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a sea captain. But, for the discomfiture of my inquisitive man, the conversation soon after turned upon education, and, from the remarks I made, he then concluded that he was mistaken in his former opinion, and took me now for a travelling Mentor, and the young American for my Telemachus. But, the perplexities of my man did not stop here; "new scientific subjects rolled before us, while we were rolling in the diligence; and, from my saying that I was travelling in search of scientific information, he then supposed me a mere traveller, and was again cut loose on a sea of uncertainty. But, at last, when to my former assertion, I added that I was particularly in search of medical knowledge, and that I was a medical man, he, only then, was relieved from the continual perplexity in which he found himself. This gentleman's name is Daiguy, attorney of the king in this district, and a well informed and gentlemanly person. He was very kind to us while at Toulouse; although we were perfect strangers to him, he voluntarily offered his services as a cicerone. He pointed out to us especially the famous bridge built under Louis XIII., which cost immense sums of money; and Louis, on hearing that it was finished, asked if it was built with crown jewels; showing that under the old as well as the modern Bourbons, the finances of France have been always wretchedly administered. Not so under Napoleon, who personally researched, examined, and confronted every public document, in the least questionable, that was financial in design or detail.
The greatest public work of our times, which I saw on leaving Toulouse, is the Languedoc Canal. I embarked at Toulouse, and proceeded in its line of canal boats for Bezières. This work is truly worthy of the Romans, during the era of imperial magnificence, and is famous in the annals of modern internal improvements. It is,
even now, the greatest and most perfect undertaking in Europe, notwithstanding the progress of the arts and sciences. It must be remembered, that this canal was begun at the time when works of this nature were imperfectly understood, and every thing was to be created by the projector. The great difficulty to be surmounted here, was not in cutting through hills or avoiding marshes, instead of going through them, and by so doing spending millions uselessly, as it has been done in the case of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. All this was wisely avoided; but it was the source that was to supply the necessary water at the culminating point, six hundred feet above the level of the ocean, that constituted the great difficulty. When M. Riquet, Seigneur de Bonrepos, the projector of the canal, first conceived the happy idea of forming a vast reservoir of water on the Montagne Noire, a place five leagues from the culminating point of this canal, hé, like Archimedes, exclaimed, “ I have it! I have it! The thing is done!” But, although the mother idea of this stupendous work was conceived, still it was far, very far, from being easily accomplished. Many had been the plans given for this canal, but none had been thought feasible; the one of M. Riquet, however, was acknowledged by the commissioners to be possible. He remarks on this subject, in a letter to Colbert, that “ La pensée première m'en vint á Saint Germain; j'en songeai les moyens, et, quoique fort éloigné, ma rêverie s'est trouvée juste sur les lieux. Le niveau m'a confirmé ce que mon imagination m'avait dit à deux cents lieux d'ici.” There is a very curious fact attached to the inventor of this canal. M. Riquet is a descendant of the noble Florentine family of Arrighetti, which name by emigrating to France was corrupted into Riquetti, and thence into Riquet. But now, the present General Andreossi, descen
dant of an Italian geometrician of that name and joint commissioner of the canal, claims for his ancestor the glory of the enterprise. So that the invention of the plan of this canal and its execution is contended between two Italians; and it is in reality to the descendant of an Italian that France owes the happy execution of the idea of uniting the two seas by a canal, which is an inexhaustible source of wealth. At the culminating point there is a feeder which supplies the water to the canal, and the water of which comes from a basin at fi veleagues' distance. It is enclosed by mountains and immense walls, and gathers all the waters of many rivers and torrents which have been turned out of their natural beds into new channels. This basin is so large that, after filling the whole canal in all its extent, the loss of water in the reservoir is not felt. The beds of many rivers pass beneath the canal and under bridges, which serve as aqueducts to the bed of the canal itself; so that while some rivers have been turned out of their channels, others have been compelled to the service of man, levels found, , mountains perforated, difficulties of every kind subdued, and every physical obstacle has yielded to inventive genius. With reference to all these difficulties surmounted, Riquet wrote to the Minister Colbert:
“Par préjugé on me qualifie le Moise du Languedoc; toute fois avec cette difference, dit-on, que Moise ne fit jaillir que des sources pour de petites fontaines, et que j'en dispose pour de grandes rivières."
The canal is large and well built, with a fine walk on each side planted with trees, which is a delightful promenade for the passengers. It is well constructed in all its details. There is a very ingenious use made of the bullrush, an aquatic plant growing in marshes. - It is planted along both sides of the canal, just at the water's
edge, and where there is always the greatest detrition of the canal by the passage
of the boats and the movement of the water, which by this means is completely prevented. I never saw this plant thus usefully employed in our country. I hope these remarks will not go unnoticed by the superintendents of our various canals. This plant is cut and trimmed every year, so that it is not only useful, but becomes very ornamental to the banks. But even with all these improvements, canals will never be equal to railroads for expedition and cheapness of construction. In this instance a railroad might have been made in half the time, and with one fourth of the money, to enable the traveller to go over the same distance in one fourth of the time; and, by this means, the union of the two seas might have been as effectually made as by a canal; for the ultimate object of all this immense work is to transport merchandise from the ocean to the Mediterranean, and vice versa. We arrived at last at Montpellier, where, after seeing what was most interesting to me personally and professionally, I went to see the library belonging to the medical school of the city. Here I was shown a very curious and interesting manuscript of Torquato Tasso being the first plan of the different arguments of his poem the Gerusalemme Liberatà. The argument of the first canto begins thus
“Già volgea il sesto anno che i principi Cristiani erano passati.” etc.
The beginning of the sixth stanza, same canto, is:
" Il sesto anno volgea che in Oriente
With a very slight transposition of his original prose argument, this divine poet has formed the richest poetry,
and most harmonious versification of the Sweet South; which, without being overloaded with historical facts, is both instructive and full of the most brilliant poetical images. You may have some curiosity to know why this manuscript was found at Montpellier. I was myself no less astonished; and, upon inquiry from the Dean of the University, M. Dubreuil, I learned that it was sent by the minister, Chaptal, who had been raised by Napoleon, from a professorship in that university to the station of a minister. You know that Napoleon, in his various invasions of his mother country, had carried away the most valuable, and, at the same time, interesting manuscripts, from the Italian libraries. This was one of those stolen, at that time, from that ever prolific mother of genius-farfamed Italy. If she were only free, thousands of her sons would arise to illustrate and immortalise her once more; and, for ages yet to come, the new barbarians might plunder again the masterpieces of her sons, to enlighten and civilise the Goths and Vandals yet uncreated.
While at Montpellier, I learnt another singular circumstance concerning Italian literature, which I never saw mentioned. It is this. You must be aware that the Countess of Albany, during her residence in Italr, became Alfieri's mistress, as the Countess Guiccioli was Byron's. Alfieri, dying, left to his widow, who was also the relict of the last unworthy Stuart, (for it is known that they were, soon after their first acquaintance, secretly married, to quiet the conscience of her ladyship,) his library, which was very select, and contained a great many valuable books, especially all the editions ever made of Alfieri's works, as well as all his manuscripts. After the death of Alfieri, the Countess took a fancy, so fame relates, to a French painter from Montpellier, called Fabre, a man of some talent as an artist, and a friend of the poet.