On our way here we eat an humble meal; which was, nevertheless, a most grateful repas, for it was under the principal arch of the Pont du Gard. It will be needless to say more to you of this noble monument of antiquity, than that the modern addition to it has not only made it more durable, but more useful: in its original state, it conveyed only horse and man, over the River Gordon, (perhaps Gardon) and water, to the city of Nismes. By the modern addition, it now conveys every thing over it, but water; as well as an high idea of Roman magnificence; for beside the immense expence of erecting a bridge of a triple range of arches, over a river, and thereby uniting the upper arches to the mountains on each side, the source from whence the water was conveyed, is six leagues distant from Nismes. The bridge is twenty-four toises high, and above an hundred and thirty-three in length, and was my sole property for near three hours; for during that time, I saw neither man nor beast come near it; every thing was so still and quiet, except the murmuring stream which runs gently under two or three of the arches, that I could almost have persuaded myself, from the silence, and rude scenes which every way presented themselves, that all the world were as dead as the men who erected it. That side of the bridge where none of the modern additions appear, is nobly fillagreed by the hand of time; and the other side is equally pleasing, by being a well executed support to a building which, without its aid, would in a few ages more have fallen into ruins.
I was astonished to find so fine a building standing in so pleasant a spot, and which offers so many invitations to make it the abode of some hermit, quite destitute of such an inhabitant; but it did not afford even a beggar, to tell the strange stories which the common people relate; tho’ it could not fail of being a very lucrative post, were it only from the bounty of strangers, who visit it out of curiosity; but a Frenchman, whether monk, or mumper, has no idea of a life of solitude: yet I am sure, were it in England, there are many of our, first-rate beggars, who would lay down a large sum for a money of such a walk. If a moiety of sweeping the kennel from the Mews-gate to the Irish coffee-house opposite to it, could fetch a good price, and I was a witness once that it did, to an unfortunate beggar-woman, who was obliged by sickness to part with half of it; what might not a beggar expect, who had the sweeping of the Pont du Gard; or a monk, who erected a confessional box near it for the benefit of himself, and the fouls of poor travellers?