Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Letter IV
From Paris to Lyons. Burgundy and its wines. Famous towns. Lyons and its silk industries. Weaving portraits. Ampitheatre eighteen hundred years old. Olive plantations and vineyards. At Venice. Genoa. Statue of Columbus. The cathedral of St. Lorenzo. Chain that bound John the Baptist. Turin. Milan. Cathedral of our blessed Lady, the grandest religious edifice in the world. Attend high mass. Arrive in Venice, the City of Waters.
MARSEILLES, FRANCE, DECEMBER 23, 1872. Editor Deseret News:
Our route from Paris to Lyons lies through a beautiful and interesting country, abounding in orchards and vineyards, many of the latter being very extensive.
The district of Burgundy, so much celebrated for its
excellent wines, embraces an area of two hundred and twenty-four thousand two hundred and twenty-three acres, all in vineyards. These vines are trained upon stakes three feet high, being more thickly set than is com- monly practised elsewhere. Their yield differs according to the soil and quality of the vine, some yielding as high as one thousand gallons per acre. Immense quantities of these Burgundy wines are transported annually to foreign countries. They are highly prized by amateur consumers, being considered superior to most other wines in point of flavor and delicious qual- ity. The price of the genuine Burgundy wines where they are manufac- tured will average about one dollar per gallon.
We passed many towns famous in history for memorable battles fought in their vicinity, or stirring events which have occurred within their walls. Fontainbleau, about forty miles from Paris, is remarkable for the great battle fought in February, 1814, in which the allies were signally beaten by the French under Napoleon. We stopped but a short time at this place.
We passed many elegant mansions, beautiful country seats, chateaux and towns some of the latter very antique, embracing ancient castles and fortifications crumbling to pieces, or lying in ruins. We also passed many lovely vales, encircled in the distance by low ranges of picturesque hills covered with vineyards and olive orchards, the latter still clothed in rich green foliage. Among these romantic hills, here and there a beautiful villa appears, with its white chapel surmounted by a modest, graceful tower.
We reached Lyons on the evening of the 19th, distant from Paris about
three hundred miles. Lyons is the second city in France, with a population of about three hundred and twenty-five thousand. It is celebrated for its silk manufactures; in quality and variety the} 7 are considered superior to any others in the world. In the city and vicinity there are over thirty-one thousand silk looms. Immense numbers of laborers are employed in the business. We visited some of these establishments and were amused and interested in witnessing the skill and ingenuity manifested. Portraits, groups of people, and also landscapes, were woven in silk with as much accuracy in delineation of face and figure as when done by the most skilful artist with paint and brush. We purchased a few specimens of their weav- ing, including exquisitely beautiful handkerchiefs, portraits of eminent personages, George Washington, M. Thiers and other distinguished indi- viduals. We showed the proprietor of the establishment a photograph of President Brigham Young, and on his proffering to weave the portrait, President Smith made arrangement to have a supply in readiness on our return frcm Palestine.
We engaged carriages and drove through the principal streets, park and suburbs of the city. We saw remains of walls, fortifications and buildings constructed in past ages by the Eomans, together with other objects of curiosity and historic interest. We had a splendid view of the hills of Savoy and also of Mont Blanc, one hundred miles distant, clothed in per- petual snows.
We arrived in Marseilles, about two hundred miles distant from Lyons, in the evening, stopping at the Hotel du Louvre et de le Paix a very fine establishment. This city contains three hundred thousand inhabitants, and is considered the finest seaport in France. Its harbor is formed by an inlet of the sea, extending into the heart of the city, covering an extent of seventy acres, and will accommodate one thousand two hundred vessels. We found numerous objects of interest and attraction. No finer streets can be found in any city of Europe they are broad and many of them bordered with ornamental trees. The park is extensive and the public gardens and promenades are romantic and enchanting to lovers of cultivated nature. To fully enjoy the smiling sun and balmy air of beautiful Mar- seilles, and also to avail ourselves of an opportunity for gratifying curiosity and gaining information, we perambulated the city. The gardens and parks were ornamented with rich and costly shrubbery, grass plats taste- fully encircled with flowers, gravel walks with beautiful borders, orna; mental trees trimmed into varied forms, flowers exhaling sweet fragrance around grottos, fountains and cascades.
On one side, at a short distance from the city, lies a vast landscape commencing with rising hills covered with terraces of equal width, planted
with olive trees and vineyards, rising in regular gradation one above another, like rows of seats in an amphitheatre, beautiful country seats here and there dotting the summits of these hills, fronted with gardens and groves of orange and lemon tree, loaded with golden fruit. These ranges of hills, continuing one above another, roll away in the distance into lofty mountains, and still onward until their towering peaks are mantled in per- petual snow. Before us, stretching far off beneath the encircling horizon, in calm and sweet repose, slumber the blue waters of the Mediterranean, whose broad bosom is whitened with sails from every land and clime.
We shall long remember our stroll through the parks and gardens of Marseilles, and along the sunny shore of the beautiful Mediterranean.
VENICE, ITALY, JANUARY 4, 1873.
We left Marseilles by train, December 24th, continuing our route along the shores of the Mediterranean. Some portion of the country is rough and broken into hills and low mountains, generally covered with vineyards and olive orchards. The soil appears light, yet productive. Much labor has been required to bring this district to its present flourishing condition. A plan was adopted widely differing from that in Holland, which is a system of terracing, accomplished by removing the stones and rocks off the acclivi- ties, and building them up into walls from three to eight feet in height, laterally, so as to form a level, varying in width from six feet and upward, according to the steepness of the hill to be terraced. Soil is gathered upon these levels, in which the vine, the olive, lemon and orange are planted. Mountains from base to summit, adorned by these terraces, like rows of seats rising in systematic order one above another, form a pleasant picture, frequently lovely and fascinating.
We arrived at Nice in the evening. It is a beautiful city, romantically located among the hills bordering the sea. It forms a fashionable resort for people of wealth in quest of pleasure, and invalids in search of health. The environs afford many attractions in promenades, extensive views, lux- uriant vegetation, gardens and sloping hills covered with vines, olives, aloes, cypress, palm, together with lemon and orange trees loaded with golden fruit.
After spending two days pleasantly in Nice we left for Genoa, Italy, where we arrived on Friday, the 27th of December. We felt to award a tribute of respect to Genoa, as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. One of these squares is ornamented with a fine monumental structure erected to his memory.
Sunday morning we attended Catholic service in the Cathedral St. Lorenzo, the most celebrated church in the city. During the worship an
officer in uniform waited upon us through the building, pointing out and explaining various objects of interest. He conducted us to a small chapel enclosed by an ornamental paling, and showed us the "indentical" chain with which John the Baptist was bound while in prison previous to being beheaded, and also his ashes enclosed in a silver urn. Any doubts we enter- tained of the genuineness of these articles we refrained from expressing. No woman is allowed to enter this chapel of St. John, except one day in the year, because one of her sex instigated the death of this saint. My sister, who happened to be the only lady of the party present, bore this interdiction with her characterestic grace and fortitude.
Monday, 30th, we left for Turin. Some portions of this route were very attractive, in fact, I do not recollect ever having seon a landscape more lovely and enchanting. We arrived in Turin in the afternoon, and left the following morning for Milan, which we reached in the evening of the 31st of December.
Milan contains two hundred and seventy thousand inhabitants. It is situated on the river Alono, in the centre of the great plain of Lombardy, and is one of the richest and most beautiful cities of Italy; the street* regular, broad and well paved, the dwellings elegantly built, and commo- dious. The city embraces capacious squares, promenades and gardens, tastefully laid out and ornamented with fountains and statuary. The Arcade is a splendid structure; we visited it in the evening when lit up with its immense number of gas burners. An English company commenced this structure with speculative views, but after having sunk (so we were informed) nearly one million of dollars, relinquished the project, after which it became government property.
Milan is celebrated for its cathedral, built in honor of "Our Blessed Lady." Galeazo Visconti, Duke of Milan, owing to some cause which we failed to ascertain, made a solemn vow to build a rich and magnificent temple in honor of the Virgin Mary, and was joined in this undertaking by men of wealth and rank, with the intention of making it the most costly and beautiful ecclesiastical edifice in the world. For this purpose immense sums from time to time were contributed by distinguished individuals single donations frequently reaching as high as from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars. Kings, popes, emperors and empresses bestowed their princely gifts;
one Italian gentleman contributed thirty-five thousand gold
ducats. The founder donated, together with other liberal gifts, marble at the quarry, sufficient to build the entire edifice.
This temple has been nearly five hundred years in course of construc- tion, and will probably require another century for its completion. In gazing with astonishment upon the forest of pinnacles and thousands of
marble statues, together with millions of jich ornaments and endless works of carved marble, the great tower, with its lofty summit crowned with a colossal statue, one would fail to notice any deficiency or lack in its comple- tion; yet millions are still required to carry out, in full, the magnificent design of the great artist who planned this astonishing specimen of Gothic architecture.
Up to the present about one hundred and ten millions of dollars have been expended, independent of the marble donated at the quarry. The walls are eight feet in thickness, built of fine white marble from Mount Gandoglia. The floors are paved with marble the roof is formed with marble blocks united by cement. The length of the cathedral is four hun- dred and ninety feet, its breadth two hundred and ninety-eight, and its height to the*summit of the tower is four hundred feet. It is built in the form of a Latin cross, divided into five naves, supported by fifty-two pillars, each about seventy-two feet high, and twenty-four feet in circumference. The interior of the building is decorated with fret-work, carving, statuary and numerous paintings, the production of the most skilful artists of Europe. The exterior is covered with marble statuary, representing some of the most remarkable events in biblical history Moses rescued from the Nile by Pharaoh's daughter, Joseph's temptation in the house of Potiphar, the angel driving out Adam and Eve from Eden, Daniel in the den of lions, God appearing to Moses in a burning bush, David holding the head of Goliath, Sampson suffocating the lions, and carrying on his shoulders the gates of Gaza. Fifty-two representations of this character adorn the front of this temple.
Writers differ in their statements of the number of the statues which ornament this building. In a work published by a Mr. Prioli at Milan, the present number is estimated at seven thousand, and additions are con- stantly being made. The most celebrated artists in Europe have been employed, and are still engaged in embellishing this edifice.
We ascended by a flight of five hundred and twelve steps to the plat- form of the great cupola, where we enjoyed a magnificent view of the city, and the immense plains of Lombardy, chequered with towns and villages, stretching far away till lost beneath the surrounding girdle of snow-capped mountains. From this lovely picture of nature, we turn to gaze on the countless objects of beauty and splendor, the productions of the highest efforts of human genius, which constitute the exterior decorations of this extraordinary temple. Before us stood a forest of towers one hundred and thirty-six in number, each adorned with twenty- five marble figures, life size, and thousands of ornamental objects in white marble, imparting to the scene richness, beauty and grandeur. We descended to the interior of the
building, where, among the numerous objects which attracted our attention, was a marble statue, life size, representing St. Bartholomew flayed alive carrying his skin upon his shoulders. The artist was eight years engaged in this'work, which is much admired as a specimen of the extraordinary skill and anatomical knowledge of the sculptor. In his right hand the saint holds a figure representing the knife with which his skin was taken off. The veins, arteries and muscles, together with the whole surface of the body and limbs in a flayed condition, are delineated by the hand of the sculptor with marvelous exactness.
We attended high mass in this church New Year's morning, the Arch- bishop of Milan presiding. But I must hasten to a close.
On the morning of the 3d of January we left Milan and arrived here, in Venice, the city of waters, the following evening.