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meant to stop at St. Denys, to enquire if her mother yet lived, having received no intelligence from or of her, these last ten eventful years !
At Canterbury, while the horses were changed, my little ones and I went to the cathedral; but dared merely seize sufficient time to view the outside and enter the principal aisle. I was glad even of that much, as its antique grandeur gave me a pleasure which I always love to cherish in the view of fine old cathedrals, those most permanent monuments of what our ancestors thought reverence to God, as manifested in munificence to the place dedicated to his worship.
At Dover we had a kind of dinner-supper in one, and my little boy and girl and I retired immediately after it, took some tea in our chamber, and went to
Friday, April 16. As we were not to sail till twelve, I had hoped to have seen the Castle and Shakspeare's Cliff, but most unfortunately it rained all the morning, and we were confined to the inn, except for the interlude of the custom-house, where, however, the examination was so slight, and made with such civility, that we had no other trouble with it than a wet walk and a few shillings.
Our passports were examined; and we then went to the port, and, the sea being perfectly smooth, were lifted from the quay to the deck of our vessel with as little difficulty as we could have descended from a common chair to the ground. The calm which caused our slow
passage sickness, was now favourable, for it took us into the port of Calais so close and even with the quay, that we
scarcely accepted even a hand to aid us from the vessel to the shore.
The quay was lined with crowds of people, men, women, and children, and certain amphibious females, who might have passed for either sex, or anything else in the world, except what they really were, European women! Their men's hats, men's jackets, and men's shoes; their burnt skins, and most savage-looking petticoats, hardly reaching, nay, not reaching their knees, would have made me instantly believe any account I could have heard of their being just imported from the wilds of America.
The vessel was presently filled with men, who; though dirty and mean, were so civil and gentle, that they could not displease, and who entered it so softly and quietly, that, neither hearing nor seeing their approach, it seemed as if they had availed themselves of some secret trap-doors through which they had mounted to fill the ship, without sound or bustle, in a single moment. When we were quitting it, however, this tranquillity as abruptly finished, for in an instant a part of them rushed round me, one demanding to carry Alex., another. Adrienne, another seizing my écritoire, another my arm, and some one, I fear, my parasol, as I have never been able to find it since.
We were informed we must not leave the ship till Monsieur le Commissaire arrived to carry us, I think, to the municipality of Calais to show our passports. Monsieur le Commissaire, in white with some red trappings, soon arrived, civilly hastening himself quite out of breath to save us from waiting. We then mounted the quay, and I followed the rest of the passengers, who all followed the commissary, accompanied by two
men carrying the two children, and two more carrying, one my écritoire, and the other insisting on conducting its owner. The quantity of people that surrounded and walked with us, surprised me; and their decency, their silence, their quietness astonished me. To fear them was impossible, even in entering France with all the formed fears hanging upon its recent though past horrors.
But on coming to the municipality, I was, I own, extremely ill at ease, when upon our gouvernante's de siring me to give the commissary my passport, as the rest of the passengers had done, and my answering it was in my écritoire, she exclaimed, “ Vite! vite ! cherchez-le, ou vous serez arrêtée !" You may
be sure I was quick enough!-or at least tried to be so, for my fingers presently trembled, and I could hardly put in the key.
In the hall to which we now repaired, our passports were taken and deposited, and we had new ones drawn up and given us in their stead. On quitting this place we were accosted by a new crowd, all however as gentle, though not as silent, as our first friends, who recommended various hotels to us, one begging we would go to Grandsire, another to Duroc, another to Meurice-and this last prevailed with the gouvernante, whom I regularly followed, not from preference, but from the singular horror my otherwise worthy and well-bred old lady manifested, when, by being approached by the children, her full round coats risked the danger of being modernized into the flimsy, falling drapery of the present day. +
At Meurice's our goods were entered, and we heard that they would be examined at the custom-house in
the afternoon. We breakfasted, and the crowd of fees which were claimed by the captain, steward, sailors, carriers, and heaven knows who besides, are inconceivable. I gave whatever they asked, from ignorance of what was due, and from fear of offending those of whose extent still less of whose use of power I could form no judgment. I was the only one in this predicament; the rest refusing or disputing every demand. They all, but us, went out to walk; but I stayed to write to my dearest father, to Mrs. Lock, and my expecting mate.
We were all three too much awake by the new scene to try for any repose, and the hotel windows sufficed for our amusement till dinner; and imagine, my dearest sir, how my repast was seasoned, when I tell you that, , as soon as it began, a band of music came to the window and struck up “God save the King." I can never tell you what a pleased emotion was excited in my breast by this sound on a shore so lately hostile, and on which I have so many, so heartfelt motives for wishing peace and amity perpetual !
This over, we ventured out of the hotel to look at the street. The day was fine, the street was clean, two or three people who passed us, made way for the children as they skipped out of my hands, and I saw such an unexpected appearance of quiet, order, and civility, that, almost without knowing it, we strolled from the gate, and presently found ourselves in the market-place, which was completely full of sellers, and buyers, and booths, looking like a large English fair.
The queer, gaudy jackets, always of a different colour from the petticoats of the women, and their immense wing-caps, which seemed made to double over their
noses, but which all flew back so as to discover their ears, in which I regularly saw large and generally drop gold ear-rings, were quite as diverting to myself as to Alex. and Adrienne. Many of them, also, had gold necklaces, chains, and crosses; but ear-rings all : even the maids who were scrubbing or sweeping, ragged wretches carrying burdens on their heads or shoulders, old women selling fruit or other eatables, gypsey-looking creatures with children tied to their backs—all wore these long, broad, large, shining earrings.
Beggars, we saw not-no, not one, all the time we stayed or sauntered; and for civility and gentleness, the poorest and most ordinary persons we met or passed might be compared with the best dressed and best looking walkers in the streets of our metropolis, and still to the disadvantage of the latter. I cannot say how much this surprised me, as I had conceived an horrific idea of the populace of this country, imagining them all transformed into.bloody monsters.
Another astonishment I experienced equally pleasing, though not equally important to my ease; I saw innumerable pretty women and lovely children, almost all of them extremely fair. I had been taught to expect nothing but mahogany complexions and hideous features instantly on crossing the strait of Dover. When this, however, was mentioned in our party afterwards, the Highlander exclaimed, “But Calais was in the hands of the English so many years, that the Englis race there is not yet extinct."
The perfect security in which I now saw we might wander about, induced us to walk over the whole town, and even extend our excursions to the ramparts sur