Hotel Keeper At Lourdes.
An eastern fable tells us that when Paradise was fading from the earth, a single rose was saved and treasured by an angel, who gives to every mortal, sooner or later, in his life, one breath of fragrance from the immortal flower, - one alone, but it is worth a million ordinary breaths.
There are some favored portions of our earth where one can easily persuade himself that he inhales this perfumed air of Paradise; and one of them surely is that stretch of beautifully curving coast, which has the Maritime Alps for an imposing background and the blue Mediterranean for a frontispiece, and is known as the Riviera.
This name, with its soft, mellifluous vowels, has power to stimulate a multitude of joyful anticipations in those who have never visited this enchanting shore, and to evoke as many happy memories in those who have once lingered here. Screened from the northern winds and basking in the sun, the Riviera is the first point where birds of passage, going southward, halt for the winter; and thousands of people from the north of Europe, now follow the example of these feathered songsters, and find a sunny, health - restoring winter residence within this earthly paradise.
On The Riviera.
Along the Riviera, between Nice and Genoa, stretches the finest coast-drive in the world, -the Cornice, which, as its name implies, is a mere shelf of rock between the mountains and the Mediterranean, following the numberless indentations of the shore, and often either absolutely cut out from the cliffs, or carried through them.
Like so many other famous roads in Europe, this was begun by Napoleon I, who needed it as a means of military communication between France and Italy; but now, as every one knows, a railway has been built in close proximity for those who wish to travel here more rapidly than in a carriage. But who that has a heart responsive to the historic and beautiful will ever consent, unless necessity compels the sacrifice, to be whirled along through scenery like this, boxed up in a railway compartment, unable to gain a glimpse of much of his magnificent environment, and passing that which is discernible too hastily for adequate appreciation? In such a place the railway should be used merely to transport baggage, while the tourist himself is driven leisurely along a route which constantly reveals new beauties and surprising contrasts, - now skirting a long, wave-lapped beach, now sweeping inland with a curving bay, now passing groves of patriarchal olive-trees, or winding between walls half hidden under terraced vines, or glittering with the golden fruit of lemon-trees, or overrun with clambering roses, and yet again, at intervals, mounting high above the sea which breaks in jeweled foam against the base of overhanging cliffs.
A Suggestion Of The Orient.
Another tradition of this region says that Eve, as she was going forth from Eden, plucked a lemon from a tree beside the gate, and brought it with her into the outer world. Subsequently, in wandering about the earth, she threw the lemon down at Mentone, where it grew and multiplied; and thus it is that on the Riviera there is one thing that really came from Paradise.
Palm-trees are also numerous on the Riviera, and the village of Bordighera, which has for centuries supplied St. Peter's with its palms for Easter, is surrounded by vast numbers of them, some of which are said to be a thousand years old.
There is, therefore, along this Mediterranean coast a faint suggestion of the Orient, not only in the ardent sun which pours upon it such a flood of light and heat, but in this tree of romance and of poetry, which hints to us of eastern shores which the same ocean laves, where palms have cast their shadows on the founders of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, in the prolific Orient, - cradle of religious faiths.
A Villa On The Riviera.
On one side are the vine-clad, olive-mantled hills, dotted with ruined towers, picturesque castles and churches, sunburnt villages and pretty villas perched like eagle's nests upon the mountain sides, and on the other the illimitable sea, receding in unbroken splendor till the horizon line is lost in sparkling light.