The architect selected to execute this work was Philip Marechal, an engineer, never previously employed, except in military architecture: a fact to which may be attributed the peculiar style that he has exhibited—bastions and trenches being adopted, instead of the usual and more appropriate forms generally used for terraces and canals.
To these are subjoined ornaments of the period in which the work was completed—the fitness of which is not more to HBO commended than that of the work itself: the whole offering a curious mixture of military and rococo taste.
It was in the freshness of early morning that I, yesterday, again visited the garden of the fountain and its fine chesnut trees and laurel roses; the latter, growing in great luxuriance, looked beautiful, the sun having not yet scorched them. The fountain, too, in its natural bed, which is not less than seventy-two French feet in diameter, and twenty feet in depth, was pellucid as crystal, and through it the long leaves that nearly cover the gravel appeared green as emerald.
The hill above the fountain has been tastefully planted with evergreen trees, which shade a delicious walk, formed to its summit.
This improvement to the appearance, as well as to the agrements, of Nismes, is due to Monsieur d’Haussey, prefect, whose popularity is said to be deservedly acquired, by his unremitting attention to the interests of the city, and his urbanity to its inhabitants.
Nismes is a gay town, if I may judge by the groups of well-dressed women and men we have observed at the promenade.
It has a considerable garrison, and the officers are occasionally seen passing and repassing; but not, as I have often remarked in England, lazily lounging about as if anxious to kill time, but moving briskly as if on business.
The various accomplishments acquired by young men in France offer a great resource in country quarters. Drawing, in which most of them have attained a facility, if not excellence, enables them to fill albums with clever sketches; and their love of the fine arts leads them to devote some hours in most days to their cultivation.
This is surely preferable to loitering in news-rooms, sauntering in the shops of pretty milliners, breaking down the fences of farmers, or riding over young wheat—innocent pastimes, sometimes undertaken by young officers for mere want of some occupation.
The Temple of Diana is in the vicinity of the fountain, which has given rise to the conjecture that it originally constituted a portion of the ancient baths. Its shape is rectangular, and a large opening in the centre forms the entrance.
Twelve niches, five of which open into the partition of the temple, and two on the right and left of the entrance, are crowned by frontons alternately circular and triangular, and are said to have contained statues. This is one of the most picturesque ruins I ever saw. Silence and solitude reign around it, and wild fig-trees enwreath with their luxuriant foliage the opening made by Time, and half conceal the wounds inflicted by barbarian hands.