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An essay by Charles Kingsley

From Ocean To Sea

Title:     From Ocean To Sea
Author: Charles Kingsley [More Titles by Kingsley]

The point from which to start, in order best to appreciate the change from ocean to sea, is perhaps Biarritz. The point at which to stop is Cette. And the change is important. Between the two points races are changed, climates are changed, scenery is changed, the very plants under your feet are changed, from a Western to an Eastern type. You pass from the wild Atlantic into the heart of the Roman Empire--from the influences which formed the discoverers of the New World, to those which formed the civilizers of the Old. Gascony, not only in its scenery, but in its very legends, reminds you of Devon and Cornwall; Languedoc of Greece and Palestine.

In the sea, as was to be expected, the change is even more complete. From Biarritz to Cette, you pass from poor Edward Forbes's Atlantic to his Mediterranean centre of creation. In plain English and fact, whether you agree with his theory or not, you pass from the region of respectable whales, herrings, and salmon, to that of tunnies, sciaenas, dorados, and all the gorgons, hydras, and chimaeras dire, which are said to grace the fish-markets of Barcelona or Marseilles.

But to this assertion, as to most concerning nature, there are exceptions. Mediterranean fishes slip out of the Straits of Gibraltar, and up the coast of Portugal, and, once in the Bay of Biscay, find the feeding good and the wind against them, and stay there.

So it befalls, that at worthy M. Gardere's hotel at Biarritz (he has seen service in England, and knows our English ways), you may have at dinner, day after day, salmon, louvine, shad, sardine, dorado, tunny. The first is unknown to the Mediterranean; for Fluellen mistook when he said that there were salmons in Macedon, as well as Monmouth; the louvine is none other than the nasty bass, or sea-perch of the Atlantic; the shad (extinct in these islands, save in the Severn) is a gigantic herring which comes up rivers to spawn; a fish common (with slight differences) to both sides of the North Atlantic; while the sardine, the dorado, and the tunny (whether he be the true tunny or the Alalonga) are Mediterranean fish.

The whale fishery of these shores is long extinct. The Biscayan whale was supposed to be extinct likewise. But like the ibex, and some other animals which man has ceased to hunt, because he fancies that he has killed them all, they seem inclined to reappear. For in 1854 one was washed ashore near St. Jean de Luz, at news whereof Eschricht, the great Danish naturalist, travelled night and day from Copenhagen, and secured the skeleton of the new-old monster.

But during the latter part of the Middle Ages, and on--if I recollect aright--into the seventeenth century, Bayonne, Biarritz, Guettary, and St. Jean de Luz, sent forth their hardy whale-fishers, who slew all the whales of the Biscayan seas, and then crossed the Atlantic, to attack those of the frozen North.

British and American enterprise drove them from the West coast of the Atlantic; and now their descendants are content to stay at home and take the sardine-shoals, and send them in to Bayonne on their daughters' heads.

Pretty enough it was, at least in outward seeming, to meet a party of those fisher-girls, bare-legged, high-kilted, lithe as deer, trotting, at a long loping pace, up the high road toward Bayonne, each with her basket on her head, as she laughed and sang, and tossed her black hair, and flashed her brown eyes, full of life and the enjoyment of life. Pretty enough. And yet who will blame the rail, which now sends her quickly into Bayonne--or even her fish without her; and relieves the fair young maiden from being degraded into a beast of burden?

Handsome folk are these brown Basques. A mysterious people, who dwell alone, and are not counted among the nations; speaking an unique language, and keeping up unique customs, for which the curious must consult M. Michel's interesting book. There may be a cross of English blood among them, too, about Biarritz and Bayonne; English features there are, plainly to be seen. And whether or not, one accepts the story of the country, that Anglets, near by, is an old English colony left by our Black Prince, it is certain that Bayonne Cathedral was built in part by English architects, and carries the royal arms of England; and every school history will tell us how this corner of France was long in our hands, and was indeed English long before it was properly French. Moorish blood there may be, too, here and there, left behind by those who built the little 'atalaya' or fire-beacon, over the old harbour, to correspond, by its smoke column, with a long line of similar beacons down the Spanish coast. The Basques resemble in look the Southern Welsh--quick-eyed, neat in feature, neat in dress, often, both men and women, beautiful. The men wear a flat Scotch cap of some bright colour, and call it 'berretta.' The women tie a gaudy handkerchief round their heads, and compel one corner to stand forward from behind the ear in a triangle, in proportion to the size and stiffness whereof the lady seems to think herself well dressed. But the pretty Basque handkerchief will soon give place to the Parisian bonnet. For every cove among the rocks is now filled with smart bathing-houses, from which, in summer, the gay folk of Paris issue in 'costume de bain,' to float about all day on calabashes--having literally no room for the soles of their feet on land. Then are opened casinos, theatre, shops, which lie closed all the winter. Then do the Basque house- owners flee into the moors, and camp out (it is said) on the hills all night, letting their rooms for ten francs a night as mere bed- chambers--for all eating and living is performed in public; while the dove-coloured oxen, with brown holland pinafores over their backs, who dawdle in pairs up and down the long street with their light carts, have to make way for wondrous equipages from the Bois de Boulogne.

Not then, for the wise man, is Biarritz a place to see and to love: but in the winter, when a little knot of quiet pleasant English hold the place against all comers, and wander, undisturbed by fashion, about the quaint little rocks and caves and natural bridges--and watch tumbling into the sea, before the Biscayan surges, the trim walks and summer-houses, which were erected by the municipality in honour of the Empress and her suite. Yearly they tumble in, and yearly are renewed, as the soft greensand strata are graven away, and what must have been once a long promontory becomes a group of fantastic pierced rocks, exactly like those which are immortalized upon the willow-pattern plates.

Owing to this rapid destruction, the rocks of Biarritz are very barren in sea-beasts and sea-weeds. But there is one remarkable exception, where the pools worn in a hard limestone are filled with what seem at first sight beds of china-asters, of all loveliest colours--primrose, sea-green, dove, purple, crimson, pink, ash-grey. They are all prickly sea-eggs (presumably the Echinus lividus, which is found in similar places in the west of Ireland), each buried for life in a cup-shaped hole which he has excavated in the rock, and shut in by an overhanging lip of living lime--seemingly a Nullipore coralline. What they do there, what they think of, or what food is brought into their curious grinding-mills by the Atlantic surges which thunder over them twice a day, who can tell? However they form, without doubt, the most beautiful object which I have ever seen in pool or cove.

But the glory of Biarritz, after all, is the moors above, and the view to be seen therefrom. Under blazing blue skies, tempered by soft dappled cloud, for ever sliding from the Atlantic and the Asturias mountains, in a climate soft as milk, and exhilarating withal as wine, one sees far and wide a panorama which, from its variety as well as its beauty, can never weary.

To the north, the long sand-line of the Biscayan shore--the bar of the Adour marked by a cloud of grey spray. Then the dark pine-flats of the Landes, and the towers of Bayonne rising through rich woods. To the eastward lies a high country, furred with woods, broken with glens; a country exactly like Devon, through the heart of which, hidden in such a gorge as that of Dart or Taw, runs the swift stream of the Nive, draining the western Pyrenees. And beyond, to the south-east, in early spring, the Pyrenean snows gleam bright, white clouds above the clouds. As one turns southward, the mountains break down into brown heather-hills, like Scottish grouse moors. The two nearest, and seemingly highest, are the famous Rhune and Bayonette, where lie, to this day, amid the heath and crags, hundreds of unburied bones. For those great hills, skilfully fortified by Soult before the passage of the Bidassoa, were stormed, yard by yard, by Wellington's army in October 1813. That mighty deed must be read in the pages of one who saw it with his own eyes, and fought there with his own noble body, and even nobler spirit. It is not for me to tell of victories, of which Sir William Napier has already told.

Towards that hill, and the Nivelle at its foot, the land slopes down, still wooded and broken, bounded by a long sweep of clayey crumbling cliff. The eye catches the fort of Secoa, at the mouth of the Nivelle--once Wellington's sea-base for his great French campaign. Then Fontarabia, at the Bidassoa mouth; and far off, the cove within which lies the fatal citadel of St. Sebastian; all backed up by the fantastic mountains of Spain; the four-horned "Quatre Couronnes," the pyramidal Jaysquivel, and beyond them again, sloping headlong into the sea, peak after peak, each one more blue and tender than the one before, leading the eye on and on for seemingly countless leagues, till they die away into the ocean horizon and the boundless west. Not a sail, often for days together, passes between those mountains and the shore on which we stand, to break the solitude, and peace, and vast expanse; and we linger, looking and looking at we know not what, and find repose in gazing purposeless into the utter void.

Very unlike France are these Basque uplands; very like the seaward parts of Devon and Cornwall. Large oak-copses and boggy meadows fill the glens; while above, the small fields, with their five-barred gates (relics of the English occupation) and high furze and heath- grown banks, make you fancy yourself for a moment in England. And the illusion is strengthened, as you see that the heath of the banks is the Goonhilly heath of the Lizard Point, and that of the bogs the orange-belled Erica ciliaris, which lingers (though rare) both in Cornwall and in the south of Ireland. But another glance undeceives you. The wild flowers are new, saving those cosmopolitan seeds (like nettles and poppies) which the Romans have carried all over Europe, and the British are now carrying over the world. Every sandy bank near the sea is covered with the creeping stems of a huge reed, which grows in summer tall enough to make not only high fences, but fishing-rods. Poverty (though there is none of what we call poverty in Britain) fills the little walled court before its cottage with bay trees and standard figs; while wealth (though there is nothing here of what we call wealth in Britain) asserts itself uniformly by great standard magnolias, and rich trailing roses, in full bloom here in April instead of--as with us--in July. Both on bank and in bog grow Scorzoneras (dandelions with sword-shaped leaves) of which there are none in these isles; and every common is ablaze with strange and lovely flowers. Each dry spot is brilliant with the azure flowers of a prostrate Lithospermum, so exquisite a plant, that it is a marvel why we do not see it, as 'spring-bedding,' in every British garden. The heath is almost hidden, in places, by the large white flowers and trailing stems of the sage-leaved Cistus. Delicate purple Ixias, and yet more delicate Hoop-petticoat Narcissus, spring from the turf. And here and there among furze and heath, crop out great pink bunches of the Daphne Cneorum of our gardens, perfuming all the air. Yes, we are indeed in foreign parts, in the very home of that Atlantic flora, of which only a few species have reached the south-west of these isles; and on the limit of another flora also--of that of Italy and Greece. For as we descend into the glen, every lane-bank and low tree is entwined, not with ivy, but with a still more beautiful evergreen, the Smilax of South-eastern Europe, with its zigzag stems, and curving heart-shaped leaves, and hooked thorns; the very oak- scrub is of species unknown to Britain. And what are these tall lilies, which fill every glade breast-high with their sword-like leaves, and spires of white flowers, lilac-pencilled? They are the classic flower, the Asphodel of Greece and Grecian song; the Asphodel through which the ghosts of Homer's heroes strode: as heroes' ghosts might stride even here.

For here we are on sacred ground. The vegetation is rank with the blood of gallant invaders, and of no less gallant patriots. In the words of Campbell's 'Hohenlinden' -

'Every turf beneath our feet
May be a hero's sepulchre.'

That little tarn below has 'bubbled with crimson foam' when the kings of Europe arose to bring home the Bourbons, as did the Lake Regillus of old, in the day when 'the Thirty Cities swore to bring the Tarquins home.'

Turn to the left, above the tarn, and into the great Spanish road from Bayonne to the frontier at what was lately 'La Negresse,' but is now a gay railway station. Where that station is, was another tarn, now drained. The road ran between the two. And that narrow space of two hundred yards, on which we stand, was for three fearful days the gate of France.

For on the 10th of December, 1813, Soult, driven into Bayonne by Wellington's advance, rushed out again in the early morn, and poured a torrent of living men down this road, and upwards again towards the British army which crested that long ridge in front.

The ridge slopes rapidly away at the back, toward the lowlands of the Bidassoa; and once thrust from it, the English army would have been cut in two--one half driven back upon their sea-base at St. Jean de Luz: the other half left on the further side of the Adour.

And this was the gate, which had to be defended during a three days' battle. That long copse which overhangs the road is the famous wood, which was taken and retaken many times. You house above it, embowered in trees, is the 'Mayor's house,' in which Sir John Hope was so nearly captured by the French. Somewhere behind the lane where we came down was the battery which blasted off our troops as they ran up from the lowlands behind, to support their fellows.

Of the details of the fight you must read in Napier's 'Peninsular War,' and in Mr. Gleig's 'Subaltern.' They are not to be described by one who never saw a battle, great or small.

And now, if you choose to start upon your journey from the ocean to the sea, you will take the railroad here, and run five miles through the battle-fields into Bayonne, the quaint old fortress city, girdled with a labyrinth of walls, and turf-dykes, and outside them meadows as rich, and trees as stately, as if war had never swept across the land. You may stop, if you will, to look at the tall Spanish houses, with their piazzas and jalousies, and the motley populace, French, Basques, Spaniards, Jews; and, most worth seeing of all, the lovely ladies of Bayonne, who swarm out when the sun goes down, for air and military music. You may try to find (in which you will probably fail) the arms of England in the roof of the ugly old cathedral; you may wander the bridges over which join the three quarters of the city (for the Adour and the Nive meet within the walls), and probably lose your way--a slight matter among folk who, if you will but take off your hat, call them Monsieur, apologize for the trouble you are giving, begin the laugh at your own stupidity, and compliment them on their city and their fair ladies, will be delighted to walk a mile out of their own way to show you yours. You will gaze up at the rock-rooted citadel from whence, in the small hours of April 14, 1813, after peace was agreed on, but unhappily not declared (for Napier has fully exculpated the French Generals), three thousand of Thouvenot's men burst forth against Sir John Hope's unsuspecting besiegers, with a furious valour which cost the English more than 800 men.

There, in the pine woods on the opposite side, is the Boucault, where our besieging army lay. Across the reach below stretched Sir John Hope's famous bridge; and as you leave Bayonne by rail, you run beneath the English cemetery, where lie the soldiers (officers of the Coldstream Guards among them) who fell in the Frenchman's last struggle to defend his native land.

But enough of this. I should not have recalled to mind one of these battles, had they not, one and all, been as glorious for the French and their great captain--wearied with long marches, disheartened by the apathy of their own countrymen, and, as they went on, overpowered by mere numbers--as they were for our veterans, and Wellington himself.

And now, once through Bayonne, we are in the Pignadas and the Landes.

To form a conception of these famous Landes, it is only necessary to run down by the South-Western Railway, through the moors of Woking or Ascot; spread them out flat, and multiply them to seeming infinity. The same sea of brown heather, broken only by the same dark pignadas, or fir plantations, extends for nigh a hundred miles; and when the traveller northward has lost sight, first of the Spanish mountains, and then of the Pyrenean snows, he seems to be rushing along a brown ocean, without wave or shore. Only, instead of the three heaths of Surrey and Hants (the same species as those of Scotland), larger and richer southern heaths cover the grey sands; and notably the delicate upright spires of the bruyere, or Erica scoparia, which grows full six feet high, and furnishes from its roots those 'bruyere' pipes, which British shopkeepers have rechristened 'briar-roots.' Instead, again, of the Scotch firs of Ascot, the pines are all pinasters (miscalled P. maritima). Each has the same bent stem, carrying at top, long, ragged, scanty, leaf-tufts, instead of the straight stem and dense short foliage of the sturdier Scotchman; and down each stem runs a long, fresh scar, and at the bottom (in spring at least), hangs a lip of tin, and a neat earthen pipkin, into which distils turpentine as clear as glass. The trees have mostly been planted within the last fifty years, to keep the drifting sands from being blown away. As timber they are about as valuable as those Jersey cow-cabbage stalks, of which the curious will at times make walking- sticks: but as producers of turpentine they have their use, and give employment to the sad, stunted, ill-fed folk, unhealthy for want of water, and barbarous from utter loneliness, whose only employment, in old times, was the keeping ragged flocks about the moors. Few and far between the natives may be seen from the railway, seemingly hung high in air, till on nearer approach you find them to be stalking along on stilts, or standing knitting on the same, a sheepskin over their shoulders, an umbrella strapped to their side, and, stuck into the small of the back, a long crutch, which serves, when resting, as a third wooden leg.

So run on the Landes, mile after mile, station after station, varied only by an occasional stunted cork tree, or a starved field of barley or maize. But the railroad is bringing to them, as elsewhere, labour, civilization, agricultural improvement. Pretty villages, orchards, gardens, are springing up round the lonely 'gares.' The late Emperor helped forward, it is said, new pine plantations, and sundry schemes for reclaiming the waste. Arcachon, on a pine-fringed lagoon of the Atlantic, has great artificial ponds for oyster breeding, and is rising into a gay watering-place, with a distinguished scientific society. Nay, more: it saw a few years since an international exposition of fish, and fish-culture, and fishing-tackle, and all things connected with the fisheries, not only of Europe, but of America likewise. Heaven speed the plan; and restore thereby oysters to our shores, and shad and salmon to the rivers both of Western Europe and Eastern North America.

As for the cause of the Landes, it may be easily divined, by the help of a map and of common sense.

The Gironde and the Adour carry to the sea the drainage of nearly a third of France, including almost all the rain which falls on the north side of the Pyrenees. What has become of all the sand and mud which has been swept in the course of ages down their channels? What has become--a very small part, be it recollected, of the whole amount--of all the rock which has been removed by rain and thunder, frost and snow, in the process of scooping out the deep valleys of the Pyrenees? Out of that one crack, which men call the Val d'Ossau, stone has been swept enough to form a considerable island. Where is it all? In these Landes. Carried down year by year to the Atlantic, it has been driven back again, year by year, by the fierce gales of the Bay of Biscay, and rolled up into banks and dunes of loose sand, till it has filled up what was once a broad estuary, 140 miles across and perhaps 70 miles in depth. Upheaved it may have been also, slowly, from the sea, for recent sea-shells are found as far inland as Dax; and thus the whole upper end of the Bay of Biscay has transformed itself during the lapse of, it may be, countless ages, into a desolate wilderness.

It is at Dax that we leave the main line, and instead of running north for Bordeaux and the land of clarets, turn south-east to Orthez and Pau, and the Gaves, and the Pyrenees.

And now we pass through ragged uplands, woody and moorish, with the long yellow maize-stalks of last year's crop rotting in the swampy glens. For the 'petite culture,' whatever be its advantages, gives no capital or power of combined action for draining wet lands; and the valleys of Gascony and Bearn in the south, as well as great sheets of the Pas de Calais in the north, are in a waterlogged state, equally shocking to the eye of a British farmer, and injurious to the health and to the crops of the peasants.

Soon we strike the Adour, here of the shape and size of a second- class Scotch salmon-stream, with swirling brown pools beneath grey crags, which make one long to try in them the virtues of 'Jock Scott,' 'the Butcher,' or the 'Dusty Miller.' And perhaps not without effect; for salmon are there still; and will be more and more as French 'pisciculture' develops itself under Government supervision.

Here we touch again the line of that masterly retreat of Soult's before the superior forces of Wellington, to which Napier has done such ample and deserved justice.

There is Berenz, where the Sixth and Light divisions crossed the Gave, and clambered into the high road up steep ravines; and there is Orthez itself, with the beautiful old Gothic bridge which the French could not blow up, as they did every other bridge on their retreat; and the ruins of that robber den to which Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix (of whom you may read in Froissart), used to drag his victims; and there overhead, upon the left of the rail and road, is the old Roman camp, and the hill of Orthez, and St. Boes, and the High Church of Baights, the scene of the terrible battle of Orthez.

The Roman camp, then 'open and grassy, with a few trees,' says Napier, is now covered with vineyards. Everywhere the fatal slopes are rich with cultivation, plenty, and peace. God grant they may remain so for ever.

And so, along the Gave de Pau, we run on to Pau, the ancient capital of Bearn; the birthplace of Henri Quatre, and of Bernadotte, King of Sweden; where, in the charming old chateau, restored by Louis Philippe, those who list may see the tortoise which served as the great Henry's cradle; and believe, if they list also, the tale that that is the real shell.

For in 1793, when the knights of the 'bonnet rouge' and 'carmagnole complete' burst into the castle, to destroy every memorial of hated royalty, the shell among the rest, there chanced--miraculous coincidence--to be in Pau, in the collection of a naturalist, another shell, of the same shape and size. Swiftly and deftly pious hands substituted it for the real relic, leaving it to be battered in pieces and trampled in the mud, while the royal cradle lay perdu for years in the roof of a house, to reappear duly at the Restoration of the Bourbons.

Of Pau I shall say nothing. It would be real impertinence in one who only spent three days in it, to describe a city which is known to all Europe; which is a permanent English colony, and boasts of one, and sometimes two, packs of English foxhounds. But this I may be allowed to say. That of all delectable spots I have yet seen, Pau is the most delectable. Of all the landscapes which I have beheld, that from the Place Royale is, for variety, richness, and grandeur, the most glorious; at least as I saw it for the first time.

Beneath the wall of the high terrace are rich meadows, vocal with frogs rejoicing in the rain, and expressing their joy, not in the sober monotone of our English frogs, but each according to his kind; one bellowing, the next barking, the next cawing, and the next (probably the little green Hylas, who has come down out of the trees to breed) quacking in treble like a tiny drake. The bark (I suspect) is that of the gorgeous edible frog; and so suspect the young recruits who lounge upon the wall, and look down wistfully, longing, I presume, to eat him. And quite right they are; for he (at least his thigh) is exceeding good to eat, tenderer and sweeter than any spring chicken.

Beyond the meadow, among the poplars, the broad Gave murmurs on over shingly shallows, between aspen-fringed islets, grey with the melting snows; and beyond her again rise broken wooded hills, dotted with handsome houses; and beyond them a veil of mist and rain.

On a sudden that veil lifts; and five-and-twenty miles away, beneath the black edge of the cloud, against the clear blue sky, stands out the whole snow-range of the Pyrenees; and in the midst, exactly opposite, filling up a vast gap which is the Val d'Ossau, the huge cone, still snowy white, of the Pic du Midi.

He who is conversant with theatres will be unable to overlook the seeming art--and even artifice--of such an effect. The clouds lift like a drop-scene; the mountains are so utterly unlike any natural object in the north, that for the moment one fancies them painted and not real; the Pic du Midi stands so exactly where it ought, and is yet so fantastic and unexpected in its shape, that an artist seems to have put it there.

But lie who knows nothing, and cares less, about theatres and their sham glories, and sees for the first time in his life the eternal snows of which he has read since childhood, draws his breath deeply, and stands astounded, whispering to himself that God is great.

One hint more, ere we pass on from Pau. Here, at least in spring time, of all places in Europe, may a man feed his ears with song of birds. The copses by the Gave, the public walks and woods (wherein English prejudices have happily protected what is elsewhere shot down as game, even to the poor little cock-robins whose corpses lie by dozens in too many French markets), are filled with all our English birds of passage, finding their way northwards from Morocco and Algiers; and with our English nightingales, black-caps, willow-wrens, and whitethroats, are other songsters which never find their way to these isles, for which you must consult the pages of Mr. Gould or Mr. Bree--and chief among them the dark Orpheus, and the yellow Hippolais, surpassing the black-cap, and almost equalling the nightingale, for richness and variety of song--the polyglot warbler which penetrates, in summer, as far north as the shores of the British Channel, and there stops short, scared by the twenty miles of sea, after a land journey--and by night, too, as all the warblers journey--from Africa.

At Pau, the railroad ended when I was there; and who would go eastward had to take carriage, and go by the excellent road (all public roads in the south of France are excellent, and equal to our best English roads) over the high Landes to Tarbes; and on again over fresh Landes to Montrejeau; and thence by railway to Toulouse.

They are very dreary, these high flat uplands, from which innumerable streams pour down to swell the Adour and the Garonne; and as one rolls along, listening to the eternal tinkle of the horse-bells, only two roadside objects are particularly worthy of notice. First, the cultivation, spreading rapidly since the Revolution, over what was open moor; and next the great natural parks which one traverses here and there; the remnants of those forests which were once sacred to the seigneurs and their field sports. The seigneurs are gone now, and the game with them; and the forests are almost gone--so ruinate, indeed, by the peasantry, that the Government (I believe) has interfered to stop a destruction of timber, which involves the destruction both of fire-wood and of the annual fall of rain. But the trees which remain, whether in forest or in homestead, are sadly mangled. The winters are sharp in these high uplands, and firing scarce; and the country method of obtaining it is to send a woman up a tree, where she hacks off, with feeble arms and feeble tools, boughs halfway out from the stem, disfiguring, and in time destroying by letting the wet enter, splendid southern oaks, chestnuts, and walnuts. Painful and hideous, to an eye accustomed to British parks, are the forms of these once noble trees.

Suddenly we descend a brow into the Yale of Tarbes: a good land and large; a labyrinth of clear streams, water-meadows, cherry-orchards, and crops of every kind, and in the midst the pleasant old city, with its once famous University. Of Tarbes, you may read in the pages of Froissart--or, if you prefer a later authority, in those of Dumas, 'Trois Mousquetaires;' for this is the native land of the immortal Ulysses of Gascony, the Chevalier d'Artagnan.

There you may see, to your surprise, not only gentlemen, but ladies, taking their pleasure on horseback after the English fashion; for there is close by a great 'haras,' or Government establishment for horse-breeding. You may watch the quaint dresses in the marketplace; you may rest, as Froissart rested of old, in a 'right pleasant inn;' you may eat of the delicious cookery which is to be found, even in remote towns, throughout the south of France, and even--if you dare-- of 'Coquilles aux Champignons.' You may sit out after dinner in that delicious climate, listening to the rush of the clear Adour through streets, and yards, and culverts; for the city, like Romsey, or Salisbury, is built over many streams. You may watch the Pyrenees changing from white to rose, from rose to lead colour, and then dying away into the night--for twilight there is little or none, here in the far south.

'The sun's rim dips, the stars rush out,
At one stride comes the dark.'

And soon from street to street you hear the 'clarion' of the garrison, that singularly wild and sweet trumpet-call which sends French soldiers to their beds. And at that the whole populace swarms out, rich and poor, and listens entranced beneath the trees in the Place Maubourguet, as if they had never heard it before; with an order and a sobriety, and a good humour, and a bowing to each other, and asking and giving of cigar-lights between men of every class--and a little quiet modest love-making on the outskirts of the crowd, which is very pleasant to behold. And when the music is silent, and the people go off suddenly, silently, and soberly withal (for there are no drunkards in these parts), to their early beds, you stand and look up into the 'purple night,' as Homer calls it--that southern sky, intensely dark, and yet transparent withal, through which you seem to look beyond the stars into the infinite itself, and recollect that beyond all that, and through all that likewise, there is an infinite good God who cares for all these simple kindly folk; and that by Him all their hearts are as well known, and all their infirmities as mercifully weighed, as are, you trust, your own.

And so you go to rest, content to say, with the wise American, 'It takes all sorts to make a world.'

The next morn you rise, to roll on over yet more weary uplands to Montrejeau, over long miles of sandy heath, a magnified Aldershott, which during certain summer months is gay, here and there, like Aldershott, with the tents of an army at play. But in spring the desolation is utter, and the loneliest grouse-moor, and the boggiest burn, are more cheerful and varied than the Landes of Lannemezan, and the foul streamlets which have sawn gorges through the sandy waste.

But all the while, on your right hand, league after league, ever fading into blue sky behind you, and growing afresh out of blue sky in front, hangs high in air the white saw of the Pyrenees. High, I say, in air, for the land slopes, or seems to slope, down from you to the mountain range, and all their roots are lost in a dim sea of purple haze. But shut out the snow line above, and you will find that the seeming haze is none, but really a clear and richly varied distance of hills, and woods, and towns, which have become invisible from the contrast of their greens, and greys, and purples, with the glare and dazzle of the spotless snows of spring.

There they stand, one straight continuous jagged wall, of which no one point seems higher than another. From the Pic d'Ossau, by the Mont Perdu and the Maladetta to the Pic de Lart, are peaks past counting--hard clear white against the hard clear blue, and blazing with keen light beneath the high southern sun. Each peak carries its little pet cushion of cloud, hanging motionless a few hundred yards above in the blue sky, a row of them as far as eye can see. But, ever and anon, as afternoon draws on, one of those little clouds, seeming tired of waiting at its post ever since sunrise, loses its temper, boils, swells, settles down on its own private peak, and explodes in a fierce thunderstorm down its own private valley, without discomposing in the least its neighbour cloud-cushions right and left. Faintly the roll of the thunder reaches the ear. Across some great blackness of cloud and cliff, a tiny spark darts down. A long wisp of mist sweeps rapidly toward you across the lowlands, and a momentary brush of cold rain lays the dust. And then the pageant is played out, and the disturbed peak is left clear again in the blue sky for the rest of the day, to gather another cloud-cushion when to- morrow's sun shall rise.

To him who looks, day after day, on this astonishing natural wall, stretching, without visible gap, for nearly three hundred miles, it is easy to see why France not only is, but must be, a different world from Spain. Even human thought cannot, to any useful extent, fly over that great wall of homeless rock and snow. On the other side there must needs be another folk, with another tongue, other manners, other polities, and if not another creed, yet surely with other, and utterly different, conceptions of the universe, and of man's business therein. Railroads may do somewhat. But what of one railroad; or even of two, one on the ocean, one on the sea, two hundred and seventy miles apart? Before French civilization can inform and elevate the Spanish people you must 'plane down the Pyrenees.'

At Montrejeau, a pretty town upon a hill which overhangs the Garonne, you find, again, verdure and a railroad; and, turning your back upon the Pyrenees, run down the rich ugly vale of the Garonne, through crops of exceeding richness--wheat, which is reaped in July, to be followed by buckwheat reaped in October; then by green crops to be cut in May, and that again by maize, to be pulled in October, and followed by wheat and the same rotation.

Thus you reach Toulouse, a noble city, of which it ill befits a passer-through to speak. Volumes have been written on its antiquities, and volumes on its history; and all of either that my readers need know, they will find in Murray's hand-book.

At Toulouse--or rather on leaving it to go eastward--you become aware that you have passed into a fresh region. The change has been, of course, gradual: but it has been concealed from you by passing over the chilly dreary uplands of Lannemezan. Now you find yourself at once in Languedoc. You have passed from the Atlantic region into the Mediterranean; from the old highlands of the wild Vascones, into those lowlands of Gallia Narbonensis, reaching from the head-waters of the Garonne to the mouths of the Rhone, which were said to be more Italian than Italy itself.

The peculiarity of the district is its gorgeous colouring. Everywhere, over rich plains, you look away to low craggy banks of limestone, the grey whereof contrasts strongly with the green of the lowland, and with the even richer green of the mulberry orchards; and beyond them again, southward to the now distant snows of the Pyrenees, and northward to the orange downs and purple glens of the Cevennes, all blazing in the blazing sun. Green, grey, orange, purple, and, in the farthest distance, blue as of the heaven itself, make the land one vast rainbow, and fit dwelling-place for its sunny folk, still happy and industrious--once the most cultivated and luxurious people in Europe.

As for their industry, it is hereditary. These lands were, it may be, as richly and carefully tilled in the days of Augustus Caesar as they are now; or rather, as they were at the end of the eighteenth century. For, since then, the delver and sower--for centuries the slave of the Roman, and, for centuries after, the slave of Teutonic or Saracenic conquerors--has become his own master, and his own landlord; and an impulse has been given to industry, which is shown by trim cottages, gay gardens, and fresh olive orchards, pushed up into glens which in a state of nature would starve a goat.

The special culture of the country--more and more special as we run eastward--is that of the mulberry, the almond, and the olive. Along every hill-side, down every glen, lie orchard-rows of the precious pollards. The mulberries are of richest dark velvet green; the almonds, one glory of rose-colour in early spring, are now of a paler and colder green; the olives (as all the world knows) of a dusty grey, which looks all the more desolate in the pruning time of early spring, when half the boughs of the evergreen are cut out, leaving the trees stripped as by a tempest, and are carried home for fire- wood in the quaint little carts, with their solid creaking wheels, drawn by dove-coloured kine. Very ancient are some of these olives, or rather, olive-groups. For when the tree grows old, it splits, and falls asunder, as do often our pollard willows; the bark heals over on the inside of each fragment, and what was one tree becomes many, springing from a single root, and bearing such signs of exceeding age that one can well believe the country tale, how in the olive grounds around Nismes are still fruiting olives which have furnished oil for the fair Roman dames who cooled themselves in the sacred fountain of Nemausa, in the days of the twelve Caesars.

Between the pollard rows are everywhere the rows of vines, or of what will be vines when summer comes, but are now black knobbed and gnarled clubs, without a sign of life save here and there one fat green shoot of leaf and tendril bursting forth from the seemingly dead stick.

One who sees that sight may find a new meaning and beauty in the mystic words, 'I am the vine, ye are the branches.' It is not merely the connection between branch and stem, common to all trees; not merely the exhilarating and seemingly inspiring properties of the grape, which made the very heathens look upon it as the sacred and miraculous fruit, the special gift of God; not merely the pruning out of the unfruitful branches, to be burned as fire-wood, or--after the old Roman fashion, which I believe endures still in these parts-- buried as manure at the foot of the parent stem; not merely these, but the seeming death of the vine, shorn of all its beauty, its fruitfulness, of every branch and twig which it had borne the year before, and left unsightly and seemingly ruined, to its winter's sleep; and then bursting forth again, by an irresistible inward life, into fresh branches spreading and trailing far and wide, and tossing their golden tendrils to the sun.

This thought, surely--the emblem of the living Church springing from the corpse of the dead Christ, who yet should rise and be alive for evermore--enters into, it may be forms an integral part of, the meaning of, that prophecy of all prophecies.

One ought to look, with something of filial reverence, on the agriculture of the district into which we are penetrating; for it is the parent of our own. From hence, or strictly speaking from the Mediterranean shore beyond us, spread northward and westward through France, Belgium, and Britain, all the tillage which we knew--at least till a hundred years ago--beyond the primaeval plan of clearing, or surface-burning, the forests, growing miserable white crops as long as they would yield, and then letting the land relapse, for twenty years, into miserable pasture. This process (which lingered thirty years ago in remote parts of Devon), and nothing better, seems to have been that change of cultivated lands which Tacitus ascribes to the ancient Germans. Rotation of crops, in any true sense, came to us from Provence and Languedoc; and with it, subsoiling; irrigation; all our artificial grasses, with lucerne at the head of the list; our peas and beans; some of our most important roots; almost all our garden flowers, vegetables, fruits, the fig, the mulberry, the vine-- (the olive and the maize came with them from the East, but dared go no further north)--and I know not what more; till we may say, that-- saving subsoil-draining, which their climate does not need--the ancestors of these good folks were better farmers fifteen hundred years ago, than too many of our countrymen are at this day.

So they toil, and thrive, and bless God, under the glorious sun; and as for rain--they have not had rain for these two months--(I speak of April, 1864)--and, though the white limestone dust is ankle deep on every road, say that they want none for two months more, thanks, it is to be presumed, to their deep tillage, which puts the plant-roots out of the reach of drought. In spring they feed their silkworms, and wind their silk. In summer they reap their crops, and hang the maize-heads from their rafters for their own winter food, while they sell the wheat to the poor creatures, objects of their pity, who live in towns, and are forced to eat white bread. From spring to autumn they have fruit, and to spare, for themselves and for their customers; and with the autumn comes the vintage, and all its classic revelries. A happy folk--under a happy clime; which yet has its drawbacks, like all climes on earth. Terrible thunderstorms sweep over it, hail-laden, killing, battering, drowning, destroying in an hour the labours of the year; and there are ugly mistral winds likewise, of which it may be fairly said, that he who can face an eight days' mistral, without finding his life a burden, must be either a very valiant man, or have neither liver nor mucous membrane.

For on a sudden, after still and burning weather, the thermometer suddenly falls from thirty to forty degrees; and out of the north- west rushes a chilly hurricane, blowing fiercer and fiercer each day toward nightfall, and lulling in the small hours, only to burst forth again at sunrise. Parched are all lips and eyes; for the air is full of dust, yea, even of gravel which cuts like hail. Aching are all right-sides; for the sudden chill brings on all manner of liver complaints and indigestions. All who can afford it, draw tight the jalousies, and sulk in darkness; the leaves are parched, as by an Atlantic gale; the air is filled with lurid haze, as in an English north-east wind; and no man can breathe freely, or eat his bread with joy, until the plague is past.

What is the cause of these mistrals; why all the cold air of Central France should be suddenly seized with madness, and rush into the sea between the Alps and the Pyrenees; whether the great heat of the sun, acting on the Mediterranean basin, raises up thence--as from the Gulf of Mexico--columns of warm light air, whose place has to be supplied by colder and heavier air from inland; whether the north-west mistral is, or is not, a diverted north-easter; an arctic current which, in its right road toward the tropics across the centre of France, has been called to the eastward of the Pyrenees (instead of, as usual, to the westward), by the sudden demand for cold air,--all this let men of science decide; and having discovered what causes the mistral, discover also what will prevent it. That would be indeed a triumph of science, and a boon to tortured humanity.

But after all, man is a worse enemy to man than any of the brute forces of nature: and a more terrible scourge than mistral or tempest swept over this land six hundred years ago, when it was, perhaps, the happiest and the most civilized portion of Europe. This was the scene of the Albigense Crusade: a tragedy of which the true history will never, perhaps, be written. It was not merely a persecution of real or supposed heretics; it was a national war, embittered by the ancient jealousies of race, between the Frank aristocracy of the north and the Gothic aristocracy of the south, who had perhaps acquired, with their half-Roman, half-Saracen civilization, mixtures both of Roman and of Saracen blood. As "Aquitanians," "Provencaux,"--Roman Provincials, as they proudly called themselves, speaking the Langue d'Oc, and looking down on the northerners who spoke the Langue d'Oil as barbarians, they were in those days guilty of the capital crime of being foreigners; and as foreigners they were exterminated. What their religious tenets were, we shall never know. With the Vaudois, Waldenses, "poor men of Lyons," they must not be for a moment confounded. Their creed remains to us only in the calumnies of their enemies. The confessions in the archives of the Tolosan Inquisition, as elicited either under torture or fear of torture, deserve no confidence whatsoever. And as for the licentiousness of their poetry--which has been alleged as proof of their profligacy--I can only say, that it is no more licentious than the fabliaux of their French conquerors, while it is far more delicate and refined. Humanity, at least, has done justice to the Troubadours of the south; and confessed, even in the Middle Age, that to them the races of the north owed grace of expression, delicacy of sentiment, and that respect for women which soon was named chivalry; which looks on woman, not with suspicion and contempt, but with trust and adoration; and is not ashamed to obey her as "mistress," instead of treating her as a slave.

But these Albigenses must have had something in their hearts for which it was worth while to die. At Aviguonet, that little grey town on the crag above the railway, they burst into the place, maddened by the cruelties of the Inquisitor (an archdeacon, if I recollect rightly, from Toulouse), and slew him then and there. They were shut up in the town, and withstood heroically a long and miserable siege. At last they were starved out. The conquerors offered them their lives--so say the French stories--if they would recant. But they would not. They were thrust together into one of those stone-walled enclosures below the town, heaped over with vine-twigs and maize- stalks, and burned alive; and among them a young lady of the highest rank, who had passed through all the horrors of the siege, and was offered life, wealth, and honour, if she would turn.

Surely profligate infidels do not so die; and these poor souls, whatever were their sins or their confusions, must be numbered among the heroes of the human race.

But the world has mended since then, and so has the French character. Even before the Revolution of 1793, it was softening fast. The massacres of 1562 were not as horrible as those of the Albigense Crusade, though committed--which the former were not--under severe provocation. The massacres of 1793--in spite of all that has been said--were far less horrible than those of 1562, though they were the outpouring of centuries of pardonable fury and indignation. The crimes of the Terreur Blanche, at the Restoration--though ugly things were done in the south, especially in Nismes--were far less horrible again; though they were, for the most part, acts of direct personal retaliation on the republicans of 1793. And since then the French heart has softened fast. The irritating sense of hereditary wrong has passed away. The Frenchman conceives that justice is done to him, according to his own notions thereof. He has his share of the soil, without which no Celtic populace will ever be content. He has fair play in the battle of life; and a 'Carriere ouverte aux talens.' He has equal law and justice between man and man. And he is content; and under the sunshine of contentment and self-respect, his native good-nature expands; and he shows himself what he is, not merely a valiant and capable, but an honest, kindly, charitable man.

Yes. France has grown better, and has been growing better, I believe, for centuries past. And the difference between the France of the middle age and the France of the present day, is fitly typified by the difference between the new Carcassone below and the old Carcassone above, where every traveller, even if he be no antiquarian, should stop and gaze about a while.

The contrast is complete; and one for which a man who loves his fellow-men should surely return devout thanks to Almighty God. Below, on the west bank of the river, is the new town, spreading and growing, unwalled, for its fortifications are now replaced by boulevards and avenues; full of handsome houses; squares where, beneath the plane-tree shade, marble fountains pour out perpetual health and coolness; manufactories of gay woollens; healthy, cheerful, market folk; comfortable burghers; industry and peace. We pass outside to the great basin of the Canal de Languedoc, and get more avenues of stately trees, and among them the red marble statue of Riquet, whose genius planned and carried out the mighty canal which joins the ocean to the sea; the wonder of its day, which proved the French to be, at least in the eighteenth century, the master- engineers of the world; the only people who still inherited the mechanical skill and daring of their Roman civilizers. Riquet bore the labour of that canal--and the calumny and obstructiveness, too, which tried to prevent its formation; France bore the expense; Louis Quatorze, of course, the glory; and no one, it is to be feared, the profit: for the navigation of the Garonne at the one extremity, and of the Mediterranean shallows at the other, were left unimproved till of late years, and the canal has become practically useful only just in time to be superseded by the railroads.

Now cross the Aude. Look down upon the willow and aspen copses, where over the heads of busy washerwomen, the nightingale and the hippolais crowded together away from the dusty plains and downs, shake the copses with their song; and then toil upward to the grey fortress tower on the grey limestone knoll; and pass, out of nature and her pure sunshine, into the black shadow of the unnatural Middle Age; into the region of dirt and darkness, cruelty and fear; grim fortresses, crowded houses, narrow streets, and pestilence. Pass through the outer circle of walls, of the latter part of the thirteenth century, to examine--for their architecture is a whole history engraved in stones--the ancient walls of the inner enceinte; massive Roman below, patched with striped Visigothic work, with mean and hasty Moorish, with graceful, though heavy, Romanesque of the times of the Troubadours; a whole museum of ancient fortifications, which has been restored, stone by stone, through the learning of M. Viollet le Duc and the public spirit of the late Emperor. Pass in under the gateway and give yourself up to legends. There grins down on you the broad image of the mythic Dame Carcas, who defended the town single-handed against Charlemagne, till this tower fell down by miracle, and let in the Christian host. But do not believe that she gave to the place its name of Carcassone; for the first syllable of the word is hint enough that it was, long ere her days, a Celtic caer, or hill-fortress. Pause at the inner gate; you need not exactly believe that when the English Crusader, Simon de Montfort, burst it open, and behold, the town within was empty and desolate, he cried: 'Did I not tell you that those heretics were devils; and behold, being devils, they have vanished into air.' You must believe, I fear, that of the great multitude who had been crowded, starving, and fever-stricken within, he found four hundred poor wretches who had lingered behind, and burnt them all alive. You need not believe that that is the mouth of the underground passage which runs all the way from the distant hills, through which the Vicomte de Beziers, after telling Simon de Montfort and the Abbot of Citeaux that he would sooner be flayed alive than betray the poor folk who had taken refuge with him, got them all safe away, men, women, and children. You need not believe that that great vaulted chamber was the 'Chamber of the Inquisition.' But you must believe that those two ugly rings let into the roof were put there for the torture of the cord; and that many a naked wretch has dangled from them ere now, confessing anything and everything that he--or, alas she--was bidden. But these and their like are the usual furniture of every mediaeval court of justice; and torture was not altogether abolished in France till the latter part of the eighteenth century. You need not believe, again, that that circular tower on the opposite side of the town was really the 'Tower of the Inquisition;' for many a feudal lord, besides the Inquisitors, had their dens of cruelty in those old times. You need not even believe--though it is too likely to be true--that that great fireplace in the little first-floor room served for the torture of the scarpines. But you must believe that in that little round den beneath it, only approached by a trap in the floor, two skeletons were found fastened by those chains to that central pillar, having died and rotted forgotten in that horrid oubliette-- how many centuries ago?

'Plusieurs ont gemis la bas,' said M. Viollet le Duc's foreman of the works, as he led us out of that evil hole, to look, with eyes and hearts refreshed by the change, at a curious Visigothic tower, in which the good bishop Sidonius Apollinaris may have told of the last Burgundian invasion of his Auvergne to the good king Theodoric of the West Goths.

If anyone wishes to learn what the Middle Ages were like, let him go to Carcassone and see.

And now onward to Narbonne--or rather, to what was once Narbonne; one of the earliest colonies ever founded by the Romans; then the capital of the Visigothic kingdom; then of an Arab kingdom: now a dull fortified town--of a filth unspeakable, and not to be forgotten or forgiven. Stay not therein an hour, lest you take fever, or worse: but come out of the gate over the drawbridge, and stroll down the canal. Look back a moment, though, across the ditch. The whole face of the wall is a museum of Roman gods, tombs, inscriptions, bas- reliefs: the wreck of Martial's 'Pulcherrima Narbo,' the old Roman city, which was demolished by Louis XIII., to build the ugly fortifications of the then new fashion, now antiquated and useless. Take one glance, and walk on, to look at live Nature--far more interesting than dead Art.

Everything fattens in the close damp air of the canal. The great flat, with its heavy crops, puts you in mind of the richest English lowland--save for the total want of old meadows. The weeds on the bank are English in type, only larger and richer--as becomes the climate. But as you look among them, you see forms utterly new and strange, whose kinship you cannot fancy, but which remind you that you are nearing Italy, and Greece, and Africa. And in the hedges are great bay-trees; and inside them, orchards of standard fig and white mulberry, with its long yearling shoots of glorious green--soon to be stripped bare for the silkworms; and here and there long lines of cypresses, black against the bright green plain and bright blue sky. No; you are not in Britain. Certainly not; for there is a drake (not a duck) quacking with feeble treble in that cypress, six feet over your head; and in Britain drakes do not live in trees. You look for the climbing palmipede, and see nothing: nor will you see; for the quacker is a tiny green tree-frog, who holds on by the suckers at the ends of his toes (with which he can climb a pane of glass, like a fly), and has learnt the squirrel's art of going invisible, without 'the receipt of fern-seed,' by simply keeping always on the further side of the branch.

But come back; for the air even here is suggestive of cholera and fever. The uncleanliness of these Narbonnois is shameless and shocking; and 'immondices' of every kind lie festering in the rainless heat. The sickened botanist retreats, and buys a bottle of Eau Bully--alias aromatic vinegar.

There, crowding yon hill, with handsome houses and churches, is Beziers--the blood-stained city. Beneath the pavement of that church, it is said, lie heaped together the remains of thousands of men, women, and children, slaughtered around their own altars, on that fatal day, when the Legate Amalric, asked by the knights how they should tell Catholics from heretics, cried, "Kill them all--the Lord will know his own."

We will pass on. We have had enough of horrors. And, beside, we are longing to hurry onward; for we are nearing the Mediterranean now. There are small skiffs lying under the dark tower of Agde, another place of blood, fitly built of black lava blocks, the offspring of the nether pit. The railway cuts through rolling banks of dark lava; and now, ahead of us, is the conical lava-hill of Cette, and the mouth of the Canal du Midi.

There it is, at last. The long line of heavenly blue; and over it, far away, the white-peaked lateen sails, which we have seen in pictures since our childhood; and there, close to the rail, beyond the sand-hills, delicate wavelets are breaking for ever on a yellow beach, each in exactly the same place as the one which fell before. One glance shows us children of the Atlantic, that we are on a tideless sea.

There it is,--the sacred sea. The sea of all civilization, and almost all history, girdled by the fairest countries in the world; set there that human beings from all its shores might mingle with each other, and become humane--the sea of Egypt, of Palestine, of Greece, of Italy, of Byzant, of Marseilles, and this Narbonnaise, 'more Roman than Rome herself,' to which we owe the greater part of our own progress; the sea, too, Algeria and Carthage, and Cyrene, and fair lands now desolate, surely not to be desolate for ever;--the sea of civilization. Not only to the Christian, nor to the classic scholar, but to every man to whom the progress of his race from barbarism toward humanity is dear, should the Mediterranean Sea be one of the most august and precious objects on this globe; and the first sight of it should inspire reverence and delight, as of coming home--home to a rich inheritance in which he has long believed by hearsay, but which he sees at last with his own mortal corporal eyes.

Exceedingly beautiful is that first view of the sea from Cette, though altogether different in character from the views of the Mediterranean which are common in every gallery of pictures. There is nothing to remind one of Claude, or Vernet, or Stanfield. No mountain-ranges far aloft, no cliffs toppling into the water, with convents and bastides perched on their crags; and seaports, with their land-locked harbours, and quaint lighthouses, nestling on the brink. That scenery begins on the other side of the Rhone mouth, and continues, I believe, almost without interruption, to the shores of Southern Palestine, one girdle of perpetual beauty.

But here, the rail runs along a narrow strip of sand, covered with straggling vines, and tall white iris, between the sea and the great Etang de Thau, a long narrow salt-lake, beyond which the wide lowlands of the Herault slide gently down, There is not a mountain, hardly a hill, visible for miles: but all around is the great sheet of blue glassy water: while the air is as glassy clear as the water, and through it, at seemingly immense distances, the land shows purple and orange, blue and grey, till the landscape is one great rainbow. White ships slide to and from far-off towns; fishermen lounge on the marshes, drying long lines of net. Everywhere is vastness, freedom, repose gentle and yet not melancholy; because with all, under the burning blue, there is that fresh wholesome heat, which in itself is life, and youth, and joy.

Beyond, nearer the mouths of the Rhone, there are, so men say, desolate marshes, tenanted by herds of half-wild horses; foul mud- banks, haunted by the pelican and the flamingo, and waders from the African shore; a region half land, half water, where dwell savage folk, decimated by fever and ague. But short of those Bouches du Rhone, the railway turns to the north, toward Montpellier and

'Arli, dove il Rhodano stagna.'

And at Cette ends this little tour from Ocean to Sea, with the wish that he who next travels that way may have as glorious weather, and as agreeable a companion, as the writer of these lines had in 1864.

[The end]
Charles Kingsley's essay: From Ocean To Sea