Page images

At dulei in ejemio cummm oblivia ducens
Nil cuperem prater posse placere meae;
Nee bona fortume aspieiens, neque munera regum,
Ilia intra optarem brachia cam mori.
Sep. 17, 1738.

Mr. Gray continued at bis father's bouse in Cornbill till the March following, in which interval Mr. Walpole, being disinelin* ed to enter so early into parliament, prevailed on sir Robert Walpole to permit him to go abroad, and on Mr Gray to be the companion of his travels. The correspondence is defective towards the end of his travels, and ineludes no description either of Venice or its territory; the last placet which Mr. Gray visited: a defect which was occasioned by an unfortunate disagreement between bim and Mr Walpole, and ended in their separation at Reggio. Mr. Gray went before him to Venice; and staying there only till he could find means of returning to England, he made the best of his way home, repassing the Alps, and following almost the same route through France by which be had before gone to Italy.



Amicns, April 1, N. S. 1739.

As we made but a very short journey today, and came to our inn early, I sit down to give you some account of our expedition. On the 29th (according to the style here) we left Dover at twelve at noon, and with a pretty brisk gale, which pleased every body mighty well, except myself, who was extremely sick the whole time; we reached Calais by five: the weather changed, and it began to snow hard the minute we got into the harbour, where we took the boat, and soon landed. Calais is an exceeding old, but very pretty town, and we hardly saw any thing there that was not so new and so different from England, that it surprised us agreeably. We went the next morning to the great church, and were at high mass (it being Easter Monday) We saw also the Convent of the Capuchins, and the nuns of St. Dominic; with these last we held much conversation, especially with an English nun, a Mrs. Davis, of whose work I sent you, by th" return of the pacquet, a letter-case to remember her by. In the afternoon we took a post chaise (it still snowing very hard) for Boulogne, which was only eighteen miles further. This chaise is a strange sort of conveyance, of much greater use than beauty, resembling an ill-shaped chariot, only with the door opening before instead of the side; three horses draw it, one between the shafts, and the other two on each side, on one, of which the postillion rides, and drives too.* This vehicle will, upon occasion, go fourscore miles a day, but Mr. Walpole, being in no hurry, chooses to make easy journeys of it, and they are easy ones indeed; for the motion is much like that of a sedan; we go about six miles an hour, and commonly change horses at the end of it. It is true they are no very graceful steeds, but they go well, and through roads which they say are bad for France, but-to me they seem gravel walks and bowling-greens; in short, it would be the finest travelling in the world, were it not for the inns, which are mostly terrible places indeed. But to describe our progress somewhat more regularly, we came into Boulogne when it was almost dark, and went out pretty early on Tuesday morning; so that all I can say about it is, that it is a large, old, fortified town, with more English in it than French. On Tuesday we were to go to Abbeville, seventeen leagues, or fifiyone short English miles; but by the way we dined at Montreuil, much to our hearts' content, on stinking mutton cutlets, addled eggs, and ditch water. Madame the hostess made her appearance in long lappets of bone lace, and a sack of linsey-woolsey. We supped and lodged pretty well at Abbeville, and had time to see a little of it before we came out this morning. There are seventeen convents in it, out of which we saw the chapels of the Minims and the Carmelite nuns. We are now come further thirty miles to Amiens, the chief city of the province of Picardy. We have seen the cathedral, which is just what that of Canterbury must have been before the reformation. It is about the same size, a huge Gothic building, beset on the outside with thousands of small statues, and within adorned with beautiful painted windows, and a vast number of chapels, dressed out in all their finery of altar-pieces, embroidery, gilding, and marble. Over the high altar are ^preserved, in a very large wrought shrine of massy gold, the relics of St. Firmin, their patron saint. We went also to the ehapels of the Jesuit, and Ursuline nuns, the latter of which is very richly adorned. To-morrow we shall lie at Clermont, and next day reach Paris. The country we have passed through hitherto has been flat, open, but agreeably diversified with villages, fields well-cultivated, and little rivers. On every hillock is a windmill, a crucifix, 01; a Virgin Mary dressed in flowers, and a sarcenet robe; one sees not many peopie or carriages on the road; now and then indeed you meet a strolling friar, a countryman with his great muff, or a woman riding astride on a little ass, with short petticoats, and a great head-dress of blue wool. * * *

* This waa before the introduction of post-chaises here, or it wtuld net hare appeared a eireumstanee worthy notice.



P«ris, April 12, 1739.

Jcnfin done me voici a Paris. Mr. VValpole is gone out to supper at lord Conway's, and here I remain alone, though invited too. Do not think I make a merit of writing to you preferably to a good supper; for these three days we have been here, have actually given me an aversion to eating in genend. If hunger be the best sauce to meat, the French are certainly the worst cooks in the world; for what tallies we have seen have been so delicately served, and so profusely, that, after rising from one of them, one imagines :t impossible ever to eat again. And now, if I tell you all I have in my head, you will believe me mad; mais n'importe, courage, allons! for if I wait tilL my head grow clear and settle a little, you may stay

« PreviousContinue »