صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

P.S. – Mr. Bray requests me to inform you, by way of apologetical introduction, that having been recommended by his medical advisers to visit the Continent, he wished to drive away low spirits, — the not unfrequent concomitants and even results of their prescribed spare diet, and such thin potations as beef-tea and watergruel, — by exchanging the latter for the pantagruelism of the author of the “ Doctor," be he who he may, who has proved himself no unworthy successor of that prince of fun and goodfellowship, Rabelais,

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF A SEXAGENARIAN IN A

TOUR ON THE CONTINENT, 1839.

I SHOULD not have thus headed my desultory remarks but for the following circumstance. My journey to the Continent had been long talked of, and as often prevented. I had long made inquiries and preparations, till I was almost tired both of the one and the other. My wife's eldest niece, on being asked what she thought of me as to undertaking the journey, replied, “He seems to be pretty well resigned I may be

to it:” and my cousin, Captain —, thinking, perhaps, that I required encouragement, said that he envied my first impressions on visiting a foreign land.

A friend, in early life, on my telling him that I had never read “Tom Jones," remarked, that he would give almost any thing if, like me, he could read it for the first time. I different from most others, but I have been not a little disappointed in either. No doubt there is much of nature in “Tom Jones," but there is also much that is unnatural; and the artificial introductions to some of his chapters in burlesque of Homer, I know not why, gave me more disgust than pleasure. The improbable, nay, unnatural licentiousness of the hero, tended also more to the former than the latter feeling.

With respect to the Continent, my impressions were pretty strongly marked before I landed; and, possibly, may be so deeply fixed as not easily to be removed. The latter part of our voyage had been so rough that I was extremely sick. At this season of the

the year, in the very height of summer, such mishaps could

be little expected; and these circumstances, it must be admitted, were not well calculated to prejudice me in favour of what might follow. I am described in my passport as about to take a voyage d'agrément. I cannot, however, but an. ticipate more disagreeables than their opposite; but such, at the same time, as will rather cause a laugh than otherwise.

I found also, from my passport, that in other respects (for it was a Frenchman who filled it up) I must habituate myself to hear things called other than by their right names. Though I stated my age to be sixty, and might have added half a year to it, I was described by him as having cheveux mêlés, instead of gris. Some, perhaps, not understanding the sense which Frenchmen give it, might, however, think it no compliment to be described as having le nez ordinaire, but my companion was so designated

and yet we both of us, perhaps, might have some pretensions to a Roman nose, though we might not fear (as Southey informed us, in reference to Sterne, that he did) to attract attention in crossing the bridge of Strasburg.

likewise;

This is one of the places of our destination, though we may not reach it; but, if we do, the greatest wonderment I shall occasion will probably be to myself; like the Doge of Venice, who, on being asked what he noticed as most remarkable at Paris, answered, that it was to see himself there.

When we arrived at Ostend, by having all my own luggage in the hold of the vessel, I was unable to take on shore any thing but myself; and, indeed, I was thankful for this. The ceremony of delivering up passports, which, though almost in the dark, the official authorities pretended to inspect; and the more than ceremony on the following morning of having our baggage inspected, and tossed and tumbled over at the discretion of the douanier, is rather trying to the patience and even common feelings of an Englishman; but circumstances, perhaps, like these are useful as preparatives; and may rise even to some value as reminiscences, when we are recounting our adventures in our native land. The only comfort we experienced on reaching our hotel was to find a good fire,

which, though in summer, and in a climate less variable than our own, was

most welcome. When I was a boy, I had understood that the French had, but a little time before, borrowed from us the word comfortable ; but they do not even yet seem to have learned the thing. To my surprise, they have lately paid us a further compliment, and that too in regard to a quality which they have hitherto thought exclusively their own. Whilst waiting in the showroom during the time that my wife was closeted with a French dressmaker in London – having, pour passer le temps, inspected the caps and bonnets, &c., together with the artificial flowers contained in them (which certainly were very close imitations of nature), I took up the most recent brochure connected with la mode de Paris, and more than once met with la société fashionable de Paris.

The French (for, like a true John Bull, I look upon all who speak French as Frenchmen) seem to act upon the squeezable system, as do the Radicals upon our Ministers, though not so much by pressure from without as from within.

« السابقةمتابعة »