« EelmineJätka »
A Μ Ο Ν Τ Η
FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND,
THE French say of their English neighbours, that they are a wandering and discontented people, and that during the long revolutionary war, shut out from their customary emigrations to France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, they were obliged to content themselves with visits to Scotland and its mountains, or even to confine their rambles within the narrow limits of their own Cumberland Lakes. Sad, sad alternative! but till the return of peace, and the overthrow of that mighty Colossus, who had bestridden the world, it was the only one, and must be submitted to.
The battle of Waterloo took place (a struggle unequalled either in modern or ancient times,) and the aspect of affairs altered. Peace followed, and the Bourbons returned a second time to France, and with them, or after them, Englishmen of all ranks visited the long forgotten cliffs of an opposite and rival shore.
Contrary to my accustomed habits, I was cautious, and waited the lapse of a few years ere I entrusted France with the important deposit of myself. In 1819, however, I thought I might venture, and I did. - I crossed to CALAIS, saw and heard every thing with the eye and ear of wonder, always attendant on a first visit to any novel scene-took the route from CALAIS to BOULOGNE-thence to ABBEVILLE-thence to DIEPPE- from DIEPPE to ROUEN (where I saw and admired, and in memory admire still, its most harmoniously beautiful cathedral,) and thence to DIEPPE again. From DIEPPE I sailed in the Unity for Brighton, and returned to London, fully authorized to boast, if I chose it, of having seen something of the French character in France.
A feeling in favour of French scenery had taken root in my mind, and I set to work to reproach myself with nego lect. I had been I had returned-and I had not seen PARIS. My friends said, you have not seen Paris! I had no time, was my reply, and I saw more of the natural French character than if I had gone thither. This was all very well, prima facie-but beneath the surface it was not quite so, and I resolved to remedy the defect when I could, by going to Paris, and seeing all its sights. I do few things by halves--I therefore resolved further that, if I reached PARIS, I would see GENEVA and LAUSANNE—and the JURAS-and the Glaciers and the Lake! This satisfied pride and disappointinent, it soothed down irritation, and for more than twelve months I waited the opportunity of emigrating; which at length presented itself in the autumn of the year 1824.
The morning was fine, and the breeze favourable, when, on Thursday the 2nd of September, I embarked in Rams-,
gate Harbour, on board the Medusa steam packet, for CALAIS. We started at half-past: twelve at noon, and after a fine passage of four hours and a half, during which all on board continued well, landed at CALAIS at five o'clock.
Our first call was of necessity at the Custom House. Here there was confusion enough, and it was some time before we obtained our release. The custom of searching the person had been discontinued, and the baggage having passed, I passed also to Meurice's Hotel. My first inquiry here was for a conveyance to PARIS. All the diligences were full, and it was some time ere I could secure my place in the cabriolet from the Messagerie Royale, for six o'clock the following evening. This done, I sat down to the table d'hôte, and was entertained with a variety of imitations of various birds and beasts by an itinerant, who performed bis work well. At the close of his labours, à Frenchman from without suggested to him to finish with l'ânesse. Those present were English. Whether this compliment was intended for them I know not, but some of them thought it was. I amused myself a little with a tamé seagull that seemed to enjoy himself in the yard of the hotel, sauntered in company with the agreeable Mr. P to the end of the jetty, or perhaps I ought to call it pier, returned, took coffee, and retired to bed. Two hints by the way. When you are told there is no room in any of the voitures, don't believe till you have ascertained it for yourself. It is sometimes said with a view to detention. And, if you go to Meurice's, do not, without remonstrance, take up your night's lodging in the detached barracks of that hotel. The town was full of English, many of whom, owing to the easy and frequent communication by steam, had passed over only to return the next day, or to make the tour of France as far as BOULOGNE, to return thence to Old England. This every one has the right to do, if he can spare the money; but I have seen some there, of whom, might I hazard an opinion, I would say they would have acted as wisely in staying at home as in venturing abroad. There can be no doubt that many of the transitory English, who cross for a day's amusement, forgetting the total difference in manners and customs, even at Calais and Dover, demean themselves so as to draw down censure upon England, and unfairly to fix the national character by their indiscreet behaviour.
On the following morning, Friday the 3d, I visited the pier. It was under repair, and much improved since I had seen it last. It is all of wood. At the extremity toward the sea are seats, on which, in the centre of the half circle they form, is the following notice-Il est défendu de faire aucune degradation a ce banc et de rien gruver sur les bois de la jettée, sous peine d'etre arrété. Such a notice is seldom necessary in France. Have the English made it so? About midway on the pier stands a neat pillar commemorative of the landing of Louis the 18th. A brass plate at its base perpetuates the impress of His Most Sacred Majesty's foot, where he first planted it; and on the pedestal of the column is the following inscription :
“ 24 Avrile, 1814,
S. M. Louis 18
et fut enfin rendu
La Ville de Calais