From The International Library of Masterpieces, Literature, Art, & Rare Manuscripts, Volume XXX, Editor-in-Chief: Harry Thurston Peck; The International Bibliophile Society, New York; 1901; pp. 11255-11260.
YOUNG, ARTHUR, a distinguished English writer on agriculture and social economy; born at Whitehall, London, 1741; died at London in 1820. He made a practical study of agricultural economy, and wrote “A Course of Experimental Agriculture” (1770); accounts of tours of observation through different quarters of England, — “A Farmer’s Letters to the People of England” (1768); “A Tour through the North of England” (1771), and “A Farmer’s Tour through the East of England” (1770); “Travels in France” (2 vols., 1792), a celebrated book which reveals the true state of the peasant population of France on the eve of the Revolution. His life was mainly spent at Bradfield, near Bury St. Edmunds. By his writings he was one of the first to elevate agriculture to the rank of a science.
THE environs of Clermont are picturesque. The hills about Liancourt are pretty, and spread with a sort of cultivation I had never seen before, — a mixture of vineyards (for here the vines first appeared), gardens, and corn. A piece of wheat, a scrap of lucerne, a patch of clover or vetches, a bit of vine, with cherry and other fruit trees scattered among all, and the whole cultivated with the spade: it makes a pretty appearance, but must form a poor system of trifling.
CH&AˆTEAU DE CHANTILLY
Chantilly. — Magnificence is its reigning character; it is never lost. There is not taste or beauty enough to soften it into milder features: all but the château is great, and there is something imposing in that; except the gallery of the great Condé’s battles and the cabinet of natural history, which is rich in very fine specimens, most advantageously arranged, it contains nothing that demands particular notice; nor is there one room which in England would be called large. The stable is truly great, and exceeds very much indeed anything of the kind I had ever seen. It is 580 feet long and 40 feet broad, 11256 and is sometimes filled with 240 English horses. I had been so accustomed to the imitation in water of the waving and irregular lines of nature, that I came to Chantilly prepossessed against the idea of a canal; but the view of one here is striking, and has the effect which magnificent scenes impress. It arises from extent, and from the right lines of the water uniting with the regularity of the objects in view. It is Lord Kames, I think, who says the part of the garden contiguous to the house should partake of the regularity of the building; with much magnificence about a place this is unavoidable. The effect here however is lessened by the parterre before the castle, in which the division and the diminutive jets d’eau are not of a size to correspond with the magnificence of the canal. The menagerie is very pretty, and exhibits a prodigious variety of domestic poultry from all parts of the world, — one of the best objects to which a menagerie can be applied; these and the Corsican stag had all my attention. The hameau contains an imitation of an English garden; the taste is but just introduced into France, so that it will not stand a critical examination. The most English idea I saw is the lawn in front of the stables; it is large, of a good verdure, and well kept, — proving clearly that they may have as fine lawns in the north of France as in England. The labyrinth is the only complete one I have seen, and I have no inclination to see another: it is in gardening what a rebus is in poetry. In the sylvæ are many very fine and scarce plants. I wish those persons who view Chantilly, and are fond of fine trees, would not forget to ask for the great beech; this is the finest I ever saw, straight as an arrow, and as I guess, not less than 80 or 90 feet high, — 40 feet to the first branch, and 12 feet diameter at five from the ground. It is in all respects one of the finest trees that can anywhere be met with. Two others are near it, but not equal to this superb one. The forest around Chantilly, belonging to the Prince of Condé, is immense, spreading far and wide; the Paris road crosses it for ten miles, which is its least extent. They say the capitainerie, or paramountship, is above 100 miles in circumference. This is to say, all the inhabitants for that extent are pestered with game, without permission to destroy it, in order to give one man diversion. Ought not these capitaineries to be extirpated? . . .
On the breaking up of the party, went with Count Alexandre de la Rochefoucauld post to Versailles, to be present at 11257 the fête of the day following (Whitsunday); slept at the Duke de Liancourt’s hôtel.
The 27th. — Breakfasted with him at his apartments in the palace, which are annexed to his office of grand master of the wardrobe, one of the principal in the court of France. Here I found the duke surrounded by a circle of noblemen, among who was the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, well known for his attention to natural history; I was introduced to him, as he is going to Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees, where I am to have the honor of being in his party.
The ceremony of the day was the King’s investing the Duke of Berri, son of the Count d’Artois, with the cordon bleu. The Queen’s band was in the chapel where the ceremony was performed, but the musical effect was thin and weak. During the service the King was seated between his two brothers, and seemed by his carriage and inattention to wish himself a-hunting. He would certainly have been as well employed as in hearing afterwards from his throne a feudal oath of chivalry, I suppose, or some such nonsense, administered to a boy of ten years old. Seeing such pompous folly I imagined it was the dauphin, and asked a lady of fashion near me; at which she laughed in my face, as if I had been guilty of the most egregious idiotism: nothing could be done in a worse manner; for the stifling of her expression only marked it the more. I applied to M. de la Rochefoucauld to learn what gross absurdity I had been guilty of so unwittingly; when, forsooth, it was because the dauphin, as all the world knows in France, has the cordon blue put around him as soon as he is born. So unpardonable was it for a foreigner to be ignorant of such an important part of French history, as that of giving a babe a blue slobbering-bib instead of a white one! . . .
The 31st. — On leaving it, enter soon the miserable province of Sologne, which the French writers call the triste Sologne. Through all this country they have had severe spring frosts, for the leaves of the walnuts are black and cut off. I should not have expected this unequivocal mark of a bad climate after passing the Loire. To La Ferté Lowendahl, a dead flat of hungry sandy gravel, with much heath. The poor people who cultivate the soil here are métayers, — that is, men who hire the land without ability to stock it; the proprietor is forced to provide cattle and seed, and he and his tenant divide the produce: a miserable system, that perpetuates 11258 poverty and excludes instruction. Meet a man employed on the roads who was a prisoner at Falmouth four years; he does not seem to have any rancor against the English, nor yet was he very well pleased with his treatment. . . .
June 1. — The same wretched country continues to La Loge; the fields are scenes of pitiable management, as the houses are of misery. Yet all this county highly improvable, if they knew what to do with it: the property, perhaps, of some of those glittering beings who figured in the procession the other day at Versailles. Heaven grant me patience while I see a country thus neglected, and forgive me the oaths I swear at the absence and ignorance of the possessors. — Enter the generality of Bourges, and soon after, a forest of oak belonging to the Count d’Artois; the trees are dying at top before they attain any size. There the miserable Sologne ends; the first view of Verson and its vicinity is fine. A noble vale spreads at your feet, through which the river Cher leads, seen in several places to the distance of some leagues; a bright sun burnished the water, like a string of lakes amidst the shade of a vast woodland. . . .
The 31st. — Cross a mountain by a miserable road, and reach Beg de Rieux, which shares, with Carcassonne, the fabric of Londrins for the Levant trade. — Cross much waste to Béziers. — I met to-day with an instance of ignorance in a well-dressed French merchant, that surprised me. He had plagued me with abundance of tiresome foolish questions, and then asked for the third or fourth time what country I was of. I told him I was a Chinese. How far off is that country? — I replied, 200 leagues. Deux cents lieues! Diable! c’est un grand chemin! The other day a Frenchman asked me, after telling him I was an Englishman, if we had trees in England? I replied that we had a few. Had we any rivers? Oh, none at all. Ah, ma foi, c’est bien triste! This incredible ignorance, when compared with the knowledge so universally disseminated in England, is to be attributed, like everything else, to government. . . .
The 16th. — Accompanied the Count de la Rochefoucauld to Liancourt. — 38 miles.
I went thither on a visit for three or four days; but the whole family contributed to generally to render the place in every respect agreeable, that I stayed more than three weeks. At about half a mile from the château is a range of hills that 11259 was chiefly a neglected waste: the Duke of Liancourt has lately converted this into a plantation, with winding walks, benches, and covered seats, in the English style of gardening. The situation is very fortunate. These ornamented paths follow the edge of the declivity to the extent of three or four miles. The views they command are everywhere pleasing, and in some places great. Nearer to the château the Duchess of Liancourt has built a menagerie and dairy in a pleasing taste. The cabinet and ante-room are very pretty, the saloon elegant, and the dairy entirely constructed of marble. At a village near Liancourt, the duke has established a manufacture of linen and stuffs mixed with thread and cotton, which promises to be of considerable utility; there are 25 looms employed, and preparations making for more. As the spinning for these looms is also established, it gives employment to great numbers of hands who were idle; for they have no sort of manufacture in the country, though it is populous. Such efforts merit great praise. Connected with this is the execution of an excellent plan of the duke’s for establishing habits of industry in the rising generation. The daughters of the poor people are received into an institution to be educated to useful industry: they are instructed in their religion, taught to write and read, and to spin cotton; are kept till marriageable, and then a regulated proportion of their earnings given them as a marriage portion. There is another establishment of which I am not so good a judge: it is for training the orphans of soldiers to be soldiers themselves. The Duke of Liancourt has raised some considerable buildings for their accommodation, well adapted to the purpose. The whole is under the superintendence of a worthy and intelligent officer, M. le Roux, captain of dragoons and croix de St. Louis, who sees to everything himself. There are at present 129 boys, all dressed in uniform. — My ideas have all taken a turn which I am too old to change: I should have been better pleased to see 129 lads educated to the plow, in habits of culture superior to the present; but certainly the establishment is humane, and the conduct of it excellent.
The ideas I had formed before I came to France, of a country residence in that kingdom, I found at Liancourt to be far from correct. I expected to find it a mere transfer of Paris to the country, and that all the burthensome forms of a city were preserved, without its pleasures; but I was deceived, — the 112560 mode of living, and the pursuits, approach much nearer to the habits of a great nobleman’s house in England than would commonly be conceived. A breakfast of tea for those who chose to repair to it; riding, sporting, planting, gardening, till dinner, and that not till half-after two o’clock, instead of their old-fashioned hour of twelve; music, chess, and the other common amusements of a rendezvous-room, with an excellent library of seven or eight thousand volumes, were well calculated to make the time pass agreeably, and to prove that there is a great approximation in the modes of living at present in the different countries of Europe. Amusements, in truth, ought to be numerous within doors: for in such a climate none are to be depended on without; the rain that has fallen here is hardly credible. I have for five-and-twenty years past remarked in England that I never was prevented by rain from taking a walk every day without going out while it actually rains; it may fall heavily for many hours, but a person who watches an opportunity gets a walk or a ride. Since I have been at Liancourt, we have had three days in succession of such incessantly heavy rain, that I could not go a hundred yards from the house to the duke’s pavilion without danger of being quite wet. For ten days, more rain fell here, I am confident, had there been a gauge to measure it, than ever fell in England in thirty. The present fashion in France, of passing some time in the country, is new: at this time of the year, and for many weeks past, Paris is, comparatively speaking, empty. Everybody that have country-seats are at them; and those who have none visit others who have. This remarkable revolution in the French manners is certainly one of the best customs they have taken from England; and its introduction was effected the easier, being assisted by the magic of Rousseau’s writings. Mankind are much indebted to that splendid genius, who, when living, was hunted from country to country — to seek asylum — with as much venom as if he had been a mad dog; thanks to the vile spirit of bigotry, which has not yet received its death’s wound.