I’m translating some old letters, and in one of them, written around 1834, there is a description of the writer’s view from her upstairs balcony which begins thus:
La vue est charmante d’ici; droit devant j’ai la porte principale de la ville qui est à l’autre extremité de [mor?], & la rue principale s’en suit, ornée de maisons des deux côtés, & formant comme une espèce de perspective…
(I don’t know what ‘mor’ is supposed to be; it’s probably incorrectly transcribed, but I don’t have access to the actual letter yet.)
What exactly is meant by espèce in this context? The normal (current) meaning of espèce is of course ‘type, kind, species’, but that doesn’t really seem to fit very well here, at least not in English, and not with comme in front of it. A road adorned with houses on both sides would not generally be said to “form as if a type of perspective”.
Looking at some of the meanings given in the TLFi definition of espèce, it seems the original sense was more along the lines of a physical form which produces perception (not that I’m really sure I fully understand what exactly that means, but that’s just because I don’t understand philosophy in general). That would perhaps make a bit more sense: the road with the houses has an ‘external image’, as it were, that creates the perception of perspective in the viewer.
Am I close here? Is that what comme une espèce de perspective is supposed to mean? Or does it really just mean “sort of like a kind of perspective”