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on account of the probable shortness of our stay, to bargain for our lodging, and board, a plan generally proper to be used by those, who mean to remain for some length of time, in any place in France,
Cheap travelling to Paris. — Diligences. — French Postilions. — Spanish Postilions. — Norman Horses. — Bolbec. ■ Natives of Caux. Ivetot. —Return of Religion. — Santerre. — Jacobin. — The Must. pot. — National Property.
BEFORE I proceed on my journey, I must beg leave to present a very cheap mode of travelling to Paris, from Havre, to those who have more time at their command than I had. It was given to me by a respectable gentleman, and an old traveller.
From Havre to Honfleur, by the passage-boat 10
This progress, however, is tedious and uncertain. At day-break we seated ourselves in the diligence. All the carriages of this description have the appearance of being the result of threadiest efforts in the art of coach building. A more uncouth clumsy machine can scarcely be imagined. In the front is a cabriolet fixed to the body of the coach, for the accommodation of three passengers, who are protected from the rain above, by the projecting roof of the coach, and in
front 32 DILIGENCES.
Chap. front by two heavy curtains of leather, well oiled, and smelling
J^ * somewhat offensively, fastened to the roof. The inside, which
is capacious, and lofty, and will hold six people with great comfort, is lined with leather padded, and surrounded with ^totle pockets, in which the travellers deposit their bread, snuff, night caps, and pocket handkerchiefs, which generally enjoy each others company in the same delicate depositary. From the roof depends a large net work, which is generally crouded . with hats, swords, and band boxes, the whole is convenient, and when all parties are seated and arranged, the accommodations are by no means unpleasant.
Upon the roof^ on the outside, is the inapeciak which is generally filled with six or seven persons more, and a heap of luggage, which latter also occupies the basket, and generally presents a pile, half as high again as the coach, which i6 secured by ropes and chains, tightened by a large iron windlass, which also constitutes another appendage ©f this moving mass. The body of the carriage rests upon huge thongs of leather,. fastened to heavy blocks of wood, instead of springs, and< thewhole is drawn by seven horses. The three first are fastened to the cross. bar, the rest are in pans, all in rope and tackling. The near horse of the three first, is mounted by the postilion, in his great jack boots, which are always placed, with much ceremony, like two; tub*, ^jon the right tide of his Rosinante, just before he asccne protectors of his legs,. ane composed of wood, and*iroii hoops, softened within by stuffing, and give him all the dignity ot riding in a pair of upright portmanteaus.. With. a long lafih
whip FRENCH POSTILIONS.
whip in his hand, a dirty night cap and an old cocked hat upon his head, hallooing alternately " a gauche, a droit," and a few occasional sacre dieus, which seem always properly applied, and perfectly understood, the merry postilion drives along his cattle. I must not fail to do justice to the scientific skill with which he manages on horseback, his long and heavy coach whip; with this commanding instrument, he can reanimate by a touch, each halting muscle of his lagging animals, can cut off an annoying fly, and with the loud cracking of its thong, he announces, upon his entrance into a town, the approach of his heavy, and clattering cavalcade. Each of these diligences is provided with a conducteur, who rides upon the imperial, and is responsible throughout the journey, for the comfort of the passengers and safety of the luggage. For his trouble the passenger pays him only thirty sols for himself, and fifteen more for the different postillions, to be divided amongst them, for these the donor is thanked with a low bow, and many "bien obliges," in the name of himself and his contented comrades.
Our companions proved to be some of our old friends the emigrants, who had thrown aside their marine dishabille, and displayed the appearance of gentlemen. "We were much pleased with again meeting each other. Their conversation upon the w>ajd was very interesting, it was filled with sincere regret for the afflictions of their country, and with expressions of love and gratitude towards the english. They told us many little tales of politeness, and humanity which they had received from my countrymen in the various towns, where their destiny *• ■ F had 3+ NORMAN HORSES.
Chap. had placed them. One displayed, with amiable pride, a snufF IV' box, which he had received as a parting token of esteem, another a pocket book, and each was the bearer of some little affectionate proof of merit, good conduct, or friendship.
One of these gentlemen, the abbe de PH , whose face
was full of expression, tinctured with much gi ie£ and attendant
Our horses were of the norman breed, small, stout, short, and full of spirit, and to the honour of those who have the care of them, in excellent condition. I was surprised to see these little animals running away with our cumbrous machine, at the rate of six or seven miles an hour.
We traced the desolating hand of the revolution as soon as we ascended the first hill.
Our road lay through a charming country. Upon the sides of its acclivities, surrounded by the most romantic scenery of woods and corn fields, we saw ruined convents, and roofless village churches, through the shattered casements of which the wind had free admission.
We breakfasted at a neat town called Bolbec, seven leagues from Havre, where we had excellent coffee, butter, and rolls.