Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re

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Author: Arthur Young

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ARTHUR YOUNG, Travels (as above, No. 69), pp. 102 sqq., 60 sq., 123, 125, 193, 197 sq. World History

106.

Extracts from Arthur Young’s Travels in France

Impressions of Versailles and its gardens

In viewing the king’s apartment, which he had not left a quarter of an hour, with those slight traits of disorder that showed he lived in it, it was amusing to see the blackguard figures that were walking uncontrolled about the palace, and even in his bedchamber; men whose rags betrayed them to be in the last stage of poverty, and I was the only person that stared and wondered how the devil they got there. It is impossible not to like this careless indifference and freedom from suspicion. One loves the master of the house, who would not be hurt or offended at seeing his apartment thus occupied if he returned suddenly, for if there was danger of this the intrusion would be prevented. This is certainly a feature of that good temper which appears to me so visible everywhere in France. I desired to see the queen’s apartments, but I could not. "Is her Majesty in it? "No." "Why then not see it as well as the king’s?" "Ma foi, Monsieur, c’est une autre chose."

Ramble through the gardens, and by the grand canal, with absolute astonishment at the exaggerations of writers and travelers. There is magnificence in the quarter of the orangery, but no beauty anywhere; there are some statues good enough to wish them under cover. The extent and breadth of the canal are nothing to the eye, and it is not in such good repair as a farmer’s horse pond. The menagerie is well enough, but nothing great.

Young’s impressions of Béarn

[August II.] Take the road to Lourdes, where is a castle on a rock, garrisoned for the mere purpose of keeping state prisoners sent hither by lettres de cachet. Seven or eight are known to be here at present; thirty have been here at a time; and many for life,—torn by the relentless hand of jealous tyranny from the bosom of domestic comfort; from wives, children, friends, and hurried for crimes unknown to themselves—more probably for virtues—to languish in this detested abode of misery, and die of despair. O liberty! liberty! And yet this is the mildest government of any considerable country in Europe, our own excepted. The dispensations of Providence seem to have permitted the human race to exist only as the prey of tyrants, as it has made pigeons for the prey of hawks. . . .

[The 12th.] Pau is a considerable town, that has a parliament and a linen manufacture; but it is more famous for being the birthplace of Henry IV. I viewed the castle, and was shown, as all travelers are, the room in which that amiable prince was born, and the cradle—the shell of a tortoise—in which he was nursed. What an effect on posterity have great and distinguished talents l This is a considerable town, but I question whether anything would ever carry a stranger to it but its possessing the cradle of a favorite character.

Take the road to Moneng [Monein] and come presently to a scene which was so new to me in France that I could hardly believe my own eyes. A succession of many well-built, tight, and comfortable farming cottages, built of stone and covered with tiles; each having its little garden, inclosed by clipped thorn hedges, with plenty of peach and other fruit trees, some fine oaks scattered in the hedges, and young trees nursed up with so much care that nothing but the fostering attention of the owner could effect anything like it. To every house belongs a farm, perfectly well inclosed, with grass borders mown and neatly kept around the cornfields, with gates to pass from one inclosure to another. The men are all dressed with red caps, like the Highlanders of Scotland. There are some parts of England (where small yeomen still remain) that resemble this country of Béarn: but we have very little that is equal to what I have seen in this ride of twelve miles from Pan to Moneng. It is all in the hands of little proprietors, without the farms being so small as to occasion a vicious and miserable population. An air of neatness, warmth, and comfort breathes over the whole. It is visible in their new-built houses and stables, in their little gardens, in their hedges, in the courts before their doors, even in the coops for their poultry and the sties for their hogs. A peasant does not think of rendering his pig comfortable if his own happiness hangs by the thread of a nine years’ lease. We are now in Béarn, within a few miles of the cradle of Henry IV. Do they inherit these blessings from that good prince? The benignant genius of that good monarch seems to reign still over the country; each peasant has the fowl in the pot. . . .

[The 13th.] The agreeable scene of yesterday continues: many small properties, and every appearance of rural happiness.

Brittany

To Combourg. The country has a savage aspect; husbandry not much further advanced, at least in skill, than among the Hurons, which appears incredible amidst inclosures. The people almost as wild as their country, and their town of Combourg one of the most brutal, filthy places that can be seen; mud houses, no windows, and a pavement so broken as to impede all passengers, but ease none. Yet here is a chateau, and inhabited. Who is this Monsieur de Chateaubriant, the owner, that has nerves strung for a residence amidst such filth and poverty? . . .

To Montauban. The poor people seem poor indeed; the children terribly ragged,—if possible, worse clad than if with no clothes at all; as to shoes and stockings, they are luxuries. A beautiful girl of six or seven years playing with a stick, and smiling under such a bundle of rags as made my heart ache to see her. They did not beg, and when I gave them anything seemed more surprised than obliged. One third of what I have seen of this province seems uncultivated, and nearly all of it in misery. What have kings, and ministers, and parliaments, and States to answer for their prejudices, seeing millions of hands that would be industrious idle and starving through the execrable maxims of despotism, or the equally detestable prejudices of a feudal nobility. Sleep at the Lion d’Or, at Montauban, an abominable hole.

Lack of news in the provinces

[July 4.] To Chateau Thiery, following the course of the Marne. The country is pleasantly varied, and hilly enough to render it a constant picture, were it inclosed. Thiery is beautifully situated on the same river. I arrived there by five o’clock, and wished, in a period so interesting to France and indeed to all Europe, to see a newspaper. I asked for a coffeehouse,—not one in the town. Here are two parishes and some thousands of inhabitants, and not a newspaper to be seen by a traveler, even in a moment when all ought to be in anxiety. What stupidity, poverty, and want of circulation! This people hardly deserve to be free; and should there be the least attempt with vigor to keep them otherwise, it can hardly fail of succeeding. To those who have been used to travel amidst the energetic and rapid circulation of wealth, animation, and intelligence of England, it is not possible to describe in words adequate to one’s feelings the dullness and stupidity of France. I have been to-day on one of their greatest roads, within thirty miles of Paris, yet I have not seen one diligence, and met but a single gentleman’s carriage, nor anything else on the road that looked like a gentleman.

1 See below, pp. 252. sqq.

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Chicago: Arthur Young, "Extracts from Arthur Young’s Travels in France," Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, ed. James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1908), 229–233. Original Sources, accessed September 21, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D27QKQXRAX1JPPF.

MLA: Young, Arthur. "Extracts from Arthur Young’s Travels in France." Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, edited by James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1908, pp. 229–233. Original Sources. 21 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D27QKQXRAX1JPPF.

Harvard: Young, A, 'Extracts from Arthur Young’s Travels in France' in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re. cited in 1908, Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.229–233. Original Sources, retrieved 21 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D27QKQXRAX1JPPF.