"Fascinating edition of the travels of two young sprigs of the French aristocracy in search of the secrets of British commercial, industrial and agricultural primacy reaches its climax in this delicious volume...a notable contribution to the topographical and social history of Britain on the eve of the French revolution." - "Country Life" (Richard Ollard). "The most satisfying book I read in 2002...Connoisseurs of 18th-century travel books will be enraptured by this diary of a visit to Scotland by a young man from the great French family of Rochefoucauld and his Polish tutor...The diary has been translated, edited and annotated by our leading regional historian, and provides an enormous amount of fascinating detail about Scotland in the first phase of the Industrial Revolution." - "Sunday Telegraph" (Paul Johnson). In Norman Scarfe's two earlier books of their travels, Francois and Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, with their companion, Maximilien Lazowski, have earned their place among the most perceptive and lively commentators on late 18th-century Britain.
In this third book, Alexandre and Lazowski tackle a tougher itinerary, seeing for themselves Improved farming from the Fens to the Moray Firth and back via Armagh, Dublin and North Wales, with deviations into Improved industry and trade, as at Rotherham and Paisley; Improved hospitals (notably Dr Hunter's at York); and more picturesque sights such as Fountains Abbey, Edinburgh, the fifty-foot Foyers Fall near Inverness, the Boyne valley and Llansannan. In Edinburgh they dined with Adam Smith. In the infertile Highlands, they were moved by the Highlanders, only lately permitted back into their plaids and kilts: 'all their customs at stake, they faced being a former people'. Through Scarfe's well-attuned translation, we see these French adventurers for ourselves: the variable hospitality of the inns ('every magnificence' in Edinburgh; 'a dreadful inn' - with compensations - at Old Meldrum); and the terrifying treachery of Loch Etive. Norman Scarfe's two previous volumes of La Rochefoucauld travels are "A Frenchman's Year in Suffolk", and "Innocent Espionage, 1785".