« AnteriorContinuar »
wretched habitations, on the cold and damp earth, have the unhappy soldiers (destined to take up their . quarters here) endured the last rude winter. Passing by one of them, I looked in, from curiosity, to discover its contents, and do suppose it must have been the infirmary hovel; for I perceived several fick wretches stretched out upon palliasses, who seemed ready to expire, and whom it had been more merciful to have shot at once through the head, than thus facrifice them piece-meal to agues and dead palsies, for the Glory of Lewis the Beloved.
Our conductor, after relating to us the very great difficulties they had combated during the last winter, in particular that the heavy snows had prevented their receiving provisions from Savoy, and their Swiss neighbours had refused to sell them any, added, that the garrison of B. (from which they are a detachment) obliged them (the officers) to subfcribe twelve livres a month each to the comedy at that garrison. This is something so. highly prepofierous, and at the same time fa unjust, that it is scarcely credible.
The Lake in this part is very rough, and fre. quently fo dangerous in winter, from the eddy winds caused by the surrounding mountains, that none of their little vessels could lie at anchor in safety, if unprotected by walls, which form a regular port (I believe I forgot to tell you, that there is 4 very good port at Morges, though none at Geneva), in shape a square of about two hundred,
yards. Three sides of this square are formed by a wall four feet thick and twenty feet high, built our into the Lake upon piles, with an entrance to let vessels in
Having viewed this town and port in terrcrem, we took leave of our polite guide, wishing him a speedy order to return to Old France *. M--prophesies this town will never be built ; or, supposing it should be in part, never inhabited t. His reasons are,—" that it is situated in the midst of implacable enemies, whose interests and inclinations it must ever be to distress this new establishment. Nor can trade be carried on without a fund; and though that was afforded them, still the Genevans, by making the smallest accommodations for the vessels trading upon the Lake, would render utterly useless and unavailing all that the French may hereafter expend upon Versoix and its port.” What benefit then can they expect to result from throwing, away a great sum of money, and harafling many more of their already too oppreffed military subjects ?
As we drew near to Geneva, the country became very cheerful, by offering to our view a great number of small houses and pretty gardens belonging to the citizens, who retire to them in the summer when their business permits. Our inn is very good,
* The troops now here are a detachment of about 300 from the Queen's regiment, and 200 of the Royal artillery.
† This prophesy has been since fulfilled, as the undertaking was totally abandoned immediately upon the D. of Choiseul's disgrace.
· as well as our accommodations and provisions ; and the peoplé civil. I think civility in inn-keepers essential to the health of travellers; for how much are one's nerves and spirits hurried, and one's blood heated, when, on arriving late perhaps at an inn in France, you are almost morally
certain of receiving an insolent reply to any ques. tion, though the most reasonable, and necessary, that a traveller can ask ?
I think the trout of this Lake inferior to the common English trout. The victuals here are dressed in the fashion of Geneva, or rather in the old English style, boiled and roasted, with puddings of various forts, codling-pies, &c. The Genevans and Swiss boast a resemblance in their manner of living to the tables of England, but they are total strangers to the luxuries of our modern repasts.-As to what you have heard in re. gard to their eating cats, if there is any truth in that report, it is not at Geneva that animal is in vogue, but in the more remote and uncivilized parts of Switzerland.
Here I am interrupted by a great noise, proceeding from the jollity of some young men of Geneva, who, Divine service being over, are come to pass their Sunday's evening in various amusements in the garden of our inn. Some play at nine-pins, others at vingt et une ; others eat and drink in the arbours, and chaunt the old French psalm-tunes to profane words, che sono un poco troppo allegro.-I imagined the Genevans had
been a grave plodding people ; having formed that idea of them from these lines of Voltaire, which I had lately been reading :
Au pied d'un mont * que les temps ont pele,
Sur tous les fronts à gravé la tristesse, &c. I We can form no judgment of the justice or injustice of these lines, knowing so little of the people they characterize.
* La Montagne de Salive, partie des Alpes.
|| Les seuls citoyens de Geneve ont quatre millions cinq cent mille livre de rente sur la France en divers efféts. Il n'y a point de ville en Europe qui dans son territoire ait autant de jolies maisons de campagne proportion gardeé. Il y à cinquante fourneaux dans Geneve, ou l'on fond l'or et l'argent. On y poussoit autrefois des argumens theologique.
† Auteur des Comptes Faits.
1 Ces vers sont digne de la musique on y chante les commande. ments de Dieu sur l'air reveilles voils beile endormir.
As to the company below, the maid of the house eyes them with terror, calling them liber, fins, and mauvais sujéts. She certainly means what we cail Bucks, and of these, I think there must be a certain proportion to every town. At length la Jeunesse Genevois have taken their leave, for at a certain hour Geneva's gates are closed, and impenetrable to any person whatsoever until the morning.
To my great disappointment, I am just now informed that the letters I expected to receive here from you are forwarded to Turin; travellers must learn patience. .
A cold I have caught, adds to my chagrin, as it deprives me of going to Ferney *, whither M went this morning, and from whence he is just returned, highly satisfied with his reception, for Voltaire was in a good humour : D'Alembert and the Marquis d'Argens were just arrived by appointment to pass a few days together, the former from Paris, the latter from Berlin. You may imagine the conversation was not languid when kept up by such men. I have been teasing M— to relate to me every word they uttered; what he recollects of the conversation pleases me so much, that I wish him to commit it to paper for your amusement, and he has promised me he will do so the very first moment he can command. He says, Ferney is a charming place, that Voltaire lives magnificently.
His niece, who is a very well bred agreeable woman, manages his hou hold affairs;----and that
* The seat of M de Voltaire, about three English miles distant from Geneva.