In passing through this country, I was very much struck with the sight of large ripe clusters of grapes, entwined with the briars and thorns of common hedges on the wayside. The mountains of Burgundy are covered with vines from the bottom to the top, and seem to be raised by nature on purpose to extend the surface, and to expose it the more advantageously to the rays of the sun. The vandange was but just begun, and the people were employed in gathering the grapes; but I saw no signs of festivity among them. Perhaps their joy was a little damped by the bad prospect of their harvest; for they complained that the weather had been so unfavourable as to hinder the grapes from ripening. I thought, indeed, there was something uncomfortable in seeing the vintage thus retarded till the beginning of winter: for, in some parts, I found the weather extremely cold; particularly at a place called Maison-neuve, where we lay, there was a hard frost, and in the morning the pools were covered with a thick crust of ice. My personal adventures on the road were such as will not bear a recital. They consisted of petty disputes with landladies, post- masters, and postillions. The highways seem to be perfectly safe. We did not find that any robberies were ever committed, although we did not see one of the marechaussee from Paris to Lyons. You know the marechaussee are a body of troopers well mounted, maintained in France as safe-guards to the public roads. It is a reproach upon England that some such patrol is not appointed for the protection of travellers.
At Sens in Champagne, my servant, who had rode on before to bespeak fresh horses, told me, that the domestic of another company had been provided before him, altho' it was not his turn, as he had arrived later at the post. Provoked at this partiality, I resolved to chide the post-master, and accordingly addressed myself to a person who stood at the door of the auberge. He was a jolly figure, fat and fair, dressed in an odd kind of garb, with a gold laced cap on his head, and a cambric handkerchief pinned to his middle. The sight of such a fantastic petit maitre, in the character of a post-master, increased my spleen. I called to him with an air of authority, mixed with indignation, and when he came up to the coach, asked in a peremptory tone, if he did not understand the king's ordonnance concerning the regulation of the posts? He laid his hand upon his breast; but before he could make any answer, I pulled out the post-book, and began to read, with great vociferation, the article which orders, that the traveller who comes first shall be first served. By this time the fresh horses being put to the carriage, and the postillions mounted, the coach set off all of a sudden, with uncommon speed. I imagined the post-master had given the fellows a signal to be gone, and, in this persuasion, thrusting my head out at the window, I bestowed some epithets upon him, which must have sounded very harsh in the ears of a Frenchman. We stopped for a refreshment at a little town called Joigne-ville, where (by the bye) I was scandalously imposed upon, and even abused by a virago of a landlady; then proceeding to the next stage, I was given to understand we could not be supplied with fresh horses. Here I perceived at the door of the inn, the same person whom I had reproached at Sens. He came up to the coach, and told me, that notwithstanding what the guides had said, I should have fresh horses in a few minutes. I imagined he was master both of this house and the auberge at Sens, between which he passed and repassed occasionally; and that he was now desirous of making me amends for the affront he had put upon me at the other place. Observing that one of the trunks behind was a little displaced, he assisted my servant in adjusting it: then he entered into conversation with me, and gave me to understand, that in a post-chaise, which we had passed, was an English gentleman on his return from Italy. I wanted to know who he was, and when he said he could not tell, I asked him, in a very abrupt manner, why he had not enquired of his servant. He shrugged up his shoulders, and retired to the inn door. Having waited about half an hour, I beckoned to him, and when he approached, upbraided him with having told me that I should be supplied with fresh horses in a few minutes: he seemed shocked, and answered, that he thought he had reason for what he said, observing, that it was as disagreeable to him as to me to wait for a relay. As it began to rain, I pulled up the glass in his face, and he withdrew again to the door, seemingly ruffled at my deportment. In a little time the horses arrived, and three of them were immediately put to a very handsome post-chaise, into which he stepped, and set out, accompanied by a man in a rich livery on horseback. Astonished at this circumstance, I asked the hostler who he was, and he replied, that he was a man of fashion (un seigneur) who lived in the neighbourhood of Auxerre. I was much mortified to find that I had treated a nobleman so scurvily, and scolded my own people for not having more penetration than myself. I dare say he did not fail to descant upon the brutal behaviour of the Englishman; and that my mistake served with him to confirm the national reproach of bluntness, and ill breeding, under which we lie in this country. The truth is, I was that day more than usually peevish, from the bad weather, as well as from the dread of a fit of the asthma, with which I was threatened: and I dare say my appearance seemed as uncouth to him, as his travelling dress appeared to me. I had a grey mourning frock under a wide great coat, a bob wig without powder, a very large laced hat, and a meagre, wrinkled, discontented countenance.