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as another gulf of a similar description, but of less dimensions, seemingly constructed for deeds of dark
It is asserted that the inquisition at Avignon was always extremely mild in its decrees, and that torture was rarely applied. But there is something so repugnant to the feelings of a native of dear, free, happy England, in secret charges, and private punishments, that I could not view without shuddering, places designed for such uses, even though led to be lieve they had not been sullied by such cruelties. But if, in the day of papal power, these dreary walls have not echoed the groans of torture, or shrieks of despair, what dreadful scenes have they not witnessed in the eventful period of the Revolution ! In the chamber of torture, hundreds were massacred, and flung into the Glacière, the interior of which still retains many an ensanguined stain.
Reflecting on the fearful deeds of that Revolution, purchased with the blood of thousands, well might one exclaim with Madame Roland, as she apostrophised the statue of the Goddess of Liberty, on her road to the scaffold, “Oh, Liberty ! what crimes are committed in thy name!"
One of the gentlemen who accompanied us through the palace, pointed out a chamber in which his father was for many months a prisoner, during the troubled days of that dreadful epoch, when he daily expected to be led to a violent death. He told us that he paid a yearly visit to this melancholy spot, in order to appreciate more highly the blessing of living free from the apprehension of being exposed to any similar calamity to that of which he was formerly a spectator, nay more, a partaker, from sympathy with the sufferings of a parent.
The recollections of the terrible Revolution seem fraught with horror to those whom I have encountered who can remember it. Not even the long lapse of years that has occurred since its close, can efface the memory of its terrors from their minds; and, judging from their conversation, my impression is, that they would submit to any species of monarchical despotism, in preference to braving the dangers of a revolution. Nor can this be wondered at, when one reflects on the scenes they have witnessed. The tyranny of a democracy is enough to convert to absolutism (or, more properly speaking, absoluteness) the veriest fanatic of liberty that ever dreamt of the Utopia of a republic, in countries where other governments had long subsisted.
The Mint is opposite the principal entrance of the palace. It is now occupied by the gendarmerie, and is a building in the very worst style of architecture of the time of Louis XIII. Two figures meant to personify angels, decorate the front of the mint. They support a shield covered with fleurs-de-lys, surmounted by a crown. The figures are more grotesque than can be imagined, and to add to their manifold imperfections, have a cloven foot each. Dragons and hydras dire, with other fabulous monsters, are placed between festoons of flowers mixed with fruit, the ensemble forming a perfect specimen of rococo, a word for which our language has no synonyme, but which is expressive of the union of finery and bad taste.
23rd.— Yesterday, visited the celebrated fountain of Vaucluse, immortalised by Petrarch. It is within a morning's ride of Avignon, and possesses sufficient natural attractions, independent of its poetical associations, to repay one for the trouble of going. The valley of Vaucluse is extremely narrow, and bounded by high rocks of a brownish grey tint: their sombre hue is in some places relieved by olive and fig trees, with scattered vines, but there is still a great want of wood to break the dull uniformity of the cliffs; the colour of which is cold, and not sufficiently varied to produce a fine effect. In the time of Petrarch, those gigantic rocks were only seen at intervals, breaking out of large masses of wood, with which the valley was nearly covered, and which softened the character of the scenery that now presents a wild and savage aspect. After winding for some way among the crags, the road terminates at the village of Vaucluse, which is most romantically situated, and a broad path formed on the ledge of the rocky chain that bound the river, which here fills the centre of the valley, leads to the celebrated fountain which was the Helicon of Petrarch. The valley is here closed by a perpendicular crag of immense height, within which is the cavern whence springs the fountain. The entrance to this cavern is above sixty feet high, and it is screened by rocks which intercept all view of it until it is neared. The fountain fills a vast basin of a circular form, at the base of the perpendicular cliff that terminates this part of the valley.
At a short distance from its source the stream falls rapidly over huge fragments of rocks, covered with a
vivid green mass of aquatic plants and herbs; which gives to this limpid and sparkling water, the appear
of a river of emeralds. After precipitating itself with impetuous force over the rocks, it is formed into a river, which rushes along the vale with exceeding velocity. The borders of the fountain abound with wild thyme of a delicious fragrance ; and it only requires a little of the poetic fancy which gives to Italian poetry so many of its concetti, to imagine that it owes its odour to the tears with which the love-lorn Petrarch, that phenix of lovers, so frequently bedewed this spot, when bewailing the inexorable cruelty of his Laura.
As I stood on the spot where he so often reposed, I thought of the passage,
“ Amor col rimembrar sol mi mantiene-
Ed io desio, Che le lagrime mie si spargan sole." The memories of few heroines have been more unkindly dealt by than that of Laura. Not only has her virtue been suspected, but even her very existence has been doubted; and there are still sceptics to be found who assert that she was less cruel towards Petrarch than his complaints imply; while others. maintain that the subject of his muse existed only in his own excited imagination. The question relative to the identity of Laura, so long a subject of cavil, was put an end to by the Abbé de Sade having, in the year 1760, discovered in his family archives some contracts and testamentary documents, which have satisfied even the most sceptical of those who doubted her existence, that Laura, daughter of Audibert de Noves, and wife of Hugh de Sade, was the object of Petrarch's passion. She was married in her eighteenth year, and Petrarch saw her for the first time at the church of St. Claire, at Avignon, two years after. The House of Noves held the first rank at the town of that name, situated at a short distance from Avignon : and the family of de Sade filled important offices at the last mentioned place.
The peasants at Vaucluse point out the spot where the chateau of Laura stood; but the life and writings of Petrarch furnish abundant proofs that his seclusion was never cheered by her actual presence, although her ideal one continually floated in his mind's eye. Madame Deshoulières, in her “Epître sur Vaucluse,"* supposes Laura to have soothed, if not rewarded, the passion she created; a supposition as little creditable to the delicacy of the French poetess as to the honour of the wrongly accused Laura ; for there is no line in Petrarch's writings that implies a single instance of the absence of that rectitude and decorum, of which he relates so many examples, and against the cruelty of which he breathes such complaints. The Abbé Delille too, in his “ Jardins, chant 3, indulges in hypo
* “Dans cet antre profond, où sans d'autre témoins,
Laure sut par de tendre soins
Et fit peut-être plus encore.