Arthur Young's Travels in France
This work was first published in 1793 by the agricultural expert Arthur Young (1741-1820). In addition to farming, he describes the scenery, roads, inns, manners, and - more significantly - examples both of wealth and poverty. Despite describing some servants he encountered in an inn as 'walking dunghills', he was acutely aware of the grinding poverty of the rural poor, noting the excesses of the ruling class, and ascribing to bad government the striking differences he found between the lives of working people in France and England. Hearing of the fall of the Bastille whilst in Strasbourg, he recognised it as presaging either a new constitution or 'inextricable confusions and civil war'. This centennial edition includes an account of recent journeys made by the editor, noting the changes seen since Young's original work. The work remains one of the most fascinating and valuable sources for understanding the conditions of pre-revolutionary rural France.