« AnteriorContinuar »
rather to be wise than foolish.—But we ought rather to search for a wise and good judge ; one who has examples within himself of that upon which he is to pronounce.—C. iii.
xx. — Those who use gymnastics umningled with music become too savage, whilst those who use music umningled with gymnastics, become more delicate than is befitting.
ON A PASSAGE IN CRITO.
tit is well known that when Socrates was condemned to death, his friends made arrangements for his escape from prison and hiB after security; of whioh he refused to avail himself, from the reason, that a good citiaen ought to obey the laws of his country. On this Shelley makes the following remarks—]
The reply is simple.
Indeed, your city cannot subsist, because the laws are no longer of avail. For how can the laws be said to exist, when those who deserve to be nourished in the Prytanea at the public expense, are condemned to suffer the penalties only due to the most atrocious criminals ; whilst those against, and to protect from whose injustice, the laws were framed, live in honour and security? I neither overthrow your state, nor infringe your laws. Although you have inflicted an injustice on me, which is sufficient, according to the opinions of the multitude, to authorise me to consider you and me as in a state of warfare ; yet, had I the power, so far from inflicting any revenge, I would endeavour to overcome you by benefits. All that 1'fl.o
at present is, that which the peaceful traveller would do, who, caught by robbers in a forest, escapes from them whilst they are engaged in the division of the spoil. And this I do, when it would not only be indifferent, but delightful to me to die, surrounded by my friends, secure of the inheritance of glory, and escaping, after such a life as mine, from the decay of mind and body which must soon begin to be my portion should I live. But, I prefer the good, which I have it in my power yet to perform.
Such are the arguments, which overturn the sophism placed in the mouth of Socrates by Plato But there are others which prove that he did well to die
HISTORY OF A SIX WEEKS' TOUR
THROUGH A PART Or
FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, GERMANY, AND
WITH LETTERS, DESCRIPTIVE OF A SAIL ROUND THE LAKE OF GENEVA,
Nothing can be more unpresuming than this little volume. It contains the account of some desultory visits by a party of young people to scenes which are now so familiar to our countrymen, that few facts relating to them can be expected to have escaped the many more experienced and exact observers, who have sent their journals to the press. In fact, they have done little else than arrange the few materials which an imperfect journal, and two or three letters to their friends in England afforded. They regret, since their little History is to be offered to the public, that these materials were not more copious and complete. This is a just topic of censure to those who are less inclined to be amused than to condemn. Those whose youth has been past as theirs (with what success it imports not) in pursuing, like the swallow, the inconstant summer of delight
and beauty which invests this visible world, wil perhaps find some entertainment in following the author, with her husband and friend, on foot, through part of France and Switzerland, and in sailing with her down the castled Rhine, through scenes beautiful in themselves, but which, since she visited them, a great poet has clothed with the freshness of a diviner nature. They will be interested to hear of one who has visited Meillerie, and CsHBns, and Chillon, and Vevai—classic ground, peopled with tender and glorious imaginations of the present and the past.
They have perhaps never talked with one who has beheld, in the enthusiasm of youth, the glaciers, and the lakes, and the forests, and the fountains of the mighty Alps. Such will perhaps forgive the imperfections of their narrative for the sympathy which the adventures and feelings which it recounts, and a curiosity respecting scenes already rendered interesting and illustrious, may excite.
It is now nearly three years since this journey took place, and the journal I then kept was not very copious ; but I have so often talked over the incidents that befel us, and attempted to describe the scenery through which we paused, that I think few occurrences of any interest will be omitted.
Wo left London, July 28th, 1814, on a hotter day than lias been known in this climate for many years. I am not a good traveller, and this heat
agreed very ill with me, till, on arriving at Dover, I was refreshed by a sea-bath. As we very much wished to cross the Channel with all possible speed, we would not wait for the packet of the following day (it being then about four in the afternoon) but hiring a small boat, resolved to make the passage the same evening, the seamen promising us a voyage of two hours.
The evening was most beautiful ; there was but little wind, and the sails flapped in the flagging breeze : the moon rose, and night came on, and with the night a slow, heavy swell, and a fresh breeze, which soon produced a sea so violent as to toss the boat very much. I was dreadfully seasick, and as is usually my custom when thus affected, I slept during the greater part of the night, awaking only from time to time to ask where we were, and to receive the dismal answer each time—" Not quite half way."
The wind was violent and contrary ; if we could not reach Calais, the sailors proposed making for Boulogne. They promised only two hours' sail
from shore, yet hour after hour passed, and we were still for distant, when the moon sunk in the red and stormy horizon, and the fast-flashing lightning became pale in the breaking day.
We were proceeding slowly against the wind, when suddenly a thunder-squall struck the sail, and the waves rushed into the boat: eTen the sailors acknowledged that our situation was perilous ; but they succeeded in reefing the sail ;— the wind was now changed, and we drove before the gale directly to Calais. As we entered the harbour I awoke from a comfortless sleep, and saw the sun rise broad, red, and cloudless over the pier.
Exhausted with sickness and fatigue, I walked over the sand with my companions to the hotel. I heard for the first time the confused buzz of voices speaking a different language from that to which I had been accustomed ; and saw a costume very unlike that worn on the opposite side of the Channel; the women with high caps and short jackets; the men with car-rings; ladies walking about with high bonnets or coiffures lodged on the top of the head, the hair dragged up underneath, without any stray curls to decorate the temples or chej^ks. There is, however, something very pleasing in the manners and appearance of the people of Calais, that prepossesses you in their favour. A national reflection might occur, that when Edward III. took Calais, he turned out the old inhabitants, and peopled it almost entirely with our own countrymen; but, unfortunately, tho manners are not English.
We remained during that day and the greater part of the next at Calais: we had been obliged to leave our boxes the night before at the English custom-house, and it was arranged that they should go by the packet of the following day, which, detained by contrary wind, did not arrive until night. S*»» and I walked among the fortifications on the outside of the town ; they consisted of fields where the hay was making. The aspect of the country was rural and pleasant.
On the 30th of July, about three in the afternoon, wo left Calais, in a cabriolet drawn by three horses. To persons who had never before Been anything but a spruce English chaise and post-boy, there was something irresistibly ludicrous in our equipage. Our cabriolet was shaped somewhat like a post-chaise, except that it had only two
wheels, and consequently there were no door; at the sides ; the front was let down to admit the passengers. The three horses were placed ahreart, the tallest in the middle, who was rendered more formidable by the addition of an unintelligible article of harness, resembling a pair of wooden wings fastened to his shoulders ; the harness ws* of rope ; and the postilion, a queer, upright half fellow with a long pigtail, craquied his whip, aod clattered on, while an old forlorn shepherd with a cocked hat gazed on us as wc passed.
The roads are excellent, but the heat was intense, and I suffered greatly from it. We slept at Boulogne the first night, where there was an ugly but remarkably good-tempered fem*u~<U-cham}n. This made us, for the first time, remark the difference which exists between this class of persons ia France and in England. In the latter coun&r they are prudish, and if they become in the least degree familiar, they are impudent. The lower orders in France have the easiness and politeness of the most well-bred English; they treat vi« unaffectedly as their equal, and consequently their is no scope for insolence.
We had ordered horses to be ready during the night, but wc were too fatigued to make oar of them. The man insisted on being paid for the whole post. Ah I madamc, said the ftnau-drchambre, pensezy; e'ett pour dedommager fas pauvret chevaux cVaxoir perdu lew doux tommaL A joke from an English, chambermaid would hav» been quite another thing.
The first appearance that struck our English eyes was the want of enclosures ; but the 6rH» were flourishing with a plentiful harvest W» observed no vines on this side Paris.
The weather still continued very hot, and travelling produced a very bad effect upon my health ; my companions were induced by this circumstance to hasten the journey as much as possible ; and accordingly we did not rest the following night, and the next day, about two, arrived in Paris.
In this city there arc no hotels where you can reside as long or as short a time as you please, and we were obliged to engage apartments at an hotel for a week. They were dear, and not very pleasant. As usual, in France, the principal apartment was a bed-chamber; there was another closet with a bed, and an ante-chamber, which we used as a sitting-room.
The heat of the weather was excessive, so that we were unable to walk except in the afternoon. On the first evening we walked to the gardens of the Tuileries ; they are formal and uninteresting, in the French fashion, the trees cut into shapes, and without any grass. I think the Boulevards infinitely more pleasant. This street nearly surrounds Paris, and is eight miles in extent; it is very wide, and planted on either side with trees. At one end is a superb cascade which refreshes the senses by its continual splashing: near this stands the gate of St. Denis, a beautiful piece of sculpture. I do not know how it may at present be disfigured by the Gothic barbarism of the conquerors of France, who were not contented with retaking the spoils of Napoleon, but, with impotent malice, destroyed the monuments of their own defeat. When I saw this gate, it was in its splendour, and made you imagine that the days of Roman greatness were transported to Paris.
After remaining a week in Paris, we received a small remittance that set us free from a kind of imprisonment there, which we found very irksome. But how should we proceed! After talking over and rejecting many plans, we fixed on one eccentric enough, but which, from its romance, was very pleasing to us. In England we could not have put it in execution without sustaining continual insult and impertinence ; the French are far more tolerant of the vagaries of their neighbours. Wc resolved to walk through France ; but as I was too weak
for any considerable distance, and as C could
not be supposed to be able to walk as far as S
each day, we determined to purchase an ass, to carry our portmanteau and one of us by turns.
Early, therefore, on Monday, August 8th, S
and C went to the ass market, and purchased
an ass, and the rest of the day, until four in the afternoon, was spent in preparations for our departure ; during which, Madame ltiotesse paid us a visit, and attempted to dissuade us from our
design. She represented to us that a large army had been recently disbanded, that the soldiers and officers wandered idle about the country, and that lea dames seroient cerlamtment etUevia. But we were proof against her arguments, and packing up a few necessaries, leaving the rest to go by the diligence, we departed in a fiacre from the door of the hotel, our little ass following.
We dismissed the coach at the barrier. It was dusk, and the ass seemed totally unable to bear one of us, appearing to sink under the portmanteau, although it was small and light. We were, however, merry enough, and thought the leagues short. We arrived at Charenton about ten.
Charenton is prettily situated in a valley, through which the Seine flows, winding among banks variegated with trees. On looking at this scene,
C exclaimed, " Oh ! this is beautiful enough;
let us live here." This was her exclamation on every new scene, and as each surpassed the one before, Bhe cried, " I am glad we did not stay at Charenton, but let us live here."
Finding our ass useless, we sold it before we proceeded on our journey, and bought a mule for ten napoleons. About nine o'clock we departed. We were clad in black silk. I rode on the mule,
which carried also our portmanteau; S and
C followed, bringing a small basket of provisions. At about one we arrived at Gros-Bois, te, under the shade of trees, we ate our bread fruit, and drank our wine, thinking of Don Quixote and Sancho.
The country through which we passed was highly cultivated, but uninteresting; the horizon scarcely ever extended beyond the circumference of a few fields, bright and waving with the golden harvest. We met several travellers; but our mode, although novel, did not appear to excite any curiosity or remark. This night we slept at Guignes, in the same room and beds in which Napoleon and some of his generals had rested during the late war. The little old woman of the place was highly gratified in having this little story to tell, and spoke in warm praise of the Empress Josephine and Marie Louise, who had at different times passed on that road.
As we continued our route, Provins was the first place that struck us with interest. It was our stage of rest for the night; we approached it at sunset. After having gained the summit of a hill, the prospect of the town opened upon us as it lay in the valley below; a rocky hill rose abruptly on one side, on the top of which stood a ruined citadel, with extensive walls and towers; lower down, but beyond, was the cathedral, and the whole formed a scene for painting. After having travelled for two days through a country perfectly without interest, it was a delicious relief for the eye to dwell again on some irregularities and beauty of country. Our fare at Proving was coarse, and our beds uncomfortable, but the remembrance of this prospect made us contented and happy.
We now approached scenes that reminded us of what we had nearly forgotten, that France had lately been the country in which great and extraordinary events had taken place. Nogent, a town we entered about noon the following day, had been entirely desolated by the Cossacs. Nothing could be more entire than the ruin which these barbarianB had spread as they advanced ; perhaps they remembered Moscow and the destruction of the Russian villages ; but we were now in France, and the distress of the inhabitants, whose houses had been burned, their cattle killed, and all their wealth destroyed, has given a sting to my detestation of war, which none can feel who have not travelled through a country pillaged and wasted by this plague, which, in his pride, man inflicts upon his fellow.
We quitted the great route soon after we had left Nogent, to strike across the country to Troyes. About six in the evening we arrived at St-Aubin, a lovely village embosomed in trees ; but, on a nearer view, we found the cottages roofless, the rafters black, and the walls dilapidated ;—a few inhabitants remained. We asked for milk—I had none to give ; all their cows had been tal by the Cossacs. We had still some leagues to travel that night, but we found that they were not post leagues, but the measurement of the inhabitants, and nearly double the distance. The road lay over a desert plain, and, as night advanced, we were often in danger of losing the track of wheels, which was our only guide. Night closed in, and we suddenly lost all trace of the road ; but a few trees, indistinctly seen, seemed to indicate the position of a village. About ten wc arrived at Trois-Maisons, where, after a supper on milk and sour bread, we retired to rest on wretched beds: but sleep is seldom denied, except to the indolent; and after tho day's fatigue, although my bed was nothing more than a sheet spread upon straw, I Blept soundly until the morning was considerably advanced.
S had hurt his ankle so considerably the
preceding evening, that he was obliged, during the whole of the following day's journey, to ride on our mule. Nothing could be more barren and wretched than the tract through which we now passed; the ground was chalky and uncovered even by grass, and where there had been any attempts made towards cultivation, the straggling
ears of corn discovered more plainly the barren nature of the soil. Thousands of insectB which were of the game white colour as the road, infested our path ; the sky was cloudless, and the Sub darted its rays upon us, reflected back by the earth, until I nearly fainted under the heat. A village appeared at a distance, cheering us with a prospect of rest. It gave us new strength to proceed ; but it was a wretched place, and afforded us but little relief. It had been once large and populous, but now the houses were roofless, and tho ruins that lay scattered about, the gardens covered with the white dust of the torn cottages, the black burnt beams, and squalid looks of the inhabitants, presented in every direction the melancholy aspect of devastation. One house, a cabaret, alone remained; we were here offered plenty of milk, stinking bacon, sour bread, and a few vegetables, which we were to dress for ourselves.
As we prepared our dinner in a place so filthy, that the sight of it alone was sufficient to destroy our appetite, the people of the village collected around us, squalid with dirt, their countenances expressing everything that is disgusting and brutal They seemed, indeed, entirely detached from thr rest of the world, and ignorant of all that was passing in it. There is much less communication between the various towns of France than in England. The use of passports may easily account for this: these people did not know that Napoleon was deposed ; and when we asked why they did not rebuild their cottages, they replied, that they were afraid that the Cossacs would destroy them again upon their return. Echemine (the name of this village) is in every respect the most disgusting place I ever met with.
Two leagues beyond, on the same road, we came to the village of Pavilion,—so unlike Ectteoune, that we might have fancied ourselves in another quarter of the globe; here everything denoted cleanliness and hospitality ; many of the cottages were destroyed, but the inhabitants were employed in repairing them. What could occasion so great a difference!
Still our road lay over this tract of uncultivated country, and our eyes were fatigued by observing nothing but a white expanse of ground, where no bramble or stunted shrub adorned its barrenness. Towards evening we reached a small plantation of vines : it appeared like one of those islands of verdure that are met with in the midst of the sands of Libya, but the grapes were not yet ripe. S
was totally incapable of walking, and C and I
were very tired before wc arrived at Troves.
We rested here for the night, and devoted the