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THE SOUTH OF FRANCE.
BY DR. TOGNO.
The approach to Bourdeaux is very imposing: its fine Pharos, its spacious squares, planted with trees and well built all around, its stupendous bridge, which Napoleon first projected, and for the building of which he gave five millions of francs from his own purse, are all objects that command admiration. This bridge is one of the boasts of Napoleon, although it has since been finished by a private company. Every thing that this extraordinary man has ever touched is impressed with that stamp of grandeur which no other sovereign will ever equal; and, if we remark any thing on the continent of Europe, that has that stamp, be sure that it has been planned or executed by this gigantic innovator, with the rapidity of thought; for physical obstacles were nothing to Napoleon. I am gratified to have an opportunity to mention this bridge, because a double purpose is involved in its construction; and the science displayed here may be useful to us in the construction of raifroads. Passengers are admitted on the bridge, as on every other structure of the kind; but there are two galleries in the very body of it, one on each side, from which you look up and down the river, and which may be readily converted into passages for locomotive engines, without interfering with the horse carriages above. Such a bridge, I conceive, might be constructed to great advantage over the Schuylkill, above
the falls. What is still more remarkable in this city, and as worthy of our attention, is its almshouse, or hospital. Its construction is admirable; it is spacious, well ventilated, cleanly, quiet; and, in its internal economy, comfort and even grandeur, if grandeur can inhabit such a place, it surpasses every other establishment of the kind. The justly celebrated naval hospital of Plymouth, and that of Rochefort, are in many respects inferior to it; and when we compare it to our old almshouse, we perceive that, in that of Bourdeaux, genius and foresight pervade the most minute details, while in the latter, ignorance of the object of such an institution, is visible every where. Had a medical board been consulted respecting the best mode of constructing such an establishment, and their advice followed, instead of simply that of an architect, and a few carpenters and bricklayers, we should not have now an immense pile of stone, brick and mortar, more hurtful in its results, than beneficial to its inmates. But, the opinion of the wise, (and I call the medical profession, at least in their own affairs, the truly enlightened class of mankind,) Cassandralike, is never listened But in the case of the new almshouse, on the other side of the Schuylkill, the Board of Physicians has been wisely consulted as to its structure, and, therefore, in this instance, we have reasons to congratulate ourselves. I regret, however, that for the sake of humanity the plan of this hospital was, perhaps, unknown to the architect and medical gentlemen consulted, and who designed and superintended the building of it. I had the good fortune to become acquainted with J. Berguer, the admirable and talented architect of this stupendous work. I complimented him about it, and he was so kind as to give me a set of all the plans of it, which I hope may prove useful to our country in some future undertaking of the kind.
The theatre of Bourdeaux, as a piece of architecture, is a subject of continual admiration to all strangers. It is the favourite theme of the natives, as the waterworks of Philadelphia are with us. Apropos of the theatre, I must inform you of my good fortune. While passing under the colonnades of this edifice, I remarked a heap of books, pellmell on the pavement, and a vender crying: “A six sous le volume! Allons, Messieurs, achetez!” I stopped to examine more closely the literary chaos, and, behold! here I found many valuable ancient medical works, for which I had vainly inquired at Paris from various booksellers! Seeing this, I made short work, and took possession of seventy volumes, well bound, at six sous each, for which I should very willingly have given a dollar. This is to me a princedom; and it did not fail to put me in a good humour with Bourdeaux, and with the individual who was pleased to die and leave me the books. My treasure is now wafted over Neptune's dominions. My journey from Bourdeaux to Toulouse was pleasant enough, and has presented to me many subjects for meditation: but I shall be prevented, by want of space and time, from communicating them at present. An anecdote, however, amused me so much on this route, that I cannot resist the temptation of narrating it. I was in the Coupé with a young American, my travelling companion, when, stopping on the road at Moissac, a gentleman, unknown to us, was handed in. For a Frenchman, he was at first very cold, and far from being addicted to dicacity. My companion, having spoken in English to me, aroused his curiosity at hearing the name of America mentioned. Then he was curious to understand who we could be, and grew animated in the conversation. He turned to naval subjects and commerce, and, of course, hearing me talk so wisely upon these topics, took me for
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, he, 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