Page images
[ocr errors]

it vibrated fibres which had long been As soon as they descried us from tranquil, that it awoke from profound afar, they always came to meet us, sleep remembrances attached to hap- and to ask whence we came, whether py days; I perceived a veil between our country belonged to the republic, my heart and my thought, which I or was at war with it, and particularly would have found delightful, per- for what purpose we wanted the haps sad, perhaps to remove, &c. plants which we collected. Their woI gave myself up with emotion to men, especially, who are not so hand-, this sweet security, to this profound some as the men, are very inquisitive; sensation of co-existence, which the and I often found myself suddenly regions of our native country inspire." surrounded by several girls who put a It was the last day that we were to number of questions to me, of which breathe the free air of the Pyrenees, I could not answer to a single one, that we were to view their wondrous because their language, with the only pile, proudly defying the power of exception of the word citoyen, was man, but humbly yielding to that of totally unintelligible to me. Their time, that we were to pluck their economy is extremely simple, and plants, not remarkable for splendour their milk they treat in a very cleanly but for neatness, not large but closely manner. In order to keep it cool, gathered; it was the last day that we they place the vessel in which it is were to enjoy the friendly, upright, contained in a running brook, which instructive conversation of Ramond. gives it the temperature of the water. In all probability we were never to Such vessels are often found at some see him again, never to revisit these distance from the cottages, and I was regions. It was as if the grandeur of assured that they take no offence at nature made us doubly feel its loss; all, if a thirsty traveller makes free and the warm expressions of Ramond with the milk in order to slake his respecting the misfortunes of his thirst. For protecting their flocks country, and its disappointed hopes, against wolves, they have a peculiar and the fate of men, made us feel race of dogs, which I have seen no what we were going to lose in him. where else. They are uncommonly More therefore penetrated with in- large, strong, fierce, and have some distinct sensations, than inspired by resemblance to the Newfoundland clear ideas we reached Lac d'oncet, dog. Themselves, notwithstanding where a shepherd's family had newly their activity and courage, are not raised their cottage, following slowly very fond of going to war, except the blooming plants, as these the against the Spaniards. As all mounmelting snow. These people are of taineers, they feel an unquiet longing a very distinguished race; active, tall, for their home, whenever they come courageous, sprightly, almost con- down upon the plains; therefore it stantly singing, and extremely cu- happened, during my stay here, that out of several hundreds of conscripts, who were marched to Italy, the greater part returned within a few days after.


I have nowhere, not even on the luxuriant banks of the Loire, found the plants growing so close, as on the Pyrenees. On the space of four square feet, one may often count more than twenty different species, and a number of individuals of each. On the Alps, the same richness is said to exist; but in Norway I know it

does not.

It is really striking, how immediately the marks of the winter and the spring succeed each other in the mountains. On the borders of the melting snow, is always seen a host of Ranunculi, Gentianæ, etc. that unfold their blossoms, almost while their roots are yet covered with snow.

We soon came to the Pyrenean snow-line, which begins between twelve and thirteen hundred toises Here we above the level of the sea. were obliged to wade some distance through the snow, after which we reached the top, which was then quite bare. Our expectation was raised very high, yet it did not encompass all that lay before us. I was the first of the company who stood on the pinnacle of this temple of nature, and did not know whether I should think that my eyes were bewitched, or that nature was transformed, when, inC 2

stead of an immeasurable level of portion to the space, compared with
country, I discovered an immeasura- the time of vegetation, the richest
ble level of ice below my feet. I flora in the world.-What struck me
could not in the beginning collect my- particularly was the different aspect
self; I knew very well that there was which this mountain presents from
no icy ocean in this place: but that the plain, and from its top. Even
horizontal level which presented itself from Toulouse, where it is already
to my view, that shining whiteness, distinguishable among all the other
those round shells, reclining in the summits, until I stood at its base it
form of tiles upon each other, and appeared to me, at every step, more
appearing to be a little softer only evidently to be the firmest mass
than those which are seen on the fro- upon the earth, defying time, air, and
zen sea, all combined entirely to weather. From its top on the con-
mock my acquaintance with moun- trary, dreadful ruins prove to the
tain phenomena. Yet, in a little spectators, that those enemies work
time, I recovered from my surprise, on its destruction. If poets had more
and then I comprehended that a cloud frequently visited the mountains, I
deceived me by covering with a snow- do not think, that they would so ge-
white carpet the whole plain between nerally have adopted rocks as sym
the Pyrenees and Toulouse, a disco- bols of firmness and strength. Water
very not very pleasant, as by this our rends the firmest marble, and the air
hopes of saluting the lower earth were moulders the hardest granite; time
disappointed. Ramond, however, knows no resistance that can defy its
consoled us, by asserting, that it would power-Another observation which
soon disappear; and it did not last the view of this mountain must sug-
long before a gentle breeze raised the gest to every one who has his eyes
clouds, and unveiled that magnificent, open for the operations of nature,
extensive plain, which on the north- even though he has not read the
ern side borders upon the Pyrenees. book of Ramond is this, that the
From this point, the highest on steady, never inactive, course of time
which I ever stood, I looked over so is no where so strongly perceived as
much, that the prospect from the top on the mountains. Here again let
of Brocken, and from the tower at me transcribe a few lines from Ra-
Orleans can bear no comparison with mond; for it is certainly better to
it. Behind us lay, in dreadful forms, borrow his expressions than to steal
mountains on mountains as far as the his ideas, which I could not easily
frontiers of Spain; Vignemale and avoid in writing upon this subject
Neoveille were distinguished by their after having read his work :—
huge masses of snow, and the moun-
tains near Gavarnie by their bluish
ice. Before us the eye met no bound-
ary, for even beyond Toulouse (more
than 80 miles), land was faintly dis-
cerned. The summit of this moun-
tain is hardly so large as the top of the
Round Tower*; it is through the
greater part of the year covered with
snow; it lies exposed to all winds,
and the thin mould with which it is unshakeable; and by changing in our
overspread does hardly appear to presence forms, which at a distance
contain any nourishment for plants, we were accustomed to consider as
and scarcely to be compact enough eterral. On the plains a whole year
for their fastening in it; notwith- has hardly a right to advertise us,
standing all this, about a hundred that it plunges itself into the abyss of
different species of plants grow on the past. Time seems to stop when it
this narrow spot, all of which arrive gives existence, when it developes,
at perfection. It has, perhaps in pro- when it supports it; we do not per
ceive that it passes away, tili we see it
destroy its own work. It is not the
spring crowned with its flowers, it is

"Time skims with an easy flight
over the rest of the earth, but here it
imprints deep traces of its passage;
and while elsewhere it disguises to us
the rapidity of its course, by hurry-
ing ourselves along more rapidly,
than the objects around us, in the
mounta nic displays what is frightful
in this celerity, by shaking before our
eyes a pile that to our weakness seemed

The astronomical observatory at Copenhagen.-Transi.


not the autumn lavish of its fruits, it and the infirm, from perishing under is not the brilliant succession of beau- the cold hand of pinching want, and tiful days, which put us in mind that for the just and equitable deci-ions of the seasons fly away; the melancholy the judges in the different courts of sensation of their instability penetrates law; it is then painful to see any glarus for the first time, when the leaf inginconsistencies, or gross errors, eifais, when the tree withers, when the ther silently countenanced or carelessdays are shortened, when nature in ly overlooked by those who are legally mourning shuts up the circle of her authorized to prevent abuses in pubreproductions. On these rocks, on the lic stations.

contrary, on these mountains, which The raising money by taxation on encompass the ice of an eternal winter, the landholder, the merchant, the nothing dissipates the mind from the manufacturer, and the mechanic, to contemplation of the ravages of time. maintain a large part of the commuThe fatal hour-glass runs on with a uni- nity in idleness, is, I hope, a singular form rapidity; every minute gives them phenomenon in the political econoa sensible blow; the snow destroys them my of other nations; but singular as without intermission, the torrent la- it may appear, we may learn from cerates them without cessation; their it this important truth, that errors ruins tumble down without interval, and imperfections will float down Themselves insensible to spring, and to us on the current of time; and in faithful to their only tendency, their their passage, they will gain sufficient sole affair is to perish, and their front, influence to mar the best human indisguising nothing of the power of stitution ever yet formed by man, age, speaks to our eyes of nothing but when it is left to the direction of unof death, while the rest of nature seems skilful hands. intoxicated with the illusions of life." I have already pointed out in a preIt was through such memorials of ceding letter, on the management of the power and eternal course of time, the affairs of the poor within the through such irreproductible scenes walls of the metropolis, some of the of nature, that Ramond conducted us many evils arising from the inattenback. Who can write the above, can tion of magistrates, officers, and inalso converse upon the subject; you habitants, to their parochial concerns; will therefore easily conceive, that but I now intend to consider the this excursion was very instructive, subject upon a much larger scale, and the more so, as the structure of and to shew that when an evil is this mountain for the singular form once suffered to take root, it may, of the strata, and the union of the though small at its beginning, become lime with the granite, is a geological a great tree, and overshadow the curiosity. We had now seen the land.

winter on the top of the mountain, in It is an established fact published the evening we enjoyed the spring at under the sanction of the late parliaBarege. The next morning we met ment, from the returns of the parish the summer at Lutz, and the autumn oflicers, A. D. 1803, that the inhaat Pierresite. So near do the seasons bitants of the manufacturing and of the year approach each other in other counties are as inattentive as these parts. The maize planted two the citizens of London to the indolent months ago at Tarbes was now al- state in which their paupers are sufmost ripe; at Toulouse all fruits fered to live. If there are several were in perfection, and a few days parishes or places in this kingdom, after we found, in Perpignan, Fruc- where they have made feble attidor changed into Vandeniaire. tempts to employ their poor, in houses provided for their reception; there are others where they remain totally idle, to be maintained by the sweat and the industry of their neighbours.

Is not this an inexcusable fault in magistrates and parish officers? and does it not shew that there is but little reform to be expected from the pal

Letter the 10th, on the Management
of the
airs of the Poor.


a nation is famed from east to west, for the maildness of its government, for its charitable institutions, for the care that hath been taken to prevent the aged, the sick,


On the Affairs of the Poor.

sied efforts of those who have suffered parishes in each county which made
evils to increase under them which returns to parliament; with the num-
they should have endeavoured to sup- ber of workhouses in each, and how
press by compulsory laws?
a general knowledge of the state of ployed, their number, and how much
That many in which the poor were em-
the kingdom may be seen at one they earned; and the same of those
view, I have given the following who were entirely idle, and lived at
table, which contains the number of the public cost.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

If any reflecting person should they might do, there will be a further cast his eye over the foregoing table, deficiency of 41,7507. 10s. which he will be struck with astonishment added to the foregoing sum will make at the picture it represents to him. 193 0907. 45. through idleness only. He will see that 13070 parishes, or If this be not sufficient to rouse the phices, made returns to parlia- attention of officers, magistrates, legisment, and of which number there lators, and people to look into their were 4100 which maintained a part parochial concerns, we must conof their poor in workhouses. There sider ourselves as sinking beyond any were also at the time of making the hope of recovery, as it is the natural return 1446 houses, with 24087 pau- progress of evils to proceed from very pers, who earned something towards bad to much worse. When we see their support; and there were 2054 and feel the yearly effects of drunhouses which contained 58569 poor kenness and idleness, in making persons who were kept in a state of such rapid encroachments on our idleness, and did not bring in one landed property, it surely can neihalfpenny towards their maintenance. ther be prudent nor politic to conThey were fed by the sweat and toil tinue our supine and lethargic inacof others; and indolently dragged on tivity, in dosing over an evil which a life, useless to themselves, and a necessity will compel us, sooner or burden to others. It must be ac- later, to face. It might be expected, knowledged, that there were many that in manufacturing counties the laaged, sick, and infirm persons, and bour of the poor would be more proyoung children among them, incapa- ductive, as they may all be constantly ble of earning any thing; but they employed in such work as is suitable might upon an average, without to their strength, from six years to being hurt, have earned each one sixty; but this is very far from being shilling a week. the case.

In the united workhouse for the city of Canterbury, they earned one with another, three pounds six shillings and eight peuce halfpenny, within the year.

In the town of Manchester they had 261 paupers in their house, and their earnings amounted to 228/. 15s. and the average 17 s. 3 d. each person for the year.

In the workhouse for the borough of Leeds, 245 paupers earned 4197. 7 s. 11. in the year, which amounted to no more than 17. 14s. 2d 4. each person.

At Whitney they had in their house 129 poor persons, who produced by their labour 105/. 1s. 4d. ; or 16s. 34d. each person, by the year.

The workhouse for the city of Coventry contained 129 paupers, and their labour amounted to 3327. lồs.4d. or 2. 11s. 7d. each person for the year.

The labour of 58,669 paupers will produce 152,239 8s; but as Mr. Pitt, during his administration, never counted money by less than millions,

It requires no other proof but the returns of the officers to parliament, that a general languor prevails in most of the workhouses in the kingdom, from east to west, and from north to south; even where they

tens of thousands and hundreds of have made some ineffectual attempts
thousands will perhaps be thought
beneath our notice, till we can raise
them no longer.

If we consider that 24.087 paupers
earn eight-pence in a week less than

At the town of Ware, in Hertfordshire, the master of the workhouse found the raw materials, and gave the parishioners one hundred pounds for the labour of forty paupers for a year; and we may be assured that he did not over-rate the value of it.

What, then, have we been doing? The 82,750 paupers, maintained in workhouses, earned 70,9701. 13 s. 1014. which will not average more than 17 s. 1 d. for each person by the year, and not quite four pence a week. The yearly loss to the public, upon this calculation, will be very considerable.

to employ the poor to advantage.

The plan which is frequently pursued, where they have any, is the spinning and weaving linen for the use of the house, and making a few

« PreviousContinue »