The Alvan Stewart Papers
|May 16 - June 10, 1831
Across the Atlantic,
|June 11 - June 18, 1831
Landing in Liverpool;
|June 19 - June 26, 1831
|June 27 - June 30, 1831
From London to Paris
|July 1 - July 8, 1831
|July 9 - July 14, 1831
|July 15 - July 21, 1831
From Paris to Havre
|July 22 - September 1, 1831
Return across the Atlantic,
From Paris to Havre, July 15 - July 21, 1831
Friday morning half after one o'clock, of July 15th we came to the town of Contois which I believe to have been surrounded by walls and ditches from what I saw by starlight, we stopped a moment here and I got out and looked about and thought from what I could see and understand from others the town was a respectable one. I must not forget to say that we had already crossed the Seine twice in our journey, it being so crooked that it is about 200 miles by the Seine from Paris to Rouen and about 90 miles by land. As daylight broke upon us, we saw in various directions divers chateaus, ancient residences of the rich and noble; the character of the country the same as before described, gravelly, reddish soil resting on clay and at other times on chalk. Elm, basswood, sycamore tul trees, and others I did not know the name of, sun about half an hour high, and 60 or 70 miles from Paris we broke upon a valley as wild and picturesque as the valley of Pompey Hollow surrounded by the Onondaga Hills. The hills were very high, the valley large and exceeding rich. By seven or eight o'clock we reached the high elevated and sublimely picturesque hills of Rouen from which 1000 feet below, you begin to catch glimpses of the silver Seine, and her marble bridges, islands, and the lofty spires of the Cathedral of Rouen, the towers of the Abbey and of the churches of St. Lois, and St. Etoi, while on the other side of the landscape in the far distant west, on a mount, you see the time beaten castle with its towers of the great Montmorenci.
With chained wheels, or wheels tied by ropes by unscrewing certain machinery, we descended at every point of the compass in our spiral toil the mighty hills of Rouen, and certainly no hill in American which I ever descended equalled this. At different points, chalk cliffs, white as snow 5 or 600 feet high and perpendicular burst upon one with a sort of surprize, terrace on terrace, house upon house, vines laden with grapes, sprinkle the declivities of the great eastern barrier of Rouen, till all the beauties of the vale, spread themselves before you in which the navigation of the Rouen, in the shape of everything from the unshapely ark of Noah, to the well built sloop lie crowded below the bridge built of large boats. The wheels of diligence begin to rattle on the pavement and impertinent runners from the hotels, have already sprung upon the steps of the diligence with their heads in at our windows, as we moved through the streets, chattering French and broken English, with the cards of their house in their hands, begging our custom at their several houses. At length after threading several dark and narrow streets we were set down in the diligence yard, where importunity became importunate from these trouble, some and noisy rascals. Our baggage was again overhauled, and we came to a house, where a thousand things have been promised which we don't expect will be performed.
After breakfast we commenced visiting the antiquities of Rouen, some of which are not without interest to the reader of Ancient History. The great Cathedral of Rouen is a pile of gothic greatness, which truly startles the beholder, at its awful height and magnitude one would suppose that all the men in Normandy could not have built it in a century. It was built at two different periods. The first part was built by Rollo the first great Duke of Normandy, great grandfather of William the Conqueror. Rollo the founder is buried here, I saw his coffin and his likeness as large as life cut in marble lying on its back on the top of the stone coffin. He was a fine looking short old man; he has lain here quietly ever since 917, or 1014 years since his death. William the conqueror destroyed part of the Cathedral, then in the next reign in 1100 it obtained its present size with towers 300 feet high being a building 500 feet long and 300 wide. The residence of an Archbishop and Cardinal, who live in an immense building adjoining it. Here lies buried the emaciated form of the father of the Conqueror, lying in marble upon the top of his coffin. Here is also buried Henry, the brother of Richard Couer de Lion.
A few years ago, since time made such a feeble impression on this cathedral lightning thought it would show what it could do. It tore out 20 or 30 tons of stone in the course of its ripping down, this long tower on its west side. But it made a very feeble impression on it.
We next visited the Abbey, the churches of St. Lois, of St. Eloi. They are all grand and imposing monuments of Antiquity. I next visited the monument erected to the memory of Joan of Arc, the La Pucellie. She was adjudged at this place by her foolish judges, to be guilty of death as a witch and was burnt where her monument now stands. I took a piece of clay from the wall of a corner of the Abbey in which the poor girl was tried and condemned to be burnt.
I forgot to mention that the French Diligence in addition to its four apartments, the exterieur, the interieur, coupe and undeau, carries frequently one and a half tons of luggage or merchandize on the top; our coach passengers and luggage were all weighed up by the public weighers at the out barrier of Paris, but when we came to Fleury, we were weighed again, when it was found we weighed 600 weight more than the law allowed being 6600, and the law allowing only 6000 pounds weight, as it might endanger passengers, 600 weight was ordered off of merchandize, and the conductor fined 50 francs on the spot, which he had his choice to pay or lie three months in prison, he paid it. Yesterday in the afternoon on the Diligence leaving here to ascend the eastern hill, they hitched eleven large stallions to the diligence, three on for wheel horses four abreast on the next line, then two abreast, and then two more abreast making eleven horses in the whole. the driver has an awful pair of boots in which he is nearly buried alive, and rides on the near hind wheel horse on a saddle, each horse has an immense sheepskin covering his hames and collar about his neck; his gearing is amazingly heavy, ancient and every way worthy of the dark ages. The tyres on the wheels of the diligence are eight inches wide.
July 16th. Today I hired a sort of covered cart with two horses, one of which horses drew inside of shafts and the other with different gear drew outside, with a strangeness, that I defy any man to have ideas by which he can make himself understood upon paper; it was an overgrown cabriolet, with tyres six inches wide and one thick, for which I paid five francs, for going about ten miles to visit three chateaus on the great western range of hills which overlook Rouen and the sinuous Seine. After leaving Rouen and travelling on the flats one and a half miles we began to wind up the hill, or young mountain as I called it, when one of the most delightful views of nature in the amplitude of her domain, with a rich simplicity by no means equalled in the art bestowed on this landscape by man for many ages, gradually unfolded itself. At last we reached the top of this high western range of hills, and after driving three fourth's of a mile came to the chateau of the Mayor of Rouen, which I have heretofore called by misinformation the Castle of Montmorenci. As we opened the iron gate and walked from the west towards the east where the chateau of Le Faive was before us, a fine three story brick building, and about one third larger than Judge Cooper's old brick house. At the iron gate through which we passed two marble lions crouching appeared very well. The house is surrounded by a garden, its proprietor is or was mayor of Rouen. It is surrounded by a garden of flowers, a decent old man came and showed us all around, and on the east side of the chateau the east wall of the garden is sixty feet perpendicular, although it rises but four feet above the garden, owing to eastern declivity on which it hangs. Here is certainly one of the most beautiful places for a house in the world. The garden and house, walks, groves and everything on this mount stand 400 feet above the Seine; which seems to be gliding at your feet, with its beautiful islands and twenty miles of crook, before you all Rouen, its surrounding villages, the boast plying on the Seine, and about 4000 acres of meadow cut in diamonds, squares, circles, with its thousands stacks of hay, while your eye rests on a line of hills in the east, which line is waving, for ten or fifteen miles and immediately in the South abrupt chalk cliffs for miles, white as snow, while Montmorenci castle lifts its head in solemn pride in the southeast. All this prodigality of nature and art stand below you as if wooing you to leave the solitary mount and mingle in the busy scenes, which are going on below. The master of the chateau was from home, an upper servant invited us in, here we found in the first and second story, ten or twelve rooms done up with chastity and singular neatness, abounding in engravings of every sort, with a marble bust of Voltaire and Rousseau, and a painting of Louis 16th. I found fine silk chairs, silk damask curtains, marble tables, and fire places look exactly like the Cherry Valley marble when polished, which tables of marble are common in all the best restaurateurs in Paris of the like kind. A number of the eastern doors to the chateau when their cases are taken off and thrown back in the room being mirrors, reflect all of this gorgeous scenery of nature before described which you can see at different angles as you are sitting in different apartments in the rooms, without the trouble of standing in the eastern or southern doors of the chateau. In fact in your bed in the grand bedroom, all this panoramic view can be had while lying in bed by means of immense mirrors, in which bed room I saw a painting demonstrating some of the appetites peculiar to Venus.
Around the gardens were some marble vases cut very pretty. there is a well here three hundred and fifty feet deep. After leaving this place, where they young Frenchman told us he was very sorry his master was not at home as he was very fond of Americans. Duchess of Berri formerly staid here two and three weeks at a time, when she came into this part of France to collect some rents belonging to her.
In coming here we passed another chateau which had belonged to a woman who had greatly concerned in the corn trade and navigation on the Seine; on returning we alighted and went to this chateau, which is not so fine as the other as a building, although it enjoys the fine views before named; it is perfectly embowered among old trees and exuberant foliage, and has many dogs chained up and as it began to rain I card little about seeing it, when we went a few rods away a fine looking young man came running after us saying if we wished to see the chateau we were welcomed to it, but as it rained I declined and hurried back to my cabriolet, while a little beggar girl sung me a song back in the most plaintive manner the substance of which was, that her father and mother were dead, and she was left alone in the world with nothing but a straw hat and a little grey gown, while she wanders alone; I gave her a sou. But whose humanity would not be touched at the wide spread misery in France since the last revolution. Rouen was a manufacturing town, where calicoes and handkerchiefs were made and dyed. The factories are down; I was showed one that before the revolution fed a thousand persons, which is now entirely silent. Manufacturers, who a year ago could get five and six francs cannot get now over half a franc or ten sous a day, laborers for the farmers cannot get over four, five and six and ten sous a day, and hundreds of mechanics and manufacturers offer to work for their bread, but many of them cannot be employed even at that rate. Before the late revolution, shipping came up the Seine from all quarters and took the manufacturer's wares from their shops, but it is no more. A father or mother by their labor may in some instances earn a little bread for themselves during the day while the children beg. At Rouen alone there are 4000 of it population begging all the time. You are assailed every moment you are in the street. The cries of distress are truly dreadful. Little hoes are dug in the sides of banks by the roadside where the father, mother and children lie in a little hole with a pail to bring them water, and a little straw to lie on. These people peel the bark off from certain trees and boil it and boil grass and drink its juice. Last winter these starving people peeled the trees to such a degree, that gensd'armes or soldiers were sent by the police to watch the trees to prevent, these starving people killed the soldiers, who were sent to deprive them of their last resource. And in fact the employment became so dangerous that the soldiers refused to act in it at the imminent risk of their lives, so that the people got bark without further difficulty. The truth is, the world is afraid to deal with France, everything is so unsettled, her commerce and manufactures languish for want of public confidence. No man will invest large sums of money in that which is tangible, that an enraged mob may burn or destroy in the first moments of their delirium or madness. Everything is at a stand and the sentiment is becoming popular and common among the vulgar, that a great part of their misfortunes arise from an excess of population and that every other man must be killed off by a civil war to make room for the rest in overpeopled France.
But this is far from being the secret of their difficulty, which really is a want of private and public confidence in her institutions. convince the Capitalist of France of the stability of her institutions and a due observance of law and good faith in public and private engagements, and her population would find an abundance of bread and employment. Such visitations of distress will follow this nation, until they become more anxious to support the laws, than to raise new revolutions. I saw a grandmother, a very sensible woman, who said she had seen the blood run in torrents in the gutters of Paris in the old revolution of 1789, who was now, returning with her grandson from Paris, where he had become very much infected with the principles of those cadets, who think to revolutionize France annually as a holiday. She informed us blood was spilt in different quarters of Paris on the evening I left, the Republican Cadets being determined on the Bastile celebration to plant the tree of Liberty, and the National Guards prevented it at the expense of some blood, and have shut up a number of hundred of these brainless young men, who wish to rule France, before they know how to govern themselves.
This day brings dreadful accounts of the Cholera and Dantzick, St. Petersburgh, and at Southampton in England whose immediate connection with Havre in France makes it probably, it will reach this place soon, but I hope next Wednesday will put me on the bosom of the old Atlantic.
July 17th. This morning, a few minutes before six o'clock in the morning we left Rouen in a shower of rain and went on board of a little, mean, contemptible, dirty, steamboat which, once in three days, navigates the Seine from Rouen to Havre about 70 miles as this crooked river runs. Frenchmen as well as the general traveller of Europe, acknowledge the scenery of the Seine from Rouen to Havre de Grace to be as varied, rich and interesting as any in France, if not more so, and much resembling in its character the fine scenery of the Rhine except that it is destitute of some of the time ruined castles, which are said to abound on the Rhine. The country on one side or the other and sometimes on both is very lofty and sometimes presents perpendicular cliffs of chalk, with large swells of country as the hills fall back. Many places I saw doors into the sides of the chalk rocks a little above high water, where poor persons have excavated holes in the sides of this perpendicular soft rock, and made themselves habitations, as swallows do in sand and clay hills. There are a number of little villages at different distances and chateaus. The names of many I do not remember, some I do among which were Labole, Duclaire, Mulert with a chateau of the Emperor of Russia, Cautbec Vilquierur and Quilboeuf. Just before arriving at Havre there is a neat village opposite side of the Seine, or east side form Havre called Honfleur, and on the same side of the Seine as Havre above a mile or two is Harfleur, a pretty place. I was very sea sick the last hour of our passage by the confluence of the Sea and Seine, which made a bad smell. Many long strips of the Seine have immense meadows on them which come to the margin of the River. I found a most interesting gentleman on board who was very obliging to me, General Arthur O'Connor, who was convicted in the troubles of 1798, in Ireland, and fled to France, and married the only child of the famous Condorcet, who lost his life in the French revolution, during the dominancy of Robespierre's faction. Gen'l. O'Connor was promoted to be a French General and is a particular friend of La Fayette, and with him planned the late revolution and gave the orders. Gen'l. O'Connor was Inspector-general of the Loire Department under the present government, which office he resigned when La Fayette threw up the command of the National Guards. Considering that the present government had not treated them as they ought. Gen'l. O'Connor told me he was 64 years of age, his wife 39, and he has two promising sons one 21, the other 23, and another of still greater promise he lost. His wife's father's estates were confiscated, but part of them restored on which they now live in good style, about fourteen leagues from Paris in Normandy. He lost an estate in Ireland of L20,000, a year which was confiscated. He has never been to Ireland since 1798; his wife goes and collects some rent from a part of his estate in Ireland, which by some reason was not confiscated, where she is now and he goes to Havre to meet her on her return. He appears to be a great republican and a man of uncommonly clear and elevated mind with a polished education. Earl Grey, his intimate friend now being prime minister, he thinks he shall apply to him for liberty to visit Ireland this fall which no doubt will be granted. I became much interested in this individual, who was so kind as to promise me a work he has lately written. The north side of the Seine from Rouen to Havre is called upper Normandy and the south east side corner Normandy. Gen'l. O'Connor says, our secret of the distress in France is the Carlists or friends of Absolutions in Charles 10th have withdrawn all their capital from the country which produces great distress in the manufactories, while careful men are afraid to invest. He says that the Carlist faction distribute money among the mobs to encourage them to harass the government. The most surprising of all things, which I learnt in France was that Louis Philippe, the richest man in the world, should have been so avaricious as to have asked an appropriation of eighteen millions of francs from the lately dissolved Parliament to support the dignity of his station, which I rejoice to hear was rejected by referring him to the Parliament to meet on the 23rd instant whose political complexion is such that is will not vote him a franc, but will also break down the Chamber of Peers, so far as that body claims seats by virtue of being born legislators. A senate may take the place of the Chamber of peers. But I doubt whether Louis Philippe is king another year. He will retire I believe to cultivate his immense estates. The Norman French are parsimonious and litigious. Gen'l. O'Connor says there is more litigation in Normandy than in the rest of France; here lawyers prosper at a very uncommon degree.
After arriving in Havre, I put up at a French house at the Hotel du Bien Venu, or Hotel of Welcome.
July 18th. After breakfast I visited the shipping and among the rest the fine ship Havre, Captain De Peyster, with whom I am going one day later than I supposed, that is on the 21st instant, on account of the tide. The ship is new and looks like a palace, and is strong, and this will be her ninth crossing of the Atlantic. The town of Havre is an interesting, modern, fortified town of thirty-thousand inhabitants full of commercial activity. Havre's fortifications are of a recent date, triple walls and triple ditches ought when well manned with bravery to defend the town. There is a high bridge or hill of Sand commencing at the west and north parts of the town which runs 300 or 400 feet high, slanting up from the town at an angle of 35 degrees. On this steep slope are fine groves of woods; retired and wealthy merchants, scattered all along this shelving terrace. Many of them are very beautiful and look as if the owner ought to be a happy man. They have their shipping brought in through canals and completely land-locked as Liverpool is. It is very fine. The American ships, both packets and merchantmen so far excel in size and beauty those of other countries, that I felt gratified in making the comparison.
I was much amused at seeing a Swiss family packing up their things in a ship for America. Their appearance was truly unique, they had brought from the mountains of Switzerland 50 or 100 weight or whiffle trees, eveners the wood past alone and many other chiefly made of wood of very common and coarse construction, they had their old plough, hoes and handles. I have just returned from examining Capt. De Peyster's library and am pleased in saying there is a good selection and quite enough for the voyage.
In the morning early I went to that part of the town in the west where I ascended on to the high table land in the Northwest, and walked on the edge of a solitary, precipitous bank 500 feet high perpendicularly rounding to the north about three miles which brought me to the telegraph and two lighthouses tenders. I stepped in and took some refreshments and bought a fine shell, and went out and looked in the far distant west upon the blue expanse of water, while in a moment my mind flew over the vast space to Cherry Valley, where it nestled in the bosom of my family, "but alas recollection at hand hurried me back to.......Not quite so bad as that but something like a cousin to it. I looked over the dreadful cliffs and saw men on the shores below hunting shells, who looked like little boys not more than ten years old the distance was so great, and a man in a skiff looked like a boy in a bread trough. In walking a little further I saw a man prostrate, apparently asleep within twelve inches of falling over, he awoke, rose up, and proved to be a dutchman from Strasburgh in the French excise service lying here to watch smugglers, and could not speak one word of French. A queer circumstance, to see this man so employed by the French government to lie on the ground and watch smugglers, while her own citizens are literally starving to death in the streets for want of employment.
I then turned and went into the country to a common Norman farmer's house, examined his barn, his barn floors of stones, his walls so tight to the barn in stone and mortar as not to admit rats. I then examined their ploughs, which go on two wheels as large as the two fore wheels of a waggon, with power to screw it up or down so as to make it run deep or shallow, with whiffle trees and eveners so that four horses always plough abreast. I visited the garden, very pretty. An Irish lady connected with the family, visiting there, came out and invited me into the parlor, laid with painted bricks in diamonds one white and one black, and apologized for taking me through the kitchen, which was very clean and nice. I spent half an hour with this most intelligent and hospitable lady who invited me to take wine. She then showed me a road which would lead me through a rural district back to Havre, which I followed through finely cultivated fields, over hill and dale, until I reached the Hotel Du Bien Venu, where after resting, at five P.M. I sat down to a "Table d' Hote," eat my dinner with the French fashionables, and took another long excursion among the shipping and looked upon thousands of things which it would be useless to record.
July 19th Havre. I visited different parts of the town and am deeply impressed with the public spirit of Havre, which has done with its thirty thousand inhabitants to render navigation secure by means of her stone masonry and immense walls of cut granite and in making basins, by which all the ships ride at ease and perfect safety. It appears however to have been done in the last few years. I went into the large French church at Havre, which is very large pile compared with our Protestant churches. But they have done one thing better, and beyond any other Roman Catholic church I have visited in being so good as to put the name of the saint whether represented in marble or in painting at the foot of the saint. I was thus unexpectedly and agreeably introduced to many of the saints of whom I had often heard but had not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance until this time. I was struck today as I have often been before in looking at the immense expense laid out on one of those huge piles, called Roman Catholic chapels, churches, or cathedrals, and could not but lament, that less money had been bestowed in this way. For in fact those vast buildings, with the gorgeous paraphanalia with which they are arrayed, would have built at least in many instances, one hundred places of worship in that respectable way which distinguishes some of the best Presbyterian and Baptist churches. And the effect of a Roman Catholic church with all its pomp, upon the young mind and ignorant, is very pernicious; for the ignorant worshippers in these temples are at best but sincere idolators, who come and go away with no distinct object of devotion in their minds except such as are visible to their eyes in the shape of Christ in sliver, stone, or canvass, expiring on the cross or in some act connected with his passion. The Virgin Mary is the main personage after the image of Christ, and in many instances is preferred as an object of devotion. The priest or sincere worshipper never passes in any part of the church where the images of our Savior or the Virgin are before them without a penitential low, a crossing, and whispering over certain forms of worship.
Roman Catholic churches stand open from four in the morning till the going down of the sun, and worship of one sort or other is going on from sunrise till noon, prayers in the afternoon. Sometimes 100 can be seen, at other times but three or four. I sincerely believe that the Roman Catholic Religion has been the great agent in turning the Nation as such into a nation of infidels, free thinkers, deists and atheists.
The other day a young cadet at Paris who fought on the three days last summer with considerable credit to himself and not being rewarded by government as he expected blew his brains out with a pistol, and left a letter on the table to his father and mother, justifying his suicide, by saying "death is an eternal sleep and before you receive this I shall forever cease to exist."
What an extraordinary doctrine of atheism to be in the mouth of a boy 18 years old, in assigning the reasons for his suicide. I also when into the sea, bathing for the first time in my life. where I went in was where quite a surf breaks on the shore, and understanding that sea bathing was healthy I went in. But the wind blowing very brisk, I was very much chilled and on the whole it was very disagreeable. There was something very queer for some time after in putting my tongue out on my lips to taste the salt so strongly.
I then visited my steam boat acquaintance Gen'l. Arthur O'Connor, whom I found much improved in his room at No. 1 Rue Paris, Havre. He received me with great kindness; and impressed me by his conversation and powers of mind that he was not a whit behind Thomas Addis Emmett his compeer in the great undertaking in 1798 of Ireland's independence. He told me that the British Government first imprisoned him six months in the Lower at Dublin, and that the Irish from a prophecy which had been handed down for ages, that inasmuch as King O'Connor in the reign of Henry 2nd lost Ireland, that an O'Connor would restore Ireland to its independence, and that the peasantry of Ireland believed he was the man. He told me that he as Generalissimo, brought Emmet, Lord Fitzgerald, Dr. McNevin and all these men into the measure, and himself made the bargain with the French directory for the landing of a French army in Ireland; he said Emmet was like Cicero a man of talents but had no moral courage or personal bravery. he was confined with Emmet and about 100 others in Fort George, in Scotland, just on the confines of the Highlands for four years and six months. His fare was poor, he then agreed although he had been acquitted of crime to accept of perpetual banishment from his country, and forfeit the right he had under the will of Lord Longueville to his estates of L20,000 a year, in order to save the heads of hundreds of his countrymen, whom Lord Castlereagh threatened to destroy by packed juries, unless O'Connor would accept of the boon of exile. Because they said to O'Connor, you are the chief, and if you are out of the country the troubles will end. At first O'Connor refused, he was then removed to another prison immediately before the gallows where four or five of his friends were executed daily till it broke his heart and he consented.
He told me of a letter written by him to Lord Castlereagh 100,000 copies of which were printed at the time accusing him of every species of moral fraud, corruption and knavery, and that Castlereagh never got over it to his death. He mentioned that when Castlereagh sent him and his brother with some other prisoners from Ireland to Fort George - it was the intention to have drowned him. A captain with an old sloop was employed; night coming on, wind blowing, the captain unacquainted with the coast, proposed to put into a bay where the British frigate lay, the captain of the frigate ordered the captain of the sloop to proceed, with his prisoners, or he would fire into the sloop and sink it. A few minutes after getting under way, the wind blowing a perfect hurricane, O'Connor's brother called him, O'Connor, to look and see the black rocks of Scotland a mile and a half ahead from which nothing buy Omnipotence could save them and the brother proposed to jump into the sea supposing it easier to drown, than to drown and be beat to death at the same time - the captain said all was lost and they would be in eternity in ten minutes, O'Connor dissuaded his brother from leaping in the sea and told him he must stand on the side of the ship opposite to which the masts would fall, which would kill some, but before he had said so much, a miracle of God was performed, the sea fell in an instant to quietness, but he captain said they must yet die as the rudder would not steer the ship, but before he had done speaking a fine breeze sprung up and blew directly from the rocks, upon which the captain and all present beholding this double miracle performed for their salvation fell upon the deck like dead men; while they poured out thanks to Almighty God for this signal deliverance. He told me that three or four nights after he was confined in Fort George, at midnight he heard a tap at his prison door, he asked who he, and what he wanted; the voice replied, I am your sentinel, and am commissioned by the secret societies of Scotland to say that with Ireland they have jointly appointed you their chief to take the command of them the first moment an opportunity offers. But that never occurred. He says he issued an interdict in 1797, that no United Irishman should walk or fight with a shillaleh, drink rum, or use tobacco under the penalty of expulsion from the society, and he told me it was wonderful what a reformation it produced. But he ways the Irish at home or abroad are a gossipping, quarrelsome, thoughtless set of mortals, without any self government. They are made to be slaves, they are so jealous of each other. He says there is not however an Irish peasant but prays for him night and morning, and thinks a thousand times more of him an exile in France than they would at home doing all he could for them. He says O'Comiell is not a friend of Liberty, and that it will be found that his popularity hunting talent is intended purely for his own promotion, that he is anxious to be the highest judicial functionary of Ireland. If this administration gives him that office he will be contented to say no more about the liberty of Ireland or her separate Parliament.
He says it is not in the nature of a genuine Roman Catholic to be a friend to liberty. He says the Irish which fled from Ireland to France before the revolution in England of 1688 were all absolutists or friends of despotism; those who have come over to France since that great event to seek promotion in the French armies have been genuine republicans, and having examined the genius of the Institutions of the United States, he is the most profound admirer of them, and considers himself an American Republican.
I considered it essential before I left France to see her theater and opera as constituting one of the great sources of amusement for the nation, and with a view to see and know as much as I could, I just looked into the theater at Paris, but it was so full and warm I withdrew; but tonight at Havre where there is a large handsome theater and opera I took a ticket in the most respectable department for three francs for myself and paid three for Joseph that he might interpret. The first was a comedy of a fortune-hunting, swindling rascal who had a wife, attempting to marry a second wife, in which he was foiled on the wedding day; very well acted. The next was opera in which the following play was sung accompanied by a band of music from beginning to end with three interludes, it lasted two hours. The story was that of a handsome servant girl being in love with a young officer, the son of the man and woman with whom she lived. The father is willing the match should take place the old woman is very cross and is unwilling her son shall marry the servant girl. Ninnette that was her name. Ninnette's father was sergeant in the army, hi wife dead, his whole affections fixed on Ninnette, his captain refuses Ninnette's father a furlough to come and see his daughter, the father in a burst of rage murders his captain, escapes, is starving, in disguise comes to the house where Ninnette lives; she is horror struck at his situation; he, trembling at every leaf, officers hunting him; Ninnette steals a silver spoon of her mistress, sells it to a jew to get money to give her father to flee with, the lady of the house, counts her spoons finds one gone - Ninnette is accused, is arrested, has a formal trial at law, is convicted and imprisoned; her father reappears; Ninnette vindicates her innocence in a curious way by getting the spoon back and finding by means of a friend in a Parrot's nest, an old lawyer tries to seduce Ninnette; she refuses; her innocence is vindicated; she and the young officer are married; all are happy; and the whole conducted in the most extravagant solo's, duo's, trios, quartos, and sometimes twenty singing, and the whole band playing through the whole with the most violent action; tears, kneeling, prostration, running, fighting, all done in music. I confess it was novelty to me not without considerable interest I came home at 11 P.M. read a chapter in Job and went to bed.
July 20th, Havre. This was the morning we were to have sailed, but the captain to my great sorrow, talks very cooly about tides, and winds, and tomorrow. I am afraid from some reason, that I shall hear the same excuses on the 21st. I have visited different parts of the town, but am quite tired of it, and long to see no town at this time, except the town of New York.
I saw notices affixed by the Minister of the Marine bureau, regulating the intercourse of all vessels with this port, under the severest penalties, on account of the cholera morbus, especially all vessels coming from the shores of the Baltic, from Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Prussia, the Hanse Towns, and Holland. I hear that Constantine the brother of Nicholas is dead by this disease; Deibitsch is dead of the same. From the easy intercourse between the shores of the Baltic and Havre, it is expected momently, and every day when this place may be found to be the seat of this dreadful malady in France. If I had prosecuted my journey under such alarming circumstances, as the present, in relation to this disease, my situation might have been very distressing, even if I had not been a victim of the complaint; still let it once rage in Havre, London or Liverpool, an end is put to the intercourse which now exists, with such manifold facilities, by means of the packets. No communication would be continued. New York would fear to let such vessels enter Sandy Hook infected. These vessels when uninfected would fear to come near any infected town, in England, or on the continent, and would fear to take a well passenger from those towns on board, lest the seeds of that mortal complaint should lie in him and spring into existence, when the vessel was on her voyage, to the manifest destruction of the passengers and her crew. Reason forbids any rational being, without an adequate cause or stern necessity, placing himself in a condition of so much danger. If duty called me into danger, that would be my excuse; but it appears like fool-hardiness to brave unnecessary risks and danger. Morality and religion lift their voices against such folly and temerity. These reasons, God being willing, compel me to recross the Atlantic, long before I was expected by my dear wife, children and friends.
July 21st. In the morning half after 7 A.M. still in Havre. I feel quite unwell this morning, slept badly, had the nightmare, last night - at 4 A.M. sent Joseph to ship to know when she sails; captain says, if tide is high enough at 4 P.M. I feel so unwell I believe I will go to bed. I laid till 1/2 after 9 A.M. got up and felt some better; eat breakfast; paid my bill and went with my baggage to the ship. I dined out. I slept this night at the Hotel de Holland.