Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

language somewhat different, the sentiment of our boatman's account of Byron and Shelley, two of the most remarkable spirits of our age. He seemed to admire the first, but it is evident he loved the second. How intellectual must the intercourse of two such minds have been; and how advantageous to Byron must have been the philanthropy, and total freedom from bitterness, of Shelley. Even the unworldliness of Shelley's mind must have possessed an additional charm, in soothing the irritability of Byron's too sensitive and misanthropic disposition, soured and disgusted by the conventional habits and artificial society, from the trammels of which he had but lately broken, with the wounds which it had inflicted on his feelings still rankling

Maurice pointed out to us La Villa Diodati, at Coligny, where Byron resided ; and the house in which Shelley dwelt.

To-morrow we leave Geneva. I shall quit it with regret ; for, independently of the many attractions its beautiful lake and scenery furnish, the high cultivation of the country in the environs, the luxuriance of the fields, trees, and neatly-trimmed hedges, and the fine cows and sheep browsing about, remind me continually of dear England: while in France the want of such objects gives a strikingly disagreeable aspect to the general face of the country.

11th.-From Geneva to Nantua, the country is rich, and the scenery fine. The Rhône winds rapidly through a valley, bounded at each side by stupendous mountains and rocks, interspersed with vineyards and groups of large trees. At the French frontier stands a fortress, of good appearance, and most romantically situated. I never pass one of those artificial barriers without reflecting with complacency on the natural one that protects our own cherished England—that gem set in the sea, as if to preserve it from all foes, save those who can surpass her sons in bravery and nautical skill. But that such can ever be found, it would be profane for one of her daughters to fear.

No one who passes through Bellegarde should neglect to visit a natural curiosity in its neighbourhood, well worthy of attention. It consists of a narrow defile, bounded on each side by steep rocks, overgrown by trees and shrubs. It was formerly the bed of a river, which was level with the tops of the rocks, as is proved by the marks still left on them ; but, by degrees, the river diminished to a narrow and shallow, but very rapid streamlet, which rushes with great impetuosity through natural arches formed in the rocks by its own action. There are many fissures in the sides, from which descend cascades, sparkling in the air with various prismatic colours, as the beams of the sun strike upon them, and which then fall, with many a murmur, into the natural reservoirs formed in the stony

bed of the river. Some of these basins are so large as to look like small lakes, and on their unruffled surfaces the overhanging rocks and foliage are reflected as in a mirror. The descent to this place is difficult, and somewhat dangerous, from its steepness, and the extreme slipperiness of the path.

A bridge, of a single arch, is thrown across the defile, and has a very picturesque effect. The loud

and sonorous murmurs of the water, rushing from the many fissures of the rocks, and the loneliness of the place, impress the mind with feelings of tender melancholy. We behold the change that Time, the destroyer, has wrought here; and are reminded of that which he is imperceptibly, but unceasingly, effecting on all things.

“ Ainsi tout change, ainsi tout passe ;

Ainsi nous-mêmes nous passons,
Sans laisser, hélas! plus de trace
Que cette barque où nous glissons
Sur cette mer où tout s'efface."

Lyons, 13th.—This place possesses many souvenirs of the past; and M. Artaud, to whom we fortunately brought letters of introduction, is one of the best cicerones an inquisitive traveller could have. Here, Mark Antony, Augustus, Agrippa, Claudius, Caligula, Nero, and Trajan have sojourned, and helped to beautify the ancient Lugdunum, as Lyons was formerly called, Many remains of their stupendous works still remain, to delight the antiquarian, and furnish food for contemplation to the philosopher. But even to me, a woman, and, sooth to say, no philosopher, the wrecks of antiquity have a peculiar attraction; and when the scite of the once proud and gorgeous palace of the ferocious Caligula was pointed out to me, now occupied by an asylum for lunatics, less furious and vicious than he, it required not the knowledge of the sage or of the philosopher to reflect on the mutability of all earthly grandeur, and the frailty of human nature.

On viewing places with which the objects of our juvenile admiration or reprobation are associated, the historical impressions of our childhood cease to be vague and indefinite, as heretofore. We identify the actors with the scenes where they performed some of their parts in the drama of life, and the images and ideas, long stored in memory, become distinct and vivid. Lyons has, perhaps, experienced more of the reverses of the fickle goddess Fortune than most other cities; having, a century after its foundation, rivalled the most flourishing capitals of Gaul. We have the authority of Seneca and Tacitus, that it was destroyed by fire during the reign of Nero ; under that of Severus, in the eighth century, it was almost depopulated and laid in ruins by the Saracens; and in 1628, a severe visitation of the plague made a fearful havoc in it. But under none of these calamities could its misfortunes have been greater than during 1793, when it was exposed to the ruthless fury of the Conventional army, of whose brutal excesses it still bears many a melancholy memorial, in its dilapidated houses and ruined buildings. It is calculated that above three thousand of the inhabitants fell victims to the siege and to the guillotine, and it was only the death of the sanguinary monster Robespierre that put an end to the carnage.

14th. -We spent some hours at the Museum today, and saw, among other interesting Roman antiquities, the celebrated bronze tablets, discovered in 1528, on which are inscribed the harangue made by the Emperor Claudius in favour of Lyons. There were originally three tablets, but two only have been

found. On comparing them with the harangue of Claudius, as given in the eleventh book of the Annals of Tacitus, it will be found that the feeble style of the emperor has been strengthened by the retouching of the historian. There are several fine busts and sarcophagi in the Museum. I noticed one sarcophagus of stone, made to contain two bodies, and, as the inscription stated, intended as a receptacle for a married pair. One of the antiquities in the Museum, most esteemed by the virtuosi, is the leg of a bronze horse, which is truly admirable in its proportions and execution. The history attached to this fine fragment is curious: it is reported that, for above fifteen hundred years, the watermen and fishermen had remarked a huge substance in the Saône, between the wooden bridges, which they from time immemorial denominated “the broken iron pot,” and they were in the habit of laying hold of it with their boat-hooks, to assist them to pull against the stream. On the 4th of February 1766, the river being frozen, and being at the same time unusually low, a boat-builder, of the name of Bartholomew Laurent, observed that what had hitherto been supposed to be an iron pot, was something of much larger dimensions, and determined to get it up. He called in the assistance of some porters, and with ropes they endeavoured to move it. After many efforts they dragged out this fine specimen of art, which they carried to the Hôtelde-Ville, and received from the provost a couple of louis as a reward.

Two mosaic pavements, of extraordinary beauty, the colours as fresh as if but newly formed, and the design and execution faultless, were shown to us.

« ZurückWeiter »