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[221] but the living countenances and the merchandise at the windows appeared fresh.1

Next took lodgings at the Hotel de Normandie, and dined; and then, having fixed some landmarks in my eye, walked by the lights of the shop windows through the principal streets of the city; passed by two theatres, and about eight o'clock visited one of them. My knowledge of French did not serve me so that I was able to take much interest in the play; and though every thing that I saw both on and off the stage had an interest for me, yet it was all blurred by my ignorance of the language. The audience appeared very respectable. The accommodations were different, as well as more various, than those in our theatres. Sentinels were on guard before the doors of both the theatres. During the play, I left the house and again wandered round the city before commencing this record of the day. I must not forget to mention that, while we were at dinner, a beautiful girl entered the room (there were about eighteen or twenty at table), and, having first touched her guitar, sang to its accompaniment several pretty French songs, and then handed her little tin box to each person at the table. She stood behind me, and first presented her box to me. I dropped into it a few sons, and regarded the whole scene as thoroughly and beautifully characteristic of France. She was listened to with pleasure and respect.

Dec. 30 (Saturday). A day at Rouen, the ancient capital of Normandy; and my eyes and mind have been constantly on the stretch with interest and observation. Shortly after breakfast, in company with a fellow-traveller, I took a commissionnaire, or guide, to conduct me to the interesting objects in the place. He spoke English, and, as a resident of the town, had a superficial acquaintance with it; and therefore was in a degree useful, though afterwards I learned from examining the guide-book (which I should have read at first) that many of his stories were vulgar errors. We first visited the cathedral, where we spent about three hours: as many weeks devoted to it would leave its immense fund of interest for the intelligent traveller unexhausted. The cathedral2 is the great lion of the north of France, and is said to be the finest specimen of Gothic architecture on the Continent. Certainly it is immensely vast and elaborate, transcending all that my imagination had pictured as the result of this architecture, The minuteness of the workmanship testifies that it was done by those who commanded hands for labor with a facility not unlike that which summoned the thousands of laborers who raised the pyramids of Egypt. I can hardly imagine such a work at the present day. No building, unless it be Westminster Abbey, abounds more in historical associations. Enlarged, if not built, by the ancient dukes

1 To Judge Story he wrote, Jan. 6, 1838: ‘The whole country was full of novelty. During the day I was kept at the highest pitch of excitement, and when, at dusk, we entered the ancient city of Rouen, it seemed as if all the dreams of my boyhood were to be realized.’ And again of his visit to the cathedral at Rouen: ‘Need I tell you that my whole frame thrilled with every step and every glance of my eye. I was fully recompensed for the expense of my journey and the imprisonment of a sea voyage. Such floods of feeling and reflection as were started in my mind made me forget all that had passed.’

2 Sumner visited Rouen and its cathedral some years afterwards, March 21 and 22, 1857.

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