Traveling abroad, Part 3: If it’s expensive, does that make it better?


When one calls in the taverns for vin du pays [country wine], they give what is natural, unadulterated and cheap; when vin etrangere [foreign wine] is called for, it only gives the pretext for charging an extravagant price for an unwholesome stuff, very often of their own brewery.

The people you will naturally see the most of will be tavern keepers, valets de place [guides for strangers] and postilions [horse-mounted guides accompanying carriages]. These are the hackneyed [hired] rascals of every country. Of course they must not be considered when we calculate the national character.

Source: Travelling Notes for Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Shippen, June 3, 1788
From Koch and Peden’s Selected Writings, P. 137-9

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

Shrewd leaders know how to recognize fraudulent practices and scheming people.

Jefferson cared nothing about pretense, such as being too sophisticated to try the local fare or trying to impress by ordering non-local wine. Such snobbery resulted only in being overcharged, underserved and swindled.

He also knew that the people you would “naturally see the most of” would be undesirables and people seeking to profit from unsuspecting tourists. He warned not only to be alert to such folks but also not to judge the entire nation by them.

Mr. Jefferson will alert your audience to frauds and schemers!
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The Moral Liberal Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

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