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210. The Loire. The Loire springs from the Cevennes; its farthest source is on the Gerbier, a mountain of the Upper Loire, or ancient Languedoc. Running northerly to Orleans, it bends its course westward, and passing Tours and Nantz, it meets the ocean, after a winding course of near 500 miles.
211. The Garonne. The Garonne originates in the vale of Arau on the Pyrenees, and running a north westerly course, is swelled by the Tarn, the Lot and the Dordogne, from the east. After its junction with the latter, it takes the name of Gironde, and falls into the sea below Bordeaux. Its length is about 250 miles.
212. The Rhone. The Rhone has its farthest source in the glacier of Furca, a mountain in Swisserland ; and running westward, opens into the beautiful lake of Geneva ; then passing southward and westward, unites with the Soane, a river from the north ; and pursuing a southerly course, receives the Durance and Isere, and enters the Mediterranean by three channels below Avignon. The length of this river is about 400 miles.
213. Other Rivers. The Rhine is now the boundary of France on the east, but this is more properly a riv. er of Swisserland and Germany. The Meuse and the Moselle are considerable streams, which proceed from the borders of the ancient Lorrain and Champain, and run northerly. The Moselle unites with the Rhine at Coblentz. The Meuse falls into the sea below Rotterdam. The Scheldt enters the ocean below Antwerp.
214. Lakes and Forests. France contains very few lakes; a few small ones east of the Rhone, in Provence, are scarcely worth description. But France abounds with forests; and wood is the common fuel of the country. The principal forests are those of Orleans, Fontainbleau and Ardennes ; the latter extends from Rheims to Tournay.
215. Minerals. In Alsace are mines of silver and copper: but it is said they will not defray the expense of working them. Mines of lead are found in Britanny, in the north west of France ; also in the Vosges and maritime Alps. Antimony, calamin, manganese, cobalt, mercury, tin, jasper, alabaster, gypsum, black marble, ocher, the hyacinth, chrysolite and sapphire, are also the produce of the French mines. Coal is in great abundance. In 1798, the coal mines were computed to be 400 in number. Jet is also found, and great quantities are manufactured into rosaries, crosses, buttons and the like. Iron abounds in France, chiefly in the northern parts, and in 1798 the furnaces and forges were estimated at two thousand.
216. Curiosities. The Cevennes furnish a picturesk scenery, worthy of notice. These mountains are an assemblage of rocks, of 120 miles in extent; in some places very precipitous, and broken. In 1727, a part of one of these precipices fell suddenly and overwhelmed a whole village ; the inhabitants escaped destruction by being absent at the celebration of Midsummer Eve. The fountain of Vaucluse is the source of a river which issues at once from a cavern at the foot of a rock. Near the mouth of the Rhone, a plain of 150,000 akers, covered with round gravel and pebbles, presents a singular aspect of barren nature.
217. Caves and Bridges. Travellers have described some curious natural caves in France ; one in particular near the village of Beaume, is remarkable for containtaining a glacier. The cave is at the bottom of a valley ; the mouth, 45 feet wide, opens to a steep long passage, leading to a kind of hall of 100 feet high; from which
er dissolves. In this cavern are stalactites of solid ice, and pillars of ice rising from the floor on pedestals. Near the village of Chames, the river Ardeche runs under a bridge of solid natural rock.
218. Divisions. Under the Romans, France was divided into three parts; Belgica, which lay north of the Seine; Celtica, which was between the Seine and Garonne; and Acquitania, which was south of the Garonne. When the Romans were driven from France, the conquerors established new divisions, as Flanders, Burgundy and the like ; and at the commencement of the late revolution, France was divided into about 30 provinces. In the revolution, a new division took place, and 83 departments were established for the purposes of government. To these have been since added, Savoy, and the Netherlands and other conquered territories, which are formed into 20 departments, making in all 203 departments. Each department is subdivided into communes, of which there are 1720: and each commune, into cantons, of which there are 6400 in France, exclusive of the conquered countries.
219. Religion. The religion of France is the Roman Catholic, but other denominations are free to worship as they please. Before the revolution, there were in France, 20 archbishops, and 130 bishops. The clergy of all ranks amounted tol 50,000, and this order of men, with the monasteries, owned a third of all the lands in the kingdom. During the revolution, the lands of the clergy were sequestered and sold for the public benefit, but the present clergy are allowed competent salaries..
220. Government. Before the revolution, France was a monarchy, nearly absolute. Anciently the princes summoned the States General, or Great Council of the Nation, to assist in devising measures for the public interest. But these councils were discontinued; the last being held in 1614. The Parliament of Paris, indeed, retained the privilege of registering the king's edicts, before they were deemed to have the force of law; but this right became a mere matter of form, and the king's will was law.
221. Revolution. The Treasury of France being exhausted by bad management, peculation and enormous pensions squandered on favorites of the king, the public distresses compelled Louis XVI. to summon the States General in 1789. When assembled, they proceeded to overturn the old government, abolished the monarchy, beheaded the king and queen, banished or put to death their adherents, compelled the nobles and higher clergy to fly, and confiscated their estates. During the heat of the revolution, two or three forms of constitution were established, which were intended to be free and republican, but proved not to be durable. After a few years of distraction and unceasing murders and banishment, a new constitution, with a legislature of two branches, and an executive consisting of three Consuls, was forme ed and put in operation : but the ambition and talents of Bonaparte, in 1804, raised him to the imperial dignity. The form of a legislative body still exists, but the Emperor may be considered as absolute.
222. Army and Navy. Under the ancient monarchy, the army of France in time of war was from three to four hundred thousand men. During the revolution, the government demanded the services of every able bodied man, and the troops were at times estimated at a million. But the troops in actual service rarely amounted to more than half that number. The navy of France has been always respectable, consisting of from 50 to 100 ships of the line ; but while France furnishes the best disciplined land troops, her navy is deficient in good seamen ; and in every war, her naval power is nearly destroyed by Great Britain.
223. Revenue. Under the monarchy, the public revenues amounted to thirty millions sterling. The present revenues are said to be about twenty-five millions. The current coin of France is about ninety millions sterling. The loss of St. Domingo has impaired the revenues; but this loss may be more than balanced by the acquisition of Belgica, Savoy, the German States on the Rhine, and some other conquered countries.
224. Character and Manners. Ancient authors all agree that the Gauls were a fickle, perfidious people, prompt to action, but impatient of toil, and ever studious of change. The present French are remarkable for their vivacity, gayety and politeness ; fond of show and pleasure, but not cleanly in their houses. The sanguinary scenes of the late revolution manifested a ferociousness of character, rarely found among civilized men, and impress the mind with horror.
225. Language. The original language of France, the Celtic, gave place to the Latin, during the empire of the Romans in that country; at least among the higher classes of men. When the Franks settled in the country, under Clovis, they introduced the Gothic, and the French became a mixture of Celtic, Latin and Gothic ; but it was called Romance, from the predominance of Roman words, and the first fictitious narratives being
written in that language, the name Romance has been transferred from the language to that kind of writings. The present French is esteemed for its adaptedness to the business of common life, and for light and familiar subjects, but it wants force, dignity and sublimity. It is, however, more widely cliffused in foreign countries than any living language.
226. Literature. During the dark ages, France produced some writers of reputation ; and learning revived there, before it did in England. It is supposed that learning and fine writing arrived to the highest pitch in the reign of Louis XIV. Among the most elegant authors which have adorned the literature and exalted the character of their country, are, Descartes, Pascal, Montesquieu, Corneille, Racine, Boileau, Moliere, Voltaire, Fontaine, Fenelon and Massilon. The History of Thuanus, in Latin, vies in elegance, with that of Livy. Lavoisier, in chemistry, Laland, in astronomy, and numerous other scientific characters, cannot be named but with the highest respect.
227. Education. Formerly the Jesuits were employed in the education of young men ; and females were educated in nunneries. No system of general education for all classes of people is established in France, nor in any country of Europe. But colleges and schools of the best kind are established for instructing youth in every branch of useful knowledge. Twenty-one universities, and more than thirty literary societies existed in France before the revolution. Since this event, a National Institute has been established, with professorships in all branches of science and arts. Normal schools have also been founded in the several communes.
228. Chief Towns. Paris. Paris, the metropolis of France, was originally a castle upon an island in the Seine. It now covers the banks on both sides of the river, which are connected by several bridges, and is about 15 miies in circumference. It consists of three parts, the ville or town on the north; the city in the middle, situated upon three islands in the Seine ; and the university on the south. The houses are generally built of free stone, which is quarrried in mines beneath the