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likewise bestow much pains on their dress, which, although frequently appearing fantastical in our eyes, is very creditable to them as indicative of parental affection. Neither do they overlook them in their amusements. A Frenchman and his wife, in the middle classes of life, are seldom seen taking their pleasure unaccompanied—if they have any-by their children.
FUNERALS AND MORTALITY.
I alluded to the former of these unpleasing subjects in the preceding paper, but was silent as to the last. I have reason to believe that the proportion of deaths to the population is greatly more in France than in England. I have, ever since I commenced residing in this country, been forcibly struck with the number of funerals, as also, still more so, with the number of craped hats (if I may use the expression) of the country-people. I have taken the trouble often to remark them, on market days, and found them to an almost appalling amount. count for this in three ways. First, the system of living is of that washy nature, amongst the middle and lower orders, that little resistance can be expected to acute diseases. Secondly, the absurd and dangerous practice of the generality of their medical men waiting for directing symptoms, critical days, and crises, must occasion numerous fatal terminations to diseases which would have yielded at once to prompt and vigorous measures, and more active medicines. It would be ridiculous in me to state as a fact what might be capable of refutation, but it is as true as that I have a pen in my hand at this moment, that, when my gardener was taken ill with a violent cold, three years back, his doctor pronounced that he would have a forty days illness !! Nor was this the worst of it. The poor devil was condemned to a forty days' fast, and had it not been for some physic from my kitchen, body and soul would have sunk together under the regimen prescribed.
It is a well-known fact, and stated by me in one of my contributions to a monthly contemporary two years back, that, whilst the cholera raged in Calais, and its vicinity, not more than six English persons fell a sacrifice to it, whilst upwards of a hundred-and-fifty fatal cases occurred among the French. . Amongst the soldiers in France, also, the the mortality is great, evidently the consequence of unsubstantial food ; and, as I should say, not enough of it for men exposed to night air, and that of the worst description, when on guard in the immediate neighbourhood of the fosses which surround the towns.
Then I attribute increased mortality in the rural districts to insufficiency of clothing. Look at even a French farmer—to say nothing of his labourer-on his road to market in the winter. What a cold and comfortless appearance he makes in his loose and thin blue frock, his equally loose and thin linen trousers, and it is more than even betting that he has no stockings under his ankle boots. Then the labouring population; who ever sees one of them warmly clad, as they are in our country, in their thick woollen jackets, and other articles of dress proportionably weather-tight? Not one French labourer in ten would be found to have stockings on for at least ten months in the year, and I have seen numbers of them stockingless in the depth of winter. Who then can be surprised that death should walk with a hastened step
April.- vol. LVIII. NO. CCXXXIT.
through a land which seems to invite his presence ; for, in addition to the above, the houses of the labouring poor, as well as of the majority of the farmers are generally deficient in the protection and comfort required by men who have been exposed to fatigue under the influence of every description of weather. We might apply the words of Horace to this picture of a certain portion of the French community:
“ Nova febrium Terris incubuit cohors;
Semotique prius tarda successitas
Lethi, correpuit gradum." The proceedings of the lower orders of the French people on a death occurring in their family greatly resembles those of the ancient Romans. The Romans had the custom of sticking up a sign, by which the house was known to contain a corpse; and this was done by fixing branches of the cypress-tree near the entrance. The French merely plait some clean wheaten straw, in the form of a cross, and place it in front of the house Then again, as was the case with the Romans, the funeral song is sung by persons hired for the purpose, as the corpse is being conveyed to the grave; and as was also the ancient practice, an oration is occasionally spoken over the grave. But, as was the custom with the Romans, there are no noisy lamentations, no tearing of the hair, no ex. clamations against the gods, amongst this Christian people, whose deportment on the occasion is exactly what it ought to be. If, however, a joke can be allowed on such a subject, a smile could not have been restrained at an accident that occurred a few weeks back at the grave of a popular character who resided in my neighbourhood.
This was a Captain Souville of the navy, and brother to the leading physician of Calais, whom I am acquainted with and greatly respect. The captain-as jolly a fellow over a bottle of wine as the country he belonged to could produce—was known amongst his friends only as “ Tom Souville,” his naval honour being merged in the more friendly and heartier appellation. Now such is the character over whom an oration would surely be pronounced, and such was the case with the captain. It was written and delivered by a talented person, and no doubt was a just panegyric on the merits of the deceased, as a gallant sailor and a warm friend, and it was also a pretty specimen of demonstrative eloquence. But the vis oratoris was reserved for the concluding sentence. Clasping together his hands, and looking down upon the coffin, the orator passionately exclaimed, “ Adieu, Tom Sumville !!"
I have only attended one French funeral, and that was as one of the chief-mourners over the son of my landlord, whose request on the occasion I was unwilling to refuse. It was conducted with considerable pomp, twelve priests assisting at the high mass; and cost, I was informed, at least fifty pounds. The scene in the church was certainly an imposing one; and if outward ceremonies have any avail, the soul of the deceased must now be in bliss. Then another curious ceremony followed. Almost a fortnight afterwards I received a circular letter, informing me that the deceased had received the sacrament previously to his death, and that he had died in the faith of the Catholic church.
There is one circumstance touching the burial of the dead in France, which I think calls for a reform. I allude to the uncoffined soldier who
is cast into his grave like a dog into a hole, and not only uncoffined, but without the ceremonies of religion being performed. One cannot reconcile this with the generally high state of civilization which exists in la belle France--and in a Christian country too! Why, the very idea would have struck terror into the stoutest heart of ancient Rome or warlike Greece, whose people held nothing, except life itself, in greater value than the decent and proper burial of the dead. Do the French want to be reminded of that beautiful passage in the sixth Æneid on this subject, or of Priam's passionate appeal to Mercury in the twenty-fourth Iliad, touching the fate of Hector's body?
" ή έτι παρ νήεσσιν έμός πάις ήέ μιν ήδη
ήσι κνσι πελειστί ταμών πρoύθηκεν Αχιλλεύς.” There is another defect in the administration of this country as relates to the dead-the want of the office of coroner, and the inquest held in his court. There is something approaching to it, in the proces verbal, but wanting that rigid and searching inquiry into causes of sudden death that takes place in England, which is a most powerful check to the crime of murder, as well as affording means of satisfactorily accounting for premature death by accident or otherwise, greatly to the consolation of the friends of the deceased, who might not otherwise have the means of accounting for it at all. An instance of this has within the last week occurred in my own experience. A young English gentleman (as the newspapers informed the public), blew out his brains at Calais about a month back. I received a letter from one of his relations, asking me for some particulars of his death, which he says “ is involved in mystery.” There was, however, no “mystery” in the case, the cause having been detailed by the suicide himself, in a letter to his mother; nevertheless, how much more satisfactory would have been an investigation by the coroner into the melancholy affair. Again,—a boy of fourteen years of age, of English parents, was buried yesterday, having been found starved to death in the late severe frost, and this from sheer neglect of his unfeeling parents. Now in England this would have been a case for a coroner's inquest, and no doubt but the parents of the poor boy, who was imbecile in mind, would have received a severe reprimand from the jury, or the coroner himself, and which might have operated against a repetition of such cruel' conduct by parents, who were not wanting in the means of providing the necessary comfort for their child.
TRAVELLING ON THE CONTINENT.
I have little more to say touching French travelling, which is much on a par with that in most parts of the continent of Europe—at least a hundred years behind that in my own country, and so will it continue to be to the end of time. This is the day on which Prince Albert is to arrive in Calais ; dinner is to be ordered for him at eight o'clock, nine hours being allowed for his trip (journey we should not call it) from Ostend, a distance of only fifty-four miles! How pleased he will feel, setting other considerations aside, when he finds himself sitting behind four Dover posters on the other side the water, trolling him along at their ease, at the rate of eleven miles in the hour! But I, two years back, was nine hours, en route, from Ostend to Dunkirk, a distance of only thirty-five miles ! And think, reader, that at that period, and until within these two months, there should have been no Diligence at all running between these great towns-second, perhaps, only to the capitals of their countries! There was a tottering cabriolet on the ground to be sure, drawn by two tottering horses; but unless you wished to be dry-smoked, after the manner of bacon, you would not have submitted your person to such an insult, as to make it one of six smockfrocked Dutchmen, all with pipes in their mouths, filled with the worse sort of Belgic tobacco.
Posting in France is a fair subject for the pencil of the caricaturist, but it is a great hardship upon the travelling public, that it is not better conducted than it is, and this merely the effect of conceit and prejudice. There is not a more conceited, self-approving mortal on the face of the earth, than a French postilion, at the same time that he is a perfect nondescript both in person and in action. From the vile form of his saddle, and the extreme length of his stirrups, his seat on his horse is most distressing to the animal who carries him; and, from the little assistance he can give him by the hand and leg, which postboys in England have the power to give, he is afraid to go down a hill at a pace much beyond a walk. Thus no advantage can be taken of falling ground ; and as French posthorses are unable, from their want of better breeding, to trot up hills, six miles an hour is the average speed of French posting.
But the French postilion, nondescript as he may be, is civil and obliging in his manners, and does not think the less of himself for the privileges he enjoys. In the first place, he is exempt from the conscription; in the next, he is entitled to a pension from the government after a certain period of service, and sooner if disabled from an accident on the road, provided he be equipped at the time in the orthodox jack-boot-in itself, at once, an antidote to speed. At the rate at which our postboys drive, they would be knocked to pieces in a very few years were they to ride in the awkward style of the French postilion. But as Lord Jersey says,“ an English postboy is a sui generis sort of an animal;" there is nothing like him in all the world—take him for his horsemanship, his nerve, his style of dress, his cleanliness of person, his uniform civility, and his hardiness of frame and constitution, which renders him proverbial for long life, despite of the hardships he so often encounters, and the vile stuff in the shape of liquor that finds its way down his throat. As I have before said, who ever heard of a bilious postboy? His calling is an antidote against any obstruction of the liver; and some great man, on seeing the dissection of the human frame, is said to have exclaimed, “ He was sure every man was intended for a postilion.”
But to return for a moment to France. The awkwardness of the lower orders of the French people in all their proceedings with horses is something quite extraordinary, and it is only from the docility of the animals that they can obtain the command over them which they do. Fancy, guiding a powerful, headstrong horse with a single cord, which is almost invariably the only means of guidance resorted to here; and, strange to say, in case there are two cords or reins to a horse's bit, they are purposely clubbed together before they reach the driver's hand! Then as to arranging the coupling-reins of horses working in double harness, to suit their tempers and strength, so minutely attended to in our country, nothing of the kind is thought of; but I need not say that such negligence is the cause of very many accidents, and accounts for
the statement in Galignani's paper, a few days back; namely, that in the course of three years, there were 952 persons injured in the streets of Paris, by being driven over by public carriages, 28 of whom were killed. In 1837 the number driven over was 361, and the editor imputes this wholesale destruction of life and limb to the imprudence of the drivers. Imprudent they may be, but ignorance as to how horses should be put into harness, so as to have them under immediate command, is the great cause, and that ignorance must remain amongst a class of people who, thinking themselves perfect, refuse to be taught better. Will my readers believe me when I say that the estafette mail leaves Calais every day with a pickaxe team (two wheelers and a leader) driven in rope-reins, and timed at ten miles an hour through a
There is one advantage in the usages of continental travelling over those of our own country, which I freely acknowledge, and this is, the absence of that mutual reserve, approaching to sullenness, which Englishmen observe to each other, when accidentally thrown together, en route. They generally strive to keep without the sphere of each other's attractions, like two bodies endowed with some repulsive power. I mentioned an instance of this two years back. I was one of two English travellers only, from Brussels to this place. Finding my countryman inaccessible I left him to his reflections, and I do not think we exchanged twenty words in a journey of a hundred and fifty miles. I had an opportunity of knowing, huwever, that he was punished for his taciturnity, inasmuch as he was subsequently a day longer on his journey, and by a worse conveyance than he would have been had he asked me one simple question, which I should readily have answered.
There are certain charms in English travelling which it is vain to look for on the continent. First, the comfort of the inns; secondly, the reception on arrival at them. From the host and hostess to the very boots himself, all give you welcome; you are ushered into a comfortable room, well warmed by fire in the winter, and well ventilated in the summer; whereas on the continent no such comfort awaits the traveller. He is either shown into a large comfortless apartment, neither well ventilated nor warm, or into the table d'hote room, which su far from being well ventilated is redolent of every savour, from an étuvée of onions to stale fish, and neither host nor hostess appear to bid him welcome. But this bidding of welcome is rather on the decline in England, the result of modern refinement, which cannot stoop so low. “I hope you found your bed comfortable and rested well,
was the usual morning salutation of either host or hostess, twenty years back; and they were words not thrown away. For my own part, many of the most comfortable hours of my life have been passed in good English inns, and if a reckoning had been kept of my sojourning within their walls, “years" might be written for hours.'
It is much to be lamented that travelling on the continent, and in France especially, is not better than we find it. I would travel much if I had the means.
I like to see mankind at large in the numberless points of view in which they cannot appear in one individual country, and it is only thus that we are enabled to correct the theoretical notions we may have formed of human nature, by the practical knowledge of men.
One word more touching continental travelling. At the present time