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WONDERS AND NATURAL BEAUTIES OF FRANCE.
BY J. P. DEPPING, MEMBER OF SEVERAL LITERARY SOCIETIES.
- Extracted from the Monthly Review Enlarged, Oct. 1817. Sa register of many singular and laughing at the living. A physician, atA striking scenes and phænomena,these tracted by curiosity, was so suddenly afvolumes may be consulted, if not with fected with the sight of the body and profound instruction, yet with profit and countenance of his father, who had died entertainment.
thirty years before, that he almost expired M. Depping has allotted the conclud- on the spot : which recalls to my recoling chapter to rational explanations of lection an anecdote that I once read in an pretended wonders and supernatural ap- old manuscript belonging to the Parisian pearances: but the immediate causes of library.' As a party of Gray Friars of most of them are too obvious to have Toulouse were talking about ghosts and required any forinal solution.
the spirits of the departed, one of their * The vaults of the Franciscan and number boldly assured them that he Dominican monks of Toulouse were for- would forthwith go down vithout a merly regarded as a wonder, and almost light, into the vaults in which the dead as a miracle. Every traveller went to vi- bodies were kept. It was agreed that he sit, with sacred horror, the corpses which should make the experiment; and down were there exhibited as the well-preserv- he went, with a knife, which he promis. ed relics of another age; and they came ed to fix in the ground at the end of the away with the persuasion of having seen vault. They waited for his return, but excavations which repelled corruption the evening passed away without his refrom human bodies. This error long appearing; and, on descending with maintained its ground, from respect to lights, the friars found their brother the situation : but physical and chemical stretched dead on the floor. Instapilv, science has at length betrayed it to the they proclaimed a miracle : but, on clo. public. These objects, which I adınit to ser inspection, they perceived that the debe objects of great curiosity, were taken ceased was attached to the ground by from the graves of the church and the his garments, and were at no loss to dicloisters of the convents in which they vine the manner of his death. Having had been buried: where the lime, slak- stooped to put his knife in the ground, ed during the building of the churches, he had unconsciously transfixed his had acted on thein to such a degree as to gown, in the dark: when he attemptad deprive them of all their volatile particles, to rise, he felt himself detained ; and bis and to reduce a body of a hundred and mind being, at that moment, filled with filty pounds weight' to twelve pounds, all the stories which he had heard about M. de Puymarin, who weighed many of ghosts, he no doubt fancied that one of them, found none exceeding that amount; the dead was punishing him for his temerso that a hundred and thirty eight pounds ity, was seized with borror, and died had disappeared, without depriving the from fear." · body of its form, leaving dust impressed That this story, whether true or apowith the human figure; and the brain cryphal, is recorded in a manuscript prewas reduced to a powder, like saw-dust, served in the library at Paris, we presune -a singular transformation of the once not to deny: but we have heard it referthinking part of these bodies. The coup- red to a city very remote from Toulouse. tenance, however, still preserves all its The scaling of Mont Perdu, undertacharacteristic features. On several, the ken and accoinplished by M. Ramond, expressions of the passions is visibly de- is given in the somewhat intlated lanpicted; while on others the contraction guage of that enterprising naturalist : but of the muscles exhibits a hideous grin. the ascent to the Pic du Midi of Pau is Alaupertuis, in the last year of his life, not, it should seem, less formidable. otten visited these vaults, as if to court “ This mountain is so high, and so tamiliarity with death; and he alleged difficult to climb, that few persons have that these muinmies were apparently ventured to reach the top of the Peak.
VOL 2.) I Wonders and Natural Beauties of France.
447 The historian De Thou makes mention moment, I was exclusively occupied with of a seigneur of Candale, who, in 1582, the thoughts of my safety; and, apprecommenced this undertaking: but, not- hensive that these animals might, by withstanding the ladders, grappling- rushing headlong, strike against us in the hooks, ropes, and the furred cloak, with narrow pass in which we were involved, which he was provided, he did not at- I clung fast to the rock that I might not tain the summit. A shepherd of the val- be tumbled down. At length the signal ley of Aspe, without all these accommo- was given; they all sprang up with a dations, animated and supported merely loud noise; and I saw them dart like by his courage, set foot on the top; and, ligbtoing into narrow paths and precifollowing his example, M. Delfau bas pices, the very sight of which made me effected the same expedition. From the shudder. Such was their fleetness that village of Eaux-bonnes, the route lies our eyes could scarcely follow them." by Gabas, of which the environs furnish M. DEPPING describes the Fountain the finest firs of the Pyrénées. The of Vaucluse at considerable length, and base of the mountain is easily scaled, but, from the best authorities; but it is the farther up, the road becomes so steep, theme of every traveller who has directthat nothing but an extraordinary degree ed his steps to the spot. of courage can prevent any person from “ The finest spectacle, however, is rebeing petrified with dismay at this rapid served for the termination of the journey. ascent; and the more because the moun- It is gear Antraigues that we meet with tain, almost insulated, forins only a single the most beautiful colonnades, accompablock, wbich rises to the height of fifteen nied by the most curious collateral cirhundred and fifty-seven toises. The cumstances. The scene unfolds itself to summit is divided into two sharp spires, view on the ba k3 of the Volant, at the from which circumstance it has been call- foot of the hill of La Coupe, and its plated the Peak of the Twin Sisters. The form presents a inagnificent pavement. mountain is cut perpendicularly on threu Nothing can be more agreeable than to sides, which are inaccessible, the fourth see a bill, in the form of a truncated alone, being practicable: but still the ad- cone, rising behind the colonnade : but venturer must have recourse to his knees, the greatest curiosity of all is a current feet, and hands, in order to arrive at the of lava, which, commencing at the top of top. M. Delfuu's narrative is little cal- the hill, descends to the basaltic causeculated to encourage future travellers to way, the prisms rising behind one animitate his example. “I remained fix- other to form a junction with the current. ed," says he, “to the same spot; I was Such an appearance oo longer perinits us exhausted, and quite overcome with cold to doubt that the colonnade has originand fatigue; I walked barefooted for ated in the lava of La Coupe. On the three hours; my stockings and patter- top of the mountain we still behold the dashes were in tatters; my body was crater which bad ejected these volcanic bruised all over ; I found myself almost matters, and may even descend into it. destitute of clothes in a frozen atmos. In the midst of the puzzolanas and calphere; a chill pervaded my system, and cined lavag with which it is filled, has my strength was giving way. What risen a grove of chesnut trees, prospering would I pot, at this instant, have given beyond all expectation, in a soil formerthat I had never visited the Pyrénées ! ly devoted to destruction and sterility." but it was too late. All on a sudden, we Dauphiny, also, is rich in grand and heard the noise of a troop of Chamois picturesque landscapes, as well as in reabove our beads. Alarmed at our ap: markable natural productions. The rockproach, these animals ran about ibis way crystals of that territory, in particular, and that, not knowing how to shun us; have been long celebrated : but the acone of them, which seemed to be the cess to some of the most valuable mines leader of the band, advanced to recon- of this article, especially to that of the noitre us, and afterward appeared to con- Grande Cristalliere, is described as both sult with his companions. In any other arduous and perilous; and the working situation, we should have contemplated of its many and beautiful geodes has conthis spectacle svith pleasure, but, for the secuently been abandoned.
448 Relative Value of Good Sense and Beauty in the Female Sex. [vol. 2
The Fountain of Siros, or the Perpe- dicates an incipient tragsformation into tual Torrent, is a inost powerful and agate. The sand-beds, in a neigbbour. abundant spring, which constantly dis- ing pit, are so impregnated with bitumen charges 18 cubic feet of very limpid water. that the sand, like snow. may be formed
“Between Haguenau and Wissem. into balls. Above the Pechelbruon, a bourg is a mine of asphaltus or black bi- light has often been observed; which, tumen, which has been discovered in the gradually increasing in lustre and dimenPechelbrunn, or Pitch-fountain, that sions, at length assumes the appearance flows from a meadow in the environs of of a pan of burning coals. When the Lampertslock. It is a well, fifty feet air is calm, the flame gradually diminishdeep, the surface covered with a black es, and finally vanishes entirely ; but, bitumen, wbich diffuses to a distance a when the wind blows fresh, the flame, disagreeable odour; its water, which is yielding to the agitation of the air, darts always dirty and muddy, contains muri- above the meadow, and is driven either ate of soda, sulphate of iron, and sulphur. eastward, on the road, or westward, into For a long time past, it has had the repu- a wood, where it is heard to strike forcitation of curing cutaneous eruptions ; bly one tree after another. This fact is and the peasants sometimes drink it as a very extraordinary, and yet a baturalist, preventive of disorders. A naturalist, worthy of credit, has often witpessed it. who had the curiosity to empty this well, The progressive motion of the flame with the view of ascertaining the source greatly alarmed the neighbouring peathat furnishes the bitumen, found at the sants, especially when they were obliged bottom only a bed of very pure yellow to pass near the apparition, which they pyrites; which induced him to conjec- called the Hunter; and which, accordture that this bed furnishes, to the argil- ing to tradition, was the ghost of an anlaceous and vegetable earths of which it tient seigneur of that country, who espiis the support, a sulphuric acid, which, ated in this form his tyranny over his de by mingling with them, forms the bitu- pendants. Such a tradition should be men of the well. The oak-timber, taken preserved among the seigneurs rather from the well, is black and hard, like eb- than among the peasants." ony; and that which is at the bottom ia
From the Literary Gazette.
except with a lady who possesses both ITTHOUGH I have delayed longer than these excellencies, in a sufficient degree
1 I intended, to throw together my to banish all apprehension of offending observations on Sense and Beauty as you her, by giving the preference to either. requested me to do, I flatter myself, that Notwithstanding the lessons of moralif the subject has again occurred to your ists, and the declarations of philosophers, mind, you have not attributed the delay it cannot be denied that all mankind have to any backwardness to oblige you, a natural love, and even respect for exwhich it is impossible I can ever feel, or ternal beauty. In vain do they represent an inattention to your requests, which I it as a thing of no value in itself, as a shall always honor as commands, and frail and perishable flower; in vain do cherish as favors.
they exbaust all the depths of argument, You wished, if I rightly understood all the stores of fancy, to prove the you, to have my ideas on “the respective worthlessness of this amiable gift of worth that Sense and Beauty in the nature. However persuasive their reafemale sex have in the eyes of ours, the sonings may appear, and however we grounds upon which our esteem is built, may, for a time, fancy ourselves convincand how far that Esteem is in general ed by them, we have in our own breasts well or ill-founded.”
- a certain instinct, which never fails to tell The subject is indeed a difficult one, us, that all is not satisfactory, and though and I should almost fear to discuss it, we may not be able to prove that they are
VOL. 2.) Relative Value of Good Sense and Beauty in the Female Sex. 449 wrong, we feel with conviction that it is If such be the influence of external impossible they should be right. beauty, surely no woman can be blamed
They are certainly right in blaming for wishing to possess it, or for showing those, who are rendered -vain by the pos, it in the most advantageous light; por session of beauty, since vanity is at all can those branches of education, which times a fault; but there is a great differ- tend to heightea the effect of a graceful ence between being vain of a thing, and figure, or to mend the deficiencies of a being happy that we have it; and that bad one, be considered as frivolous and beauty, however little merit a woman can unimportant. Those only are to be claim to herself for it, is really a quality blamed, who pay so much attention to which she may reasonably rejoice to the cultivation of the form, that they dispossess, demands, I think, no very regard the improvement of the mind, laboured proof. Every body naturally though both may very well go on towishes to please. To this eod we know gether. This is, uofortunately, too how important it is that the first impres- common an error, both of women who sion we produce should be favorable. possess beauty, and of those who are Now this first impression is most com- entrusted with their education. The far mooly produced through the medium of greater part of the other sex who apthe eye; and this is frequently so power- proach them, must necessarily be persons ful as to resist for a long time the oppos- who have no more than a slight general ing evidence, evidence of subsequent acquaintance with them, and perhaps not observation. Let a man of even the even that. Every man of liberal educasoundest judgmeat, of the most cultivat- tion will naturally wish, when in the ed understanding, be presented to two company of women, to render himself as, women, equally strangers to him, but the agreeable to them as he can, and for this, one extremely handsome, the other there is no better means than to show without any remarkable advantages of that he is pleased with them. This he person, he will, without deliberation, will be able to do with more success, if attach himself first to the former. All they really possess some qualities, which men seem in this to be actuated by the he may venture to commend without same principle as Socrates, who used to suspicion of fattery. Such is beauty, say, that when he saw a beautiful person, wbich is evident at a glance, whereas the he always expected to find it animated excellencies of the mind and heart, are by a beautiful soul. Nay more : the rarely to be discovered without a longer two ideas are so siogularly combined in and more intimate acquaintance, espe. our minds, that even the converse of the cially when accompanied by that amiable Socratic position is also true. Do we by diffidence, which in a woman is pecuany means become acquainted with the liarly becoming. It is therefore do sense, the amiable disposition ofa woman, wonder, that women, who are posst sied before we have seen her person, we inevi. of both beauty and understanding, should tably embody the fair spirit that has hear themselves much more frequently charmed us, in a form on which we be- commended for the former than for the stow, with lavish hand, every attraction latter ; or that men, who have a real of external grace that our fancy can fur- and just value for understanding, should nish. Should we find on a personal ac- often seem to neglect women who possess quaintance, that the reality falls very it, to pay their court to others, every way short of this creature of our imagination, their inferiors, except in the inore conwe not only feel vexed and disappointed, spicuous aitractions of external forin. The but are sometimes so unjust as to withdraw lasties, however, often fall into the fatal a part of that approbation, which we had error of imagining that a fine person is, before bestowed, and to fancy that we in our eyes, superior to every other ac. have been too lavish of our praise ; so complishment, and those who are so that it often requires a considerable time happy as to be endowed with it, rely, to regain our good opinion,
with rain coufidence, on its irresistible 2K ATHENEUM. Vol. 2.
power, to retain hearts as well as to excellence. She may dazzle for a time; subdue them. Hence the lavish care but when a man has once thought“ what bestowed on the improvement of ex- a pity that such a master-piece should be terior, and perishable charms, and the but a walking statue,” her empire is at neglect of solid and durable excellence; an end. hence the long list of arts that administer On the other hand, when a woman, to vanity and folly, the countless train of the plainness of whose features perhaps glittering accomplishments, and the prevented our noticing her at first, is scanty catalogue of truly valuable ac- found, upon near acquaintance, to be quirements, which compose, for the most possessed of the more solid and valuable part, the modern system of fashionable perfections of the mind, the pleasure we female education. Thus it is that the feel at being so agreeably undeceived, two sexes by mutually endeavouring to makes her appear to still greater advanplease, mutually spoil each other. · The tage: and as the mind of man, when women, from the above, and similar rea- left to itself, is naturally an enemy to all sons, having unhappily conceived a injustice, we, even unknown to ourselves, notion, that we prefer beauty to every strive to repair the wrong we have inthing else, bestow all their care on the voluntarily done her, by a double portion adornment of their persons; and we of attention and regard. seeing all their assiduity directed to this If these observations be founded in point, too often endeavour to pay our truth, you will be able to form a tolerable court to them, by extravagant commen- judgment of the respective values, which dations, which serve only to confirm beauty and understanding in your sex them in their error. Yet so far is beauty have in the eyes of ours. You will see from being in our eyes an excuse for the that, though a woman with a cultivated want of a cultivated mind, that the women mind, may justly hope to please, even who are blessed with it, have in reality, without any superior advantages of pera much harder task to perform, than son, the loveliest creature that ever came those of their sex who are not so distin- from the hand of her Creator, can hope guished. In the first transport of admi- only for a transitory empire, unless she ration which they are sure to inspire, we unite with her beauty, the more durable fondly attribute to them, as before ob- charm of intellectual excellence. served, every other quality that can make The favored child of nature, who a female amiable. But however blinded combines in kerself their united perfecwe may be for a time, we soon look for tions, may be justly considered as the the confirmation of our prepossessions in master-piece of creation, as the most pertheir favor; the stronger these have been, fect image of the divinity here below, the greater is our disappointment at find- Man, the proud lord of the creation, ing ourselves mistaken. Even our self- bows willingly his haughty neck beneath love here takes part against them; we her gentle rule. Exalted, tender, benefeel ashamed of having suffered ourselves ficent is the love that she inspires, unto be caught, like children, by mere out- alterable as the eternal decrees of heaven, side, and perhaps even fall into the con- and pure as the vestal fire. Even Time trary extreme. Could “the statue that himself shall respect the all-powerful enchants the world,” could the Venus magic of her beauty. Her charnus may de Medicis, at the prayer of some new fade, but they shall never wither; and Pygmalion, become suddenly animated, memory still, in the evening of life, hanghow disappointed would he be, if she ing with fond affection over the blanched were not endowed with a soul, answera- rose, shall view, through the veil of lapble to the inimitable perfection of her sed years, the tender bud, the dawning heavenly form ? How would he accuse promise of whose beauties once blushed the gods of bearing his prayer only by before the beams of the morning sua. I halves, and beg them, if they could do remain, no more, to re-convert her to her native Dear Madam, &c. &c. stone! Thus it is with a fine woman,
H. E. L. whose only accomplishment is external