I set forward with some company toward Fontainebleau, a sumptuous Palace of the King’s, like ours at Hampton Court, about fourteen leagues from the city. By the way, we pass through a forest so prodigiously encompassed with hideous rocks of whitish hard stone1, heaped one on another in mountainous heights, that I think the like is nowhere to be found more horrid and solitary2. It abounds with stags, wolves, boars, and not long after a lynx , or ounce3, was killed among them, which had devoured some passengers. On the summit of one of these gloomy precipices, intermingled with trees and shrubs, the stones hanging over, and menacing ruin, is built an hermitage. In these solitudes, rogues frequently lurk and do mischief (and for whom we were all well appointed with our carabines); but we arrived safe in the evening at the village, where we lay at the Horne, going early next morning to the Palace.
Addison, writing to Congreve in October, 1699, was more favourably impressed with Fontainebleau. “I am however so singular as to prefer Fontainebleau to all the rest. It is situated among rocks and woods that give you a fine variety of Savage prospects. … The cascades seem to break through the Clefts and cracks of Rocks that are cover’d over with Moss, and look as if they were piled upon one another by Accident. There is an Artificial Wildness in the Meadows, Walks and Canals, and ye Gardan instead of a Wall is Fenc’d on the Lower End by a Natural mound of Rock-work that strikes the Eye very Agreeably” (Life of Joseph Addison, by Lucy Aikin, 1843, i. P. 77). –AD ↩
Old word for the European Lynx -GS ↩