BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


Letters from Switzerland and France

by Unknown

Excerpt:

From Narbonne to Beziers, the road is short, and we arrived at a. very early hour, through crowds of people returning into town from the vintage of the day: some very pretty girls were of the number, and mounted, two at a time, upon asses, with old and young people, and children in carts, and servants carrying baskets of grapes on their heads. It seemed a procession in honour of Bacchus. We here joined the line of the canal again, and, admiring the neighbouring hills, whose sides were covered with olive trees, we drove up a very steep ascent, under an ancient gateway, into a narrow street, which conducted us to our inn. Mulberry trees had become common for the last two or three posts, and we were now in a country where wine and oil, and honey and silk, and every sort of grain abounded. Read what Young says of the locks at the commencement of the canal at Beziers, and of the subterranean passage at Malpas, for I could give you but a very incorrect idea of either. It rained excessively the next day, and was so cloudy that we could see nothing, not even the Mediterranean, though we were frequently upon very high ground and within a few miles of it.

Passing rapidly along, and staying but a day or two at most in the largest towns, 1 should only have to borrow from books, if I were to pretend to enter into a minute description of persons, places, and manners. I can only tell you, therefore, of what we saw. Montpellier is an ancient city, but long posterior to the time of the Romans; it had never, therefore, any antiquities to boast of, but it has been distinguished for carrying on an extensive trade, ever since the days of Jacques Coeur, who was so ill rewarded for his services to Charles VII., to the period of the revolution, and being placed in a mild climate, and known as the residence of several distinguished physicians, was almost proverbially the retreat of consumptive people.

Voyages and Travels, No. 3, Vol. V. C

(10)

LETTER III.

Geneva.

We had now been for some days past, in the country of the ancient Troubadours, who, wandering over Europe, and singing of the great deeds of valiant knights, of love, and of the ladies, were the revivers of good manners, and of music, and so feasted, and so honoured in private, and upon all public occasions, that the most distinguished personages of the age condescended to be enrolled in their fraternity :—the counts of Poitou and of Champagne were both Troubadours : the language there used, and which took its name from the neighbouring province of Provence, was one of the two which prevailed in France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries: the other, which was spoken in the North, was called the Romance tongue: the Troubadours in their Provencal produced little else than love songs, stories of knight errantry in verse, and satires, which they called, I know not why, Sirventes :—but the writer of the Romance language have excited the delight even of succeeding ages, by their fabliaux, which were drawn, with some embellishments indeed, and some exaggerations, from scenes of real life:—it is this circumstance that has given a name to those agreeable productions, which at some time or other of life are found so amusing.

At about a mile from Montpelier is a canal communicating with, one of these, and by that means with Cette, whence the merchants of the neighbouring country made their shipments to foreign parts whilst there was trade in France. As the distance to Cette admitted of our going and returning in the course of the same day, we could not resist our desire of taking a nearer view of the Mediterranean, and set out early one morning in company with a lively, good-natured, well-behaved Virginian, whose physician had . sent him to the south of France. He had found us out directly on our arrival, and had manifested a sincere and strongly expressed satisfaction, at the sight of an American family, but when he found that we had been upon James river, and could talk of Rappahannock and Potowmack, and heard us speak with respect and affection of persons, whose names were familiar to him, I thought he would have devoured us. It was one continued vineyard up to the gatesof the ancient town of Frontignan, and Montpelier appeared, when we looked back upon it, like some capital city, proudly seated on an eminence, amidst tributary villages. This Frontignan is a miserable place, notwithstanding the fertile soil it stands in, and the excellent wine it gives name to. The houses and walls appear to be of white clay, rather than of stone, and the streets are hardly broader than the walks of a modern garden. We found Cette a small and not very clean town, with a harbour and a light-house, and some shipping, but with every thing in miniature.


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