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one of the greatest as well as most amiable men, which this, or perhaps any other, country has produced. If I have not done justice to my subject, and I am conscious that I have not, I must apologize for myself in the language of this illustrious person when speaking of almost the only American that de. served to rank as his equal,-" to delineate genius one must feel its power.”
LETTERS ON FRANCE AND ENGLAND. The following series of letters addressed to a literary friend are intended
to comprise a narrative not only of the adventures but of the reflections of the author, during a late residence of some years in France and England. They will also contain authentic details concerning the actual condition of those countries, and will be regularly continued through some of the succeeding numbers of this work. The writer does not mean to confine himself to any methodical plan either of relation or of discussion, and will pass alternately from the institutions of one country to those of the other as the associations of his memory may prompt. The tlıree first of the series now offered to the public refer almost exclusively to France.
MY DEAR H No impressions can be more lively, no sensations more rapid and cheerful, than those of a young American who, leaving his country for the first time, arrives in the river Garonne on a fine day of the month of June, after a sea voyage of two months accompanied by one unbroken train “ of vapours and clouds and storms." Such was exactly my case, and my imagination was never so powerfully affected as by the scenery which I then witnessed, and of which nothing of the same description ever meets the eye of a traveller in this country. Vineyards spread over lofty hills,--chateaux of white stone, built in a style of magnificence, and surrounded by a display of cultivation altogether unknown to us at home,-a multitude of country mansions and of villages delightfully situated either near the edge of the water or along the declivities of the hills; a numerous population of peasantry of an appearance equally novel, and in an attire singularly grotesque; all these present themselves to the view in continuous succession for twenty one leagues,—the distance from the entrance of the river to the city of Bordeaux. This perspective so strikingly contrasted with “the sullen and monotonous ocean," appeared at the time sufficient to indemnify me for all the cabin fatigues which I had encountered, and gave me a most delicious foretaste of the satisfactions which I was to derive from the bounties so profusely scattered over this fine region by the hand of nature. I understood then for the first time the force of the exclamation, la belle France, which I had so often heard in the mouth of her sons, and began to form some idea of the nature of that charm which operates upon them like the fascination of magic, after any length of absence, and at any distance of space from their native soil.
We frequently sailed within an hundred feet of the shore, so as to be enabled to converse with the proprietors of the country-seats whom we occasionally observed sitting under the shade of their trees, some of which overhung the banks of the
river. The clusters of small islands which we encountered, particularly near the confluence of the Dordogne with the Garonne, and which were covered with the most luxuriant vegetation, heightened the enchantment of the scent.-Nothing is wanting to the Garonne but a translucent wave to supply it with an assemblage of features more smiling, variegated and picturesque than those which belong, perhaps, to any other river in the world. The waters were turbid at the time we passed up, and I was informed that this was the case during the greater part of the year. I have contemplated since, but with emotions of pleasure not by any means so vivid, the banks of the Hudson in this country, and those of the Wye in England, both so justly celebrated for the magnificence and beauty of the views which they afford. The character of the scenery is indeed totally distinct in these rivers, and, perhaps, the preference which I give to the first arises from the infiuence of a particular association of ideas and circumstances. Who is it that has ever experienced the sufferings of a long illness, without being, on his convalescence, disposed to repeat, with Akenside,
“ Fair is nature's aspect
“ Chasing oppressive damps and languid pain.” If I could well claim permission to digress so soon from my immediate subject, it would be to talk of the navigation of another stream-the Wye, which I have mentioned above. The English have within their own island much of the finest imagery of nature, embellished by the most perfect labours of art, and by all the luxury of taste. But if I were to be called upon to select any one portion of their scenery upon which I could now dwell, and upon which I have dwelt, with most delight, it would be that of the Wye from Ross to Chepstow. For“ a picturesque tourist” it is a sort of bonne bouche, an exquisite morceau, with which, moreover, the appetite could scarcely ever be cloyed. The Wye is our Hudson in miniature, but with features of a much softer character, and with gothic appendages which give to it all the additional and powerful influence over the fancy that belong to “ wizard time and antique story.” The proportions of nature on the Hudson,
for a course of two hundred miles, are of the most gigantic magnificence, and the historical recollections connected with this river are to an American of the most endearing and ennobling kind. The progress of civilization, moreover, as you trace it on its banks so far in the interior of this continent, in the flourishing cities of Hudson, of Athens, and of Albany, swells the mind, and refreshes the spirit of patriotism by the prospect of actual and future improvements almost as stupendous to the imagination, as the rocks and mountains in their vicinity are to the eye.
The beauties of the English river are comprised within a space of fifty miles; it winds itself like the Hudson almost into labyrinths, and in a very narrow channel, presents rocks and hills of equal ruggedness, although of dimensions much less colossal. There is, however, about the Wye an indescribable and unrivalled charm; a peculiar “witchery" arising from an admixture of the soft with the savage features of the landscape; and from the gothic ruins which decorate its banks at intervals; among the rest those of Tintern Abbey, by far the most majestic and imposing of all the decayed edifices of England. In the navigation of this river you can descend from your boat to the banks whenever you please, and you then rarely fail to find the whole poetical assemblage,
“Of lofty trees with sacred shades
“ And though defaced, the wonder of the eye.” But to return to the Garonne. At the mouth of the river, a couple of fierce looking officers came on board of our vessel from the French guard-ship stationed under the neighbouring forts. They took down with great minuteness the history of our cargo, of the voyage, &c. &c. and examined each passenger with regard to his name, his birth-place, his profession, his age and his views. These particulars were immediately transmitted to the Police of Bordeaux, and thence forwarded to the head-quarters of Espionage at Paris. We performed quarantine for eight days about half-way up the river, abreast of the neat little village of Pouillac, and underwent there a similar examination. We were thus perfectly well known to the municipal authorities for some time before our landing. This was not the only circumstance which reminded us of the nature of the government within whose jurisdiction we then were, and which threw a shade over the satisfactions that the sur.
rounding scenery was calculated to afford. We were hailed on our passage up from a multitude of boats kept by the brokers of Bordeaux, who send their clerks to meet vessels at their entrance into the river, and to solicit the custom of the captains and supercargoes. These gentlemen preferred their boon with an earnestness of entreaty, and a humility of manner which afforded a melancholy indication of the stagnation of trade, and of the depression of the commercial spirit. Their services, however, are rendered indispensable by the regulations of the government which limits their number, and subjects them to a rigorous discipline, as well as to a very onerous tax for the privi. lege of exercising their functions.-On leaving the quarantineground, our trunks were carefully examined by the customhouse officers habited à la militaire, who were then stationed on the deck, and who remained with us until permits were obtained both from the Douane and the Prefecture de poli for our landing and for the disembarcation of our effects. These underwent a second scrutiny, before they were extricated from the hands of a host of famished tide-waiters by whom we were guarded.
Nothing can be more imposing than the aspect of Bordeaux as you approach it by water. The eye takes in at one glance a series nearly two miles in length, of magnificent stone edifices, constructed upon the same plan, and forming altogether a large segment of a complete circle. The façade des chartrons is not excelled, perhaps, by any thing of the same description in the world, and can boast of a perspective, from the opposite side of the river, rarely surpassed in richness and variety. We found, on entering the harbour, about one hundred and fifty Prussian galliots, dismantled and laid up in ordinary. They were arranged in very regular series, and being exactly of the same form and colour, produced a striking and picturesque effect. These vessels were about to set sail, the day previous to the annunciation at Bordeaux, of the war which broke out in 1806 between the British, and the unfortunate king of Prussia to whose ports they were destined. Some accidental delay in the custom-house arrangements retarded their departure, and snatched a rich booty from the British cruisers. This opportune intelligence, as it was then deemed, saved them from a probable danger at the time; but their fate was only suspended; for not long afterwards they fell a prey to the “ pacificator of “ Europe and the tutelary genius of commerce," when he commenced his unexpected, and unprovoked war upon Prussia. If his Imperial majesty be in possession of an infallible arcanum against worms-another secret and dangerous enemy to VOL. I.