Reminiscences of Captain Gronow

Author: R. H. Gronow

Arrival of the Guards at Bordeaux

When we reached Bordeaux, which had now become a stronghold of the Royalists, we were received by the inhabitants with a welcome which resembled what would be shown to friends and deliverers, rather than to a foreign soldiery. Nothing could be more gratifying and more acceptable to our feelings, since it was the first time after our arrival on the Continent that we met with cordiality and an apparent desire to make our quarters as comfortable as possible. The Duc d’Angouleme had reached Bordeaux before us, and no doubt his presence had prepared the way for all the friends of the Bourbons. Everywhere some description of white rag was doing duty for a Royalist banner. I lived at M. Devigne’s, a rich wine-merchant who had a family of two sons and two beautiful daughters; the latter were, as I thought, taken remarkable care of by their maternal parent. Here I had evidently fallen upon my legs, for not only was the family a most agreeable one, but their hospitality was of the most generous kind. Sir Stapylton Cotton was our frequent visitor, together with M. Martignac, afterwards Minister of Charles the Tenth.

Here I had an opportunity of meeting some of the prettiest women of a city famed all over Europe for its female beauty. The young ladies were remarkable for their taste in dress, which in those days consisted of a mantilla a l’Espagnole, and silken shawls of varied hues, so admirably blended, that the eye was charmed with their richness of colour. The grisettes, who were as much admired by the soldiers as were the high dames by the officers, were remarkable for a coquettish species of apron of a red dye, which was only to be obtained from the neighbourhood.

Of course we were all very anxious to taste the Bordeaux wines; but our palates, accustomed to the stronger vintages of Spain, I suspect were not in a condition to appreciate the more delicate and refined bouquets which ought to characterize claret. A vin ordinaire, which now at restaurateur’s would cost three francs, was then furnished at the hotels for fifteen sous: a Larose, Lafitte, Margot, such as we are now paying eight or ten francs a bottle for, did not cost a third. I must not, however, forget that greater attention and care is now employed in the preparation of French wines. The exportation to England of the light red wines of France was not sufficiently profitable, as I learnt from my host, at that time to attract the cupidity of commerce.

In the Guards, Bordeaux was more affectionately remembered in connexion with its women than its wine. We left it with regret, and the more youthful and imaginative amongst us said that we were wafted across the Channel by the gentle sighs of the girls we left behind us."


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Chicago: R. H. Gronow, "Arrival of the Guards at Bordeaux," Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, ed. F. N. Maude and trans. Oliver Elton in Reminiscences of Captain Gronow (New York: Norroena Society, 1857), Original Sources, accessed March 19, 2019,

MLA: Gronow, R. H. "Arrival of the Guards at Bordeaux." Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, edited by F. N. Maude, and translated by Oliver Elton, in Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, New York, Norroena Society, 1857, Original Sources. 19 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Gronow, RH, 'Arrival of the Guards at Bordeaux' in Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, ed. and trans. . cited in 1857, Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, Norroena Society, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 March 2019, from