Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Sunday, contributed not a little. The patrole once made its appearance among them, but the severity of those gentlemen was easily subdued by a glass of wine.

I asked an officer of the garrison of Strasburgh, one of our travelling companions, whether that, pointing to the dress of the patrole, was the national uniform?

Mon Dieu !he replied ; " are you not acquainted with that yet? Why, it is to be seen everywhere.”

From this answer I concluded, that the national guards, and the regular military, were not particularly complaisant towards each other.

I was farther confirmed in this opinion, from overhearing some of the former, at the next table, recounting over many heroic deeds of the officers, which evidently were designed as sneers. Our travelling companion very judiciously took no notice of their impertinence, and by this silence best asserted the honour of the stronger.

December 13. We set out again at six in the morning. One person more was added to our company, an old man with the cross of St Louis, a fowling piece, and a pointer. He amused us with relating stories of various horrible murders that had lately been committed in that neighbourhood, and illustrated his narrations by the many newly thrown up graves and wooden crosses which we found by the way. This was poor consolation to the harmless traveller proceeding quietly on his route, especially since everything now remains unpunished, even though the criminal be well known. Yet what has the poor forsaken wretch to fear, who has already lost his all!

We entered Strasburgh about noon, and alighted at the Red Horse, upon the beautiful parade. Here everything is already national. I observed, as we passed along the streets, a national pharmacopoeia, and even a national hatter.

My ill stars would so ordain it, that in going from the bureau of the diligence to the inn, I was witness to a melancholy accident. A pair of unruly horses in a carriage threw their rider, and dragged him the whole length of the street, stamping upon and kicking him all the way. Never was a more horrible scene, it turned me sick, and I was ready to faint. I heard nothing around me but dreadful exclamations of he's killed ! he's killed! The horrible image of the man, dragged as I had beheld him, haunted me all day !Oh God! was not my soul sufficiently, oppressed before with horrible images !

The guard passed our windows. The march they played was sweet, yet this struck me as not the proper eharacter for a march ; it bore too much resemblance to an air. Greater solemnity had been more appropriate. I observed, that the cannoneers wore shoes and stockings with their uniform instead of boots, and that no two had stockings alike: this appeared to me truly French.

After dinner, we visited the shop of Amand King, the bookseller. He is a polite and pleasing young man, and I here make my acknowledgments for the disinterested attention he shewed me. He is at present printing a French version of my “Adelaide of Wulfingen,' executed by a madame de Rome at Paris. This he gave me to look over, and the reading of • Adele de Wulfing' afforded me much diversion. It is truly frenchified in every part. At the end, Adelaide is discovered to be the daughter of Mistivoi, substituted for count Hugo's, consequently not Theobald's sister. But the translator has not esteemed it worth while to trouble herself with removing the striking improbabilities in the way of such an incident.

I was particularly surprised, that any expectation should be formed of this piece being approved upon the French stage.

But Mr King assured me, that it could scarcely fail of pleasing, since every possible

I can

method of rendering priestcraft odious, was now eagerly sought.

Mr King, too, was in the national uniform. not say but that it is very smart, and has a good effect. On the buttons is engraved la loi, et le roi. I asked, whether le roi was not added merely for the sake of the rhyme ?

December 14. On this morning also we set off at six. We chose for our conveyance the diligence to Paris, which was to reach that capital on the evening of the 16th.

Never in my life did I take a more unpleasant journey. I will freely own, indeed, that the distempered state of my mind throws a gloom over everything around me, and that I am now captious and peevish under inconveniences at which, in my happier days, I should only have laughed; but here many things are really insufferable.

In the first place, the boasted commodiousness of the carriage itself, is altogether empty vapour, or at least must be received with very great allowance. If it carried no more than four, or per aps six, there would not be any great reason to complain; but unfortunately, its full complement is eight, and woe to him who happens to be one of those eight !-Woe, woe indeed, if they be all thin! but inevitable death should they be fat !

Three sit forwards, three backwards, and one against each door. It seems not at all taken into the account, that men have arms and legs. A maimed soldier, deprived of these conveniences, might sit with tolerable ease. How then to stow all the legs, occasions no small perplexity; for, they who happen to be among the last that get in, will scarcely find a place not pre-occupied by another pair. A toe, that may unfortunately be tormented with a corn, has a very good chance of becoming a footstool to a neighbour, till its owner, no longer able to endure the torture, will be extremely glad to draw up his leg like that of a bird of Paradise. In this situation, however, 'tis impossible to remain long without the contracted limb becoming so insupportably stiff, that it cannot be moved again but with extreme difficulty; and when at last the happy moment arrives that brings a temporary release from this confinement, he is perhaps scarcely able to get out of the carriage.

Another convenience of this squeezed mode of travelling, is the almost insurmountable labour of getting a handkerchief out of the pocket. This is indeed such a herculean task, that big drops of sweat -stand on the forehead ere it can be accomplished. A pickpocket could never be so effectually secured against carrying on his trade as in this diligence. In the front or backwards the press is the most intolerable, consequently they who sit against the doors are the least incommoded with respect to elbow-room ; though otherwise they are in far the worst situation, and besides run the hazard of having their necks broken, supposing the doors not to be properly fastened.

The vapour of so much breath pent up together is another agreeable circumstance. There are indeed six windows to the carriage, but unless in very warm weather, it is scarcely possible to endure more than one or two open, which is totally insufficient to remedy the evil. The impossibility of the passengers within opening the doors, is an additional grievance ; they are, as it were, shut up in a prison, or cage, from which they can be released only by the gaoler.

Thus is a coach full of men carried about from town to town, as the higglers carry a basket of fowls; and as a consummation of their misery, when they arrive at the bureau, seven or eight minutes are perhaps suffered to elapse before the driver will be pleased to open the door of this black hole, during which they endure all the torture of that impatience, unavoidably attached to such a teazing species of procrastination. Of all things under the sun, confinement is to me the most vexatious, and a confinement like what I have described, the most vexatious of all.

Many people consider a cold as healthy. He then, who has not had the satisfaction of enjoying such a token of health for some time, need only take a journey in this diligence, and he may be tolerably secure of obtaining the desired gratification. As every passenger pays for his place, and as it has been long a universally established maxim, that one man's money is as good as another's, so each individual thinks he has equal right with his neighbour to regulate the opening of the windows, at least of that by which he sits. Thus, instead of entering into a general compact for the advantage of the whole company, each, with the true selfishness of human nature, considers merely his own private interest, and perhaps makes such draughts of wind, that 'tis only wonderful how anybody escapes cold.

The fare at the inns is, besides, very bad and very dear. For terribly insipid bouillé with soaked bread, disagreeable to the eye and still more disagreeable to the palate, sodden, tasteless beef, and vegetables dressed with oil, we commonly paid half a dollar. Gladly would I have resigned, for a tolerable piece of beef, or a roast leg of mutton, the dessert that even in these miserable inns always succeeds the diuner. This consists of wretched dry biscuits, chesnuts, and fruit. Never in my life did I taste anything more nauseous than a sort of biscuit they called echaudé : it has the flavour of foul air.

To dirt the table cloth is impossible, since, according to appearance, it has made a visit up the chimney before it be spread. This is accompanied with forks no less filthy, and very uninviting for taking up the food; and as to a knife, no such thing is to be had. Every traveller is expected, like a German peasant or butcher, to carry one in his pocket, and to use it at his meals, first whetting it on his breeches. The wine is the best thing brought to

« PoprzedniaDalej »