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tinual dropping of waters through those rocks forms those beautiful petrifications, which when polished, as they sometimes are, have the lustre and transparency of crystal. But, it required only eyes to be struck with the view of a vast subterranean running through a whole rock, which had the appearance of a most magnificent Gothic church;-tombs, images, drapery, pillars, shrines, all formed without much aid from fancy, by nature working alone for ages in these long and lofty
We walked in it, I believe, about two furlongs, and it might be another to the end. Besançon is by far the best town we have seen; the streets are long and regular, the hotels of the chief inhabitants palaces for princes, and the public buildings noble. But you would have been most struck with the hospital, managed in all the internal part by those good nuns Les Hospitalieres, with such perfect neatness, that in a long chamber containing thirty-five beds, most of them full, there was not any closeness or smell to be perceived. The beds were of white cotton, and by each bed a table and chair. Some of the nuns were attending here; others in the dispensary making up medicines ; others in the kitchen making broths, &c.: and all this they do without salary, and many of them are of good families. 5. Noyon, Oct. 13th.— I could not finish my letter time enough to send it from Besançon, which
gives me an opportunity to tell you in brief that we are got to within a stage of Geneva, and are now sitting in a room which overlooks the delightful lake. We were too late last night for Geneva, as they shut the gates at half-after-six, and open them for no one. We hope to get there this morning, and to receive letters from you,
, which my heart longs for. I have only to tell you further, that I have seen the Alps,--a sight so majestic, so totally different from any thing I had seen before, that I am ready to sing Nunc dimittis.
Tell me in your next how long you have been sitting by a coal fire. We have had no fire, but twice or three times a little in the evening, since we set out; and in the middle of the day the heat has been very strong.
I suppose, however, we shall find it colder at Geneva.
And so much in French; which, though it begins to be easier to me, is still to me either in writing or speaking like using the left hand; and I now want the language the most familiar to me, the most expressive, that with less injustice to my feelings I may
your charming letter. It is not necessary for you to travel in order to write good verses; and indeed, to say truth, in the actual journey many things occur not alto:
gether so consonant with the fine ideas one would wish to keep upon one's mind. The dirt and bustle of inns, and the various circumstances, odd or disgusting, of a French diligence, are not made to shine in poetry. I shall, however, keep your exhortation in mind; and when, to complete the inspiration, I have drunk of the fountain of Vaucluse, which we are going to do, if the Muse is not. favourable, you may fairly conclude I no longer possess her good graces. From Lyons we took the diligence d'eau down the Rhone to this place, a voyage which in summer, and in a vehicle more neat and convenient, would have been delightful. But we had incessant rain for two of the days; and the third, though bright, was very cold, with a great deal of wind; so that we did not reach Avignon till the morning of the fourth day. The Rhone is rapid all the way; but at Pont St. Esprit particularly so, insomuch that many passengers get out there: we did not. The Rhone has high banks all the way, or rather is inclosed between hills, covered in many places with vines and pasturage, in others pretty barren. Near St. Esprit begins the olive, country. This was the first time we had been in a public voiture; it is a very reputable one, and yet you cannot conceive the shabbiness and mal propreté of the boat.
We are now in a land of vermicelli, soup, and macaroni,-a land of onions and garlic, a land flowing with oil and wine. Avignon is delightfully situated; the Rhone forms two branches here, and incloses a large fertile island. The Durance (another fine river, at present so overflowed that it is not passable,) joins the Rhone some way below the town. The churches here are numerous, highly adorned, and have several good paintings. The streets are darkened with cowls and filled with beggars; drawn here, they say, by the strangers,- for the people are no ways oppressed by the government, the revenue to the pope hardly paying the expenses. We are not yet, however, in the climate of perpetual spring; -like an enchanted island, it seems to fly from us. All along the course of the Rhone there are cold winds. Lyons is disagreeable in winter, both with fogs and cold. At Geneva every body had fires and winter dresses before we left it; and Avignon, though much warmer, is not enough so to invite us much abroad, or permit us to dispense with fires. To-morrow we set off for Orange, and from thence shall go to Lisle, perhaps to Marseilles; but where we shall spend these next two months we have not yet determined. May you and my dear sister spend them with health and pleasure in that dear society where our hearts
perpetually carry us, and to which we hope to return with increased affection !
I forgot to tell you that all the people speak patois to one another, though they speak French too; and when we landed, the people who came about us to carry our things had absolutely the air of demoniacs, with their violent gestures and eager looks, and their coarsest exclamations at every second word.
Marseilles, Dec. 1785. Health to you all—poor mortals as you are, crowding round your coal fires, shivering in your nicely closed apartments, and listening with shivering hearts to the wind and snow which beats dark December! The months here have indeed the same names, but far different are their aspects; for here I am sitting without a fire, the windows open, and breathing an air as perfectly soft and balmy as in our warmest days of May; yet the sun does not shine. On the day we arrived here, the 5th of December, it did ; and with as much splendour and warmth, and the sky was as clear and of as bright a blue, as in our finest summer days. The fields are full of lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, &c.; the young corn is above half a foot high : they have not much in