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Title: A Visit to the Monastery of La Trappe in 1817 - With Notes Taken During a Tour Through Le Perche, Normandy, Bretagne, Poitou, Anjou, Le Bocage, Touraine, Orleanois, and the Environs of Paris. - Illustrated with Numerous Coloured Engravings, from Drawings Made on the Spot
Author: Fellowes, W.D.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Visit to the Monastery of La Trappe in 1817 - With Notes Taken During a Tour Through Le Perche, Normandy, Bretagne, Poitou, Anjou, Le Bocage, Touraine, Orleanois, and the Environs of Paris. - Illustrated with Numerous Coloured Engravings, from Drawings Made on the Spot" ***

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[Illustration: VIEW of the MONASTERY of LA TRAPPE]


  IN 1817.







View of the Monastery of La Trappe

Ruins of the Ancient Church of ditto

Ruins of the Gateway of the ancient Chartreuse

Les Noyades (_vignette_)

Grotto of Héloïse at Clisson

Tomb of Abélard and Héloïse

Ruins of Abélard's House

Granite Rock in the Garenne

Le Connétable de Clisson (_outline_)

Ruins of Clisson

Tour des Pélerins

Moulin aux chêvres

Tour d'Oudon on the River Loire

View of St. Florent

Tomb (_etching_)


In justice to the public and to myself, I must disavow for the
following pages any higher literary pretension than what is conveyed
by the simple title of "Notes," under which I have ventured to give
them to the world. I had no other aim in writing but to occupy as
rationally as I could the hours of travel, and no other object in
publishing but to impart to others as plainly as I could a portion of
the pleasure I myself experienced. It has somewhere been remarked to
this effect, that if every man of common understanding were to put
down the daily thoughts and occurrences of his life, candidly and
unaffectedly as he experienced them, he must necessarily produce
something of interest to his fellow men, and make a book, which,
though not enlivened by wit, dignified by profundity of reasoning, nor
valuable by extent of research, yet no man perhaps should throw aside
with either weariness or disgust.

Whether I shall prove fortunate enough not to excite these sensations
in such readers as may honour my book with a perusal, I fear to
conjecture. But it was my good fortune, during a season of uncommon
beauty, to make a tour through some of the most interesting parts of
France, and to meet with persons who, from situation and talents,
were highly calculated to give my journey every charm of society and
information. The natural face of the country through which I passed
was peculiarly beautiful: I could scarcely move a step without
some novelty of picturesque enchantment, and had the most perfect
opportunities of contemplating Nature in all her varied poetry, from
the grand and terrible graces of savage sublimity, to the soft and
playful loveliness of cultivated luxuriance. There was scarcely a
town or village where I arrived which romance or history, religion or
politics, had not invested and adorned with every interest of mental
association. Under such impressions, and with such opportunities, it
was scarcely possible to resist recording something of what I saw and
felt; and if the publication of my hasty record be an error, it
will be deemed by my friends, I hope, a pardonable one. My book
can scarcely demand the serious attention of the critic; nor could
criticism well expect a better style from one whose profession is
seldom supposed to allow much leisure to acquire nicety in the arts of
composition. I claim no other merit for my Notes than having followed
the advice (of Gray, I believe) that ten words put down at the moment
upon the spot, are worth a whole cart load of recollections. I have
not sought to add to their attraction (if they should possess any) by
the embellishments of my invention, or the graces of my periods--the
decorative artifices of execution can never give value to falsehood,
and truth needs them not. A simple landscape, simply described from
nature, has always a charm above the most high-finished compositions
of mere fancy; and, like a moderate painting from the same source,
still imparts a feeling of reality. I hope, therefore, I shall be
excused for attempting some description, slight and unskilful as it
may be, of places and scenery where the human mind has exhibited
some of its most curious and powerful features, and which awaken
reflections of the deepest interest--I allude particularly to the
monastery of _La Trappe_, and to the country of _La Vendée_. The
former had dwelt among the earliest impressions of youth, with
something like the wild and wonderful force of a romantic tale; and I
was anxious to become an eye-witness of what had so long been one of
the most powerful objects of my imagination. The gloomy and almost
inaccessible situation chosen by this strange fraternity for
their convent--their rigid separation from human intercourse--the
infringible taciturnity imposed upon themselves--and the terrible
severity of their penances, are certainly circumstances more
resembling the visionary indulgence of fantasy and fiction, than
actual realities to be met with among living men, and in the present

With regard to the department of _La Vendée_, whatever serves, trivial
as it may be, to recall or illustrate the history of its wars and the
character of its inhabitants, must ever possess a charm for those who
delight to sympathize with the noble struggles of a gallant people,
conscientiously devoting themselves to the cause of a fallen and
persecuted monarchy, and resisting the cruel and destructive ferocity
of a licentious enemy, who had broken down the most sacred fences of
society, and trampled upon the dearest ties of human nature.

In these Notes, slight as they are, I can truly promise the reader
that he will find nothing wilfully misrepresented, nor advanced
without just authority; and if the rapid and cursory character of the
observations, allusions, and anecdotes, shall enable an hour to pass
agreeably that has no better employment, I am content, and gratified
with the attainment of all I ever hoped or designed by an unpretending
publication, which I cheerfully dedicate to all who love to unbend
their minds from a critical attitude, and can lounge goodnaturedly
over leaves written by a traveller as idle and careless as themselves,
and who assures them that no one can think more humbly of his
production than himself.

MARCH 1818.



Route from Paris to Mortagne.--Excursion to La Trappe.--State of the
Order since the restoration in 1814.--Its foundation and rules under
the Abbé de Rancé.


Ruins of the Convent of the Chartreux.--Forests of Le


From Mortagne to Rennes.--Soeurs de la Charité.--Alençon.--Laval.--Vitré,
the celebrated residence of Mad. de Sévigné.


Rennes.--Route from Rennes to Nantes.--City of Nantes.--Historical


Country south of the Loire.--Le Bocage.--Clisson.--Historical
anecdotes.--The Garenne, and River Sèvres.


General appearance and limits of Le Bocage.--Nature of the mode of
warfare of the Vendeans.


The River Loire, from Nantes to Angers.


Saumur to Tours.--Tours to Blois.--Orléans--and Orléans to Paris.


Environs of Paris.--Père la Chaise.--Castle of Vincennes, and Château
of Saint Germain.--The Forest, and Vicinity.--Conclusion.






I performed this journey during the months of June, July, August, and
September, a distance of near one thousand miles, and had the singular
good fortune to enjoy the finest weather possible. The perusal of
Madame de La Roche-Jaquelin's interesting work on the Vendean war,
first gave me the idea of visiting the country called le Bocage, the
theatre of so many events, and sufferings of the brave royalists; and,
as the province of le Perche, in which is situated the ancient convent
of La Trappe, was in my route to Bretagne, I resolved to make an
excursion there, in order to satisfy myself of the truth of those
austerities which I had read of in the Memoirs of the Count de

The route from Paris to Mortagne, in le Perche, leads through Marly,
Versailles, Saint Cyr, Pont Chartrain, La Queue, Houdon, Marrolles,
Dreux, Nonancourt, Tillières, Verneuil, and Saint Maurice. The roads
are excellent, and the country beautiful. The first post out of Paris
is Nanterre. Two leagues and a half from the barriere, the village
of Ruel, and the park of Malmaison, form a continuation of neat
buildings. At Nanterre, in the campaign of 1815, the Prussians, after
a severe engagement with the retreating troops of the French, had one
regiment of cavalry cut to pieces. At Ruel, the celebrated Cardinal
Richelieu had a palace, which at the Revolution became national
property, and was purchased by Massena, Duc de Rivoli, Prince
D'Essling, lately deceased. The Duchess still resides there. It was
taken possession of by the allies in 1815, and, like Malmaison,
plundered by the troops. There are extensive barracks for cavalry at
this place, at present occupied by the Swiss guards.

A little farther, between Malmaison and Marly, is a beautiful château,
formerly belonging to General Count Bertrand, who accompanied Napoleon
to Saint Helena; it is now the property of M. Ouverard, the banker:
nearly opposite is the residence of the celebrated Abbé Sieyès, who
lives in great retirement. Whatever may have been the political
transgressions of Bertrand, there is something so noble in his
devotion to the fallen fortunes of his master, that it is impossible
not to respect his character.

At Marly, the water-works and aqueduct for conveying the water from
the river Seine to the palace and gardens of Versailles, are very
curious. The palace of Marly is destroyed; but the basins, which were
constructed by order of Louis XIV. are still to be seen, though in
ruins. Delille, the poet, in his description of the château and
beautiful grounds of Marly, says:

  C'est là que tout est grand, que l'art n'est point timide;
  Là tout est enchanté: c'est le Palais d'Armide;
  C'est le jardin d'Alcine, ou plutôt d'un Héros,
  Noble dans sa retraite et grand dans son repos.
  Qui cherche encore à vaincre, à dompter des obstacles,
  Et ne marche jamais qu'entouré de miracles.

On quitting Paris, I had procured a letter of introduction from Count
La Cou to Madame de Bellou, at Mortagne, a charming old lady of an
ancient and noble family in that province, who had never quitted the
seat of her ancestors, but remained quiet and respected during all the
storms of the revolution. She received me with kindness, and politely
introduced me to the Sub-Prefect, Monsieur Lamorelie, who gave me a
letter of introduction to the Père Don Augustin, Grand Prior of La
Trappe. The mayor of the commune of Solignié, who happened to be at
the inn, and learned from the _Aubergiste_, that a stranger intended
visiting La Trappe, very civilly introduced himself to me, and gave me
every necessary direction how to proceed through the forest; at the
same time expressing his surprise that an Englishman should take
the trouble, and undergo the fatigue of penetrating through such a
country, an attempt which few of his own countrymen had ever ventured
to make. It was singular enough that only one person in the town could
be found to accompany me as a guide, or who knew any thing of
the track through the forest, although the abbey is distant only
twenty-five miles.

I set out with the guide just at day-break, mounted on a small Norman
horse, and armed with pistols and a sword-cane, in case of meeting
with wolves, which the mayor of Solignié had cautioned me against, as
abounding throughout the country. We travelled, after leaving the
main road, at the distance of a league, through a country scarcely
appearing to be inhabited. Here and there a lone cot, a mere speck,
met the eye amidst a landscape composed of nothing but barren wastes
and thick forests, nearly impervious to the light. We had penetrated
about half a mile through one of the latter, my attention occupied
with the romantic wildness of the scene, when we were alarmed by the
howling of a wolf. My guide crossed himself, and began cracking his
whip with the noise and singular dexterity peculiar to the French
postillions; and as we entered a part of the forest, impenetrable but
for traces known only to those who are accustomed to them, he related
(by way of consolation, I suppose,) several stories of the peasantry
having been recently attacked, and some destroyed, by wolves; and one
instance of a woman having had her infant torn from her arms, only a
short time since, in the neighbourhood.

On quitting the forest the track was now and then diversified by the
ruins of a solitary cottage, or the mouldering remains of a crucifix,
raised by pious hands to mark some event, or to guide the traveller;
and after traversing a rocky plain, covered with heath and wild thyme,
where some herds of sheep and goats were browsing, attended by the
shepherd, we entered the Forest of Bellegarde. This forest spreads
over a large extent of country, and is so dark and intricate, that
those best acquainted with it frequently lose their way. No vestige of
human footsteps or of the track of animals appeared; a mark, here and
there, on some of the trees, was the only direction! Pursuing our way
through turnings and windings the most perplexing, we found ourselves
to be on the overhanging brow of a hill, the descent of which was so
precipitous, that we were under the necessity of dismounting; and by
a winding path, hollowed out in its side, descended through a sort
of labyrinth towards the valley, whose sides were clothed with lofty
woods, rising one above the other. The valley itself is interspersed
with three lakes, connected with each other, and forming a sort of
moat around the ground; in the centre of which appears the venerable
abbey of La Trappe, with its dark gray towers, the deep tone of whose
bell had previously announced to us, that we had nearly reached our
journey's end.

The situation of this monastery was well adapted to the founder's
views, and to suggest the name it originally received of La Trappe,
from the intricacy of the road which descends to it, and the
difficulty of access or egress, which exists even to this day, though
the woods have been very much thinned since the revolution. Perhaps
there never was any thing in the whole universe better calculated to
inspire religious awe than the first view of this monastery. It was
imposing even to breathlessness. The total solitude--the undisturbed
and chilling silence, which seem to have ever slept over the dark and
ancient woods--the still lakes, reflecting the deep solemnity of the
objects around them--all impress a powerful image of utter seclusion
and hopeless separation from living man, and appear formed at once to
court and gratify the sternest austerities of devotion--to nurse
the fanaticism of diseased imaginations--to humour the wildest
fancies--and promote the gloomiest schemes of penance and privation!

In descending the steep and intricate path the traveller frequently
loses sight of the abbey, until he has actually reached the bottom;
then emerging from the wood, the following inscription is seen carved
on a wooden cross:

  C'est ici que la mort et que la vérité
  Elèvent leurs flambeaux terribles;
  C'est de cette demeure, au monde inaccessible,
  Que l'on passe à l'éternité.

A venerable grove of oak trees, which formerly surrounded the
monastery, was cut down in the revolution. In the gateway of the outer
court is a statue of Saint Bernard, which has been mutilated by the
republicans: he is holding in one hand a church, and in the other a
spade--the emblems of devotion and labour. This gateway leads into a
court, which opens into a second enclosure, and around that are the
granaries, stables, bakehouse, and other offices necessary to the
abbey, which have all been happily preserved.

Owing to the fatigue of the journey, the heat of the weather, and
having frequently been obliged to retrace our steps, from losing our
way in the woods, it was late before we arrived at the abbey. To the
west, under the glow of the setting sun, the forests were still tinged
with the warmest yet softest colours that faded fast away; and as we
descended towards the Convent, quickening our pace to reach it before
the last gleams of evening departed, there was a silence around us,
which at such a moment, and in such a spot, sunk sorrowfully upon the
heart! Just as I reached the gate the bell tolled in so solemn and
melancholy a tone that it vibrated through my whole frame, and called
strongly to mind the beautiful lines in "Parisina":

  The Convent bells are ringing,
  But mournfully and slow;
  In the gray square turret swinging,
  With a deep sound, to and fro,
  Heavily to the heart they go!

On entering the gate, a lay-brother received me on his knees; and in
a low and whispering voice informed me they were at vespers. The
stillness and gloom of the building--the last rays of the sun scarcely
penetrating through its windows--the deep tones of the monks chanting
the responses, which occasionally broke the silence, filled me with
reverential emotions which I felt unwilling to disturb: it was
necessary however to present my letter of introduction, and Frère
Charle, the secrétaire, soon after came out, and received me with
great civility. He appeared a young man about five-and-twenty, with a
handsome and prepossessing countenance. He informed me that the Père
Abbé was then absent, visiting a convent of Female Trappistes, a
few leagues distant, but that he should be happy to show me every
attention; and requested that in going over the Convent, I would
neither speak nor ask him any questions in those places where I saw
him kneel, or in the presence of any of the Monks. I followed him to
the chapel, where, as soon as the service was over, the bell rung
to summon them to supper. Ranged in double rows, with their heads
enveloped in a large cowl, and bent down to the earth, they chanted
the grace, and then seated themselves. During the repast one of them,
standing, read passages from scripture, reminding them of death, and
of the shortness of human existence; another went round the whole
community, and on his knees kissed their feet in succession, throwing
himself prostrate on the floor at intervals before the image of our
Saviour; a third remained on his knees the whole time, and in that
attitude took his repast. These penitents had committed some fault,
or neglected their religious duties, of which, according to the
regulations, they had accused themselves, and were in consequence
doomed to the above modes of penance.

The refectory was furnished with long wooden tables and benches; each
person was provided with a trencher, a jug of water, and a cup, having
on it the name of the brother to whom it is appropriated, as Frère
Paul, Frère François, &c. which name they assume on taking the vow.
Their supper consisted of bread soaked in water, a little salt, and
two raw carrots, placed by each; water alone is their beverage. The
dinner is varied with a little cabbage or other vegetables: they very
rarely have cheese, and never meat, fish, or eggs. The bread is of the
coarsest kind possible.

Their bed is a small truckle, boarded, with a single covering,
generally a blanket, no mattress nor pillow; and, as in the former
time, no fire is allowed but one in the great hall, which they never

Within these three years a small cabaret has been built near the
Convent for the accommodation of those who may occasionally visit it,
the buildings that remain being but barely sufficient for their own
members, which have been rapidly increasing since its restoration. In
this cabaret I took up my abode for the night, in preference to the
accommodation very kindly offered me by Frère Charle, and retired to
rest, wearied with the day's excursion, and fully satisfied, that all
I had heard, all I had imagined of La Trappe, was infinitely short of
the reality, and that no adequate description could be given of its
awful and dreary solitude;

Monsieur Elzéar de Sabran, in a poem called Le Repentir, lately
published, describing this Monastery, says very justly;

  Témoins d'une commune et secrète souffrance,
  Ces frères de douleur, martyrs de l'espérance,
  D'une lente torture épuisant les degrés,
  Constamment réunis, constamment séparés,
  L'un à l'autre étrangers, à côté l'un de l'autre,
  Joignent tout ce malheur encore à tout le nôtre,
  Jamais, dans ses pareils cherchant un tendre appui,
  Un coeur ne s'ouvre aux coeurs qui souffrent comme lui.

The following morning the matin bell summoned me to the Convent,
and Frère Charle attended me to the burial ground; here have been
deposited the remains of two of the brothers, deceased since the
restoration of their order in 1814. Another grave was ready prepared;
as soon as an interment takes place, one being always opened for the
next that may die. The two graves were marked with simple wooden
crosses, bearing the following inscriptions:

  F. Nicolas. Frère DONNÉ
  Décédé. le 24 Février 1816.

         *       *       *       *       *

On the other:

  die 26 mensis novembris

         *       *       *       *       *

In the centre of the cemetery is the grave of M. De Rancé. His
monument, with his figure carved at full length in a recumbent
posture, was removed when the destruction of the old church took
place; it is now a complete ruin, and a few stones alone mark the spot
of its ancient founder's grave, which is kept free from weeds with
pious reverence and care. The revolution, which like a torrent swept
all before it, did not even spare the dead.

[Illustration: RUINS of the ANCIENT CHURCH of LA TRAPPE.]

While I was contemplating the ruins around me, and watching the
motions of a venerable figure in silent prayer at one of the angles,
the bell tolled, when both Frère Charle and the Monk dropped instantly
on their knees. How forcibly were the following lines of Pope recalled
to my mind!

  Lo, the struck deer, in some sequester'd part,
  Lies down to die, (the arrow in his heart;)
  There, hid in shades, and wasting day by day,
  Inly he bleeds, and pants his soul away.

The number of Monks who have taken the vow are not in proportion to
the others, who are lay brothers, and _Frères Donnés_; in all there
are about one hundred, besides novices, who are principally composed
of boys, and who do not wear the same habit. The Trappistes, who
compose the first order, are clothed in dark brown, with brown mantle
and hood; the others are in white, with brown mantle and hood.
I occasionally caught a glimpse of their faces, but it was only
momentarily; and I can easily believe, with their perpetual silence,
that two people well known to each other, might inhabit the same spot,
without ever being aware of it, so completely are their faces hidden
by their large cowl. The Trappistes, or first order, are distinguished
by the appellation of _Frères Convers_, the others by that of
_Religieux de Coeur_.

The hardships undergone by these monks appear almost insupportable
to human nature, and notwithstanding the immense number of deaths
occasioned by their rigorous austerities, the Cénobites of La Trappe,
at the suppression of their order, amounted to one hundred monks,
sixty-nine lay brothers, and fifty-six _Frères Donnés_. The inmates
are classed under these three heads; but the lay brothers, who take
the same vows, and follow the same rules, are principally employed as
servants, and in transacting the temporal concerns of the abbey. The
_Frères Donnés_ are brothers given for a time; these last are not
properly belonging to the order, they are rather, religious persons,
whose business or connexions prevent their joining the order
absolutely, but, who wishing to renew serious impressions, or to
retire from the world for a given period, come here and conform
strictly to the regulations while they remain, without wishing to join
the order for life. Many persons on their first conversion, or after
some peculiar dispensations of Providence, retire here for a season.

In the refectory I observed a board hung up, with "_Table pour
l'Office Divin_," written over it, and under it the regulations or
order of service to be performed for that week, which are occasionally
varied, but never diminished in their rigour. Frère Charle said,
that the whole were strictly observed, and were frequently much more
severe; for the Père Abbé had instituted more austere regulations
than formerly, with the only one exception, of the sick being allowed
medicines; and, in cases of great debility, a small quantity of meat.

The Table "_pour l'Office Divin_," was as follows.

  Dimanche....12 Leçons et Communion.
  Lundi....... 3 Leçons.
  Mardi.......12 Leçons--à jeun--Travail.
  Mercredi....12 Leçons.
  Jeudi....... 3 Leçons.
  Vendredi....12 Leçons--à jeun--Travail.
  Samedi......12 Leçons--à jeun--Travail.

Their mode of life and regulations exist nearly in the same state
as established by the founder; in reciting them, such horrible
perversions of human nature and reason make it almost difficult to
believe the existence of so severe an order, and lead us to wonder
at the artificial miseries, which the ingenuity of pious but morbid
enthusiasm can inflict upon itself. The abstinence practised at La
Trappe allows not the use of meat, fish, eggs, or butter; and a very
limited quantity of bread and vegetables. They only eat twice a
day; which meals consist of a slender repast at about eleven in the
morning, and two ounces of bread and two raw carrots in the evening:
both together do not at any time exceed twelve ounces. The same spirit
of mortification is observable in their cells, which are very small,
and have no other furniture than a bed of boards, a human skull, and a
few religious books.

Silence is at all times rigidly maintained; conversation is never
permitted: should two of them even be seen standing near each other,
though pursuing their daily labour, and preserving the strictest
silence, it is considered as a violation of their vow, and highly
criminal; each member is therefore as completely insulated as if he
alone existed in the Monastery. None but the Père Abbé knows the name,
age, rank, or even the native country of any member of the community:
every one, at his first entrance, assumes another name, as I before
observed, and with his former appellation, each is supposed to abjure,
not only the world, but every recollection and memorial of himself and
connexions: no word ever escapes from his lips by which the others can
possibly guess who he is, or where he comes from; and persons of the
same name, family, and neighbourhood, have often lived together in the
Convent for years, unknown to each other, without having suspected
their proximity.

The abstraction of mind practised at La Trappe, and the prevention of
all external communication with the world is such, that few but the
superior know any thing of what is passing in it. It has been related,
that so little information of the affairs of mankind did these people
receive, that the death of Louis XIV. was not known there for years,
except by the Father Abbé; and such was their state of seclusion, that
a Nobleman having taken a journey of five hundred miles, purposely to
see the Monastery, could scarcely find in the neighbouring villages
one person who knew where it was situated. Indeed, at the present day,
it is quite astonishing how little is known of this place, and how
very few, even among those in its immediate vicinity, have ever
visited it.[1]

On the great festivals they rise at midnight; otherwise they are not
called until three quarters past one: at two they assemble in the
Chapel, where they perform different services, public and private,
until seven in the morning, according to the regulations of the week,
as exemplified in the "_Table pour l'Office Divin_". At this hour they
go out to labour in the open air. Their work is of the most fatiguing
kind, is never intermitted, winter or summer, and admits of no
relaxation from the state of the weather.

[Footnote 1: Among the most frequent visitors of La Trappe, was
the unfortunate James the Second. His first visit was on the 20th
November, 1690, where he was received by M. de Rancé, whose account of
it is very interesting.]

When their labour is over, they go into Chapel for a short time, until
eleven o'clock, the hour of repast; at a quarter after eleven they
read till noon; and afterwards lie down to rest for an hour: they are
then summoned into the garden, where they again work until three;
then read again for three quarters of an hour, and retire for another
quarter to their private meditations, by way of preparation for
vespers, which begin at four, and end at six; at seven they again
enter the Chapel, and at eight they leave it, and retire to rest.

At the hour of their first repast, I again attended Frère Charle to
the eating-room, where nearly the same forms were observed as at their
evening-meal; a small basin of boiled cabbage, two raw carrots, and
a small piece of black bread, with a jug of water, constituted their
solitary meal. A Monk, during the whole time, read sentences from
Scripture; and a small hand-bell filled up the intervals of his
silence, and proclaimed a cessation from eating, or movement of
any sort. Over the door of the Refectory I observed the following
inscription in Latin:--"Better is a dinner of herbs, where love is,
than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith".

Frère Charle invited me to partake of the frugal fare of his order. He
said, "You will forgive my laying before you a vegetable repast; it
is all that I have in my power to offer you, but you will confer a
pleasure by accepting it". It was impossible to refuse, for I felt I
should appear ungrateful after the attentions that had been shown me,
if I had. Frère Charle conducted me into an apartment, in which I was
gratified to observe a well executed portrait of the Abbé de Rancé,
which, at the destruction of the Monastery, had been preserved by the
surgeon of the ancient fraternity, who continued to reside there until
the period of his death, four or five years since. This person was
greatly respected by all the people round the country, and resorted
to by all who sought relief either from sickness or misery!--Had the
other brothers followed his example of remaining, in all probability
their Convent might have been spared, for the accumulation of wealth
could not be laid to their charge; and as their monastic vows obliged
them to remain within the Monastery, they were most unlikely to incur
the suspicion of any political intrigues.--How indeed could men, whose
whole existence was passed in solitude and penance, and who never
conversed even among themselves, have been dangerous to those
turbulent spirits who had overturned the government and all the
religious institutions of their country!

In the portrait, the Abbé is dressed in the habit of the order, a
white gown and hood, and sitting with a book before him, in which he
appears to be writing; on the same table, before him, are a crucifix
and a skull. The following inscription is painted in one corner by the

  SCAUANT. et célèbre Abbé Réformateur De La Trappe.
  Mort en 1700. à près de 77 ans, et de 40 ans de la plus
  austère pénitence".

The Monastery of La Trappe is one of the most ancient Abbeys of the
order of Benedictins: it was established under the pontificate of
Innocent the Second, during the reign of Louis VII. in the year 1140,
by Rotrou, the second Count of Perche, and is said to have been built
to accomplish a vow, made in the peril of shipwreck. In commemoration
of this circumstance, the roof was made in the shape of the bottom of
a ship inverted. It was founded under the auspices of Saint Bernard,
the first Abbot of Clairvaux, the celebrated preacher in favour of
the Crusades. Many ages, however, had elapsed, since its first
institution, when the Father Abbot de Rancé, the celebrated reformer
of his time, determined to become a member, whose singular history and
conversion was the subject of a poem by Monsieur Barthe.

The Abbé de Rancé became a Monk of the Benedictin order of La Trappe,
in 1660, and his conversion was attributed to a lady whom he tenderly
loved. They had been separated for some time by her parents; she
having written to him to remove her for the purpose of becoming united
in marriage, he set off, but, during his journey, she was seized with
a fever and died. Totally ignorant of the circumstance, he approached
the house under cover of the night, and got into her apartment through
the window. The first object he beheld was the coffin which contained
the body of his beloved mistress! It had been made of lead, but being
found to be too short, they had, with unheard of brutality; severed
her head from her body! Horror-struck with the shocking spectacle, he,
from that hour, renounced all connexion with the world, and imposed
upon himself the most rigid austerities, which he continued until his
death, forty years after.

When M. de Rancé undertook the superintendance of the Monastery, it
exhibited a melancholy picture, of the greatest declension, and it
is curious to peruse the steps by which he effected so wonderful a
change;[2] and how men could ever feel it either an inclination or a
duty to enter upon a mode of life so different from the common ways of
thinking or feeling.

[Footnote 2: Règlements de L'Abbaye, La Maison-Dieu Notre Dame de La
Trappe, par Dom. Armand de Rancé.]

The Monks of La Trappe were not only immersed in luxury and sloth, but
were abandoned to the most scandalous excesses; most of them lived by
robbery, and several had committed assassinations on the travellers
who had occasion to traverse the woods. The neighbourhood shrunk with
terror from the approach of men who never went abroad unarmed, and
whose excursions were marked with bloodshed and violence. The Banditti
of La Trappe was the appellation by which they were most generally
distinguished. Such were the men amongst whom M. de Rancé resolved to
fix his abode; all his friends endeavouring to dissuade him from an
undertaking, they deemed alike hopeless and dangerous.

"Unarmed, and unassisted," [3] says his historian, "but in the panoply
of God, and by his Spirit, he went alone amidst this company of
ruffians, every one of whom was bent on his destruction. With
undaunted boldness, he began by proposing the strictest reform, and
not counting his life dear to him, he described the full intent of his
purpose, and left them no choice but obedience or Expulsion".

[Footnote 3: The work from which I have taken this, is a translation
by Mrs. Schimmelpenninck of Dom. Claude Lancelot's Narrative,
published in 1667. The present regulations not differing from the
former, I have extracted some of the most important.]

"Many were the dangers M. de Rancé underwent; plans were laid, at
various times, to poison him, to waylay and assassinate him, and even
once one of his monks shot at him; but the pistol, which was applied
close to his head, flashed in the pan, and missed fire. By the good
providence of God all these plans were frustrated, and M. de Rancé
not only brought his reform to bear, but several of his most violent
persecutors became his most stedfast adherents; many were, after a
short time, won over by his piety--the rest left the Monastery.
He especially, who had shot at M. de Rancé, became eminently
distinguished for his piety and learning, and was afterwards Sub-Prior
of La Trappe".

M. de Rancé lived forty years at the head of this singular society,
and the same ardor and piety continued to distinguish him to the last.
The excess of self-denial and discipline, exercised by this order,
which might readily be doubted, became more known, especially to this
country, at the time of the French Revolution, when they shared the
fate of dissolution with the various religious orders in France. On
that occasion many of them sought an asylum in England, and were
settled in Dorsetshire, where they received the kind protection and
benevolent assistance of Mr. Weld, until the restoration enabled most
of them to return; and, surprising as it may appear in the present
age, notwithstanding the perpetual violence imposed by their
regulations on every human feeling, many are found anxious to enter
the establishment.

When I was about to take my leave of Frère Charle, he said, "he hoped
I was pleased with my humble fare: to such as it was I had been truly
welcome". Indeed he had treated me with the kindest, most unaffected
hospitality; he had laid the table, spread the dishes before me, stood
the whole time by the side of my chair, and pressed me to eat: How
could I not be thankful? I requested he would be seated, but he
observed that it was not proper for him to be so. His manners and
general deportment bespoke him a well-bred gentleman; and when I
ventured to ask if I might make a memorandum of his name, he bowed his
head with meekness and resignation, and said, "I have now no other but
that which was bestowed on me when I took the vow, which severs me
from the world for ever!" It was impossible not to be affected at the
manner and tone of voice in which he uttered this. When I said that
perhaps he would like that I should leave an acknowledgment in
writing, expressive of the gratitude I felt at my kind and hospitable
reception, he appeared much pleased, and instantly procured me paper.
I left with him the following lines:

  "Convent of La Trappe, July 20, 1817.

  "I have this day visited the Convent of La Trappe,
  and in the absence of the Grand Prior, to whom I
  brought a letter of introduction from Monsieur Lamorelie,
  Sub-Prefect of Mortagne, I was received and
  have been entertained by Frère Charle Marie, his Secretary.

  "It is quite impossible that I can do justice to the
  kind, polite, and hospitable reception I have met with
  from him, by any expressions in writing. I can only
  observe, that it has made an impression on my mind
  never to be effaced! If these worthy and pious people
  have abandoned the world for the solitude and austerities
  of La Trappe, they have not forgotten, in their own self-denial,
  the benevolence and benignity due to strangers.
  May their self-devotion meet with its reward!"

I now took my leave of the Convent with feelings which I will not
pretend to describe, but which, together with the impressions I
received when I first entered it, and the whole circumstances of my
visit, I am conscious of retaining while "Memory holds her seat". The
following lines, by P. Mandard, on quitting La Trappe, convey a very
faithful and poetical picture of this extraordinary solitude:

  --Saint désert, séjour pur et paisible,
  Solitude profonde, au vice inaccessible;
  Impétueux torrens, et vous sombres forêts,
  Recevez mes adieux, comme aussi mes regrets!
  Toujours épris de vous, respectable retraite,
  Puissé-je, dans le cours d'une vie inquiète,
  Dans ce flux éternel de folie et d'erreur,
  Où flotte tristement notre malheureux coeur;
  Puissé-je, pour charmer mes ennuis et mes peines,
  Souvent fuir en esprit au bord de vos fontaines,
  Egarer ma pensée au milieu de vos bois,
  Par un doux souvenir rappeler mille fois
  De vos Saints habitans les touchantes images,
  Pénétrer, sur leurs pas, dans vos grottes sauvages,
  Me placer sur vos monts, et là, prennant l'essort,
  Aller chercher en Dieu ma joie, et mon trésor!



I quitted _La Trappe_ in the afternoon of the third day after my
arrival there, for the Val-Dieu, which lies three leagues to the east
of Mortagne, taking the villages of Rinrolles and Prepotin in my way;
the latter stands in the midst of a forest. By this road, so bad that
it scarcely deserves the name, a great distance is saved, but the
romantic scenery of the approach to La Trappe is lost. The one we took
through the forest of Bellegarde more than doubles the distance;
but the Abbey is seen as in the centre of a lake beneath, and
the continual beauty and wildness of the landscape render it far
preferable. Until the Revolution this was the only road, the other
having been made when the lands became national property, and were
sold to the peasantry.

After passing through the above villages, we came round by Tourouvre,
a village on a height, which has a manufactory for glass. I did
not stop to view it, having several leagues to go through a wooded
country. Soon after crossing the main road leading into Bretagne,
we rode by the side of cultivated lands and orchards resembling the
western parts of Devonshire, of which the narrow lanes and high hedges
reminded me very much, until we entered the forest leading to the
Val-Dieu. Between eight and nine in the evening we came to the edge
bounding that part of the Vale by which it is approached, in the
direction we had taken. It was very considerably out of our way, owing
to the guide having mistaken his road and turned to the left instead
of the right. After resting a few minutes on the brow of the hill, we
began our descent by a steep and narrow pathway. When we were midway
down the glen, the ruins of the ancient Chartreuse suddenly burst upon
the view! At this moment all the terrors of the declivity, and the
momentary expectation of meeting some of the wolves with which the
forest abounds, vanished from my mind before the feelings of delight
which the enchanting scene called forth. The almost perpendicular view
of the Vale beneath, had an effect tremendous yet pleasing: on the
left was a lake, seeming to encircle an ancient convent embosomed in
a wood; a thick forest covered the surrounding heights, and before me
stood the remains of the ancient Priory, with its gateway and lodge so
perfect as to create no suspicion of the destruction within.

[Illustration: RUINS of the GATEWAY of the ANCIENT CHARTREUSE.]

This had been the hottest day and finest weather I had experienced
during my journey. It was a sweet evening, and the rich tints of the
departing sun-beams among the woods, with the solitary calmness of the
scenery around, were circumstances that made a strong impression on my
feelings. Those who have never traversed the forests of this country
can form but a very imperfect idea of what they are, or of the
death-like awful stillness that reigns within them; for many miles
together they form a dense shade, which, like a dark awning,
completely conceals the sun from the view: even on the brightest day
the sun's rays are only visible as from the bottom of a deep well! The
forests in Le Perche are reckoned the most extensive in France, and
every where abound with vast quantities of game.

I was received on alighting from my horse by a M. Boderie, a
good humoured hospitable man, who, with his family, are the only
inhabitants of this lonesome spot. I found afterwards that he had seen
better days: he informed me the Val-Dieu property was purchased at the
dissolution of the Monastery by the present proprietor, who resided at
Paris, and allowed him, being his friend, to occupy that part of the
building which had not been destroyed. He made many apologies for the
badness of the accommodations and the homeliness of the fare he had to
offer me, which I considered as unnecessary, as what he possessed was
tendered with unaffected cheerfulness.

The Prussians in 1815 occupied this country, and notwithstanding M.
Boderie was absent at that time serving in the body guard of Louis
XVIII, whom he had accompanied in his retreat to Ghent, they plundered
him of every article, not even leaving his wife a change of linen.
The numerous accounts I have heard from people of respectability and
loyalty, of the treatment experienced from the Prussians, excites the
greatest regret that they were not able to distinguish the innocent
from the guilty. Many families have been ruined, or greatly distressed
in their circumstances who were devoted to the cause of their
Sovereign. Such are the inevitable consequences of war!

The Val-Dieu extends upwards of three miles in length, surrounded by
almost impenetrable woods, except where paths have been cut. It has
three lakes, one communicating with the other, containing great
quantities of fish. The Monastery, it is evident from the remains of
its ruins, and from the boundary wall, still entire, must have been of
prodigious extent. M. Boderie informed me, that the plan, of which
he had seen an engraving, showed it to have been one of the most
considerable in the kingdom: some idea may be formed of its former
celebrity and extent by the remains of six hundred fire-places being
still traceable. A colonnade surrounded the whole, forming an oblong
square, in the centre of which was a jet d'eau, with several smaller
ones, the basins of which are still to be seen; the space within
formed a garden, with delicious walks, resembling those in the Palais

The gate-way remains perfect, excepting only that the images over the
side doors have been mutilated. The one in the centre (over the great
entrance) is still in excellent preservation, and appears to be finely
executed: it is the figure of the Virgin Mary in gray marble, the
size of life, seated, with the infant Jesus in her arms. On a scroll
beneath are these letters:--


Several old chesnut trees and elms still remain, which once formed
a fine avenue in front of the building, from whence the prospect is
strikingly beautiful. The eye passes over rocks, rugged, broken, and
abrupt towards their summits, crowned and darkened with wood; and the
narrow road winding between the trees, until it loses itself in the
forest, forms a feature very gratifying to the traveller. The solitude
of the place, as I viewed it at the close of day, occasioned mingled
sensations of pleasure and pain. It was impossible to resist the
imposing power of a situation, where every natural object was deeply
tinged with the poetical character, and every remnant of architecture
associated with the romance of religious feeling. I recalled and dwelt
upon various passages of the poets inspired by similar scenes, and
thought of the holy and enthusiastic minds which had here devoted
themselves to the sublimest duties and severest sacrifices of the
altar; and felt, that had I lived in those days, I, perhaps, could
have become an inmate of walls which seem to have been erected
to exclude the evils of life, and to nurture only the enchanting
abstractions of unpolluted virtue and happiness: but the present
day has brought with it a general philosophy and knowledge of human
nature, which lessen the delight of contemplating the calm repose of
such a seclusion, and have taught that these retreats from the world
were not always retreats from vice; that the sacrifices of monkish
privacy were not always those of selfish feelings; and that the
austerities once practised here, as now at La Trappe, might perhaps
arise more frequently from disappointed pride and ambition, than
from the pure feelings of pious resignation. In the overthrow of the
monarchy and that of the priesthood, this venerable pile became the
object of popular vengeance; and had the Revolution done no more than
effected the dissolution of the different orders of monks and nuns,
every reflecting mind must have been pleased: the removal of those
abuses, like the division of landed property into smaller portions,
(whereby the country in general became more cultivated and
productive,) was serviceable to France; and, if any circumstance can
restore permanent tranquillity, it will be the interest which the
different landholders have in the soil and the representative system,
which will serve to check the ambition of its future governors.
Already the good effects of these are to be perceived; and the
excessive abuses, insolence, and profligacy, of ancient ministerial
oppression, which paved the way for the downfall of the monarchy, and,
like a pestilence, destroyed that which was good with that which was
evil, will be prevented in future.

It is, nevertheless, melancholy to observe the traces of devastation
visible in all directions: the people themselves appear not to regard
it, but this may arise partly from the long and habitual feelings
generated by the scenes to which the Revolution daily gave rise, and
partly from the constitutional cheerfulness of the natives, who seldom
view objects through the same dark medium that ours are supposed to
do, and who, though they are not celebrated for patience, are of all
mankind the least liable to despondency. When I spoke to M. Boderie of
my regret at the destruction of an ancient structure like the one in
question, his answer was, immediately, "oui c'est bien malheureux;
mais enfin que voulez-vous?" He was "desolé" or had "le coeur très
sensible à tout cela;" but finished by "il faut se consoler". With
this sort of philosophy they are always ready to view the past, and
accept of consolation, and in amusement, seek to bear or dissipate
the calamities inseparable from such a state of events, without even
appearing to repine. None of them will ever enter into conversation on
the subject if it can be avoided.

The following day, having taken leave of my hospitable host, who
refused any compensation, I returned to Mortagne by another route,
through the Forest of Val-Dieu, more dark and difficult to penetrate
than the other; but the guide was better acquainted with it, and took
the road by Saint Maure and Saint Eloi, through a fine country, highly
cultivated, and abounding in beautiful scenery and distant landscapes.
It was late at night before I reached Mortagne, greatly fatigued from
the excessive heat of the weather.

I dined the following day with Madame de Bellou, whose kind attention
and elegant hospitality, during the time I remained at Mortagne, I
must ever remember with sentiments of sincere gratitude. This lady had
invited Monsieur Lamorelie, the Sub-Prefect, one of the most elegant
men I had met with in France, with several other gentlemen and ladies,
to meet me. Among the party were Madame de Fontenay, Monsieur and
Mademoiselle Claire de Vanssay--very agreeable people: the latter
possessed, without great beauty, all the charms and vivacity of her
countrywomen. In the evening we went to an assembly, where I had an
opportunity of seeing, and being presented to, all the respectable
families that yet remained in town; for at this season many were at
their country-seats. The ease, elegance, and good manners of the
company composing this society, I never saw excelled in any country.
It is but common justice to observe, that in Mortagne, which is the
residence of all the best families in the province, there is to be
found all the characteristic good breeding for which the French were
so long, and so deservedly celebrated.

The town of Mortagne stands on the declivity of a hill, in the
province of Le Perche, bordering on Normandy. The high road to
Bretagne passes through it. It has only one church remaining out
of seven, six having been destroyed at the Revolution. It has some
manufactories for serges and coarse cloths, and contains between five
and six thousand inhabitants, in the department of L'Orne. From its
elevated position and chalky soil, the air is pure and the situation
healthy. The inhabitants are under the necessity of supplying
themselves with water from the valley, as there are no wells on
account of the rocky height it stands on, which is attended with
inconvenience and expense; otherwise it would be a desirable residence
for those who wish to unite economy with a change of climate.

During the Vendean war, this town became, at different periods, the
victim of either party as they were successful; and it suffered
severely. The hotel kept by Gautier (Les trois Lions), which is
likewise la Poste, and le Bureau des Diligences, is the best, and
the people are very obliging; but it partakes of the same want
of cleanliness, that so invariably distinguishes all similar
establishments in this country.



I travelled by the diligence from Mortagne to Alençon and Laval: we
arrived at the former place to dinner, and at the latter to remain all
night. The carriage was filled with _Soeurs de la Charité_,

  "Qui, pour le malheur seul connoissant la tendresse,
  Aux besoins du vieil-age immollent leur jeunesse,"

on their way to different places in Bretagne, on charitable missions,
by the order of the Superior at Paris. Four of these were young and
beautiful women, none of whom could have attained the age of twenty;
yet these females had already devoted themselves to attend on the sick
and poor wherever their services might be required, for which purpose
they receive a suitable education, in an Hospital at Paris, in such
branches of medicine and surgery as may render them useful. They
are distributed throughout the kingdom to attend the hospitals and
prisons, which they do with the delicacy and attention peculiar to
their sex. Of all the classes of females who thus devote themselves to
a religious life, and to acts of charity, none are more respected, or
more truly serviceable to their fellow-creatures. Their dress consists
of a coarse brown jacket and gown, with a high linen cap, sloping down
over the shoulders, and a rosary hanging round their waist.

Quitting Beauregard we crossed the river Sart: here the Province of
Le Perche terminates, and we enter that of Normandy. For many miles,
travelling close to the Forest of Bourse, the roads are excellent,
though hilly, and the country highly cultivated in all directions. The
peasantry were getting in the hay and rye harvest, and large tracts of
wheat and barley were nearly ready for cutting.

The town of Alençon is the capital of L'Orne-sur-Sart. It stands in
the middle of a fertile plain. The lace made here is the most valuable
of any manufactured in France. The Hotel of the Prefecture is a
fine building. After dinner I went to the theatre, (formerly an old
manufactory), to see the _Hotel Garni_ and _Les deux Suisses_: both
performances were of a very moderate cast. The audience consisted
principally of the military in garrison.

On the road from Alençon to Laval, we were guarded the whole day by
two troopers of the Gendarmerie, who are quartered along the whole
line of road from the capital; they are well armed and mounted, and
keep a very vigilant guard. At every place we stopped our passports
were examined. The police of this country is observed with greater
rigor than at any former period of its history, with regard to
passports. The circumstances under which the restoration took place,
the political state of France, in regard to other powers, the
conflicting interests and opinions of various parties, probably render
it highly expedient. On the arrival of a stranger at Paris, his
passport must be presented, and inscribed in the police book.
The revision of the one under which the person has travelled is
indispensably necessary. It is then carried to the British Ambassador,
(if the stranger be of that nation), or to the minister of that
country to which he belongs, where it must obtain the Ambassador's
signature. It is next taken to the office of the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, where it is deposited until the following day, for which ten
livres are charged, and afterwards to the Préfecture of the Police, to
be signed there in its turn: and when all this is done no one can quit
the capital for the interior without its being again signed at the
Préfecture of the police.

From Alençon, we passed the Briante, a small river, at Ville Neuve,
where the road begins to skirt the Forest of Moultonue. At Mayenne,
the river of that name divides the provinces. The whole of this
country is singularly beautiful. I observed vast quantities of buck
wheat, which the French call _bled noir_ or _sarazin_. The country was
very much enclosed, producing a great contrast to the vast tracts of
land through which I had passed without a single division.

At two leagues from Mayenne we crossed the river Aisne, winding
through a beautiful valley, between Martigné and Louverné. On the left
the river forms a small lake, surrounded by a wood at the foot of a
very long and steep hill.

The town of Mayenne is ancient and irregularly built, the river
Mayenne running through it. The ruins of an old wall and some decayed
towers remain of the fortifications which were taken by assault, after
several bloody attempts, during the siege by the English, in 1424.

At Laval, where I stopped, after again crossing the Mayenne, I
entered the province of Bretagne: it is an old dirty town, completely
intersected by the river, and has a manufactory for coarse cloths and
cottons. The _Tête Noire_ is one of the worst inns I have met with in
the country. The department of the Isle-et-Vilaine commences here.

This place is celebrated in the history of the Vendean war by the
refuge Madame de Laroche-Jaquelin sought there, after the deplorable
defeat of the royalist army at the battle of Mans, where it received
its death-blow. The wreck of that army, under M. de Laroche-Jaquelin,
were driven from it again on the following day, and from that
hour never rallied so as to make any stand against the victorious

Quitting Laval the day after my arrival, I ascended a long and steep
hill, travelled by the side of the forest of Petre, and came to Vitré,
where I remained all night for the purpose of visiting the château of
the celebrated Madame de Sévigné,[4] whose estate has descended to a
distant branch of her family, who had the good fortune to save it from
destruction during the revolution. The grounds are kept in excellent
order. Her picture hangs in the apartment in which she composed her
interesting and elegant letters, and every article of furniture
carefully preserved is shown to strangers. The distance from Vitré to
Rennes is seven leagues, over a road which becomes gradually less and
less Interesting.

[Footnote 4: Marie de Rabutin, Marchioness de Sevigné, was the
daughter of the Baron de Chantal, and born in 1626: she espoused at
the age of eighteen the Marquis de Sévigné, who fell in a duel in
1651, leaving her with one son and a daughter, to whose education
she paid strict attention: the daughter married in 1669 the Count de
Grignan, Commandant in Provence, and it was on a visit to her that the
Marchioness caught a fever and died in 1696. Her son Charles, Marquis
de Sevigné, was one of the admirers of Ninon de L'Enclos, and had
a dispute with Madame Dacier respecting the sense of a passage in
Horace. He died in 1713. (Moreri.)]

Rennes is the chief city of the Isle-et-Vilaine, and in former times
was the capital of Bretagne. It is a large ancient built town,
standing on a vast plain, between the rivers Isle and Vilaine. It has
a hall of justice, (Cour Royale,) an episcopal palace, and a foundry
for cannon. A more dismal dirty looking city, or a more uninteresting
one to a stranger, is seldom to be seen. Few traces remain of its
ancient splendor; the old rampart, which once encompassed it, now
forms a promenade.

Its commerce is considerable, being the entrepôt for grain and cattle,
with which it supplies Paris and the Southern Provinces, not so
abundant in their produce. Jane of Flanders, Countess of Montfort,
the most extraordinary woman of her time, resided here, during the
imprisonment of her husband in the palace of the Louvre, by Philippe
de Valois,[5] when Edward the Third of England invaded France.
Hennebon, when attacked by Charles of Blois, was defended by the
Countess, and relieved by Sir Walter Manny, whom Edward had sent with
a body of 6,000 archers to her succour. The garrison, encouraged by
so rare an example of female valour, defended themselves against an
immense army, composed of French, Spaniards, Genoese, and Bretons,
who frequently assaulted it, and were as vigorously repulsed. On one
occasion, Froissart mentions her sallying out at the head of a body of
two hundred cavalry, throwing the enemy into great confusion, doing
great execution among them, and setting fire to the tents and
magazines, which were entirely destroyed.

[Footnote 5: Among the brave knights who engaged in so many battles
and perilous adventures, and other feats of arms, Froissart mentions
Philip, as opposed to those heroes of high renown, Edward of England,
the Prince of Wales his son, the Duke of Lancaster, Sir Reginald Lord
Cobham, Sir Walter Manny of Hainault, Sir John Chandos, Sir Fulk
Harley, and many others recorded in his book for worth and prowess.
"In France also was found good chivalry, strong of limb and stout of
heart, and in great abundance, for the kingdom of France was never
brought so low as to want men ever ready for combat. Such was King
Philipe de Valois, a bold and hardy knight, and his son King John,
also John king of Bohemia, and Charles Count of Alençon his son".]

The population of Rennes is 27,000. It is at present garrisoned by one
thousand troops, and people are of opinion that government finds it no
easy task to keep down the spirit of the Vendeans, who are said to
be, "plus Royalistes que le Roi". There appears every where a strong
spirit of dissatisfaction on the part of the Royalists, at the general
preference given to those who were employed under the late ruler in
places of public trust, and who were avowed enemies to the restoration
of Louis XVIII.



Arriving at the first post, we crossed the river Vilaine, and between
this and Rondun passed the river Bruck, and ascended a high mountain
between Rondun and La Bréharaye. At this place we quitted the
department of the Isle-et-Vilaine. Crossing the Cher, we arrived at
Derval, and from thence at Nozai, passing several large lakes,
and then over the river Don. The whole of this distance, with the
exception of the hill already mentioned, is composed of flat sandy
plains, mostly uncultivated, and the road is very rough.

From Nozai to Ancenis we crossed the river Isac; from thence to Redon,
Herié, to La Croix Blanche, along the bank of the river; and after
mounting another steep hill, we descended into an extensive plain,
leading to Gesvres and Nantes.

The whole of this country north of the Loire, from Rennes to Nantes,
the triangular point resting upon Angers, is the country of the
Chouans, which it is necessary, in reference to the Vendean war, to
distinguish from the country south of the Loire, in the department of
the Loire Inférieure, called le Bocage, or la Vendée. Although the
latter was the scene of the more desperate warfare between the
republicans and the royalists, yet the former had its share of
bloodshed and misery. The whole country on both banks of the Loire, as
far as Angers, is classic ground to those who revere the efforts by
which the Vendeans so long resisted the republicans.

The city of Nantes is the chief seat of the Préfecture of the
department of the Loire Inférieure, standing on the right bank of the
river, surrounded by its ancient rampart, of a circular form, and in
good preservation: on the opposite bank stand the ruined tower
and mouldering bastions of Permil. This spot is interesting to an
Englishman, from the memorable events to which the fatal pretensions
of Edward the Third gave rise, and which occupy the pages of French
and English history, during a period of more than a century[6].

[Footnote 6: In 1343, Edward the Third laid siege to this place.
Froissart mentions the English army being drawn out on a hill, in
battle array, near the town. The ground rises a little in this
direction, but, I should suppose, it must have been on the right bank,
as the country there is hilly, and this ancient fortress must have
defended the passage of the river. "The king himself," says the
Chronicle, "with the rest of his army, advanced towards Rennes,
burning and ruining the country on all sides, and was most joyfully
received by the whole army who lay before it, and had been there for
a considerable time. When he had tarried there five days, he learned
that the Lord Charles of Blois was at Nantes, collecting a large force
of men at arms. He set out, therefore, leaving those whom he had found
at Rennes, and came before Nantes, which he besieged as closely as he
could, but was unable to surround it, such was its size and extent.
The marshals, therefore, and their people, overran the country and
destroyed it. The king of England, one day, drew out his army in
battle array on a hill near Nantes, in expectation that the Lord
Charles would come forth and offer him an opportunity of fighting with
him: but, having waited from morning until noon in vain, they returned
to their quarters: the light horse, however, in their retreat,
galloped up to the barriers, and set fire to the suburbs".

"The king of England, during the siege, made frequent skirmishes, but
without success, always losing some of his men; when, therefore, he
found he could gain nothing by his assaults, and that the Lord Charles
would not come out into the plains to fight him, he established there
the Earl of Oxford, Sir Henry Beaumont, the Lord Percy, the Lord Roos,
the Lord Mowbray, the Lord Delawar, Sir Reginald Cobham, Sir John
Lisle, with six hundred men armed, and two hundred archers".

The king himself advanced into the country of Bretagne, wasting it
wherever he went, until he came to the town of Dinant, of which Sir
Peter Porteboeuf was governor. He immediately laid siege to it all
round, and ordered it to be vigorously assaulted. Those within made a
valiant resistance. Thus did the king of England in one season, and
in one day, make an assault by himself, or those ordered by him, upon
three cities in Bretagne, and a good town, viz. Rennes, Vannes, and
Nantes. The brave Sir Walter Manny was left before Vannes, with five
hundred men at arms, and six thousand archers, while the king with
the rest of his army advanced towards Rennes and Nantes. This gallant
soldier, at the battle of Calais, had this singular honour conferred
on him by his sovereign, who, with his valiant son the Prince of
Wales, both served under his banner.--Edward said to Sir Walter Manny,
"Sir Walter, I will that you be the chief of this enterprise, and I
and my son will fight under your banner".

The lively and picturesque historian then gives a very interesting
account of the above action, which was fought the last day of December
1348, and of the gallantry of Edward's conduct to his prisoner, Sir
Eustace de Ribeaumont.

"We will now speak of the King of England, who was there incognito,
under Sir Walter Manny's banner. He advanced with his men on foot,
to meet the enemy, who were formed in close order, with their pikes
shortened to five feet, planted out before them. The first attack was
very sharp and severe. The King singled out Sir Eustace de Ribeaumont,
who was a strong and hardy knight: he fought a long time marvellously
well with the King, so that it was a pleasure to see them; but, by the
confusion of the engagement, they were separated; for two large bodies
met where they were fighting, and forced them to break off the combat.

"On the side of the French there was excellent fighting, by Sir
Geoffrey de Chargny, Sir John de Landas, Sir Hector, and Sir Gavin de
Ballieul, and others; but they were all surpassed by Sir Eustace de
Ribeaumont, who that day struck the King twice down on his knees:
at last, however, he was obliged to present his sword to the King,
saying, 'Sir Knight, I surrender myself your prisoner, for the honour
of the day must fall to the English.'

"All that belonged to Sir Geoffry de Chargny were either slain or
captured: among the first was Sir Henry du Bois, and Sir Peppin de
Werré; Sir Geoffry and the rest were taken prisoners. The last that
was taken, and who in that day had excelled all, was Sir Eustace de

"When the engagement was over, the King returned to the Castle at
Calais, and ordered all the prisoners to be brought before him. The
French taken, knew for the first time, that the King of England had
been there in person, under the banner of Sir Walter de Manny.

"The King said he would this evening of the new year entertain them
all at supper in the Castle. When the hour for supper was come, the
tables spread, and the King and his Knights dressed in new robes, as
well as the French, who, notwithstanding they were prisoners, made
good cheer (for the King wished it should be so), the King seated
himself at table, and made those Knights do the same around him in a
most honourable manner. The gallant Prince of Wales, and the Knights
of England, served up the first course, and waited on their guests. At
the second course, they went and seated themselves at another table,
where they were served, and attended on very quietly.

"When supper was over, and the tables removed, the King remained in
the Hall among the English and French Knights, bare-headed, except a
chaplet of fine pearls, which was round his head. He conversed
with all of them; but when he came to Sir Geoffry de Chargny, his
countenance altered, and looking at him askance, he said, 'Sir
Geoffry, I have but little reason to love you, when you wished to
seize upon me by stealth last night, what had given me so much
trouble to acquire, and cost me such sums of money' (Sir Geoffry had
endeavoured to bribe the garrison to put him in possession of it in
the night previous to the battle): 'I am, however, rejoiced to have
caught you thus in attempting it.'--When he came to Sir Eustace de
Ribeaumont, he assumed a cheerful look, and said with a smile, 'Sir
Eustace, you are the most valiant knight in Christendom that I ever
saw attack his enemy, or defend himself. I never yet found any one in
battle, who, body to body, had given me so much to do as you have done
this day. I adjudge to you the prize of valour, above all the knights
of my Court, as what is justly due to you.'--The King then took off
his chaplet, which was very rich and handsome, and placing it on the
head of Sir Eustace, said, 'Sir Eustace, I present you with this
chaplet, as being the best combatant this day, either within or
without doors; and I beg of you to wear it this year for the love of
me. I know that you are lively and amorous, and love the company of
ladies and damsels; therefore say, wherever you go, that I gave it to
you. I also give you your liberty, free of ransom; and you may set out
to-morrow, and go whither you will.'"]

The river Loire, which is crossed by seven bridges, winds through the
town. They are the Pont Rousseau, De Permil, D'Aiguillon, Feydeau, De
la Belle Croix, Brisebois, and Toussaint. The houses are regular and
handsome, having in some places a very singular appearance, from the
ground having sunk, and the foundations given way, causing them to
lean in various directions from the perpendicular line. In point of
commerce, at one period antecedent to the Revolution, Nantes was the
most considerable sea-port in France: since the loss of its West India
trade, especially with Saint Domingo, it has been greatly reduced.
The rich plains which surround it on three sides, in the form of an
amphitheatre, and the river covered with vessels and boats, give it
a most lively appearance. It has a large Theatre, a Royal College
(lately the Lyceum), a Commercial Tribunal, a handsome Exchange, a
Bishop's Palace, Hall of the Préfecture, Public Library, Anatomical
and Surgical Academies, Botanical Garden, Museum of Natural History,
and a foundry for cannon.

The latter is in the old and decaying Château on the bank of the
river, called Goulemme. One of its bastions was blown up a few years
since by accident, which has shaken and destroyed the whole fabric;
but it is still capable of holding a garrison, and is a fine monument
of ancient fortification. It was once the residence of Henry IV. of
France, at the time he signed the celebrated edict, (1598,) in favour
of the reformed religion, afterwards revoked by Louis XIV. in 1685,
and which occasioned such deplorable consequences to the French

M. de Sainte Foix, in his historical Essays upon Paris, vol. i.
p. 113, speaking of the Rue de Grenelle, in the quarter of Saint
Eustache, gives the following curious account of the birth of this
great King, whose memory is revered in France, beyond that of all the
other monarchs who have swayed the Gallic sceptre.

"Jeanne d'Albret, being desirous of following her husband to the wars
of Picardy, the King her father told her, that in case she proved with
child, he wanted her to come and lie-in at his house; and that he
would bring up the child himself, whether a boy or a girl. This
Princess finding herself pregnant, and in her ninth month, set out
from Compiègne, passed through all France as far as the Pyrenees, and
arrived in fifteen days at Pau in Béarn. She was very desirous to see
her father's will. It was contained in a thick gold box, on which was
a gold chain, that would have gone twenty-five or thirty times round
her neck. She asked it of him:--'It shall be yours,' said he, 'as soon
as you have shown me the child that you now carry; and that you may
not bring into the world a crying or a pouting child, I promise you
the whole, provided that whilst you are in labour, you sing the
Bearnese song _Notre Dame du bout du Pont aidez-moi en cette heure_".
No sooner was the Princess safely delivered, than her father, placing
the gold chain on her neck, and giving her the gold box wherein was
his will, said to her: 'These are for you, daughter, but this is for
me;' and took the child in his gown, without waiting for its being
dressed in form, and carried it into his chamber. The little Prince
was brought up in such a manner as to be able to undergo fatigue and
hardship; frequently eating nothing but common bread. The good King
his grandfather ordered it thus, and would not let him be delicately
pampered, in order that from his infancy he might be inured to
privation. He has often been seen, according to the custom of the
country, amongst the other children of the Castle and village of
Coirazze, bare-footed and bare-headed, as well in winter as in summer.
Who was this Prince?--Henry IV.

"Being descended from the Kings of France, he became the heir to that
Kingdom; but as he was educated a Protestant, his claim was resisted.
He early distinguished himself by feats of arms. After the peace of
Saint Germain, in 1570, he was taken to the French Court, and two
years afterwards married Margaret, sister of Charles IX. (At the
rejoicings on this occasion the infamous massacre of _La Saint
Barthélémy_ took place.) In 1589 he succeeded to the throne of France;
but his religion proving an obstacle to his coronation, he consented
to abjure it in 1593. In 1598 he issued the edict of Nantes, granting
toleration to the Protestants".

Mezeray, speaking of the marriage of the King of Navarre (afterwards
Henry IV.) with Margaret de Valois, says, "There were many diversions,
tournaments, and ballets at Court; and amongst others, one which
seemed to presage the calamity that was so near bursting out upon the
Huguenots--the King and his brothers defending Paradise against the
King of Navarre and his brothers, who were repulsed and banished to
Hell;" and Sainte Foix, in his relation of the horrible massacre,
gives a detail, which in the present age appears almost incredible.

Catherine of Medicis, whose abominable politics had corrupted the
disposition of her son, was at the head of the cabinet council who
agreed to the murder of more than one hundred thousand Protestants;
and the miserable bigot Charles IX. stationed during the massacre at
the window of a house then belonging to the Constable of Bourbon,
fired with his own hands upon the Huguenots with a long blunderbuss,
whilst they were trying to escape across the river.

The River Erdré runs northward of the city, and forms a beautiful
feature, winding for many miles among cultivated fields and woodlands,
through a country agreeably diversified with villas, to which the
wealthier inhabitants retire during the summer months. The river
resembles a lake for the greater part of its course, and is called the

The Gothic church of Saint Pierre, built by the English in 1434, is
a fine old structure: having been much neglected for many years, and
greatly defaced during the Revolution, it was at this time restoring.
Among the monuments about to be replaced, was an excellent one of Anne
de Bretagne, whose effigy, and that of her husband, are as large as
life. The allegorical figures of Justice, Temperance, Prudence, and
Fortitude, the twelve Apostles, and the supporters to the Arms (a
greyhound and a lion), are all executed in the finest white marble.
They were hidden during the Revolution, and have only very lately been
discovered, as have also some capital paintings piously preserved
for the Church. Anne was first married to Charles VIII. in 1499, and
afterwards to Louis XII. She died at the Château de Blois in 1514, and
Louis in 1515.

The climate of Nantes is mild, and reckoned remarkably healthy: every
article of life is cheap, and from its mild temperature it abounds
in the finest fruits and most excellent wines. Its population is
estimated at 60,000 inhabitants. The numbers that were destroyed
during the Revolution, or, as the French emphatically term it, "Le
régne de la Terreur," were never ascertained; but the frightful
history of that bloody period would probably justify the computation
at half the number of its present population, many having fallen
victims to the murders that were termed "_Noyades_," independent of
those who perished in the Vendean war.

The spot where the gallant Charette was shot, with several other
leaders of the Vendean army, is shown; and in the cemetery, a large
mound of earth marks the place where the bodies were thrown in, at the
time of the "_Fuzillades_" when the infamous Carrier presided at the
execution of the brave Royalists.[7] The print beneath represents this
monster on the banks of the Loire directing the Noyades.


[Footnote 7: Chaque nuit on venait en prendre par centaines, pour les
mettre sur les bateaux. Là on liait les malheureux deux à deux, et
on les poussait dans l'eau à coups de baïonette. On saisissait
indistinctement tout ce qui se trouvait à l'entrepôt, tellement
qu'on noya un jour l'état major d'une corvette Anglaise, qui était
prisonnier de guerre. Une autre fois, Carrier, voulant donner un
exemple de l'austérité des moeurs républicaines, fit enfermer trois
cent filles publiques de la ville, et les malheureuses créatures
furent noyées. Enfin, l'on estime qu'il a péri à l'entrepôt quinze
mille personnes en un mois.--_Mémoires de Madame la Marquise de

At the end of a fine avenue of trees, on the Boulevard, is a large
and splendid mansion built by that Deputy, and which is at present
inhabited by a merchant. Carrier's mistress (to whom he left it,
together with a very considerable fortune, amassed from the spoils
of his plunder, and the murder of the innocent inhabitants) was very
lately sentenced to two years' hard labour for some crime she had
committed: and it is no less remarkable, that, of the remaining
inhabitants known to have participated in the atrocities of that
frightful period, there is not one but is reduced to poverty, and most
of them in the extreme of wretchedness, shunned by all, and suffering
the ignominy they have so justly merited!



The best method of travelling in this country is on horseback: in
fact, it is impossible to proceed in any other way, after quitting the
main road. Having procured a guide and horses, I set out early in the
morning, crossing the Loire by the Pont Rosseau, to Verton, keeping
along the banks of the River Sèvres. Verton is a romantic village
standing on a hill: most of the houses are in ruins, from the effect
of the destructive war of La Vendée. From thence to Le Palet, most
intricate narrow roads, or more properly speaking, pathways, darkened
by the overhanging branches of trees, and in many parts deep with
mire, from the sun's rays not being able to dry the ground, make it
difficult to proceed, and we several times lost our way. It was late
before we reached Le Palet, and though I had not tasted food for many
hours, I could not resist stopping to view so interesting a spot, and
making a hasty sketch of the ruins of the house in which Abélard
was born, and in which Héloïse resided with him before their final
separation. The ruins of the House of Bérenger, the father of Abélard,
are close to the church of Palet, on the left of the high road, three
miles distant from Clisson. Le Palet is thus described by a French
author, in the history of the Province.

"Cet homme si célèbre par son savoir, ses amours, et ses infortunes,
amena Héloïse au Palet lorsqu'il l'eût enlevée de chez le Chanoine
Fulbert, pour la soustraire au ressentiment de cet oncle jaloux
et barbare; mais, obligé de quitter cette retraite paisible pour
retourner à Paris, où l'appelaient ses nombreux disciples, le soin de
sa gloire et de sa fortune, Abélard confia à sa soeur sa chère Héloïse
et le gage précieux qu'elle portait dans son sein. Elle accoucha au
Palet d'un fils d'une si rare beauté, qu'elle le nomma Astralabe,
c'est-à-dire, astre brillant; mais l'absence de celui qu'elle adorait
rendait moins vifs pour elle les doux plaisirs de la maternité; son
âme expansive et brûlante était livrée sans cesse à une inquiète et
sombre mélancholie qu'elle ne parvenait sans doute à dissiper qu'en
venant sur les bords de la Sèvres rêver à l'objet de sa tendresse, et
soupirer après son retour. Sept siècles se sont écoulés depuis cette
époque, et les noms d'Abélard et d'Héloïse embellissent toujours ce
délicieux ravage. On interroge avec une curiosité avide ces roches
éternelles et ces grottes mystérieuses qui furent les témoins discrets
de leurs peines et de leurs plaisirs. On se reporte à ces temps
reculés où ces amants venaient dans cette solitude enchanteresse, se
confier mutuellement leur vifs inquiétudes; on croit les voir s'égarer
sous ces riants ombrages, et s'abandonner à toutes les inspirations de
l'éloquence, à toutes les illusions de l'amour".

I arrived at Clisson just as the sun was disappearing, and its rays
were only sufficiently strong to reflect the ruined towers of the
Castle in the river which runs at its foot. It will be much easier
to imagine, than for me to convey the sensations I felt when I first
caught a glimpse of it, with the story of La Roche-Jaquelin full in
my recollection! I alighted at a small cabaret, dignified by the
appellation of the Hotel de la Providence, which seemed preferable to
another recommended to me by my guide,--such an one, indeed, as might
be expected in a remote place like this: part of the roof was off,
and, like most of the houses in the place, bore evident marks of the
desolating war that had been carried on here: many are still in ruins.
The descent into the town is very steep and rugged, the road being
formed out of the solid rock. The master of the cabaret was sitting
with his family at the door, but the appearance of his mansion was so
unpromising, that I thought it best to make some agreement, and a few
inquiries before dismounting;--these preliminaries being settled, and
having consented to pay him fifty sous for supper and my bed, and
thirty for breakfast, I entered the house: and never recollect having
a keener relish for a meal, or enjoying one more heartily, for I had
been sixteen hours on horseback.

Fatigued and exhausted as I was, I rambled after dinner towards the
delightful grounds of La Garenne, belonging to Monsieur La Motte, who
has embellished them in a most interesting and romantic manner.

The river Sèvres runs along the side, and separates them from the fine
old Castle of Clisson, whose high and decaying towers and battlements
give the beholder a noble idea of its ancient grandeur. The evening
was a very fine one,--one of those delightful soft, clear skies usual
at this season, the latter end of July. I sat myself down in the
grotto of Héloïse,--a spot of the deepest seclusion, formed, by the
hand of Nature, of large masses of granite. The nightingales were
singing in the lofty trees at the back; on the sides were shrubs of
every description intermingled with fruit trees, and the river having
several falls and little rocky islets, gave an air of delightful
enchantment to this most romantic scene.

  Héloïse! à ce nom, qui ne doit s'attendrir?
  Comme elle sut aimer! comme elle sut souffrir!

At the entrance of the grotto are engraved these lines, nearly effaced
by the hand of time.

  Héloïse peut-être erra sur ce rivage,
  Quand, aux yeux des jaloux dérobant son séjour,
  Dans les murs du Palet elle vint mettre au jour
  Un fils, cher et malheureux gage
  De ses plaisirs furtifs et de son tendre amour.
  Peut-être en ce réduit sauvage,
  Seule, plus d'une fois, elle vint soupirer,
  Et goûter librement la douceur de pleurer;
  Peut-être sur ce roc assise
  Elle rêvait à son malheur.
  J'y veux rêver aussi; j'y veux remplir mon coeur
  Du doux souvenir d'Héloïse.

I had but a few weeks before seen the tomb of Abélard and Héloïse in
the Cemetery of Père la Chaise at Paris, whither it had been recently
removed from the Convent of the Augustins, at which latter place I
had formerly made the annexed drawing of it. I had likewise been very
lately at Argenteuil, once the place of her asylum described by Pope:

  In these deep solitudes and awful cells--

and had the same day witnessed the ruins of the house in which Abélard
was born, and in which Héloïse resided and became a mother, and from
whence she used to make frequent visits to this spot: all these
circumstances combined, gave the scene before me a most powerful
interest. I rose early the next day, anxious to revisit a place which
had afforded me such delight the previous evening. Wandering by the
beautiful banks of the river, along its green meadows, in a woody
recess, I observed the following lines beneath an urn, cut in the rock
on which it rested:

  Consacrer dans l'obscurité,
  Ses loisirs à l'étude, à l'amitié sa vie,
  Sont des plaisirs dignes d'envie;
  Etre chéri vaut mieux qu'être vanté!


A little further on, is a stone pillar, with a venerable accacia tree
spreading its leaves over it. It has the following Latin inscription:




[Footnote 8: Auguste étendit jusqu'à La Loire La Gaule Aquitanique,
autrefois bornée par la Garonne, et comprit L'Armorique dans la
Province Celtique ou Lyonnaise. L'Empereur Adrian, ayant fait depuis
une nouvelle distribution des Gaules, divisa La Lyonnaise en deux, et
mit L'Armorique dans la seconde; enfin cette Lyonnaise ou Celtique
ayant été encore divisée en deux, Tours devint la Métropole de la
troisième, qui comprenait la Touraine, le Maine, l'Anjou, et la
Bretagne.--_Histoire de Bret_.]

[Illustration: GROTTO of HÉLOÏSE at CLISSON.]

[Illustration: TOMB of ABÉLARD and HÉLOÏSE.]

Farther on several large blocks of granite are piled together in so
strange and curious a manner, that it must have been the work of
Nature alone:--one of them has these beautiful lines carved on it:

  O! Limpide Rivière! O Rivière chérie!
  Puisse la sotte vanité
  Ne jamais dédaigner ta rive humble et fleurie!
  Que ton simple sentier ne soit point fréquenté
  Par aucun tourment de la vie
  Tels que l'ambition, l'envie,
  L'avarice, et la fausseté!
  Un bocage si frais, un séjour si tranquille,
  Aux tendres sentiments doit seul servir d'azile.
  Ces rameaux amoureux entrelassés exprès
  Aux Muses, aux Amours, offrent leur voile épais;
  Et ce cristal d'une onde pure
  A jamais ne doit réfléchir
  Que les grâces de la nature
  Et les images du plaisir.

Close to the brink of the river stands a prodigiously large granite
rock, immediately facing the waterfall called le Bassin de Diane: on
it are these words:

  a quotation from Delille.

[Illustration: GRANITE ROCK in the GARENNE.]

The French writers, speaking of this interesting place, observe:
"Comment soupçonner en effet qu'au milieu de cette _terrible Vendée_,
qu'au centre de cet impénétrable et sombre Bocage, il existe un pays
délicieux et fertile, couvert de mines séculaires qui rappelent tous
les souvenirs historiques de notre ancienne France, comme le caractère
de ses habitans en rappele les moeurs, le courage, et la loyauté".

On the opposite side of the river, a little to the right, stands the
ancient Château de Clisson, celebrated in the modern as well as the
ancient history of Bretagne. Its lofty turrets, and decaying bastions,
extend a considerable distance along the shore of the Sèvres,
recalling to mind the ancient days of chivalry, when bravery, love,
and religion, were so singularly blended together, and gave a romantic
half-polished manner to the greatest barbarians. In later times it
became the scene of events which no one can contemplate without the
deepest interest. In viewing this magnificent ruin, it is impossible
not to regret that a place so frequently the theatre of noble
achievements, inhabited by one of the greatest men that France has
produced, François I. Connétable de Clisson,[9] father to Anne of
Bretagne, should have been so recently the scene of such savage
horrors and bloodshed! Now, all is silence and solitude: and amidst
the noble ruins which were once decorated with banners, and the
hard-earned trophies of victory,--where high-born knights and splendid
dames mingled in mirth and festivity to the echoes of the minstrels,
singing lays of love or battle,--are now only to be seen and heard the
birds of prey, hovering over a solitary tree, planted to mark the spot
where a deed was committed which has not often its parallel in the
darkest histories of the most ferocious nations.

[Footnote 9: In the "Histoire Généalogique de France", tom. vi. is an
account of the Constable's death. "The Duke of Orleans, brother to the
king, was very fond of a Jewess, whom he privately visited. Having
some reason to suspect that Peter de Craon, Lord of Sablé and de la
Ferté-Bernard, his chamberlain and favourite, had joked with the
Duchess of Orleans upon his intrigue, he turned him out of his house
with infamy. Craon imputed his disgrace partly to the Constable of
Clisson. On the night of the 13th June, having waited for him at the
corner of the street _Coulture Ste. Catherine_, and finding he had but
little company with him, he fell upon him at the head of a score of
ruffians. Clisson defended himself for some time without any other
weapon than a small cutlass; but after receiving three wounds, fell
from his horse, and pitched against a door, which flew open. The
report of this assassination reached the king's ears just as he was
stepping into bed. He put on a great coat and his shoes, and repaired
to the place where he was informed his constable had been killed. He
found him in a baker's shop, wallowing in his blood. After his wounds
were examined, "Constable, (said he to him), nothing was or ever will
he so severely punished". It was given out that Clisson made his will
the next day, and there was a mighty outcry about the sum of 1,700,000
livres, which it amounted to. It should be observed, that during
twenty-five years that he was in the service of France, he had sought
for and beaten the English every where; that he gained the famous
battle of Robeck, and chastised the Flemish; that he enjoyed for
twelve years the salary and appointments of Constable; and that,
moreover, his landed estate, (which included many castles inherited
from his ancestors, in Bretagne and Poitou,) was very considerable."]

During the Vendean war, the royalists had been driven out of Clisson
by the republicans, under the command of a ferocious jacobin. The town
was pillaged and burnt before they quitted it. Twenty-seven females
had, during the battle, concealed themselves among the ruins: when
information of it was given to the troops, who had already quitted the
place, they were ordered to return, and the whole of these unhappy
women were thrown alive into a well, where they perished!!! It has
since been filled up, and the lonely tree, just mentioned, now records
the bloody and inhuman deed.

In the account of Clisson, by a late French author, no notice is
taken of this circumstance. He merely observes, when mentioning the
destruction of the place, after the de la Roche-Jaquelin had quitted
it, "Les Rives ombragées de la Sèvres, si séduisante par ses belles
cascades et l'ensemble de ce paysage poétique, feroient de cette
contrée un séjour délicieux, si de tristes débris, qui heureusement
disparoissent tous les jours, ne rappelaient encore le souvenir
affligeant de nos discordes civiles. Les armées Révolutionnaires qui
combattirent les Vendéens, en 1793 et en 1794, employèrent inutilement
pour les réduire le fer et le feu; la flamme atteignit les villes, les
villages, les métairies, et jusqu'aux humbles chaumières; et, dans ce
vaste et épouvantable incendie, Clisson ne put échapper à une ruine
complète. Jamais peut-être cette petite ville ne se seroit entièrement
réédifié, sans une circonstance particulière qui contribua puissamment
à la faire renoître de ces cendres".

In the town of Clisson was born the celebrated Barin de la
Galissonniere, Admiral of France, who fought the well-known action
off Mahon, in the month of June, 1756, with Admiral Byng, who, in
consequence of his conduct on that occasion, was brought to a court
martial and shot. The French writers make the following absurd remark,
as to the _cause_ of his fate: "Les Anglais, furieux d'avoir été
vaincus par un Amiral François, firent fusiller l'Amiral Byng". It is
now well known that he was sacrificed to an unprincipled ministerial

The ancient Château de Clisson is built on a rock, on the bank of the
Sèvres, facing the mouth of the river, called Le Moine, which empties
itself into the Sèvres at this place, so that the town of Clisson
stands between the two rivers at their junction. An ancient bridge,
from whence this view is taken, joins one part of the town to the
other, and leads to the castle, which was once considered the barrier
of Bretagne. The two rivers run over a bed of granite rock, which, in
some places, forming a cataract, adds considerably to the surrounding
scenery: large masses of this rock in many parts seem as if piled up
by nature for the purpose of giving it a more romantic effect. The
whole forms a most picturesque object, when viewed from the opposite
shore, from whence the sketch of the temple erected on the ruin of St.
Gilles is taken; and the remembrance of its recent fate throws over
the scene a strong and melancholy interest.

[Illustration: RUINS OF CLISSON.]

The castle is supposed to have been first erected by the Romans,
as the Province formed a part of the Gaule Aquitanique, under the
Emperors Augustus and Adrian.

The French repaired it during the reign of Louis VIII. in 1223, under
Olivier I. Sire de Clisson, as he is styled; and it was made a regular
fortification, and surrounded by a wall a century after, by the
Connétable: in 1464 the Duc de Bretagne, Francis II. entirely finished

The Sire de Clisson, Olivier I. who had served during one of the
Crusades in Palestine, was knighted with several others, in 1218. "Un
nombre prodigieux de Seigneurs Anglais, Normands, Angevins, Manceaux,
Tourangeaux, et Bretons, prirent la Croix; Le Pape, Innocent III.
envoya en Bretagne, en 1197, Helvain, Moine de St. Denis, pour y
prêcher une croisade. Une grande quantité de Bretons se laissèrent
conduire en Syrie par ce Moine; et, en 1218, plusieurs Seigneurs
Bretons suivirent leur exemple, entre autres, Hervé de Léon, Morvau,
Vicomte du Fou, et le Sire de Clisson".

From the construction of the towers and bastions, it is supposed that
at his return from the Holy Land, he had copied the Syrian style of
building; and one of the towers, which is represented in the sketch
of the gateway of the Château de Clisson, is still called La Tour des

This tower, which has been used as a dungeon, is the most perfect of
any remaining. In it are subterranean galleries, anciently used as a
prison, and appropriated by the republicans to the same purpose. It is
dreadful to think of the horrors that have been practised within its
walls, in our own time.

[Illustration: TOUR des PÉLERINS.]

From the top of this tower the prospect is very extensive, and, during
the year 1793, when the republican army quartered themselves in it, a
sentinel was placed there to give notice in case of the approach of an
enemy. The historian of that period, speaking of the entrance to this
tower, observes, in reference to the cruelties committed there in the
Vendean war:

"Il existait au milieu de la dernière cour un très beau puits, taillé
dans le roc et extrêmement profond: il est actuellement comblé, et
ma plume se refuse à tracer les scènes horribles qui ensanglantèrent
ce lieu en 1793 et en 1795, tristes et épouvantables effets des
guerres civiles!"

This passage alludes, I imagine, to the circumstance related in
page 90. Within its walls are various inscriptions, many of them in
characters so difficult to decypher, that they remain unknown. The
following has been rendered into more modern French by Cerutti.

  J'ai gravi, mesuré ces ruines sublimes;
  Mon coeur s'en est ému! De nos vaillants aïeux
  Tout y représentait les tournois magnanimes,
  Ils semblaient reparôitre et combattre à mes yeux;
  J'entendois sous leurs coups retentir les abîmes;
  Juge de leurs combats, idole de leur coeur,
  Du haut des tours, la dame admiroit le vainqueur.
  Casques et boucliers, cuirasses gigantesques,
  Cris d'armes, mot d'amour, devises de l'honneur,
  Carlets pour l'infidèle ou pour le suborneur,
  Tout garde sur ces murs vraiment chevaleresques.
  La mémoire d'un siècle où l'épée, où la foi,
  Où la galanterie étaient la seule loi.

Louis IX. and Blanche of Castille, his queen, retired to Clisson, at
the time the English, under Henry III. penetrated into Poitou, and
were received by Olivier de Clisson, who then garrisoned it.

In the war of the League, which convulsed the kingdom of France,
Clisson remained faithful to Henry III. and during the early part
of the reign of his successor Henry IV. The Protestants were there
protected, and established themselves in the fauxbourg. From the
period at which Henry IV. signed the edict at Nantes, 15th April,
1598, until the war of La Vendée, this celebrated fortress is no where
mentioned by any of the French historians: it became neglected when
the feudal system declined, and the republican army completed its
ruin. The sad events of this period, and the destruction and carnage
which followed, can never be effaced from the page of history. The
ruined towns and villages prove the melancholy truth, that the general
corruption of a nation prepares the way for general anarchy, and that
the blindness of political rage is always more vindictive than even
private hatred.

I can never sufficiently lament the absence, at this time, of Madame
de La Roche-Jaquelin from the country, as she occasionally resides in
the neighbourhood, since the restoration of her property, (although
her once noble residence is now in a state of ruin,) occupying a small
château at some small distance, which had partly escaped the fire and
destruction that had been fatal to most houses in the district. Who
can read the interesting memoirs of this Lady, and not sympathize in
the sufferings of herself, and of those brave and loyal people whose
heroic struggle against their republican oppressors lasted with little
intermission from the overthrow of the monarchy until its final
restoration? Among the number of heroic females who, like Madame de
la Roche-Jaquelin, thus distinguished themselves, was Madame de La
Rochefoucault who, like her admirer Charette, was put to death at
Nantes. This lady, of an ancient and noble family, and of great
beauty, signalized herself on various occasions, but being taken
prisoner at the battle of the Moulin aux Chêvres, she was immediately

[Illustration: MILL AUX CHÊVRES.]

The whole history of this terrible war is filled with the noble
devotion of heroic females. The chiefs were attended in the most
sanguinary battles by ladies, who had themselves ornamented their
standards with loyal and chivalrous emblems of the cause for which
they were prepared to sacrifice themselves, and who were frequently
seen rallying the broken troops, and falling, covered with wounds, by
the hands of their enemies!

The annexed view of the Moulin aux Chêvres, which is rendered
interesting from the account given by Madame de la Roche-Jaquelin of
the battle fought near it, will convey a tolerable idea of the scenery
of the country.

The prodigious growth of the willow tree in Bretagne, is such as to
claim the peculiar notice of travellers: here they attain a gigantic
height, no where else to be seen. Batard, in his "_Notices sur
les Végétaux_" mentions one in the commune of Pommeraie in the
arrondissement de Beaupréau, whose age was supposed to be nearly two
thousand years. Within the Château at Clisson are some very old ones,
but the finest I observed were at the Moulin aux Chêvres.



My opportunity of becoming acquainted with that singular district
called Le Bocage, will be best understood by very briefly sketching my
route through it. I traversed it, and the district called Le Loroux,
by the route of Montaigne and Lege, and on my return I passed through
Clisson, Vallet, and Loroux, along the banks of the Loire. By pursuing
this route, I had every where the interesting opportunity of exploring
the scene of that destructive warfare which had ravaged the towns and
villages of this part of France.

At one period, the war of La Vendée extended to the north of the
Loire, as far as Rennes, forming a triangle, the eastern point of
which rested on the town of Angers. To the south of the Loire it
spread nearly as far as la Rochelle; and as in this part also it
extended nearly to Angers, the tract over which it spread its ravages
formed nearly a square. The district called Loroux runs parallel with
the Loire: Le Bocage, which occupies both districts, and the whole
country south of that river, is comprehended under the general
appellation of La Vendée. Under the old divisions of France Le Bocage
formed part of the province of Poitou, and Le Loroux part of the
provinces of Anjou and Bretagne: but when, at the revolution, France
was divided into departments, these two districts were denominated La
Vendée, Les deux Sèvres, La Loire Inférieure, and Mayenne and Loire.

La Vendée is an extremely interesting district, not merely on account
of the singular and heroic warfare that was carried on there so
long, but also from the appearance of the country, and the manners,
opinions, and general character of its inhabitants; and Le Bocage is,
in all these respects, the most interesting part of La Vendée. In
Le Bocage, the war was carried on with most wonderful vigour and
pertinacity, as well as with almost unparalleled destruction and
cruelty. Those who are acquainted only with the other parts of France,
can form no idea of the aspect of this district, or of the manners of
its inhabitants; they differ so widely and essentially, that they seem
to belong to another portion of the globe. It has always been regarded
as the most fertile country in France; and, before the revolution, it
was undoubtedly one of the most populous.

There are only two roads in the whole country: one of them runs from
Nantes to la Rochelle, and the other from Bordeaux to Tours, through
Poitou: all the rest of this district is a complete labyrinth: there
are indeed numerous pathways, so very winding and narrow, that they
are much more calculated to harass and mislead, than to assist a
traveller in his journey: these pathways are flanked by wide and deep
ditches, and almost rendered completely dark by lofty hedges on each
side of them, the trees of which meet at top, and thus form an arch:
hence they are rough and uneven in summer, besides being intolerably
hot, and deep and miry in winter. To add to these inconveniences, the
bed of a rivulet flowing along them frequently constitutes the only
passage. Even when the traveller, after toiling along these dreadful
pathways, comes near a town or village, he generally finds that the
approach to it is practicable only by ascending irregular steps,
cut out of the solid rock, on which they are built. The inhabitants
themselves even are frequently puzzled by these pathways; and, after
wandering for a considerable length of time, at last find out that
they have been travelling in a wrong direction.

The whole country bears the appearance of an extensive and thick
forest: this arises from the nature of the enclosures; they are
extremely small, often not more than fifty or sixty perches,
surrounded with strong hedges planted in the banks. These
circumstances alone would give the appearance just noticed; but the
effect is much increased from other causes. On each side of the banks,
on which the trees are planted, there are ditches and drains, and the
moisture which they constantly supply to their roots, renders their
growth very rapid and luxuriant; so that when we consider the number
of the trees and their great size, we shall not be surprised that
the country looks like an immense forest. Sometimes the trees are so
disposed as to answer the purpose of a palisade; and this purpose they
answer most effectually, not only from the great size and strength of
the trees themselves, but also from the intervening spaces between
them being filled up with strong and impassable underwood [10].

[Footnote 10: A tract of about 150 miles square, at the mouth and
on the southern bank of the Loire, comprehends the scene of those
deplorable hostilities. The most inland part of the district, and that
in which the insurrection first broke out, is called _Le Bocage_; and
seems to have been almost as singular in its physical conformation,
as in the state and condition of its population. A series of detached
eminences, of no great elevation, rose over the whole face of the
country, with little rills trickling in the hollows and occasional
cliffs by their sides. The whole space was divided into small
enclosures, each surrounded with tall wild hedges, and rows of pollard
trees; so that though there were few large woods, the whole region
had a sylvan and impenetrable appearance. The ground was mostly in
pasturage; and the landscape had, for the most part, an aspect of
wild verdure, except that in the autumn some patches of yellow corn
appeared here and there athwart their green enclosures. Only two great
roads traversed this sequestered region, running nearly parallel, at
a distance of more than seventy miles from each other. In the
intermediate space, there was nothing but a labyrinth of wild and
devious paths, crossing each other at the extremity of almost every
field--often serving, at the same time, as channels for the winter
torrents, and winding so capriciously among the innumerable hillocks,
and beneath the meeting hedge-rows, that the natives themselves were
always in danger of losing their way when they went a league or
two from their own habitations. The country, though rather thickly
peopled, contained, as may be supposed, few large towns; and the
inhabitants, devoted almost entirely to rural occupations, enjoyed a
great deal of leisure. The noblesse or gentry of the country were very
generally resident on their estates, where they lived in a style of
simplicity and homeliness which had long disappeared from every other
part of the kingdom. No grand parks, fine gardens, or ornamented
villas; but spacious clumsy chateaux, surrounded with farm offices
and cottages for the labourers. Their manners and way of life, too,
partook of the same primitive rusticity. There was great cordiality,
and even much familiarity, in the intercourse of the seigneurs with
their dependants. They were followed by large trains of them in their
hunting expeditions, which occupied so great a part of their time.
Every man had his fowling-piece, and was a marksman of fame or
pretensions. They were posted in various quarters, to intercept or
drive back the game; and were thus trained, by anticipation, to that
sort of discipline and concert, in which their whole art of war was
afterwards found to consist. Nor was their intimacy confined to their
sports. The peasants resorted familiarly to their landlords for
advice, both legal and medical; and they repaid the visits in their
daily rambles, and entered with interest into all the details of their
agricultural operations. They came to the weddings of their children,
drank with their guests, and made little presents to the young people.
On Sundays and holidays, all the retainers of the family assembled at
the château, and danced in the barn or the court-yard, according to
the season. The ladies of the house joined in the festivity, and that
without any airs of condescension or of mockery; for, in their own
life, there was little splendour or luxurious refinement. They
travelled on horseback, or in heavy carriages drawn by oxen; and had
little other amusement than in the care of their dependants, and the
familiar intercourse of neighbours among whom there was no rivalry or
principle of ostentation.

From all this there resulted, as Madame de L. assures us, a certain
innocence and kindliness of character, joined with great hardihood and
gaiety,--which reminds us of Henry IV. and his Béarnois,--and carries
with it, perhaps on account of that association, an idea of something
more chivalrous and romantic--more honest and unsophisticated, than
any thing we expect to meet with in this modern world of artifice and
derision. There was great purity of morals accordingly, Mad. de
L. informs us, and general cheerfulness and content in all this
district;--crimes were never heard of, and lawsuits almost unknown.
Though not very well educated, the population was exceedingly
devout;--though theirs was a kind of superstitious and traditional
devotion, it must he owned, rather than an enlightened or rational
faith. They had the greatest veneration for crucifixes and images of
their saints, and had no idea of any duty more imperious than that of
attending on all the solemnities of religion. They were singularly
attached also to their curés, who were almost all born and bred in the
country, spoke their _patois_, and shared in all their pastimes and
occupations. When a hunting-match was to take place, the clergyman
announced it from the pulpit after prayers,--and then took his
fowling-piece, and accompanied his congregation to the thicket. It was
on behalf of these curés, in fact, that the first disturbances were
excited.--_Edin. Rev. for Feb._ 1816.]

This luxuriance of growth does not proceed entirely from the moisture
supplied by the ditches and drains; the soil naturally is uncommonly
fertile: and whatever springs from it, whether planted by the hand of
man, and nourished, while growing, by his attention and skill, or its
spontaneous production, bears witness to this uncommon fertility.
The country abounds in corn and vineyards; the produce of the latter
consists principally in white vines. At the season of the year when I
passed through it, the intermixture of the rich and soft yellow of the
wheat nearly ripe, with the light green foliage of the vines, produced
a most pleasing effect. In Poitou and Anjou, the harvest generally
begins about the latter end of June: this year it was late every
where, but very abundant. The vineyards had mostly failed.

Le Marais, which is also comprehended within the limits of Le Bocage,
is that part of Lower Poitou, adjacent to the sea. There the country
is open and flat, and the passes are impracticable during the winter,
and very difficult at other seasons of the year. The inhabitants of Le
Marais formed a division of the army of the celebrated chief Charette.
La Vendée was divided into two circuits; each army had its own, until
the junction of the whole under La Roche-Jaquelin, &c; that of
Charette occupied the district of Chalans, Machecoul, la Roche Sur
Yon, les Sables, a part of the districts of St. Florent, Vehiers,
Chollet, Châtillon, la Châtaigneraie, a great part of the districts
of Clisson, Montaigne, Thouars, Parthenay, and Fontenay-le-peuple.
Although the locality of Le Bocage is a perfect contrast to that of le
Marais, nature seems to have exerted all her power in forming these
two districts into one extensive fortress, capable of opposing every
thing to an attack, and presenting so many means of defence, that it
was rarely possible for the enemy to lead a column, or to regulate
its movements so as to preserve union in its marches or manoeuvres,
dispositions for an attack, or retreat. The positions of the Vendeans
could never be understood, or their projects foreseen, in a country
where the frequent undulations of land, hedges, trees, and bushes,
obstructing the surface, would not admit of seeing fifty paces round;
and one of the republican generals, writing to the Convention,
thus speaks of Charette's movements. "It is no easy matter to find
Charette, particularly to bring him to action. To-day at the head of
ten thousand men, the next day wandering with a score of horsemen, it
is very rare that one can come up with him. When we believed him to be
in our front, he was in our rear. Yesterday he threatened such a post,
to-day he is ten leagues from it; more able to avoid than fight us,
he almost always disconcerts, and often, without knowing it, all our
combinations. He endeavours to surprise us, to carry off our patroles,
and to kill our stragglers".

The inhabitants of le Marais and le Bocage for a long period confined
themselves to defensive warfare, for which nature seems to have formed
their country. The situation of le Marais enabled the brave royalists
to receive succours from the English, and to facilitate and protect
the debarkation of such as they wished to procure from the North side
of the Loire, the coast being flat and easy of access by sea.

The Vendeans, favoured by every natural advantage, had a peculiar
tactic which they knew perfectly well how to apply to their position
and local circumstances, and adopted a mode of fighting hitherto
unknown, and practicable in that country alone. Confident in the
superiority which their mode of attack gave them, they never suffered
themselves to be anticipated, they never engaged but when and
where they pleased. Their dexterity in the use of fire arms was such,
that no people, however well skilled in manoeuvring, could make such
good use of a gun; the huntsman of Loroux, and the poacher of le
Bocage, having been always proverbial as excellent marksmen. It was no
unusual thing for the Vendeans when at the plough, to carry with them
a musket; and whenever they observed "a blue coat," (as they called
the republican soldiers) they stopt their plough, took up their
musket, and fired at him; it seldom happened that they missed the
object of their vengeance. A melancholy circumstance, connected with
this mode of warfare, took place: the son of one of the Vendean
farmers, or ploughmen, had been compelled to join the republican army;
but having succeeded in escaping, he was hastening, in his republican
uniform, to rejoin his relations, when being observed by his father,
while at the plough, the latter, unable from the distance to recognize
his son, and seeing only the uniform of an enemy, fired and shot him.

Their attacks were always dreadful, sudden, and almost unforeseen,
because it was very difficult to reconnoitre or obtain information so
as to guard against surprise. Their order of battle was generally in
the form of a crescent, their wings being composed of the most expert
marksmen, who never fired without taking aim, and seldom ever missed.
Their retreat was so precipitate that it was difficult to come up
with them, as they dispersed themselves through rough fields, hedges,
woods, and bushes, knew all the bye-roads, secret escapes and defiles,
and were acquainted with all the obstacles which could obstruct their
flight, and the means of avoiding them. Their mode of warfare was
according to the locality of the country, well calculated to prolong
the struggle and waste the strength of the forces sent to oppose them.
In the district of les Sables, intersected by canals, rivulets, and
salt marshes, where there were scarcely carriage roads, but chiefly
bye-ways, and raised paths, a species of natural fortification was
every where formed: this rendered any attack against them dangerous,
and consequently it was most favourable for defence, particularly to
the inhabitants. The canals are in general from thirty to forty feet
wide on the upper extremity of the banks. The Vendean, carrying his
musket in a bandoleer, and leaning upon a long pole, leaped from one
bank to the other with amazing facility. When the pressure of the
enemy would not admit of his doing this, without exposing himself to
their fire, he threw himself into a niole, (a kind of small boat,)
very flat, and light, and crossed the canal with great rapidity, being
always sufficiently shut up to hide himself from his pursuers: but he
soon appeared again, and firing at his enemy, again disappeared. The
republican soldier to whom this mode of fighting was unknown, was
obliged to be continually upon his guard, to march along the shores of
the canals, and to follow slowly their circuitous track, supporting at
the same time frequent skirmishes, while it took him several hours
to traverse a space which the Vendean commonly accomplished in a few

Among the difficulties which the execution of all military plans met
with in La Vendée, the nature and degree of which may be judged of
from the local dispositions and the kind of warfare carried on by the
royalists, there was one which was invincible, and which singularly
retarded the operations of the republicans. Whenever they were
desirous of sending an order from head quarters to a division at the
distance of twelve or fifteen leagues, the messenger was often obliged
to travel fifty or sixty in order to avoid passing through the
revolted country. Hence the impossibility of attempting any
expedition, however necessary or desirable, which required to be
executed without delay. The Vendeans would appear one day at a certain
point to the number of several thousand men; measures were concerted
for attacking them the next day, but before that arrived they were
eight or ten leagues distant from the place where they had showed
themselves the day before.

Thus were the republicans exposed to fruitless victories or disastrous
checks, which exhausted their men and resources. Masters of the field
of battle, they found, says one of their generals, nothing but wooden
shoes and some slain, never any arms or ammunition. The Vendean when
perceived, would either hide or break his gun, and in surrendering his
life, seldom left his weapon. Being well acquainted with the country,
and more dexterous than the republicans, they carried scarcely any
artillery with them, four or five pieces sufficed for an army of
thirty or forty thousand men; these were generally light field pieces.
Equally sparing of ammunition, they took but few waggons, one alone
served the pieces, as they well knew it was not artillery that would
procure them the victory; thence, when the republicans met with any
disastrous affair, they lost from twenty to thirty pieces of cannon,
and waggons in proportion; whereas when they gained a victory they
acquired only two or three pieces of cannon, with scarcely any

From this slight sketch of the nature of the country, so
disadvantageous to the invaders, and of the mode in which the Vendeans
carried on this unfortunate war, our surprise will cease at the
determined and protracted resistance made to the republicans by this
loyal and brave people. For many years they defended their beloved
country, and endured privations, and accumulated miseries, such
as human nature has seldom been exposed to. To use the words of a
republican general, "A girdle of fire enveloped the revolted country;
fire, terror, and death, preceded the march".

But the principal cause of the long resistance of the Vendeans must
be sought for in their moral character; they were most honourably
distinguished by an inviolable attachment to their party, and
unlimited and unshaken confidence in their chiefs; and an earnest,
warm, but steady zeal, which supplied the place of discipline. Their
invincible courage, both active and passive, was proof against every
kind of danger, fatigue, and want. It has been well observed that
"irregular and undisciplined wars are naturally far more prolific of
extraordinary incidents, unexpected turns of fortune, and striking
displays of individual talent, of vice and virtue, than the more
solemn movements of national hostility, where every thing is in
a great measure provided and foreseen; and where the inflexible
subordination of rank, and the severe exactions of a limited duty
not only take away the inducement, but the opportunity for those
exaltations of personal feeling and adventure which produce the most
lively interest, and lead to the most animating results. In the
unconcerted proceedings of an insurgent population, all is experiment
and all is passion. The heroic daring of a simple peasant lifts him
at once to the rank of a leader, and kindles a general enthusiasm to
which all things become possible".

From the operation of these causes the Vendeans were enabled to send
forth formidable armies: and such was the confidence of the chiefs in
the troops, that they never would have been subdued if they had
not lost their leaders in the various hard fought actions, or
been deprived of their services by their mutual jealousy. Another
circumstance proved equally fatal to them; after the fall of the
gallant Lescure, they most imprudently quitted the strong country for
the open plains on the left bank of the Loire.



The Loire is one of the finest rivers in France; and perhaps there is
no river in the world, that equals that part of it, which flows from
Angers to Nantes: the breadth of the stream; the islands of wood; the
boldness, culture, and richness of its banks, all conspire to
render it worthy of this character. As a useful river it is equally
celebrated: its banks being bordered by rich and populous cities; and
the benefits it renders to industry and commerce being incalculable.

Its stream is so rapid and strong, that in ascending it is generally
necessary from Nantes to Angers, to track the barge: this mode of
proceeding, though slow, has its advantages; as it gives greater time
and opportunity for observing all the various beauties of scenery
which present themselves at every turn of the river.

I embarked early in the morning with a favourable breeze from the
west: we soon began to be interested, and almost enchanted, with the
rich and beautiful scenery, which almost every moment opened to our
view in endless variety. This scenery not only pleased the eye and
imagination by its beauty, but also excited high and deep interest
by the fertility which it displayed. The banks were lined with corn
fields, vineyards, or orchards. Occasionally the nature and interest
of the prospect were agreeably diversified by the spire of a convent
or the turrets of a chateau, rising above gardens or groves, or rich
woodlands. At other places there were still more decided marks of
population, for villages, country-houses, and farms, caught the eye,
and added to the charms by which it was so willingly and powerfully

The whole country on each side is well cultivated. But even this part
of France, interesting and beautiful as it is, cannot be traversed
without the recollection of the horrors of the revolution breaking in
upon, and greatly damping the interest and pleasure derived from the
view of the scenery. As we approached the ruined tower of Oudon,
it was impossible not to feel a melancholy regret at the scenes of
unparalleled bloodshed that took place on the rich and delightful
banks of this river during the phrenzy of the revolution. These
dreadful recollections assailed us most powerfully as we came in view
of Ancenis on the left, and of Saint Florent le Viel to the right.
At the latter place we stopped for the night. It was a fine serene
evening, the wind had left us, and we were forced to track the shore
for some distance before we reached it: just as the sun was setting I
made a sketch of its ruined convent on the hill.

[Illustration: TOUR D'OUDON on the RIVER LOIRE.]


After the defeat of the Vendean army, and their retreat across the
Loire at this place, says a French writer, "There were seen upon
the right bank, following the army, which increased prodigiously,
a multitude of bishops, priests, monks, religious persons, old
countesses, baronesses, &c. &c. who were carried off by cart-loads,
and which did nothing but embarrass the army.[11] There were a great
many of them killed at the battle of Mans".

[Footnote 11: On gaining the heights of St. Florent, one of the most
mournful, and at the same time most magnificent spectacles, burst upon
the eye. These heights form a vast semicircle; at the bottom of which
a broad bare plain extends to the edge of the water. Near an hundred
thousand unhappy souls now blackened over that dreary expanse,--old
men, infants and women, mingled, with the half-armed soldiery,
caravans, crowded baggage waggons and teams of oxen, all full of
despair, impatience, anxiety and terror:--Behind, were the smoke
of their burning villages, and the thunder of the hostile
artillery;--before, the broad stream of the Loire, divided by a long
low island, also covered with the fugitives,--twenty frail barks
plying in the stream--and, on the far banks, the disorderly movements
of those who had effected the passage, and were waiting there to be
rejoined by their companions. Such, Mad. de L. assures us, was the
tumult and terror of the scene, and so awful the recollections it
inspired, that it can never be effaced from the memory of any of
those who beheld it; and that many of its awe-struck spectators have
concurred in stating, that it brought forcibly to their imaginations
the unspeakable terrors of the great day of judgment.--_Edinb. Rev.
No. LI. p. 24._]

It is said that when the Prince Talmont, with the royalists, crossed
over from Saint Florent, under the fire of the republican troops who
had taken possession of the heights, they consisted of thirty thousand
individuals, but that there were not twenty thousand warriors; among
them were five thousand women: arrived in the open country, without
warlike stores, they soon wanted provisions. This multitude created
a famine wherever it went, and suffered a famine itself. The first
unsuccessful enterprize produced discouragement, and necessarily the
desertion of the army: it diminished two-thirds when it was repulsed
at Angers; and when the chiefs, despairing (after the battle of Mans)
of not being able to recross the Loire at Ancenis, led back the wrecks
of the army to Savenay, it consisted only of fifteen thousand men,
half dead with hunger and misery: the major part of these were
exterminated by the republicans; the rest dispersed themselves, and
from that time all efforts ceased. Prince de Talmont was arrested near
Erne, tried at Rennes, and executed at Laval: of the fate of Lescure
and the other chiefs, a melancholy catalogue is furnished by Madame de
la Roche-Jaquelin.

The wind favoring us the day following, we sailed at break of day, and
arrived at Angers at the close of a beautiful evening. The approach to
this town, in sailing up the river Mayenne, is highly picturesque; its
ancient castle is situated on a high rock overhanging the river; its
walls and antique towers, built by the English, have an imposing
effect. The town stands in a plain, which, in the distance, being
fringed with wood, together with the corn and meadow ground, give it
that richness and beauty that characterizes the whole country between
Nantes and Angers. The river Mayenne, and a small branch of the
Loire, divide the town. It is the chief seat of the province of
Maine-et-Loire, formerly the capital of Anjou. It is a large ancient
city, with a fine cathedral, a botanical garden, museum, and
several manufactories of cottons; one of them in imitation of India
handkerchiefs. Here the last effort was made by the Vendeans, whose
flight from it was immediately followed by the bloody and disastrous
affair of Mans.

I had now passed the provinces of Bretagne and Poitou, as they border
the Loire; and, in point of beautiful and romantic scenery, this
district can scarcely be surpassed. The left bank of the river,
running along the country of Le Bocage, from Nantes to Angers, a
distance of seventy-two miles, is a continued range of lofty hills,
agreeably diversified with corn lands, and studded with vineyards. The
opposite bank is a more flat and variegated country, with pleasant
eminences and broad plains, watered by branches of the Loire, which in
many parts contains small islands covered with trees. The whole course
of this fine river, as the eye sweeps and ranges over its banks,
presents at almost every bend the view of villas enriched with
gardens, orchards, and vineyards; castles, convents, and villages in
ruins! bearing innumerable evidences of the desolating war that has
destroyed them.

The religious communities, whose love of scenery and retirement in
general led them to prefer the most sequestered valleys, have in these
provinces chosen the most elevated and picturesque spots for the
erection of their monasteries; and these, notwithstanding their
deserted and decaying state, prove the good taste of their ancient
possessors, and the skill and industry with which they embellished
them. No situations could have been selected more abounding in
picturesque combinations of magnificent landscapes.

The pleasure of the traveller in surveying such scenes, cannot but be
frequently interrupted, by the recollection of the various atrocities
which the inhabitants of these fine provinces committed against each
other, and of the immense number of innocent victims that were driven
from their abode to perish by famine or the sword.



I hired a small carriage, called a _patache_, to convey me to Saumur
and Tours; it is driven by a postillion with two horses, and is open
in front, giving the traveller a better opportunity of viewing the
country than in a close vehicle.

The town of Saumur is built on both banks of the Loire, with a
handsome stone bridge over it; an ancient castle, built on a high
rock, commands the whole town. The road from Angers to this place is a
high raised causeway, paved, and runs parallel to the river, within
a few paces of its banks, the whole distance. Here we entered into
Touraine from the province of Anjou. From Saumur to Tours, the road
is like the former. The river Loire is on the right hand, and a flat
level country on the left, covered with orchards, groves, and meadows.
The road is every where raised so high, that it forms a very steep
declivity, with narrow pathways down to the entrance of the cottages
and villages, which are most romantically situated,--some in orchards,
some amidst vineyards, some in gardens, and others in recesses peeping
from between the trees. The fences are fantastically interwoven with
wreaths of the vines, which frequently creep up the trunk of a pear or
a cherry-tree, and cover the slated roofs of the houses, thereby, from
the natural luxuriance and wildness of their spreading branches in the
fruit season, answering at once the purposes of utility and ornament;
for the slates, retaining the heat, ripen the grape sooner than any
other mode of training. The corn was now ripe, and added to the
interest and beauty of the scenes; in many of the fields the reapers
were at work, and the harvest (which happily for France had not been
so abundant for many years) was going on with the assistance of the
female peasantry, who on all occasions partake and cheer the labours
of the field.

Approaching nearer to Tours, I had a fine view of the bridge, which is
esteemed the handsomest in France. Between the branches of the trees,
I now and then caught a glimpse of the spires of the church and
buildings, encompassed by extensive orchards and groves, and open
vales between, varied by vineyards. It was a _jour de fête_, and as I
drove through the town the streets were gay with holyday people, and
crowded in some places with groups of women and girls, whose cheerful
countenances proved the admiration with which they viewed the
performances of some mountebanks.[12] Tours is the chief seat of the
préfecture of the Indre-et-Loire, formerly the capital of the province
of Touraine, and is built on a plain on the bank of the Loire. The
houses are of a white stone, and in the principal streets well built
and lofty: it is altogether one of the handsomest towns in France. The
main street, the rue Royale, can boast of a foot pavement, which is
seldom to be met with in this country. The environs of the town are
also very beautiful; the luxuriance of the soil, abounding in vines,
fruits, and every article of life, has attracted such numbers of
English to its vicinity, that Tours may be almost considered an
English colony.

[Footnote 12: There is no city in Europe where there are more of
these sort of people to be seen than at Paris, on the boulevards and
different carrefours. The fondness of the Parisians for shows has
existed for ages. In a tariff of Saint Lewis for regulating the duties
upon the different articles brought into Paris by the gate of the
little Châtelet, it is ordained, (Hist. LVIII. cxxxiii.) that
whosoever fetches a monkey into the city for sale, shall pay four
deniers; but if the monkey belongs to a merry-andrew, the merry-andrew
shall be exempted from paying the duty, as well upon the said monkey
as on every thing else he carries along with him, by causing his
monkey to play and dance before the collector! Hence is derived the
proverb "Payer en monnoie de singe," i.e. to laugh at a man instead of
paying him. By another article, it is specified, that jugglers shall
likewise be exempt from all imposts, provided they sing a couplet of a
song before the toll-gatherer.]

Its ancient cathedral is in good preservation, notwithstanding it
became a prey to the licentious fanaticism of the republicans.

The hotel Saint Julien, where I resided during my stay, stands upon
the cloisters of an ancient abbey; and the church, with its fine
Gothic pillars, and chapels, remains a monument of those destructive
and desolating times! The side aisles are stalls for horses and
cattle, and the centre is a _remise_ for carriages and the public
diligences which run to this inn! The best hotel is the hotel du
Faisan. The vast number of English who keep pouring into all the
western provinces of this country, by degrees has affected the
markets, and will continue to do so, as long as the rage for
emigration lasts. At Tours, every article is one third dearer than at
Nantes, and in proportion as the capital is approached every thing
becomes more expensive; yet notwithstanding this, living is, and must
ever be, infinitely cheaper than in England.

It certainly is no exaggeration to say, that France is richer in the
production of fruits and vegetables than any country in Europe, for in
no other can be found so many productions of the same climates of the
earth, or a soil more naturally abundant. With the exception of some
of the northern provinces, every part of France has wine, and the
culture of that delicious fruit which produces it is mentioned in its
earliest records. By a happy distribution, those provinces which do
not bear the vine, are abundantly supplied with other productions.
Normandy and Bretagne abound in the finest fruits; Picardy, and the
adjoining provinces, in corn. The riches of Lorraine are in its woods;
Touraine has ever been famous for its plums and its pears. The banks
of the Loire, and the valleys of Dauphiné, are celebrated for the
richness of their verdure and vegetation; and the more southern
provinces of Languedoc and Provence, partake of the climate and
productions of Italy and Spain.

Between Tours and Amboise, I passed the once celebrated Château of
Chanteloup, formerly the property of the Duc de Choiseuil, now the
residence of the Comte de Chaptal, who became the purchaser when it
was sold as national property.

At the distance of six miles from Blois, the road leads near enough to
Valençay to have a good view of its magnificent palace and grounds;
this place, now belonging to M. de Talleyrand, Prince et Duc de
Benevento, (one of the most extraordinary characters who have figured
so conspicuously during the present age,) is the more interesting,
from having been so long the place of confinement of Ferdinand the
present King of Spain; and from whence our government tried to
extricate him through the agency of Baron de Kolly, who lost his life
in the attempt. This singular transaction has appeared in all the
public papers, but having had an opportunity of collecting the
particulars through a channel of undoubted authority, I consider it an
anecdote of too interesting a nature, as connected with the subject
before me, not to insert it here.

In 1810, our government laid a plan to liberate King Ferdinand VII. of
Spain, similar to the one which had already effected the escape of
the Marquis de la Romana. The person entrusted with this commission,
assumed the name of Baron de Kolly, and besides the necessary credit
and credentials, he was furnished with the original letter, written by
Charles IV. to George III. in 1802, notifying the marriage of his son,
the Prince of the Asturias, and containing a marginal note from the
Marquis W.... in corroboration of his mission. A small squadron was
also sent to cruize off that part of the coast most contiguous to
Valençay, under the orders of Commodore C.... to be in readiness to
receive the royal fugitive. On a sudden the Baron de Kolly was seized,
and the plan frustrated, but the real particulars were never known
until after the events of the campaign of 1815.

In the course of the passage to St. Helena, Admiral C.... (who
had been entrusted with the project) expressed a wish to know of
Buonaparte, by what means de Kolly had been discovered and arrested,
and the true circumstances of the affair so totally unknown in
England, adding, that if no motive of state policy intervened, he was
anxious to hear the whole disclosure. Buonaparte readily consented,
and told him that de Kolly arrived at Paris and lived in the greatest
obscurity, dressed shabbily, and eating his meals only at cheap
traiteurs in the Fauxbourg St. Antoine. However, he was not satisfied
with the common wine served up, and would ask for the best Bordeaux,
for which he paid five francs per bottle. This contrast of poverty and
luxury excited suspicions in the waiters of the two houses he thus
frequented, who being in the pay of the police, immediately sent in a
report. De Kolly was watched, and soon afterwards seized with all
his papers. Buonaparte said he then procured a person, as nearly
resembling de Kolly as could be found, to carry on the English
stratagem, under a hope that Ferdinand would have fallen into the
trap; and with all the original credentials, this agent of the French
police went into the castle of Valençay, under a pretext of selling
some trinkets. Ferdinand however, said Buonaparte, was too great a
coward to enter into the views proposed to him, but instantly gave
information of what had been communicated, to his first chamberlain,
Amazada, in a letter written to the governor of the castle!--By this
means Ferdinand escaped being placed at the mercy of Buonaparte, whose
intention was to intercept him in his flight.

Although the conduct of Ferdinand was in this instance pusillanimous
and cruel, it was next to an impossibility that he could have
effected his escape. He was surrounded by guards and spies of every
description, under the superintendence of M. Darberg, Auditor of the
Council of State, and without whose leave no admittance could be
obtained. Twenty-five horse gendarmes regularly mounted guard about
the castle, and every person found in its vicinity without a regular
passport, was confined and strictly examined.

At a small distance, is the residence of Marshal Victor, Duc de
Belluno, whom I met walking in the grounds. I was very civilly
permitted to enter, on sending a message desiring permission, as a
traveller, to see it. It stands at the entrance of the village of
Ménard, and was once the favourite residence of Madame de Pompadour,
the mistress of Louis XV. The river Loire winds beautifully beneath
the terrace. The grounds are of a vast extent, and tastefully laid
out. Over the entrance, the workmen were then placing the arms of the
Marshal, finely executed in stone.

The country is thickly enclosed on each side of the river, varied with
hill and dale, clothed with vineyards. The villages and small towns
along the banks, as far as Orléans, are numerous and invariably
picturesque. Nothing can be more beautiful than the natural festoons
which are formed by the long shoots of the vines as they project over
the road. The peasants and the vignerons live in the midst of their
vineyards; their dwellings are excavations in chalky strata of the
solid rock, which afford them warm and dry habitations; some of them
were so covered with the vines that the entrance was scarcely visible,
and the comparison of them to so many birds nests is not badly
imagined. The hedges were covered with wild thyme and rosemary; and
the clematis interwoven with honeysuckles and other fragrant flowers,
richly perfumed the air. The grapes in Touraine and Orléanois are not
abundant this year, but the wine that is expected to be made, will,
it is supposed, from the dryness of the summer, be of an excellent

The town of Orléans is memorable for the siege it sustained against
the English in 1428, when the maid of Orléans acquired so much renown,
and whose barbarous execution at Rouen, cannot be remembered without
feelings of horror and indignation, and must ever remain a stain on
the memory of that brave soldier the Duke of Bedford. The transactions
subsequent to that event, led to the almost entire expulsion of the
English from France; and those glittering conquests which were an
object of more glory than interest, and had been purchased at such an
expense of blood and treasure, were from that time lost to the English

During the Revolution, the ancient statue of this celebrated female
was taken down and unfortunately destroyed, and one more modern, but
less interesting, finely executed in bronze, has been since erected.
She is habited in armour, with a lance and shield, supposed to
be leading on the victorious troops. At the four angles, are the
emblematical figures in relief, of the principal events of her
singular career. On a marble pedestal, is inscribed:


Orléans is the chief seat of the department of the Loiret, formerly
the capital of Orléanais, on the river Loire, over which it has a
handsome bridge like the one at Tours, though not of such extent, as
the river here is not so wide, and very shallow. The communication by
water with Paris is carried on by means of a canal.

The church is one of the finest specimens of Gothic architecture I
have seen in France. The towers are of open fretwork, and in excellent
preservation. More cheerful scenes of exuberant fertility are nowhere
to be met with than along the banks of the river, and in the country
surrounding the town.

From Orléans to Etampes, there is a plain of eighteen leagues in
extent, the whole of which was covered with one entire tract of corn
and vines; not an intervening hill or hillock; and the scene was
doubly interesting from the harvest carrying on in every direction as
I traversed it.

Leaving Etampes, I passed through the beautiful villages of Sceaux,
Bourg-la-Reine, and Fontenay-aux-Roses; the latter still contains the
ruins of the Palace of Colbert, the celebrated minister of Louis XIV.

The village of Fontenay-aux-Roses, is situated in a valley six miles
from Paris, and takes its name from the culture of roses, which cover
large tracts of ground. The proprietors sell the flowers to the
distillers for making rose water and essences, and the flower market
is supplied with the choicest bouquets; it is likewise celebrated for
its produce of the finest strawberries and peaches.

The beauty of its situation, and the association of its name with the
sweetest of flowers, has attracted many of the wealthy inhabitants
of the metropolis to reside in its vicinity, where they have summer
houses; among them is the Maire de Fontenay, Monsieur Ledru, whose
history is singular and interesting.

His father, who was very wealthy, and a great miser, sent for him one
morning, at the time he had just attained his eighteenth year, and
said to him: "I began life at your age with half a crown; there is one
for you--go, and be as fortunate as I have been;"--saying which, he
turned him out of the house, and shut the door in his face.

Undismayed at such unexpected and unnatural conduct on the part of his
parent, whom he had never offended, the youth sought the advice and
assistance of a friend, by whose opinion he applied himself to the
study of medicine. After an indefatigable study at the Hotel Dieu, he
became celebrated in his profession, and had the good fortune to
be employed by a lady of great wealth, whose life he saved. Out of
gratitude, she proposed to become his wife, and to settle upon him an
income of fifty thousand livres, that he might give up his medical
pursuits; which, having accepted, he rewarded her by an attention and
kindness suitable to the noble generosity of her conduct.

The revolution soon after occurred, and in the general wreck of
property she lost all her fortune, it having been invested, either
in the funds, or public securities. It then became the turn of Mons.
Ledru to support his wife, by renewing the practice of his profession,
which soon placed them again in affluent circumstances.

At the death of his father, who left an immense fortune to be divided
between Mons. Ledru and his two maiden sisters, he took possession
of the estate at Fontenay-aux-Roses, from whence he had been cruelly
banished when a boy, and which the unkindness of his parent had never
after permitted him to enter. Fortune, which had hitherto played a
wayward and capricious game with him, had not yet ceased her freaks.
In removing a mirror from over a chimney-piece which required an
alteration, he discovered a prodigious treasure that had been
concealed there by his father! With that generosity and nobleness
of character, which make him esteemed and beloved by all his
acquaintance, and adored by the whole commune over which he presides,
he instantly sent for his sisters and divided it with them. His wife
did not long survive this last event, and since her death he has
continued to reside at Fontenay-aux-Roses with his sisters, where
he exercises his authority with mildness; and by constant acts of
beneficence and charity, is justly styled, "Le Père de Fontenay!"

Between Fontenay-aux-Roses and Paris, to the right of the road, is the
village of Gentilly, whose numerous guinguettes are much frequented
by the Parisians in fine weather. It being a holyday we met crowds of
well dressed citizens, in all sorts of vehicles, driving towards it.
An interesting circumstance had been related to me of the curé of this
village, M. Détruissart; and on asking permission to visit his rural
habitation, I found the story to be true. His garden, which is not
above half an acre, has been laid out with such art and ingenuity, as
to give an idea of considerable extent, and to add to the charms of
this little spot, which he calls his "bonheur," there are a variety of
inscriptions of his own composition; over an arbour of vines is the


  Loin des méchans, du bruit, des tempêtes du monde,
  Sous un simple berceau dont la treille est féconde,
  Sous un modeste toît, dans de rians jardins,
  Dessinés, élevés, cultivés par mes mains....
  C'est dans ces lieux chéris que s'écoule ma vie
  Dans une paix profonde, une tranquillité
  Qui sans cesse rappele à mon ame ravie
  Le temps de l'âge d'or et ma félicité:
  Mais, quelque doux qu'il soit, mon sort est peu de chose;
  Car enfin, après tout, je dois mourir bientôt!
  Ne ressemblons-nous pas à la feuille de rose
  Qui paroît un instant et qui sèche aussitôt!

It was in the practice of the moral conveyed by these lines, and in
the pursuit of literature, and constant acts of charity, that Mons.
Détruissart passed his life, which was rewarded by the esteem and
affection of all his parishioners, of which they gave a remarkable
proof on the 4th of July, 1815, when the Prussian troops took post at
Gentilly, from whence they had driven the French the preceding evening
into Paris.

The poor curé, with many other of the inhabitants, sought refuge
in the capital, leaving his house at the mercy of the enemy, who
commenced plundering in all directions; the humble and modest
appearance of M. Détruissart's cottage not attracting their notice,
it remained untouched, when a single word from any of the inhabitants
would have devoted it to ruin; but such was their esteem for him, that
at his return he found every thing as he had left it.

I entered Paris, leaving Bicêtre to my right, by the barrière d'Enfer,
after one of the most agreeable and interesting journeys I ever



Prior to the revolution, the French, like most other European nations,
were in the practice of depositing their dead in churches and
cemeteries within the most populous towns, in compliance with those
precepts of evangelical doctrine which recommend us unceasingly to
reflect on death; and hence originated a custom which cannot but be
attended with most pernicious consequences to health, when we reflect
that the decomposition of human bodies is productive of putrid
exhalations, and consequently pregnant with the causes of contagious
disorders. It is indeed surprising that some regulations have not
hitherto been adopted in England regarding the interment of the dead,
from the example of other countries.

In the year 1793, a decree was passed by the National Assembly, to
prevent burying in churches, or in church-yards, within the city of
Paris. Since which period, there have been three places selected in
its immediate neighbourhood for that purpose--Montmartre, called "Le
Champ du Repos"--Vaugirard, and Père La Chaise.

Quitting the Boulevards, at the extremity of the Boulevards Neufs,
eastward of the city, and passing through the Barrière d'Aulnay, I
arrived at the Père La Chaise. At the entrance, through large folding
gates, is a spacious court-yard, having at one angle the dwelling
of the Concierge, or Keeper. The enclosure contains one hundred and
twenty acres, on a gently rising ground, in the centre of which stands
the ancient mansion constructed by Louis XIV. for his confessor, Père
la Chaise, the celebrated Jesuit, who, with Madame de Maintenon,
governed France. Rising above the thousands of tombs which surround
it, it displays itself a wrecked and mouldering monument of ancient
splendour, and the mutability of human affairs! This spot became
afterwards a place of public promenade and great resort, from the
beauty of its position overlooking all Paris; and though so often
the scene of festivity and pleasure, now presents to the eye of the
beholder a mournfully interesting sight of tombs and sarcophagi,
intermixed with various fruit trees, cypress groves, the choicest
flowers, and rarest shrubs.

From the rising ground, above the building of Père La Chaise, a most
delightful view displays itself. The city of Paris appears to stand
in the centre of a vast amphitheatre. The heights of Belleville,
Montmartre, and Ménilmontant, in the west. To the east, the beautiful
plain of Saint-Mandé, Montreuil, and Vincennes, with the lofty towers
of its fortress.--The fertile banks of the river Marne, are on the
North, and in the South, the horizon encircles Bicêtre and Meudon.

The various tombs are placed without order or regularity: they are
mostly enclosed with trellis work of wood, sometimes by iron railing;
and consist of a small marble column, a pyramid, a sarcophagus, or a
single slab, just as may have suited the fancy or the taste of the
friends of the departed.--Some surrounded with cypress, some with
roses, myrtles, and the choicest exotics; others with evergreens, and
not unfrequently a single weeping willow, with the addition of a rose

This intermixture of the sweetest scented flowers and fruit trees, in
a burying ground, among the finest pieces of sculptured marble, with
evergreens growing over them, in the form of arbours, and furnished
with seats, cannot fail to produce in the mind of the person who views
it for the first time, peculiar and uncommon feelings of domestic
melancholy, mingled with pleasing tenderness.

Who could be otherwise than powerfully affected, as I was, by the
first objects that presented themselves to me on entering the
place?--A mother and her two sons, kneeling in pious devotion at the
foot of the husband's and the father's grave! At a short distance, a
female of elegant form, watering and dressing the earth around some
plants at her lover's tomb!--not a day, and seldom an hour, passes,
but some one is seen either weeping over the remains of a departed
relative, or watching with pious solicitude the flowers that spring up
around it.

Among the many interesting objects that presented themselves at my
first visit, was the tomb of Abélard and Héloïse, which had not long
since been removed from the convent of the Augustins, where I had seen
it in 1815.

At a little distance, to the left of the former, was the burial place
of Labédoyère. The fate of this brave and unfortunate officer is well
known; his youth, and misled zeal, have procured him a sympathy which
his fellow sufferer Marshal Ney did not find, and did not merit.

In the centre of a square plot of ground enclosed with lattice work,
is erected a wooden cross, painted black. Neither marble, nor stone,
nor letters, indicate his name. Two pots of roses, and a tuft of
violets, alone marked the spot, which is carefully weeded. There is
something more affecting in all this simplicity, something, in my
mind, that goes more directly home to the heart, than in the most
splendid monument or the most studied eulogium. As we came suddenly up
we saw two females clad in deep mourning, weeping over it; at each
arm of the cross was suspended a garland of flowers; we were about to
retire again immediately, from the fear of disturbing their melancholy
devotions, when the concierge, with a brutality indescribable, rushed
forward, and removing the garlands, threw them among the shrubs at a
considerable distance. The friend who accompanied me, after searching,
recovered one of the garlands, and with more gallantry perhaps than
policy, immediately replaced it, and reproaching the keeper with his
unmanly conduct, vowed vengeance if he dared to interrupt the ladies,
again, when bowing to them we retired.

As we were about to quit the place some time after, we were arrested
by two gendarmes, and it was not till after a detention of some
hours, and a long discussion between the police officers who had
been summoned to attend, and being threatened to be sent to the
Conciergerie prison, that we were allowed to depart.

The following words were engraved on a plain marble slab that covered
the remains of Marshal Ney.

  DÉCÉDÉ le 7, Decembre, 1815.

The grave of the Marshal, as well as that of Labédoyère, when I again
visited the spot, had been stripped of every thing, and the railing
around them removed so as to prevent any one from discovering the
place of their interment.

The monument of Madame Cottin, the author of Elizabeth and of
Mathilde, is, like her writings, simple and affecting!-Surrounded by a
trellis work in the form of an arbour, planted with rose trees, stands
a pillar of the whitest marble, highly polished, inclining forwards,
and engraved with:

  Marie-Sophie Risteav
  Veuve de J.M. Cottin
  Décédée le 25 Août.

Near this is the tomb of the esteemed and celebrated poet Delille, the
"Songster of the Gardens," as the French term him. The monument is
enclosed in a small garden, planted with the choicest flowers and
shrubs: it is of white marble, of large dimensions, and approached
by an _allée verte_. The door leading to the vault is of brass, with
emblematical figures in relief: above the entrance is inscribed in
letters of gold.


The linden tree, intermixed with various evergreens, form an
interesting and beautiful bouquet around it.

Beyond this, to the right, are the tombs of Grétry the composer,
Fourcroy the great chemist, Fontenelle, Boileau, Racine, and of
Mademoiselle Raucourt, the celebrated actress, to whom the bigotry
of the clergy refused burial in consecrated ground in 1815! a
circumstance which gave rise to much clamour and dissatisfaction. It
is surprising, that after such events as have been experienced in
France, the folly of denying the right of consecrated ground to a
comedian should have been persevered in, _after the restoration_ of
Louis XVIII!

Close to the tomb of Mad'lle Raucourt, is one, which for its affecting
simplicity and modesty, struck me very forcibly: in a little garden of
roses and lilies, and amidst some tufts of mignonette which appeared
to have been newly watered, stood a plain marble column, with the
words as represented in the annexed sketch--an accacia shaded it from
the sun's rays. In 1814, when the Allies approached Paris, this
height, like the others commanding the capital, was fortified,
and occupied by the students of the Polytechnical School,
who defended it with great gallantry. The walls were perforated with
holes for the musketry: the marks are still visible where they have
been since filled up. On the 30th of March, 1814, this position
was vigorously attacked, with great slaughter on both sides: the
assailants and the assailed fell in heaps, and it was not until
the chief part of a Prussian corps, (that afterwards carried it by
assault) had been annihilated, that the brave youths gave way.


The tomb of my early friend and brother officer, the brave and
unfortunate Captain Wright, who was murdered in the Temple, is in
the cemetery of Vaugirard. I had searched for it in vain at Père la
Chaise, where it was reported he had been buried. It has on it the
following inscription, written to his memory by his companion in arms,
and in imprisonment, the gallant Sir Sidney Smith:


  Distinguished both among his own Countrymen and Foreigners
  For skill and courage;

  To whom,
  Of those things which lead to the summit of glory,
  Nothing was wanting but opportunity:

  His ancestors, whose virtues he inherited,
  He honoured by his deeds.

  Quick in apprehending his orders,
  Active and bold in the execution of them;

  In success modest,
  In adverse circumstances firm,
  In doubtful enterprises, wise and prudent.

  Awhile successful in his career;
  At length assailed by adverse winds, and on an hostile shore,
  He was captured;

  And being soon after brought to Paris,
  Was confined in the prison called the Temple,
  _Infamous for midnight murders_,
  And placed in the most rigid custody:

  But in bonds,
  And suffering severities still more oppressive,
  His fortitude of mind and fidelity to his country
  Remained unshaken.

  A short time after,
  He was found in the morning with his throat cut.
  And dead in his bed:

  He died the 28th October, 1805, aged 36.
  To be lamented by his Country,
  Avenged by his God!


This ancient fortress is situate at the entrance of the forest of
Vincennes, (now reduced to a wood of small trees, the large timber
having been cut down during the revolution) and surrounded by a deep
ditch of great width, about two miles from the Barrière du Trône.
During many ages, it had been the casual residence of the sovereigns
of France. Philip de Valois added considerably to its dimensions in
1337. John continued the works, and during his captivity in England,
Charles his son, then regent of the kingdom, finished it.

During the reign of Charles VII. in 1422, Henry VI. of England died in
this castle. From this time Vincennes became a royal residence, until
the reign of Louis XIV. when that monarch fixed himself at Versailles,
from which period it has never been used but as a prison[13].

[Footnote 13: Monstrelet relates a curious anecdote, during the
residence at the Castle of Vincennes of Isabeau de Bavière, strongly
illustrative of the barbarous manners of those times. "Lewis de
Bourbon, who was handsome and well made, and had signalized himself
upon various occasions, and amongst others at the battle of Agincourt,
going one night, as was customary, to visit the Queen, Isabeau de
Bavière, at the Castle of Vincennes, met the King (Charles VI.); he
saluted him, without either stopping or alighting from his horse,
but continued galloping on. The King having recollected him, ordered
Tangui du Chatel, prévost of Paris, to pursue, and to confine him in
prison. At night the _question_ was applied, and he was afterwards
tied up in a sack and cast into the Seine, with this inscription upon
the sack, 'Let the King's justice take place.'"]

Dulaure, a French writer, in speaking of the persons who were confined
here, observes, it would be difficult to enumerate the number of
individuals that have been shut up in this prison within these few
years. "We will merely notice," he says, "the celebrated Count
Mirabeau, who was confined from 1777 to 1780; here it was that he
translated his Tibulle, and Joannes Secundus, and wrote his 'Lettres
originales' to his mistress, Madame Lemonnier, which abound with
passages as affecting as the letters of Héloïse".

This prison was thrown open during the reign of the unfortunate Louis
XVI. by the Baron de Breteuil, Minister of the Department of Paris
in 1784. In going over it, every one was penetrated with horror; and
feelings of the most melancholy interest were excited by reading the
various inscriptions on the walls, indicative of the hopeless misery
that had been experienced within them! Many were expressive of piety
and resignation at the approach of death!--others complaining of the
cruel oppression which had immured them! On one wall was written, "Il
faut mourir, mon frere; mon frere il faut mourir, quand il plaira à
Dieu". On the door of another prison were, "Beati qui persecutionem
patiuntur propter justitiam, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum". On
the same spot were, "Carcer Socratis, templum honoris".

This Donjon remained unoccupied until 1791. At this period, the
prisons of the capital being filled with criminals, Government ordered
it to be prepared for the reception of that class of prisoners; but on
the massacres that followed, the mob either murdered or released them
all, after a bloody contest, and it remained again without prisoners
until the Imperial Government under Buonaparte. It was then garrisoned
by a detachment of the Imperial Guard, and multitudes of victims were
transferred there whose fate remains, and probably ever will remain,

It was to this place that the Duke D'Enghien, who was arrested the
15th March, 1804, at Ettenheim, in the Electorate of Baden, was
conducted the 20th of the same month, at five in the evening, and
condemned to death the night following, by a military commission, at
which Murat presided. He was accordingly shot on the 21st, at half
past four in the evening, in the ditch of the castle which looks
towards the forest, on the north side, and his body thrown into a
grave, ready dug to receive it, where he fell. The details of this
cruel and wanton act of barbarity are too well known to need any
repetition here.

This spot is now marked by a wooden cross, enclosed by an iron
railing. The remains of the Prince were dug out on the 20th March,
1816, by order of Louis XVIII. and deposited with solemn funeral
ceremony in a coffin which is placed in the same apartment where the
council of war condemned him to suffer! since transformed info a
chapel. Under a cenotaph, covered with a cloth of gold, is placed the
coffin, with a prodigious large stone lying on it, the same that was
found lying on his head, and which from its weight had crushed his

The apartment is hung with black cloth, and remains continually
lighted, with a guard placed over it. Mass is daily performed for the
repose of his soul, agreeable to the Catholic religion.

On the lid of the coffin is the following inscription:

  Ici est Le Corps
  De Très-Haut, Très-Puissant Prince
  Louis-Antoine-Henri De Bourbon
  Duc D'Enghien, Prince du Sang
  Pair de France
  Mort A Vincennes, Le 21 Mars 1804
  A L'age de XXXI Ans VII mois XVIII Jours.

A marble bust of the Prince, by Bosio, is placed at the entrance.

During the periods of 1814 and 1815, when Paris was in possession
of the Allies, Vincennes continued under the command of General
Daumesnil, who declared that he held it for his country until the
Government was settled, and would not open its gates to a foreign
army. It was not attacked either of the times.

It is approached by two gates, with drawbridges, and defended by
cannon on all sides. The fossé is of great depth, and dry, extending,
I should suppose, nearly a quarter of a mile. It has nine towers, of
prodigious height and solidity: the largest, at the south western
angle, called the Donjon, is considerably more elevated than the
others. The principal entrance is fronting the forest, on the north
side, in the form of a triumphal arch, with six pillars, ornamented
in bas-reliefs, and was decorated with marble statues, which were
destroyed when it was seized by the mob.

The Donjon is surrounded by a separate ditch, within the other, of
forty feet depth, and is approached by two draw-bridges; one for
carriages, the other for foot passengers; and the main tower is
flanked by four other angular ones, each having a high turret. The
windows are treble barred within and without, so as to admit but a
faint glimmering light! Three gates of great solidity are to be passed
at the entrance; that which communicates with the draw-bridge of the
castle is secured both within and without. After passing the three
gates, there is a court, in the middle of which stands the Donjon.
Three other immense gates guard its entrance!

The form of the Donjon is a square. The towers at the four angles are
divided into five floors, each having a separate stair-case, and
each floor is vaulted, with an apartment in the centre, sustained
by pillars, which are chimneys. At each of the four corners of the
apartment in the centre is a cell thirteen feet square. The towers are
encompassed on the third story by a large gallery on the outside, and
on the top of each there is a small circular terrace. Such is the
strength and prodigious solidity of this building, that it is said to
be capable of resisting the heaviest cannon, and is bomb proof. The
hand of time appears not to have made any impression on its outward

The first hall is called "La chambre de la question:" its name
indicates sufficiently the horrid purposes to which it was
appropriated! So late as the year 1790 were to be seen chairs formed
of stone, where the unhappy victims were seated, with iron collars
fixed to the wall by heavy chains, that confined them to the spot
while undergoing the torture! In these prisons, deprived of air and
light, were beds of timber, on which they were allowed to repose
during the interval of their sufferings.

The upper floor, named "La salle du conseil," from the Kings holding
their council there, while it was a royal residence, is secured by a
door of great solidity, and each prison at the angles had three doors
covered with iron plates, with double locks and treble bolts. The
doors were so contrived as to open crossways, each serving as a
security to the other. The first acted as a bar to the second, and
this to the third, so that it was necessary to close one before the
other could be opened.--Such was the mode of confinement in this
prison, the walls of which are sixteen feet thick, and the arches
thirty feet high.

The other eight towers were also prisons. The one called "La tour de
la surintendance" contains cells six feet square; the bed places are
of stone. There is a square hole to descend into the vaults beneath,
where, like a tomb, the miserable prisoner was immured for ever!!!
Often, alas! for imaginary crimes, or for causes which make us shudder
at their wantonness and barbarity, an unfortunate victim has been torn
from the bosom of his family, to perish unheard of and unknown!

The French Government have, I understand, issued an order to prevent
any one from entering this place from motives of curiosity; and let us
hope that the humane and enlightened policy of the restored Monarch
will close its cells for ever!

The following beautiful lines, with which I close an account of the
most horribly interesting spot I ever visited, are from the pen of

  Voyez gémir en proie à sa longue torture,
  Ce mortel confiné dans sa noire clôture.
  Pour unique plaisir et pour seul passe-temps,
  De sa lente journée il compte les instans,
  Ou de son noir cachot mesure l'étendue,
  Ou médite en secret sa fuite inattendue;
  Ou, de ceux qu'avant lui renferma la prison,
  Lit, sur ces tristes murs, la complainte et le nom:
  Et lui-même y traçant sa douloureuse histoire,
  A ceux qui le suivront en transmet la mémoire.
  C'est peu d'être enchaîné dans ces tristes tombeaux,
  Combien de souvenirs viennent aigrir ses maux!
  Hélas! tandis qu'auprès de leurs jeunes compagnes;
  Dans les riches cités, dans les vastes campagnes;
  Ses amis d'autrefois errent en liberté,
  Lorsque l'heure propice à la société,
  Reconduit chaque soir la jeunesse folâtre
  Aux entretiens joyeux, à la danse, au théâtre,
  Ou, d'un plaisir plus doux annonçant le retour,
  Du moment fortuné vient avertir l'amour,
  Il est seul; ... en un long et lugubre silence,
  Pour lui le jour s'achêve, et le jour recommence;
  Il n'entend point l'accent de la tendre amitié,
  Il ne voit point les pleurs de la douce pitié:
  N'ayant de mouvement que pour traîner des chânes,
  Un coeur que pour l'ennui, des sens que pour les peines,
  Pour lui, plus de beaux jours, de ruisseau, de gazon;
  Cette vôute est son ciel, ces murs son horizon,
  Son regard, élevé vers les flambeaux célestes,
  Vient mourir dans la nuit de ses cachots funestes;
  Rien n'égaie à ses yeux leur morne obscurité;
  Ou si, par des barreaux avares de clarté,
  Un faible jour se glisse en ces antres funêbres,
  Il redouble pour lui les horreurs des ténêbres,
  Et, le coeur consumé d'un regret sans espoir,
  Il cherche la lumière et gémit de la voir."


This ancient pile of building is now a barrack for the King's Gardes
du Corps, containing two troops, one of Luxembourg, and the other of
Grammont, which are relieved every three months.

It is supposed to have been built in the reign of Robert, but there
appears to be no certainty as to the exact period. It is interesting
to the English traveller, from having been the last refuge of James
the Second of England, and the residence, at various times, of very
celebrated and distinguished characters. It was taken, and pillaged,
and partly burnt, during the reign of Philip VI, in 1346, by Edward
the Third, and again by the English in 1419, and rebuilt by Francis
the First. During the war of the League in 1574, Catherine de Medicis
retired to this Castle, but from the predictions of an astrologer,
that she would die there, quitted it shortly after, and returned to
the Tuilleries, which Palace she had founded.[14] Henry the Fourth
often frequented Saint Germain. The Château Neuf, and one of the
towers, called Le Pavilion de Gabrielle, which is still in good
preservation, were erected by him, close to the Castle, for the
residence of his favourite, La belle Gabrielle:[15] and the superb
terrace was begun in his reign. From this spot the view is very
interesting and extensive: nothing can surpass the admirable
assemblage of hills, meadows, gardens, and vineyards, which charm the
eye, and which as they are viewed from its different points on a clear
summer's evening, appear at every turn, in new beauty, and endless

[Footnote 14: According to Mezeray, this palace had its name from the
spot whereon it is situated, which was called Les Tuilleries, because
tiles (des tuiles) were made here. Catherine de Medicis built it 1564.
It consisted of nothing but the large square pavilion in the middle,
the two wings, and the two pavilions which terminate the wings. Henry
IV. Louis XIII. and Louis XIV. afterwards extended, elevated, and
embellished it. It is said to be neither so well proportioned, so
beautiful, or so regular, as it was at first. The Tuilleries is,
nevertheless, a very splendid palace. An astrologer having predicted
to Catherine de Medicis, that she would die near St. Germain, she
immediately flew, in a most superstitious manner, from all places
and churches that bore this name; she no more resorted to St.
Germain-en-Laye, and because her palace of the Tuilleries was situated
in the parish of Saint Germain l'Auxerrois, she was at the expense of
building another, which was the Hotel de Soissons, near the church
of St. Eustache. When it was known to be Laurence de Saint Germain,
Bishop of Nazareth, who had attended her upon her death-bed, people
infatuated with astrology averred that the prediction had been

[Footnote 15: Henri IV se plaisait beaucoup à Saint-Germain, et y vint
souvent, quand son coeur fut épris des charmes de la belle Gabrielle.
Ce prince galant et libéral, qui déjà lui avait prouvé son amour par
le don d'une infinité de maisons de campagne, aux environs de Paris,
voulut encore lui donner une preuve de sa tendresse, en bâtissant pour
elle, à deux cents toises de l'ancien château, une nouvelle et belle
habitation, qu'on appela le Château Neuf. Elevé sur les dessins
de l'architecte Marchand, il était surtout remarquable par son
architecture simple, ses nombreuses devises, les chiffres amoureux
et les emblèmes allégoriques qui le décoroient, et qui faisoient une
ingénieuse allusion à la passion du monarque pour sa mâitresse.
L'une des ailes de ce château s'appelait même le Pavillon de
Gabrielle.--_Hist. Topo. des Environs de Paris_.]

The City of Paris is seen in the distance. The fine aqueduct of Marly,
the mountain de Coeur volant, Mount Calvary,[16] and Malmaison to the
right; in front the forest of Vésinet, and beyond it the vale of Saint
Denis; on the left the hills which encompass the beautiful vale of
Montmorency; the Seine winding at the foot, and extending its course
until it loses itself in the distance--all within one sweep of the
eye!--Such is the enchanting prospect which presents itself.

It was at different times the residence of Louis XIII.[17] of Anne of
Austria, Christiana of Sweden, and of Madame La Valière, when Madame
de Montespan rivalled her in the affections of Louis XIV. After the
former had retired to the Convent of the Carmelites at Paris, it was
assigned in 1689 to the unfortunate James the Second, whose bigotry
had driven him from the throne of England. Here, together with his
Queen, and those of his court who fled with him to seek an asylum in
France, and surrounded by those priests and monks, whose pernicious
councils had led to his fall, the unhappy James remained until his
death, the 16th Sept. 1701. The apartment in which he breathed his
last is still preserved; but the whole of the interior has been very
much neglected. It served as a quarter for a body of Prussians in
1815, and the following year was a barrack for the English troops
quartered at St. Germain. A French poet of his time wrote these lines
descriptive of the life he led in his retirement.

  "C'est ici que Jacques second,
  Sans Ministres et sans maîtresse,
  Le matin allait à la Messe,
  Et le soir allait au sermon".

[Footnote 16: On the top of this height is the Pavilion de Lucienne,
built by Madame Dubarry, Mistress to Louis XV. afterwards the property
of Madame La Princesse de Conti, now the residence of M. de Puy: at
the foot is the village of Lucienne, surrounded by numerous villas:
among the most remarkable is the residence of General Comte Campon.]

[Footnote 17: Lewis XIV. would not reside here, because the steeples
of the Abbey of St. Denis, where he was to be interred, could be
seen from the Château. The amount of the immense treasure which the
consequent erection of the Palace of Versailles cost was never known,
the King Mary Stewart, daughter of James, died here in April 1712, and
his Queen, in May 1718. These were the last persons of any consequence
who inhabited this palace, which in its exterior still preserves all
its ancient appearance of grandeur. It is built of stone, with a
facing of red brick, the windows are of great height, and the whole is
surrounded by a deep ditch, forming a very striking contrast to the
buildings of the present age, having destroyed the bills with his
own hand. In the neighbourhood of Versailles stands the celebrated
Military School of St. Cyr, which was originally an establishment for
the gratuitous admission of two hundred and fifty young ladies
of rank, who were to receive an education correspondent to their
situation in life. Madame de Maintenon is buried in the Chapel of the


This forest is enclosed by a wall of thirty miles in circumference,
according to M. Prudhomme. It is now preserved exclusively for the Duc
de Berri, who is the Ranger.

Of all the ancient forests with which Paris is surrounded, this is the
most extensive. It is stocked with prodigious quantities of game, with
deer, and wild boar. The pheasants and partridges are reared in an
extensive _faisanderie_, in the centre of the forest, enclosed by a
high wall, and such vigilance is exercised by the keepers, that no
person can possibly destroy the game. It is guarded by a captain and
two lieutenants, who have under them a corps of gardes de chasse.

The royal chace is, at the commencement of the season, quite a state
ceremony, at which all the royal family and the court assemble to be
spectators. The dress of the hunt is green and gold, with gold laced
cocked hats and swords. The Duke invites his party, and gives them
permission to wear the uniform, which is considered a high honour.

Nothing can be more delightful than the walks and rides through this
forest; the roads are kept in the best possible state. At intervals
are large open spaces called Etoiles, from whence branch off sometimes
ten and twelve roads with direction posts, each bearing a separate
name, either from some memorable event, or remarkable person; as the
croix de Poissy, croix de la Pucelle, croix de Montchevreuil, croix de
Berri, and croix de Noailles, &c. &c.

A story is related of a lamentable occurrence which took place the 7th
June 1812, at the Etoile des Marres, and a similar one happened in
August this year, near the same spot.

The first of these events was occasioned by the parents of a young
lady having refused their consent to her being married to her lover,
whose want of fortune was the chief obstacle. The lovers, in despair,
came to the fatal resolution of putting a period to their lives, and
this forest was fixed upon as the spot for the dreadful deed! Having
partaken of a repast which they had brought with them, and sworn
to love each other (if it were permitted them) after death, they
discharged, at the same moment, their pistols at themselves. The
unhappy girl fell dead, but the hand of her lover having missed its
aim, he was only wounded. Having no other means left of accomplishing
his dreadful purpose, he took the handkerchief from her bosom and
suspended himself by it to a tree. In this state they were discovered,
and their bodies deposited in the same grave! The other circumstance
was of the same romantic and melancholy nature.[18] This forest
supplies Paris with great quantities of wood. In 1814, and in 1815,
the palisades that were made to surround Paris for its defence against
the Allied armies, were cut in this wood, and the large timber has
consequently been greatly thinned.

[Footnote 18: There never was known in this country so many fatal
instances of suicide as at the present period; few days pass over
without some persons throwing themselves out of their windows, or into
the river Seine; and among the disappointed partizans of the late
ruler, it has been usual to hurl themselves from the top of the column
in the Place Vendôme, which has been shut up in consequence by an
order from Government.

Among the instances of deliberate self-destruction, the following is a
remarkable fact, inasmuch as it serves to prove the pernicious effects
of the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau in the minds of youth, when
at an age incapable of discriminating between fanaticism and real

The person in question was a youth not turned sixteen, who destroyed
himself last summer, while at college, and who left the following
paper as his last will. The lady who gave it me copied it from the

  "Testament de Villemain.

  "Samedi. July 6th, 1816.

  "Je donne mon corps aux Pédants: je lègue mon âme aux manes de
  Voltaire et de J.J. Rousseau, qui m'ont appris à mépriser toutes les
  vaines superstitions de ce monde, et tous les vains préjugés qu'a
  enfantés la grossièreté des hommes, et surtout les subtiles noirceurs
  des fourbes de Prêtres.

  "J'ai toujours reconnu un Etre suprême, et ma religion a toujours été
  la religion naturelle.

  "Quant à mes biens terrestres, je donne: (Here he mentions various
  articles to his favorite school-fellows).

  "A Mondésir, mon dernier soupir.

  "J'ai toujours connu, je l'ai dit plus haut, reconnu un Etre suprême,
  j'ai toujours pensé que la seul religion digne de lui, etait la vertu
  et la probîté!

  "J'ose dire que je m'en suis rarement écarté malgré la faiblesse, et
  la fragilité humaine.

  "Je parois devant l'Etre suprême en disant avec Voltaire: 'Un Bonze,
  honnête homme, un Dervis, charitable, trouveront plutôt grâce à ses
  yeux, qu'un Pontife ambitieux.'"

  Then follows a Latin quotation, "All things are due to death, and
  without delay, sooner or later, hasten to the same goal: Hither we all
  tend: This is our last asylum".

  "De tout les Pédants qui m'ont le plus tourmenté je compte surtout
  Poir, son Jeannes et Veissier, qui sont la cause du vol que je fais à
  la nature en tranchant moi même le fil de mes jours; je leur pardonne,
  l'équité le fait aussi: Je n'ai cessé de répéter avec Rousseau avant
  de mourir. 'Tu veux cesser de vivre, sais-tu si tu as commencé.'

  "Adieu!!! Mortels et foiblesses! VILLEMAIN".]

Here conclude my notes, and if my reader has condescended to accompany
me through my little Tour without feeling fatigue or displeasure
at his "Compagnon de Voyage," my aim and ambition as an author are
satisfied--so wishing that all the journeys he may ever take, may
prove as delightful to him as this has been to me, I sincerely thank
him for his attention, and kindly bid him Farewell!


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Visit to the Monastery of La Trappe in 1817 - With Notes Taken During a Tour Through Le Perche, Normandy, Bretagne, Poitou, Anjou, Le Bocage, Touraine, Orleanois, and the Environs of Paris. - Illustrated with Numerous Coloured Engravings, from Drawings Made on the Spot" ***

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