« PreviousContinue »
“1 dined with Col. Drumgould; had a pleasing afternoon.
“Some of the books of St. Germain's stand in presses from the wall, like those at Oxford.
“ Tuesday, Oct. 31.-I lived at the Benedictines; meagre day; soup meagre, herrings, eels, both with sauce; fried fish ; lentils, tasteless in themselves-In the library; where I found · Maffeus's de Historia Indicâ : Promontorium flectere, to double the Cape'-I parted very tenderly from the prior and Friar Wilkes.
“ Maitre des Arts, 2 y.—Bacc. Theol. 3 y.-Licentiate, 2 y.-Doctor Th. 2 y. in all 9 years—For the Doctorate three disputations, Major, Minor, Sorbonica-Several col. leges suppressed, and transferred to that which was the Jesuits' College.
“ Wednesday, Nov. 1.-We left Paris—St. Denis, a large town: the church not very large, but the middle aisle is very lofty and awful. On the left are chapels built beyond the line of the wall, which destroyed the symmetry of the sides. The organ is higher above the pavement than I have ever seen. The gates are of brass. On the middle gate is the history of our Lord. The painted windows are historical, and said to be eminently beautiful-We were at another church belonging to a convent, of which the portal is a dome: we could not enter further, and it was almost dark.
“ Thursday, Nov. 2.- We came this day to Chantilly, a seat belonging to the Prince of Condé. This place is emi. nently beautified by all varieties of waters starting up in fountains, falling in cascades, running in streams, and spread in lakes. The water seems to be too near the house. All this water is brought from a source or river three leagues off, by an artificial canal, which for one league is carried under ground—The house is magnificent—The cabinet seems well stocked; what I remember was, the jaws of a hippopotamus, and a young hippopotamus preserved, which, however, is so small, that I doubt its reality -It seems too hairy for an abortion, and too small for a MS. in the British Museum, where the curious may see it. My grateful acknowledgments are due to Mr. Planta for the trouble he was pleased to take in aiding my researches.
mature birth-Nothing was (preserved] in spirits; all was dry—The dog; the deer; the ant-bear with long snoutThe toucan, long broad beak—The stables were of very great length—The kennel had no scents--There was a mockery of a village—The menagerie had few animals'— Two faussans, or Brazilian weasels, spotted, very wildThere is a forest, and, I think, a park—I walked till I was very weary, and next morning felt my feet battered, and with pains in the toes.
“ Friday, Nov. 3.–We came to Compiegne, a very large town, with a royal palace built round a pentagonal courtThe court is raised upon vaults, and has, I suppose, an entry on one side by a gentle rise-Talk of painting—The church is not very large, but very elegant and splendid—I had at first great difficulty to walk, but motion grew continually easier-At night we came to Noyon, an episcopal city—The cathedral is very beautiful, the pillars alternately Gothic and Corinthian-We entered a very noble parochial church-Noyon is walled, and is said to be three miles round.
“Saturday, Nov. 4.—We rose very early, and came through St. Quintin to Cambray, not long after three -We went to an English nunnery, to give a letter to Father Welch, the confessor, who came to visit us in the evening.
“Sunday, Nov. 5.—We saw the cathedral—It is very beautiful, with chapels on each side. The choir splendid. The balustrade in one part brass. The Neff very high and grand. The altar silver as far as it is seen. The vestments very splendid-At the Benedictines' church - "
1 The writing is so bad here, that the names of several of the animals could not be deciphered without much more acquaintance with natural history than I possess. Dr. Blagden, with his usual politeness, most obligingly examined the MS. To that gentleman, and to Dr. Gray, of the British Museum, who also very readily assisted me, I beg leave to express my best thanks.
3 It is thus written by Johnson, from the French pronunciation of fossane. It should be observed, that the person who showed this mena. gerie was mistaken in supposing the fossane and the Brazilian weasel to be the same, the fossane being a different animal, and a native of Madagascar. I find them, however, upon one plate in Pennant's Synopsis of Quadrupeds.
Here his Journal ends abruptly. Whether he wrote any more after this time, I know not; but probably not much, as he arrived in England about the 12th of November. These short notes of his tour, though they may seem minute taken singly, make together a considerable mass of information, and exhibit such an ardour of inquiry and acuteness of examination, as, I believe, are found in but few travellers, especially at an advanced age. They completely refute the idle notion which has been propagated,
to revise and digest them, he undoubtedly could have expanded them into a very entertaining narrative.
When I met him in London the following year, the account which he gave me of his French tour was, “ Sir, I have seen all the visibilities of Paris, and around it: but to have formed an acquaintance with the people there would have required more time than I could stay. I was just beginning to creep into acquaintance by means of Colonel Drumgould, a very high man, Sir, head of L'Ecole Militaire, a most complete character, for he had first been a professor of rhetoric, and then became a soldier. And, Sir, I was very kindly treated by the English Benedictines, and have a cell appropriated to me in their convent.”
He observed, “The great in France live very magnificently, but the rest very miserably. There is no happy middle state, as in England. The shops of Paris are mean; the meat in the markets is such as would be sent to a gaol in England; and Mr. Thrale justly observed, that the cookery of the French was forced upon them by necessity; for they could not eat their meat, unless they added some taste to it. The French are an indelicate people; they will spit upon any place. At Madame (Du Bocage's], a literary lady of rank, the footman took the sugar in his fingers, and threw it into my coffee. I was going to put it aside; but hearing it was made on purpose for me, I e'en tasted Tom's fingers. The same lady would
My worthy and ingenious friend, Mr. Andrew Lumisden, by his accurate acquaintance with France, enabled me to make out many proper names, which Dr. Johnson had written indistinctly, and sometimes spelt erroneously.
not pour freely; she bade the footman blow into it.' France is worse than Scotland in every thing but climate. Nature has done more for the French; but they have done less for themselves than the Scotch have done.” 2
It happened that Foote was at Paris at the same time with Dr. Johnson, and his description of my friend while there was abundantly ludicrous. He told me, that the French were quite astonished at his figure and manner, and at his dress, which he obstinately continued exactly as in London ; 3_his brown clothes, black stockings, and
| Miss Reynolds' Recollections preserve this story as told her by Baretti, who was of the party : “Going one day to drink tea with Madame du Bocage, she happened to produce an old china teapot, which Mrs. Strickland, who made the tea, could not make pour : Soufflez, soufflez, madame, dedans,' cried Madame du Bocage, il se rectifie immédiatenent ; essayez, je vous en prie. The servant then thinking that Mrs. Strickland did not understand what his lady said, took up the teapot to rectify it, and Mrs. Strickland had quite a struggle to prevent his blowing into the spout. Madame du Bocage all this while had not the least idea of its being any impropriety, and wondered at Mrs. Strickland's stupidity. She came over to the latter, caught up the teapot, and blew into the spout with all her might: then finding it pour, she held it up in triumph, and repeatedly exclaimed, “ Voilà, voilà, j'ai regagné l'honneur de ma théière. She had no sugar-tongs, and said something that showed she expected Mrs. Strickland to use her fingers to sweeten the cups. • Madame, je n'oserois.— Oh mon Dieu! quel grand quanquan les Anglois. font de peu de chose.”— Crokcr.
2 “ Nr. Thrale loved,” says Mrs. Piozzi (Anecdotes, p. 99),“ prospects, and was mortified that his friend could not enjoy the sight of those different dispositions of wood and water, hill and valley, that travelling through England and France affords a man. But when he wished to point them out to his companion, • Never heed such nonsense,' would be the reply : 'a blade of grass is always a blade of grass, whether in one country or another. Let us, if we do talk, talk about something: men and women are my subjects of inquiry: let us see how these differ from those we have left behind.' His dislike of the French was well known to both nations, I believe ; but he applauded the number of their books and the graces of their style. “They have few sentiments,' said he,' but they express them neatly; they have little meat too, but they dress it well."" - Croker.
3 Foote seerns to have embellished a little in saying that Johnson did not alter his dress at Paris ; as in his journal is a memorandum about white stockings, wig, and hat. In another place we are told that" during his travels in France he was furnished with a French-inade wig of handsome construction.” That Johnson was not inattentive to his appearance is certain, from a circumstance related by Mr. Steevens, and inserted by Mr. Boswell in vol. iv., between June 15 and June 22, 1784.-J. Blakeway.
plain shirt. He mentioned, that an Irish gentleman said to Johnson, “ Sir, you have not seen the best French players." JOHNSON. “Players, Sir! I look on them as no better than creatures set upon tables and joint stools, to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs." “But, Sir, you will allow that some players are better than others ? ” JOHNSON. “Yea, Sir, as some dogs dance better than others.”
While Johnson was in France, he was generally very resolute in speaking Latin. It was a maxim with him that a man should not let himself down by speaking a language which he speaks imperfectly. Indeed, we must have often observed how inferior, how much like a child a man appears, who speaks a broken tongue. When Sir Joshua Reynolds, at one of the dinners of the Royal Academy, presented him to a Frenchman of great distinction, he would not deign to speak French, but talked Latin, though his Excellency did not understand it, owing, perhaps, to Johnson's English pronunciation: yet upon another occasion he was observed to speak French to a Frenchman of high rank, who spoke English ; and being asked the reason, with some expression of surprise, he answered, “ because I think my French is as good as his English.” Though Johnson understood French perfectly, he could not speak it readily, as I have observed at his first interview with General Paoli, in 1769; yet he wrote it, I imagine. pretty well, as appears from some of his letters in Mrs. Piozzi's collection, of which I shall transcribe one :
À MADAME LA COMTESSE DE
“July 16, 1771. “Oui, madame, le moment est arrivé, et il faut que je parte. Mais pourquoi faut il partir ? Est ce que je m'ennuye? Je m'ennuyerai ailleurs. Est ce que je cherche ou quelque plaisir, ou
Mr. Blakeway's observation is further confirmed by a note in Johnson's diary (Hawkins's Life, p. 517). It appears that he had laid out thirty pounds in clothes for his French journey.-Malone.
i Letters, &c., vol. i., p. 34.