Pessicarz is a hamlet not mentioned in either French or English guide-books; yet the drive thither is far more beautiful than the regulation excursions given in tourists' itineraries. The road winds in corkscrew fashion above the exquisite bay and city, gleaming as if built of marble, amid scenes of unbroken solitude. Between groves of veteran olives and rocks rising higher and higher, we climb for an hour and a half, then leaving behind us the wide panorama of Nice, Cimiez, the sea, and villa-dotted hills, take a winding inland road, as beautiful as can be imagined. Here, nestled amid chestnut woods, lay the little farm I had come to see, consisting of three hectares let at a rent of five hundred francs (between seven and eight acres, rented at twenty pounds a year), the products being shared between owner and tenant. This modified system of metayage or half profits is common here, and certainly affords a stepping-stone to better things. By dint of uncompromising economy, the metayer may ultimately become a small owner. The farmhouse was substantially built and occupied by both landlord and tenant, the latter with his family living on the ground floor. This arrangement probably answers two purposes, economy is effected, and fraud prevented on the part of the metayer. Pigs and poultry are noisy animals, and if a dishonest tenant wanted to smuggle any of these away by night, they would certainly betray him. The housewife, in the absence of her husband, received me very kindly. I was of course introduced by a neighbour, who explained my errand, and she at once offered to show me round. She was a sturdy, good-natured-looking woman, very well-dressed and speaking French fairly. The first thing she did was to show me her poultry, of which she was evidently very proud. This she accomplished by calling out in a loud voice, "Poules, poules, poules" ("chickens, chickens, chickens"), as if addressing children, whereupon they came fluttering out of the chestnut woods, fifty or more, some of fine breed. These fowls are kept for laying, and not for market, the eggs being sent daily into Nice. She then asked me indoors, the large kitchen being on one side of the door, the outhouses on the other. Beyond the kitchen was a large bedroom, her children, she explained, sleeping upstairs. Both rooms were smoke-dried to the colour of mahogany, unswept and very untidy, but the good woman seemed quite sensible of these disadvantages and apologized on account of narrow space. A large supply of clothes hung upon pegs in the bed-chamber, and it possessed also a very handsome old upright clock. The kitchen, besides stores of cooking utensils, had a stand for best china, and on the walls were numerous unframed pictures. I mention these trifling details to show that even among the poorer peasant farmers something is found for ornament; they do not live as Zola would have us believe, for sordid gains alone.

We next visited the pigs, of which she possessed about a dozen in three separate styes. These are fed only upon grain and the kitchen wash supplied from hotels; but she assured me that the disgusting story I had heard at Nice was true. There are certain pork-rearing establishments in the department at which carrion is purchased and boiled down for fattening pigs. My hostess seemed quite alive to the unwholesomeness of such a practice, and we had a long talk about pigs, of which I happen to know something; that they are dirt-loving animals is quite a mistake; none more thoroughly enjoy a good litter of clean straw. I was glad to find this good woman entirely of the same opinion. She informed me with evident satisfaction that fresh straw was always thrown down on one side of the piggery at night, and that the animals always selected it for repose.

The first lot were commodiously housed, but I reasoned with her with regard to the other two, the pig-styes being mere caverns without light or air, and the poor creatures grunting piteously to be let out. She told me that they were always let out at sundown, and heard what I had to say about pigs requiring air, let us hope to some purpose. Certainly, departmental professors have an uphill task before them in out-of-the-way regions. These poor people are said to be extremely frugal as a rule, but too apt to squander their years' savings at a paternal fete, wedding or any other festivity. Generations must elapse ere they are raised to the level of the typical French peasant. On the score of health they may compare favourably with any race. A fruit and vegetable diet seems sufficient in this climate. Besides her poultry and pigs my farmeress had not much to show me; but a plot of flowers for market, a little corn, and a few olive trees added grist to the mill. On the whole, want of comfort, cleanliness, and order apart, I should say that even such a condition contrasts favourably with that of an English agricultural labourer. Without doubt, were we to inquire closely into matters, we should discover a sum of money invested or laid by for future purchases utterly beyond the reach of a Suffolk ploughman.

Just below the little farm I visited a philanthropic experiment interesting to English visitors. This was an agricultural orphanage founded by an Englishman two years before, seventeen waifs and strays having been handed over to him by the Municipal Council of Nice. The education of the poor little lads is examined once a year by a school inspector, in other respects the proteges are left to their new patron. Here they are taught household and farm work, fruit and flower culture, the business of the dairy, carpentering, and other trades; being afterwards placed out. I question whether an English Board of Guardians would so readily hand over seventeen workhouse lads to a foreigner, but it is to be hoped that the Nicois authorities will have no reason to regret their confidence. The boys do no work on Sundays, and once a year have a ten days' tramp in the country; the buildings are spacious and airy, but I was sorry to see a plank-bed used as a punishment.

Indeed, I should say that the system pursued savours too much of the military. Here, be it remembered, no juvenile criminals are under restraint, only foundlings guilty of burdening society. Whether this school exists still I know not.

Very different was the impression produced by the State Horticultural College recently opened at Antibes.

Around the lovely little bay the country still remains pastoral and unspoiled; a mile or two from the railway station and we are in the midst of rural scenes, tiny farms border the road, patches of corn, clover, vineyard, and flower-garden - flowers form the chief harvest of these sea-board peasants - orange, lemon and olive groves with here and there a group of palms, beyond these the violet hills and dazzling blue sea, such is the scenery, and could a decent little lodging be found in its midst, the holiday resort were perfect.

One drawback to existence is the treatment of animals. As I drove towards the college a countryman passed with a cart and pair of horses, the hindmost had two raw places on his haunches as large as a penny piece. I hope and believe that in England such an offender would have got seven days' imprisonment. The Italians, as we all know, have no feeling for animals, and the race here is semi-Italian - wholly so, if we may judge by physiognomy and complexion.

Until the foundation of the Horticultural College here, the only one in existence on French soil was that of Versailles. Whilst farm-schools have been opened in various parts of the country, and special branches have their separate institutions, the teaching of horticulture remained somewhat in abeyance. Forestry is studied at Nancy, husbandry in general at Rennes, Grignan, and Amiens, the culture of the vine at Montpellier, drainage and irrigation at Quimperle, all these great schools being made accessible to poorer students by means of scholarships.

In no other region of France could a Horticultural College be so appropriately placed as in the department of the Alpes Maritimes. It is not only one vast flower-garden, but at the same time a vast conservatory, the choice flowers exported for princely tables in winter being all reared under glass. How necessary, then, that every detail of this delightful and elaborate culture should be taught the people, whose mainstay it is, a large proportion being as entirely dependent upon flowers as the honey bee! Here, and in the neighbourhood of Nice, they are cultivated for market and exportation, not for perfume distilleries as at Grasse.

The State School of Antibes was created by the Minister of Agriculture in 1891, and is so unlike anything of the kind in England that a brief description will be welcome. The first point to be noted is its essentially democratic spirit. When did a farm-labourer's son among ourselves learn any more of agriculture than his father or fellow-workmen could teach him? At Antibes, as in the numerous farm-schools (fermes-ecoles) now established throughout France, the pupils are chiefly recruited from the peasant class.

How, will it be asked, can a small tenant farmer or owner of three or four acres afford to lose his son's earnings as soon as he quits school, much less to pay even a small sum for his education? The difficulty is met thus: in the first place, the yearly sum for board, lodging and teaching is reduced to the minimum, viz. five hundred francs a year; in the second, large numbers of scholarships are open to pupils who have successfully passed the examination of primary schools, and whose parents can prove their inability to pay the fees. No matter how poor he may be, the French peasant takes a long look ahead. He makes up his mind to forfeit his son's help or earnings for a year or two in view of the ulterior advantage. A youth having studied at Antibes, would come out with instruction worth much more than the temporary loss of time and money. That parents do reason in this way is self-evident. On the occasion of my visit, of the twenty-seven students by far the larger proportion were exhibitioners, sons of small owners or tenants. Lads are admitted from fourteen years and upwards, and must produce the certificate of primary studies, answering to that of our Sixth Standard, or pass an entrance examination. The school is under State supervision, the teaching staff consisting of certificated professors. The discipline is of the simplest, yet, I was assured, quite efficacious. If a lad, free scholar or otherwise, misbehaves himself, he is called before the director and warned that a second reprimand only will be given, the necessity of a third entailing expulsion. No more rational treatment could be devised.

Besides practical teaching in the fields and gardens, consisting as yet of only twenty-five hectares, or nearly sixty acres, a somewhat bewildering course of study is given. The list of subjects begins well. First, a lad is here taught his duties as the head of a family, a citizen, and a man of business. Then come geography, history, arithmetic, book-keeping, trigonometry, linear drawing, mechanics, chemistry, physics, natural history, botany, geology, agrologie, or the study of soils, irrigation, political economy. Whilst farming generally is taught, the speciality of the school is fruit and flower culture. A beautiful avenue of palm and orange trees leads from the road to the block of buildings, the director's house standing just outside. I was fortunate in finding this gentleman at home, and he welcomed me with the courtesy, I may say cordiality, I have ever received from professors of agriculture and practical farmers in France.

We immediately set out for our survey, my companion informing me, to my surprise, that the gardens I now gazed on so admiringly formed a mere wilderness a few years ago, that is to say, until their purchase by the State. The palm and orange trees had been brought hither and transplanted, everything else had sprung up on the roughly-cleared ground. Palm trees are reared on the school lands for exportation to Holland, there, of course, to be kept under glass; ere long the exportation of palms and orange trees will doubtless become as considerable as that of hothouse flowers.

I was shown magnificent palms fifteen years old, and nurseries of tiny trees, at this stage of their existence unlovely as birch brooms. Hitherto, majestic although its appearance, the palm of the Riviera has not produced dates. The director is devoting much time to this subject, and hopes ere long to gather his crop.

As we passed between the orange trees, here and there the deep green glossy fruit turning to gold, I heard the same report as at Pessicarz. At neither place can the lads resist helping themselves to the unripe oranges. Sour apples and green oranges seem quite irresistible to hobbledehoys. The trees were laden with fruit, and, unless blown off by a storm, the crop would be heavy. An orange tree on an average produces to the value of two hundred francs.

I was next taken to the newly-created vineyards, some consisting of French grafts on American stock, others American plants; but vines are capricious, and one vineyard looked sickly enough, although free from parasites. The climate did not suit it, that was all.

But by far the most important and interesting crops here are the hothouse flowers. I fancy few English folks think of glass-houses in connection with the Riviera. Yet the chief business of horticulturists during a large portion of the year is in the conservatory. Brilliant as is the winter sun, the nights are cold and the fall of temperature after sundown extremely rapid. Only the hardier flowers, therefore, remain out of doors.

I was now shown the glass-houses being made ready for the winter. All the choice flowers, roses, carnations and others, sent to Paris, London, Berlin, St. Petersburg, are grown under glass. Roses thus cultivated will bring four francs per dozen to the grower; I was even told of choicest kinds sold from the conservatories at a franc each. It may easily be conceived how profitable is this commerce, destined without doubt to become more so as the culture of flowers improves. New varieties are ever in demand for royal or millionaires' tables, bridal bouquets, funeral wreaths. I was told the discoverer or creator of a blue carnation would make his fortune. I confess this commercial aspect of flowers takes something from their poetry. Give me a cottager's plot of sweet-williams and columbine instead of the floral paragon evolved for the gratification of the curious! As we strolled about we came upon groups of students at work. All politely raised their hats when we passed, and by their look and manner might have been taken for young gentlemen.

A great future doubtless awaits this delightfully placed Horticultural School. Whilst the object primarily aimed at by the State is the education of native gardeners and floriculturists, other results may be confidently expected. No rule keeps out foreigners, and just as our Indian candidates for the Forestry service prepare themselves at Nancy, so intending fruit-growers in Tasmania will in time betake themselves to Antibes. A colonial, as well as an international element is pretty sure to be added. French subjects beyond seas will certainly avail themselves of privileges not to be had at home, carrying away with them knowledge of the greatest service in tropical France. Horticulture as a science must gain greatly by such a centre, new methods being tried, improved systems put into practice. In any case, the department may fairly be congratulated on its recent acquisition, one, alas, we have to set against very serious drawbacks! In these intensely hot and glaring days of mid-October, the only way of enjoying life is to betake oneself to a sailing-boat. Few English folks realize the torture of mosquito-invaded nights on the Riviera. As to mosquito curtains, they afford a remedy ofttimes worse than the disease, keeping out what little air is to be had and admitting, here and there, one mosquito of slenderer bulk and more indomitable temper than the rest. After two or three utterly sleepless nights the most enthusiastic traveller will sigh for grey English skies, pattering drops and undisturbed sleep. At sea, you may escape both blinding glare and mosquito bites. A boat is also the only means of realizing the beauty of the coast. Most beautiful is the roundabout sail from Cannes to the Ile St. Marguerite: I say roundabout, because, if the wind is adverse, the boatmen have to make a circuit, going out of their course to the length of four or five miles. Every tourist knows the story of the Iron Mask; few are perhaps aware that in the horrible prison in which Louis XIV kept him for seventeen years, Protestants were also incarcerated, their only crime being that they would not perjure themselves, in other words, feign certain beliefs to please the tyrant.

At the present time the cells adjoining the historic dungeon of the Masque de Fer are more cheerfully occupied. Soldiers are placed there for slight breaches of discipline, their confinement varying from twelve hours to a few days. We heard two or three occupants gaily whiling away the time by singing patriotic songs, under the circumstances the best thing they could do. Lovely indeed was the twenty minutes' sail back to Cannes, the sea, deep indigo, the sky, intensest blue, white villas dotting the green hills, far away the violet mountains. When we betake ourselves to the railway or carriage road, we must make one comparison very unfavourable to English landscape. Here building stone, as bricks and mortar with us, is daily and hourly invading pastoral scenes, but the hideous advertizing board is absent in France. We do not come upon monster advertisements of antibilious pills, hair dye, or soap amid olive groves and vineyards. Let us hope that the vulgarization permitted among ourselves will not be imitated by our neighbours.

In 1789 Arthur Young described the stretch of country between Frejus and Cannes as a desert, "not one mile in twenty cultivated." Will Europe and America, with the entire civilized world, furnish valetudinarians in sufficient numbers to fill the hotels, villas, and boarding houses now rising at every stage of the same way? The matter seems problematic, yet last winter accommodation at Nice barely sufficed for the influx of visitors.

Nice is the most beautiful city in France, I am tempted to say the most beautiful city I ever beheld. It is the last in which I should choose to live or even winter.

Site, sumptuosity, climate, vegetation here attain their acme; so far, indeed, Nice may be pronounced flawless. During a certain portion of the year, existence, considered from the physical and material point of view, were surely here perfect. When we come to the social and moral aspect of the most popular health resort in Europe, a very different conclusion is forced upon us.

Blest in itself, Nice is cursed in its surroundings. So near is that plague spot of Europe, Monte Carlo, that it may almost be regarded as a suburb. For a few pence, in half-an-hour, you may transport yourself from a veritable earthly Paradise to what can only be described as a gilded Inferno. Unfortunately evil is more contagious than good. Certain medical authorities aver that the atmosphere of Mentone used to be impregnated with microbes of phthisis; the germs of moral disease infecting the immediate neighbourhood of Nice are far more appalling. Nor are symptoms wanting of the spread of that moral disease. The municipal council of this beautiful city, like Esau, had just sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. They had conceded the right of gambling to the Casino, the proprietors purchasing the right by certain outlays in the way of improvements, a new public garden, and so on. As yet roulette and rouge-et-noir are not permitted at Nice, the gambling at present carried on being apparently harmless. It is in reality even more insidious, being a stepping-stone to vice, a gradual initiation into desperate play. Just as addiction to absinthe is imbibed by potions quite innocuous in the beginning, so the new Casino at Nice schools the gamester from the outset, slowly and by infinitesimal degrees preparing him for ruin, dishonour and suicide.

The game played is called Petits Chevaux, and somewhat resembles our nursery game of steeplechase. The stakes are only two francs, but as there are eight to each horse, and you may take as many as you please, it is quite easy to lose several hundred francs in one evening - or, for the matter of that, one afternoon. Here, as at Monte Carlo, the gambling rooms remain open from noon till midnight. The buildings are on an imposing scale: reading rooms, a winter garden, concerts, entertainments of various kinds blinding the uninitiated to the real attraction of the place, namely, the miniature horses spinning around the tables. Already - I write of October - eager crowds stood around, and we heard the incessant chink of falling coin. This modified form of gambling is especially dangerous to the young. Parents, who on no account would let their children toss a five-franc piece on to the tables of Monte Carlo, see no harm in watching them play at petits chevaux. They should, first of all, make a certain ghastly pilgrimage I will now relate.

Monaco does not as yet, politically speaking, form a part of French territory; from a geographical point of view we are obliged so to regard it. Thus French geographers and writers of handbooks include the tiny principality, which for the good of humanity, let us hope, may ere long be swallowed up by an earthquake - or moralized! The traveller then is advised to take train to Monaco, and, arrived at the little station, whisper his errand in the cab-driver's ear, "To the suicides' cemetery."

For the matter of that, it is an easy walk enough for all who can stand the burning sun and glare of white walls and buildings. Very lovely, too, is the scene as we slowly wind upwards, the road bordered with aloes and cypresses; above, handsome villas standing amid orange groves and flowers; below, the sparkling sea.

A French cemetery, with its wreaths of beadwork and artificial violets, has ever a most depressing appearance. That of Monaco is like any other, we find the usual magnificence, and usual tinsel. Many beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers, however, relieve the gloom, and every inch is exquisitely kept.

Quite apart from this vast burial-ground, on the other side of the main entrance, is a small enclosure, walled in and having a gate of open ironwork always locked. Here, in close proximity to heaps of garden rubbish, broken bottles and other refuse, rest the suicides of Monte Carlo, buried by the parish gravedigger, without funeral and without any kind of religious ceremony. Each grave is marked by an upright bit of wood, somewhat larger than that by which gardeners mark their seeds, and on which is painted a number, nothing more. Apart from these, are stakes driven into the ground which mark as yet unappropriated spots. The indescribable dreariness of the scene is heightened by two monumental stones garlanded with wreaths and surrounded by flowers. The first records the memory of a young artisan, and was raised by his fellow-workmen; the second commemorates brotherly and sisterly affection. Both suicides were driven to self-murder by play. The remainder are mere numbers. There are poor gamesters as well as rich, and it is only or chiefly these who are put into the ground here. The bodies of rich folks' relatives, if identified, are immediately removed, and, by means of family influence, interred with religious rites. Many suicides are buried at Nice and Mentone, but the larger proportion, farther off still. Not to descant further on this grim topic, let me now say something about Monte Carlo itself.

Never anywhere was snare more plainly set in the sight of any bird. There is little in the way of amusement that you do not get for nothing here, a beautiful pleasure-ground, reading-rooms as luxurious and well-supplied as those of a West End club, one of the best orchestras in Europe, and all without cost of a farthing.

The very lavishness arouses suspicion in the minds of the wary. Why should we be supplied, not only with every English newspaper we ever heard of, but with Punch, Truth, and similar publications to boot? Why should Germans, Russians, Dutch, every other European nation, receive treatment equally generous? Again, to be able to sit down at elegant writing-tables and use up a quire of fine notepaper and a packet of envelopes to match, if we chose, how is all this managed? The concerts awaken a feeling of even intenser bewilderment. Not so much as a penny are we allowed to pay for a programme, to say nothing of the trained musicians. Where is the compensation of such liberality?

The gambling tables, crowded even at three o'clock on an October afternoon, answer our question. The season begins later, but gamblers cannot wait. "Faites le jeu, messieurs; messieurs, faites le jeu," is already heard from noon to midnight, and the faster people ruin themselves and send a pistol shot through their heads, the faster others take their place. It is indeed melancholy to reflect how many once respectable lives, heads of families, even wives and mothers, are being gradually lured on to bankruptcy and suicide.

In cruellest contrast to the moral degradation fostered below, is the enormous cathedral, at the time of my visit in course of erection directly above the gambling rooms. The millions of francs expended on this sumptuous basilica were supplied by the proprietors of the Casino and the Prince of Monaco. Nothing can strike the stranger with a stronger sense of incongruity - a church rising from the very heart of a Pandemonium!

Monaco is a pretty, toy-like, Lilliputian kingdom compared with which the smallest German principality of former days was enormous. Curiously enough, whilst Monte Carlo is peopled with gamesters, the only tenants of Monaco seem to be priests, nuns and their pupils. The miniature capital, state and kingdom in one, consists chiefly of convents and seminaries, and wherever you go you come upon these Jesuit fathers with their carefully-guarded troops of lads in uniform. A survey of the entire principality of Monaco, Monte Carlo included, requires about a quarter of an hour. Nowhere, surely, on the face of the civilized globe is so much mischief contained in so small a space. Fortunately, the poisonous atmosphere of the Casino does not seem to affect the native poor. Everywhere we are struck by the thrifty, sober, hard-working population; beggars or ragged, wretched-looking creatures are very rare. If the authorities of the Alpes Maritimes have set themselves to put down vagrancy, they have certainly succeeded.

Nice is a home for the millionaire and the working man. The intermediate class is not wanted. Visitors are expected to have money, are welcomed on that account, and if they have to look to pounds, shillings, and pence, had much better remain at home.

Woe betide the needy invalid sent thither in search of sunshine! Sunshine is indeed a far more expensive luxury on the Riviera than we imagine, seeing that only rooms with a north aspect are cheap, and a sunless room is much more comfortless and unwholesome than a well-warmed one, no matter its aspect, in England. The only cheap commodity, one unfortunately we cannot live upon, is the bouquet. In October, that is to say, before the arrival of winter visitors, flowers are to be had for the asking; on the market-place an enormous bouquet of tuberoses, violets, carnations, myrtle, priced at two or three francs, the price in Paris being twenty. Fruit also I found cheap, figs fourpence a dozen, and other kinds in proportion. This market is the great sight of Nice, and seen on a cloudless day - indeed it would be difficult to see it on any other - is a glory of colour of which it is impossible to give the remotest notion. I was somewhat taken aback to find Sunday less observed here as a day of rest than in any other French town I know, and not many French towns are unknown to me. The flower and fruit markets were crowded, drapers', grocers', booksellers' shops open all day long, traffic unbroken as usual. I should have imagined that a city, for generations taken possession of by English visitors, would by this time have fallen into our habit of respecting Sunday alike in the interests of man and beast. Of churches, both English and American, there is no lack. Let us hope that the Protestant clergy will turn their attention to this subject. Let us hope also that the entire English-speaking community will second their efforts in this direction. Further, I will put in a good word for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals founded at Nice some years since, and sadly in need of funds. The Society is backed up by the Government in accordance with the admirable Loi Grammont, but, as is the case with local societies in England, requires extraneous help. Surely rich English valetudinarians will not let this humane work stand still, seeing, as they must do daily, the urgent necessity of such interference! From the windows of a beautiful villa on the road to Villefranche, I saw baskets of chickens brought in from Italy, the half of which were dead or dying from suffocation. As the owner of the villa said, "Not even self-interest teaches this Italian humanity." By packing his fowls so as to afford them breathing space, he would double his gains. The habit of cruelty is too inveterate. My host assured me that large numbers of poultry sent across the frontier are suffocated on the way.

Horrible also is the pigeon-shooting at Monte Carlo. Hundreds of these wretched birds are killed for sport every day during the winter. The wounded or escaped fly back after a while to be shot at next day.

The word "villa" calls for comment. Such a designation is appropriate here. The palatial villas of Nice, standing amid orangeries and palm groves, are worthy of their Roman forerunners. For the future I shall resent the term as applied in England to eight-roomed, semi-detached constructions, poorly built, and with a square yard of flower-bed in front. Many of the Nicois villas are veritable palaces, and what adds to their sumptuousness is the indoor greenery, dwarf palms, india-rubber trees, and other handsome evergreens decorating corridor and landing-places. The English misnomer has, nevertheless, compensations in snug little kitchen and decent servant's bedroom. I looked over a handsome villa here, type, I imagine, of the rest. The servants' bedrooms were mere closets with openings on to a dark corridor, no windows, fireplace, cupboard, or any convenience. The kitchen was a long, narrow room, after the manner of French kitchens, with space by the window for two or three chairs. I ventured to ask the mistress of the house where the servants sat when work was done. Her answer was suggestive -

"They have no time to sit anywhere."

It will be seen that our grey skies and mean-looking dwellings have compensations.