"Aix-La-Chapelle" [essay]
Hast ever heard of the peace of Aix‐la‐Chapelle, reader? 1 If thou ever
travellest from Spa to Aix, 2 or from Aix to Cologne, thou shalt find various
treaties of peace have been entered into, and ratified, which thou wilt not
approve of. Thou shalt find a treaty whereof the first condition is that
the postillionʼs whip be not closely acquainted with the back of his quad‐
rupeds more than two or three times in a stage, or so.
Item. That the above mentioned quadrupeds be not compelled to
draw any carriage, chariot, gig, or other vehicle whatsoever at a greater
rate than two miles an hour.
Item. That the above‐mentioned quadrupeds be not compelled to trot
upon the paved centre of the road, but that they be permitted to draw
the carriage, chariot, gig, or other vehicle into the beds of sand and dust,
denominated by the postillion “la terre,” even although the carriage,
chariot, gig, or other vehicle be in imminent danger of being overset into
the ditch, which commonly bordereth upon the road.
Item. That the postillion be permitted, when upon the back of his
horse, to indulge himself with a comfortable pipe, and half hourʼs nap or
so, during which time his above‐mentioned quadrupeds be surrendered to
their own will, guidance, and management. 3
Alas! every article of this treaty was strictly fulfilled with regard to us,
and the consequence was, that in a six hoursʼ ride of twelve miles, I was
first fevered by the sun, then smothered by the dust, and finally was—but
let that pass for the present.
A cathedral is a noble, a beautiful, a sublime thing, 4 by twilight, with
its white fretted marble columns looking out from the dark retiring
immensity of the long aisles, and the faint streams of coloured and varie‐
gated light falling faintly through the Gothic windows, streaming at
intervals along the chequered floors, or ruddily lighting up the countenances
of the marble figures, giving a ghastly resemblance to reality, a mockery of
life, that makes you start when you look upon the hollow eyes and rigid
muscles starting out of the stone. You almost think that the dead forms
of departed monarchs have sprung forth from their narrow dwellings

beneath that ancient pavement, and that the peers of Charlemagne are
rallying again around their monarch.
Saw Charlemagneʼs easy‐chair—arms stone, back stone, hard, indepen‐
dent, unaccommodating granite. 5 Thin velvet cushion, however, on the
seat as a mediator. Very ancient affair; product of the dark ages, I
suppose. His sarcophagus also, sculptured, Grecian, basso‐relievo. 6 The
revolutionists amused themselves by depriving the poor stone gentlemen
of their olfactory nerves, alias noses; consequence, they look all terrible
flats. Night coming on, left the cathedral just in time to be tantalized
by grinning at a magnificent picture when it was pitch dark (Last Judg‐
ment, Michael Angelo, I think, in the Hôtel de ville). 7 Returnʼd to the
inn in very bad humour. Off early next morning for Cologne. Good‐night.