James Fenimore Cooper.

Recollections of Europe online

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Our Embarkation. - Leave-taking. - Our Abigail. - Bay of New York. - The
Hudson. - Ominous Prediction. - The Prophet falsified. - Enter the
Atlantic. - "Land-birds." - Our Master. - Officers of Packet-ships. - Loss
of "The Crisis." - The "Three Chimneys." - Calamities at Sea.
- Sailing-match. - View of the Eddystone. - The Don Quixote. - Comparative
Sailing. - Pilot-boats. - Coast of Dorsetshire. - The Needles.
- Lymington. - Southampton Water. - The Custom-house.


Controversy at Cowes. - Custom-house Civility. - English Costume. - Fashion
in America. - Quadrilles in New York. - Cowes. - Nautical Gallantry.
English Beauty. - Isle of Wight Butter. - English Scenery. - M'Adamized
Roads. - Old Village Church. - Rural Interment. - Pauper's
Grave. - Carisbrooke Cattle. - Southampton. - Waiter at the Vine. - English
Costume. - Affinity with England. - Netley Abbey. - Southampton Cockneys.


Road to London. - Royal Pastime. - Cockney Coachman. - Winchester Assizes.
- Approach to London. - The Parks. - Piccadilly. - Street Excursion.
- Strangers in London. - Americans in England. - Westminster Abbey.
- Gothic Decorations. - Westminster Hall. - Inquisitive Barber. - Pasta and
Malibran. - Drury-lane Theatre. - A Pickpocket. - A Fellow-traveller.
- English Gentlemen. - A Radical. - Encampment of Gipsies. - National
Distinctions. - Antiquities. - National Peculiarities.


Quit England. - Approach to France. - Havre. - Our Reception there. - Female
Commissionnaire. - Clamour of Drums. - Port of Havre. - Projected
Enterprize. - American Enterprize. - Steam-boat
Excursion. - Honfleur. - Rouen. - French Exaction. - American
Porters. - Rouen Cathedral. - Our Cicerone. - A Diligence. - Picturesque
Road. - European Peasantry. - Aspect of the Country. - Church at
Louviers. - Village near Vernon. - Rosny. - Mantes. - Bourbon Magnificence.
- Approach to Paris - Enter Paris.


Paris in August 1826. - Montmartre. - The Octroi. - View of Paris.
- Montmorency. - Royal Residences. - Duke of Bordeaux. - Horse-racing.
- The Dauphine. - Popular feeling in Paris. - Royal Equipage. - Gardes du
Corps. - Policy of Napoleon. - Centralization.


Letters of Introduction. - European Etiquette. - Diplomatic
Entertainments. - Ladies in Coffee-houses. - French Hospitality. - Mr.
Canning at Paris. - Parisian Hotels. - French Lady at
Washington. - Receptions in Paris and in New York. - Mode of
Announcement. - Republican Affectation. - Hotel Monaco. - Dinner given to
Mr. Canning. - Diplomatic Etiquette. - European Ambassadors. - Prime
Minister of France. - Mr. Canning. - Count Pozzo di Borgo. - Precedency at
Dinner. - American Etiquette. - A French Dinner. - Servants. - Catholic
Fasting. - Conversation with Canning. - English Prejudice against


English Jurisprudence. - English Justice. - Justice in
France. - Continental Jurisprudence. - Juries. - Legal Injustice. - The Bar
in France. - Precedence of the Law.


Army of France. - Military Display. - Fête of the Trocadero. - Royal
Review. - Royal Ordinance. - Dissatisfaction. - Hostile
Demonstration. - Dispersion of Rioters. - French Cavalry. - Learned
Coachman. - Use of Cavalry. - Cavalry Operations. - The
Conscription. - National Defence. - Napoleon's Marshals. - Marshal
Soult - Disaffection of the Army.


Royal Dinner. - Magnificence and Comfort. - Salle de Diane. - Prince de
Condé. - Duke of Orleans. - The Dinner-table. - The Dauphin. - Sires de
Coucy. - The Dauphine. - Ancient Usages - M. de Talleyrand. - Charles X.
- Panoramic Procession. - Droll Effect. - The Dinner. - M. de Talleyrand's
Office. - The Duchesse de Berri. - The Catastrophe. - An Aristocratic


Road to Versailles. - Origin of Versailles. - The present Chateau. - The
two Trianons. - La Petite Suisse. - Royal Pastime. - Gardens of Versailles.
- The State Apartments. - Marie Antoinette's Chamber. - Death of Louis XV.
- Oeil de Boeuf. - The Theatre and Chapel. - A
Quarry. - Caverns. - Compiègne. - Chateau de Pierre-font. - Influence of
Monarchy. - Orangery at Versailles.


Laws of Intercourse. - Americans in Europe. - Americans and English.
- Visiting in America. - Etiquette of Visits. - Presentations at Foreign
Courts. - Royal Receptions. - American Pride. - Pay of the President.
- American Diplomatist.


Sir Walter Scott in Paris. - Conversation with him. - Copyright in
America. - Miss Scott. - French Compliments. - Sir Walter Scott's Person
and Manners. - Ignorance as to America. - French Commerce. - French
Translations. - American Luxury.


French Manufactures. - Sèvres China. - Tapestry of the Gobelins. - Paper
for Hangings. - The Savonnerie. - French Carpets. - American Carpets.
- Transfer of old Pictures from Wood to Canvass. - Coronation Coach.
- The Arts in France - in America. - American Prejudice.


False Notions. - Continental Manners. - People of Paris. - Parisian Women.
- French Beauty. - Men of France. - French Soldiers.


Perversion of Institutions. - The French Academy. - Laplace. - Astronomy.
- Theatres of Paris. - Immoral Plot. - Artificial Feelings. - French
Tragedy. - Literary Mania. - The American Press. - American
Newspapers. - French Journals - Publishing Manoeuvres. - Madame Malibran.


Environs of Paris. - Village of St. Ouen. - Our House there. - Life on the
River. - Parisian Cockneys. - A pretty Grisette. - Voyage across the
Seine. - A rash Adventurer. - Village Fête. - Montmorency. - View near


Rural Drives. - French Peasantry. - View of Montmartre. - The Boulevards.
- The Abattoirs. - Search for Lodgings. - A queer Breakfast. - Royal
Progresses and Magnificence. - French Carriages and Horses. - Modes of
Conveyance. - Drunkenness. - French Criminal Justice. - Marvellous Stories
of the Police.


Personal Intercourse. - Parisian Society and Hospitality. - Influence of
Money. - Fiacres. - M. de Lameth. - Strife of Courtesy. - Standard of
Delicacy. - French Dinners. - Mode of Visiting. - The Chancellor of France.
- The Marquis de Marbois. - Political Côteries. - Paris Lodgings. - A
French Party. - An English Party. - A splendid Ball. - Effects of good
Breeding. - Characteristic Traits. - Influence of a Court.


Garden of the Tuileries. - The French Parliament. - Parliamentary
Speakers. - The Tribune. - Royal Initiative. - The Charter. - Mongrel
Government. - Ministerial Responsibility. - Elections in
France. - Doctrinaires. - Differences of Opinion. - Controversy.


Excursion with Lafayette. - Vincennes. - The Donjon. - Lagrange. - The
Towers. - Interior of the House - the General's Apartments. - the Cabinet.
- Lafayette's Title. - Church of the Chateau. - Ruins of Vivier. - Roman
Remains. - American Curiosity. - The Table at Lagrange. - Swindling.


Insecurity of the Bourbons. - Distrust of Americans. - Literary Visitor.
- The Templars. - Presents and Invitations. - A Spy. - American Virtue.
- Inconsistency. - Social Freedom in America. - French Mannerists.
- National Distinctions. - A lively Reaction.


Animal Magnetism. - Somnambules. - Magnetised Patients. - My own
Examination. - A Prediction. - Ventriloquism. - Force of the Imagination.


Preparations for Departure. - My Consulate. - Leave
Paris. - Picardy. - Cressy. - Montreuil. - Gate of Calais. - Port of
Calais. - Magical Words.


It may seem to be late in the day to give an account of the more ordinary
characteristics of Europe. But the mass of all nations can form their
opinions of others through the medium of testimony only; and as no two
travellers see precisely the same things, or, when seen, view them with
precisely the same eyes, this is a species of writing, after all, that is
not likely to pall, or cease to be useful. The changes that are constantly
going on everywhere, call for as constant repetitions of the descriptions;
and although the pictures may not always be drawn and coloured equally
well, so long as they are taken in good faith, they will not be without
their value.

It is not a very difficult task to make what is commonly called an
amusing book of travels. Any one who will tell, with a reasonable degree
of graphic effect, what he has seen, will not fail to carry the reader
with him; for the interest we all feel in personal adventure is, of
itself, success. But it is much more difficult to give an honest and a
discriminating summary of what one has seen. The mind so naturally turns
to exceptions, that an observer has great need of self-distrust, of the
powers of analysis, and, most of all, of a knowledge of the world, to be
what the lawyers call a safe witness.

I have no excuse of haste, or of a want of time, to offer for the defect
of these volumes. All I ask is, that they may be viewed as no more than
they profess to be. They are the _gleanings of a harvest already
gathered_, thrown together in a desultory manner, and without the
slightest, or, at least, very small pretensions, to any of those
arithmetical and statistical accounts that properly belong to works of a
graver character. They contain the passing remarks of one who has
certainly seen something of the world, whether it has been to his
advantage or not, who had reasonably good opportunities to examine what
he saw, and who is not conscious of being, in the slightest degree,
influenced "by fear, favour, or the hope of reward." His _compte rendu_
must pass for what it is worth.



Our Embarkation. - Leave-taking. - Our Abigail. - Bay of New York.
- The Hudson. - Ominous Prediction. - The Prophet falsified. - Enter the
Atlantic. - "Land-birds." - Our Master. - Officers of Packet-ships.
- Loss of "The Crisis." - The "Three Chimneys." - Calamities at Sea.
- Sailing-match. - View of the Eddystone. - The Don Quixote.
- Comparative Sailing. - Pilot-boats. - Coast of Dorsetshire. - The Needles.
- Lymington. - Southampton Water. - The Custom-house.



"Passengers by the Liverpool, London and Havre packets are informed that a
steam-boat will leave the White Hall Wharf precisely at eleven, A.M.
to-morrow, June 1st." If to this notice be added the year 1826, you have
the very hour and place of our embarkation. We were nominally of the
London party, it being our intention, however, to land at Cowes, from
which place we proposed crossing the Channel to Havre. The reason for
making this variation from the direct route, was the superior comfort of
the London ship; that of the French line for the 1st June, though a good
vessel and well commanded, being actually the least commodious packet that
plied between the two hemispheres.

We were punctual to the hour, and found one of the smaller steamers
crowded with those who, like ourselves, were bound to the "old world," and
the friends who had come to take the last look at them. We had our
leave-takings, too, which are sufficiently painful when it is known that
years must intervene before there is another meeting. As is always done by
good Manhattanese, the town house had been given up on the 1st of May,
since which time we had resided at an hotel. The furniture had been
principally sold at auction, and the entire month had passed in what I
believed to be very ample preparations. It may be questioned if there is
any such thing as being completely prepared for so material a change; at
all events, we found a dozen essentials neglected at the last moment, and
as many oversights to be repaired in the same instant.

On quitting the hotel, some fifty or a hundred volumes and pamphlets lay
on the floor of my bed-room. Luckily, you were to sail on a cruise in a
day or two, and as you promised not only to give them a berth, but to read
them one and all, they were transferred forthwith to the Lexington. They
were a dear gift, if you kept your word! John was sent with a note, with
orders to be at the wharf in half an hour. I have not seen him since. Then
Abigail was to be discharged. We had long debated whether this excellent
woman should, or should not, be taken. She was an American, and like most
of her countrywomen who will consent to serve in a household, a most
valuable domestic. She wished much to go, but, on the other side, was the
conviction, that a woman who had never been at sea would be useless during
the passage; and then we were told so many fine things of the European
servants, that the odds were unfortunately against her. The principal
objection, however, was her forms of speech. Foreign servants would of
themselves be a great aid in acquiring the different languages; and poor
Abigail, at the best, spoke that least desirable of all corruptions of the
English tongue, the country dialect of New England. Her New England morals
and New England sense; in this instance, were put in the balance against
her "bens," "_an_-gels," "doozes," "nawthings," "noans," and even her
"virtooes," (in a family of children, no immaterial considerations,) and
the latter prevailed. We had occasion to regret this decision. A few years
later I met in Florence an Italian family of high rank, which had brought
with them from Philadelphia two female domestics, whom they prized above
all the other servants of a large establishment. Italy was not good enough
for them, however; and, after resisting a great deal of persuasion, they
were sent back. What was Florence or Rome to Philadelphia! But then these
people spoke good English - better, perhaps, than common English
nursery-maids, the greatest of their abuses in orthoepy being merely to
teach a child to call its mother a "mare."

It was a flat calm, and the packets were all dropping down the bay with
the ebb. The day was lovely, and the view of the harbour, which _has_ so
many, while it _wants_ so many, of the elements of first-rate scenery, was
rarely finer. All estuaries are most beautiful viewed in the calm; but
this is peculiarly true of the Bay of New York - neither the colour of the
water, nor its depth, nor the height of the surrounding land, being
favourable to the grander efforts of Nature. There is little that is
sublime in either the Hudson, or its mouth; but there is the very extreme
of landscape beauty.

Experience will teach every one, that without returning to scenes that
have made early impressions, after long absences, and many occasions to
examine similar objects elsewhere, our means of comparison are of no
great value. My acquaintance with the Hudson has been long and very
intimate; for to say that I have gone up and down its waters a hundred
times, would be literally much within the truth. During that journey
whose observations and events are about to fill these volumes, I
retained a lively impression of its scenery, and, on returning to the
country, its current was ascended with a little apprehension that an eye
which had got to be practised in the lights and shades of the Alps and
Appenines might prove too fastidious for our own river. What is usually
termed the grandeur of the highlands was certainly much impaired; but
other parts of the scenery gained in proportion; and, on the whole, I
found the passage between New York and Albany to be even finer than it
had been painted by memory. I should think there can be little doubt
that, if not positively the most beautiful river, the Hudson possesses
some of the most beautiful river-scenery, of the known world.

Our ship was named after this noble stream. We got on board of her off
Bedlow's, and dropped quietly down as far as the quarantine ground before
we were met by the flood. Here we came to, to wait for a wind, more
passengers, and that important personage, whom man-of-war's men term the
master, and landsmen the captain. In the course of the afternoon we had
all assembled, and began to reconnoitre each other, and to attend to our

To get accustomed to the smell of the ship, with its confined air, and
especially to get all their little comforts about them in smooth water, is
a good beginning for your novices. If to this be added moderation in food,
and especially in drink; as much exercise as one can obtain; refraining
from reading and writing until accustomed to one's situation, and paying
great attention to the use of aperients; I believe all is said that an old
traveller, and an old sailor too, can communicate on a subject so
important to those who are unaccustomed to the sea. Can your experience
suggest anything more?

We lay that night at the quarantine ground; but early on the morning of
the 2nd, all hands were called to heave-up. The wind came in puffs over
the heights of Staten, and there was every prospect of our being able to
get to sea in two or three hours. We hove short, and sheeted home, and
hoisted the three topsails; but the anchor hung, and the people were
ordered to get their breakfasts, leaving the ship to tug at her
ground-tackle with a view to loosen her hold of the bottom.

Everything was now in motion. The little Don Quixote, the Havre ship just
mentioned, was laying through the narrows, with a fresh breeze from the
south-west. The Liverpool ship was out of sight, and six or seven sails
were turning down with the ebb, under every stitch of canvass that would
draw. One fine vessel tacked directly on our quarter. As she passed quite
near our stern, some one cried from her deck: - "A good run to you,
Mr. - - ." After thanking this well-wisher, I inquired his name. He gave me
that of an Englishman, who resided in Cuba, whither he was bound. "How
long do you mean to be absent?" "Five years." "You will never come back."
With this raven-like prediction we parted; the wind sweeping his vessel
beyond the reach of the voice.

These words, "You will never come back!" were literally the last that I
heard on quitting my country. They were uttered in a prophetic tone, and
under circumstances that were of a nature to produce an impression. I
thought of them often, when standing on the western verge of Europe, and
following the course of the sun toward the land in which I was born; I
remembered them from the peaks of the Alps, when the subtle mind,
outstripping the senses, would make its mysterious flight westward across
seas and oceans, to recur to the past, and to conjecture the future; and
when the allotted five years were up, and found us still wanderers, I
really began to think, what probably every man thinks, in some moment of
weakness, that this call from the passing ship was meant to prepare me for
the future. The result proved in my case, however, as it has probably
proved in those of most men, that Providence did not consider me of
sufficient importance to give me audible information of what was about to
happen. So strong was this impression to the last, notwithstanding, that
on our return, when the vessel passed the spot where the evil-omened
prediction was uttered, I caught myself muttering involuntarily, " - - is
a false prophet; I _have_ come back!"

We got our anchor as soon as the people were ready, and, the wind drawing
fresh through the narrows, were not long turning into lower bay. The ship
was deep, and had not a sufficient spread of canvass for a summer passage,
but she was well commanded, and exceedingly comfortable.

The wind became light in the lower bay. The Liverpool ship had got to sea
the evening before, and the Don Quixote was passing the Hook, just as we
opened the mouth of the Raritan. A light English bark was making a fair
wind of it, by laying out across the swash; and it now became questionable
whether the ebb would last long enough to sweep us round the south-west
spit, a _détour_ that our heavier draught rendered necessary.

By paying great attention to the ship, however, the pilot, who was of the
dilatory school, succeeded about 3 P.M. in getting us round that awkward
but very necessary buoy, which makes so many foul winds of fair ones, when
the ship's bead was laid to the eastward, with square yards. In half an
hour the vessel had "slapped" past the low sandy spit of land that you
have so often regarded with philosophical eyes, and we fairly entered the
Atlantic, at a point where nothing but water lay between us and the Rock
of Lisbon. We discharged the pilot on the bar.

By this time the wind had entirely left us, the flood was making strong,
and there was a prospect of our being compelled to anchor. The bark was
nearly hull-down in the offing, and the top-gallant-sails of the Don
Quixote were just settling into the water. All this was very provoking,
for there might be a good breeze to seaward, while we had it calm inshore.
The suspense was short, for a fresh-looking line along the sea to the
southward gave notice of the approach of wind; the yards were braced
forward, and in half an hour we were standing east southerly, with strong
headway. About sunset we passed the light vessel which then lay moored
several leagues from land, in the open ocean, - an experiment that has
since failed. The highlands of Navesink disappeared with the day.

The other passengers were driven below before evening. The first mate, a
straight-forward Kennebunk man, gave me a wink, (he had detected my
sea-education by a single expression, that of "send it an end," while
mounting the side of the ship,) and said, "A clear quarter-deck! a good
time to take a walk, sir." I had it all to myself, sure enough, for the
first two or three days, after which our land-birds came crawling up, one
by one; but long before the end of the passage nothing short of a
double-reefed-topsail breeze could send the greater part of them below.
There was one man, however, who, the mate affirmed wore the heel of a
spare topmast smooth, by seating himself on it, as the precise spot where
the motion of the ship excited the least nausea. I got into my berth at
nine; but hearing a movement overhead about midnight, I turned out again,
with a sense of uneasiness I had rarely before experienced at sea. The
responsibility of a large family acted, in some measure, like the
responsibility of command. The captain was at his post, shortening sail,
for it blew fresher: there was some rain; and thunder and lightning were
at work in the heavens in the direction of the adjacent continent: the air
was full of wild, unnatural lucidity, as if the frequent flashes left a
sort of twilight behind them; and objects were discernible at a distance
of two or three leagues. We had been busy in the first watch, as the omens
denoted easterly weather; the English bark was struggling along the
troubled waters, already quite a league on our lee quarter.

I remained on deck half an hour, watching the movements of the master. He
was a mild, reasoning Connecticut man, whose manner of ministering to the
wants of the female passengers had given me already a good opinion of his
kindness and forethought, while it left some doubts of his ability to
manage the rude elements of drunkenness and insubordination which existed
among the crew, quite one half of whom were Europeans. He was now on deck
in a southwester,[1] giving his orders in a way effectually to shake all
that was left of the "horrors" out of the ship's company. I went below,
satisfied that we were in good hands; and before the end of the passage, I
was at a loss to say whether Nature had most fitted this truly worthy man
to be a ship-master or a child's nurse, for he really appeared to me to be
equally skilful in both capacities.

[Footnote 1: Doric - _south_-wester.]

Such a temperament is admirably suited to the command of a packet - a
station in which so many different dispositions, habits and prejudices are
to be soothed, at the same time that a proper regard is to be had to the
safety of their persons. If any proof is wanting that the characters of
seamen in general have been formed under adverse circumstances, and
without sufficient attention, or, indeed, any attention to their real
interests, it is afforded in the fact, that the officers of the
packet-ships, men usually trained like other mariners, so easily adapt
their habits to their new situation, and become more mild, reflecting and

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