'Let me know how your health has been all this while. I hope the fine summer has given you strength sufficient to encounter the winter.
'Make my compliments to all my friends; and, if your fingers will let you, write to me, or let your maid write, if it be troublesome to you. I am, dear Madam,
'Your most affectionate humble servant, 'SAM. JOHNSON.'
'November 16, 1775.'
TO THE SAME.
'Some weeks ago I wrote to you, to tell you that I was just come home from a ramble, and hoped that I should have heard from you. I am afraid winter has laid hold on your fingers, and hinders you from writing. However, let somebody write, if you cannot, and tell me how you do, and a little of what has happened at Lichfield among our friends. I hope you are all well.
'When I was in France, I thought myself growing young, but am afraid that cold weather will take part of my new vigour from me. Let us, however, take care of ourselves, and lose no part of our health by negligence.
'I never knew whether you received the Commentary on the New Testament and the Travels, and the glasses.
'Do, my dear love, write to me; and do not let us forget each other. This is the season of good wishes, and I wish you all good. I have not lately seen Mr. Porter, nor heard of him. Is he with you?
'Be pleased to make my compliments to Mrs. Adey, and Mrs. Cobb, and all my friends; and when I can do any good, let me know.
'I am, dear Madam, 'Yours most affectionately, 'SAM. JOHNSON.'
It is to be regretted that he did not write an account of his travels in France; for as he is reported to have once said, that 'he could write the Life of a Broomstick,' so, notwithstanding so many former travellers have exhausted almost every subject for remark in that great kingdom, his very accurate observation, and peculiar vigour of thought and illustration, would have produced a valuable work. During his visit to it, which lasted but about two months, he wrote notes or minutes of what he saw. He promised to show me them, but I neglected to put him in mind of it; and the greatest part of them has been lost, or perhaps, destroyed in a precipitate burning of his papers a few days before his death, which must ever be lamented. One small paper-book, however, entitled 'FRANCE II,' has been preserved, and is in my possession. It is a diurnal register of his life and observations, from the 10th of October to the 4th of November, inclusive, being twenty-six days, and shows an extraordinary attention to various minute particulars. Being the only memorial of this tour that remains, my readers, I am confident, will peruse it with pleasure, though his notes are very short, and evidently written only to assist his own recollection.
'Oct. 10. Tuesday. We saw the Ecole Militaire, in which one hundred and fifty young boys are educated for the army. They have arms of different sizes, according to the age;--flints of wood. The building is very large, but nothing fine, except the council-room. The French have large squares in the windows;--they make good iron palisades. Their meals are gross.
'We visited the Observatory, a large building of a great height. The upper stones of the parapet very large, but not cramped with iron. The flat on the top is very extensive; but on the insulated part there is no parapet. Though it was broad enough, I did not care to go upon it. Maps were printing in one of the rooms.
'We walked to a small convent of the Fathers of the Oratory. In the reading-desk of the refectory lay the lives of the Saints.
'Oct. 11. Wednesday. We went to see Hotel de Chatlois, a house not very large, but very elegant. One of the rooms was gilt to a degree that I never saw before. The upper part for servants and their masters was pretty.
'Thence we went to Mr. Monville's, a house divided into small apartments, furnished with effeminate and minute elegance.--Porphyry.
'Thence we went to St. Roque's church, which is very large;--the lower part of the pillars incrusted with marble.--Three chapels behind the high altar;--the last a mass of low arches.--Altars, I believe, all round.
'We passed through Place de Vendome, a fine square, about as big as Hanover-square.--Inhabited by the high families.--Lewis XIV. on horse-back in the middle.
'Monville is the son of a farmer-general. In the house of Chatlois is a room furnished with japan, fitted up in Europe.
'We dined with Boccage, the Marquis Blanchetti, and his lady.--The sweetmeats taken by the Marchioness Blanchetti, after observing that they were dear.--Mr. Le Roy, Count Manucci, the Abbe, the Prior, and Father Wilson, who staid with me, till I took him home in the coach.
'Bathiani is gone.
'The French have no laws for the maintenance of their poor.--Monk not necessarily a priest.--Benedictines rise at four; are at church an hour and half; at church again half an hour before, half an hour after, dinner; and again from half an hour after seven to eight. They may sleep eight hours.--Bodily labour wanted in monasteries.