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Previous to taking leave of the Pyrenees, I will subjoin a few remarks on the peasantry, from the work of Mr. Inglis, which I have already quoted :
“ The inhabitant of the Pyrenean valley is in every thing more primitive than the Alpine mountaineer. In his nourishment and dress he retains the pastoral simplicity, and, I might add, in his morals too. Bread of rye or barley, and milk, and a sort of paste made of Indian corn, are the habitual diet of the Pyrenean peasant; and those who are in comparatively easy circumstances salt some kid's flesh, and sometimes a pig, for high days and holidays. In comparison with the comforts which a peasant of the Grindelwald or the Grisons draws around him, those of the Pyrenean peasant scarcely raise him above the grade of a needy man; for not only are the articles of his subsistence of the simplest kind, but even in the quantity of these he is limited.
“ In the dress of the Pyrenean peasant of both sexes, the usages of Spain have been adopted. The men cover their heads with a small bonnet, and their bodies with a large cloak, which descends to the
very feet. The women throughout all the Pyrenean valleys are clothed in the same way as at Tarbes ; they either wear the capulet or short hood of scarlet, or the capuchin, a cloak of black, both thrown over the head and shoulders, and most commonly they have sandals upon the feet, excepting in the mountains, where the peasant generally walks with naked feet. The mountaineers of the Pyrenees are a handsomer race than the Alpine peasantry, but the dress of the former is less adapted to display the figure.
“ That besetting sin of the Swiss-greed, I have never found among the Pyrenees. The intercourse of the mountaineer with strangers has hitherto been too limited to dull his natural feelings of justice, kindness, and generosity; and I have generally found it difficult to prevail upon an inhabitant of a Pyrenean cabin, poor as he is, to accept any remuneration for his hospitalities. Crime of every description is rare in the Pyrenees, theft is very unfrequent, and murder altogether unknown. No traveller need hesitate to traverse every part of the French Pyrenees alone and unarmed.”
Supplementary Note on the Climates of France.
By M. Ch. MARTIUS. *
In Europe climates are divided into the marine and equable, and the continental and extreme. The former are characterised by mild winters followed by summers without excessive heat; the latter by severe winters, to which succeed burning summers. Norway, Denmark, Brittany, have a climate essentially marine. Continental Europe, comprising Hungary, Austria, Poland, Central Russia, are subject to the influence of an extreme climate. Considered with reference to their absolute temperature, European climates may be divided into the cold or oceanic, and the warm or mediterranean—the former prevails in all countries north of the Mediterranean, the latter in lands bordering upon that sea. * In the “ Annuaire Meteorologique de la France," pour 1850.
A marine climate is characterised by great equability of temperature, mild winters, summers without heat, an habitually humid atmosphere, the predominance of autumnal rains and western winds; whereas in continental countries the reverse as to temperature obtains, the rains are more abundant in summer than in autumn, and cold dry winds very often blow from points of the horizon comprised between the north-west and the north-east.
The climates of France may be stated to be five in number, viz., the north-east or Vosgian, the north-west or Sequanian, the south-west or Girondin, the southeast or Rhodanian, and the Mediterranean or Provençal.
In no other region than the Rhodanian is the annual quantity of rain so considerable (Dijon, Maçon, Lyons); a third part of the whole falls in autumn. The southwest winds do not prevail along the course of the Saone and the Rhone, as in the rest of France; it is the north which predominates, and next to this the south, then the north-west. These rivers overflow their banks after the prevalence of south-easterly winds. In no other region are storms more frequent. At Maçon, the number of days in the year on which thunder is heard, is estimated at twenty, at Lyons even more. This frequency arises from the neighbourhood of the French Alps, and from the mountains circumscribing the Rhone.
The traveller who descends the river from Lyons to Marseilles, does not at first perceive any change in the aspect of the country. But after having passed Pont St. Esprit, the Rhone is suddenly enclosed between
bills, which rise like walls from the banks. These are the pillars of Hercules, between the northern and southern climates. When the boat has passed through this gorge, all is changed. Nature presents herself in a new garb to the astonished traveller-barren calcareous mountains; buildings presenting the yellow and light appearance of the south ; olive-trees, with their grey foliage; dark cypresses, with clearly-defined outline against the sky-a landscape of Greece or of Italy. Provence is a portion detached from the rest of France, and cast upon the northern shore of the Mediterranean. Protected by a mountainous circle against northern winds, and descending by successive gradations towards the sea, it enjoys a higher temperature than the more southern provinces bordering upon the Pyrenees. To the east the Provençal climate becomes insensibly confounded with the still milder climate which is enjoyed by the shores of Liguria, designated by the name of the Riviera of Genoa.
The mean annual temperature is more elevated in this portion than in any other in France; it attains nearly 15°. The summers are hotter, and the winters warmer than in the Girondin districts.
The neighbourhood of the sea tempers the summer heats, the thermometer does not rise so high in proportion as in the north of France, but the heat lasts longer, and the mean of summer is nowhere below 21°. The annual quantity of rain is not greater than in other parts of France, but its distribution as respects the seasons is very characteristic. Almost one-half falls in autumn, the other half in winter and spring ; summer is therefore excessively dry. The autumnal rains being very abundant, the number of rainy days is much less than in any other region. At Marseilles it is 59 in the year ; at Montpelier, 67 ; at Nice, 52. Storms are not common, but are very violent, and occur mostly in the spring and in summer.
The climate of Provence is the best in France; it would be the most agreeable and the most healthy, were it not for the north-west (mistral), which blows with extreme violence in all the valley of the Rhone. This wind was unknown in the time of Julius Cæsar, who represents Provence as a country covered with forests. After an inconsiderate destruction of the trees clothing the plains and the hills of the country adjacent to the delta of the Rhone, this impetuous wind was first experienced. The mechanism of its formation is as follows :—When the denuded crests of the mountains, and the pebbly plains, become heated by the sun's rays, the air in contact with them, being likewise heated, dilates and rises into the higher regions, like that from a chimney where a strong fire is burning. Then the colder and heavier air which surrounds the snowy summits of the Alps, precipitates itself as an aerial torrent to fill up the partial void which had been occasioned by the ascent of the lower stratum of air. Were the country covered anew with forests, the causes productive of the mistral would be in great measure removed.
There is in Provence a privileged district extending from Hyères to Nice. Situate at the base of the Alps, removed from the course of the mistral, it enjoys a milder climate than that of Rome or Naples. It is there that persons with delicate chests go to seek the mild