent; so that the very ligaments are tore from his joints, and his arms are rendered useless for life.

The poverty of the people in this country, as well as in the South of France, may be conjectured from the appearance of their domestic animals. The draughthorses, mules, and asses, of the peasants, are so meagre, as to excite compassion. There is not a dog to be seen in tolerable case; and the cats are so many emblems of famine, frightfully thin, and dangerously rapacious. I wonder the dogs and they do not devour young children. Another proof of that indigence which reigns among the common people, is this: you may pass through the whole South of France, as well as the county of Nice, where there is no want of groves, woods, and plantations, without hearing the song of blackbird, thrush, linnet, gold-finch, or any other bird whatsoever. All is silent and solitary. The poor birds are destroyed, or driven for refuge, into other countries, by the savage persecution of the people, who spare no pains to kill, and catch them for their own subsistence. Scarce a sparrow, red-breast, tomtit, or wren, can ‘scape the guns and snares of those indefatigable fowlers. Even the noblesse make parties to go a la chasse, a-hunting; that is, to kill those little birds, which they eat as gibier, or game.

The great poverty of the people here, is owing to their religion. Half of their time is lost in observing the great number of festivals; and half of their substance is given to mendicant friars and parish priests. But if the church occasions their indigence, it likewise, in some measure, alleviates the horrors of it, by amusing them with shows, processions, and even those very feasts, which afford a recess from labour, in a country where the climate disposes them to idleness. If the peasants in the neighbourhood of any chapel dedicated to a saint, whose day is to be celebrated, have a mind to make a festin, in other words, a fair, they apply to the commandant of Nice for a license, which costs them about a French crown. This being obtained, they assemble after service, men and women, in their best apparel, and dance to the musick of fiddles, and pipe and tabor, or rather pipe and drum. There are hucksters’ stands, with pedlary ware and knick-knacks for presents; cakes and bread, liqueurs and wine; and thither generally resort all the company of Nice. I have seen our whole noblesse at one of these festins, kept on the highway in summer, mingled with an immense crowd of peasants, mules, and asses, covered with dust, and sweating at every pore with the excessive heat of the weather. I should be much puzzled to tell whence their enjoyment arises on such occasions; or to explain their motives for going thither, unless they are prescribed it for pennance, as a fore-taste of purgatory.

Now I am speaking of religious institutions, I cannot help observing, that the antient Romans were still more superstitious than the modern Italians; and that the number of their religious feasts, sacrifices, fasts, and holidays, was even greater than those of the Christian church of Rome. They had their festi and profesti, their feriae stativae, and conceptivae, their fixed and moveable feasts; their esuriales, or fasting days, and their precidaneae, or vigils. The agonales were celebrated in January; the carmentales, in January and February; the lupercales and matronales, in March; the megalesia in April; the floralia, in May; and the matralia in June. They had their saturnalia, robigalia, venalia, vertumnalia, fornacalia, palilia, and laralia, their latinae, their paganales, their sementinae, their compitales, and their imperativae; such as the novemdalia, instituted by the senate, on account of a supposed shower of stones. Besides, every private family had a number of feriae, kept either by way of rejoicing for some benefit, or mourning for some calamity. Every time it thundered, the day was kept holy. Every ninth day was a holiday, thence called nundinae quasi novendinae. There was the dies denominalis, which was the fourth of the kalends; nones and ides of every month, over and above the anniversary of every great defeat which the republic had sustained, particularly the dies alliensis, or fifteenth of the kalends of December, on which the Romans were totally defeated by the Gauls and Veientes; as Lucan says — et damnata diu Romanis allia fastis, and Allia in Rome’s Calendar condemn’d. The vast variety of their deities, said to amount to thirty thousand, with their respective rites of adoration, could not fail to introduce such a number of ceremonies, shews, sacrifices, lustrations, and public processions, as must have employed the people almost constantly from one end of the year to the other. This continual dissipation must have been a great enemy to industry; and the people must have been idle and effeminate. I think it would be no difficult matter to prove, that there is very little difference, in point of character, between the antient and modern inhabitants of Rome; and that the great figure which this empire made of old, was not so much owing to the intrinsic virtue of its citizens, as to the barbarism, ignorance, and imbecility of the nations they subdued. Instances of public and private virtue I find as frequent and as striking in the history of other nations, as in the annals of antient Rome; and now that the kingdoms and states of Europe are pretty equally enlightened, and ballanced in the scale of political power, I am of opinion, that if the most fortunate generals of the Roman commonwealth were again placed at the head of the very armies they once commanded, instead of extending their conquests over all Europe and Asia, they would hardly be able to subdue, and retain under their dominion, all the petty republics that subsist in Italy.

But I am tired with writing; and I believe you will be tired with reading this long letter notwithstanding all your prepossession in favour of — Your very humble servant.

Letter XXI

Nice, November 10, 1764.

DEAR DOCTOR — In my enquiries about the revenues of Nice, I am obliged to trust to the information of the inhabitants, who are much given to exaggerate. They tell me, the revenues of this town amount to one hundred thousand livres, or five thousand pounds sterling; of which I would strike off at least one fourth, as an addition of their own vanity: perhaps, if we deduct a third, it will be nearer the truth. For, I cannot find out any other funds they have, but the butchery and the bakery, which they farm at so much a year to the best bidder; and the droits d’entree, or duties upon provision brought into the city; but these are very small. The king is said to draw from Nice one hundred thousand livres annually, arising from a free-gift, amounting to seven hundred pounds sterling, in lieu of the taille, from which this town and county are exempted; an inconsiderable duty upon wine sold in public-houses; and the droits du port. These last consist of anchorage, paid by all vessels in proportion to their tonnage, when they enter the harbours of Nice and Villa Franca. Besides, all foreign vessels, under a certain stipulated burthen, that pass between the island of Sardinia and this coast, are obliged, in going to the eastward, to enter; and pay a certain regulated imposition, on pain of being taken and made prize. The prince of Monaco exacts a talliage of the same kind; and both he and the king of Sardinia maintain armed cruisers to assert this prerogative; from which, however, the English and French are exempted by treaty, in consequence of having paid a sum of money at once. In all probability, it was originally given as a consideration for maintaining lights on the shore, for the benefit of navigators, like the toll paid for passing the Sound in the Baltic. [Upon further inquiry I find it was given in consideration of being protected from the Corsairs by the naval force of the Duke of Savoy and Prince of Monaco.] The fanal, or lanthorn, to the eastward of Villa Franca, is kept in good repair, and still lighted in the winter. The toll, however, is a very troublesome tax upon feluccas, and other small craft, which are greatly retarded in their voyages, and often lose the benefit of a fair wind, by being obliged to run inshore, and enter those harbours. The tobacco the king manufactures at his own expence, and sells for his own profit, at a very high price; and every person convicted of selling this commodity in secret, is sent to the gallies for life. The salt comes chiefly from Sardinia, and is stored up in the king’s magazine from whence it is exported to Piedmont, and other parts of his inland dominions. And here it may not be amiss to observe, that Sardinia produces very good horses, well-shaped, though small; strong, hardy, full of mettle, and easily fed. The whole county of Nice is said to yield the king half a million of livres, about twenty-five thousand pounds sterling, arising from a small donative made by every town and village: for the lands pay no tax, or imposition, but the tithes to the church. His revenue then flows from the gabelle on salt and wine, and these free-gifts; so that we may strike off one fifth of the sum at which the whole is estimated; and conclude, that the king draws from the county at Nice, about four hundred thousand livres, or twenty thousand pounds sterling. That his revenues from Nice are not great, appears from the smallness of the appointments allowed to his officers. The president has about three hundred pounds per annum; and the intendant about two. The pay of the commandant does not exceed three hundred and fifty pounds: but he has certain privileges called the tour du baton, some of which a man of spirit would not insist upon. He who commands at present, having no estate of his own, enjoys a small commandery, which being added to his appointments at Nice, make the whole amount to about five hundred pounds sterling.

If we may believe the politicians of Nice, the king of Sardinia’s whole revenue does not fall short of twenty millions of Piedmontese livres, being above one million of our money. It must be owned, that there is no country in Christendom less taxed than that of Nice; and as the soil produces the necessaries of life, the inhabitants, with a little industry, might renew the golden age in this happy climate, among their groves, woods, and mountains, beautified with fountains, brooks, rivers, torrents, and cascades. In the midst of these pastoral advantages, the peasants are poor and miserable. They have no stock to begin the world with. They have no leases of the lands they cultivate; but entirely depend, from year to year, on the pleasure of the arbitrary landholder, who may turn them out at a minute’s warning; and they are oppressed by the mendicant friars and parish priests, who rob them of the best fruits of their labour: after all, the ground is too scanty for the number of families which are crouded on it.

You desire to know the state of the arts and sciences at Nice; which, indeed, is almost a total blank. I know not what men of talents this place may have formerly produced; but at present, it seems to be consecrated to the reign of dulness and superstition. It is very surprising, to see a people established between two enlightened nations, so devoid of taste and literature. Here are no tolerable pictures, busts, statues, nor edifices: the very ornaments of the churches are wretchedly conceived, and worse executed. They have no public, nor private libraries that afford any thing worth perusing. There is not even a bookseller in Nice. Though they value themselves upon their being natives of Italy, they are unacquainted with music. The few that play upon instruments, attend only to the execution. They have no genius nor taste, nor any knowledge of harmony and composition. Among the French, a Nissard piques himself on being Provencal; but in Florence, Milan, or Rome, he claims the honour of being born a native of Italy. The people of condition here speak both languages equally well; or, rather, equally ill; for they use a low, uncouth phraseology; and their pronunciation is extremely vitious. Their vernacular tongue is what they call Patois; though in so calling it, they do it injustice. — Patois, from the Latin word patavinitas, means no more than a provincial accent, or dialect. It takes its name from Patavium, or Padua, which was the birthplace of Livy, who, with all his merit as a writer, has admitted into his history, some provincial expressions of his own country. The Patois, or native tongue of Nice, is no other than the ancient Provencal, from which the Italian, Spanish and French languages, have been formed. This is the language that rose upon the ruins of the Latin tongue, after the irruptions of the Goths, Vandals, Huns, and Burgundians, by whom the Roman empire was destroyed. It was spoke all over Italy, Spain, and the southern parts of France, until the thirteenth century, when the Italians began to polish it into the language which they now call their own: The Spaniards and French, likewise, improved it into their respective tongues. From its great affinity to the Latin, it was called Romance, a name which the Spaniards still give to their own language. As the first legends of knight-errantry were written in Provencal, all subsequent performances of the same kind, have derived from it the name of romance; and as those annals of chivalry contained extravagant adventures of knights, giants, and necromancers, every improbable story or fiction is to this day called a romance. Mr. Walpole, in his Catalogue of royal and noble Authors, has produced two sonnets in the antient Provencal, written by our king Richard I. surnamed Coeur de Lion; and Voltaire, in his Historical Tracts, has favoured the world with some specimens of the same language. The Patois of Nice, must, without doubt, have undergone changes and corruptions in the course of so many ages, especially as no pains have been taken to preserve its original purity, either in orthography or pronunciation. It is neglected, as the language of the vulgar: and scarce any-body here knows either its origin or constitution. I have in vain endeavoured to procure some pieces in the antient Provencal, that I might compare them with the modern Patois: but I can find no person to give me the least information on the subject. The shades of ignorance, sloth, and stupidity, are impenetrable. Almost every word of the Patois may still be found in the Italian, Spanish, and French languages, with a small change in the pronunciation. Cavallo, signifying a horse in Italian and Spanish is called cavao; maison, the French word for a house, is changed into maion; aqua, which means water in Spanish, the Nissards call daigua. To express, what a slop is here! they say acco fa lac aqui, which is a sentence composed of two Italian words, one French, and one Spanish. This is nearly the proportion in which these three languages will be found mingled in the Patois of Nice; which, with some variation, extends over all Provence, Languedoc, and Gascony. I will now treat you with two or three stanzas of a canzon, or hymn, in this language, to the Virgin Mary, which was lately printed at Nice.


Vierge, maire de Dieu, Nuostro buono avocado, Embel car uvostre sieu, En Fenestro adourado, Jeu vous saludi, E demandi en socours; E sense autre preludi, Canti lous uvostre honours.

Virgin, mother of God, our good advocate, With your dear son, In Fenestro adored, I salute you, And ask his assistance; And without further prelude, I sing your honours.

[Fenestro is the name of a place in this neighbourhood, where there is a supposed miraculous sanctuary, or chapel, of the Virgin Mary.]


Qu’ario de Paradis! Que maesta divine! Salamon es d’advis, Giugiar de uvostro mino; Vous dis plus bello: E lou dis ben soven De toutoi lei femello, E non s’engano ren.

What air of Paradise! What majesty divine! Solomon is of opinion, To judge of your appearance; Says you are the fairest And it is often said Of all females, And we are not all deceived.


Qu’ario de Paradis! Que maesta divine! La bellezzo eblovis; La bonta l’ueigl raffino. Sias couronado; Tenes lou monde en man Sus del trono assettado, Riges lou avostre enfan.

What air of Paradise! What majesty divine! The beauty dazzles; The goodness purifies the eye: You are crowned: You hold the world in your hand: Seated on the throne, You support your child.

You see I have not chosen this canzon for the beauty and elegance of thought and expression; but give it you as the only printed specimen I could find of the modern Provencal. If you have any curiosity to be further acquainted with the Patois, I will endeavour to procure you satisfaction. Meanwhile, I am, in plain English — Dear Sir, Ever yours.

Letter XXII

Nice, November 10, 1764.

DEAR SIR — I had once thoughts of writing a complete natural history of this town and county: but I found myself altogether unequal to the task. I have neither health, strength, nor opportunity to make proper collections of the mineral, vegetable, and animal productions. I am not much conversant with these branches of natural philosophy. I have no books to direct my inquiries. I can find no person capable of giving me the least information or assistance; and I am strangely puzzled by the barbarous names they give to many different species, the descriptions of which I have read under other appelations; and which, as I have never seen them before, I cannot pretend to distinguish by the eye. You must therefore be contented with such imperfect intelligence as my opportunities can afford.

The useful arts practised at Nice, are these, gardening and agriculture, with their consequences, the making of wine, oil, and cordage; the rearing of silk-worms, with the subsequent management and manufacture of that production; and the fishing, which I have already described.

Nothing can be more unpromising than the natural soil of this territory, except in a very few narrow bottoms, where there is a stiff clay, which when carefully watered, yields tolerable pasturage. In every other part, the soil consists of a light sand mingled with pebbles, which serves well enough for the culture of vines and olives: but the ground laid out for kitchen herbs, as well as for other fruit must be manured with great care and attention. They have no black cattle to afford such compost as our farmers use in England. The dung of mules and asses, which are their only beasts of burthen, is of very little value for this purpose; and the natural sterility of their ground requires something highly impregnated with nitre and volatile salts. They have recourse therefore to pigeons’ dung and ordure, which fully answer their expectations. Every peasant opens, at one corner of his wall, a public house of office for the reception of passengers; and in the town of Nice, every tenement is provided with one of these receptacles, the contents of which are carefully preserved for sale. The peasant comes with his asses and casks to carry it off before day, and pays for it according to its quality, which he examines and investigates, by the taste and flavour. The jakes of a protestant family, who eat gras every day, bears a much higher price than the privy of a good catholic who lives maigre one half of the year. The vaults belonging to the convent of Minims are not worth emptying.

The ground here is not delved with spades as in England, but laboured with a broad, sharp hough, having a short horizontal handle; and the climate is so hot and dry in the summer, that the plants must be watered every morning and evening, especially where it is not shaded by trees. It is surprising to see how the productions of the earth are crouded together. One would imagine they would rob one another of nourishment; and moreover be stifled for want of air; and doubtless this is in some measure the case. Olive and other fruit trees are planted in rows very close to each other. These are connected by vines, and the interstices, between the rows, are filled with corn. The gardens that supply the town with sallad and pot-herbs, lye all on the side of Provence, by the highway. They are surrounded with high stone-walls, or ditches, planted with a kind of cane or large reed, which answers many purposes in this country. The leaves of it afford sustenance to the asses, and the canes not only serve as fences to the inclosures; but are used to prop the vines and pease, and to build habitations for the silkworms: they are formed into arbours, and wore as walking-staves. All these gardens are watered by little rills that come from the mountains, particularly, by the small branches of the two sources which I have described in a former letter, as issuing from the two sides of a mountain, under the names of Fontaine de Muraille, and Fontaine du Temple.

In the neighbourhood of Nice, they raise a considerable quantity of hemp, the largest and strongest I ever saw. Part of this, when dressed, is exported to other countries; and part is manufactured into cordage. However profitable it may be to the grower, it is certainly a great nuisance in the summer. When taken out of the pits, where it has been put to rot, the stench it raises is quite insupportable; and must undoubtedly be unwholesome.

There is such a want of land in this neighbourhood, that terraces are built over one another with loose stones, on the faces of bare rocks, and these being covered with earth and manured, are planted with olives, vines, and corn. The same shift was practised all over Palestine, which was rocky and barren, and much more populous than the county of Nice.

Notwithstanding the small extent of this territory, there are some pleasant meadows in the skirts of Nice, that produce excellent clover; and the corn which is sown in open fields, where it has the full benefit of the soil, sun, and air, grows to a surprizing height. I have seen rye seven or eight feet high. All vegetables have a wonderful growth in this climate. Besides wheat, rye, barley, and oats, this country produces a good deal of Meliga, or Turkish wheat, which is what we call Indian corn. I have, in a former letter, observed that the meal of this grain goes by the name polenta, and makes excellent hasty-pudding, being very nourishing, and counted an admirable pectoral. The pods and stalks are used for fuel: and the leaves are much preferable to common straw, for making paillasses.

The pease and beans in the garden appear in the winter like beautiful plantations of young trees in blossom; and perfume the air. Myrtle, sweet-briar, sweet-marjoram, sage, thyme, lavender, rosemary, with many other aromatic herbs and flowers, which with us require the most careful cultivation, are here found wild in the mountains.

It is not many years since the Nissards learned the culture of silk-worms, of their neighbours the Piedmontese; and hitherto the progress they have made is not very considerable: the whole county of Nice produces about one hundred and thirty-three bales of three hundred pounds each, amounting in value to four hundred thousand livres.

In the beginning of April, when the mulberry-leaves, begin to put forth, the eggs or grains that produce the silk-worm, are hatched. The grains are washed in wine, and those that swim on the top, are thrown away as good for nothing. The rest being deposited in small bags of linen, are worn by women in their bosoms, until the worms begin to appear: then they are placed in shallow wooden boxes, covered with a piece of white paper, cut into little holes, through which the worms ascend as they are hatched, to feed on the young mulberry-leaves, of which there is a layer above the paper. These boxes are kept for warmth between two mattrasses, and visited every day. Fresh leaves are laid in, and the worms that feed are removed successively to the other place prepared for their reception. This is an habitation, consisting of two or three stories, about twenty inches from each other, raised upon four wooden posts. The floors are made of canes, and strewed with fresh mulberry-leaves: the corner posts, and other occasional props, for sustaining the different floors, are covered with a coat of loose heath, which is twisted round the wood. The worms when hatched are laid upon the floors; and here you may see them in all the different stages (if moulting or casting the slough, a change which they undergo three times successively before they begin to work. The silk-worm is an animal of such acute and delicate sensations, that too much care cannot be taken to keep its habitation clean, and to refresh it from time to time with pure air. I have seen them languish and die in scores, in consequence of an accidental bad smell. The soiled leaves, and the filth which they necessarily produce, should be carefully shifted every day; and it would not be amiss to purify the air sometimes with fumes of vinegar, rose, or orange-flower water. These niceties, however, are but little observed. They commonly lie in heaps as thick as shrimps in a plate, some feeding on the leaves, some new hatched, some intranced in the agonies of casting their skin, sonic languishing, and some actually dead, with a litter of half-eaten faded leaves about them, in a close room, crouded with women and children, not at all remarkable for their cleanliness. I am assured by some persons of credit, that if they are touched, or even approached, by a woman in her catamenia, they infallibly expire. This, however, must be understood of those females whose skins have naturally a very rank flavour, which is generally heightened at such periods. The mulberry-leaves used in this country are of the tree which bears a small white fruit not larger than a damascene. They are planted on purpose, and the leaves are sold at so much a pound. By the middle of June all the mulberry-trees are stripped; but new leaves succeed, and in a few weeks, they are cloathed again with fresh verdure. In about ten days after the last moulting, the silk-worm climbs upon the props of his house, and choosing a situation among the heath, begins to spin in a most curious manner, until he is quite inclosed, and the cocon or pod of silk, about the size of a pigeon’s egg, which he has produced remains suspended by several filaments. It is no unusual to see double cocons, spun by two worms included under a common cover. There must be an infinite number of worms to yield any considerable quantity of silk. One ounce of eggs or grains produces, four rup, or one hundred Nice pounds of cocons; and one rup, or twenty-five pounds of cocons, if they are rich, gives three pounds of raw silk; that is, twelve pounds of silk are got from one ounce of grains, which ounce of grains its produced by as many worms as are inclosed in one pound, or twelve ounces of cocons. In preserving the cocons for breed, you must choose an equal number of males and females; and these are very easily distinguished by the shape of the cocons; that which contains the male is sharp, and the other obtuse, at the two ends. In ten or twelve days after the cocon is finished, the worm makes its way through it, in the form of a very ugly, unwieldy, aukward butterfly, and as the different sexes are placed by one another on paper or linen, they immediately engender. The female lays her eggs, which are carefully preserved; but neither she nor her mate takes any nourishment, and in eight or ten days after they quit the cocons, they generally die. The silk of these cocons cannot be wound, because the animals in piercing through them, have destroyed the continuity of the filaments. It is therefore, first boiled, and then picked and carded like wool, and being afterwards spun, is used in the coarser stuffs of the silk manufacture. The other cocons, which yield the best silk, are managed in a different manner. Before the inclosed worm has time to penetrate, the silk is reeled off with equal care and ingenuity. A handful of the cocons are thrown away into a kettle of boiling water, which not only kills the animal, but dissolves the glutinous substance by which the fine filaments of the silk cohere or stick together, so that they are easily wound off, without breaking. Six or seven of these small filaments being joined together are passed over a kind of twisting iron, and fixed to the wheel, which one girl turns, while another, with her hands in the boiling water, disentangles the threads, joins them when they chance to break, and supplies fresh cocons with admirable dexterity and dispatch. There is a manufacture of this kind just without one of the gates of Nice, where forty or fifty of these wheels are worked together, and give employment for some weeks to double the number of young women. Those who manage the pods that float in the boiling water must be very alert, otherwise they will scald their fingers. The smell that comes from the boiling cocons is extremely offensive. Hard by the harbour, there is a very curious mill for twisting the silk, which goes by water. There is in the town of Nice, a well regulated hospital for poor orphans of both sexes, where above one hundred of them are employed in dressing, dyeing, spinning, and weaving the silk. In the villages of Provence, you see the poor women in the streets spinning raw silk upon distaves: but here the same instrument is only used for spinning hemp and flax; which last, however, is not of the growth of Nice — But lest I should spin this letter to a tedious length, I will now wind up my bottom, and bid you heartily farewell.

Letter XXIII

Nice, December 19, 1764.

SIR — In my last, I gave you a succinct account of the silkworm, and the management of that curious insect in this country. I shall now proceed to describe the methods of making wine and oil.

The vintage begins in September. The grapes being chosen and carefully picked, are put into a large vat, where they are pressed by a man’s naked feet, and the juices drawn off by a cock below. When no more is procured by this operation, the bruised grapes are put into the press, and yield still more liquor. The juice obtained by this double pressure, being put in casks, with their bungs open, begins to ferment and discharge its impurities at the openings. The waste occasioned by this discharge, is constantly supplied with fresh wine, so that the casks are always full. The fermentation continues for twelve, fifteen, or twenty days, according to the strength and vigour of the grape. In about a month, the wine is fit for drinking. When the grapes are of a bad, meagre kind, the wine dealers mix the juice with pigeons’-dung or quick-lime, in order to give it a spirit which nature has denied: but this is a very mischievous adulteration.

The process for oil-making is equally simple. The best olives are those that grow wild; but the quantity of them is very inconsiderable. Olives begin to ripen and drop in the beginning of November: but some remain on the trees till February, and even till April, and these are counted the most valuable. When the olives are gathered, they must be manufactured immediately, before they fade and grow wrinkled, otherwise they will produce bad oil. They are first of all ground into a paste by a mill-stone set edge-ways in a circular stone-trough, the wheel being turned by water.

This paste is put into trails or circular cases made of grass woven, having a round hole at top and bottom; when filled they resemble in shape our Cheshire cheeses. A number of these placed one upon another, are put in a press, and being squeezed, the oil with all its impurities, runs into a receptacle below fixed in the ground. From hence it is laded into a wooden vat, half filled with water. The sordes or dirt falls to the bottom; the oil swims a-top; and being skimmed off, is barrelled up in small oblong casks. What remains in the vat, is thrown into a large stone cistern with water, and after being often stirred, and standing twelve or fourteen days, yields a coarser oil used for lamps and manufactures. After these processes, they extract an oil still more coarse and fetid from the refuse of the whole. Sometimes, in order to make the olives grind the more easily into a paste, and part with more oil, they are mixed with a little hot water: but the oil thus procured is apt to grow rancid. The very finest, called virgin oil, is made chiefly of green olives, and sold at a very high price, because a great quantity is required to produce a very little oil. Even the stuff that is left after all these operations, consisting of the dried pulp, is sold for fuel, and used in brasieres for warming apartments which have no chimney.

I have now specified all the manufactures of Nice which are worth mentioning. True it is, there is some coarse paper made in this neighbourhood; there are also people here who dress skins and make leather for the use of the inhabitants: but this business is very ill performed: the gloves and shoes are generally rotten as they come from the hands of the maker. Carpenter’s, joiner’s, and blacksmith’s work is very coarsely and clumsily done. There are no chairs to be had at Nice, but crazy things made of a few sticks, with rush bottoms, which are sold for twelve livres a dozen. Nothing can be more contemptible than the hard-ware made in this place, such as knives, scissors, and candle-snuffers. All utensils in brass and copper are very ill made and finished. The silver-smiths make nothing but spoons, forks, paultry rings, and crosses for the necks of the women.

The houses are built of a ragged stone dug from the mountains, and the interstices are filled with rubble; so that the walls would appear very ugly, if they were not covered with plaister, which has a good effect. They generally consist of three stories, and are covered with tiles. The apartments of the better sort are large and lofty, the floors paved with brick, the roofs covered with a thick coat of stucco, and the walls whitewashed. People of distinction hang their chambers with damask, striped silk, painted cloths, tapestry, or printed linnen. All the doors, as well as the windows, consist of folding leaves. As there is no wainscot in the rooms, which are divided by stone partitions and the floors and cieling are covered with brick and stucco, fires are of much less dreadful consequence here than in our country. Wainscot would afford harbour for bugs: besides, white walls have a better effect in this hot climate. The beds commonly used in this place, and all over Italy, consist of a paillasse, with one or two mattrasses, laid upon planks, supported by two wooden benches. Instead of curtains there is a couziniere or mosquito net, made of a kind of gauze, that opens and contracts occasionally, and incloses the place where you lie: persons of condition, however, have also bedsteads and curtains; but these last are never used in the summer.

In these countries, people of all ranks dine exactly at noon; and this is the time I seize in winter, for making my daily tour of the streets and ramparts, which at all other hours of the day are crowded with men, women, children and beasts of burthen. The rampart is the common road for carriages of all kinds. I think there are two private coaches in Nice, besides that of the commandant: but there are sedan chairs, which may be had at a reasonable rate. When I bathed in the summer, I paid thirty sols, equal to eighteen-pence, for being carried to and from the bathing place, which was a mile from my own house.

Now I am speaking of bathing, it may not be amiss to inform you that though there is a fine open beach, extending several miles to the westward of Nice, those who cannot swim ought to bathe with great precaution, as the sea is very deep, and the descent very abrupt from within a yard or two of the water’s edge. The people here were much surprised when I began to bathe in the beginning of May. They thought it very strange, that a man seemingly consumptive should plunge into the sea, especially when the weather was so cold; and some of the doctors prognosticated immediate death. But, when it was perceived that I grew better in consequence of the bath, some of the Swiss officers tried the same experiment, and in a few days, our example was followed by several inhabitants of Nice. There is, however, no convenience for this operation, from the benefit of which the fair sex must be intirely excluded, unless they lay aside all regard to decorum; for the shore is always lined with fishing-boats, and crouded with people. If a lady should be at the expence of having a tent pitched on the beach where she might put on and of her bathing-dress, she could not pretend to go into the sea without proper attendants; nor could she possibly plunge headlong into the water, which is the most effectual, and least dangerous way of bathing. All that she can do is to have the sea-water brought into her house, and make use of a bathing-tub, which may be made according to her own, or physician’s direction.

What further I have to say of this climate and country, you shall have in my next; and then you will be released from a subject, which I am afraid has been but too circumstantially handled by — Sir, Your very humble servant.

Letter XXIV

Nice, January 4, 1765.

DEAR SIR. — The constitution of this climate may be pretty well ascertained, from the inclosed register of the weather, which I kept with all possible care and attention. From a perusal of it, you will see that there is less rain and wind at Nice, than in any other part of the world that I know; and such is the serenity of the air, that you see nothing above your head for several months together, but a charming blue expanse, without cloud or speck. Whatever clouds may be formed by evaporation of the sea, they seldom or never hover over this small territory; but, in all probability, are attracted by the mountains that surround it, and there fall in rain or snow: as for those that gather from other quarters, I suppose their progress hitherward is obstructed by those very Alps, which rise one over another, to an extent of many leagues. This air being dry, pure, heavy, and elastic, must be agreeable to the constitution of those who labour under disorders arising from weak nerves, obstructed perspiration, relaxed fibres, a viscidity of lymph, and a languid circulation. In other respects, it encourages the scurvy, the atmosphere being undoubtedly impregnated with sea-salt. Ever since my arrival at Nice, I have had a scorbutical eruption on my right hand, which diminishes and increases according to the state of my health. One day last summer, when there was a strong breeze from the sea, the surface of our bodies was covered with a salt brine, very perceptible to the taste; my gums, as well as those of another person in my family, began to swell, and grow painful, though this had never happened before; and I was seized with violent pains in the joints of my knees. I was then at a country-house fronting the sea, and particularly exposed to the marine air. The swelling of our gums subsided as the wind fell: but what was very remarkable, the scurvy-spot on my hand disappeared, and did not return for a whole month. It is affirmed that sea-salt will dissolve, and render the blood so fluid, that it will exude through the coats of the vessels. Perhaps the sea-scurvy is a partial dissolution of it, by that mineral absorbed from the air by the lymphatics on the surface of the body, and by those of the lungs in respiration. Certain it is, in the last stages of the sea-scurvy, the blood often bursts from the pores; and this phaenomenon is imputed to a high degree of putrefaction: sure enough it is attended with putrefaction. We know that a certain quantity of salt is required to preserve the animal juices from going putrid: but, how a greater quantity should produce putrefaction, I leave to wiser heads to explain. Many people here have scorbutical complaints, though their teeth are not affected. They are subject to eruptions on the skin, putrid gums, pains in the bones, lassitude, indigestion, and low spirits; but the reigning distemper is a marasmus, or consumption, which proceeds gradually, without any pulmonary complaint, the complexion growing more and more florid, ‘till the very last scene of the tragedy. This I would impute to the effects of a very dry, saline atmosphere, upon a thin habit, in which there is an extraordinary waste by perspiration. The air is remarkably salt in this district, because the mountains that hem it in, prevent its communication with the circumambient atmosphere, in which the saline particles would otherwise be diffused; and there is no rain, nor dew, to precipitate or dissolve them. Such an air as I have described, should have no bad effect upon a moist, phlegmatic constitution, such as mine; and yet it must be owned, I have been visibly wasting since I came hither, though this decay I considered as the progress of the tabes which began in England. But the air of Nice has had a still more sensible effect upon Mr. Sch — z, who laboured under nervous complaints to such a degree, that life was a burthen to him. He had also a fixed pain in his breast, for which complaint he had formerly tried the air of Naples, where he resided some considerable time, and in a great measure recovered: but, this returning with weakness, faintness, low spirits, and entire loss of appetite, he was advised to come hither; and the success of his journey has greatly exceeded his expectation. Though the weather has been remarkably bad for this climate, he has enjoyed perfect health. Since he arrived at Nice, the pain in his breast has vanished; he eats heartily, sleeps well, is in high spirits, and so strong, that he is never off his legs in the day-time. He can walk to the Var and back again, before dinner; and he has climbed to the tops of all the mountains in this neighbourhood. I never saw before such sudden and happy effects from the change of air. I must also acknowledge, that ever since my arrival at Nice, I have breathed more freely than I had done for some years, and my spirits have been more alert. The father of my housekeeper, who was a dancing-master, had been so afflicted with an asthmatic disorder, that he could not live in France, Spain, or Italy; but found the air of Nice so agreeable to his lungs, that he was enabled to exercise his profession for above twenty years, and died last spring turned of seventy. Another advantage I have reaped from this climate is my being, in a great measure, delivered from a slow fever which used to hang about me, and render life a burthen. Neither am I so apt to catch cold as I used to be in England and France; and the colds I do catch are not of the same continuance and consequence, as those to which I was formerly subject. The air of Nice is so dry, that in summer, and even in winter, (except ill wet weather) you may pass the evening, and indeed the whole night, sub Dio, without feeling the least dew or moisture; and as for fogs, they are never seen in this district. In summer, the air is cooled by a regular sea-breeze blowing from the cast, like that of the West-Indies. It begins in the forenoon, and increases with the heat of the day. It dies away about six or seven; and immediately after sun-set is succeeded by an agreeable land-breeze from the mountains. The sea-breeze from the eastward, however, is not so constant here, as in the West-Indies between the tropicks, because the sun, which produces it, is not so powerful. This country lies nearer the region of variable winds, and is surrounded by mountains, capes, and straights, which often influence the constitution and current of the air. About the winter solstice, the people of Nice expect wind and rain, which generally lasts, with intervals, ‘till the beginning of February: but even during this, their worst weather, the sun breaks out occasionally, and you may take the air either a-foot or on horseback every day; for the moisture is immediately absorbed by the earth, which is naturally dry. They likewise lay their account with being visited by showers of rain and gusts of wind in April. A week’s rain in the middle of August makes them happy. It not only refreshes the parched ground, and plumps up the grapes and other fruit, but it cools the air and assuages the beets, which then begin to grow very troublesome; but the rainy season is about the autumnal equinox, or rather something later. It continues about twelve days or a fortnight, and is extremely welcome to the natives of this country. This rainy season is often delayed ‘till the latter end of November, and sometimes ‘till the month of December; in which case, the rest of the winter is generally dry. The heavy rains in this country generally come with a south-west wind, which was the creberque procellis Africus, the stormy southwest, of the antients. It is here called Lebeche, a corruption of Lybicus: it generally blows high for a day or two, and rolls the Mediterranean before it in huge waves, that often enter the town of Nice. It likewise drives before it all the clouds which had been formed above the surface of the Mediterranean. These being expended in rain, fair weather naturally ensues. For this reason, the Nissards observe le lebeche racommode le tems, the Lebeche settles the weather. During the rains of this season, however, the winds have been variable. From the sixteenth of November, ‘till the fourth of January, we have had two and twenty days of heavy rain: a very extraordinary visitation in this country: but the seasons seem to be more irregular than formerly, all over Europe. In the month of July, the mercury in Fahrenheit’s thermometer, rose to eighty-four at Rome, the highest degree at which it was ever known in that country; and the very next day, the Sabine mountains were covered with snow. The same phaemomenon happened on the eleventh of August, and the thirtieth of September. The consequence of these sudden variations of weather, was this: putrid fevers were less frequent than usual; but the sudden cheek of perspiration from the cold, produced colds, inflammatory sore throats, and the rheumatism. I know instances of some English valetudinarians, who have passed the winter at Aix, on the supposition that there was little or no difference between that air and the climate of Nice: but this is a very great mistake, which may be attended with fatal consequences. Aix is altogether exposed to the north and north-west winds, which blow as cold in Provence, as ever I felt them on the mountains of Scotland: whereas Nice is entirely screened from these winds by the Maritime Alps, which form an amphitheatre, to the land-side, around this little territory: but another incontestible proof of the mildness of this climate, is deduced from the oranges, lemons, citrons, roses, narcissus’s, july-flowers, and jonquils, which ripen and blow in the middle of winter. I have described the agreeable side of this climate; and now I will point out its inconveniences. In the winter, but especially in the spring, the sun is so hot, that one can hardly take exercise of any sort abroad, without being thrown into a breathing sweat; and the wind at this season is so cold and piercing, that it often produces a mischievous effect on the pores thus opened. If the heat rarifies the blood and juices, while the cold air constringes the fibres, and obstructs the perspiration, inflammatory disorders must ensue. Accordingly, the people are then subject to colds, pleurisies, peripneumonies, and ardent fevers. An old count advised me to stay within doors in March, car alors les humeurs commencent a se remuer, for then the humours begin to be in motion. During the heats of summer, some few persons of gross habits have, in consequence of violent exercise and excess, been seized with putrid fevers, attended with exanthemata, erisipelatous, and miliary eruptions, which commonly prove fatal: but the people in general are healthy, even those that take very little exercise: a strong presumption in favour of the climate! As to medicine, I know nothing of the practice of the Nice physicians. Here are eleven in all; but four or five make shift to live by the profession. They receive, by way of fee, ten sols (an English six-pence) a visit, and this is but ill paid: so you may guess whether they are in a condition to support the dignity of physic; and whether any man, of a liberal education, would bury himself at Nice on such terms. I am acquainted with an Italian physician settled at Villa Franca, a very good sort of a man, who practises for a certain salary, raised by annual contribution among the better sort of people; and an allowance from the king, for visiting the sick belonging to the garrison and the gallies. The whole may amount to near thirty pounds.

Among the inconveniences of this climate, the vermin form no inconsiderable article. Vipers and snakes are found in the mountains. Our gardens swarm with lizzards; and there are some few scorpions; but as yet I have seen but one of this species. In summer, notwithstanding all the care and precautions we can take, we are pestered with incredible swarms of flies, fleas, and bugs; but the gnats, or couzins, are more intolerable than all the rest. In the day-time, it is impossible to keep the flies out of your mouth, nostrils, eyes, and ears. They croud into your milk, tea, chocolate, soup, wine, and water: they soil your sugar, contaminate your victuals, and devour your fruit; they cover and defile your furniture, floors, cielings, and indeed your whole body. As soon as candles are lighted, the couzins begin to buz about your ears in myriads, and torment you with their stings, so that you have no rest nor respite ‘till you get into bed, where you are secured by your mosquito-net. This inclosure is very disagreeable in hot weather; and very inconvenient to those, who, like me, are subject to a cough and spitting. It is moreover ineffectual; for some of those cursed insects insinuate themselves within it, almost every night; and half a dozen of them are sufficient to disturb you ‘till morning. This is a plague that continues all the year; but in summer it is intolerable. During this season, likewise, the moths are so mischievous, that it requires the utmost care to preserve woollen cloths from being destroyed. From the month of May, ‘till the beginning of October, the heat is so violent, that you cannot stir abroad after six in the morning ‘till eight at night, so that you are entirely deprived of the benefit of exercise: There is no shaded walk in, or near the town; and there is neither coach nor chaise to hire, unless you travel post. Indeed, there is no road fit for any wheel carriage, but the common highway to the Var, in which you are scorched by the reflexion of the sun from the sand and stones, and at the same time half stifled with dust. If you ride out in the cool of the evening, you will have the disadvantage of returning in the dark.

Among the demerits of Nice, I must also mention the water which is used in the city. It is drawn from wells; and for the most part so hard, that it curdles with soap. There are many fountains and streams in the neighbourhood, that afford excellent water, which, at no great charge, might be conveyed into the town, so as to form conduits in all the public streets: but the inhabitants are either destitute of public spirit, or cannot afford the expense. [General Paterson delivered a Plan to the King of Sardinia for supplying Nice with excellent water for so small an expence as one livre a house per annum; but the inhabitants remonstrated against it as an intolerable Imposition.] I have a draw-well in my porch, and another in my garden, which supply tolerable water for culinary uses; but what we drink, is fetched from a well belonging to a convent of Dominicans in this neighbourhood. Our linnen is washed in the river Paglion; and when that is dry, in the brook called Limpia, which runs into the harbour.

In mentioning the water of this neighbourhood, I ought not to omit the baths of Rocabiliare, a small town among the mountains, about five and twenty miles from Nice. There are three sources, each warmer than the other; the warmest being nearly equal to the heat of the king’s bath at Bath in Somersetshire, as far as I can judge from information. I have perused a Latin manuscript, which treats of these baths at Rocabiliare, written by the duke of Savoy’s first physician about sixty years ago. He talks much of the sulphur and the nitre which they contain; but I apprehend their efficacy is owing to the same volatile vitriolic principle, which characterises the waters at Bath. They are attenuating and deobstruent, consequently of service in disorders arising from a languid circulation, a viscidity of the juices, a lax fibre, and obstructed viscera. The road from hence to Rocabiliare is in some parts very dangerous, lying along the brink of precipices, impassable to any other carriage but a mule. The town itself affords bad lodging and accommodation, and little or no society. The waters are at the distance of a mile and a half from the town: there are no baths nor shelter, nor any sort of convenience for those that drink them; and the best part of their efficacy is lost, unless they are drank at the fountain-head. If these objections were in some measure removed, I would advise valetudinarians, who come hither for the benefit of this climate, to pass the heats of summer at Rocabiliare, which being situated among mountains, enjoys a cool temperate air all the summer. This would be a salutary respite from the salt air of Nice, to those who labour under scorbutical complaints; and they would return with fresh vigour and spirits, to pass the winter in this place, where no severity of weather is known. Last June, when I found myself so ill at my cassine, I had determined to go to Rocabiliare, and even to erect a hut at the spring, for my own convenience. A gentleman of Nice undertook to procure me a tolerable lodging in the house of the cure, who was his relation. He assured me, there was no want of fresh butter, good poultry, excellent veal, and delicate trout; and that the articles of living might be had at Rocabiliare for half the price we paid at Nice: but finding myself grow better immediately on my return from the cassine to my own house, I would not put myself to the trouble and expence of a further removal.

I think I have now communicated all the particulars relating to Nice, that are worth knowing; and perhaps many more than you desired to know: but, in such cases, I would rather be thought prolix and unentertaining, than deficient in that regard and attention with which I am very sincerely — Your friend and servant.

Letter XXV

Nice, January 1, 1765.

DEAR SIR — It was in deference to your opinion, reinforced by my own inclination, and the repeated advice of other friends, that I resolved upon my late excursion to Italy. I could plainly perceive from the anxious solicitude, and pressing exhortations contained in all the letters I had lately received from my correspondents in Britain, that you had all despaired of my recovery. You advised me to make a pilgrimage among the Alps, and the advice was good. In scrambling among those mountains, I should have benefited by the exercise, and at the same time have breathed a cool, pure, salubrious air, which, in all probability, would have expelled the slow fever arising in a great measure from the heat of this climate. But, I wanted a companion and fellow traveller, whose conversation and society could alleviate the horrors of solitude. Besides, I was not strong enough to encounter the want of conveniences, and even of necessaries to which I must have been exposed in the course of such an expedition. My worthy friend Dr. A— earnestly intreated me to try the effect of a sea-voyage, which you know has been found of wonderful efficacy in consumptive cases. After some deliberation, I resolved upon the scheme, which I have now happily executed. I had a most eager curiosity to see the antiquities of Florence and Rome: I longed impatiently to view those wonderful edifices, statues, and pictures, which I had so often admired in prints and descriptions. I felt an enthusiastic ardor to tread that very classical ground which had been the scene of so many great atchievements; and I could not bear the thought of returning to England from the very skirts of Italy, without having penetrated to the capital of that renowned country. With regard to my health, I knew I could manage matters so as to enjoy all the benefits that could be expected from the united energy of a voyage by sea, a journey by land, and a change of climate.

Rome is betwixt four and five hundred miles distant from Nice, and one half of the way I was resolved to travel by water. Indeed there is no other way of going from hence to Genoa, unless you take a mule, and clamber along the mountains at the rate of two miles an hour, and at the risque of breaking your neck every minute. The Apennine mountains, which are no other than a continuation of the maritime Alps, form an almost continued precipice from Villefranche to Lerici, which is almost forty-five miles on the other side of Genoa; and as they are generally washed by the sea, there is no beach or shore, consequently the road is carried along the face of the rocks, except at certain small intervals, which are occupied by towns and villages. But, as there is a road for mules and foot passengers, it might certainly be enlarged and improved so as to render it practicable by chaises and other wheel-carriages, and a toll might be exacted, which in a little time would defray the expence: for certainly no person who travels to Italy, from England, Holland, France, or Spain, would make a troublesome circuit to pass the Alps by the way of Savoy and Piedmont, if he could have the convenience of going post by the way of Aix, Antibes, and Nice, along the side of the Mediterranean, and through the Riviera of Genoa, which from the sea affords the most agreeable and amazing prospect I ever beheld. What pity it is, they cannot restore the celebrated Via Aurelia, mentioned in the Itinerarium of Antoninus, which extended from Rome by the way of Genoa, and through this country as far as Arles upon the Rhone. It was said to have been made by the emperor Marcus Aurelius; and some of the vestiges of it are still to be seen in Provence. The truth is, the nobility of Genoa, who are all merchants, from a low, selfish, and absurd policy, take all methods to keep their subjects of the Riviera in poverty and dependence. With this view, they carefully avoid all steps towards rendering that country accessible by land; and at the same time discourage their trade by sea, lest it should interfere with the commerce of their capital, in which they themselves are personally concerned.

Those who either will not or cannot bear the sea, and are equally averse to riding, may be carried in a common chair, provided with a foot-board, on men’s shoulders: this is the way of travelling practised by the ladies of Nice, in crossing the mountains to Turin; but it is very tedious and expensive, as the men must be often relieved.

The most agreeable carriage from here to Genoa, is a feluca, or open boat, rowed by ten or twelve stout mariners. Though none of these boats belong to Nice, they are to be found every day in our harbour, waiting for a fare to Genoa; and they are seen passing and repassing continually, with merchandize or passengers, between Marseilles, Antibes, and the Genoese territories. A feluca is large enough to take in a post-chaise; and there is a tilt over the stern sheets, where the passengers sit, to protect them from the rain: between the seats one person may lie commodiously upon a mattress, which is commonly supplied by the patron. A man in good health may put up with any thing; but I would advise every valetudinarian who travels this way, to provide his own chaise, mattrass, and bedlinnen, otherwise he will pass his time very uncomfortably. If you go as a simple passenger in a feluca, you pay about a loui’dore for your place, and you must be intirely under the direction of the patron, who, while he can bear the sea, will prosecute his voyage by night as well as by day, and expose you to many other inconveniencies: but for eight zequines, or four loui’dores, you can have a whole feluca to yourself, from Nice to Genoa, and the master shall be obliged to put a-shore every evening. If you would have it still more at your command, you may hire it at so much per day, and in that case, go on shore as often, and stay as long as you please. This is the method I should take, were I to make the voyage again; for I am persuaded I should find it very near as cheap, and much more agreeable than any other.

The distance between this place and Genoa, when measured on the carte, does not exceed ninety miles: but the people of the felucas insist upon its being one hundred and twenty. If they creep along shore round the bottoms of all the bays, this computation may be true: but, except when the sea is rough, they stretch directly from one head-land to another, and even when the wind is contrary, provided the gale is not fresh, they perform the voyage in two days and a half, by dint of rowing: when the wind is favourable, they will sail it easily in fourteen hours.

A man who has nothing but expedition in view, may go with the courier, who has always a light boat well manned, and will be glad to accommodate a traveller for a reasonable gratification. I know an English gentleman who always travels with the courier in Italy, both by sea and land. In posting by land, he is always sure of having part of a good calash, and the best horses that can be found; and as the expence of both is defrayed by the public, it costs him nothing but a present to his companion, which does not amount to one fourth part of the expence he would incur by travelling alone. These opportunities may be had every week in all the towns of Italy.

For my own part, I hired a gondola from hence to Genoa. This is a boat smaller than a feluca, rowed by four men, and steered by the patron; but the price was nine zequines, rather more than I should have payed for a feluca of ten oars. I was assured that being very light, it would make great way; and the master was particularly recommended to me, as an honest man and an able mariner. I was accompanied in this voyage by my wife and Miss C — together with one Mr. R — a native of Nice, whom I treated with the jaunt, in hopes that as he was acquainted with the customs of the country, and the different ways of travelling in it, he would save us much trouble, and some expence: but I was much disappointed. Some persons at Nice offered to lay wagers that he would return by himself from Italy; but they were also disappointed.

We embarked in the beginning of September, attended by one servant. The heats, which render travelling dangerous in Italy, begin to abate at this season. The weather was extremely agreeable; and if I had postponed my voyage a little longer, I foresaw that I should not be able to return before winter: in which case I might have found the sea too rough, and the weather too cold for a voyage of one hundred and thirty-five miles in an open boat.

Having therefore provided myself with a proper pass, signed and sealed by our consul, as well as with letters of recommendation from him to the English consuls at Genoa and Leghorn, a precaution which I would advise all travellers to take, in case of meeting with accidents on the road, we went on board about ten in the morning, stopped about half an hour at a friend’s country-house in the bay of St. Hospice, and about noon entered the harbour of Monaco, where the patron was obliged to pay toll, according to the regulation which I have explained in a former letter. This small town, containing about eight or nine hundred souls, besides the garrison, is built on a rock which projects into the sea, and makes a very romantic appearance. The prince’s palace stands in the most conspicuous part, with a walk of trees before it. The apartments are elegantly furnished, and adorned with some good pictures. The fortifications are in good repair, and the place is garrisoned by two French battalions. The present prince of Monaco is a Frenchman, son of the duke Matignon who married the heiress of Monaco, whose name was Grimaldi. The harbour is well sheltered from the wind; but has not water sufficient to admit vessels of any great burthen. Towards the north, the king of Sardinia’s territories extend to within a mile of the gate; but the prince of Monaco can go upon his own ground along shore about five or six miles to the eastward, as far as Menton, another small town, which also belongs to him, and is situated on the seaside. His revenues are computed at a million of French livres, amounting to something more than forty thousand pounds sterling: but, the principality of Monaco, consisting of three small towns, and an inconsiderable tract of barren rock, is not worth above seven thousand a year; the rest arises from his French estate. This consists partly of the dutchy of Matignon, and partly of the dutchy of Valentinois, which last was given to the ancestors of this prince of Monaco, in the year 1640, by the French king, to make up the loss of some lands in the kingdom of Naples, which were confiscated when he expelled the Spanish garrison from Monaco, and threw himself into the arms of France: so that he is duke of Valentinois as well as of Matignon, in that kingdom. He lives almost constantly in France; and has taken the name and arms of Grimaldi.

The Genoese territories begin at Ventimiglia, another town lying on the coast, at the distance of twenty miles from Nice, a circumstance from which it borrows the name. Having passed the towns of Monaco, Menton, Ventimiglia, and several other places of less consequence that lie along this coast, we turned the point of St. Martin with a favourable breeze, and might have proceeded twenty miles further before night: but the women began to be sick, as well as afraid at the roughness of the water; Mr. R— was so discomposed, that he privately desired the patron to put ashore at St. Remo, on pretence that we should not find a tolerable auberge in any other place between this and Noli, which was at the distance of forty miles. We accordingly landed, and were conducted to the poste, which our gondeliere assured us was the best auberge in the whole Riviera of Genoa. We ascended by a dark, narrow, steep stair, into a kind of public room, with a long table and benches, so dirty and miserable, that it would disgrace the worst hedge ale-house in England. Not a soul appeared to receive us. This is a ceremony one must not expect to meet with in France; far less in Italy. Our patron going into the kitchen, asked a servant if the company could have lodging in the house; and was answered, “he could not tell: the patron was not at home.” When he desired to know where the patron was, the other answered, “he was gone to take the air.” E andato a passeggiare. In the mean time, we were obliged to sit in the common room among watermen and muleteers. At length the landlord arrived, and gave us to understand, that he could accommodate us with chambers. In that where I lay, there was just room for two beds, without curtains or bedstead, an old rotten table covered with dried figs, and a couple of crazy chairs. The walls had been once white-washed: but were now hung with cobwebs, and speckled with dirt of all sorts; and I believe the brick-floor had not been swept for half a century. We supped in an outward room suitable in all respects to the chamber, and fared villainously. The provision was very ill-dressed, and served up in the most slovenly manner. You must not expect cleanliness or conveniency of any kind in this country. For this accommodation I payed as much as if I had been elegantly entertained in the best auberge of France or Italy.

Next day, the wind was so high that we could not prosecute our voyage, so that we were obliged to pass other four and twenty hours in this comfortable situation. Luckily Mr. R— found two acquaintances in the place; one a Franciscan monk, a jolly fellow; and the other a maestro di capella, who sent a spinnet to the inn, and entertained us agreeably with his voice and performance, in both of which accomplishments he excelled. The padre was very good humoured, and favoured us with a letter of recommendation to a friend of his, a professor in the university of Pisa. You would laugh to see the hyperbolical terms in which he mentioned your humble servant; but Italy is the native country of hyperbole.

St. Remo is a pretty considerable town, well-built upon the declivity of a gently rising hill, and has a harbour capable of receiving small vessels, a good number of which are built upon the beach: but ships of any burden are obliged to anchor in the bay, which is far from being secure. The people of St. Remo form a small republic, which is subject to Genoa.

They enjoyed particular privileges, till the year 1753, when in consequence of a new gabelle upon salt, they revolted: but this effort in behalf of liberty did not succeed. They were soon reduced by the Genoese, who deprived them of all their privileges, and built a fort by the sea-side, which serves the double purpose of defending the harbour and over-awing the town. The garrison at present does not exceed two hundred men. The inhabitants are said to have lately sent a deputation to Ratisbon, to crave the protection of the diet of the empire. There is very little plain ground in this neighbourhood; but the hills are covered with oranges, lemons, pomegranates, and olives, which produce a considerable traffic in fine fruit and excellent oil. The women of St. Remo are much more handsome and better tempered than those of Provence. They have in general good eyes, with open ingenuous countenances. Their dress, though remarkable, I cannot describe: but upon the whole, they put me in mind of some portraits I have seen, representing the females of Georgia and Mingrelia.

On the third day, the wind being abated, though still unfavourable, we reimbarked and rowed along shore, passing by Porto-mauricio, and Oneglia; then turning the promontory called Capo di Melle, we proceeded by Albenga, Finale, and many other places of inferior note. Portomauricio is seated on a rock washed by the sea, but indifferently fortified, with an inconsiderable harbour, which none but very small vessels can enter. About two miles to the eastward is Oneglia, a small town with fortifications, lying along the open beach, and belonging to the king of Sardinia. This small territory abounds with olive-trees, which produce a considerable quantity of oil, counted the best of the whole Riviera. Albenga is a small town, the see of a bishop, suffragan to the archbishop of Genoa. It lies upon the sea, and the country produces a great quantity of hemp. Finale is the capital of a marquisate belonging to the Genoese, which has been the source of much trouble to the republic; and indeed was the sole cause of their rupture with the king of Sardinia and the house of Austria in the year 1745. The town is pretty well built; but the harbour is shallow, open, and unsafe; nevertheless, they built a good number of tartans and other vessels on the beach and the neighbouring country abounds with oil and fruit, particularly with those excellent apples called pomi carli, which I have mentioned in a former letter.

In the evening we reached the Capo di Noli, counted very dangerous in blowing weather. It is a very high perpendicular rock or mountain washed by the sea, which has eaten into it in divers places, so as to form a great number of caverns. It extends about a couple of miles, and in some parts is indented into little creeks or bays, where there is a narrow margin of sandy beach between it and the water. When the wind is high, no feluca will attempt to pass it; even in a moderate breeze, the waves dashing against the rocks and caverns, which echo with the sound, make such an awful noise, and at the same time occasion such a rough sea, as one cannot hear, and see, and feel, without a secret horror.

On this side of the Cape, there is a beautiful strand cultivated like a garden; the plantations extend to the very tops of the hills, interspersed with villages, castles, churches, and villas. Indeed the whole Riviera is ornamented in the same manner, except in such places as admit of no building nor cultivation.

Having passed the Cape, we followed the winding of the coast, into a small bay, and arrived at the town of Noli, where we proposed to pass the night. You will be surprised that we did not go ashore sooner, in order to take some refreshment; but the truth is, we had a provision of ham, tongues, roasted pullets, cheese, bread, wine, and fruit, in the feluca, where we every day enjoyed a slight repast about one or two o’clock in the afternoon. This I mention as a necessary piece of information to those who may be inclined to follow the same route. We likewise found it convenient to lay in store of l’eau de vie, or brandy, for the use of the rowers, who always expect to share your comforts. On a meagre day, however, those ragamuffins will rather die of hunger than suffer the least morsel of flesh-meat to enter their mouths. I have frequently tried the experiment, by pressing them to eat something gras, on a Friday or Saturday: but they always declined it with marks of abhorrence, crying, Dio me ne libere! God deliver me from it! or some other words to that effect. I moreover observed, that not one of those fellows ever swore an oath, or spoke an indecent word. They would by no means put to sea, of a morning, before they had heard mass; and when the wind was unfavourable, they always set out with a hymn to the Blessed Virgin, or St. Elmo, keeping time with their oars as they sung. I have indeed remarked all over this country, that a man who transgresses the institutions of the church in these small matters, is much more infamous than one who has committed the most flagrant crimes against nature and morality. A murderer, adulterer, or s — m — te, will obtain easy absolution from the church, and even find favour with society; but a man who eats a pidgeon on a Saturday, without express licence, is avoided and abhorred, as a monster of reprobation. I have conversed with several intelligent persons on the subject; and have reason to believe, that a delinquent of this sort is considered as a luke-warm catholic, little better than a heretic; and of all crimes they look upon heresy as the most damnable.

Noli is a small republic of fishermen subject to Genoa; but very tenacious of their privileges. The town stands on the beach, tolerably well built, defended by a castle situated on a rock above it; and the harbour is of little consequence. The auberge was such as made us regret even the inn we had left at St. Remo. After a very odd kind of supper, which I cannot pretend to describe, we retired to our repose: but I had not been in bed five minutes, when I felt something crawling on different parts of my body, and taking a light to examine, perceived above a dozen large bugs. You must know I have the same kind of antipathy to these vermin, that some persons have to a cat or breast of veal. I started up immediately, and wrapping myself in a great coat, sick as I was, laid down in the outer room upon a chest, where I continued till morning.

One would imagine that in a mountainous country like this, there should be plenty of goats; and indeed, we saw many flocks of them feeding among the rocks, yet we could not procure half a pint of milk for our tea, if we had given the weight of it in gold. The people here have no idea of using milk, and when you ask them for it, they stand gaping with a foolish face of surprise, which is exceedingly provoking. It is amazing that instinct does not teach the peasants to feed their children with goat’s milk, so much more nourishing and agreeable than the wretched sustenance on which they live. Next day we rowed by Vado and Savona, which last is a large town, with a strong citadel, and a harbour, which was formerly capable of receiving large ships: but it fell a sacrifice to the jealousy of the Genoese, who have partly choaked it up, on pretence that it should not afford shelter to the ships of war belonging to those states which might be at enmity with the republic.

Then we passed Albifola, Sestri di Ponente, Novi, Voltri, and a great number of villages, villas, and magnificent palaces belonging to the Genoese nobility, which form almost a continued chain of buildings along the strand for thirty miles.

About five in the afternoon, we skirted the fine suburbs of St. Pietro d’ Arena, and arrived at Genoa, which makes a dazzling appearance when viewed from the sea, rising like an amphitheatre in a circular form from the water’s edge, a considerable way up the mountains, and surrounded on the land side by a double wall, the most exterior of which is said to extend fifteen miles in circuit. The first object that strikes your eye at a distance, is a very elegant pharos, or lighthouse, built on the projection of a rock on the west side of the harbour, so very high, that, in a clear day, you may see it at the distance of thirty miles. Turning the light-house point, you find yourself close to the mole, which forms the harbour of Genoa. It is built at a great expence from each side of the bay, so as to form in the sea two long magnificent jettes. At the extremity of each is another smaller lanthorn. These moles are both provided with brass-cannon, and between them is the entrance into the harbour. But this is still so wide as to admit a great sea, which, when the wind blows hard from south and south-west, is very troublesome to the shipping. Within the mole there is a smaller harbour or wet dock, called Darsena, for the gallies of the republic. We passed through a considerable number of ships and vessels lying at anchor, and landing at the water-gate, repaired to an inn called La Croix de Malthe in the neighbourhood of the harbour. Here we met with such good entertainment as prepossessed us in favour of the interior parts of Italy, and contributed with other motives to detain us some days in this city. But I have detained you so long, that I believe you wish I may proceed no farther; and therefore I take my leave for the present, being very sincerely — Yours.

Letter XXVI

Nice, January 15, 1765.

DEAR SIR — It is not without reason that Genoa is called La superba. The city itself is very stately; and the nobles are very proud. Some few of them may be proud of their wealth: but, in general, their fortunes are very small. My friend Mr. R— assured me that many Genoese noblemen had fortunes of half a million of livres per annum: but the truth is, the whole revenue of the state does not exceed this sum; and the livre of Genoa is but about nine pence sterling. There are about half a dozen of their nobles who have ten thousand a year: but the majority have not above a twentieth part of that sum. They live with great parsimony in their families; and wear nothing but black in public; so that their expences are but small. If a Genoese nobleman gives an entertainment once a quarter, he is said to live upon the fragments all the rest of the year. I was told that one of them lately treated his friends, and left the entertainment to the care of his son, who ordered a dish of fish that cost a zechine, which is equal to about ten shillings sterling. The old gentleman no sooner saw it appear on the table, than unable to suppress his concern, he burst into tears, and exclaimed, Ah Figliuolo indegno! Siamo in Rovina! Siamo in precipizio! Ah, Prodigal! ruined! undone!

I think the pride or ostentation of the Italians in general takes a more laudable turn than that of other nations. A Frenchman lays out his whole revenue upon tawdry suits of cloaths, or in furnishing a magnificent repas of fifty or a hundred dishes, one half of which are not eatable nor intended to be eaten. His wardrobe goes to the fripier; his dishes to the dogs, and himself to the devil, and after his decease no vestige of him remains. A Genoese, on the other hand, keeps himself and his family at short allowance, that he may save money to build palaces and churches, which remain to after-ages so many monuments of his taste, piety, and munificence; and in the mean time give employment and bread to the poor and industrious. There are some Genoese nobles who have each five or six elegant palaces magnificently furnished, either in the city, or in different parts of the Riviera. The two streets called Strada Balbi and Strada Nuova, are continued double ranges of palaces adorned with gardens and fountains: but their being painted on the outside has, in my opinion, a poor effect.

The commerce of this city is, at present, not very considerable; yet it has the face of business. The streets are crowded with people; the shops are well furnished; and the markets abound with all sorts of excellent provision. The wine made in this neighbourhood is, however, very indifferent; and all that is consumed must be bought at the public cantine, where it is sold for the benefit of the state. Their bread is the whitest and the best I have tasted any where; and the beef, which they have from Piedmont, is juicy and delicious. The expence of eating in Italy is nearly the same as in France, about three shillings a head for every meal. The state of Genoa is very poor, and their bank of St. George has received such rude shocks, first from the revolt of the Corsicans, and afterwards from the misfortunes of the city, when it was taken by the Austrians in the war of 1745, that it still continues to languish without any near prospect of its credit being restored. Nothing shews the weakness of their state, more than their having recourse to the assistance of France to put a stop to the progress of Paoli in Corsica; for after all that has been said of the gallantry and courage of Paoli and his islanders, I am very credibly informed that they might be very easily suppressed, if the Genoese had either vigour in the council or resolution in the field.

True it is, they made a noble effort in expelling the Austrians who had taken possession of their city; but this effort was the effect of oppression and despair, and if I may believe the insinuations of some politicians in this part of the world, the Genoese would not have succeeded in that attempt, if they had not previously purchased with a large sum of money the connivance of the only person who could defeat the enterprize. For my own part, I can scarce entertain thoughts so prejudicial to the character of human nature, as to suppose a man capable of sacrificing to such a consideration, the duty he owed his prince, as well as all regard to the lives of his soldiers, even those who lay sick in hospitals, and who, being dragged forth, were miserably butchered by the furious populace. There is one more presumption of his innocence, he still retains the favour of his sovereign, who could not well be supposed to share in the booty. “There are mysteries in politics which were never dreamed of in our philosophy, Horatio!” The possession of Genoa might have proved a troublesome bone of contention, which it might be convenient to lose by accident. Certain it is, when the Austrians returned after their expulsion, in order to retake the city, the engineer, being questioned by the general, declared he would take the place in fifteen days, on pain of losing his head; and in four days after this declaration the Austrians retired. This anecdote I learned from a worthy gentleman of this country, who had it from the engineer’s own mouth. Perhaps it was the will of heaven. You see how favourably, providence has interposed in behalf of the reigning empress of Russia, first in removing her husband: secondly in ordaining the assassination of prince Ivan, for which the perpetrators have been so liberally rewarded; it even seems determined to shorten the life of her own son, the only surviving rival from whom she had any thing to fear.

The Genoese have now thrown themselves into the arms of France for protection: I know not whether it would not have been a greater mark of sagacity to cultivate the friendship of England, with which they carry on an advantageous commerce. While the English are masters of the Mediterranean, they will always have it in their power to do incredible damage all along the Riviera, to ruin the Genoese trade by sea, and even to annoy the capital; for notwithstanding all the pains they have taken to fortify the mole and the city, I am greatly deceived if it is not still exposed to the danger, not only of a bombardment, but even of a cannonade. I am even sanguine enough to think a resolute commander might, with a strong squadron, sail directly into the harbour, without sustaining much damage, notwithstanding all the cannon of the place, which are said to amount to near five hundred. I have seen a cannonade of above four hundred pieces of artillery, besides bombs and cohorns, maintained for many hours, without doing much mischief.

During the last siege of Genoa, the French auxiliaries were obliged to wait at Monaco, until a gale of wind had driven the English squadron off the coast, and then they went along shore in small vessels at the imminent risque of being taken by the British cruisers. By land I apprehend their march would be altogether impracticable, if the king of Sardinia had any interest to oppose it. He might either guard the passes, or break up the road in twenty different places, so as to render it altogether impassable. Here it may not be amiss to observe, that when Don Philip advanced from Nice with his army to Genoa, he was obliged to march so close to the shore, that in above fifty different places, the English ships might have rendered the road altogether impassable. The path, which runs generally along the face of a precipice washed by the sea, is so narrow that two men on horseback can hardly pass each other; and the road itself so rugged, slippery, and dangerous, that the troopers were obliged to dismount, and lead their horses one by one. On the other hand, baron de Leutrum, who was at the head of a large body of Piedmontese troops, had it in his power to block up the passes of the mountains, and even to destroy this road in such a manner, that the enemy could not possibly advance. Why these precautions were not taken, I do not pretend to explain: neither can I tell you wherefore the prince of Monaco, who is a subject and partizan of France, was indulged with a neutrality for his town, which served as a refreshing-place, a safe port, and an intermediate post for the French succours sent from Marseilles to Genoa. This I will only venture to affirm, that the success and advantage of great alliances are often sacrificed to low, partial, selfish, and sordid considerations. The town of Monaco is commanded by every heighth in its neighbourhood; and might be laid in ashes by a bomb-ketch in four hours by sea.

I was fortunate enough to be recommended to a lady in Genoa, who treated us with great politeness and hospitality. She introduced me to an abbate, a man of letters, whose conversation was extremely agreeable. He already knew me by reputation, and offered to make me known to some of the first persons in the republic, with whom he lived in intimacy. The lady is one of the most intelligent and best-bred persons I have known in any country. We assisted at her conversazione, which was numerous. She pressed us to pass the winter at Genoa; and indeed I was almost persuaded: but I had attachments at Nice, from which I could not easily disengage myself.

The few days we staved at Genoa were employed in visiting the most remarkable churches and palaces. In some of the churches, particularly that of the Annunciata, I found a profusion of ornaments, which had more magnificence than taste. There is a great number of pictures; but very few of them are capital pieces. I had heard much of the ponte Carignano, which did not at all answer my expectation. It is a bridge that unites two eminences which form the higher part of the city, and the houses in the bottom below do not rise so high as the springing of its arches. There is nothing at all curious in its construction, nor any way remarkable, except the heighth of the piers from which the arches are sprung. Hard by the bridge there is an elegant church, from the top of which you have a very rich and extensive prospect of the city, the sea and the adjacent country, which looks like a continent of groves and villas. The only remarkable circumstance about the cathedral, which is Gothic and gloomy, is the chapel where the pretended bones of John the Baptist are deposited, and in which thirty silver lamps are continually burning. I had a curiosity to see the palaces of Durazzo and Doria, but it required more trouble to procure admission than I was willing to give myself: as for the arsenal, and the rostrum of an ancient galley which was found by accident in dragging the harbour, I postponed seeing them till my return.

Having here provided myself with letters of credit for Florence and Rome, I hired the same boat which had brought us hither, to carry us forward to Lerici, which is a small town about half way between Genoa and Leghorn, where travellers, who are tired of the sea, take post-chaises to continue their route by land to Pisa and Florence. I payed three loui’dores for this voyage of about fifty miles; though I might have had a feluca for less money. When you land on the wharf at Genoa, you are plied by the feluca men just as you are plied by the watermen at Hungerford-stairs in London. They are always ready to set off at a minute’s warning for Lerici, Leghorn, Nice, Antibes, Marseilles, and every part of the Riviera.

The wind being still unfavourable, though the weather was delightful, we rowed along shore, passing by several pretty towns, villages, and a vast number of cassines, or little white houses, scattered among woods of olive-trees, that cover the hills; and these are the habitations of the velvet and damask weavers. Turning Capo Fino we entered a bay, where stand the towns of Porto Fino, Lavagna, and Sestri di Levante, at which last we took up our night’s lodging. The house was tolerable, and we had no great reason to complain of the beds: but, the weather being hot, there was a very offensive smell, which proceeded from some skins of beasts new killed, that were spread to dry on an outhouse in the yard. Our landlord was a butcher, and had very much the looks of an assassin. His wife was a great masculine virago, who had all the air of having frequented the slaughter-house. Instead of being welcomed with looks of complaisance, we were admitted with a sort of gloomy condescension, which seemed to say, “We don’t much like your company; but, however, you shall have a night’s lodging in favour of the patron of the gondola, who is our acquaintance.” In short, we had a very bad supper, miserably dressed, passed a very disagreeable night, and payed a very extravagant bill in the morning, without being thanked for our custom. I was very glad to get out of the house with my throat uncut.

Sestri di Levante is a little town pleasantly situated on the seaside; but has not the conveniency of a harbour. The fish taken here is mostly carried to Genoa. This is likewise the market for their oil, and the paste called macaroni, of which they make a good quantity.

Next day, we skirted a very barren coast, consisting of almost perpendicular rocks, on the faces of which, however, we saw many peasants’ houses and hanging terraces for vines, made by dint of incredible labour. In the afternoon, we entered by the Porti di Venere into the bay, or gulf of Spetia or Spezza, which was the Portus Lunae of the ancients. This bay, at the mouth of which lies the island Palmaria, forms a most noble and secure harbour, capacious enough to contain all the navies in Christendom. The entrance on one side is defended by a small fort built above the town of Porto Venere, which is a very poor place. Farther in there is a battery of about twenty guns; and on the right hand, opposite to Porto Venere, is a block-house, founded on a rock in the sea. At the bottom of the bay is the town of Spetia on the left, and on the right that of Lerici, defended by a castle of very little strength or consequence. The whole bay is surrounded with plantations of olives and oranges, and makes a very delightful appearance. In case of a war, this would be an admirable station for a British squadron, as it lies so near Genoa and Leghorn; and has a double entrance, by means of which the cruisers could sail in and out continually, which way soever the wind might chance to sit. I am sure the fortifications would give very little disturbance.

At the post-house in Lerici, the accommodation is intolerable. We were almost poisoned at supper. I found the place where I was to lie so close and confined, that I could not breathe in it, and therefore lay all night in an outward room upon four chairs, with a leather portmanteau for my pillow. For this entertainment I payed very near a loui’dore. Such bad accommodation is the less excusable, as the fellow has a great deal of business, this being a great thoroughfare for travellers going into Italy, or returning from thence.

I might have saved some money by prosecuting my voyage directly by sea to Leghorn: but, by this time, we were all heartily tired of the water, the business then was to travel by land to Florence, by the way of Pisa, which is seven posts distant from Lerici. Those who have not their own carriage must either hire chaises to perform the whole journey, or travel by way of cambiatura, which is that of changing the chaises every post, as the custom is in England. In this case the great inconvenience arises from your being obliged to shift your baggage every post. The chaise or calesse of this country, is a wretched machine with two wheels, as uneasy as a common cart, being indeed no other than what we should call in England a very ill-contrived one-horse chair, narrow, naked, shattered and shabby. For this vehicle and two horses you pay at the rate of eight paoli a stage, or four shillings sterling; and the postilion expects two paoli for his gratification: so that every eight miles cost about five shillings, and four only, if you travel in your own carriage, as in that case you pay no more than at the rate of three paoli a horse.

About three miles from Lerici, we crossed the Magra, which appeared as a rivulet almost dry, and in half a mile farther arrived at Sarzana, a small town at the extremity of the Genoese territories, where we changed horses. Then entering the principalities of Massa and Carrara, belonging to the duke of Modena, we passed Lavenza, which seems to be a decayed fort with a small garrison, and dined at Massa, which is an agreeable little town, where the old dutchess of Modena resides. Notwithstanding all the expedition we could make, it was dark before we passed the Cerchio, which is an inconsiderable stream in the neighbourhood of Pisa, where we arrived about eight in the evening.

The country from Sarzana to the frontiers of Tuscany is a narrow plain, bounded on the right by the sea, and on the left by the Apennine mountains. It is well cultivated and inclosed, consisting of meadow-ground, corn fields, plantations of olives; and the trees that form the hedge-rows serve as so many props to the vines, which are twisted round them, and continued from one to another. After entering the dominions of Tuscany, we travelled through a noble forest of oak-trees of a considerable extent, which would have appeared much more agreeable, had we not been benighted and apprehensive of robbers. The last post but one in this days journey, is at the little town of Viareggio, a kind of sea-port on the Mediterranean, belonging to Lucia. The roads are indifferent, and the accommodation is execrable. I was glad to find myself housed in a very good inn at Pisa, where I promised myself a good night’s rest, and was not disappointed. I heartily wish you the same pleasure, and am very sincerely — Yours.

Letter XXVII

Nice, January 28, 1765.

DEAR SIR — Pisa is a fine old city that strikes you with the same veneration you would feel at sight of an antient temple which bears the marks of decay, without being absolutely dilapidated. The houses are well built, the streets open, straight, and well paved; the shops well furnished; and the markets well supplied: there are some elegant palaces, designed by great masters. The churches are built with taste, and tolerably ornamented. There is a beautiful wharf of freestone on each side of the river Arno, which runs through the city, and three bridges thrown over it, of which that in the middle is of marble, a pretty piece of architecture: but the number of inhabitants is very inconsiderable; and this very circumstance gives it an air of majestic solitude, which is far from being unpleasant to a man of a contemplative turn of mind. For my part, I cannot bear the tumult of a populous commercial city; and the solitude that reigns in Pisa would with me be a strong motive to choose it as a place of residence. Not that this would be the only inducement for living at Pisa. Here is some good company, and even a few men of taste and learning. The people in general are counted sociable and polite; and there is great plenty of provisions, at a very reasonable rate. At some distance from the more frequented parts of the city, a man may hire a large house for thirty crowns a year: but near the center, you cannot have good lodgings, ready furnished, for less than a scudo (about five shillings) a day. The air in summer is reckoned unwholesome by the exhalations arising from stagnant water in the neighbourhood of the city, which stands in the midst of a fertile plain, low and marshy: yet these marshes have been considerably drained, and the air is much meliorated. As for the Arno, it is no longer navigated by vessels of any burthen. The university of Pisa is very much decayed; and except the little business occasioned by the emperor’s gallies, which are built in this town, [This is a mistake. No gallies have been built here for a great many years, and the dock is now converted into stables for the Grand Duke’s Horse Guards.] I know of no commerce it carried on: perhaps the inhabitants live on the produce of the country, which consists of corn, wine, and cattle. They are supplied with excellent water for drinking, by an aqueduct consisting of above five thousand arches, begun by Cosmo, and finished by Ferdinand I. Grand-dukes of Tuscany; it conveys the water from the mountains at the distance of five miles. This noble city, formerly the capital of a flourishing and powerful republic, which contained above one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, within its walls, is now so desolate that grass grows in the open streets; and the number of its people do not exceed sixteen thousand.

You need not doubt but I visited the Campanile, or hanging-tower, which is a beautiful cylinder of eight stories, each adorned with a round of columns, rising one above another. It stands by the cathedral, and inclines so far on one side from the perpendicular, that in dropping a plummet from the top, which is one hundred and eighty-eight feet high, it falls sixteen feet from the base. For my part, I should never have dreamed that this inclination proceeded from any other cause, than an accidental subsidence of the foundation on this side, if some connoisseurs had not taken great pains to prove it was done on purpose by the architect. Any person who has eyes may see that the pillars on that side are considerably sunk; and this is the case with the very threshold of the door by which you enter. I think it would have been a very preposterous ambition in the architects, to show how far they could deviate from the perpendicular in this construction; because in that particular any common mason could have rivalled them; [All the world knows that a Building with such Inclination may be carried up till a line drawn from the Centre of Gravity falls without the Circumference of the Base.] and if they really intended it as a specimen of their art, they should have shortened the pilasters on that side, so as to exhibit them intire, without the appearance of sinking. These leaning towers are not unfrequent in Italy; there is one at Bologna, another at Venice, a third betwixt Venice and Ferrara, and a fourth at Ravenna; and the inclination in all of them has been supposed owing to the foundations giving way on one side only.

In the cathedral, which is a large Gothic pile, [This Edifice is not absolutely Gothic. It was built in the Twelfth Century after the Design of a Greek Architect from Constantinople, where by that time the art was much degenerated. The Pillars of Granite are mostly from the Islands of Ebba and Giglia on the coast of Tuscany, where those quarries were worked by the antient Romans. The Giullo, and the verde antico are very beautiful species of marble, yellow and green; the first, antiently called marmor numidicum, came from Africa; the other was found (according to Strabo) on the mons Taygetus in Lacedemonia: but, at present, neither the one nor the other is to be had except among the ruins of antiquity.] there is a great number of massy pillars of porphyry, granite, jasper, giullo, and verde antico, together with some good pictures and statues: but the greatest curiosity is that of the brass-gates, designed and executed by John of Bologna, representing, embossed in different compartments, the history of the Old and New Testament. I was so charmed with this work, that I could have stood a whole day to examine and admire it. In the Baptisterium, which stands opposite to this front, there are some beautiful marbles, particularly the font, and a pulpit, supported by the statues of different animals.

Between the cathedral and this building, about one hundred paces on one side, is the famous burying-ground, called Campo Santo, from its being covered with earth brought from Jerusalem. It is an oblong square, surrounded by a very high wall, and always kept shut. Within-side there is a spacious corridore round the whole space, which is a noble walk for a contemplative philosopher. It is paved chiefly with flat grave-stones: the walls are painted in fresco by Ghiotto, Giottino, Stefano, Bennoti, Bufalmaco, and some others of his cotemporaries and disciples, who flourished immediately after the restoration of painting. The subjects are taken from the Bible. Though the manner is dry, the drawing incorrect, the design generally lame, and the colouring unnatural; yet there is merit in the expression: and the whole remains as a curious monument of the efforts made by this noble art immediately after her revival. [The History of Job by Giotto is much admired.] Here are some deceptions in perspective equally ingenious and pleasing; particularly the figures of certain animals, which exhibit exactly the same appearance, from whatever different points of view they are seen. One division of the burying-ground consists of a particular compost, which in nine days consumes the dead bodies to the bones: in all probability, it is no other than common earth mixed with quick-lime. At one corner of the corridore, there are the pictures of three bodies represented in the three different stages of putrefaction which they undergo when laid in this composition. At the end of the three first days, the body is bloated and swelled, and the features are enlarged and distorted to such a degree, as fills the spectator with horror. At the sixth day, the swelling is subsided, and all the muscular flesh hangs loosened from the bones: at the ninth, nothing but the skeleton remains. There is a small neat chapel at one end of the Campo Santo, with some tombs, on one of which is a beautiful bust by Buona Roti. [Here is a sumptuous cenotaph erected by Pope Gregory XIII. to the memory of his brother Giovanni Buoncampagni. It is called the Monumentum Gregorianum, of a violet-coloured marble from Scravezza in this neighbourhood, adorned with a couple of columns of Touchstone, and two beautiful spherical plates of Alabaster.] At the other end of the corridore, there is a range of antient sepulchral stones ornamented with basso-relievo brought hither from different parts by the Pisan Fleets in the course of their expeditions. I was struck with the figure of a woman lying dead on a tomb-stone, covered with a piece of thin drapery, so delicately cut as to shew all the flexures of the attitude, and even all the swellings and sinuosities of the muscles. Instead of stone, it looks like a sheet of wet linen. [One of these antiquities representing the Hunting of Meleager was converted into a coffin for the Countess Beatrice, mother of the famous Countess Mathilda; it is now fixed to the outside of the church wall just by one of the doors, and is a very elegant piece of sculpture. Near the same place is a fine pillar of Porphyry supporting the figure of a Lion, and a kind of urn which seems to be a Sarcophagus, though an inscription round the Base declares it is a Talentum in which the antient Pisans measured the Census or Tax which they payed to Augustus: but in what metal or specie this Census was payed we are left to divine. There are likewise in the Campo Santo two antique Latin edicts of the Pisan Senate injoining the citizens to go into mourning for the Death of Caius and Lucius Caesar the Sons of Agrippa, and heirs declared of the Emperor. Fronting this Cemetery, on the other side of the Piazza of the Dome, is a large, elegant Hospital in which the sick are conveniently and comfortably lodged, entertained, and attended.]

For four zechines I hired a return-coach and four from Pisa to Florence. This road, which lies along the Arno, is very good; and the country is delightful, variegated with hill and vale, wood and water, meadows and corn-fields, planted and inclosed like the counties of Middlesex and Hampshire; with this difference, however, that all the trees in this tract were covered with vines, and the ripe clusters black and white, hung down from every bough in a most luxuriant and romantic abundance. The vines in this country are not planted in rows, and propped with sticks, as in France and the county of Nice, but twine around the hedge-row trees, which they almost quite cover with their foliage and fruit. The branches of the vine are extended from tree to tree, exhibiting beautiful festoons of real leaves, tendrils, and swelling clusters a foot long. By this oeconomy the ground of the inclosure is spared for corn, grass, or any other production. The trees commonly planted for the purpose of sustaining the vines, are maple, elm, and aller, with which last the banks of the Arno abound. [It would have been still more for the advantage of the Country and the Prospect, if instead of these they had planted fruit trees for the purpose.] This river, which is very inconsiderable with respect to the quantity of water, would be a charming pastoral stream, if it was transparent; but it is always muddy and discoloured. About ten or a dozen miles below Florence, there are some marble quarries on the side of it, from whence the blocks are conveyed in boats, when there is water enough in the river to float them, that is after heavy rains, or the melting of the snow upon the mountains of Umbria, being part of the Apennines, from whence it takes its rise.

Florence is a noble city, that still retains all the marks of a majestic capital, such as piazzas, palaces, fountains, bridges, statues, and arcades. I need not te11 you that the churches here are magnificent, and adorned not only with pillars of oriental granite, porphyry, Jasper, verde antico, and other precious stones; but also with capital pieces of painting by the most eminent masters. Several of these churches, however, stand without fronts, for want of money to complete the plans. It may also appear superfluous to mention my having viewed the famous gallery of antiquities, the chapel of St. Lorenzo, the palace of Pitti, the cathedral, the baptisterium, Ponte de Trinita, with its statues, the triumphal arch, and every thing which is commonly visited in this metropolis. But all these objects having been circumstantially described by twenty different authors of travels, I shall not trouble you with a repetition of trite observations.

That part of the city which stands on each side of the river, makes a very elegant appearance, to which the four bridges and the stone-quay between them, contribute in a great measure. I lodged at the widow Vanini’s, an English house delightfully situated in this quarter. The landlady, who is herself a native of England, we found very obliging. The lodging-rooms are comfortable; and the entertainment is good and reasonable. There is a considerable number of fashionable people at Florence, and many of them in good circumstances. They affect a gaiety in their dress, equipage, and conversation; but stand very much on their punctilio with strangers; and will not, without great reluctance, admit into their assemblies any lady of another country, whose noblesse is not ascertained by a title. This reserve is in some measure excusable among a people who are extremely ignorant of foreign customs, and who know that in their own country, every person, even the most insignificant, who has any pretensions to family, either inherits, or assumes the title of principe, conte, or marchese.

With all their pride, however, the nobles of Florence are humble enough to enter into partnership with shop-keepers, and even to sell wine by retail. It is an undoubted fact, that in every palace or great house in this city, there is a little window fronting the street, provided with an iron-knocker, and over it hangs an empty flask, by way of sign-post. Thither you send your servant to buy a bottle of wine. He knocks at the little wicket, which is opened immediately by a domestic, who supplies him with what he wants, and receives the money like the waiter of any other cabaret. It is pretty extraordinary, that it should not be deemed a disparagement in a nobleman to sell half a pound of figs, or a palm of ribbon or tape, or to take money for a flask of sour wine; and yet be counted infamous to match his daughter in the family of a person who has distinguished himself in any one of the learned professions.

Though Florence be tolerably populous, there seems to be very little trade of any kind in it: but the inhabitants flatter themselves with the prospect of reaping great advantage from the residence of one of the arch-dukes, for whose reception they are now repairing the palace of Pitti. I know not what the revenues of Tuscany may amount to, since the succession of the princes of Lorraine; but, under the last dukes of the Medici family, they were said to produce two millions of crowns, equal to five hundred thousand pounds sterling. These arose from a very heavy tax upon land and houses, the portions of maidens, and suits at law, besides the duties upon traffick, a severe gabelle upon the necessaries of life, and a toll upon every eatable entered into this capital. If we may believe Leti, the grand duke was then able to raise and maintain an army of forty thousand infantry, and three thousand horse; with twelve gallies, two galeasses, and twenty ships of war. I question if Tuscany can maintain at present above one half of such an armament. He that now commands the emperor’s navy, consisting of a few frigates, is an Englishman, called Acton, who was heretofore captain of a ship in our East India company’s service. He has lately embraced the catholic religion, and been created admiral of Tuscany.

There is a tolerable opera in Florence for the entertainment of the best company, though they do not seem very attentive to the musick. Italy is certainly the native country of this art; and yet, I do not find the people in general either more musically inclined, or better provided with ears than their neighbours. Here is also a wretched troop of comedians for the burgeois, and lower class of people: but what seems most to suit the taste of all ranks, is the exhibition of church pageantry. I had occasion to see a procession, where all the noblesse of the city attended in their coaches, which filled the whole length of the great street called the Corso. It was the anniversary of a charitable institution in favour of poor maidens, a certain number of whom are portioned every year. About two hundred of these virgins walked in procession, two and two together, cloathed in violet-coloured wide gowns, with white veils on their heads, and made a very classical appearance. They were preceded and followed by an irregular mob of penitents in sack-cloth, with lighted tapers, and monks carrying crucifixes, bawling and bellowing the litanies: but the great object was a figure of the Virgin Mary, as big as the life, standing within a gilt frame, dressed in a gold stuff, with a large hoop, a great quantity of false jewels, her face painted and patched, and her hair frizzled and curled in the very extremity of the fashion. Very little regard had been paid to the image of our Saviour on the cross; but when his lady-mother appeared on the shoulders of three or four lusty friars, the whole populace fell upon their knees in the dirt. This extraordinary veneration paid to the Virgin, must have been derived originally from the French, who pique themselves on their gallantry to the fair sex.

Amidst all the scenery of the Roman catholic religion, I have never yet seen any of the spectators affected at heart, or discover the least signs of fanaticism. The very disciplinants, who scourge themselves in the Holy-week, are generally peasants or parties hired for the purpose. Those of the confrairies, who have an ambition to distinguish themselves on such occasions, take care to secure their backs from the smart, by means of secret armour, either women’s boddice, or quilted jackets. The confrairies are fraternities of devotees, who inlist themselves under the banners of particular saints. On days of procession they appear in a body dressed as penitents and masked, and distinguished by crosses on their habits. There is scarce an individual, whether noble or plebeian, who does not belong to one of these associations, which may be compared to the FreeMasons, Gregoreans, and Antigallicans of England.

Just without one of the gates of Florence, there is a triumphal arch erected on occasion of the late emperor’s making his public entry, when he succeeded to the dukedom of Tuscany: and herein the summer evenings, the quality resort to take the air in their coaches. Every carriage stops, and forms a little separate conversazione. The ladies sit within, and the cicisbei stand on the foot-boards, on each side of the coach, entertaining them with their discourse. It would be no unpleasant inquiry to trace this sort of gallantry to its original, and investigate all its progress. The Italians, having been accused of jealousy, were resolved to wipe off the reproach, and, seeking to avoid it for the future, have run into the other extreme. I know it is generally supposed that the custom of choosing cicisbei, was calculated to prevent the extinction of families, which would otherwise often happen in consequence of marriages founded upon interest, without any mutual affection in the contracting parties. How far this political consideration may have weighed against the jealous and vindictive temper of the Italians, I will not pretend to judge: but, certain it is, every married lady in this country has her cicisbeo, or servente, who attends her every where, and on all occasions; and upon whose privileges the husband dares not encroach, without incurring the censure and ridicule of the whole community. For my part, I would rather be condemned for life to the gallies, than exercise the office of a cicisbeo, exposed to the intolerable caprices and dangerous resentment of an Italian virago. I pretend not to judge of the national character, from my own observation: but, if the portraits drawn by Goldoni in his Comedies are taken from nature, I would not hesitate to pronounce the Italian women the most haughty, insolent, capricious, and revengeful females on the face of the earth. Indeed their resentments are so cruelly implacable, and contain such a mixture of perfidy, that, in my opinion, they are very unfit subjects for comedy, whose province it is, rather to ridicule folly than to stigmatize such atrocious vice.

You have often heard it said, that the purity of the Italian is to be found in the lingua Toscana, and bocca Romana. Certain it is, the pronunciation of the Tuscans is disagreeably guttural: the letters C and G they pronounce with an aspiration, which hurts the ear of an Englishman; and is I think rather rougher than that of the X, in Spanish. It sounds as if the speaker had lost his palate. I really imagined the first man I heard speak in Pisa, had met with that misfortune in the course of his amours.

One of the greatest curiosities you meet with in Italy, is the Improvisatore; such is the name given to certain individuals, who have the surprising talent of reciting verses extempore, on any subject you propose. Mr. Corvesi, my landlord, has a son, a Franciscan friar, who is a great genius in this way.

When the subject is given, his brother tunes his violin to accompany him, and he begins to rehearse in recitative, with wonderful fluency and precision. Thus he will, at a minute’s warning, recite two or three hundred verses, well turned, and well adapted, and generally mingled with an elegant compliment to the company. The Italians are so fond of poetry, that many of them, have the best part of Ariosto, Tasso, and Petrarch, by heart; and these are the great sources from which the Improvisatori draw their rhimes, cadence, and turns of expression. But, lest you should think there is neither rhime nor reason in protracting this tedious epistle, I shall conclude it with the old burden of my song, that I am always — Your affectionate humble servant.


Nice, February 5, 1765.

DEAR SIR — Your entertaining letter of the fifth of last month, was a very charitable and a very agreeable donation: but your suspicion is groundless. I assure you, upon my honour, I have no share whatever in any of the disputes which agitate the public: nor do I know any thing of your political transactions, except what I casually see in one of your newspapers, with the perusal of which I am sometimes favoured by our consul at Villefranche. You insist upon my being more particular in my remarks on what I saw at Florence, and I shall obey the injunction. The famous gallery which contains the antiquities, is the third story of a noble stone-edifice, built in the form of the Greek Pi, the upper part fronting the river Arno, and one of the legs adjoining to the ducal-palace, where the courts of justice are held. As the house of Medici had for some centuries resided in the palace of Pitti, situated on the other side of the river, a full mile from these tribunals, the architect Vasari, who planned the new edifice, at the same time contrived a corridore, or covered passage, extending from the palace of Pitti along one of the bridges, to the gallery of curiosities, through which the grand-duke passed unseen, when he was disposed either to amuse himself with his antiquities, or to assist at his courts of judicature: but there is nothing very extraordinary either in the contrivance or execution of this corridore.

If I resided in Florence I would give something extraordinary for permission to walk every day in the gallery, which I should much prefer to the Lycaeum, the groves of Academus, or any porch or philosophical alley in Athens or in Rome. Here by viewing the statues and busts ranged on each side, I should become acquainted with the faces of all the remarkable personages, male and female, of antiquity, and even be able to trace their different characters from the expression of their features. This collection is a most excellent commentary upon the Roman historians, particularly Suetonius and Dion Cassius. There was one circumstance that struck me in viewing the busts of Caracalla, both here and in the Capitol at Rome; there was a certain ferocity in the eyes, which seemed to contradict the sweetness of the other features, and remarkably justified the epithet Caracuyl, by which he was distinguished by the antient inhabitants of North-Britain. In the language of the Highlanders caracuyl signifies cruel eye, as we are given to understand by the ingenious editor of Fingal, who seems to think that Caracalla is no other than the Celtic word, adapted to the pronunciation of the Romans: but the truth is, Caracalla was the name of a Gaulish vestment, which this prince affected to wear; and hence he derived that surname. The Caracuyl of the Britons, is the same as the upodra idon of the Greeks, which Homer has so often applied to his Scolding Heroes. I like the Bacchanalian, chiefly for the fine drapery. The wind, occasioned by her motion, seems to have swelled and raised it from the parts of the body which it covers. There is another gay Bacchanalian, in the attitude of dancing, crowned with ivy, holding in her right hand a bunch of grapes, and in her left the thyrsus. The head of the celebrated Flora is very beautiful: the groupe of Cupid and Psyche, however, did not give me all the pleasure I expected from it.

Of all the marbles that appear in the open gallery, the following are those I most admire. Leda with the Swan; as for Jupiter, in this transformation, he has much the appearance of a goose. I have not seen any thing tamer; but the sculptor has admirably shewn his art in representing Leda’s hand partly hid among the feathers, which are so lightly touched off, that the very shape of the fingers are seen underneath. The statue of a youth, supposed to be Ganymede, is compared by the connoisseurs to the celebrated Venus, and as far as I can judge, not without reason: it is however, rather agreeable than striking, and will please a connoisseur much more than a common spectator. I know not whether it is my regard to the faculty that inhances the value of the noted Esculapius, who appears with a venerable beard of delicate workmanship. He is larger than the life, cloathed in a magnificent pallium, his left arm resting on a knotted staff, round which the snake is twined according to Ovid.

Hunc modo serpentem baculum qui nexibus ambit Perspice —

Behold the snake his mystic Rod intwine.

He has in his hand the fascia herbarum, and the crepidae on his feet. There is a wild-boar represented lying on one side, which I admire as a master-piece. The savageness of his appearance is finely contrasted with the case and indolence of the attitude. Were I to meet with a living boar lying with the same expression, I should be tempted to stroke his bristles. Here is an elegant bust of Antinous, the favourite of Adrian; and a beautiful head of Alexander the Great, turned on one side, with an expression of languishment and anxiety in his countenance. The virtuosi are not agreed about the circumstance in which he is represented; whether fainting with the loss of blood which he suffered in his adventure at Oxydrace; or languishing with the fever contracted by bathing in the Cydnus; or finally complaining to his father Jove, that there were no other worlds for him to conquer. The kneeling Narcissus is a striking figure, and the expression admirable. The two Bacchi are perfectly well executed; but (to my shame be it spoken) I prefer to the antique that which is the work of Michael Angelo Buonaroti, concerning which the story is told which you well know. The artist having been blamed by some pretended connoisseurs, for not imitating the manner of the ancients, is said to have privately finished this Bacchus, and buried it, after having broke off an arm, which he kept as a voucher. The statue, being dug up by accident, was allowed by the best judges, to be a perfect antique; upon which Buonaroti produced the arm, and claimed his own work. Bianchi looks upon this as a fable; but owns that Vasari tells such another of a child cut in marble by the same artist, which being carried to Rome, and kept for some time under ground, was dug up as an antique, and sold for a great deal of money. I was likewise attracted by the Morpheus in touchstone, which is described by Addison, who, by the bye, notwithstanding all his taste, has been convicted by Bianchi of several gross blunders in his account of this gallery.

With respect to the famous Venus Pontia, commonly called de Medicis, which was found at Tivoli, and is kept in a separate apartment called the Tribuna, I believe I ought to be intirely silent, or at least conceal my real sentiments, which will otherwise appear equally absurd and presumptuous. It must be want of taste that prevents my feeling that enthusiastic admiration with which others are inspired at sight of this statue: a statue which in reputation equals that of Cupid by Praxiteles, which brought such a concourse of strangers of old to the little town of Thespiae. I cannot help thinking that there is no beauty in the features of Venus; and that the attitude is aukward and out of character. It is a bad plea to urge that the antients and we differ in the ideas of beauty. We know the contrary, from their medals, busts, and historians. Without all doubt, the limbs and proportions of this statue are elegantly formed, and accurately designed, according to the nicest rules of symmetry and proportion; and the back parts especially are executed so happily, as to excite the admiration of the most indifferent spectator. One cannot help thinking it is the very Venus of Cnidos by Praxiteles, which Lucian describes. “Hercle quanta dorsi concinnitas! ut exuberantes lumbi amplexantes manus implent! quam scite circumductae clunium pulpae in se rotundantur, neque tenues nimis ipsis ossibus adstrictae, neque in immensam effusae Pinguedinem!” That the statue thus described was not the Venus de Medicis, would appear from the Greek inscription on the base, KLEOMENIS APPOLLODOROI ATHINAIOS EPOESEI. Cleomenes filius Apollodori fecit; did we not know that this inscription is counted spurious, and that instead of EPOESEI, it should be EPOIESE. This, however, is but a frivolous objection, as we have seen many inscriptions undoubtedly antique, in which the orthography is false, either from the ignorance or carelessness of the sculptor. Others suppose, not without reason, that this statue is a representation of the famous Phryne, the courtesan of Athens, who at the celebration of the Eleusinian games, exhibited herself coming out of the bath, naked, to the eyes of the whole Athenian people. I was much pleased with the dancing faun; and still better with the Lotti, or wrestlers, the attitudes of which are beautifully contrived to shew the different turns of the limbs, and the swelling of the muscles: but, what pleased me best of all the statues in the Tribuna was the Arrotino, commonly called the Whetter, and generally supposed to represent a slave, who in the act of whetting a knife, overhears the conspiracy of Catiline. You know he is represented on one knee; and certain it is, I never saw such an expression of anxious attention, as appears in his countenance. But it is not mingled with any marks of surprise, such as could not fail to lay hold on a man who overhears by accident a conspiracy against the state. The marquis de Maffei has justly observed that Sallust, in his very circumstantial detail of that conspiracy, makes no mention of any such discovery. Neither does it appear that the figure is in the act of whetting, the stone which he holds in one hand being rough and unequal no ways resembling a whetstone. Others alledge it represents Milico, the freedman of Scaevinus, who conspired against the life of Nero, and gave his poignard to be whetted to Milico, who presented it to the emperor, with an account of the conspiracy: but the attitude and expression will by no means admit of this interpretation. Bianchi, [This antiquarian is now imprisoned for Life, for having robbed the Gallery and then set it on fire.] who shows the gallery, thinks the statue represents the augur Attius Navius, who cut a stone with a knife, at the command of Tarquinius Priscus. This conjecture seems to be confirmed by a medallion of Antoninus Pius, inserted by Vaillant among his Numismata Prestantiora, on which is delineated nearly such a figure as this in question, with the following legend. “Attius Navius genuflexus ante Tarquinium Priscum cotem cultro discidit.” He owns indeed that in the statue, the augur is not distinguished either by his habit or emblems; and he might have added, neither is the stone a cotes. For my own part, I think neither of these three opinions is satisfactory, though the last is very ingenious. Perhaps the figure allude to a private incident, which never was recorded in any history. Among the great number of pictures in this Tribuna, I was most charmed with the Venus by Titian, which has a sweetness of expression and tenderness of colouring, not to be described. In this apartment, they reckon three hundred pieces, the greatest part by the best masters, particularly by Raphael, in the three manners by which he distinguished himself at different periods of his life. As for the celebrated statue of the hermaphrodite, which we find in another room, I give the sculptor credit for his ingenuity in mingling the sexes in the composition; but it is, at best, no other than a monster in nature, which I never had any pleasure in viewing: nor, indeed, do I think there was much talent required in representing a figure with the head and breasts of a woman, and all the other parts of the body masculine. There is such a profusion of curiosities in this celebrated musaeum; statues, busts, pictures, medals, tables inlaid in the way of marquetry, cabinets adorned with precious stones, jewels of all sorts, mathematical instruments, antient arms and military machines, that the imagination is bewildered, and a stranger of a visionary turn, would be apt to fancy himself in a palace of the fairies, raised and adorned by the power of inchantment.

In one of the detached apartments, I saw the antependium of the altar, designed for the famous chapel of St. Lorenzo. It is a curious piece of architecture, inlaid with coloured marble and precious stones, so as to represent an infinite variety of natural objects. It is adorned with some crystal pillars, with capitals of beaten gold. The second story of the building is occupied by a great number of artists employed in this very curious work of marquetry, representing figures with gems and different kinds of coloured marble, for the use of the emperor. The Italians call it pietre commesse, a sort of inlaying with stones, analogous to the fineering of cabinets in wood. It is peculiar to Florence, and seems to be still more curious than the Mosaic work, which the Romans have brought to great perfection.

The cathedral of Florence is a great Gothic building, encrusted on the outside with marble; it is remarkable for nothing but its cupola, which is said to have been copied by the architect of St. Peter’s at Rome, and for its size, which is much greater than that of any other church in Christendom. [In this cathedral is the Tomb of Johannes Acutus Anglus, which a man would naturally interpret as John Sharp; but his name was really Hawkwood, which the Italians have corrupted into Acut. He was a celebrated General or Condottiere who arrived in Italy at the head of four thousand soldiers of fortune, mostly Englishmen who had served with him in the army of King Edward III., and were dismissed at the Peace of Bontigny. Hawkwood greatly distinguished himself in Italy by his valour and conduct, and died a very old man in the Florentine service. He was the son of a Tanner in Essex, and had been put apprentice to a Taylor.] The baptistery, which stands by it, was an antient temple, said to be dedicated to Mars. There are some good statues of marble within; and one or two of bronze on the outside of the doors; but it is chiefly celebrated for the embossed work of its brass gates, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, which Buonaroti used to say, deserved to be made the gates of Paradise. I viewed them with pleasure: but still I retained a greater veneration for those of Pisa, which I had first admired: a preference which either arises from want of taste, or from the charm of novelty, by which the former were recommended to my attention. Those who would have a particular detail of every thing worth seeing at Florence, comprehending churches, libraries, palaces, tombs, statues, pictures, fountains, bridge, etc. may consult Keysler, who is so laboriously circumstantial in his descriptions, that I never could peruse them, without suffering the headache, and recollecting the old observation, that the German genius lies more in the back than in the brain.

I was much disappointed in the chapel of St. Lorenzo. Notwithstanding the great profusion of granite, porphyry, jasper, verde antico, lapis-lazuli, and other precious stones, representing figures in the way of marquetry, I think the whole has a gloomy effect. These pietre commesse are better calculated for cabinets, than for ornaments to great buildings, which ought to be large masses proportioned to the greatness of the edifice. The compartments are so small, that they produce no effect in giving the first impression when one enters the place; except to give an air of littleness to the whole, just as if a grand saloon was covered with pictures painted in miniature. If they have as little regard to proportion and perspective, when they paint the dome, which is not yet finished, this chapel will, in my opinion, remain a monument of ill taste and extravagance.

The court of the palace of Pitti is formed by three sides of an elegant square, with arcades all round, like the palace of Holyrood house at Edinburgh; and the rustic work, which constitutes the lower part of the building, gives it an air of strength and magnificence. In this court, there is a fine fountain, in which the water trickles down from above; and here is also an admirable antique statue of Hercules, inscribed LUSIPPOI ERGON, the work of Lysippus.

The apartments of this palace are generally small, and many of them dark. Among the paintings the most remarkable is the Madonna de la Seggiola, by Raphael, counted one of the best coloured pieces of that great master. If I was allowed to find fault with the performance, I should pronounce it defective in dignity and sentiment. It is the expression of a peasant rather than of the mother of God. She exhibits the fondness and joy of a young woman towards her firstborn son, without that rapture of admiration which we expect to find in the Virgin Mary, while she contemplates, in the fruit of her own womb, the Saviour of mankind. In other respects, it is a fine figure, gay, agreeable, and very expressive of maternal tenderness; and the bambino is extremely beautiful. There was an English painter employed in copying this picture, and what he had done was executed with great success. I am one of those who think it very possible to imitate the best pieces in such a manner, that even the connoisseurs shall not be able to distinguish the original from the copy. After all, I do not set up for a judge in these matters, and very likely I may incur the ridicule of the virtuosi for the remarks I have made: but I am used to speak my mind freely on all subjects that fall under the cognizance of my senses; though I must as freely own, there is something more than common sense required to discover and distinguish the more delicate beauties of painting. I can safely say, however, that without any daubing at all, I am, very sincerely — Your affectionate humble servant.

Letter XXIX

Nice, February 20, 1765.

DEAR SIR — Having seen all the curiosities of Florence, and hired a good travelling coach for seven weeks, at the price of seven zequines, something less than three guineas and a half, we set out post for Rome, by the way of Sienna, where we lay the first night. The country through which we passed is mountainous but agreeable. Of Sienna I can say nothing from my own observation, but that we were indifferently lodged in a house that stunk like a privy, and fared wretchedly at supper. The city is large and well built: the inhabitants pique themselves upon their politeness, and the purity of their dialect. Certain it is, some strangers reside in this place on purpose to learn the best pronunciation of the Italian tongue. The Mosaic pavement of their duomo, or cathedral, has been much admired; as well as the history of Aeneas Sylvius, afterwards pope Pius II., painted on the walls of the library, partly by Pietro Perugino, and partly by his pupil Raphael D’Urbino.

Next day, at Buon Convento, where the emperor Henry VII. was poisoned by a friar with the sacramental wafer, I refused to give money to the hostler, who in revenge put two young unbroke stone-horses in the traces next to the coach, which became so unruly, that before we had gone a quarter of a mile, they and the postilion were rolling in the dust. In this situation they made such efforts to disengage themselves, and kicked with such violence, that I imagined the carriage and all our trunks would have been beaten in pieces. We leaped out of the coach, however, without sustaining any personal damage, except the fright; nor was any hurt done to the vehicle. But the horses were terribly bruised, and almost strangled, before they could be disengaged. Exasperated at the villany of the hostler, I resolved to make a complaint to the uffiziale or magistrate of the place. I found him wrapped in an old, greasy, ragged, great-coat, sitting in a wretched apartment, without either glass, paper, or boards in the windows; and there was no sort of furniture but a couple of broken chairs and a miserable truckle-bed. He looked pale, and meagre, and had more the air of a half-starved prisoner than of a magistrate. Having heard my complaint, he came forth into a kind of outward room or bellfrey, and rung a great bell with his own hand. In consequence of this signal, the postmaster came up stairs, and I suppose he was the first man in the place, for the uffiziale stood before him cap-inhand, and with great marks of humble respect repeated the complaint I had made. This man assured me, with an air of conscious importance, that he himself had ordered the hostler to supply me with those very horses, which were the best in his stable; and that the misfortune which happened was owing to the misconduct of the fore-postilion, who did not keep the fore-horses to a proper speed proportioned to the mettle of the other two. As he took the affair upon himself, and I perceived had an ascendancy over the magistrate, I contented myself with saying, I was certain the two horses had been put to the coach on purpose, either to hurt or frighten us; and that since I could not have justice here I would make a formal complaint to the British minister at Florence. In passing through the street to the coach, which was by this time furnished with fresh horses, I met the hostler, and would have caned him heartily; but perceiving my intention, he took to his heels and vanished. Of all the people I have ever seen, the hostlers, postilions, and other fellows hanging about the post-houses in Italy, are the most greedy, impertinent, and provoking. Happy are those travellers who have phlegm enough to disregard their insolence and importunity: for this is not so disagreeable as their revenge is dangerous. An English gentleman at Florence told me, that one of those fellows, whom he had struck for his impertinence, flew at him with a long knife, and he could hardly keep him at sword’s point. All of them wear such knives, and are very apt to use them on the slightest provocation. But their open attacks are not so formidable as their premeditated schemes of revenge; in the prosecution of which the Italians are equally treacherous and cruel.

This night we passed at a place called Radicofani, a village and fort, situated on the top of a very high mountain. The inn stands still lower than the town. It was built at the expence of the last grand-duke of Tuscany; is very large, very cold, and uncomfortable. One would imagine it was contrived for coolness, though situated so high, that even in the midst of summer, a traveller would be glad to have a fire in his chamber. But few, or none of them have fireplaces, and there is not a bed with curtains or tester in the house. All the adjacent country is naked and barren. On the third day we entered the pope’s territories, some parts of which are delightful. Having passed Aqua-Pendente, a beggarly town, situated on the top of a rock, from whence there is a romantic cascade of water, which gives it the name, we travelled along the side of the lake Bolsena, a beautiful piece of water about thirty miles in circuit, with two islands in the middle, the banks covered with noble plantations of oak and cypress. The town of Bolsena standing near the ruins of the antient Volsinium, which was the birth-place of Sejanus, is a paultry village; and Montefiascone, famous for its wine, is a poor, decayed town in this neighbourhood, situated on the side of a hill, which, according to the author of the Grand Tour, the only directory I had along with me, is supposed to be the Soracte of the ancients. If we may believe Horace, Soracte was visible from Rome: for, in his ninth ode, addressed to Thaliarchus, he says,

Vides, ut alta stet nive candidum Soracte —

You see how deeply wreathed with snow Soracte lifts his hoary head,

but, in order to see Montefiascone, his eyesight must have penetrated through the Mons Cyminus, at the foot of which now stands the city of Viterbo. Pliny tells us, that Soracte was not far from Rome, haud procul ab urbe Roma; but Montefiascone is fifty miles from this city. And Desprez, in his notes upon Horace, says it is now called Monte S. Oreste. Addison tells us he passed by it in the Campania. I could not without indignation reflect upon the bigotry of Mathilda, who gave this fine country to the see of Rome, under the dominion of which no country was ever known to prosper.

About half way between Montefiascone and Viterbo, one of our fore-wheels flew off, together with a large splinter of the axle-tree; and if one of the postilions had not by great accident been a remarkably ingenious fellow, we should have been put to the greatest inconvenience, as there was no town, or even house, within several miles. I mention this circumstance, by way of warning to other travellers, that they may provide themselves with a hammer and nails, a spare iron-pin or two, a large knife, and bladder of grease, to be used occasionally in case of such misfortune.

The mountain of Viterbo is covered with beautiful plantations and villas belonging to the Roman nobility, who come hither to make the villegiatura in summer. Of the city of Viterbo I shall say nothing, but that it is the capital of that country which Mathilda gave to the Roman see. The place is well built, adorned with public fountains, and a great number of churches and convents; yet far from being populous, the whole number of inhabitants, not exceeding fifteen thousand. The post-house is one of the worst inns I ever entered.

After having passed this mountain, the Cyminus of the antients, we skirted part of the lake, which is now called de Vico, and whose banks afford the most agreeable rural prospects of hill and vale, wood, glade and water, shade and sun-shine. A few other very inconsiderable places we passed, and descended into the Campania of Rome, which is almost a desert. The view of this country in its present situation, cannot but produce emotions of pity and indignation in the mind of every person who retains any idea of its antient cultivation and fertility. It is nothing but a naked withered down, desolate and dreary, almost without inclosure, corn-field, hedge, tree, shrub, house, hut, or habitation; exhibiting here and there the ruins of an antient castellum, tomb, or temple, and in some places the remains of a Roman via. I had heard much of these antient pavements, and was greatly disappointed when I saw them. The Via Cassia or Cymina is paved with broad, solid, flint-stones, which must have greatly incommoded the feet of horses that travelled upon it as well as endangered the lives of the riders from the slipperiness of the pavement: besides, it is so narrow that two modern carriages could not pass one another upon it, without the most imminent hazard of being overturned. I am still of opinion that we excel the ancient Romans in understanding the conveniences of life.

The Grand Tour says, that within four miles of Rome you see a tomb on the roadside, said to be that of Nero, with sculpture in basso-relievo at both ends. I did see such a thing more like a common grave-stone, than the tomb of an emperor. But we are informed by Suetonius, that the dead body of Nero, who slew himself at the villa of his freedman, was by the care of his two nurses and his concubine Atta, removed to the sepulchre of the Gens Domitia, immediately within the Porta del Popolo, on your left hand as you enter Rome, precisely on the spot where now stands the church of S. Maria del Popolo. His tomb was even distinguished by an epitaph, which has been preserved by Gruterus. Giacomo Alberici tells us very gravely in his History of the Church, that a great number of devils, who guarded the bones of this wicked emperor, took possession, in the shape of black ravens, of a walnut-tree, which grew upon the spot; from whence they insulted every passenger, until pope Paschal II., in consequence of a solemn fast and a revelation, went thither in procession with his court and cardinals, cut down the tree, and burned it to ashes, which, with the bones of Nero, were thrown into the Tyber: then he consecrated an altar on the place, where afterwards the church was built. You may guess what I felt at first sight of the city of Rome, which, notwithstanding all the calamities it has undergone, still maintains an august and imperial appearance. It stands on the farther side of the Tyber, which we crossed at the Ponte Molle, formerly called Pons Milvius, about two miles from the gate by which we entered. This bridge was built by Aemilius Censor, whose name it originally bore. It was the road by which so many heroes returned with conquest to their country; by which so many kings were led captive to Rome; and by which the ambassadors of so many kingdoms and states approached the seat of empire, to deprecate the wrath, to sollicit the friendship, or sue for the protection of the Roman people. It is likewise famous for the defeat and death of Maxentius, who was here overcome by Constantine the Great. The space between the bridge and Porta del Popolo, on the right-hand, which is now taken up with gardens and villas, was part of the antient Campus Martius, where the comitiae were held; and where the Roman people inured themselves to all manner of exercises: it was adorned with porticos, temples, theatres, baths, circi, basilicae, obelisks, columns, statues, and groves. Authors differ in their opinions about the extent of it; but as they all agree that it contained the Pantheon, the Circus Agonis, now the Piazza Navona, the Bustum and Mausoleum Augusti, great part of the modern city must be built upon the ancient Campus Martius. The highway that leads from the bridge to the city, is part of the Via Flaminia, which extended as far as Rimini; and is well paved, like a modern street. Nothing of the antient bridge remains but the piles; nor is there any thing in the structure of this, or of the other five Roman bridges over the Tyber, that deserves attention. I have not seen any bridge in France or Italy, comparable to that of Westminster either in beauty, magnificence, or solidity; and when the bridge at Black-Friars is finished, it will be such a monument of architecture as all the world cannot parallel. As for the Tyber, it is, in comparison with the Thames, no more than an inconsiderable stream, foul, deep, and rapid. It is navigable by small boats, barks, and lighters; and, for the conveniency of loading and unloading them, there is a handsome quay by the new custom-house, at the Porto di Ripetta, provided with stairs of each side, and adorned with an elegant fountain, that yields abundance of excellent water.

We are told that the bed of this river has been considerably raised by the rubbish of old Rome, and this is the reason usually given for its being so apt to overflow its banks. A citizen of Rome told me, that a friend of his lately digging to lay the foundation of a new house in the lower part of the city, near the bank of the river, discovered the pavement of an antient street, at the depth of thirty-nine feet from the present surface of the earth. He therefore concluded that modern Rome is near forty feet higher in this place, than the site of the antient city, and that the bed of the river is raised in proportion; but this is altogether incredible. Had the bed of the Tyber been antiently forty feet lower at Rome, than it is at present, there must have been a fall or cataract in it immediately above this tract, as it is not pretended that the bed of it is raised in any part above the city; otherwise such an elevation would have obstructed its course, and then it would have overflowed the whole Campania. There is nothing extraordinary in its present overflowings: they frequently happened of old, and did great mischief to the antient city. Appian, Dio, and other historians, describe an inundation of the Tiber immediately after the death of Julius Caesar, which inundation was occasioned by the sudden melting of a great quantity of snow upon the Apennines. This calamity is recorded by Horace in his ode to Augustus.

Vidimus flavum Tiberim retortis Littore Etrusco violenter undis, Ire dejectum monumenta regis, Templaque Vestae: Iliae dum se nimium querenti, Jactat ultorem; vagus et sinistra Labitur ripa, Jove non probante Uxorius Amnis.

Livy expressly says, “Ita abundavit Tiberis, ut Ludi Apollinares, circo inundato, extra portam Collinam ad aedem Erycinae Veneris parati sint,” “There was such an inundation of the Tiber that, the Circus being overflowed, the Ludi Appollinares were exhibited without the gate Collina, hard by the temple of Venus Erycina.” To this custom of transferring the Ludi Appollinares to another place where the Tyber had overflowed the Circus Maximus, Ovid alludes in his Fasti.

Altera gramineo spectabis equiriacampo Quem Tiberis curvis in latus urget aquis, Qui tamen ejecta si forte tenebitur unda, Coelius accipiet pulverulentus equos.

Another race thy view shall entertain Where bending Tiber skirts the grassy plain; Or should his vagrant stream that plain o’erflow, The Caelian hill the dusty course will show.

The Porta del Popolo (formerly, Flaminia,) by which we entered Rome, is an elegant piece of architecture, adorned with marble columns and statues, executed after the design of Buonaroti. Within-side you find yourself in a noble piazza, from whence three of the principal streets of Rome are detached. It is adorned with the famous Aegyptian obelisk, brought hither from the Circus Maximus, and set up by the architect Dominico Fontana in the pontificate of Sixtus V. Here is likewise a beautiful fountain designed by the same artist; and at the beginning of the two principal streets, are two very elegant churches fronting each other. Such an august entrance cannot fail to impress a stranger with a sublime idea of this venerable city.

Having given our names at the gate, we repaired to the dogana, or custom-house, where our trunks and carriage were searched; and here we were surrounded by a number of servitori de piazza, offering their services with the most disagreeable importunity. Though I told them several times I had no occasion for any, three of them took possession of the coach, one mounting before and two of them behind; and thus we proceeded to the Piazza d’Espagna, where the person lived to whose house I was directed. Strangers that come to Rome seldom put up at public inns, but go directly to lodging houses, of which there is great plenty in this quarter. The Piazza d’Espagna is open, airy, and pleasantly situated in a high part of the city immediately under the Colla Pinciana, and adorned with two fine fountains. Here most of the English reside: the apartments are generally commodious and well furnished; and the lodgers are well supplied with provisions and all necessaries of life. But, if I studied oeconomy, I would choose another part of the town than the Piazza d’Espagna, which is, besides, at a great distance from the antiquities. For a decent first floor and two bed-chambers on the second, I payed no more than a scudo (five shillings) per day. Our table was plentifully furnished by the landlord for two and thirty pauls, being equal to sixteen shillings. I hired a town-coach at the rate of fourteen pauls, or seven shillings a day; and a servitore di piazza for three pauls, or eighteen-pence. The coachman has also an allowance of two pauls a day. The provisions at Rome are reasonable and good, the vitella mongana, however, which is the most delicate veal I ever tasted, is very dear, being sold for two pauls, or a shilling, the pound. Here are the rich wines of Montepulciano, Montefiascone, and Monte di Dragone; but what we commonly drink at meals is that of Orvieto, a small white wine, of an agreeable flavour. Strangers are generally advised to employ an antiquarian to instruct them in all the curiosities of Rome; and this is a necessary expence, when a person wants to become a connoisseur in painting, statuary, and architecture. For my own part I had no such ambition. I longed to view the remains of antiquity by which this metropolis is distinguished; and to contemplate the originals of many pictures and statues, which I had admired in prints and descriptions. I therefore chose a servant, who was recommended to me as a sober, intelligent fellow, acquainted with these matters: at the same time I furnished myself with maps and plans of antient and modern Rome, together with the little manual, called, Itinerario istruttivo per ritrovare con facilita tutte le magnificenze di Roma e di alcune citta’, e castelli suburbani. But I found still more satisfaction in perusing the book in three volumes, intitled, Roma antica, e moderna, which contains a description of everything remarkable in and about the city, illustrated with a great number of copper-plates, and many curious historical annotations. This directory cost me a zequine; but a hundred zequines will not purchase all the books and prints which have been published at Rome on these subjects. Of these the most celebrated are the plates of Piranesi, who is not only an ingenious architect and engraver, but also a learned antiquarian; though he is apt to run riot in his conjectures; and with regard to the arts of antient Rome, has broached some doctrines, which he will find it very difficult to maintain. Our young gentlemen who go to Rome will do well to be upon their guard against a set of sharpers, (some of them of our own country,) who deal in pictures and antiques, and very often impose upon the uninformed stranger, by selling him trash, as the productions of the most celebrated artists. The English are more than any other foreigners exposed to this imposition. They are supposed to have more money to throw away; and therefore a greater number of snares are laid for them. This opinion of their superior wealth they take a pride in confirming, by launching out into all manner of unnecessary expence: but, what is still more dangerous, the moment they set foot in Italy, they are seized with the ambition of becoming connoisseurs in painting, musick, statuary, and architecture; and the adventurers of this country do not fail to flatter this weakness for their own advantage. I have seen in different parts of Italy, a number of raw boys, whom Britain seemed to have poured forth on purpose to bring her national character into contempt, ignorant, petulant, rash, and profligate, without any knowledge or experience of their own, without any director to improve their understanding, or superintend their conduct. One engages in play with an infamous gamester, and is stripped perhaps in the very first partie: another is pillaged by an antiquated cantatrice; a third is bubbled by a knavish antiquarian; and a fourth is laid under contribution by a dealer in pictures. Some turn fiddlers, and pretend to compose: but all of them talk familiarly of the arts, and return finished connoisseurs and coxcombs, to their own country. The most remarkable phaenomenon of this kind, which I have seen, is a boy of seventy-two, now actually travelling through Italy, for improvement, under the auspices of another boy of twenty-two. When you arrive at Rome, you receive cards from all your country-folks in that city: they expect to have the visit returned next day, when they give orders not to be at home; and you never speak to one another in the sequel. This is a refinement in hospitality and politeness, which the English have invented by the strength of their own genius, without any assistance either from France, Italy, or Lapland. No Englishman above the degree of a painter or cicerone frequents any coffee-house at Rome; and as there are no public diversions, except in carnival-time, the only chance you have of seeing your compatriots is either in visiting the curiosities, or at a conversazione. The Italians are very scrupulous in admitting foreigners, except those who are introduced as people of quality: but if there happens to be any English lady of fashion at Rome, she generally keeps an assembly, to which the British subjects resort. In my next, I shall communicate, without ceremony or affectation, what further remarks I have made at Rome, without any pretence, however, to the character of a connoisseur, which, without all doubt, would fit very aukwardly upon — Dear Sir, Your Friend and Servant.

Letter XXX

Nice, February 28, 1765.

DEAR SIR — Nothing can be more agreeable to the eyes of a stranger, especially in the heats of summer, than the great number of public fountains that appear in every part of Rome, embellished with all the ornaments of sculpture, and pouring forth prodigious quantities of cool, delicious water, brought in aqueducts from different lakes, rivers, and sources, at a considerable distance from the city. These works are the remains of the munificence and industry of the antient Romans, who were extremely delicate in the article of water: but, however, great applause is also due to those beneficent popes who have been at the expence of restoring and repairing those noble channels of health, pleasure, and convenience. This great plenty of water, nevertheless, has not induced the Romans to be cleanly. Their streets, and even their palaces, are disgraced with filth. The noble Piazza Navona, is adorned with three or four fountains, one of which is perhaps the most magnificent in Europe, and all of them discharge vast streams of water: but, notwithstanding this provision, the piazza is almost as dirty, as West Smithfield, where the cattle are sold in London. The corridores, arcades, and even staircases of their most elegant palaces, are depositories of nastiness, and indeed in summer smell as strong as spirit of hartshorn. I have a great notion that their ancestors were not much more cleanly. If we consider that the city and suburbs of Rome, in the reign of Claudius, contained about seven millions of inhabitants, a number equal at least to the sum total of all the souls in England; that great part of antient Rome was allotted to temples, porticos, basilicae, theatres, thermae, circi, public and private walks and gardens, where very few, if any, of this great number lodged; that by far the greater part of those inhabitants were slaves and poor people, who did not enjoy the conveniencies of life; and that the use of linen was scarce known; we must naturally conclude they were strangely crouded together, and that in general they were a very frowzy generation. That they were crouded together appears from the height of their houses, which the poet Rutilius compared to towers made for scaling heaven. In order to remedy this inconvenience, Augustus Caesar published a decree, that for the future no houses should be built above seventy feet high, which, at a moderate computation, might make six stories. But what seems to prove, beyond all dispute, that the antient Romans were dirty creatures, are these two particulars. Vespasian laid a tax upon urine and ordure, on pretence of being at a great expence in clearing the streets from such nuisances; an imposition which amounted to about fourteen pence a year for every individual; and when Heliogabalus ordered all the cobwebs of the city and suburbs to be collected, they were found to weigh ten thousand pounds. This was intended as a demonstration of the great number of inhabitants; but it was a proof of their dirt, rather than of their populosity. I might likewise add, the delicate custom of taking vomits at each other’s houses, when they were invited to dinner, or supper, that they might prepare their stomachs for gormandizing; a beastly proof of their nastiness as well as gluttony. Horace, in his description of the banquet of Nasiedenus, says, when the canopy, under which they sat, fell down, it brought along with it as much dirt as is raised by a hard gale of wind in dry weather.

— trahentia pulveris atri,
Quantum non aquilo Campanis excitat agris.

Such clouds of dust revolving in its train
As Boreas whirls along the level plain.

I might observe, that the streets were often encumbered with the putrefying carcasses of criminals, who had been dragged through them by the heels, and precipitated from the Scalae Gemoniae, or Tarpeian rock, before they were thrown into the Tyber, which was the general receptacle of the cloaca maxima and all the filth of Rome: besides, the bodies of all those who made away with themselves, without sufficient cause; of such as were condemned for sacrilege, or killed by thunder, were left unburned and unburied, to rot above ground.

I believe the moderns retain more of the customs of antient Romans, than is generally imagined. When I first saw the infants at the enfans trouves in Paris, so swathed with bandages, that the very sight of them made my eyes water, I little dreamed, that the prescription of the antients could be pleaded for this custom, equally shocking and absurd: but in the Capitol at Rome, I met with the antique statue of a child swaddled exactly in the same manner; rolled up like an Aegyptian mummy from the feet. The circulation of the blood, in such a case, must be obstructed on the whole surface of the body; and nothing be at liberty but the head, which is the only part of the child that ought to be confined. Is it not surprising that common sense should not point out, even to the most ignorant, that those accursed bandages must heat the tender infant into a fever; must hinder the action of the muscles, and the play of the joints, so necessary to health and nutrition; and that while the refluent blood is obstructed in the veins, which run on the surface of the body, the arteries, which lie deep, without the reach of compression, are continually pouring their contents into the head, where the blood meets with no resistance? The vessels of the brain are naturally lax, and the very sutures of the skull are yet unclosed. What are the consequences of this cruel swaddling? the limbs are wasted; the joints grow rickety; the brain is compressed, and a hydrocephalus, with a great head and sore eyes, ensues. I take this abominable practice to be one great cause of the bandy legs, diminutive bodies, and large heads, so frequent in the south of France, and in Italy.

I was no less surprised to find the modern fashion of curling the hair, borrowed in a great measure from the coxcombs and coquettes of antiquity. I saw a bust of Nero in the gallery at Florence, the hair represented in rows of buckles, like that of a French petit-maitre, conformable to the picture drawn of him by Suetonius. Circa cultum adeo pudendum, ut coman semper in gradus formatam peregrinatione achaica, etiam pene verticem sumpserit, So very finical in his dress, that he wore his hair in the Greek fashion, curled in rows almost to the crown of his head. I was very sorry however to find that this foppery came from Greece. As for Otho, he wore a galericulum, or tour, on account of thin hair, propter raritatem capillorum. He had no right to imitate the example of Julius Caesar, who concealed his bald head with a wreath of laurel. But there is a bust in the Capitol of Julia Pia, the second wife of Septimius Severus, with a moveable peruke, dressed exactly in the fashionable mode, with this difference, that there is no part of it frizzled; nor is there any appearance of pomatum and powder. These improvements the beau-monde have borrowed from the natives of the Cape of Good Hope.

Modern Rome does not cover more than one-third of the space within the walls; and those parts that were most frequented of old are now intirely abandoned. From the Capitol to the Coliseo, including the Forum Romanum and Boarium, there is nothing intire but one or two churches, built with the fragments of ancient edifices. You descend from the Capitol between the remaining pillars of two temples, the pedestals and part of the shafts sunk in the rubbish: then passing through the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, you proceed along the foot of Mons Palatinus, which stands on your right hand, quite covered with the ruins of the antient palace belonging to the Roman emperors, and at the foot of it, there are some beautiful detached pillars still standing. On the left you see the remains of the Templum Pacis, which seems to have been the largest and most magnificent of all the temples in Rome. It was built and dedicated by the emperor Vespasian, who brought into it all the treasure and precious vessels which he found in the temple of Jerusalem. The columns of the portico he removed from Nero’s golden house, which he levelled with the ground. This temple was likewise famous for its library, mentioned by Aulus Gellius, Further on, is the arch of Constantine on the right, a most noble piece of architecture, almost entire; with the remains of the Meta Sudans before it; and fronting you, the noble ruins of that vast amphitheatre, called the Colossaeum, now Coliseo, which has been dismantled and dilapidated by the Gothic popes and princes of modern Rome, to build and adorn their paultry palaces. Behind the amphitheatre were the thermae of the same emperor Titus Vespasian. In the same quarter was the Circus Maximus; and the whole space from hence on both sides, to the walls of Rome, comprehending above twice as much ground as the modern city, is almost covered with the monuments of antiquity. I suppose there is more concealed below ground than appears above. The miserable houses, and even garden-walls of the peasants in this district, are built with these precious materials. I mean shafts and capitals of marble columns, heads, arms, legs, and mutilated trunks of statues. What pity it is that among all the remains of antiquity, at Rome, there is not one lodging-house remaining. I should be glad to know how the senators of Rome were lodged. I want to be better informed touching the cava aedium, the focus, the ara deorum penatum, the conclavia, triclinia, and caenationes; the atria where the women resided, and employed themselves in the woolen manufacture; the praetoria, which were so spacious as to become a nuisance in the reign of Augustus; and the Xysta, which were shady walks between two porticos, where the men exercised themselves in the winter. I am disgusted by the modern taste of architecture, though I am no judge of the art. The churches and palaces of these days are crowded with pretty ornaments, which distract the eye, and by breaking the design into a variety of little parts, destroy the effect of the whole. Every door and window has its separate ornaments, its moulding, frize, cornice. and tympanum; then there is such an assemblage of useless festoons, pillars, pilasters, with their architraves, entablatures, and I know not what, that nothing great or uniform remains to fill the view; and we in vain look for that simplicity of grandeur, those large masses of light and shadow, and the inexpressible EUSUINOPTON, which characterise the edifices of the antients. A great edifice, to have its full effect, ought to be isole, or detached from all others, with a large space around it: but the palaces of Rome, and indeed of all the other cities of Italy, which I have seen, are so engaged among other mean houses, that their beauty and magnificence are in a great measure concealed. Even those which face open streets and piazzas are only clear in front. The other apartments are darkened by the vicinity of ordinary houses; and their views are confined by dirty and disagreeable objects. Within the court there is generally a noble colonnade all round, and an open corridore above, but the stairs are usually narrow, steep, and high, the want of sash-windows, the dullness of their small glass lozenges, the dusty brick floors, and the crimson hangings laced with gold, contribute to give a gloomy air to their apartments; I might add to these causes, a number of Pictures executed on melancholy subjects, antique mutilated statues, busts, basso relieves, urns, and sepulchral stones, with which their rooms are adorned. It must be owned, however, there are some exceptions to this general rule. The villa of cardinal Alexander Albani is light, gay, and airy; yet the rooms are too small, and too much decorated with carving and gilding, which is a kind of gingerbread work. The apartments of one of the princes Borghese are furnished in the English taste; and in the palazzo di colonna connestabile, there is a saloon, or gallery, which, for the proportions, lights, furniture, and ornaments, is the most noble, elegant, and agreeable apartment I ever saw.

It is diverting to hear all Italian expatiate upon the greatness of modern Rome. He will tell you there are above three hundred palaces in the city; that there is scarce a Roman prince, whose revenue does not exceed two hundred thousand crowns; and that Rome produces not only the most learned men, but also the most refined politicians in the universe. To one of them talking in this strain, I replied, that instead of three hundred palaces, the number did not exceed fourscore; that I had been informed, on good authority, there were not six individuals in Rome who had so much as forty thousand crowns a year, about ten thousand pounds sterling; and that to say their princes were so rich, and their politicians so refined, was, in effect, a severe satire upon them, for not employing their wealth and their talents for the advantage of their country. I asked why their cardinals and princes did not invite and encourage industrious people to settle and cultivate the Campania of Rome, which is a desert? why they did not raise a subscription to drain the marshes in the neighbourhood of the city, and thus meliorate the air, which is rendered extremely unwholsome in the summer, by putrid exhalations from those morasses? I demanded of him, why they did not contribute their wealth, and exert their political refinements, in augmenting their forces by sea and land, for the defence of their country, introducing commerce and manufactures, and in giving some consequence to their state, which was no more than a mite in the political scale of Europe? I expressed a desire to know what became of all those sums of money, inasmuch as there was hardly any circulation of gold and silver in Rome, and the very bankers, on whom strangers have their credit, make interest to pay their tradesmen’s bills with paper notes of the bank of Spirito Santo? And now I am upon this subject, it may not be amiss to observe that I was strangely misled by all the books consulted about the current coin of Italy. In Tuscany, and the Ecclesiastical State, one sees nothing but zequines in gold, and pieces of two paoli, one paolo, and half a paolo, in silver. Besides these, there is a copper coin at Rome, called bajocco and mezzo bajocco. Ten bajocchi make a paolo: ten paoli make a scudo, which is an imaginary piece: two scudi make a zequine; and a French loui’dore is worth two zequines and two paoli.

Rome has nothing to fear from the catholic powers, who respect it with a superstitious veneration as the metropolitan seat of their religion: but the popes will do well to avoid misunderstandings with the maritime protestant states, especially the English, who being masters of the Mediterranean, and in possession of Minorca, have it in their power at all times, to land a body of troops within four leagues of Rome, and to take the city, without opposition. Rome is surrounded with an old wall, but altogether incapable of defence. Or if it was, the circuit of the walls is so extensive, that it would require a garrison of twenty thousand men. The only appearance of a fortification in this city, is the castle of St. Angelo, situated on the further bank of the Tyber, to which there is access by a handsome bridge: but this castle, which was formerly the moles Adriani, could not hold out half a day against a battery of ten pieces of cannon properly directed. It was an expedient left to the invention of the modern Romans, to convert an ancient tomb into a citadel. It could only serve as a temporary retreat for the pope in times of popular commotion, and on other sudden emergencies; as it happened in the case of pope Clement VII. when the troops of the emperor took the city by assault; and this only, while he resided at the Vatican, from whence there is a covered gallery continued to the castle: it can never serve this purpose again, while the pontiff lives on Monte Cavallo, which is at the other end of the city. The castle of St. Angelo, howsoever ridiculous as a fortress, appears respectable as a noble monument of antiquity, and though standing in a low situation, is one of the first objects that strike the eye of a stranger approaching Rome. On the opposite side of the river, are the wretched remains of the Mausoleum Augusti, which was still more magnificent. Part of the walls is standing, and the terraces are converted into garden-ground. In viewing these ruins, I remembered Virgil’s pathetic description of Marcellus, who was here intombed.

Quantos ille virum, magnum mavortis ad urbem. Campus aget gemitus, vel que Tyberine, videbis Funera, cum tumulum, preter labere recentem.

Along his Banks what Groans shall Tyber hear, When the fresh tomb and funeral pomp appear!

The beautiful poem of Ovid de Consolatione ad Liviam, written after the ashes of Augustus and his nephew Marcellus, of Germanicus, Agrippa, and Drusus, were deposited in this mausoleum, concludes with these lines, which are extremely tender:

Claudite jam Parcae nimium reserata sepulchra; Claudite, plus justo, jam domus ista patet!

Ah! shut these yawning Tombs, ye sister Fates! Too long unclos’d have stood those dreary Gates!

What the author said of the monument, you will be tempted to say of this letter, which I shall therefore close in the old stile, assuring you that I ever am — Yours most affectionately.

Letter XXXI

Nice, March 5, 1765

DEAR SIR — In my last I gave you my opinion freely of the modern palaces of Italy. I shall now hazard my thoughts upon the gardens of this country, which the inhabitants extol with all the hyperboles of admiration and applause. I must acknowledge however, I have not seen the famous villas at Frascati and Tivoli, which are celebrated for their gardens and waterworks. I intended to visit these places; but was prevented by an unexpected change of weather, which deterred me from going to the country. On the last day of September the mountains of Palestrina were covered with snow; and the air became so cold at Rome, that I was forced to put on my winter cloaths. This objection continued, till I found it necessary to set out on my return to Florence. But I have seen the gardens of the Poggio Imperiale, and the Palazzo de Pitti at Florence, and those of the Vatican, of the pope’s palace on Monte Cavallo, of the Villa Ludovisia, Medicea, and Pinciana, at Rome; so that I think I have some right to judge of the Italian taste in gardening. Among those I have mentioned, that of the Villa Pinciana, is the most remarkable, and the most extensive, including a space of three miles in circuit, hard by the walls of Rome, containing a variety of situations high and low, which favour all the natural embellishments one would expect to meet with in a garden, and exhibit a diversity of noble views of the city and adjacent country.

In a fine extensive garden or park, an Englishman expects to see a number of groves and glades, intermixed with an agreeable negligence, which seems to be the effect of nature and accident. He looks for shady walks encrusted with gravel; for open lawns covered with verdure as smooth as velvet, but much more lively and agreeable; for ponds, canals, basins, cascades, and running streams of water; for clumps of trees, woods, and wildernesses, cut into delightful alleys, perfumed with honeysuckle and sweet-briar, and resounding with the mingled melody of all the singing birds of heaven: he looks for plats of flowers in different parts to refresh the sense, and please the fancy; for arbours, grottos, hermitages, temples, and alcoves, to shelter him from the sun, and afford him means of contemplation and repose; and he expects to find the hedges, groves, and walks, and lawns kept with the utmost order and propriety. He who loves the beauties of simple nature, and the charms of neatness will seek for them in vain amidst the groves of Italy. In the garden of the Villa Pinciana, there is a plantation of four hundred pines, which the Italians view with rapture and admiration: there is likewise a long walk, of trees extending from the garden-gate to the palace; and plenty of shade, with alleys and hedges in different parts of the ground: but the groves are neglected; the walks are laid with nothing but common mould or sand, black and dusty; the hedges are tall, thin and shabby; the trees stunted; the open ground, brown and parched, has scarce any appearance of verdure. The flat, regular alleys of evergreens are cut into fantastic figures; the flower gardens embellished with thin cyphers and flourished figures in box, while the flowers grow in rows of earthen-pots, and the ground appears as dusky as if it was covered with the cinders of a blacksmith’s forge. The water, of which there is great plenty, instead of being collected in large pieces, or conveyed in little rivulets and streams to refresh the thirsty soil, or managed so as to form agreeable cascades, is squirted from fountains in different parts of the garden, through tubes little bigger than common glyster-pipes. It must be owned indeed that the fountains have their merit in the way of sculpture and architecture; and that here is a great number of statues which merit attention: but they serve only to encumber the ground, and destroy that effect of rural simplicity, which our gardens are designed to produce. In a word, here we see a variety of walks and groves and fountains, a wood of four hundred pines, a paddock with a few meagre deer, a flower-garden, an aviary, a grotto, and a fish-pond; and in spite of all these particulars, it is, in my opinion, a very contemptible garden, when compared to that of Stowe in Buckinghamshire, or even to those of Kensington and Richmond. The Italians understand, because they study, the excellencies of art; but they have no idea of the beauties of nature. This Villa Pinciana, which belongs to the Borghese family, would make a complete academy for painting and sculpture, especially for the study of antient marbles; for, exclusive of the statues and busts in the garden, and the vast collection in the different apartments, almost the whole outside of the house is covered with curious pieces in basso and alto relievo. The most masterly is that of Curtius on horseback, leaping into the gulph or opening of the earth, which is said to have closed on receiving this sacrifice. Among the exhibitions of art within the house, I was much struck with a Bacchus, and the death of Meleager, represented on an antient sepulchre. There is also an admirable statue of Silenus, with the infant Bacchus in his arms; a most beautiful gladiator; a curious Moor of black marble, with a shirt of white alabaster; a finely proportioned bull of black marble also, standing upon a table of alabaster; a black gipsey with a head, hands, and feet of brass; and the famous hermaphrodite, which vies with that of Florence: though the most curious circumstance of this article, is the mattrass executed and placed by Bernini, with such art and dexterity, that to the view, it rivals the softness of wool, and seems to retain the marks of pressure, according to the figure of the superincumbent statue. Let us likewise own, for the honour of the moderns, that the same artist has produced two fine statues, which we find among the ornaments of this villa, namely, a David with his sling in the attitude of throwing the stone at the giant Goliah; and a Daphne changing into laurel at the approach of Apollo. On the base of this figure, are the two following elegant lines, written by pope Urban VIII. in his younger years.

Quisquis amans sequitur fugitivae gaudia formae, Fronde manus implet, baccas vel carpit amaras.

Who pants for fleeting Beauty, vain pursuit! Shall barren Leaves obtain, or bitter fruit.

I ought not to forget two exquisite antique statues of Venus, the weeping slave, and the youth pulling a thorn out of his foot.

I do not pretend to give a methodical detail of the curiosities of Rome: they have been already described by different authors, who were much better qualified than I am for the talk: but you shall have what observations I made on the most remarkable objects, without method, just as they occur to my remembrance; and I protest the remarks are all my own: so that if they deserve any commendation, I claim all the merit; and if they are impertinent, I must be contented to bear all the blame.

The piazza of St. Peter’s church is altogether sublime. The double colonnade on each side extending in a semi-circular sweep, the stupendous Aegyptian obelisk, the two fountains, the portico, and the admirable facade of the church, form such an assemblage of magnificent objects, as cannot fail to impress the mind with awe and admiration: but the church would have produced a still greater effect, had it been detached entirely from the buildings of the Vatican, It would then have been a master-piece of architecture, complete in all its parts, intire and perfect: whereas, at present, it is no more than a beautiful member attached to a vast undigested and irregular pile of building. As to the architecture of this famous temple, I shall say nothing; neither do I pretend to describe the internal ornaments. The great picture of Mosaic work, and that of St. Peter’s bark tossed by the tempest, which appear over the gate of the church, though rude in comparison with modern pieces, are nevertheless great curiosities, when considered as the work of Giotto, who flourished in the beginning of the fourteenth century. His master was Cimabue, who learned painting and architecture of the Grecian artists, who came from Constantinople, and first revived these arts in Italy. But, to return to St. Peter’s, I was not at all pleased with the famous statue of the dead Christ in his mother’s lap, by Michael Angelo. The figure of Christ is as much emaciated, as if he had died of a consumption: besides, there is something indelicate, not to say indecent, in the attitude and design of a man’s body, stark naked, lying upon the knees of a woman. Here are some good pictures, I should rather say copies of good pictures, done in Mosaic to great perfection; particularly a St. Sebastian by Domenichino, and Michael the Archangel, from a, painting of Guido Rheni. I am extremely fond of all this artist’s pieces. There is a tenderness and delicacy in his manner; and his figures are all exquisitely beautiful, though his expression is often erroneous, and his attitudes are always affected and unnatural. In this very piece the archangel has all the air of a French dancing-master; and I have seen a Madonna by the same hand, I think it is in the Palazzo di Barberini, in which, though the figures are enchanting, the Virgin is represented holding up the drapery of the infant, with the ridiculous affectation of a singer on the stage of our Italian opera. The Mosaic work, though brought to a wonderful degree of improvement, and admirably calculated for churches, the dampness of which is pernicious to the colours of the pallet, I will not yet compare to the productions of the pencil. The glassyness (if I may be allowed the expression) of the surface, throws, in my opinion, a false light on some parts of the picture; and when you approach it, the joinings of the pieces look like so many cracks on painted canvas. Besides, this method is extremely tedious and expensive. I went to see the artists at work, in a house that stands near the church, where I was much pleased with the ingenuity of the process; and not a little surprized at the great number of different colours and tints, which are kept in separate drawers, marked with numbers as far as seventeen thousand. For a single head done in Mosaic, they asked me fifty zequines. But to return to the church. The altar of St. Peter’s choir, notwithstanding all the ornaments which have been lavished upon it, is no more than a heap of puerile finery, better adapted to an Indian pagod, than to a temple built upon the principles of the Greek architecture. The four colossal figures that support the chair, are both clumsy and disproportioned. The drapery of statues, whether in brass or stone, when thrown into large masses, appears hard and unpleasant to the eye and for that reason the antients always imitated wet linen, which exhibiting the shape of the limbs underneath, and hanging in a multiplicity of wet folds, gives an air of lightness, softness, and ductility to the whole.

These two statues weigh 116,257 pounds, and as they sustain nothing but a chair, are out of all proportion, inasmuch as the supporters ought to be suitable to the things supported. Here are four giants holding up the old wooden chair of the apostle Peter, if we may believe the book De Identitate Cathedrae Romanae, Of the Identity of the Roman Chair. The implements of popish superstition; such as relicks of pretended saints, ill-proportioned spires and bellfreys, and the nauseous repetition of the figure of the cross, which is in itself a very mean and disagreeable object, only fit for the prisons of condemned criminals, have contributed to introduce a vitious taste into the external architecture, as well as in the internal ornaments of our temples. All churches are built in the figure of a cross, which effectually prevents the eye from taking in the scope of the building, either without side or within; consequently robs the edifice of its proper effect. The palace of the Escurial in Spain is laid out in the shape of a gridiron, because the convent was built in consequence of a vow to St. Laurence, who was broiled like a barbecued pig. What pity it is, that the labours of painting should have been so much employed on the shocking subjects of the martyrology. Besides numberless pictures of the flagellation, crucifixion, and descent from the cross, we have Judith with the head of Holofernes, Herodias with the head of John the Baptist, Jael assassinating Sisera in his sleep, Peter writhing on the cross, Stephen battered with stones, Sebastian stuck full of arrows, Laurence frying upon the coals, Bartholomew flaed alive, and a hundred other pictures equally frightful, which can only serve to fill the mind with gloomy ideas, and encourage a spirit of religious fanaticism, which has always been attended with mischievous consequences to the community where it reigned.

The tribune of the great altar, consisting of four wreathed brass pillars, gilt, supporting a canopy, is doubtless very magnificent, if not over-charged with sculpture, fluting, foliage, festoons, and figures of boys and angels, which, with the hundred and twenty-two lamps of silver, continually burning below, serve rather to dazzle the eyes, and kindle the devotion of the ignorant vulgar, than to excite the admiration of a judicious observer.

There is nothing, I believe, in this famous structure, so worthy of applause, as the admirable symmetry and proportion of its parts. Notwithstanding all the carving, gilding, basso relievos, medallions, urns, statues, columns, and pictures with which it abounds, it does not, on the whole, appear over-crouded with ornaments. When you first enter, your eye is filled so equally and regularly, that nothing appears stupendous; and the church seems considerably smaller than it really is. The statues of children, that support the founts of holy water when observed from the door, seem to be of the natural size; but as you draw near, you perceive they are gigantic. In the same manner, the figures of the doves, with olive branches in their beaks, which are represented on the wall, appear to be within your reach; but as you approach them, they recede to a considerable height, as if they had flown upwards to avoid being taken.

I was much disappointed at sight of the Pantheon, which, after all that has been said of it, looks like a huge cockpit, open at top. The portico which Agrippa added to the building, is undoubtedly very noble, though, in my opinion, it corresponds but ill with the simplicity of the edifice. With all my veneration for the antients, I cannot see in what the beauty of tile rotunda consists. It is no more than a plain unpierced cylinder, or circular wall, with two fillets and a cornice, having a vaulted roof or cupola, open in the centre. I mean the original building, without considering the vestibule of Agrippa. Within side it has much the air of a mausoleum. It was this appearance which, in all probability, suggested the thought to Boniface IV. to transport hither eight and twenty cart-loads of old rotten bones, dug from different burying-places, and then dedicate it as a church to the blessed Virgin and all the holy martyrs. I am not one of those who think it is well lighted by the hole at the top, which is about nine and twenty feet in diameter, although the author of the Grand Tour calls it but nine. The same author says, there is a descent of eleven steps to go into it; that it is a hundred and forty-four feet in heighth, and as many in breadth; that it was covered with copper, which, with the brass nails of the portico, pope Urban VIII. took away, and converted into the four wreathed pillars that support the canopy of the high altar in the church of St. Peter, &c. The truth is, before the time of pope Alexander VII. the earth was so raised as to cover part of the temple, and there was a descent of some steps into the porch: but that pontiff ordered the ground to be pared away to the very pedestal or base of the portico, which is now even with the street, so that there is no descent whatsoever. The height is two hundred palmi, and the breadth two hundred and eighteen; which, reckoning fife palmi at nine inches, will bring the height to one hundred and fifty, and the breadth to one hundred and sixty-three feet six inches. It was not any covering of copper which pope Urban VIII. removed, but large brass beams, which supported the roof of the portico. They weighed 186,392 pounds; and afforded metal enough not only for the pillars in St. Peter’s church, but also for several pieces of artillery that are now in the castle of St. Angelo. What is more extraordinary, the gilding of those columns is said to have cost forty thousand golden crowns: sure money was never worse laid out. Urban VIII. likewise added two bellfrey towers to the rotunda; and I wonder he did not cover the central hole with glass, as it must be very inconvenient and disagreeable to those who go to church below, to be exposed to the rain in wet weather, which must also render it very damp and unwholesome. I visited it several times, and each time it looked more and more gloomy and sepulchral.

The magnificence of the Romans was not so conspicuous in their temples, as in their theatres, amphitheatres, circusses, naumachia, aqueducts, triumphal arches, porticoes, basilicae, but especially their thermae, or bathing-places. A great number of their temples were small and inconsiderable; not one of them was comparable either for size or magnificence, to the modern church of St. Peter of the Vatican. The famous temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was neither half so long, nor half so broad: it was but two hundred feet in length, and one hundred and eighty-five in breadth; whereas the length of St. Peter’s extends to six hundred and thirty-eight feet, and the breadth to above five hundred. It is very near twice as large as the temple of Jupiter Olympius in Greece, which was counted one of the seven wonders of the world. But I shall take another opportunity to explain myself further on the antiquities of this city; a subject, upon which I am disposed to be (perhaps impertinently) circumstantial. When I begin to run riot, you should cheek me with the freedom of a friend. The most distant hint will be sufficient to — Dear Sir, Yours assuredly.

Letter XXXII

Nice, March 10, 1765.

DEAR SIR — The Colossaeum or amphitheatre built by Flavius Vespasian, is the most stupendous work of the kind which antiquity can produce. Near one half of the external circuit still remains, consisting of four tire of arcades, adorned with columns of four orders, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. The height and extent of it may be guessed from the number of spectators it contained, amounting to one hundred thousand; and yet, according to Fontana’s mensuration, it could not contain above thirty-four thousand persons sitting, allowing a foot and an half for each person: for the circuit of the whole building did not exceed one thousand five hundred and sixty feet. The amphitheatre at Verona is one thousand two hundred and ninety feet in circumference; and that of Nismes, one thousand and eighty. The Colossaeum was built by Vespasian, who employed thirty thousand Jewish slaves in the work; but finished and dedicated by his son Titus, who, on the first day of its being opened, produced fifty thousand wild beasts, which were all killed in the arena. The Romans were undoubtedly a barbarous people, who delighted in horrible spectacles. They viewed with pleasure the dead bodies of criminals dragged through the streets, or thrown down the Scalae Gemoniae and Tarpeian rock, for their contemplation. Their rostra were generally adorned with the heads of some remarkable citizens, like Temple-Bar, at London. They even bore the sight of Tully’s head fixed upon that very rostrum where he had so often ravished their ears with all the charms of eloquence, in pleading the cause of innocence and public virtue. They took delight in seeing their fellow-creatures torn in pieces by wild beasts, in the amphitheatre. They shouted with applause when they saw a poor dwarf or slave killed by his adversary; but their transports were altogether extravagant, when the devoted captives were obliged to fight in troops, till one side was entirely butchered by the other. Nero produced four hundred senators, and six hundred of the equestrian order, as gladiators in the public arena: even the women fought with wild beasts, as well as with each other, and drenched the amphitheatres with their blood. Tacitus says, “Sed faeminarum illustrium, senatorumque filiorum plures per arenam faedati sunt,” “But many sons of Senators, and even Matrons of the first Rank, exposed themselves in this vile exercise.” The execrable custom of sacrificing captives or slaves at the tombs of their masters and great men, which is still preserved among the negroes of Africa, obtained also among the antients, Greeks as well as Romans. I could never, without horror and indignation, read that passage in the twenty-third book of the Iliad, which describes twelve valiant Trojan captives sacrificed by the inhuman Achilles at the tomb of his friend Patroclus.

Dodeka men Troon megathumon uias eathlous Tous ama pantas pur eathiei.

Twelve generous Trojans slaughtered in their Bloom, With thy lov’d Corse the Fire shall now consume.

Even Virgil makes his pious Hero sacrifice eight Italian youths to the manes of Pallas. It is not at all clear to me, that a people is the more brave, the more they are accustomed to bloodshed in their public entertainments. True bravery is not savage but humane. Some of this sanguinary spirit is inherited by the inhabitants of a certain island that shall be nameless — but, mum for that. You will naturally suppose that the Coliseo was ruined by the barbarians who sacked the city of Rome: in effect, they robbed it of its ornaments and valuable materials; but it was reserved for the Goths and Vandals of modern Rome, to dismantle the edifice, and reduce it to its present ruinous condition. One part of it was demolished by pope Paul II. that he might employ the stones of it in building the palace of St. Mark. It was afterwards dilapidated for the same purposes, by the cardinals Riarius and Farnese, which last assumed the tiara under the name of Paul III. Notwithstanding these injuries, there is enough standing to convey a very sublime idea of ancient magnificence.

The Circi and Naumachia, if considered as buildings and artificial basins, are admirable; but if examined as areae intended for horse and chariot races, and artificial seas for exhibiting naval engagements, they seem to prove that the antient Romans were but indifferently skilled and exercised either in horsemanship or naval armaments. The inclosure of the emperor Caracalla’s circus is still standing, and scarce affords breathing room for an English hunter. The Circus Maximus, by far the largest in Rome, was not so long as the Mall; and I will venture to affirm, that St. James’s Park would make a much more ample and convenient scene for those diversions. I imagine an old Roman would be very much surprised to see an English race on the course at New-Market. The Circus Maximus was but three hundred yards in breadth. A good part of this was taken up by the spina, or middle space, adorned with temples, statues, and two great obelisks; as well as by the euripus, or canal, made by order of Julius Caesar, to contain crocodiles, and other aquatic animals, which were killed occasionally. This was so large, that Heliogabalus, having filled it with excellent wine, exhibited naval engagements in it, for the amusement of the people. It surrounded three sides of the square, so that the whole extent of the race did not much exceed an English mile; and when Probus was at the expence of filling the plain of it with fir-trees to form a wood for the chace of wild beasts, I question much if this forest was more extensive than the plantation in St. James’s Park, on the south side of the canal: now I leave you to judge what ridicule a king of England would incur by converting this part of the park into a chace for any species of animals which are counted game in our country.

The Roman emperors seemed more disposed to elevate and surprize, than to conduct the public diversions according to the rules of reason and propriety. One would imagine, it was with this view they instituted their naumachia, or naval engagements, performed by half a dozen small gallies of a side in an artificial basin of fresh water. These gallies I suppose were not so large as common fishing-smacks, for they were moved by two, three, and four oars of a side according to their different rates, biremes, triremes, and quadriremes. I know this is a knotty point not yet determined; and that some antiquarians believe the Roman gallies had different tires or decks of oars; but this is a notion very ill supported, and quite contrary to all the figures of them that are preserved on antient coins and medals. Suetonius in the reign of Domitian, speaking of these naumachia, says, “Edidit navales pugnas, pene justarum classium, effosso, et circumducto juxta Tyberim lacu, atque inter maximas imbres prospectavit,” “He exhibited naval engagements of almost intire fleets, in an artificial Lake formed for the purpose hard by the Tyber, and viewed them in the midst of excessive Rains.” This artificial lake was not larger than the piece of water in Hyde-Park; and yet the historian says, it was almost large enough for real or intire fleets. How would a British sailor relish an advertisement that a mock engagement between two squadrons of men of war would be exhibited on such a day in the Serpentine river? or that the ships of the line taken from the enemy would be carried in procession from Hyde-Park-Corner to Tower-wharf? Certain it is, Lucullus, in one of his triumphs, had one hundred and ten ships of war (naves longas) carried through the streets of Rome. Nothing can give a more contemptible idea of their naval power, than this testimony of their historians, who declare that their seamen or mariners were formed by exercising small row-boats in an inclosed pool of fresh water. Had they not the sea within a few miles of them, and the river Tyber running through their capital! even this would have been much more proper for exercising their watermen, than a pond of still-water, not much larger than a cold-bath. I do believe in my conscience that half a dozen English frigates would have been able to defeat both the contending fleets at the famous battle of Actium, which has been so much celebrated in the annals of antiquity, as an event that decided the fate of empire.

It would employ me a whole month to describe the thermae or baths, the vast ruins of which are still to be seen within the walls of Rome, like the remains of so many separate citadels. The thermae Dioclesianae might be termed an august academy for the use and instruction of the Roman people. The pinacotheca of this building was a complete musaeum of all the curiosities of art and nature; and there were public schools for all the sciences. If I may judge by my eye, however, the thermae Antonianae built by Caracalla, were still more extensive and magnificent; they contained cells sufficient for two thousand three hundred persons to bathe at one time, without being seen by one another. They were adorned with all the charms of painting, architecture, and sculpture. The pipes for convoying the water were of silver. Many of the lavacra were of precious marble, illuminated by lamps of chrystal. Among the statues, were found the famous Toro, and Hercole Farnese.

Bathing was certainly necessary to health and cleanliness in a hot country like Italy, especially before the use of linen was known: but these purposes would have been much better answered by plunging into the Tyber, than by using the warm bath in the thermae, which became altogether a point of luxury borrowed from the effeminate Asiatics, and tended to debilitate the fibres already too much relaxed by the heat of the climate. True it is, they had baths of cool water for the summer: but in general they used it milk-warm, and often perfumed: they likewise indulged in vapour-baths, in order to enjoy a pleasing relaxation, which they likewise improved with odoriferous ointments.

The thermae consisted of a great variety of parts and conveniences; the natationes, or swimming places; the portici, where people amused themselves in walking, conversing, and disputing together, as Cicero says, In porticibus deambulantes disputabant; the basilicae, where the bathers assembled, before they entered, and after they came out of the bath; the atria, or ample courts, adorned with noble colonnades of Numidian marble and oriental granite; the ephibia, where the young men inured themselves to wrestling and other exercises; the frigidaria, or places kept cool by a constant draught of air, promoted by the disposition and number of the windows; the calidaria, where the water was warmed for the baths; the platanones, or delightful groves of sycamore; the stadia, for the performances of the athletae; the exedrae, or resting-places, provided with seats for those that were weary; the palestrae, where every one chose that exercise which pleased him best; the gymnasia, where poets, orators, and philosophers recited their works, and harangued for diversion; the eleotesia, where the fragrant oils and ointments were kept for the use of the bathers; and the conisteria, where the wrestlers were smeared with sand before they engaged. Of the thermae in Rome, some were mercenary, and some opened gratis. Marcus Agrippa, when he was edile, opened one hundred and seventy private baths, for the use of the people. In the public baths, where money was taken, each person paid a quadrans, about the value of our halfpenny, as Juvenal observes,

Caedere Sylvano porcum, quadrante lavari.

The victim Pig to God Sylvanus slay, And for the public Bath a farthing pay.

But after the hour of bathing was past, it sometimes cost a great deal more, according to Martial,

Balnea post decimam, lasso centumque petuntur Quadrantes —

The bathing hour is past, the waiter tir’d; An hundred Farthings now will be requir’d.

Though there was no distinction in the places between the first patrician and the lowest plebeian, yet the nobility used their own silver and gold plate, for washing, eating, and drinking in the bath, together with towels of the finest linen. They likewise made use of the instrument called strigil, which was a kind of flesh-brush; a custom to which Persius alludes in this line,

I puer, et strigiles Crispini ad balnea defer.

Here, Boy, this Brush to Crispin’s Bagnio bear.

The common people contented themselves with sponges. The bathing time was from noon till the evening, when the Romans ate their principal meal. Notice was given by a bell, or some such instrument, when the baths were opened, as we learn from Juvenal,

Redde Pilam, sonat Aes thermarum, ludere pergis? Virgine vis sola lotus abdire domum.

Leave off; the Bath Bell rings — what, still play on? Perhaps the maid in private rubs you down.

There were separate places for the two sexes; and indeed there were baths opened for the use of women only, at the expence of Agrippina, the mother of Nero, and some other matrons of the first quality. The use of bathing was become so habitual to the constitutions of the Romans, that Galen, in his book De Sanitate tuenda, mentions a certain philosopher, who, if he intermitted but one day in his bathing, was certainly attacked with a fever. In order to preserve decorum in the baths, a set of laws and regulations were published, and the thermae were put under the inspection of a censor, who was generally one of the first senators in Rome. Agrippa left his gardens and baths, which stood near the pantheon, to the Roman people: among the statues that adorned them was that of a youth naked, as going into the bath, so elegantly formed by the hand of Lysippus, that Tiberius, being struck with the beauty of it, ordered it to be transferred into his own palace: but the populace raised such a clamour against him, that he was fain to have it reconveyed to its former place. These noble baths were restored by Adrian, as we read in Spartian; but at present no part of them remains.

With respect to the present state of the old aqueducts, I can give you very little satisfaction. I only saw the ruins of that which conveyed the aqua Claudia, near the Porta Maggiore, and the Piazza of the Lateran. You know there were fourteen of those antient aqueducts, some of which brought water to Rome from the distance of forty miles. The channels of them were large enough to admit a man armed on horseback; and therefore when Rome was besieged by the Goths, who had cut off the water, Belisarius fortified them with works to prevent the enemy from entering the city by those conveyances. After that period, I suppose the antient aqueducts continued dry, and were suffered to run to ruins. Without all doubt, the Romans were greatly obliged to those benefactors, who raised such stupendous works for the benefit, as well as the embellishment of their city: but it might have been supplied with the same water through pipes at one hundredth part of the expence; and in that case the enemy would not have found it such an easy matter to cut it off. Those popes who have provided the modern city so plentifully with excellent water, are much to be commended for the care and expence, they have bestowed in restoring the streams called acqua Virgine, acqua Felice, and acqua Paolina, which afford such abundance of water as would plentifully supply a much larger city than modern Rome.

It is no wonder that M. Agrippa, the son-inlaw, friend, and favourite of Augustus, should at the same time have been the idol of the people, considering how surprisingly he exerted himself for the emolument, convenience, and pleasure of his fellow-citizens. It was he who first conducted this acqua Virgine to Rome: he formed seven hundred reservoirs in the city; erected one hundred and five fountains; one hundred and thirty castella, or conduits, which works he adorned with three hundred statues, and four hundred pillars of marble, in the space of one year. He also brought into Rome, the aqua Julia, and restored the aqueduct of the aqua Marzia, which had fallen to decay. I have already observed the great number of baths which he opened for the people, and the magnificent thermae, with spacious gardens, which he bequeathed to them as a legacy. But these benefactions, great and munificent as they seem to be, were not the most important services he performed for the city of Rome. The common-sewers were first made by order of Tarquinius Priscus, not so much with a view to cleanliness, as by way of subterranean drains to the Velabrum, and in order to carry off the stagnant water, which remained in the lower parts, after heavy rains. The different branches of these channels united at the Forum, from whence by the cloaca Maxima, their contents were conveyed into the Tyber. This great cloaca was the work of Tarquinius Superbus. Other sewers were added by Marcus Cato, and Valerius Flaccus, the censors. All these drains having been choaked up and ruinous, were cleared and restored by Marcus Agrippa, who likewise undermined the whole city with canals of the same kind, for carrying of the filth; he strengthened and enlarged the cloaca maxima, so as to make it capable of receiving a large cart loaded with hay; and directed seven streams of water into these subterranean passages, in order to keep them always clean and open. If, notwithstanding all these conveniences, Vespasian was put to great expence in removing the ordure from the public streets, we have certainly a right to conclude that the antient Romans were not more cleanly than the modern Italians.

After the mausolea of Augustus, and Adrian, which I have already mentioned, the most remarkable antient sepulchres at Rome, are those of Caius Cestius, and Cecilia Metella. The first, which stands by the Porta di S. Paolo, is a beautiful pyramid, one hundred and twenty feet high, still preserved intire, having a vaulted chamber within-side, adorned with some ancient painting, which is now almost effaced. The building is of brick, but eased with marble. This Caius Cestius had been consul, was very rich, and acted as one of the seven Epulones, who superintended the feasts of the gods, called Lectisternia, and Pervigilia. He bequeathed his whole fortune to his friend M. Agrippa, who was so generous as to give it up to the relations of the testator. The monument of Cecilia Metella, commonly called Capo di Bove, is without the walls on the Via Appia. This lady was daughter of Metellus Creticus, and wife to Crassus, who erected this noble monument to her memory. It consisted of two orders, or stories, the first of which was a square of hewn stone: the second was a circular tower, having a cornice, adorned with ox heads in basso relievo, a circumstance from which it takes the name of Capo di Bove. The ox was supposed to be a most grateful sacrifice to the gods. Pliny, speaking of bulls and oxen, says,

Hinc victimae optimae et laudatissima deorum placatio.

They were accounted the best Victims and most agreeable to appease the anger of the Gods.

This tower was surmounted by a noble cupola or dome, enriched with all the ornaments of architecture. The door of the building was of brass; and within-side the ashes of Cecilia were deposited in a fluted marble urn, of curious workmanship, which is still kept in the Palazzo Farnese. At present the surface of the ground is raised so much as to cover the first order of the edifice: what we see is no more than the round tower, without the dome and its ornaments; and the following inscription still remains near the top, facing the Via Appia.


To Caecilia Metella, Daughter of Q. Criticus: wife of Crassus.

Now we are talking of sepulchral inscriptions, I shall conclude this letter with the copy of a very singular will, made by Favonius Jocundus, who died in Portugal, by which will the precise situation of the famous temple of Sylvanus is ascertained.

“Jocundi. Ego gallus Favonius Jocundus P. Favoni F. qui bello contra Viriatum Succubui, Jocundum et Prudentem filios, e me et Quintia Fabia conjuge mea ortos, et Bonorum Jocundi Patris mei, et eorum, quae mihi ipsi acquisivi haeredes relinquo; hac tamen conditione, ut ab urbe Romana huc veniant, et ossa hic mea, intra quinquennium exportent, et via latina condant in sepulchro, jussu meo condito, et mea voluntate; in quo velim neminem mecum, neque servum, neque libertum inseri; et velim ossa quorumcunque sepulchro statim meo eruantur, et jura Romanorum serventur, in sepulchris ritu majorum retinendis, juxta volantatem testatoris; et si secus fecerint, nisi legittimae oriantur causae, velim ea omnia, quae filijs meis relinquo, pro reparando templo dei Sylvani, quod sub viminali monte est, attribui; manesque mei a Pont. max; a flaminibus dialibus, qui in capitolio sunt, opem implorent, ad liberorum meorum impietatem ulciscendam; teneanturque sacerdotes dei Silvani, me in urbem referre, et sepulchro me meo condere. Volo quoque vernas qui domi meae sunt, omnes a praetore urbano liberos, cum matribus dimitti, singulisque libram argenti puri, et vestem unam dori. In Lusitania. In agro VIII. Cal Quintilis, bello viriatino.”

I, Gallus Favonius Jocundus, son of P. Favonius, dying in the war against Viriatus, declare my sons Jocundus and Prudens, by my wife Quintia Fabia, joint Heirs of my Estate, real and personal; on condition, however, that they come hither within a time of five years from this my last will, and transport my remains to Rome to be deposited in my Sepulchre built in the via latina by my own order and Direction: and it is my will that neither slave nor freedman shall be interred with me in the said tomb; that if any such there be, they shall be removed, and the Roman law obeyed, in preserving in the antient Form the sepulchre according to the will of the Testator. If they act otherwise without just cause, it is my will that the whole estate, which I now bequeathe to my children, shall be applied to the Reparation of the Temple of the God Sylvanus, at the foot of Mount Viminalis; and that my Manes [The Manes were an order of Gods supposed to take cognisance of such injuries.] I shall implore the assistance of the Pontifex maximus, and the Flaminisdiales in the Capitol, to avenge the Impiety of my children; and the priests of Sylvanus shall engage to bring my remains to Rome and see them decently deposited in my own Sepulchre. It is also my will that all my domestic slaves shall be declared free by the city Praetor, and dismissed with their mothers, after having received each, a suit of cloaths, and a pound weight of pure silver from my heirs and Executors. — At my farm in Lusitania, July 25. During the Viriatin war.

My paper scarce affords room to assure you that I am ever — Dear Sir, Your faithful, etc.


Nice, March 30, 1765.

DEAR SIR — YOU must not imagine I saw one half of the valuable pictures and statues of Rome; there is such a vast number of both in this capital, that I might have spent a whole year in taking even a transient view of them; and, after all, some of them would have been overlooked. The most celebrated pieces, however, I have seen; and therefore my curiosity is satisfied. Perhaps, if I had the nice discernment and delicate sensibility of a true connoisseur, this superficial glimpse would have served only to whet my appetite, and to detain me the whole winter at Rome. In my progress through the Vatican, I was much pleased with the School of Athens, by Raphael, a piece which hath suffered from the dampness of the air. The four boys attending to the demonstration of the mathematician are admirably varied in the expression. Mr. Webb’s criticism on this artist is certainly just. He was perhaps the best ethic painter that ever the world produced. No man ever expressed the sentiments so happily, in visage, attitude, and gesture: but he seems to have had too much phlegm to strike off the grand passions, or reach the sublime parts of painting. He has the serenity of Virgil, but wants the fire of Homer. There is nothing in his Parnassus which struck me, but the ludicrous impropriety of Apollo’s playing upon a fiddle, for the entertainment of the nine muses. [Upon better information I must retract this censure; in as much, as I find there was really a Musical Instrument among the antients of this Figure, as appears by a small statue in Bronze, to be still seen in the Florentine Collection.]

The Last Judgment, by Buonaroti, in the chapel of Sixtus IV. produced to my eye the same sort of confusion, that perplexes my ear at a grand concert, consisting of a great variety of instruments: or rather, when a number of people are talking all at once. I was pleased with the strength of expression, exhibited in single figures, and separate groupes: but, the whole together is a mere mob, without subordination, keeping, or repose. A painter ought to avoid all subjects that require a multiplicity of groupes and figures; because it is not in the power of that art to unite a great number in one point of view, so as to maintain that dependence which they ought to have upon one another. Michael Angelo, with all his skill in anatomy, his correctness of design, his grand composition, his fire, and force of expression, seems to have had very little idea of grace. One would imagine he had chosen his kings, heroes, cardinals, and prelates, from among the facchini of Rome: that he really drew his Jesus on the Cross, from the agonies of some vulgar assassin expiring on the wheel; and that the originals of his Bambini, with their mothers, were literally found in a stable. In the Sala Regia, from whence the Sistian chapel is detached, we see, among other exploits of catholic heroes, a representation of the massacre of the protestants in Paris, Tholouse, and other parts of France, on the eve of St. Bartholomew, thus described in the Descrizione di Roma, “Nella prima pittura, esprime Georgio Vasari l’istoria del Coligni, grand’ amiraglio, di Francia, che come capo de ribelli, e degl’ugonotti, fu ucciso; e nell’altra vicina, la strage fatta in Parigi, e nel regno, de rebelli, e degl’Ugonotti.” “In the first picture, George Vasari represents the history of Coligni, high admiral of France, who was slain as head of the rebels and huegonots; and in another near it, the slaughter that was made of the rebels and huegonots in Paris and other parts of the kingdom.” Thus the court of Rome hath employed their artists to celebrate and perpetuate, as a meritorious action, the most perfidious, cruel, and infamous massacre, that ever disgraced the annals of any nation.

I need not mention the two equestrian statues of Constantine the Great, and Charlemagne, which stand at opposite ends of the great portico of St. Peter’s church; because there is nothing in them which particularly engaged my attention. The sleeping Cleopatra, as you enter the court of the Belvedere, in the Vatican, is much admired; but I was better pleased with the Apollo, which I take to be the most beautiful statue that ever was formed. The Nile, which lies in the open court, surmounted with the little children, has infinite merit; but is much damaged, and altogether neglected. Whether it is the same described in Pliny, as having been placed by Vespasian in the Temple of Peace, I do not know. The sixteen children playing about it, denoted the swelling of the Nile, which never rose above sixteen cubits. As for the famous groupe of Laocoon, it surpassed my expectation. It was not without reason that Buonaroti called it a portentous work; and Pliny has done it no more than justice in saying it is the most excellent piece that ever was cut in marble; and yet the famous Fulvius Ursini is of opinion that this is not the same statue which Pliny described. His reasons, mentioned by Montfaucon, are these. The statues described by Pliny were of one stone; but these are not. Antonioli, the antiquary, has in his Possession, pieces of Laocoon’s snakes, which were found in the ground, where the baths of Titus actually stood, agreeable to Pliny, who says these statues were placed in the buildings of Titus. Be that as it may, the work which we now see does honour to antiquity. As you have seen innumerable copies and casts of it, in marble, plaister, copper, lead, drawings, and prints, and read the description of it in Keysler, and twenty other books of travels, I shall say nothing more on the subject; but that neither they nor I, nor any other person, could say too much in its praise. It is not of one piece indeed. In that particular Pliny himself might be mistaken. “Opus omnibus et picturae, et statuariae artis praeponendum. Ex uno lapide eum et Liberos draconumque mirabiles nexus de consilii sententia fecere succubi artifices.” “A work preferable to all the other Efforts of Painting and Statuary. The most excellent artists joined their Talents in making the Father and his Sons, together with the admirable Twinings of the Serpents, of one Block.” Buonaroti discovered the joinings, though they were so artfully concealed as to be before invisible. This amazing groupe is the work of three Rhodian sculptors, called Agesander, Polydore, and Athenodorus, and was found in the thermae of Titus Vespasian, still supposing it to be the true antique. As for the torso, or mutilated trunk of a statue, which is called the school of Michael Angelo, I had not time to consider it attentively; nor taste enough to perceive its beauties at first sight. The famous horses on Monte Cavallo, before the pope’s palace, which are said to have been made in emulation, by Phidias and Praxiteles, I have seen, and likewise those in the front of the Capitol, with the statues of Castor and Pollux; but what pleased me infinitely more than all of them together, is the equestrian statue of Corinthian brass, standing in the middle of this Piazza (I mean at the Capitol) said to represent the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Others suppose it was intended for Lucius Verus; a third set of antiquaries contend for Lucius Septimius Severus; and a fourth, for Constantine, because it stood in the Piazza of the Lateran palace, built by that emperor, from whence pope Paul III. caused it to be removed to the Capitol. I considered the trophy of Marius as a very curious piece of sculpture, and admired the two sphinxes at the bottom of the stairs leading to this Piazza, as the only good specimens of design I have ever seen from Aegypt: for the two idols of that country, which stand in the ground floor of the Musaeum of the Capitol, and indeed all the Aegyptian statues in the Camera Aegyptiaca of this very building, are such monstrous misrepresentations of nature, that they never could have obtained a place among the statues of Rome, except as curiosities of foreign superstition, or on account of the materials, as they are generally of basaltes, porphyry, or oriental granite.

At the farther end of the court of this Musaeum, fronting the entrance, is a handsome fountain, with the statue of a river-god reclining on his urn; this is no other than the famous Marforio, so called from its having been found in Martis Fore. It is remarkable only as being the conveyance of the answers to the satires which are found pasted upon Pasquin, another mutilated statue, standing at the corner of a street.

The marble coffin, supposed to have contained the ashes of Alexander Severus, which we find in one of these apartments, is a curious antique, valuable for its sculpture in basso relievo, especially for the figures on the cover, representilig that emperor and his mother Julia Mammea.

I was sorry I had not time to consider the antient plan of Rome, disposed in six classes, on the stair-case of this Musaeum, which was brought hither from a temple that stood in the Forum Boarium, now called Campo vaccine.

It would be ridiculous in me to enter into a detail of the vast collection of marbles, basso relievos, inscriptions, urns, busts, and statues, which are placed in the upper apartments of this edifice. I saw them but once, and then I was struck with the following particulars. A bacchanalian drunk; a Jupiter and Leda, at least equal to that in the gallery at Florence; an old praesica, or hired mourner, very much resembling those wrinkled hags still employed in Ireland, and in the Highlands of Scotland, to sing the coronach at funerals, in praise of the deceased; the famous Antinous, an elegant figure, which Pousin studied as canon or rule of symmetry; the two fauns; and above all the mirmillone, or dying gladiator; the attitude of the body, the expression of the countenance, the elegance of the limbs, and the swelling of the muscles, in this statue, are universally admired; but the execution of the back is incredibly delicate. The course of the muscles called longissimi dorsi, are so naturally marked and tenderly executed, that the marble actually emulates the softness of the flesh; and you may count all the spines of the vertebrae, raising up the skin as in the living body; yet this statue, with all its merit, seems inferior to the celebrated dying gladiator of Ctesilas, as described by Pliny, who says the expression of it was such, as appears altogether incredible. In the court, on the opposite side of the Capitol, there is an admirable statue of a lion devouring an horse, which was found by the gate of Ostia, near the pyramid of Caius Cestius; and here on the left hand, under a colonade, is what they call the Columna Rostrata, erected in honour of Caius Duilius, who first triumphed over the Carthaginians by sea. But this is a modern pillar, with the old inscription, which is so defaced as not to be legible. Among the pictures in the gallery and saloon above, what pleased me most was the Bacchus and Ariadne of Guido Rheni; and the wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, by Rubens. The court of the Palazzo Farnese is surrounded with antique statues, among which the most celebrated are, the Flora, with a most delicate drapery; the gladiator, with a dead boy over his shoulder; the Hercules, with the spoils of the Nemean lion, but that which the connoisseurs justly esteem above all the rest is Hercules, by Glycon, which you know as well as I do, by the great reputation it has acquired. This admirable statue having been found without the legs, these were supplied by Gulielmo de la Porta so happily, that when afterwards the original limbs were discovered, Michael Angelo preferred those of the modern artist, both in grace and proportion; and they have been retained accordingly. In a little house, or shed, behind the court, is preserved the wonderful group of Dirce, commonly called the Toro Farnese, which was brought hither from the thermae Caracallae. There is such spirit, ferocity, and indignant resistance expressed in the bull, to whose horns Dirce is tied by the hair, that I have never seen anything like it, either upon canvass, or in stone. The statues of the two brothers endeavouring to throw him into the sea are beautiful figures, finely contrasted; and the rope, which one of them holds in a sort of loose coil, is so surprisingly chizzelled, that one can hardly believe it is of stone. As for Dirce herself, she seems to be but a subaltern character; there is a dog upon his hind legs barking at the bull, which is much admired. This amazing groupe was cut out of one stone, by Appollonius and Tauriscus, two sculptors of Rhodes; and is mentioned by Pliny in the thirty-sixth book of his Natural History. All the precious monuments of art, which have come down to us from antiquity, are the productions of Greek artists. The Romans had taste enough to admire the arts of Greece, as plainly appears by the great collections they made of their statues and pictures, as well as by adopting their architecture and musick: but I do not remember to have read of any Roman who made a great figure either as a painter or a statuary. It is not enough to say those professions were not honourable in Rome, because painting, sculpture, and musick, even rhetoric, physic, and philosophy were practised and taught by slaves. The arts were always honoured and revered at Rome, even when the professors of them happened to be slaves by the accidents and iniquity of fortune. The business of painting and statuary was so profitable, that in a free republic, like that of Rome, they must have been greedily embraced by a great number of individuals: but, in all probability, the Roman soil produced no extraordinary genius for those arts. Like the English of this day, they made a figure in poetry, history, and ethics; but the excellence of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music, they never could attain. In the Palazzo Picchini I saw three beautiful figures, the celebrated statues of Meleager, the boar, and dog; together with a wolf, of excellent workmanship. The celebrated statue of Moses, by Michael Angelo, in the church of St. Peter in Vincula, I beheld with pleasure; as well as that of Christ, by the same hand, in the Church of S. Maria sopra Minerva. The right foot, covered with bronze, gilt, is much kissed by the devotees. I suppose it is looked upon as a specific for the toothache; for, I saw a cavalier, in years, and an old woman successively rub their gums upon it, with the appearance of the most painful perseverance.

You need not doubt but that I went to the church of St. Peter in Montorio, to view the celebrated Transfiguration, by Raphael, which, if it was mine, I would cut in two parts. The three figures in the air attract the eye so strongly, that little or no attention is payed to those below on the mountain. I apprehend that the nature of the subject does not admit of that keeping and dependence, which ought to be maintained in the disposition of the lights and shadows in a picture. The groupes seem to be intirely independent of each other. The extraordinary merit of this piece, I imagine, consists, not only in the expression of divinity on the face of Christ; but also in the surprising lightness of the figure, that hovers like a beautiful exhalation in the air. In the church of St. Luke, I was not at all struck by the picture of that saint, drawing the portrait of the Virgin Mary, although it is admired as one of the best pieces of Raphael. Indeed it made so little impression upon me, that I do not even remember the disposition of the figures. The altar-piece, by Andrea Sacchi, in the church of St. Romauldus, would have more merit, if the figure of the saint himself had more consequence, and was represented in a stronger light. In the Palazzo Borghese, I chiefly admired the following pieces: a Venus with two nymphs; and another with Cupid, both by Titian: an excellent Roman Piety, by Leonardo da Vinci; and the celebrated Muse, by Dominechino, which is a fine, jolly, buxom figure. At the palace of Colorina Connestabile, I was charmed with the Herodias, by Guido Rheni; a young Christ; and a Madonna, by Raphael; and four landscapes, two by Claude Lorraine, and the other two, by Salvator Rosa. In the palazetto, or summerhouse belonging to the Palazzo Rospigliosi, I had the satisfaction of contemplating the Aurora of Guido, the colours of which still remain in high perfection, notwithstanding the common report that the piece is spoiled by the dampness of the apartment. The print of this picture, by Freij, with all its merit, conveys but an imperfect idea of the beauty of the original. In the Palazzo Barberini, there is a great collection of marbles and pictures: among the first, I was attracted by a beautiful statue of Venus; a sleeping faun, of curious workmanship; a charming Bacchus, lying on an antient sculpture, and the famous Narcissus. Of the pictures, what gave me most pleasure was the Magdalen of Guido, infinitely superior to that by Le Brun in the church of the Carmelites at Paris; the Virgin, by Titian; a Madonna, by Raphael, but not comparable to that which is in the Palazzo de Pitti, at Florence; and the death of Germanicus, by Poussin, which I take to be one of the best pieces in this great collection. In the Palazzo Falconeri there is a beautiful St. Cecilia, by Guercino; a holy family, by Raphael; and a fine expressive figure of St. Peter weeping, by Dominechino. In the Palazzo Altieri, I admired a picture, by Carlo Maratti, representing a saint calling down lightning from heaven to destroy blasphemers. It was the figure of the saint I admired, merely as a portrait. The execution of the other parts was tame enough: perhaps they were purposely kept down, in order to preserve the importance of the principal figure. I imagine Salvator Rosa would have made a different disposition on the same subject: that amidst the darkness of a tempest, he would have illuminated the blasphemer with the flash of lightning by which he was destroyed: this would have thrown a dismal gleam upon his countenance, distorted by the horror of his situation as well as by the effects of the fire; and rendered the whole scene dreadfully picturesque. In the same palace, I saw the famous holy family, by Corregio, which he left unfinished, and no other artist would undertake to supply; for what reason I know not. Here too is a judgment of Paris, by Titian, which is reckoned a very valuable piece. In the Palazzo Odescalchi, there is a holy family, by Buonaroti, and another by Raphael, both counted excellent, though in very different stiles, extremely characteristic of those two great rival artists.

If I was silly enough to make a parade, I might mention some hundreds more of marbles and pictures, which I really saw at Rome; and even eke out that number with a huge list of those I did not see: but whatever vanity I may have, it has not taken this turn; and I assure you, upon my word and honour, I have described nothing but what actually fell under my own observation. As for my critical remarks, I am afraid you will think them too superficial and capricious to belong to any other person but — Your humble servant.

Letter XXXIV

Nice, April 2, 1765.

DEAR SIR — I have nothing to communicate touching the library of the Vatican, which, with respect to the apartments and their ornaments, is undoubtedly magnificent. The number of books it contains does not exceed forty thousand volumes, which are all concealed from the view, and locked up in presses: as for the manuscripts, I saw none but such as are commonly presented to strangers of our nation; some very old copies of Virgil and Terence; two or three Missals, curiously illuminated; the book De Septem Sacramentis, written in Latin by Henry VIII. against Luther; and some of that prince’s love letters to Anne Boleyn. I likewise visited the Libreria Casanatense, belonging to the convent of the church called S. Maria Sopra Minerva. I had a recommendation to the principal librarian, a Dominican friar, who received me very politely, and regaled me with a sight of several curious MSS. of the classics.

Having satisfied my curiosity at Rome, I prepared for my departure, and as the road between Radicofani and Montefiascone is very stony and disagreeable, I asked the banker Barazzi, if there was not a better way of returning to Florence, expressing a desire at the same time to see the cascade of Terni. He assured me that the road by Terni was forty miles shorter than the other, much more safe and easy, and accommodated with exceeding good auberges. Had I taken the trouble to cast my eyes upon the map, I must have seen, that the road by Terni, instead of being forty miles shorter, was much longer than the other: but this was not the only mistake of Signiore Barazzi. Great part of this way lies over steep mountains, or along the side of precipices, which render travelling in a carriage exceeding tedious, dreadful, and dangerous; and as for the public houses, they are in all respects the most execrable that ever I entered. I will venture to say that a common prisoner in the Marshalsea or King’s-Bench is more cleanly and commodiously lodged than we were in many places on this road. The houses are abominably nasty, and generally destitute of provision: when eatables were found, we were almost poisoned by their cookery: their beds were without curtains or bedstead, and their windows without glass; and for this sort of entertainment we payed as much as if we had been genteelly lodged, and sumptuously treated. I repeat it again; of all the people I ever knew, the Italians are the most villainously rapacious. The first day, having passed Civita Castellana, a small town standing on the top of a hill, we put up at what was called an excellent inn, where cardinals, prelates, and princes, often lodged. Being meagre day, there was nothing but bread, eggs, and anchovies, in the house. I went to bed without supper, and lay in a pallet, where I was half devoured by vermin. Next day, our road, in some places, lay along precipices, which over-hang the Nera or Nar, celebrated in antiquity for its white foam, and the sulphureous quality of its waters.

Sulfurea nar albus aqua, fontesque velini.

Sulphureous nar, and the Velinian streams.

It is a small, but rapid stream, which runs not far from hence, into the Tyber. Passing Utricoli, near the ruins of the ancient Ocriculum, and the romantic town of Narni, situated on the top of a mountain, in the neighbourhood of which is still seen standing one arch of the stupendous bridge built by Augustus Caesar, we arrived at Terni, and hiring a couple of chaises before dinner, went to see the famous Cascata delle Marmore, which is at the distance of three miles. We ascended a steep mountain by a narrow road formed for a considerable way along the brink of a precipice, at the bottom of which brawls the furious river Nera, after having received the Velino. This last is the stream which, running from the Lago delle Marmore, forms the cascade by falling over a precipice about one hundred and sixty feet high. Such a body of water rushing down the mountain; the smoak, vapour, and thick white mist which it raises; the double rainbow which these particles continually exhibit while the sun shines; the deafening sound of the cataract; the vicinity of a great number of other stupendous rocks and precipices, with the dashing, boiling, and foaming of the two rivers below, produce altogether an object of tremendous sublimity: yet great part of its effect is lost, for want of a proper point of view, from which it might be contemplated. The cascade would appear much more astonishing, were it not in some measure eclipsed by the superior height of the neighbouring mountains. You have not a front perspective; but are obliged to view it obliquely on one side, standing upon the brink of a precipice, which cannot be approached without horror. This station might be rendered much more accessible, and altogether secure, for the expence of four or five zequines; and a small tax might be levied for the purpose from travellers by the aubergiste at Terni, who lets his calasses for half a zequine a piece to those that are curious to see this phaenomenon. Besides the two postilions whom I payed for this excursion, at the rate of one stage in posting, there was a fellow who posted himself behind one of the chaises, by way of going to point out the different views of the cascade; and his demand amounted to four or five pauls. To give you an idea of the extortion of those villainous publicans, I must tell you that for a dinner and supper, which even hunger could not tempt us to eat, and a night’s lodging in three truckle beds, I paid eighty pauls, amounting to forty shillings sterling. You ask me why I submitted to such imposition? I will tell you — I have more than once in my travels made a formal complaint of the exorbitancy of a publican, to the magistrate of the place; but I never received any satisfaction, and have lost abundance of time. Had I proceeded to manual correction, I should have alarmed and terrified the women: had I peremptorily refused to pay the sum total, the landlord, who was the post-master, would not have supplied me with horses to proceed on my journey. I tried the experiment at Muy in France, where I put myself into a violent passion, had abundance of trouble, was detained till it was almost night, and after all found myself obliged to submit, furnishing at the same time matter of infinite triumph to the mob, which had surrounded the coach, and interested themselves warmly in favour of their townsman. If some young patriot, in good health and spirits, would take the trouble as often as he is imposed upon by the road in travelling, to have recourse to the fountain-head, and prefer a regular complaint to the comptroller of the posts, either in France or Italy, he would have ample satisfaction, and do great service to the community. Terni is an agreeable town, pretty well built, and situated in a pleasant valley, between two branches of the river Nera, whence it was called by the antients, Interamna. Here is an agreeable piazza, where stands a church that was of old a heathen temple. There are some valuable paintings in the church. The people are said to be very civil, and provisions to be extremely cheap. It was the birthplace of the emperor Tacitus, as well as of the historian of the same name. In our journey from hence to Spoleto, we passed over a high mountain, (called, from its height, Somma) where it was necessary to have two additional horses to the carriage, and the road winds along a precipice. which is equally dangerous and dreadful. We passed through part of Spoleto, the capital of Umbria, which is a pretty large city. Of this, however, I give no other account from my own observation, but that I saw at a distance the famous Gothic aqueduct of brick: this is mentioned by Addison as a structure, which, for the height of its arches, is not equalled by any thing in Europe. The road from hence to Foligno, where we lay, is kept in good order, and lies through a delightful plain, laid out into beautiful inclosures, abounding with wine, oil, corn, and cattle, and watered by the pastoral streams of the famous river Clitumnus, which takes its rise in three or four separate rivulets issuing from a rock near the highway. On the right-hand, we saw several towns situated on rising grounds, and among the rest, that of Assissio, famous for the birth of St. Francis, whose body, being here deposited, occasions a concourse of pilgrims. We met a Roman princess going thither with a grand retinue, in consequence of a vow she had made for the re-establishment of her health. Foligno, the Fulginium of the antients, is a small town, not unpleasant, lying in the midst of mulberry plantations, vineyards, and corn-fields, and built on both sides of the little river Topino. In choosing our beds at the inn, I perceived one chamber locked, and desired it might be opened; upon which the cameriere declared with some reluctance, “Besogna dire a su’ eccellenza; poco fa, che una bestia e morta in questa camera, e non e ancora lustrata,” “Your Excellency must know that a filthy Beast died lately in that Chamber, and it is not yet purified and put in order.” When I enquired what beast it was, he replied, “Un’eretico Inglese,” “An English heretic.” I suppose he would not have made so free with our country and religion, if he had not taken us for German catholics, as we afterwards learned from Mr. R— i. Next day, we crossed the Tyber, over a handsome bridge, and in mounting the steep hill upon which the city of Perugia stands, our horses being exhausted, were dragged backwards by the weight of the carriage to the very edge of a precipice, where, happily for us, a man passing that way, placed a large stone behind one of the wheels, which stopped their motion, otherwise we should have been all dashed in pieces. We had another ugly hill to ascend within the city, which was more difficult and dangerous than the other: but the postilions, and the other beasts made such efforts, that we mounted without the least stop, to the summit, where we found ourselves in a large piazza, where the horses are always changed. There being no relays at the post, we were obliged to stay the whole day and night at Perugia, which is a considerable city, built upon the acclivity of a hill, adorned with some elegant fountains, and several handsome churches, containing some valuable pictures by Guido, Raphael, and his master Pietro Perugino, who was a native of this place. The next stage is on the banks of the lake, which was the Thrasimene of the antients, a beautiful piece of water, above thirty miles in circumference, having three islands, abounding with excellent fish: upon a peninsula of it, there is a town and castle. It was in this neighbourhood where the consul Flaminius was totally defeated with great slaughter by Hannibal. From Perugia to Florence, the posts are all double, and the road is so bad that we never could travel above eight and twenty miles a day. We were often obliged to quit the carriage, and walk up steep mountains; and the way in general was so unequal and stony, that we were jolted even to the danger of our lives. I never felt any sort of exercise or fatigue so intolerable; and I did not fail to bestow an hundred benedictions per diem upon the banker Barazzi, by whose advice we had taken this road; yet there was no remedy but patience. If the coach had not been incredibly strong, it must have been shattered to pieces. The fifth night we passed at a place called Camoccia, a miserable cabaret, where we were fain to cook our own supper, and lay in a musty chamber, which had never known a fire, and indeed had no fire-place, and where we ran the risque of being devoured by rats. Next day one of the irons of the coach gave way at Arezzo, where we were detained two hours before it could be accommodated. I might have taken this opportunity to view the remains of the antient Etruscan amphitheatre. and the temple of Hercules, described by the cavalier Lorenzo Guazzesi, as standing in the neighbourhood of this place: but the blacksmith assured me his work would be finished in a few minutes; and as I had nothing so much at heart as the speedy accomplishment of this disagreeable journey, I chose to suppress my curiosity, rather than be the occasion of a moment’s delay. But all the nights we had hitherto passed were comfortable in comparison to this, which we suffered at a small village, the name of which I do not remember. The house was dismal and dirty beyond all description; the bed-cloaths filthy enough to turn the stomach of a muleteer; and the victuals cooked in such a manner, that even a Hottentot could not have beheld them without loathing. We had sheets of our own, which were spread upon a mattrass, and here I took my repose wrapped in a greatcoat, if that could be called repose which was interrupted by the innumerable stings of vermin. In the morning, I was seized with a dangerous fit of hooping-cough, which terrified my wife, alarmed my people, and brought the whole community into the house. I had undergone just such another at Paris, about a year before. This forenoon, one of our coach wheels flew off in the neighbourhood of Ancisa, a small town, where we were detained above two hours by this accident; a delay which was productive of much disappointment, danger, vexation, and fatigue. There being no horses at the last post, we were obliged to wait until those which brought us thither were sufficiently refreshed to proceed. Understanding that all the gates of Florence are shut at six, except two that are kept open for the accommodation of travellers; and that to reach the nearest of these gates, it was necessary to pass the river Arno in a ferry-boat, which could not transport the carriage; I determined to send my servant before with a light chaise to enter the nearest gate before it was shut, and provide a coach to come and take us up at the side of the river, where we should be obliged to pass in the boat: for I could not bear the thoughts of lying another night in a common cabaret. Here, however, another difficulty occurred. There was but one chaise, and a dragoon officer, in the imperial troops, insisted upon his having bespoke it for himself and his servant. A long dispute ensued, which had like to have produced a quarrel: but at length I accommodated matters, by telling the officer that he should have a place in it gratis, and his servant might ride a-horse-back. He accepted the offer without hesitation; but, in the mean time, we set out in the coach before them, and having proceeded about a couple of miles, the road was so deep from a heavy rain, and the beasts were so fatigued, that they could not proceed. The postilions scourging the poor animals with great barbarity, they made an effort, and pulled the coach to the brink of a precipice, or rather a kind of hollow-way, which might be about seven or eight feet lower than the road. Here my wife and I leaped out, and stood under the rain up to the ancles in mud; while the postilions still exercising their whips, one of the fore-horses fairly tumbled down the descent, arid hung by the neck, so that he was almost strangled before he could be disengaged from the traces, by the assistance of some foot travellers that happened to pass. While we remained in this dilemma, the chaise, with the officer and my servant, coming up, we exchanged places; my wife and I proceeded in the chaise, and left them with Miss C— and Mr. R — to follow in the coach. The road from hence to Florence is nothing but a succession of steep mountains, paved and conducted in such a manner, that one would imagine the design had been to render it impracticable by any sort of wheel-carriage. Notwithstanding all our endeavours, I found it would be impossible to enter Florence before the gates were shut. I flattered and threatened the driver by turns: but the fellow, who had been remarkably civil at first, grew sullen and impertinent. He told me I must not think of reaching Florence: that the boat would not take the carriage on board; and that from the other side, I must walk five miles before I should reach the gate that was open: but he would carry me to an excellent osteria, where I should be entertained and lodged like a prince. I was now convinced that he had lingered on purpose to serve this inn-keeper; and I took it for granted that what he told me of the distance between the ferry and the gate was a lie. It was eight o’clock when we arrived at his inn. I alighted with my wife to view the chambers, desiring he would not put up his horses. Finding it was a villainous house, we came forth, and, by this time, the horses were put up. I asked the fellow how he durst presume to contradict my orders, and commanded him to put them to the chaise. He asked in his turn if I was mad? If I thought I and the lady had strength and courage enough to walk five miles in the dark, through a road which we did not know, and which was broke up by a continued rain of two days? I told him he was an impertinent rascal, and as he still hesitated, I collared him with one hand, and shook my cane over his head with the other. It was the only weapon I had, either offensive or defensive; for I had left my sword, and musquetoon in the coach. At length the fellow obeyed, though with great reluctance, cracking many severe jokes upon us in the mean time, and being joined in his raillery by the inn-keeper, who had all the external marks of a ruffian. The house stood in a solitary situation, and not a soul appeared but these two miscreants, so that they might have murdered us without fear of detection. “You do not like the apartments? (said one) to be sure they were not fitted up for persons of your rank and quality!” “You will be glad of a worse chamber, (continued the other) before you get to bed.” “If you walk to Florence tonight, you will sleep so sound, that the fleas will not disturb you.” “Take care you do not take up your night’s lodging in the middle of the road, or in the ditch of the city-wall.” I fired inwardly at these sarcasms, to which, however, I made no reply; and my wife was almost dead with fear. In the road from hence to the boat, we met with an ill-looking fellow, who offered his service to conduct us into the city, and such was our situation, that I was fain to accept his proposal, especially as we had two small boxes in the chaise by accident, containing some caps and laces belonging to my wife, I still hoped the postilion had exaggerated in the distance between the boat and the city gate, and was confirmed in this opinion by the ferryman, who said we had not above half a league to walk. Behold us then in this expedition; myself wrapped up in a very heavy greatcoat, and my cane in my hand. I did not imagine I could have walked a couple of miles in this equipage, had my life been depending; my wife a delicate creature, who had scarce ever walked a mile in her life; and the ragamuffin before us with our boxes under his arm. The night was dark and wet; the road slippery and dirty; not a soul was seen, nor a sound was heard: all was silent, dreary, and horrible. I laid my account with a violent fit of illness from the cold I should infallibly catch, if I escaped assassination, the fears of which were the more troublesome as I had no weapon to defend our lives. While I laboured under the weight of my greatcoat which made the streams of sweat flow down my face and shoulders, I was plunging in the mud, up to the mid-leg at every step; and at the same time obliged to support my wife, who wept in silence, half dead with terror and fatigue. To crown our vexation, our conductor walked so fast, that he was often out of sight, and I imagined he had run away with the boxes. All I could do on these occasions, was to hollow as loud as I could, and swear horribly that I would blow his brains out. I did not know but these oaths and menaces might keep other rogues in awe. In this manner did we travel three long miles, making almost an intire circuit of the city-wall, without seeing the face of a human creature, and at length reached the gate, where we were examined by the guard, and allowed to pass, after they had told us it was a long mile from thence to the house of Vanini, where we proposed to lodge. No matter, being now fairly within the city, I plucked up my spirits, and performed the rest of the journey with such ease, that I am persuaded, I could have walked at the same pace all night long, without being very much fatigued. It was near ten at night, when we entered the auberge in such a draggled and miserable condition, that Mrs. Vanini almost fainted at sight of us, on the supposition that we had met with some terrible disaster, and that the rest of the company were killed. My wife and I were immediately accommodated with dry stockings and shoes, a warm apartment, and a good supper, which I ate with great satisfaction, arising not only from our having happily survived the adventure, but also from a conviction that my strength and constitution were wonderfully repaired: not but that I still expected a severe cold, attended with a terrible fit of the asthma: but in this I was luckily disappointed. I now for the first time drank to the health of my physician Barazzi, fully persuaded that the hardships and violent exercise I underwent by following his advice, had greatly contributed to the re-establishment of my health. In this particular, I imitate the gratitude of Tavernier, who was radically cured of the gout by a Turkish aga in Aegypt, who gave him the bastinado, because he would not look at the head of the bashaw of Cairo, which the aga had in a bag, to be presented to the grand signior at Constantinople.

I did not expect to see the rest of our company that night, as I never doubted but they would stay with the coach at the inn on the other side of the Arno: but at mid-night we were joined by Miss C— and Mr. R — who had left the carriage at the inn, under the auspices of the captain and my servant, and followed our foot-steps by walking from the ferry-boat to Florence, conducted by one of the boatmen. Mr. R— seemed to be much ruffled and chagrined; but, as he did not think proper to explain the cause, he had no right to expect that I should give him satisfaction for some insult he had received from my servant. They had been exposed to a variety of disagreeable adventures from the impracticability of the road. The coach had been several times in the most imminent hazard of being lost with all our baggage; and at one place, it was necessary to hire a dozen of oxen, and as many men, to disengage it from the holes into which it had run. It was in the confusion of these adventures, that the captain and his valet, Mr. R— and my servant, had like to have gone all by the ears together. The peace was with difficulty preserved by the interposition of Miss C — who suffered incredibly from cold and wet, terror, vexation, and fatigue: yet happily no bad consequence ensued. The coach and baggage were brought safely into Florence next morning, when all of us found ourselves well refreshed, and in good spirits. I am afraid this is not the case with you, who must by this time be quite jaded with this long epistle, which shall therefore be closed without further ceremony by — Yours always.

Letter XXXV

Nice, March 20, 1765.

DEAR SIR — The season being far advanced, and the weather growing boisterous, I made but a short stay at Florence, and set out for Pisa, with full resolution to take the nearest road to Lerici, where we proposed to hire a felucca for Genoa. I had a great desire to see Leghorn and Lucca; but the dread of a winter’s voyage by sea in an open boat effectually restrained my curiosity. To avoid the trouble of having our baggage shifted every post, I hired two chaises to Pisa for a couple of zequines, and there we arrived in safety about seven in the evening, though not without fear of the consequence, as the calesses were quite open, and it rained all the way. I must own I was so sick of the wretched accommodation one meets with in every part of Italy, except the great cities, so averse to the sea at this season, and so fond of the city of Pisa, that I should certainly have stayed here the winter, had not I been separated from my books and papers, as well as from other conveniencies and connexions which I had at Nice; and foreseen that the thoughts of performing the same disagreeable voyage in the spring would imbitter my whole winter’s enjoyment. I again hired two calesses for Lerici, proposing to lie at Sarzana, three miles short of that place, where we were told we should find comfortable lodging, and to embark next day without halting. When we departed in the morning, it rained very hard, and the Cerchio, which the chaises had formerly passed, almost without wetting the wheels, was now swelled to a mighty river, broad and deep and rapid. It was with great difficulty I could persuade my wife to enter the boat; for it blew a storm, and she had seen it in coming over from the other side hurried down a considerable way by the rapidity of the current, notwithstanding all the efforts of the watermen. Near two hours were spent in transporting us with our chaises. The road between this and Pietra Santa was rendered almost impassable. When we arrived at Massa, it began to grow dark, and the post-master assured us that the road to Sarzana was overflowed in such a manner as not to be passed even in the day-time, without imminent danger. We therefore took up our lodging for the night at this house, which was in all respects one of the worst we had yet entered. Next day, we found the Magra as large and violent as the Cerchio: however, we passed it without any accident, and in the afternoon arrived at Lerici. There we were immediately besieged by a number of patrons of feluccas, from among whom I chose a Spaniard, partly because he looked like an honest man, and produced an ample certificate, signed by an English gentleman; and partly, because he was not an Italian; for, by this time, I had imbibed a strong prejudice against the common people of that country. We embarked in the morning before day, with a gale that made us run the lee-gunwale in the water; but, when we pretended to turn the point of Porto Venere, we found the wind full in our teeth, and were obliged to return to our quarters, where we had been shamefully fleeced by the landlord, who, nevertheless, was not such an exorbitant knave as the post-master, whose house I would advise all travellers to avoid. Here, indeed, I had occasion to see an instance of prudence and oeconomy, which I should certainly imitate, if ever I had occasion to travel this way by myself. An Englishman, who had hired a felucca from Antibes to Leghorn, was put in here by stress of weather; but being aware of the extortion of innkeepers, and the bad accommodation in their houses, he slept on board on his own mattrasses; and there likewise he had all his conveniencies for eating. He sent his servant on shore occasionally to buy provision, and see it cooked according to his direction in some public house; and had his meals regularly in the felucca. This evening he came ashore to stretch his legs, and took a solitary walk on the beach, avoiding us with great care, although he knew we were English; his valet who was abundantly communicative, told my servant, that in coming through France, his master had travelled three days in company with two other English gentlemen, whom he met upon the road, and in all that time he never spoke a word to either, yet in other respects, he was a good man, mild, charitable, and humane. This is a character truly British. At five o’clock in the morning we put to sea again, and though the wind was contrary, made shift to reach the town of Sestri di Levante, where we were most graciously received by the publican butcher and his family. The house was in much better order than before; the people were much more obliging; we passed a very tolerable night, and had a very reasonable bill to pay in the morning. I cannot account for this favourable change any other way, than by ascribing it to the effects of a terrible storm, which had two days before torn up a great number of their olive-trees by the roots, and done such damage as terrified them into humility and submission. Next day, the water being delightful, we arrived by one o’clock in the afternoon at Genoa. Here I made another bargain with our patron Antonio, to carry us to Nice. He had been hitherto remarkably obliging, and seemingly modest. He spoke Latin fluently, and was tinctured with the sciences. I began to imagine he was a person of a good family, who had met with misfortunes in life, and respected him accordingly: but I afterwards found him mercenary, mean, and rapacious. The wind being still contrary, when we departed from Genoa, we could get no further than Finale, where we lodged in a very dismal habitation, which was recommended to us as the best auberge in the place. What rendered it the more uncomfortable, the night was cold, and there was not a fire-place in the house, except in the kitchen. The beds (if they deserved that name) were so shockingly nasty, that we could not have used them, had not a friend of Mr. R— supplied us with mattrasses, sheets, and coverlets; for our own sheets were on board the felucca, which was anchored at a distance from the shore. Our fare was equally wretched: the master of the house was a surly assassin, and his cameriere or waiter, stark-staring mad. Our situation was at the same time shocking and ridiculous. Mr. R— quarrelled over night with the master, who swore in broken French to my man, that he had a good mind to poniard that impertinent Piedmontese. In the morning, before day, Mr. R — coming into my chamber, gave me to understand that he had been insulted by the landlord, who demanded six and thirty livres for our supper and lodging. Incensed at the rascal’s presumption, I assured him I would make him take half the money, and a good beating into the bargain. He replied, that he would have saved me the trouble of beating him, had not the cameriere, who was a very sensible fellow, assured him the padrone was out of his senses, and if roughly handled, might commit some extravagance. Though I was exceedingly ruffled, I could not help laughing at the mad cameriere’s palming himself upon R— y, as a sensible fellow, and transferring the charge of madness upon his master, who seemed to be much more knave than fool. While Mr. R— went to mass, I desired the cameriere to bid his master bring the bill, and to tell him that if it was not reasonable, I would carry him before the commandant. In the mean time I armed myself with my sword in one hand and my cane in the other. The inn-keeper immediately entered, pale and staring, and when I demanded his bill, he told me, with a profound reverence that he should be satisfied with whatever I myself thought proper to give. Surprised at this moderation, I asked if he should be content with twelve livres, and he answered, “Contentissimo,” with another prostration. Then he made an apology for the bad accommodation of his house, and complained, that the reproaches of the other gentleman, whom he was pleased to call my majorduomo, had almost turned his brain. When he quitted the room, his cameriere, laying hold of his master’s last words, pointed to his own forehead, and said, he had informed the gentleman over night that his patron was mad. This day we were by a high wind in the afternoon, driven for shelter into Porto Mauritio, where we found the post-house even worse than that of Finale; and what rendered it more shocking was a girl quite covered with the confluent smallpox, who lay in a room through which it was necessary to pass to the other chambers, and who smelled so strong as to perfume the whole house. We were but fifteen miles from St. Remo, where I knew the auberge was tolerable, and thither I resolved to travel by land. I accordingly ordered five mules to travel post, and a very ridiculous cavalcade we formed, the women being obliged to use common saddles; for in this country even the ladies sit astride. The road lay along one continued precipice, and was so difficult, that the beasts never could exceed a walking pace. In some places we were obliged to alight. Seven hours were spent in travelling fifteen short miles: at length we arrived at our old lodgings in St. Remo, which we found white-washed, and in great order. We supped pretty comfortably; slept well; and had no reason to complain of imposition in paying the bill. This was not the case in the article of the mules, for which I was obliged to pay fifty livres, according to the regulation of the posts. The postmaster, who came along with us, had the effrontery to tell me, that if I had hired the mules to carry me and my company to St. Remo, in the way of common travelling, they would have cost me but fifteen livres; but as I demanded post-horses, I must submit to the regulations. This is a distinction the more absurd, as the road is of such a nature as renders it impossible to travel faster in one way than in another; nor indeed is there the least difference either in the carriage or convenience, between travelling post and journey riding. A publican might with the same reason charge me three livres a pound for whiting, and if questioned about the imposition, reply, that if I had asked for fish I should have had the same whiting for the fifth part of the money: but that he made a wide difference between selling it as fish, and selling it as whiting. Our felucca came round from Porto Mauritio in the night, and embarking next morning, we arrived at Nice about four in the afternoon.

Thus have I given you a circumstantial detail of my Italian expedition, during which I was exposed to a great number of hardships, which I thought my weakened constitution could not have bore; as well as to violent fits of passion, chequered, however, with transports of a more agreeable nature; insomuch that I may say I was for two months continually agitated either in mind or body, and very often in both at the same time. As my disorder at first arose from a sedentary life, producing a relaxation of the fibres, which naturally brought on a listlessness, indolence, and dejection of the spirits, I am convinced that this hard exercise of mind and body, co-operated with the change of air and objects, to brace up the relaxed constitution, and promote a more vigorous circulation of the juices, which had long languished even almost to stagnation. For some years, I had been as subject to colds as a delicate woman new delivered. If I ventured to go abroad when there was the least moisture either in the air, or upon the ground, I was sure to be laid up a fortnight with a cough and asthma. But, in this journey, I suffered cold and rain, and stood, and walked in the wet, heated myself with exercise, and sweated violently, without feeling the least disorder; but, on the contrary, felt myself growing stronger every day in the midst of these excesses. Since my return to Nice, it has rained the best part of two months, to the astonishment of all the people in the country; yet during all that time I have enjoyed good health and spirits. On Christmas-Eve, I went to the cathedral at midnight, to hear high mass celebrated by the new bishop of Nice, in pontificalibus, and stood near two hours uncovered in a cold gallery, without having any cause in the sequel to repent of my curiosity. In a word, I am now so well that I no longer despair of seeing you and the rest of my friends in England; a pleasure which is eagerly desired by — Dear Sir, Your affectionate humble Servant.

Letter XXXVI

Nice, March 23, 1766.

DEAR SIR — You ask whether I think the French people are more taxed than the English; but I apprehend, the question would be more apropos if you asked whether the French taxes are more insupportable than the English; for, in comparing burthens, we ought always to consider the strength of the shoulders that bear them. I know no better way of estimating the strength, than by examining the face of the country, and observing the appearance of the common people, who constitute the bulk of every nation. When I, therefore, see the country of England smiling with cultivation; the grounds exhibiting all the perfection of agriculture, parcelled out into beautiful inclosures, cornfields, hay and pasture, woodland and common, when I see her meadows well stocked with black cattle, her downs covered with sheep; when I view her teams of horses and oxen, large and strong, fat and sleek; when I see her farm-houses the habitations of plenty, cleanliness, and convenience; and her peasants well fed, well lodged, well cloathed, tall and stout, and hale and jolly; I cannot help concluding that the people are well able to bear those impositions which the public necessities have rendered necessary. On the other hand, when I perceive such signs of poverty, misery and dirt, among the commonalty of France, their unfenced fields dug up in despair, without the intervention of meadow or fallow ground, without cattle to furnish manure, without horses to execute the plans of agriculture; their farm-houses mean, their furniture wretched, their apparel beggarly; themselves and their beasts the images of famine; I cannot help thinking they groan under oppression, either from their landlords, or their government; probably from both.

The principal impositions of the French government are these: first, the taille, payed by all the commons, except those that are privileged: secondly, the capitation, from which no persons (not even the nobles) are excepted: thirdly, the tenths and twentieths, called Dixiemes and Vingtiemes, which every body pays. This tax was originally levied as an occasional aid in times of war, and other emergencies; but by degrees is become a standing revenue even in time of peace. All the money arising from these impositions goes directly to the king’s treasury; and must undoubtedly amount to a very great sum. Besides these, he has the revenue of the farms, consisting of the droits d’aydes, or excise on wine, brandy, &c. of the custom-house duties; of the gabelle, comprehending that most oppressive obligation on individuals to take a certain quantity of salt at the price which the farmers shall please to fix; of the exclusive privilege to sell tobacco; of the droits de controlle, insinuation, centieme denier, franchiefs, aubeine, echange et contre-echange arising from the acts of voluntary jurisdiction, as well as certain law-suits. These farms are said to bring into the king’s coffers above one hundred and twenty millions of livres yearly, amounting to near five millions sterling: but the poor people are said to pay about a third more than this sum, which the farmers retain to enrich themselves, and bribe the great for their protection; which protection of the great is the true reason why this most iniquitous, oppressive, and absurd method of levying money is not laid aside. Over and above those articles I have mentioned, the French king draws considerable sums from his clergy, under the denomination of dons gratuits, or free-gifts; as well as from the subsidies given by the pays d’etats such as Provence, Languedoc, and Bretagne, which are exempted from the taille. The whole revenue of the French king amounts to between twelve and thirteen millions sterling. These are great resources for the king: but they will always keep the people miserable, and effectually prevent them from making such improvements as might turn their lands to the best advantage. But besides being eased in the article of taxes, there is something else required to make them exert themselves for the benefit of their country. They must be free in their persons, secure in their property, indulged with reasonable leases, and effectually protected by law from the insolence and oppression of their superiors.

Great as the French king’s resources may appear, they are hardly sufficient to defray the enormous expence of his government. About two millions sterling per annum of his revenue are said to be anticipated for paying the interest of the public debts; and the rest is found inadequate to the charge of a prodigious standing army, a double frontier of fortified towns and the extravagant appointments of ambassadors, generals, governors, intendants, commandants, and other officers of the crown, all of whom affect a pomp, which is equally ridiculous and prodigal. A French general in the field is always attended by thirty or forty cooks; and thinks it is incumbent upon him, for the glory of France, to give a hundred dishes every day at his table. When don Philip, and the marechal duke de Belleisle, had their quarters at Nice, there were fifty scullions constantly employed in the great square in plucking poultry. This absurd luxury infects their whole army. Even the commissaries keep open table; and nothing is seen but prodigality and profusion. The king of Sardinia proceeds upon another plan. His troops are better cloathed, better payed, and better fed than those of France. The commandant of Nice has about four hundred a year of appointments, which enable him to live decently, and even to entertain strangers. On the other hand, the commandant of Antibes, which is in all respects more inconsiderable than Nice, has from the French king above five times the sum to support the glory of his monarch, which all the sensible part of mankind treat with ridicule and contempt. But the finances of France are so ill managed, that many of their commandants, and other officers, have not been able to draw their appointments these two years. In vain they complain and remonstrate. When they grow troublesome they are removed. How then must they support the glory of France? How, but by oppressing the poor people. The treasurer makes use of their money for his own benefit. The king knows it; he knows his officers, thus defrauded, fleece and oppress his people: but he thinks proper to wink at these abuses. That government may be said to be weak and tottering which finds itself obliged to connive at such proceedings. The king of France, in order to give strength and stability to his administration, ought to have sense to adopt a sage plan of oeconomy, and vigour of mind sufficient to execute it in all its parts, with the most rigorous exactness. He ought to have courage enough to find fault, and even to punish the delinquents, of what quality soever they may be: and the first act of reformation ought to be a total abolition of all the farms. There are, undoubtedly, many marks of relaxation in the reins of the French government, and, in all probability, the subjects of France will be the first to take advantage of it. There is at present a violent fermentation of different principles among them, which under the reign of a very weak prince, or during a long minority, may produce a great change in the constitution. In proportion to the progress of reason and philosophy, which have made great advances in this kingdom, superstition loses ground; antient prejudices give way; a spirit of freedom takes the ascendant. All the learned laity of France detest the hierarchy as a plan of despotism, founded on imposture and usurpation. The protestants, who are very numerous in southern parts, abhor it with all the rancour of religious fanaticism. Many of the commons, enriched by commerce and manufacture, grow impatient of those odious distinctions, which exclude them from the honours and privileges due to their importance in the commonwealth; and all the parliaments, or tribunals of justice in the kingdom, seem bent upon asserting their rights and independence in the face of the king’s prerogative, and even at the expence of his power and authority. Should any prince therefore be seduced by evil counsellors, or misled by his own bigotry, to take some arbitrary step, that may be extremely disagreeable to all those communities, without having spirit to exert the violence of his power for the support of his measures, he will become equally detested and despised; and the influence of the commons will insensibly encroach upon the pretensions of the crown. But if in the time of a minority, the power of the government should be divided among different competitors for the regency, the parliaments and people will find it still more easy to acquire and ascertain the liberty at which they aspire, because they will have the balance of power in their hands, and be able to make either scale preponderate. I could say a great deal more upon this subject; and I have some remarks to make relating to the methods which might be taken in the case of a fresh rupture with France, for making a vigorous impression on that kingdom. But these I in list defer till another occasion, having neither room nor leisure at present to add any thing, but that I am, with great truth — Dear Sir, Your very humble Servant.


Nice, April 2, 1765.

DEAR DOCTOR — As I have now passed a second winter at Nice I think myself qualified to make some further remarks on this climate. During the heats of last summer, I flattered myself with the prospect of the fine weather I should enjoy in the winter; but neither I, nor any person in this country, could foresee the rainy weather that prevailed from the middle of November, till the twentieth of March. In this short period of four months, we have had fifty-six days of rain, which I take to be a greater quantity than generally falls during the six worst months of the year in the county of Middlesex, especially as it was, for the most part, a heavy, continued rain. The south winds generally predominate in the wet season at Nice: but this winter the rain was accompanied with every wind that blows, except the south; though the most frequent were those that came from the east and north quarters. Notwithstanding these great rains, such as were never known before at Nice in the memory of man, the intermediate days of fair weather were delightful, and the ground seemed perfectly dry. The air itself was perfectly free from moisture. Though I live upon a ground floor, surrounded on three sides by a garden, I could not perceive the least damp, either on the floors, or the furniture; neither was I much incommoded by the asthma, which used always to harass me most in wet weather. In a word, I passed the winter here much more comfortably than I expected. About the vernal equinox, however, I caught a violent cold, which was attended with a difficulty of breathing, and as the sun advances towards the tropic, I find myself still more subject to rheums. As the heat increases, the humours of the body are rarefied, and, of consequence, the pores of the skin are opened; while the east wind sweeping over the Alps and Apennines, covered with snow, continues surprisingly sharp and penetrating. Even the people of the country, who enjoy good health, are afraid of exposing themselves to the air at this season, the intemperature of which may last till the middle of May, when all the snow on the mountains will probably be melted: then the air will become mild and balmy, till, in the progress of summer, it grows disagreeably hot, and the strong evaporation from the sea makes it so saline, as to be unhealthy for those who have a scorbutical habit. When the sea-breeze is high, this evaporation is so great as to cover the surface of the body with a kind of volatile brine, as I plainly perceived last summer. I am more and more convinced that this climate is unfavourable for the scurvy. Were I obliged to pass my life in it, I would endeavour to find a country retreat among the mountains, at some distance from the sea, where I might enjoy a cool air, free from this impregnation, unmolested by those flies, gnats, and other vermin which render the lower parts almost uninhabitable. To this place I would retire in the month of June, and there continue till the beginning of October, when I would return to my habitation in Nice, where the winter is remarkably mild and agreeable. In March and April however, I would not advise a valetudinarian to go forth, without taking precaution against the cold. An agreeable summer retreat may be found on the other side of the Var, at, or near the town of Grasse, which is pleasantly situated on the ascent of a hill in Provence, about seven English miles from Nice. This place is famous for its pomatum, gloves, wash-balls, perfumes, and toilette-boxes, lined with bergamot. I am told it affords good lodging, and is well supplied with provisions.

We are now preparing for our journey to England, from the exercise of which I promise myself much benefit: a journey extremely agreeable, not only on that account, but also because it will restore me to the company of my friends, and remove me from a place where I leave nothing but the air which I can possibly regret.

The only friendships I have contracted at Nice are with strangers, who, like myself, only sojourn here for a season. I now find by experience, it is great folly to buy furniture, unless one is resolved to settle here for some years. The Nissards assured me, with great confidence, that I should always be able to sell it for a very little loss; whereas I find myself obliged to part with it for about one-third of what it cost. I have sent for a coach to Aix, and as soon as it arrives, shall take my departure; so that the next letter you receive from me will be dated at some place on the road. I purpose to take Antibes, Toulon, Marseilles, Aix, Avignon, and Orange, in my way: places which I have not yet seen; and where, perhaps, I shall find something for your amusement, which will always be a consideration of some weight with — Dear Sir, Yours.


To Dr. s — At Nice

TURIN, March 18, 1765.

DEAR SIR — Turin is about thirty leagues from Nice, the greater part of the way lying over frightful mountains covered with snow. The difficulty of the road, however, reaches no farther than Coni, from whence there is an open highway through a fine plain country, as far as the capital of Piedmont, and the traveller is accommodated with chaise and horses to proceed either post, or by cambiatura, as in other parts of Italy. There are only two ways of performing the journey over the mountains from Nice; one is to ride a mule-back, and the other to be carried in a chair. The former I chose, and set out with my servant on the seventh day of February at two in the afternoon. I was hardly clear of Nice, when it began to rain so hard that in less than an hour the mud was half a foot deep in many parts of the road. This was the only inconvenience we suffered, the way being in other respects practicable enough; for there is but one small hill to cross on this side of the village of L’Escarene, where we arrived about six in the evening. The ground in this neighbourhood is tolerably cultivated, and the mountains are planted to the tops with olive trees. The accommodation here is so very bad, that I had no inclination to be a-bed longer than was absolutely necessary for refreshment; and therefore I proceeded on my journey at two in the morning, conducted by a guide, whom I hired for this purpose at the rate of three livres a day. Having ascended one side, and descended the other, of the mountain called Braus, which took up four hours, though the road is not bad, we at six reached the village of Sospello, which is agreeably situated in a small valley, surrounded by prodigious high and barren mountains. This little plain is pretty fertile, and being watered by a pleasant stream, forms a delightful contrast with the hideous rocks that surround it. Having reposed myself and my mules two hours at this place, we continued our journey over the second mountain, called Brovis, which is rather more considerable than the first, and in four hours arrived at La Giandola, a tolerable inn situated betwixt the high road and a small river, about a gunshot from the town of Brieglie, which we leave on the right. As we jogged along in the grey of the morning, I was a little startled at two figures which I saw before me, and began to put my pistols in order. It must be observed that these mountains are infested with contrabandiers, a set of smuggling peasants, very bold and desperate, who make a traffic of selling tobacco, salt, and other merchandize, which have not payed duty, and sometimes lay travellers under contribution. I did not doubt but there was a gang of these free-booters at hand; but as no more than two persons appeared, I resolved to let them know we were prepared for defence, and fired one of my pistols, in hope that the report of it, echoed from the surrounding rocks, would produce a proper effect: but, the mountains and roads being entirely covered with snow to a considerable depth, there was little or no reverberation, and the sound was not louder than that of a pop-gun, although the piece contained a good charge of powder. Nevertheless, it did not fail to engage the attention of the strangers, one of whom immediately wheeled to the left about, and being by this time very near me, gave me an opportunity of contemplating his whole person. He was very tall, meagre, and yellow, with a long hooked nose, and small twinkling eyes. His head was eased in a woollen night-cap, over which he wore a flapped hat; he had a silk handkerchief about his neck, and his mouth was furnished with a short wooden pipe, from which he discharged wreathing clouds of tobacco-smoke. He was wrapped in a kind of capot of green bays, lined with wolf-skin, had a pair of monstrous boots, quilted on the inside with cotton, was almost covered with dirt, and rode a mule so low that his long legs hung dangling within six inches of the ground. This grotesque figure was so much more ludicrous than terrible, that I could not help laughing; when, taking his pipe out of his mouth, he very politely accosted me by name. You may easily guess I was exceedingly surprised at such an address on the top of the mountain Brovis: but he forthwith put an end to it too, by discovering himself to be the marquis M — whom I had the honour to be acquainted with at Nice. After having rallied him upon his equipage, he gave me to understand he had set out from Nice the morning of the same day that I departed; that he was going to Turin, and that he had sent one of his servants before him to Coni with his baggage. Knowing him to be an agreeable companion, I was glad of this encounter, and we resolved to travel the rest of the way together. We dined at La Giandola, and in the afternoon rode along the little river Roida, which runs in a bottom between frightful precipices, and in several places forms natural cascades, the noise of which had well-nigh deprived us of the sense of hearing; after a winding course among these mountains, it discharges itself into the Mediterranean at Vintimiglia, in the territory of Genoa. As the snow did not lie on these mountains, when we cracked our whips, there was such a repercussion of the sound as is altogether inconceivable. We passed by the village of Saorgio, situated on an eminence, where there is a small fortress which commands the whole pass, and in five hours arrived at our inn, on this side the Col de Tende, where we took up our quarters, but had very little reason to boast of our entertainment. Our greatest difficulty, however, consisted in pulling off the marquis’s boots, which were of the kind called Seafarot, by this time so loaded with dirt on the outside, and so swelled with the rain within, that he could neither drag them after him as he walked, nor disencumber his legs of them, without such violence as seemed almost sufficient to tear him limb from limb. In a word, we were obliged to tie a rope about his heel, and all the people in the house assisting to pull, the poor marquis was drawn from one end of the apartment to the other before the boot would give way: at last his legs were happily disengaged, and the machines carefully dried and stuffed for next day’s journey.

We took our departure from hence at three in the morning, and at four, began to mount the Col de Tende, which is by far the highest mountain in the whole journey: it was now quite covered with snow, which at the top of it was near twenty feet thick. Half way up, there are quarters for a detachment of soldiers, posted here to prevent smuggling, and an inn called La Ca, which in the language of the country signifies the house. At this place, we hired six men to assist us in ascending the mountain, each of them provided with a kind of hough to break the ice, and make a sort of steps for the mules. When we were near the top, however, we were obliged to alight, and climb the mountain supported each by two of those men, called Coulants who walk upon the snow with great firmness and security. We were followed by the mules, and though they are very sure-footed animals, and were frost-shod for the occasion, they stumbled and fell very often; the ice being so hard that the sharp-headed nails in their shoes could not penetrate. Having reached the top of this mountain, from whence there is no prospect but of other rocks and mountains, we prepared for descending on the other side by the Leze, which is an occasional sledge made of two pieces of wood, carried up by the Coulants for this purpose. I did not much relish this kind of carriage, especially as the mountain was very steep, and covered with such a thick fog that we could hardly see two or three yards before us. Nevertheless, our guides were so confident, and my companion, who had passed the same way on other occasions, was so secure, that I ventured to place myself on this machine, one of the coulants standing behind me, and the other sitting before, as the conductor, with his feet paddling among the snow, in order to moderate the velocity of its descent. Thus accommodated, we descended the mountain with such rapidity, that in an hour we reached Limon, which is the native place of almost all the muleteers who transport merchandize from Nice to Coni and Turin. Here we waited full two hours for the mules, which travelled with the servants by the common road. To each of the coulants we paid forty sols, which are nearly equal to two shillings sterling. Leaving Limon, we were in two hours quite disengaged from the gorges of the mountains, which are partly covered with wood and pasturage, though altogether inaccessible, except in summer; but from the foot of the Col de Tende, the road lies through a plain all the way to Turin. We took six hours to travel from the inn where we had lodged over the mountain to Limon, and five hours from thence to Coni. Here we found our baggage, which we had sent off by the carriers one day before we departed from Nice; and here we dismissed our guides, together with the mules. In winter, you have a mule for this whole journey at the rate of twenty livres; and the guides are payed at the rate of two livres a day, reckoning six days, three for the journey to Coni, and three for their return to Nice. We set out so early in the morning in order to avoid the inconveniencies and dangers that attend the passage of this mountain. The first of these arises from your meeting with long strings of loaded mules in a slippery road, the breadth of which does not exceed a foot and an half. As it is altogether impossible for two mules to pass each other in such a narrow path, the muleteers have made doublings or elbows in different parts, and when the troops of mules meet, the least numerous is obliged to turn off into one of these doublings, and there halt until the others are past. Travellers, in order to avoid this disagreeable delay, which is the more vexatious, considering the excessive cold, begin the ascent of the mountain early in the morning before the mules quit their inns. But the great danger of travelling here when the sun is up, proceeds from what they call the Valanches. These are balls of snow detached from the mountains which over-top the road, either by the heat of the sun, or the humidity of the weather. A piece of snow thus loosened from the rock, though perhaps not above three or four feet in diameter, increases sometimes in its descent to such a degree, as to become two hundred paces in length, and rolls down with such rapidity, that the traveller is crushed to death before he can make three steps on the road. These dreadful heaps drag every thing along with them in their descent. They tear up huge trees by the roots, and if they chance to fall upon a house, demolish it to the foundation. Accidents of this nature seldom happen in the winter while the weather is dry; and yet scarce a year passes in which some mules and their drivers do not perish by the valanches. At Coni we found the countess C— from Nice, who had made the same journey in a chair, carried by porters. This is no other than a common elbow-chair of wood, with a straw bottom, covered above with waxed cloth, to protect the traveller from the rain or snow, and provided with a foot-board upon which the feet rest.

It is carried like a sedan-chair; and for this purpose six or eight porters are employed at the rate of three or four livres a head per day, according to the season, allowing three days for their return. Of these six men, two are between the poles carrying like common chairmen, and each of these is supported by the other two, one at each hand: but as those in the middle sustain the greatest burthen, they are relieved by the others in a regular rotation. In descending the mountain, they carry the poles on their shoulders, and in that case, four men are employed, one at each end.

At Coni, you may have a chaise to go with the same horses to Turin, for which you pay fifteen livres, and are a day and a half on the way. You may post it, however, in one day, and then the price is seven livres ten sols per post, and ten sols to the postilion. The method we took was that of cambiatura. This is a chaise with horses shifted at the same stages that are used in posting: but as it is supposed to move slower, we pay but five livres per post, and ten sols to the postilion. In order to quicken its pace, we gave ten sols extraordinary to each postilion, and for this gratification, he drove us even faster than the post. The chaises are like those of Italy, and will take on near two hundred weight of baggage.

Coni is situated between two small streams, and though neither very large nor populous, is considerable for the strength of its fortifications. It is honoured with the title of the Maiden-Fortress, because though several times besieged, it was never taken. The prince of Conti invested it in the war of 1744; but he was obliged to raise the siege, after having given battle to the king of Sardinia. The place was gallantly defended by the baron Leutrum, a German protestant, the best general in the Sardinian service: but what contributed most to the miscarriage of the enemy, was a long tract of heavy rains, which destroyed all their works, and rendered their advances impracticable.

I need not tell you that Piedmont is one of the most fertile and agreeable countries in Europe, and this the most agreeable part of all Piedmont, though it now appeared to disadvantage from the rigorous season of the year: I shall only observe that we passed through Sabellian, which is a considerable town, and arrived in the evening at Turin. We entered this fine city by the gate of Nice, and passing through the elegant Piazza di San Carlo, took up our quarters at the Bona Fama, which stands at one corner of the great square, called La Piazza Castel.

Were I even disposed to give a description of Turin, I should be obliged to postpone it till another opportunity, having no room at present to say any thing more, but that I am always — Yours.

Letter XXXIX

Aix En Provence, May 10, 1765.

DEAR SIR — I am thus far on my way to England. I had resolved to leave Nice, without having the least dispute with any one native of the place; but I found it impossible to keep this resolution. My landlord, Mr. C — a man of fashion, with whose family we had always lived in friendship, was so reasonable as to expect I should give him up the house and garden, though they were to be paid for till Michaelmas, and peremptorily declared I should not be permitted to sub-let them to any other person. He had of his own accord assured me more than once that he would take my furniture off my hands, and trusting to this assurance, I had lost the opportunity, of disposing it to advantage: but, when the time of my departure drew near, he refused to take it, at the same time insisting upon having the key of the house and garden, as well as on being paid the whole rent directly, though it would not be due till the middle of September. I was so exasperated at this treatment from a man whom I had cultivated with particular respect, that I determined to contest it at law: but the affair was accommodated by the mediation of a father of the Minims, a friend to both, and a merchant of Nice, who charged himself with the care of the house and furniture. A stranger must conduct himself with the utmost circumspection to be able to live among these people without being the dupe of imposition.

I had sent to Aix for a coach and four horses, which I hired at the rate of eighteen French livres a day, being equal to fifteen shillings and nine-pence sterling. The river Var was so swelled by the melting of the snow on the mountains, as to be impassable by any wheel-carriage; and, therefore, the coach remained at Antibes, to which we went by water, the distance being about nine or ten miles. This is the Antipolis of the antients, said to have been built like Nice, by a colony from Marseilles. In all probability, however, it was later than the foundation of Nice, and took its name from its being situated directly opposite to that city. Pliny says it was famous for its tunny-fishery; and to this circumstance Martial alludes in the following lines

Antipolitani, fateor, sum filia thynni. Essem si Scombri non tibi missa forem.

I’m spawned from Tunny of Antibes, ’tis true. Right Scomber had I been, I ne’er had come to you.

The famous pickle Garum was made from the Thynnus or Tunny as well as from the Scomber, but that from the Scomber was counted the most delicate. Commentators, however, are not agreed about the Scomber or Scombrus. Some suppose it was the Herring or Sprat; others believe it was the mackarel; after all, perhaps it was the Anchovy, which I do not find distinguished by any other Latin name: for the Encrasicolus is a Greek appellation altogether generical. Those who would be further informed about the Garum and the Scomber may consult Caelius Apicius de recogninaria, cum notis, variorum.

At present, Antibes is the frontier of France towards Italy, pretty strongly fortified, and garrisoned by a battalion of soldiers. The town is small and inconsiderable: but the basin of the harbour is surrounded to seaward by a curious bulwark founded upon piles driven in the water, consisting of a wall, ramparts, casemates, and quay. Vessels lie very safe in this harbour; but there is not water at the entrance of it to admit of ships of any burthen. The shallows run so far off from the coast, that a ship of force cannot lie near enough to batter the town; but it was bombarded in the late war. Its chief strength by land consists in a small quadrangular fort detached from the body of the place, which, in a particular manner, commands the entrance of the harbour. The wall of the town built in the sea has embrasures and salient angles, on which a great number of cannon may be mounted.

I think the adjacent country is much more pleasant than that on the side of Nice; and there is certainly no essential difference in the climate. The ground here is not so encumbered; it is laid out in agreeable inclosures, with intervals of open fields, and the mountains rise with an easy ascent at a much greater distance from the sea, than on the other side of the bay. Besides, here are charming rides along the beach, which is smooth and firm. When we passed in the last week of April, the corn was in the ear; the cherries were almost ripe; and the figs had begun to blacken. I had embarked my heavy baggage on board a London ship, which happened to be at Nice, ready to sail: as for our small trunks or portmanteaus, which we carried along with us, they were examined at Antibes; but the ceremony was performed very superficially, in consequence of tipping the searcher with half-a-crown, which is a wonderful conciliator at all the bureaus in this country.

We lay at Cannes, a neat village, charmingly situated on the beach of the Mediterranean, exactly opposite to the isles Marguerites, where state-prisoners are confined. As there are some good houses in this place, I would rather live here for the sake of the mild climate, than either at Antibes or Nice. Here you are not cooped up within walls, nor crowded with soldiers and people: but are already in the country, enjoy a fine air, and are well supplied with all sorts of fish.

The mountains of Esterelles, which in one of my former letters I described as a most romantic and noble plantation of ever-greens, trees, shrubs, and aromatic plants, is at present quite desolate. Last summer, some execrable villains set fire to the pines, when the wind was high. It continued burning for several months, and the conflagration extended above ten leagues, consuming an incredible quantity of timber. The ground is now naked on each side of the road, or occupied by the black trunks of the trees, which have been scorched without falling. They stand as so many monuments of the judgment of heaven, filling the mind with horror and compassion. I could hardly refrain from shedding tears at this dismal spectacle, when I recalled the idea of what it was about eighteen months ago.

As we stayed all night at Frejus, I had an opportunity of viewing the amphitheatre at leisure. As near as I can judge by the eye, it is of the same dimensions with that of Nismes; but shockingly dilapidated. The stone seats rising from the arena are still extant, and the cells under them, where the wild beasts were kept. There are likewise the remains of two galleries one over another; and two vomitoria or great gateways at opposite sides of the arena, which is now a fine green, with a road through the middle of it: but all the external architecture and the ornaments are demolished. The most intire part of the wall now constitutes part of a monastery, the monks of which, I am told, have helped to destroy the amphitheatre, by removing the stones for their own purposes of building. In the neighbourhood of this amphitheatre, which stands without the walls, are the vestiges of an old edifice, said to have been the palace where the imperator or president resided: for it was a Roman colony, much favoured by Julius Caesar, who gave it the name of Forum Julii, and Civitas Forojuliensis. In all probability, it was he who built the amphitheatre, and brought hither the water ten leagues from the river of Ciagne, by means of an aqueduct, some arcades of which are still standing on the other side of the town. A great number of statues were found in this place, together with antient inscriptions, which have been published by different authors. I need not tell you that Julius Agricola, the father-inlaw of Tacitus, the historian, was a native of Frejus, which is now a very poor inconsiderable place. From hence the country opens to the left, forming an extensive plain between the sea and the mountains, which are a continuation of the Alps, that stretches through Provence and Dauphine. This plain watered with pleasant streams, and varied with vineyards, corn-fields, and meadow-ground, afforded a most agreeable prospect to our eyes, which were accustomed to the sight of scorching sands, rugged rocks, and abrupt mountains in the neighbourhood of Nice. Although this has much the appearance of a corn-country, I am told it does not produce enough for the consumption of its inhabitants, who are obliged to have annual supplies from abroad, imported at Marseilles. A Frenchman, at an average, eats three times the quantity of bread that satisfies a native of England, and indeed it is undoubtedly the staff of his life. I am therefore surprised that the Provencaux do not convert part of their vineyards into corn-fields: for they may boast of their wine as they please; but that which is drank by the common people, not only here, but also in all the wine countries of France, is neither so strong, nourishing, nor (in my opinion) so pleasant to the taste as the small-beer of England. It must be owned that all the peasants who have wine for their ordinary drink are of a diminutive size, in comparison of those who use milk, beer, or even water; and it is a constant observation, that when there is a scarcity of wine, the common people are always more healthy, than in those seasons when it abounds. The longer I live, the more I am convinced that wine, and all fermented liquors, are pernicious to the human constitution; and that for the preservation of health, and exhilaration of the spirits, there is no beverage comparable to simple water. Between Luc and Toulon, the country is delightfully parcelled out into inclosures. Here is plenty of rich pasturage for black cattle, and a greater number of pure streams and rivulets than I have observed in any other parts of France.

Toulon is a considerable place, even exclusive of the basin, docks, and arsenal, which indeed are such as justify the remark made by a stranger when he viewed them. “The king of France (said he) is greater at Toulon than at Versailles.” The quay, the jetties, the docks, and magazines, are contrived and executed with precision, order, solidity, and magnificence. I counted fourteen ships of the line lying unrigged in the basin, besides the Tonant of eighty guns, which was in dock repairing, and a new frigate on the stocks. I was credibly informed that in the last war, the king of France was so ill-served with cannon for his navy, that in every action there was scarce a ship which had not several pieces burst. These accidents did great damage, and discouraged the French mariners to such a degree, that they became more afraid of their own guns than of those of the English. There are now at Toulon above two thousand pieces of iron cannon unfit for service. This is an undeniable proof of the weakness and neglect of the French administration: but a more suprizing proof of their imbecility, is the state of the fortifications that defend the entrance of this very harbour. I have some reason to think that they trusted for its security entirely to our opinion that it must be inaccessible. Capt. E — of one of our frigates, lately entered the harbour with a contrary wind, which by obliging him to tack, afforded an opportunity of sounding the whole breadth and length of the passage. He came in without a pilot, and made a pretence of buying cordage, or some other stores; but the French officers were much chagrined at the boldness of his enterprize. They alleged that he came for no other reason but to sound the channel; and that he had an engineer aboard, who made drawings of the land and the forts, their bearings and distances. In all probability, these suspicions were communicated to the ministry; for an order immediately arrived, that no stranger should be admitted into the docks and arsenal.

Part of the road from hence to Marseilles lies through a vast mountain, which resembles that of Estrelles; but is not so well covered with wood, though it has the advantage of an agreeable stream running through the bottom.

I was much pleased with Marseilles, which is indeed a noble city, large, populous, and flourishing. The streets of what is called the new Town are open, airy and spacious; the houses well built, and even magnificent. The harbour is an oval basin, surrounded on every side either by the buildings or the land, so that the shipping lies perfectly secure; and here is generally an incredible number of vessels. On the city side, there is a semi-circular quay of free-stone, which extends thirteen hundred paces; and the space between this and the houses that front it, is continually filled with a surprising crowd of people. The gallies, to the number of eight or nine, are moored with their sterns to one part of the wharf, and the slaves are permitted to work for their own benefit at their respective occupations, in little shops or booths, which they rent for a trifle. There you see tradesmen of all kinds sitting at work, chained by one foot, shoe-makers, taylors, silversmiths, watch and clock-makers, barbers, stocking-weavers, jewellers, pattern-drawers, scriveners, booksellers, cutlers, and all manner of shop-keepers. They pay about two sols a day to the king for this indulgence; live well and look jolly; and can afford to sell their goods and labour much cheaper than other dealers and tradesmen. At night, however, they are obliged to lie aboard. Notwithstanding the great face of business at Marseilles, their trade is greatly on the decline; and their merchants are failing every day. This decay of commerce is in a great measure owing to the English, who, at the peace, poured in such a quantity of European merchandize into Martinique and Guadalupe, that when the merchants of Marseilles sent over their cargoes, they found the markets overstocked, and were obliged to sell for a considerable loss. Besides, the French colonists had such a stock of sugars, coffee, and other commodities lying by them during the war, that upon the first notice of peace, they shipped them off in great quantities for Marseilles. I am told that the produce of the islands is at present cheaper here than where it grows; and on the other hand the merchandize of this country sells for less money at Martinique than in Provence.

A single person, who travels in this country, may live at a reasonable rate in these towns, by eating at the public ordinaries: but I would advise all families that come hither to make any stay, to take furnished lodgings as soon as they can: for the expence of living at an hotel is enormous. I was obliged to pay at Marseilles four livres a head for every meal, and half that price for my servant, and was charged six livres a day besides for the apartment, so that our daily expence, including breakfast and a valet de place, amounted to two loui’dores. The same imposition prevails all over the south of France, though it is generally supposed to be the cheapest and most plentiful part of the kingdom. Without all doubt, it must be owing to the folly and extravagance of English travellers, who have allowed themselves to be fleeced without wincing, until this extortion is become authorized by custom. It is very disagreeable riding in the avenues of Marseilles, because you are confined in a dusty high road, crouded with carriages and beasts of burden, between two white walls, the reflection from which, while the sun shines, is intolerable. But in this neighbourhood there is a vast number of pleasant country-houses, called Bastides, said to amount to twelve thousand, some of which may be rented ready furnished at a very reasonable price. Marseilles is a gay city, and the inhabitants indulge themselves in a variety of amusements. They have assemblies, a concert spirituel, and a comedy. Here is also a spacious cours, or walk shaded with trees, to which in the evening there is a great resort of well-dressed people.

Marseilles being a free port, there is a bureau about half a league from the city on the road to Aix, where all carriages undergo examination; and if any thing contraband is found, the vehicle, baggage, and even the horses are confiscated. We escaped this disagreeable ceremony by the sagacity of our driver. Of his own accord, he declared at the bureau, that we had bought a pound of coffee and some sugar at Marseilles, and were ready to pay the duty, which amounted to about ten sols. They took the money, gave him a receipt, and let the carriage pass, without further question.

I proposed to stay one night only at Aix: but Mr. A— r, who is here, had found such benefit from drinking the waters, that I was persuaded to make trial of them for eight or ten days. I have accordingly taken private lodgings, and drank them at the fountain-head, not without finding considerable benefit. In my next I shall say something further of these waters, though I am afraid they will not prove a source of much entertainment. It will be sufficient for me to find them contribute in any degree to the health of — Dear Sir, Yours assuredly.

Letter XL

Boulogne, May 23, 1765.

DEAR DOCTOR — I found three English families at Aix, with whom I could have passed my time very agreeably but the society is now dissolved. Mr. S— re and his lady left the place in a few days after we arrived. Mr. A— r and lady Betty are gone to Geneva; and Mr. G— r with his family remains at Aix. This gentleman, who laboured under a most dreadful nervous asthma, has obtained such relief from this climate, that he intends to stay another year in the place: and Mr. A— r found surprizing benefit from drinking the waters, for a scorbutical complaint. As I was incommoded by both these disorders, I could not but in justice to myself, try the united efforts of the air and the waters; especially as this consideration was re-inforced by the kind and pressing exhortations of Mr. A— r and lady Betty, which I could not in gratitude resist.

Aix, the capital of Provence, is a large city, watered by the small river Are. It was a Roman colony, said to be founded by Caius Sextus Calvinus, above a century before the birth of Christ. From the source of mineral water here found, added to the consul’s name, it was called Aquae Sextiae. It was here that Marius, the conqueror of the Teutones, fixed his headquarters, and embellished the place with temples, aqueducts, and thermae, of which, however, nothing now remains. The city, as it now stands, is well built, though the streets in general are narrow, and kept in a very dirty condition. But it has a noble cours planted with double rows of tall trees, and adorned with three or four fine fountains, the middlemost of which discharges hot water supplied from the source of the baths. On each side there is a row of elegant houses, inhabited chiefly by the noblesse, of which there is here a considerable number. The parliament, which is held at Aix, brings hither a great resort of people; and as many of the inhabitants are persons of fashion, they are well bred, gay, and sociable. The duc de Villars, who is governor of the province, resides on the spot, and keeps an open assembly, where strangers are admitted without reserve, and made very welcome, if they will engage in play, which is the sole occupation of the whole company. Some of our English people complain, that when they were presented to him, they met with a very cold reception. The French, as well as other foreigners, have no idea of a man of family and fashion, without the title of duke, count, marquis, or lord, and where an English gentleman is introduced by the simple expression of monsieur tel, Mr. Suchathing, they think he is some plebeian, unworthy of any particular attention.

Aix is situated in a bottom, almost surrounded by hills, which, however, do not screen it from the Bize, or north wind, that blows extremely sharp in the winter and spring, rendering the air almost insupportably cold, and very dangerous to those who have some kinds of pulmonary complaints, such as tubercules, abscesses, or spitting of blood. Lord H — who passed part of last winter in this place, afflicted with some of these symptoms, grew worse every day while he continued at Aix: but, he no sooner removed to Marseilles, than all his complaints abated; such a difference there is in the air of these two places, though the distance between them does not exceed ten or twelve miles. But the air of Marseilles, though much more mild than that of Aix in the winter is not near so warm as the climate of Nice, where we find in plenty such flowers, fruit, and vegetables, even in the severest season, as will not grow and ripen, either at Marseilles or Toulon.

If the air of Aix is disagreeably cold in the winter, it is rendered quite insufferable in the summer, from excessive heat, occasioned by the reflexion from the rocks and mountains, which at the same time obstruct the circulation of air: for it must be observed, that the same mountains which serve as funnels and canals, to collect and discharge the keen blasts of winter, will provide screens to intercept intirely the faint breezes of summer. Aix, though pretty well provided with butcher’s meat, is very ill supplied with potherbs; and they have no poultry but what comes at a vast distance from the Lionnois. They say their want of roots, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. is owing to a scarcity of water: but the truth is, they are very bad gardeners. Their oil is good and cheap: their wine is indifferent: but their chief care seems employed on the culture of silk, the staple of Provence, which is every where shaded with plantations of mulberry trees, for the nourishment of the worms. Notwithstanding the boasted cheapness of every article of housekeeping, in the south of France, I am persuaded a family may live for less money at York, Durham, Hereford, and in many other cities of England than at Aix in Provence; keep a more plentiful table; and be much more comfortably situated in all respects. I found lodging and provision at Aix fifty per cent dearer than at Montpellier, which is counted the dearest place in Languedoc.

The baths of Aix, so famous in antiquity, were quite demolished by the irruptions of the barbarians. The very source of the water was lost, till the beginning of the present century (I think the year 1704), when it was discovered by accident, in digging for the foundation of a house, at the foot of a hill, just without the city wall. Near the same place was found a small stone altar, with the figure of a Priapus, and some letters in capitals, which the antiquarians have differently interpreted. From this figure, it was supposed that the waters were efficacious in cases of barrenness. It was a long time, however, before any person would venture to use them internally, as it did not appear that they had ever been drank by the antients. On their re-appearance, they were chiefly used for baths to horses, and other beasts which had the mange, and other cutaneous eruptions. At length poor people began to bathe in them for the same disorders, and received such benefit from them, as attracted the attention of more curious inquirers. A very superficial and imperfect analysis was made and published, with a few remarkable histories of the cures they had performed, by three different physicians of those days; and those little treatises, I suppose, encouraged valetudinarians to drink them without ceremony. They were found serviceable in the gout, the gravel, scurvy, dropsy, palsy, indigestion, asthma, and consumption; and their fame soon extended itself all over Languedoc, Gascony, Dauphine, and Provence. The magistrates, with a view to render them more useful and commodious, have raised a plain building, in which there are a couple of private baths, with a bedchamber adjoining to each, where individuals may use them both internally and externally, for a moderate expence. These baths are paved with marble, and supplied with water each by a large brass cock, which you can turn at pleasure. At one end of this edifice, there is an octagon, open at top, having a bason, with a stone pillar in the middle, which discharges water from the same source, all round, by eight small brass cocks; and hither people of all ranks come of a morning, with their glasses, to drink the water, or wash their sores, or subject their contracted limbs to the stream. This last operation, called the douche, however, is more effectually undergone in the private bath, where the stream is much more powerful. The natural warmth of this water, as nearly as I can judge from recollection, is about the same degree of temperature with that in the Queen’s Bath, at Bath in Somersetshire. It is perfectly transparent, sparkling in the glass, light and agreeable to the taste, and may be drank without any preparation, to the quantity of three or four pints at a time. There are many people at Aix who swallow fourteen half pint glasses every morning, during the season, which is in the month of May, though it may be taken with equal benefit all the year round. It has no sensible operation but by urine, an effect which pure water would produce, if drank in the same quantity.

If we may believe those who have published their experiments, this water produces neither agitation, cloud, or change of colour, when mixed with acids, alkalies, tincture of galls, syrup of violets, or solution of silver. The residue, after boiling, evaporation, and filtration, affords a very small proportion of purging salt, and calcarious earth, which last ferments with strong acids. As I had neither hydrometer nor thermometer to ascertain the weight and warmth of this water; nor time to procure the proper utensils, to make the preparations, and repeat the experiments necessary to exhibit a complete analysis, I did not pretend to enter upon this process; but contented myself with drinking, bathing, and using the douche, which perfectly answered my expectation, having, in eight days, almost cured an ugly scorbutic tetter, which had for some time deprived me of the use of my right hand. I observed that the water, when used externally, left always a kind of oily appearance on the skin: that when, we boiled it at home, in an earthen pot, the steams smelled like those of sulphur, and even affected my lungs in the same manner: but the bath itself smelled strong of a lime-kiln. The water, after standing all night in a bottle, yielded a remarkably vinous taste and odour, something analogous to that of dulcified spirit of nitre. Whether the active particles consist of a volatile vitriol, or a very fine petroleum, or a mixture of both, I shall not pretend to determine: but the best way I know of discovering whether it is really impregnated with a vitriolic principle, too subtil and fugitive for the usual operations of chymistry, is to place bottles, filled with wine, in the bath, or adjacent room, which wine, if there is really a volatile acid, in any considerable quantity, will be pricked in eight and forty hours.

Having ordered our coach to be refitted, and provided with fresh horses, as well as with another postilion, in consequence of which improvements, I payed at the rate of a loui’dore per diem to Lyons and back again, we departed from Aix, and the second day of our journey passing the Durance in a boat, lay at Avignon. This river, the Druentia of the antients, is a considerable stream, extremely rapid, which descends from the mountains, and discharges itself in the Rhone. After violent rains it extends its channel, so as to be impassable, and often overflows the country to a great extent. In the middle of a plain, betwixt Orgon and this river, we met the coach in which we had travelled eighteen months before, from Lyons to Montpellier, conducted by our old driver Joseph, who no sooner recognized my servant at a distance, by his musquetoon, than he came running towards our carriage, and seizing my hand, even shed tears of joy. Joseph had been travelling through Spain, and was so imbrowned by the sun, that he might have passed for an Iroquois. I was much pleased with the marks of gratitude which the poor fellow expressed towards his benefactors. He had some private conversation with our voiturier, whose name was Claude, to whom he gave such a favourable character of us, as in all probability induced him to be wonderfully obliging during the whole journey.

You know Avignon is a large city belonging to the pope. It was the Avenio Cavarum of the antients, and changed masters several times, belonging successively to the Romans, Burgundians, Franks, the kingdom of Arles, the counts of Provence, and the sovereigns of Naples. It was sold in the fourteenth century, by queen Jane I. of Naples, to Pope Clement VI. for the sum of eighty thousand florins, and since that period has continued under the dominion of the see of Rome. Not but that when the duc de Crequi, the French ambassador, was insulted at Rome in the year 1662, the parliament of Provence passed an arret, declaring the city of Avignon, and the county Venaiss in part of the ancient domain of Provence; and therefore reunited it to the crown of France, which accordingly took possession; though it was afterwards restored to the Roman see at the peace of Pisa. The pope, however, holds it by a precarious title, at the mercy of the French king, who may one day be induced to resume it, upon payment of the original purchase-money. As a succession of popes resided here for the space of seventy years, the city could not fail to be adorned with a great number of magnificent churches and convents, which are richly embellished with painting, sculpture, shrines, reliques, and tombs. Among the last, is that of the celebrated Laura, whom Petrarch has immortalized by his poetry, and for whom Francis I. of France took the trouble to write an epitaph. Avignon is governed by a vice-legate from the pope, and the police of the city is regulated by the consuls.

It is a large place, situated in a fruitful plain, surrounded by high walls built of hewn stone, which on the west side are washed by the Rhone. Here was a noble bridge over the river, but it is now in ruins. On the other side, a branch of the Sorgue runs through part of the city. This is the river anciently called Sulga, formed by the famous fountain of Vaucluse in this neighbourhood, where the poet Petrarch resided. It is a charming transparent stream, abounding with excellent trout and craw-fish. We passed over it on a stone bridge, in our way to Orange, the Arausio Cavarum of the Romans, still distinguished by some noble monuments of antiquity. These consist of a circus, an aqueduct, a temple, and a triumphal arch, which last was erected in honour of Caius Marius, and Luctatius Catulus, after the great victory they obtained in this country over the Cimbri and Teutones. It is a very magnificent edifice, adorned on all sides with trophies and battles in basso relievo. The ornaments of the architecture, and the sculpture, are wonderfully elegant for the time in which it was erected; and the whole is surprisingly well preserved, considering its great antiquity. It seems to me to be as entire and perfect as the arch of Septimius Severus at Rome. Next day we passed two very impetuous streams, the Drome and the Isere. The first, which very much resembles the Var, we forded: but the Isere we crossed in a boat, which as well as that upon the Durance, is managed by the traille, a moveable or running pulley, on a rope stretched between two wooden machines erected on the opposite sides of the river. The contrivance is simple and effectual, and the passage equally safe and expeditious. The boatman has nothing to do, but by means of a long massy rudder, to keep the head obliquely to the stream, the force of which pushes the boat along, the block to which it is fixed sliding upon the rope from one side to the other. All these rivers take their rise from the mountains, which are continued through Provence and Dauphine, and fall into the Rhone: and all of them, when swelled by sudden rains, overflow the flat country. Although Dauphine affords little or no oil, it produces excellent wines, particularly those of Hermitage and Cote-roti. The first of these is sold on the spot for three livres the bottle, and the other for two. The country likewise yields a considerable quantity of corn, and a good deal of grass. It is well watered with streams, and agreeably shaded with wood. The weather was pleasant, and we had a continued song of nightingales from Aix to Fontainebleau.

I cannot pretend to specify the antiquities of Vienne, antiently called Vienna Allobrogum. It was a Roman colony, and a considerable city, which the antients spared no pains and expence to embellish. It is still a large town, standing among several hills on the banks of the Rhone, though all its former splendor is eclipsed, its commerce decayed, and most of its antiquities are buried in ruins. The church of Notre Dame de la Vie was undoubtedly a temple. On the left of the road, as you enter it, by the gate of Avignon, there is a handsome obelisk, or rather pyramid, about thirty feet high, raised upon a vault supported by four pillars of the Tuscan order. It is certainly a Roman work, and Montfaucon supposes it to be a tomb, as he perceived an oblong stone jetting out from the middle of the vault, in which the ashes of the defunct were probably contained. The story of Pontius Pilate, who is said to have ended his days in this place, is a fable. On the seventh day of our journey from Aix, we arrived at Lyons, where I shall take my leave of you for the present, being with great truth — Yours, etc.

Letter XLI

Boulogne, June 13, 1765.

DEAR SIR — I am at last in a situation to indulge my view with a sight of Britain, after an absence of two years; and indeed you cannot imagine what pleasure I feel while I survey the white cliffs of Dover, at this distance. Not that I am at all affected by the nescia qua dulcedine natalis soli, of Horace. That seems to be a kind of fanaticism founded on the prejudices of education, which induces a Laplander to place the terrestrial paradise among the snows of Norway, and a Swiss to prefer the barren mountains of Solleure to the fruitful plains of Lombardy. I am attached to my country, because it is the land of liberty, cleanliness, and convenience: but I love it still more tenderly, as the scene of all my interesting connexions; as the habitation of my friends, for whose conversation, correspondence, and esteem, I wish alone to live.

Our journey hither from Lyons produced neither accident nor adventure worth notice; but abundance of little vexations, which may be termed the Plagues of Posting. At Lyons, where we stayed only a few days, I found a return-coach, which I hired to Paris for six loui’dores. It was a fine roomy carriage, elegantly furnished, and made for travelling; so strong and solid in all its parts, that there was no danger of its being shaken to pieces by the roughness of the road: but its weight and solidity occasioned so much friction between the wheels and the axle-tree, that we ran the risque of being set on fire three or four times a day. Upon a just comparison of all circumstances posting is much more easy, convenient, and reasonable in England than in France. The English carriages, horses, harness, and roads are much better; and the postilions more obliging and alert. The reason is plain and obvious. If I am ill-used at the post-house in England, I can be accommodated elsewhere. The publicans on the road are sensible of this, and therefore they vie with each other in giving satisfaction to travellers. But in France, where the post is monopolized, the post-masters and postilions, knowing that the traveller depends intirely upon them, are the more negligent and remiss in their duty, as well as the more encouraged to insolence and imposition. Indeed the stranger seems to be left intirely at the mercy of those fellows, except in large towns, where he may have recourse to the magistrate or commanding officer. The post stands very often by itself in a lone country situation, or in a paultry village, where the post-master is the principal inhabitant; and in such a case, if you should be ill-treated, by being supplied with bad horses; if you should be delayed on frivolous pretences, in order to extort money; if the postilions should drive at a waggon pace, with a view to provoke your impatience; or should you in any shape be insulted by them or their masters; and I know not any redress you can have, except by a formal complaint to the comptroller of the posts, who is generally one of the ministers of state, and pays little or no regard to any such representations. I know an English gentleman, the brother of an earl, who wrote a letter of complaint to the Duc de Villars, governor of Provence, against the post-master of Antibes, who had insulted and imposed upon him. The duke answered his letter, promising to take order that the grievance should be redressed; and never thought of it after. Another great inconvenience which attends posting in France, is that if you are retarded by any accident, you cannot in many parts of the kingdom find a lodging, without perhaps travelling two or three posts farther than you would choose to go, to the prejudice of your health, and even the hazard of your life; whereas on any part of the post-road in England, you will meet with tolerable accommodation at every stage. Through the whole south of France, except in large cities, the inns are cold, damp, dark, dismal, and dirty; the landlords equally disobliging and rapacious; the servants aukward, sluttish, and slothful; and the postilions lazy, lounging, greedy, and impertinent. If you chide them for lingering, they will continue to delay you the longer: if you chastise them with sword, cane, cudgel, or horse-whip, they will either disappear entirely, and leave you without resource; or they will find means to take vengeance by overturning your carriage. The best method I know of travelling with any degree of comfort, is to allow yourself to become the dupe of imposition, and stimulate their endeavours by extraordinary gratifications. I laid down a resolution (and kept it) to give no more than four and twenty sols per post between the two postilions; but I am now persuaded that for three-pence a post more, I should have been much better served, and should have performed the journey with much greater pleasure. We met with no adventures upon the road worth reciting. The first day we were retarded about two hours by the dutchess D— lle, and her son the duc de R— f — t, who by virtue of an order from the minister, had anticipated all the horses at the post. They accosted my servant, and asked if his master was a lord? He thought proper to answer in the affirmative, upon which the duke declared that he must certainly be of French extraction, inasmuch as he observed the lilies of France in his arms on the coach. This young nobleman spoke a little English. He asked whence we had come; and understanding we had been in Italy, desired to know whether the man liked France or Italy best? Upon his giving France the preference, he clapped him on the shoulder, and said he was a lad of good taste. The dutchess asked if her son spoke English well, and seemed mightily pleased when my man assured her he did. They were much more free and condescending with my servant than with myself; for, though we saluted them in passing, and were even supposed to be persons of quality, they did not open their lips, while we stood close by them at the inn-door, till their horses were changed. They were going to Geneva; and their equipage consisted of three coaches and six, with five domestics a-horseback. The dutchess was a tall, thin, raw-boned woman, with her head close shaved. This delay obliged us to lie two posts short of Macon, at a solitary auberge called Maison Blanche, which had nothing white about it, but the name. The Lionnois is one of the most agreeable and best-cultivated countries I ever beheld, diversified with hill, dale, wood, and water, laid out in extensive corn-fields and rich meadows, well stocked with black cattle, and adorned with a surprising number of towns, villages, villas, and convents, generally situated on the brows of gently swelling hills, so that they appear to the greatest advantage. What contributes in a great measure to the beauty of this, and the Maconnois, is the charming pastoral Soame, which from the city of Chalons winds its silent course so smooth and gentle, that one can scarce discern which way its current flows. It is this placid appearance that tempts so many people to bathe in it at Lions, where a good number of individuals are drowned every summer: whereas there is no instance of any persons thus perishing in the Rhone, the rapidity of it deterring every body from bathing in its stream. Next night we passed at Beaune where we found nothing good but the wine, for which we paid forty sols the bottle. At Chalons our axle-tree took fire; an accident which detained us so long, that it was ten before we arrived at Auxerre, where we lay. In all probability we must have lodged in the coach, had not we been content to take four horses, and pay for six, two posts successively. The alternative was, either to proceed with four on those terms, or stay till the other horses should come in and be refreshed. In such an emergency, I would advise the traveller to put up with the four, and he will find the postilions so much upon their mettle, that those stages will be performed sooner than the others in which you have the full complement.

There was an English gentleman laid up at Auxerre with a broken arm, to whom I sent my compliments, with offers of service; but his servant told my man that he did not choose to see any company, and had no occasion for my service. This sort of reserve seems peculiar to the English disposition. When two natives of any other country chance to meet abroad, they run into each other’s embrace like old friends, even though they have never heard of one another till that moment; whereas two Englishmen in the same situation maintain a mutual reserve and diffidence, and keep without the sphere of each other’s attraction, like two bodies endowed with a repulsive power. We only stopped to change horses at Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, which is a venerable old city; but we passed part of a day at Sens, and visited a manufacture of that stuff we call Manchester velvet, which is here made and dyed to great perfection, under the direction of English workmen, who have been seduced from their own country. At Fontainebleau. we went to see the palace, or as it is called, the castle, which though an irregular pile of building, affords a great deal of lodging, and contains some very noble apartments, particularly the hall of audience, with the king’s and queen’s chambers, upon which the ornaments of carving and gilding are lavished with profusion rather than propriety. Here are some rich parterres of flower-garden, and a noble orangerie, which, however, we did not greatly admire, after having lived among the natural orange groves of Italy. Hitherto we had enjoyed fine summer weather, and I found myself so well, that I imagined my health was intirely restored: but betwixt Fontainebleau and Paris, we were overtaken by a black storm of rain, sleet, and hail, which seemed to reinstate winter in all its rigour; for the cold weather continues to this day. There was no resisting this attack. I caught cold immediately; and this was reinforced at Paris, where I stayed but three days. The same man, (Pascal Sellier, rue Guenegaud, fauxbourg St. Germain) who owned the coach that brought us from Lyons, supplied me with a returned berline to Boulogne, for six loui’dores, and we came hither by easy journeys. The first night we lodged at Breteuil, where we found an elegant inn, and very good accommodation. But the next we were forced to take up our quarters, at the house where we had formerly passed a very disagreeable night at Abbeville. I am now in tolerable lodging, where I shall remain a few weeks, merely for the sake of a little repose; then I shall gladly tempt that invidious straight which still divides you from — Yours, &c.

Appendix a

A Short List of Works, mainly on Travel in France and Italy during the Eighteenth Century, referred to in connection with the Introduction.

ADDISON, JOSEPH. Remarks on Several Parts of Italy. London, 1705.

ANCONE, ALESSANDRO D’. Saggio di una bibliografia ragionata dei Viaggi in Italia. 1895.

ANDREWS, Dr. JOHN. Letters to a Young Gentleman in setting out for France. London, 1784.

ARCHENHOLTZ, J. W. VON. Tableau de l’Angleterre et de l’Italie. 3 vols. Gotha, 1788.

ARDOUIN-DUMAZET Voyage en France. Treizieme serie. La Provence Maritime. Paris, 1898.

ASTRUC, JEAN. Memoires pour servir a l’histoire de la Faculte de Medicine de Montpellier, 1767.

BABEAU, ANTOINE. Voyageurs en France. Paris, 1885.

BALLY, L. E. Souvenirs de Nice. 1860.

BARETTI, G. M. Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy. 2 vols. London, 1770.

BASTIDE, CHARLES. John Locke. Ses theories politiques en Angleterre. Paris, 1907.

BECKFORD, WILLIAM. Italy, Spain, and Portugal. By the author of “Vathek.” London, 1834; new ed. 1840.

BERCHTOLD, LEOPOLD. An Essay to direct the Inquiries of Patriotic Travellers. 2 vols. London, 1789.

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER et la region Boulonnaise. Ouvrage offert par la ville aux membres de l’Association Francaise. 2 vols. 1899.

BRETON DE LA MARTINIERE, J. Voyage en Piemont. Paris, 1803.

BROSSES, CHARLES DE. Lettres familieres ecrites d’Italie. 1740.

BURTON, JOHN HILL. The Scot Abroad. 2 vols. Edinburgh. 1864.

CASANOVA DE SEINGALT, JACQUES. Memoires ecrits par lui-meme. 6 vols. Bruxelles, 1879.

CLEMENT, PIERRE. L’Italie en 1671. Paris, 1867. 12mo.


CRAIG, G. DUNCAN. Mie jour; or Provencal Legend, Life, Language, and Literature. London, 1877.

DAVIS, Dr. I. B. Ancient and Modern History of Nice. London, 1807.

DEJOB, C. Madame de Stael et l’Italie. Paris, 1890.

DEMPSTER, C. L. H. The Maritime Alps and their Sea-Board. London, 1885.

DORAN, DR. JOHN. Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence. London, 1876.

DRAMARD, E. Bibliographie du Boulonnais, Calaisis, etc. Paris, 1869.

DUTENS, L. Itineraire des Routes. First edition, 1775.

EVELYN, JOHN. Diary, edited by H. B. Wheatley. 4 vols. London, 1879.

FERBER, G. G. Travels through Italy, translated by R. E. Raspe. London, 1776.

FODERE, FRANCOIS EMILE. Voyage aux Alpes Maritimes. 2 vols. Paris, 1821.

FORSYTH, JOSEPH. Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters, during an Excursion in Italy in the year 1S02 and 1803. London, 1812; 4th Edition, I835.

GARDNER, EDMUND G. The Story of Florence. London, 1900.

GERMAIN, M. A. Histoire de la Commune de Montpellier. 3 vols. Montpellier, 1853.

GIOFFREDO, PIETRO. Storia delle Alpi Marittime . . . libri xxvi. Ed. Gazzera. 1836.

GOETHE. Autobiography, Tour in Italy, Miscellaneous Travels, and Wilhelm Meister’s Travels (Bohn).

GROSLEY, PIERRE JEAN. Nouveaux Memoires sur l’Italie. London, 1764. New Observations on Italy. Translated by Thomas Nugent. 1769.

HARE, AUGUSTUS J. C. The Rivieras. 1897.

HILLARD, G. S. Six Months in Italy. Boston, 1853; 7th edition, 1863.

JEFFERYS, THOMAS. Description of the Maritime Parts of France. With Maps. 1761.

JOANNE, ADOLPHE. Provence, Alpes Maritimes. Paris, 1881 (Bibliog., p. xxvii).

JONES (of Nayland), WILLIAM. Observations in a Journey to Paris. London, 1777.

KOTZEBUE, A. F. F. VON. Travels through Italy in 1804 and 1805. 4 vols. London, 1807.

LALANDE, J. J. DE. Voyage en Italie. 6 vols. 12mo. 1768.

LEE, EDWIN. Nice et son climat. Paris, 1863.

LENOTRE, G. Paris revolutionnaire. Paris, 1895.

LENTHERIC, CHARLES. La Provence Maritime, ancienne et moderne. Paris, 1880. Les voies antiques de la Region du Rhone. Avignon, 1882.

LUCHAIRE, A. Hist. des Instit. Monarchiques de la France. 2 vols. 1891.

MAUGHAM, H. N. The Book of Italian Travel. London, 1903.

MERCIER, M. New Pictures of Paris. London, I8OO.

METRIVIER, H. Monaco et ses Princes. 2 vols. I862.

MILLINGEN, J. G. Sketches of Ancient and Modern Boulogne. London, 1826.

MONTAIGNE, MICHEL DE. Journal du Voyage en Italie (Querlon). Rome, 1774.


MONTFAUCON. Travels of the Learned Dr. Montfaucon from Paris through Italy. London, 1712.

MOORE, DR. JOHN. A View of Society and Manners in France (2 vols., 1779), and in Italy (2 vols., 1781)

NASH, JAMES. Guide to Nice, 1884.

NORTHALL, JOHN. Travels through Italy. London, 1766.

NUGENT, THOMAS. The Grand Tour. 3rd edition. 4 vols. 1778.

PALLIARI, LEA. Notices historiques sur le comte et la ville de Nice. Nice, 1875.

PETHERICK, E, A. Catalogue of the York Gate Library. An Index to the Literature of Geography. London, 1881.

PIOZZI, HESTER LYNCH. Observations and Reflections made in the course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany. In 2 vols. London, 1789.

RAE, JOHN. Life of Adam Smith. London, 1885.

RICHARD, L’ABBE. Description historique et critique de l’Italie. 6 vols. Paris, 1768.

RICHARDERIE, BOUCHER DE LA. Bibliotheque des voyages. Paris, 1808.

RIGBY, DR. Letters from France in 1789, edited by Lady Eastlake. London, 1880.

ROSE, WILLIAM STEWART. Letters from the North of Italy to Henry Hallam. 2 vols. 1819.

ROUX, JOSEPH. Statistique des Alpes Maritimes. 2 vols. 1863.

RUFFINI, GIOVANNI, D. Doctor Antonio; a Tale. Paris, 1855.

SAYOUS, A. Le Dix-huitieme siecle a l’etranger. 2 vols. Paris, 1861.

SECCOMBE, THOMAS. Smollett’s Travels, edited with bibliographical note, etc. By Thomas Seccombe (Works, Constable’s Edition, vol. xi.). 1900.

SHARP, SAMUEL. Letters from Italy. London, 1769.

SHERLOCK, MARTIN. Letters from an English Traveller. (New English version.) 2 vols. 1802.

SMOLLETT, T. Travels through France and Italy. 2 vols. London, 1766.

SPALDING, WILLIAM. Italy and the Italian Islands. 3 vols. London, 1841.

STAEL, MME. DE. Corinne, ou l’Italie. 1807.

STARKE, MARIANA. Letters from Italy, 1792-1798. 9 vols. 1800. Travels on the Continent for the use of Travellers. 1800, 1820, 1824, etc.

STENDHAL. Rome, Naples, and Florence, in 1817. London, 1818.

STERNE, LAURENCE. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. By Mr. Yorick. 2 vols. London, 1768.

STOLBERZ, COUNT F. L. ZU. Travels through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, etc. Translated by Thomas Holcroft. 1796.

TAINE, HENRI. Voyage en Italie. 1866.

TALBOT, SIR R. Letters on the French Nation. London, 2 vols.1771, 12mo.

TEYSSEIRE, T. Monographie sur le climat de Nice. 1881.

THICKNESSE, PHILIP. Useful Hints to those who make the Tour of France in a Series of Letters. London, 1768. A year’s Journey through France, etc. 2, vols. 1777.

TISSERAND, E. Chronique de Provence . . . de la cite de Nice, etc. 2 vols. Nice, 1862.


VIOLLET, PAUL. Hist. des Instit. polit. et administratifs de la France. 2 vols. Paris, 1890-98.

WHATLEY, STEPHEN. The Travels and Adventures of J. Massey. Translated from the French. 1743.

WILLIAMS, C. THEODORE. The Climate of the South of France. 1869.

WINCKELMANN, J. J. Lettres familieres. Amsterdam, 1781. Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks. Translated by H. Fuseli. London, 1765. Voyage en Italie de J. J. Barthelemy . . . avec des morceaux inedits de Winckelmann. 1801.

YOUNG, ARTHUR. Travels in France during 1787, 1788, 1789, edited by M. Betham-Edwards. 1889.

YOUNG, EDWARD. Sa vie et ses oeuvres, par W. Thomas. Paris, 1901.

Appendix B

Short Notes on one or two unfamiliar Words which Smollett helped to domesticate in England.

Berline. Swift and Chesterfield both use this for a heavy coach. The most famous berline was that used in the flight to Varennes. The name came from Brandenburg in the time of Frederick William.

Bize. Smollett’s spelling of bise — the cutting N.N.E. wind which makes Geneva so beautiful, but intolerable in the winter.

Brasiere=brasero. A tray for hot charcoal used for warming rooms at Nice. Smollett practically introduced this word. Dried olives were often used as fuel.

Calesse, calash, caleche. A low two-wheeled carriage of light construction, with a movable folding hood; hence applied to a hood bonnet as in Mrs. Gaskell’s Cranford.

Cassine. Latin casa, cassa, cassina; the Italian cassina, A small detached house in the fields, often whitewashed and of mean appearance. Smollett uses the word as an equivalent for summer cottage. Cf. bastide as used by Dumas. Cabane has practically replaced cassine in modern French. See Letter XXIV.

Cambiatura. The system of changing chaises every post, common in England, but unusual abroad except in Tuscany.

Cicisbeo. The word is used by Lady Mary Montagu in her Letters (17I8) as cecisbeo. Smollett’s best account is in Letter XVII. See Introduction, p. xliii.

Conversazione. Gray uses the word for assembly in 1710, but Smollett, I believe, is about the first Englishman to define it properly.

Corinth. This was still used as a variant of currant, though adherence to it was probably rather pedantic on Smollett’s part (cf. his use of “hough” for hoe). Boswell uses the modern form.

Corridore. This word was used by Evelyn, and the correct modern spelling given by Johnson in 1753; but Smollett as often adheres to the old form.

Douche. Italian doccia. Smollett is perhaps the first writer to explain the word and assign to it the now familiar French form (Letter XL).

Feluca. An Arab word to denote a coasting boat, oar or sail propelled. Nelson and Marryat write felucca. It was large enough to accommodate a post-chaise (Letter XXV).

Gabelle. Supposed to be derived from the Arabic kabala, the irksome tax on salt, from which few provinces in France were altogether free, swept away in 1790. Smollett describes the exaction in San Remo.

Garum. Used by Smollett for the rich fish sauce of the ancients, equivalent to a saumure, perhaps, in modern French cookery. In the Middle Ages the word is used both for a condiment and a beverage.

Improvisatore. A performer in the Commedia delle Arte, of which Smollett gives a brief admiring account in his description of Florence (Letter XXVII). For details of the various elements, the doti, generici, lazzi, etc., see Carlo Gozzi.

Liqueur. First used by Pope. “An affected, contemptible expression” (Johnson).

Macaroni. “The paste called macaroni” (Letter XXVI) was seen by Smollett in the neighbourhood of its origin near Genoa, which city formed the chief market.

Maestral. An old form of mistral, the very dry wind from the N.N.W., described by Smollett as the coldest he ever experienced.

Patois. See Letter XXII. ad fin.

Pietre commesse. A sort of inlaying with stones, analogous to the fineering of cabinets in wood (Letter XXVIII). Used by Evelyn in 1644.

Polenta. A meal ground from maize, which makes a good “pectoral” (Letter XXII).

Pomi carli. The most agreeable apples Smollett tasted, stated to come from the marquisate of Final, sold by the Emperor Charles VI. to the Genoese.

Preniac. A small white wine, mentioned in Letter IV., from Boulogne, as agreeable and very cheap.

Seafarot boots. Jack-boots or wading boots, worn by a Marquis of Savoy, and removed by means of a tug-of-war team and a rope coiled round the heel (see Letter XXVIII).

Sporcherie. With respect to delicacy and decorum you may peruse Dean Swift’s description of the Yahoos, and then you will have some idea of the sporcherie that distinguishes the gallantry of Nice (Letter XVII). Ital. sporcheria, sporcizia.

Strappado or corda. Performed by hoisting the criminal by his hands tied behind his back and dropping him suddenly “with incredible pain” (Letter XX). See Introduction, p. xliv, and Christie, Etienne Dolet, 1899, P. 231.

Tartane. From Italian tartana, Arabic taridha; a similar word being used in Valencia and Grand Canary for a two-wheeled open cart. One of the commonest craft on the Mediterranean (cf. the topo of the Adriatic). For different types see Larousse’s Nouveau Dictionnaire.

Tip. To “tip the wink” is found in Addison’s Tatler (No. 86), but “to tip” in the sense of to gratify is not common before Smollett, who uses it more than once or twice in this sense (cf. Roderick Random, chap. xiv. ad fin.)

Valanches. For avalanches (dangers from to travellers, see Letter XXXVIII).

Villeggiatura. An early adaptation by Smollett of the Italian word for country retirement (Letter XXIX).

Appendix C

Currency of Savoy in the time of Smollett.

Ten bajocci=one paolo (6d.).
Ten paoli=one scudo (six livres or about 5s.).
Two scudi=one zequin.
Two zequin=one louid’or.


I should be ungrateful were I not to create an epilogue for the express purpose of thanking M. Morel, H. S Spencer Scott, Dr. Norman Moore, W. P. Courtney, G. Whale, D. S. MacColl, Walter Sichel (there may be others), who have supplied hints for my annotations, and I should like further, if one might inscribe such a trifle, to inscribe this to that difficult critic, Mr. Arthur Vincent, who, when I told him I was about it, gave expression to the cordial regret that so well hidden a treasure of our literature (as he regarded the Travels) was to be “vulgarised.”

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