Philip Thicknesse.

A year's journey through France, and part of Spain (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryPhilip ThicknesseA year's journey through France, and part of Spain (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook
















Printed for Wm, Brown, Corner of Effex Street, Strand.


OC:2 5'



c ■


S I R,

I AM very certain that a man may travel
t%vice through Spain, and half through
France, before he fees a woman of fo
much beauty, elegance, and breeding, as
the miftrefs of the houfe I lodge in near
this city. I was direcfled to the houfe, and
recommended to the lady as a lodger i
but both were fo fine, and fuperior in all
refpeds to any thing I had feen out of
Paris, that I began to fufped I had been
impofed upon* The lady who received
Vol, IL B me

( 2 )

me appeared to be (it was candle-light)
about eighteen ; a tall, elegant figure,
a beautiful face, and an addrefs inferior
to -none. I concluded flie was the daugh-
ter, till fhe informed me, that Monfieur
Saigny^ her hufband, was gone to Avig'
non. What added, perhaps, to this lady's
beauty in my eyes, or rather ears, was

her misfortune fhe could not fpeak

louder than a gentle whifper. After feeing
her fumptuous apartments, I told her I
would not afk what her price was, but
tell her what I could afford only to give;
and obferved, that as it was winter, and
the fnow upon the ground, perhaps fhe
had better take my price than have none.
She inflantly took me by the hand, and
faid, fhe had fo much refpecft for the
Englilli nation that my price was her's;
and with a flill fofter whifper, and clofe
to my ear, faid, I might come in as foon
as I pleafed — — ** ^land vous vouJrez,
Monfieuvy' faid fhe, with a mofl be-

( 3 )
witching fmile. We accordingly took
pofTeffion of the finefl apartments, and the
beft beds I ever lay on. The next day
I faw a genteel tripling about the houf^,
in a white fuit of clothes, drelTed a la
militairey and began to fufpe6t the virtue
of my fair hoftefs, not perceiving for fome
hours that it was my hoftefs herfelf.
In the afternoon fhe made us a vifit in
this horrid drefs — (for horrid flie ap-
peared in my eyes) — her clothes were
white, with red cuffs and fparlet lappels %
and fhe held in her ftraddling lap a large
black muff as big as a porridge-pot. By
this vifit Hie loft all that refped: her
fuperlative beauty had fo juftly entitled
her to, and I determined fhe fhould vifit
me no more in man's apparel. When I
went into the town I mentioned this cir-
cumftance, and there I learnt, that the
real wife of Monf, Saigny had parted from
him, and that the lady, my hoflefs, was
his miflrefs. The next day, however, the
B 2 mafler

( 4 )

mafler arrived; and after being full and
finely dreffed in brocaded black velvet,
he made me a vifit, and proffers of every
attention in his power : he told me he
had injured his fortune, and that he was
not rich ; but that he had ferved in the
army, and was a gentleman : he had been
bred a proteflant, but had juft embraced
the true faith, in order to qualify himfelf
for an employment about the court of
the Pope*s Legat at Avignon. After
many expreflions of regard, he afked me
to dine with him the next day ; but I ob-
ferved that as he was not rich, and as I
paid but a fmall rent in proportion to his
noble apartments, I begged to be excufed ;
but he prefTed it fo much that I was
obliged to give him fome other reafons^
which did not prove very plealing ones
to the lady below. This fine lady, how-
ever, continued to fell us wood, wine,
vinegar, fallad, milk, and, in lliort, every
thing we wanted, at a very unreafonable


( s )

price. At length my fervant, who by-
agreement made my foup in their kitchen,
faid fomething rude to my landlord, who
complained to me, and feemed fatisfied
with the reprimand I had given the man ;
but upon a repetition of his rudenefs,
Monf. Saigny fo far forgot himfelf as to
fpeak equally rude to me. This occafioned
fome warm words, and fo much ungo-
vernable paffion in him, that I was obliged
to tell him I muft fetch down my piftols.
This he conftrued in,to a dired: challenge,
and therefore retired to his apartments,
wrote a card, and fent it to me while I
was walking before the door with a priefl,
his friend and vifitor, and in iight of the
little female captain his fecond, and all the
fervants of the houfe. On this card was
wrote, *• Sir, I accept your propofition ;"
and before I could even read it, he fol-
lowed his man, who brought it in the true
flyle of a butler, rather- than a butcher,
with a white napkin under his arm, and
B 3 gavQ

( 6 )

gave it to me with great addrefs. You
may be fure I was no more difpofed to
£ght than Monf. Saigny ; indeed I told him
I would not J but if any man attacked me
on my way to or from the town, where
I went every day, I would certainly defend
myfelf : and fortunately I never met Mon-^
Jieur Saigny in the fortnight I ftaid after
in his houfe ; for I could not bear to
leave a town where I had two or three
very agreeable acquaintance, and one
(Monf. SeguierJ whofe houfe was filled as
full of natural and artificial curiofities, as
his head is with learning and knowledge.
Here too I had an opportunity of often
vifiting the ampitheatre, the Mai/on ^ar-
ree (lb Monfieur Seguier writes it), and
the many remains of Roman monuments
fo common in and about Nifmes. I mea-
fured fome of the flones under which I
pafTed to make the tout an tour of the
amphitheatre : they were feventeen feet
in length, and two in thicknefs; and


( 7 )
moft of the ftones on which rtie fpedla-
tors fat within the area, were twelve feet
long, two feet ten inches wide, and one
foot five inches deep*; except only thofe
of the fixth row of feats from the top»
and they alone are one foot ten inches
deep. Probably it was on that range the
people of the higheft rank took their
feats, not only for the elevation, but the
beft fituation for fight and fecurity ; yet
one of thefe great fiones cannot be confi-
dered more, in comparifon to the whole
building, than a fingle brick would be
in the confi:rud:ion of Hampton-Court
palace. When I had the fole pofleffion
(and I had it often) of this vaft range of
feats, and entered the fame Adits which
emperors, emprefles, Roman knights,
and matrons, have fo often pafTed, to
fee men die wantonly by the hands of

* MAUNDRELjIn his journey from Aleppo to Jerufalem,
mentions ftones fixty feet long, twelve deep, and twelve
broad, raifed in a wall twenty feet high,

B j\ ptber

( 8 )

Other men, as well as beafls, for their
amufement, I could not but with pleafure
refled:, how much human nature is fof-
tened fince that time; for notwithftand-
ing the powerful prevalency of cuflom
and fafhion, I do not think the ladies of
the prefent agewould plume their tower-
ing heads, and curl their borrowed hair,
with that glee, to fee men murthered by
miflive weapons, as to die at their feet
by deeper, though lefs vifible wounds.
If, however, we have not thofe cruel
fports, we feem to be up with them in
prodigality, and to exceed them in luxury
and licentuoufnefs ; for in Rome, not long
before the final diflblution of the flate,
the candidates for public employments, in
fpite of the penal laws to reftrain it, bribed
openly^ and were chofen fometimes by
armsy as well as money. In the fenate,
things were conducted no better; decrees
of great confequence were made when
very few fenators were prefent ; the laws


( 9 )

were violated by private knaves, under
the colour of public neceflity; till at
length Cce/ar {eiztd the fovereign power ;
and though he was (lain they omitted to
recover their liberty, forgetting that

*' A day, an hour, of virtuous Liberty
*' Is worth a whole eternity of bondage."

Addifons CatO,

I can almofl: think I read in the parallel,
which I fear will foon be drawn between
the rife and fall of the Britifh and Roman

empire, fomething like this; ** Rome

** had her Cicero ; Britain her Cam-
** DENj Cicero who had preferved Rome
** from the confpiracy of Catiline ^ was
*'banifhed: Camden, who would have
*' preferved Britain from a bloody civil
** war, was removed.'* The hiftorian will
add, probably, that *' thofe who brouirht
" defolation upon their land, did not
** mean that there Ihould be no common-
^* wealth, but that, right or wrong, they
'* fhould continue to control it: — they

'• did


( 10 )

* did not mean to bum the capitol ta

* aflies, but to bear abfolute fway in the
' capitol : — —The refult was, however,

that though they did not mean to over-
** throw the flate, yet they rifqued all
** rather than be overthrown themfelves ;
** and they rather promoted the mafTacre
** of their fellow-citizens, than a recon-
" ciliation and union of parties." — Thus
FELL Rome! — Take heed Britain! —
When the Roman empire was falling,
PoMPEY and C^SAR were abhorred by
the people, and Curio, who oppofed them,
every where received with applaufe ; while
C^SAR was hated, his greateft opponent
BiBLius was adored; and thefe three,
once popular men, became the moil odious
to the people : yet notwithftanding their
detefted defigns were clearly feen through
by the people, they prevailed; as Cicero
perceived they could not be prevented
without rifquing a general carnage: for
thefe confpirators againft the Itate had in-

( " )

troduced a great body of foreign foldiers
to keep all oppolition quiet ; and Cgefar
had the temerity to commit that great and
virtuous man Cato, though tribune of
the people, to a common prifon, and that
too only for difcharging the duty of his
office with honour and fidelity. The
wretched citizens then faw how the bed
men among them were fcornfully treated,
and that they had themfelves raifed up the
hand which had ftruck them down, never
to rife again.

P. S. Dean Swift fays,

" Much ratlier I fhould die.

" Than their predi6lion prove a lie."

The truth of which in all cafes, we
hope and believe, he did not mean to infift
upon : but as the above letters were wrote
when the civil war in America was but
juft begun, and begun in a country of
which I had a more perfed: knowledge
than the miniftry of Great Britain, or the


( I* )

generals fent to conquer it, I ventured,
in very ftrong terms, to point out the
impofTibility of fuch an attempt being
attended with fuccefs. Even Marshal
Sake would not in that country have been
fo good a general as a native captain of a
company of rifle-men. The attempt to
throw the blame on General Howe is
highly illiberal ; there cannot be a doubt
but that he is a brave man, and an honeft
man : but a war in America, and a war
in Germany, are as unlike in their opera-
tions as a battle at fea, or a battle on land ;
and thofe who pretend to cenfure General
Sir Willia?n HowCy and attribute the want
of fuccefs to the o-eneraFs want of courao-e
or condud:, mufl be knaves or fools. It
is with indignation I have read a pamphlet,
fabricated by fome contemptible tool of a
minifter, wherein the generaFs own let-
ters, publiflied in the Gazette, are made
ufe of to fhew his own weaknefs or inabi-
lity to command. None, but thofe upon


( '3 )

the fpot who know the ground, and who
fee the fituation of the enemy, as well
as a thoufand circumftances not to be
gathered, or explained by a letter, which
may render things rafh in the higheft de-
gree, and yet to men at a diftance, and
unacquainted with military manceuvres^
may appear very fcafible upon paper, or be
made fo by an artful, and wick&d p amp hle^
teerer : none, I fay, but fuch can judge
of the general's merit or demerit. I
flrongly fufpecft that General Burgoyne*s
taking Indians into his fervice, was the
caufe of his misfortunes, and that the
very reverfe of what has happened would
have been the cafe, had he not roufed
the indignation of the whole country
againfl him, by employing men who
make no diftindion between age, fcx,
or party. But I fhould be forry to fay it
was fo ; becaufe General Burgoyne may
pofTibly convince the world that his mil-
fortunes arofc from a clofc obedience to

. orders ;

( «4 )

orders ; which perhaps were given

in confequence of ignorance and incapa-
city. When Captain Mackay faw Admi-
ral Mathews\ fignal to go down with his
fire-iliip to burn the Spanifh Admiral, and
no fignal for a fhip of force to cover fuch
an attempt ; all his men got fo drunk, that
he was unable to obey thofe orders -, and
when the admiral fent an officer in a boat
to upbraid him for his negled:, he was un-
able alfo to bear it ; and therefore blew up
his fire-fhip, himfelf, and his drunken
crew. A foldier who receives pofitive or-
ders is to obey them, not to difpute the
confequences of obeying them.


( 15 )



ILeft Nifmes relu6lantly, having formed
there an agreeable and friendly inti-
macy with Mr. D'Oliere, a young gen-
tleman of Switzerland, and an edify-
ing and entertaining acquaintance with
Monf. Seguier. I left too the beft and
mofl fumptuous lodgings I had feen in my
whole tour; but a defire to fee Arles^
Aix^ and MarfeilleSy Sec, got the better of
all. But I fet out too foon after the fnow
and rains, and I found part of the road fo
exceedingly bad, that I wonder how my
poor horfe dragged us through fo much
clay and dirt. When I gave you fome
account of the antiquities of Nifmes, I did
not exped: to find Aries a town fraught
with ten times more matter and amufe-
ment for an antiqu.iry; but I found it


( i6 )

not only a fine town now, but that it
abounds with an infinite number of monu-
ments, which evince its having once been
an almofi: fecond Rome. There ftill re-
mains enough of the amphitheatre to con-
vince the beholder what a noble edifice it
was, and to make him wonder why fo lit-
tle, of fo large and folid a building, re-
mains. The town is built on the banks of
the Rhone, over which, on a bridge of
barges, we entered it ; but it is evident,
that in former days, the fea came quite
up to it, and that it was a haven for fhips
of burden; but the fea has retired fome
leagues from it many ages fince. Befide
an hundred ftrong marks at t^is day of its
having been a fea-port formerly, the fol-
lowing infcription found a century or two
ago, in the church of S^, Gabriel, will
clearly confirm it :


( '7 )










Indeed there are many fubflantial rea-
fons to believe, that it was at this towa
Julius Cafar built the twelve gallies,
which, from the cutting of the wood, to
the time they vi^ere employed on fervice,

was but thirty days. That it was a

very confiderable city in the time of the
firft empero4:s, is pafi: all doubt. Conftan-
tine the Great held his court, and refided
at Aries, with all his family; and the
emprefs Faujiina was delivered of a fon
here (Conflantine the younger), and it was
long before that, fo celebrated for an an-
nual fair held in the month of Augufl,
that it was called le noble Marche de Gaules.
And Straboy in his dedication of his book

Vol, II. C to

( i8 )

to the emperor, called it, " GalHarum
Emporium non Parvum ;" which is a proof
that it was celebrated for its rich com-
merce, -Sec. five hundred years before it
came under the dominion of the Ro-
mans. But were I capable of giving you
a particular defcription of all the monu-
ments of antiquity in and near this town,
it would compofe a little book, inftead of
a fheet or two of paper. I fhall therefore
only pick out a few things which have
afforded me the moft entertainment, and I
hope may give you a little ; but I fhall
begin with mentioning what muft firfl
give you concern, in faying that in that
part of the town called la Roquette, I was
fliewn the place where formerly ftood an
elevated altar, whereon three young citi-
zens were facrificed annually, and who
were fattened at the public expence during
a whole year, for that horrid purpofe !
On the firft of May their throats were cut
in the prefence of a prodigious multitude


( '9 )

of people afTembled from all parts ; among
whom the blood of the vid:ims was thrown;
for they weakly imagined, all their fins
were expiated by this barbarous facrifice ;
which horrid practice was put a flop to by
the firll: bifhop of yfr/t-j-, St, Trophime.
The Jews, who had formerly a fynagogue
in Aries y were driven out in the year 1493,
when that and their celebrated fchool were
demoliflied. There were found about an
hundred years after, among the fhones of
thofe buildings, fome Hebrew charad:ers
neatly cut, which were copied, and fent to
the Rabbins of Avignon to be tranflated,
and who explained them thus :

Choctefh:Elvl.Chamefcheth, lamecb, vav. Niilamv.
Bedikoth. Schadai.

i. e. they fay,

*' In the month of Augufl:, fivethoufand and thirty-
*' fix, the Vidtation of God ceafed."

Perhaps the plague had vifited them. —

There was alfo another Hebrew infcrip-

tion, which was on the tomb of a fa-

C % mous

( 30 )

mous Rabbin called Solomon, furnamed
the grandfon of David.

The amphitheatre of Arks was of an
oval form, compofed of three ftages ; each
ftage containing fixty arches ; the whole
was built of hewn ftone of an immenfe
lize, without mortar, and of a prodigious
thicknefs : the circumference above, ex-
cludve of the projection of the architrave^
was 194 toifes three feet, i. e. 1764 French
feet, the frontifpiece 17 toifes high; the
area 71 toifes long, and 52 wide; and the
walls were 17 toifes thick, which were
pierced round and round with a gallery, for
the convenience of pafTmg in and out of
the feats, which feats would conveniently
contain 30,000 men, allowing each perfon
three feet in depth, and two in width ; and
yet there remain at this day only a few
arches quite complete from to top to bot-
tom, which are of themfelves a noble mo-
nument. Indeed one would be inclined to


( 21 )

think that it never had been completed,
did we not know that the Romans left
nothing unfinifhed of that kind ; and read,
that the emperor Gallus gave fome fuperb
iped;acles in the amphitheatre of Arks\
and that the fame amufements were con-
tinued by the following emperors. No-
thing can be a ftronger proof than thefe
ruins, of the certain deftrudlion as well as
corruption of all earthly things ; for one
would think that the fmall parts which
now remain of this once mighty building,
would endure as long as the earth itfelf.
But what is very fingular, is, that this very
amphitheatre was built upon the ruins of
a more mighty building, and perhaps
one of a more fubflantial llrudiure. Te?n-
pus edax reriim tuque invidiofa vetujias
omnia dejiruitis. In the flreet called St.
Claude^ ftood a triurpphal arch, which was
called L'Arche admirable ; it is therefore
natural to conclude, that the town con-
tained many others of Icfs beauty. There
C 3 are

( « )

are alfo within the walls large remains of
the palace of Conjiantine, A beautiful an-
tique ftatue of Venus was found here alfo,
about an hundred and twenty years ago. —
That a 'veritable fine woman Ihould fet all
the beaux and connoiffeurs of a whole town
in a flame, I do not much wonder ; but
you will be furprifed when I tell you that
this cold trunk of marble (for the arms
were never found) put the whole town
oi Aries together by the ears. One S^avant
faid it was the goddefs Diana, and wrote
a book to prove it : another infifted upon
it, that it was the true image of Venus;
then flarts up an ecclefiaftic, who you
know has nothing to do with women, and
he pronounced, in dogmatical terms, it
was neither one nor the other. At length
the wife magiftrates of the town agreed
to fend it as a prefent to their augufl mo-
narch Louis XIV. and if you have a
mind to fee an inanimate w^oman who
has made fuch a noife in the world, you


( 23 )

will find her at Verfailies, without any
other notice taken of her, or the quarrels
about her, than the following w^ords writ-
ten (I think) upon her pedeftal, La Feims
d^Arles^. This ended the difpute, as I
muft my letter.

* The city of Ar les is alfo remarkable for the council
held there in the year 315, in the time of CcuJIantine xh.Q
Great, at which co'dncilReJlitutus the bilhop pfLon.doD, as
^ell as fome other Britifl: prelates, were prelent.


( ^4 )


I Have not half done with Arks. The
more I faw and heard in this town, the
more I found was to be feen. The re-
mains of the Roman theatre here would
of itfelf be a fufficient proof that it was a
town of great riches and importance.
Among the refufe of this building they
found feveral large vafes of baked earth,
which were open on one fide, and which
were fixed properly, near the feats of the
audience, to receive and convey the founds
of the inftruments, and voices of the
adlors, diftindly throughout the theatre,
which had forty-eight arches ; eleven be-
hind the fcenes, of ten feet wide, three
grand arches of fourteen feet wide, and
thirty-one of twelve feet; the diameter
was thirty-one canes, and the circumfe-
rence feventy-nine ; and from the infi-

( 25 )
nite number of beautiful pieces of fculp^
ture, frizes, architraves, pillars of granite.
Sec, which have been dug up, it is very-
evident that this theatre was a moft mag-
nificent building, and perhaps would have
ftood firm to this day, had not a bifhop of
Aries^ from a principle of more piety than
wifdom, ftript it of the fineft ornaments
and marble pillars, to adorn the churches.
Near the theatre ftood alfo the famous
temple of 'Diana ; and as the famous flatue
mentioned in my former letter, was found
beneath fome noble marble pillars near
that fpot, it is moft likely La Venus
d' Aries is neverthelefs the goddefs Diana.

I never wifh more for your company
than when I walk (and I walk every day)
in the Elyfian fields. The fpot is beauti-
ful, the profpedt, far and near, equally fo.
In the middle of this ancient Cimitiere
ilands a motley building, from the middle
of which however riles 4 cupola, which, at


( 26 )

the firfl view, informs you it is the work
of a Roman artift; and here you become
almofl: bewildered in turning and twifting
between fuch an infinite number of Pagan
and Chriftian monuments, all lying thick
upon the furface, in the utmofc diforder
and confufion ; infomuch, that one would
think the day of judgment was arrived,
and the dead were rifen from their graves.
Neither Stepney church-yard, nor ar.y one
in or near a great city, fliew fo many head-
ilones as this fpot does ftone coffins of an
immenfe fize, hewn out of one piece ; the
covers of moft of which have been broken,
or removed fufficiently, to fearch for fuch
things as were ufually buried with the
dead. Some of thefe monuments, and
fome of the handfomeft too, are flill how-
ever un violated. It is very eafy to diftin-
guifh the Pagan, from the Chriftian monu-
ments, without opening them, as all the
former have the Roman letters D M fDih
Mamlfus ) cut. upon them. It is fituated,


( 27 )
according to their cuftom, near the high*
way, the water, and the marfhes. You
know the ancients preferred fuch fpots for
the interment of the dead.

The tombs oi Ajax and HeSlor^ Homer
fays, were near the fea, as well as other
heroes of antiquity ; for as they confidered
man to be compofed of earth and water, his
bones ought to be laid in one, and near
the other.

I will now give you a few of the mofl
curious infcriptions ; but firfl I muft men-
tion a noble marble monument, moved from
this fpot into the Cimetiere of the great
hofpital. This tomb is ornamented with
Cornucopia, Paterce, Sec. and in a fliield is
the following infcription :







( 28 )

This poor girl was not only too young
to die, but too young to marry, one would
think : I wifli therefore her afflicfted huf-
band had told us how many years he had
been married to a wife who died at the
age of fourteen, two months, and five
days. The cornucopice^ I fuppofe, were to
fignify that this virtuous wife, I was going
to fay maid, was the fource of all his plea-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryPhilip ThicknesseA year's journey through France, and part of Spain (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 11)