Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

greatest fatisfaction I feel, at prefent, is the profpect of remaining, for the future, on a farm, in that calm and undisturbed retirement, which is fuitable to my fortune, and which, I trust, will be agreeable to my difpofition.72 miles.

PART THE SECOND.

CHAP. I.-Of the Extent of France.

THE circumftances which are most apt to command the attention of mankind, for giving importance to a country, are really valuable no farther than as they contribute to the eafe and profperity of the inhabitants. Thus the extent of a kingdom is of no other confequence than affording nourishment for a people too numerous to be reasonably apprehenfive of foreign conqueft. When a territory is much more confierable than for this purpose, it tends to infpire ambitious projects in the minds of the men that govern, which have proved, perhaps, more disastrous than the deficiency of power that endangers the national defence. France, under Lewis XIV. was a remarkable instance of this fact. The fituation to which the ambition of that prince had. reduced her immenfe territory, was hardly preferable to that of Holland, in 1672, whofe misfortunes, flowed from the fame origin. Of the two extremes, France has undoubtedly more to apprehend from the ambition of her own rulers, than from that of any neighbour. Authorities vary confiderably in describing the extent of this fine kingdom. The Maréchal de Vauban makes it 30,000 leagues, or 140,940,000 arpents; Voltaire 130,000,000 arpents.-The accuracy of round numbers is always to be doubted. Templeman gives it an extent of 138,837 fquare geographical miles, of fixty to a degree; a measurement, which renders his tables abfolutely ufelefs for any purpofe, but that of comparing one country with another, a degree being fixty-nine miles and a half, wich makes it 119,220,874% acres.-Paucton reduces his measure to French arpents, and makes the number 107,690,coo. The Encyclopædia, article France, affigns 100,000,000 of arpents as the contents; and obferves, that, by Caffini's maps, the an ount is 125,000,000. A late author * calculates it at 105,000,000 and another† at 135,600,000. None of these accounts feem fufficiently accurate for the pur pofe of giving a correct idea. The authority on which I am inclined most to rely is that of M. Necker, who calculates it (without Corfica) at 26,951 leagues fquare, of 2282 toifes; this, I find, amounts to 156,024,213 arpents of Paris, or 131,722,295 English acres. Paucton, by covering his map with fhot to every indenture of outline, with the greatest care, found the kingdom to contain 103,021,840 arpents, each of 100 perch, at 22 feet the perch, or 13443 toises square to the arpent; instead of which the pent of Paris contains but goo toifes:- this measurement makes 81,687,016 English acres§.-Notwithstanding the credit ufually given to this writer for his accuracy, I must here reject his authority in favour of that of M. Necker. Paucton's calculation, which gives 81,687,016 English acres to France, affigns by the fame rule to England 24,476,315; yet Templeman's furvey, at 60 miles to a degree, and therefore confeffedly below the truth, makes it 31,648,000, which, at 69 to a degree, are * Tôt Abonné, 4to. 1789. + Apologie fur l'Edict de Nantes. 1 Oeuvres, 4to. p. 326.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

0.1929.

made this reduction, by valuing, with Paucton, the Froach arpent at 1.0000, and the English That is 30,869,360 arpents royale, of 22 feet to the perch.

42,463,2641

[ocr errors]

42,463,264; a greater difference than is found between them in eftimating the furface of France, which, by Paucton, is made 81,587,016 English-acres, with a general admiffion of about a million more; and by Templeman, 88,855,680; or at 691, is 119,220,874%.

It is vain to attempt reconciling these contrary accounts. I shall therefore adopt, with the author of the Credit Nationale *, the estimation of M. Necker, which fuppofes 156,024,113 arpents of Paris, or 131,722,295 English acres.

For a comparison of the French and English dominions, I must for the latter adopt Templeman's measurement, who gives to

England,

Scotland,

Ireland,

49,450 fquare miles.

27,794

27,457

France,

138,837 fquare miles,

104,701

Calculated at 60 to a degree; but at 693 these numbers become,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Hence it appears, that France, according to thefe proportions, contains 29,312,964 acres more than the three British kingdoms; and it is to be noted, that as the extent of France is taken from the more modern and correct authorities, whence M. Necker deduced his measurement at 131,722,295 English acres, which is confequently much more exact than that of Templeman; fo it is equally fair to fuppofe, that the latter is as much below the fact in the contents of our islands, as he was in thofe of France. Corrected by this rule, the areas will be

[blocks in formation]

These numbers, I am upon the whole inclined to believe, are as near to the truth as may reasonably be expected from calculations, when the data are not absolutely cor

rect.

CHAP. II. Of the Soil, and Face of the Country.

THE modern French geographers, in a branch of that science, to which they have properly given the epithet phyfical, have divided the kingdom into what they call basins; that is to fay, into several great plains, through which flow the principal rivers, and which are formed of feveral ridges of mountains, either original, or as they term it, of granite, or secondary of calcareous and other materials. Of these baffins the chief

Monf. Jorré, 8vo. 1789. He calculates on 27,coo leagues, at 2282 toifes, 5786 arpents of Paris in a league; or in France 156,225,720 arpents. P. 95.

+ It may be remarked, that Dr. Grew calculated the real contents of England and Wales at 46,080,000 acres. Philofophical Transactions, No 330, p. 266. Which feems a confirmation that we are not far from the truth. Equal to 73,306 fquare miles.

are, 1. Of the Loire and all the rivers that fall into it. 2. Of the Seine and its branches. 3. Of the Garonne. 4. Of the Rhone and Soane. There are likewife fome fmaller ones, but of much less account. The reader who wishes to confult the detail of these, may turn to the Journal Phyfique, tom. 30. for a memoir by M. la Metherie.

In refpect to the geoponic divifion of the foils of the kingdom, the rich calcareous plain of the north-eastern quarter firft calls for our attention. I crofled this in feveral directions, and from the observations I made, the following are the limits I would affign to it. On the coaft it may be said to extend from Dunkirk to Carentan in Normandy, for the northern promontory of that province, which projects into the fea at Cherbourg, &c. is of a different foil. In M. la Metherie's map is marked a ridge of granite mountains in this promontory; I should remark, that I saw nothing in that country which deferves the name of a mountain, any more than at Alençon; merely hills, and those not confiderable ones. I may terminate the rich track at Carentan, as thence to Coutances the land is chiefly poor and ftony, and holds, with many variations, quite to Brest. In the line a little to the S. of the coaft, before Caen, is feen the first confiderable change of foil from Calais; it there becomes a red ftone brash; this rich tract is here, therefore, narrow. On re-entering Normandy on the fide of Alençon, from Anjou and Maine, I first met with the rich loams on a calcareous bottom at Beaumont ; at Alençon there is a noble foil, which I then loft no more in advancing northwards. In another line I entered this rich diftrict about ten miles to the fouth of Tours. The hills on the Loire, though all calcareous that I noticed, are not all rich, though on fome the foil is deep and good. Directly to the fouth of Orleans begins the miferable Sologne, which, though on a calcareous bottom of marl, is too poor to be included in the prefent diftrict. From Orleans to Paris, and alfo Fontainbleau, no exceptions are to be made, but in the small space of poor fand stone in the royal foreft of the latter town. In a fourth direction this district is entered, but not fo decifively as in the preceding cafes, a few miles to the fouth of Nemours. At Croifiere the first chalk is vifible to the traveller. Advancing to the N. E. very good land is found near Nangis, and then bearing N. I entered the fertile plain of Brie. Some of the vales through which the Marne flows are rich and what I faw calcareous; but the hills are poor. The plain of Rheims may be claffed in the prefent diftrict, but at Soiffons and thence due N. all is excellent. These limits inclofe one of the finest territories that I fuppofe is to be found in Europe. From Dunkirk to Nemours is not lefs than one hundred and eighty miles in a right line. From Soiffons to Carentan is another right line of about two hundred miles. From Eu, on the Norman coaft, to Chartres is one hundred miles; and though the breadth of this rich district at Caen, Bayeux, &c. is not confiderable, yet the whole will be found to contain not a trifling proportion of the whole kingdom. This noble territory includes the deep, level, and fertile plain of Flanders, and part of Artois, than which a richer foil can hardly be defired to repay the industry of mankind; two, three, and even four feet deep of moist and putrid, but friable and mellow loam, more inclining to clay than fand, on a calcareous bottom, and from its marine origin (for there can be little doubt but that the whole plain of Flanders and Holland has been covered by the fea, long fince our globe has taken its prefent appearance) abounding with particles that add to the common fertility, refulting from fuch compounds found in other fituations. The putri dity of the humus in Flanders and its pofition, being a dead level, are the principal circumstances that diftinguish it from the better foils of the rest of this fertile part of Europe. Every step of the way from the very gate of Paris to near Soiffons, and thence to Cambray, with but little variation of fome inferior hills of small extent, is a fandy loam of an admirable texture, and commonly of confiderable depth. About Meaux it

is

is to be ranked among the finest in the world; they call it bleaunemeau-it tends much towards an impalpable powder, which betrays few figns of fand, even when, to the eye, it has the appearance of a fandy loam. It is of an admirable texture and friability. Monf. Gibert informed me, that it is of the depth of eighteen feet where his well is digged, and under it a ftratum of white marl, found under the whole country, at different depths. This marl has the appearance of a confolidated pafte. The line through Picardy is inferior, yet, for the most part, excellent. But all the arable part of Normandy, which is within thefe limits, is of the fame rich friable fandy loam, to a great depth; that from Bernay to Elboeuf can scarcely be exceeded; four to five feet deep of a reddish brown loam on a chalk bottom, and without a stone. As to the pastures of the fame province, we have, I believe, nothing either in England or Ireland equal to them; I hold the vale of Limerick to be inferior. The famous Pays de Beauce, which I croffed between Arpajon and Orleans, resembles the vales of Meaux and Senlis; it is not, how. ever, in general, fo deep as the former. The limits I have traced are thofe of great fertility; but the calcareous district, and even of chalk, is much more extenfive. To the E. it reaches acrofs Champagne; a ftrong change, not having occurred to me till about St. Menehould. From Metz to Nancy all is calcareous, but not chalk. Lime-ftone land I found plentifully in the fouthern parts of Alface; and from Befort across Franche Compté to Dole, all the ftones I tried, and many from quarries were calcareous. Immense districts in Dauphiné and Provence, &c. &c. are the fame; I fhall therefore only observe, that I remarked the chalk country to extend E. to about St. Menehould, and S. to Nemours and Montargis in one line. In another, that all of the Angoumois which I faw is the fame; much in Poitou, and through Tourain to the Loire. Had I penetrated more to the W. I should probably have found the chalk of Angoumois, and that of the Loire to be connected uninterruptedly. Moft of the courfe of the Loire is, I believe, chalk, and the whole of it calcareous. Hence it appears, that the chalk country of France is of very confiderable extent; not lefs than two hundred miles E. and W. and about as much, but more irregularly, N. and S. and comprises, by far, the richeft and moft fertile provinces of the kingdom.

The next confiderable district, for fertility, is that which I may call, without impropriety, the plain of the Garonne. Paffing to the S. from Limofin, it is entered about Creiffenfac, with the province of Quercy, and improves all the way to Montauban and Touloufe, where it is one of the finest levels of fertile foil that can any where be seen. It continues, but not equally fruitful, to the foot of the Pyrenees, by St. Gaudents, &c. very even to the eye, when viewed from the promenade at Montauban, which commands one of the richest, as well as magnificent prospects, to be met with in France. This plain I found, however, to be much indented and irregular; for to the W. of Auch, and all beyond it to Bayonne, is too inferior to be admitted; and to the E. Mirepoix, Pamiers, and Carcaffonne are among the hills, and all the way from Agen to Bourdeaux, though the river flows through one of the richest vallies that is to be feen in the world, yet the breadth appeared to be every where inconfiderable. Through all this plain, wherever the foil is found excellent, it confifts ufually of a deep mellow friable fandy loam, with moisture fufficient for the production of any thing; much of it is calcareous. White lime-stone and white chalky loams are found about Cahors, &c. and white loams more tenacious near Montauban. At Tonnance, on the Garonne, they are red, and apparently as good at ten feet deep as on the furface.

I believe much further: and there is the more reason to think fo, becaufe Mr. Townshend found that in another road it reached to Auxere, where he loft it. Journey through Spain, vol. i. p. 46. :

« PrécédentContinuer »