Letters from Turkey, by Mary Wortley Montagu

Letter xlvii.

From Lyons. — Journey from Turin to Lyons — passage over mount Cenis — the frontier towns between Savoy and France.

To Mrs T——.

Lyons, Sept, 25. O. S. 1718.

I RECEIVED, at my arrival here, both your obliging letters, and also letters from many of my other friends, designed to Constantinople, and sent me from Marseilles hither; our merchant there, knowing we were upon our return. I am surprised to hear my sister has left England. I suppose what I wrote to her from Turin will be lost, and where to direct I know not, having no account of her affairs from her own hand. For my own part, I am confined to my chamber, having kept my bed till yesterday, ever since the 17th, that I came to this town, where I have had so terrible a fever, I believed, for some time, that all my journeys were ended here; and I do not at all wonder, that such fatigues as I have passed, should have such an effect. The first day’s journey from Turin to Novalesse, is through a very fine country, beautifully planted, and enriched by art and nature. The next day we began to ascend mount Cenis, being carried in little seats of twisted osiers, fixed upon poles, upon mens shoulders; our chaises taken to pieces, and laid upon mules.

THE prodigious prospect of mountains covered with eternal snow, of clouds hanging far below our feet, and of vast cascades tumbling down the rocks with a confused roaring, would have been entertaining to me, if I had suffered less from the extreme cold that reigns here. But the misty rains which fall perpetually, penetrated even the thick fur I was wrapped in; and I was half dead with cold, before we got to the foot of the mountain, which was not till two hours after dark. This hill has a spacious plain on the top of it, and a fine lake there; but the descent is so steep and slippery, ’tis surprising to see these chairmen go so steadily as they do. Yet I was not half so much afraid of breaking my neck, as I was of falling sick; and the event has shewed, that I placed my fears right.

THE other mountains are now all passable for a chaise, and very fruitful in vines and pastures: Amongst them is a breed of the finest goats in the world. Acquebellet is the last, and soon after we entered Pont Beauvoisin, the frontier town of France, whose bridge parts this kingdom, and the dominions of Savoy. The same night we arrived late at this town, where I have had nothing to do, but to take care of my health. I think myself already out of any danger; and am determined, that the sore throat, which still remains, shall not confine me long. I am impatient to see the curiosities of this famous city, and more impatient to continue my journey to Paris, from whence I hope to write you a more diverting letter than ’tis possible for me to do now, with a mind weakened by sickness, a head muddled with spleen, from a sorry inn, and a chamber crammed with mortifying objects of apothecaries vials and bottles. — I am, &c. &c.


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