Letter from France No. 7

Miss Porden

My last letter, my dear Eliza, finished with our falling fast asleep in our primitive inn at Montdidier. An excellent night’s rest fortunately nerved us to encounter the stink and dirt of the morning, which were superlative, though mixed with an affectation of cleanliness — for our damsel entered my guardian’s room before he rose, bearing a mug with a hole in the bottom to water the floor, till our modern Don Quixote, not being able to talk her language or make his own understood, was forced to jump up and push the fair intruder out by the shoulders. The inn and the whole town were savoury with fish from Boulogne — fish, by the by, is never the cleanest thing in France — and I always avoided it at table lest it should disgust me more than it was worth. We went into two churches, both curious. Each had, as I observed at Dieppe, at St Remy, at Reims, and at other churches, the entombment in wood, similar in design but different in the carving, and adorned with new dresses and decorations — muslin lappets and wreaths of flowers. The principal church was filled with a profusion of bad sculpture which marred a grand tho’ singular organ case. The figures and the whole were painted yellow and white in the most tawdry style. Near the choir we got into some dirt, which proved that not even the churches are sacred in France, and that you must always look to your steps. Addison says that cleanliness is half a virtue, but since I reached this country I am tempted to believe it a whole one. As we ascended our cabriolet and English lady walked into the inn. Our arrival had I suppose been bruited thro’ the village, and she came to ask if the rumours spread in that neighbourhood of disturbances in England were correct. Her husband was at Plymouth, and we were happy to be able to quiet her fears. We proceeded thro’ a fog and Scotch Mist, still denser than that of the day before, and which rendered dreary a country that might otherwise have proved interesting. We hung over many a black bog, where the peat was piled in masses round its edge for fuel, and looked over many a swelling hill and fertile valley, but the country in France always wants foreground, and her most luxuriant scenery is seen beyond a vast unenclosed and seemingly uncultivated track. I am conscious of repetition here, but the want of all that gives a charm to English landscape is perpetually impressed on the mind. The towns seem all half deserted and falling to decay. The roads are line with fruit trees whose growth is neglected, and whose spontaneous produce is the property of no one. Beggars flock round you in shoals at every turn, pressing on your view the most disgusting deformity — even the general want of cleanliness is perhaps a proof of poverty. A people cannot attend to the decencies and comforts of life till they have first its necessities.

A little before we entered Amiens we passed a churchyard filled with gravestones of odd and various forms, and almost all of mingled black and white, and showing every possible modification of the cross. They were now new to us, but we afterwards saw many such. The Cathedral of Amiens rose proudly over many a hill and seemed lose to us long before we were near the town. It is loftier than Reims and I fancy stands higher. We went first to the Hotel de la Poste Royale, but were so uncivilly received that we removed to the Hotel de France where we were most comfortably accommodated. My guardian’s apartment was decorated with the most chivalrous designs, gaily but not inelegantly executed on the paper. In one place a knight prepared for combat kneels before his lady who adorns him with a scarf “Amour a la plus belle”. In another she welcomes him on his return, his spear decorated with a pennon is at the side, and his shield, which may be supposed a trophy, bears the legend — “Honneur au plus vaillant”. In a third place the knight sings to his harp, while his steed is tied to an oak. In a fourth he enters where his yeomen are listening to a minstrel almost overcome by the potency of the wine liberally supplied by damsels from the castle, and in a fifth he flies with his lady over a bridge. My room as if in derision is rich with the adventures of that valorous knight Don Quixote de la Mancha. His victory over the Knight of the Mirrors, with Sancho in the tree, and his squire taking off the false nose. Don Quixote and the windmill, Don Quixote engaging a wild boar, Don Quixote assisting at a festival. The rencontre with Dulcinea, and the Duchesses page bearing the letter to Sancho’s family.

Amiens is built chiefly of brick, and the streets are wide which give it rather an English appearance. They were also dry — for a wonder. We spent a long time in the Cathedral. I do not think it so grand as Reims, nor is the nave so long, but it is wider, and in a more enriched style of architecture. The pillars are all alike — round, with four colonnets running up them, and the four central ones are completely cased. There is one very pretty bit on the outside formed by the projection of the Chapel of St Cristopher, which makes a sloping window of very elegant tracery. Indeed the tracery of both sides of the nave is of a later and more elegant style than others I have seen in France, but I think the want of buttresses (which are concealed in the chapels) give it an appearance of unsubstantiality. The finest parts of Amiens are perhaps the transepts. They are wider than the rest of the church, and of greater extent than ordinary.

The pulpit is placed against one of the pillars of the nave. It is gilt and supported by three fine white figures in wood. Its canopy is also surmounted by a beautiful figure, but some loyalist has hung a gilded fleur de lys on one hand which points to the words Hoc fac et vives! The choir is filled with handsome stalls carved in wood, but on examination they are not equal to those of York Cathedral, and the open grandeur of Reims, where the eye ranges uncontrolled from one end of the Cathedral to the other is more favourable to the general effect. The altar here is very fine. It is an immense golden glory in which appear a number of white angels and other figures. The monuments are well disposed and harmonize with the architecture. I particularly admired a chapel with the statues of two bishops in the north transept, and the Chapel of St Jacques in the south transept.

At our entrance into Amiens we had passed a very large handsome building, inscribed Depôt de Mendicité du Departement but extensive as it is, this building cannot be half large enough or else it vomits out all its vermin upon strangers during the day, for never were we assailed by such swarms of beggars, so troublesome or so impertinent. One cannot enter the Cathedral without being enveloped in a crowd, who follow one partout, mingling their doleful cries and disgusting appearance with every idea offering to be guides, pulling one about, and “uttering such a deal of stinking breath” that one dares hardly bid them begone “for fear of opening one’s mouth and inhaling the bad air.”

From Amiens we proceeded to Peronne which we entered in the dusk — the country appeared rather more enclosed. Peronne we were told was about the size of Montdidier, and were surprised to find it a large and striking town. The Somme almost encircles it and has so many branches and canals that we were reminded of Venice. It is very strongly fortified, and in other days must have been almost impregnable. It was bombarded for four hours by the English, after which it surrendered. As we entered everything but the road and the walls appeared to be water. We passed under six gates and over many little bridges which could be broken up in an instant. At the end of these was a portcullis. The fonctionnaire declined looking at our passport as we drove in, but said he should visit us in the town. I never before felt so much the confinement and surveillance of a fortified town. There had been no horses at Faucaucourt, so we were obliged to come on toe Peronne with those which had brought us from Villers Bretonneux. We were detained while they were few, and moreover not very rapidly driven, even according to the usual rate of French driving, for which advantages the government obligingly allowed us to pay a post extra. For if the road be impassable, or any other circumstance cause delay, the traveller always pays a tax to government for its own neglect.

We found an excellent inn at Peronne, large and clean with a boarded and well-washed floor. A card given us at parting set forth these advantages in English, and informed us that there was a courtyard for the protection of “all sorts of carnages”. We had just seen a couple of ducks slain there. Our chambermaid was a handsome woman, but pert enough, and let us see she hated the English heartily. The Church of Peronne has a church of pleasing architecture and a good tower, but so thin as to be almost a screen. It has narrow short transepts, and round pillars without either bases or capitals, but with Gothic arches and a rich and peculiar ceiling. We walked almost all round the ramparts, which are very strong, and bear to the north the marks of English cannon. Three balls are yet in the wall, the largest at least nine inches in diameter. All the country round seems marshy, and in one place a great deal of bog earth has been dug up. About half way along the Eastern side we met with a door that led to two or three flights of steps in good preservation, and not very dark, which ended in a garden below the walls. A man was working there, and seemed to wonder from what corner of the moon we had dropped. These fortifications are of a kind to which we are not much accustomed in England, and must have been of great strength. The perfect freedom and loneliness in which we explored them was a whimsical contrast to the vigilance with which they have been formerly and even recently watched. At the South West Corner is the Citadel, a strong brick building which we approached thro’ an archway an hundred feet in length, but had only time to give a glance at it. As we drew near the gate by which we had entered the night before, we had to cross the Somme, here very wide, on the ruins of a bridge, a narrow strip of which is only kept together by the wall that runs along the outside of it. Two watermills are on the town side of this, and stand most picturesquely in the water which foams and roars around them. We looked thro’ the wall and saw the river beyond spreading like a lake. The wall runs over the last gate we had passed thro’ on our entrance to the town and we wished much to have passed them all by daylight, for they seemed of a highly romantic character, while the road runs part of the way by a grove along the banks of the Somme, but time was precious, and we were forced to start for Cambray.

The road had more traffic upon it. We met many English carriages, and received a civil bow from our countrymen as they passed. At Cambray we saw British sentinels on every side, and passed to the gate thro’ a file of English soldiers, in the middle of which a slovenly Frenchman asked us for our passport. The number of English walking and riding about the town, chiefly in military dresses — the English women, tho’ not of very elegant appearance, whom we met at every turn, and the sound of our own language all around, produced a strange and indescribable sensation. The town, the shops, and the dirt were French, but the inhabitants seemed metamorphosed, and other features and other sounds claimed kindred with us. How extraordinary is it to see an English army thus peaceably established, yet established as masters in the middle of a foreign country. It reminded me of Caesar and his legions in provincia. As we explored the town we were told the Duke of Wellington was there — then that it was not him but the Duke of Cambridge. The fact was they were neither of them there, nor was anything distinctly known about them. The Duke of Wellington makes it a point to let no one know his movements.

The Grand Canard I will not praise. It is dirty, and has a wide mouth like other ducks, but there are eight officers and two colonels billeted in the house, which may be some excuse. I am told it is a miserably place for headquarters as there is not one French family with which our officers can associate. Not one inhabitant of the rank of gentleman.

The present Cathedral looked very poor after the handsome Gothic structures we had been accustomed to. It is in the style of St Paul’s, but I must not compare it farther. The old Cathedral has been a fine building, of the mixed Gothic and Lombard architecture, but has only two or three arches standing, all the rest is an immense pile of stones, so well has revolutionary fury done its work. One thinks these venerable piles ought at least to have crushed the wretches that destroyed them. France must have lost many more fine buildings by the Revolution than she has gained by the splendid works of Buonaparte, or could, had all his splendid plans been realized. They were directed only to adorn and enrich the capital, but her losses have extended to every corner of her empire. His works are modern, and if destroyed might be replaced, but these were the pride of an antient art, and are irreparable. How much do I wish that we had the spirit to erect a magnificent Gothic cathedral, uniting all the best and grandest features of those already existing, and avoiding, as far as possible, their defects. For beautiful as are St Paul’s, St Genevieve, and the Invalides, I think that for religious purposes nothing equals the loftiness and solemn grandeur of a Gothic cathedral.

Wandering among the ruins, to see if there were yet an ornament in sufficient preservations to be worth stealing we me with a Mason, who had preserved at his own house a tête de vierge, a cardinal, and a cherub. We bought the two last, but the first was both too heavy and too ugly. When the church was destroyed, this man had dug up the bones of Fenelon, which were buried near the altar. They were afterwards suspended for some time over the high altar of the present cathedral, and are now removed to the monastery of the Augustins. The ramparts of Cambray seem strong and are probably of more importance than those of Peronne, but we had the others to ourselves, and here we were perpetually stopped by the English soldiers who guard them, and do not permit anyone to walk near the Citadel. We looked over them at a flat uninteresting country and the tents of two English regiments which are all that are quartered there, and then descended into another Church which I prefer to that now made the Cathedral. Four slender Corinthian columns, placed in a sort of trapezium, support the centre of the church, which is very lofty and surmounted by a tower. They look inadequate to the weight they support. This church, and all in the town, were hung in black in preparation for the morrow, the anniversary of the death of Marie Antoinette.

The Duke of Wellington’s grand review was to take place in a few days, but we could not wait for it, especially in so miserable an inn as the Grand Canard, and as we have since heard that the crowds were so great numbers never got near the field,while those who did were drenched with rain — we are more reconciled. On our road to Valenciennes we passed thro’ Bouchain, likewise a fortified town, and were much plagued at the Douanes, where we were forced either to pay or lose our time, but I believe one examination was as many as we ought to have been annoyed with. At Valenciennes we so little liked its appearance, and found so little room at the hotel, that we took the advice of the man who examined our passport to push on to Mons that night. We changed horses and postillion with another carriage on our road to Quievrain and were amused to find our horses of a different and smaller breed, as well as to observe the change in the dress and physiognomy of the driver. Just before we entered Quievrain we passed the frontier marked by a ditch, and were immediately attacked by a Belgian officer of the Douane, who detained us half an hour examining a box that contained nothing, but let our portmanteaus pass unnoticed. We had passed in an instant from one country to another, a thing somewhat novel to the inhabitants of an island, yet the change was as marked as if we had passed an ocean. The physiognomy of the inhabitants changed at once. The country became better peopled and there was more of comfort and prosperity in the aspect of the villages that now met us at every step.

Night soon closed upon us, but the road was almost always lined with houses, and we were cheered with lights, especially from the numerous furnaces of the smiths. It was about 8 when we got into the Hotel de la Couronne Imperial at Mons. An immense and splendid house — clean, with civil and attentive waiters, and an excellent supper at 2 francs a head.

At breakfast we had the best little rolls we had tasted since we left England. The town is clean and flourishing. The Cathedral is of grey stone. Its outside is not striking and it wants a tower, but the inside if deficient in some of the grandeur of the French churches is remarkable for its numerous chapels, and its light and elegant tracery, particularly beneath the gallery of the middle aisle and the transepts. St Elizabeth is an ugly brick church, very lofty, of a sort of barbaric Ionic within, and decorated with more profusion than taste. St Nicolas was still worse — ugly without, ugly within, and loaded with ornaments good and bad, as thick as possible. It was here and at St Elizabeth that we first met with the miraculous image of Notre Dame de Hal — a black virgin and child. The inhabitants of Halle, a town which we passed thro’ between Mons and Brusselles, were afflicted by the plague, and all means to stop it were ineffectual, till someone was commanded in a dream to cut down a certain oak. In the interior this image was found and has ever since been an object of high veneration. It was now a time of jubilee on account of the 255th anniversary of its discovery, and all Halle was in gala. Pius the 7th had granted plenary indulgence for 100 days to whoever should go to pray, with a contrite heart, at the chapel of Notre Dame de Hal in the course of 55 days commencing with the 1st Sunday in September. I could not have believed this, had I not seen it, nor could I have believed any description that I might have heard of the town of Halle during this saintly jubilee. Fir trees, tall slender, and at equal distances were stuck against the houses on each side of the street, and garlands of flowers suspended from one to the other. Crowns and wreaths, of paper and of flowers, were hung over the streets in every part, and little temporary shops erected for the sale of rosaries, crucifixes, relics too, and little votive hands and arms, to be presented at the shrine by any whose limbs had been preserved or restored by the miraculous image. The church was nearly in the same style as the Cathedral at Mons, with elegant windows and rich tracery. But this was not the time to judge of its architecture. It was filled with kneeling figures and lighted tapers, and almost covered with garlands and other ornaments. It was an amusing sight and perfect novel to an English eye — but I must not forget that this is a digression.

The only good tower in Mons appears to be that of the Chateau, now a prison, but commenced by the Austrians for a royal palace. The inhabitants have lighter hair and complexions than in France with broader, more good humoured and more cheerful features. The old women in particular have a character of sedate respectability unknown to their livelier neighbours. They were all dressed in black cloaks with large hoods — a relic of the Spanish costume. The houses are large and many of them have two doors. Over the inferior one is written issue, a necessary notice as they are nearly alike in appearance.

From Mons we proceeded to Soignies, where we saw the Church of St Vincent, better much in the style of St Elizabeth within. The church itself is of Saxon or Lombard. St Vincent and his two sons live many years at Soignies and died there, while his wife St Waudru with her daughters stayed at Mon, and is the patronne of the Cathedral. The country to Bruxelles is populous and flat. We changed horses at La Genette and Halle. The French that was spoken round us became more and more barbarous, and at length almost merged in the Flemish. It was dark when we reached Bruxelles and we seemed to enter an enchanged city. The streets were brightly lighted form the shops and line with arcades of green holly decorated in places with flags and garlands. The whole way was line with people all in a bustle. The Prince of Orange and his bride were to make their triumphal entry into the town on the morrow, and all these gaieties were for their reception. The consequence was that we found the principal inns full, and made ourselves merry with petty inconveniences at the Hotel de Clarence.

The Cathedral of Bruxelles has little beauty on the outside, and the portals are particularly mean. Within it is grand but barbarous, but there is a chapel of beautiful architecture and an altar finely designed in the style of that at Amiens. Colossal figures of the Apostles are placed against each of the pillars of the nave fronting to the central aisle and have a grand effect. These figures are a constant decoration of the Belgic churches.

We were now warned to return home, lest the street should be too crowded for us to get back to our hotel, but we need not have been alarmed, for tho’ great numbers were collected, the crowd was so much inferior to what London would have poured forth on a similar occasion, that we could have passed at any hour. We took our station at a window of our hotel looking on the Rue de la Madeleine, and had not waited long before two or three regiments passed by towards the Gate of Laeken at which the Prince was to enter. Their light blue dresses had seen service and looked very shabby, especially after having so recently seen our own troops in their brilliant scarlet uniforms, making in their camp a gayer appearance than the French, even in the court of the Tuileries. A corps of horse that came soon after appeared to more advantage, and their plumes nodded gaily as they came down the hill. These were gone by and we waited two hours, when a car was brought out, a clumsy thing covered with clouds. The last of four that were to fall into the procession in its way thro’ the city. These cars have been in requisition I should think for these fifty years in every procession. On the Wednesday there was to be another of giants and monsters, when they will be the cars of the four elements. This Car of Hymen was placed at the corner of a street opposite to us, and we admired at leisure the four fine horses that were harnessed to it. About three, two Burgomasters came forth to arrange the Cupids and others in the car, and the poor little thin shivering divinities were brought out on men’s shoulders from a neighbouring café. There were six Cupids, besides Monsieur himself, who was the coldest divinity I ever saw, and did not seem to know what to do with the two hearts he had under his arm. I suspect he would gladly have kept to the kitchen fire and had them roasted for his dinner. A figure that we could not understand sat near the middle with a veil and distaff. Hymen’s altar was near the top, and his torch ready — but alas! the Deity himself was not forthcoming till after the Prince and Princess had passed, and two ungraceful Graces were forced to hold it for him. The immoveable gravity of these Loves and Graces, and of the two men who were binding them to their seats and trying to torture their unaccustomed limbs to something like an attitude, were so ridiculous that the procession had nearly passed without our perceiving it, till the waving of two or three handkerchiefs informed us that the unostentatious carriage below contained the Prince and Princess. The Prince seemed much pleased with the attention of his people. The Princess look’d fatigué. Two carriages followed drawn by raw backed horses, then a few shabby troops, then two thousand of the Corps Bourgeousie, much such a mob as St Giles might have furnished at an election, without uniform, stuck about with bits of orange rag, holding their muskets on their shoulders, and their swords by the points. Last came a vast shell filled with Turkish musicians. Then the Car of Brussels, a pretty lady but in danger of falling. St Michael victorious over two straw demons, and the Car of the Arts, the only one dressed with any taste. Hymen recruited with some eau de vie, now mounted his car, and closed the procession.

Such was this grand sight, announced in all the Brussels papers as unrivalled. What a burlesque on our magnificent display when the Emperor and the King of Prussia dined at Guildhall. When I left England I expected wherever I went to feel proud of her riches, her cleanliness, and her comfort, but I never expected to feel proud of her illuminations, her processions, the gaiety of her troups, the splendour of her courts and palaces. Foreigners, I thought, excelled us here, but they only excel us in the pompous falsehood of their descriptions.

The illuminations superior to those of Paris were nothing to London, but the row of lamps surmounting the green arcades had a pleasing effect and showed the clean white simple architecture of the Place Royale to great advantage. The Palace which should have been the centre of splendour was all darkness. The King did not rejoice with his subjects.

Next morning we started for Waterloo, and soon plunged into the forest of Soignies, very unlike any other forest I have seen. It is so dense and dark that sunshine seems never to reach the straight damp road that runs thro’ it, and daylight scarcely penetrates its recesses. The water stands on the surface and seems preparing a peat bog for future ages. The trees, tall and straight without branches or underwood, rear their dusky stems so thickly as to resemble the basaltic pillars of Staffa, and daylight cannot be distinguished between them. Association and novelty kept our spirits up for some time, but at last we wearied of the unvaried scene, undiversified by a glade or a cottage, and were glad when sunshine and Waterloo opened upon us together — but the forest again closed round us, nor quitted us till we arrived at Mont St Jean and descended to require a guide and make the circuit of the field on foot. Pierre Brassin tho’ not so celebrated as La Coste of La Belle Alliance, is I believe considered a more faithful guide, and tells his tale with an enthusiasm that is very pleasing. He had been a soldier by conscription, had served three years near Strasbourg and was sure Buonaparte would have made him serve again had he been victorious. Passing by the farm of Mont St Jean we proceeded by the Charleroi road to La Haye Sainte which has been repaired and bears an inscription to the officers who fell there. About a fortnight before Pierre Brassin had conducted there a Scottish Lady whose husband had been killed in its defence. She fell upon the ground and kissed it, and he said he never saw anyone weep so in his life. He could not tell her where her husband was buried, for the ground near us was filled with dead bodies, and the thickness of the stubble attested the place where he had assisted to bury some hundreds of Cuirassiers, killed in one of the charges by the Scotch Greys. Indeed where it had been ploughed again after the harvest many a bone was visible, and a boy who was prowling near us turned up a skull, but tho’ we had purchased some buttons and eagles, we were not ambitious of such trophies. Wellington’s tree stood near us, and tho’ shattered by balls, and robbed of many a twig by those who wished like ourselves a memorial, it promises to mark for many years the station of our gallant Commander. To the left we were shown Planchenoit, where Picton fell. Frischemont where the Prussians appeared and were mistaken by Buonaparte for the troops of Grouchy. To the right we were particularly called on to observe the little copse where the Prince of Orange was wounded and taken prisoner, and where he threw his order to the Chasseurs who rescued him. This wound was most fortunate for him, and he is never spoken of without some allusion to it. Ah! c’est un brave prince is in everyone’s mouth, and it half reconciles the Belgians to the union, but they still love a
fling at the Dutch.

We now entered the positions occupied by the French and saw the little hillock called Les Cailloux, the highest land in all Belgium. Alas! it is well named the Low Countries. The little Auberge of La Belle Alliance and the heights of Mont Plaisir, the principal station of the French artillery — but how little of the scene was really new to me. I had studied the panorama till I knew it all, and wondered what was become of the men and horses and all the dreadful bustle of the scene. How few traces of battle now remain. Even the battered walls of Hougomont which we next visited across the fields, might have owed their ruin to casual fire. 800 of the French were buried there, and their ashes scarcely raised the soil. I could have wished that instead of being thus dispersed over the field the bodies of the slain had been collected into one grand sepulchral mound — the most simple, yet the most durable of monuments. The condition of Hougomont has been often described. The flames stopped miraculously at the feet of the crucifix, and left the chapel standing alone. All the rest is desolation, and the two or three trees still standing near it have been blasted by fire and pierced with bullets.

We returned by the Nivelles road to Mont St Jean. Our guide took care to remind us that the English called it the Battle of Waterloo, the Prussians the Battle of La Belle Alliance, the French the Battle of Mont St Jean. The English call it Waterloo because it was their headquarters before the action. The Prussians La Belle Alliance because it was there that they joined in and commenced the pursuit. The French the battle of Mont St Jean because it was there they began the battle in endeavouring to storm the heights. But the French called it right. He did not wish his little village to lose its fame. He said he never expected the English would have fought so well, they were si doux. They had always shared their bread and meat with them in their cottages, and sat at the same table with them, or they would have nothing to eat. But the Prussians took their cattle and drove them about and beat them. Oh! the English were fine troops. They were resolved to conquer or to die, and they stood like a wall. The women were all sent into the forest of Soignies, and the men stayed at Mont St Jean to attend the wounded who were constantly brought in. But Peter Brassain said that were war ever to come again to that spot he would leave it, for he could not bear to see again what he had witnessed then.

The Duke of Wellington before the battle desired all who were not resolved to stand like rocks, and who had fear of any kind to leave him, and the Belgian told me that a few Dutch did go but no one else. A party preceded us over the field, and when from their plaids and features I observed that they were Scotch, he called to their guide to be sure and show them the place where the Greys had charged.

We were anxious for a relic and at last found an iron cannon ball, which my fair friend purposes to convert into a lead pincushion. I was content with some sprigs of Forget-me-not which grew plentifully. We stopped at the Church of Waterloo to see the monuments erected by some of the surviving officers to those who fell

“Dulces et decorum est pro patria mori”

Some are well composed but all ill executed.

On our return to Brussels we stopped at the King’s Coachmaker M. Van Kampen Hout to see what is here called the real carriage of Buonaparte, his hat and stick having been found in it. It is an unhandsome, uncomfortable, unlined, unpainted thing, and whatever the Belgians say is much more likely to have belonged to his Secretary than the one shown in London as it has abundant convenience for papers and for nothing else. But it is possible that Buonaparte might have skulked into this one to avoid pursuit.

The field of Waterloo is a theme so interesting to an English Heart that it has occupied longer than I had intended and I cannot say one word of the superstition which lingers in the Netherlands, tho’ nearly expelled from France, of the highly interesting city of Antwerp, its fine Cathedral, its Mount Calvary, which seems to breathe the very spirit of St Dominic to whose church it was annexed. Adieu till we meet in England. I have seldom been more happy than on this tour, and yet my affection for my country and my pride in her superiority has increased at every step.

Your faithful Lavina