A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, 1777 eBook

Philip Thicknesse
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 140 pages of information about A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, 1777.

LETTER XII.

MONTPELLIER.

Never was a traveller more disappointed than I was upon entering into this renowned city; a city, the name of which my ears have been familiar to, ever since I first heard of disease or medicine.  I expected to find it filled with palaces; and to perceive the superiority of the soft air it is so celebrated for, above all other places; instead of which, I was accompanied for many miles before I entered it with thousands of Moschettos, which, in spite of all the hostilities we committed upon them, made our faces, hands and legs, as bad in appearance as persons just recovering from a plentiful crop of the small-pox, and infinitely more miserable.  Bad as these flies are in the West-Indies, I suffered more in a few days from them at, and near Montpellier, than I did for some years in Jamaica.

However fine and salubrious the air of this town might have been formerly, it is far otherwise now; and it may be naturally accounted for; the sea has retired from the coast, and has left three leagues of marshy ground between it and the town, where the hot sun, and stagnated waters, breed not only flies, but distempers also; beside this, there is, and ever was, something very peculiar in the air of the town itself:  it is the only town in France where verdigris is made in any great quantity; and this, I am inclined to think, is not a very favourable circumstance; where the air is so disposed to cankerise, and corrode copper, it cannot be so pure, as where none can be produced; but here, every cave and wine-cellar is filled with sheets of copper, from which such quantities of verdigris are daily collected, that it is one of the principal branches of their trade.  The streets are very narrow, and very dirty; and though there are many good houses, a fine theatre, and a great number of public edifices beside churches, it makes altogether but an indifferent figure.

Without the walls of the town, indeed, there stands a noble equestrian statue of Louis the XIVth, surrounded with spacious walks, and adorned with a beautiful fountain.  Their walks command a view of the Mediterranean Sea in front, and the Alps and Pyrenees on the right and left.  The water too is conducted to a most beautiful Temple d’ Eau over a triple range of arches, in the manner of the Pont du Gard, from a very considerable distance.  The modern arches over which it runs, are indeed, a great and mighty piece of work; for they are so very large, extended so far, and are so numerous, that I could find no person to inform me of their exact number; however, I speak within the bounds of truth, I hope, when I say there are many hundred; and that it is a work which the Romans might have been proud of, and must therefore convey an high idea of the riches and mightiness of a kingdom, wherein one province alone could bear, and be willing too to bear, so great an expence, and raise so useful, as well as beautiful a monument; for beside the immense expence of this triple range of arches, the source from whence the water is conveyed is, I think, three leagues distant from the town, by which means every quarter of it is plentifully supplied with fountains which always run, and which in hot climates are equally pleasing, refreshing, and useful.

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A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, 1777 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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