Travels Through France And Italy

Part 4 out of 8

tedious epistle, and am--Very sincerely, dear Sir, Your
affectionate, humble servant.


NICE, January 15, 1764.

DEAR SIR,--I am at last settled at Nice, and have leisure to give
you some account of this very remarkable place. The county of
Nice extends about fourscore miles in length, and in some places
it is thirty miles broad. It contains several small towns, and a
great number of villages; all of which, this capital excepted,
are situated among mountains, the most extensive plain of the
whole country being this where I now am, in the neighbourhood of
Nice. The length of it does not exceed two miles, nor is the
breadth of it, in any part, above one. It is bounded by the
Mediterranean on the south. From the sea-shore, the maritime Alps
begin with hills of a gentle ascent, rising into mountains that
form a sweep or amphitheatre ending at Montalban, which overhangs
the town of Villa Franca. On the west side of this mountain, and
in the eastern extremity of the amphitheatre, stands the city of
Nice, wedged in between a steep rock and the little river
Paglion, which descends from the mountains, and washing the town-walls
on the west side, falls into the sea, after having filled
some canals for the use of the inhabitants. There is a stone-bridge
of three arches over it, by which those who come from
Provence enter the city. The channel of it is very broad, but
generally dry in many places; the water (as in the Var) dividing
itself into several small streams. The Paglion being fed by
melted snow and rain in the mountains, is quite dry in summer;
but it is sometimes swelled by sudden rains to a very formidable
torrent. This was the case in the year 1744, when the French and
Spanish armies attacked eighteen Piedmontese battalions, which
were posted on the side of Montalban. The assailants were
repulsed with the loss of four thousand men, some hundreds of
whom perished in repassing the Paglion, which had swelled to a
surprising degree during the battle, in consequence of a heavy
continued rain. This rain was of great service to the
Piedmontese, as it prevented one half of the enemy from passing
the river to sustain the other. Five hundred were taken
prisoners: but the Piedmontese, foreseeing they should be
surrounded next day by the French, who had penetrated behind
them, by a pass in the mountains, retired in the night. Being
received on board the English Fleet, which lay at Villa Franca,
they were conveyed to Oneglia. In examining the bodies of those
that were killed in the battle, the inhabitants of Nice
perceived, that a great number of the Spanish soldiers were
circumcised; a circumstance, from which they concluded, that a
great many Jews engage in the service of his Catholic majesty. I
am of a different opinion. The Jews are the least of any people
that I know, addicted to a military life. I rather imagine they
were of the Moorish race, who have subsisted in Spain, since the
expulsion of their brethren; and though they conform externally
to the rites of the Catholic religion, still retain in private
their attachment to the law of Mahomet.

The city of Nice is built in form of an irregular isosceles
triangle, the base of which fronts the sea. On the west side it
is surrounded by a wall and rampart; on the east, it is over-hung
by a rock, on which we see the ruins of an old castle, which,
before the invention of artillery, was counted impregnable. It
was taken and dismantled by marechal Catinat, in the time of
Victor Amadaeus, the father of his Sardinian majesty. It was
afterwards finally demolished by the duke of Berwick towards the
latter end of queen Anne's war. To repair it would be a very
unnecessary expence, as it is commanded by Montalban, and several
other eminences.

The town of Nice is altogether indefensible, and therefore
without fortifications. There are only two iron guns upon a
bastion that fronts the beach; and here the French had formed a
considerable battery against the English cruisers, in the war of
1744, when the Mareschal Duke de Belleisle had his headquarters
at Nice. This little town, situated in the bay of Antibes, is
almost equidistant from Marseilles, Turin, and Genoa, the first
and last being about thirty leagues from hence by sea; and the
capital of Piedmont at the same distance to the northward, over
the mountains. It lies exactly opposite to Capo di Ferro, on the
coast of Barbary; and, the islands of Sardinia and Corsica are
laid down about two degrees to the eastward, almost exactly in a
line with Genoa. This little town, hardly a mile in
circumference, is said to contain twelve thousand inhabitants.
The streets are narrow; the houses are built of stone, and the
windows in general are fitted with paper instead of glass. This
expedient would not answer in a country subject to rain and
storms; but here, where there is very little of either, the paper
lozenges answer tolerably well. The bourgeois, however, begin to
have their houses sashed with glass. Between the town-wall and
the sea, the fishermen haul up their boats upon the open beach;
but on the other side of the rock, where the castle stood, is the
port or harbour of Nice, upon which some money has been expended.
It is a small basin, defended to seaward by a mole of free-stone,
which is much better contrived than executed: for the sea has
already made three breaches in it; and in all probability, in
another winter, the extremity of it will be carried quite away.
It would require the talents of a very skilful architect to lay
the foundation of a good mole, on an open beach like this;
exposed to the swell of the whole Mediterranean, without any
island or rock in the offing, to break the force of the waves.
Besides, the shore is bold, and the bottom foul. There are
seventeen feet of water in the basin, sufficient to float vessels
of one hundred and fifty ton; and this is chiefly supplied by a
small stream of very fine water; another great convenience for
shipping. On the side of the mole, there is a constant guard of
soldiers, and a battery of seven cannon, pointing to the sea. On
the other side, there is a curious manufacture for twisting or
reeling silk; a tavern, a coffee-house, and several other
buildings, for the convenience of the sea-faring people. Without
the harbour, is a lazarette, where persons coming from infected
places, are obliged to perform quarantine. The harbour has been
declared a free-port, and it is generally full of tartans,
polacres, and other small vessels, that come from Sardinia,
Ivica, Italy, and Spain, loaded with salt, wine, and other
commodities; but here is no trade of any great consequence.

The city of Nice is provided with a senate, which administers
justice under the auspices of an avocat-general, sent hither by
the king. The internal oeconomy of the town is managed by four
consuls; one for the noblesse. another for the merchants, a third
for the bourgeois, and a fourth for the peasants. These are
chosen annually from the town-council. They keep the streets and
markets in order, and superintend the public works. There is also
an intendant, who takes care of his majesty's revenue: but there
is a discretionary power lodged in the person of the commandant,
who is always an officer of rank in the service, and has under
his immediate command the regiment which is here in garrison.
That which is here now is a Swiss battalion, of which the king
has five or six in his service. There is likewise a regiment of
militia, which is exercised once a year. But of all these
particulars, I shall speak more fully on another occasion.

When I stand upon the rampart, and look round me, I can scarce
help thinking myself inchanted. The small extent of country which
I see, is all cultivated like a garden. Indeed, the plain
presents nothing but gardens, full of green trees, loaded with
oranges, lemons, citrons, and bergamots, which make a delightful
appearance. If you examine them more nearly, you will find
plantations of green pease ready to gather; all sorts of
sallading, and pot-herbs, in perfection; and plats of roses,
carnations, ranunculas, anemonies, and daffodils, blowing in full
glory, with such beauty, vigour, and perfume, as no flower in
England ever exhibited.

I must tell you, that presents of carnations are sent from hence,
in the winter, to Turin and Paris; nay, sometimes as far as
London, by the post. They are packed up in a wooden box, without
any sort of preparation, one pressed upon another: the person who
receives them, cuts off a little bit of the stalk, and steeps
them for two hours in vinegar and water, when they recover their
full bloom and beauty. Then he places them in water-bottles, in
an apartment where they are screened from the severities of the
weather; and they will continue fresh and unfaded the best part
of a month.

Amidst the plantations in the neighbourhood of Nice, appear a
vast number of white bastides, or country-houses, which make a
dazzling shew. Some few of these are good villas, belonging to
the noblesse of this county; and even some of the bourgeois are
provided with pretty lodgeable cassines; but in general, they are
the habitations of the peasants, and contain nothing but misery
and vermin. They are all built square; and, being whitened with
lime or plaister, contribute greatly to the richness of the view.
The hills are shaded to the tops with olive-trees, which are
always green; and those hills are over-topped by more distant
mountains, covered with snow. When I turn myself towards the sea,
the view is bounded by the horizon; yet in a clear morning, one
can perceive the high lands of Corsica. On the right hand, it is
terminated by Antibes, and the mountain of Esterelles, which I
described in my last. As for the weather, you will conclude, from
what I have said of the oranges, flowers, etc. that it must be
wonderfully mild and serene: but of the climate, I shall speak
hereafter. Let me only observe, en passant, that the houses in
general have no chimnies, but in their kitchens; and that many
people, even of condition, at Nice, have no fire in their
chambers, during the whole winter. When the weather happens to be
a little more sharp than usual, they warm their apartments with a
brasiere or pan of charcoal.

Though Nice itself retains few marks of antient splendor, there
are considerable monuments of antiquity in its neighbourhood.
About two short miles from the town, upon the summit of a pretty
high hill, we find the ruins of the antient city Cemenelion, now
called Cimia, which was once the metropolis of the Maritime Alps,
and the scat of a Roman president. With respect to situation,
nothing could be more agreeable or salubrious. It stood upon the
gentle ascent and summit of a hill, fronting the Mediterranean;
from the shore of which, it is distant about half a league; and,
on the other side, it overlooked a bottom, or narrow vale,
through which the Paglion (antiently called Paulo) runs towards
the walls of Nice. It was inhabited by a people, whom Ptolomy and
Pliny call the Vedantij: but these were undoubtedly mixed with a
Roman colony, as appears by the monuments which still remain; I
mean the ruins of an amphitheatre, a temple of Apollo, baths,
aqueducts, sepulchral, and other stones, with inscriptions, and a
great number of medals which the peasants have found by accident,
in digging and labouring the vineyards and cornfields, which now
cover the ground where the city stood.

Touching this city, very little is to be learned from the antient
historians: but that it was the seat of a Roman praeses, is
proved by the two following inscriptions, which are still extant.

V. E. P.

By the Senate of Cemenelion, Dedicated to His Excellency P.
Aelius Severinus, the best of Governors and Patrons.

This is now in the possession of the count de Gubernatis, who has
a country-house upon the spot. The other, found near the same
place, is in praise of the praeses Marcus Aurelius Masculus.

V. E.

Inscribed by the three corporations under the authority of the
Senate, to their most worthy Patron, His Excellency M. Aurelius
Masculus, in testimony of their gratitude for the blessings of
his incorruptible administration, his wonderful affability to all
without Distinction, his generous Distribution of Corn in time of
Dearth, his munificence in repairing the ruinous aqueduct, in
searching for, discovering and restoring the water to its former
course for the Benefit of the Community.

This president well deserved such a mark of respect from a people
whom he had assisted in two such essential articles, as their
corn and their water. You know the praeses of a Roman province
had the jus sigendi clavi, the right to drive a nail in the
Kalendar, the privilege of wearing the latus clavus, or broad
studs on his garment, the gladius, infula, praetexta, purpura &
annulus aureus, the Sword, Diadem, purple Robe, and gold Ring, he
had his vasa, vehicula, apparitores, Scipio eburneus, & sella
curulis, Kettledrums, [I know the kettledrum is a modern
invention; but the vasa militari modo conclamata was something
analogous.] Chariots, Pursuivants, ivory staff, and chair of

I shall give you one more sepulchral inscription on a marble,
which is now placed over the gate of the church belonging to the
convent of St. Pont, a venerable building, which stands at the
bottom of the hill, fronting the north side of the town of Nice.
This St. Pont, or Pontius, was a Roman convert to Christianity,
who suffered martyrdom at Cemenelion in the year 261, during the
reigns of the emperors Valerian and Gallienus. The legends
recount some ridiculous miracles wrought in favour of this saint,
both before and after his death. Charles V. emperor of Germany
and king of Spain, caused this monastery to be built on the spot
where Pontius suffered decapitation. But to return to the
inscription: it appears in these words.

M. M. A.

Freely consecrated by Aurelius Rhodismanus, the Emperor's
Freedman, to the much honoured memory of his dear Consort Flavia
Aurelia of Rome, a woman equally distinguished by her unblemished
Virtue and conjugal affection. His children Martial and Aurelia
Romula deeply affected and distressed by the Violence of his
Grief, erected and dedicated a monument to their dear deserving
Parent. [I don't pretend to translate these inscriptions
literally, because I am doubtful about the meaning of some

The amphitheatre of Cemenelion is but very small, compared to
that of Nismes. The arena is ploughed up, and bears corn: some of
the seats remain, and part of two opposite porticos; but all the
columns, and the external facade of the building, are taken away
so that it is impossible to judge of the architecture, all we can
perceive is, that it was built in an oval form. About one hundred
paces from the amphitheatre stood an antient temple, supposed to
have been dedicated to Apollo. The original roof is demolished,
as well as the portico; the vestiges of which may still be
traced. The part called the Basilica, and about one half of the
Cella Sanctior, remain, and are converted into the dwelling-house
and stable of the peasant who takes care of the count de
Gubernatis's garden, in which this monument stands. In the Cella
Sanctior, I found a lean cow, a he-goat, and a jack-ass; the very
same conjunction of animals which I had seen drawing a plough in
Burgundy. Several mutilated statues have been dug up from the
ruins of this temple; and a great number of medals have been
found in the different vineyards which now occupy the space upon
which stood the antient city of Cemenelion. These were of gold,
silver, and brass. Many of them were presented to Charles Emanuel
I. duke of Savoy. The prince of Monaco has a good number of them
in his collection; and the rest are in private hands. The
peasants, in digging, have likewise found many urns,
lachrymatories, and sepulchral stones, with epitaphs, which are
now dispersed among different convents and private houses. All
this ground is a rich mine of antiquities, which, if properly
worked, would produce a great number of valuable curiosities.
Just by the temple of Apollo were the ruins of a bath, composed
of great blocks of marble, which have been taken away for the
purposes of modern building. In all probability, many other noble
monuments of this city have been dilapidated by the same
barbarous oeconomy. There are some subterranean vaults, through
which the water was conducted to this bath, still extant in the
garden of the count de Gubernatis. Of the aqueduct that conveyed
water to the town, I can say very little, but that it was scooped
through a mountain: that this subterranean passage was discovered
some years ago, by removing the rubbish which choaked it up: that
the people penetrating a considerable way, by the help of lighted
torches, found a very plentiful stream of water flowing in an
aqueduct, as high as an ordinary man, arched over head, and lined
with a sort of cement. They could not, however, trace this stream
to its source; and it is again stopped up with earth and rubbish.
There is not a soul in this country, who has either spirit or
understanding to conduct an inquiry of this kind. Hard by the
amphitheatre is a convent of Recollets, built in a very romantic
situation, on the brink of a precipice. On one side of their
garden, they ascend to a kind of esplanade, which they say was
part of the citadel of Cemenelion. They have planted it with
cypress-trees, and flowering-shrubs. One of the monks told me,
that it is vaulted below, as they can plainly perceive by the
sound of their instruments used in houghing the ground. A very
small expence would bring the secrets of this cavern to light.
They have nothing to do, but to make a breach in the wall, which
appears uncovered towards the garden.

The city of Cemenelion was first sacked by the Longobards, who
made an irruption into Provence, under their king Alboinus, about
the middle of the sixth century.
It was afterwards totally destroyed by the Saracens, who, at
different times, ravaged this whole coast. The remains of the
people are supposed to have changed their habitation, and formed
a coalition with the inhabitants of Nice.

What further I have to say of Nice, you shall know in good time;
at present, I have nothing to add, but what you very well know,
that I am always your affectionate humble servant.


NICE, January 20, 1764.

DEAR SIR,--Last Sunday I crossed Montalban on horseback, with
some Swiss officers, on a visit to our consul, Mr. B--d, who
lives at Ville Franche, about half a league from Nice. It is a
small town, built upon the side of a rock, at the bottom of the
harbour, which is a fine basin, surrounded with hills on every
side, except to the south, where it lies open to the sea. If
there was a small island in the mouth of it, to break off the
force of the waves, when the wind is southerly, it would be one
of the finest harbours in the world; for the ground is exceeding
good for anchorage: there is a sufficient depth of water, and
room enough for the whole navy of England. On the right hand, as
you enter the port, there is an elegant fanal, or lighthouse,
kept in good repair: but in all the charts of this coast which I
have seen, this lanthorn is laid down to the westward of the
harbour; an error equally absurd and dangerous, as it may mislead
the navigator, and induce him to run his ship among the rocks, to
the eastward of the lighthouse, where it would undoubtedly
perish. Opposite to the mouth of the harbour is the fort, which
can be of no service, but in defending the shipping and the town
by sea; for, by land, it is commanded by Montalban, and all the
hills in the neighbourhood. In the war of 1744, it was taken and
retaken. At present, it is in tolerable good repair. On the left
of the fort, is the basin for the gallies, with a kind of dock,
in which they are built, and occasionally laid up to be refitted.
This basin is formed by a pretty stone mole; and here his
Sardinian majesty's two gallies lie perfectly secure, moored with
their sterns close to the jette. I went on board one of these
vessels, and saw about two hundred miserable wretches, chained to
the banks on which they sit and row, when the galley is at sea.
This is a sight which a British subject, sensible of the blessing
he enjoys, cannot behold without horror and compassion. Not but
that if we consider the nature of the case, with coolness and
deliberation, we must acknowledge the justice, and even sagacity,
of employing for the service of the public, those malefactors who
have forfeited their title to the privileges of the community.
Among the slaves at Ville Franche is a Piedmontese count,
condemned to the gallies for life, in consequence of having been
convicted of forgery. He is permitted to live on shore; and gets
money by employing the other slaves to knit stockings for sale.
He appears always in the Turkish habit, and is in a fair way of
raising a better fortune than that which he has forfeited.

It is a great pity, however, and a manifest outrage against the
law of nations, as well as of humanity, to mix with those
banditti, the Moorish and Turkish prisoners who are taken in the
prosecution of open war. It is certainly no justification of this
barbarous practice, that the Christian prisoners are treated as
cruelly at Tunis and Algiers. It would be for the honour of
Christendom, to set an example of generosity to the Turks; and,
if they would not follow it, to join their naval forces, and
extirpate at once those nests of pirates, who have so long
infested the Mediterranean. Certainly, nothing can be more
shameful, than the treaties which France and the Maritime Powers
have concluded with those barbarians. They supply them with
artillery, arms, and ammunition, to disturb their neighbours.
They even pay them a sort of tribute, under the denomination of
presents; and often put up with insults tamely, for the sordid
consideration of a little gain in the way of commerce. They know
that Spain, Sardinia, and almost all the Catholic powers in the
Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Levant, are at perpetual war with
those Mahometans; that while Algiers, Tunis, and Sallee, maintain
armed cruisers at sea, those Christian powers will not run the
risque of trading in their own bottoms, but rather employ as
carriers the maritime nations, who are at peace with the
infidels. It is for our share of this advantage, that we
cultivate the piratical States of Barbary, and meanly purchase
passports of them, thus acknowledging them masters of the

The Sardinian gallies are mounted each with five-and-twenty oars,
and six guns, six-pounders, of a side, and a large piece of
artillery amidships, pointing ahead, which (so far as I am able
to judge) can never be used point-blank, without demolishing the
head or prow of the galley. The accommodation on board for the
officers is wretched. There is a paltry cabin in the poop for the
commander; but all the other officers lie below the slaves, in a
dungeon, where they have neither light, air, nor any degree of
quiet; half suffocated by the heat of the place; tormented by
fleas, bugs, and lice; and disturbed by the incessant noise over
head. The slaves lie upon the naked banks, without any other
covering than a tilt. This, however, is no great hardship, in a
climate where there is scarce any winter. They are fed with a
very scanty allowance of bread, and about fourteen beans a day
and twice a week they have a little rice, or cheese, but most of
them, while they are in harbour knit stockings, or do some other
kind of work, which enables them to make some addition to this
wretched allowance. When they happen to be at sea in bad weather,
their situation is truly deplorable. Every wave breaks over the
vessel, and not only keeps them continually wet, but comes with
such force, that they are dashed against the banks with
surprising violence: sometimes their limbs are broke, and
sometimes their brains dashed out. It is impossible (they say) to
keep such a number of desperate people under any regular command,
without exercising such severities as must shock humanity. It is
almost equally impossible to maintain any tolerable degree of
cleanliness, where such a number of wretches are crouded together
without conveniences, or even the necessaries of life. They are
ordered twice a week to strip, clean, and bathe themselves in the
sea: but, notwithstanding all the precautions of discipline, they
swarm with vermin, and the vessel smells like an hospital, or
crouded jail. They seem, nevertheless, quite insensible of their
misery, like so many convicts in Newgate: they laugh and sing,
and swear, and get drunk when they can. When you enter by the
stern, you are welcomed by a band of music selected from the
slaves; and these expect a gratification. If you walk forwards,
you must take care of your pockets. You will be accosted by one
or other of the slaves, with a brush and blacking-ball for
cleaning your shoes; and if you undergo this operation, it is ten
to one but your pocket is picked. If you decline his service, and
keep aloof, you will find it almost impossible to avoid a colony
of vermin, which these fellows have a very dexterous method of
conveying to strangers. Some of the Turkish prisoners, whose
ransom or exchange is expected, are allowed to go ashore, under
proper inspection; and those forcats, who have served the best
part of the time for which they were condemned, are employed in
public works, under a guard of soldiers. At the harbour of Nice,
they are hired by ship-masters to bring ballast, and have a small
proportion of what they earn, for their own use: the rest belongs
to the king. They are distinguished by an iron shackle about one
of their legs. The road from Nice to Ville Franche is scarce
passable on horseback: a circumstance the more extraordinary, as
those slaves, in the space of two or three months, might even
make it fit for a carriage, and the king would not be one
farthing out of pocket, for they are quite idle the greatest
part of the year.

The gallies go to sea only in the summer. In tempestuous weather,
they could not live out of port. Indeed, they are good for
nothing but in smooth water during a calm; when, by dint of
rowing, they make good way. The king of Sardinia is so sensible
of their inutility, that he intends to let his gallies rot; and,
in lieu of them, has purchased two large frigates in England, one
of fifty, and another of thirty guns, which are now in the
harbour of Ville Franche. He has also procured an English
officer, one Mr. A--, who is second in command on board of one of
them, and has the title of captain consulteur, that is,
instructor to the first captain, the marquis de M--i, who knows
as little of seamanship as I do of Arabic.

The king, it is said, intends to have two or three more frigates,
and then he will be more than a match for the Barbary corsairs,
provided care be taken to man his fleet in a proper manner: but
this will never be done, unless he invites foreigners into his
service, officers as well as seamen; for his own dominions
produce neither at present. If he is really determined to make
the most of the maritime situation of his dominions, as well as
of his alliance with Great-Britain, he ought to supply his ships
with English mariners, and put a British commander at the head of
his fleet. He ought to erect magazines and docks at Villa Franca;
or if there is not conveniency for building, he may at least have
pits and wharfs for heaving down and careening; and these ought
to be under the direction of Englishmen, who best understand all
the particulars of marine oeconomy. Without all doubt, he will
not be able to engage foreigners, without giving them liberal
appointments; and their being engaged in his service will give
umbrage to his own subjects: but, when the business is to
establish a maritime power, these considerations ought to be
sacrificed to reasons of public utility. Nothing can be more
absurd and unreasonable, than the murmurs of the Piedmontese
officers at the preferment of foreigners, who execute those
things for the advantage of their country, of which they know
themselves incapable. When Mr. P--n was first promoted in the
service of his Sardinian majesty, he met with great opposition,
and numberless mortifications, from the jealousy of the
Piedmontese officers, and was obliged to hazard his life in many
rencounters with them, before they would be quiet. Being a man of
uncommon spirit, he never suffered the least insult or affront to
pass unchastised. He had repeated opportunities of signalizing
his valour against the Turks; and by dint of extraordinary merit,
and long services not only attained the chief command of the
gallies, with the rank of lieutenant-general, but also acquired a
very considerable share of the king's favour, and was appointed
commandant of Nice. His Sardinian majesty found his account more
ways than one, in thus promoting Mr. P--n. He made the
acquisition of an excellent officer, of tried courage and
fidelity, by whose advice he conducted his marine affairs. This
gentleman was perfectly well esteemed at the court of London. In
the war of 1744, he lived in the utmost harmony with the British
admirals who commanded our fleet in the Mediterranean. In
consequence of this good understanding, a thousand occasional
services were performed by the English ships, for the benefit of
his master, which otherwise could not have been done, without a
formal application to our ministry; in which case, the
opportunities would have been lost. I know our admirals had
general orders and instructions, to cooperate in all things with
his Sardinian majesty; but I know, also, by experience, how
little these general instructions avail, when the admiral is not
cordially interested in the service. Were the king of Sardinia at
present engaged with England in a new war against France, and a
British squadron stationed upon this coast, as formerly, he would
find a great difference in this particular. He should therefore
carefully avoid having at Nice a Savoyard commandant, utterly
ignorant of sea affairs; unacquainted with the true interest of
his master; proud, and arbitrary; reserved to strangers, from a
prejudice of national jealousy; and particularly averse to the

With respect to the antient name of Villa Franca, there is a
dispute among antiquarians. It is not at all mentioned in the
Itinerarium of Antoninus, unless it is meant as the port of Nice.
But it is more surprising, that the accurate Strabo, in
describing this coast, mentions no such harbour. Some people
imagine it is the Portus Herculis Monaeci. But this is
undoubtedly what is now called Monaco; the harbour of which
exactly tallies with what Strabo says of the Portus Monaeci--
neque magnas, neque multas capit naves, It holds but a few
vessels and those of small burthen. Ptolomy, indeed, seems to
mention it under the name of Herculis Portus, different from the
Portus Monaeci. His words are these: post vari ostium ad
Ligustrium mare, massiliensium, sunt Nicaea, Herculis Portus,
Trophaea Augusti, Monaeci Portus, Beyond the mouth of the Var
upon the Ligurian Coast, the Marsilian Colonies are Nice, Port
Hercules, Trophaea and Monaco. In that case, Hercules was
worshipped both here and at Monaco, and gave his name to both
places. But on this subject, I shall perhaps speak more fully in
another letter, after I have seen the Trophaea Augusti, now
called Tourbia, and the town of Monaco, which last is about three
leagues from Nice. Here I cannot help taking notice of the
following elegant description from the Pharsalia, which seems to
have been intended for this very harbour.

Finis et Hesperiae promoto milite varus,
Quaque sub Herculeo sacratus numine Portus
Urget rupe cava Pelagus, non Corus in illum
Jus habet, aut Zephirus, solus sua littora turbat
Circius, et tuta prohibet statione Monaeci.

The Troops advanc'd as far
As flows th' Hesperian Boundary, the Var;
And where the mountain scoop'd by nature's hands,
The spacious Port of Hercules, expands;

Here the tall ships at anchor safe remain
Tho' Zephyr blows, or Caurus sweeps the Plain;
The Southern Blast alone disturbs the Bay;
And to Monaco's safer Port obstructs the way.

The present town of Villa Franca was built and settled in the
thirteenth century, by order of Charles II. king of the Sicilies,
and count of Provence, in order to defend the harbour from the
descents of the Saracens, who at that time infested the coast.
The inhabitants were removed hither from another town, situated
on the top of a mountain in the neighbourhood, which those
pirates had destroyed. Some ruins of the old town are still
extant. In order to secure the harbour still more effectually,
Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, built the fort in the beginning
of the last century, together with the mole where the gallies are
moored. As I said before, Ville Franche is built on the face of a
barren rock, washed by the sea; and there is not an acre of plain
ground within a mile of it. In summer, the reflexion of the sun
from the rocks must make it intolerably hot; for even at this
time of the year, I walked myself into a profuse sweat, by going
about a quarter of a mile to see the gallies.

Pray remember me to our friends at A--'s, and believe me to be
ever yours.


NICE, January 3, 1764.

MADAM,--In your favour which I received by Mr. M--l, you remind me
of my promise, to communicate the remarks I have still to make on
the French nation; and at the same time you signify your opinion,
that I am too severe in my former observations. You even hint a
suspicion, that this severity is owing to some personal cause of
resentment; but, I protest, I have no particular cause of
animosity against any individual of that country. I have neither
obligation to, nor quarrel with, any subject of France; and when
I meet with a Frenchman worthy of my esteem, I can receive him
into my friendship with as much cordiality, as I could feel for
any fellow-citizen of the same merit. I even respect the nation,
for the number of great men it has produced in all arts and
sciences. I respect the French officers, in particular, for their
gallantry and valour; and especially for that generous humanity
which they exercise towards their enemies, even amidst the
horrors of war. This liberal spirit is the only circumstance of
antient chivalry, which I think was worth preserving. It had
formerly flourished in England, but was almost extinguished in a
succession of civil wars, which are always productive of cruelty
and rancour. It was Henry IV. of France, (a real knight errant)
who revived it in Europe. He possessed that greatness of mind,
which can forgive injuries of the deepest dye: and as he had
also the faculty of distinguishing characters, he found his
account, in favouring with his friendship and confidence, some of
those who had opposed him in the field with the most inveterate
perseverance. I know not whether he did more service to mankind
in general, by reviving the practice of treating his prisoners
with generosity, than he prejudiced his own country by
patronizing the absurd and pernicious custom of duelling, and
establishing a punto, founded in diametrical opposition to common
sense and humanity.

I have often heard it observed, that a French officer is
generally an agreeable companion when he is turned of fifty.
Without all doubt, by that time, the fire of his vivacity, which
makes him so troublesome in his youth, will be considerably
abated, and in other respects, he must be improved by his
experience. But there is a fundamental error in the first
principles of his education, which time rather confirms than
removes. Early prejudices are for the most part converted into
habits of thinking; and accordingly you will find the old
officers in the French service more bigotted than their juniors,
to the punctilios of false honour.

A lad of a good family no sooner enters into the service, than he
thinks it incumbent upon him to shew his courage in a rencontre.
His natural vivacity prompts him to hazard in company every thing
that comes uppermost, without any respect to his seniors or
betters; and ten to one but he says something, which he finds it
necessary to maintain with his sword. The old officer, instead of
checking his petulance, either by rebuke or silent
disapprobation, seems to be pleased with his impertinence, and
encourages every sally of his presumption. Should a quarrel
ensue, and the parties go out, he makes no efforts to compromise
the dispute; but sits with a pleasing expectation to learn the
issue of the rencontre. If the young man is wounded, he kisses
him with transport, extols his bravery, puts him into the hands
of the surgeon, and visits him with great tenderness every day,
until he is cured. If he is killed on the spot, he shrugs up his
shoulders--says, quelle dommage! c'etoit un amiable enfant! ah,
patience! What pity! he was a fine Boy! It can't be helpt! and in
three hours the defunct is forgotten. You know, in France, duels
are forbid, on pain of death: but this law is easily evaded. The
person insulted walks out; the antagonist understands the hint,
and follows him into the street, where they justle as if by
accident, draw their swords, and one of them is either killed or
disabled, before any effectual means can be used to part them.
Whatever may be the issue of the combat, the magistrate takes no
cognizance of it; at least, it is interpreted into an accidental
rencounter, and no penalty is incurred on either side. Thus the
purpose of the law is entirely defeated, by a most ridiculous and
cruel connivance. The meerest trifles in conversation, a rash
word, a distant hint, even a look or smile of contempt, is
sufficient to produce one of these combats; but injuries of a
deeper dye, such as terms of reproach, the lie direct, a blow, or
even the menace of a blow, must be discussed with more formality.
In any of these cases, the parties agree to meet in the dominions
of another prince, where they can murder each other, without fear
of punishment. An officer who is struck, or even threatened with
a blow must not be quiet, until he either kills his antagonist,
or loses his own life. A friend of mine, (a Nissard) who was in
the service of France, told me, that some years ago, one of their
captains, in the heat of passion, struck his lieutenant. They
fought immediately: the lieutenant was wounded and disarmed. As
it was an affront that could not be made up, he no sooner
recovered of his wounds, than he called out the captain a second
time. In a word, they fought five times before the combat proved
decisive at last, the lieutenant was left dead on the spot. This
was an event which sufficiently proved the absurdity of the
punctilio that gave rise to it. The poor gentleman who was
insulted, and outraged by the brutality of the aggressor, found
himself under the necessity of giving him a further occasion to
take away his life. Another adventure of the same kind happened a
few years ago in this place. A French officer having threatened
to strike another, a formal challenge ensued; and it being agreed
that they should fight until one of them dropped, each provided
himself with a couple of pioneers to dig his grave on the spot.
They engaged just without one of the gates of Nice, in presence
of a great number of spectators, and fought with surprising fury,
until the ground was drenched with their blood. At length one of
them stumbled, and fell; upon which the other, who found himself
mortally wounded, advancing, and dropping his point, said, "Je te
donne ce que tu m'as ote." "I'll give thee that which thou hast
taken from me." So saying, he dropped dead upon the field. The
other, who had been the person insulted, was so dangerously
wounded that he could not rise. Some of the spectators carried
him forthwith to the beach, and putting him into a boat, conveyed
him by sea to Antibes. The body of his antagonist was denied
Christian burial, as he died without absolution, and every body
allowed that his soul went to hell: but the gentlemen of the army
declared, that he died like a man of honour. Should a man be
never so well inclined to make atonement in a peaceable manner,
for an insult given in the heat of passion, or in the fury of
intoxication, it cannot be received. Even an involuntary trespass
from ignorance, or absence of mind, must be cleansed with blood.
A certain noble lord, of our country, when he was yet a commoner,
on his travels, involved himself in a dilemma of this sort, at
the court of Lorrain. He had been riding out, and strolling along
a public walk, in a brown study, with his horse-whip in his hand,
perceived a caterpillar crawling on the back of a marquis, who
chanced to be before him. He never thought of the petit maitre;
but lifting up his whip, in order to kill the insect, laid it
across his shoulders with a crack, that alarmed all the company
in the walk. The marquis's sword was produced in a moment, and
the aggressor in great hazard of his life, as he had no weapon of
defence. He was no sooner waked from his reverie, than he begged
pardon, and offered to make all proper concessions for what he
had done through mere inadvertency. The marquis would have
admitted his excuses, had there been any precedent of such an
affront being washed away without blood. A conclave of honour was
immediately assembled; and after long disputes, they agreed, that
an involuntary offence, especially from such a kind of man, d'un
tel homme, might be attoned by concessions. That you may have
some idea of the small beginning, from which many gigantic
quarrels arise, I shall recount one that lately happened at
Lyons, as I had it from the mouth of a person who was an ear and
eye witness of the transaction. Two Frenchmen, at a public
ordinary, stunned the rest of the company with their loquacity.
At length, one of them, with a supercilious air, asked the
other's name. "I never tell my name, (said he) but
in a whisper." "You may have very good reasons for keeping it
secret," replied the first. "I will tell you," (resumed the
other): with these words he rose; and going round to him,
pronounced, loud enough to be heard by the whole company, "Je
m'appelle Pierre Paysan; et vous etes un impertinent." "My name
is Peter Peasant, and you are an impertinent fellow." So saying,
he walked out: the interrogator followed him into the street,
where they justled, drew their swords, and engaged. He who asked
the question was run through the body; but his relations were so
powerful, that the victor was obliged to fly his country, was
tried and condemned in his absence; his goods were confiscated;
his wife broke her heart; his children were reduced to beggary;
and he himself is now starving in exile. In England we have not
yet adopted all the implacability of the punctilio. A gentleman
may be insulted even with a blow, and survive, after having once
hazarded his life against the aggressor. The laws of honour in
our country do not oblige him either to slay the person from whom
he received the injury, or even to fight to the last drop of his
own blood. One finds no examples of duels among the Romans, who
were certainly as brave and as delicate in their notions of
honour as the French. Cornelius Nepos tells us, that a famous
Athenian general, having a dispute with his colleague, who was of
Sparta, a man of a fiery disposition, this last lifted up his
cane to strike him. Had this happened to a French petit maitre,
death must have ensued: but mark what followed--The Athenian, far
from resenting the outrage, in what is now called a gentlemanlike
manner, said, "Do, strike if you please; but hear me." He never
dreamed of cutting the Lacedemonian's throat; but bore with his
passionate temper, as the infirmity of a friend who had a
thousand good qualities to overbalance that defect.

I need not expatiate upon the folly and the mischief which are
countenanced and promoted by the modern practice of duelling. I
need not give examples of friends who have murdered each other,
in obedience to this savage custom, even while their hearts were
melting with mutual tenderness; nor will I particularize the
instances which I myself know, of whole families ruined, of women
and children made widows and orphans, of parents deprived of only
sons, and of valuable lives lost to the community, by duels,
which had been produced by one unguarded expression, uttered
without intention of offence, in the heat of dispute and
altercation. I shall not insist upon the hardship of a worthy
man's being obliged to devote himself to death, because it is his
misfortune to be insulted by a brute, a bully, a drunkard, or a
madman: neither will I enlarge upon this side of the absurdity,
which indeed amounts to a contradiction in terms; I mean the
dilemma to which a gentleman in the army is reduced, when he
receives an affront: if he does not challenge and fight his
antagonist, he is broke with infamy by a court-martial; if he
fights and kills him, he is tried by the civil power, convicted
of murder, and, if the royal mercy does not interpose, he is
infallibly hanged: all this, exclusive of the risque of his own
life in the duel, and his conscience being burthened with the
blood of a man, whom perhaps he has sacrificed to a false
punctilio, even contrary to his own judgment. These are
reflections which I know your own good sense will suggest, but I
will make bold to propose a remedy for this gigantic evil, which
seems to gain ground everyday: let a court be instituted for
taking cognizance of all breaches of honour, with power to punish
by fine, pillory, sentence of infamy, outlawry, and exile, by
virtue of an act of parliament made for this purpose; and all
persons insulted, shall have recourse to this tribunal: let every
man who seeks personal reparation with sword, pistol, or other
instrument of death, be declared infamous, and banished the
kingdom: let every man, convicted of having used a sword or
pistol, or other mortal weapon, against another, either in duel
or rencountre, occasioned by any previous quarrel, be subject to
the same penalties: if any man is killed in a duel, let his body
be hanged upon a public gibbet, for a certain time, and then
given to the surgeons: let his antagonist be hanged as a
murderer, and dissected also; and some mark of infamy be set on
the memory of both. I apprehend such regulations would put an
effectual stop to the practice of duelling, which nothing but
the fear of infamy can support; for I am persuaded, that no
being, capable of reflection, would prosecute the trade of
assassination at the risque of his own life, if this hazard
was at the same time reinforced by the certain prospect of
infamy and ruin. Every person of sentiment would in that case
allow, that an officer, who in a duel robs a deserving woman
of her husband, a number of children of their father, a family
of its support, and the community of a fellow-citizen, has as
little merit to plead from exposing his own person, as a
highwayman, or housebreaker, who every day risques his life
to rob or plunder that which is not of half the importance
to society. I think it was from the Buccaneers of America,
that the English have learned to abolish one solecism in
the practice of duelling: those adventurers decided their
personal quarrels with pistols; and this improvement
has been adopted in Great Britain with good success; though
in France, and other parts of the continent, it is looked
upon as a proof of their barbarity. It is, however, the only
circumstance of duelling, which savours of common sense, as it
puts all mankind upon a level, the old with the young, the weak
with the strong, the unwieldy with the nimble, and the man who
knows not how to hold a sword with the spadassin, who has
practised fencing from the cradle. What glory is there in a man's
vanquishing an adversary over whom he has a manifest advantage?
To abide the issue of a combat in this case, does not even
require that moderate share of resolution which nature has
indulged to her common children. Accordingly, we have seen many
instances of a coward's provoking a man of honour to battle. In
the reign of our second Charles, when duels flourished in all
their absurdity, and the seconds fought while their principals
were engaged, Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, not content with
having debauched the countess of Shrewsbury and publishing her
shame, took all opportunities of provoking the earl to single
combat, hoping he should have an easy conquest, his lordship
being a puny little creature, quiet, inoffensive, and every way
unfit for such personal contests. He ridiculed him on all
occasions; and at last declared in public company, that there was
no glory in cuckolding Shrewsbury, who had not spirit to resent
the injury. This was an insult which could not be overlooked. The
earl sent him a challenge; and they agreed to fight, at Barns-Elms,
in presence of two gentlemen, whom they chose for their
seconds. All the four engaged at the same time; the first thrust
was fatal to the earl of Shrewsbury; and his friend killed the
duke's second at the same instant. Buckingham, elated with his
exploit, set out immediately for the earl's seat at Cliefden,
where he lay with his wife, after having boasted of the murder of
her husband, whose blood he shewed her upon his sword, as a
trophy of his prowess. But this very duke of Buckingham was
little better than a poltroon at bottom. When the gallant earl of
Ossory challenged him to fight in Chelsea fields, he crossed the
water to Battersea, where he pretended to wait for his lordship;
and then complained to the house of lords, that Ossory had given
him the rendezvous, and did not keep his appointment. He knew the
house would interpose in the quarrel, and he was not
disappointed. Their lordships obliged them both to give their
word of honour, that their quarrel should have no other

I ought to make an apology for having troubled a lady with so
many observations on a subject so unsuitable to the softness of
the fair sex; but I know you cannot be indifferent to any thing
that so nearly affects the interests of humanity, which I can
safely aver have alone suggested every thing which has been said
by, Madam, Your very humble servant.


NICE, May 2, 1764.

DEAR DOCTOR,--A few days ago, I rode out with two gentlemen of
this country, to see a stream of water which was formerly
conveyed in an aqueduct to the antient city of Cemenelion, from
whence this place is distant about a mile, though separated by
abrupt rocks and deep hollows, which last are here honoured with
the name of vallies. The water, which is exquisitely cool, and
light and pure, gushes from the middle of a rock by a hole which
leads to a subterranean aqueduct carried through the middle of
the mountain. This is a Roman work, and the more I considered it,
appeared the more stupendous. A peasant who lives upon the spot
told us, he had entered by this hole at eight in the morning, and
advanced so far, that it was four in the afternoon before he came
out. He said he walked in the water, through a regular canal
formed of a hard stone, lined with a kind of cement, and vaulted
overhead; but so high in most parts he could stand upright, yet
in others, the bed of the canal was so filled with earth and
stones, that he was obliged to stoop in passing. He said that
there were air-holes at certain distances (and indeed I saw one
of these not far from the present issue) that there were some
openings and stone seats on the sides, and here and there figures
of men formed of stone, with hammers and working tools in their
hands. I am apt to believe the fellow romanced a little, in order
to render his adventure the more marvellous: but I am certainly
informed, that several persons have entered this passage, and
proceeded a considerable way by the light of torches, without
arriving at the source, which (if we may believe the tradition of
the country) is at the distance of eight leagues from this
opening; but this is altogether incredible. The stream is now
called la fontaine de muraille, and is carefully conducted by
different branches into the adjacent vineyards and gardens, for
watering the ground. On the side of the same mountain, more
southerly, at the distance of half a mile, there is another still
more copious discharge of the same kind of water, called la
source du temple. It was conveyed through the same kind of
passage, and put to the same use as the other; and I should
imagine they are both from the same source, which, though
hitherto undiscovered, must be at a considerable distance, as the
mountain is continued for several leagues to the westward,
without exhibiting the least signs of water in any other part.
But, exclusive of the subterranean conduits, both these streams
must have been conveyed through aqueducts extending from hence to
Cemenelion over steep rocks and deep ravines, at a prodigious
expence. The water from this source du temple, issues from a
stone building which covers the passage in the rock. It serves to
turn several olive, corn, and paper mills, being conveyed through
a modern aqueduct raised upon paultry arcades at the expence of
the public, and afterwards is branched off in very small streams,
for the benefit of this parched and barren country. The Romans
were so used to bathing, that they could not exist without a
great quantity of water; and this, I imagine, is one reason that
induced them to spare no labour and expence in bringing it from a
distance, when they had not plenty of it at home. But, besides
this motive, they had another: they were so nice and delicate in
their taste of water, that they took great pains to supply
themselves with the purest and lightest from afar, for drinking
and culinary uses, even while they had plenty of an inferior sort
for their bath, and other domestic purposes. There are springs of
good water on the spot where Cemenelion stood: but there is a
hardness in all well-water, which quality is deposited in running
a long course, especially, if exposed to the influence of the sun
and air. The Romans, therefore, had good reason to soften and
meliorate this element, by conveying it a good length of way in
open aqueducts. What was used in the baths of Cemenelion, they
probably brought in leaden pipes, some of which have been dug up
very lately by accident. You must know, I made a second excursion
to these antient ruins, and measured the arena of the
amphitheatre with packthread. It is an oval figure; the longest
diameter extending to about one hundred and thirteen feet, and
the shortest to eighty-eight; but I will not answer for the
exactness of the measurement. In the center of it, there was a
square stone, with an iron ring, to which I suppose the wild
beasts were tied, to prevent their springing upon the spectators.
Some of the seats remain, the two opposite entrances, consisting
each of one large gate, and two lateral smaller doors, arched:
there is also a considerable portion of the external wall; but no
columns, or other ornaments of architecture. Hard by, in the
garden of the count de Gubernatis, I saw the remains of a bath,
fronting the portal of the temple, which I have described in a
former letter; and here were some shafts of marble pillars,
particularly a capital of the Corinthian order beautifully cut,
of white alabaster. Here the count found a large quantity of fine
marble, which he has converted to various uses; and some
mutilated statues, bronze as well as marble. The peasant shewed
me some brass and silver medals, which he has picked up at
different times in labouring the ground; together with several
oblong beads of coloured glass, which were used as ear-rings by
the Roman ladies; and a small seal of agate, very much defaced.
Two of the medals were of Maximian and Gallienus; the rest were
so consumed, that I could not read the legend. You know, that on
public occasions, such as games, and certain sacrifices, handfuls
of medals were thrown among the people; a practice, which
accounts for the great number which have been already found in
this district. I saw some subterranean passages, which seemed to
have been common sewers; and a great number of old walls still
standing along the brink of a precipice, which overhangs the
Paglion. The peasants tell me, that they never dig above a yard
in depth, without finding vaults or cavities. All the vineyards
and garden-grounds, for a considerable extent, are vaulted
underneath; and all the ground that produces their grapes, fruit,
and garden-stuff, is no more than the crumpled lime and rubbish
of old Roman buildings, mixed with manure brought from Nice. This
antient town commanded a most noble prospect of the sea; but is
altogether inaccessible by any kind of wheel carriage. If you
make shift to climb to it on horseback, you cannot descend to the
plain again, without running the risk of breaking your neck.

About seven or eight miles on the other side of Nice, are the
remains of another Roman monument which has greatly suffered from
the barbarity of successive ages. It was a trophy erected by the
senate of Rome, in honour of Augustus Caesar, when he had totally
subdued all the ferocious nations of these Maritime Alps; such as
the Trumpilini Camuni, Vennontes, Isnarci, Breuni, etc. It stands
upon the top of a mountain which overlooks the town of Monaco,
and now exhibits the appearance of an old ruined tower. There is
a description of what it was, in an Italian manuscript, by which
it appears to have been a beautiful edifice of two stories,
adorned with columns and trophies in alto-relievo, with a statue
of Augustus Caesar on the top. On one of the sides was an
inscription, some words of which are still legible, upon the
fragment of a marble found close to the old building: but the
whole is preserved in Pliny, who gives it, in these words, lib.
iii. cap. 20.

S. P. Q. R.

This Trophy is erected by the Senate and People of Rome to the
Emperor Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Julius, in the
fourteenth year of his imperial Dignity, and in the eighteenth of
his Tribunician Power, because under his command and auspices all
the nations of the Alps from the Adriatic to the Tuscanian Sea,
were reduced under the Dominion of Rome. The Alpine nations
subdued were the Trumpelini, etc.

Pliny, however, is mistaken in placing this inscription on a
trophy near the Augusta praetoria, now called Aosta, in Piedmont:
where, indeed, there is a triumphal arch, but no inscription.
This noble monument of antiquity was first of all destroyed by
fire; and afterwards, in Gothic times, converted into a kind of
fortification. The marbles belonging to it were either employed
in adorning the church of the adjoining village, which is still
called Turbia, a corruption of Trophaea; [This was formerly a
considerable town called Villa Martis, and pretends to the honour
of having given birth to Aulus Helvius, who succeeded Commodus as
emperor of Rome, by the name of Pertinax which he acquired from
his obstinate refusal of that dignity, when it was forced upon
him by the senate. You know this man, though of very low birth,
possessed many excellent qualities, and was basely murdered by
the praetorian guards, at the instigation of Didius Tulianus. For
my part, I could never read without emotion, that celebrated
eulogium of the senate who exclaimed after his death, Pertinace,
imperante, securi viximus neminem timuimus, patre pio, patre
senatus, patre omnium, honorum, We lived secure and were afraid
of nothing under the Government of Pertinax, our affectionate
Father, Father of the Senate, Father to all the children of
Virtue.] or converted into tomb-stones, or carried off to be
preserved in one or two churches of Nice. At present, the work
has the appearance of a ruinous watch-tower, with Gothic
battlements; and as such stands undistinguished by those who
travel by sea from hence to Genoa, and other ports of Italy. I
think I have now described all the antiquities in the
neighbourhood of Nice, except some catacombs or caverns, dug in a
rock at St. Hospice, which Busching, in his geography, has
described as a strong town and seaport, though in fact, there is
not the least vestige either of town or village. It is a point of
land almost opposite to the tower of Turbia, with the mountains
of which it forms a bay, where there is a great and curious
fishery of the tunny fish, farmed of the king of Sardinia. Upon
this point there is a watch-tower still kept in repair, to give
notice to the people in the neighbourhood, in case any Barbary
corsairs should appear on the coast. The catacombs were in all
probability dug, in former times, as places of retreat for the
inhabitants upon sudden descents of the Saracens, who greatly
infested these seas for several successive centuries. Many
curious persons have entered them and proceeded a considerable
way by torch-light, without arriving at the further extremity;
and the tradition of the country is, that they reach as far as
the ancient city of Cemenelion; but this is an idle supposition,
almost as ridiculous as that which ascribes them to the labour
and ingenuity of the fairies: they consist of narrow subterranean
passages, vaulted with stone and lined with cement. Here and
there one finds detached apartments like small chambers, where I
suppose the people remained concealed till the danger was over.
Diodorus Siculus tells us, that the antient inhabitants of this
country usually lived under ground. "Ligures in terra cubant ut
plurimum; plures ad cava, saxa speluncasque ab natura factas ubi
tegantur corpora divertunt," "The Ligurians mostly lie on the
bare ground; many of them lodge in bare Caves and Caverns where
they are sheltered from the inclemency of the weather." This was
likewise the custom of the Troglodytae, a people bordering upon
Aethiopia who, according to Aelian, lived in subterranean
caverns; from whence, indeed they took their name trogli,
signifying a cavern; and Virgil, in his Georgics, thus describes
the Sarmatae,

Ipsi in defossis specubus, secura sub alta
Ocia agunt terra.--

In Subterranean Caves secure they lie
Nor heed the transient seasons as they fly.

These are dry subjects; but such as the country affords. If we
have not white paper, we must snow with brown. Even that which I
am now scrawling may be useful, if, not entertaining: it is
therefore the more confidently offered by--Dear Sir, Yours


NICE, July 2, 1764.

DEAR SIR,--Nice was originally a colony from Marseilles. You know
the Phocians (if we may believe Justin and Polybius) settled in
Gaul, and built Marseilles, during the reign of Tarquinius
Priscus at Rome. This city flourished to such a degree, that long
before the Romans were in a condition to extend their dominion,
it sent forth colonies, and established them along the coast of
Liguria. Of these, Nice, or Nicaea, was one of the most
remarkable; so called, in all probability, from the Greek word
Nike, signifying Victoria, in consequence of some important
victory obtained over the Salii and Ligures, who were the antient
inhabitants of this country. Nice, with its mother city, being in
the sequel subdued by the Romans, fell afterwards successively
under the dominion of the Goths, Burgundians, and Franks, the
kings of Arles, and the kings of Naples, as counts of Provence.
In the year one thousand three hundred and eighty-eight, the city
and county of Nice being but ill protected by the family of
Durazzo, voluntarily surrendered themselves to Amadaeus, surnamed
the Red, duke of Savoy; and since that period, they have
continued as part of that potentate's dominions, except at such
times as they have been over-run and possessed by the power of
France, which hath always been a troublesome neighbour to this
country. The castle was begun by the Arragonian counts of
Provence, and afterwards enlarged by several successive dukes of
Savoy, so as to be deemed impregnable, until the modern method of
besieging began to take place. A fruitless attempt was made upon
it in the year one thousand five hundred and forty-three, by the
French and Turks in conjunction: but it was reduced several times
after that period, and is now in ruins. The celebrated engineer
Vauban, being commanded by Louis XIV to give in a plan for
fortifying Nice, proposed, that the river Paglion should be
turned into a new channel, so as to surround the town to the
north, and fall into the harbour; that where the Paglion now runs
to the westward of the city walls, there should be a deep ditch
to be filled with sea-water; and that a fortress should be built
to the westward of this fosse. These particulars might be
executed at no very great expence; but, I apprehend, they would
be ineffectual, as the town is commanded by every hill in the
neighbourhood; and the exhalations from stagnating sea-water
would infallibly render the air unwholesome. Notwithstanding the
undoubted antiquity of Nice, very few monuments of that antiquity
now remain. The inhabitants say, they were either destroyed by
the Saracens in their successive descents upon the coast, by the
barbarous nations in their repeated incursions, or used in
fortifying the castle, as well as in building other edifices. The
city of Cemenelion, however, was subject to the same disasters,
and even entirely ruined, nevertheless, we still find remains of
its antient splendor. There have been likewise a few stones found
at Nice, with antient inscriptions; but there is nothing of this
kind standing, unless we give the name of antiquity to a marble
cross on the road to Provence, about half a mile from the city.
It stands upon a pretty high pedestal with steps, under a pretty
stone cupola or dome, supported by four Ionic pillars, on the
spot where Charles V. emperor of Germany, Francis I. of France,
and pope Paul II. agreed to have a conference, in order to
determine all their disputes. The emperor came hither by sea,
with a powerful fleet, and the French king by land, at the head
of a numerous army. All the endeavours of his holiness, however,
could not effect a peace; but they agreed to a truce of ten
years. Mezerai affirms, that these two great princes never saw
one another on this occasion; and that this shyness was owing to
the management of the pope, whose private designs might have been
frustrated, had they come to a personal interview. In the front
of the colonade, there is a small stone, with an inscription in
Latin, which is so high, and so much defaced, that I cannot read

In the sixteenth century there was a college erected at Nice, by
Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, for granting degrees to
students of law; and in the year one thousand six hundred and
fourteen, Charles Emanuel I. instituted the senate of Nice;
consisting of a president, and a certain number of senators, who
are distinguished by their purple robes, and other ensigns of
authority. They administer justice, having the power of life and
death, not only through the whole county of Nice, but causes are
evoked from Oneglia, and some other places, to their tribunal,
which is the dernier ressort, from whence there is no appeal. The
commandant, however, by virtue of his military power and
unrestricted authority, takes upon him to punish individuals by
imprisonment, corporal pains, and banishment, without consulting
the senate, or indeed, observing any form of trial. The only
redress against any unjust exercise of this absolute power, is by
complaint to the king; and you know, what chance a poor man has
for being redressed in this manner.

With respect to religion, I may safely say, that here
superstition reigns under the darkest shades of ignorance and
prejudice. I think there are ten convents and three nunneries
within and without the walls of Nice; and among them all, I never
could hear of one man who had made any tolerable advances in any
kind of human learning. All ecclesiastics are exempted from any
exertion of civil power, being under the immediate protection and
authority of the bishop, or his vicar. The bishop of Nice is
suffragan of the archbishop of Ambrun in France; and the revenues
of the see amount to between five and six hundred pounds
sterling. We have likewise an office of the inquisition, though I
do not hear that it presumes to execute any acts of jurisdiction,
without the king's special permission. All the churches are
sanctuaries for all kinds of criminals, except those guilty of
high treason; and the priests are extremely jealous of their
privileges in this particular. They receive, with open arms,
murderers, robbers, smugglers, fraudulent bankrupts, and felons
of every denomination; and never give them up, until after
having stipulated for their lives and liberty. I need not enlarge
upon the pernicious consequences of this infamous prerogative,
calculated to raise and extend the power and influence of the
Roman church, on the ruins of morality and good order. I saw a
fellow, who had three days before murdered his wife in the last
month of pregnancy, taking the air with great composure and
serenity, on the steps of a church in Florence; and nothing is
more common, than to see the most execrable villains diverting
themselves in the cloysters of some convents at Rome.

Nice abounds with noblesse, marquisses, counts, and barons. Of
these, three or four families are really respectable: the rest
are novi homines, sprung from Bourgeois, who have saved a little
money by their different occupations, and raised themselves to
the rank of noblesse by purchase. One is descended from an
avocat; another from an apothecary; a third from a retailer of
wine, a fourth from a dealer in anchovies; and I am told, there
is actually a count at Villefranche, whose father sold macaroni
in the streets. A man in this country may buy a marquisate, or a
county, for the value of three or four hundred pounds sterling,
and the title follows the fief; but he may purchase lettres de
noblesse for about thirty or forty guineas. In Savoy, there are
six hundred families of noblesse; the greater part of which have
not above one hundred crowns a year to maintain their dignity. In
the mountains of Piedmont, and even in this country of Nice,
there are some representatives of very antient and noble
families, reduced to the condition of common peasants; but they
still retain the antient pride of their houses, and boast of the
noble blood that runs in their veins. A gentleman told me, that
in travelling through the mountains, he was obliged to pass a
night in the cottage of one of these rusticated nobles, who
called to his son in the evening, "Chevalier, as-tu donne a
manger aux cochons?" "Have you fed the Hogs, Sir Knight?" This,
however, is not the case with the noblesse of Nice. Two or three
of them have about four or five hundred a year: the rest, in general,
may have about one hundred pistoles, arising from the silk, oil, wine,
and oranges, produced in their small plantations, where they have
also country houses. Some few of these are well built,
commodious, and situated; but, for the most part, they are
miserable enough. Our noblesse, notwithstanding their origin, and
the cheap rate at which their titles have been obtained, are
nevertheless extremely tenacious of their privileges, very
delicate in maintaining the etiquette, and keep at a very stately
distance from the Bourgeoisie. How they live in their families, I
do not choose to enquire; but, in public, Madame appears in her
robe of gold, or silver stuff, with her powder and frisure, her
perfumes, her paint and her patches; while Monsieur Le Comte
struts about in his lace and embroidery. Rouge and fard are more
peculiarly necessary in this country, where the complexion and
skin are naturally swarthy and yellow. I have likewise observed,
that most of the females are pot-bellied; a circumstance owing, I
believe, to the great quantity of vegetable trash which they eat.
All the horses, mules, asses, and cattle, which feed upon grass,
have the same distension. This kind of food produces such acid
juices in the stomach, as excite a perpetual sense of hunger. I
have been often amazed at the voracious appetites of these
people. You must not expect that I should describe the tables and
the hospitality of our Nissard gentry. Our consul, who is a very
honest man, told me, he had lived four and thirty years in the
country, without having once eat or drank in any of their houses.

The noblesse of Nice cannot leave the country without express
leave from the king; and this leave, when obtained, is for a
limited time, which they dare not exceed, on pain of incurring
his majesty's displeasure. They must, therefore, endeavour to
find amusements at home; and this, I apprehend, would be no easy
task for people of an active spirit or restless disposition. True
it is, the religion of the country supplies a never-failing fund
of pastime to those who have any relish for devotion; and this is
here a prevailing taste. We have had transient visits of a
puppet-shew, strolling musicians, and rope-dancers; but they did
not like their quarters, and decamped without beat of drum. In
the summer, about eight or nine at night, part of the noblesse
may be seen assembled in a place called the Pare; which is,
indeed, a sort of a street formed by a row of very paltry houses
on one side, and on the other, by part of the town-wall, which
screens it from a prospect of the sea, the only object that could
render it agreeable. Here you may perceive the noblesse stretched
in pairs upon logs of wood, like so many seals upon the rocks by
moon-light, each dame with her cicisbeo: for, you must
understand, this Italian fashion prevails at Nice among all ranks
of people; and there is not such a passion as jealousy known. The
husband and the cicisbeo live together as sworn brothers; and the
wife and the mistress embrace each other with marks of the
warmest affection. I do not choose to enter into particulars. I
cannot open the scandalous chronicle of Nice, without hazard of
contamination. With respect to delicacy and decorum, you may
peruse dean Swift's description of the Yahoos, and then you will
have some idea of the porcheria, that distinguishes the gallantry
of Nice. But the Pare is not the only place of public resort for
our noblesse in a summer's evening. Just without one of our
gates, you will find them seated in ditches on the highway side,
serenaded with the croaking of frogs, and the bells and braying
of mules and asses continually passing in a perpetual cloud of
dust. Besides these amusements, there is a public conversazione
every evening at the commandant's house called the Government,
where those noble personages play at cards for farthings. In
carnival time, there is also, at this same government, a ball
twice or thrice a week, carried on by subscription. At this
assembly every person, without distinction, is permitted to dance
in masquerade: but, after dancing, they are obliged to unmask,
and if Bourgeois, to retire. No individual can give a ball,
without obtaining a permission and guard of the commandant; and
then his house is open to all masques, without distinction, who
are provided with tickets, which tickets are sold by the
commandant's secretary, at five sols a-piece, and delivered to
the guard at the door. If I have a mind to entertain my
particular friends, I cannot have more than a couple of violins;
and, in that case, it is called a conversazione.

Though the king of Sardinia takes all opportunities to
distinguish the subjects of Great-Britain with particular marks
of respect, I have seen enough to be convinced, that our nation
is looked upon with an evil eye by the people of Nice; and this
arises partly from religious prejudices, and partly from envy,
occasioned by a ridiculous notion of our superior wealth. For my
own part, I owe them nothing on the score of civilities; and
therefore, I shall say nothing more on the subject, lest I should
be tempted to deviate from that temperance and impartiality which
I would fain hope have hitherto characterised the remarks of,--
Dear Sir, your faithful, humble servant.


NICE, September 2, 1764.

DEAR DOCTOR,--I wrote in May to Mr. B-- at Geneva, and gave him
what information he desired to have, touching the conveniences of
Nice. I shall now enter into the same detail, for the benefit of
such of your friends or patients, as may have occasion to try
this climate.

The journey from Calais to Nice, of four persons in a coach, or
two post-chaises, with a servant on horseback, travelling post,
may be performed with ease, for about one hundred and twenty
pounds, including every expence. Either at Calais or at Paris,
you will always find a travelling coach or berline, which you may
buy for thirty or forty guineas, and this will serve very well to
reconvey you to your own country.

In the town of Nice, you will find no ready-furnished lodgings
for a whole family. Just without one of the gates, there are two
houses to be let, ready-furnished, for about five loui'dores per
month. As for the country houses in this neighbourhood, they are
damp in winter, and generally without chimnies; and in summer
they are rendered uninhabitable by the heat and the vermin. If
you hire a tenement in Nice, you must take it for a year certain;
and this will cost you about twenty pounds sterling. For this
price, I have a ground floor paved with brick, consisting of a
kitchen, two large halls, a couple of good rooms with chimnies,
three large closets that serve for bed-chambers, and dressing-rooms,
a butler's room, and three apartments for servants,
lumber or stores, to which we ascend by narrow wooden stairs. I
have likewise two small gardens, well stocked with oranges,
lemons, peaches, figs, grapes, corinths, sallad, and pot-herbs.
It is supplied with a draw-well of good water, and there is
another in the vestibule of the house, which is cool, large, and
magnificent. You may hire furniture for such a tenement for about
two guineas a month: but I chose rather to buy what was
necessary; and this cost me about sixty pounds. I suppose it will
fetch me about half the money when I leave the place. It is very
difficult to find a tolerable cook at Nice. A common maid, who
serves the people of the country, for three or four livres a
month, will not live with an English family under eight or ten.
They are all slovenly, slothful, and unconscionable cheats. The
markets at Nice are tolerably well supplied. Their beef, which
comes from Piedmont, is pretty good, and we have it all the year.
In the winter we have likewise excellent pork, and delicate lamb;
but the mutton is indifferent. Piedmont, also, affords us
delicious capons, fed with maize; and this country produces
excellent turkeys, but very few geese. Chickens and pullets are
extremely meagre. I have tried to fatten them, without success.
In summer they are subject to the pip, and die in great numbers.
Autumn and winter are the seasons for game; hares, partridges,
quails, wild-pigeons, woodcocks, snipes, thrushes, beccaficas,
and ortolans. Wild-boar is sometimes found in the mountains: it
has a delicious taste, not unlike that of the wild hog in
Jamaica; and would make an excellent barbecue, about the
beginning of winter, when it is in good case: but, when meagre,
the head only is presented at tables. Pheasants are very scarce.
As for the heath-game, I never saw but one cock, which my servant
bought in the market, and brought home; but the commandant's cook
came into my kitchen, and carried it of, after it was half
plucked, saying, his master had company to dinner. The hares are
large, plump, and juicy. The partridges are generally of the red
sort; large as pullets, and of a good flavour: there are also
some grey partridges in the mountains; and another sort of a
white colour, that weigh four or five pounds each. Beccaficas are
smaller than sparrows, but very fat, and they are generally eaten
half raw. The best way of dressing them is to stuff them into a
roll, scooped of it's crum; to baste them well with butter, and
roast them, until they are brown and crisp. The ortolans are kept
in cages, and crammed, until they die of fat, then eaten as
dainties. The thrush is presented with the trail, because the
bird feeds on olives. They may as well eat the trail of a sheep,
because it feeds on the aromatic herbs of the mountain. In the
summer, we have beef, veal, and mutton, chicken, and ducks; which
last are very fat, and very flabby. All the meat is tough in this
season, because the excessive heat, and great number of flies,
will not admit of its being kept any time after it is killed.
Butter and milk, though not very delicate, we have all the year.
Our tea and fine sugar come from Marseilles, at a very reasonable

Nice is not without variety of fish; though they are not counted
so good in their kinds as those of the ocean. Soals, and flat-fish
in general, are scarce. Here are some mullets, both grey and
red. We sometimes see the dory, which is called St Pierre; with
rock-fish, bonita, and mackarel. The gurnard appears pretty
often; and there is plenty of a kind of large whiting, which eats
pretty well; but has not the delicacy of that which is caught on
our coast. One of the best fish of this country, is called Le
Loup, about two or three pounds in weight; white, firm, and well-flavoured.
Another, no-way inferior to it, is the Moustel, about
the same size; of a dark-grey colour, and short, blunt snout;
growing thinner and flatter from the shoulders downwards, so as
to resemble a soal at the tail. This cannot be the mustela of the
antients, which is supposed to be the sea lamprey. Here too are
found the vyvre, or, as we call it, weaver; remarkable for its
long, sharp spines, so dangerous to the fingers of the fishermen.
We have abundance of the saepia, or cuttle-fish, of which the
people in this country make a delicate ragout; as also of the
polype de mer, which is an ugly animal, with long feelers, like
tails, which they often wind about the legs of the fishermen.
They are stewed with onions, and eat something like cow-heel. The
market sometimes affords the ecrivisse de mer, which is a lobster
without claws, of a sweetish taste; and there are a few rock
oysters, very small and very rank. Sometimes the fishermen find
under water, pieces of a very hard cement, like plaister of
Paris, which contain a kind of muscle, called la datte, from its
resemblance to a date. These petrifactions are commonly of a
triangular form and may weigh about twelve or fifteen pounds each
and one of them may contain a dozen of these muscles which have
nothing extraordinary in the taste or flavour, though extremely
curious, as found alive and juicy, in the heart of a rock, almost
as hard as marble, without any visible communication with the air
or water. I take it for granted, however, that the inclosing
cement is porous, and admits the finer parts of the surrounding
fluid. In order to reach the muscles, this cement must be broke
with large hammers; and it may be truly said, the kernal is not
worth the trouble of cracking the shell. [These are found
in great plenty at Ancona and other parts of the Adriatic, where
they go by the name of Bollani, as we are informed by Keysler.]
Among the fish of this country, there is a very ugly animal of
the eel species, which might pass for a serpent: it is of a
dusky, black colour, marked with spots of yellow, about eighteen
inches, or two feet long. The Italians call it murena; but
whether it is the fish which had the same name among the antient
Romans, I cannot pretend to determine. The antient murena was
counted a great delicacy, and was kept in ponds for extraordinary
occasions. Julius Caesar borrowed six thousand for one
entertainment: but I imagined this was the river lamprey. The
murena of this country is in no esteem, and only eaten by the
poor people.

Craw-fish and trout are rarely found in the rivers among the
mountains. The sword-fish is much esteemed in Nice, and called
l'empereur, about six or seven feet long: but I have never seen
it. [Since I wrote the above letter, I have eaten several times
of this fish, which is as white as the finest veal, and extremely
delicate. The emperor associates with the tunny fish, and is
always taken in their company.] They are very scarce; and when
taken, are generally concealed, because the head belongs to the
commandant, who has likewise the privilege of buying the best
fish at a very low price. For which reason, the choice pieces are
concealed by the fishermen, and sent privately to Piedmont or
Genoa. But, the chief fisheries on this coast are of the
sardines, anchovies, and tunny. These are taken in small
quantities all the year; but spring and summer is the season when
they mostly abound. In June and July, a fleet of about fifty
fishing-boats puts to sea every evening about eight o'clock, and
catches anchovies in immense quantities. One small boat sometimes
takes in one night twenty-five rup, amounting to six hundred
weight; but it must be observed, that the pound here, as well as
in other parts of Italy, consists but of twelve ounces.
Anchovies, besides their making a considerable article in the
commerce of Nice, are a great resource in all families. The
noblesse and burgeois sup on sallad and anchovies, which are
eaten on all their meagre days. The fishermen and mariners all
along this coast have scarce any other food but dry bread, with a
few pickled anchovies; and when the fish is eaten, they rub their
crusts with the brine. Nothing can be more delicious than fresh
anchovies fried in oil: I prefer them to the smelts of the
Thames. I need not mention, that the sardines and anchovies are
caught in nets; salted, barrelled, and exported into all the
different kingdoms and states of Europe. The sardines, however,
are largest and fattest in the month of September. A company of
adventurers have farmed the tunny-fishery of the king, for six
years; a monopoly, for which they pay about three thousand pounds
sterling. They are at a very considerable expence for nets,
boats, and attendance. Their nets are disposed in a very curious
manner across the small bay of St. Hospice, in this
neighbourhood, where the fish chiefly resort. They are never
removed, except in the winter, and when they want repair: but
there are avenues for the fish to enter, and pass, from one
inclosure to another. There is a man in a boat, who constantly
keeps watch. When he perceives they are fairly entered, he has a
method for shutting all the passes, and confining the fish to one
apartment of the net, which is lifted up into the boat, until the
prisoners are taken and secured. The tunny-fish generally runs
from fifty to one hundred weight; but some of them are much
larger. They are immediately gutted, boiled, and cut in slices.
The guts and head afford oil: the slices are partly dried, to be
eaten occasionally with oil and vinegar, or barrelled up in oil,
to be exported. It is counted a delicacy in Italy and Piedmont,
and tastes not unlike sturgeon. The famous pickle of the
ancients, called garum, was made of the gills and blood of the
tunny, or thynnus. There is a much more considerable fishery of
it in Sardinia, where it is said to employ four hundred persons;
but this belongs to the duc de St. Pierre. In the neighbourhood
of Villa Franca, there are people always employed in fishing for
coral and sponge, which grow adhering to the rocks under water.
Their methods do not favour much of ingenuity. For the coral,
they lower down a swab, composed of what is called spunyarn on
board our ships of war, hanging in distinct threads, and sunk by
means of a great weight, which, striking against the coral in its
descent, disengages it from the rocks; and some of the pieces
being intangled among the threads of the swab, are brought up
with it above water. The sponge is got by means of a cross-stick,
fitted with hooks, which being lowered down, fastens upon it, and
tears it from the rocks. In some parts of the Adriatic and
Archipelago, these substances are gathered by divers, who can
remain five minutes below water. But I will not detain you one
minute longer; though I must observe, that there is plenty of
fine samphire growing along all these rocks, neglected and


NICE, October 10, 1764.

DEAR SIR,--Before I tell you the price of provisions at Nice, it
will be necessary to say something of the money. The gold coin of
Sardinia consists of the doppia di savoia, value twenty-four
livres Piedmontese, about the size of a loui'dore; and the mezzo
doppia, or piece of twelve livres. In silver, there is the scudo
of six livres, the mezzo scudo of three; and the quarto, or pezza
di trenta soldi: but all these are very scarce. We seldom see any
gold and silver coin, but the loui'dore, and the six, and three-livre
Pieces of France; a sure sign that the French suffer by
their contraband commerce with the Nissards. The coin chiefly
used at market is a piece of copper silvered, that passes for
seven sols and a half; another of the same sort, valued two sols
and a half. They have on one side the impression of the king's
head; and on the other, the arms of Savoy, with a ducal crown,
inscribed with his name and titles. There are of genuine copper,
pieces of one sol, stamped on one side with a cross fleuree; and
on the reverse, with the king's cypher and crown, inscribed as
the others: finally, there is another small copper piece, called
piccalon, the sixth part of a sol, with a plain cross, and on the
reverse, a slip-knot surmounted with a crown; the legend as
above. The impression and legend on the gold and silver coins,
are the same as those on the pieces of seven sols and a half. The
livre of Piedmont consists of twenty sols, and is very near of
the same value as an English shilling: ten sols, therefore, are
equal to six-pence sterling. Butcher's meat in general sells at
Nice for three sols a pound; and veal is something dearer: but
then there are but twelve ounces in the pound, which being
allowed for, sixteen ounces, come for something less than twopence
halfpenny English. Fish commonly sells for four sols the
twelve ounces, or five for the English pound; and these five are
equivalent to three-pence of our money: but sometimes we are
obliged to pay five, and even six sols for the Piedmontese pound
of fish. A turkey that would sell for five or six shillings at
the London market, costs me but three at Nice. I can buy a good
capon for thirty sols, or eighteen-pence; and the same price I
pay for a brace of partridges, or a good hare. I can have a
woodcock for twenty-four sols; but the pigeons are dearer than in
London. Rabbits are very rare; and there is scarce a goose to be
seen in the whole county of Nice. Wild-ducks and teal are
sometimes to be had in the winter; and now I am speaking of sea-fowl,
it may not be amiss to tell you what I know of the halcyon,
or king's-fisher. It is a bird, though very rare in this country
about the size of a pigeon; the body brown, and the belly white:
by a wonderful instinct it makes its nest upon the surface of the
sea, and lays its eggs in the month of November, when the
Mediterranean is always calm and smooth as a mill-pond. The
people about here call them martinets, because they begin to
hatch about Martinmass. Their nests are sometimes seen floating
near the shore, and generally become the prize of the boys, who
are very alert in catching them.

You know all sea-birds are allowed by the church of Rome to be
eaten on meagre days, as a kind of fish; and the monks especially
do not fail to make use of this permission. Sea turtle, or
tortoises, are often found at sea by the mariners, in these
latitudes: but they are not the green sort, so much in request
among the aldermen of London. All the Mediterranean turtle are of
the kind called loggerhead, which in the West-Indies are eaten by
none but hungry seamen, negroes, and the lowest class of people.
One of these, weighing about two hundred pounds, was lately
brought on shore by the fishermen of Nice, who found it floating
asleep on the surface of the sea. The whole town was alarmed at
sight of such a monster, the nature of which they could not
comprehend. However, the monks, called minims, of St. Francesco
di Paolo, guided by a sure instinct, marked it as their prey, and
surrounded it accordingly. The friars of other convents, not
quite so hungry, crowding down to the beach, declared it should
not be eaten; dropped some hints about the possibility of its
being something praeternatural and diabolical, and even proposed
exorcisms and aspersions with holy water. The populace were
divided according to their attachment to this, or that convent: a
mighty clamour arose; and the police, in order to remove the
cause of their contention, ordered the tortoise to be recommitted
to the waves; a sentence which the Franciscans saw executed, not
without sighs and lamentation. The land-turtle, or terrapin, is
much better known at Nice, as being a native of this country; yet
the best are brought from the island of Sardinia. The soup or
bouillon of this animal is always prescribed here as a great
restorative to consumptive patients. The bread of Nice is very
indifferent, and I am persuaded very unwholesome. The flour is
generally musty, and not quite free of sand. This is either owing
to the particles of the mill-stone rubbed off in grinding, or to
what adheres to the corn itself, in being threshed upon the
common ground; for there are no threshing-floors in this country.
I shall now take notice of the vegetables of Nice. In the winter,
we have green pease, asparagus, artichoaks, cauliflower, beans,
French beans, celery, and endive; cabbage, coleworts, radishes,
turnips, carrots, betteraves, sorrel lettuce, onions, garlic, and
chalot. We have potatoes from the mountains, mushrooms,
champignons, and truffles. Piedmont affords white truffles,
counted the most delicious in the world: they sell for about
three livres the pound. The fruits of this season are pickled
olives, oranges, lemons, citrons, citronelles, dried figs,
grapes, apples, pears, almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, filberts,
medlars, pomegranates, and a fruit called azerolles, [The
Italians call them Lazerruoli.] about the size of a nutmeg, of an
oblong shape, red colour, and agreeable acid taste. I might
likewise add the cherry of the Laurus cerasus, which is sold in
the market; very beautiful to the eye, but insipid to the palate.
In summer we have all those vegetables in perfection. There is
also a kind of small courge, or gourd, of which the people of the
country make a very savoury ragout, with the help of eggs,
cheese, and fresh anchovies. Another is made of the badenjean,
which the Spaniards call berengena: [This fruit is called
Melanzana in Italy and is much esteemed by the Jews in Leghorn.
Perhaps Melanzana is a corruption of Malamsana.] it is much eaten
in Spain and the Levant, as well as by the Moors in Barbary. It
is about the size and shape of a hen's egg, inclosed in a cup
like an acorn; when ripe, of a faint purple colour. It grows on a
stalk about a foot high, with long spines or prickles. The people
here have different ways of slicing and dressing it, by broiling,
boiling, and stewing, with other ingredients: but it is at best
an insipid dish. There are some caperbushes in this
neighbourhood, which grow wild in holes of garden walls, and
require no sort of cultivation: in one or two gardens, there are
palm-trees; but the dates never ripen. In my register of the
weather, I have marked the seasons of the principal fruits in
this country. In May we have strawberries, which continue in
season two or three months. These are of the wood kind; very
grateful, and of a good flavour; but the scarlets and hautboys
are not known at Nice. In the beginning of June, and even sooner,
the cherries begin to be ripe. They are a kind of bleeding
hearts; large, fleshy, and high flavoured, though rather too
luscious. I have likewise seen a few of those we call Kentish
cherries which are much more cool, acid, and agreeable,
especially in this hot climate. The cherries are succeeded by the
apricots and peaches, which are all standards, and of consequence
better flavoured than what we call wall-fruit. The trees, as well
as almonds, grow and bear without care and cultivation, and may
be seen in the open fields about Nice. but without proper
culture, the fruit degenerates. The best peaches I have seen at
Nice are the amberges, of a yellow hue, and oblong shape, about
the size of a small lemon. Their consistence is much more solid
than that of our English peaches, and their taste more delicious.
Several trees of this kind I have in my own garden. Here is
likewise plenty of other sorts; but no nectarines. We have little
choice of plumbs. Neither do I admire the pears or apples of this
country: but the most agreeable apples I ever tasted, come from
Final, and are called pomi carli. The greatest fault I find with
most fruits in this climate, is, that they are too sweet and
luscious, and want that agreeable acid which is so cooling and so
grateful in a hot country. This, too, is the case with our
grapes, of which there is great plenty and variety, plump and
juicy, and large as plumbs. Nature, however, has not neglected to
provide other agreeable vegetable juices to cool the human body.
During the whole summer, we have plenty of musk melons. I can buy
one as large as my head for the value of an English penny: but
one of the best and largest, weighing ten or twelve pounds, I can
have for twelve sols, or about eight-pence sterling. From Antibes
and Sardinia, we have another fruit called a watermelon, which is
well known in Jamaica, and some of our other colonies. Those from
Antibes are about the size of an ordinary bomb-shell: but the
Sardinian and Jamaica watermelons are four times as large. The
skin is green, smooth, and thin. The inside is a purple pulp,
studded with broad, flat, black seeds, and impregnated with a
juice the most cool, delicate, and refreshing, that can well be
conceived. One would imagine the pulp itself dissolved in the
stomach; for you may eat of it until you are filled up
to the tongue, without feeling the least inconvenience. It is so
friendly to the constitution, that in ardent inflammatory fevers,
it is drank as the best emulsion. At Genoa, Florence, and Rome,
it is sold in the streets, ready cut in slices; and the porters,
sweating under their burthens, buy, and eat them as they pass. A
porter of London quenches his thirst with a draught of strong
beer: a porter of Rome, or Naples, refreshes himself with a slice
of water-melon, or a glass of iced-water. The one costs three
half-pence; the last, half a farthing--which of them is most
effectual? I am sure the men are equally pleased. It is commonly
remarked, that beer strengthens as well as refreshes. But the
porters of Constantinople, who never drink any thing stronger
than water, and eat very little animal food, will lift and carry
heavier burthens than any other porters in the known world. If we
may believe the most respectable travellers, a Turk will carry a
load of seven hundred weight, which is more (I believe) than any
English porter ever attempted to carry any length of way.

Among the refreshments of these warm countries, I ought not to
forget mentioning the sorbettes, which are sold in coffee-houses,
and places of public resort. They are iced froth, made with juice
of oranges, apricots, or peaches; very agreeable to the palate,
and so extremely cold, that I was afraid to swallow them in this
hot country, until I found from information and experience, that
they may be taken in moderation, without any bad consequence.

Another considerable article in house-keeping is wine, which we
have here good and reasonable. The wine of Tavelle in Languedoc
is very near as good as Burgundy, and may be had at Nice, at the
rate of six-pence a bottle. The sweet wine of St. Laurent,
counted equal to that of Frontignan, costs about eight or nine-pence
a quart: pretty good Malaga may be had for half the money.
Those who make their own wine choose the grapes from different
vineyards, and have them picked, pressed, and fermented at home.

That which is made by the peasants, both red and white, is
generally genuine: but the wine-merchants of Nice brew and
balderdash, and even mix it with pigeons dung and quick-lime. It
cannot be supposed, that a stranger and sojourner should buy his
own grapes, and make his own provision of wine: but he may buy it
by recommendation from the peasants, for about eighteen or twenty
livres the charge, consisting of eleven rup five pounds; in other
words, of two hundred and eighty pounds of this country, so as to
bring it for something less than three-pence a quart. The Nice
wine, when mixed with water, makes an agreeable beverage. There
is an inferior sort for servants drank by the common people,
which in the cabaret does not cost above a penny a bottle. The
people here are not so nice as the English, in the management of
their wine. It is kept in flacons, or large flasks, without
corks, having a little oil at top. It is not deemed the worse for
having been opened a day or two before; and they expose it to the
hot sun, and all kinds of weather, without hesitation. Certain it
is, this treatment has little or no effect upon its taste,
flavour, and transparency.

The brandy of Nice is very indifferent: and the liqueurs are so
sweetened with coarse sugar, that they scarce retain the taste or
flavour of any other ingredient.

The last article of domestic oeconomy which I shall mention is
fuel, or wood for firing, which I buy for eleven sols (a little
more than six-pence halfpenny) a quintal, consisting of one
hundred and fifty pound Nice weight. The best, which is of oak,
comes from Sardinia. The common sort is olive, which being cut
with the sap in it, ought to be laid in during the summer;
otherwise, it will make a very uncomfortable fire. In my kitchen
and two chambers, I burned fifteen thousand weight of wood in
four weeks, exclusive of charcoal for the kitchen stoves, and of
pine-tops for lighting the fires. These last are as large as
pineapples, which they greatly resemble in shape, and to which,
indeed, they give their name; and being full of turpentine, make
a wonderful blaze. For the same purpose, the people of these
countries use the sarments, or cuttings of the vines, which they
sell made up in small fascines. This great consumption of wood is
owing to the large fires used in roasting pieces of beef, and
joints, in the English manner. The roasts of this country seldom
exceed two or three pounds of meat; and their other plats are
made over stove holes. But it is now high time to conduct you
from the kitchen, where you have been too long detained by--Your
humble servant.

P.S.--I have mentioned the prices of almost all the articles in
house-keeping, as they are paid by the English: but exclusive of
butcher's meat, I am certain the natives do not pay so much by
thirty per cent. Their imposition on us, is not only a proof of
their own villany and hatred, but a scandal on their government;
which ought to interfere in favour of the subjects of a nation,
to which they are so much bound in point of policy, as well as


NICE, October 22, 1764.

SIR,--As I have nothing else to do, but to satisfy my own
curiosity, and that of my friends, I obey your injunctions with
pleasure; though not without some apprehension that my inquiries
will afford you very little entertainment. The place where I am
is of very little importance or consequence as a state or
community; neither is there any thing curious or interesting in
the character or oeconomy of its inhabitants.

There are some few merchants in Nice, said to be in good
circumstances. I know one of them, who deals to a considerable
extent, and goes twice a year to London to attend the sales of
the East-India company. He buys up a very large quantity of
muslins, and other Indian goods, and freights a ship in the river
to transport them to Villa Franca. Some of these are sent to
Swisserland; but, I believe, the greater part is smuggled into
France, by virtue of counterfeit stamps, which are here used
without any ceremony. Indeed, the chief commerce of this place is
a contraband traffick carried on to the disadvantage of France;
and I am told, that the farmers of the Levant company in that
kingdom find their account in conniving at it. Certain it is, a
great quantity of merchandize is brought hither every week by
mules from Turin and other parts in Piedmont, and afterwards
conveyed to the other side of the Var, either by land or water.
The mules of Piedmont are exceeding strong and hardy. One of them
will carry a burthen of near six hundred weight. They are easily
nourished, and require no other respite from their labour, but
the night's repose. They are the only carriage that can be used
in crossing the mountains, being very sure-footed: and it is
observed that in choosing their steps, they always march upon the
brink of the precipice. You must let them take their own way,
otherwise you will be in danger of losing your life; for they are
obstinate, even to desperation. It is very dangerous for a person
on horseback to meet those animals: they have such an aversion to
horses, that they will attack them with incredible fury, so as
even to tear them and their riders in pieces; and the best method
for avoiding this fate, is to clap spurs to your beast, and seek
your safety in flight. I have been more than once obliged to fly
before them. They always give you warning, by raising a hideous
braying as soon as they perceive the horse at a distance. The
mules of Provence are not so mischievous, because they are more
used to the sight and society of horses: but those of Piedmont
are by far the largest and the strongest I have seen.

Some very feasible schemes for improving the commerce of Nice
have been presented to the ministry of Turin; but hitherto
without success. The English import annually between two and
three thousand bales of raw silk, the growth of Piedmont; and
this declaration would be held legal evidence. In some parts of
France, the cure of the parish, on All Souls' day, which is
called le jour des morts, says a libera domine for two sols, at
every grave in the burying-ground, for the release of the soul
whose body is there interred.

The artisans of Nice are very lazy, very needy, very aukward, and
void of all ingenuity. The price of their labour is very near as
high as at London or Paris. Rather than work for moderate profit,
arising from constant employment, which would comfortably
maintain them and their families, they choose to starve at home,
to lounge about the ramparts, bask themselves in the sun, or play
at bowls in the streets from morning 'till night.

The lowest class of people consists of fishermen, day labourers,
porters, and peasants: these last are distributed chiefly in the
small cassines in the neighbourhood of the city, and are said to
amount to twelve thousand. They are employed in labouring the
ground, and have all the outward signs of extreme misery. They
are all diminutive, meagre, withered, dirty, and half naked; in
their complexions, not barely swarthy, but as black as Moors; and
I believe many of them are descendants of that people. They are
very hard favoured; and their women in general have the coarsest
features I have ever seen: it must be owned, however, they have
the finest teeth in the world. The nourishment of those poor
creatures consists of the refuse of the garden, very coarse
bread, a kind of meal called polenta, made of Indian corn, which
is very nourishing and agreeable, and a little oil; but even in
these particulars, they seem to be stinted to very scanty meals.
I have known a peasant feed his family with the skins of boiled
beans. Their hogs are much better fed than their children. 'Tis
pity they have no cows, which would yield milk, butter, and
cheese, for the sustenance of their families. With all this
wretchedness, one of these peasants will not work in your garden
for less than eighteen sols, about eleven pence sterling, per
diem; and then he does not half the work of an English labourer.
If there is fruit in it, or any thing he can convey, he will
infallibly steal it, if you do not keep a very watchful eye over
him. All the common people are thieves and beggars; and I believe
this is always the case with people who are extremely indigent
and miserable. In other respects, they are seldom guilty of
excesses. They are remarkably respectful and submissive to their
superiors. The populace of Nice are very quiet and orderly. They
are little addicted to drunkenness. I have never heard of one
riot since I lived among them; and murder and robbery are
altogether unknown. A man may walk alone over the county of Nice,
at midnight, without danger of insult. The police is very well
regulated. No man is permitted to wear a pistol or dagger' on
pain of being sent to the gallies. I am informed, that both
murder and robbery are very frequent in some parts of Piedmont.
Even here, when the peasants quarrel in their cups, (which very
seldom happens) they draw their knives, and the one infallibly
stabs the other. To such extremities, however, they never
proceed, except when there is a woman in the case; and mutual
jealousy co-operates with the liquor they have drank, to inflame
their passions. In Nice, the common people retire to their
lodgings at eight o'clock in winter, and nine in summer. Every
person found in the streets after these hours, is apprehended by
the patrole; and, if he cannot give a good account of himself,
sent to prison. At nine in winter, and ten in summer, there is a
curfew-bell rung, warning the people to put out their lights, and
go to bed. This is a very necessary precaution in towns subject
to conflagrations; but of small use in Nice, where there is very
little combustible in the houses.

The punishments inflicted upon malefactors and delinquents at
Nice are hanging for capital crimes; slavery on board the gallies
for a limited term, or for life, according to the nature of the
transgression; flagellation, and the strappado. This last is
performed, by hoisting up the criminal by his hands tied behind
his back, on a pulley about two stories high; from whence, the
rope being suddenly slackened, he falls to within a yard or two
of the ground, where he is stopped with a violent shock arising
from the weight of his body, and the velocity of his descent,
which generally dislocates his shoulders, with incredible pain.
This dreadful execution is sometimes repeated in a few minutes on
the same delinquent; so that the very ligaments are tore from his
joints, and his arms are rendered useless for life.

The poverty of the people in this country, as well as in the
South of France, may be conjectured from the appearance of their
domestic animals. The draughthorses, mules, and asses, of the
peasants, are so meagre, as to excite compassion. There is not a
dog to be seen in tolerable case; and the cats are so many
emblems of famine, frightfully thin, and dangerously rapacious. I
wonder the dogs and they do not devour young children. Another
proof of that indigence which reigns among the common people, is
this: you may pass through the whole South of France, as well as
the county of Nice, where there is no want of groves, woods, and
plantations, without hearing the song of blackbird, thrush,
linnet, gold-finch, or any other bird whatsoever. All is silent
and solitary. The poor birds are destroyed, or driven for refuge,
into other countries, by the savage persecution of the people,
who spare no pains to kill, and catch them for their own
subsistence. Scarce a sparrow, red-breast, tomtit, or wren, can
'scape the guns and snares of those indefatigable fowlers. Even
the noblesse make parties to go a la chasse, a-hunting; that is,
to kill those little birds, which they eat as gibier, or game.

The great poverty of the people here, is owing to their religion.
Half of their time is lost in observing the great number of
festivals; and half of their substance is given to mendicant
friars and parish priests. But if the church occasions their
indigence, it likewise, in some measure, alleviates the horrors
of it, by amusing them with shows, processions, and even those
very feasts, which afford a recess from labour, in a country
where the climate disposes them to idleness. If the peasants in
the neighbourhood of any chapel dedicated to a saint, whose day
is to be celebrated, have a mind to make a festin, in other
words, a fair, they apply to the commandant of Nice for a
license, which costs them about a French crown. This being
obtained, they assemble after service, men and women, in their
best apparel, and dance to the musick of fiddles, and pipe and
tabor, or rather pipe and drum. There are hucksters' stands, with
pedlary ware and knick-knacks for presents; cakes and bread,
liqueurs and wine; and thither generally resort all the company
of Nice. I have seen our whole noblesse at one of these festins,
kept on the highway in summer, mingled with an immense crowd of
peasants, mules, and asses, covered with dust, and sweating at
every pore with the excessive heat of the weather. I should be
much puzzled to tell whence their enjoyment arises on such
occasions; or to explain their motives for going thither, unless
they are prescribed it for pennance, as a fore-taste of

Now I am speaking of religious institutions, I cannot help
observing, that the antient Romans were still more superstitious
than the modern Italians; and that the number of their religious
feasts, sacrifices, fasts, and holidays, was even greater than
those of the Christian church of Rome. They had their festi and
profesti, their feriae stativae, and conceptivae, their fixed and
moveable feasts; their esuriales, or fasting days, and their
precidaneae, or vigils. The agonales were celebrated in January;
the carmentales, in January and February; the lupercales and
matronales, in March; the megalesia in April; the floralia, in
May; and the matralia in June. They had their saturnalia,
robigalia, venalia, vertumnalia, fornacalia, palilia, and
laralia, their latinae, their paganales, their sementinae, their
compitales, and their imperativae; such as the novemdalia,
instituted by the senate, on account of a supposed shower of
stones. Besides, every private family had a number of feriae,


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