Imagens das páginas

to them should leave the country.” Some of our largest collectors or dealers may act on this hint, if so minded. I place the suggestion unreservedly at their service.

Although it is my intention to dwell more largely on the subject of china—which is my peculiar taste

-in subsequent pages, other articles of the fine arts, carved ivory, Venetian and Bohemian glass, enamels, wood-carvings, arms, and ancient jewelry, may all come fairly under the denomination of bric-à-brac.



NE ounce of practice is worth ten of theory,

—at least so said some practical philosopher of olden time, and I fully agree with him.

We are at Marseilles. The getting there in the merry month of May, when vineyards and mulberry-trees put forth their early leaves, and almond-trees are in full bloom, is a pleasant and unfatiguing journey. Few, if any, are the railways in Europe by which one travels so smoothly or arrives with such punctuality as on the line between Paris and Marseilles. We leave the former city at 8 p.m., generally arriving at the latter on the following day at noon; so that little delay is allowed for gastronomy en route. A cup of caféau-lait at that city of democracy, Lyons—where the waiters go round the table for payment ere you have swallowed the first spoonful of your beverage—is all that you can expect till the journey ends; unless, indeed, you snatch up a slice of truffled pie during your three minutes' halt at Avignon,—a halt just long enough to make you regret that you cannot linger for a late breakfast at that unrivalled buffet, where the civility of the proprietor is only surpassed by the excellency of his supplies. The buffet of Avignon during the Crimean war was a buffet par excellence, and is so, I have reason to believe, in 1874, both going to and coming from Marseilles; but the Marseilles of to-day is no more the Marseilles of our grandfathers, nor indeed of our fathers, than is the Paris of The President the Paris of Napoleon III. Nevertheless there are few cities in Europe which, at all times and under all circumstances, present more stirring life. In this southern port men of all tongues and all nations throng together in commercial enterprise. The traveller is almost bewildered by the clamour of strange sounds; while dark and swarthy Saracenic countenances remind him that he is approaching Oriental Europe.

The heights that rise above the city are clad

with the dark verdure of olives and pines, that seem to spring from a barren waste. Amid these sombre groves are scattered innumerable whitewashed and green-shuttered “bastides," or villas, occupied by the Marseilles citizens. The town itself appears to repose at your feet, if indeed the word repose may be applied to that boiling, seething port; the outline of the coast being broken by a regular basin communicating by a narrow neck with the sea.

This basin produced the city. The Greeks of old found out its advantages, and their temples and shrines marked the inlet from the Mediterranean Sea. Old Marsalia flourished like new Marseilles. The harbour was and is its heart, the salt-water its life-blood. A strange and peculiar contrast is produced by the dusty gray of the houses and the deep blue of this inland basin of sea.

The ocean may be said to be in the very centre of the town; the buildings fence it in and encircle the harbour. It lies as if sleeping in this embrace – perhaps the one instance of a great city built in a circle broken only by one small opening. Beyond, you behold rocky hills—hard, hot, glaring; parched in midsummer, in mid-winter bare, barren, and bleak. All round and about Marseilles they rise, all along the sea-coast you observe them glancing and flashing in the bright scorching air (not, however, entirely without verdure) sombre, unpleasing, and unrefreshing to the eye.

Yet if the land be dark, burnt, and barren, what a splendid contrast presents itself in the glorious ocean, whose liquid azure is so profound as to become almost imperial purple !

Descend once more into the city; observe the old harbour and the new. They were alike harbours and cesspools; all the drainings of the vastly-populated city originally poured into them, and filled the air with pestilence and disease. Such had been the case for ages; and as no tide stirs the Mediterranean, there the foul sewage lay and rotted and stagnated, and from thence its miasmatic vapours rose to spread fever and death.

No wonder, then, that cholera should so often have smitten the city with a strong and blighting

« AnteriorContinuar »