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The walls, a hundred and eight feet high, and three hundred in length, are composed of large square stones of equal size, joined with great skill and nicety, and ornamented by two ranges of arcades and an attic. At the summit of the exterior are two rows of stones, which protrude from the wall ; supposed to have been used for fastening the canvas or sail-cloth that covered the theatre, to shelter the audience from the sun or rain.
The exterior of the theatre is in an extraordinary degree of preservation, and presents a striking and imposing effect; but the interior retains nothing of its pristine grandeur : part of it being converted into a prison, and the rest employed as a receptacle for rubbish, and for the scarcely less degrading purpose of supplying habitations to the mendicants with which Orange is filled.
What a contrast does the present state and uses of this building present to its original destination ! Here, where the comedies of Plautus and Terence were enacted, we behold only the most disgusting details of poverty and uncleanliness ; and where sat the proud and warlike Roman leaders, troops of squalid children and half-starved dogs disport.
To examine the interior of one of the vomitories of the theatre, we were compelled to enter the abode of wretchedness into which a portion of the building has been converted. Nothing could exceed the dirt, except the misery of the habitation: it was of Cimmerian darkness, and the lamp carried before us threw a lurid gloom over the black walls and visage of the beldame who led us through the gloomy passages,
and up the various flights of steps; giving to her
stood a miserable bed, to which she told us custom had so inured her son, that he preferred it to any other dormitory. The slumbers of this child of poverty are unbroken by any recollections of the former grandeur of the building in which he resides. Here, where the antiquary or philosopher would find ample food for reflection, he drags on the even tenor of his existence, satisfied if he can but procure a scanty and unsavoury repast to appease his hunger.
The walls of this theatre are of extraordinary thickness, and the stairs are of so massive a structure as to seem formed to bid defiance to time. We saw the ruins of an amphitheatre, some baths, and an aqueduct; and many of the streets offer interesting fragments of antiquity to the curious traveller.
Avignon, 20th.— There is poetry and romance in the name; or, at least, in the associations it calls up. Petrarch, with the power that appertains to genius alone, has invested this place with a deep interest, for all who can appreciate the beauty of his works; and we view Avignon with feelings different from those with which we regard more attractive towns. The approach to Avignon is imposing: the high towers of the ancient
palace, with their rich and warm-toned hue of brown, rise above the walls of the city; and many a spire and steeple give beauty to the picture, which is crowned by Villeneuve, seen in the distance. The battlemented walls are flanked by square towers, erected at regular distances, and have seven gates.
The Rhône is nowhere seen to greater advantage than here, where it sweeps along with a rapidity and grandeur that gives the boats that glide over it the appearance of being hurried on by some irresistible influence ; like those vessels we read of in fairy tales, that skim the waters with magical swiftness, but cannot retard their course.
The ruins of the ancient bridge, with a chapel in the centre, have a very picturesque effect ; and the sound of the rushing, arrowy Rhône, as it is dashed against the stones, has a melancholy in it well suited to the triste character of this silent and nearly deserted place. Mont Ventoux, which is said to be the highest mountain in France, rises to the north of Avignon, its sides glowing with all the varied hues of vegetation, while its summit is veiled in snow; and on the south, the horizon is bounded by the chain of blue mountains of the Angles and the Issarts.
The rocher de Don, which we explored to-day, commands a fine view of the town and a magnificent one of the surrounding country. The plains of Languedoc, rich in mulberry and olive trees, and sprinkled with undulating hills, covered with vineyards, look like a vast garden spread over the country, and to the east are seen the abrupt and sterile rocks of Vaucluse, forming a fine contrast to the fertile scene they bound. Never did I behold a more glorious sunset than this evening : the river was crimsoned with its rich reflection, and all the objects around were tinged by its brilliant rays. Who could believe, while beholding it, that this was the gloomy month of November ? Nevertheless, the vent de bise reminds one it is not summer.
We were much amused this morning by a visit from the poet laureate of Avignon, to present a congratulatory ode on our arrival.
poem was as poor as its author, which is saying not a little ; for poverty was stamped on every lineament of his care-worn face and threadbare garments. He has for many years welcomed with a similar felicitation every traveller whose appearance indicated the power of remunerating the distinction: nay, people are malicious enough to assert, that the same poem, inserting merely a change of name, answers for every English family.
The poor poet retired happy in the possession of our donation ; and left us wondering if, as he stated, he lived by his wits, how he could exist on so slender a capital.
21st.-Walked round the walls. Though deficient in strength for the purpose for which they were designed, they add much to the beauty of the town. They were built by Pope Innocent VI., in 1358, as a protection from the attacks of the banditti.
Went over the Papal Palace, which, though now in a state of comparative ruin, is still worthy of inspection. It is surrounded by high walls, flanked by towers, and was formerly strongly fortified. The cathedral nearly joins it, being only separated by a building now in ruins. The palace is a gothic edifice, and contains numerous suites of rooms, some of which, and particularly those occupied by the vice-legates, were very splendid, if we may judge by the paintings that still decorate the walls and ceilings. Part of this once noble episcopal residence is converted into a barrack; and the rest is used as a prison. Strange reverse of destiny! that a mansion raised by the head of the papal church, and which was supposed to be the temple where the God of Peace was to be worshipped, should become the abode of the votaries of war and crime! The apartments where once the stately fathers enjoyed their dignified seclusion, with, perhaps, more of the pomps, vanities, and luxuries of life, than became the followers of their meek and lowly Master, are now the mess-room and dormitories of the soldiers; who bestow little thought on the original destination of the building, except to mock its former inhabitants. The long aisles, through which the pealing organ often reverberated, now echo the coarse laugh of the soldiers, or the gloomy murmurs of the weary captives.
In the most ruinous part of the palace we were shown the chambers of the Inquisition, with the devious passages formed in the deep walls, and impervious to the light of day. The halls of examination, and the places of torture, whose walls were so massive as to exclude the sounds of anguish of the victims, and the fearful abyss called the Glacière, constructed in the wall, and communicating with the place of torture by a large aperture, were pointed out to us; as well