Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
7 January 1953


historian (pictured), writes to Nolwen de Janze from Martinique:

"If anything were needed to confirm my passionate francophilia, it would be the contrast between your way of treating the West Indies and ours - here you might really be in France, even the road signs are the same; it is all prosperous and civilised. Dominica, although we have owned it for 200 years, has not even got a road going round or through the island; and the `capital' is a wooden village with some shops and a nice stone cathedral. The food was filthy, and the people too depressing - the worst sort of commercial suburban people, out there to make money quickly and then get home again. Here cultivated people have lived for generations: I asked the woman in the local post office about something, and said is it just the same as in France. `Mais, monsieur, c'est la France,' she replied with a charming negroid smile."

4 January 1790


a traveller in Revolutionary France, observes Louis XVI and the Royal Family held prisoner:

"After breakfast I walk in the gardens of the Tuileries, where there is the most extraordinary sight that either French or English eyes could ever behold at Paris. The King walking with six grenadiers of the milice bourgeoise, with an officer or two of his household and a page. The doors of the garden are kept shut in respect to him, in order to exclude everybody but deputies or those who have admission tickets. When he entered the palace the doors of the garden were thrown open for all without distinction, though the Queen was still walking with a lady of her court. She also was attended so closely by the gardes bourgeoises, that she could not speak, but in a low voice, without being heard by them. A mob followed her talking very loud, and paying no other apparent respect than that of taking off their hats wherever she passed, which was indeed more than I expected.

Her Majesty does not appear to be in health; she seems to be much affected and shows it in her face; but the King is as plump as ease can render him. By his orders, there is a little garden railed off for the Dauphin to amuse himself in, and a small room is built in it to retire to in case of rain; here he was at work with his little hoe and rake, but not without a guard of two grenadiers. He is a pretty good-natured-looking boy of five or six years old, with an agreeable countenance; wherever he goes, all hats are taken off to him, which I was glad to observe.

All the family being kept thus close prisoners afford, at first view, a shocking spectacle; and is really so if the act were not absolutely necessary to effect the revolution."