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JOURNAL OF A TOURISTNO. (IV.
-O qui me gelidis in vallibus Hæmi Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrâ ! LET every man, even if his imagination be " duller than the fat weed that rots itself at ease on Lethe's bank,” rest contented with its creations, and not attempt to compare them with the realities which they anticipated; for he may be well assured that in the great majority of instances he will be bitterly disappointed. The tamest embodying of fancy generally surpasses the most brilliant matter-of-fact; and to have all one's rich but indefinite ideas dissipated by the rude assault of ocular demonstration, is like being awakened out of a delicious dream by the dustman's bell. He is a wise man who saves all the expense of travelling; performs the grand tour in his easy chair; sets his mind in motion instead of his limbs; and conjures before him, by an instantaneous process of his mind, all those celebrated towns, ruins, and landscapes, which tourists expend so much time and trouble in exploring, and, after all, never behold in half so magnificent or picturesque a point of view, as the fire-side visionary, whose eyes have never wandered from the poker or the rug. According to the old adage of "omne ignotum pro magnifico," the less a man knows, the more magnificent are his ideas; and let him repose upon this imaginary grandeur, for there is poetical authority for declaring, that where “ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise."....The reader may well think me timid, but I really feel seriously alarmed at the daily increase of my information, for every step forward seems to be the demolition of some delightful conception; and every new sight seen by the bodily eye, destroys in a moment some beautiful vision on which the mind's eye had feasted for years. Such has been the effect of my visit to-day to the Hermitage of Jean Jacques Rousseau, in the woods of Montmorency. O what picturesque, what romantic associations did I connect with this spot! A hermitage in the midst of woods is abstractedly scenic and piquant to the fancy; but when I recollected the glowing and pastoral beauties with which this morbid enthusiast had invested it in his Confessions—when I called to mind that he had here composed some of his most touching effusions, and had attributed their fervour to the inspiration of these sylvan and sequestered haunts, my imagination was disposed to run riot in the luxuriance of its rural shadowings. I had determined, however, that the Hermitage itself was a kind of Swiss cottage, somewhat like those in the gardens of the little Trianon, the trellis-work of whose latticed windows was nearly hidden by clusters of roses, jessamin, and honeysuckle; while acacias, mountain ash, laburnum, and other flowering trees gracefully threw their varicoloured foliage over the roof, contrasting finely with the gigantic boughs and impenetrable shade of the forest in which the whole was embowered. Alas! this inauspicious day was but a tissue of disappointments. After toiling up the bill of Montmorency, I looked around me, and if its valley be in reality,what it is generally stated to be,-one of the most picturesque and romantic spots in France, I can only say, so much the worse for France. I agree with the Parisian, who pronounced that the view from Richmond Hill would be no great matter, it
' you took away the wood and water, for here they
are both wanting, and the prospect is precisely as he states—no great matter.- -The town itself is small and shabby, and would be little known but from its vicinity to the Hermitage, and the influx of pilgrims to visit it, for whose accommodation a large and well-appointed establishment of donkies is in perpetual readiness. Not choosing to avail ourselves of this conveyance, we walked along a winding road, which led to the point of attraction, and here we did encounter the prettiest and most pastoral scene imaginable. A sudden dip of the path left some high and broken ground on our left, thickly planted with the finest walnut-trees we had yet seen. The sound of music induced us to climb this ascent, and upon the summit, under the shade of outspreading boughs, was a group of peasant girls dancing quadrilles, all attired alike in their Sunday costume, (for it was the Sabbath-day,) consisting of crimson cotton gowns, black aprons, and elegantly-worked caps; while the band had converted a grassy bank into an orchestra, and the parents, seated on benches, or reclining upon the ground, encircled the whole assemblage. Nothing could be more melodramatic than the dresses, scenery, dancing, and tout-ensemble of this picturesque little company; and yet nothing could be more unaffected, simple, and modest, than the air of the performers. It seemed a spontaneous effusion of tranquil enjoyment, and was rendered doubly attractive to us, whatever it might be to the parties concerned, by the absence of men, who in this country are in woeful discordance with all pastoral associations. Unwillingly quitting this primitive scene, we bent our steps to the Hermitage, which we found to be a common-place, square, vulgar house, in the court-yard of which stood a carriage, no very hermit-like appendage. Passing through some shabby rooms, we were ushered into the far-famed garden, a small, formal, square enclosure, surrounded by walls, in one corner of which was a poor bust of Jean Jacques, with some lines by his quondam patroness; in another was a bust of Gretry, the musician, who tenanted the house after Rousseau ; and at the extremity was a miserable miniature attempt at rusticity, consisting of a cork-screw walk, a gutter with a large stone or two, meant to imitate a cascade and rock, and that indispensable article in all French gardening, a little basin with a jet d'eau. “O what a falling off was here!”—Disappointed and dejected I left this paltry cabbagegarden, resolved to plunge, for consolation, into the woods of Montmorency; but these have long since gone to warm ragouts and fricandeaus for the epicures of Paris, and nothing now exists but some mathematical rows of poplars, and straggling plantations of young trees and underwood. Yet this dry chalky valley, glaring with white houses, this forest of twigs and young poplars, this cockney hermitage, worthy of Mile End or Homerton, the Parisians consider as the beau idéal of all that is wild, sylvan, and romantic; proudly adducing them as irrefragable proofs of the superiority of their own environs, whenever a Londoner ventures to say a word in behalf of Richmond Hill.
Almost every eminence in the vicinity of Paris capable of affording a view, has been seized by some monarch or mistress for the construction of a chateau ; and if Voltaire and other leading writers of the French have fixed their Augustan æra of literature in the reign of Louis Quatorze, and decried all deviation from this standard of
fection as barbarous, it is not to be expected that succeeding builders of palaces should depart from the established system of gardening practised by Le Notre under that grand monurque, and so happily illustrated in the quincunxes, stars, terraces, parterres, clipped allies, and verdant sculpture of Versailles. The ostentatious, formal and artificial style of that age has not only extended itself by means of the Academy to the literature of France, but has stamped itself upon the taste of the country, and left a legible impress upon the national character. Magnificence and extent in some degree redeemed the original;-its successors have only meanness and poverty superadded to the reproach of servile imitation, and this is the character of nearly all the gardens and grounds in the immediate vicinity of the capital. Circumstances have conspired to perpetuate the parsimony of nature. The practice of cutting down all the trees of a certain age for fuel is utterly destructive of any thing like scenery. Those hoary monarchs of the forest which impart a character of grandeur to the glades they overshadow, and awaken correspondent emotions in the spectator by carrying his thoughts into the past and the future, are strangers to these purlieus ; but there is no lack of slim, sickly shoots,--plantations of underwood, and forests of sticks disposed in rows, with rectilinear avenues. With the exception of the trees that line the roads, and those forming the Boulevards, I have not yet seen one of any apparent age; nor even among these have I encountered a single noble or majestic specimen.
There is nothing fantastical in supposing some general analogy to exist between the features of a country and the character of its inhabitants. Unconversant with the physical beauties of nature, the French know not how to appreciate her moral charms; and as they supply her niggardliness in the one instance by a jet d'eau and an evergreen maze, so they substitute for the other, frigid declamation, pedantic rules, and elaborate art. Who can wonder at La Harpe's declaration, that pastoral poetry is more in discredit among them than any other species of composition? or at the Abbé de Lille's regretting that the “ false delicacy and unfortunate prejudices” of his countrymen should have proscribed the style suited to such writings ? Who can be amazed that they are not only blind to that fervent, impassioned, and enthusiastic drama which draws its inspiration from the deep founts of Nature, but that from the time of Voltaire they have ever flouted it with derision and contempt? Is it not consistent that they should exalt the classical, meaning by that term the productions of Corneille, Racine, and Voltaire, over the romantic, as exemplified in the works of such bunglers as Shakspeare? Can we wonder, in fine, that they should utterly fail in gardening, and in all those works of art the perfection of which requires an intense feeling of nature, or taste for simplicity; while they are the inventors of cocked-hats, hoops, and hair-powder ; unrivalled in bijouterie, and all the littlenesses of art; peerless in dancing, as far as perfection consists in deviating from all natural attitudes, and paramount in cookery, which necessarily implies a similar departure from every thing primitive and simple.
The demolition of the wood of Boulogne is eagerly ascribed to the English who were quartered in it at the second occupation of Paris; but the assertion is only true to a very limited extent. It has been cut down half a dozen times, and its principal destruction was effected by the French themselves, for the purpose of forming palisades at the period alluded to. Have they not, moreover, in the very heart of this classical metropolis fountains of the Elephant, of the Naiad, of Bacchus, and of the Devil; Barriers of Battle, Mount Parnassus, and Hell; a Hospital of Scipio, a Pantheon, Odeon, Gymnasium, Olympic Circus, a Cosmographic Saloon, besides Turkish Gardens, gardens of the Delta, and Tivoli ? Not only have they triumphal Arches and Columns, but a single Coffee House of a thousand Columns, which is at the same time a low shabby room with a fine lady in the bar, and a few pillars against the walls. May not the traveller who pays attention to their gaudy signs, encounter in the single street of St. Honoré, the Guardian Angel, the Symbol of Peace, the Palm of Victory, the Triumph of Trajan, the Blush of Aurora, and the Pharos of Leander ? Even the Christian names of the rabble are pagan and poetical. The writer being in want of a maid-servant received applications from a Zoe, a Rosalie, an Adrienne, two Augustines, one Anastasie, and one Adéle ; the latter of whom, by way of summing up her qualifications, declared that she was of a disposition altogether sweet and amiable ; knew how to touch the piano a little, and could sing songs for the amusement of children. The French of all ranks, and under all cir. cumstances, are just as fond of grandiloquence and altisonant phrases as they were in the time of Sterne. Boileau's maxim that “ one would rather tolerate, generally speaking, a low or common thought, expressed in noble words, than a noble thought expressed in mean language, has not been lost upon them ; for it was exactly adapted to the pride of a people who could mor easily obtain the command of a thousand sounding words than of a single fine idea.
IMITATED FROM D'ALIBRET.
Baise, baise moy tout à l'heure.
-SATIRISTS OF WOMEN.-CHANCES OF FENALE TAPPINESS.
“ But what so pure which envious tongues will spare ?
Swiit. Anacreon, being asked why he addressed all his hymns to women and none to the gods, answered,—" Because women are
deities ;” and the ladies were, no doubt, mightily indebted to him and similar voluptuaries who set them up in their houses, as certain barbarous nations did their Lares and Lemures, for playthings and ornaments, to be deified when their owners were in good luck and good humour, and vilipended and trodden under foot in every access of passion or reverse of fortune. Little flattering as is such praise, it is still observable that the ancient writers seldom abused the sex “in good set terms,” or carried their vituperation beyond the excusable limits of raillery and a joke. Socrates vented only witticisms against Xantippe: Xenarchus, the comic poet, in noticing that none but the male grasshoppers sing, exclaims, " How happy are they in having dumb wives!” and Eubulus, another old Grecian jester, after mentioning the atrocities of Medea, Clytemnestra, and Phædra, says it is but fair that he should proceed to enumerate the virtuous heroines, when he suddenly stops short, wickedly pretending that he cannot recollect a single one. Among the Romans we know that Juvenal dedicated his sixth Satire to the abuse of the fair sex, but his worst charge only accuses them of being as bad as the men; and if we are to infer that the licentiousness of his own life was at all equal to the grossness of his language, we may safely presume that his female acquaintance were not among the most favourable specimens of the race. The unnatural state of Monachism has been the bitter fountain whence has flowed most of the still more unnatural abuse of women; the dark ages have supplied all the great luminaries of Misogyny, who have ransacked their imaginations to supply reasons for perverted religion, and excuses for violated humanity.
alerius's letters to Rufinus, the golden book of Theophrastus, and Saint Jerome's Exhortations to Celibacy, have furnished all authors, from the Romance of the Rose downwards, with materials for this unmanly warfare,-so narrow is the basis on which are grounded all the sorry jests, shallow arguments, and pitiful scandals of ribalds and lampooners; and so easy is it to obtain a reputation for that species of wit, which, as Johnson says of scriptural parody, “ a good man detests for its immorality, and a clever one despises for its facility.”
Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Merchant's Tale, &c. all borrowed from the abovementioned sources, were little more than good-humoured though gross caricatures ; Boileau, whose tenth Satire is a more bitter denunciation, should have recollected, that he was naturally as well as professionally compelled to celibacy, and might have consulted his friend contenelle upon the Fable of the Fox and the Grapes : it was perhaps to be expected that the melancholy Dr. Young, who undervalued hu