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Two faussans ('), or Brazilian weasels, spotted, very wild — There 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 Compeigne, a very large town, with a royal palace built round a pentagonal court The 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.
66 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. 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
quaintance 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, beg leave to express my
(1) It is thus written by Johnson, from the French pronunciation of fossane. It should be observed, that the person who showed this ménagerie 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 (1) 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, that he could not see (2); and, if he had taken the trouble to revise and digest them, he undoubtedly could have expanded them into a very entertaining narrative. (3)
(1) 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.
(2) Miss Reynolds, who knew him longer, and saw him more constantly than Mr. Boswell, says, " Dr. Johnson's sight was so very defective, that he could scarcely distinguish the face of his most intimate acquaintance at half a yard, and in general it was observable, that his critical remarks on dress, &c. were the result of very close inspection of the object, partly from curiosity, and partly from a desire of exciting admiration of his perspicuity, of which he was not a little ambitious."- Recollections.-C.
(3) "Mr. Thrale loved 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." When we were at Rouen, he took a great fancy to the Abbé Roffette, with whom he conversed about the destruction of the order of Jesuits, and condemned it loudly, as a blow to the general power of the church, and likely to be followed with
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
many and dangerous innovations, which might at length become fatal to religion itself, and shake even the foundation of Christianity. The gentleman seemed to wonder and delight in his conversation:_the_talk was all in Latin, which both spoke fluently, and Dr. Johnson pronounced a long eulogium upon Milton with so much ardour, eloquence, and ingenuity, that the abbé rose from his seat and embraced him. My husband, seeing them apparently so charmed with the company of each other, politely invited the abbé to England, intending to oblige his friend; who, instead of thanking, reprimanded him severely before the man, for such a sudden burst of tenderness towards a person he could know nothing at all of; and thus put a sudden finish to all his own and Mr. Thrale's entertainment from the company of the Abbé Roffette. 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.'”. Piozzi.
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 needs make tea à l'Angloise. The spout of the teapot did not pour freely; she bade the footman blow into it. (1) 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)
(1) Miss Reynolds's "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 immédiatement; 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 explained, 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 'Madame, je n'oserois.' -Oh mon Dieu! quel grand quan-quan les Anglois font de peu de chose.' C.
(2) In a letter written a few days after his return from France, he says, "The French have a clear air and a fruitful soil; but their mode of common life is gross and incommodious, and disgusting. I am come home convinced that no improvement of general use is to be found among them."— M.
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 (1);— his brown clothes, black stockings, and 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. "Yes, Sir, as some dogs dance better than others." (2)
(1) Foote seems 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-made wig of handsome construction." BLAKEWAY. 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, M.
(2) JOHNSON. "The French, sir, are a very silly people. They have no common life. Nothing but the two ends, beggary and nobility. Sir, they are made up in every thing of two extremes. They have no common sense, they have no common manners, no common learning-gross ignorance, or les belles lettres." A LADY [Mrs. Thrale]." Indeed, even in their dress
their frippery finery, and their beggarly coarse linen. They had, I thought, no politeness; their civilities never indicated more good will than the talk of a parrot, indiscriminately using the same set of superlative phrases, à la merveille!' to every one alike. They really seemed to have no expressions for sincerity and truth." JOHNSON. "They are much behindhand, stupid, ignorant creatures. At Fontainebleau I saw a horse-race every thing was wrong; the heaviest weight was put upon the weakest horse, and all the jockeys wore the same colour coat." A GENTLEMAN. "Had you any acquaintance in Paris?" JOHNSON. "No, I did not stay long enough to make