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amiable, sinking under the disgrace of a dishonourable peace, opposed by his children, deserted by his favourites, and retiring to die in an obscure castle, affords a striking lesson of the versatility of human affairs. I have often thought that lord Lyttleton's account of the last moments of this great monarch’s life was as pathetic a picture as is to be found in history, and that it ought to weigh with the reader in favour of one of the dullest books that was ever written.
We passed through Amboise, and took a hasty look at the exterior of the ancient castle where Charles VIII was born, and which is connected with some important events in the history of France. We saw Chanteloup far upon our left, and could distinguish the column which Monsieur de Choiseul erected during his exile in honour of those who came to visit him. No individual before the revolution ever united so much power in his own person as Monsieur de Choiseul, being at one time at the head of the three great departments of the army, the navy, and foreign affairs. From this world of business, this torrent of human affairs, the transition to the tranquillity of rural life must have been painful, and it was wise in him to think of amusing himseif by the pursuits of agriculture. I do not imagine, however, from what I heard as I passed, that his proficiency in farming was ever very great or very profitable; his noble cow-house and well-established dairy, which Young speaks so highly of, could not, it seems, supply the household with milk, and Chanteloup was sold after his death to pay his debts.
To the casties of the former nobility, which are spread along the river, there were now added, as we approached Tours, a number of comfortable houses, which bespoke the prosperous trade of that ancient city in better times, and there began also to be seen some singular habitations scooped out of the soft rock which must have formed the banks of the river, in days of yore, before it had made for itself so deep a channel. The chimnies to these are opened through the rock, and smoke is frequently seen to rise an.dist horses and cattle, who are thus grazing on the top of a human habitation. These cavern houses are generally inhabited by the class of labourers, and afford others the facility of having very cool and diy cellars at a trifling expense. We shortly after passed the ruins of the venerable and once wealthy and distinguished monastery of Marm.ch
tice, and entered Tours over a noble bridge of fifteen arches, which leads into one of the handsomest streets we had ever seen in France. The houses are of hewn stone, their fronts have a uniform appearance, and there are side pavements for the accommodation of foot passengers. All that heaven has ever bestowed upon man was once to be enjoyed in this fine country. But their manufactories, which formed a principal source of their prosperity, are gone to decay, and the overplus of what the earth, in its utmost fertility produces, but suffices a livelihood and the means of paying taxes. In walking about the town I saw nothing that looked like opulence or prosperity, and the playhouses which we attended in the evening, was the very emblem of wretchedness. I could not have imagined that I should find a theatre in one of the handsomest towns of France, in comparison of which, the playhouse over the old beef-market at Newport might be called a splendid place. The cathedral, which you may have seen a description of in some book of travels, and which was once distinguished for a profusion of Gothic ornaments, and revered as a place of peculiar sanctity, was defaced and defiled with the most profligate ingenuity during the revolution. The workmen employed upon this iniquitous occasion are said to have received nearly thirty thousand livres as wages, and the government is now expending more than twice that sum to restore this ancient place of worship as much as possible to its former appearance, · Tours is known in history as the birth-place of Agnes Sorcel, who, with all her frailties, is said in an epigram made upon her by Francis I, to have rendered more service to France than the prayers, in all probability, and the mortifications of a whole convent of nuns could.
It was at Tours that Louis XI dragged on the last period of his wretched life, the horrors of which have been described by his his. torian, Comines, with so much truth and simplicity. He had trifled with oaths and promises, had oppressed his subjects, and put numbers to death, on every frivolous pretence; he had exercised his ingenuity too in the invention of such instruments of torture, as might best prolong the sufferings of those, who were the peculiar objects of his vengeance, and he now felt the full force of all the enormities he had committed, with the additional mortification of being exposed
to the insolence and rapacity of a physician, whom he did not dare to dismiss. On leaving Tours we took a lust look at what remains of Marmontice, which once belonged to the Benedictines. Those good fathers, who like all of their order, were distinguished for the sanctity of their lives and for their erudition, here lived in the centre of a great estate, which they cultivated to advantage, whilst the growing ornaments of their church, and their various buildings encouraged artists of every denomination; their hospitality and charity consoled every wanderer in distress, and their charity relieved the poor. It does not appear that the lands which were once their property are better cultivated, or the revenue arising from them put to a better use than formerly, and as to the poor, they are now left to Providence. The nation meanwhile has received no benefit whatsoover from this sacrilegious confiscation. The purchase money in assignats when paid into the treasury after a year's credit was not equivalent to more than 10 or 15 pounds sterling, whilst the lead alone from the roof of the church and of the other principal buildings sold for upwards of twelve hundred pounds. Our road was now entirely confined to the embankment, and as the low grounds were in some places of no great breadth, we had an opportunity of examining several of the cavern houses as we passed along; they are in some places, where the cliff recedes sufficiently as it ascends, in tires one above the other, and it then sometimes happens, that the smoke of one man's habitation rises up in the midst of his neighbour's garden. Our first day's journey, and it was a very short one, brought us to the house of Monsieur Du Vau de la Fariniere, to whom we were particularly recommended by his son, whom I had been so happy as to be, come acquainted with at Geneva, and we had the pleasure of being l'eceived in an ancient castle like looking mansion, on the banks of the Loire in Touraine, with the same hospitality we should have experienced in Carolina or Virginia. Our host was far advanced in Jife: he had been living during the whole of the revolution upon the confines of the country which was the seat of civil war, and had suffered from the exactions of both parties. In common with many other parents he had been compelled by a law, in the highest degree unjust, to sell property in order to pay a child's portion of his estate for a son, who had emigrated. To render a parent responsi
ble for a son, who is made a soldier, and beyond the term at which the parental authority would in every other instance cease, or to seize during the life of the parent upon such a portion of his estate as the son would be entitled to if he should be the longer liver are laws so remote from justice, that one might almost suppose them the invention of some ingenious writer, who was speculating upon the vices of mankind, in order to ascertain with how small a degree of honour and equity men might be kept together under a certain form of government. In common too with every other proprietor he felt the weight of taxes accompanied as it was with the impossibility of selling to any auvantage the yearly productions of his estate, but he enjoyed the tranquillity of the present moment, maintained as it was by a uniform and regular administration of justice, and never broken in upon by any appearance of war or by parties of tired soldiers clamorous for food and quarters, and he considered the general operation of a similar sentiment as affording a very solid support to the present government.
The peasants in the neighbourhood of La Fariniere, like those of every part of France I had hitherto visited, have benefited by the revolution. They have paid their debts in depreciated assignats, they have added to their little portion of property by purchases of land on very easy terms; they are relieved from the taille, which was not only oppressive but degrading, and from the gabotte, which exposed them at all times to have their houses searched, and their daily consumption of provisions scrutinized, and from the injurious effects of the ancient corn police which prevented the superfluity of one district from passing into another, even in cases of absolute want; they are relieved too from the absurd oppression of the ancient game laws and the abuses of the capitaineries from the corvie, from many other feudal services, which were prejudicial to the cultivation of the little spot that was to give bread to the family of each, and from the mockery of justice in the seigneurial courts, which comprised every species of despotism and occasioned an irreparable loss of time and enormous expenses on the most trifling occasions. These taxes though heavy, are now in proportion to the property they hold, and to their consumption. Their wages as labourers are increased, and every article which they can raise for the use of the neighbouring towns commands a higher price; they
are in short better fed, better clothed, better protected by the law, and live in better houses, than before the revolution. What they feel most is the conscription; but the complaints of those who lament the absence of their children or deplore their loss, are drowned in shouts of victory at the arrival of every courier, and so great are the effects of the general exultation among the lower orders in some of the distant provncies, that without any knowledge of the enemy to be combated, or of the occasion of the war, or even of the part of the world it is to be carried on in, thousands would fly to arms at the first summons; a single defeat of a French army however commanded by the emperor in person might put an end to all this enthusiasm, and cure them of their delirium, for all depends upon the high idea they entertain of his capacity, and of his good fortune. The taxes, as I said, are high; they might better indeed be called exorbitant, for what with the fourth of the net income; and all the various taxes on consumption, on doors, windows, chimneys, furniture, servants, and houses, and the duties payable on the transportation of any article from place to place, and on its entering a town, the landholder is supposed to pay upwards of thirty-three per cent. on his income; this is paid monthly or quarterly with allowance of somewhat more than the legal interest for those who pay in advance.
The mansion house we were received at with a kindness of hospitality I have not as yet experienced in this old world, was within a few yards of the bottom of the cliff, which rose perpendicularly to a great height above it, and this had been excavated according to the custom of the country into all the various offices which the services of a large and opulent family required. It was so contrived that light should be admitted into the kitchen, but the spacious vaults which held provisions for the use of the farm, or the produce of the vintage, or grain, or wood, were so dark, that an old female servant, who put me in mind of dame Leonarda in captain Rolando's cavern, was obliged to precede us with a torch. The rock is of chalk, which is known to be a marine production, and we were therefore walking along what must have been once the bottom of the sea. It afterwards became the bank of a rapid river, and is now a receptacle for the fruits of the earth in a most fertile country. There is a natural