I could have spent hours in this desecrated temple, pondering on the brevity of life, as compared with its age. There is something pure and calm in such a spot, that influences the feelings of those who pause in it; and by reminding them of the inevitable lot of all sublunary things, renders the cares incidental to all who breathe, less acutely felt for the time.
Is not every ruin a history of the fate of generations, which century after century has seen pass away?—generations of mortals like ourselves, who have been moved by the same passions, and vexed by the same griefs; like us, who were instinct with life and spirit, yet whose very dust has disappeared. Nevertheless, we can yield to the futile pleasures, or to the petty ills of life, as if their duration was to be of long extent, unmindful that ages hence, others will visit the objects we now behold, and find them little changed, while we shall have in our turn passed away, leaving behind no trace of our existence.
I never see a beautiful landscape, a noble ruin, or a glorious fane, without wishing that I could bequeath to those who will come to visit them when I shall be no more, the tender thoughts that filled my soul when contemplating them; and thus, even in death, create a sympathy.
We stopped but a short time at Beaucaire, where we saw the largo plain on the banks of the Rhone, on which are erected the wooden houses for the annual fair which takes place in July, when the scene is said to present a very striking effect.
These wooden houses are filled with articles of every description, and are inhabited by the venders who bring their goods to be disposed of to the crowds of buyers who flock here from all parts, offering, in the variety of their costumes and habits, a very animated and showy picture.
The public walk, which edges the grassy plain allotted to the fair, is bordered by large elm-trees, and the vicinity to the river insures that freshness always so desirable in summer, and more especially in a climate so warm as this.
The town of Beaucaire has little worthy of notice, except its Hotel-de-Ville and church, both of which are handsome buildings. We crossed the Rhone over the bridge of boats, from which we had a good view, and arrived at Tarascon.
The chateau called the Castle of King Rene, but which was erected by Louis II, count of Provence, is an object of interest to all who love to ponder on the olden time, when gallant knights and lovely dames assembled here for those tournaments in which the good Rene delighted.
Alas for the change! In those apartments in which the generous monarch loved to indulge the effusions of his gentle muse, and where fair ladies smiled, and belted knights quaffed ruby wine to their healths, now dwell reckless felons and hopeless debtors; for the chateau is converted into a prison.