« ZurückWeiter »
rising over mountain, capped with snow; while at the bottom, a fertile valley glowing with cherry orchards and mulberry trees, not yet despoiled of their foliage -all combine to render this one of the most picturesque and striking scenes imaginable. It is with great regret that I find we must abandon our projected visit to the celebrated Chartreuse in this neighbourhood, as the route, from the season being so far advanced, is considered unsafe.
ST. MARCELLIN, 13th.—The road from Grenoble to this place passes through a fertile and fine country, diversified by woods, vineyards, and mountains. The town itself has little to recommend it, save its excellent inn, la petite France, and its most attentive and obliging hostess. Both appear to great advantage after those of Vienne, where the discomfort of the accommodation, and extravagance of the charges, must often vex the traveller who sojourns there. Our hostess, as if aware of our recent privations, gave us a dinner copious enough to have satisfied a large party of gourmands, though not of a choice to have gratified the more fastidious taste of an epicure. She seemed to think that quantity was more essential than quality; for the table might well have groaned beneath the weight of the feast. In truth, twenty English labourers could not have consumed the repast set before us, which, for four persons, consisted of no less than thirteen substantial dishes. It reminded me of the profusion of an inn dinner in the unfrequented parts of the south of Ireland ; and the assiduities of the hostess, “ who gaily pressed and smiled," was not un
like those exhibited by Irish landladies, who, hospitable thoughts intent," seem to believe that their guests can
never have too much for their money.
14th.—The profusion of yesterday has been followed by a famine to-day. Not wishing to travel on the Sabbath, we remained here; a contingency which our hostess had neither foreseen nor provided for, consequently her larder was but scantily stocked ; and our servants, whose appetites are less delicate than ours, had consumed the viands despatched from our table last evening.
The Sabbath cannot be said to be a day of rest in France ; it is, on the contrary, a day of pleasure ; and the town has been filled with groups and of all ages, busy in the pursuit of amusement. This passion never seems to subside in the hearts of the gay and volatile inhabitants of this nation. The oldest men and women seek it with no less avidity than the young, and emulate them in the zest with which they indulge it. The gaiety that has prevailed here all day, had however nothing gross or disgusting in its exhibition. No symptom of intoxication could be discovered in the men, and the women, though lively, were not indecorous.
of both sexes,
VALENCE, 15th.-Valence formed the duchy of Valentinois, that title disgraced by him on whom it
so improperly bestowed, the execrable Cæsar Borgia. This is a town of considerable extent, but its streets are narrow, irregular, and dirty. The
house, in an obscure street, was pointed out to us, in which Napoleon Bonaparte, when a lieutenant in the artillery, spent many months. They were among the least brilliant, but assuredly not the most unhappy of his eventful life; for if he then dreamt not of a crown, he foresaw not the grave of a prisoner and an exile ! Except a curious old gothic house, ornamented in a very grotesque style, the town contains nothing worthy of notice. The steeple of the Cathedral was struck with lightning two nights ago ; and the bells, which were very large, were split in two, and in their descent carried away the floors, and shattered the walls of the steeple. The Cathedral is simple; its chief ornament being the mausoleum of Pius VI., which is in good taste. On the other side of the Rhône, and opposite to Valence, is the hill of St. Péray, covered with vines, which produce the wine of that name. Much of the wine sold as Champagne is composed of St. Péray; in which, as we were informed, is put a certain portion of sugar, and a few grains of rice.
The wines of the south of France are often sold for Malaga and Madeira, the proprietors of vineyards having arrived at a great proficiency in imitating those wines.
We begin already to be sensible of an increased mildness in the temperature as we advance; but this advantage is deteriorated by the quantities of flies and mosquitoes that assail us. Though provided with gauze curtains for our beds, the mosquitoes and sandAies contrive to elude our vigilance, and often either preclude sleep, or take advantage of it to leave visible signs of their visits. The aspect of the people of the south is very different from that of those we have lately quitted. Here, dark sparkling eyes, clear brown complexions, and an increased animation of manner, characterize the inhabitants. The men are, for the most part, tall and athletic; but the women are so peculiarly round-shouldered, and stoop so much, as to look as if they were deformed.
MONTELIMART, 16th.—This was the first place in France where the reformed religion was established, and it still contains many Protestant families. The rivers Jabron and Roubion unite here, and flow on until they join the Rhône. Nothing can be more rich and luxuriant than the country about Montelimart, covered with vineyards, orange-trees, mulberries, and myrtles, which last grow here like large hollies
The site of the château de Grignan, immortalized by the letters of Madame de Sévigné, was pointed out to us.
In that favourite residence she closed her mortal career ; but no trace of it remains, as the château, as well as the church in its neighbourhood, in which her remains were interred, were destroyed in the Revolution. To Madame de Sévigné's charming letters do I trace my first love of epistolary lore. I was not more than seven years old when they were given to me to translate, and such was their effect on my mind, that I wasted several sheets of paper in addressing letters to some of my companions, in which I vainly attempted to infuse some portion of the spirit that fascinated me in hers. I remember how dissatisfied I was with the coldness of her daughter's epistles, and how delightful I thought it must be to have a correspondent like the inimitable mother. How deeply do first impressions sink into the mind ! and how much may the books placed into the hands of the child influence the taste of the woman !
ORANGE, 17th.--We passed, on our route to-day, the picturesque ruins of the château de Rochemaure, which stands on an elevated pile of basaltic rocks, and has a very imposing effect. We also saw the ruins of Donzère, and the châteaux of Mont Dragon and Mornass.
But the beautiful Arch of Orange has equally surprised and delighted us. It is the first object that strikes the eye on entering the town, and is well placed on a plain, a few hundred paces in front of the town, on the left of the road leading from Lyons to Avignon. It can be seen at the distance of above a mile on passing Mondragon, and has a magnificent effect.
It is about sixty feet high, nearly the same in breadth, and is built in the form of a parallelogram, with three arches; the one in the centre for carriages to pass through is large, and considerably higher than the others. The arches are bounded by fluted Corinthian pillars; and the columns which are at each side of the centre arch, support a triangular pediment, with an attic, above which rises a very rich frieze and cornice admirably executed. The attics are ornamented by bassi-relievi, representing combats; and the figures, though much injured by the ruthless hand of time, still retain a considerable portion of their pristine beauty and expression. On each side of the attics are