+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error


THERE is a French city whose name, in
English, means simply Water's Edge. The
same name might serve in common for
hundreds of other towns, villages, and hamlets;
but the city to which I am now journeying
holds itself to be no commonplace town. It
has peers of France among its wine-
merchants. It has a brick and stone bridge
longer than Waterloo Bridge in London.  It
has a theatre, probably the handsomest in
Europe, considering it both outside and in,
where the sensible arrangement is made of
keeping the scenery and properties in a
separate building, to diminish the risk of
fire; on which topic, see a future paragraph.
In that magnificent opera-house, you may sit
in the pit in a well-stuffed, plush-lined arm-
chair; you may admire the  ladies in the
chorus with yellow bodices and black and
purple petticoats; you may hear an opera,
perhaps Verdi's Jerusalem, and remark that
the army of female pilgrims must have had
an excellent commissariat with them, to keep
them in such tidy order and excellent, plight;
you may see a ballet marvellously danced
and dressed, all for the sum of one and eight-
pence English. This proud, luxurious city
has a noble, horse-shoe-shaped, but ill-paved
quay, on which hogsheads of wine are lying
about, like so much worthless goods. It
looks as if all the tubs in the world had
convened a meeting there, to agitate a reform of
their grievances.  There are tubs new, tubs
old, tubs yellow, tubs purple, tubs black,
tubs on end, tubs reclining, tubs on shore,
tubs on board ship, tubs sound in wind and
limb, other tubs with their ribs staved in,
everywhere tubs, tubs, tubs! And the sleek,
soft-eyed, fawn-coloured bullocks, who drag,
in pairs, those tubs about, or loads of wood,
or do other leisurely work, —I wonder if
Rosa Bonheur has painted them yet! If she
hasn't, she ought to run down to the South
purposely. Each of those oxen is allowed, I
should think, a bottle of wine and bread-and-
butter at discretion, at their déjeûner and
dinner: how else should they be so fat and
well-liking? I also entertain considerable
doubts about whether those aldermanic bullocks
are ever transmuted into beef;  it would be
too near an approach to cannibalism to eat
them. On the portion of the quay named Des
Chartrons, there are elm-trees pruned to
represent chandeliers (which causes them to
grow short and stubby, and in many instances
to be covered with gouty nodosities), and
surrounded at their base with earth and
tub-staves, so that their living trunks serve
as mooring-posts for the goodly show of
vessels in the crescent reach of the noble
river. The show of shippins is goodly
certainly; but with pride let me waive
all comparison, by informing you (even
while strolling through the capital of clarets,
Bordeaux the Stately), there is
only one London and one Thames in the

The ground-plan of wealthy, luxurious
Bordeaux is a slight modification of the
diagram of the Asses' Bridge, which has
proved impasssable to so many students of
Euclid. The two sides of the triangle, to be
produced, AB, AC, are two long, long streets
named——Cours, that start from a common
apex, a tobacco factory,  But, instead of the
cob-web network, or cat's-cradle, below the
base CB of the too often impregnable, un-
Sebastopolitan triangle, the river Garonne
forms a sweeping horse-shoe, and serves as a
highway for migratory salmon, who afterwards
migrate by land, over the Pyrenees, as
far as Madrid. Were this crescent backed
by a range of hills, up which the town might
mount in a continued slope, the effect would
be magnificent.  The townsfolk, however, are
equally content to flit to and for on level
ground through the handsome streets, many
of which are called fossés, or ditches, from
their occupying the site of former fortifications.
The river's bank, on the side which
skirts the town, is lined with a vast arc-of-a-
circle of quays.  The general front of the
quay slopes down to the water's edge at a
gentle inclination, on the face of which the
ebbing tides deposit abundance of drift-straw
and cast-out rubbish, whose investigation
would afford a clue to the nature of the
cargo, destination, and habits of the vessels
in the port at the time.  From the quays,
straight narrow streets dart away. Many of
the houses composing them have almost flat
roofs, covered with convex tiles, after the
Italian, or rather the southern, style. There is
something in the look of the place, something