Reading 23 - Reading 23: French Revolution Points: 50...

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Reading 23: French Revolution Points: 50 Reading 1: Arthur Young, Travels in France , 1792 Of all the descriptions that we have of the general condition of the French people upon the eve of the Revolution, the most important and interesting is Arthur Young's account of his travels in France during the years 1787, 1788, and 1789. Young was an honest and observant English gentleman farmer, whose aim was to ascertain "the cultivation, wealth, resources, and national prosperity" of France, which were, as he foresaw, to be fundamentally changed by the Revolution then under way. His book was first published in 1792, met with immediate success. In I787 Arthur Young visited Paris and Versailles, then traveled southward as far as the Pyrenees. Of Versailles and the capital he says: Again to Versailles. In viewing the king's apartment, which he had not left a quarter of an hour, with those slight traits of disorder that showed he lived in it, it was amusing to see the blackguard figures that were walking uncontrolled about the palace, and even in his bedchamber; men whose rags betrayed them to be in the last stage of poverty, and I was the only person that stared and wondered how the devil they got there. It is impossible not to like this careless indifference and freedom from suspicion. One loves the master of the house, who would not be hurt or offended at seeing his apartment thus occupied if he returned suddenly, for if there was danger of this the intrusion would be prevented. This is certainly a feature of that good temper which appears to me so visible everywhere in France. I desired to see the queen's apartments, but I could not. “Is, her Majesty in it? No. Why then not see it as well as the king's?” Ma foi, Monsieur, c'est une autre chose. Ramble through the gardens, and by the grand canal with absolute astonishment at the exaggerations of writers and travelers. There is magnificence in the quarter of the orangery, but no beauty anywhere; there are some statues, good enough to wish them under cover. The extent and breadth of the canal are nothing to the eye, and it is not in such good repair as a farmer's horse pond. The menagerie is well enough, but nothing great. This great city [Paris] appears to be in many respects the most ineligible and inconvenient for the residence of a person of small fortune of any that I have seen, and vastly inferior to London. The streets are very narrow, and many of them crowded, nine tenths dirty, and all without foot pavements. Walking, which in London is so pleasant and so clean that ladies do it every day, is here a toil and a fatigue to a man, and an impossibility to a well-dressed woman. The coaches are numerous, and, what is much worse, there are an infinity of one-horse cabriolets, which are driven by young men of fashion and their imitators, alike fools, with such rapidity as to be real nuisances, and render the streets exceedingly dangerous, without an incessant caution. I saw a poor child run over and probably killed, and have been myself many times
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Reading 23 - Reading 23: French Revolution Points: 50...

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