Dragonfly

POH Transcripts - 1855

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SIDMOUTH, JANUARY 1855

 

Mon January 1 1855

New Year’s Day.  I wonder what this year will bring; and this is suggested by the events of the year past, which to me, has been the most eventful year within memory.  For England to be at war, is a thing quite new to me.  No doubt we have made the most egregious blunders.  Never have troops suffered as ours have before Sebastopol, for want of sufficient food, clothing and shelter.  All the papers are full of this subject.  As we have been at peace ever since the Battle of Waterloo, we are novices in the art of fighting.  Great efforts are now being made to retrieve past mistakes.

Wed Jan 3 1855

Went out with the brass gun for the first time, to buy its new carriage and capabilities.  Pushed it up to Cotmaton and showed it to Captain Carslake, who was much amused at my new toy.

Th Jan 4

My cousin Anne Stares (daughter of one of my mother’s sisters) came to Sidmouth on a visit.

Wed Jan 10

The siege of Sebastopol drags its weary length along.  In reality, however, some decisive step has been taken before this, though we have not heard of it.  The reinforcements have been pouring in vigorously of late, and the French and English now number 90,900 or there about.  We hope also that 35,000 Turks have joined by this time.  Some say that even this is not enough to invest the city, and keep the Belgian army at bay outside.  We shall see.

Sat Jan 13

Went with Mr Heineken to East Budleigh – he wishing to see Mr Coldridge, on a matter of business connected with his property at Budleigh Salterton.  Was present at the interview with Mr Coldridge.  We then went into the church, where a new organ was in course of erection.  Whilst Mr Heineken went up and tried the organ, I made a copy of the tablet erected to the memory of Mrs Frances Elizabeth Yeates (his late wife’s mother) – then made a rubbing of the slab in the middle of the nave, over the vault of Johanna Ralegh, I believe the mother of Sir Walter Ralegh, or Rawleigh.  The inscription on it is curious, in as much as some of the letters are upside down, the rest being the right way.  Copied the date 1537 (like this [illustration]) on the woodwork of the pew close by on the north – and lastly went round and admired the old carving of the ends of the open seats, and copied Roger Vowles’ slab in the south aisle.  Mr Heineken and myself then walked to Hayes Barton, where Sir Walter Rawleigh was born taking the way through Hayes Wood (where we lost ourselves) and returning by the road.  We got back to Sidmouth by seven.  Passed the evening at his house.

Tu Jan 16

Had a trial with my gun on the promenade.  Fired iron shot out to sea.  Made “ducks and drakes” along the water, which was calm, much to the amusement of a number of people who were looking on.

 

Wed Jan 17

Walked to Mutter’s Moor with my cousin Anne Stares, and from the ridge of the hill showed her the view looking over the valley of the Otter.

Th Jan 18

Gun and self went to call on the Rev. Kestell Cornish, of Salcolme Hill.  He fired two shots in front of the house.

Fri Jan 19

Coldest weather we have had.  Finished laying down the gravel of the long walk in the field.

Mon Jan 22

Walked up Salcolme Hill with Anne Stares along the edge of the cliff.  We went over to the Salcolme side inland, and returned by the road.  It was sunny and sheltered and pleasant.

Tu Jan 23

Today we went to the top of High Peak.  It was well enough going, with the northeaster behind us, but facing it, coming back over Peak Hill, it was “enough to cut a snipe in two”.

Fri Jan 26

Being a fine calm day, went out with the gun, taking Edward Slessor and Brine (cadets in the Artillery, who are off again for Woolwich next Wednesday) and we made “a jolly row” in the Fort Field and on the beach.

Wed Jan 31

Winter has come in earnest.  For the last fortnight we have had a northeaster, but so gentle, and with a sky generally so fine, that it has been agreeable enough for the season.  Last night and today the wind has risen, and the snow has been falling thick and fast, so now it looks (and is) dreary and cold.

 

SIDMOUTH, FEBRUARY 1855

 

Fri Feb 3

Walked along the beach to Picket Rock, under High Peak Hill, to see the wreck.  Last Wednesday morning in the snow storm, and before daylight, a bark of 800 tons ran upon the rocks about 100 yards on the Sidmouth side of Picket Rock.  The crew, about 24 men, reached the shore in safety, but they must have suffered much from the cold.  It is not clear how she met with this fate.  Even allowing that she could not see where she was going, on account of thick weather and snow, still, one might have supposed that the lead or the sound of the breakers, would have warned her of her danger, if a good look-out had been kept.  However, in merchant ships, great carelessness and neglect of duty too often exist, as I myself have seen.  The rocks presented a strange scene, strewed as they were with spars, broken pieces of cabin furniture, cushions, ropes, sails, iron bolts, and splinters of all sizes and shapes, of planks and timbers.  The crew were doing what they could to find and carry away their clothes or other property, and several score sailors and other persons from Sidmouth were there assisting in collecting and removing what they could, then at low water.  One person told me that the crew of the vessel mistook High Peak Hill with the snow on it for a cloud, and thus ran upon destruction.  The general impression, however, is that blame attaches somewhere.  She was insured.  I heard she was laden with guano from Callao to London.  Cold as it was, I managed to get a sketch, which I coloured when I came home.

Monday Feb 12 1855

Made a respirator of a new design of tin and zinc.  The plan is to carry it in the mouth instead of outside the mouth, by which contrivance the unsightly appearance is got rid of.  The breath is drawn through a wire grating, several times reduplicated, as a segar flusher draws in the air.

A pretty to-do there has been in Parliament during the last fortnight.  The old ministry with the Earl of Aberdeen at its head, gone out, and after attempts, but failures, made by the Earl of Derby and by Lord John Russell to form others, Lord Palmerston has succeeded, himself being Prime Minister.  The Country has been disgusted and highly indignant at the gross want of management in the conduct of the war, and deeply sympathises with the unheard of sufferings which our brave soldiers have endured in the Crimea in consequence.  A motion in Parliament (by Mr Robuck) caused Lord John to resign before it came on, and this threw everything into confusion.  However, this motion, expressive of want of confidence in our rulers, and having for its object an enquiry into the causes of our disasters, came on at last, and the great majority by which it was carried, caused all the ministers to turn out at once.  Neither will the country be satisfied until the Commander in Chief, Lord Raglan, be recalled from the Crimea.  Admiral Dundas is already home, and Sir Edmund Lyon has the command of the Black Sea fleet.

Th Feb 15

Today there was a sale on the beach of the remains of the unfortunate vessel that was wrecked last week under High Peak.

 

Fri Feb 16

Our winter has been the coldest that ever I remember.  For weeks it has frozen in my bedroom, but last night it was worse than ever.  The frozen water in my jug, more intense than before, split it, and my water bottle cracked into a dozen pieces.  Since the cold set in so severe, I have been accustomed to knaw my toothbrushes before using them, in order to crush the ice and make the hair soft, having hitherto used cold water to wash and shave, but it is time to take to warm.  Last night even the chamber utensil was frozen – a most unusual thing.

Sat Feb 24

A welcome thaw has come on.  Aged people say that a winter so severe as the one through which we have just past, has not occurred since 1814.

 

SIDMOUTH, MARCH 1855

 

Th March 1

The sudden change in the weather has caused a great deal of sickness.  Mamma, who has had one or two bilious attacks in past years, has been losing her appetite the last day or two, and remained in bed today.

Fri Mar 2

Mamma still more unwell, though nothing serious apprehended.  Towards evening distressing pains in the liver troubled her a good deal, but the housemaid, Eliza Lake, who sleeps in the dressing room adjoining her bedroom, had instructions to be ready to give any attention that might be necessary.  I went to bed about midnight in the room over, and fell asleep.

Sat

However, about two in the morning I was awoke by hearing her cry out with pain.  I bounced out of bed, dressed by the light of the moon, and went down.  I found her suffering from spasms and shooting pains through the liver and right side.  By five o’clock they were at their height, and I thought I must go and call up Dr Miller.  Eliza and myself stroked her in her bed every now and then, and managed to get her a little temporary relief.  However, at 8 o’clock I went and fetched Dr Miller – the successor to Dr Cullen in this place.  He applied leeches, mustard poultice and blister, besides giving internal medicine.  After breakfast I went out for an hour, but on returning, was greatly alarmed at the change for the worse.  The haggard and anxious expression on her countenance, caused by the pain, and the flushed, feverish, and worn out look, owing to so much sleeplessness, together with the delirious and broken sentences, which so many hours’ trial had produced, were truly piteous to witness.  They would have been so in anyone, but in so good a mother, they were to me especially and overpoweringly so.  I hurried off for Dr Miller again.  His assiduity in the course of an hour or two somewhat lessened the pain, and she got half an hour’s sleep.  This was the turning point.  As it was before, she must soon have sunk.  Even a person in the rigor of health and youth would have been severely tried by what she went through, but in one of 76, the wonder is she reached the turning point.

Eliza and myself took it in turn to sit up.  Though the spasms were very acute at intervals, she nevertheless got a most beneficial amount of sleep.

Sun Mar 4

This morning the flush and fever had subsided, and the mind collected and rational.  Such an improvement has taken place, as no one foresaw, or could have hoped for, and I venture to hope there is a chance of recovery yet.

Mon Mar 5 1855

Alas for hopes!  A change for the worse came on during the night, and it became manifest that she was sinking.  The disease had been overcome and conquered, but there was not strength enough of constitution to rally and bear up against the shock the system had received.  About 10 in the morning I had a most comforting, but to me most trying few minutes conversation with her, for though growing weaker, she was quite collected.  She said, “Tell me candidly what you think of my state.”  To the best of my recollection these were the very words.  I replied, as well as I could, that there was no doubt she was very ill, and that I was in great alarm about her.  I could have spoken plainer, for I saw there was no hope, but it was enough.  She said “We must part.”  She reminded me that she was 77, though she should have said 76, for she would not be 77 till next July.  She told me she felt that her time was come – that she was free from pain, and at peace in her mind, and perfectly ready to go as soon as it should please God to take her.  After this she did not say much, though she was able to say “Yes” when I asked her if she was comfortable and free from pain.  She gradually sunk into a kind of deep slumber, and she quietly breathed her last at a quarter past five on the Monday afternoon.  The clocks were at half past five, but they are so much too fast, having been put on to “railway time”.  About an hour, or an hour and a half after this, and after her attendants had washed her face, and put her on a clean cap, and clothed her in neat garments, according to the usual custom, I went back into the room to see her.  She looked wonderfully like herself, only slightly thinner, her skin fair and delicate as alabaster, and a pleasing smile upon the expression of her countenance.  I pressed my lips upon hers, and they were scarcely quite cold.

Friday Mar 9

Mr George Radford, our Sidmouth lawyer called, and brought me my mother’s will.

Saturday Mar 10

The funeral took place this morning.  It was raining all the time.  “Blessed is the corpse that the rain rains on” saith the proverb.  The proverb occurred to me, though I felt that my pious and excellent mother’s eternal salvation rested on a surer foundation than a shower of rain.  The Rev. R K Cornish, of Salcombe Hill, the curate who performed the duty, came to breakfast, also Mr Gibbes, incumbent of All Saints Church, and Dr Miller.  My cousin Anne Stares, made tea, and Mrs Brotherton the coffee.  The vicar, the Rev William Jenkins, read the service in the church.  She was laid about five or six yards north-east from my father’s grave, about fifteen yards from the north-west entrance of the new, or northern portion of the churchyard.  So considerate and so unselfish was she, that she said to me one day before her illness – “Put me into the plain ground, Peter, and have no ostentatious display at my funeral, because the less there is spent upon me after I am gone, the more there will be left for you.”  The coffin was covered with black cloth and studded with black nails, with black handles round the sides.  On the top a white metal escutcheon, a foot or more in height, bearing the words: - “Anne Hutchinson, died March 5th 1855, aged 76 years.”

Mon Mar 12

The Emperor or Russia is dead!  This piece of news, coming upon Europe at so momentous a crisis has caused extreme sensation everywhere.  The war had arrived at a critical point – the eyes of the world are upon the fate of Sebastopol – England, France, and Turkey are in open war against Russia – Sardinia has just declared – Austria has joined the hostile coalition – Prussia is shilly-shallying – Norway and Sweden are half a mind to declare openly, and have an opportunity of paying off old scores against the robber of Finland – Poland is arousing herself, and her exiled people are asking whether the time of her re-establishment as an independent kingdom is not at hand – and so on, all round Europe, the nations are arming, and entering into compacts for curbing the enormous power of the Empire of Russia.  The Emperor Nicholas died at St Petersburg about noon on the 2nd inst.  The general belief at first was, that he had been either poisoned or strangled, but there is no doubt now that he died, after only a few days illness, from natural causes – influenza, and finally congestion of the lungs.  That his mind has of late become much tried and excited by the progress of the war, but more especially by some defeats which have befallen his troops – Silistria, Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman, Eupatoria, and that there existed an hereditary tendency to cerebral disorganisation is allowed: and that all these things have had their fatal effects on his health is admitted; but the repulse which the Turks, (the despised Turks!) gave his 40,000 troops, in beating them off in their attack on Eupatoria on the 17th of February – this last event is stated to have been the proximate cause of his death.

His eldest son Alexander II has been proclaimed.  He is said to be more peaceably disposed than his father.  This event may cause great changes in the affairs of Europe.  May it bring peace!

Mon Mar 19

Worked in the garden.  Fastened up the ivy with iron hoop over the opening in the wall.  The Registrar from Ottery called to take down the particulars of Mamma’s death – age, nature of illness and so on.  He told me the vicar had sent him notice, and that he was obliged, under a penalty of £10, to forward notices of deaths, and I believe also of marriages and births, within ten days of the occurrence.  Dr Miller had also sent a certificate of cause of death.  His words were – “hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and natural decay.”

Sat Mar 24

This week have sowed parsnips, carrots, onions, and broad beans in the garden.  Also put in 20 poplar shoots for rearing.  Pruned and fastened up the fruit trees.

Carved a medallion Hutchinson coat of arms in plaster of Paris, as a model, six inches in diameter.

Tu Mar 27

Engraved on wood Mr Heineken’s Bactrian coin for an article in the Sidmouth Directory.

Fri Mar 30

Pruned the fruit trees, and gardened for three hours.

 

SIDMOUTH & LONDON, APRIL 1855

 

Mon Ap 2

“The Sidmouth Miscellany”, a local publication to come out monthly, has made its appearance.  The first number is well enough, but it is impossible that Sidmouth can long sustain such a publication.  See June 1.

Fri Ap 6

Good Friday, and Hot-cross bunns.  Some persons look with dislike at hot-cross bunns, as popish.

Mon Ap 9

Sent Sidmouth Directories, containing a notice of the Bactrian Coin found here, to Mr Albert Way, and to Dr Oliver.

Tu Ap 10

In the process of clearing away the leaves that had collected at the foot of north-east wall of the garden, I discovered two dead starlings, and three dead thrushes.  It should seem that, during the intensely cold weather in February, they had crept close in among the ivy at the base of the wall, and had there died, either of cold or starvation, or both.

Thursday April 12

Made a new will.

Fri Ap 13

At last the house is getting into a little better order.  The drawing room has been painted, and the carpet up to be beaten – the carpet up in the dining room – also in the back parlour – the kitchen white washed, and the passages and hall, up to the first landing.  And as I wish to let the house for a few months, I have been getting it in order.  But oh, the trouble of turning out all the holes and corners!  And who would have imagined the quantities of odds and ends, and rubbish of all sorts that had accumulated, and had to be stowed away, or rather, out of the way.  One half of it does not promise ever to be of any use again, and yet I am loth to destroy it.  So it is routed out of one corner, and put away in another – the grand difficulty being to know where it is all to go.

Cut the following paragraph out of an old newspaper.

[Newspaper clip

We are informed, that Mr Peter Orlando Hutchinson, resident at Walton, in Stone, in this county, has received a letter of thanks from the Horticultural Society, of London, for a lately invented instrument to be employed in the culture of strawberries, which he presented to the society a short time ago.]

The instrument resembled a large punch, such as is used for making gun cards.  By pressing on the cross handles at top, all the runners are cut off the same length, and with great rapidity.  Where strawberries are much cultivated, such a simple instrument ought to be of use.  Whether it is known beyond the garden of the Horticultural Society or not, I don’t know.

 

Tuesday Ap 17

Spent the evening at the Heinekens’.  Came home half an hour or more after midnight.  Before I went to bed, went over to the northern position of the burying-ground of the old church – climbed over the north-west iron gate, though the extreme darkness made it difficult to see what I was about, and sprinkled an ounce of mignionette (sic) seed over mother’s grave.  Got out the same way.  It struck one whilst I was sowing the seed.

Th Ap 19

Took a walk to Sidford with my cousin Anne Stares, going by way of the Salcombe Fields, and so on up the river, and all through the park fields near the “Byes”.  We saw some boys in the river catching lampreys, or lamprey eels, as they called them.  I had never seen these fish before.  There is a popular notion that they have got nine eyes; but probably the breathing holes, on each side of the head and neck, in the place of gills, have been mistaken, by the vulgar, for eyes.  They were about 5 or 6 inches long, and have “suckers” instead of mouths – that is mouths like those of the sturgeon.  The boys, who were fishermen’s sons, said they used them for bait at sea.  In Sidford, we went to look at “Porch House”, the house where King Charles the Second is said to have slept one night, when looking for a ship at Lyme and elsewhere along the coast, to effect his escape.  We went upstairs into the room (where, however, I had been before) but it is in a sad state.  A number of cocks and hens are kept there now.  The date 1574 is on the outside of the building.  The whole place seems to be getting very rickety.

In returning home, we made for Manstone Farm, the date on the front being 1369 – more probably 1569.

M April 23

Left Sidmouth for London, to prove mamma’s will, and do other matters of business.  Remained in Exeter all day, and took the night train to London.  This train started from Exeter a little before 8, and arrived Paddington a little before 5 in the morning.

Tu Ap 24

Since I was last here, two years and a half ago, the new hotel and station have been built, and splendid erections they are.  In spite of having no sleep last night, I had a busy and an active time of it today.  Besides many hours walking about, I got through several matters of business – the chief were, having a long talk with Mr Hussey (Law, Tindal, & Hussey) and going to Doctors Commons where I took the oaths and went through the first process in proving the will.

Got back to my abode wearied, and went to bed early.

Wed Ap 25

Amongst several things of minor importance, I went to the Heralds’ College, taking with me the old coat of arms on vellum, which has been so long in the family, to ask whether it was issued by the College, and at what period.  These questions involved a general search, the fee for which is two guineas.  After some discussion, I arranged to leave the arms with them, and call again next Friday or Saturday.

 

 

Fri Ap 27

Started for the Tower after breakfast.  Went to Hungerford Market, and there took steamer for London Bridge.  Found Mr Duffus Hardy, as heretofore, in the Record Office.  All the clerks are beginning to growl dreadfully at the prospect of removal for the new Record Offices in Fetter Lane are nearly ready to receive the MSS, and the clerks “would rather bear the ills they have, than fly to others that they know not of”.  Made a copy of the Charter Roll, 2.Ed.III.No. 52, and paid my shilling.  This charter gave to Sidmouth, with other possessions of St Michaels Mount, Normandy, the privilege of free warren.

Called at the Heralds College on my way back, but being late in the day, made a new appointment for 11 next Monday morning.

Sat Ap 28

Clinton gave me a lesson on the flute.

Took a stroll down Regent Street, Piccadilly, Bond Street, and so on.  The thoroughfares were crowded with carriages.

Sun Ap 29

Although we are not far from May, the north-east wind continues, and it is as cold as January.  Went this morning to church near Hyde Park Square.  In the afternoon went to the Temple Church, where I had not been for some eight or ten years.  At that time it had been recently renovated, but the colours were fresh – too fresh, gaudy, glaring, and disagreeable.  They are now smoked, sobered, and harmonised: and all this has produced a decided improvement.  The music was quite a treat.  The clustered columns that support the groined roof are beautifully polished.  But I remarked that on each side of the nave they lean outwards, as if the ridge or centre of the roof were too heavy for them, and giving them the lateral thrust.  It is to be hoped they will not go further.  In looking at the recumbent figures of the Knights Templers on the floor, I remarked that for the most part they were close shaven and without moustaches, and that their frames were by no means muscular.  The calves of their legs would not get them places as London footmen.

Mon Ap 30

Had a long confab at the Heralds’ College with “Rougecroix”.  The opinion of the heralds is, that the old Hutchinson Coat of Arms on vellum, was not emblazoned at the College, though they are not quite sure, but think it may have been copied from one that was.  We “Hutchinsons of Lincolnshire”, believe we have had that identical coat some eight generations in the family, and that it was done before 1634, the year in which William and Ann Hutchinson left Alford, and went to America.  From them to me is eight generations.  Or it may have been done in 1688, in which year Captain Elisha Hutchinson paid a visit to England.  The family finally returned to England in 1776, and it is older than that.  From its style and appearance, it might be as old as the reign of Elizabeth.  But “Rougecroix” gave me a memorandum saying that a coat precisely like this, was granted in 1581 to Edward Hutchinson of Wickham, in Yorkshire: and further, he gave me a few notes of a pedigree of William Hutchinson of Lincoln, who left three sons, Christopher, Thomas, & William, of the date of 1634: and he leaves it for me to find out whether the William, the third son, may or may not have been my ancestor.  No he was not.  This was in a folio volume, dated at the back 1634.  I told him I had long had the intention of going into Lincolnshire to make enquiries at Alford and elsewhere – at Lincoln, Boston, Louth, Saltfleet, Gainsborough (for Coddington) and other places: as also at Wickham, and Middleham, in Yorkshire.  I paid two guineas for a “general search”.  Rougecroix further told me that the registering of pedigrees was charged according to the number of generations, but that no pedigree would be accepted and entered, unless the most undoubted proofs of its authenticity could be given, such as certified copies from parish registers, wills, and the like.  He suggested that to effect all this, if I really thought of having the pedigree recorded, it would be necessary to procure attested copies of wills, and so on from the record office, and registers at Boston, or other places in America.  As I have no acquaintance in Boston, it would give great trouble to do all this.

I asked him whether there was not a law in existence by which a person was liable to forfeit any article on which he painted a coat of arms to which he had not a right?  He said No.  Such a law, or such a custom, if it really existed, was only a privilege amongst heralds in a former age, when they had great influence, but it was not the law of the land.  It could not be enforced now: if it were attempted, it would amount to a trespass, or an assault.  He told me that the last time the heralds enforced this old right, was about 70 years ago.  It occurred in Fleet Street.  A gentleman, or city merchant, had a carriage, on which was emblazoned a coat of arms, to which they knew he had no right.  One day the heralds had the carriage stopped, and painted out the coat of arms before they would let it go on again.  That could not be done now.  An action could be brought against the heralds for the trespass.  Hence any person may bear what he pleases, and there is no restriction against seal engravers palming off upon their customers just what they please.

 

LONDON & SIDMOUTH, MAY 1855

 

Tuesd May 1

May Day!  a north-easter, and as keen as early March.  Jack-in-the-Green danced himself warm.

Spent three hours transcribing part of the Compotus de Sydemouth temp. 3 and 4 Henry VI, J.E.G., 5445, at the Carlton Ride Record Office.  As at the Tower, so they are here preparing to remove to the new building near Lincolns Inn.  Took a lesson on the flute of Clinton.

Wed May 2

Went to look at Sydenham.  Though things are not yet finished, really the building and the grounds are very beautiful.  Architecture and statuary are more developed than other arts, and consequently they now preponderate too much.  But when the building is more fitted with other things, as I hope it will be, perhaps this objection will be removed.  I was much amused at going down to the lower part of the grounds, and looking at the progress towards completion of the geological animals.  One great fellow, as big as an elephant, had just had a coat of bright sky blue, preparatory to bringing him to his true colour: and a painter was giving a megalosaurus a coat of red lead.  Many people had a good laugh when they looked at them.  The teeth of most of the animals, and the legs and tails of the more slender ones, I observed were made of lead, or some similar metal.  I conclude this was because they should not crack or break.

Th May 3

Again at the Record Office, Carlton Ride.  Discover that there is an immense quantity more MSS here relating to Sidmouth than I had a notion of.  Labour increases as I go on.  These I hope to look at on some future occasion: for I must try to leave for Sidmouth next Tuesday.

Fri May 4

Went down to Woolwich by rail.  My! what a north-easter blew over the Common.  The weather is as unlike May as can be imagined.  Went to the Academy and saw Slessor and Brine whose parents live at Sidmouth.  Went into the Hall, which is the mess room of these boy soldiers, and a handsome apartment it is, with its painted glass windows, and its decorations of weapons.  The tables were all laid out for dinner.  Before I came away made some mems and sketches of a limber, intending some day to make one for my gun.

Sat May 5

Lesson on the flute of Clinton.

Sun May 6

Went to St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge.  Took a turn in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.  The day being fine, there was a considerable crown of people and carriages.

 

 

Tu May 8

Returned from London to Sidmouth.  Met with an adventure at the outset.  Having called a cab and got my baggage into it to go to the Paddington Station, scarcely had the man driven me a dozen paces, when the horse fell all sprawl on the side-walk flag pavement.  He either put his foot on the smooth stone and slipped, or else he had been over worked, like most London horses, and fell from exhaustion.  Several people came to render assistance, and try to get the horse up again, and very soon a crowd collected.  After much ineffectual labour, he was unharnessed on the ground, and the shafts of the cab withdrawn.  I sat still quiet enough.  But at last I was grieved to find that the horse was to be pitied, since his refusal to rise was owing to his inability to exert himself, from want of strength.  The driver seeing it was a desperate case, came to the window and told me I might as well have another cab.  On this I alighted and sent for one; into which I transferred my luggage and myself.  After more than a quarter of an hour’s delay, I got out of the crowd in my new vehicle, leaving the unfortunate animal on the ground, apparently at the point of death.  London horses are too often driven till they drop.

Selected the night train at 10 minutes past eight in the evening.  Two agreeable ladies, who were very chatty, kept me awake all night.  One got out at midnight at Bath: the other was going on to Totnes, so I left her at Exeter.  At this latter place we arrived at 20 minutes past 3, when the dawn was just appearing.  Fell in with a Sidmouth friend on the platform, who was going to Sidmouth: so after getting some refreshment at the London Inn, we started in a carriage together, and arrived there at half past six.  When I reconnoitred the house, found no one up or stirring; and not wishing to make a to-do, I went into the garden, and worked there for an hour.  Eliza, the housemaid, then came down and I got in.

Fri May 18

My cousin, Miss Anne Stares returned to Torquay, having been here since January 4.

Sat May 26

Yesterday and today were quite sultry, after uniformly cold weather.  Towards evening it went back as cold as ever.  As the news from Italy give accounts of an active eruption of Vesuvius, some people here try to account for the sudden heat of yesterday and today by ascribing it to the mountain.  They forgot that there is neither a railroad nor an electric telegraph yet laid down between Naples and Sidmouth.  The papers say that on the 7th Instant there were two shocks of an earthquake felt at Perth, in Scotland.  Some others declare that the equilibrium of the atmosphere has been deranged by firing away so much gunpowder at Sebastopol.  There should be more reason in this, for the electric telegraph between the Crimea and England is just completed.

 

SIDMOUTH, JUNE 1855

 

June 1 1855

Really the weather is like Winter.  A bottle of sweet oil in my bedroom, near the window, congeals every night.  The news from the Crimea are more cheering.  The force of the allies now amounts to [          ] men.  This is quite enough to engage the Russians in the open field, and to invest Sebastopol on all sides.  Kertch has fallen, and we have become masters of the sea of Azoff.  Four Russian war steamers and 240 merchant vessels in that sea have been destroyed, together with immense quantities of stores, food, and ammunition, intended for the Russian army in the Crimea.  Arabat has been bombarded and Perekop threatened, so that should the allies succeed in hemming in the Russians, Sebastopol must fall of necessity.

So the “Sidmouth Miscellany” has died of neglect after third number.  I thought it might have lasted six months.

Th June 7

Went to Budleigh Salterton with Mr Heineken; he having business there connected with his houses.  On our way we went a little out of our way to find the veritable spring of Tidwell, or Tide-Well, a spring that is spoken of by most of the ancient historians of this county.  It is opposite Tidwell Farm House, and nearly opposite Tidwell House.  The spring, a copious rill, issues from the ground, and a rough stone arch has been built over it.  The water, from neglect, now stands as a marshy swamp, though once it formed fish ponds.  In the orchard, on the east side of the swamp, there are traces of raised terraces running along the margin of the water.  I made a coloured sketch of the scene.  Risdon, p.52, mentions it:  Sir W. Pole, p.152, gives a genealogy of the owners of the estate, from Jordan de Todwill (mentioned in the Otterton Cartulary, as see my Collections for a History of Sidmouth) and Westcote, p.240 records that the spring is sufficiently warm, never to freeze in the coldest weather, and that it is an ebbing and flowing spring.  I may add, that a belief in these alleged facts still exists in the neighbourhood, as I was told in East Budleigh and at Tidwell.  In the farm house there are some pieces of curious old oak carving – a coat of arms having a shield of pretence on it (Arscot and St Clair?) [illustration], the figure of a man some 18 inches high, in the appartment on the left side of the entrance, coloured, is used as a corbel etc etc.  Also there is a curious jug, having the date 1793 (I think) on it, by which the unwary drinker pours the liquor into his bosom, if he is not informed, that there are some small holes round the brim, which the wary drinker stops with his fingers.  I tried to buy this of the farmer’s wife, but she would not sell it.  In Budleigh Salterton, I left Mr H. with his workmen and agent, and took two or three rambles.  We did not get back to Sidmouth till ten at night.

Mon June 11

Went into Exeter by the mail.  Exhibited the Probate of mother’s will at the Devon & Cornwall Bank, Exeter, and the money standing in mamma’s name was transferred to me.  Took away about £60 to settle with the tradesmen in Sidmouth.  Called on Mrs Oldham and Miss Watson, who are just now staying at the Clarence Hotel.  Returned to Sidmouth by the mail.  Spent the evening at Mr Heineken’s.

 

 

Friday June 22

Started with Mr Heineken on exploring expedition over Salcombe Hill.  For the first time made use of my new leather bag with the brass clasp, just made in Sidmouth, according to my own design.  Never remember seeing the atmosphere clearer to the westward.  The Babbicombe quarries, and the whole coast towards Torbay were easily seen with the naked eye; and a glass showed the houses of the cliffs, and every tree quite plainly.  In the village of Salcombe, we examined the church: particularly remarking the band of carving outside and under the east window, as also the cross over the window, both evidently very old; and the tablet outside the south wall of the chancel, on which one of the Garters, Kings-at-Arms, is referred to.  Inside, since the restoration and repair of the church some five years ago, what most strikes the eye is the pointed arch between the nave and the chancel, the Norman columns in the nave, now divested of their whitewash, the tower arch, and the Norman font.  The transition from the Norman period into the pointed, is here discernible.  There are several monuments to the Mitchells of Thorn, close by.  The east window, (given by Miss Elizabeth Wolcott, of Knowle, now Mrs Goddard – her initials are on it) and the window at the east end of the south aisle, erected as a memorial window to the Cornishs, are handsome.

We then took a look at Thorn farm, the ceiling of the entrance Hall of which is divided into square compartments by carved oak joists, and in the panels are bosses and shields, each bearing a fleur de lis, but these do not appear to be armorial bearings.  Some parts of the building bear marks of age, and a chapel was once attached to it, traces of which still exist.  Some of the Mitchells of Thorn were buried in front of the west entrance to the tower, an altar tomb still remaining, the dates beginning in 1611.  On the north side of this altar tomb, and close to it, is an altar tomb of the Cornishs of Salcombe House: and, inserted into the south side of it, is a piece of stone with part of an old inscription (older than most others in the churchyard) said to have belonged to a Mitchell tomb.  The person referred to on this fragment seems to have attained the age of 104 years.  Leaving Salcombe we pushed on to Dunscombe, where tradition says there was once a Priory: but persons who profess to be better informed, declare that this tradition has no foundation in truth.  The oldest part of the farm house, some years since burnt down, shows the remains of windows with stout stone mullions, somewhat in the ecclesiastical style; but these are said to have been only parts of a substantial private residence.  After making a circuit to pass Slade, we proceeded through Weston, and then made an attempt to find a stone coffin lying buried in one of the fields by the road side, to which we had been directed.  Having taken an iron rod, about two feet and a half long (used for boring holes through walls for bell wires)  we thrust this into the ground in many places to feel for the coffin; but not knowing the exact spot, or even the field, we gave up the search in despair.  We, therefore, resolved to go on to Branscombe and see John Parrot, the Sexton, who knew all about it, as we had been informed.

Before entering Branscombe we stopped to look at Berry farm, said to be haunted by the lady who lies in the said stone coffin.  The first cluster of houses on entering Branscombe from the west is locally called “The Dean”; some supposing that the Deans of Exeter had a residence here; but Lysons calls it “the village of Dean”.  Branscombe Church and tower are of great antiquity (at Salcombe the church is older than the tower).  The tower bears the distinguishing Norman features – square, without buttresses, or battlements, and the surrounding corbel table.  A similar corbel table is seen under the eves of the south side of the church.  The staircase turret, on the north side of the tower, is circular.  Its octagonal summit is evidently a subsequent addition.  The oldest inscription in the church is on a slab about 4 feet long in the floor of the south transept.  Under a cross on its pedestal are the words Orate pro anima Joh………… .

 

Near this, and under the window, was formerly an upright slab, sculptured: but as it kept out the light it was removed to the north transept, against the left-hand part of the wall.

This bears two male kneeling figures, said to be father and son; but the coats of arms over their heads are not the same.  The first here annexed is over the left-hand, or oldest figure (the reputed father) behind whose back, are portrayed                 children [illustration].  The wife’s arms are not here copied.  The second escutcheon which I here give is over the head of the right hand or younger male figure (whose wife’s quarterings I did not copy) and he seems to have been a Wadham, - the Wadham arms (according to Lysons) having been a chevron between three roses.  On the other side of the end of the north transept there is another tablet sculptured with armorial bearings, but suffering much from damp, as the whole church is.  The husband’s bearing is a chevron between three blackamoor heads, for Holcombe, of Hole: the wife’s are three lambs? .

In the churchyard, near the south-west end, is an ancient stone coffin, lying on its face; but I put my hand under it to feel that it was hollowed.  This is said to have been brought, some three or four generations ago, by a person named Payton, from Budleigh Salterton (more probably East Budleigh) who alleged that it had belonged to his ancestors.  Descendants of this person live in this neighbourhood; and some of them are lace makers at Sidmouth.  The coffin measures seven feet long; two feet two inches wide in the middle; and about a foot high.  A few yards south of it, almost buried in the grass, lies a block of stone about 6 feet long, and 15 inches square, brought, as the sexton phrased it, “from our ebb”; meaning, from our Branscombe beach, from the space between ebb and flow of the tide, or high and low water.  He could not say why it was brought.  Some 5 yards north-west from this, and near the west end hedge of the church yard is a massive altar tomb, almost buried in the ground, except the top slab.  Around the edge is cut, (on the east-end, north side, and west end) the following inscription: 1586  JOHN TAYLER BURIED THE X APRILL.

There is a slab, now leaning against the outside south wall of the church, but which once belonged to a tomb, the verses on which have often attracted attention.  The lines annexed, which I copied from it, are somewhat like the utterance of a professed wrestler.  The stone is inscribed to one Joseph Braddick, who died June 27 1673.

Strong and in labour

Suddenly he reels

Death came behind him

And struck up his heels

Such sudden strokes

Surviving mortals Bid ye

Stand on your watch

And to be allso ready.

Leaving the churchyard, we went to look at an old house called “The Clergy”.  It lies about 50 yards north east of the church, across the road.  There is a tradition, or a supposition, that some of the priests or other clergy connected with the church before the period of the Reformation, occupied this building.  Mrs Somers, the chatty landlady, showed us all over it.  Immediately inside the entrance a large trap door can be pushed up.  The space above has no communication at present with the rest of the house.  The said space above is lighted by a loop hole through the wall over the door.  In one of the bedrooms are two bas-reliefs (there was once a third, larger, on the ceiling) of the coat of arms annexed.  The walls in some places, especially in the lower appartments, are three feet thick.  A belief exists that there is another house under this one: and in support of this opinion, Mrs Somers stamped on the stone floor in several places to let us hear how hollow the sound was.  She also added that her husband had dreamt “a hundred times” that the entrance to this underground house is by a flight of steps still existing beneath the soil immediately outside the dairy window.  Perhaps there may be some cellars still undiscovered.

We now left Branscombe, returning back to the field, taking the Sexton, John Parrott with us.  It is necessary to enter from the road by the gate A, and then pass through the hedge at B, to

 

reach the coffin at the east end of the field called “Littlecombe Three Acres”.  The site of the coffin, as indicated by Parrott, is at 43 feet from the east hedge of the field, and immediately within the hedge bounding the road.  At about 200 yards from the entrance at A, above the road towards Sidmouth, there is a pond of water under the hedge; and this would serve as a guide to find the locality.  We probed the ground at the place pointed out, and were much deceived if we did not come down upon the object sought.  If so, the upper edges of the sides were not more than 3 or 4 inches from the surface.  I longed to cut up the turf at once, but John Parrott warned me to desist, as it was a grass field, and the man who rented it was “a queer customer”.  His story was thus:- That about sixty five or six years ago, when there was a way through, by which the farmers used to convey their produce, a man was taking a cart: that, on passing over this spot, one of the cart wheels sunk in and made an opening: that the man who drove the car, being attracted by this circumstance, having examined the hole, thought he had discovered the hiding place of “a crock of gold”: that he thrust his arm therein to secure his treasure, but was much surprised when he pulled out a skull: that this skull was taken to the Vicarage at Branscombe: that some years afterwards, when John Parrott was himself a boy, (he told us he was now 63, on the 17th) he took out of this coffin some finger bones, a collar bone, and two or three ribs: that he put them back again: that a Mrs Chick (ancestress of the Chicks of Sidmouth) who then rented the field, wanted to have the coffin destroyed, and offered to give it to him; but he would have nothing to do in the matter: and that the coffin and its contents have not been disturbed since.  He further told us, that the common belief in the neighbourhood is, that some woman was murdered at Berry Farm, and buried here; and that her ghost still haunts a certain appartment or appartments in the farm house, appearing in the form of a woman, having on the antiquated hat, fastened on her head by a long pin passing through its sides and through her hair over the crown of her head.  But Mr Heineken justly asked – whether it is likely that any person thus murdered, would have been so carefully interred in a stone coffin? and secondly, that if a body was buried here in the regular way, whether it is not likely that other coffins might not be found if searched for?  It is a matter of surprise that any evidence of interment should be discovered in so remote a locality, so far from any habitation.  Three fields off, towards the south west, there is a barn; but we have no evidence to prove that this was ever an inhabited building, or that any burial ground existed here.  Berry farm is the nearest house, and that may be half a mile.  – see Tuesday, July 3 – No entry!

 

June 29

Served Richard Stone, one of the Overseers, with a notice in which I claim to be put amongst the list of voters for the Southern Division of the County of Devon; stating my qualification to be “freehold house and land”.

For the last week we have had beautifully hot dry weather; the first this year, except the 25th and 26 May.

Sat June 30

Made an exchange with Mrs Barret, the Gardener’s wife who lives in Mill Lane.  For the last twelvemonth I have had my eye upon an old pitcher in her possession, when I have been to the house to order seeds and plants for the garden, or pay for them.  She used to produce it when she wanted change, generally using as a rough sort of purse.  I had once or twice offered to buy it, but in vain.  Today I asked her in joke whether she had put her old pitcher on the top of a gate post yet, to let her boys pelt at it.  She laughed and said No; and then went and fetched it.  I told her I would give her a bran new jug for it, if she liked; and after a little consideration, she said she would. I finally ended the conference by taking it away with me.  I gave a couple of shillings for a new jug; and she thought she had the best of the bargain.  The pitcher is of a sort of stone ware; stand 10¾ inches high; is 2 feet in circumference; in colour a dirty white, with blue ornamental pattern; and on a disc on one side (the lower part chipped off) there are the letters AR, surmounted by the royal crown.  Unfortunately the handle is gone.  These initials, with the royal crown, have  been considered as indicative of the age of the pitcher – that is, of the reign of Queen Anne – Anna Regina.

 

SIDMOUTH, JULY 1855

 

Wed 4

Received an “Adelaide Observer” newspaper from my brother, in which the death of Rumley, my brother-in-law is announced.  Poor fellow!  He suffered

 

[Newspaper clipping

“On the 4th instant, at his residence, near Salisbury,

Clarke Rumley Esq J.P., aged 57”].

 

much for more than three years from rheumatic gout, caught from getting a chill: having got out of bed, and gone only in light clothing, to render assistance, his dray and bullocks, and driver having been overturned.  The unusually dry season in South Australia, has been a £200 loss to him and Fanney almost in corn alone.  The annexed paragraphs I cut from newspapers.

 

[Newspaper clippings

NOTICE – A Meeting will be held at the New-road Inn, Salisbury, on Thursday, 4th May 1854, at 6 o’clock p.m. to take into consideration the necessity of repairing the Hill near the Bridge at Salisbury; also, a bad place opposite Captain Rumley’s, and to devise plans to carry out the same.”

“SOUTH AUSTRALIA.- Agricultural affairs are in a very depressed state, owing to an unusual drought. The potatoe crop is a total failure; the yield of grain is estimated at some fifty per cent. below the average, and the prevalent scarcity of water will cause a larger quantity than usual of the wool to be sent home “in grease” i.e. unwashed.

The demand for labour is still unsatisfied. Building mechanics and bona fide domestic women servants are in great request, but a large number of late arrivals of single women have not been engaged by reason of their inefficiency. The average wage of mechanics is 14s. a-day; men and women servants get £60 and £20 a-year respectively, with board and lodging; good farm servants, if married, £65, if single, £50, with board and lodging; and a labourer can make 9s. a-day, or as much as he can earn in Dorsetshire in a week. Of all the Australian provinces this is the best.”]

Friday July 6 1855

Went out on an exploring expedition with Mr Heineken, chiefly to try and find Belbury Castle.  The Devonshire writers mention this as “Commanding the vale of the Otter”, and some I think say on “Ottery East Hill”.  This last we took.  We drove out to Sidford – went up High Street, and mounted the hill above Buscombe.  Then we went north, all along the ridge, enjoying a most splendid view, till we got to the point of Gittesham Hill, opposite Hembury Fort.  This we thought the most likely place.  But first, we selected a beautiful spot on the slope of the hill, where we could look down upon half the county, and here we took our lunch.  This ended, we plunged into the plantations, leaving the man with the carriage.  In these plantations there are many deep trenches and high banks; and several times we fancied we had come to the object of our search: but a few paces more showed us that they were all too irregular for such earthworks, and that they were apparently only gravel pits.  All round this Gittesham point, on both sides of the road, we prosecuted our hot, thirsty, wearisome, and entangled search, finding plenty of irregularities, certainly no symetrical earthwork.  We met a lad in the wood, who told us that there was a heap not far from where we had been, into which persons had once dug for treasure.  I suppose this was a barrow, believed to contain, as usual, a crock of gold.  Wortleberries and wild raspberries abounded in some places.  Going up this hill in despair, we drove to “Putts’ Corner”, or “Hunters Lodge”, and then turned back northward along the Honiton Road, and made an equally laborious search about the point of the hill over Combe House.  Here, however, we were equally unsuccessful; and much to our surprise, as well as to our disappointment; for we felt certain that it must be somewhere in this neighbourhood.  None of the writers who mention it seem to know where it is, or was.  By them, Belbury Castle is described as having one enclosing trench of an oval figure, measuring, I think, 400 feet long, by 200 broad.  The first syllable Bel, or Belus, may indicate great antiquity.  We returned to Putts Corner and halted.  I sketched the large stone that lies at the crossing of the roads.  There are some traditions connected with this stone, which I cannot now recall.  One person told us today that formerly there was somebody who used to bury his money under this stone “by a hundred pounds at a time”: at which an old woman added, “and I once seed a half-crown and a shilling pulled out from under thick stone”.  How these coins should have got to the base of the stone it is hard to say; unless, perhaps, some traveller, sitting upon it, may have dropped them.  But this fact is quite enough to raise the belief, that treasure lies concealed here.  – From this point we went eastward towards Roncombe Gate, passing the scene of our operations on the 25th of last July.  Passing over Broad Down, we examined all the barrows we could see, and laid down the positions of two or three not on the Ordnance Map.  – We reached Sidmouth before nine; and I supped at Mr Heineken’s.

Tuesday July 10

Signed the agreement letting the house, No. 4. Coburg Terrace, with the garden, but without the Field, to Captain and Mrs Hamilton, for [3.6.9.] or 12 months.  Rent £70 per annum.

Wed Jul 11

Walked out to Knowle with Mr Jenkins of Lime Park, and had harp, piano, and flute trios, with Mr John Wolcott.  Tea’d and supped with the family and some friends, and came back.

Fri July 13

Holmes bricked the sides of the opening in the stone wall into the field, and fixed the gate.

Sat Jul 14

Mr H. H. Johnson, of Woodlands, breakfasted with me, and then we went to the burying ground.  He here took two successive views of papa’s and mamma’s tombstones – being photographs with albumen on glass. We then adjourned to his abode, where he developed them.  The appeared to come out satisfactorily.

Mon

Spent the evening at the Heinekens as usual; where I met Dr Ridgeway, of Exeter.  We went through several quartets.

Tu July 17

Walked out to Sidbury and paid P.P.C. visits at Court Hall and the Vicarage.

SIDMOUTH & DAWLISH, JULY 1855

Thursday, July 19 1855

Having let the house in Coburg Terrace for a year, I left to-day.  Passed several hours in Exeter.  It so happened that the Judges came in to-day, and I had an opportunity of seeing the arrival, and of being much disappointed.  From what I had heard of coaches, javelin men, and cavalcades, I expected something striking.  So it was: only it was striking for its meanness.  First, there were two men on horseback, looking like grooms, carrying trumpets: then a double file of awkward men, carrying sticks, tipped with a bit of metal – these were the imposing javelin men: then a private carriage: then a coach and four with two big wigs: and lastly, a string of farmers on horseback, in two rows, having on different costumes, and being on horses of all colours and sizes, taken rough from their ploughs.  This was all.  Went on to Dawlish.  Found my cousin Miss Roberton in Belmont Villa, one of the new villas on the east cliff.

Fri July 20

Walked out to the Warren, near Exmouth, to see the gun practice.  The men are exercised for six weeks, and the period is now nearly over.  They are taken from the preventive stations; and I recognised three Sidmouth men there.  First, there was practising with a six-pound brass field-piece, at a target, pitched on the sand banks at 300 yards.  These targets were hit to pieces, and most of the shot buried in the sand.  These they generally dig out and use again.  After the firing was over, I walked to the spot, and picked up one of the balls, asking leave to take it away as a memento.  This was granted; so I shall send it to Sidmouth.

The men then exercised a 32-pound ship gun, in the “battery”, as they call the wooden house, the back and sides of which are removed when exercising.  They fired at a target pitched on the bar at the mouth of the river, about half a mile off.  First, I stood behind the breech of the gun; but the smoke so concealed the target, that I could not see the effect of the shot.  So I then went out on the sandbank nearest the sea, about 70 yards in advance of the battery, and at an angle of 40 or 50 degrees to the right of it.  The concussion here was rather strong; and the sound which the ball made in rushing by, struck me as particularly vicious in its tone.  I scarcely know what to compare it to.  It was something like the hiss of a sky rocket.  But there is a sound still more like, which we sometimes hear precede a clap of thunder when it is very close.  It is a sound as if the electric fluid were vehemently cutting its way through the atmosphere.  The shot seemed to cut its way onward in the same manner – impetuous, wrathful, and fierce.  After this I had the curiosity to try what the effect would be if I let the ball pass over my head.  I therefore, whilst they were loading, and unknown to them, got down beyond the sandbank, and placed myself in a line between the gun and the target, crouching down low enough to be safe from accidents.  As soon as I heard the report, there was a violent noise, between a hiss and a scream, close over my head – it was some three or four yards, but it seemed quite close – as the mass of iron passed: and on looking towards the target, I distinctly saw the ball for half a second or so.  It then went through the target; and this was the only shot that hit it all the afternoon.  As I was placed in the axis of the gun, and not far under the line through which it passed, the ball to me was necessarily nearly a stationary object.  It looked like a black speck, which instantly descended into the target; and then made several bounds along the water beyond, throwing up the foam, in columns into the air.  Doubtless, the man who fires would be always able to see the ball as I did, only that the smoke immediately obscures his view.  His business is to take a good aim and fire: he knows, then, that the rest will follow.  Lastly, I stood at about three or four yards abreast of the muzzle of the gun, and here the concussion was the strongest: and the noise made my head ring all day.

The six-pound shot made my arm ache before I got back to Dawlish.

Sun July 22

Went twice to St Mark’s.  In the evening we had an extempory sermon from the Rev. Mr. Martin, almost advocating the doctrine of transubstantiation.

Thursday July 26

Left Dawlish for France.  Wish to go over to Avranches again to search among the MSS. formerly belonging to St Michael’s Mount, Normandy.  Took the rail at 20 minutes past eleven, and got to Plymouth.  Obtained a pass-port, and paid five shillings for it.  Took the steamer at six for Jersey, after having walked about Plymouth, in and about the Citadel, and other places.

Fri July 27

This morning at 6 we stopped off Guernsey harbour to take in and put out passengers.  Then we proceeded to Jersey, where we arrived at 10.  The passage was not a rough one, nevertheless I was sea sick – as I always am.  Jersey is a thriving little island.  No boat to France to-day.

JERSEY & FRANCE, 1855

Sat July 28

At noon left Jersey by the “Rose” steamer, and after a fine passage of three hours, without being sick (though some were) and amusing myself with my telescope, we arrived at Granville.  This place, like Avranches, is situated on a high rock, some two or three hundred feet high; at least, the old town: but the new town is below.  Half a dozen douaniers, or custom house officers, in fierce uniforms came on board, examined our pass-ports, and took possession of our luggage.  At the Douane or Custom House, we were kept a long time; but there was a good deal of fun nevertheless.  Women only, offered themselves to carry our luggage to the hotels.  My portmanteau was carried by a girl of fourteen.  She told me her name was Caroldine Laborre.  What pretty names some of the names of the French women are.  I gave her a franc, and some sugar plums, which I had in my pocket, - much to her delight.  Too late for the Diligence to-day.

Sun July 29

Pour me divertir un peu, en attendant le départ de la Diligence, j'allai voir les baigneurs. C'était une scène assez amusante. A onze heure et demie je pris la Diligence; et nous arrivâmes à Avranches environ deux heures et demie de l'aprèsmidi. Me voilà dans mon ancienne demeure à l'Hôtel de France, après une absence de trois ans.

[To amuse myself a little while waiting for the stage coach to leave, I went to see the bathers. It was quite amusing. At half past eleven, I took the coach; and we arrived at Avranches at about half past two in the afternoon. Here I am again in my old dwelling at the Hotel de France, after a three year absence.]

AVRANCHES, NORMANDY, 1855

Mon July 30

Find, on enquiry, that the library of books and MSS. formerly belonging to St Michael’s Mount, heretofore kept at the College, have recently been removed to new quarters at the Hôtel de Ville – that the bookshelves are not yet made – that the books are not only not yet arranged, but that the greater part of them still remain in bundles and packages – and that I have reason to fear I may not be able to get access to them.

 

AVRANCHES, 1855

 

Wed August 1

In spite of the difficulties, M Chance, the principal librarian, offered us what facilities he could.  I again copied the Charter of Edward the Confessor, about “de vennesire”, from folio xxviij, dorsum, of the Cartulary, not being sure of the minute correctness of the last.  As to the charter by which William the Conqueror gave Sidmouth to the Mount, I doubt whether it is ever to be found; but I will try and look if possible.

Fri Aug 3

Had a rummage again.  About one o’clock one of the heaviest showers of rain I ever saw came down.  The streets were soon like rivers; and it was fine fun to see the perplexed people wading through the rushing streams, as the torrents ran down the streets.

Sun Aug 5

Went for an hour into the cathedral, and witnessed an excess of Puseyism.  The eastern end has a new appearance; and white Roman Doric columns are far from harmonising with the nave.  I saw an old woman squatted down on the pavement in the aisle, saying her Aves and Credos all the time I was there, passing on from bead to bead with her rosary very assiduously.  So much for the next world.  She had a peck of green peas in her lap, held in her apron.  So much for this world.  The two worlds were strongly blended.

Mon Aug 6

Took an agreeable walk to the village of St. Jean Baptiste a mile north of Avranches, partly through the fields and by the river Sée.  The church is old and without ornament.  Then walked a mile east, through the fields and along the banks of the river, to the village of Pont; passing a farm, one end of which has the appearance of originally having been a fortified mansion with two round towers pierced with loopholes.  In the churchyard of Pont are a cross and some slabs (at the west doorway,) with old inscriptions.  Returned the same way, in preference to the road.

Tu Aug 7

Today I explored down the estuary of the river Sée, towards St Michael’s Mount.  Walked down about a mile nearly, the latter part of the distance on the sand; crossed over in a ferry boat, and went on a mile or two on the sand towards the sea.  The sand in this estuary, and the grève round the Mount, is very fine, and of a gray colour.  Brought away some to take home.

Su 12

Having finished my researches at Avranches, I resolved on leaving for St. Lo.  Amongst the chief points of interest, at Avranches, may be mentioned the remains of the old walls with the round towers.  In the wall facing the Place, going from the Hotel de Ville to the Plate-forme, I observed an arch made, apparently, of thin Roman brick, and some herring-bone work.  Also the slab near the west end of the Plate-forme, on which Henry II. received absolution for the murder of à Beckett.  The old Norman arch in the Jardin des Plantes, brought from elsewhere.  The old Cross in the road called the Croix Verte, dated 1670.  And so on.  Avranches has about 10,000 inhabitants.  In passing along beyond Granville to Coutances, I remembered that the geology of the country tallied with that of the coast of Devonshire, to wit, granite, limestone, and Red sandstone.  The Diligence only gave me an hour at Coutances.  Had just time to admire the Cathedral; beautifully sculptured, and covered with spires and pinnacles.  St Lo is about the size of Avranches.

 

 

ST. LO, NORMANDY

M. Aug 20

During the week that I passed at St. Lo, I pursued my researches amongst the MSS. once belonging to the Mount, deposited in the building of the Archives of the town, and found several things of interest.  The cathedral here is a handsome building, built, like that at Coutances, of Bath stone.  I mean Caen stone, that is, the Great Oolite.  It has two towers with spires at the west end, very close together – the space between them less than the width of either tower.  In the interior, the columns at the east end are peculiar as having no capitals – the ribs of the roof spring out of the round shaft.  There is a peculiar feature outside this building.  At the north-east end it has an exterior stone pulpit, entered from the inside.  It has been long out of use.  It made me think of the preaching at Paul’s Cross.

The 15th of August was the first Napoleon’s Fête Day.  I went and heard high Mass.  Then the troops marched into the cathedral, blowing trumpets and beating drums.  Another service was performed; and the military band played lively airs, which were interlarded with the chanting of the priests.

I went one day, a league and a half in the country, to the Mauffe, to see some horse races.  They were only trotting matches.  There was no such thing as a gallop.  Went and returned in the boat on the river.  This river has been locked and rendered navigable with the last three or four years.  We were drawn by four horses and a low line, at a good trotting pace.

The Norman bonnets in this neighbourhood are different from those worn by the women near Avranches.  Perhaps they are still more striking in appearance.

M. Aug 20

Took the malle-poste and went 18 miles to Bayeux.  The papers announce that the Queen of England came over to France, on a visit to the Emperor and Empress on Saturday the 18th. The first thing I did on arriving here was to see the Bayeux Tapestry.  This work is made like a long ribbon.  It is many yards long and about two feet broad – I may say high, for it is placed on edge, in a glass case running round a large room in the Library.  The figures are from 10 to 12 inches high, or nearly.  The subject, the Conquest of England by William of Normandy, reads from left to right.  It is a highly interesting work.  The cathedral here is a beautiful building but quite choked up with houses on the north and east sides.  Slept at the Hotel du Luxembourg, and then, to-morrow morning

Tu Aug 21

Took the Diligence for Caen, famous for its building stone.  Caen stone was formerly in high repute in England; and, indeed, it is said to be used by our architects still, especially in the coins, mouldings, and window dressings of churches.  But when we have precisely the same stone dug at Bath, or rather at the Box Hill Quarries, near Bath, namely the Great Oolite of geologists, it should seem that there is no necessity to come to Caen for stone.  Perhaps the Normans sung the praises of Caen stone, and introduced it into England, before the Box or Bath stone had been developed.

At six I took the Diligence for Rouen, en route for Paris.  East of Caen the country changes its aspect.  From having been full of orchards, green fields, small enclosures, and plenty of trees, exactly as it is in south Devon, it becomes more open, and almost entirely devoted to the culture of grain.

Wed Aug 22

Having travelled all night, at a pace somewhat less than that of the mail, arrived at Rouen about 6 in the morning, the distance having been 64 miles.

I am told this place contains 98,000 inhabitants.  I missed the large Norman caps after Bayeaux.  From this last place eastward, the peasant women wore men’s white nightcaps, with a tassel at top!  The large caps prevail from Avranches to St. Lo.

ROUEN, NORMANDY,  AUG. 1855

Th Aug 23

Read the French newspapers for an hour.  The Queen, Prince Albert and some of the children now being at Paris, the papers divide their columns between them and the war.  Took a fagging and hot walk to the top of St. Catherine’s hill, a chalk hill rising some three or four hundred feet at the east of Rouen.  At the first platform, half way up this hill, are the ruins of a little chapel (if such it be) and 30 or 40 yards from it, the octagonal base, and part of the shaft of a cross.  The appearance of the summit of this hill gives one the idea that it was at some remote time, as remote perhaps as the invasion of Caesar, occupied by a camp enclosed with earthworks, the entrance having been at the west end.  But in later times there was a medieval castle there, nothing of which now remains but a mass of flint stone and mortar, some 15 or 20 feet high, some other masses scattered near it, and the traces of foundations all over the hill.  The summit is all over mounds and earthworks and deep fosses.  The enclosure was of many acres in extent.  In examining the walls, I found bricks, or pieces of bricks, thrown in along with the rubble, and all secured in one conglomerate by the mortar.  Some pieces I extracted.  When whole, the bricks were 2 inches thick, 4 broad, and about 8 long.  They were well burnt, hard, and good.  I could not find any stamp on them.  The Chateau Henri Quatre is said to have stood here; and these are said to be the ruins of it.  The view from the hill is beautiful.  On one side of the Seine is Rouen, and on the other an extensive plain.

Fri Aug 24

Went to look at the statue of Joan of Arc, in the Place de la Pucelle, where she was burnt.  Was disappointed.  Then looked at the building behind it, said to have been her prison.  It is covered with beautiful sculpture, but of a date posterior.  A frieze represents the meeting of Henry the Eighth of England, and Francis of France.  The sculptures on the turret above the steps, which represent subjects in fishing and agriculture, have a metalic (sic) look, as if the stone were rubbed over with brass dust.  In the street running west from the Cathedral, the Rue de la Grosse Horloge, there is an ancient Gateway, under the arch of which is the figure of a man, full size, in the costume of a shepherd, tending sheep, and two other rural subjects, sculptured at the sides.  I was told that this man gave name to the city of Rouen, and that in some remote period, he was the founder of it.  On the gateway is a great clock.

Sat Aug 25

Walked a league to Bonsecours, to see an American reaping machine.  Many persons were there.  It was very ingenious, but did not properly succeed.

Sun Aug 26

Went to the cathedral to hear and see high mass, and got a dash of holy water.  The west front of this cathedral is beautiful, particularly the doorways.  The interior is marred by some modern additions in Roman architecture, abominations which ought to be removed.  The rood screen of Roman Ionic (I think) is the most glaring absurdity.  The steeple on the centre tower is of cast iron ribs, with a staircase within.  The finial at top has not yet been put up.  Two or three of the other churches of Rouen may boast of the beauty of their architecture, as St. Ouen, St. Maclou, etc.

ROUEN, NORMANDIE, AOÛT 1855

Mon Aug 27

Went again to the top of St Catherine’s Hill, to grub about among the ruins.  Took my lunch in my pocket, and discussed it pleasantly, lying on the dry grass, with the breeze almost as hot as if it came from an oven, and enjoying a beautiful view of Rouen and the surrounding country.  My object to-day was, to examine as many bricks as possible, to see if I could discover any mark, figure, or cypher, such as might lead me to assign a date to their manufacture, or to the execution of the buildings.  Several I saw embedded in the rubble of the walls, but was unable to extract them.  But amongst the debris of the fallen walls I found many, though it was only in one or two instances that I could find a whole brick quite perfect.  I examined dozens of specimens.  They were as good as if only made yesterday.  The streaks on one side where the workman had rubbed off the suppefluous (sic) clay, before he turned them out of the mould were fresh and sharp.  I could not in any case discover any mark, stamp, or figure upon any of them.  Flints make up the principal portion of the walls.  Bricks were only used partially.  They measured 2 x 4 x 8 inches.  I also found great quantities of broken tiles, which, in their perfect state, had doubtless been used for roofing.  They were from half an inch to 5 eighths thick.  Several little French boys who were flying kites on the hill, assisted me in my researches.  It is mentioned in the Bayeux Tapestry that William the Conqueror had a castle at Rouen.  Possibly it was on this hill.

Tu Aug 28

Took a stroll in Rouen, to see what was to be seen.  There is a considerable amount of amusement, when in a new place, in doing nothing else than looking into the shop windows.  Best, when in a new country, one is able in this manner, to gain a great deal of information respecting the resources, produce, and manufactures of that country.  I spent between three and four hours in this way to-day.  In the middle of the stone bridge over the river there is a bronze statue of Corneille, who was born at Rouen.  I was shown the site of the house where he was born, on the north side of the Rue de la Pie.  The house itself was pulled down only a year ago to widen the street, and another built.  Went and looked at the Palais de Justice, which is a very beautiful building of its kind.  Under the trees at the north end of the suspension bridge there is a bronze statue of Boildieu, a celebrated musical composer.  I believe he was a native of Rouen.  There is a monument to him in the cemetery.  The suspension bridge is made of iron wire, not twisted into a rope, but parallel wires bound together at intervals.  There are six of these, each one as thick as the wrist.  The descending rods, that is, bundles similarly made, are about an inch in diameter.  This bridge is probably stronger than if it were made of iron rods of equal thickness.  It is called the “Pont Suspendu”, or the “Pont Fil-de-fer”.  The charge for going over is one centime, the fifth part of a halfpenny.  The tide flows up and down here with some rapidity.

Wed Aug 29

Took a two or three mile walk down the left or south bank of the Seine, below Rouen.  This river is here thickly studded with islands – long thin islands stretching up and down the stream.  Most of them are inhabited; and very pretty and snug little estates they appear to be.  But the atmosphere must be damp and foggy.  It was a lively scene to witness the vessels, some of them of great size, coming up or going down the stream.  There is no bridge below Rouen.  The Pont fil-de-fer is the first that stops rigged vessells.

ROUEN & PARIS, AUGUST 1855

Th Aug 30

Left Rouen for Paris.  Being beautiful weather, resolved on taking the steamer, in order that I might enjoy a view of the river and the country at leisure.  The passage is 20 hours.  By rail it is only five.  But then, I was not pressed for time.  Got up at four in the morning, the boat starting at five.  When I got to the wharf, I found, to my dismay, that the boat, which ought to have arrived last night from Paris, had not yet come.  A thick fog covered the river, and this had retarded it.  After deliberating an hour, rather vexed at the disappointment, I determined to take the rail at six.  I had my portmanteau taken to the station; and there I found that I was ten minutes too late, the clock at the office being wrong, and having deceived me.  The next train would not start until half past nine.  Rather savage at this second disappointment, I left my luggage at the Station and wandered about.  The fog was so thick I could have cut it with a knife, like a piece of cheese: the air was damp and chilly.  Attracted by a noise of drums, I wandered away into an avenue: and there I found a number of young drummers learning the different beats.  I counted eighteen of them.  As they were all doing different beats, the discordant and stunning noise may be imagined – or perhaps it may not be imagined.  Then I went and witnessed the drilling of a number of young recruits, looking like spectres through the fog.  At eight o’clock I went back to my hotel to get some hot coffee; and rather surprised mine hoste, who thought I was half way to Paris.

At nine and a half I succeeded in leaving Rouen.  The sun was now hot; and the weather fine.  The Seine or the Eure are in sight occasionally all the way.  Chalk hills bound the rivers in most places.  We went through two or three long tunnels.  The rest of the country is flat, with a gravelly soil.  The distance was rather more than 30 leagues.  Arrived in Paris at half past two, for the first time.

Fri Aug 31

Walked about Paris, and almost felt I was in London.  As the Paris fashions prevail so much in London, and as one meets so many French beards, especially in Regent Street, either Paris is somewhat like London, or else London is much like Paris.  The Queen’s recent visit has left a favourable impression, and the English were never in better odour.

 

PARIS, SEPTEMBER 1855

 

Sat Sep 1

Went to the Exposition de l’Industrie in the Champs Elysees.  Though this is not on so large a scale as the London Exhibition of 1851, the effect to the eye is perhaps more pleasing.  The building, being permanent, is substantially built of stone.  The other looked too much like a bird-cage or a green-house (as indeed the one at Sydenham does now) and the objects looked very diminutive owing to the immense space.  This one looks more solid, more completely furnished, and less glassy.  The glass roof of this one has been covered with calico or Holland in striped colours.  This subdues the glare and improves the effect.  The objects exhibited are extremely interesting, as were those in London.

Sun Sep 2

Went to Nôtre Dame.  This Cathedral is not so large or so handsome as that at Rouen.  Took a walk to the Palais of the Luxembourg.  Returned through the Louvre.  Disappointed at the size of the Seine.  Expected another Thames.  It is scarcely larger than the Ex at Exeter.

Mon Sep 3

Walked to the Hotel Royal des Invalides.  This building is a sort of French Chelsea Hospital; and in its neighbourhood one meets scores of old worn out veterans who have lost their arms and legs in the service of their country.  The church belonging to this Institution is the place where the body of the first Napoleon lies.  It is the most gorgeous thing of its kind that can well be imagined.  The public are admitted freely to see the Emperor’s tomb.  I went in company with crowds of people.  The style is not Gothic, but Roman, like St Paul’s, London.  The inside of the dome of the cupola is decorated with paintings.  It is under this the sarcophagus is.  There is a large circular opening in the floor, surrounded with a balustrade, and one looks down upon the floor beneath, where the sarcophagus, of red Egyptian marble, is placed.  Round this Sarcophagus in the floor, is a wreath of leaves, bound by fillets of purple, all in vari-coloured marble.  In the floor above are crowns, fleur-de-lis, and other devices inlaid in differently tinted marble.  But the altar, and the canopy over it, are the most gorgeous portions.  Columns and panels of black marble chequered with white, and the capitals and cornices of nothing but gold and silver, lighted up by the firey (sic) rays that come through the yellow glass windows, produce an effect hard to describe.  Some of Napoleon’s clothes, crosses, and hat are also shown.  The Queen of England may well have been affected at surveying this place ten days ago.

Went afterwards to the Champ de Mars and saw some troops exercising.  A splendid spectacle was here shown to the Queen, one day during her visit.

Tu Sep 4

Still fine hot weather.  Went into the garden of the Tuileries, and sat on a chair (for which a woman charged me two sous) to watch the lively scene.  The place was crowded.  Did the same in the garden of the Palais Royal.

 

Wed Sep 5

When at Avranches, I became acquainted with a gentleman who was entirely blind.  He talked to me one day on the subject of the books which have been printed in raised characters for the use of the blind, which they read by passing the ends of the fingers across the pages.  I had happened to have seen such books in London, and seen blind people read out of them.  He expressed a great wish to be able to read such books; and as I was going to Paris, I promised to enquire.  After making some enquiries at the Exposition de l’Industrie, now open, and at several shops, I succeeded better at the Institution for the Blind, south of the Invalides.  As a specimen of the printing in relievo (?) they gave me three copies of the leaf which I insert, one of which I send to Avranches.  Hitherto it has been the practice to print them in ordinary letters, but a system of points or dots has recently been introduced.  They told me that the blind learn to read by the raised dots with greater facility than by the letters.  I went over the Institution, and was much amused at seeing some working, some playing the piano, and some playing a game of cards.  As I went to enquire about books, I was taken to the library, and I was surprised to see a room well fitted with large volumes on various subjects, as Geography, Grammar, Lessons in Reading, Travels, Music, etc.

Th Sep 6

After going to the Ministere de la Marine where I had to deliver a letter, went to look at the Madeleine.  This church is built in the form of a Roman temple of great size.  It is of the Corinthian order.  It is a very beautiful specimen of architecture; but no style of architecture equals the Gothic in its power to inspire awe.  The bronze doors depict subjects from the Commandments.  The interior is mostly gold and white; the ceiling and domes, picked out with colours or displaying paintings.  The effect excites much admiration.

Fri Sep 7

Spent the afternoon in the Louvre, looking at the sculpture and paintings.  An attendant at the door took charge of my stick, and charged me two sous.  The parts of the building devoted to these works, are the western side of the quadrangle, and the river front running up towards the Place du Carousel.  The sculptures are on the ground floor; the paintings above.  There is a fine colossal statue of Father Tyber.  There are two statues of Hermaphroditus, duplicates.  The antiquities from Egypt and Tarsus are interesting.  The collection of paintings is large, and justly celebrated.  It is not only rich in old and the well known masters, but there are works of great merit by modern artists.  Many persons were engaged in copying the paintings, regardless of the crowd; and most of them were women.  We were chassé’d at five.

Sat Sep 8

Got a letter from England.  Such are always welcome when one is away.  Took a walk due south – first to the Luxembourg Palace; then to the Observatory, a stone building covered with domes that revolve and open for the use of the astronomers; and then away further south, in order that I might have a look at the fortifications, for I have just read a pamphlet by General Pélet, on this subject, written at the time the question of fortifying the city was in agitation, in 1840.  This is not a thoroughly elaborate system of fortification; - such, (as the General said), would cost too much, and would require too many regular troops to defend: it is a high wall, and a broad dry ditch, enough to keep an invading enemy in check, till the main body of the army, perhaps at a distance, could come up to save the city.  Some of the detached forts, I could see, though far off.

Turned aside, in returning, to examine a place where stone is dug.  It was a large descending shaft, at the bottom of which galleries are made laterally.  The great blocks of stone, belonging apparently either to the Chalk, or Green sand formations, are raised by means of an immense windlass.  Some of them were absolute masses of fossil shells.  Brought away a piece.  The day was clear, and the sun excessively hot.

Sun Sep 9

Went to the church of St. Germain, east of the Louvre.  A woman charged me two sous for the use of a chair, there being no pews.  In this church there are some architectural abominations, Roman architecture mixed with Gothic, being additions made by ignorant masons.  The painted glass is rich in colour.  Both inside and outside this edifice there is a good deal of what I believe is termed the “pre-Raffaelite” school of painting, - cold, stiff, lifeless figures, with gilt backgrounds, and bright colours ill blended.  The porches are the richest specimens.  There is a statue of St. Denis with his head in his hands.

In the afternoon committed the impiety of going to the Exposition de l’Industrie.  The entrance to-day was only four sous = two pence.  The place was crammed with thousands.  It was immensely hot, and the crowd made it scarcely possible to move in some places.  I saw a Roman catholic priest there in his clerical costume.  The great object of attraction was the Imperial crown and jewels.  They are very beautiful certainly.  Some parts of the machinery at work, excited considerable interest.

The Gardens of the Tuileries, and other places of public resort, resembled a fair.  The French seem to live upon pleasures and amusements.

Mon Sep 10

Kept quiet and read the Arabian Nights in French, lent me by my landlord.  Never read them in English.

Tu Sep 11

Letters from Australia – from Fanny and Bingham.  Bingham has a daughter.  He sends me £19..14..3.

The French papers publish accounts of further and more decisive successes at Sebastopol.  At first I was told that the place was entirely taken and destroyed, but this was too good.  However, it seems that the great struggles which place (sic) on the 8th and 9th ended in the Russians blowing up all their magazines on the south side of the harbour, and of retiring to the northern side, leaving the allies in possession of the Karabelnaïa, and the southwestern position also, it is asserted.  This is looked upon as going far to settle the fate of the Crimea in our favour.  This evening 101 guns were fired in Paris on the joyful occasion.

Wed Sep 12

Walked today to the Cemetery of Père la Chaise.  Heard guns again.  Conclude they are firing on account of the news from the Black Sea.  Went eastward along the Rue St. Antoine.  In the place de la Bastille stopped to look at the bronze column, erected to commemorate the revolution of July 1830, which put Louis Philippe on the throne.  The column is of bronze, raised on a stone base, and has the names of those who distinguished themselves during the struggle engraved on it in gilt letters.  There must be several hundred names.  On the summit there is a gilt figure of Mercury, or somebody much like the representations one sees of him.  Père la Chaise is an immense cemetery, certainly.  Some of the monuments are in good taste, but some are not.  As it stands on a hill, there is a beautiful view of Paris from one part of it.  The northern portion is devoted to the poor.  The scene is more singular and striking than that apportioned to the rich.  The multitude of wooden crosses hung with crowns has a peculiar effect.  Among English names, I was surprised to see the monument of Sir Sidney Smith.  The weather was fine, and it was as hot as midsummer.

Th Sep 13

To-day the Emperor went in state to Notre Dame, when a Te Deum was chanted, as a thank offering for the successes at Sebastopol.  Went out at ten o’clock, when all Paris was already in the streets, though the state procession was not expected till noon.  It was marvellous where all the soldiers came from, considering how many have gone to the war.  They swarmed out in dense lines like ants out of an anthill, or bees from a hive; and there was no seeing down the streets for bayonettes.  They were as thick as needles in a needle-case.  The houses were profusely hung with banners; there being, along with the tricolor, a sprinkling of English Red Ensigns, Turkish, and Sardinian flags.  The variety and beauty of the uniforms was very striking.  Went to the north side of the Louvre, in the Rue Rivoli.  The approach of the procession was announced by the beating of drums and the blowing of trumpets, (and a great noise they made.)  Cavalry passed, and many carriages passed, having therein very brilliant uniforms, and then came the state carriage with glass panels, having the Emperor Napoleon therein, and one gentleman.  He occupied the place Queen Victoria always occupies on state occasions – the right hand side of the back seat.  The people cheered much – much more than the English cheer.  We English are a dull heavy people.  He is very like his portraits – or rather, his portraits are very like him.  He was paler than I expected; but otherwise just what I might have expected.  He kept up a continued series of small bows, or inclinations of the body, in recognition of the greetings he received.  I have seen the Queen and Prince Albert do the same.  After he had passed, soldiers and people dispersed for an hour; glad to seek the shade, and something to drink, for the sun was broiling.  We then assembled again; and I had an equally good and steady view of him.  I thought his eyes looked red as if he was getting tired of all the parade, and fatigue.  At two in the afternoon the theatres were thrown open gratis; and Paris was illuminated in the evening.  Chinese lanthorns and coloured paper lamps prevailed.  Walked about looking at all these novelties till I was downright wearied.

Friday Sep 14

Put on my best coat and took an idle stroll.  Went to look at the Bourse, a fine large building in the Composite Order with columns not fluted.  Then went to the Place Vendôme to examine the bronze column, with the figure of Napoleon on the top.  This is a beautiful column.  It is made, as an inscription says, from the guns taken by Napoleon.  Like the column of Trajan at Rome, it is surrounded, from the bottom to the top, with an ascending spiral line of bas-reliefs.  These represent Napoleon’s battles and victories.  Four large bronze bas-reliefs cover the pedestal.  Then looked at the Luxor Obelisk in the Place Louis XV.  It was given to France for Napoleon’s services in the Egyptian campaign, when Abercrombie was killed.  It is of red granite.  Instead of looking old, it is as clean, and the hieroglyphics as sharp, as if it had only recently been finished by the sculptor.  The pedestal on which it stands (which is modern) has representations of the shipment and removal of the obelisk from Egypt to France, cut in intaglio and gilt.  Then took a stroll through the Tuileries Gardens, and by accident over the Pont Royal.  Here I bought a second-hand copy of a pamphlet I have long wished to see and for which I had hitherto asked in vain.  It is the “Note sur l’Etat des Forces Navales de la France. 1844”.  Though no name is attached to it, the Prince de Joinville is known to have been the author.  It exhorts France to augment her steam navy – remarks on the superior steam navy of England – and offers plans how England might be successfully invaded.  It gave great offence to his father – Louis Philippe, who was on excellent terms of friendship with the English and their Queen.  The English were not a little offended either, for the pamphlet appeared not long after Louis Philippe with his family (including the Prince de Joinville) had been over to England on a visit to the Queen.  During this visit the Prince, it appeared, had been considering how the country of his entertainers might be best destroyed by fire and sword.

As I was returning back to my abode, my attention was attracted by seeing all the people turning their noses up into the air.  On following their example, behold there was a balloon, quietly sailing over the city from west to east.

PARIS & VERSAILLES, SEPTEMBER 1855

Sun Sep 16

Went to St. Roch, in the Rue St. Honoré.  This church is white and gold, - very neat.  The sounding board over the pulpit is an angel flying and supporting a large drapery, all carved.  The effect is not bad.  There are some good paintings in the church, especially on the right-hand side on entering.  – It was advertised that the “Grandes Eaux” were going to play to-day at Versailles; and in spite of the day I went.  Whatever I thought of it, the excursion and the amusements of the afternoon were sanctioned by several Roman Catholic priests, for they went down in the train with me.  This is a sort of Windsor, attached to the capital.  I went from the station north of the Church of the Madelaine.  About half way down from Paris, on this line, there is a beautiful view of Paris and neighbourhood.  The approach to the chateau from the town is much better than Park side.  It is varied, and broken, and picturesque.  The chapel is a picturesque building, and mostly white and gold inside, with a finely inlaid marble floor.  There is some good statuary in the corridors in the chateau; but its richness consists in its paintings.  These are very numerous and very beautiful.  The appartments too, in which they are placed, are beautiful for their richness.  The arched ceilings are especially remarkable; exceeding anything I have happened to see either in Paris or London.  I was between an hour and two hours on the move with hundreds of others, walking through the numerous rooms, saloons, galleries, and corridors, until quite tired, though much interested.  People may say what they like in their admiration of old paintings.  Old paintings are very good and very laudable as old paintings.  They are curious and interesting antiques, and are valuable in that light.  But every unprejudiced connoisseur must allow, that the modern artists, keeping clear of the errors which they have seen in their predecessors, have put in their paintings more correct drawing, better grouping, attitudes more natural, more truthful colouring, and last, though not least, more correct perspective, than the lauded old masters can lay claim to.  I could point out two or three errors in the cartoons of Raffael.  The women of Rubens are fat, gross, vulgar creatures: and among the collection in the National Gallery in London, there are many paintings by names of good account, which may be condemned for unnatural or distorted attitudes in the figures.  With respect to the deadness or heaviness or blackness of colouring, perhaps the colours have darkened by age.  If so, that excuse must be accepted.  But the other defects enumerated cannot receive a like palliation.

With respect to sculpture, the case is different.  I am not quite sure whether modern sculpture can compete with the ancient.  Chantrey, Bacon, Wyatt, Westmacott, and so on – these are great names in England.  All Europe has produced its great names too.  Nevertheless, none of them have ever exceeded by a hair’s breadth, the beauty, the refinement of design or conception, the life, the animation, the anatomical correctness, and the natural flowing of the drapery, which characterise the works of ancient Greece.  There are some good bronze statues at Versailles, dispersed near the fountains out of doors, as well as marble figures.  The gardens are very beautiful: but art has done everything.  A plain slope from the chateau has been turned into terraces, parterres, flower-beds, groves, walks, and plantations of trees.  It would take a week to see this place.  There is one bad painting in the building.  Though done by a Frenchman, the subject is not french.  It represents Washington giving the order for the assault on York-town in America.  The figure of Washington is lifeless, awkward, and inexpressive: and as to the face, it is not one bit like the dozens of paintings of him that I have seen in America.  If Washington’s figure were painted over again, and well done, the painting, which is of large size, would do.

Tu Sep 18

Took a fagging walk up to the top of the hill of Montmartre, north of Paris.  Though now all absorbed in Paris, it was anciently a separate town.  Where the hill has been cut away on the south side of the top, the foundations of old walls are exposed.  There is a telegraph erected on an old ecclesiastical building on the summit.  As in England, the old telegraphs are not destroyed, in spite of electric wires.  The view over Paris is beautiful.  Every large building stands out, and towers over the houses.  It is also beautiful over the country.  How hot the sun was!

PARIS, SEPTEMBER 1855

Wed Sep 19

Took a walk to the Jardin des Plantes – the Botanical and Zoological Gardens of Paris.  On my way, went into the Pantheon, a well-built church after the pattern of St. Peter’s at Rome, or St. Paul’s in London.  It is in the Corinthian order: but the columns of the portico are unusual from having the flutes cabled all the way up, instead of only one third.  The Jardin des Plantes is a very pretty place for a lounge.  The plants and flowers seem numerous, and well looked after.  The animals seem well looked after too.  The Giraffes were so tame as to allow their noses to be rubbed.  But the chimpanzé was the centre of attraction.  His athletic feats upon his slack ropes and his perches, his amusing vagaries, and his droll use of a looking glass, which had been given him, kept me (and scores of others) for more than an hour before his cage alone.

Th Sep 20

What continued hot, fine weather!  Too hot to go far; and my jaunt yesterday was long and tiring.  Went into the Church of St. Eustache, near the ‘Halle aux Blés, by chance on St. Eustace’s Day, which the Almanac says this is.  This church is a blunder in architecture.  The style of the details is Roman, but the great form of the edifice is Gothic.  I thought it must probably be a comparatively modern abomination: but in the north transept inside I saw the date 1640.  To be sure, the glorious period of Gothic architecture was two or three centuries before that date.  In England, by this time it had become debased; and perhaps it had in France.  The little chapels all round are richly coloured.  Came back to my abode.

Passed an hour mending kid gloves.  What are bachelors to do?

Su Sep 23

Walked to Long champ, through the Bois de Boulogne, and back; - a long, warm walk, three or four leagues.  Took the route westward through the Champs Elysées, and so on to the Triumphal Arch.  What a magnificent arch this is.  Its immense size – the white marble of which it is composed – and the beauty of the sculpture with which it is covered.  It was a little way beyond this that the Comte d’Eu, eldest son of Louis Philippe, was thrown out of his cab and killed.  A chapel has been built near the spot.  Walked on a mile or nearly, and then turned in on the left to the Bois de Boulogne.  This wood is extensive and very pretty.  The timber is not old, nor the ground hilly; but it is a pretty rural place – a thick wood and copse, intersected with roads and paths.  Walked across it out to Longchamp – made a detour – sat down in the wood and discussed some lunch – found many others doing the same thing, for the French are a great pic-nic-ing and out-of-door loving people, sitting on the grass, and hanging their hats, bonnets and shawls on the branches of the trees – hot and thirsty, stopped ten minutes at a café on the Paris side of the wood returning, and had a tumbler of beer, sitting under the verandah and watching the lively throng – then issued into the road and came back to Paris.  What a multitude of pleasure seekers!  All the way from the Arch to the Tuileries, more than a mile, the throng was so dense, it was difficult to get along.  I was obliged to move with the throng.

Mon Sept 24

Finished reading another four volume novel of Paul de Kock, having read one at Avranches.  This one, entitled, “Le Mari, et L’Aimant”, is as bad as the other in its morals and its pictures of profligacy.  Such works would not be allowed in England, and ought not to be in France.  They must do much mischief in society: and the talent with which they are written, the ability with which the author has drawn his characters and sustained the interest throughout, only renders them the more dangerous.  I think I will read something of De Balzac.

Tu Sep 25

Took a stroll in the Tuileries Gardens.  The weather still beautiful, but the air to-day not so hot as it has been.  The newspapers, in commenting on the fall of Sebastopol – or, rather, on the southern half, for the position on the northern side of the creek still remains to be taken – say, that during the last 40 days alone, the allied armies have thrown into the place, in the form of balls and shells, no less than thirty million (30,000,000) pounds of iron.  Months ago we heard that the ground was paved with cannon balls.  They also say that the Russians, when they abandoned the place, left 2200 guns behind them – that, at different periods during the last twelve month, they have sunk or otherwise destroyed, all their Black Sea fleet sheltered in that harbour, consisting of the following list: - 14 ships of the line, 4 frigates, 5 corvettes and brigs, 64 gunboats, 12 steamers, 7 smaller vessels, and 11 transports.  What a list!  They further say that the allies had about 800 guns in position, directed against the place; and that the Russians had about the same number opposed to them.

Fri Sep 28

Went to the Palais Des Beaux Arts, Rue Bonapart, south of the river.  This is a sort of School of Art, and therefore the productions are by young artists.  On a sort of architectural screen, running across the entrance court, there is an inscription that that façade was built in 1500 as part of the palace of the Cardinal.

Sat Sep 29

At last the weather changes to rain.  For seven weeks I recollect only one shower (on the 13th) and that was after dark.  It has been beautiful.

 

PARIS, OCTOBER 1855

 

Wed Oct 3

Went to the Bibliotheque Impérial, in the Rue de Richelieu, to search for the Sidmouth Manuscripts, as I call them: I mean MSS. once belonging to St. Michael’s Mount, Normandy.  I arrived in Paris just as the holidays began, and I have been five weeks here unable to prosecute my search.  However, the holidays are over, and now I can go to work.

Fri Oct 5

Beautiful weather again!  Friday is the two-franc day at the Exposition de l’Industrie.  The prices are – 1 franc every day except Sunday, when the entrance is 4 sous, and Friday, when it is 2 francs.  There are sixty or seventy thousand in the building on the 4 sous day, when it is too crowded to move.  I went to-day to see what sort of company there might be there.  There were evidently a good many well-bred and aristocratic people; but also a good many whose pretentions were based on their purses.  I heard English spoken every now and then, as the different groups passed me.  But about half past four we were all surprised by the unexpected arrival of the two persons of highest rank in France.  The Emperor I had seen before, (Sep. 13.) but not the Empress.  The hopes of the Emperor and the country are upon her now; and both will be much disappointed if she does not give them an heir to the Imperial Crown soon.

I was standing near the middle of the building, where there was a moderate assemblage of people, some seated and some sauntering about, looking at each other as well as looking at the pretty things.  All at once I saw several running towards the north entrance of the building.  Thinks I to myself – “Some fellow has been detected pilfering, and now they are all running to help take him into custody, or else, to look at the criminal; as if he were more interesting than an honest man.”  But then seeing a number of women run to the spot, I thought it more likely perhaps that some lady had fainted; and so these sympathisers of her own sex were hastening to render her assistance.  In either case, thought I, - criminal or fainting lady – I am not wanted; and I am not going to compromise my dignity by running.  So I stood still, but kept my eyes forward.  In a few minutes some of the gens-d’armes and other officials approached, crying out – “Retirez!  Retirez! L’Empereur et l’Emperatrix sont arrivés.  Faites place!”  So we withdrew, leaving the alleys open.  The Empress was not on foot.  She was in a three-wheel chair, drawn by an attendant; the Emperor, en habit de ville, or merely dressed as a private gentleman, walking by her side.  They passed within a yard or two of me.  They were much cheered, and they smiled and bowed their acknowledgements.  As I raised my hat, the Empress bowed towards where I was standing, with some others, and our eyes met.  She was paler than I expected to see her, and did not look in health.  She is older than her portraits – indeed she looks older than her real age, just now.  Her cheeks not so full as those of her portraits, nor her nose, I think, quite so prominent.  To be sure, these portraits were made some time ago, when she was just married.  At all events, she is a nice, lady like looking woman.  When she was at school at Clifton near Bristol, Miss Tozer, daughter of Mr Tozer, solicitor of Teignmouth, was at the same school, as I have heard some of my (Devonshire) cousins, who know Miss Tozer, say.  The Emperor did not look so pale today, as he did the last time I saw him.  He is rather a small man when on foot.  When we issued from the building, we lingered a short time to see them come out and get into their carriage.  I remarked that she sat on the right hand side of the Emperor.  This is the place of honour; and she now sits there in right of the heir to the throne expected!

Sunday Oct 7

Went this morning to the chapel of the English Ambassador.  Hitherto, from curiosity, I have been going the round of the Roman catholic churches; but there was something refreshing, plain, simple, and intelligible, in this service, after what I have been witnessing during the last two months.  A large long square room, at the back of the left hand wing of the Ambassador’s residence has been turned into a sort of chapel.  It has three windows on one side, and one at the end, under which last, a communion table, railed in has been placed.  The floor is covered with matting; and comfortable benches, with cushions and backs, are placed along the room longitunally (sic).  At the end furthest from the Table, a portion is railed off, and hung with curtains: this appeared to belong to the Ambassador, now Lord Cowley.  The room was quite filled.  I counted nearly 200 persons, mostly ladies.  We all looked at each other a great deal: all were trying to discover some English friend amongst the faces of our own country folks.

Wed Oct 10

The papers say that the allies have found 4000 cannons of different sizes in Sebastopol: that in the successful assault on the 8th and 9th of September, the Belgians lost 18000 men: and that about this vast number of small arms, and arms of all sizes, have been collected by the victors.  An immense quantity of powder, besides stores and materials of all sorts have been found.  Every day a Committee sits, to decide on a partition of the spoils.  A despatch, however, of Prince Gortchacoff  to the Russian government, sets down the Russian loss at 11990.  The French I believe has amounted to 362 officers, and 11328, men from all casualties.  The English lost 2000 in their attack on the Redan before they retired.  The Times newspaper has a most severe attack on General Simpson, Commander-in-Chief since Lord Raglan’s death.  It says the General is too old for active command: and that, instead of looking after his men, and showing them the way to assault the place (as General Pélissier was doing with the French) he sat in a trench enveloped in a cloak.  The Times attributed the English non-success to the General’s supineness.  These are grave charges.

Mon Oct 15

At Sebastopol things remain moderately quiet, except that the Russians, now holding their ground on the north side of the harbour, are firing upon the allies, now in possession of the south side.  The Russians, however, have just received a defeat in a battle in the open field, a few miles north-east of Eupatoria; and the general impression is that they will give up the Crimea as untenable, and retire upon Perecop.  At Kars, in Asia Minor, they have been routed.  They had long besieged that place, and the garrison were reduced to horseflesh.  It was supposed that the place must surrender.  However, on the 29th of September, a general assault took place.  The Turks, commanded by a General Williams (an officer doubtless of Welsh descent) beat them off: took one gun, above 100 prisoners, and killed 4000.  Their own loss was about 750.  After all, it seems the Russians are not infallible.  Hitherto, owing to the vastness of their empire, and the secrecy with which all their internal affairs are managed, we have been in the habit of looking upon them as inexhaustible in resources, and invincible in strength: but the present war now, is beginning to show that they are neither one or the other.  The present war, too, has proved the Turks to be better men than the world gave them credit for.  Turkey is not “the sick man” in his dotage, as the late Emperor called his neighbour, in his notable conversations with Sir Hamilton Seymour.  Turkey is rising in physical strength, and in moral power.  The present Emperor has done much to break through and abolish the prejudices, the exclusiveness, and the debasing customs, with which he found the empire blinded, when he ascended the throne.

Oct 18 Thursday

Went to look at the Morgue.  Surely this place is a barbarism.  To-day was the fourth time my curiosity had led me to look in; but there was no unfortunate there until to-day.  The Morgue is a square stone building, standing at the north end of the Pont St. Michel – to the east of the north end; on the great island in the Seine.  On entering the building by a large arch or doorway, an inner chamber to the left is seen, divided off by an iron grating, and lighted by a skylight.  In this inner chamber there are ten couches, if I may so term them, made of planks.  The feet end is placed near the grating where the spectator looks through, the head end somewhat raised.  A body, therefore, placed upon one of these, is in such a position that the face is opposite the spectator. I don’t know whether this is one of the sights of Paris: but it is a very revolting one, and a very unnecessary one.  Suicide unfortunately is very prevalent here.  There must be sadly defective religious teaching, or things would be different.  The man I saw there to-day, I believe had drowned himself in the river.  The body was stripped, and laid upon one of these couches: a large piece of leather was placed on him, and the whole kept firm by a strap.  This strap is of brass; and the inclined plane under the head is a sheet of brass.  The intention in exposing persons in the Morgue, is to give their friends the opportunity of coming and claiming them, when it is not known who the dead person is.  But it appears to me totally unnecessary that it should be open to the idle public, who throng there only to satisfy a morbid curiosity.  If the door were closed, and if only those were admitted who had missed their friends, and came to seek for them by a proper application, every useful end would be gained.  The place to-day was crowded with men, women, and children – even young women with infants in their arms.

Sun Oct 21

At the Chapel of the Ambassade for the third time.

Tues Oct 23

Looked into the Morgue to-day.  There were three men stretched out for the idle to look at, and all these different from the one I saw there the other day.  The features of one of the men were much distorted, and the face and chest almost black.  He appeared to have hanged himself.  There was a jet of water playing over him.  The countenances of the others were quiet.  They had probably been drowned.  The building was crowded with men, women, and children.

Tues Oct 30

So General Simpson retires from the Chief-in-Command in the Crimea.  After the thoughts that occurred to me on the 10th from what the papers said of him, one need not be surprised.  But he retires on the score of failing health.  General Codrington succeeds, a young man for an English General; but that is what we want.  Fifty is young enough for bodily vigour, and old enough for matured mental faculties.

The papers announce that Sir John Dean Paul, Strahan, and Bates, the London bankers, who fraudulently failed a few months ago, and who have brought scores, if not hundreds of individuals to distress, have just been transported for fourteen years.  A pity this will not bring back the money for the sufferers.

 

PARIS, NOVEMBER 1855

 

Th. Nov. 15. 1855

The war progresses.  Kinburn, at the mouth of the Dniéper, has been taken; and the Russians immediately afterwards blew up the Russian town on the opposite side of the River.  Nicolai, higher up the river, where the Russians are building some steamers, now they have lost the whole of their fleet at Sebastopol, has been reconnoitred; but not yet attacked.  The machinery of the English frigate, the Tiger, which got aground and was taken, has been adapted to one of these steamers, - so the papers say.

Though the allied troops are preparing winter quarters (better than they had last year I hope) yet, they are manoeuvring with the enemy, as if some decisive blow were to be struck before the Campaign will close.  As for the Baltic, the winter is setting in, and the fleets are gradually returning from the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland, and coming home.

To-day, the 15th was a gay day in Paris, and fortunately the weather was fine, though cold.  To-day the Exhibition closed, and the Emperor and Empress went in state.  The Duke of Cambridge was also over here from England.  The Empress had on a tiara of pearls, something like what I have seen Queen Victoria wear when she was going to open parliament.  How many times I have been to the Exhibition, I don’t know; but, as at the London one, I always found something new, and something to instruct.  All the arrangements to-day were well carried out.

Sun Nov 25

Went again this morning to the church of the Madelaine, in the Rue Royale.  The colouring of the interior of this church, although so varied with paint, marble, stone, and guilding (sic), harmonises like a beautiful picture.  The altar, with the statues on it, is the only part approaching to white; and here, like a well designed painting, the eye naturally rests, or is made to rest.  Even the rich vestures of the priests and the other officers of the church, harmonise with what surrounds them.  The painting of the vault over the altar, is a sort of apotheosis of the first Napoleon, which I had not before remarked.

This afternoon there was an immense concert at the building of the defunct Exposition of Music sacred and profane.  Went – although English and protestant feelings cannot find it otherwise than grating, to go elsewhere than to church on a Sunday.  The Emperor and our ally the King of Sardinia, now at Paris, came.  The pieces were executed by four orchestras and Military Bands, and a union of 4,500 voices.  There were noisy Fanfares Militaires; then Vive l'Empereur, La Saint Hubert, O Salutaris, La Retraite, Aux Armes, God Save the Queen, and so on.

Tu Nov 27

Went to look at the Chamber of Deputies, over the Pont Louis XV.  Being the time of the recess it was empty; but a person is ready to admit visitors; and a small present for his trouble is not refused.  This room is a half circle, the tribune, now occupied by the President, or Speaker, being in the focus.  Formerly, when a member wished to speak, he went and mounted the tribune: now, every member speaks from this place.  The panels and pillars are of Italian marble.  It may be remembered that at the time of the Revolution which lost Louis Phillipe his Crown, the Duchess of Orleans entered this chamber with her son the Count de Paris, as described by the journals of the day; but was advised to retire, her life not being considered safe.  The large painting of Louis Philippe swearing to maintain the Charter, which was against the wall, over the tribune, was cruelly wounded with bullets at this time.  The painting is now at Versailles, and its place occupied by a green curtain.  I saw it at Versailles, (Sep. 16.) but forgetting these circumstances, did not examine it since its reparation as closely as I wish I had.

This afternoon there was a grand review in the Champ de Mars – or rather an inspection of troops, for there was no firing away of gunpowder.  The Emperor with the King of Sardinia, was there, accompanied by a brilliant staff.  The Empress was there in an open carriage.  The weather was cold, but fine.

Th Nov 29

Went to-day to see the Palais of the Luxembourg and the Chamber of Peers, now called the Senate Chamber.  This chamber is exactly like the Chamber of Deputies in plan, which I saw the day before yesterday, that is a half circle, with the president’s chair in the focus.  Both chambers I believe, were built in the early times of Louis Philippe.  The attendant afterwards took me, and half dozen others (an Englishman and some French soldiers) who happened to be there ready to go the rounds, to the state appartments in the Luxembourg.  There was a bed-room, some sitting rooms, and the Throne Room, or Salle du Trone.  This Salle du Trone is a long appartment, formerly in three, but the partitions have recently been removed, so as to throw it all into one.  The alterations are not quite finished: the artist is still occupied in painting the domes.  The Throne – a gilt chair with seat of crimson velvet, on a dais of three steps – is in this room: - hence the name.  This chamber is about the richest and most splendid appartment I ever saw anywhere.  I have seen too few of the royal palaces in England: but I cannot imagine that England or any other country can produce anything to surpass or perhaps equal this.  The walls and ceiling are one blaze of carving, painting, and gilding.  The effect of the gilding is heightened and varied by the employment of different colour gold when treating fruit, flowers, or leaves.  In all these appartments I was much struck with the beauty of the domed ceilings, so much labour has been bestowed on them.

Afterwards I went into the gallery of paintings; where there are several of merit.  There is a large painting of the death of Queen Elizabeth, of England there, very good.

 

PARIS, DECEMBER 1855

 

Sun Dec 2

Went this morning to the chapel of the English ambassador.  It was quite full, as usual.

Mon Dec 3

Took a walk along the Rue Rivoli to the Hotel de Ville.  Work-people were busily occupied in taking down the decorations put up a week or two ago for the féte given to the King of Sardinia – now gone on to England, to pay a visit to the Queen and Prince Albert.  The quadrangle on the Hotel de Ville is of very tasty design.

From there, made a long walk of a couple of miles to Grenelle to look at the Artisian spring.  Passed the Morgue in going.  The Morgue to-day, still more strongly confirmed me in my opinion that it ought to be closed against the indecent curiosity of the idle public.  On approaching it, I saw a great crowd collected at the entrance of the building: and on pushing through this crowd, I found it still more dense withinside.  I concluded there must be something unusual to have excited all this; and my own desire to know what it could be, made me resolve to push my way through to look beyond the iron railings.  It was not without considerable difficulty that I managed it.  By looking over people’s shoulders and between heads, I caught a glimpse of a man stretched on one of the couches; but as I had before seen three at a time, there must be some other reason.  On approaching nearer, I saw a woman on another couch.  A woman there, should appear to be unusual: at all events, much interest was manifested towards her to-day – but it was not interest of the right kind.  Of sympathy or pity amongst the crowd, there was not much; but there were manifestations of low jokes and vulgar mirth.  She did not appear to be five-and-twenty years old.  Her features were not very prepossessing – indeed, in a place like the Morgue, we must not expect to see those whose cast of countenance might bespeak much intellectual elevation or mental culture; but rather those who had been degraded by poverty, ignorance, or misery.  She had something the look of the lower order of Irish – long black hair, wet, hanging down her shoulders; contracted eyebrows, small nose, and large mouth.  She was without clothing, like the men; and was covered from the waist to the knees with a sheet of leather.  Her bosom bespoke that she had been a mother.  What an exhibition for the idle public!

Somewhat shocked and depressed, I pursued my walk to Grenelle.  I think I recollect an engraving and an account of the Artisian spring in the Penny or Saturday Magazine, some years ago.  This spring is at nearly half a mile south of the church of the Invalides, on the right hand side of the avenue, walking south.  There is a high scaffolding of woodwork, with stairs to mount to the top.  There is a large pipe from the ground to the summit, through which the water rises.  One person told me it was 130 feet high; another said 60 metres – the former is more likely to be nearer the truth.  I was also told that the water is not cold.  The water is received in a reservoir, and supplies part of Paris.  On returning to my abode, I observed that the puddles of water on the Boulevards were freezing.

Tu Dec 4

Freezing to-day, and the first snow is falling.  Towards evening it got mild and began to rain.

Th Dec 6

To-day I witnessed a feat I never saw or heard of before.  I saw a man break some flint stones with his fist instead of an iron hammer.  I was walking along the Quai de Voltaire, on the south side of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries, and seeing a crowd collected on the river side of the road, I went to look.  A man about thirty had placed a large cubic paving stone on the ground, which I found was to be used as an anvil.  Calling out to the spectators that ten sous would greatly assist the success of the operation, people threw their sous on the ground before him – I threw one.  He then took a large pebble, about the size of his fist or larger, which had apparently been taken from the bed of the river, and holding it in his left hand, he placed it upon the anvil, or block of granite.  He clenched his right hand, and kneeling on the ground in order to be nearer his work, he gave a few preliminary flourishes with his arm, in order to heighten the effect, he brought his fist down on the pebble like a sledge hammer.  The pebble flew into splinters with the blow.  I saw him repeat the operation with a handkerchief wound round his hand.  Thinking it rather curious, for it was new to me, I pushed my way through the crowd, and asked the man for one of the splinters, which I brought away.  I suspected that perhaps the man must have dexterously concealed a lump of iron in his right hand when he struck the blow, for it seemed impossible that the human fist could break flint stones: but, on talking to persons in Paris, on this subject, they assure me that the man is believed to strike with his hand alone.  Persons have tried to explain it by saying that, the moment before the man strikes the blow, he raises the pebble an inch or so from his anvil, and that when he strikes it down upon the anvil, it is the anvil that breaks the pebble: that it is rather the “contre coup”, or blow from beneath, that does it.  I don’t know whether this is satisfactory; but at all events he must use immense force with his fist, even if he succeeds in his attempt by employing knack or address.

Friday Dec 7

I have seen the same man again, performing the same operation. – To-day I watched him narrowly.  I am satisfied that he had nothing in his right hand when he struck the blow, but that he broke the stones with his fist alone.  With respect to the “contre-coup”, or blow from beneath, I could not see that he used the means or stratagem that had been offered to me.  In swinging the right arm round, in order to bring it down upon the pebble, his left hand was moved a little by the action; but if he lifted the pebble at all from the anvil, or block of granite, it was only in an imperceptible degree, and apparently, not done designedly.  I say apparently: for if it was done purposely, and if the success of the operation depends on this, it was very imperceptibly done.  At all events, he used his fist upon the stones with greater force than I should like to use mine.  I still think it an ingenious and a curious feat.

To-day I went to see the Hotel Cluny, a curious old house, full of antique furniture, adjoining something still more curious – the remains of a Roman Bath House.  The Roman remains are highly interesting.  The Hotel was built more than 400 years ago by a member of the royal family of France, and was his residence.  As a model of an ancient abode, complete also in its furniture, and also as a museum of ancient art, it is one of the places in Paris which no one should omit to see.  It stands on the south side of the river, about a quarter of a mile south of the Pont St. Michael, and adjoining the Rue de la Harpe.  I entered by writing my name and residence in a book.

Tu Dec 11

To-day Admiral Bruat was buried.  Being the late Commander in chief of the French fleet in the Black Sea, his funeral was ordained at the expense of the state.  He died, not of bullets, but of cholera, on board his ship.  All Paris flocked towards the Invalides.  There was a great show of soldiers.  The north entrance was hung with black cloth, fringed with gold lace, and having a large letter “B” on a blue scroll, and other devices on it.  The funerial car was rather tawdry in style.  It was hung with black, and the horses too, and spangled with silver stars.  There were also banners, and emblems of his profession.  The day was cold, though no wind.  The roads were frozen hard.

Fri Dec 14

Made an expedition to St. Denis, an old town two leagues north of Paris, to see the “caveaux” under the cathedral.  The morning was fine, though cold, but it turned out miserable.  Before I got to St. Denis it began to snow – then it sleet-ed – and then it rained.  I was driven to the station and back to Paris sooner than I intended.  However, I went into the cathedral.  This venerable building is extremely dark inside.  It is planted thick with massive columns, and the abundance of stained glass in the windows, so deeply tinted, makes the “dim religious light” excessively dim and religious.  There are many paintings, and much mural colouring.  But this building is celebrated as having been one of the favourite burial places of the ancient kings of France.  Under the choir is a sort of crypt: this place is what is now called the vaults or “caveaux”.  Here there are statues in stone of nearly the whole series of the French kings – also some queens, and also many nobles, with their wives or children.  Some of these figures are of ancient and rude execution, in vulgar stone: others are of Italian marble, beautifully executed.  Among the most recent and beautiful in white marble, are statues of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  Altogether, it is very interesting and deserves a visit.

Sat Dec 15

To-day the new equestrian statue of Francis the First, in the Court of the Louvre, was uncovered.  I thought it was in bronze; but I am told it is only in plaster, put there on the pedestal, in order to judge of the effect.  Observing a stout bar, from the ground into the belly of the horse, serving as a support, I conclude that it must be only plaster.  The groupe (sic) is of colossal dimensions, and the well known eyes and nose of Francis (not very prepossessing) are well preserved.  Perhaps the extended right arm, and fingers of the hand, are rather stiff: and perhaps the right hind leg of the horse is not quite pleasing.

Mon Dec 17

So Kars, in Asia Minor, has at last fallen.  (See Oct. 15.)  But it has not fallen by the valour of the Russians in the field (for in no case during the war have the Russians been otherwise than beaten in open fight) but it has been starved into surrender.  Since the taking of Sebastopol on the 9th of September, the allies have ceased to push their conquests in the Crimea.  The English paper the Times, has found great fault with the generals in consequence.

Kars surrendered on the 28th of October.  The Russian accounts say they have taken 15000 prisoners.  They had been living on horse flesh for some time: and that at last failed.

Amongst the curious fruits of this war, has arisen in France, (I could almost hope not in England also) a drive to ascertain the real merits of horseflesh as food.  Large public dinners have been given at Toulouse, Périgueux, Alfort, and other towns in France, where horse soup, horse stew, horse cutletts, horse steaks, and so on, have been served up to the guests of curious taste.  If we may judge by the encomiums awarded, it should seem that neither beef, mutton, veal, - no, nor venison and game either, can compare in tenderness or flavour with horse flesh – hitherto food for carrion crows.  The papers say that the passion for this novelty is increasing, and that other dinners are in contemplation.  And, yet, perhaps those who can relish snails and frogs, need not turn qualmish at horse flesh.

Fri Dec 21

Shortest day.  After a week or two hard frost comes a thaw.  The thermometer (Centigrade) has been down to about 10 degrees below freezing at night, or about 18 degrees of Farenheit; and even several degrees below all through the day.  The Seine is full of “glasons” or masses of ice, floating down, except at the narrow part by the islands, where it is frozen across.  The papers say that a woman the other day jumped over one of the bridges, with the intention of drowning herself; but, by a curious chance, instead of falling into the water, she lighted on a “glaçon”.  There she lay, stunned by the blow, and floating down the river.  Some men, who had witnessed the circumstance, put off in a boat, and rescued her.  She has been taken to the Hospital of the Hotel Dieu.  The cause of her rash act was not known.

In having some money over from England, the Bankers, I find, charge me half per cent, and the postage.

Sat Dec 29

To-day Paris was enlivened by an interesting sight.  The French troops which have been through all the great battles in the Crimea – much tried by fatigue, and much diminished by sickness and death – have been recalled, to be replaced by new; and to-day they made their triumphal entry into Paris.  Nothing can describe the enthusiasm which awaited them; - the waving of hats and handkerchiefs, and the hearty cheers.  They assembled first in the Place de la Bastille, where the Emperor went and harangued them.  The Emperor then returned westward, all along the line of the Boulevards, to the Rue de la Paix and the Place Vendôme, where the Empress was.  The different regiments followed the Emperor, preceded by their bands.  The sun-burnt faces of the soldiers contrasted strongly with those of the Parisian troops present.  It was a curious sight to see the number of wreaths of laurel, which were carried on the tops of the bayonettes.  One officer had his arm in a sling: he was much cheered.  The wounded soldiers came immediately behind their respective bands: they were objects of much interest.  I was on the Boulevard des Italiens.  The crowd was dense.  An hour or two was occupied by the troops marching past.  The Emperor looked pale and unwell:  but as he always looks so, I should say that his appearance does not give one the idea of a healthy man.  The reception must have been very gratifying to the troops.  The French are certainly a more enthusiastic people than the English in everything they do.  The different regiments defiled before the Emperor and Empress in the Place Vendôme, and then dispersed to their quarters.

Sun Dec 30

Went this morning to the church of the Invalides.  The nave, where the service is performed, is plain and rather bare; and contrasts strongly with the richness near the Emperor’s tomb.  The banners in the nave seem to be fancy flags.

 

Mon Dec 31 1855

So goes out the old year, with the usual reflections at such times.

 

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