The English have always been intrepid travelers, and for hundreds of years, they have eagerly crossed the Channel in search of the enlightenment, entertainment, and edification to be found on the Continent. The 18th c is the heyday of the famous "Grand Tours", that final finishing touch to a young gentleman's education, and not even the hazards of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars could keep the determined tourist in Britain.
One of the more famous travelers of this era was a lawyer-poet-travel-writer named Sir John Carr (1772-1832.) Undeterred by inconvenient current events, he traveled widely throughout Europe in the early 19th c. and wrote a series of travel books that documented his journeys. The books were popular, and sufficiently influential to earn him a knighthood from the Duke of Bedford in Dublin in 1806. Styles in writing change, however, and while his detailed descriptions remain interesting, it's also painfully clear that he believed that no noun or verb should go unmodified, ever, ever.
Still, where else would we find this description of the tattered remains Marie-Antoinette's Petit Trianon at Versailles, which Carr visited less than a decade after her death? This excerpt and the illustration, above, are both from The Stranger in France, published in 1803 – and, if you'd like to read more, it's available on-line free as a Project Gutenberg Ebook here.
"I approached, with increased delight, the enchanting little palace and grounds of the late queen, distant from Versailles about two miles, called the Petit Trianon, to which she very justly gave the appellation of her "little Palace of Taste." Here, fatigued with the splendours of royalty, she threw aside all its appearances, and gave herself up to the elegant pleasures of rural life. It is a princely establishment in miniature. It consists of a small palace, a chapel, an opera house, out offices and stables, a little park, and pleasure grounds; the later of which are still charming, although the fascinating eye, and tasteful hand of their lovely but too volatile mistress, no longer pervade, cherish, and direct their growth and beauty. By that reverse of fortune, which the revolution has familiarized, the Petit Trianon is let out by the government to a restauranteur. All the rooms but one in this house were preoccupied, on the day of our visit in consequence of which we were obliged to dine in the former little bed room of the queen, where, like the Idalian goddess [Venus], she used to sleep in a suspended basket of roses. The apertures in the ceiling and wainscot, to which the elegant furniture of this little room of repose had once adhere, are still visible.
"After dinner, we hastened through our coffee, and proceeded to the gardens. After winding through gravelled walks, embowered by the most exquisite and costly shrubs, we entered the elegant temple of Cupid, from which the little favourite of mankind had been unwillingly, and rudely expelled, as appeared by the fragments of his pedestal.
"Thy wrongs little god! shall be revenged by thy fair friend Pity. Those who treated thee thus, shall suffer in their turn, and she shall not console them!...."
Above: Ruins of the Queen's Farm-house in the Petit Trianon, Engraving in aqua tint of sketch, published in The Stranger in France, 1803