“En petit lien compris
vous pouvez voir
Ce qui comprend beaucoup par renommee
Plume, labour le langue & le devoir
Furent vaincus par l’aimant de l’aimee
O gentille ame, etant tant estimee
Qui le pourra louer quen se laissant?
Car la parole est toujours reprimee
Quand le sujet surmonte le disant.”
This town is crowded with convents and churches. The convent of the Celestines, founded by Charles the VIth, is richly endowed, and has noble gardens: there are not above fourteen or fifteen members, and their revenue is near two thousand pounds sterling a year. In their church is a very superb monument of Pope Clement the VIIth, who died here in the year 1394, as a long Latin inscription upon it announces. They shew in this house a picture, painted by King Renee; it represents the frightful remains of his beloved mistress, whose body he took out of the grave, and painted it in the state he then found it, i.e. with the worms crawling about it: it is a hideous figure, and hideously painted; the stone coffin stands on a line with the figure, but is above a foot too short for the body; and on the other side is a long scrole of verses, written in Gothic characters, which begin thus:
“Une fois fus sur toutes femmes belle Mais par la mort suis devenue telle Machair estoit tres-belle fraische & tendre O’r est elle toute tournee en cendre.”
There follow at least forty other such lines.
There is also in this convent, a fine monument, on which stands the effigies of St. Benezet, a shepherd of Avignon, who built (they say) the bridge from the town over the Rhone, in consequence of a dream, in the year 1127: some of the noble arches are still standing, and part of a very pretty chapel on it, nearly in the middle of the river; but a great part of the bridge has been carried away, many years since, by the violence of the river, which often not only overflows its banks, but the lower part of the town. In 1755, it rose seventeen feet higher than its usual flowing, and I saw marks in many of the streets, high above my head, against the sides of houses, which it had risen to; but with all my industry, I could find no mark upon the house where Lady Mary Wortley Montagu dwelt, though she resided some time here, and though I endeavoured to find it.
I need not describe the celebrated fountain of Vaucluse, near this town, where Petrarque composed his works, and established Mount Parnassus. This is the only part of France in which there is an Inquisition, but the Officers seem content with their profits and honours, without the power.
One part of the town is allotted to the Jews, where about six or seven hundred live peaceably and have their synagogue; and it was here the famous rabbin Joseph Meir was born; he died in the year 1554; he was author, you know, of Annals des Rois de France, and de la Maison Ottomane.