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I was once invited by a noble Venetian, to pass the time of Vintage with him in the country, at his house of pleasure, two miles from Rovigo, in the Palesine. When we arrived there, there was a kind of flies, which (as they said) were fallen from the sky, and did much mischief; they sucked and devoured all the grapes that were not yet ripe. The noble Venetian desired me to accompany the curate of the Parish, in order to exorcise them; accordingly we went thither with five or six clergymen more. The heat was so excessive, that we were forced to go for shelter into every house we met with in the fields. Now it happened by mischance, that he who carried the holy water, (whether by his having drunk much or otherwise) fell asleep in a cellar, where he had entered to cool himself. We did not take notice of his not following us, and we walked almost a mile to a certain field, where we were to exorcise. Here we began to call for our holy water, without which nothing was to be done; but the man was not to be found, and we were obliged to send some body to seek him with all speed. We stayed there near an hour, expecting him, and during that time the flies stung us so terribly, that our faces and hands were covered with blood; they plainly shewed by this their rudeness, that they did not care a rush for our exorcisms, and accordingly, in our own defence, we dispatched them as quick as possible, and with all expedition returned to our first house. These insects we found discharged their fury during the heat of the day; for towards evening one might safely walk abroad, without being molested by them. And then it was, that we went and recommenced our exorcisms, though without the least success; for the flies persisted to make the same havock as before, until that a continual rain of four or five days killed and swept them all away, better than all the holy water might have done.
I went at another time, during my stay at Bonania, to exorcise the insects in the country, in company of a country curate, who had a very comical wit. He did not tye himself to the ritual, or form prescribed by the Romish church, but made his paraphrase upon every thing; sometimes he spoke to the pismires; sometimes to the grasshoppers; he made his apostrophes to the rats, lizards, and worms. He banished them all one after another, to the countries which he assigned them for the place of their
exile, and relegated the moles to the Antarctick Pole, without once knowing what it was. He had scarcely pronounced the dreadful sentence, but a mole came forth out of his hole, whereupon the curate cried out, Courage, my friends, look! there's one of them which is ready to begin his march. But the mole, it seems, had no mind to take so tedious a journey, but crept into another hole near to it in the same field. One of the peasants that was present, ran to look into the hole, to which the mole had betaken himself, and said very innocently, What, Sir, is this the An tarctick Pole?
PILLET'S VIEW OF ENGLAND.
[There was a work published last year in France, entitled L'Angleterre, vue à Londres et dans ses Provinces, by Major-General Pillet, a knight of St. Louis, and a member of the Legion of Honour. Of this book we know nothing more than what we have gathered from reading some extracts from it in different English periodical works; but judging from these, it may be pronounced with one exception, which we shall mention hereafter, the most infamous and impudent libel on a whole nation that has been produced for many years. For obvious reasons, we were curious to see this work treated in the Quarterly Review; it forms one of the articles of the 28th Number, and it is there said that General Pillet's book had a prodigious run in Paris-a whole edition was bought up in a few hours! by which it appears that malignity and absurdity, are read with as much eagerness and credulity at Paris as in London. The following extracts are a part of those made by the Quarterly Review.]
General Pillet, after having stated that 150,000 Frenchmen had perished in tortures on board the English prison ships in the two last wars, afterwards enters into some particular details.
"In the first war, 30,000 prisoners died in the course of five months of hunger; and I myself saw, at Norman Cross, a little corner of burial ground into which 4000 had been huddled. Every day hundreds of men died, either starved to death or poisoned by the bad qualities of the
provisions. Our hunger no longer knew any bounds. We kept the dead bodies of our comrades five or six days, that we might draw their rations. One day my Lord Cordower (Cawdor) Colonel of the Carmarthen militia, which was guarding the prison at Porchester, having occasion to enter the prison, tied his horse to the rails; in ten minutes the horse was torn to pieces and devoured. When my lord came out he was surprised not to find his horse, and would not believe what had happened to him till he was shewn the bowels and skin, which a miserable starved wretch finished devouring in his presence! an enormous butcher's dog, and indeed every dog which entered the prison, was eaten in the same way.
[The Reviewer remarks "General Pillet enters into a long and curious calculation of the number of criminals in the United Kingdom, from which' he says 'it results, that whenever in this country, so famed for its probity and morals, you meet a society of twenty persons, one may be certain that amongst them there is at least one thief or one murderer" "We should like to compare this long and curious calculation with one which deserved both these epithets, on which, this same review, citing the authority of Cobbet, founded such a triumphant statement of the profligacy of married life in this country.]
"The degradation of women (whom the English amiably call an inferior species in the creation) has arisen to such a pitch, that the murder of a married woman, by her husband, is an event of which the tribunals hardly ever think of taking cognizance, unless sometimes for the purpose of white-washing the husband, if the circumstances of the case have been so atrocious as to make any noise. Perhaps it will be thought I exaggerate, when I say that it appears by the public papers, between December, 1807, and June, 1813, that 171 wives were murdered by their husbands; but the fact is as certain as it is easy of proof! ---but what is surprising is, that of these 171 murderers we find there was but ONE person punished. It is impossible exactly to calculate the number of secret murders, but one year with another, they must amount to many thousands. In fact, there are few men in England, of the age of fifty years, who have not married three times.' "The practice of the English clergy reading their sermons, arises from a political clause. Every clergyman
is obliged to submit his discourse to a magistrate, and to make an affidavit that he has used or will use no other words than those which are written in the copy laid before the magistrate."
Nothing is more surprising than the hideous uniformity of female dress. The wife of the country shoemaker, butcher or laborer, are all like the same classes in London, ladies; and the only difference between the appearance of these ladies and the wives of London gentlemen, is not in favour of the latter, as it consists only in their greater slovenliness. The awkwardness of all, in dress and manner, being the same, it would be wrong to expect to distinguish the ranks of society by ease or decorum of manners. English women in general, no matter of what condition, are destitute of grace and taste, and one may literally say that an English woman has two left hands."
"Shoplifting is very much in fashion, as I have just said, but more particularly among ladies of rank. The shopkeepers of New Bond street (the Rue Vivienne of Paris) were formerely proud of visits from those ladies, which, however, they always paid for by the loss of goods which the ladies carried off under their petticoats; but the shopkeepers consoled themselves for the loss by the privilege which they obtained of writing on their signs, 'Milliner to my lady this or that.' These are in contestable facts!"
"Every one may remark, that in an English drawingroom, about tea time, the ladies are tipsy (entre deux vins,) though they are seldom seen to drink more than one little glass of wine at dinner. The opportunity for these ladies is when they retire from the gentlemen. A mysterious temple is destined to the same bacchanal uses as the gentlemen's dining room, and the only difference is the liquor drank-the gentlemen drink Port, Madeira, Claret and Champaigne the ladies drink only the best French brandy."
"Young ladies are only admitted to this circle of sobriety after a sort of trial and a certain age, namely, about forty; after which period every English woman of rank or fashion gets drunk every night of her life, under pretence of keeping the wind out of her stomach!"
"The cause of that general spirit of licentious intrigue, of libertinism in which girls of all classes live in England, is to be found in the difficulty of marriages, and the manner in which those marriages are undertaken. In France we have a proverb that a girl should wait till she is asked;" precisely the contrary prevails in England. young women of England live in a state of incontinence, and neither the Peasant, the squire, nor the Lord has ever the least scruple in the choice of a wife, from what may have occurred previously to marriage.
"The least dissolute class of women in England are, undoubtedly, waiting women in great families, who speculate on marrying the young lord, or some old rich and gouty voluptuary, if they keep a kind of character."
"The virtue of English women is that of slaves; it lasts just as long as the watchfulness of the beast to whom they have been married."
The Reviewers conclude the article with the following observations.
Our indignation does not, however, arise from any effect which General Pillet's absurd calumnies have on our temper as Englishmen: his malice is often so complimentary, and when it is not, it so ridiculously defeats itself that we really think that he has paid to our national character the only compliment which such a fellow could pay; but we regret, deeply regret, to perceive that a work so indecent and in every way so shocking can be even tolerated in France.-In France, the royal family and nobility of which, are bound to this country by the most sacred ties of private and national hospitality and friendship-in France, whose boast it used to be, that her sons were brave in the field, amiable in society, generous even in their enmities, and chivalrously respectful to the softer sex.-It is a bad sign, that a wretch who is very reverse of this character, should dare to offer such a work to the eyes of society. To say that the book is popular, would be to attribute to France almost as great a laxity of morals as General Pillet attributes to England, for no modest eye can look on its page without shame and horror; and we cannot but lament the fate of the King of France, and tremble for the stability of his throne, when he finds himself obliged to maintain such a stigmatized liar, a wretch so lost to all sense of truth, ho