(Full transcription below diary images)
We started from Brussels at 12 o’clock precisely and arrived at the city of Mons 8 October to breakfast where instead of seeing Tea & Coffee, eggs etc waiting us, we found a dinner prepared which for breakfast could not go down, we therefore demanded tea, coffee etc for which knowing we were British they tried to impose by charging 2 ½ franks equal to 2/1 – being aware of their tricks on travellers (particularly from our Country) we paid them with 15d or one frank and a half.
Leaving Mons at 12 o’clock we reached the limits of Belgium and entered France at a place called ______ [blank in diary] when we were stopt at the barrier and the baggage taken out of the coach or messageree that it might be exposed to the searchers who there examine every carriage that arrives in France, in order to prevent Contraband goods being carried into the Kingdom – Passing on our journey the next town of consequence we came to and the first in paint of consequence in France was Valenciennes where we arrived about five o’clock, ordered dinner at half past six. We employed the interim in viewing the town which is one of the places of the greatest strength in the Kingdom, which the British in 1793 attempted to seduce with an Army under the Duke of York who was unsuccessful and of late was not even taken by the Allies but surrendered by Capitualation to Louis 18th. Louis has not taken possesion of it, but the National Guard are doing the duty of the City in hs name. We walked round the ramparts and viewed the citadel at a distance – we were not allowed however to enter therein. The guards are not only very strict but have a very great suspicion of any person who enters into the City. The passports are all minutely examined and the names of every stranger passing through it taken down. We returned to dinner and slept there during the night.
(In Valenciennes we walked into a church where we saw high mass performing for the soul of a departed child whose corps we met going to be buried just as we entered the city.)
Come back tomorrow to keep tabs on where James went next…