Anna Letitia Barbauld

Poetess Archive: Anna Barbauld's Prose Works

"Letters to Dr. Aikin" (1774-1786)     TEI-encoded version


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Letters to Dr. Aikin

Palgrave, 1774.

1.         Thanks to my dear brother for his letter, and the copy of verses, which Mr. B. and I admire much. As to your system, I do not know what to say; I think I could make out just the contrary with as plausible arguments: as thus, Women are naturally inclined not only to love, but to all the soft and gentle affections; all the tender attentions and kind sympathies of nature. When, therefore, one of our sex shows any particular complacency towards one of yours, it may be resolved into friendship; into a temper naturally caressing, and those endearing intercourses of life which to a woman are become habitual. But when


man, haughty, independent man, becomes sensible to all the delicacies of sentiment and softens his voice and address to the tone of les manières douces, it is much to be suspected a stronger power than friendship has worked the change. You are hardly social creatures till your minds are humanized and subdued by that passion which alone can tame you to "all the soft civilities of life." Your heart requires a stronger fire to melt it than ours does: the chaste and gentle rays of friendship, like star-beams may play upon it without effect; - it will only yield to gross material fire. There is a pretty flight for you! In short, women I think may be led on by sentiment to passion; but men must be subdued by passion before they can taste sentiment. Well! I protest I think I have the best of the argument all to nothing. I'll go ask Mr. Barbauld. Yes; he says my system will do. I beg I may have Dr. E.'s opinion upon it, as I take him to be a pretty casuist in these affairs. I hope I am by this time richer by a nephew or niece: if it is a boy, I claim it; if a girl, I will be content to stay for the next. I am afraid my poor child is tossing upon the waves, for I have not heard yet of its arrival in London; and I cannot help feeling all a parent's anxiety for


its fate and establishment in the world: several people here are so kind as to inquire after it, but I can give them no satisfaction.

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Palgrave, Sept. 9, 1775.

1.          I give you joy with all my heart, my dear brother, on the little hero's appearance in the world, and hope he will live to be as famous a man as any of his namesakes. I shall look upon you now as a very respectable man, as being entitled to all the honours and privileges of a father of three children. I would advise you to make one a hero, as you have determined; another a scholar; and for the third, -- send him to us, and we will bring him up for a Norfolk farmer, which I suspect to be the best business of the three. I have not forgot Arthur, and send you herewith a story for his edification; but I must desire you to go on with it. When you have brought the shepherd Hidallan a sheet further in his adventures, send him back to me, and I will take up the pen: it will be a very sociable way of writing, and I doubt not but it will produce something new and clever. The great thing to be avoided in these things is, the having any plan in your head: nothing cramps your fancy so much; and I protest to you I am entirely clear from that inconvenience.

2.          Pray can you tell me anything about Crashaw?


I have read some verses of his, prefixed to Cornaro's treatise, so exceedingly pretty, that I am persuaded he must have written more, and should be glad to see them: I would transcribe the verses, but I think you have Cornaro in your library.

3.         Be it known to you, that Palgrave seminary will soon abound with poets, even as the green fields abound with grasshoppers. Our usher is a poet profest; and two of the lads have lately exercised their pens the same way, and not amiss. One especially has written two or three pieces, which, if I am not deceived by the partiality I cannot help feeling for the little urchins, I may say are really clever for a boy of twelve years old. Now I am upon poetical subjects, I must tell you that a young clergyman in this neighbourhood is writing a play, which he did us the honour to submit to our criticism. The subject is, the resistance of the Chilese to the Spaniards, by which they recovered their independence. I am afraid I gave him very wicked advice; for I recommended it to him to re-convert his Indian from Christianity to Heathenism, and to make his chiefs a little more quarrelsome.

4.          I believe the Devotional Pieces have met with the fate of poor Jonah, and been swallowed up by some whale, -- perhaps out of pity and compassion, to save them in his jaws from the more terrible teeth of the critics. St. Anthony, I think, preached


to the fishes; perhaps I may have the same honour. I should as soon hope to inspire a porpoise with devotion, as a turtle-eater.

5.         You must know I find one inconvenience in franks; one never knows when to have done. In a common letter you fill your sheet, and there's an end; but with a frank you may write on and on for ever: I have tired two pens already. But I will write no more to you: I will write to poor Patty, who wants amusement, -- so farewell! Go and study your Greek, and do not interrupt us.

6.          And how do you do, my dear Patty? let me take a peep at this boy. Asleep, is he? Nevermind; draw the cradle-curtains softly, and let me have a look. Upon my word, a noble lad! dark eyes, like his mother, and a pair of cheeks! You may keep him a few months yet before you pack him up in the hamper; and then I desire you will send him with all speed; for you know he is to be mine ......

7.         May every blessing attend you and yours, and all the dear society at Warrington.

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1.          Dear Brother,

2.          I doubt not but you have been grumbling in your gizzard for some time, and muttering between your teeth, "What is this lazy sister of ours about"? Now to prove to you that I am not lazy, I will tell you what I have been about. First, then, making


up beds; secondly, scolding my maids, preparing for company; and lastly, drawing up and delivering lectures on Geography. Give me joy of our success, for we shall have twenty-seven scholars before the vacation, and two more have bespoke places at Midsummer; so that we do not doubt of being soon full: nay, sir, I can assure you it is said in this country, that it will soon be a favour to be on Mr. Barbauld's list: -- you have no objection, I hope, to a little boasting.

3.         I thank you, my dear brother, for so kindly drawing your pen in my defence. An admirer of Popery! Heaven help their wise heads! when it was one of my earliest aversions. But this I see, that in religious and political affairs if a person does not enlist under a party, he is sure to meet with censure from party. I had not seen the charge till I had your letter: we had had the Review too, but I had read it carelessly. If they do not insert your letter, I should be glad to see it..

4.          Yes, Sterne's Letters are paltry enough, and so are Lady Luxborough's, which we ran through in the course of an afternoon. I am afraid the public will be sated with letters before we publish our correspondence. I could make a neat pocket-volume or two of yours, and of Mr. Barbauld's a quarto.

5.         Adieu, yours ever.


6.         Yes, I was somewhat lazy in writing, I confess; but upon my word I could not tell how to help it, so busy was I: and, by the way, I think I have sometimes been as long without hearing from Warrington. Well! we will all mend if we can.

7.         Mr. Barbauld thanks you for your elegant Pliny, which he intends to make a school-book immediately after the vacation. Your Tacitus, too, seems a very good scheme, and we hope to see it in time. But I own I cannot help wishing you would undertake some original work, either of fancy or elegant criticism; you have the powers for both. I think we must some day sew all our fragments together, and make a Joineriana of them. Let me see: -- I have, half a ballad; the first scene of a play; a plot of another, all but the catastrophe; half a dozen loose similies, and an eccentric flight or two among the fairies.

8.          Did I tell you the boys are going to act the First Part of Henry IV., and I am busy making paper vandykes, and trimming up their hats with feathers? Do you know that we make a trip to Holland this vacation?

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1.         Dear Brother

2.          To my sister and yourself Mr. Barbauld and I have a request to make, in which, though perhaps


it may be rather singular, we are very seriously in earnest; and therefore, whether you grant or deny, we hope you will neither laugh at us nor take it amiss. Without further preface, it is this. You enjoy a blessing Providence has hitherto denied to us, -- that of children: you have already several, and seem very likely to have a numerous family. As to ourselves, having been thus long without prospect of any, it is, to say the least, very uncertain whether that hope, which most I believe form when they marry, will ever be fulfilled. Some, indeed, say to us, that considering how large a family we have of others' children, 'tis rather fortunate we have none of our own. And true it is, that employed as we are in the business of education, we have many of the cares and some of the pleasures of a parent; but the latter very imperfectly. We have them not early enough to contract the fondness of affection which early care alone can give; we have them not long enough to see the fruit of our culture; and we have not enough the disposal of them to follow our own plans and schemes in their education. We wish for one who might be wholly ours: and we think that if a child was made ours by being given young into our hands, we could love it, and make it love us so well, as to supply in a great measure the want of the real relationship. We know there are many instances of people who have taken the


greatest satisfaction in, and felt the highest fondness for, children who by some accident have been thrown upon their arms. Why then should not we seek out and choose some object of such an affection? and where can we better seek it than in a brother's family?

3.          Our request then, in short, is this: that you will permit us to adopt one of your children; which of them, we leave to you; -- that you will make it ours in every sense in which it is possible to make it, -- that you will transfer to us all the care and all the authority of a parent; that we should provide for it, educate it, and have the entire direction of it as far into life as the parental power itself extends. Now I know not what to say to induce you to make us such a gift. Perhaps you will entirely deny it; and then we must acquiesce: for I am sensible it is not a small thing we ask; nor can it be easy for a parent to part with a child. This I would say, from a number, one may more easily be spared. Though it makes a very material difference in happiness whether a person has children or no children, it makes, I apprehend, little or none whether he has three, or four; five, or six; because four or five are enow to exercise all his whole stock of care and affection. We should gain, but you would not lose. I would likewise put you in mind that you would not part with it to strangers; the connexion between you and it would not be broken off: you


would see it (I hope), hear of it often; and it should be taught to love you, if it had not learnt that lesson before. Our child must love our brother and sister. Its relation to you is likewise a presumption that we shall not be wanting in that love for it which will be necessary to make it happy. I believe both Mr. Barbauld and myself are much disposed to love children, and that we could soon grow fond of any one who was amiable and entirely under our care. How then can we fail to love a child for whom at setting out we shall have such a stock of affection as we must have for yours? I hope, too, we should have too right a sense of things to spoil it; and we see too much of children to indulge an over-anxious care. But you know us well enough to be able to judge in general how we should educate it, and whether to your satisfaction. Conscience and affection, I hope, would unite in inciting us to fulfill an engagement we should thus voluntarily take upon ourselves, to the best of abilities.

4.         Our situation is not a certain one, nor have we long tried it; but we have all the reason in the world to hope that if things go on as they have hitherto done, we should be able to provide for a child in a decent and comfortable manner.

5.         Now, my dear brother and sister, if you consent, give us which of your boys you please: if you had girls, perhaps we should ask a girl rather;


and if we might choose amongst your boys, we could make perhaps a choice; -- but that we do not expect you will let us. Give us, then, which you will; only let him be healthy, inoculated, and as young as you can possibly venture him to undertake the journey. This last circumstance is indispensable: for if he were not quite young, we should not gain over him the influence, we could not feel for him the affection, which would be necessary: besides, if at all able to play with our pupils, he would immediately mix with them, and would be little more to us than one of the schoolboys. Do not, therefore, put us as off by saying that one of yours when he is old enough shall pay us a visit. To see any of yours at any time would no doubt give us the highest pleasure; but that does not by any means come up to what we now ask. We now leave the matter before you, -- consider maturely, and give us your answer.

6.         O no! I never promised to fill this second sheet. Good bye to you.

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1.         Your kind and acceptable letter would have met with an earlier answer, if we could either of us have commanded time to write. The manner in which you receive our proposal gives us great pleasure. My dear tender Patty! I wonder not that your softness takes alarm at the idea of part-


ing with any of your sweet blossoms. All I can say is, that the greater the sacrifice, the more we shall think ourselves obliged to you, and the stronger ties we shall think ourselves under to supply, as far as possible, to the child of our adoption the tenderness and care of the parents we take it from. Though we should be content with either, yet of the two we shall like better Charles, if you determine to give him us, than the unborn; -- perhaps, however, by this time I am wrong in calling him so: but if he was fixed upon, it would be longer before the scheme could take effect, and more uncertain whether he would live and thrive. This, however, is a point you must determine for us: we shall acquiesce in either.

2.          You are very favourable to my fragments; -- fragments, however, they are like to continue unless I had a little more time. I want much to see your Essays, -- how do you proceed with them? To attack Shakespear! heresy indeed! I will desire Mr. Montague to chastise you, except by way of penance you finish the ode you once began in his praise. I am of your opinion, however, that we idolize Shakespear rather too much for a Christian country. That inconsistencies may be found in his characters is certain: yet, not-withstanding that, character is his distinguishing excellence; and though he had not the learning of the schools in his head, he had the theater of


the world before him, and could make reflections on what he saw. An equal vein of poetry runs through the works of some of his contemporaries: but his writings are most peculiarly marked by good sense and striking characters; so that I think you do him not justice if you call him only a poet..

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Palgrave, 1777.

1.         You have given us too much pleasure lately not to deserve an earlier acknowledgement. I hope you will believe we were not so dilatory in reading your book as we have been in thanking you for it. It is indeed a most elegant performance; your thought is very just, and has never, I believe, been pursued before. Both the defects and beauties which you have noticed are very striking, and the result of the whole work, besides the truths it conveys, is a most pleasing impression left upon the mind from the various and picturesque images brought into view. I hope your Essay will bring down our poets from their garrets to wander about the fields and hunt squirrels. I am clearly of your opinion, that the only chance we have for novelty is by a more accurate observation of the works of Nature, though I think I


should not have confined the track quite so much as you have done to the animal creation, because sooner exhausted than the vegetable; and some of the lines you have quoted from Thomson show with how much advantage the latter may be made the subject of rich description. I think too, since you put me on criticizing, it would not have been amiss if you had drawn the line between the poet and natural historian; and shown how far, and in what cases, the one may avail himself of the knowledge of the other, -- at what nice period that knowledge becomes so generally spread as to authorise the poetical describer to use it without shocking the ear by the introduction of names and properties not sufficiently familiar, and when at the same time it retains novelty enough to strike. I have seen some rich descriptions of West Indian flowers and plants, -- just, I dare say, but unpleasing merely because their names were uncouth, and forms not known generally enough to be put into verse. It is not, I own, much to the credit of poets, -- but it is true, -- that we do not seem disposed to take their word for any thing, and never willingly receive information from them.

2.         We are wondrous busy in preparing our play, The Tempest; and four or five of our little ones are to come in as fairies; and I am piecing scraps from the Midsummer Night's Dream, &c., to make a little scene instead of the mask of Ceres and


Juno. We have read Gibbon lately, who is certainly a very elegant and learned writer, and a very artful one. No other new books have we yet seen, -- they come slow to Norfolk, -- but the Diaboliad, the author of which has a pretty sharp pen-knife, and cuts up very handsomely. Many are the literary matters I want to talk over with you when we meet, which I now look forward to as not a far-distant pleasure.

3.         We will come and endeavour to steal away Charles's heart before we run away with his person. Adieu! Heaven bless you and yours.

Palgrave, 1777.

1.         I am happy that I can now tell you we are all safe at Palgrave, where we arrived last night about ten o'clock. Charles has indeed been an excellent traveller, and though like his great ancestor "some natural tears he shed," -- like him too "he wiped them soon." He had a long sound sleep last night, and has been very busy to-day hunting the puss and the chickens. And now, my dear brother and sister, let me again thank you for this precious gift, the value of which we are both more and more sensible of, as we become better acquainted with his sweet disposition and winning manners. As well as a gift it is a solemn trust,


and it shall be our study to fulfill that trust. The thought of what parents we have taken him from will be constant motive for our care, tenderness and affection.

2.         Remember us most affectionately to Dr. and Mrs. E., and Betsy ---, and give a kiss for me to Arthur and George; and so you may to Betsy, now I think of it.

3.         Every body here asks, "Pray is Dr. Dodd really to be executed?" - as if we knew the more for having been at Warrington.

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Palgrave, Jan. 19, 1778.

1.         It is a real concern to me that I could not write to you from London ...... Let me now then begin with telling you, that we two, Miss B---, and one of our boys, got safe to Palgrave this afternoon. And now for the first time Mr. Barbauld and I experienced the pleasure of having something to come home for, and of finding our dear Charles in perfect health and glad to see us again; though wondering a little, and rather grave the first half-hour. Well, and what have you seen, you will say, in London? Why, in the first place, Miss More's new play, which fills the house very well and is pretty generally liked. Miss More is, I assure you, now very much the ton, and moreover has got six or seven hundred pounds


by her play: I wish I could produce one every two winters; we would not keep school. I cannot say, however, that I cried altogether so much at Percy as I laughed at the School for Scandal, which is one of the wittiest plays I remember to have seen; and I am sorry to add, one of the most immoral and licentious; -- in principle I mean, for in language it is very decent. Mrs. Montague, not content with being the queen of literature and elegant society, sets up for the queen of fashion and splendour. She is building a very fine house, has a very fine service of plate, dresses and visits more than ever; and I am afraid will be full as much the woman of the world as the philosopher. Pray, have you read a book to prove Falstaff no coward? I want to know what you think of it: the present age deals in paradoxes. A new play of Cumberland's, and another of Home's, are soon to come out. Charles's little book is very well, but my idea is not executed in it: I must therefore beg you will print one as soon as you can, on fine paper, on one side only, and more space and a clearer line for the chapters. Prefix if you please, to that you are going to print, the following


2.          "This little publication* was made for a particular child, but the public is welcome to the use of it. It was found that amidst the multitude of books


professedly written for children, there is not one adapted to the comprehension of a child from two to three years old. A grave remark, or a connected story, however simple, is above his capacity, and nonsense is always below it; for folly is worse than ignorance. Another great defect is, the want of good paper, a clear and large type, and large spaces. Those only who have actually taught young children can be sensible how necessary these assistances are. The eye of a child and of a learner cannot catch, as ours can, a small obscure ill-formed word, amidst a number of others all equally unknown to him. To supply these deficiencies is the object of this book. The task is humble, but not mean; for to lay the first stone of a noble building, and to plant the first idea in a human mind, can be no dishonour to any hand."

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Palgrave, 1779.

1.         'Tis well I got a letter from Warrington when I did; -- very well indeed; for I began to be in such a fury, and should have penned you such a chiding! Do you know, pray, how long it is since I heard from any of you? But as I do sometimes offend myself, I think I will forgive you, especially as I wonder how you find time even to read, with labours so multifarious (as Johnson says) going forward. The fate of Miss B.'s letter is


very remarkable. It was written as full, -- I am sorry to mortify you, my dear sister, -- as the paper would hold, folded, sealed, directed, and put somewhere; but when I had finished mine, and wanted it to put in the frank, it could be found nowhere. 'Tis needless to tell you how the papercase was cleared, the cupboard routed out, pockets searched, and every body who had entered the room squinted at with an evil eye of suspicion. The letter has never made its appearance to this day; and what vexes Miss B. is, that Patty can but be in her debt, and that she was before. Now half this letter she says was about Charles, which may serve to excuse me, who finished in a violent hurry. I left him to the last, but was obliged to conclude abruptly. I am afraid to tell you much about him, lest you should fall in love with him again, and send somebody to kidnap him; though I think Charles would have a good many defenders in this house if you did. You will see by the inclosed I have been employing my pen again for him, and again I must employ you to get it printed.

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Palgrave, Jan. 20th, 1779.

1.         You are a pretty fellow to grumble, as my mother says you do, at my not writing! Do not you remember when you sent a sheet of Charles's book, you said you did not mean the line you sent with


it for a letter, but would write soon; so that by your own confession you are now in debt to me. Charles bore a part in our examination, by repeating a copy of verses on the boy who would not say A lest he should be made to say B: and we, let me tell you, deserve great praise for our modesty and self-denial, in not making a parade with his Greek, for he could have repeated an ode of Anacreon. But notwithstanding this erudition, a few English books will still be very acceptable.

2.         We are just returned from Norwich, where we have been so much engaged with dinners and suppers, that though I fully intended to write from thence, and began a letter, I really could not finish it. The heads of all the Norwich people are in a whirl, occasioned by the routs which have been introduced amongst them this winter; and such a bustle with writing cards a month beforehand, throwing down partitions, moving beds, &c. Do you know the different terms? There is a squeeze, a fuss, a drum, a rout; and lastly, a hurricane, when the whole house is full from top to bottom. It is matter of great triumph to me that we enjoy the latter for ten months in the year.

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London, Jan. 2d, 1784.

1.         Well, my dear brother, here we are in this busy town, nothing in which (the sight of friends excepted) has given us so much pleasure as the


balloon which is now exhibiting in the Pantheon. It is sixteen feet one way, and seventeen another; and when full (which it is not at present) will carry eighty-six pounds. When set loose from the weight which keeps it to the ground, it mounts to the top of that magnificent dome with such an easy motion as put me in mind of Milton's line, "rose like an exhalation." We hope to see it rise in the open air before we leave town. Next to the balloon, Miss B. is the object of public curiosity: I had the pleasure of meeting her yesterday. She is a very unaffected, modest, sweet and pleasing young lady: -- but you, now I think of it, are a Goth, and have not read Cecilia. Read, read it, for shame! I begin to be giddy with the whirl of London, and to feel my spirits flag. There are so many drawbacks, from hair-dressers, bad weather and fatigue, that it requires strong health greatly to enjoy being abroad. The enthusiasm for Mrs. Siddons seems something abated this winter. As the last season was spent in unbounded admiration, this, I suppose, will be employed in canvassing her faults, and the third settle her in her proper degree of reputation.

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Palgrave, Jan. 21, 1784.

1.         My dear Brother,

2.          We arrived at Palgrave yesterday. I much wished to have written again from London; but I could


not get further than half a letter, which was therefore committed to the flames. Bating the circumstance of being greatly hurried, we spent our time very pleasantly in London, and had a great deal of most agreeable society. Our evenings, particularly at Johnson's, were so truly social and lively, that we protracted them sometimes till ..... But I am not telling tales. Ask --- at what time we used to separate. Our time, indeed, in London was chiefly spent in seeing people: for as to seeing sights, constant visiting and the very bad weather left us little opportunity for any thing of that kind. There is a curious automaton which plays at chess. His countenance, they say, is very grave and full of thought, and you can hardly help imagining he meditates upon every move. He is wound up, however, at every two or three moves. The same man has made another figure, which speaks: but as his native tongue is French, he stays at home at present to learn English. The voice is like that of a young child.

3.          We spent two very agreeable days at Mr. ---'s. We saw there may Americans, members of congress, and plenipos. We were often amused with the different sentiments of the several parties in which we passed the day. At Mr. Brand Hollies's the nation was ruined; notwithstanding which we ate our turkey and drank our wine as if nothing had happened. In the evening party there was


nobody to be pitied but the poor king: and we criticised none but Mrs. Siddons. It is impossible, however, not to be kept awake by curiosity at learning the extraordinary manæuvres and rapid changes that have happened lately. Do you know that at two o'clock on the day the Parliament met, Mr. Pitt had not received his return; so that Mr. Fox had almost begun the debates before Pitt knew he was even a member!

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Palgrave, May 1784.

1.         Let me begin with telling you, what you have some reason to complain of me for not having told you before, that we are very well. Mr. B. has begun to eat his dinners; and we smile upon the year, as the year begins to smile upon us. We propose going to Birmingham this vacation, and we understand Oxford and Daventry are in the way; so that we hope a great deal lies before us to please the eye and touch the soul of friendship: but busy must we be before we have earned our vacation.

2.          What do you think of the behaviour of our great ladies on the present election? I thought the newspapers had exaggerated: but Mr. --- says he himself saw the two Lady ---'s and Miss ---'s go into a low alehouse to canvass, where they staid half an hour; and then, with the mob at


their heels offering them a thousand indignities, proceeded to another. These he mentioned as unmarried ladies, and therefore less privileged. The Duchess of ---, Mrs. ---, and many others, equally expose their charms for the good of the public.

3.         Have you got Hoole's Ariosto? we are reading it; but think the translation, except in a few passages, wonderfully flat and prosaic: the adventures are entertaining, however.

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Dover, Sept. 17, 1785, 8 o'clock.

Fair stood the wind for France --
When we our sails advance;
Nor now to trust our chance
Longer would tarry ....

1.         It is not very fair neither, for there is scarcely wind enough; but what there is, is in our favour. We are just got here, and a packet sails to-night, so I suppose we shall go in a few hours; for the night is the most beautiful, the most brilliant, that ever rivaled day. The moon, which is nearly full, illuminates the majestic chalky cliffs, the stately Castle, and the element we are going to trust ourselves to. The views about Dover are very bold and very beautiful. -- But let me give a regular account of ourselves. From London we


had the good fortune to take part of a chaise to Dover with Dr. Osborn. He is a most entertaining, agreeable companion; and we never had a more agreeable journey, especially to-day, for yesterday it was rainy, and we did not get into Rochester till nine at night; consequently lost in a great measure the windings of the silver Medway. But to-day was uniformly fine; and greatly delighted we were with the view of Chatham, Stroud, and Rochester, from a hill just above the town, which we walked up. The Medway makes a fine bend here. The hop-pickers were at work as we went along, but not with their usual alarcrity; for the late storm has blasted them to such a degree, that twenty thousand pounds worth of damage, they say, is done. The country is beautifully variegated all the way, and has many fine seats; among which Sir Horace Man's was pointed out. From this rich inclosed country you come to the open downs, more grand and striking. the first view of Dover castle is noble; and still more finished that of the town, which we saw from Dr. O.'s house where we dined. It has the castle on one side, hills on the other, a valley between (in which is the town), and the sea beyond. I think we shall hardly see more beautiful scenes in France. We here took leave of our last English friends. -- I forgot to say we took a hasty peep at the venerable cathedral of Canterbury, to which


I would at any time willingly go a pilgrimage -- though not barefoot.

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Besançon, Oct. 9th, 1785.

1.          I wrote letters from Calais and from Troyes, the contents of which have, I hope, been communicated to you. From Troyes we proceeded to Dijon by a road so delightful that I strongly wished my sister and you could have been with me, -- a wish which I cannot help forming, though a vain one, whenever any object particularly pleasant presents itself. During the greatest part of this road we had the full view of the Seine, which we traced upwards to within half a league of its source, and saw it grow less and less, untwisting, as it were, to a single thread. The valley in which it ran was narrow, of a beautiful verdure, and bounded by hills of the most gentle ascent covered with trees or herbage: cattle of all sorts, among which were several flocks of goats, were feeding in sight. The road often ran upon the ascent; and we saw the river, sometimes bordered with trees and sometimes fringed with grass or rushes, winding beneath in the most sportive meanders, -- for we saw and lost it nine times from one spot. The scene was in general solitary; but if we came to a spot particularly pleasant, it was sure to be marked by a convent, the neatness of


which, (generally white,) added to the beauty of the scene. After we had lost the Seine, we came to the Val de Suson, a still more romantic place, and very like Middleton Dale, only that the rocks were richly covered with trees. Through the first part of this valley runs the river Suson; the rest is still narrower, and between high rocks.

2.         At Dijon we delivered our first letter of recommendation, which introduced us to M. de Morveau, a man of great merit, who was avocat-général,but has quitted his profession for the sake of applying himself to philosophical studies, and chiefly chemical. He writes all the chemical articles in the New Encyclopedie. He esteems Dr., Priestley, Dr. Black, and Mr. Kirwan, to be the chief men in England in the philosophical way. M. de Morveau was one of the first who ascended in a balloon. He showed us their Academy, which is one of the first provincial ones. The Palais des Etats in Dijon is the finest building in it; the front of it forms one side of a very handsome square, and the wings extend much beyond it. It is adorned with statues and paintings by the pupils of the drawing-school. From the tower, on which is an observatory belonging to this building, is a charming view of the country: the hills of Burgundy covered with vines; the rivers of Ouche and Suson, which encircle the town; and the town itself, which is large though


not very populous. In our way from Dijon to Dole we saw more of the vintage than we had hitherto done, -- and a gay scene it is; though I must confess my disappointment at the first sight of the vines, -- which are very low, and nothing like so beautiful as our apple-trees. They say they have more wine this year than they can possibly find vessels to put it in; and yet the road was covered with teams of casks, empty or full, according as they were going out or returning, and drawn by oxen whose strong necks seemed to be bowed unwillingly under the yoke. Men, women and children were abroad: some cutting with a short sickle the bunches of grapes; some breaking them with a wooden instrument; some carrying them on their backs from the gatherers to those who pressed the juice; and, as in our harvest, the gleaners followed. From Dole we should have gone directly to Besançon, but were induced to strike out of the road to visit the grottes stalactites of Auxcelles, to see which we crossed in a ferry the river Doux, a fine stream with banks beautifully wooded, and got into a place most wild and solitary, through such terrible bad roads that what we thought would have been the affair of a few hours detained us there the whole night: the grotto, however, repaid our trouble. Had you been there, you would have seen it with a more philosophical eye, and have told us how the con-


tinual dropping of waters through those rocks forms those beautiful petrifications, which when polished, as they sometimes are, have the lustre and transparency of crystal. But it required only eyes to be struck with the view of a vast subterranean running through a whole rock, which had the appearance of a most magnificent Gothic church; -- tombs, images, drapery, pillars, shrines, all formed without much aid from fancy, by nature working alone for ages in these long and lofty caverns. We walked in it, I believe, about two furlongs, and it might be another to the end. Besançon is by far the best town we have seen; the streets are long and regular, the hotels of the chief inhabitants palaces for princes, and the public buildings noble. But you would have been most struck with the hospital, managed in all the internal part by those food nuns Les Hospitalieres, with such perfect neatness, that in a long chamber containing thirty-five beds, most of them full, there was not any closeness or smell to be perceived. The beds were of white cotton, and by each bed a table and chair. Some of the nuns were attending here; others in the dispensary making up medicines; others in the kitchen making broths, &c.: and all this they do without salary, and many of them are of food families.

3.          Noyon, Oct. 13th, -- I could not finish my letter time enough to send it from Besançon, which


gives me an opportunity to tell you in brief that we are got to within a stage of Geneva, and are now sitting in a room which overlooks the delightful lake. We were too late last night for Geneva, as they shut the gates at half-after-six, and open them for no one. We hope to get there this morning, and to receive letters from you, which my heart longs for. I have only to tell you further, that I have seen the Alps, -- a sight so majestic, so totally different from anything I had seen before, that I am ready to sing Nunc dimittis.

4.          Tell me in your next how long you have been sitting by a coal fire. We have had no fire, but twice or three times a little in the evening, since we set out; and in the middle of the day the heat has been very strong. I suppose, however, we shall find it colder at Geneva.

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2.         And so much in French; which, though it begins to be easier to me, is still to me either in writing or speaking like using the left hand; and I now want the language the most familiar to me, the most expressive, that with less injustice to my feelings I may thank you for your charming letter. It is not necessary for you to travel in order to write good verses; and indeed, to say truth, in the actual journey many things occur not alto-


gether so consonant with the fine ideas one would wish to keep upon one's mind. The dirt and bustle of inns, and the various circumstances, odd or disgusting, of a French diligence, are not made to shine in poetry. I shall, however, keep your exhortation in mind; and when, to complete the inspiration, I have drunk of the fountain of Vaucluse, which we are going to do, if the Muse is not favourable, you may fairly conclude I no longer possess her good graces. From Lyons we took the diligence d'eau down the Rhone to this place, a voyage which in summer, and in a vehicle more neat and convenient, would have been delightful. But we had incessant rain for two of the days; and the third, though bright, was very cold, with a great deal of wind; so that we did not reach Avignon till the morning of the fourth day. The Rhone is rapid all the way; but at Pont St. Esprit particularly so, insomuch that many passengers get out there: we did not. The Rhone has high banks all the way, or rather is inclosed between hills, covered in many places with vines and pasturage, in others pretty barren. Near St. Esprit begins the olive country. This was the first time we had been in a public voiture; it is a very reputable one, and yet you cannot conceive the shabbiness and mal propreté of the boat.


3.          We are now in a land of vermicelli, soup, and macaroni, -- a land of onions and garlic, -- a land flowing with oil and wine. Avignon is delightfully situated; the Rhone forms two branches here, and incloses a large fertile island. The Durance (another fine river, at present so overflowed that it is not passable,) joins the Rhone some way below the town. The churches here are numerous, highly adorned, and have several good paintings. The streets are darkened with cowls and filled with beggars; drawn here, they say, by the strangers, -- for the people are no ways oppressed by the government, the revenue to the pope hardly paying the expenses. We are not yet, however, in the climate of perpetual spring; -- like an enchanted island, it seems to fly from us. All along the course of the Rhone there are cold winds. Lyons is disagreeable in winter, both with fogs and cold. At Geneva every body had fires and winter dresses before we left it; and Avignon, though much warmer, is not enough so to invite us much abroad, or permit us to dispense with fires. To-marrow we set off for Orange, and from thence shall go to Lisle, perhaps to Marseilles; but where we shall spend these next two months we have not yet determined. May you and my dear sister spend them with health and pleasure in that dear society where our hearts


perpetually carry us, and to which we hope to return with increased affection!

4.         I forgot to tell you that all the people speak patois to one another, though they speak French too; and when we landed, the people who came about us to carry our things had absolutely the air of demoniacs, with their violent gestures and eager looks, and their coarsest exclamations at every second word.

Marseilles, Dec. 1785.

1.         Health to you all -- poor mortals as you are, crowding round your coal fires, shivering in your nicely closed apartments, and listening with shivering hearts to the wind and snow which beats dark December! The months here have indeed the same names, but far different are their aspects; for here I am sitting without a fire, the windows open, and breathing an air as perfectly soft and balmy as in our warmest days of May; yet the sun does not shine. On the day we arrived here, the 5th of December, it did; and with as much splendour and warmth, and the sky was as clear and of as bright a blue, as in our finest summer days. The fields are full of lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, &c.; the young corn is above half a foot high: they have not much in-


deed in this neighbourhood, but from Orange to Lisle we saw a good deal. The trees which are not evergreens have mostly lost their leaves; but one sees every where the pale verdure of the olives mixed with here and there a grove, or perhaps a single tree, of cypress, shooting up its graceful spire of a deeper and more lively green far above the heads of its humbler but more profitable neighbours. The markets abound with fresh and dried grapes, pomegranates, oranges with the green leaves, apples, pears, dried figs, and almonds. They reap the corn here the latter end of May or the beginning of June. The gathering of the olives is not yet finished: it yields to this country its richest harvest. There are likewise a vast number of mulberry-trees, and the road in many places is bordered with them; but they are perfectly naked at present. Marseilles is, however, not without bad weather. The vent de bise, they say, is penetrating; and for this last fortnight they have had prodigious rains, with the interruption of only a few days; so that the streets are very dirty and the roads broken up. But they say this is very extraordinary, and that if they pass two days without seeing a bright sun they think Nature is dealing very hardly with them. I will not, however, boast too much over you from these advantages; for I am ready to confess the account may be balanced by many inconveniences,


little and great, which attend this favoured country. And thus I state my account.

Advantages of Traveling. Per Contra.
A July sun and a southern breeze. Flies, fleas, and all Pharoah's plague of vermin.
Figs, almonds, &c. &c. No tea, and the very name of a tea-kettle unknown.
Sweet scents in the fields. Bad scents within doors.
Grapes and raisins. No plum-pudding.
Coffee as cheap as milk Milk as dear as coffee.
Wine a demi-sous the bottle. Bread three sous the halfpenny roll.
Provençal songs and laughter. Provençal roughness and scolding.
Soup, salad and oil. No beef, no butter.
Arcs of triumph, fine churches, stately palaces. Dirty inns, heavy roads, uneasy carriages.
A pleasant and varied country. But many, many a league from those we love.

2.         From Avignon (whence I wrote to you last) we went to Orange, where we were gratified with the sight of an arc of triumph entire, of rich architecture; and though the delicacy of the sculpture is much defaced by time, it is easy to see what it must have been when fresh. There is likewise a noble ruin of an amphitheatre built against a rock, of which you may trace the whole extent, though the area is filled with cottages. These were the first remains of antiquity of any consequence I had seen, and they impressed me with an idea of Roman grandure. Orange is a poor town, but


the country is green and pleasant, and they have all country houses. When the principality came under French government, it was promised that they should have no fresh taxes imposed; but peu a peu, say they, taxes are come. They had salt springs which more than supplied them with that article; -- they are forbidden to work them. They grew tobacco; -- now, if any one has more than three plants in his garden, he is punished. From Orange we went to Lisle. In the way we stopped at Carpentras, where we were shown another arc of triumph, over which a cardinal, the bishop of Carpentras, built his kitchen; very wisely judging that nothing was more worthy to enter through an arc of triumph, than a nobel haunch of venison or an exquisite ragoo. Lisle is a small town, very pleasant in summer, because it is surrounded with water; and still more noted for its neighbourhood to the source of that water, the celebrated fountain of Vaucluse.

3.         During the few fair days we have had, the warmth and power of the sun has been equal to our summer days: it is truly delightful to feel such a sun in December; to be able to saunter by the shore of the Mediterranean, or sit on the bank and enjoy the prospect of an extensive open sea, smooth and calm as a large lake. It is likewise very pleasant to gain an hour more of day-light upon these short days. However, though


the middle of the day is so warm, in the mornings and evenings a fire is acceptable, I must confess.

4.         The Marseillians value themselves upon being a kind of republic, and their port is free: the lower rank are bold and rude; the upper, by what I hear, very corrupt in their manners. There are 30,000 Protestants: their place of worship is a country house, which they have hired of the commandant himself. They meet with no molestation, and hope from the temper of the times that they shall ere long have leave to build a church. The minister is an agreeable and literary man, and is very obliging towards us; his wife has been six years in England, and speaks English well. Her family fled there from persecution; for her grandfather (who was a minister) was seized as he came out from a church where he had been officiating, by the soldiers. His son, who had fled along with the crowd and gained an eminence at some distance, seeing they had laid hold on his father, came and offered himself in his stead; and in his stead was sent to the galleys, where he continued seven years. L'honnête Criminel is founded on this fact. Besides this family we have hardly any acquaintance here, nor are like to have. We have, however, been two or three times with the Chanoines de St. Victor, who are all of the best families of France, as they must prove their nobility for 150 years. They


are very polite and hospitable, and far enough from bigots; for we were surprised to find how freely to us they censured auricular confession, the celibacy of the clergy, and laughed at some of legendary miracles. I forgot to say that the country about Marseilles is covered with country-houses; they reckon 10,000. They were first begun to be built on account of the plague: every body has one. There is a fine picture of the terrible plague here at the Consigne and another at the Town-house. They are very exact at present in their precautions. I am sure the plague cannot be occasioned merely by want of cleanliness, for then Marseilles could not escape.

5.         Remember that we are longing for letters, and that new from you will be more grateful to us than groves of oranges or Provençal skies.

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Aix, Feb. 9, 1786.

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2.         With regard to ourselves, we have at length quitted Marseilles; where, to confess the truth, we stayed long enough to be pretty well tired of it; for we had scarce any acquaintance, and no amusements (the Play excepted) but what we could procure to ourselves by reading or walking. Some delightful walks we did take under a bright sun and a clear blue sky, which would have done honour to the fairest months in the English ca-


lender. We sailed one fine day to the little chateau d'If, a league from the port. It is used as a prison for extravagant or disorderly young men, whom their parents get shut up here -- sometimes to avoid the disgrace of a more public punishment. We had a great pleasure at Marseilles in seeing your friend Mr. Howard: he was well, and in good spirits. He went by the name of the English Doctor, and as such has prescribed, he told us, with tolerable success. If you have a mind to strike a good stroke in London, introduce magnetism; 'tis in France the folly of the day. There is a society at Marseilles for that purpose composed of gentlemen. They boast they can lay asleep when they please, and for as long as they please; and that during this sleep or trance the mind can see the operations going forward in the corporeal machine, and predict future events. One of them offered to try his skill on Mr. Barbauld; but after a long and unpleasant operation of rubbing the temples and forehead, he was obliged to desist without success. Mr. Howard will tell you, however, they operate better at Lyons, as he saw several women at the hospital put to sleep in a minute by only passing the hand over their forehead.

3.         At Marseilles we again bought a carriage (an English chaise), in which we hope to perform the rest of our journey, -- at least to Paris. The road


from Marseilles to Toulon is over mountains which, though not very high, are the beginning of the Alps. They are in many parts quite naked and craggy; in others covered with forests of pines; and in many they have had the industry to make terraces one over another to the very top, on which they have planted vines, though the culture must demand prodigious labour, for they must bring all the earth. The almond-trees, which are now in full flower, scattered here and there, embellish the scene. At Toulon we saw the arsenal, which contains the corderie, the sallee d'armes, the naval stores, &c. There is something horrible in the clanking of the chains of the galley-slaves, who are chained two-and-two, and employed in various works within the place. Three or four galleys lie in the harbour, but they are not used except for lodging the forçats. From Toulon we went to Hieres; -- and how think you did we go? On foot every step of the way, and it is nine miles at least. We went on foot because the roads are still so bad we dared not venture in a carriage. Hieres is a specimen of the Italian climate and Italian productions: to the south it is open to the sea; every other quarter is fenced with hills. The town lies on the descent of a hill, and is surrounded with groves of orange and lemon trees, glowing in the brightest beauty, and with all the variety of colour, from the palest lemon


to the deep and almost blood-red species of orange. The leaves, of a vivid green, give a relief to the fruit, which is in so great an abundance that I have hardly seen apple-trees so full. It is a delicious spot, quite the gardens of the Hesperides, and enjoys a constant verdure. The hedges are composed of myrtle, holm-oak, and lentisk, of the ashes of which latter they make a lye with which they preserve their raisins. They gather green peas soon after Christmas: every month brings its peculiar harvest. Besides the corn, wine and oil, which they share in common with their neighbours, they have vast quantities of strawberries, peaches, kidney-beans, all kinds of fruit and garden stuff. Sweet waters and essences are distilled from the orange flowers, and the peel of the bergamot, the cedrat, and some other kinds valuable for their fragrance. Some of the orange gardens are worth from twenty to twenty-six thousand livres a year. From an opposite hill there is a view of the town; above it a convent of Bernardines, and higher still the ruined walls and castle of the old town; -- the whole surrounded with a bright circle of green and gold, and the houses of a shining white in the midst of the orange gardens; further the paler green of the olives; to the south the sea, and the fishery salt-works; and opposite, the islands of Hieres, where is plenty of game. Winter is seen peeping at this little paradise from


the top of a distant mountain covered with snow; and sometimes, indeed, he sends a hoar frost -- after which the oranges drop by hundreds from the trees.

4.         To complete our expedition and vary the mode of travelling, we returned as follows: I upon the bourique of a paisanne, between two loaded panniers, Mr. B. walking before; and the woman, a stout, sunburnt, cheerful Provençal, by the side of the ass, driving, guiding, and hallooing it onward. Bread and figs, which we put in the pannier and ate as we went along, were our breakfast. I rode thus two leagues, and walked with Mr. B. the third. And now, having touched the utmost limit of our long tour, it is with inexpressible pleasure we reflect that every step we shall for the future take will bring us nearer again to those dear friends in whose society we hope to spend the rest of our life. We propose returning by Nismes, Montpelier, and Bourdeaux. Aix is a clean pretty town: the baths and the fountains of hot water are worth seeing. It is full of clergy and men of the law. We got acquainted with two gentlemen (an officer and an ecclesiastic) who were very civil to us; but we could not help being diverted with the eagerness with which they recited their own verses (for they were both versifers), their gestures, their compliments to each other, and their total freedom from that awkward bashfulness which hangs on us English when we have written


something clever that we long to bring into notice, and do not know how to bring it about.

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Thoulouse, Feb. 27, 1786.

1.          I begin this letter from Thoulouse, though I shall probably not finish it before we get to Bourdeaux. -- We got here last night, and hoped to have walked about the town to-day, where they say there is a good deal to be seen; but we are confined to our room by a pretty heavy fall of snow, which has continued the whole day. We are at present convinced that it is a vain expectation to escape from winter by going to these southern climates -- at Bengal I suppose it may be done: but the southern provinces of France differ more in the duration than in the degree of their winter; and beyond all doubt they have more sudden and violent changes of weather than we have. In consequence they dress warmer than we do. The pelisse, the muff, the fur gloves and shoes, the hussar cloak and flannel linings, are all common here, and found necessary. Yet it is also true that through a great part of the winter they enjoy the most delicious weather; and that, with regard to one or other of their productions, there is not any time of the year in which you do not meet with harvest or blossoms; for before the gathering of


olives is over, the almond-tree is in flower. Till within these four days we have had fine weather for a long time; and Lower Languedoc, through which our route has lain since we crossed the Rhone, has worn all the lovely features of spring. At Pezenas (the last place where we made any stay) the peach, apricot, and bean were beginning to blossom; the gardens were all green with various vegetables, the fields with corn, and a few trees were even in leaf. But their springs are apt to be premature. Here (in Upper Languedoc) it is colder.

2.          Gratified as we have been by the spring of Nature, we have been no less so by the hoary ruins of Antiquity. The vast cirque of the amphitheatre at Nismes fills the mind with an amazing idea of Roman greatness. It is defaced by a number of buildings in the area; which, however, are to be demolished, and the venerable ruin kept in better repair. To repair a ruin carries a better sound with it than to build a ruin, as we do in England. La Maison Carrée is a bijou; it has all that the utmost delicacy and richness of architecture can give. But we prefer to them both the Pont du Gard.

3.         Nismes is the very centre of the Protestants. They are computed to be 30,000, and the richest part of the inhabitants: for here, as the Dissenters in England, they give themselves to trade.


They have no church, nor even barn; but assemble in the desert, as they call it, in the open air, in a place surrounded by rocks which reverberate the voice. The pulpit is moveable, and there are a few seats of stone for the elders. On their great festivals, they say, the sight is very striking.

4.         I wish you, who have a quarrel to some of our English axioms of taste in gardening, could see the public walks of Nismes and Montpelier; both, (especially the latter) laid out with great magnificence, but quite in the old style of terraces, fountains, straight alleys, and exact symmetry: but the whole is great, and was to me very new. We intended to have taken the canal at Beziers, but the bad weather prevented us. From Narbonne till near Thoulouse we had on our left a long chain of mountains, the Pyrenees. I love to see those everlasting boundaries of nations. We had not, however, any wish to cross them and try the Spanish accommodations -- there are difficulties enow of that kind in France. This is the height of the Carnival, and we have seen as we came along, the dance on the green, and the masque by torch-light; but in general I am afraid there is a good deal of coarseness in the mirth of vulgar, and of licentiousness in the gaiety of the rich. From Narbonne to Thoulouse there are a great many chateaus, pompous buildings with towers, but no ornamented grounds about them as in England,


nor any thing in the avenues, hedges, &c. that has a look of neatness. I fancy the rats hold a glorious sabat in some of them. -- I should tell you that at Montpelier we saw the anatomical theatre, where they have two hundred students, who shave and dress hair to pay their board and lodging, and attend dissections and study surgery with great application the rest of their time: and they say they make better progress than those that have money. I am sorry I cannot send you a slip of Rabelais' scarlet gown, with which sacred relique the students are invested when they take their degrees. The meaning of which I take to be this, -- that laughing may cure you when physic would miss.

5.          The situation of Thoulouse seems calculated for trade, as the noble canal of Languedoc meets there the still more noble river of the Garonne: yet it is not commercial, as the great ambition of all the rich inhabitants is directed towards gaining a seat in parliament, which ennobles them; and then they leave trade. You may guess with what feelings we saw the seat of that parliament which condemned Calas. The spirit of the times, however, thank Heaven! is greatly altered.

6.          Bourdeaux,March 3. -- We are arrived here today. The road from Thoulouse to this town is remarkably pleasant. It lies mostly along the banks of the Garonne, and several fine rivers which fall


into it; the Tarne, the Aveyron, &c. On the other side is a ridge of hilly ground quite sandy, covered with vines, which indeed have a most desolate appearance at this time of the year; but fancy can spread the foliage and hang the purple clusters. On the driver-side are fine rich valleys covered with corn, and here and there pasture ground: -- no more olives, but groves of oak; no more almond-blossoms, but hedges of hawthorn. On Shrove Tuesday (which was a remarkably fine day) every town and every village was poured out upon the road, all dressed, and dancing each lad with his lass. What I should not have supposed, they dance too on Ash Wednesday; for though the churches were pretty full in the morning of dismal-looking figures in black hoods, who came to confess the sins of the Carnival, the greater part put the English interpretation upon a holy day, and considered it as a holiday. Though we have not yet seen much of Bourdeaux, a walk this afternoon has convinced us it is a more magnificent town than any we have yet seen in France. It happens too to be the fair.

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1.          . . . . . The road from Tours to Orleans on the winding banks of the Loire is delightfully pleasant; but we had not fine weather enough to enjoy


all its beauty; for we have had the second winter you speak of, in all its severity of snow and frost. We were particularly pleased, however, with Tours. It has one street of more complete beauty than any street I have yet seen, terminated at one end by a fine bridge over the Loire, at the other by one of the noblest malls in the kingdom. Blois is delightful from its situation, and interesting from the events which have taken place within its now deserted walls. Orleans is entirely a town of commerce; and it seems to flourish, for they live remarkably well there. Trade may have been despised formerly in France; but I am sure it cannot now there are such towns as Lyons, Bourdeaux, and Orleans, where it displays its effects in all the pride of opulence. We have been now a month in Paris, and here the objects of curiosity crowd upon us. In the provinces they are scattered here and there; but in the capital, -- palaces, pictures, statues, public gardens, meet you at every step, and all the powers of observation and organs of perception are agreeably filled. The societies of Paris do not obtrude themselves in like manner on your notice; on the contrary, it is pretty difficult to get sufficiently into them to judge of their complexion and character. We shall have been, however, in a few of them, and shall have seen many agreeable individuals. English is very much studied here at present: there are a great many


who read, and some who talk it. Every thing of English fabric and workmanship is preferred here, and not without reason. They have an idea here very contrary to ours; for they say The English invent, and the French bring to perfection. They are going to inclose all Paris and its suburbs by an immense wall: it puts one in mind of hedging in the cuckoo; but it is to prevent smuggling. We have had the good fortune to get very clean lodgings: they are near the Pont Royal and the Tuilleries, both which we often cross, and never without fresh admiration at the number of beautiful buildings and gay objects. I like the gardens of the Tuilleries better than our St. James's Park; for though they are somewhat disgraced by the old-fashioned parterre, yet on the whole they are more gay, more lively: the view from the terrace commands a greater variety of objects; the Tuilleries is more adorned; and the various groups of all ranks, -- some taking lemonade, some sitting on the grass, some even reading, -- give an air of ease and enjoyment more than is to be seen in our Park. This is rather an unfortunate time for seeing paintings, as the king's pictures are all taken down in order to be arranged and put up in the gallery of the Louvre, which is preparing for their reception: and when that fine building is filled with so noble a collection, it will have few things in Europe superior.


2.         One great advantage which Paris has as a town over London is its quais, by which means they enjoy their river and fine buildings upon it. As to the streets, most of them are certainly narrow, but not absolutely impracticable to the poor piéton, as I had been taught to believe; for when not dressed I walk about a good deal. They say, however, a great many accidents happen, which their boasted police takes more care to stifle than to prevent: if a man is run over by a coach, they dare not put it in any public papers. The streets are full of little cabriolets, which drive very fast: they are forbidden, but people have them notwithstanding. We have been at two of their academies, that of Sciences, and that of Belle-lettres. Several éloges were read, well drawn up; prizes proposed, &c. They clap hands as at the playhouse when a sentiment or expression pleases them. The theatre sinks in France as well as England; for as Mrs. Siddons stands alone, we may well say it sinks. They are building a very fine church, St. Geneviève; and in general there is a good deal of new building as well as in London. We have yet a vast deal to see; but we shall see it as fast as we can, That we may return to those friends who will be only dearer to us from absence.


Paris, June 7, 1786.

1.          . . . . . . The affair of Cardinal Rohan, which has so much engrossed the talk at Paris, is at length decided: but we have not been able to see without indignation the decisions of the Parliament altered in almost every instance by the pleasure of the king; so that judicial proceedings are mere child's play in this country. A grocer has got himself into the Bastille by writing a pamphlet on this occasion; in which he insinuates that the queen herself was in the plot, and that Madame Oliva was the cloud by means of which she played the fable of Ixion of the poor Cardinal. In short, people's conjectures are as much afloat since the decision as before. The king of Prussia is reported to have said, "Qu'il falloit que le Cardinal montrat beaucoup d'esprit pour prouver qu'il n'avoitété que bête." Among the long list of titles which figue at the head of his Memoire, that of Academicien is not found: the reason, they say, is, that his avocat, at the request of the Academy, (who feared they might be disgraced by the fellow-ship of such an associate,) persuaded him to leave it out, by telling him that, for the other titles, they implied no parts; but that of Academicien -- supposing a man of superior genius and knowledge -- might hurt him in his trial, as his only


defence must rest on his proving himself un imbecille. -- And so much for the Cardinal.

2.          We were the other day at the Museum, a place lately set up, intended as a repository for works of art; likewise as a centre of communication with the learned in any part of Europe, who, by corresponding with M. de la Blancherie, may have their discoveries published or their questions answered, if possible to answer them: nay, I believe I need not have put in that restriction, for a Frenchman is never at a loss to answer any question. The plan seems good: but I was greatly diverted with the following question, published in one of their weekly papers; "Whether the societies called Clubs in England, and now imitated in Paris, might not tend to render their members morose and taciturnes; since by the laws of such meetings only one person must speak at a time, and that only for a certain number of minutes?" An author may read his piece at this Museum; but as the doors are not locked, it may chance that the company slip away one by one and leave him alone, as I suspect might be the case with a young novel-writer whom we in the like manner escaped from there the other day. By the way, I have found out the reason why the French have so little poetry: it is because every body makes verses.

3.          We have been at Versailles and St. Cloud: the


latter is now fitting up for the queen. The situation is far more delightful than Versailles; but that, by force of expense, has a magnificence which no palace I have seen can compare with. We saw it on Whitsunday, when the waters play. The environs of Paris are now very pleasant; and they are very animated, without being, I think, quite so crowded as those of London. They do not make hay here till St. John's day, (the 24th of June,) which I think is later than near London; yet the weather has been very hot.

4.         I was recommended to an English nun; and after going to see her twice, she had the goodness to send a parcel of books to convert me: so you see there is some zeal left in the female convents at least: -- as to the priests and monks, I believe they have very little indeed.

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London, June 29, 1786.

1.         My dear Brother,

2.         I am happy to write to you again from English ground. We set out from Paris on the 17th, but went no further than Chantilly, as we meant to devote the whole of the next day to seeing that noble seat of the prince of Conde, which, both for the house and grounds, is the finest we have seen in France. The stables, which hold three hundred horses, are a most beautiful piece of architecture. There is a noble museum and ar-


mory in the palace; a fine piece of artificial water in the gardens, which are laid out partly in the English, partly in the French style, and in the best taste of both; a dairy floored and lined with marble, and in which all the utensils are of marble or fine porcelain; a menagerie; an orangerie, all the plants of which (some hundreds) being set out and in full blossom, diffused the richest perfume I ever was regaled with. L'isle d'Amour is one of the prettiest parts of the garden, abounding with alleys and walks, some close, others gay and airy, formed by light lattice-work covered with privet and adorned with the greatest profusion of honeysuckles and roses. In the centre of the island is a statue of a Cupid without wings or quiver, holding a heart with these lines:

"N'offrant qu'un cœur à la beauté
Aussi nud que la verite,
Sans armes comme l'innocence,
Tel fut l'Amour au siècle d'or;
On ne le trouve plus, mais on le cherche encore."

3.         The temple of Venus is a large saloon, in which are fountains continually throwing up water, which falls again into agate vases; leaning over which are Cupids of marble. The whole room is painted, and breathes a coolness and gaiety quite enchanting. As we were walking in these gardens we had the pleasure of seeing a balloon fly over our


heads: it was in full sail for England with M. Tetu, who had set off from Paris that morning. However, with our humbler mode of travelling we got to Dover first: for the lightning caught the car; and though the ærial traveller received no damage from it, he was obliged to lie by to refit his balloon, which descended not far from Boulogne. From Boulogne we took our passage. We had intended to have gone on to Calais, but it was four posts more; and besides, we were told that the passage from Boulogne, though longer, was generally performed in less time, and was now preferred; which we found to be true: we were obliged indeed to wait a day for a vessel, but we got over in less than four hours. And not without a pleasing emotion did we view again the green swelling hills covered with large sheep, and the winding road bordered with the hawthorn hedge, and the English vine twisted round the tall poles, and the broad Medway covered with vessels, and at last the gentle yet majestic Thames. Nor did we find these home scenes had lost of their power to strike or charm us by all we had seen abroad.

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1.         * Lessons for Children, from two to three years old. London: J. Johnson, 1787. Microfilmed, Opie Collection of Children's Literature 015:160, Opie G 40

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Date: 1825 (revised 01/26/2005) Author: Anna Letitia Barbauld (revised Zach Weir).
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