« AnteriorContinuar »
Women smite on the anvil, and work with the hoe, and cows are yoked to labor. There are great numbers of cattle, insomuch that butter is their staple. Neither asses nor mules; yet it is said that the fine mules I have met with on my journey, are raised in Poictou. There are but few chateaux here. I observe mill ponds, and hoes with long handles. Have they not, in common with us, derived these from England, of which Bretagne is probably a colony? L'Orient is supposed to contain twenty-five thousand inhabitants. They tell me here, that to make a reasonable profit on potash and pearl ash, as bought in America, the former should sell at thirty livres, the latter thirtysix livres the quintal. Of turpentine they make no use in their vessels. Bayonne furnishes pitch enough; but tar is in demand, and ours sells well. The tower of L'Orient is sixty-five pieds above the level of the sea, one hundred and twenty pieds high, twenty-five pieds in diameter; the stairs four feet radius, and cost thirty-thousand livres, besides the materials of the old tower.
June 3d, 4th, 5th. The country and productions from L'Orient to Rennes, and from Rennes to Nantes, are precisely similar to those from Nantes to L'Orient. About Rennes, it is somewhat leveller, perhaps less poor, and almost entirely in pasture. The soil always grey. Some small separate houses which seem to be the residence of laborers, or very small farmers; the walls frequently of mud, and the roofs generally covered with slate. Great plantations of walnut, and frequently of pine. Some apple trees and sweet briar still in bloom, and broom generally so. I have heard no nightingale since the last day of May. There are gates in this country made in such a manner, that the top rail of the gate overshoots backwards the hind. post, so as to counterpoise the gate, and prevent its swagging.
Nantes. Vessels of eight feet draught only, can come to Nantes. Those which are larger, lie at Point Boeuf, ten leagues below Nantes, and five leagues above the mouth of the river. There is a continued navigation from Nantes to Paris, through the Loire, the canal de Briare and the Seine. Carolina rice is preferred to that of Lombardy for the Guinea trade, because it requires less water to boil it.
June 6th, 7th, 8th. Nantes. Ancenis. Angers. Tours. Ascending the Loire from Nantes, the road, as far as Angers, leads over the hills, which are grey, oftener below than above mediocrity, and in corn, pasture, vines, some maize, flax, and hemp. There are no waste lands. About the limits of Bretagne and Anjou, which are between Loriottiere and St. George, the lands change for the better. Here and there, we get views of the plains on the Loire, of some extent, and good appearance, in corn and pasture. After passing Angers, the road is raised out of the reach of inundations, so as at the same time, to ward them off from the interior plains. It passes generally along the river side; but sometimes leads through the plains, which, after we pass Angers, become extensive and good, in corn, pasture, some maize, hemp, flax, peas, and beans; many willows, also poplars and walnuts. The flax is near ripe. Sweet briar in general bloom. Some broom here still, on which the cattle and sheep browse in winter and spring, when they have no other green food; and the hogs eat the blossoms and pods, in spring and summer. This blossom, though disagreeable when smelt in a small quantity, is of delicious fragrance when there is a whole field of it. There are some considerable vineyards in the river plains, just before we reach Les trois volées, (which is at the one hundred and thirty-sixth mile stone) and after that, where the hills on the left come into view, they are mostly in vines. Their soil is clayey and stony, a little reddish, and of southern aspect. The hills on the other side of the river, looking to the north, are not in vines. There is very good wine made on these hills; not equal indeed to the Bourdeaux of best quality, but to that of good quality, and like it. It is a great article of exportation from Anjou and Touraine, and probably is sold abroad, under the name of Bourdeaux. They are now mowing the first crop of hay. All along both hills of the Loire, is a mass of white stone, not durable, growing black with time, and so soft, that the people cut their houses out of the solid, with all the partitions, chimnies, doors, &c. The hill sides resemble cony burrows, full of inhabitants. The borders of the
Loire, are almost a continued village. There are many chateaux; many cattle, sheep, and horses; some asses.
Tours is at the one hundred and nineteenth mile stone. Being desirous of inquiring here into a fact stated by Voltaire, in his Questions Encyclopediques, article Coquilles, relative to the growth of shells unconnected with animal bodies, at the Chateau of Monsieur de la Sauvagiere, near Tours, I called on Monsieur Gentil, premier secretaire de l'Intendance, to whom the Intendant had written on my behalf, at the request of the Marquis de Chastellux. I stated to him the fact as advanced by Voltaire, and found he was, of all men, the best to whom I could have addressed myself. He told me he had been in correspondence with Voltaire on that very subject, and was perfectly acquainted with Monsieur de la Sauvagiere, and the Faluniere where the fact is said to have taken place. It is at the Chateau de Grillemont, six leagues from Tours, on the road to Bourdeaux, belonging now to Monsieur d'Orcai. He says, that de la Sauvagiere was a man of truth, and might be relied on for whatever facts he stated as of his own observations; but that he was overcharged with imagination, which, in matters of opinion and theory, often led him beyond his facts; that this feature in his character had appeared principally in what he wrote on the antiquities of Touraine; but that, as to the fact in question, he believed him. That he himself, indeed, had not watched the same identical shells, as Sauvagiere had done, growing from small to great; but that he had often seen such masses of those shells of all sizes, from a point to a full size, as to carry conviction to his mind that they were in the act of growing; that he had once made a collection of shells for the Emperor's cabinet, reserving duplicates of them for himself; and that these afforded. proofs of the same fact; that he afterwards gave those duplicates to a Monsieur du Verget, a physician of Tours, of great science and candor, who was collecting on a larger scale, and who was perfectly in sentiment with Monsieur de la Sauvagiere, that not only the Faluniere, but many other places about Tours, would convince any unbiassed observer, that shells are a fruit of the earth, spontaneously produced; and he gave me a copy of de la
Sauvagiere's Recueil de Dissertations, presented by the author, wherein is one Sur la vegetation spontanée des coquilles du Chateau des Places. So far, I repeat from him. What are we to conclude? That we have not materials enough yet, to form any conclusion. The fact stated by Sauvagiere is not against any law of nature, and is therefore possible; but it is so little analogous to her habitual processes, that, if true, it would be extraordinary; that to command our belief, therefore, there should be such a suite of observations, as that their untruth would be more extraordinary than the existence of the fact they affirm. The bark of trees, the skin of fruits and animals, the feathers of birds, receive their growth and nutriment from the internal circulation of a juice through the vessels of the individual they cover. We conclude from analogy, then, that the shells of the testaceous tribe, receive also their growth from a like internal circulation. If it be urged, that this does not exclude the possibility of a like shell being produced by the passage of a fluid through the pores of the circumjacent body, whether of earth, stone, or water; I answer, that it is not within the usual economy of nature, to use two processes for one species of production. While I withhold my assent, however, from this hypothesis, I must deny it to every other I have ever seen, by which their authors pretend to account for the origin of shells in high places. Some of these are against the laws of nature, and therefore impossible; and others are built on positions more difficult to assent to, than that of de la Sauvagiere. They all suppose the shells to have covered submarine animals, and have then to answer the question, How came they fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea? And they answer it, by demanding what cannot be conceded. One, therefore, who had rather have no opinion than a false one, will suppose this question one of those beyond the investigation of human sagacity; or wait till further and fuller observations enable him to decide it.
Chanteloup. I heard a nightingale to-day at Chanteloup. The gardener says, it is the male who alone sings, while the female sits; and that when the young are hatched, he also ceases. In the border at Chanteloup, is an ingenious contrivance to hide
the projecting steps of a stair-case. Three steps were of necessity to project into the boudoir: they are therefore made triangular steps; and instead of being rested on the floor, as usual, they are made fast at their broad end to the stair door, swinging out and in, with that. When it shuts, it runs them under the other steps; when open, it brings them out to their proper place. In the kitchen garden, are three pumps, worked by one horse. The pumps are placed in an equilateral triangle, each side of which is of about thirty-five feet. In the centre is a post, ten or twelve feet high, and one foot in diameter. In the top of this, enters the bent end of a lever, of about twelve or fifteen feet long, with a swingle tree at the other end. About three feet from the bent end, it receives on a pin, three horizontal bars of iron, which at their other end lay hold of one corner of a quadrantal crank (like a bell crank) moving in a vertical plane, to the other corner of which is hooked the vertical handle of the pump. The crank turns on its point as a centre, by a pin or pivot passing through it. The horse moving the lever horizontally in a circle, every point of the lever describes a horizontal circle. That which receives the three bars, describes a circle of six feet in diameter. It gives a stroke then of six feet to the handle of each pump, at each revolution.
Blois. Orleans. June 9, 10. At Blois, the road leaves the river, and traverses the hills, which are mostly reddish, sometimes gray, good enough, in vines, corn, St. foin. From Orleans to the river Juines, at Estampes, it is a continued plain of corn, and St. foin, tolerably good, sometimes gray, sometimes red. From Estampes to Estrechy, the country is mountainous and rocky, resembling that of Fontainebleau. Quere. If it may not
be the same vein ?
A Tour to some of the Gardens of England.
[Memorandems made on a tour to some of the gardens in England, described by Whateley in his book on gardening.] While his