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   Chapter 2 CONTINENTAL HOTEL AND PENSION LIFE.

Wintering in the Riviera By William Miller Characters: 75519

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


'The inn looked so much like a gentleman's house that we could hardly believe it was an inn,' is the observation made by Miss Wordsworth in her Recollections of a Tour in Scotland in 1803, upon arriving at one which differed signally from others, where they could hardly obtain even sleeping room, and that of the roughest kind. Books of travels do indeed afford glimpses into the state of accommodation provided for travellers in those 'good old times,' but they are only glimpses. People, in recounting their wanderings in their own country, seldom notice such matters, unless they find them either rather better or rather worse than the prevailing condition of things to which the force of habit has reconciled them. In truth, the inns of Great Britain in the beginning of this century were what would now be reckoned of a very humble class, and were frequently planted and to be discovered in localities which would now be considered most undesirable, and which were doubtless chosen from proximity either to markets or to the stations of stage-coach departure and arrival, if they did not themselves create them, and in positions where stabling and a stable-yard might advantageously and fitly be placed.

The introduction and development of the railway system have effected such an extraordinary increase in the amount of travelling as to have, in respect of such public accommodation, produced, or rather necessitated, a revolutionary change. The old little inn, with its rubicund jovial hail-fellow-well-met landlord and its horsey adjuncts, has in the larger towns all but disappeared, or, if left for the benefit of the antiquary as a relic and specimen of a past age, receives its chief patronage on market days from the farmers, who find it convenient to stall their animals in its stables, and enjoy a homely dinner at its moderate table. Instead of it, whole streets of hotels, in the best situations, and possessed of all the comforts with which modern civilisation can furnish them, are built and occupied, and in busy times are sometimes full to overflowing. The very nomenclature indicates a superior tone. The house ceases to be an 'inn,' and becomes a 'hotel.' The Saracen Heads, the White Harts, and the Georges give way to national or big swelling names. We are become imperial in the very appellations we bestow even on houses in which we tarry only for a night.

A similar or even greater reform has been attained in the Continental towns. The discomforts of the old houses there were no doubt much greater than they were with ourselves; and, indeed, even now, if we abandon the tourists' highway, or run away from the larger towns, a primitive and perhaps far from agreeable state of matters is discovered, the fact being that much of the improvement which has taken place is due to studying the requirements of les Anglais. But in the leading improvements the foreigners have led the van, and we may be said to follow at a respectful distance.

The tendency abroad is, as it is at home, towards building large establishments in which the rooms are reckoned by the hundred, one of the hotels in Paris, the Grand (most new hotels abroad now have 'Grand' prefixed to some other and more distinctive designation, but this is 'The Grand' par excellence), advertising as many as 800 rooms; another (the Louvre), 700,-figures which are beyond anything, I suppose, in England, unless it be (though perhaps not even there) in the Midland Railway Hotel, St. Pancras. There is at all times a greater likelihood of finding accommodation, and such accommodation as may be desired, in houses of such formidable dimensions; but the visitor's importance suffers a shock: he becomes nothing but a number, and as such is termed by the employés of the hotel, and shouted up and down the speaking tubes.

But a more important result follows from the immense augmentation in travelling, because the intercourse thus brought about between the inhabitants of countries originally differing very widely in their manners and customs has a direct tendency to assimilate not merely their manners and customs, but their modes of living. Hence the peculiarities of each gradually, if good, are adopted-if bad, are lost. We borrow from the foreigners, they borrow from us. Odd ways and angular corners get rubbed off, and C?sar and Pompey settle down in time 'very much 'like,' specially Pompey. Yet, when one leaves the home country, he happily discerns there are still remaining considerable differences between life abroad and life in Britain. Hotels on the Continent are conducted on somewhat different principles from those which at least formerly were customary in Great Britain; and until the dead level of uniformity be reached, it may not be uninteresting to recall some of the differences, and to mention circumstances attendant upon hotel life abroad, which, to those not very familiar with the subject, may be noteworthy.

In general construction, the more recently erected hotels at home and abroad do not materially differ. Tardily we are beginning to adopt the foreign system of numerous and spacious public rooms, and especially public drawing-rooms, to which ladies can freely resort. But in one important element of comfort to the weak or weary visitor, the foreigners are behind ourselves, inasmuch as lifts (ascenseurs) do not seem to be very common; and really in these many-floored hotels they are needed. The only places where we have seen them have been in the hotels of Paris and Marseilles, and they were not always in working order. In addition to the long stairs to be ascended, there are often in these large hotels lengthy corridors to traverse, so that it is a journey from the outer door to the bedroom, in some cases requiring a study of the locale, so as to avoid being lost in the labyrinth.

Next to comfort, the matter of charges is one of primary consideration to most travellers, and can scarcely be overlooked in treating of hotel life. Generally it may be observed, that notwithstanding there has been abroad, as there has been at home, a very considerable rise in charges from former scales, the cost of living at hotels abroad is, as it used to be, still under, or on an average considerably under, the cost for similar comforts and accommodation at home.

The cost of rooms is regulated primarily by the floor or étage on which they are situated; and if the visitor desire to be economical, he ought to ask for rooms upon the higher floors, say the third, or even, where it exists, the fourth étage. First-floor rooms are always charged high, sometimes exorbitantly so. At Milan we were shown into bedrooms on the first floor, which, had we taken, would have cost us about 20 to 25 francs per night per room. In Nice as much as 75 francs, or £3 per day, have been asked for two rooms on the first floor of a leading hotel, being equal to a rent per annum of £1095. A friend who spent the winter at Cannes told me he paid 75 francs per day for the rooms he had in one of the principal hotels, but probably he had three or four rooms. In Mentone the highest I have known paid by friends has been, for a large saloon and a bedroom, both princely rooms, 50 francs, or about £2 per day, equal to a rent per annum, were they let all the year round, of £730. These, however, are season places, and such rooms would remain vacant a considerable portion of the year, and even, a consequence of the high charge, for great part of the season, as the hotelkeepers will not lower their price even for a short period.

In Italy it is always desirable, where there is an ability to mount long stairs, to take rooms as high up as possible, so as to get as far away as may be from the odours of the street; but the same rule as regards the charges for rooms prevails. Perhaps in nothing do foreign hotel charges differ more than in the charges for rooms. They differ according to the place-that is, whether it be a large or a small town; according to the hotel, whether it be first class or inferior; and according to the rooms themselves, their position, size, and furnishing, and also according as they are single or double bedded. Abroad, nearly every bedroom large enough is so constructed as to fit it for use also as a sitting-room or salon, in which friends may be received. Sometimes the beds are placed in a recess or back part of the room, which may be shut off at will by drawing a curtain. The rooms abound with mirrors; but unless in houses frequented by the English, there are for the most part no carpets on the floors, saving a rug at the bedside, thus and otherwise involving an odd mixture of splendour and discomfort. However, carpets are beginning to be more frequently introduced. To those accustomed to the warmth of carpets, getting out of bed in the morning is, when they are wanting, a chilly operation, more especially when the floors are constructed, as they sometimes are, I presume for protection against vermin, of composition.

On an average, I would say that a bedroom on a third floor, with one bed for a single person, costs from 3 to 5 francs per night; a double-bedded room, from 5 to 8 francs. On the second floor the price is advanced a little; but the first floor is always high, varying according to circumstances. In some fashionable places, such as Nice and Biarritz, during the season the charge for rooms is, in first-class hotels, as what I have already said shows, extravagantly high. The season at Nice is not, like many places, for two or three months only, but lasts the whole winter-half of the year. It ought not therefore, one would think, to be so expensive.

But lights have to be paid for separately, and are usually charged at hotels at the rate of 1 franc per bougie or candle, although I have seen only 75 centimes charged, and in some out-of-the-way places as little as half a franc, or even, as at Chateau d'?x, 30 centimes, upon which no doubt there was a profit. I was told of the case of a visitor at an expensive hotel in Nice who was, a good many years ago, charged 16 francs for bougies for a single night. But this mode of plundering is now so far abandoned, and one has only to be careful that more candles than he desires be not lighted. The charge for bougies, if remaining only single nights at hotels, becomes heavy; but if several nights be spent in the house, the candles remain till burned down. It is said that foreigners carry off their unburnt bougies with them, and use them at next stoppage, as they carry off also, it is alleged, the sugar which they have not used, but for which they consider they have paid. These, however, are petty habits, to which English people have not yet got accustomed.

The charge for service is almost invariably 1 franc per night per person. As lights are not charged in England, the united charge for bougies and service comes, for short periods, to be very much the same as the charge in England for service alone.

Universally, abroad, the beds are constructed only to hold one person. This may be, though it is not always, because of the summer's heat. In some rare cases the beds are found to be broad enough for two; but it does not necessarily follow that the charge is in this case as for one occupant. I have seen charge made for a broad bed as much as if the room had contained two beds. In parts where mosquitoes exist, the beds are draped with mosquito curtains.

Each room has its key and corresponding number, and the visitor is expected, upon leaving his chamber, to lock his door, and hang the key upon the key-board which is under charge of the concierge at the entrance to the hotel. In very large hotels, there is a key-board for each floor, in charge of an attendant. So contrary is this system of locking doors to the habits of the English, that it is often neglected by them; so much so, that in hotels exclusively frequented by natives of our isle, such a thing as locking doors and bringing down keys would be looked upon as extraordinary. At one of these hotels, I asked a servant, upon leaving my room after arrival, where the key should be put, as I had seen no key-board. 'Oh, just leave it in the door,' was her reply. Foreigners always lock their doors, whatever may be the establishment in which they are; and in many places, especially in the large hotels of Paris, where nobody knows who may be his next neighbour, it is highly proper and safe to do so. In this connection I may just observe that somehow or other there are in most places hotels which are only patronized by the English, and a foreigner is a rara avis. Correspondingly, there are other hotels which they never visit. There must be some species of intuitive freemasonry which underlies and conduces to this result.

All hotels have a public salle à manger, to which both ladies and gentlemen are expected to go, and nearly all have drawing-rooms or reading-rooms, or both (salons and salons-de-lecture). A lady travelling by herself can freely go to all these rooms, and one constantly meets such dames seules. No necessity is imposed upon them to engage a salon or sitting-room. But if desirous of taking them out of the public rooms, the meals will be sent to the bedrooms, for which luxury and extra trouble, however, there is a charge made, sometimes as high, at least for dinner, as 2 francs or 3 francs per person per meal, though usually only ? franc.

In addition to placing in the reading-rooms newspapers, which generally comprise one or more of the leading London journals (received in many places within twenty-four hours of their publication), there usually and most properly is in hotels, where visitors come for lengthened periods, a small collection of books sufficient to beguile an hour or a wet day.

The three chief meals of the day are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In what I shall call the English hotels, almost everybody maintains the good old English custom of coming down to the salle-à-manger to breakfast; but foreigners, consistently with their home practice, take their meagre breakfast or cup of coffee, scarcely to be designated breakfast, in their bedroom. English people cannot get reconciled to the idea of taking meals in a room in which they sleep. It is an uncomfortable and unsocial custom, essentially bad-keeps the bedrooms long from being attended to, and imposes much additional labour on the servants, who are kept flying up and down stairs at all hours of the morning with breakfast equipage.

The usual charge at all hotels, at least as against Englishmen, for breakfast proper (tea, coffee, or chocolate, with bread and butter) is 1? francs. Occasionally, though very rarely, I have found it only charged 1 franc, and once, viz. at Toulouse, 2 francs. Eggs are universally charged 25 centimes (2?d.) each; meats and fish, according to carte, and generally expensive.

But foreigners make a more substantial meal a little later on, which they call déjeuner à la fourchette, corresponding somewhat to our lunch. This is intended to be the real breakfast, and, according to true Continental fashion, it proceeds at many places at so early an hour as half-past ten, at others at eleven or twelve o'clock. In such cases it is found to be a most substantial repast, consisting of several courses, generally three-meat courses, pudding or tart course and cheese, and fruit courses; and it is in reality an early dinner, the whole company in the hotel assembling to enjoy it, unless individually they otherwise arrange. In the English hotels they have 'lunch' usually at one o'clock; but this is of a much less substantial nature, the visitor having been credited with making more Anglici a good breakfast in the morning. The charge for déjeuner or lunch differs according to the hotel, but is usually about 3 francs.

The table-d'h?te dinner is a regular Continental institution, which it would be well were it made the rule at home. Meaning literally dinner at the table of the host, I presume that at one time, and before the establishment of great hotels, the host regularly presided. This, however, is now rarely seen, although I have sat down to dine at a table where he took his place. Rising as each course arrived, and putting on an apron, he would with dexterous rapidity carve what was brought in, then, putting off his apron, would sit down again and take part with the guests.

Each hotel has its fixed hour for this dinner, varying in time from six to seven o'clock. I have also seen a special table-d'h?te dinner at eight o'clock, to suit those arriving by late trains. In places frequented by Germans, such as Interlachen, they have two dinner hours-one at two o'clock, for the Germans chiefly; and the other in the evening, to suit those who prefer dining at a later hour. The hotel people are frequently disturbed and put about by visitors, usually English people, inexcusably coming tardily to table. The charge for table-d'h?te dinner varies a good deal at different places, 4 to 5 francs being about the average rate, though occasionally it is less. In Paris some of the large hotels charge 6 francs-wine, however, included, as is customary in Paris.

The dinner, which is served à la Russe, consists of many courses, and is not, generally speaking, of the substantial character of an English home dinner. The routine is everywhere the same, and consists of the following courses, which the waiters present at the division assigned to each quietly at sound of finger bell:-(1) Potage or soup; (2) Fish, when it can be had, otherwise a substitute; (3) Entrées; (4) Vegetables by themselves, such as cauliflower, French beans or peas; (5) Poultry or game, or otherwise roast beef or roast mutton, accompanied invariably by salad or lettuce, and water-cresses; (6) Pudding or tart; (7) Fruits; (8) Sweet biscuits. In some of the grander places there is a course of ice-cream, and in other hotels ice-creams take the place of pudding on Sundays, or sometimes on both Sundays and Thursdays.[8] Such is the invariable routine, the only variety being in the specific description of the articles in each course. The great want in these dinners is of a good supply of vegetables; bread, not so wholesome, being supplied at discretion. It would be better if some of the viands were dispensed with, and more vegetables given. Such a thing as a good dry potato, what they call au naturel, is hardly known. Potatoes are served up greased in every conceivable way, or, if presented dry or in their skins, they are accompanied by a separate plate of butter. One course often excites remark by English visitors. It is where the game course consists of small birds, especially thrushes. These afford a miserable bite apiece, and, for a party of 40 or 50, as many birds fall to be sacrificed, the rule of the table being that every guest is, or has the opportunity of being, served alike. At Cannes, at one of the hotels (season 1876-77), a round robin was subscribed by the English of the party, protesting against such use of thrushes-I do not know with what effect. They were to be sometimes seen hanging in bunches at the poulterers' doors. It seems a cruel use of such song-birds, which are fed upon grapes to fatten them for the table; yet all the grapes they could swallow, even though in quantity enough to satisfy the grape cure, would never make them more than a miserable picking.

The quantities of eggs, fowl, and game which are needed to supply so many tables must be enormous; and as one sees very few live poultry anywhere, it has occasioned me surprise to think how they can be procured. The only feasible explanation is that the country is ransacked far and near for food to supply the luxurious tables of the hotels, and the wants of town populations. In a book published in 1857 by Dr. Frederick Johnson,[9] it is stated with regard to Paris alone-

'That the great Metropolitan maw occupies 712 bakers, and daily consumes 479,015 loaves and rolls (we abandon verbal computation in despair), and annually 6,849,449 poultry, 1,329,964 larks, 26,000 kids, 9,937,430 kilos of fish (the kilo being 21/5 lbs. English), 5,006,770 kilos of confectionery, 150,223,006 kilos of pears; that yearly each Parisian swallows 69 oysters, 165 eggs, 137 quarts of wine, and 14 quarts of beer among his other luxuries; and that among them, in their little enjoyments, they gossip over 3,000,000 kilos of coffee, 350,000 kilos of chicory, 2,000,000 lbs. of chocolate, and 40,000 kilos of tea, assisted by 109,221,086 quarts of milk. Teetotallers may be alarmed for the public sobriety when they learn that, besides the wines and brandies, our Parisian pleasure-seekers dispose of 1,267,230 quarts of liqueurs, to say nothing of 350,000 kilos of brandied bonbons, and that they cool the consequences with 500,000 quarts of ice.'

If such be the consumption of Paris, and this is more than twenty years ago, what must that be of all France, to say nothing of other Continental countries? Our box of figure-counters would soon be exhausted in vain attempts at the calculation. We should have to borrow largely from the astronomers.

The guests are, of course, expected to help themselves to only a small portion of each course. We once (in 1862) saw an Englishman in Paris, unacquainted with the customs either of France or of good society, appropriate to himself at one round nearly all that was in the dish, and we never could pass that untutored savage without thinking of the plateful of coarse beef which he had doomed himself to eat. But most Germans, Dutch and Spanish people feed very largely, and make no scruple as a practice to take double supplies, and the largest and best pieces of everything which comes round, leaving those who come after them wofully scant.[10] The waiters are well acquainted with this habit, and pander to it, possibly in hope of fees. At Biarritz, where we experienced a singular practice of the waiter doling out portions to the visitors (on the footing, perhaps, that some of them could not be trusted to leave even a wreck behind), they, as matter of course, placed upon the plates of the Spaniards of the company large quantities of each course, while when they came to ourselves we received often such small portions that we would occasionally complain and get more.

At many places in France and elsewhere, wine is included in the charge for dinner. In this case it is the vin ordinaire of the place, and is generally good if fresh; but as the practice is to put down a carafe to each two persons, much of it is often left. I have sometimes found the wine sour, evidently arising from having been kept from day to day, adding only what was necessary to replenish the carafes. The vin ordinaire costs the hotelkeeper very little, although he would charge from 1 franc to 2 francs per bottle for it if ordered. Everybody is expected to take wine, even children; and where wine is not included and set down, the waiter goes round, not asking whether you wish wine, but, 'What wine will you take?' and you have to select from the carte. I have been much surprised at the great differences in the price of wine at different places. The same kind of wine is charged at one place, it may be three, even four times as much as at another; and in general the price rises, and rises far out of reason, according to the distance from which the wine is supposed to come. Many lay it down as a rule to take the wine of the district in which they for the time being are; and it can, at all events, be had good of its kind and cheap, costing, some kinds, from 1 franc to 2 francs per bottle. This, which in the locality is called vin ordinaire, elsewhere becomes a high-priced wine. A fair quality of wine can in general be had at about 3 francs or 2s. 6d. per bottle, although it is observable that the bottles are so made as evidently to be incapable of containing a quart. If they be not small in size, they are sure deceptively to have a large hollow lump of glass in the bottom. Wine, with the exception of the better descriptions, is never drunk pure, but is poured into a tumbler and mixed with water, about half of each.

When dinner, lasting about an hour, is over, everybody is expected to rise and leave the room. At one hotel the waiters compelled retreat by opening all the windows. They have to clear the table and wash up, and are naturally anxious to have the room to themselves. Besides, in many places, the servants' supper takes place at ring of bell immediately after dinner, and no doubt the waiters are anxious to join. Their dinner bell in like manner rings after lunch. Visitors are seldom aware of these internal arrangements, or alive to them if they be.

If one does not dine at table d'h?te, to dine à la carte, by selecting out of a list, is costly, and should if possible be avoided. When arriving too late for table d'h?te, we have found in some places that we could order a dinner for which the same regular charge was made as at table d'h?te, although perhaps this might not be done for a single visitor. At other places the better course, particularly in Italy, is to order a dinner at a given figure, leaving the hotel to supply what they choose. One is certain by doing so to be better off.

At table, various Continental practices may be noticed, and among others a very singular custom which the German gentlemen have of tucking their napkins under their chins, and spreading them over the breast like a row of babies with their bibs on. I never could look at a German so arrayed without thinking of the minister who,

'Being wi' the palsy tribbled,

In liftin' spoonfu's aften dribbled;

Sae, to prevent the draps o' broth,

Prinn'd to his breast the tablecloth.'

Some explanation of this ludicrous practice is perhaps to be found in the painful habit which the generality of Germans have-occasionally ladies as well as men-of eating with their knives. English people cannot witness this fearful and wonderful operation without a nervous dread of the result. But there is this to be said for the Germans, that although some of their customs be peculiar, and not to be copied, they are great linguists, and enter agreeably in English into conversation; and I only mention such little foibles, that they may 'see themselves as others see them.' In many places-Switzerland particularly-there is put down upon the table here and there a case of what turns out to be toothpicks. One would think that those who choose to injure their teeth by means of such instruments and perform an odious cleansing, would prefer to keep their private pick, as much as their private tooth-brush, and use it in their private room.

We found the Dutch people ceremoniously polite. They never sat down and never rose from the table, never entered a room and never left it, without bowing to all round. It always kept us in a fidget lest they should not receive like courtesy; but it is a very pleasant trait of character in a people whom we found to be not merely externally polite, but kind and cordial at heart.

At the hotels, unless they be what I have called English hotels, one usually meets with people of all countries. In one hotel in France, I was informed we had representatives of eight different nations, counting English, Scotch, and Irish as one. It has struck me, however, that although the French language is so generally spoken, the French themselves, while found travelling in every part of their own land, are very seldom seen in other countries. I was on one occasion sitting next a bright Parisian young lady, and rather wickedly, I fear, was exalting Edinburgh so as to suggest its taking the palm from Paris. She was astonished, and having asked her when she was coming to see Edinburgh, she replied very decidedly, though in the very bewitching way in which the French girls speak, 'Jamais, ne-verre,' which honestly meant there was no probability she would, although the emphasis no doubt was intended as a delicate rebuke to the heretical presumption of my thought. La belle France is tout le monde to Frenchmen; nor do they get much encouragement to cross the English Channel, for I have noticed that they are, as a rule, most unhappy sailors.

One meets with all peoples and tongues and sorts at the dinner table. Now, much of comfort at that interesting time depends upon who sit next you. Dining at a long table with a large company is never so genial as dining round a smaller table in a party of six or eight. Intercourse is almost limited to those on the right and left, unless you and those opposite have strong voices and be both remarkably socially inclined. This, bad enough at home, is intensified abroad, not merely among strangers, but strangers who are foreigners, with whose language you may not be particularly acquainted. Everything, then, turns on the question, 'Who is my neighbour?' and in this respect one is all but entirely at the mercy of the waiters, who have not the grimmest idea of social assortment; and it may be that you are for weeks together placed next to those with whom you have no rapport or fellow-feeling or congeniality of tastes-nay, with whom you may be unable to exchange a word. When it is otherwise, and people are social, intelligent, well read, and without necessarily being clever are cheerful, the dinner hour becomes a pleasant episode of the day.

But it is often otherwise. It is bad enough to get placed beside a foreigner whose language, perhaps, you can read, but whose oral pronunciation is perfectly unintelligible; or beside a very stout and important lady whose ideas, if she have any, run on subjects with which you have no possible sympathy-who is too ponderous, or whose composite capital, perhaps stuck tenderly on with pins, is-it may, from the steadiness of her carriage, be supposed-considered by her too fragile to bear the shaking and jolting of a joke-or really, to confess the truth, one whom, it may possibly be, you cannot be bothered to entertain; or beside a young lady who speaks so low and so timidly, that in the din of dinner it is literally impossible to hear what she says. Nor is it less distressing to be placed beside a very deaf person who not only does not catch what you say, but, as usual with deaf people, speaks indistinctly. Few have not had such an experience as this. You are seated beside what appears to you to be a very amiable, comfortable, benign old lady. The beverage before you is in a condition which it would not be safe to swallow for a little. You are both resting on your oars, or rather on your spoons. The moment is favourable for an opening speech. The subject you select is one of personal and common interest. The observation you hazard is such as would in no event occasion a division bell to ring. Quietly you say, 'The soup is hot.' She inclines her face as if she had just heard you were talking in her direction. 'The soup is hot.' An inquiring glance is directed to you. Again you repeat rather louder, 'The soup is hot.' 'Sir,' she replies. In an alto and rather excited pitch you proclaim, 'The soup is hot.' By this time everybody has been turning a listening ear. 'Beg your pardon, sir; but I am rather deaf.' 'Madam' (in an altissimo and crescendo style), 'The soup is HOT.' 'Yes,' she blandly replies, 'the room is very hot.' You are for ever and for ever shut up, and retire from the struggle hot enough yourself.

But sometimes the wet blanket comes in another form. I was at one place agreeably set on several occasions beside a lively young German lady, who spoke English fluently. At our first interview I asked, 'What was their national dish? was it Sauer-kraut?' 'No, it was larks.' 'Oh, you barbarians,' I replied; 'do you eat canaries and parrots?' at which the fair damsel was much shocked. 'What's that?' obviously whispers the heavy German next her on her other side, and this and every other like passage of nonsense had to be translated word for word into this intensely philomathic alien, but withal kindly guide, philosopher, and friend of my young neighbour.

I was for a considerable time at another place seated next a most intelligent member of the French bar, whose bad health unfortunately added to a natural taciturnity. He could speak English, and liked to do so. We formed ourselves into a mutual instruction society-I to correct his good English, and he to correct my bad French. But as he preferred English conversation, and I was too lazy to bore him with my French, the educational advantages on my side were reduced to the minimum visible. However, we enjoyed to some extent rational conversation on subjects of interest, imparting information to each other, and discussing where we differed. Here was 'the feast of reason.' But, though my friend could enjoy all that creates a laugh, 'the flow of soul' would not have produced a deluge, or even turned a mill-wheel of moderate dimensions. There is nothing so difficult as to get merry with those who speak another language, into which everything has mentally and slowly to be translated, and the flashes of merriment often will neither brook translation nor abide deliberative meditation. The ball must be kept up. Any efforts in that direction were therefore of a ponderous kind. Sometimes I would, with all due and becoming gravity, put a case to him in French law. 'If,' for example, I would say to him; 'if a Frenchman were to die, leaving an estate as large as this room (a tolerably big one), and twelve children?' 'Oh, but,' he would interpose, smiling, 'we have no estates so small,' and perhaps he might have added, 'No families so large.'

From him I was shifted for a time to the agreeable society of a blooming Swedish lady, who could speak no language but her own, and who was uncommonly ready to imagine others were laughing at her, and accordingly to take offence. In this fix, to make the best of it, I returned to school to remedy the neglects of early life, and being a docile and apparently a reverent pupil, I advanced with such rapid strides to proficiency in the Swedish tongue, that in not many days I learnt that in that hitherto supposed outlandish language chrystal is 'chrystal' and knife is 'knife;' and had my studies been prolonged, I doubt not that I should in time have come to know that the honest Swedish people do call a spade a spade.

This interesting pursuit of knowledge under difficulties was, however, brought to an abrupt close by my being torn away and transferred to the company of an Irish young lady, from whom I speedily elicited that she came from the neighbourhood of Kilkenny. This was irresistible. 'Have you seen the tails of the two cats?' 'Oh, yes' (with a merry twinkle); 'they are in the Kilkenny Museum.' This museum may, like Aladdin's palace, have been built up in a night; but ere twenty-four hours had elapsed, it was stocked from floor to ceiling with such marvellous rarities as by no possibility had been ever either dreamt of in philosophy, or, what is more, conceived in the fertile brain of the great Barnum.

In season places, such shiftings about are few and far between; but in touring localities, during the travelling season, when you are more or less frequently changing your own quarters, and all around are changing almost daily too, one is shuffled about like a card, and more vicissitudes of association are experienced than befell the noted Gil Blas of Santillane in the course of his eventful life.

The rule of the hotels seems to be that the latest comers take the bottom of the table, and move up according as those before them leave. At the same time this rule was frequently infringed, and in some places we had always to ask where to sit. Of course all meet on a footing of equality, and it is customary for those of title-especially for foreign titled persons, unless of the highest rank-to dine with the other visitors. On one occasion, at a small party of ten or twelve, an old gentleman appeared, to whom the ladies in the salon had, on his entrance, bowed profoundly. We afterwards learned from one of them he was a distinguished foreign prince. An English marchioness or an English duke will occasionally appear at table, but I fancy English noblemen rarely condescend to do so. We were, however, often finding that at the table with us were foreign persons of rank of all grades, and the foreigners of title with whom we became at all acquainted were always very friendly and unassuming. But generally in travelling we could not tell who were our neighbours. It was for the most part from the lists of visitors that the names of those in the hotel could be discovered, and occasionally these have been of royal rank. In this case they were necessarily notable, and although they did not come to the public table, yet they were seen in the gardens; and sometimes they travelled with large retinues, and could not escape observation. At Interlachen, General Grant and his wife came to the Jungfrau Hotel, at which we were. He was on the night of his arrival serenaded by a brass band, which played till near midnight, the musicians no doubt regarding the sweet and melodious sounds of trombones and ophicleides atoned for any disturbance of the slumber of the visitors, or even of the probably wearied General himself.

All the Continental hotels are, with few exceptions, prepared to take visitors upon pension-that is, on board. But there are establishments which, par excellence, are termed pensions. The line of demarcation is very slender, and some hotels are truly pensions, while some pensions are truly hotels. The pension strict, however, is a less grand house than the hotel. It is for the most part a large private hous

e, without, though not always without, the parade of concierge and other distinctive marks of an hotel. As a rule, to which there are exceptions, it is more homely, there is less style in the method of conducting, less appearance about the rooms, and smaller attention paid to service and sanitary arrangements. On the other hand, the company is smaller, and as the people come to remain for periods of time, they fraternize better, and there is a good deal more of the home feeling in a pension than ever finds its way into any hotel. The better class of pensions profess to require an introduction, but it does not necessarily follow that the company is more select; on the contrary, as they are usually rather less expensive than hotels, the company is not unfrequently of a mixed description, and consequently the name pension is, to some extent, in disfavour with those English people who can afford to pay hotel charges, and prefer more style.

At hotels, the rule, sometimes relaxed for a party, is that people are not taken on pension under a week. A similar rule prevails in pensions proper, and indeed during pension season it is usually necessary to secure quarters in pensions proper, and even in hotels, by writing for rooms some considerable time previously.

The charge for pension varies very greatly, according to the place, to the situation of the rooms, and to the season.

In former days the pension charge was extremely moderate. One old gentleman told me that in his younger days the charge in Switzerland, at least, was 3 francs per day for everything; but this was a charge as against foreigners only, and he, then a young Englishman, succeeded in getting off upon this low rate by being taken for a German, he being with a party of Germans. Even till more recent years, one would hear of 5 francs per day being a normal charge. These good old times have not wholly disappeared, for to this day, in some outlying places in Switzerland, pension at a very low rate can be procured. We spent eight days at the Hotel Berthod, Chateau d'?x, which lies up among the mountains, a long day's journey from Interlachen, en route for Aigle; and the charge was only 5 francs per day, with 20 centimes for service, besides bougies, which were charged only 30 centimes each. This was upon the second floor, which we preferred, as less noisy, to that below at 6 francs. The charge on the third floor was, I believe, even a shade less. The hotel was a wooden house of large size, and could accommodate at least eighty guests, and in the season was generally full, while the company was so far select, being out of the beaten track of tourists. The accommodation was necessarily somewhat rough, but every attention was paid, as far as practicable, to the comfort of the visitors. Considering that its season lasts for scarcely three months in the year, one would be surprised to think it possible it could pay; but it seems that the landlord's brother had formerly kept the establishment, and had retired with a competence. Everything, however, with one exception, was cheap at Chateau d'?x, which boasts of several establishments of the same kind, one of them (though two miles off), 'Rosinière,' the largest chalet in Switzerland, and picturesquely situated in a secluded spot, dating back to 1754.

Pension includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedroom, and service, sometimes also lights. Occasionally service is made a separate charge, and is stated at from ? franc to 1 franc per day, according to place.

In many good hotels in Switzerland and elsewhere, pension can be had at 8 francs per day. At Lugano the charge, I noticed, during summer (1st April to 31st October), is 8 to 11 francs; during winter, 6 francs to 7 francs 50 centimes. Both at Interlachen and Montreux, we paid at the rate of 8 francs, and had excellent quarters in first-class hotels. With other rooms supposed to be better, the charge would have been 10 francs per day. But in the height of the Interlachen season, the hotels will not readily begin to take people en pension. At Chamounix we were told, on a former tour in the month of August, that the hotels there would not take en pension after 15th July. By that time English tourists begin to arrive in great shoals, and often find much difficulty in getting quarters. When this takes place, the applications are either refused, or the visitors are accommodated in dependencies, which are either houses or chalets attached to the hotel, or in some cases simply houses in the villages in which the natives can spare a room, and therefore not always desirable. Pension in Italy and France is charged at a little higher rate than in Switzerland. We found that, upon an average, 10 or 12 francs a day was the charge in these countries; but according to the accommodation, it would either rise above or fall below this rate, varying from 8 to 15 or 16 francs per day. As the charge of 8 francs, which seldom secures any but a north room, covers everything pension includes, there must be a profit out of it, and all above that amount ought to be clear extra gain. Eight francs per day amounts to £116 per annum, 15 francs per day to £219-a good rate of board.

In season places great contrast often exists between the charges for pension during the season and after it is over. Thus at Biarritz, during the winter months, pension might have been had at 7 francs per diem, but during the two months of summer season (August and September, on to 15th October) the charges at the principal hotels are high. For rooms alone the charge may be from 20 to 25 francs on the second floor, and from 12 to 14 francs per day on the third floor, the first floor being much more costly. However, we found at the Hotel de Paris, on 18th September, towards the close of the season, which may have made a difference, fairly comfortable rooms on the first floor, in a good situation, at a moderate rate. Sometimes with first-floor rooms the usual charges for living are made separately or in addition to the charge for rooms.

Fire in the private rooms is always an extra. Nowhere is coal burnt, at least that we have seen, unless in the northern parts of France. The visitor, when he wishes fire, is supplied with a basket of wood, the size and the quality of which vary very much, as do the prices. It consists of logs sawn into pieces about 12 to 18 inches long, and split up, and the kind of wood necessarily varies with the locality. In the olive-growing countries it is olive wood, which burns slowly. At Pau it is the short oak grown in the woods in the vicinity. In other places it is pine wood, which burns rapidly. At Lyons we paid 2 francs for a small pannier of soft wood, which lasted two nights. At Mentone a large pannier of olive wood, probably mixed with pine, cost 2 francs 20 centimes, and lasted much longer. If we had no fire during the day, and we found day fires very rarely necessary in Mentone, a pannier would last us nearly a week for one fire per evening, lit after dinner. At Spezzia, where the wood burnt very fast, the pannier was charged 3·50 francs. At Pisa the charge was 3 francs; and at Rome, had we found it needful, we should have been charged at the hotel, for each room, 5 francs for a pannier which would not have lasted more than two nights. Indeed, at Rome the expense of wood is so serious an extra charge, that I have heard of a gentleman with a large and perhaps extravagant family feeling obliged to curtail his visit on that account.

The wood is laid across two iron dogs, and emits, especially in the case of olive wood, good heat. The ashes of former fires are always left lying between the dogs, and greatly help to keep the fire in. The ashes smoulder away for a long time, and bellows, always hung by the fireside, will bring them to a glow long after they are apparently dead.

The dogs are hardly suitable for coals, but might not a good trade in coals with the Continent be brought about? I suppose the abundance of wood renders it unnecessary. But a great deal may result from the force of habit, or, not improbably, there may be a prohibitory duty preventing the people from using coal.

One very annoying item of extra expense consists in the fees with which servants expect to be tipped at leaving. Many persons refuse to give anything, on the strictly theoretically-correct ground that they have already paid for service in the bills. Such persons, at least if English people, seem to be looked upon as shabby. On the other hand, there are those, principally English, who are very lavish with their largess, and really do their successors much harm, leading the servants to be on the outlook for handsome fees. In Italy the evil is, I think, most felt. In France, however, it is bad enough. If one be but a single night at a hotel, chamber-maid, waiters, concierge, porters, conductors, and even drivers of omnibuses-all expect donations, and stand hovering about (perhaps perform useless little services), that they may not be lost sight of. Nor is the evil less at pensions, where I have had more than once to fee no less than seven attendants, being the whole menial establishment. It becomes a very heavy tax, amounting to no small sum at the end of a long tour, as one does not like to be shabby, or thought so. At pensions and hotels at Christmas time, every servant with whom the visitor has had to do expects his or her five-franc piece at the least; and this really one does not at that festive season so much grudge, if dwelling in the house for the winter, although the feeing process has to be repeated at leaving, and intermediately for any supposed extra services. I must say, however, that the only suggestion of a donation at Christmas came from the portier of our hotel at Mentone, who addressed a lithographed card to each visitor on the 1st of January: 'Le portier de l'Hotel vous souhait une bonne et heureuse année.' And no doubt a similar lithographed card was used with effect by all the porters of the place, and made the ignorant or unthinking aware of what they were expected to do.

The only person outside the establishment who suggested a benefaction by the enclosure of a card was the postman, who, no doubt, was cheerfully boxed by every visitor.

I suppose that complaints of this practice of tipping or expecting fees reached the ears of the landlords, who, honest men, no doubt had found their advantage in it; for, in the summer of 1877, nine of the principal hotels in Switzerland announced to the public that, with a view to putting a stop to it, they should thenceforth make a charge which would cover everything, so that visitors should not be annoyed longer in this way. But the system which they did adopt was an erroneous one, and was only calculated to place an additional burden on their guests-in other words, they made an extra charge for their rooms; so that the occupants had to pay nightly, in some cases, perhaps as much as they would have paid once for all as gratuity, while in many cases gratuities would continue to be given. We came upon one of these hotels, the Schweizerhoff in Lucerne. Here, in conformity with the new rule, one charge was made for rooms per night, inclusive of attendance and lights, and a bill was stuck up in the rooms containing a notice in the following terms:-

'Avis. Messieurs les étrangers sont priés de ne plus donner de pour boires aux employés de l'Hotel. Toute le service dans l'intérieur de l'Hotel ainsi que l'éclairage est compris dans le prix de l'appartement.'

Such a notice was only valuable if it had borne that the servants were expressly prohibited, upon pain of dismissal, from taking any gratuity; but while it contained nothing but what was always previously implied in the charge for service, and left the charge for porterage of luggage as performed extérieur (a service which has always been recompensed by a gratuity, and which the porter here duly accepted), the very form of the notice, 'Pray, don't,' rather suggests the idea that you ought to give. The evil is really so great that a more efficient and beneficial method ought to be taken by the hotels.

In Italy I have sometimes been asked for a gratuity by a messenger from a shop on delivering a purchase made.

Hotel bills are usually rendered and paid once a week. At Bellagio an admirable system was in use. Bills were rendered every day, although payment was not expected oftener than once a week. In this way any mistake could at once be rectified; and we did find occasionally-as every one must, especially in the touring season, when the sojourners are daily shifting-rectification to be necessary. It would be much in the interest of the landlords to make the practice universal, because where any entry has been charged to the wrong person, the person to whom it ought to have been charged may have left before discovery has been made. The waiters write, sign, and deliver to the clerk a slip containing every order, as the means of making up the books, and sometimes, perhaps, from not wishing to give offence by asking, put by mistake the wrong name to the order. In London a better system is, where the guest is requested to write the order himself, heading the memorandum with his name and number. In some-I am bound to say, only a few-cases in France, the landlord regularly charges his guests with the penny Government receipt stamp on discharging the bill. Honestly, this ought to be borne by himself.

Messrs. Cook and Gaze both issue hotel coupons. These are made up as books of three per day. One portion covers bedroom, lights, and service for one person; but it bears that porterage is not included, and a charge for conveying luggage to and from the bedroom to the door is then (I think erroneously) occasionally made in the bill, though the doing so does not exempt from the customary fee expected by the porters. Another portion covers plain tea or breakfast; and a third, dinner at table d'h?te, with or without wine, according to the usual practice of the hotel. Cook's tickets cost 8s., Gaze's cost 8s. 6d., but the latter entitle the holder to eggs or meat at breakfast. The hotels of both firms are for the most part unobjectionable, but the question is whether the coupons are or are not of any real advantage. As to this, people who have not used them are generally much puzzled. I had never, in travelling abroad, tried them before, but thought, upon entering Italy, where it is reputed (contrary to my subsequent experience) that one requires to be upon his guard against hotel imposition, I might make experiment to a limited extent, and accordingly purchased enough at Nice to last us about fourteen days.

On an average, I believe it will be found that, taking bedroom accommodation at the lower rates, or as for the upper étages, the price of the coupons is very much the same as the hotel charges would come to. In some hotels, in the smaller places, the charges may occasionally come to a trifle less, especially if there be a party; in others, in the larger towns, the hotel charges will certainly exceed it. In a pecuniary point of view, therefore, and supposing people are constantly on the wing, they will find that upon the whole the saving is not large, but that, in any view, there is a clear advantage in using them in large and expensive towns such as Marseilles and Nice.

However, if it be intended to stay long enough in a hotel to warrant going upon pension, it can frequently be arranged to obtain pension at the same rate as is payable for the coupons, the effect of which is that lunch is thrown into the bargain, saving 3 francs per day.

In Italy also the advantage of exchange is lost, the coupons being only purchasable with English money.

The coupons save a little trouble and shorten the bills. To those unable to speak a foreign tongue, they are additionally valuable. On the other hand, I fear the traveller is a good deal at the mercy of the landlord in regard to rooms. It is quite in his power to say he has no better. But if the house be not full, there is a possibility of being assigned the best rooms, and so obtaining accommodation for which, without coupons, a high charge would be made.

My limited experience gave me rather a dislike for them, and led me to feel I was more independent, and had a chance of being better served, by paying my way in the usual manner. At a town in Italy, I mentioned on arrival, as is required, that I had Cook's coupons and intended to use them. When the bill at leaving was rendered, I pointed out that it had not been stated as on this footing. It turned out that for the two nights we stayed at the house, the hotel charges (we were most comfortable in every respect) came to 6 francs 75 centimes less for our party than the cost of the coupons. Yet the landlady looked black when I pointed out the mistake, and seemed, while I was actually paying more, as if she thought me imposing on her. I felt so annoyed that I would never use them again in Italy. Months afterwards, when in a town in Switzerland, I resolved to employ what remained, and in driving up to the hotel on Cook's list, told the landlord so. I noticed he did not seem to relish the intimation, and when we visited the rooms allotted to us, we found them dismal chambers looking into the courtyard. I rebelled, and we got cheerful and better rooms on the floor above. This showed that we could not always quite rely upon getting the best accommodation possible, notwithstanding the coupons in this instance came to more than we could have pensioned for at the hotel, according to its own printed tariff. I afterwards learnt that the reason of dislike is, that the London house has a small commission (which is quite reasonable, and perhaps is not much objected to), and that settlements with the hotelkeepers do not take place for, it may be, some months after the bills are incurred, which may produce considerable inconvenience to some hotelkeepers. Were it possible to arrange for more frequent, say monthly settlements, perhaps all cause of dissatisfaction would be obviated, for otherwise the system must be most advantageous to the hotels which are on the London lists.

I must, however, put against these two instances, which may be very exceptional, the fact that I had used the coupons previously at two other hotels in Italy, and subsequently at another in Switzerland, and another in France, and met with every civility and attention, while they at once gave us excellent accommodation. Friends also who have frequently taken advantage of them, have told me that they preferred them, and would always in travelling avail themselves of the system.

To vary the monotony of the pension life, or from the inherent idea that gaiety is essential to existence, the hotel and pension keepers get up, from time to time, little entertainments in the salons. Of these, a dance is the most frequent; but in place of a quiet dance in the drawing-room to music on the piano by one of the guests, it seems to be considered essential to hire a band of musicians. Perhaps this practice is more in accordance with the French love of noise and display; but it both occasions unnecessary expense, and has less of the social about it. At other times we have had a conjurer introduced to exhibit tricks of magic. Manifestly he has not the same facilities as in a room fitted up for the purpose, but the tricks were sometimes novel, and interest people, particularly the young. On other occasions we have had special musical evenings, and at Interlachen a band of Tyrolese singers every now and then, I think almost weekly, gave an entertainment at the hotel; and as visitors at Interlachen are always changing, the audience would for the most part be different. We have also had little plays by strolling actors, and even on one occasion a small attempt at operatic performance. Perhaps, of all the entertainments by professionals, the most novel to us and beautiful was what we witnessed at Sorrento. We were then lodging at the Tramontano Hotel, and one evening were informed that we should witness the Tarantala Dance. Round one of the larger rooms chairs were placed for the guests (numbering probably over sixty). When all were assembled, of a sudden two dancers bounded lightly into the room, quickly followed by other pairs-the men dressed in white, with Roman sashes round the waist; women in gay bodices and white skirts, all looking clean and tidy, and very specially got up for the occasion. These young people, to the number of eight, executed a most lively dance to the music performed by others on mandolins, all the dancers being armed with castanets, with which they maintained an incessant click-clack, keeping time to the music. The dance, perhaps invented and practised by Terpsichore herself, and which it would require a master of the art to describe, in general outline somewhat resembled a Scotch reel, but with what I would call Italian variations. It was sprightly and graceful, and the bright dresses added much to the effect. There were several different varieties of the dance, and between the dances we were favoured with some national melodies. One most comical exhibition consisted in the leader, who was a barber of the village, fastening a loose piece of paper behind him, and with this tail floating in the air, he danced or capered about, keeping time to the music, all the others, girls as well as men, running after him with lighted tapers, endeavouring to set this novel tail on fire; but so rapid or rather jerky were his movements, that the paper would not catch fire from the lights, and after a long chase, exciting the constant mirth of the onlookers, he escaped triumphant, and burnt his tail to show it was inflammable. After this, and as a wind up, one of the musicians-an Italian, of course-honoured us, flavoured by some peculiar linguistic embellishments, calculated to evoke an occasional smile, with first 'Yankee Doodle,' and afterwards with a still more uncommon version of 'God save the Queen,' upon which all the company, with the exception (hardly commendable) of a few Americans present, rose to their feet, and a choking feeling of home and of loyalty thrilled through us to hear our national anthem, so sung by foreigners, and so far, it seemed, after our wanderings, from our native land. With this the performance terminated, and the collection began, and was evidently good. For it is by means of a voluntary collection that these professional exertions are usually recompensed. On one occasion, a conjurer, having made his collection in the middle of his performance, brought round the plate a second time, which was rather too much.

A more objectionable course to obtain remuneration has sometimes been taken at Mentone, of asking the visitors to buy tickets for a raffle. Of course, each visitor is expected to take at least one ticket (costing usually, I think, 2 francs), and some take a good many, especially when the tickets unsold are set up to a sort of absurd auction, and people in a spirit of fun keep bidding by small amounts against each other. Looking to the proximity of Mentone to Monaco, the origin of the practice may be divined, and it is rather calculated to foster the spirit of gambling which prevails, especially among foreigners, although the things raffled for are necessarily worthless trifles, offering a purely nominal value in exchange for the tickets of the fortunate prize-holders. I presume it is done because it fetches more money to the performers, although ostensibly to give the aspect of not stooping to a collection. But as collections for themselves are, twice a week at least, made abroad by clergymen of the English Church by sending round the plate during service, one can little see why a conjurer should be ashamed or consider it infra dig. to receive payment in the same way.

The entrée, however, is not always libre. On one occasion, at least, bills were sent round to different other hotels that a matinée musicale would be held in one of the Mentone Hotels-'Entrée, 6 francs par personne.' In these cases visitors from other houses are expected.

The guests themselves at the hotels and pensions frequently devise amusement for the company. Sometimes it consists in charades, more or less elaborately conducted, according to circumstances. They are diverting, and create great excitement among the performers in anticipation, realization, and retrospect. In some hotels, there is at one end of a large room a little permanent stage expressly fitted up to enable charades or plays to be performed.

At other times we have had Shakespeare readings, the different members of the party having assigned to each, one or more of the characters of the play; but the difficulty always was, by begging and borrowing, I won't say stealing, to procure a sufficient number of copies of the play, so that each reader might have one. A handy copy of Shakespeare is one of the books which those who go abroad for the winter may with advantage take with them.

On another occasion, at Florence, we had a remarkably nice series of miscellaneous readings by a gentleman of the company. But the most elaborate performance, at least at a hotel, was one at Chateau d'?x. Here some Americans of the party arranged with showy dresses a very successful performance of the play called 'Popping the Question.' It was capitally acted, and we felt only sorry that the spectators were so comparatively few, although, to increase the number, the performers had invited their friends living in neighbouring pensions.

As I mention this last affair, it is impossible to omit in this connection two grand entertainments we had at Mentone, in the beginning of 1877, of a more public nature. These were two dramatic performances by amateurs, drawn from among the hotel visitors, the leading spirit being Captain Hartley, who was himself a highly-finished actor. They were held in the large room of the cercle, or club-house, which has a regular small stage at the one end, and is capable of accommodating between 200 and 300 people, and was hired for the occasion. The performers invited their friends, and so unexpectedly well did they turn out, that the room on the first occasion was more than filled-many, indeed, could not get within either sight or hearing. The performance consisted of two pieces,-the first, 'A Touch of Nature makes the Whole World kin,' and 'Box and Cox.' The plays were executed to admiration. Nothing could have been better than the acting, although it was painful to think that some of the actors were invalids, and were evidently straining their powers too much, and I fear hurt themselves by doing so, and by the labour of getting up their parts and attending rehearsals. But so successful was the performance, that on 3d February the amateurs held another matinée, on which occasion the 'Porter's Knot' was acted, which gave an equal amount of satisfaction to all who could witness it. These entertainments were exclusively at the expense of the amateurs. In the following season their success induced the having two more, which met with equal applause.

On occasion of the first performance of all, the Avenir (newspaper) of Mentone congratulated the fair little town on its waking up from its torpor in a leading article, in the course of which it said:

'Nos sincères félicitations aux organisateurs de cette charmante fête. Est-ce que Menton songerait enfin à s'amuser? Bravo, Messieurs!... reveillez un peu cette ville que les autres se donnent tant de peine à endormir. Egayez un peu cette riche colonie étrangère, veritable fortune pour notre beau pays, il faut bien la choyer, l'amuser, et surtout faire de sérieux sacrifices, pour la retenir éternellement sur les bords de cette splendide Méditerranée sous les rayons de ce bienfaisant soleil, sous nos citronniers en fleurs, sous notre beau ciel bleu-la nature a tout fait pour eux ... à vous de compléter l'?uvre, à vous de les distraire: concerts, bals, spectacles. Voilà l'?uvre que vous devez accomplir. La matinée de lundi est un bien jolie commencement, continuez!'

Attached to nearly all season places, as well as to others frequented by visitors, there is a band of music, which during the season plays in public so many times a day, or so many times a week. In some places it plays twice or even three times a day. In Switzerland, which is a great resort of the Germans, the music seems designed to promote out-of-doors tippling, as the ground about the sheltering pavilion in which the musicians play is dotted over with chairs and little tables, at which these foreigners sit and imbibe and listen, or are supposed to listen, to the strains of the music. Nay, I have been told that the Germans also order beef-steaks and other solids, although long time cannot have elapsed since the last meal at the hotels, or it will not be long till the next meal-time arrives. If one should sit down on a chair, a waiter or waitress immediately comes forward expecting an order. I do not recollect having seen this custom prevailing anywhere in France except at the Gardens in the Champs Elysée in Paris, where professedly the music is given in connection with and to promote the drink. In Switzerland one has sometimes to pay for the music in the shape of a regular daily or weekly tax, which is stated in the hotel bill is authorized to be levied, and which the visitor is bound to pay, although he may have been deaf from his birth. We were required to make such a payment at Ragatz at the Quellenhof Hotel, where the band played morning and evening. At Interlachen, where we spent nine weeks, I found it more advisable to pay for the season, and it cost me 20 francs, which was practically a payment by me towards the support of a German drinking establishment, as I do not think during all the time I was there I looked into the Kursaal more than four or five times, and that merely to see if any friend were there. It is unpleasant to those who cannot drink in season and out of season, or who are not used to public potation, to go to such places.

Not having had personal experience of life abroad in villas or furnished rooms, I cannot say much upon this subject. At all season places furnished villas abound, and apartments are to be had, the cost of which necessarily depends upon the locality and the accommodation. I see from the Avenir de Menton of 12th December 1877, that one house-agent advertised to have had then to let sixty-five villas in Mentone, varying from four apartments, or pièces, as the French term them, up to twenty-four, and ranging in price from 900 francs to 18,000 francs for the season. This list was published after previous demands had been satisfied. How far those on the list may subsequently have been taken up, I do not know; but the season was considered to be a bad one, owing to the general dulness of trade, the continuance of the Eastern War, and the uncertainty as to the state of matters in France arising out of the position held by the governing Powers among themselves. Perhaps something also was due to the fact that a good many new houses had since last season been built, so that there was an extra supply. The villas and apartments are all let for the season; the owners will not let them for a shorter period, because if they were to do so they would run a great risk of not letting them for the remainder of the winter. However, in a dull season somewhat less than what is asked may be taken, and after a house has stood empty for a time it may be had at a reduction. The season at Mentone for so letting, I believe, is nominally eight months, but in reality few people occupy the houses more than five, or at most six months during the winter. During summer months (from about the end of April) Mentone is deserted.

The cost per room seems to range from 200 francs to nearly 800 francs, or about (taking five months' occupation) from 10 to 40 francs per week for each room. A small family house may be had for about from 4000 or 5000 francs, or from £150 to £200, the tenant obtaining nothing but the rooms and furnishing. It is necessary for him to engage servants; and I believe it is indispensable to have French servants in addition to those the family taking the house may bring with them, as English servants, not knowing the language, could not be a means of communication with the natives. These French servants are a source frequently of great annoyance to their employers. They demand a high wage, and as they are not employed during the whole year, perhaps there is some reason for it. A lady at Hyères considered herself particularly fortunate, as no doubt she was, in getting a French servant at 45 francs per month, or at the rate of nearly £24 per year. The amount asked, however, is, I believe, usually very much more. But this is a small matter as compared with other evils; for these servants expect to be employed to make the purchases for the house, and are, it seems, greatly chagrined if they learn that this duty will not fall within their province. The lady of the house may resolve to make her own purchases: she cannot, however, always do so, and finds that she has generally to devolve the work on one of the domestics; and hence, from what I have heard, she often finds that the expense of housekeeping becomes enormously heavy. This may probably arise from the shopkeepers charging in excess in order to afford a commission to the servants. One lady in Mentone, with a family of three young children, who had two English and two French servants, told me it cost her £16 for a single week of housekeeping, though it is possible this may have been an extraordinary week. But this is not all, for the family are exposed, unless they have very reliable servants, to pillage by pilfering and otherwise. The same lady had no doubt there were large quantities of bread and other eatables given away by the servants to their friends, or disposed of, as she could not possibly account otherwise for the quantities which were said to be consumed. These pilferings, however, were not confined to eatables. In six weeks, on the house-agent going over the inventory, he made out a bill for 98 francs for breakages. This included 30 plates, 3 teapots, and I know not what else beside. Of course, it was incredible that such an amount of breakage could have taken place even had Caleb Balderstone been in the house, and in frequent fry. There were no traces of it; there had been no report of it; the English servants had never seen it. It was clear that the articles had been appropriated or given away to friends. Such pilfering (of which another friend also complained) may not be the rule-possibly even is the exception; and one friend told me they had most honest native servants. It is well, however, to know that it is a possibility to be guarded against. One of the best safeguards is, besides being very particular as to the character of those engaged, to require them to sleep in the house. If they do not sleep in the house, for which there may not be sufficient room, they ought not to be allowed to bring baskets with them when they come in the morning, to take away when they leave at night.

One curious expense attendant upon the taking of a villa, is a charge which was made by a house-agent at Mentone (I do not know if it be universal) for making out the inventory of furniture. He charged the tenant 2? per cent, upon the rent; say, if the rent were £200, £5 for doing so was charged against the tenant. This ought to be a proper charge against the landlord exclusively, but no doubt the landlord suffered a similar charge.

For two or three persons, it is upon calculation of the cost much less expensive, and in every respect more desirable, to take quarters in a hotel, where, if a servant be brought, the usual charge for pension for her or him is 5 francs, or at most 6 francs, and occasionally, though rarely, 4 francs per day. But in the case of a large family, a villa is less expensive and more convenient, especially if the children be young, though it may require the family to be vigilant in looking sharply after their foreign domestics.

While these foreign servants are not always trustworthy, I must add this, that we have found no occasion whatever in France or Switzerland to complain of dishonesty among any of the domestics in any of the numerous hotels in which we have been. We have had our things lying openly about, and have never missed a single article, nor have we heard of any other person suffering loss in this way.

The observation may not perhaps apply so thoroughly to Italy. So much is heard of the petty thievery which prevails in that country, especially in the southern portions of it, that it is by no means proper to expose oneself more than can be helped to lose in this manner; and we were more than usually careful, while in Italy, not to throw temptation in the way. At one house we missed two articles, viz. two pairs of scissors, and could not but suspect that they had been appropriated. It is, however, I suppose, rather the railway men and the professed thieves whom people have most to fear in Italy. One hears every now and then of boxes being opened during railway transit and contents taken, although this may be only in the case of luggage sent by goods train, which in Italy should never be done. The thievery is so open in Naples and surrounding places, that we dared not leave anything exposed in a carriage. Nay, a lady told me that a thief had even the audacity, before her very eyes, to lift a bag out of the carriage in which she was sitting.

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