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CEUX qui souffrent Acqs,' is the motto of the Thermes de Dax,' where I found myself, on April 1, 1880, in compliance with an urgent telegram which had reached me a few hours before at Biarritz. A leisurely run of a little over an hour carried me thither from Bayonne. There was neither cab nor omnibus at the quiet little station, which stands about quarter of a mile from the town; and as it was beginning to drizzle, I accepted a seat from the driver of the mail gig, who set me down at the door of the 'Hôtel de France '-the chief inn of Dax. The people here could tell me nothing of the friend whom I was in search of; and the aspect of the house and of the table laid for dinner was so uninviting, that I pushed on to Les Thermes—an establishment regarded with some perceptible jealousy by the landlord of the 'France.' Dax is bisected by the Adour, which flows between green and wooded banks-if not with the incredibili lenitate' of Cæsar's Arar, yet with a very smooth silent current, that does little more than keep the boats moored in it with their heads to the stream. Across the bridge, to the right, is a massive old cluster of barracks; and beyond these, separated from them by an open place and a small garden, stand Les Thermes,' a large and airy building with a central pavilion four storeys high, and two long wings of half the elevation. Here I found my poor friend, for whom the healing waters had possessed no solace; and who, in his painful passage to the 'dim kingdoms,' had received from many of those around him, differing from him in race, language and religion, a kindness and sympathy which deserved grateful acknowledgment. As the friend of a patient I was at once admitted, although I did not intend to undergo the usual baths and medical treatment, and for the few days of my stay I was made a welcome guest. There was a large and agreeable party at table, entirely foreigners, with the exception of one rheumatic Irishman. The accommodation, attendance and fare were excellent. We had déjeuner at 10.30, and dinner at six-each a substantial meal, with a bottle of good wine, and with more variety in the menu than is now generally found in the large Anglified hotels of the south of France. The tariff was remarkable. The charge for board and lodging, for an invalid, is in summer 9 francs per day, in winter 10 francs; for an officer, clergyman, or professor, 8 francs; for the friend of a patient, 7 francs; for a child under ten years, 3 francs. This includes everything, except lights, and such extras as one chooses to order-which are extraordinarily cheap. The bougie, which is frequently charged a franc, costs 25 centimes; the glass of cognac, which I never got elsewhere under 60 c., costs 30 c.; café-au-lait and a roll, 60 c.; an
excellent bottle of Barsac, from their own cellars, 2 francs. The baths are free to all the boarders; if you require medical attendance besides the baths, the charge is, in summer, 15 francs per monthin winter 20 francs. One can live here, in short, in the greatest comfort amidst pleasant society-enjoying daily baths, and, if necessary, the best medical advice, for about (allowing for all extras) 70 francs, or 21. 168. per week. Without medical advice or extras it would not exceed 55 francs, or 27. 28. One naturally asks how comes this generous and beneficent establishment to exist, unhonoured and unsung,' at this little town of the Landes?
When Crassus, Cæsar's lieutenant, waged successful war in Aquitania, among the tribes which surrendered to his arms were the Tarbelli, whose chief town was Aqua Tarbellica, on the Aturus. The tradition of the town alleges that Augustus brought thither his daughter Julia, to bathe in the hot mud, for the cure of some childish malady, and so saved the life which, many a year afterwards, he called, in bitter anger, the ulcer' of his own. The tradition may be held to account for one of the gates being called the 'Porta Julia,' and the expansion of the name of the town into Aquæ Augustæ Tarbellica. Traces of the Roman occupation yet remain, in two ancient gateways, and a fragment of massive wall. Dax followed the fortunes of its province, Gascony, during the period between the lapse of the Roman dominion, and the final settlement of the French monarchy. Before the Revolution it held the rank of capital of the Landes. Since 1790, it has been simply the chef-lieu d'arrondissement' of Dax; its population about 10,000, and its solitary historical distinction that conferred on it by its place in the campaign of 1813-14. Soult, retiring before the inevitable advance of Wellington, chose Dax, in the rear of his position at Bayonne, and commanding the road to Bordeaux, as the grand depôt of his supplies and reserves, and carefully entrenched it. The victory of Orthès drove him eastwards upon Tarbes and Toulouse, and left Dax untenable. The garrison quitted the town, and joined his retreating army the day after the battle; and Beresford advanced unopposed to Bordeaux, while the Duke followed up his success by pursuing Soult.
During these ages of historical obscurity, Dax had never lost the local fame bestowed by its gracious waters. The name degenerated from Aquæ Augustæ Tarbellica to Civitas Aquentium, to Aquen, Acqs, and finally Dax-but its springs bubbled and steamed, without diminution of volume or temperature, from the days when the great Augustus brought his only daughter to seek their healing aid. It was not till early in this century, however, that art and science began to interest themselves in the waters, and to take a methodical charge of them. In 1804 the great fountain was surrounded with a handsome wall, surmounted by an iron grille; and the boiling waters were gathered within the basin it enclosed to the depth of from 4 to 12 feet. Nine outlets were provided in the front of the wall, which dispense the water at the rate of 6,000 cubic feet per day. Its tem
perature at the surface is 172° Fahr. Vast clouds of steam rise above it, and drift away over the roofs of the town, dissolving into thinnest mist. One was conscious, while one watched them, of the same impression of the presence of a great and inscrutable natural force, with which one had looked at the pall of mist that droops above Niagara, and the smoke that hangs over the cone of Vesuvius. But here the force is only beneficent, from whatever Plutonic depths of Phlegethon it may ascend. It lends itself not only to the dignified task of healing the diseased, but ministers to the humblest daily necessities of mankind. The house-mothers from the adjacent streets (the basin occupying an open space of about 1,200 square yards, in the very middle of the town) run out and fill their kettles with water ready boiled. The baker bakes his bread with it; the public washing-troughs are close by, and the overflow of the fountain supplies them, before it empties itself into the Adour. The water is clear and sparkling; without any peculiarity of taste and smell; and is soft, almost oily, to the touch. Its analysis gives the following results:
And traces, also, of manganese, iodine, bromine, and organic matter. The same analysis applies to the waters of two other springs, contiguous to the Great Fountain, the Bastion' and the Port. Both of these are utilised for 'Les Thermes.' The source of the waters of the 'Port' was formerly called the Trou des Pauvres,' and was renowned through the Landes for its cures of rheumatism.
Another and similar group of springs is found further down the riverside, at the Baignots,' a small bathing establishment. The largest of these discharges at the rate of about 12,000 gallons per day.
These waters-warm, soft, and soothing-are not the only therapeutic agencies of Dax. Like the dust of Zion, its very mud is precious. The deposits of mud, which are found in the vicinity of the hot springs, and in some instances mixed up with them, are supposed to have been formed in the course of ages, by the slimy
débris left after the floods of the Adour. The mud is dark in colour, softly glutinous to the touch, without being sticky, and stains linen, &c., deeply. Mons. Serres, an analyst of repute at Dax, has detected much greater chemical varieties in the muds than in the waters; and has divided them into four separate classes, differing substantially from each other in the degree of their sulphuration, and the proportion of carbonates and organic matter.
In sinking a pit in one of the mineral salt mines of Dax, the engineer traversed a bed of mud lying some 65 feet below the surface, and a mile and three quarters from the Adour, and which was identical in character with the beds of comparatively recent formation. Analysis of the latter resulted in showing:
No mud of the same kind has ever been found in France, or elsewhere, except at the little village of Prechacq, also on the banks of the Adour.
Generation after generation of rheumatic and ague-stricken Gascons had been content to roll themselves in the muddy and steaming ditches, and to bathe in the waters, under such simple shelter as was procurable, and with such rude appliances as the genius of the local Sangrado, or their own, suggested; but it was reserved for the originators of Les Thermes' to concentrate under one roof all the therapeutic forces of the place, and to organise in connection with these a complete system of medical treatment.
The great establishment of 'Les Thermes' owes its existence to the foresight and energy of two French doctors, Dr. Delmas and Dr. Larauza, who, after the most elaborate scientific investigation, recognised in Dax the promise of a beneficent and popular future as a health resort.
The great volume of the waters, the rare qualities of the mud, the singularly calm and equable atmosphere, the easy accessibility of the place, and its many resources for exercise and amusement, convinced them that Dax needed only a capable administration to become un grand succès.' The large mansion was built; the grounds were tastefully laid out; and every device of science and skill was employed for the comfort of the inmates and the utilization of the waters. The house is erected over the spring known as the Bastion,' which spouts out inexhaustibly below, at 172 degrees of heat, and producing an enormous volume of steam, which, conducted to every gallery and chamber in the establishment, keeps each at an
even temperature, by day and night, of from 58° to 64°. Two lofty glazed galleries surround the inner court, and afford an ample promenade for those who do not go out. Billiard rooms, reading rooms, salons, and a cheerful hall adjoining the front door, allow plenty of choice of occupation, outlook and society. The view from the dining-room windows which overlook the Adour
Sulphureis gelidus qua serpit leniter undis
is particularly pleasant. Two large staircases lead to the regions of the baths, which occupy the whole of the lower storey. The bathrooms are conspicuous for their airy freshness and cheerfulness, and have none of that damp sepulchral gloom, which I have noticed, with a shiver, in certain hydropathic establishments nearer home. To give a scientific enumeration or description of them all is beyond my power. Let it suffice to say there are bath rooms for the hot mineral waters; for the hot muds; for stove baths; vapour baths; for local applications of the mud; for medicated vapours; for different kinds of baths of the mineral waters; for sitz-baths; for special douches, vaginales, périnéales, &c.; for cold baths of the mineral water, and of ordinary fresh water; and a large swimming bath, fed by a constant current of fresh water. All the appurtenances are excellent; the baths made of slabs of grey marble; and the pipes, jets, and appliances for localising and adjusting the stream of water or vapour, most ingeniously dexterous. Among the most curious are the chamber for medicated vapour baths, with its adaptations for administering to the body an envelope of vapour charged with the prescribed medicinal agent, while the head of the patient dozes dreamily in perfectly fresh and unadulterated air. The Succursale des Thermes,' containing a similar admirable assortment of baths, is intended for those who do not reside in the establishment; and close at hand is a like provision for the poor. Near Dax, by-the-by, is shown the house which was the birthplace of that kind friend of the poor, St. Vincent de Paul.
The immediate effect of a bath, whether of water or mud, is seen in the rubefaction of the surface bathed-the heightened temperature, quickened pulse, and more or less profuse perspiration. The consecutive results are an increase of appetite, gentle and healthy perspirations, a feeling of supple and buoyant energy and capacity for exertion. Of course the extent to which these effects are realised will depend, in a great degree, upon the previous condition of the bather. Dax does not pretend to work miracles, and to heal all manner of sickness and disease; but it performs undoubted cures in certain disorders, and soothes and alleviates much suffering in others. The treatment, whether in the form of water or mud, is sovereign in all kinds of rheumatism; in cases of loss of muscular power; in neuralgia, which if it had reached its present predominance in Burns's days, would have earned, instead of toothache, the distinction of being