Request a high resolution copy

Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Lascelles, Mary

43.836699, 4.360054

Tuesday 18. [18 April 1893] Went out and saw the amphitheatre, climbed all about it and sat on its topmost tier of seats. It is very extraordinary but spoilt by all the horrid palings and wooden repairs put up for their foolish modern bullfights. Then on to the Maison CarÈe which is certainly very lovely in its discreet simplicity. But I feel this architecture has less of the personal, of the human than my own Gothic. The Temple of the Nymph, however, had a very peculiar charm, I suppose without knowing it, one was paying one's tribute to the Greek mind its exquisite sense of proportion, certainly the beauty of that tiny place where so little of the arts of the builder have remained strikes straight to the heart fills one with a magical sense of charm. The baths are also very pretty, but we agreed that 9 baths seemed rather out of proportion in a city whose arena contained over 20,000 people. We went up the hill to the Tour Magne, dull spot, no one knows what it was for - or wants to, I shd think! However Judas trees amd Arbor Vitae in the garden and a beautiful view from the top. At 12 something caught the train for Aigues Mortes where we arrived about 1. Walked up from the station, through its battlements and to a little inn, the Saint Louis, where we lunched. Then out, found the guardian of the ramparts and were conducted up the Tour de Constana and allowed to make our way round the battlements. They are quite perfect, sometimes the houses of the little town come quite up to it, sometimes there are wide gaps, for the population has dwindled since Saint Louis came here with all his troops on the way to the Crusades. On the south side lagunes of the Mediterranean stretch their dead waters nearly up to the wall. I never saw anything so curious; the empty towers looked all swept and ready, the even walls all expectant, only men were wanting and men will come never to Aigues Mortes. A garrison of timorous lizards guards the wall, which stands as though waiting for a war which never came and quite unconscious that its day is long past. Curious about the fortification - it is all straight lines, with towers over the gates and at the corners; the middle ages understood nothing of the use of angles. We drove two miles between lagunes and salt pans to a little fishing village called Saint Louis le Grau where that king embarked his troops. Wandered along the sandy Mediterranean beach picking up lovely shells and sat in a fishing boat watching the loud voiced selling of the day's fishing. Reached Nimes soon after 6 where we went to the Amphitheatre and sat there in the dark, I writing to Auntie Mary. The darkness hid the unsightly traces of modern occupation and left only the great dim bigness of the ruin. Silent bats flitted across the benches and a thin thin crescent moon looked over the edge of the oval wall, into that great space into which she has looked every night of her life for so many centuries that she must have forgotten that it was not always a part of the world.

IIIF Manifest