Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ably well. This lady was moreover assisted in the choice by the son of the great Pleyel—the son is a great man too. Thus I hope I have proved to you the music is good.

To-morrow I am going to leave Paris. I have found it as pleasant as I could expect; and not being at all prejudiced in favour of the French, but rather the contrary, I have been agreeably disappointed. They are animated and excessively amusing in conversation ; full of anecdotes, which they tell with a good deal of imagination. In fact, they seem a nation of which all are more or less poets. They make a point of honour of pleasing every body, and are more anxious to please strangers than friends. Nothing tickles them more than to hear that a stranger has remarked how agreeable they are. There is nothing they more studiously avoid, than saying any thing that will give pain; and they have not that wretched ill-bred habit of worrying or running people, as we call it. The English come here and abuse them to their faces-call them paupers--laugh at their religion--run down their morals, their manners, and looks--curl their lips at the cookery-blaspheme their beef steaks--call Charley le bien Aimé an ass--the ministers blockheads, and the people slaves. All this while the poor Frenchman sits silent, or with little attempt at extenuation or retort, and bears it all with a patience which to me seems inexcusable. A smart repartee is the only way to stop this unmannerly bluntness. But though they don't answer, they feel, and hate the English heartily-the more for not letting out honestly like us Americans. Indeed, they cherish a bitterness, which John Bull, with all his unmannerly sincerity, does not feel towards them. And really this is not to be wondered at or blamed. I only find fault with them, for not speaking out bravely. It is the etiquette of court, to be mighty civil to England; but no court etiquette ought to repress a proper degree of national feeling.

I had got thus far last evening. This morning as I was writing, the door opened, and in came my old friend - 1 was quite glad to meet with him, for he is really a clever fellow. He tells me he is going home. I could not repress a silent wish that I was going with him. However, while I am abroad, I will see all I can, for I have sworn, or I might safely swear, that when I get back, I will never cross the Atlantic again. I wish you would not be so sparing of news. I tell you all I think will amuse you, and should like to hear every thing you can gather together. There is not an old rat about the old house, in whose biography I don't feel an interest; or an old chair in whose downfall I would not sympathise. I hope you will like the song of Madame Pasta from Nina. The

two greatest people in Europe, are incontestably Madame Pasta and Rossini. It's well the latter did not arrive fresh in Paris during the coronation, or he would have cut out Charley le bien Aimé to a dead certainty. Adieu.

Brussels, July 2d, 1825. MY DEAR R

At length I write to you from Brussels. We left the great city a few days ago for the second time, and so far have had nothing to annoy us—no breaking down, and no delays. We have an excellent servant, whose special vocation is to take care of grown gentlemen on their travels—who fights all our battles, and resents all unseemly grumblings on the part of publicans and sinners, while we have the satisfaction of sitting perfectly quiet, seeing the fun, and at the same time saving our pockets. In truth, what with postilions, hostlers, waiters, and landlords, it may be said we fought our way through the low countries, which you know have been the seat of wars from time immemorial. They are the cock pit of Europe, where all the game chickens are pitted against each other. The last enemy we e countered was the custom-house officer, on the frontier of the Pays Bas and France. These are a sort of pleasant gentry, that meet a man at every turn, and mount guard at the frontier of every kingdom of Europe. They are reckoned indifferently honest, and were never detected in taking a bribe. You can't conceive what a useful person our governor is. We resolve what we want, and appropriate the money, after which he makes the bargain and buys. We fix on our route, and he sees that we go it. In short, we are the legislature, and he fills the executive department, subject to our control and censure. We run some little risk of being cheated, and perhaps sometimes may be ; but as yet we have found nothing to make us suspicious, though on the watch. He has an excellent reputation, and we pay him well. But knowledge is not to be got for nothing, either in person or by proxy. He has been this route in the same capacity at least twenty times, and is not a little annoyed, if we notice any thing that he does not point out to our attention. However, so far as I know, all people that are wise, value themselves accordingly—are apt to be conceited, and like dearly to have their own way.

In our researches among the curiosities of this place, we this morning visited a spring, where, as we had heard, his Majesty Peter the Great of all the Russias, got tipsy and fell in. After searching a good while, we found in a hollow, among the bushes, a little stagnant, or almost stagnant pool, with a stone margin,

It seems,

bearing an inscription recording the memorable event, that his "greatness," on the 16th of April, 1717, at three o'clock in the afternoon, did actually tumble in, and immortalize the lucky water.

it was after dinner that the great Czar, with a few merry companions, retired to this shady place, to drink a few bottles of cool Rhenish. To tell you the truth, I find these matters more amusing, than admiring their palaces and pictures—their hotels de ville, halls, and old churches. I could not keep my gravity, at the idea of the great Peter, floundering about in the water, and came to the conclusion that no man is great in tumbling into a spring.

The pictures here, I confess, I do not much like. Every room, and every gallery, is full of Reubens, who, judging from the number of pictures ascribed to him, must have worked with all the indefatigable industry of a Dutchman. It seems to me, however, that he was not the greatest painter in the world. His figures, and complexions, and expressions, to me are ill chosen. His women are clumsy in their figures—have big hands, red and sun burnt like washerwomen, and handle their clothes about as clumsily. You will perhaps think me conceited on this occasion. But as I took the liberty of laughing at the great Peter for tumbling into a spring, I don't see why may not honestly express my opinion of the great Reubens, for painting washerwomen and calling them fine ladies.

In good truth, my dear friend, I am almost tired of looking at pictures. One cannot for ever look at the beauties of nature without becoming fatigued at last; it cannot therefore be expected that we should look at mere imitations of nature continually, without being satiated in time. Yet when we come to sum up the objects which constitute the novelty and attractions of a European tour, it will be found that they consist, in a great measure, of pictures, statues and palaces. We travel from place to place in a hurry-stopping only where one or other of these are to be seen-look at them till we are tired, and crack goes the postilion's whip, and away we hie to gaze at something else. Such is the daily routine of these privileged gentlemen, who, according to the phrase I have somewhere met with, sell their own lands to go and see those of other people. Our travelling costs us about twenty cents a mile-two beds, about ten of our shillings—dinner, about seven or eight, without wine--bread and butter and tea, three. You will perceive by this that the Netherlands is a pretty dear country. It is some time since I have had letters. They are to be sent after me to Amsterdam, where I shall stay a few days. If I get good news there, I expect to have a pleasant tour down the Řhine. Good bye.

Amsterdam, July 10th, 1825. It is some time, my dear S-, since I had a line from you, If I could but see one to assure me of tolerable news, I should get rid of many gloomy thoughts, for these are agreeable and cheerful on almost every subject, except when they turn towards home. Although one loves to direct them there, still there is more pain than pleasure, where the i:nagination has both time and distance to give it play. I looked for letters on my arrival here, and although we travelled fast, I felt myself sometimes not a little out of patience.

Altogether I have been much pleased with Holland. You recognise dresses, and habits, and almost faces, you remember to have seen at home. Once or twice I have fancied I saw the identical old fellows from Communipaw, with their wide, low-crowned hats, short, broad-skirted coats, and spacious pantaloons, that sometimes make their debut in our streets, with pipe in mouth. Every step we see the old Broad-street houses gable end foremost ; and even in the language, we recognise a sort of resemblance in spelling, if not in pronunciation. I amuse myself not a little with the signs-“Koffy en thee"-- En te Žon"_with a round face surrounded by golden rays painted over “ Huis van dranken” at a tavern, “ Gooden dag" “Gooden morgen,” “Scheeps victuals," and such like, are

common.

We saw last night a Dutch love story played at the theatre; but really the lover talked and made love in tones so little like those of affection, that one might have suspected him of scolding the lady. We sat like the Indians at our theatre, with the most perfect gravity, amid the fits of admiration into which the audience fell every now and then. In truth, we soon got tired, and pronounced a Dutch play a very stupid thing. į think it probable it really was so; for we never hear of any fine poetry in Dutch. The great scholars and men of genius that once abounded here, defrauded their native language by writing in Latin. This practice, arrested its improvement and polish, so that Low Dutch is now, I believe, merely upheld here by that praiseworthy and patriotic stubbornness with which a genuine Dutchman adheres to old habits, old hats and old pipes. As it is, the upper classes all speak French, and it is common to meet with tradesmen who speak both languages.

Being fresh from the gorgeous displays of the grand coronation, I find a pleasing contrast in the sober simplicity of the court of Holland. The King rides in his coach and six, but without guards, and with no attendants but one horseman, who goes before the carriage, in direct contravention to regal dig

nity, which is disgraced by any body turning their backs to it. At Brussels, we went to the theatre, where his majesty was expected. I asked a man next to me to point him out--" That's he,” said he, “ sitting in the stage box, dressed in a plain blue coat, with a star on his breast." "And where's the Queen ?" “Do you see that lady in a chip bonnet, as it seems, and black silk gown?” “A very plain dress," I observed. “O yes," said he--" she is not fond of finery.” “ The king,” continued he, “often walks out in a plain citizen's dress; the people take off their hats, and he touches his. The other day he was taking a walk in a village near here, and feeling rather thirsty, he went into a tavern, got a glass of beer, paid for it, and received his pennies in change. The woman at the bar was quite astonished when she heard she had had the king for a customer." I was quite pleased with this. It indicates the progress of freedom and intelligence, when kings, instead of dazzling the people with displays of barbaric splendour, in order to excite a stupid veneration, feel it has become necessary to pay courtesy to the principle of equality, by dressing and acting like men, and tacitly acknowledging their subjects to be so. The people and their kings are gradually getting nearer to each other.

I wonder where you are now? Perhaps out of town, where I hope you will be strengthened by air and exercisé.' Take care of yourself, for you are necessary to the happiness of others. In the morning I shall go to the banker's for letters. I got here, after a pleasant journey. Atiectionately yours:

Amsterdam, July 11th, 1325. I have been much pleased thus far, with my tour through the country of the ancestors of at least one half the people of our state.

Before the conquest of New York by the English, the good old phrase of “ Fatherland” was applied to Hollandafter that it was genteel to speak of England as home. "going hoine to England." ' Now, thank fortune, we do not go abroad to get home--we have a home of our own--a home that only becomes more dear the farther we remove from it. The villages are delightfully clean here. All Holland looks like the Shaking Quakers' town, which you know we were so much pleased with at Lebanon. I mean only as to the perfect cleansiness within, as well as about the houses, and in the streets. The country is not naturally near so beautiful, and the groups of trees nothing like those we saw there, in rich and varied foliage and outlines. But the display of grain and pasture, and all the varieties of agricultural riches, which every spot presents, and which is seen in such magnificent extent over interminable plains, makes travelling highly agreeable, although

It was

« ZurückWeiter »