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terrace near the house of La Faciniere, which commands an extensive prospect of the neighbouring country, and I beheld from it some little towns, the names of which are known in history, a number of castles and country houses, a highly cultivated soil and a beautiful river, which, whatever its appearance may be in dry seasons, with long intervals of sand between its shallow branches, was now what a river ought to be, “ strong without rage, without o'erfiowing full,” and afforded the means of communication along a great extent of country. I was sorry to observe that almost every one of the castles and ancient mansions in view were uninhabited, either from the inability of the owner to furnish it, or from its having devolved on some new proprietor, who lived in one of the neighbouring towns in the exercise of some trade,or profession. Such of the exiled nobility as have been permitted to return, could not recover possession of any part of their property, which had been sold, or of their forests, even though they had remained unsold; so that the permission to return has been in general nothing more than a permission to endure poverty at home, rather than abroad. The price of land, notwithstanding the heavy taxes and the small profits which arise from agriculture, is much greater than before the revolution; that part which is protected from the river is sold, as I was assured, at one hundred and twenty pounds sterling an acre. The embankment which has thus converted a pestiferous swamp into a scene of useful industry, and plenty, was begun by some of the earlier kings of France, but improved to its present appearance by Louis XIV, whose vainglory and destructive ambition were certainly connected with some ideas of real magnificence and useful grandeur. Henry II of England, too, whose long experience of the ingratitude of mankind, could never, as Hume observes, affect the generous sensibility of his heart, had the glory of contributing to this great work, and found means, at a period of some difficulty in his affairs, to lay the foundation of that part of it which is near the Pont de Cè, for the benefit of his Ange. vin subjects. • We now passed far more rapidly than I could have wished along a very beautiful and interesting country. We had left the great road, which leads from Paris to Bourdeaux, we were remote from that which travellers generally take to Nantes, and found ourselves VOL. III.
among a people whose good nature and simplicity reminded us of Switzerland. It was entirely a new race of tall, straight men, who, with their overalls, and short coats, and large flapped hats gave me a very perfect idea of a Vendean soldier.
The ancient city of Saumur, which seems to have been destined to suffer by every civil war in France, was on our left; a line drawn hence to La Rochelle would include the greater part of the country which was the seat of the war of La Vendèe, of which I will endea. vour, in a future letter, to give you some particulars not very generally known. We now quitted the river, and passing under the ancient and gloomy walls of Angers, which would hardly refuse to open its gates to such armies as Shakspeare brings before it in his tragedy of King John, we stopped for the night at Varades, where we found excellent accommodations in an inn whose appearance by no means seemed to promise such. We had made the same observation at Les Roziers the evening before, and it is the more surprising as there are so few travellers. It has frequently happened to us to go a hundred and sometimes two hundred miles without meet. ing any sort of carriage, except waggons, in which alone almost the sole exchange of merchandize takes place between Paris and the distant provinces.
There are but few canals in France, and the utility of that of Orleans, which makes a figure on the map from the waters it connects, is very much diminished by the uncertainty of the navigation of the Loire. Boats have been known to be three months waiting for a sufficient depth of water and a fair wind between Nantes and Orleans.
We had no sooner lost sight of the river, than the face of the country changed; it no longer reminded me of our low grounds in Carolina, of what they might be converted into I mean, but rather of some part of Massachusetts or Connecticut; the surface of the earth was undulated, and it was diversified by an intermixture of woods and different sorts of culture divided by hedges, and interspersed with villages. A traveller, who had time to examine this country, might very well bestow some weeks in visiting the different towns of the cidevant Anjou: many of them are rendered interesting by events which they have been the scene of in former days, by the sieges they have sustained, by the memory of the distinguish
ed personages they have given birth to, and by what remains of their once flourishing manufactories. From the ancient princes of this country was descended the celebrated Margaret of Anjou, whose unconquerable courage and perseverance could, for a time, uphold the falling fortunes of the house of Lancaster: and Angers is said to have been the birthplace of Mr. Pitt, so long the first mi. nister of England, the most eloquent, the most undaunted, and the most disinterested man of his time. Posterity will do justice to this illustrious statesman, and every succeeding age will hold him in reverence, as one who contended for the liberties of mankind; so great were his resources, and so powerful the means which he knew how to put in operation, that I have often thought we might al. most apply to him in one sense, and without any similar condition, the expression of Archimedes, give me another globe but for a moment, said this great geometrician, give me but a spot to put my foot on, and I will move this earth of ours wherever I please.
The productions of the soil and the modes of agriculture would also afford very proper objects of curiosity; the earth is rich in mines of coal, of iron, of copper, and of lead; and there are quarries of marble and of slate, with animal and vegetable fossils without end. The last English monarch to whom this fine country belonged was John, the meanest and most envious of mankind, and yet the favou. rite, for a time, of Fortune, and, what is still more singular, of a faç ther, who was himself one of the best and most enlightened of men: such were the effects of his folly and licentiousness, of his cruelty, his treachery, and his ingratitude, that nothing but a death hastened by poison, could have saved him from dragging on a miserable existence in a state of exile.
The first posthouse from Angers was so near a very ancient castle, that we had time to get the doors opened and to enter it. As it lay in the way of the Vendean and republican armies during the civil war, it had been stripped of every sort of furniture, and bore marks of having served as barracks. The apartments are spacious: an ancient castle, however, must be at best but a cold and gloomy habitation. As we wandered about from room to room, I was struck on entering one, where the seigneure formerly received his company on great occasions, at the appearance of a picture in perfect preservation, which represented a person in the Scotch highland dress, with the insignia of the garter, and as just landed upon a rocky shore, in the act of delivering a paper to another, who receives it with great respect. I soon discovered that the principal personage in the picture was Charles Edward, the prince pretender, or perhaps his father, who, in England, was called the old pretender, and learned from the person who attended us, that he was meant to be represented as conferring a commission to raise a brigade upon an Irish gentleman of the name of Walsh, whose descendant, Monsieurde Seran, had been so fortunate as to preserve his property from confiscation, and it was in his castle we now were. Madain de Se. ran is one of the few ladies of high rank who have accepted a place in the household of the empress, and she is said to be a sort of favourite, a circumstance which has, perhaps, led Monsieur de Seran to hope, as I am told he does, that the embankment on the Loire will be continued, by order of government, so far below Angers as to protect his lands, the greater part of which are now an unwholesome marsh. There was somewhat in the appearance of this mysterious picture, which alone, of every thing in the castle, had been respected by both parties, and in the castle itself, and in the age and appearance of the keeper, and in the chapel, where the proprietors had a seat apart, so different from the rest as to have an air of regal distinction, and in a number of other circumstances, which brought the Mysteries of Udolpho very forcibly to our minds. We now saw marks of war which had never before occurred, in the remains of houses that had been burned, and I heard a great deal of the miseries the inhabitants had been exposed to: miseries which reminded me of somewhat similar scenes in our own country. I began to perceive also as we approached the sea, that the evils of war were more felt, that the inhabitants compared the present stagnation of trade with the shortlived joys of the peace they had been blessed with aster the treaty of Amiens, and that they ventured to regret that inordinate ambition which no extent of territory could satiate, and which continues to sacrifice the general happiness and prosperity to the vain and selfish expectation of foreign acquisitions. The environs of Nantes bespeak the opulence of former times, but the situation is low, and must, I should suppose, expose the inhabitants to
autumnal fevers. The first streets we entered were narrow and the houses old, and decayed, but we soon found ourselves in what appeared a new city, and after driving across a handsome square we entered the largest and most commodious hotel we had any where seen. I felt and it gave a tincture of somewhat like melancholy to my thoughts, as we drove along the last part that we were now to take leave of travelling in France, which is certainly one of the most agreable countries in the world to travel over; the accommodations are generally good, the roads excellent, and the horses as strong and willing as they are coarse and ugly; as to the postillions they are as lively and good natured as ever, and much less importunate than formerly, but they are still very great coxcombs, and that too with a union of wretchedness which is not perhaps to be met with in any other country upon earth-one of those, who drove us this last stage, and who I could see was a very pretty fellow in his own eyes, would have gathered a croud about him in America-whisps of straw served as bootlegs to his wooden shoes, and a piece of old tapestry, with figures of men and horses and towers and battlements “ bosomed high in tufted trees;” protected him from the weather, whilst his sunburned face was partly shaded by the remains of a rose coloured handkerchief, which was thus converted into a substitute for a hat.
There are few towns or villages in France, where there are not beggars who assail every stranger that arrives, and there are various other marks and degrees of poverty not to be met with in America; I have heard a poor man, as I stood in the market place of a morning, compliment another upon his appearing abroad in a new pair of wooden shoes, as one of our people might wish another joy of a new coat: in Paris particularly there is a great deal of abject poverty concealed under a decent appearance made with clothes and linen hired for the day; numbers who appear occasionally in good company have no other resource. This once opulent city of Nantes has had some breathing time from the horrors of the revolution, which it was in a particular degree exposed to. But it still exhibits a sad contrast to the descriptions which I have read of it: there were formerly various seminaries, and colleges, and schools of chirurgery, and navigation, and a university, with societies of agriculture, and of the arts, and of mu,