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that many of these enormous masses, emaciated, and naked, the terror of which seem to overburden the globe, are the neighbouring shepherds. As the only vaults that protect the most beauti- people are prone to the marvellous, ful fabrics, in the construction of which they were considered as sorcerers or Nature seems to have excelled even fairies, and it was thought impious to herself? There, in silence, she is at doubt that they were supernatural bework. Uncontrouled by man, the ings. Afterwards, when mifery had makes light of the greatest difficulties; extinguished their race, the belief of and even, though under the influence their existence continued, and no body of second causes, art is astonished at ventured near the spot they had inhaher fortuitous, and yet regular com- bited. The bones that are still found, binations; at the boldness and majesty thew that they must have lived here that appear even in her molt careless for a long time; and some utensils, performances ; but, above all, at the formed in a very rude manner, give fimplicity of the means the employs. some idea of their arts and their geThe vulgar are in raptures, and think nius. they understand her operations ; the M. Lonjon, excited by the accounts philosopher admires, but laments his of the inhabitants, and even by their own ignorance.

fears, could not refift the desire of Those subterraneous caverns, call- visiting this grotto ; but finding insured Grottoes, have been often defcri- mountable difficulties to his first atbed, but the difficulty of approaching tempt, he abandoned it, with the resothem has generally damped the curio- lution of returning provided with eve. fity of travellers, who have been con- ry thing necessary for ensuring fuccess. tent with viewing those of easiest ac- Several years afterwards, I accicess. Yet it is to be remarked, that dentally met M Lonjon at Montpel. those which are most worthy of being lier. A correspondence of pursuits feen, are precisely those which are made the discourse turn upon grottoes, with most difficulty and danger ap- many of which I had seen. The proached ; as if Nature meant to de. Grotto of the Fairies was mentioned, fend her treafures, and to protect them and the description of it, which seemfrom the idle visits of the multitude. ed 10 me a romance, instantly deter

Some years ago, Mons. Lonjon, of mined me to visit it. M Lonjon talkthe town of Ganges, an enthufiastic ed to me of the dangers ; I replied, admirer of the curiosities of nature, by fixing the day. We hastily proafter having scrutinised all the grottoes vided ourselves with fome neceffary in his neighbourhood, was tempted to implements, which we thought would examine that of the Fairies, baume be more than fufficient. de las doumaiselles, in the language of · M. Brunet, a young gentleman of the country.) This grotto is situated Montpellier, who applies three quarters of a league from Ganges, the sciences at an age when others near St Bauzile, in a wood at the top think of nothing but pleasure, confentof a very steep mountain called Roc de ed to accompany me, along with a Taurach, where it is much celebrated. domestic and two peafanes. We had It is said, that, in the time of the re. a ladder of ropes 50 feet long, with ligious wars, a devoted family shelter- cords, torches, and some provitions, ed themselves in this place from per- and with these, and a sufficient portion secution and death; that they conti- of curiosity, we set out on our subtera nued here for many years, living on ranean expedition on Wednesday the herbs, roots, and such animals as came 7th of June 1780. within their reach ; that they were At first we had nothing but fatiguer fometimes seen, towards evening, pale, We were forced to clamber up the mountain for three quarters of an hour; bottom ; this is not in general the we had to contend with the heat of the hape of such stalactites as rest on the sun reverberated from the rocks, with ground. roads never traversed but by goats, In this first cavern, which is divided with loofc stones, with the weight of into two by these columns, we kindled our hammers, torches, ropes, and pro- a fire, took breakfast, and renounced visions, and, what was worst, with for a long time the light of day. thirst, as we had neglected to bring There is a passage from this into water, expecting to meet with it at the the second cavern, but it is so narrow grotto : but we supplied the want with that you must go sideways before you some cherries.

mountain thot.

can get in. Here we again made About the middle of the mountain use of our wooden ladder to descend we stopped at the Mas de la Coste; twenty feet farther. (mas means a small house): here we This second cavern is immense : increased our caravan by the addition here, you see, as it were, a curtain of a man and of a ladder. On the studded with diamonds, the height of top of the mountain we found a little which you cannot measure, touching wood of green oaks, which affords a the ground, and gracefully folded, as grateful thade, and defends the open. if its drapery bad been adjusted by the ing of the cavern.

moft skilful artist : there, are petrified This is in the shape of a funnel, cascades, white like froth ; others yel. twenty feet in diameter at the mouth, low, which seem about to fall upon and thirty feet deep. This opening is you in accumulated waves ; the first most delightfully overshadowed with look terrifies, the second stupifies and trees, plants, and wild vines with their astonishes you, but all is silence and grapes, as if these meant to make the rest. It looks as if some superior curious adventurer regret the beauties power had arrested the whole with a of nature which he is about to leave touch of his magic wand, as in those for dark and gloomy' recesses. The imaginary palaces through which, duaspect of this cavern must necessarily ring the times of the fairies, the astobe very frightful, for M. Brunet's dog, nished traveller, loft in admiration, an animal exceedingly attached to his walked along without meeting a single master, preferred waiting foreight hours animated being. Many columns, some at the mouth of the grotto, making hi- truncated, others in the shape of an deous yellings, and the most moving obelisk; the roof loaded with feftoons and pitiable cries, till M. Brunet re- or horrid with sharp points ; fome turned.

transparent like glass, others white as We descended by a rope, tied round alabaster ; crystals, diamonds, porce. a rock, to the place where a wooden laine, forming a rich and fanciful af ladder had been firmly fixed. When semblage, all contribute to recall to we had overcome this difficulty, we mind the fictions that delighted our found ourselves at the entrance of the infancy. first cavern, which inclines a little, and Proceeding to the left, we passed is covered with capillary plants : on a third cavern, pretty large and very the right is another cave, that does long : its form is that of a winding Dot reach far.

gallery, along which we walked a conIn front are four magnificent co- liderable way. At last we entered unlumns, like palm-trees, ranged in a der an arch fo low, that we had to line, and forming a gallery of ftalac. stoop much; it was called the Oven, tite thirty feet high. They do not on account of its low and round shape: reach the roof, which is smooth, and it has two exits; the congelations here they are larger at the top than at the are white and granulated like small B b 2

fhot. It is imposhble to conceive the bess, would irftantly decide the fate faocifui appearance which Nature af. of the hardiest adventurer. fames in this oren. On the right we However, the resolution is taken, left a second oven, and emered a ca. The cavera before us, by the feebie vern where nothing was to be seen light of our corches, promises to in. but rocks, orerturned, broken, heap demnify us for our labour. Pillars of ed or, fufpended, indicating violent prodigious height, an immense excaconvulsions in the bowels of the earth: vation, an arch of which, even at the every thing wore a dreadful aspect, place where we food, it was impor. and we hurried through, Jest one of lible to ascertain the elevation, precis those enormous malies which seemed pices of which we could not fathom ready to fall should crush us in pieces. the depth, all tend to inspire us with A little afterwards we found ourselves fear, and to stimulate our curiofity. standing on them, having a view of A peasant of Ganges, called Peter, others that produced funilar esfects. as alert as intrepid, is the first to It was a vast amphitheatre, where we venture : M. Brunet follows him; we grew familiar with fear ; and where loft light, at the distance of three fa optics, and the rules of geometry, were thoms, of the perfon defcending, the perpetually set at nought.

time he took up seemed enormous, tho These first caverns were known to rock ceased abruptly at twenty feet, the country people, but, as they were and the ladder without support fwung noị the principal object of our inveiti- in the air and turned round upon itself

, gation, we came at last to a place at The dead filence, the feeble light, which M. Lopjon had formerly Sprung which diminished the obfcurity without a mine.

difpelling it, the fear occalioned by this • The passage is narrow, and cannot profound folitude, the alarming noise be entered but by creeping. This of pieces of broken stalactite falling hole leads to a space large enough to from the roof and bounding from rock hold only about a dozen of people. to rock, contributed to give our at. :. Behind three small columns we dif. tempt an air of enchantment. It is covered a reservoir filled with muddy pofüble, that on such occasions the water ; a prodigious number of bats mind may exaggerate its own senfa. were our companions in this little tions, but I deforibe those felt at the space; upon the rocks we found many time, and which we have fince fez crystallizations in the form of plants : veral times avowed. they were white and thining, and made I was the third to descend : I was a fine contrast with the dark ground tired with looking and lifteninga. The on which they were laid. A passage, ladder was already affected with the opposite to that by which we had en- descent of the two persons that pres tered, led to a place fo large that the ceded me; the steps were too diftant eye could not eltimate the size of it. from each other, and made of cords ; Into this there was no road but by a the weight of the ladder made them rock of 50 feet. To this we apply still more distant ; I was obliged to our ladder of ropes, fixing it to a sta. cake fome time in holding by my hand, Jactite ; each encourages the other, that I might find the steps and detach looks down and instantly recoils; a the ladder from the rock, without be. horrible precipice appears on every ing able to support myself with the ofide; a stone is thrown in, which takes ther hand on account of the distance : 2 considerable time to descend; it is all these circumstances exhausted my at last heard striking and bounding strength, so that having defcended a from rock to rock for some time be bout a third of the ladder, my leff fore it ceases. A false step, or giddie am became unable to support me, and

I remained I remained fuspended with one foot re-afcend the fatal ladder. This I'acon a step and the other in the air, complished by the help of a rope held at embracing the ladder, without ha- top by my servant, and the allistance of ving the power either of descending or the intrepid Peter, who humbled us all getting up again. I continued for a by his boldness and address. quarter of an hour in this most cruel

Upon our return to Montpellier the perplexity, viewing below me a diwad- relation of this enterprise enfamed the ful precipice with a narrow and flip- courage of our young naturalists, and pery rock at the foot of the ladder, froze the hearts of the petits maitres, on which I would be obliged to come Many solicited the favour of accomdown perpendicularly, commiserating panying us on our next expedition, at once my own condition and that of and more than we could possibly ad. my companions, whom this accident mit. most cruelly alarmed. I heard them On Saturday, therefore, the 15th of talk of my situation below me, and July, Meff, Lonjon, father and son, M. judged of my position by their dif- Brunet, and several others, agreed to course. At the end of a quarter of accompany me, with the film resolution an hour, however, exerting all my of penetrating to the bottom of the ftrength, and pressed by necellity, I grotto, whatever might happen. fid down several steps, and my two Every precaution was taken which companions preparing to support me, I prudence could suggest, the ladder allowed myself to fall into their arms, was repaired, and men were employed bedewed with sweat and overpowered for two days in making fupports for with fatigue ; but throwing myself on the feet, and placing pegs of iron for a wet rock, which appeared to me the fixing the ropes. most luxurious fopha, I foun recover- We departed early, lightly cloathed my spirits.

ed, furnished with a thermometer, My domeftic, whom my success had pencils, and hammers: at once painpot encouraged, and who had been ia ters, mafons, naturalists, and mechan great fear for me, remained above pics, we inspired one another mutually with a son of M. Lonjon’s ; he had with chearfulness and courage. We accompanied me through all the ca- followed without difficulty the road verns, and tho' he had a great deal of I have already described, till we arcourage, he was afraid of trusting to rived in the cavern at the frightful chat ill-formed ladder which every mo- precipice which had stopped us before. ment became worse.

Having orercome this difficulty, and We now furveyed an immense {paco, several others of great danger, two of enriched and covered with stalactites our companions refused to follow us, and stalagmites of every shape, and of when we were just about to arrive at 2 dazzling whiteness. But we were the end of our labours. still 50 feet from the bottom ; the We came at last then to a folid precipitous rocks below, which were bottom on which we could walk, if lo finooth as to afford no support for not with ease, at least with safety: the foot, nor any thing on which the when every step presented a new subhand could lay bold, seemed to threaten je&t for admiration. instant death to the raih person who An altar, white like the finest porce. hould attempt to descend. After, laine, three feet high, perfectly oval, therefore, having scrutinised every place and surrounded with regular steps, was in vain for a road, we found, that with- the first object that struck us. The table out iron hooks, and hammers, and af- of this altar is most beautifully enamel. fiftants, it was impossible to proceed, and led with a sort of foliage, imbricated we were therefore reluctantly obliged to like the leaves of an artichoke.

Further

Further are four twisted columns of This grotto is round ; it may be & yellowish colour, but in several pla- compared to a stately church surroundces transparent, notwithstanding their ed with chapels of different heights: hize, for four men could not embrace the centre is a dome too high to be them. It was impossible to measure measured, but we supposed, from the their height, but they seemed to touch height we had defcended, that it was the roof.

about 50 toises. The bottom is wet, This place is fo large that our eyes in some of the caverns the ground is could not estimate either its elevation black, and among others there is one or depth. We perceived cavities into that perfectly resembles a riding-house, which the industry of man could not with a pillar in the middle. penetrate. While seated on this altar, It is impossible to describe every thing we were surrounded with a number we saw in this place, and in the little of stupendous objects which affected chambers adjoining, during 'ten bours us with mute admiration. Among which we employed in descending others there was an obelis, high as a and observing. Many parts were fo steeple, pointed and perfectly round, beautiful, so regular, and so happily of a reddish colour, carved its whole formed, that they were entitled to all height, and in the most exact propor: our praise. Enthusiasm admires evetions; huge masses like churches, fome. ry thing, but indeed there were many times in the form of cascades, and pieces which it is impossible to describe sometimes in that of clouds ; pillars that perfectly charmed us. The calbroken in all directions, and covered careous spar' which is found in this with ramifications of enamel, formed grotto is of the finest kind, and would the most varied and phantastic combi- produce most valuable. alabaster. We nations. A scull was the only obje&t wished to carry away every thing, and that disturbed our enchantment ; we have even to reproach ourselves with were at a lofs to conceive how the un- destroying many of these objects of our happy being that owned it could have admiration. penetrated to such a depth, considering In this place we dined, and it was the pains that our descent nad cost us ; illuminated as well as so vast a place but at last we concluded that the wa- could well be; for the light of the ter, which

every Winter inundates this greatest torch seemed only equal to grotto, must have brought hither the that of an ordinary taper. head, and we re-assumed our gaiety. After dinner we made the proces

One of the finest objects in this verbal of our descent, and of the means grotto is a colossal ftatue, placed on a we had employed to effect it: we put pedestal, which represents a woman it into a sealed bottle, which was plaholding two children. This piece ced where it could not be broken ; a would be worthy the possession of the tin box contained our names, and to greatest Sovereign of Europe, if it the deepest part of the grotto we afcould be procured in the form which fixed a piece of lead with our names we very distinctly and without any infcribed. These little effufions of illusion viewed it in. It is adorned self-love would not appear surprisings with fringes, curtains, and canopies, if the reader could have any idea of inlaid with snamel and crystal, with la- the patience, the courage, and circumces and ribbands so delicately wrought, spection which it was necessary for us that one must be convinced that no to exert in this laborious and hazardo human being had ever penetrated these ous enterprize. regions, before he can believe that it Our torches, which were nearly fie is not the workmanship of the most nished warned us to depart, which we Skilful artist.

did with regret. Let not our reluc

tance

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