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[Illustration: Paris: The Seine and Bridges]
Editor of "Great Epochs in American History" Associate Editor of "The World's Famous Orations" and of "The Best of the World's Classics," etc.
France and the Netherlands
New York and London
The tourist bound for France lands either at Cherbourg, Havre, or Boulogne. At Cherbourg, he sees waters in which the "Kearsarge" sank the "Alabama"; at Havre a shelter in which, long before Caesar came to Gaul, ships, with home ports on the Seine, sought safety from the sea; and at Boulogne may recall the invading expedition to England, planned by Napoleon, but which never sailed.
From the Roman occupation, many Roman remains have survived in England, but these are far inferior in numbers and in state of preservation to the Roman remains found in France. Marseilles was not only an important Roman seaport, but its earliest foundations date perhaps from Phoenician times, and certainly do from the age when Greeks were building temples at Paestum and Girgenti. Rome got her first foothold in Marseilles as a consequence of the Punic wars; and in 125 B.C. acquired a province (Provincia Romana) reaching from the Alps to the Rhone, and southward to the sea, with Aix as its first capital and Arles its second. Caesar in 58 B.C. found on the Seine a tribe of men called Parisii, whose chief village, Lutetia, stood where now rises Notre Dame.
Lutetia afterward became a residence of Roman emperors. Constantius Chlorus spent some time there, guarding the empire from Germans and Britons, while Julian the Apostate built there for himself a palace and extensive baths, of which remains still exist in Paris. In that palace afterward lived Pepin le Bref ("mayor of the palace"), son of Charles Martell, and father of the great Charles. Romans built there an amphitheater seating ten thousand people, of which remains are still visible.
Lyons was a great Roman city. Augustus first called it into vigorous life, his wish being to make it "a second Rome." From Lyons a system of roads ran out to all parts of Gaul. Claudius was born there; Caligula made it the political and intellectual capital of Provincia; its people, under an edict of Caracalla, were made citizens of Rome. At Nimes was born the Emperor Antoninus. In Gaul, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian and Domitian were made emperors. At Arles and Nîmes are Roman amphitheaters still regularly put to use for combats between men and wild beasts--but the wild beasts, instead of lions and tigers, are bulls. At Orange is a Roman theater of colossal proportions, in which a company from the Théâtre Français annually presents classical dramas. The magnificent fortress city of Carcassonne has foundation walls that were laid by Romans. Notre Dame of Paris occupies the site of a temple to Jupiter.
As with modern England, so with modern France; its people are a mixture of many races. To the southwest, in a remote age, came Iberians from Spain, to Provence, Ligurians from Italy; to the northeast, Germanic tribes; to the northwest, Scandinavians; to the central parts, from the Seine to the Garonne, in the sixth century B.C., Gauls, who soon became the dominant race, and so have remained until this day, masterful and fundamental. When Caesar came, there had grown up in Gaul a martial nobility, leaders of a warlike people, with chieftains whose names are familiar in the mouths and ears of all schoolboys--Aricvistus and Vercingetorix. When Vercingetorix was overthrown at Alesia, Gaul became definitely Roman. For five hundred years it remained loyal to Rome. Within its borders, was established the Pax Romana, and in 250 A.D., under St. Denis, Christianity. When the disintegration of the empire set in five centuries afterward, Gaul was among the first provinces to suffer. With the coming of the Visigoths and Huns from the Black Sea, the Pranks and Bnrgundians from beyond the Rhine, the Roman fall was near, but great battles were first fought in Gaul, battles which rivaled those of Caesar five centuries before. Greatest of all these was the one with Attila, at Chalons, in 451, where thousands perished.
When the Roman dominion ended, Rome's one great province in Gaul became seventeen small principalities, and power drifted fast into the hands of a warlike aristocracy. Then a strong man rose in Clovis, who, in 508, made Lutetia his capital, his successors enriching and adorning it. From these beginnings, has been evolved, in twelve hundred years, the great modern state--through Charlemagne and his empire-building, Louis XI. and his work of consolidating feudal principalities into one strong state, through a Hundred Years' War, fierce wars of religion, a long line of Bourbon kings, with their chateaux-building in Touraine and Versailles, the Revolution of 1789, the Napoleonic era, the Republic. An historical land surely is this, and a beautiful land, with her snow-capped mountains of the southeast, her broad vineyards, unrivaled cathedrals, her Roman remains, ancient olive groves, her art, her literature, her people.
Belgium and Holland were included in the territory known to Rome as Gaul. Here dwelt a people called the Belgii, and another called the Nervii--that tribal nation whom Cæsar "overcame" on a summer's day, and the same evening, "in his tent," "put on" the mantle that was pierced afterward by daggers in the Senate House. From these lands came the skilled Batavian cavalry, which followed Caesar in pursuit of Pompey and forced Pompey's flight at Pharsalia. From here afterward came other Batavians, who served as the Imperial Guard of Rome from Caasar's time to Vespasian's. In race, as in geographical position, the Netherlands have belonged in part to France, in part to Germany, the interior long remaining Gallic, the frontier Teutonic. From Caesar's time down to the fifth century, the land was Roman. Afterward, in several periods, it was in part, or in whole, included in the domain of France--in Charlemagne's time and after; under Louis XI., who sought, somewhat unsuccessfully, its complete submission; under Louis XIV., who virtually conquered it; under the French Revolution, and during Napoleon's ascendency. On Belgium soil Marlborough fought and won Ramillies, and Wellington Waterloo.
Belgium and Holland were for long great centers of European commerce--at Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam--rivals of English ports, Holland an ancient adversary of England and her valiant enemy in great wars. A still fiercer struggle came with Spain. Perhaps an even greater conflict than these two has been her never-ending war with the sea. Holland has been called a land enclosed in a fortress reared against the sea. For generations her people have warred with angry waves; but, as Motley has said, they gained an education for a struggle "with the still more savage despotism of man." Let me not forget here Holland's great school of art--comparable only to that of Spain, or even to that of Italy. F. W. H.
Introduction to Vols. III and IV--By the Editor.
The City Beautiful--By Anne Warwick
Notre-Dame--By Victor Hugo
The Louvre--By Grant Allen
The Madeline and Champs Elysées--By Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Hotel des Invalides and Napoleon's Tomb--By Augustus J. C. Hare
The Palais de Justice and Sainte Chapelle--By Grant Allen
The Hotel de Ville and the Conciergerie--By Augustus J. C. Hare
Père la Chaise--By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Musée de Cluny--By Grant Allen
The Place de la Bastille--By Augustus J. C. Hare
The Pantheon and St. Etienne du Mont--By Grant Allen
St. Roch--By Augustus J. C. Hare
Versailles--By William Makepeace Thackeray
Versailles in 1739--By Thomas Gray
Fontainebleau--By Augustus J. C. Hare
St. Denis--By Grant Allen
Marly-Le-Roi--By Augustus J. C. Hare
The Village of Auteuil--By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Two Trianons--By Augustus J. C. Hare
Malmaison--By Augustus J. C. Hare
St. Germain--By Leitch Ritchie
St. Cloud--By Augustus J. C. Hare
The Papal Palace at Avignon--By Charles Dickens
The Building of the Great Palace--By Thomas Okey
The Walls of Avignon--By Thomas Okey
Villeneuve and the Broken Bridge--By Thomas Okey
Orange--By Henry James
Vaucluse--By Bayard Taylor
The Pont du Guard,--Aigues-Mortes--Nîmes--By Henry James
Arles and Les Baux--By Henry James
Amiens--By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Rouen--By Thomas Frognall Dibdin
Chartres--By Epiphanius Wilson
Rheims--By Epiphanius Wilson
(Cathedrals and Chateaux continued in Vol. IV)
Paris: The Seine and Bridges
Notre Dame, Paris
Portion of the Louvre, Paris
Church of the Madeleine, Paris
Napoleon's Sarcophagus, Paris
The Burial Place of Napoleon, Paris
Column and Place Vendóme, Paris
Column of July, Paris
The Pantheon, Paris
The House of the Chamber of Deputies, Paris
The Bourse, Paris
Interior of the Grand Opera House, Paris
Front of the Grand Opera House, Paris
The Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Arch Erected by Napoleon Near the Louvre, Paris
The Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Paris
The Church of St. Sulpice, Paris
The Picture Gallery of Versailles
The Bed-Room of Louis XIV., Versailles
The Grand Trianon at Versailles
The Little Trianon at Versailles
The Bed-Room of Catherine de Medici at Chaumont
Marie Antoinette's Dairy at Versailles
The Bridge at St. Cloud
[Illustration: Notre Dame, Paris]
[Illustration: Church of the Madeleine]
[Illustration: Portion of the Louvre]
[Illustration: Paris: Column and Place Vendome]
[Illustration: Burial Place of Napoleon]
[Illustration: Napoleon's Sarcophagus]
[Illustration: Paris: Column of July in the Place de la Bastille]
[Illustration: Pantheon, Paris]
[Illustration: House of the Chamber of Deputies]
[Illustration: Bourse, Paris]
[Footnote: From "The Meccas of the World." By permission of the publisher, John Lane. Copyright, 1913.]
The most prejudiced will not deny that Paris is beautiful; or that there is about her streets and broad, tree-lined avenues a graciousness at once dignified and gay. Stand, as the ordinary tourist does on his first day, in the flowering square before the Louvre; in the foreground are the fountains and bright tulip-bordered paths of the Tuileries--here a glint of gold, there a soft flash of marble statuary, shining through the trees; in the center the round lake where the children sail their boats. Beyond spreads the wide sweep of the Place de la Concorde, with its obelisk of terrible significance, its larger fountains throwing brilliant jets of spray; and then the trailing, upward vista of the Champs Elysées to the great triumphal arch; yes, even to the most indifferent, Paris is beautiful.
To the subtler of appreciation, she is more than beautiful; she is impressive. For behind the studied elegance of architecture, the elaborate simplicity of garden, the carefully lavish use of sculpture and delicate spray, is visible the imagination of a race of passionate creators--the imagination, throughout, of the great artist. One meets it at every turn and corner, down dim passageways, up steep hills, across bridges, along sinuous quays; the masterhand and its "infinite capacity for taking pains." And so marvelously do its manifestations of many periods through many ages combine to enhance one another that one is convinced that the genius of Paris has been perennial; that St. Genevieve, her godmother, bestowed it as an immortal gift when the city was born.
From earliest days every man seems to have caught the spirit of the man who came before, and to have perpetuated it; by adding his own distinctive yet always harmonious contribution to the gradual development of the whole. One built a stately avenue; another erected a church at the end; a third added a garden on the other side of the church, and terraces leading up to it; a fourth and fifth cut streets that should give from the remaining two sides into other flowery squares with their fine edifices. And so from every viewpoint, and from every part of the entire city, to-day we have an unbroken series of vistas--each one different and more charming than the last.
History has lent its hand to the process, too; and romance--it is not an insipid chain of flowerbeds we have to follow, but the holy warriors of Saint Louis, the roistering braves of Henry the Great, the gallant Bourbons, the ill-starred Bonapartes. These as they passed have left their monuments; it may be only in a crumbling old chapel or ruined tower, but there they are, eloquent of days that are dead, of a spirit that lives forever staunch in the heart of the fervent French people.
It comes over one overwhelmingly sometimes, in the midst of the careless gaiety of the modern city, the old, ever-burning spirit of rebellion and savage strife that underlies it all, and that can spring to the surface now on certain memorable days, with a vehemence that is terrifying. Look across the Pont Alexandre, at the serene gold dome of the Invalides, surrounded by its sleepy barracks. Suddenly you are in the fires and awful slaughter of Napoleon's wars. The flower of France is being pitilessly cut down for the lust of one man's ambition; and when that is spent, and the wail of the widowed country pierces heaven with its desolation, a costly asylum is built for the handful of soldiers who are left--and the great Emperor has done his duty!
Or you are walking through the Cité, past the court of the Palais de Justice. You glance in, carelessly--memory rushes upon you--and the court flows with blood, "so that men waded through it, up to the knees!" In the tiny stone-walled room yonder, Marie Antoinette sits disdainfully composed before her keepers; tho her face is white with the sounds she hears, as her friends and followers are led out to swell that hideous river of blood.
A pretty, artificial city, Paris; good for shopping, and naughty amusements, now and then. History? Oh yes, of course; but all that's so dry and uninspiring, and besides it happened so long ago.
Did it? In your stroll along the Rue Royale, among the jewellers' and milliners' shops and Maxim's, glance up at the Madeleine, down at the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. Little over a hundred years ago, this was the brief distance between life and death for those who one minute were dancing in the "Temple of Victory," the next were laying their heads upon the block of the guillotine.
[Footnote: From Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris." Translated by A.L. Alger. By permission of Dana, Estes & Co. Copyright, 1888.]
The church of Notre-Dame at Paris is doubtless still a sublime and majestic building. But, much beauty as it may retain in its old age, it is not easy to repress a sigh, to restrain our anger, when we mark the countless defacements and mutilations to which men and time have subjected that venerable monument, without respect for Charlemagne, who laid its first stone, or Philip Augustus, who laid its last....
Upon the face of this aged queen of French cathedrals, beside every wrinkle we find a scar. "Tempus edax, homo edacior;" which I would fain translate thus: "Time is blind, but man is stupid." Had we leisure to study with the reader, one by one, the various marks of destruction graven upon the ancient church, the work of Time would be the lesser, the worse that of Men, especially of "men of art," since there are persons who have styled themselves architects during the last two centuries.
And first of all, to cite but a few glaring instances, there are assuredly few finer pages in the history of architecture than that facade where the three receding portals with their pointed arches, the carved and denticulated plinth with its twenty-eight royal niches, the huge central rose-window flanked by its two lateral windows as is the priest by his deacon and subdeacon, the lofty airy gallery of trifoliated arcades supporting a heavy platform upon its slender columns, and lastly the two dark and massive towers with their pent-house roofs of slate, harmonious parts of a magnificent whole, one above the other, five gigantic stages, unfold themselves to the eye, clearly and as a whole, with their countless details of sculpture, statuary, and carving, powerfully contributing to the calm grandeur of the whole; as it were, a vast symphony in stone; the colossal work of one man and one nation, one and yet complex, like the Iliad and the old Romance epics, to which it is akin; the tremendous sum of the joint contributions of all the force of an entire epoch, in which every stone reveals, in a hundred forms, the fancy of the workman disciplined by the genius of the artist--a sort of human creation, in brief, powerful and prolific as the Divine creation, whose double characteristics, variety and eternity, it seems to have acquired.
And what we say of the façades, we must also say of the whole church; and what we say of the cathedral church of Paris must be said of all the Christian churches of the Middle Ages. Everything is harmonious which springs from spontaneous, logical, and well-proportioned art. To measure a toe, is to measure the giant.
Let us return to the façade of Notre-Dame as we see it at the present day, when we make a pious pilgrimage to admire the solemn and mighty cathedral, which, as its chroniclers declare, inspires terror. This façade now lacks three important things: first, the eleven steps which formerly raised it above the level of the ground; next, the lower series of statues which filled the niches over the doors; and lastly, the upper row of the twenty- eight most ancient kings of France, which adorned the gallery of the first story, from Childebert down to Philip Augustus, each holding in his hand "the imperial globe."
The stairs were destroyed by Time, which, with slow and irresistible progress, raised the level of the city's soil; but while this flood-tide of the pavements of Paris swallowed one by one the eleven steps which added to the majestic height of the edifice, Time has perhaps given to the church more than it took away, for it is Time which has painted the front with that sober hue of centuries which makes the antiquity of churches their greatest beauty.
But who pulled down the two rows of statues? Who left those empty niches? Who carved that new and bastard pointed arch in the very center of the middle door? Who dared to insert that clumsy, tasteless, wooden door, carved in the style of Louis XV., side by side with the arabesques of Biscornette? Who but men, architects, the artists of our day?
And if we step into the interior of the edifice, who overthrew that colossal figure of Saint Christopher, proverbial among statues by the same right as the great hall of the palace among halls, as the spire of Strasburg among steeples? And those myriad statues which peopled every space between the columns of the choir and the nave, kneeling, standing, on horseback, men, women, children, kings, bishops, men-at-arms--of stone, of marble, of gold, of silver, of copper, nay even of wax--who brutally swept them away? It was not the hand of Time.
And who replaced the old Gothic altar, with its splendid burden of shrines and reliquaries, by that heavy marble sarcophagus adorned with clouds and cherubs, looking like a poor copy of the Val-de-Grâce or the Hôtel des Invalides? Who was stupid enough to fasten that clumsy stone anachronism into the Carlovingian pavement of Hercandus? Was it not Louis XIV., fulfilling the vow of Louis XIII.?
And who set cold white panes in place of that stained glass of gorgeous hue, which led the wondering gaze of our fathers to roam uncertain 'twixt the rose-window of the great door and the ogives of the chancel? And what would a precentor of the sixteenth century say if he could see the fine coat of yellow wash with which our Vandal archbishops have smeared their cathedral? He would remember that this was the color with which the executioner formerly painted those buildings judged "infamous;" he would recall the hotel of the Petit-Bourbon, bedaubed with yellow in memory of the Constable's treason; "a yellow of so fine a temper," says Sauval, "and so well laid on, that more than a hundred years have failed to wash out its color." He would fancy that the sacred spot had become accursed, and would turn and flee.
And if we climb higher in the cathedral, without pausing to note a thousand barbarous acts of every kind, what has become of that delightful little steeple which rested upon the point of intersection of the transept, and which, no less fragile and no less daring than its neighbor, the spire of the Sainte-Chapelle, (also destroyed), rose yet nearer heaven than the towers, slender, sharp, sonorous, and daintily wrought?
An architect of good taste (1787) amputated it, and thought it quite enough to cover the wound with that large leaden plaster which looks like the lid of a stewpan. Thus was the marvelous art of the Middle Ages treated in almost every land, but particularly in France. We find three sorts of injury upon its ruins, these three marring it to different depths; first, Time, which has made insensible breaches here and there, mildewed and rusted the surface everywhere; then, political and religious revolutions, which, blind and fierce by nature, fell furiously upon it, rent its rich array of sculpture and carving, shivered its rose-windows, shattered its necklaces of arabesques and quaint figures, tore down its statues--sometimes because of their crown; lastly, changing fashion, even more grotesque and absurd, from the anarchic and splendid deviations of the Renaissance down to the necessary decline of architecture.
Fashion did more than revolutions. Fashion cut into the living flesh, attacked the very skeleton and framework of art; it chopped and hewed, dismembered, slew the edifice, in its form as well as in its symbolism, in its logic no less than in its beauty. But fashion restored, a thing which neither time nor revolution ever pretended to do. Fashion, on the plea of "good taste," impudently adapted to the wounds of Gothic architecture the paltry gewgaws of a day,--marble ribbons, metallic plumes, a veritable leprosy of egg-shaped moldings, of volutes, wreaths, draperies, spirals, fringes, stone flames, bronze clouds, lusty cupids, and bloated cherubs, which began to ravage the face of art in the oratory of Catherine de Medici, and destroyed it, two centuries later, tortured and distorted, in the Dubarry's boudoir.
There are thus, to sum up the points to which we have alluded, three sorts of scars now disfiguring Gothic architecture; wrinkles and warts upon the epidermis--these are the work of time; wounds, brutal injuries, bruises, and fractures--these are the work of revolution, from Luther to Mirabeau; mutilations, amputations, dislocations of the frame, "restorations,"-- these are the Greek, Roman barbaric work of professors according to Vitruvius and Vignole. Academies have murdered the magnificent art which the Vandals produced. To centuries, to revolutions which at least laid waste with impartiality and grandeur, are conjoined the host of scholastic architects, licensed and sworn, degrading all they touch with the discernment and selection of bad taste, substituting the tinsel of Louis XV. for Gothic lace-work, for the greater glory of the Parthenon. This is the donkey's kick at the dying lion. It is the old oak, decaying at the crown, pierced, bitten and devoured by caterpillars.
How different from the time when Robert Cenalis, comparing Notre Dame at Paris to the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus; "so loudly boasted by the ancient pagans," which immortalized Herostratus, held the cathedral of the Gauls to be "more excellent in length, breadth, height, and structure!"
Notre Dame at Paris is not, however, what can be called a complete, definite monument, belonging to a class. It is neither a Roman nor a Gothic church. The edifice is not a typical one. It has not, like the abbey at Tournus, the sober massive breadth, the round expansive arch, the icy bareness, the majestic simplicity of those buildings based on the semicircular arch. It is not, like the cathedral at Bourges, the magnificent, airy, multiform, bushy, sturdy, efflorescent product of the pointed arch.
It is impossible to class it with that antique order of dark, mysterious, low-studded churches, apparently crusht by the semicircular arch--almost Egyptian, save for the ceiling; all hieroglyphic, all sacerdotal, all symbolic, more loaded in their ornamentation with lozenges and zigzags than with flowers, with flowers than with animals, with animals than with men; less the work of the architect than of the bishop; the first transformation of the art, bearing the deep impress of theocratic and military discipline, taking root in the Lower Empire, and ceasing with William the Conqueror. It is impossible to place our cathedral in that other family of lofty, aerial churches, rich in stained glass and sculpture; of pointed forms and daring attitudes; belonging to the commoners and plain, citizens, as political symbols; free, capricious, lawless, as works of art; the second transformation of architecture, no longer hieroglyphic, unchangeable, sacerdotal, but artistic, progressive, and popular, beginning with the close of the Crusades and ending with Louis XI. Notre Dame at Paris is not of purely Roman race like the former, nor of purely Arab breed like the latter.
It is a building of the transition period. The Saxon architect had just reared the pillars of the nave, when the pointed arch, brought back from the Crusades, planted itself as conqueror upon those broad Roman capitals which were never meant to support anything but semicircular arches. The pointed arch, thenceforth supreme, built the rest of the church. And still, inexperienced and shy at first, it swelled, it widened, it restrained itself, and dared not yet shoot up into spires and lancets, as it did later on in so many marvelous cathedrals. It seemed sensible of the close vicinity of the heavy Roman columns.
Moreover, these buildings of the transition from Roman to Gothic are no less valuable studies than the pure types. They express a gradation of the art which would otherwise be lost. They represent the ingrafting of the pointed arch upon the semicircular.
Notre Dame at Paris, in particular, is a curious example of this variety. Every face, every stone of the venerable monument is a page not only of the history of the country, but also of the history of science and art. Thus, to allude only to leading details, while the little Porte Rouge attains the almost extreme limit of the Gothic refinement of the fifteenth century, the pillars of the nave, in their size and gravity of style, go back to the Carlovingian Abbey of Saint-Germain des Prés. One would say that there was an interval of six centuries between that door and those pillars. Even the Hermetics find among the symbols of the great door a satisfactory epitome of their science, of which the Church of St. Jacques de la Boucherie formed so complete a hieroglyph.
Thus, the Roman abbey, the philosopher's church, Gothic art, Saxon art, the clumsy round pillar, which recalls Gregory VII., the hermetic symbolism by which Nicholas Flamel paved the way for Luther, papal unity, schism, Saint-Germain des Prés, Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie, are all confounded, combined and blended in Notre Dame. This central and generative church is a kind of chimera among the old churches of Paris; it has the head of one, the limbs of another, the trunk of a third, something of all.
Considering here Christian European architecture only, that younger sister of the grand piles of the Orient, we may say that it strikes the eye as a vast formation divided into three very distinct zones or layers, one resting upon the other; the Roman zone, (the same which is also known according to place, climate, and species, as Lombard, Saxon, and Byzantine. There are the four sister forms of architecture, each having its peculiar character, but all springing from the same principle, the semicircular arch,) the Gothic zone, the zone of the Renaissance, which may be called the Greco-Roman. The Roman stratum, which is the oldest and the lowest, is occupied by the semicircular arch, which reappears, together with the Greek column, in the modern and uppermost stratum of the Renaissance. The painted arch is between the two. The buildings belonging to any one of these three strata are perfectly distinct, uniform, and complete. Such are the Abbey of Jumieges, the Cathedral of Rheims, the Church of the Holy Cross at Orleans. But the three zones are blended and mingled at the edges, like the colors in the solar spectrum.
Hence, we have certain complex structures, buildings of gradation and transition, which may be Roman at the base, Gothic in the middle, and Greco-Roman at the top. This is caused by the fact that it took six hundred years to build such a fabric. This variety is rare. The donjon- keep at Étampes is a specimen. But monuments of two formations are more frequent. Such is Notre-Dame at Paris, a structure of the pointed arch, its earliest columns leading directly to that Roman zone, of which the portals of Saint-Denis and the nave of Saint-Germain des Prés are perfect specimens. Such is the charming semi-Gothic chapter-house of Boucherville, where the Roman layer reaches midway. Such is the cathedral of Rouen, which would be wholly Gothic if the tip of its central spire did not dip into the zone of the Renaissance. [Footnote: This part of the spire, which was of timber, happens to be the very part which was burned by lightning in 1823.]
However, all these gradations and differences affect the surface only of an edifice. Art has but changed its skin. The construction itself of the Christian church is not affected by them. The interior arrangement, the logical order of the parts, is still the same. Whatever may be the carved and nicely-wrought exterior of a cathedral, we always find beneath it, if only in a rudimentary and dormant state, the Roman basilica. It rises forever from the ground in harmony with the same law.
There are invariably two naves intersecting each other in the form of a cross, the upper end being rounded into a chancel or choir; there are always side aisles, for the processions and for chapels, a sort of lateral galleries or walks, into which the principal nave opens by means of the spaces between the columns. This settled, the number of chapels, doors, steeples, and spires may be modified indefinitely, according to the fancy of the century, the people, and the art. The performance of divine service once provided for and assured, architecture acts its own pleasure. Statues, stained glass, rose-windows, arabesques, denticulations, capitals, and bas-reliefs,--it combines all these flowers of the fancy according to the logarithm that suits it best. Hence the immense variety in the exteriors of those structures within which dwell such unity and order. The trunk of the tree is fixt; the foliage is variable.
[Footnote: From "Paris."]
The Louvre is the noblest monument of the French Renaissance. From the time of St. Louis onward, the French kings began to live more and more in the northern suburb, the town of the merchants, which now assumed the name of La Ville, in contradistinction to the Cité and the Université. Two of their chief residences here were the Bastille and the Hôtel St. Paul, both now demolished--one, on the Place so called; the other, between the Rue St. Antoine and the Quai des Célestins. But from a very early period they also possest a château on the site of the Louvre, and known by the same name, which guarded the point where the wall of Philippe Auguste abutted on the river. François I. decided to pull down this picturesque turreted medieval castle, erected by Philippe Auguste and altered by Charles V. He began the construction in its place of a magnificent Renaissance palace, which has ever since been in course of erection.
Its subsequent growth, however, is best explained opposite the building itself, where attention can be duly called to the succession of its salient features. But a visit to the exterior fabric of the Louvre should be preceded by one to St. Germain l'Auxerrois, the parish church, and practically the chapel, of the old Louvre, to which it stood in somewhat the same relation as the Ste. Chapelle to the home of St. Louis. Note, however, that the church was situated just within the ancient wall, while the château lay outside it. The visitor will doubtless be tolerably familiar by this time with some parts at least of the exterior of the Louvre; but he will do well to visit it now systematically, in the order here suggested, so as to gain a clear general idea of its history and meaning....
Begin by understanding distinctly that this court is the real and original Louvre; the rest is mere excresence, intended to unite the main building with the Tuileries, which lay some hundreds of yards to the west of it. Notice, first, that the Palace as a whole, seen from the point where you now stand, is constructed on the old principle of relatively blank external walls, like a castle, with an interior courtyard, on which all the apartments open, and almost all the decoration is lavished. Reminiscences of defense lurk about the Louvre. It can best be understood by comparison with such ornate, yet fortress-like, Italian palaces as the Strozzi at Florence. Notice the four opposite portals, facing the cardinal points, which can be readily shut by means of great doors; while the actual doorways of the various suites of apartments open only into the protected courtyard. This is the origin of the familiar French porte- cochère.
Again, the portion of the building that directly faces you as you enter the court from St. Germain is the oldest part, and represents the early Renaissance spirit. It is the most primitive Louvre. Note in particular the central elevated portion, known as a Pavilion, and graced with elegant Caryatides. These Pavilions are lingering reminiscences of the medieval towers. You will find them in the corners and centers of other blocks in the Louvre. They form a peculiarly French Renaissance characteristic. The Palace is here growing out of the Castle. The other three sides of the square are, on the whole, more classical and later.
Now across the square directly to the Pavilion de l'Horloge, as it is called, from the clock which adorns it. To your left, on the floor of the court, are two circular white lines, enclosed in a square. These mark the site of the original Château of the Louvre, with its keep, or donjon. François I., who began the existing building, originally intended that his palace should cover the same area. It was he who erected the left wing, which now faces you, marked by the crown and H on its central round gable, placed there by his successor, Henry II., under whom it was completed. To the same king are also due the monograms of H and D (for Diane de Poitiers, his mistress), between the columns of the ground floor. The whole of the Pavilion de l'Horloge, and of this west wing, should be carefully examined in detail as the finest remaining specimen of highly decorated French Renaissance architecture. (But the upper story of the Pavilion, with the Caryatides, is an age later.) Observe even the decoration lavished on the beautiful chimneys. Pierre Lescot was the architect of this earliest wing; the exquisite sculpture is by Jean Goujon, a Frenchman, and the Italian, Paolo Ponzio. Examine much of it. The crossed K's of certain panels stand for Catherine de Médici.
The right wing, beyond the Pavilion, was added, in the same style, under Louis XIII., who decided to double the plan of his predecessors, and form the existing Cour du Louvre.
The other three sides, in a more classic style, with pediments replacing the Pavilions, and square porticos instead of rounded gables, are for the most part later. The south side, however, as far as the central door, is also by Pierre Lescot. It forms one of the two fronts of the original square first contemplated. The attic story of these three sides was added under Louis XIV., to whom, in the main, is due this Cour du Louvre. A considerable part of Louis XIV.'s decorations bear reference to his representation as "le roi soleil."
Now, pass through the Pavilion de l'Horloge (called on its west side Pavilion Sully) into the second of the three courts of the Louvre. To understand this portion of the building, again, you must remember that shortly after the erection of the Old Louvre, Catherine de Médici began to build her palace of the Tuileries, now destroyed, to the west of it. She (and subsequent rulers) designed to unite the Old Louvre with the Tuileries by a gallery which should run along the bank of the river. Of that gallery, Catherine de Médici herself erected a considerable portion, to be described later, and Henri IV., almost completed it. Later on, Napoleon I. conceived the idea of extending a similar gallery along his new Rue de Rivoli, on the north side, so as to enclose the whole space between the Louvre and the Tuileries in one gigantic double courtyard. Napoleon III. carried out his idea. The second court in which you now stand is entirely flanked by buildings of this epoch--the Second Empire. Examine it cursorily as far as the modern statue of Gambetta.
Stand or take a seat by the railing of the garden opposite the Pavilion Sully. The part that now faces you forms a portion of the building of François I, and Louis XIII., redecorated in part by Napoleon I. The portions to your right and left are entirely of the age of Napoleon III., built so as to conceal the want of parallelism of the outer portions. Observe their characteristic Pavilions, each bearing its own name inscribed upon it. This recent square, tho quite modern in the character of its sculpture and decoration, is Renaissance in its general architecture, and, when looked back upon from the gardens of the Tuileries, affords a most excellent idea of that stately style, as developed in France under François I. The whole of this splendid plan, however, has been rendered futile by the destruction of the Tuileries, without which the enclosure becomes wholly meaningless.
Now, continue westward, pass the Monument of Gambetta, and take a seat on the steps at the base, near the fine figure of Truth. In front of you opens the third square of the Louvre, known as the Place du Carrousel, and formerly enclosed on its west side by the Palace of the Tuileries, which was unfortunately burned down in 1871, during the conflict between the Municipal and National authorities. Its place is now occupied by a garden terrace, the view from which in all directions is magnificent. Fronting you, as you sit, is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, erected under Napoleon I., by Percier and Fontaine, in imitation of the Arch of Septimius Severus at Rome, and once crowned by the famous bronze Roman horses from St. Mark's at Venice. The arch, designed as an approach to the Tuileries during the period of the classical mania, is too small for its present surroundings, since the removal of the Palace. The north wing, visible to your right, is purely modern, of the age of the First and Second Empire and the Third Republic. The meretricious character of the reliefs in its extreme west portion, erected under the Emperor Napoleon III., and restored after the Commune, is redolent of the spirit of that gaudy period. The south wing, to your left, forms part of the connecting gallery erected by Henri IV., but its architecture is largely obscured by considerable alterations under Napoleon III. Its west pavilion-known as the Pavilion de Flore--is well worth notice.
Having thus gained a first idea of the courtyard fronts of the building, continue your walk, still westward, along the south wing as far as the Pavilion de Flore, a remaining portion of the corner edifice which ran into one line with the Palace of the Tuileries. Turn round the corner of the Pavilion to examine the south or river front of the connecting gallery--one of the finest parts of the whole building, but far less known to ordinary visitors than the cold and uninteresting northern line along the Rue de Rivoli. The first portion, as far as the gateways, belongs originally to the age of Henry IV., but it was entirely reconstructed under Napoleon III., whose obtrusive N appears in many places on the gateways and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, it still preserves, on the whole, some reminiscence of its graceful Renaissance architecture. Beyond the main gateway (with modern bronze Charioteer of the Sun), flanked by the Pavilions de la Trémoille and de Lesdiguières, we come upon the long Southern Gallery erected by Catherine de Médici, which still preserves almost intact its splendid early French Renaissance decoration. This is one of the noblest portions of the entire building. The N here gives place to H's, and the Renaissance scroll-work and reliefs almost equal those in that portion of the old Louvre which was erected under François I. Sit on a seat on the Quay and examine the sculpture.
Notice particularly the splendid Porte Jean Goujon, conspicuous from afar by its gilded balcony. Its crowned H's and coats-of-arms are specially interesting examples of the decorative work of the period. Note also the skill with which this almost flat range is relieved by sculpture and decoration so as to make us oblivious of the want of that variety usually given by jutting portions. The end of this long gallery is formed by two handsome windows with balconies. We there come to the connecting Galérie d'Apollon, of which these windows are the termination, and finally reach once more a portion of Perrault's façade, with its double LL's, erected under Louis XIV., and closely resembling the interior façade of the Cour du Louvre....
The Collections in the Louvre have no such necessary organic connection with Paris itself as Notre Dame and the Sainte-Chapelle, or even those in the rooms at Cluny. They may, therefore, be examined by the visitor at any period of his visit that he chooses. I would advise him, however, whenever he takes them up, to begin with the paintings and then to go on to the Classical and Renaissance Sculpture. The last-named, at least, he should only examine in connection with the rest of Renaissance Paris. Also, while it is unimportant whether he takes first Painting or Sculpture, it is very doubtful that he should take each separately in the chronological order.
At least six days--far more, if possible--should be devoted to the Louvre Collections--by far the most important objects to be seen in Paris. Of these, four should be assigned to the Paintings, and one each to the Classical and Renaissance Sculpture. If this is impossible, do not try to see all; see a little thoroughly. Confine yourself, for Painting, to the Salon Carré and Gallery VII., and for Sculpture to the Classical Gallery and to the three Western rooms of the Renaissance collection.
[Footnote From "French and Italian Note-Books." By special arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers of Hawthorne's works, Houghton, Mifflin Co. Copyright, 1871, 1883, 1899.]
Approaching the Madeleine, we found it a most beautiful church, that might have been adapted from Heathenism to Catholicism; for on each side there is a range of magnificent pillars, unequalled, except by those of the Parthenon. A mourning coach, arrayed in black and silver, was drawn up at the steps, and the front of the church was hung with black cloth, which covered the whole entrance. However, seeing the people going in, we entered along with them. Glorious and gorgeous is the Madeleine. The entrance to the nave is beneath a most stately arch; and three arches of equal height open from the nave to the side aisles; and at the end of the nave is another great arch, rising, with a vaulted half-dome, over the high altar. The pillars supporting these arches are Corinthian, with richly sculptured capitals; and wherever gilding might adorn the church, it is lavished like sunshine; and within the sweeps of the arches there are fresco paintings of sacred subjects, and a beautiful picture covers the hollow of the vault over the altar; all this, besides much sculpture; and especially a group above and around the high altar, representing the Magdalen smiling down upon angels and archangels, some of whom are kneeling, and shadowing themselves with their heavy marble wings.
There is no such thing as making my page glow with the most distant idea of the magnificence of this church, in its details and in its whole. It was founded a hundred or two hundred years ago; then Bonaparte contemplated transforming it into a Temple of Victory, or building it anew as one. The restored Bourbon remade it into a church; but it still has a heathenish look, and will never lose it.
When we entered we saw a crowd of people, all pressing forward toward the high altar, before which burned a hundred wax lights, some of which were six or seven feet high; and, altogether, they shone like a galaxy of stars. In the middle of the nave, moreover, there was another galaxy of wax candles burning around an immense pall of black velvet, embroidered with silver, which seemed to cover, not only a coffin, but a sarcophagus, or something still more huge.
The organ was rumbling forth a deep, lugubrious bass, accompanied with heavy chanting of priests, out of which sometimes rose the clear, young voices of choristers, like light flashing out of the gloom. The church, between the arches, along the nave, and round the altar, was hung with broad expanses of black cloth; and all the priests had their sacred vestments covered with black. They looked exceedingly well; I never saw anything half so well got up on the stage. Some of these ecclesiastical figures were very stately and noble, and knelt and bowed, and bore aloft the cross, and swung the censers in a way that I liked to see.
The ceremonies of the Catholic Church were a superb work of art, or perhaps a true growth of man's religious nature; and so long as men felt their original meaning, they must have been full of awe and glory. Being of another parish, I looked on coldly, but not irreverently, and was glad to see the funeral service so well performed, and very glad when it was over. What struck me as singular, the person who performed the part usually performed by a verger, keeping order among the audience, wore a gold-embroidered scarf, a cocked hat, and, I believe, a sword, and had the air of a military man....
When we left the Madeleine we took our way to the Place de la Concorde, and thence through the Elysian Fields (which, I suppose, are the French idea of heaven) to Bonaparte's triumphal arch. The Champs Elysées may look pretty in summer; tho I suspect they must be somewhat dry and artificial at whatever season.--the trees being slender and scraggy, and requiring to be renewed every few years. The soil is not genial to them. The strangest peculiarity of this place, however, to eyes fresh from moist and verdant England, is, that there is not one blade of grass in all the Elysian Fields, nothing but hard clay, now covered with white dust. It gives the whole scene the air of being a contrivance of man, in which Nature has either not been invited to take any part, or has declined to do so.
There were merry-go-rounds, wooden horses, and other provision for children's amusements among the trees; and booths, and tables of cakes, and candy-women; and restaurants on the borders of the wood; but very few people there; and doubtless we can form no idea of what the scene might become when alive with French gayety and vivacity.
As we walked onward the Triumphal Arch began to loom up in the distance, looking huge and massive, tho still a long way off. It was not, however, till we stood almost beneath it that we really felt the grandeur of this great arch, including so large a space of the blue sky in its airy sweep. At a distance, it impresses the spectator with its solidity; nearer, with the lofty vacancy beneath it. There is a spiral staircase within one of its immense limbs; and, climbing steadily upward, lighted by a lantern which the door-keeper's wife gave us, we had a bird's eye view of Paris, much obscured by smoke or mist. Several interminable avenues shoot with painful directness right toward it.
On our way homeward we visited the Place Vendôme, in the center of which is a tall column, sculptured from top to bottom, all over the pedestal, and all over the shaft, and with Napoleon himself on the summit. The shaft is wreathed round and round about with representations of what, as far as I could distinguish, seemed to be the Emperor's victories. It has a very rich effect. At the foot of the column we saw wreaths of artificial flowers, suspended there, no doubt, by some admirer of Napoleon, still ardent enough to expend a franc or two in this way.
[Footnote: From "Walks In Paris." By arrangement with the publisher, David McKay. Copyright, 1880.]
We emerge from the Rue de Grenelle opposite the gardens to the north of the magnificent Hôtel des Invalides, planned by Henri IV., and begun by Louis XIV. in 1671, as a refuge for old soldiers, who, before it was built, had to beg their bread on the streets.
The institution is under the management of the Minister of War, and nothing can be more comfortable than the life of its inmates. The number of these is now small; in the time of Napoleon I., when the institution was called the "Temple of Mars," it was enormous.
On the terrace in front of the building are a number of cannon, trophies taken in different campaigns. Standing before the hotel is the statue of Prince Eugène. On either side of the entrance are statues of Mars and Minerva by Coustou the younger. In the tympanum of the semicircle over the center of the façade is Louis XIV. on horseback. Behind the façade is a vast courtyard surrounded by open corridors lined with frescoes of the history of France; those of the early history on the left by Bénédict Masson, 1865, have much interest. In the center of the façade opposite the entrance is the statue of Napoleon I. Beneath this is the approach to the Church of St. Louis, built 1671-79, from designs of Libéral Bruant, and in which many banners of victory give an effect of color to an otherwise colorless building....
The Tomb of Napoleon, under the magnificent dome of the Invalides, which was added to the original church by Jules Hardouin Mansart, and is treated as a separate building, is entered from the Place Vauban at the back, or by the left cloister and a court beyond.
On entering the vast interior, a huge circular space is seen to open, beneath the cupola painted by Charles de Lafosse and Jouvenet, and, in it, surrounded by caryatides and groups of moldering banners, the huge tomb of Finland granite, given by the Emperor Nicholas. Hither the remains of the great Emperor were brought back from St. Helena by the Prince de Joinville, in 1841, tho Louis Philippe, while adopting this popular measure as regarded the dead, renewed the sentence of exile against the living members of the Bonaparte family.
Four smaller cupolas encircle the great dome. In the first, on the right, is the tomb of Joseph Bonaparte. On the left are the tombs of Jerome Bonaparte, with a statue, and of his eldest son and the Princess Catherine of Wurtemberg. The other two cupolas are still empty.
Descending the steps behind the splendid baldacchino, we find black-marble tombs of Marshals Duroc and Bertrand guarding the approach to that of Napoleon I. His own words, taken from his will, appear in large letters over the entrance: "I desire my ashes to lie on the shores of the Seine among the people of France whom I loved so deeply."
The sentiment, the tomb, and the dome have a unique splendor. A white-marble statue of Napoleon I. by Stuart is in a black-marble chapel. His Austerlitz sword, the crown voted by Cherbourg, and colors taken in his different battles, were formerly shown in a "chapelle ardente."
[Footnote: From "Paris."]
Go along the Rue de Rivoli as far as the Square of the Tour St. Jacques. If driving, alight here. Turn down the Place du Châtelet to your right. In front is the pretty modern fountain of the Châtelet; right, the Thèâtre du Châtelet; left, the Opéra Comique. The bridge which faces you is the Pont- au-Change, so-called from the money-changers' and jewelers' booths which once flanked its wooden predecessor (the oldest in Paris), as they still do the Rialto at Venice, and the Ponte Vecchio at Florence.
Stand by the right-hand corner of the bridge before crossing it. In front is the Ile de la Cité. The square, dome-crowned building opposite you to the left is the modern Tribunal de Commerce; beyond it leftward lie the Marché-aux-Fleurs and the long line of the Hôtel-Dieu, above which rise the towers and spire of Notre Dame. In front, to the right, the vast block of buildings broken by towers forms part of the Palais de Justice, the ancient Palace of the French kings, begun by Hugh Capet. The square tower to the left in this block is the Tour de l'Horloge. Next, to the right, come the two round towers of the Conciergerie, known respectively as the Tour de César and the Tour de Montgomery. The one beyond them, with battlements, is the Tour d'Argent. It was in the Conciergerie that Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, and many other victims of the Revolution were imprisoned.
These medieval towers, much altered and modernized, are now almost all that remains of the old Palace, which, till after the reign of Louis IX. (St. Louis), formed the residence of the Kings of France. Charles VII. gave it in 1431 to the Parlement or Supreme Court. Ruined by fires and re-building, it now consists for the most part of masses of irregular recent edifices. The main modern façade fronts the Boulevard du Palais.
Cross the bridge. The Tour de l'Horloge on your right, at the corner of the Boulevard du Palais, contains the oldest public clock in France (1370). The figures of Justice and Pity by its side were originally designed by Germain Pilon, but are now replaced by copies. Walk round the Palais by the quay along the north branch of the Seine till you come to the Rue de Harlay. Turn there to your left, toward the handsome and imposing modern façade of this side of the Palais de Justice. The interior is unworthy a visit. The Rue de Harlay forms the westernmost end of the original Ile de la Cité. The prow-shaped extremity of the modern island has been artificially produced by embanking the sites of two or three minor islets. The Palace Dauphine, which occupies the greater part of this modern extension, was built in 1608; it still affords a characteristic example of the domestic Paris of the period before Baron Haussmann.
Continue along the quay as far as the Pont-Neuf, so as to gain an idea of the extent of the Ile de la Cité in this direction. The center of the Pont-Neuf is occupied by an equestrian statue of Henri IV., first of the Bourbon kings. Its predecessor was erected in 1635, and was destroyed to make cannon during the great Revolution. Louis XVIII. re-erected it. From this point you can gain a clear idea of the two branches of the Seine as they unite at the lower end of the Ile de la Cité. To your right, looking westward, you also obtain a fine view of the Colonnade of the Old Louvre, with the southwestern gallery, and the more modern buildings of the Museum behind it.
Now, walk along the southern quay of the island, round the remainder of the Palais de Justice, as far as the Boulevard du Palais. There turn to your left, and go in at the first door of the Palace on the left (undeterred by sentries) into the court of the Sainte Chapelle, the only important relic now remaining of the home of Saint Louis. You may safely neglect the remainder of the building.
The thirteenth century was a period of profound religious enthusiasm throughout Europe. Conspicuous among its devout soldiers was Louis IX., afterward canonized as St. Louis. The saintly king purchased from Baldwin, Emperor of Constantinople, the veritable Crown of Thorns, and a fragment of the True Cross--paying for these relics an immense sum of money. Having become possest of such invaluable and sacred objects, Louis desired to have them housed with suitable magnificence. He therefore entrusted Pierre de Montereau with the task of building a splendid chapel (within the precincts of his palace), begun in 1245, and finished three years later, immediately after which the king set out on his Crusade. The monument breathes throughout the ecstatic piety of the mystic king; it was consecrated in 1248, in the name of the Holy Crown and the Holy Cross, by Eudes de Châteauroux, Bishop of Tusculum and papal legate.
Three things should be noted about the Sainte Chapelle. (1) It is a chapel, not a church; therefore it consists (practically) of a choir alone, without nave or transepts. (2) It is the domestic Chapel of the Royal Palace. (3) It is, above all things, the Shrine of the Crown of Thorns. These three points must be constantly borne in mind in examining the building.
Erected later than Notre-Dame, it represents the pointed style of the middle of the thirteenth century, and is singularly pure and uniform throughout. Secularized at the Revolution, it fell somewhat into decay; but was judiciously restored by Viollet-le-Duc and others. The "Messe Rouge," or "Messe du St. Esprit," is still celebrated here once yearly, on the re-opening of the courts after the autumn vacation, but no other religious services take place in the building. The Crown of Thorns and the piece of the True Cross are now preserved in the Treasury at Notre Dame.
Examine the exterior in detail from the court on the south side. More even than most Gothic buildings, the Sainte Chapelle is supported entirely by its massive piers, the wall being merely used for enclosure, and consisting for the most part of lofty windows. As in most French Gothic buildings, the choir terminates in a round apse, whereas English cathedrals have usually a square end. The beautiful light flêche or spire in the center has been restored. Observe the graceful leaden angel, holding a cross, on the summit of the chevet or round apse. To see the facade, stand well back opposite it, where you can observe that the chapel is built in four main stories--those, namely, of the Lower Church or crypt, of the Upper Church, of the great rose window (with later flamboyant tracery), and of the gable-end, partially masked by an open parapet studded with the royal fleurs-de-lis of France. The Crown of Thorns surrounds the two pinnacles which flank the fourth story.
The chapel consists of a lower and an upper church. The Lower Church is a mere crypt, which was employed for the servants of the royal family. Its portal has in its tympanum (or triangular space in the summit of the arch) the Coronation of the Virgin, and on its center pillar a good figure of the Madonna and Child. Enter the Lower Church. It is low, and has pillars supporting the floor above. In the polychromatic decoration of the walls and pillars, notice the frequent repetition of the royal lilies of France, combined with the three castles of Castille, in honor of Blanche of Castille, the Mother of St. Louis.
Mount to the Upper Chapel (or Sainte Chapelle proper) by the small spiral staircase in the corner. This soaring pile was the oratory where the royal family and court attended service; its gorgeousness bespeaks its origin and nature. It glows like a jewel. First go out of the door and examine the exterior and doorway of the chapel. Its platform was directly approached in early times from the Palace. The center pillar bears a fine figure of Christ. In the tympanum (as over the principal doorway of almost every important church in Paris and in the district) is a relief of the Last Judgment. Below stands St. Michael with his scales, weighing the souls; on either side is depicted the Resurrection, with the Angels of the Last Trump. Above, in the second tier, is Christ, holding up His hands with the marks of the nails, as a sign of mercy to the redeemed: to right and left of Him angels display the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross, to contain which sacred relics the chapel was built.
On the extreme left kneels the Blessed Virgin; on the extreme right, Sainte Geneviève. This scene of the Last Judgment was adapted with a few alterations from that above the central west door of Notre Dame, the Crown of Thorns in particular being here significantly substituted for the three nails and spear. The small lozenge reliefs to right and left of the portal are also interesting. Those to the left represent in a very naïve manner God the Father creating the world, sun and moon, light, plants, animals, man, etc. Those to the right give the story of Genesis, Cain and Abel, the Flood, the Ark, Noah's Sacrifice, Noah's Vine, etc., the subjects of all which the visitor can easily recognize, and is strongly recommended to identify for himself.
The interior consists almost entirely of large and lofty windows, with magnificent stained glass, in large part ancient. The piers which divide the windows and alone support the graceful vault of the roof, are provided with statues of the twelve apostles, a few of them original. Each bears his well-known symbol. Spell them out if possible. Beneath the windows, in the quatrefoils of the arcade, are enamelled glass mosaics representing the martyrdoms of the saints--followers of Christ, each wearing his own crown of thorns: a pretty conceit wholly in accord with St. Louis's ecstatic type of piety. Conspicuous among them are St. Denis carrying his head, St. Sebastian pierced with arrows, St. Stephen stoned, St. Lawrence on his gridiron, etc. The apse (formerly separated from the body of the building by a rood-screen, now destroyed), contains the vacant base of the high altar, behind which stands an arcaded tabernacle, now empty, in whose shrine were once preserved the Crown of Thorns, the fragment of the True Cross, and other relics.
Among them in the later times was included the skull of St. Louis himself in a golden reliquary. Two angels at the summit of the large center arch of the arcade bear a representation of the Crown of Thorns in their hands. Above the tabernacle rises a canopy or baldacchino, approached by two spiral staircases; from its platform St. Louis and his successors, the kings of France, were in the habit of exhibiting with their own hands the actual relics themselves once a year to the faithful. The golden reliquary in which the sacred objects were contained was melted down in the Revolution. The small window with bars to your right, as you face the high altar, was placed there by the superstitious and timid Louis XI., in order that he might behold the elevation of the Host and the sacred relics without being exposed to the danger of assassination. The visitor should also notice the inlaid stone pavement, with its frequent repetition of the fleur-de-lis and the three castles. The whole breathes the mysticism of St. Louis; the lightness of the architecture, the height of the apparently unsupported roof, and the magnificence of the decoration, render this the most perfect ecclesiastical building in Paris.
In returning from the chapel, notice on the outside, from the court to the south, the apparently empty and useless porch, supporting a small room, which is the one through whose grated window Louis XI. used to watch the elevation.
[Footnote: From "Walks In Paris." By arrangement with the publisher, David McKay. Copyright, 1880.]
It was Etienne Marcel, Mayor of Paris, who first established the municipal council at the Place de Grève, at that time the only large square in Paris. In July, 1357, he purchased as a Hostel de Ville the Maison aux Piliers, which had been inhabited by Clémence d'Hongrie, widow of Louis le Hutin, and which afterward took the name of Maison du Dauphin from her nephew and heir, Guy, Dauphin de Viennois.
In 1532 a new Hôtel de Ville was begun and finished by the architect Marin de la Vallée in the reign of Henri IV. This was so much altered by successive restorations and revolutions that only a staircase, two monumental chimney-pieces in the Salle du Trône, and some sculptured doorways and other details remained from the interior decorations in the old building at the time of its destruction.
Till the time of Louis XVI. the history of the Hôtel de Ville was entirely local; after that it became the history of France. It was there that Louis XVI. received the tri-colored cockade from Bailly, Mayor of Paris, July 17, 1789; and there, in the chamber called, from its hangings, Le Cabinet Vert, that Robespierre was arrested, in the name of the Convention, during one of the meetings of the Commune, July 27, 1794. After the fall of Robespierre it was seriously proposed to pull down the Hôtel de Ville, because it had been his last asylum--"Le Louvre de Robespierre." It was only saved by the common-sense of Leonard Bourdon.
But most of all, in the popular recollection, is the Hôtel de Ville connected with public fêtes--with those on the second marriage of Napoleon I. (1810), on the entry of Louis XVIII. (1814), on the coronation of Charles X. (1825), on the marriage of the Duke of Orleans (1837), on the visits of different foreign potentates to Napoleon III. Here also was the Republic proclaimed, September 4, 1870.
It was in one of the windows of the Hôtel de Ville that Louis Philippe embraced Lafayette (August, 1830) in sight of the people, to evince the union of the July monarchy with the bourgeoisie. On the steps of the building Louis Blanc proclaimed the Republic, February 24,1848. From September 4, 1870, to February 28, 1871, the hôtel was the seat of the "government of the national defense," and from March 19 to May 22, 1871, that of the pretended "Committee of public safety" of the Communists. On May 24 it was burned by its savage defenders, many of whom happily perished in the flames.
The Place de l'Hôtel de Ville is so modernized that it retains nothing of the Place de Grève but its terrible historic associations. Among the many fearful executions here, it is only necessary to recall that of Jean Hardi, torn to pieces by four horses (March 30, 1473) on an accusation of trying to poison Louis XI.; that of the Comte de St. Pol (December 19, 1475), long commemorated by a pillar; those of a long list of Protestants, opened by the auto-de-fé of Jacques de Povanes, student of the University, in 1525; that of Nicholas de Salcède, Sieur d'Auvillers, torn to pieces by four horses in the presence of the king and queens, for conspiracy to murder the Duc d'Anjou, youngest son of Catherine de Medici. More terrible still was the execution of Ravaillac (May 27, 1610) murderer of Henri IV.
"The executioner cut off his hand with an ax, and threw it and the murderous knife into the fire. His breasts, his arms and his legs were torn with pincers, and boiling oil and melted lead poured into the open wounds. He was then dismembered by four strong horses, which pulled for no less than an entire hour. They dismembered only a corpse. He expired," says L'Estoile, "at the second or third pull." When the executioner had to throw the limbs into the fire that the ashes, according to the sentence, might be flung to the winds, the whole crowd rushed on to claim them. "But," adds the same chronicler, "the people rushed on so impetuously that every mother's son had a piece, even the children, who made fires of them at the corners of the streets."
After the capture of the Bastille its brave governor, M. de Launay, was beheaded on the steps of the Hôtel de Ville, and his major, M. de Losme- Salbray, was massacred under the Arcade St. Jean. These were the first victims of the Revolution. Foulon, Intendant du Commerce, suffered here soon afterward, hung from the cords by which a lamp was suspended, whence the expression, which soon resounded in many a popular refrain, of "put the aristocrats to the lantern."
Two parasite buildings, the Conciergerie, and the Prefecture of Police, are now annexed to the Palais de Justice. The Conciergerie takes its name from the house of the concierge in the time of the royal residence here, who had a right to two chickens a day and to the cinders and ashes of the king's chimney.
It has always been a prison, and it was here that the Comte d'Armagnac was murdered, June 12, 1418. Here was made, below the level of the Seine, the prison called La Souricière, from the rats which had the reputation of eating the prisoners alive. The present Conciergerie occupies the lower story of the right wing of the existing Palais de Justice, and extends along the Quai de l'Horloge, as far as the towers of Montgomery and César. It has an entrance on the quay, before which the guillotine-carts received the victims of the Reign of Terror, and another to the right of the great staircase in the Cour d'Honneur.
All other associations of the Conciergerie are lost in those which were attached to it by the great Revolution. The cell in which Marie Antoinette suffered her seventy-five days' agony--from August 2 till October 15, when she was condemned--was turned into a chapel of expiation in 1816. The lamp still exists which lighted the august prisoner and enabled her guards to watch her through the night. The door still exists, tho changed in position, which was cut transversely in half and the upper part fixt that the queen might be forced to bend in going out, because she had said that whatever indignities they might inflict upon her they could never force her to bend the head.
After her condemnation, Marie Antoinette was not brought back to this chamber. It was a far more miserable cell which saw her write her last touching farewell to Madame Elizabeth. But this was the room in which the Girondins spent their last night, when, as Riouffe, himself in the prison at the time, says, "all during this frightful night their songs sounded and if they stopt singing it was but to talk about their country." The adjoining cell, now used as a sacristy, was the prison of Robespierre.
[Footnote: From "Outre Mer." Published by Houghton, Mifflin Co.]
The cemetery of Père la Chaise is the Westminster Abbey of Paris. Both are the dwellings of the dead; but in one they repose in green alleys and beneath the open sky--in the other their resting-place is in the shadowy aisle, and beneath the dim arches of an ancient abbey. One is a temple of nature; the other a temple of art. In one, the soft melancholy of the scene is rendered still more touching by the warble of birds and the shade of trees, and the grave receives the gentle visit of the sunshine and the shower; in the other, no sound but the passing footfall breaks the silence of the place; the twilight steals in through high and dusky windows; and the damps of the gloomy vault lie heavy on the heart, and leave their stain upon the moldering tracery of the tomb.
Père la Chaise stands just beyond the Barrière d'Aulney, on a hill-side, looking toward the city. Numerous gravel-walks, winding through shady avenues and between marble monuments, lead up from the principal entrance to a chapel on the summit. There is hardly a grave that has not its little inclosure planted with shrubbery; and a thick mass of foliage half conceals each funeral stone. The sighing of the wind, as the branches rise and fall upon it,--the occasional note of a bird among the trees, and the shifting of light and shade upon the tombs beneath, have a soothing effect upon the mind; and I doubt whether any one can enter that inclosure, where repose the dust and ashes of so many great and good men, without feeling the religion of the place steal over him, and seeing something of the dark and gloomy expression pass off from the stern countenance of death.
It was near the close of a bright summer afternoon that I visited this celebrated spot for the first time. The object that arrested my attention, on entering, was a monument in the form of a small Gothic chapel, which stands near the entrance, in the avenue leading to the right hand. On the marble couch within are stretched two figures, carved in stone and drest in the antique garb of the Middle Ages. It is the tomb of Abélard and Héloïse. The history of these unfortunate lovers is too well known to need recapitulation; but perhaps it is not so well known how often their ashes were disturbed in the slumber of the grave. Abélard died in the monastery of Saint Marcel, and was buried in the vaults of the church. His body was afterward removed to the convent of the Paraclet, at the request of Héloïse, and at her death her body was deposited in the same tomb. Three centuries they reposed together; after which they were separated to different sides of the church, to calm the delicate scruples of the lady- abbess of the convent. More than a century afterward, they were again united in the same tomb; and when at length the Paraclet was destroyed, their moldering remains were transported to the church of Nogent-sur- Seine. They were next deposited in an ancient cloister at Paris; and now repose near the gateway of the cemetery of Père la Chaise. What a singular destiny was theirs! that, after a life of such passionate and disastrous love,--such sorrows, and tears, and penitence--their very dust should not be suffered to rest quietly in the grave!--that their death should so much resemble their life in its changes and vicissitudes, its partings and its meetings, its inquietudes and its persecutions!--that mistaken zeal should follow them down to the very tomb--as if earthly passion could glimmer, like a funeral lamp, amid the damps of the charnel-house, and "even in their ashes bum their wonted fires!"....
Leaving this interesting tomb behind me, I took a pathway to the left, which conducted me up the hill-side. I soon found myself in the deep shade of heavy foliage, where the branches of the yew and willow mingled, interwoven with the tendrils and blossoms of the honeysuckle. I now stood in the most populous part of this city of tombs. Every step awakened a new train of thrilling recollections; for at every step my eye caught the name of some one whose glory had exalted the character of his native land, and resounded across the waters of the Atlantic. Philosophers, historians, musicians, warriors, and poets slept side by side around me; some beneath the gorgeous monument, and some beneath the simple headstone. But the political intrigue, the dream of science, the historical research, the ravishing harmony of sound, the tried courage, the inspiration of the lyre--where are they? With the living, and not with the dead! The right hand has lost its cunning in the grave; but the soul, whose high volitions it obeyed, still lives to reproduce itself in ages yet to come.
Among these graves of genius I observed here and there a splendid monument, which had been raised by the pride of family over the dust of men who could lay no claim either to the gratitude or remembrances of posterity. Their presence seemed like an intrusion into the sanctuary of genius. What had wealth to do there? Why should it crowd the dust of the great? That was no thoroughfare of business--no mart of gain! There were no costly banquets there; no silken garments, nor gaudy liveries, nor obsequious attendants!....
I continued my walk through the numerous winding paths, as chance or curiosity directed me. Now I was lost in a little green hollow, overhung with thick-leaved shrubbery, and then came out upon an elevation, from which, through an opening in the trees, the eye caught glimpses of the city, and the little esplanade, at the foot of the hill, where the poor lie buried. There poverty hires its grave, and takes but a short lease of the narrow house. At the end of a few months, or at most of a few years, the tenant is dislodged to give place to another, and he in turn to a third. "Who," says Sir Thomas Browne, "knows the fate of his bones, or how often he is to be buried? Who hath the oracle of his ashes, or whither they are to be scattered?"
Yet, even in that neglected corner, the hand of affection had been busy in decorating the hired house. Most of the graves were surrounded with a slight wooden paling, to secure them from the passing footstep; there was hardly one so deserted as not to be marked with its little wooden cross, and decorated with a garland of flowers; and here and there I could perceive a solitary mourner, clothed in black, stooping to plant a shrub on the grave, or sitting in motionless sorrow beside it....
After rambling leisurely about for some time, reading the iscriptions on the various monuments which attracted my curiosity, and giving way to the different reflections they suggested, I sat down to rest myself on a sunken tombstone. A winding gravel-walk, overshaded by an avenue of trees, and lined on both sides with richly sculptured monuments, had gradually conducted me to the summit of the hill, upon whose slope the cemetery stands. Beneath me in the distance, and dim-discovered through the misty and smoky atmosphere of evening, rose the countless roofs and spires of the city. Beyond, throwing his level rays athwart the dusky landscape, sank the broad red sun. The distant murmur of the city rose upon my ear; and the toll of the evening bell came up, mingled with the rattle of the paved street and the confused sounds of labor. What an hour for meditation! What a contrast between the metropolis of the living and the metropolis of the dead!....
Before I left the graveyard the shades of evening had fallen, and the objects around me grown dim and indistinct. As I passed the gateway, I turned to take a parting look. I could distinguish only the chapel on the summit of the hill, and here and there a lofty obelisk of snow-white marble, rising from the black and heavy mass of foliage around, and pointing upward to the gleam of the departed sun, that still lingered in the sky, and mingled with the soft starlight of a summer evening.
[Footnote: From "Paris."]
The primitive nucleus of the suburb on the South Side consists of the Roman fortress palace, the "tête du pont" of the Left Bank, now known as the Thermes, owing to the fact that its principal existing remains include only the ruins of the bath or therma. This colossal building, probably erected by Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine, covered an enormous area south of the river. After the Frankish conquest, it still remained the residence of the Merwing and Karling kings on the rare occasions when they visited Paris; and it does not seem to have fallen into utter decay till a comparatively late date in the Middle Ages.
With the Norman irruptions, however, and the rise of the real French monarchs under Eudes and the Capets, the new sovereigns found it safest to transfer their seat to the Palace on the Island (now the Palais de Justice), and the Roman fortress was gradually dismantled. In 1340 the gigantic ruins came into the hands of the powerful Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, near Mâcon, in Burgundy; and about 1480, the abbots began to erect on the spot a town mansion for themselves, which still bears the name of the Hôtel de Cluny. The letter K, the mark of Charles VIII. (1483-1498), occurs on many parts of the existing building, and fixes its epoch. The house was mostly built by Jaques d'Amboise, abbot, in 1490. The style is late Gothic, with Renaissance features.
The abbots, however, seldom visited Paris, and they frequently placed their town house accordingly at the disposition of the kings of France. Mary of England, sister of Henry VIII., and widow of Louis XII., occupied it thus in 1515, soon after its completion. It was usual for the queens of France to wear white as mourning; hence her apartment is still known as the "Chambre de la reine blanche."
At the Revolution, when the property of the monasteries was confiscated, the Hôtel de Cluny was sold, and passed at last, in 1833, into the hands of M. du Sommerard, a zealous antiquary, who began the priceless collection of works of art which it contains. He died in 1842, and the Government then bought the house and museum, and united it with the Roman ruin at its back under the title of Musée des Thermes et de l'Hôtel de Cluny. Since that time many further objects have been added to the collection.
At Cluny the actual building forms one of the most interesting parts of the sight, and is in itself a museum. It is a charming specimen of a late medieval French mansion; and the works of art it contains are of the highest artistic value.... At least two whole days should be devoted to Cluny--one to the lower and one to the upper floor. Much more, if possible.
[Footnote: From "Walks in Paris." By arrangement with the publisher, David McKay. Copyright, 1880.]
The south end of the Rue des Tournelles falls into the Place de la Bastille, containing Le Colonne de Juillet, surmounted by a statue of Liberty, and erected 1831-1840. This marks the site of the famous castle- prison of the Bastille, which for four centuries and a half terrified Paris, and which has left a name to the quarter it frowned upon. Hugues Ambriot, Mayor of Paris, built it under Charles V. to defend the suburb which contained the royal palace of St. Paul. Unpopular from the excess of his devotion to his royal master, Aubriot was the first prisoner in his own prison.
Perhaps the most celebrated of the long list of after captives were the Connétable de St. Pol and Jacques d'Armagnac, Due de Nemours, taken thence for execution to the Place de Grève under Louis XI., Charles de Gontaut, Due de Biron, executed within the walls of the fortress under Henri IV., and the "Man with the Iron Mask," brought hither mysteriously, September 18, 1698, and who died in the Bastille, November 19, 1703.
A thousand engravings show us the Bastille as it was--as a "fort-bastide" --built on the line of the city walls just to the south of the Porte St. Antoine, surrounded by its own moat. It consisted of eight round towers, each bearing a characteristic name, connected by massive walls, ten feet thick, pierced with narrow slits by which the cells were lighted. In the early times it had entrances on three sides, but after 1580 only one, with a drawbridge over the moat on the side toward the river, which led to outer courts and a second drawbridge, and wound by a defended passage to an outer entrance opposite the Rue des Tournelles.
Close beside the Bastille, to the north, rose the Porte St. Antoine, approached over the city fosse by its own bridge, at the outer end of which was a triumphal arch built on the return of Henri II. from Poland in 1573. Both gate and arch were restored for the triumphal entry of Louis XIV. in 1667; but the gate (before which Etienne Marcel was killed, July, 1358), was pulled down in 1674.
The Bastille was taken by the people, July 14, 1789, and the National Assembly decreed its demolition.... The massive circular pedestal upon which the Colonne de Juillet now rests was intended by Napoleon I. to support a gigantic fountain in the form of an elephant, instead of the column which, after the destruction of the Bastille, the "tiers état" of Paris had asked to erect "à Louis XVI., restaurateur de la liberté publique." It is characteristic of the Parisians that on the very same spot the throne of Louis Philippe was publicly burned, February 24, 1848. The model for the intended elephant existed here till the middle of the reign of Louis Philippe, and is depicted by Victor Hugo as the lodging of "Le petit Gavroche."
[Footnote: From "Paris."]
The medieval church of Ste. Geneviève, having fallen into decay in the middle of the eighteenth century, Louis XV. determined to replace it by a sumptuous domed edifice in the style of the period. This building, designed by Soufflot, was not completed till the Revolution, when it was immediately secularized as the Panthéon, under circumstances to be mentioned later. The remains of Ste. Geneviève, which had lain temporarily meanwhile in a sumptuous chapel of St. Étienne-du-Mont (the subsidiary church of the monastery) were taken out by the Revolutionists; the medieval shrine, or reliquary (which replaced St. Éloy's), was ruthlessly broken up; and the body of the patroness and preserver of Paris was publicly burned in the Place de Grève.
This, however, strange to say, was not quite the end of Ste. Geneviève. A few of her relics were said to have been preserved: some bones, together with a lock of the holy shepherdess's hair, were afterward recovered, and replaced in the sarcophagus they had once occupied. Such at least is the official story; and these relics, now once more enclosed in a costly shrine, still attract thousands of votaries to the chapel of the saint in St. Étienne-du-Mont.
The Panthéon, standing in front of the original church, is now a secular burial-place for the great men of France. The remains of Ste. Geneviève still repose at St. Étienne. Thus it is impossible to dissociate the two buildings, which should be visited together; and thus too it happens that the patroness of Paris has now no church in her own city. Local saints are always the most important; this hill and Montmartre are still the holiest places in Paris.
Proceed, as far as the garden of the Thermes, as on the excursion to Cluny. Then continue straight up the Boulevard St. Michel. The large edifice visible on the right of the Rue des Écoles to your left, is the new building of the Sorbonne, or University. Further up, at the Place du Sorbonne, the domed church of the same name stands before you. It is the University church, and is noticeable as the earliest true dome erected in Paris. The next corner shows one, right, the Luxembourg garden, and left, the Rue Soufflot, leading up to the Panthéon.
The colossal domed temple which replaces the ancient church of Ste. Geneviève was begun by Soufflot, under Louis XV., in imitation of St. Peter's, at Rome. Like all architects of his time, Soufflot sought merely to produce an effect of pagan or "classical" grandeur, peculiarly out of place in the shrine of the shepherdess of Nanterre. Secularized almost immediately on its completion, during the Revolution, the building was destined as the national monument to the great men of France, and the inscription, "Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie Reconnaissante," which it still bears, was then first placed under the sculptures of the pediment.
Restored to worship by the Restoration, it was again secularized under the Third Republic in order to admit the burial of Victor Hugo. The building itself, a vast bare barn of the pseudo-classical type, very cold and formal, is worthy of notice merely on account of its immense size and its historic position; but it may be visited to this day with pleasure, not only for some noble modern paintings, but also for the sake of the reminiscences of Ste. Geneviève which it still contains. The tympanum has a group by David d'Angers, representing France distributing wreaths to soldiers, politicians, men of letters, men of science, and artists.
The interior is in the shape of a Greek cross (with equal arms). Follow round the walls, beginning from the right. In the right aisle are paintings (modern) looking like frescoes, and representing the preaching of St. Denis, by Galand; and the history of Ste. Geneviève--her childhood, recognition by St. Germain l'Auxerrois, miracles, etc., delicate and elusive works, by Puvis de Chavannes. The paintings of the South Transept represent episodes in the early history of France. Chronologically speaking, they begin from the east central corner. Choir, Death of Ste. Geneviève, and Miracles before her Shrine, by Laurens. Apse of the tribune, fine modern (archaic) mosaic, by Hébert, representing Christ with the Guardian Angel of France, the Madonna, Jean d'Arc, and Ste. Geneviève. Stand under the dome to observe the proportions of the huge, bare, unimpressive building. Left, or Northern Transept, east side, the history of Jeanne d'Arc; she hears the voices; leads the assault at Orleans; assists at the coronation of Charles VII. at Rheims; and is burned at Rouen. West side, St. Louis as a child instructed by Blanche of Castille; administering justice in the Palace; and a captive among the Saracens. North aisle, history of Ste. Geneviève and St. Denis. The building is thus at once the apotheosis of patriotism, and the lasting memorial of the part borne by Christianity in French, and especially Parisian, history.
As you descend the steps of the Panthéon, the building that faces you to the left is the Mairie of the 5th Arrondissement; that to the right, the École de Droit. Turn to the right along the north side of the Panthéon. The long, low building which faces you is the Bibliotheque Ste. Geneviève. Nothing now remains of the Abbey of Ste. Geneviève except the tall early Gothic tower seen to the right near the end of the Panthéon, and rising above the modern buildings of the Lycée Henri IV. The singularly picturesque and strangely-mingled church across the little square is St. Étienne-du-Mont, which we now proceed to visit.
Stand in the left-hand corner of the Place to examine the facade. The church was begun (1517) as late Gothic; but before it was finished, the Renaissance style had come into fashion, and the architects accordingly jumbled the two in the most charming manner. The incongruity here only adds to the beauty. The quaintly original Renaissance portal bears a dedication to St. Stephen the Protomartyr, beneath which is a relief of his martyrdom, with a Latin inscription, "Stone destroyed the temple of the Lord," i.e., Stephen, "Stone rebuilds it." Right and left of the portal are statues of Sts. Stephen and Geneviève, whose monograms also appear on the doors. In the pediment is the usual representation of the Resurrection and Last Judgment. Above it, the rose window, on either side of which, in accordance with Italian rather than with French custom (showing Italian Renaissance influence) are the Angel of the Annunciation and the Madonna receiving his message. In the third story, a gable-end. Singular tower to the left, with an additional round turret, a relic of the earlier Gothic building. The whole façade (17th century) represents rather late Renaissance than transitional architecture.
The interior is the most singular, and in some ways the most picturesque, in Paris--a Gothic church, tricked out in Renaissance finery. The nave is flanked by aisles, which are divided from it by round pillars, capped by a singular balustrade or gallery with low, flat arches, simulating a triforium. The upper arches are round, and the decorations Renaissance; but the vaulting, both of nave and aisles, with its pendant keystones, recalls the Gothic style, as do also most of the windows. Stand near the entrance, in the center of the nave, and look up the church.
The most striking feature is the beautiful Renaissance jubé or rood-loft (the only one now left in Paris) which divides the Choir from the body of the building. This rood-loft still bears a crucifix, for the reception of which it was originally intended. On the arch below are two charmingly sculptured Renaissance angels. The rood-loft is flanked by two spiral staircases, which are wholly unique architectural features. Notice also the exquisite pendentive of the roof at the point of intersection of the nave and short false transepts.
Now walk up the right aisle. The first chapel is the Baptistery, containing the font and a modern statue of the boy Baptist. Third chapel, St. Antony of Padua. The fourth chapel contains a curious Holy Sepulcher, with quaint life-size terra-cotta figures of the 16th century. Fifth chapel, a gilt châsse. Notice the transepts, reduced to short arms, scarcely, if at all, projecting beyond the chapels. From this point examine the exquisite Renaissance tracery of the rood-screen and staircases. Then pass under the fine Renaissance door, with lovely decorative work, into the ambulatory. The Choir is in large part Gothic, with late flamboyant tracery. The apparent triforium is continued round the ambulatory.
The splendid gilded shrine in the second choir-chapel contains the remains of Ste. Geneviève, or what is left of them. Candles burn perpetually around it. Hundreds of votaries here pay their devotions daily to the Patroness of Paris. The shrine, containing what is alleged to be the original sarcophagus of the Saint (more probably of the 13th century) stands under a richly-gilt Gothic tabernacle, adorned with figures legibly named on their pedestals. The stained-glass window behind it has a representation of a processional function with the body of the Saint, showing this church, together with a view of the original church of Ste. Geneviève, the remaining tower, and adjacent houses, historically most interesting. The window beyond the shrine also contains the history of Ste. Geneviève--her childhood, first communion, miracles, distribution of bread during the siege of Paris, conversion of Clovis, death, etc.
Indeed the long sojourn of the body of Ste. Geneviève in this church has almost overshadowed its dedication to St. Stephen, several memorials of whom may, however, be recognized by the attentive visitor--among them, a picture of his martyrdom (by Abel de Pujol) near the entrance to the choir. The Protomartyr also stands, with his deacon's robe and palm, in a niche near the door of the sacristy, where left and right are frescoes of his Disputation with the Doctors, and his Martyrdom. The chapel immediately behind the high altar is, as usual, the Lady Chapel. The next contains a good modern window of the Marriage of the Virgin.
Examine in detail all the windows; one of the mystic wine-press is very interesting. Votive offerings of the city of Paris to Ste. Geneviève also exist in the ambulatory. Curious frescoes of the martyrdom of the 10,000 Christians on Mount Ararat on the north side. The best view of the choir is obtained from the north side of the ambulatory, opposite the shrine of Ste. Geneviève. In the north aisle notice St. Louis with the Crown of Thorns. Stand again in the center of the nave, near the entrance, and observe the curious inclination of the choir and high altar to one side-- here particularly noticeable, and said in every case to represent the droop of the Redeemer's head on the cross.
As you emerge from the door, observe the cold and bare side of the Panthéon, contrasted with the internal richness of St. Êtienne. Curious view of the late Gothic portion of the church from the little Place on the north side. Return by the Rue Cujas and Rue St. Jacques, passing the Lycée Ste. Barbe, Lycée Louis-le-Grand, University, and other scholastic buildings, which give a good idea of the character of the quarter.
[Footnote: From "Walks in Paris." By arrangement with the publisher, David McKay. Copyright, 1880.]
Englishmen are often specially imprest with Paris as a city of contrasts, because one side of the principal line of hotels frequented by our countrymen looks down upon the broad, luxurious Rue de Rivoli, all modern gaiety and radiance, while the other side of their courtyards open upon the busy working Rue St. Honoré, lined by the tall, many-windowed houses which have witnessed so many revolutions. They have all the picturesqueness of innumerable balconies, high, slated roofs, with dormer windows, window-boxes full of carnations and bright with crimson flowers through the summer, and they overlook an ever-changing crowd, in great part composed of men in blouses and women in white aprons and caps.
Ever since the fourteenth century the Rue St. Honoré has been one of the busiest streets in Paris. It was the gate leading into this street which was attacked by Jeanne d'Arc in 1429. It was the fact that the Cardinal de Bourbon and the Due de Guise had been seen walking together at the Porte St. Honoré that was said to have turned half the moustache of Henri of Navarre suddenly white, from a presentiment of the crime which has become known as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Here, in 1648, the barricade was raised which gave the signal for all the troubles of the Fronde. It was at No 3--then called L'Auberge des Trois Pigeons--that Ravaillac was lodging when he was waiting to murder Henry IV.; here the first gun was fired in the Revolution of July, 1830, which overturned Charles X.; and here, in the Revolution of 1848, a bloody combat took place between the insurgents and the military. Throughout this street, as Marie Antoinette was first entering Paris, the poissardes brought her bouquets, singing:
"La rose est la reine des fleurs.
Antoinette est la reine des coeurs."
("The rose is the queen of flowers, Antoinette is the queen of hearts") and here, as she was being taken to the scaffold, they crowded round her execution-cart and shouted:
"Madame Veto avait promis
De faire égorger tout Paris,
Mais son coup a manqué
Grâce à nos canonniers;
Dansons la carmagnole
Au bruit du son
("Madame Veto had promised to have the throat cut of all Paris, but her attempt failed, thanks to our gunners. Let us dance the carmagnole to the music of the cannon's roar!")
Turning east toward Old Paris, we pass, on the right of the Rue St. Honoré, the Church of St. Roch, of which Louis XIV. laid the foundation- stone in 1633, replacing a chapel built on the site of the Hôtel Gaillon. The church was only finished, from designs of Robert de Cotte, in 1740. The flight of steps which leads to the entrance has many associations.
"Before St. Roch," says De Goncourt, "the tumbrel in which was Marie Antoinette, stopt in the midst of howling and hooting. A thousand insults were hurled from the steps of the church as it were with one voice, saluting with filth their queen about to die. She, however, serene and majestic, pardoned the insults by disregarding them." It was from these steps, in front of which an open space then extended to the Tuileries gardens, that Bonaparte ordered the first cannon to be fired upon the royalists who rose against the National Convention, and thus prevented a counter-revolution. Traces of this cannonade of 13 Vendémiaire are still to be seen at the angle of the church and the Rue Neuve St. Roch.
[Footnote: From "The Paris Sketch Book."]
You pass from the railroad station through a long, lonely suburb, with dusty rows of stunted trees on either side, and some few miserable beggars, idle boys, and ragged old women under them. Behind the trees are gaunt, moldy houses; palaces once, where (in the days of the unbought grace of life) the cheap defense of nations gambled, ogled, swindled, intrigued; whence high-born duchesses used to issue, in old times, to act as chambermaids to lovely Du Barri; and mighty princes rolled away, in gilt caroches, hot for the honor of lighting his Majesty to bed, or of presenting his stockings when he rose, or of holding his napkin when he dined.
Tailors, chandlers, tinmen, wretched hucksters, and greengrocers, are now established in the mansions of the old peers; small children are yelling at the doors, with mouths besmeared with bread and treacle; damp rags are hanging out of every one of the windows, steaming in the sun; oyster- shells, cabbage-stalks, broken crockery, old papers, lie basking in the same cheerful light. A solitary water-cart goes jingling down the wide pavement, and spirts a feeble refreshment over the dusty, thirty stones.
After pacing for some time through such dismal streets, we déboucher on the grande place; and before us lies the palace dedicated to all the glories of France. In the midst of the great lonely plain this famous residence of King Louis looks low and mean--Honored pile! Time was when tall musketeers and gilded body-guards allowed none to pass the gate. Fifty years ago, ten thousand drunken women from Paris broke through the charm; and now a tattered commissioner will conduct you through it for a penny, and lead you up to the sacred entrance of the palace.
We will not examine all the glories of France, as here they are portrayed in pictures and marble; catalogs are written about these miles of canvas, representing all the revolutionary battles, from Valmy to Waterloo--all the triumphs of Louis XIV.--all the mistresses of his successor--and all the great men who have flourished since the French empire began. Military heroes are most of these--fierce constables in shining steel, marshals in voluminous wigs, and brave grenadiers in bearskin caps; some dozens of whom gained crowns, principalities, dukedoms; some hundreds, plunder and epaulets; some millions, death in African sands, or in icy Russian plains, under the guidance, and for the good, of that arch-hero, Napoleon.
By far the greater part of "all the glories" of France (as of most other countries) is made up of these military men: and a fine satire it is on the cowardice of mankind, that they pay such an extraordinary homage to the virtue called courage; filling their history-books with tales about it, and nothing but it.
Let them disguise the place, however, as they will, and plaster the walls with bad pictures as they please, it will be hard to think of any family but one, as one traverses this vast gloomy edifice. It has been humbled to the ground, as a certain palace of Babel was of yore; but it is a monument of fallen pride, not less awful, and would afford matter for a whole library of sermons.
The cheap defense of nations expended a thousand millions in the erection of this magnificent dwelling-place. Armies were employed, in the intervals of their warlike labors, to level hills, or pile them up; to turn rivers, and to build aqueducts, and transplant woods, and construct smooth terraces, and long canals. A vast garden grew up in a wilderness, and a stupendous palace in the garden, and a stately city round the palace: the city was peopled with parasites, who daily came to do worship before the creator of these wonders--the Great King.
"Only God is great," said courtly Massillon; but next to him, as the prelate thought, was certainly Louis, his vicegerent here upon earth-- God's lieutenant-governor of the world--before whom courtiers used to fall on their knees, and shade their eyes, as if the light of his countenance, like the sun, which shone supreme in heaven, the type of him, was too dazzling to bear.
Did ever the sun shine upon such a king before, in such a palace?--or, rather, did such a king ever shine upon the sun? When Majesty came out of his chamber, in the midst of his super-human splendors, viz., in his cinnamon-colored coat, embroidered with diamonds; his pyramon of a wig; his red-heeled shoes, that lifted him four inches from the ground, "that he scarcely seemed to touch;" when he came out, blazing upon the dukes and duchesses that waited his rising--what could the latter do but cover their eyes, and wink, and tremble? And did he not himself believe, as he stood there, on his high heels, under his ambrosial periwig, that there was something in him more than man--something above Fate?
This, doubtless, was he fain to believe; and if, on very fine days, from his terrace before his gloomy palace of St. Germains, he could catch a glimpse, in the distance, of a certain white spire of St. Denis, where his race lay buried, he would say to his courtiers, with a sublime condescension, "Gentlemen, you must remember that I, too, am mortal."
Surely the lords in waiting could hardly think him serious, and vowed that his Majesty always loved a joke. However, mortal or not, the sight of that sharp spire wounded his Majesty's eyes; and is said, by the legend, to have caused the building of the palace of Babel-Versailles.
In the year 1681, then, the great king, with bag and baggage--with guards, cooks, chamberlains, mistresses, Jesuits, gentlemen, lackeys, Fénelons, Molières, Lauzuns, Bossuets, Villars, Villeroys, Louvois, Colberts-- transported himself to his new palace: the old one being left for James of England and Jaquette his wife, when their time should come. And when the time did come, and James sought his brother's kingdom, it is on record that Louis hastened to receive and console him, and promised to restore, incontinently, those islands from which the canaille had turned him.
Between brothers such a gift was a trifle; and the courtiers said to one another reverently, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." There was no blasphemy in the speech; on the contrary, it was gravely said, by a faithful believing man, who thought it no shame to the latter to compare his Majesty with God Almighty.
Indeed, the books of the time will give one a strong idea how general was this Louis-worship. I have just been looking at one which was written by an honest Jesuit and protégé of Père la Chaise, who dedicates it to the august Infants of France, which does, indeed, go almost as far in print. He calls our famous monarch "Louis le Grand: 1, l'invincible; 2, le sage; 3, le conquérant; 4, la merveille de son siècle; 5, la terreur de ses ennemis; 6, l'amour de ses peuples; 7, l'arbitre de la paix et de la guerre; 8, l'admiration de l'univers; 9, et digne d'en être le maître; 10, le modèle d'un héros achevè; 11, digne de l'immortalité, et de la vénération de tous les siècles!"
A pretty Jesuit declaration, truly, and a good, honest judgment upon the great king! In 30 years more: 1. The invincible had been beaten a vast number of times. 2. The sage was the puppet of an artful old woman, who was the puppet of more artful priests. 3. The conqueror had quite forgotten his early knack of conquering. 5. The terror of his enemies (for 4, the marvel of his age, we pretermit, it being a loose term, that may apply to any person or thing) was now terrified by his enemies in turn. 6. The love of his people was as heartily detested by them as scarcely any other monarch, not even his great-grandson, has been, before or since. 7. The arbiter of peace and war was fain to send superb ambassadors to kick their heels in Dutch shopkeepers' antechambers. 8. Is again a general term. 9. The man fit to be master of the universe was scarcely master of his own kingdom. 10. The finished hero was all but finished, in a very commonplace and vulgar way. And, 11, the man worthy of immortality was just at the point of death, without a friend to soothe or deplore him; only withered old Maintenon to utter prayers at his bedside, and croaking Jesuit to prepare him, with heavens knows what wretched tricks and mummeries, for his appearance in that Great Republic that lies on the other side of the grave. In the course of his fourscore splendid miserable years, he never had but one friend, and he ruined and left her. Poor La Vallière, what a sad tale is yours!...
While La Vallière's heart is breaking, the model of a finished hero is yawning; as, on such paltry occasions, a finished hero should. Let her heart break: a plague upon her tears and repentance; what right has she to repent? Away with her to her convent! She goes, and the finished hero never sheds a tear. What a noble pitch of stoicism to have reached! Our Louis was so great, that the little woes of mean people were beyond him; his friends died, his mistresses left him; his children, one by one, were cut off before his eyes, and great Louis is not moved in the slightest degree! As how, indeed, should a god be moved?...
Out of the window the king's august head was one day thrust, when old Condé was painfully toiling up the steps of the court below. "Don't hurry yourself, my cousin," cries Magnanimity; "one who has to carry so many laurels can not walk fast." At which all the courtiers, lackeys, mistresses, chamberlains, Jesuits, and scullions, clasp their hands and burst into tears. Men are affected by the tale to this very day. For a century and three-quarters have not all the books that speak of Versailles, or Louis Quatorze, told the story?
"Don't hurry yourself, my cousin!" O admirable king and Christian! what a pitch of condescension is here, that the greatest king of all the world should go for to say anything so kind, and really tell a tottering old gentleman, worn out with gout, age, and wounds, not to walk too fast!
What a proper fund of slavishness is there in the composition of mankind, that histories like these, should be found to interest and awe them. Till the world's end, most likely, this story will have its place in the history-books, and unborn generations will read it, and tenderly be moved by it.
I am sure that Magnanimity went to bed that night, pleased and happy, intimately convinced that he had done an action of sublime virtue, and had easy slumbers and sweet dreams--especially if he had taken a light supper, and not too vehemently attacked his "en cas de nuit." ...
The king his successor has not left, at Versailles, half so much occasion for moralizing; perhaps the neigbhboring Parc aux Cerfs would afford better illustrations of his reign. The life of his great grandsire, the Grand Llama of France, seems to have frightened Louis the well-beloved; who understood that loneliness is one of the necessary conditions of divinity, and, being of a jovial, companionable turn, aspired not beyond manhood.
Only in the matter of ladies did he surpass his predecessor, as Solomon did David. War he eschewed, as his grandfather bade him; and his simple taste found little in this world to enjoy beyond the mulling of chocolate and the frying of pancakes. Look, here is the room called Laboratoire du Roi, where, with his own hands, he made his mistress's breakfast; here is the little door through which, from her apartments in the upper story, the chaste Du Barri came stealing down to the arms of the weary, feeble, gloomy old man.
But of women he was tired long since, and even pancake-frying had palled upon him. What had he to do, after forty years of reign; after having exhausted everything? Every pleasure that Dubois could invent for his hot youth, or cunning Lebel could minister to his old age, was flat and stale; used up to the very dregs; every shilling in the national purse had been squeezed out, by Pompadour and Du Barri and such brilliant ministers of state. He had found out the vanity of pleasure, as his ancestor had discovered the vanity of glory: indeed, it was high time that he should die. And die he did; and round his tomb, as round that of his grandfather before him, the starving people sang a dreadful chorus of curses, which were the only epitaphs for good or for evil that were raised to his memory....
On the 10th of May, 1774, the whole court had assembled at the château; the Oeil de Boeuf was full. The Dauphin had determined to depart as soon as the king had breathed his last. And it was agreed by the people of the stables, with those who watched in the king's room, that a lighted candle should be placed in a window, and should be extinguished as soon as he had ceased to live.
The candle was put out. At that signal, guards, pages, and squires, mounted on horseback, and everything was made ready for departure. The Dauphin was with the Dauphiness, waiting together for the news of the king's demise. An immense noise, as of thunder, was heard in the next room; it was the crowd of courtiers, who were deserting the dead king's apartment, in order to pay their court to the new power of Louis XVI.
Madame de Noailles entered, and was the first to salute the queen by her title of Queen of France, and begged their Majesties to quit their apartments, to receive the princes and great lords of the court desirous to pay their homage to the new sovereigns. Leaning on her husband's arm, a handkerchief to her eyes, in the most touching attitude, Marie Antoinette received these first visits.
On quitting the chamber where the dead king lay, the Due de Villequier bade Mr. Anderville, first surgeon of the king, to open and embalm the body: it would have been certain death to the surgeon.
"I am ready, sir," says he; "but while I am operating, you must hold the head of the corpse; your charge demands it."
The Duke went away without a word, and the body was neither opened nor embalmed. A few humble domestics and poor workmen watched by the remains, and performed the last offices to their master. The surgeons ordered spirits of wine to be poured into the coffin.
They huddled the king's body into a postchaise; and in this deplorable equipage, with an escort of about forty men, Louis, the Well-beloved, was carried, in the dead of night, from Versailles to Saint-Denis, and then thrown into the tombs of the kings of France!
If any man is curious, and can get permission, he may mount to the roof of the palace, and see where Louis XVI. used royally to amuse himself by gazing upon the doings of all the towns-people below with a telescope. Behold that balcony, where, one morning, he, his queen, and the little Dauphin stood, with Cromwell Grandison Lafayette by their side, who kissed her Majesty's hand, and protected her; and then, lovingly surrounded by his people, the king got into a coach and came to Paris: nor did his Majesty ride much in coaches after that....
He is said to have been such a smart journeyman blacksmith that he might, if Fate had not perversely placed a crown on his head, have earned a couple of louis every week by the making of locks and keys. Those who will may see the workshop where he employed many useful hours: Madame Elizabeth was at prayers meanwhile; the queen was making pleasant parties with her ladies; Monsieur the Count d'Artois was learning to dance on the tightrope; and Monsieur de Provence was cultivating l'éloquence du billet and studying his favorite Horace.
It is said that each member of the august family succeeded remarkably well in his or her pursuits; big Monsieur's little notes are still cited. At a minuet or sillabub, poor Antoinette was unrivaled; and Charles, on the tightrope, was so graceful and so gentil that Madame Saqui might envy him. The time only was out of joint. Oh, curst spite, that ever such harmless creatures as these were bidden to right it!
A walk to the little Trianon is both pleasing and moral; no doubt the reader has seen the pretty, fantastical gardens which environ it; the groves and temples; the streams and caverns (whither, as the guide tells you, during the heat of summer, it was the custom of Marie Antoinette to retire with her favorite, Madame de Lamballe): the lake and Swiss village are pretty little toys, moreover; and the cicerone of the place does not fail to point out the different cottages which surround the piece of water, and tell the names of the royal masqueraders who inhabited each.
In the long cottage, close upon the lake, dwelt the Seigneur du Village, no less a personage than Louis XV.; Louis XVI., the Dauphin, was the Pailli; near his cottage is that of Monseigneur the Count d'Artois, who was the Miller; opposite lived the Prince de Condé, who enacted the part of Gamekeeper (or, indeed, any other role, for it does not signify much); near him was the Prince de Rohan, who was the Aumonier; and yonder is the pretty little dairy, which was under the charge of the fair Marie Antoinette herself.
I forget whether Monsieur the fat Count of Provence took any share of this royal masquerading; but look at the names of the other six actors of the comedy, and it will be hard to find any person for whom Fate had such dreadful visitations in store. Fancy the party, in the days of their prosperity, here gathered at Trianon, and seated under the tall poplars by the lake, discoursing familiarly together: suppose, of a sudden, some conjuring Cagliostro of the time is introduced among them, and foretells to them the woes that are about to come.
"You, Monsieur l'Aumonier, the descendant of a long line of princes, the passionate admirer of that fair queen who sits by your side, shall be the cause of her ruin and your own, [Footnote: In the diamond-necklace affair.] and shall die in disgrace and exile. You, son of the Condés, shall live long enough to see your royal race overthrown, and shall die by the hands of a hangman. [Footnote: He was found hanging in his own bed- room.] You, oldest son of St. Louis, shall perish by the executioner's ax; that beautiful head, O Antoinette, the same ruthless blade shall sever."
"They shall kill me first," says Lamballe, at the queen's side.
"Yes, truly," says the soothsayer, "for Fate prescribes ruin for your mistress and all who love her."
[Footnote: Among the many lovers that rumor gave to the Queen, poor Fersen is the most remarkable. He seems to have entertained for her a high and perfectly pure devotion. He was the chief agent in the luckless escape to Varennes; was lurking in Paris during the time of her captivity; and was concerned in the many fruitless plots that were made for her rescue. Fersen lived to be an old man, but died a dreadful and violent death. He was dragged from his carriage by the mob. In Stockholm, and murdered by them.--Author's note.]
"And," cries Monsieur d'Artois, "do I not love my sister, too? I pray you not to omit me in your prophecies."
To whom Monsieur Cagliostro says, scornfully, "You may look forward to fifty years of life, after most of these are laid in the grave. You shall be a king, but not die one; and shall leave the crown only; not the worthless head that shall wear it. Thrice shall you go into exile; you shall fly from the people, first, who would have no more of you and your race; and you shall return home over half a million of human corpses, that have been made for the sake of you, and of a tyrant as great as the greatest of your family. Again driven away, your bitterest enemy shall bring you back. But the strong limbs of France are not to be chained by such a paltry yoke as you can put on her: you shall be a tyrant, but in will only; and shall have a scepter, but to see it robbed from your hand."
"And pray, Sir Conjurer, who shall be the robber?" asked Monsieur the Count d'Artois.
This I can not say, for here my dream ended. The fact is, I had fallen asleep on one of the stone benches in the Avenue de Paris, and at this instant was awakened by a whirling of carriages and a great clattering of national guards, lancers, and outriders, in red. His Majesty, Louis Philippe, was going to pay a visit to the palace; which contains several pictures of his own glorious actions, and which has been dedicated, by him, to all the glories of France.
[Footnote: From a letter to his friend West.]
What a huge heap of littleness! It is composed, as it were, of three courts, all open to the eye at once, and gradually diminishing till you come to the royal apartments, which on this side present but half a dozen windows and a balcony. This last is all that can be called a front, for the rest is only great wings. The hue of all this mass is black, dirty red, and yellow; the first proceeding from stone changed by age; the second, from a mixture of brick; and the last, from a profusion of tarnished gilding. You can not see a more disagreeable tout ensemble; and, to finish the matter, it is all stuck over in many places with small busts of a tawny hue between every two windows.
We pass through this to go into the garden, and here the case is indeed altered; nothing can be vaster and more magnificent than the back front; before it a very spacious terrace spreads itself, adorned with two large basons; these are bordered and lined (as most of the others) with white marble, with handsome statues of bronze reclined on their edges. From hence you descend a huge flight of steps into a semi-circle formed by woods, that are cut all around into niches, which are filled with beautiful copies of all the famous antique statues in white marble. Just in the midst is the bason of Latona; she and her children are standing on the top of a rock in the middle, on the sides of which are the peasants, some half, some totally changed into frogs, all which throw out water at her in great plenty.
From this place runs on the great alley, which brings you into a complete round, where is the bason of Apollo, the biggest in the gardens. He is rising in his car out of the water, surrounded by nymphs and tritons, all in bronze, and finely executed, and these, as they play, raise a perfect storm about him; beyond this is the great canal, a prodigious long piece of water, that terminates the whole. All this you have at one coup d'oeil in entering the garden, which is truly great.
I can not say as much of the general taste of the place: everything you behold savors too much of art; all is forced, all is constrained about you; statues and vases sowed everywhere without distinction; sugar loaves and minced pies of yew; scrawl work of box, and little squirting jets- d'eau, besides a great sameness in the walks, can not help striking one at first sight, not to mention the silliest of labyrinths, and all Aesop's fables in water; since these were designed "in usum Delphini" only.
Here, then, we walk by moonlight, and hear the ladies and the nightingales sing. Next morning, being Whitsunday, make ready to go to the installation of nine Knights du Saint Esprit. Cambis is one: high mass celebrated with music, great crowd, much incense, King, Queen, Dauphin, Mesdames, Cardinals, and Court: Knights arrayed by his Majesty; reverences before the altar, not bows, but curtsies; stiff hams; much tittering among the ladies; trumpets, kettledrums, and fifes.
[Footnote: From "Days Near Paris."]
The golden age of Fontainebleau came with the Renaissance and Francis I., who wished to make Fontainebleau the most glorious palace in the world. "The Escurial!" says Brantôme, "what of that? See how long it was of building? Good workmen like to be quick finished. With our king it was otherwise. Take Fontainebleau and Chambord. When they were projected, when once the plumb-line, and the compass, and the square, and the hammer were on the spot, then in a few years we saw the Court in residence there."
Il Rosso was first (1531) employed to carry out the ideas of François I. as to painting, and then Sebastian Serlio was summoned from Bologna in 1541 to fill the place of "surintendant des bastiments et architecte de Fontainebleau." Il Rosso-Giovambattista had been a Florentine pupil of Michelangelo, but refused to follow any master, having, as Vasari says, "a certain inkling of his own." François I. was delighted with him at first, and made him head of all the Italian colony at Fontainebleau, where he was known as "Maitre Roux." But in two years the king was longing to patronize some other genius, and implored Giulio Romano, then engaged on the Palazzo del Té at Mantua, to come to him. The great master refused to come himself, but in his place sent the Bolognese Primaticcio, who became known in France as Le Primatice.
The new-comer excited the furious jealousy of Il Rosso, whom he supplanted in favor and popularity, and who, after growing daily more morose, took poison in 1541. Then Primaticcio, who, to humor his rival had been sent into honorable exile (on plea of collecting antiquities at Rome), was summoned back, and destroyed most of Il Rosso's frescoes, replacing them by his own. Those that remain are now painted over, and no works of Il Rosso are still in existence (unless in engravings) except some of his frescoes at Florence.
With the Italian style of buildings and decorations, the Italian system of a Court adorned by ladies was first introduced here under François I., and soon became a necessity.... Under François I., his beautiful mistress, the Duchesse d'Étampes--"la plus belle des savantes, et la plus savante des belles," directed all the fêtes. In this she was succeeded, under Henry II., by Diane de Poitiers, whose monogram, interwoven with that of the king, appears in all the buildings of this time, and who is represented as a goddess (Diana) in the paintings of Primaticcio.
Under François II., in 1560, by the advice of the queen-mother, an assembly of notables was summoned at Fontainebleau; and here, accompanied by her 150 beautiful maids of honor, Catherine de Medici received the embassy of the Catholic sovereigns sent to demand the execution of the articles of the Council of Trent, and calling for fresh persecution of the reformers.
Much as his predecessors had accomplished, Henri IV. did more for the embellishment of Fontainebleau, where the monogram of his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées, is frequently seen mingled with that of his wife, Marie de Medici. All the Bourbon kings had a passion for hunting, for which Fontainebleau afforded especial facilities.
It was at Fontainebleau that Louis XIII. was born, and that the Maréchal de Biron was arrested. Louis XIII. only lived here occasionally. In the early reign of Louis XIV., the palace was lent to Christina, of Sweden, who had abdicated her throne.
It was in one of the private apartments, occupying the site of the ancient Galerie des Cerfs, now destroyed, that she ordered the execution of her chief equerry, Monaldeschi, whom she had convicted of treason. She listened patiently to his excuses, but was utterly unmoved by them and his entreaties for mercy. She provided a priest to confess him, after which he was slowly butchered by blows with a sword on the head and face, as he dragged himself along the floor, his body being defended by a coat of mail....
Even after the creation of the palaces of Versailles and Marly, Louis XIV. continued to make an annual "voyage de Fontainebleau." He compelled his whole court to follow him; if any of his family were ill, and unable to travel by road, he made them come by water; for himself, he slept on the way, either at the house of the Duc d'Antin (son of Mme. de Montespan) or of the Maréchal de Villeroy.
It was here that the Grand Dauphin was born, in 1661. Here, also, it was that Mme. de Maintenon first appeared at the councils, and that the king publicly asked her advice as to whether he should accept the throne of Spain for the Duc d' Anjou. Here, also, in 1685, he signed the revocation of the edict of Nantes. The great Condé died in the palace. Louis XV. was married here to Marie Leczinska in 1725; and here the Dauphin, his son, died in 1765. Louis XIV. delighted in Fontainebleau for its hunting facilities.
After the Revolution, Napoleon I. restored the château and prepared it for Pius VII. who came to France to crown him, and was here (January 25, 1813) induced to sign the famous Concordat de Fontainebleau, by which he abjured his temporal sovereignty. The chateau which witnessed the abdication of the Pope, also saw that of Napoleon I., who made his touching farewell to the soldiers of the Vielle-Garde in the Cour du Cheval-Blanc, before setting off for Elba.... The Cour du Cheval-Blanc, the largest of the five courts of the palace, took its name from a plaster copy of the horse of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, destroyed 1626. Recently it has been called the Cour des Adieux, on account of the farewell of Napoleon I. in 1814. It was once surrounded by buildings on all sides; one was removed in 1810, and replaced by a grille.
The principal façade is composed of five pavilions with high roofs, united by buildings two stories high. The beautiful twisted staircase in front of the central pavilion was executed by Lemercier for Louis XIII., and replaces a staircase by Philbert Delorme. Facing this pavilion, the mass of buildings on the right is the Aile Neuve of Louis XV., built on the site of the Galerie d'Ulysse, to the destruction of the precious works of Primaticcio and Niccolo dell' Abbate, with which it was adorned. Below the last pavilion, near the grille, was the Grotte du Jardin-des-pins, where James V. of Scotland, coming over to marry Magdalen of France, daughter of François I., watched her bathing with her ladies, by the aid of a mirror....
To the west of the Cour du Cheval-Blanc, and communicating with it, is the Cour de la Fontaine, the main front of which is formed by the Galerie de François I. This faces the great tank, into which Gaston d' Orleans, at eight years old, caused one of the courtiers to be thrown, whom he considered to have spoken to him disrespectfully. One side of the Cour de la Fontaine, that toward the Jardin Anglais, is terminated by a pavilion of the time of Louis XV.; the other, formerly decorated with statues is attributed to Serlio. The fountain from which the court takes its name has been often changed; a poor work by Petitot now replaces the grand designs of the time of François I. and Henri IV. Beyond this court we find, on the left, the Porte Dorée, which faces the Chaussée de Maintenon, between the Etang and Parterre; it was built under François I., and decorated by Primaticcio with paintings, restored in 1835. It was by this entrance that Charles V. arrived at the palace in 1539....
A staircase now leads to the first floor, and we enter the apartments of Napoleon I., all furnished in the style of the First Empire. The cabinet de l'Abdication is the place where he resigned his power. His bedroom (containing the bed of Napoleon I., the cradle of the King of Rome, and a cabinet of Marie Louise) leads to the Salle du Conseil, which was the Salon de Famille under Louis Philippe. Its decorations are by Boucher, and are the best of the period. It was in leaving this room that the Maréchal de Biron was arrested under Henri IV., in a cabinet which is now thrown into the adjoining Salle du Trône, (previously the bedroom of the Bourbon kings), dating from Charles IV., but decorated under Louis XIII. A fine portrait by Phillipe de Champaigne represents Louis XIII. It is accompanied by his device in allusion to his vehemence in the extermination of heresy.
The adjoining boudoir de Marie Antoinette is a beautiful little room, painted by Barthelemy. The metal work of the windows is said to have been wrought by Louis XVI. himself, who had his workshop here, as at Versailles. The richly decorated Chambre à Coucher de la Reine was inhabited by Marie de Medici, Marie Thérese, Marie Antoinette, Marie Louise, and Marie Amelie. The silk hangings were given by the town of Lyons to Marie Antoinette on her marriage. The Salon de Musique was the Salon du jeu de la Reine, under Marie Antoinette. The ancient Salon de Clorinde, or des Dames d' Honneur, is named from its paintings by Dubois and from the "Gerusalemme Liberata."
The Galerie de Diane, built by Napoleon I. and Louis XVIII., replaces the famous frescoed gallery of Henri IV. It is now turned into a library for the use of the town. In the center is a picture of Henri IV. on horseback, by Mauzaise. The Salles des Chasses contain pictures of hunting scenes under Louis XV. We now reach the glorious Galerie d' Henri II. (or Salle des Fêtes), built by François I., and decorated by Henri II. The walnut- wood ceiling and the paneling of the walls are of marvelous richness. Over the chimney is a gigantic H, and the initials of Henri II. are constantly seen interlaced with those of Diane de Poitiers.... The sixty paintings on the walls, including eight large compositions, were executed by Niccolo Dell' Abbate, and are probably the finest decorations of the kind existing in France.
The rooms usually shown last are those formerly inhabited by Catherine de Medici and Anne of Austria, and which, under the First Empire, were used by Pius VII., under Louis Philippe, by the Duke and Duchess of Orleans. The most interesting of these are the Chambre à Coucher, which bears the oft-repeated A L (the chiffre of Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria), and in which Pius VII. daily said mass, and the Salon, with its fine tapestry after Giulio Romano. The Galerie des Assiettes, adorned with Sévres china, only dates from Louis Philippe. Hence, by a gallery in the Aile Neuve, hung with indifferent pictures, we may visit the Salle du Theâtre, retaining its arrangements for the emperor, empress, and court.
The Gardens, as seen now, are mostly as they were rearranged by Lenôtre for Louis XIV. The most frequented garden is the Parterre, entered from the Place du Cheval-Blanc. In the center of the Jardin Anglais (entered through the Cour de la Fontaine) was the Fontaine Bleau, which is supposed by some to have given a name to the palace. The Etang has a pavilion in the center, where the Czar Peter got drunk. The carp in the pool, overfed with bread by visitors, are said to be, some of them, of immense age. John Evelyn mentions the carp of Fontainebleau, "that come familiarly to hand." The Jardin de l' Orangerie, on the north of the palace, called Jardin des Buis under Francois I., contains a good renaissance portal. To the east of the parterre and the town is the park, which has no beauty, but harmonizes well with the château.
Visitors should not fail to drive in the Forest, 80 kilometers in circuit, and, if they return late, may look out for its black huntsman--"le grand veneur." ... The forest was a favorite hunting-ground of the kings of France to a late period. It was here that the Marquis de Tourzel, Grand Provost of France, husband of the governess of the royal children, fractured his skull, his horse bolting against a tree, when hunting with Louis XVI., in November, 1786. The forest is the especial land of French artists, who overrun and possess it in the summer. There are innumerable direction-posts, in which all the red marks--put up by Napoleon III., because so few peasants could read--point to town.
[Footnote: From "Paris."]
About six miles north of the original Paris stands the great Basilica of St. Denis--the only church in Paris, and I think in France, called by that ancient name, which carries us back at once to the days of the Roman Empire, and in itself bears evidence to the antiquity of the spot as a place of worship. Around it, a squalid modern industrial town has slowly grown up; but the nucleus of the whole place, as the name itself shows, is the body and shrine of the martyred bishop, St. Denis. Among the numerous variants of his legend, the most accepted is that in which the apostle of Paris carries his head to this spot from Montmartre. Others say he was beheaded in Paris and walked to Montmartre, his body being afterward translated to the Abbey; while there are some who see in this legend a survival of the Dionysiac festival and sacrifice of the vine-growers round Paris--Denis--Dionysius--Dionysus.
However that may be, a chapel was erected in 275 above the grave of St. Denis, on the spot now occupied by the great Basilica; and later, Ste. Geneviève was instrumental in restoring it. Dagobert I., one of the few Frankish kings who lived much in Paris, built a "basilica" in place of the chapel (630), and instituted by its side a Benedictine Abbey. The church and monastery which possest the actual body of the first bishop and great martyr of Paris formed naturally the holiest site in the neighborhood of the city; and even before Paris became the capital of a kingdom, the abbots were persons of great importance in the Frankish state.
The desire to repose close to the grave of a saint was habitual in early times, and even (with the obvious alteration of words) ante-dated Christianity--every wealthy Egyptian desiring in the same way to "sleep with Osiris." Dagobert himself was buried in the church he founded, beside the holy martyr; and in later times this very sacred spot became for the same reason the recognized burial place of the French kings. Dagobert's fane was actually consecrated by the Redeemer Himself, who descended for the purpose by night, with a great multitude of saints and angels.
The existing Basilica, tho of far later date, is the oldest church of any importance in the neighborhood of Paris. It was begun by Suger, abbot of the monastery, and sagacious minister of Louis VI. and VII., in 1121. As yet, Paris itself had no great church, Notre-Dame having been commenced some 50 years later. The earliest part of Suger's building is in the Romanesque style; it still retains the round Roman arch and many other Roman constructive features. During the course of the 50 years occupied in building the Basilica, however, the Gothic style was developed; the existing church therefore exhibits both Romanesque and Gothic work, with transitional features between the two, which add to its interest. Architecturally, then, bear in mind, it is in part Romanesque, passing into Gothic. The interior is mostly pure Early Gothic.
The neighborhood to Paris, the supremacy of the great saint, and the fact that St. Denis was especially the Royal Abbey, all combined to give it great importance. Under Suger's influence, Louis VI. adopted the oriflamme or standard of St. Denis as the royal banner of France. The Merovingian and Carlovingian kings, to be sure--Germans rather than French--had naturally been buried elsewhere, as at Aix-la-Chapelle, Rheims, and Soissons (tho even of them a few were interred beside the great bishop martyr). But as soon as the Parisian dynasty of the Capets came to the throne, they were almost without exception buried at St. Denis. Hence the abbey came to be regarded at last mainly as the mausoleum of French royalty, and is still too often so regarded by tourists.
But tho the exquisite Renaissance tombs of the House of Valois would well deserve a visit on their own account, they are, at St. Denis, but accessories to the great Basilica. Besides the actual tombs, too, many monuments were erected here, in the 13th century (by St. Louis) and afterward, to earlier kings buried elsewhere, some relic of whom, however, the abbey possest and thus honored. Hence several of the existing tombs are of far later date than the kings they commemorate; those of the Valois almost alone are truly contemporary.
At the Revolution, the Basilica suffered irreparable losses. The very sacred reliquary containing the severed head of St. Denis was destroyed, and the remains of the martyr and his companions desecrated. The royal bones and bodies were also disinterred and flung into trenches indiscriminately. The tombs of the kings were condemned to destruction, and many (chiefly in metal) were destroyed or melted down, but not a few were saved with difficulty by the exertions of antiquaries, and were placed in the Museum of Monuments at Paris (now the École des Beaux-Arts), of which Alexandre Lenoir was curator. Here, they were greatly hacked about and mutilated, in order to fit them to their new situations.
At the Restoration, however, they were sent back to St. Denis, together with many other monuments which had no real place there; but, being housed in the crypt, they were further clipt to suit their fresh surroundings. Finally, when the Basilica was restored under Viollet-le-Duc, the tombs were replaced as nearly as possible in their old positions; but several intruders from elsewhere are still interspersed among them. Louis XVIII. brought back the mingled bones of his ancestors from the common trench and interred them in the crypt. As regards the tombs, again, bear in mind these facts. All the oldest have perished; there are none here that go back much further than the age of St. Louis, tho they often represent personages of earlier periods or dynasties. The best are those of the Renaissance period. These are greatly influenced by the magnificent tomb of Giangaleazzo Visconti at the Certosa di Pavia, near Milan. Especially is this the case with the noble monument of Louis XII., which closely imitates the Italian work. Now, you must remember that Charles VIII. and Louis XII. fought much in Italy, and were masters of Milan; hence this tomb was familiar to them; and their Italian experiences had much to do with the French Renaissance. The Cardinal d'Amboise, Louis's minister, built the Château de Gaillon, and much of the artistic impulse of the time was due to these two. Henceforth recollect that tho François I. is the prince of the Renaissance, Louis XII. and his minister were no mean forerunners....
The interior is most beautiful. The first portion of the church which we enter is a vestibule or Galilee under the side towers and end of the Nave. Compare Durham. It is of the age of Abbot Suger, but already exhibits pointed arches in the upper part. The architecture is solid and massive, but somewhat gloomy.
Descend a few steps into the Nave, which is surrounded by single aisles, whose vaulting should be noticed. The architecture of this part, now pure Early Gothic, is extremely lovely. The triforium is delicate and graceful. The windows in the clerestory above it, representing kings and queens, are almost all modern. Notice the great height of the Nave, and the unusual extent to which the triforium and clerestory project above the noble vaulting of the aisles. Note that the triforium itself opens directly to the air, and is supplied with stained-glass windows, seen through its arches. Sit awhile in this light and lofty Nave, in order to take in the beautiful view up the church toward the choir and chevet. Then walk up to the Barrier near the Transepts, where sit again, in order to observe the Choir and Transepts with the staircase which leads to the raised Ambulatory. Observe that the transepts are simple. The ugly stained glass in the windows of their clerestory contains illustrations of the reign of Louis Philippe, with extremely unpicturesque costumes of the period. The architecture of the Nave and Choir, with its light and airy arches and pillars, is of the later 13th century.
The reason for this is that Suger's building was thoroughly restored from 1230 onward, in the pure pointed style of that best period. The upper part of the Choir, and the whole of the Nave and Transepts was then rebuilt-- which accounts for the gracefulness and airiness of its architecture when contrasted with the dark and heavy vestibule of the age of Suger.
Note from this point the arrangement of the Choir, which, to those who do not know Italy, will be quite unfamiliar. As at San Zeno in Verona, San Miniato in Florence, and many other Romanesque churches, the Choir is raised by some steps above the Nave and Transepts; while the Crypt is slightly deprest beneath them. In the Crypt, in such cases, are the actual bodies of the saints buried there; while the Altar stands directly over their tombs in the Choir above it.
[Footnote: From "Days Near Paris."]
The tram stops close to the Abreuvoir, a large artificial tank, surrounded by masonry for receiving the surplus water from the fountains in the palace gardens, of which it is now the only remnant. Ascending the avenue on the right, we shall find a road at the top which will lead us, to the left, through delightful woods to the site of the palace. Nothing remains but the walls supporting the wooded terrace.
It is difficult to realize the place as it was, for the quincunces of limes which stood between the pavilions on either side of the steep avenue leading to the royal residence, formerly dipt and kept close, are now huge trees, marking still the design of the grounds, but obscuring the views, and, by their great growth, making the main avenue very narrow. St. Simon exaggerates the extravagance of Louis XIV. at Marly, who spent there four and a half million francs between 1679 and 1690, and probably as much or more between 1690 and 1715, perhaps in all ten or twelve millions, which would represent fifty million francs at the present time. Nevertheless the expense of the amusements of Louis XIV. greatly exceeded the whole revenue of Henri IV., and those of the early years of Louis XIII.
From the central pavilion in which the flattery of Mansart placed him as the sun, Louis XIV. emerged every morning to visit the occupiers of the twelve smaller pavilions, Les Pavilions des Seigneurs, the constellations, his courtiers, who came out to meet him and swelled his train. These pavilions, arranged on each side of the gardens, stood in double avenues of clipt lime-trees looking upon the garden and its fountains, and leading up to the palace.
The device of the sun was carried out in the palace itself, where all the smaller apartments circled round the grand salon, the king and queen having apartments to the back, the dauphin and dauphine to the front, each apartment consisting of an anteroom, bedroom, and sitting-room, and each set being connected with one of the four square saloons, which opened upon the great octagonal hall, of which four faces were occupied by chimney- pieces and four by the doors of the smaller saloons. The central hall occupied the whole height of the edifice, and was lighted from the upper story.
The great ambition of every courtier was to be of the Marly circle, and all curried favor with the king by asking to accompany him on his weekly journey to Marly. The Court used to arrive at Marly on a Wednesday and leave it on a Saturday; this was an invariable rule. The king always passed his Sundays at Versailles, which was his parish. ... The leading figure at Marly was Mme. de Maintenon, who occupied the apartments intended for Queen Marie Thérèse, but who led the simplest of lives, bored almost to extinction. She used to compare the carp languishing in the tanks of Marly to herself--"Like me they regret their native mud." ... At first Mme. de Maintenon dined, in the midst of the other ladies in the square salon which separated her apartment from that of the king; but soon she had a special table, to which a very few other ladies, her intimates, came by invitation.
Marly was the scene of several of the most tragic events in the life of Louis XIV. "Everything is dead here, there's no life in any thing," wrote the Comtesse de Caylus, niece of Mme. de Maintenon, from Marly to the Princess des Ursins, after the death of the Duchesse de Bourgogne. And, in a few days afterward, Marly was the scene of the sudden death of the Dauphin, Duc de Bourgogne, the beloved pupil of Fénelon. Early in the morning after the death of his wife, he was persuaded, "ill and anguished with the most intimate and bitterest of sorrows," to follow the king to Marly, where he entered his own room by a window on the ground floor.
It was also at Marly--"ill-omened Marly"--that the Duc de Berry, the younger grandson of Louis XIV., and husband of the profligate daughter of the Duc d' Orleans--afterward Regent, died, with great suspicion of poison, in 1714. The MS. memorials of Mary Beatrice by a sister of Chaillot, describe how, when Louis XIV. was mourning his beloved grandchildren, and that queen, whom he had always liked and respected, had lost her darling daughter Louisa, she went to visit him at Marly where "they laid aside all Court etiquette, weeping together in their common grief, because, as the Queen said, 'We saw that the aged were left, and that death had swept away the young.'" St. Simon depicts the last walk of the king in the gardens at Marly on August 10, 1715. He went away that evening to Versailles, where he died on September 1.
Marly was abandoned during the whole time of the Regency, and was only saved from total destruction in 1717, when the Régent Philippe d'Orléans had ordered its demolition, by the spirited remonstrance of St. Simon.... The great pavilion itself only contained, as we have seen, a very small number of chambers. The querulous Smollett, who visited Marly in 1763, speaks of it as "No more than a pigeon-house in respect to a palace." But it was only intended as the residence of the king.
During the repairs necessary in the reign of Louis XV., who built Choisy and never lived at Marly, the cascade which fell behind the great pavilion was removed. Mme. Campan describes the later Marly of Louis XVI., under whom the "Marly journey" had become one of the great burdens and expenses of royal life. The Court of Louis XVI. was here for the last time on June 11, 1789, but in the latter years of Louis XVI., M. de Noailles, governor of St. Germain, was permitted to lend the smaller pavilions furnished to his friends for the summer months. Marly perished with the monarchy, and was sold at the Revolution, when the statues of its gardens were removed to the Tuileries. A cotton mill was for a time established in the royal pavilion; then all the buildings were pulled down and the gardens sold in lots!
Still the site is worth visiting. The Grille Royale, now a simple wooden gate between two pillars with vases, opens on the road from St. Germain to Versailles, at the extremity of the Aqueduct of Marly. Passing this, one finds oneself in an immense circular enclosure, the walls of which surround the forest on every side.
[Footnote: From "Outre-Mer." Published by Houghton, Mifflin Co.]
The sultry heat of summer always brings with it, to the idler and the man of leisure, a longing for the leafy shade and the green luxuriance of the country. It is pleasant to interchange the din of the city, the movement of the crowd, and the gossip of society, with the silence of the hamlet, the quiet seclusion of the grove, and the gossip of a woodland brook.
It was a feeling of this kind that prompted me, during my residence in the North of France, to pass one of the summer months at Auteuil, the pleasantest of the many little villages that lie in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis. It is situated on the outskirts of the Bois de Boulogne, a wood of some extent, in whose green alleys the dusty city enjoys the luxury of an evening drive, and gentlemen meet in the morning to give each other satisfaction in the usual way. A cross-road, skirted with green hedge-rows, and overshadowed by tall poplars, leads you from the noisy highway of St. Cloud and Versailles to the still retirement of this suburban hamlet. On either side the eye discovers old châteaux amid the trees, and green parks, whose pleasant shades recall a thousand images of La Fontaine, Racine, and Molière; and on an eminence, overlooking the windings of the Seine, and giving a beautiful tho distant view of the domes and gardens of Paris, rises the village of Passy, long the residence of our countrymen Franklin and Count Rumford....
It was to the Bois de Boulogne that I looked for my principal recreation. There I took my solitary walk, morning and evening; or, mounted on a little mouse-colored donkey, paced demurely along the woodland pathway. I had a favorite seat beneath the shadow of a venerable oak, one of the few hoary patriarchs of the wood which had survived the bivouacs of the allied armies. It stood upon the brink of a little glassy pool, whose tranquil bosom was the image of a quiet and secluded life, and stretched its parental arms over a rustic bench, that had been constructed beneath it for the accommodation of the foot-traveler, or, perchance, some idle dreamer like myself. It seemed to look round with a lordly air upon its old hereditary domain, whose stillness was no longer broken by the tap of the martial drum, nor the discordant clang of arms; and, as the breeze whispered among its branches, it seemed to be holding friendly colloquies with a few of its venerable contemporaries, who stooped from the opposite bank of the pool, nodding gravely now and then, and gazing at themselves with a sigh in the mirror below....
I entered, too, with some enthusiasm, into all the rural sports and merrimakes of the village. The holidays were so many little eras of mirth and good feeling; for the French have that happy and sunshine temperament --that merry-go-mad character--which renders all their social meetings scenes of enjoyment and hilarity. I made it a point never to miss any of the fêtes champêtres, or rural dances, at the wood of Boulogne; tho I confess it sometimes gave me a momentary uneasiness to see my rustic throne beneath the oak usurped by a noisy group of girls, the silence and decorum of my imaginary realm broken by music and laughter, and, in a word, my whole kingdom turned topsy-turvy with romping, fiddling, and dancing. But I am naturally, and from principle, too, a lover of all those innocent amusements which cheer the laborer's toil, and, as it were, put their shoulders to the wheel of life, and help the poor man along with his load of cares. Hence I saw with no small delight the rustic swain astride the wooden horse of the carrousel, and the village maiden whirling round and round in its dizzy car; or took my stand on the rising ground that overlooked the dance, an idle spectator in a busy throng. It was just where the village touched the outward border of the wood. There a little area had been leveled beneath the trees, surrounded by a painted rail, with a row of benches inside. The music was placed in a slight balcony, built around the trunk of a large tree in the center; and the lamps, hanging from the branches above, gave a gay, fantastic, and fairy look to the scene. How often in such moments did I recall the lines of Goldsmith, describing those "kinder skies" beneath which "France displays her bright domain," and feel how true and masterly the sketch--
"Alike all ages; dames of ancient days
Have led their children through the mirthful maze,
And the gray grandsire, skilled in gestic lore,
Has frisked beneath the burden of threescore."
Nor must I forget to mention the fête patronale--a kind of annual fair, which is held at midsummer, in honor of the patron saint of Auteuil. Then the principal street of the village is filled with booths of every description; strolling players, and rope-dancers, and jugglers, and giants, and dwarfs, and wild beasts, and all kinds of wonderful shows, excite the gaping curiosity of the throng; and in dust, crowds, and confusion, the village rivals the capital itself. Then the goodly dames of Passy descend into the village of Auteuil; then the brewers of Billancourt and the tanners of Sèvres dance lustily under the greenwood tree; and then, too, the sturdy fishmongers of Brétigny and Saint-Yon regale their fat wives with an airing in a swing, and their customers with eels and crawfish....
I found another source of amusement in observing the various personages that daily passed and repassed beneath my window. The character which most of all arrested my attention was a poor blind fiddler, whom I first saw chanting a doleful ballad at the door of a small tavern near the gate of the village. He wore a brown coat, out at elbows, the fragment of a velvet waistcoat, and a pair of tight nankeens, so short as hardly to reach below his calves. A little foraging cap, that had long since seen its best days, set off an open, good-humored countenance, bronzed by sun and wind. He was led about by a brisk, middle-aged woman, in straw hat and wooden shoes; and a little barefooted boy, with clear, blue eyes and flaxen hair, held a tattered hat in his hand, in which he collected eleëmosynary sous. The old fellow had a favorite song, which he used to sing with great glee to a merry, joyous air, the burden of which ran "Chantons l'amour et le plaisir!" I often thought it would have been a good lesson for the crabbed and discontented rich man to have heard this remnant of humanity--poor, blind, and in rags, and dependent upon casual charity for his daily bread, singing in so cheerful a voice the charms of existence, and, as it were, fiddling life away to a merry tune.
I was one morning called to my window by the sound of rustic music. I looked out and beheld a procession of villagers advancing along the road, attired in gay dresses, and marching merrily on in the direction of the church. I soon perceived that it was a marriage-festival. The procession was led by a long orang-outang of a man, in a straw hat and white dimity bobcoat, playing on an asthmatic clarionet, from which he contrived to blow unearthly sounds, ever and anon squeaking off at right angles from his tune, and winding up with a grand flourish on the guttural notes. Behind him, led by his little boy, came the blind fiddler, his honest features glowing with all the hilarity of a rustic bridal, and, as he stumbled along, sawing away upon his fiddle till he made all crack again. Then came the happy bridegroom, drest in his Sunday suit of blue, with a large nosegay in his button-hole; and close beside him his blushing bride, with downcast eyes, clad in a white robe and slippers, and wearing a wreath of white roses in her hair. The friends and relatives brought up the procession; and a troop of village urchins came shouting along in the rear, scrambling among themselves for the largess of sous and sugar-plums that now and then issued in large handfuls from the pockets of a lean man in black, who seemed to officiate as master of ceremonies on the occasion. I gazed on the procession till it was out of sight; and when the last wheeze of the clarionet died upon my ear, I could not help thinking how happy were they who were thus to dwell together in the peaceful bosom of their native village, far from the gilded misery and the pestilential vices of the town.
On the evening of the same day, I was sitting by the window, enjoying the freshness of the air and the beauty and stillness of the hour, when I heard the distant and solemn hymn of the Catholic burial-service, at first so faint and indistinct that it seemed an illusion. It rose mournfully on the hush of evening--died gradually away--then ceased. Then, it rose again, nearer and more distinct, and soon after a funeral procession appeared, and passed directly beneath my window. It was led by a priest, bearing the banner of the church, and followed by two boys, holding long flambeaux in their hands. Next came a double file of priests in their surplices, with a missal in one hand and a lighted wax taper in the other, chanting the funeral dirge at intervals--now pausing, and then again taking up the mournful burden of their lamentation, accompanied by others, who played upon a rude kind of bassoon, with a dismal and wailing sound. Then followed various symbols of the church, and the bier borne on the shoulders of four men. The coffin was covered with a velvet pall, and a chaplet of white flowers lay upon it, indicating that the deceased was unmarried. A few of the villagers came behind, clad in mourning robes, and bearing lighted tapers. The procession passed slowly along the same street that in the morning had been thronged by the gay bridal company. A melancholy train of thought forced itself home upon my mind. The joys and sorrows of this world are so strikingly mingled! Our mirth and grief are brought so mournfully in contact! We laugh while others weep--and others rejoice when we are sad! The light heart and the heavy walk side by side and go about together! Beneath the same roof are spread the wedding-feast and the funeral-pall! The bridal-song mingles with the burial-hymn! One goes to the marriage-bed, another to the grave; and all is mutable, uncertain, and transitory.
It is with sensations of pure delight that I recur to the brief period of my existence which was passed in the peaceful shades of Auteuil. There is one kind of wisdom which we learn from the world, and another kind which can be acquired in solitude only. In cities we study those around us; but in the retirement of the country we learn to know ourselves.
[Illustration: Paris: Interior of the Grand Opera House]
[Illustration: Paris Front of the Grand Opera House]
[Illustration: Arc de Triomphe]
[Illustration: Arch Erected by Napoleon, Near the Louvre]
[Illustration: Paris: Church of St. Vincent de Paul]
[Illustration: Paris: Church of St. Sulpice]
[Illustration: Picture Gallery at Versailles]
[Illustration: Versailles: Bed-Room of Louis XIV]
[Illustration: The Grand Trianon at Versailles]
[Illustration: The Little Trianon at Versailles]
[Illustration: Bed-Room of Catherine de Medici at Chaumont]
[Illustration: Marie Antoinette's Dairy at Versailles]
[Illustration: Tours From Turner's "Rivers of France"]
[Illustration: Saint Denis From Turner's "Rivers of France"]
[Illustration: Havre From Turner's "Rivers of France"]
[Illustration: The Bridge of St. Cloud From Turner's "Rivers of France"]
[Footnote: From "Days Near Paris."]
The Trianons may be reached in half an hour from the railway station, but the distance is considerable, and a carriage very desirable, considering all the walking inside of the palaces to be accomplished. Carriages take the straight avenue from Bassin de Neptune. The pleasantest way for foot- passengers is to follow the gardens of Versailles as far as the Bassin d'Apollon, and then turn to the right. At the end of the right branch of the grand canal, staircases lead to the park of the Grand Trianon; but these staircases are railed in, and it is necessary to make a détour to the Grille de la Grande Entrée, whence an avenue leads directly to the Grand Trianon, while the Petit Trianon lies immediately to the right, behind the buildings of the Concierge and Corps de Garde.
The original palace of the Grand Trianon was a little château built by Louis XIV., in 1670, as a refuge from the fatigues of the Court, on land bought from the monks of St. Genevieve, and belonging to the parish of Trianon. But in 1687 the humble château was pulled down, and the present palace erected by Mansart in its place.
Louis XIV. constantly visited the Grand Trianon, with which for many years he was much delighted. But, after 1700, he never slept at Trianon, and, weary of his plaything here, turned all his attention to Marly. Under Louis XV., however, the palace was again frequently inhabited.
Being entirely on one floor, the Grand Trianon continued to be a most uncomfortable residence, till subterranean passages for service were added under Louis Philippe, who made great use of the palace. The buildings are without character or distinction. Visitors have to wait in the vestibule till a large party is formed, and are then hurried full speed round the rooms, without being allowed to linger for an instant.
The Petit Trianon was built by Gabriel for Louis XV. in the botanical garden which Louis XIV. had formed at the instigation of the Duc d'Ayen. It was intended as a miniature of the Grand Trianon, as that palace had been a miniature of Versailles. The palace was often used by Louis XV., who was here first attacked by the smallpox, of which he died. Louis XVI. gave it to Marie Antoinette, who made its gardens, and whose happiest days were spent here.
The Petit Trianon is a very small and very unassuming country house. Mme. de Maintenon describes it in June as "a palace enchanted and perfumed." Its pretty simple rooms are only interesting from their associations. The furniture is mostly of the times of Louis XVI. The stone stair has a handsome iron balustrade; the salons are paneled in white.
Here Marie Antoinette st to Mme. Lebrun for the picture in which she is represented with her children. In the dining-room is a secretaire given to Louis XVI. by the States of Burgundy, and portraits of the King and Marie Antoinette. The Cabinet de Travail of the queen was a cabinet given to her on her marriage by the town of Paris; in the Salle de Réception are four pictures by Watteau; the Boudoir has a Sévres bust of the queen; in the Chambre-á-coucher is the queen's bed, and a portrait of the Dauphin by Lebrun. These simple rooms are a standing defense of the queen from the false accusations brought against her at the Revolution as to her extravagance in the furnishing of the Petit Trianon. Speaking of her happy domestic life, Mme. Lebrun says: "I do not believe Queen Marie Antoinette ever allowed an occasion to pass by without saying an agreeable thing to those who had the honor of being near her."
[Footnote: From "Days Near Paris."]
The station is opposite a short avenue, at the end of which on the right, is the principal entrance to Malmaison. A little higher up the road at the right is a gate leading to the park and gardens, freely open to the public, and being sold (1887) in lots by the Stat. There is a melancholy charm in the old house of many recollections--grim, empty, and desolate; approached on this side by a bridge over the dry moat. A short distance off, rather to the left, as you look from the house, is a very pretty little temple--the Temple of Love--with a front of columns of red Givet marble brought from the chateau of Richelieu, and a clear stream bursting from the rocks beneath it.
Malmaison is supposed to derive its name from having been inhabited in the XI century by the Norman brigand Odon, and afterward by evil spirits, exorcised by the monks of St. Denis. Josephine bought the villa with its gardens, which had been much praised by Delille, from M. Lecouteulx de Canteleu for 160,000 francs.... Josephine retired to Malmaison at the time of her divorce, and seldom left it afterward.... In 1814, the unhappy Josephine, whose heart was always with Napoleon, was forced to receive a visit from the allied sovereigns at Malmaison, and died of a chill which she caught in doing the honors of her grounds to the Emperor Alexander on May 26, by a water excursion on the pool of Cucufa. After his return from Elba, Napoleon revisited the place....
After the loss of the battle of Waterloo, Napoleon once more retired to Malmaison, then the property of the children of Josephine, Eugene and Hortense. There he passed June 25, 1815, a day of terrible agitation. That evening at five o'clock he put on a brown suit of civilian clothes, tenderly embraced Queen Hortense and the other persons present, gave a long lingering look at the house and gardens connected with his happiest hours, and left them for ever.
After the second Restoration Prince Eugène sold Malmaison, removing its gallery of pictures to Munich. There is now nothing remarkable in the desolate rooms, tho the Salle des Maréchaux, the bedroom of Josephine, and the grand salon, with a chimney-piece given by the Pope are pointed out. In later years the house was for some time inhabited by Queen Christina of Spain. It will be a source of European regret if at least the building connected with so many historic souvenirs, and the immediate grounds are not preserved.
[Footnote: From "The Rivers of France." Pictures by J. M. W. Turner, R.A. Text by Leitch Ritchie.]
The view from the terrace of Saint Germain is one of the finest in France. This view, and a shady walk in the forest behind, are the only attractions of Saint Germain; for the old palace of the kings of France presents the appearance of nothing more than a huge, irregular, unsightly brick building. It is true, a great portion of the walls is of cut stone; but this is the idea which the whole conveys to the spectator. The edifice stands on the site of a chateau built by Louis-le-Gros, which, having been burned down by the English, was thus raised anew from its ruins. Charles V., François II., Henry IV., Louis XIII., and Louis XIV., all exercised their taste upon it, and all added to its general deformity.
Near this Henri Quatre built another château, which fell into ruins forty or fifty years ago. These ruins were altogether effaced by Charles X., who had formed the project of raising another structure upon the spot, entirely his own. The project, however, failed, like that of the coup d'etat, but this is of no consequence. The new château exists in various books of travel, written by eye-witnesses, quite as palpably as the enormous bulk of the ancient château. It is a true "castle in Spain." Among the sights to be seen in the palace is the chamber of Mademoiselle de la Vallière, and the trap-door by which she was visited by Louis Quatorze. There are also the chamber and oratory of our James II., who died at Saint Germain, on the 16th September, 1701.
The forest of Saint Germain is seven leagues in circumference, pierced in every direction by roads and paths, and containing various edifices that were used as hunting-lodges. This vast wood affords no view, except along the seemingly interminable path in which the spectator stands, the vista of which, carried on with mathematical regularity, terminates in a point. This is the case with all the great forests of France except that of Fontainebleau, where nature is sometimes seen in her most picturesque form. In the more remote and unfrequented parts of Saint Germain, the wild boar still makes his savage lair; and still the loiterer, in these lengthened alleys, is startled by a roebuck or a deer springing across the path....
Independently of the noble satellites attached to the court, the infinite number of official persons made its removal to Saint Germain, or the other royal seats, seem like the emigration of a whole people. Forty-nine physicians, thirty-eight surgeons, six apothecaries, thirteen preachers, one hundred and forty maîtres d'hôtel, ninety ladies of honor to the queen, in the sixteenth century! There were also an usher of the kitchen, a courier de vin (who took the charge of carrying provisions for the king when he went to the chase), a sutler of court, a conductor of the sumpter- horse, a lackey of the chariot, a captain of the mules, an overseer of roasts, a chair-bearer, a palmer (to provide ananches for Easter), a valet of the firewood, a paillassier of the Scotch guard, a yeoman of the mouth, and a hundred more for whose offices we have no names in English.
The grand maître d'hôtel was the chief officer of the court. The royal orders came through him; he regulated the expenses; and was, in short, to the rest of the functionaries, what the general is to the army. The maître des requetes was at the head of civil justice; the prevôt de l'hôtel at the head of criminal justice....
When the courtiers presented themselves at the château, some in chariots, some on horseback, with their wives mounted behind them (the ladies all masked), they were subjected to the scrutiny of the captain of the gate. The greater number he compelled to dismount; but the princes and princesses, and a select few who had brevets of entrance, were permitted to ride within the walls.
At court the men wore sword and dagger; but to be found with a gun or pistol in the palace, or even in the town, subjected them to a sentence of death. To wear a casque or cuirass was punished with imprisonment. The laws of politeness were equally strict. If one man used insulting words to another, the offense was construed as being given to the king; and the offender was obliged to solicit pardon of his majesty. If one threatened another by clapping his hand to the hilt of his sword, he was to be assommé according to the ordinance; which may either mean knocked down, or soundly mauled--or the two together. If two men came to blows, they were both assommé. A still more serious breach of politeness, however, was the importunity of petitioners.
When the king hunted he was accompanied by a hundred pages, two hundred esquires, and often four or five hundred gentlemen; sometimes by the queen and princesses, with their hundreds of ladies and maids of honor, mounted on palfreys saddled with black velvet.
[Footnote: From "Days Near Paris."]
Very near the station is the Château de St. Cloud, set on fire by the bombs of Mont-Valèrien, in the night of October 13, 1870, and now the most melancholy of ruins. Sufficient, however, remains to indicate the noble character of a building partly due to Jules Hardouin and Mansart. The château is more reddened than blackened by the fire, and the beautiful reliefs of its gables, its statues, and the wrought-iron grilles of its balconies are still perfect. Grass, and even trees, grow in its roofless halls, in one of which the marble pillars and sculptured decorations are seen through the gaps where windows once were. The view from the terrace is most beautiful.
The name of St. Cloud comes from a royal saint, who was buried in the collegiate church, pulled down by Marie Antoinette (which stood opposite the modern church), and to whose shrine there is an annual pilgrimage. Clodomir, King of Orleans, son of Clovis, dying in 524, had bequeathed his three sons to the guardianship of his mother Clotilde. Their barbarous uncles, Childebert and Clotaire, coveting their heritage, sent their mother a sword and a pair of scissors, asking her whether she would prefer that they should perish by the one, or that their royal locks should be shorn with the other, and that they should be shut up in a convent.
"I would rather see them dead than shaven," replied Clotilde proudly. Two of the princes were then murdered by their uncles, the third, Clodowald, was hidden by some faithful servants, but fright made him cut off his hair with his own hands, and he entered a monastery at a village then called Nogent, but which derived from him the name of St. Clodowald, corrupted into St. Cloud.
Clodowald bequeathed the lands of St. Cloud to the bishops of Paris, who had a summer palace here, in which the body of François I. lay in state after his death at Rambouillet. His son, Henri II., built a villa here in the Italian style; and Henri III. came to live here in a villa belonging to the Gondi family, while, with the King of Navarre, he was besieging Paris in 1589. The city was never taken, for at St. Cloud Henri was murdered by Jacques Clément, a monk of the Jacobin convent in Paris, who fancied that an angel had urged him to the deed in a vision....
From this time the house of the banker Jérôme Gondi, one of the Italian adventurers who had followed the fortunes of Catherine de Medici, was an habitual residence of the Court. It became the property of Hervard, Controller of Finances, from whom Louis XIV. bought it for his brother Philippe d'Orléans, enlarged the palace, and employed Lenôtre to lay out the park. Monsieur married the beautiful Henriette d'Angleterre, youngest daughter of Charles I., who died here, June 30, 1670, with strong suspicion of poison. St. Simon affirms the person employed to have confest to Louis XIV., having used it at the instigation of the Chevalier de Lorraine (a favorite of Monsieur), whom Madame had caused to be exiled. One of the finest sermons of Bossuet describes the "disastrous night on which there came as a clap of thunder the astonishing news! 'Madame is dying! Madame is dead!' At the sound of so strange a wo people hurried to St. Cloud from all sides to find panic over all except the heart of the princess."
In the following year Monsieur was married again, to the Princess Palatine, when it was believed that his late wife appeared near a fountain in the park, where a servant, sent to fetch water, died of terror. The vision turned out to be a reality--a hideous old woman, who amused herself in this way. "The cowards," she said, "made such grimaces that I nearly died laughing. This evening pleasure paid me for the toil of my hard day."
Monsieur gave magnificent fétes to the Court at St. Cloud, added to the palace with great splendor, and caused the great cascade, which Jérôme Gondi had made, to be enlarged and embellished by Mansart. It was at St. Cloud that Monsieur died of an attack of apoplexy, brought on by overeating after his return from a visit to the king at Marly.... The chateau continued to be occupied by Madame, daughter of the Elector, the rude, the original, and satirical Princess Palatine, in whom the modern House of Orleans has its origin, and here she died during the regency of her son....
The Régent d'Orléans, nephew of Louis XIV., received Peter the Great at St. Cloud in 1717. In 1752 his grandson, Louis Philippe d'Orléans, gave at St. Cloud one of the most magnificent fêtes ever seen in France.
In 1785 the Due d'Orleans sold St. Cloud for six million francs to Queen Marie Antoinette, who made great alterations in the internal arrangements of the building, where she resided during the early days of the Revolution.
It was at St. Cloud that the coup d'état occurred which made Napoleon first-consul. This led him to choose the palace of St. Cloud, which had been the cradle of his power, as his principal residence, and, under the first empire, it was customary to speak of "le cabinet de Saint-Cloud," as previously of "le cabinet de Versailles," and afterward of "le cabinet des Tuileries." Here, in 1805, Napoleon and Josephine assisted at the baptism of the future Napoleon III....
It was also in the palace of St. Cloud that Napoleon I. was married to Marie Louise, April 1, 1810. In this palace of many changes the allied sovereigns met after the fall of the First Empire. Blucher, after his fashion, slept booted and spurred in the bed of Napoleon; and the capitulation of Paris was signed here July 3, 1815.
Louis XVIII. and Charles X. both lived much at St. Cloud, and added to it considerably; but here, where Henry IV. had been recognized as King of France and Navarre, Charles X. was forced by the will of the people to abdicate, July 30, 1830. Two years after, Louis Philippe established himself with his family at St. Cloud, and his daughter Clémentine was married to Duke Augustus of Saxe-Coburg in its chapel, April 28, 1843. Like his uncle, Napoleon III. was devoted to St. Cloud, where--"with a light heart"--the declaration of war with Prussia was signed in the library, July, 17, 1870, a ceremony followed by a banquet, during which the "Marseillaise" was played. The doom of St. Cloud was then sealed. On the 13th of the following October the besieged Parisians beheld the volumes of flame rising behind the Bois de Boulogne, which told that St. Cloud, recently occupied by the Prussians, and frequently bombarded in consequence from Mont-Valérien, had been fired by French bombs.
The steamer for St. Cloud descends the Seine, passing under the Pont de Solferino, Pont de la Concorde, Pont des Invalides, and Pont d'Alma. Then the Champ de Mars is seen on the left, the Palais du Trocadéro on the right. After the Pont du d'Iéna, Passy is passed on the right, and the Ile des Cygnes on the left. Then comes the Pont de Grenelle, after which Auteuil is passed on the right and Javel on the left. After leaving the Pont-viaduc du Point-du-Jour, the Ile de Billancourt is seen on the left. After the Pont de Billancourt, the steamer passes between the Iles de Billancourt and Séguin to Bas Meudon.
[Footnote: From "Pictures From Italy."]
There lay before us, that same afternoon, the broken bridge of Avignon, and all the city baking in the sun; yet with an underdone-piecrust, battlemented wall, that never will be brown, tho it bake for centuries.
The grapes were hanging in clusters in the streets, and the brilliant oleander was in full bloom everywhere. The streets are old and very narrow, but tolerably clean, and shaded by awnings stretched from house to house. Bright stuffs and handkerchiefs, curiosities, ancient frames of carved wood, old chairs, ghostly tables, saints, virgins, angels, and staring daubs of portraits, being exposed for sale beneath, it was very quaint and lovely. All this was much set off, too, by the glimpses one caught, through a rusty gate standing ajar, of quiet sleepy court-yards, having stately old houses within, as silent as tombs. It was all very like one of the descriptions in the Arabian Nights. The three one-eyed Calenders might have knocked at any one of those doors till the street rang again, and the porter who persisted in asking questions--the man who had the delicious purchases put into his basket in the morning--might have opened it quite naturally.
After breakfast next morning, we sallied forth to see the lions. Such a delicious breeze was blowing in, from the north, as made the walk delightful, tho the pavement-stones, and stones of the walls and houses, were far too hot to have a hand laid on them comfortably.
We went, first of all, up a rocky height, to the cathedral, where Mass was performing to an auditory very like that of Lyons, namely, several old women, a baby, and a very self-possest dog, who had marked out for himself a little course or platform for exercise, beginning at the altar-rails and ending at the door, up and down which constitutional walk he trotted, during the service, as methodically and calmly, as any old gentleman out of doors. It is a bare old church, and the paintings in the roof are sadly defaced by time and damp weather; but the sun was shining in, splendidly, through the red curtains of the windows, and glittering on the altar furniture; and it looked as bright and cheerful as need be.
Hard by the cathedral stands the ancient Palace of the Popes, of which one portion is now a common jail, and another a noisy barrack; while gloomy suites of state apartments, shut up and deserted, mock their own old state and glory, like the embalmed bodies of kings. But we neither went there to see state rooms, nor soldiers' quarters, nor a common jail, tho we dropt some money into a prisoners' box outside, while the prisoners, themselves, looked through the iron bars, high, up, and watched us eagerly. We went to see the ruins of the dreadful rooms in which the Inquisition used to sit.
A little, old, swarthy woman, with a pair of flashing black eyes--proof that the world hadn't conjured down the devil within her, tho it had had between sixty and seventy years to do it in--came out of the Barrack Cabaret, of which she was the keeper, with some large keys in her hands, and marshaled us the way that we should go. How she told us, on the way, that she was a Government Officer (concierge du palais apostolique), and had been, for I don't know how many years; and how she had shown these dungeons to princes; and how she was the best of dungeon demonstrators; and how she had resided in the palace from an infant--had been born there, if I recollect right--I needn't relate.
But such a fierce, little, rapid, sparkling, energetic she-devil I never beheld. She was alight and flaming, all the time. Her action was violent in the extreme. She never spoke, without stopping expressly for the purpose. She stamped her feet, clutched us by the arms, flung herself into attitudes, hammered against walls with her keys, for mere emphasis: now whispered as if the Inquisition were there still; now shrieked as if she were on the rack herself; and had a mysterious, hag-like way with her forefinger, when approaching the remains of some new horror--looking back and walking stealthily and making horrible grimaces--that might alone have qualified her to walk up and down a sick man's counterpane, to the exclusion of all other figures, through a whole fever.
Passing through the courtyard, among groups of idle soldiers, we turned off by a gate, which this She-Goblin unlocked for our admission, and locked again behind us; and entered a narrow court, rendered narrower by fallen stones and heaps of rubbish; part of it choking up the mouth of a ruined subterranean passage, that once communicated (or is said to have done so) with another castle on the opposite bank of the river. Close to this courtyard is a dungeon--we stood within it, in another minute--in the dismal tower of oubliettes, where Rienzi was imprisoned, fastened by an iron chain to the very wall that stands there now, but shut out from the sky which now looks down into it.
A few steps brought us to the Cachots, in which the prisoners of the Inquisition were confined for forty-eight hours after their capture, without food or drink, that their constancy might be shaken, even before they were confronted with their gloomy judges. The day has not got in there yet. They are still small cells, shut in by four unyielding, close, hard walls; still profoundly dark; still massively doored and fastened, as of old.
Goblin, looking back as I have described, went softly on, into a vaulted chamber, now used as a store-room; once the Chapel of the Holy Office. The place where the tribunal sat, was plain. The platform might have been removed but yesterday. Conceive the parable of the Good Samaritan having been painted on the wall of one of these Inquisition chambers! But it was, and may be traced there yet.
High up in the wall, are niches where the faltering replies of the accused were heard and noted down. Many of them had been brought out of the very cell we had just looked into, so awfully; along the same stone passage. We had trodden in their very footsteps.
I am gazing round me, with the horror that the place inspires, when Goblin clutches me by the wrist, and lays, not her skinny finger, but the handle of a key, upon her lip. She invites me, with a jerk, to follow her. I do so. She leads me out into a room adjoining--a rugged room, with a funnel- shaped, contracting roof, open at the top, to the bright day, I ask her what it is. She folds her arms,, leers hideously, and stares. I ask again. She glances round, to see that all the little company are there; sits down upon a mound of stones; throws up her arms, and yells out, like a fiend, "La Salle de la Question!"
The Chamber of Torture! And the roof was made of that shape to stifle the victim's cries! Oh Goblin, Goblin, let us think of this awhile, in silence. Peace, Goblin! Sit with your short arms crossed on your short legs, upon that heap of stones, for only five minutes, and then flame out again.... A cold air, with an earthy smell, falls upon the face of Monsieur; for she has opened, while speaking, a trap-door in the wall. Monsieur looks in. Downward to the bottom, upward to the top, of a steep, dark lofty tower; very dismal, very dark, very cold. The Executioner of the Inquisition, says Goblin, edging in her head to look down also, flung those who were past all further torturing, down here. "But look! does Monsieur see the black stains on the wall?" A glance, over his shoulder, at Goblin's keen eye, shows Monsieur--and would without the aid of the directing-key--where they are. "What are they?" "Blood!"
In October, 1791, when Revolution was at its height here, sixty persons; men and women ("and priests," says Goblin, "priests"); were murdered, and hurled, the dying and the dead, into this dreadful pit, where a quantity of quicklime was tumbled down upon their bodies. Those ghastly tokens of the massacre were soon no more; but while one stone of the strong building in which the deed was done, remains upon another, there they will lie in the memories of men, as plain to see as the splashing of their blood upon the wall is now.... Goblin's finger is lifted; and she steals out again, into the Chapel of the Holy Office. She stops at a certain part of the flooring. Her great effect is at hand. She waits for the rest. She darts at the brave courier, who is explaining something; hits him a sounding rap on the hat with the largest key; and bids him be silent. She assembles us all, round a little trap-door in the floor, as round as grave.
"Voilà!" she darts down at the ring, and flings the door open with a crash, in her goblin energy, tho it is no light weight. "Voilà les oubliettes! Voilà les oubliettes! Subterranean! Frightful! Black! Terrible! Deadly! Les oubliettes de l'Inquisition!"
My blood ran cold, as I looked from Goblin, down into the vaults, where these forgotten creatures, with recollections of the world outside--of wives, friends, children, brothers--starved to death, and made the stones ring with their unavailing groans. But, the thrill I felt on seeing the accurst wall below, decayed and broken through, and the sun shining in through its gaping wounds, was like a sense of victory and triumph.
I felt exalted with the proud delight of living, in these degenerate times, to see it. As if I were the hero of some high achievement! The light in the doleful vaults was typical of the light that has streamed in, on all persecution in God's name, but which is not yet at its noon! It can not look more lovely to a blind man newly restored to sight, than to a traveler who sees it, calmly and majestically, treading down the darkness of that Infernal Well.
Goblin, having shown les oubliettes, felt that her great coup was struck. She let the door fall with a crash, and stood upon it with her arms a-kimbo, sniffing prodigiously.
When we left the place, I accompanied her into her house, under the outer gateway of the fortress, to buy a little history of the building. Her cabaret, a dark low room, lighted by small windows, sunk in the thick wall--in the softened light, and with its forge-like chimney; its little counter by the door, with bottles, jars, and glasses on it; its household implements are scraps of dress against the wall; and a sober looking woman (she must have a congenial life of it, with Goblin) knitting at the door-- looked exactly like a picture by Ostade.
I walked round the building on the outside, in a sort of dream, and yet with the delightful sense of having awakened from it, of which the light, down in the vaults, had given, me the assurance. The immense thickness and giddy height of the walls, the enormous strength of the massive towers, the great extent of the building, its gigantic proportions, frowning aspect, and barbarous irregularity, awaken awe and wonder.
The recollection of its opposite old uses; an impregnable fortress, a luxurious palace, a horrible prison, a place of torture, the court of the Inquisition; at one and the same time, a house of feasting, fighting, religion, and blood, gives to every stone in its huge form a fearful interest, and imparts new meaning to its incongruities. I could think of little, however, then, or long afterward, but the sun in the dungeons.
The palace coming down to be the lounging-place of noisy soldiers, and being forced to echo their rough talk and common oaths, and to have their garments fluttering from its dirty windows, was some reduction of its state, and something to rejoice at; but the day in its cells, and the sky for the roof of its chambers of cruelty--that was its desolation and defeat! If I had seen it in a blaze from ditch to rampart, I should have felt that not that light, nor all the light in all the fire that burns, could waste it, like the sunbeams in its secret council-chamber and its prisons.
[Footnote: From "The Story of Avignon." Published by E.P. Dutton & Co.]
It will now be convenient briefly to trace the growth of that remarkable edifice, at once a castle and a cloister, a palace and a prison, which constitutes the chief attraction of Avignon to-day, and which, altho defaced by time and by modern restorers, remains in its massive grandeur a fitting memorial of the great line of pontiffs who have made that little city famous in the annals of Christendom.
We have seen that Pope John XXII., having allotted a piece of land to his nephew, Arnaud de Via, for the erection of a new episcopal palace, was content to modify and enlarge the old one for pontifical uses, and that Benedict XII., with characteristic straightforwardness, purchased the new fabric from Arnaud's heirs and, having handed it over to the diocesan authorities, proceeded to transform the old building into a stately and spacious apostolic palace for the head of Christendom.
He was moved to this purchase after mature reflection, for it was a matter of urgent importance that the pontiff of the church of Rome should possess a palace of his own at Avignon as long as it might be necessary for him to remain there. The relation between Curia and Episcopate being thus clearly defined, Benedict appointed a compatriot, Pierre Poisson de Mirepoix, master of the works, and, since about two-thirds of the existing palace dates from Benedict's reign, Pierre Poisson may be regarded as its first architect.
More, probably, is known of the construction of the papal palace of Avignon than of any other relic of medieval architecture. Thanks to the researches of Father Ehrle, Prefect of the Vatican Library, and other scholars, the sums paid to the contractors, their names, the estimates of quantities, the wages of the chief workmen, and the price of materials, are before us, and we can trace day by day and month by month the progress of the great pile. The whole of the craftsmen, with the exception of the later master painters from Italy and some northern sculptors, were either Avignonais, Gascons or Provençals.
The first work undertaken by Pierre was the enlargement of the papal chapel of John XXII. This was doubled in length, and the lavish decorations executed by John's master painter, Friar Pierre Dupuy, were continued on the walls of the added portion; payments for white, green, indigo, vermilion, carmine and other pigments, and for colored tiles, testify to the brilliancy of its interior.
Meanwhile work was proceeding on the massy new tower, the Turris Magna, now known as the Tour des Anges, the best preserved of all the old towers. The foundations were laid on April 3, 1335, and it was roofed with lead on March 18, 1337. The basement formed the papal wine-cellar; the ground floor was the treasury, or strong room, where the specie, the jewels, the precious vessels of gold and silver and other valuables were stored; many payments are recorded for locks and bars and bolts for their safe-keeping within the ten-feet-thick walls of the tower.
The next great work put in hand was the east wing, which was raised on a space left by John's demolished, or partially demolished, structure. On November 20, 1337, two masons (lapiscidarios), Pierre Folcaud and Jean Chapelier, and a carpenter, Jacques Beyran, all of Avignon, contracted to carry out the plans of a new architect, Bernard Canello, for the completion of Benedict's private apartments, and on the same day Lambert Fabre and Martin Guinaud, housewreckers, were paid eighty-three gold florins on account, for the demolition of the old buildings. This wing, since wholly remodeled by the legates and the modern corps of engineers, comprised the papal Garde Robe, the Garde Meuble, the private kitchen and offices and, on the floor above, the papal dining-room, study and private oratory. The walls were, of course, embattlemented, and in 1337 the most exposed portions of the new buildings were defended by a stout rampart....
The whole ground floor, 110 feet by 33, was occupied by a great reception hall (Camera Paramenti), where distinguished visitors were accorded a first welcome before being admitted to a private audience, or accorded a solemn state reception in consistory, as the import of their embassy demanded. The popes were also used to receive the cardinals there, and two doorkeepers were appointed who must be faithful, virtuous and honest men and sleep in the hall; their office being one of great trust, was highly paid, and they were generally laymen. It was probably in this hall that St. Catherine was received by Clement VI. The Avignon conclaves were held there, for on December 31, 1352, four hundred and fifteen days' and nights' labor were employed in breaking down the walls between the dining- hall and the Camera Paramenti, clearing away the stones and making secret chambers for the lord cardinals, in which chambers were twenty-eight cells....
On September 5, 1339, John's old belfry was pulled down and Jean Mauser de Carnot, who asserted he had excavated 11,300 basketfuls of rubbish, was paid at the rate of twelve deniers the hundred for the work. Evidently these were good times for the basket makers as well as builders. December 22, 1340, three contractors, Isnard and Raymond Durand and Jacques Gasquet, received 1,273 florins for the completed new tower, with its barbicans, battlements and machicoulis, which was on the site and which retained the appellation of the Tour de la Campane, or Bell Tower. The embattlemented and machicolated summit, but not the chastelet, of this mighty tower has recently been restored; its walls are nearly twelve feet thick....
Benedict's last undertaking was the erection of the Tour de Trouillas, next the Tour des Latrines, and on April 20, 1341, sixteen rubbish baskets were bought for the "Saracens that excavated the foundations of the turris nova." The Tour de Trouillas, tallest and stoutest of the keeps of the mighty fortress, is 175 feet high as compared with the 150 feet of the Tour de la Campane, and its walls fifteen feet thick as compared with twelve feet. It should be noted, however, that the latter tower appears the taller owing to the elevated ground whereon, it stands....
Having bought, by private agreement or by arbitration, all the houses adjacent to the palace on the south side, Clement next proceeded to demolish them and on the site to raise the noblest and most beautiful wing of the great palace. This edifice, known to contemporaries as the great new palace, comprised a spacious Chapel and Hall of Justice; and in August 9, 1344, contracts were made for cutting away and leveling the rock above the present Rue Peyrolerie, whereon, by October 21, 1351, the masons had raised their beautiful building.
On that day, by order of our lord the pope, one hundred florins were handed over by the papal chamber to Master John of Loubières to distribute among the masters to celebrate the placing of the keystone in the vaulting of the new chapel of the palace and the completion of the said chapel. On All Saints' Day of that same year Clement recited (a month before his death) the first solemn mass in his great new chapel and preached a most eloquent sermon, praising God for the completion of his life's work. The lower hall, most famous of judicial chambers in Christendom and final Court of Appeal in all questions of international and ecclesiastical law, was later in opening.
Among the amenities of the old palace were the spacious and lovely gardens on the east, with their clipt hedges, avenues of trees, flower-beds and covered and frescoed walls, all kept fresh and green by channels of water. John maintained a menagerie of lions and other wild and strange beasts; stately peacocks swept proudly along the green swards, for the inventory of 1369 specifies seventeen peacocks, some old and some young, whereof six were white.
But we have as yet dealt chiefly with the external shell of this mass of architecture which, tall and mighty, raises its once impregnable walls and towers against the sky. The beauty of its interior remains briefly to be touched upon, for the fortress palace had, as Clement left it, some analogy with the great Moorish palace of the Alhambra in that it stood outwardly grim and strong, while within it was a shrine of exquisite and luxurious art.
The austere Benedict, who, his biographer tells us, left the walls of the consistory naked, appears to have expended little on the pictorial decorations of the halls and chambers erected during his pontificate; but with the elevation of the luxurious and art-loving Clement VI., a new spirit breathes over the fabric. The stern simplicity and noble strength of his predecessor's work assume an internal vesture of richness and beauty; the walls glow with azure and gold; a legion of Gallic sculptors and Italian painters lavish their art on the embellishment of the palace....
Such, in brief outline, was the progress of the mighty fabric and its internal decoration which the great popes of Avignon raised to be their dwelling-place, their fortress, and the ecclesiastical center of Christendom. Tho shorn of all its pristine beauty and robbed of much of its symmetry, it stands to-day in bulk and majesty, much as it stood at the end of Clement VI.'s reign, when a contemporary writer describes it as a quadrangular edifice, enclosed within high walls and towers and constructed in most noble style, and tho it was all most beautiful to look upon, there were three parts of transcendent beauty: the Audientia, the Capella major, and the terraces: and these were so admirably planned and contrived that peradventure no palace comparable to it was to be found in the whole world. The terraces referred to were those raised over the great chapel, and were formed of stone, bedded in asphalt and laid on a staging of stout oak joists; the view from the terraces was unparalleled for range and beauty.
The glowing splendor of frescoed walls was enhanced by gorgeous hangings and tapestries and by the magnificent robes and jewels of popes and cardinals. Crowds of goldsmiths--forty were employed at the papal court-- embroiderers and silk mercers, made Avignon famous thoughout Europe. In 1337, 318 florins were paid for eight Paris carpets; in 1343 Clement VI. paid 213 florins for green silk hangings, and 254 florins for carpets adorned with roses; in 1348, 400 gold and silver vessels turned the scales at 862 marks, 5 ounces; in the inventory of 1369, despite the fact that the most precious had been sent to Rome, the gold vessels were weighed out at 1,434 marks, 1 ounce; the silver at 5,525 marks 7 ounces.
A cardinal's hat cost from 15 to 40 florins, and in 1348, 150 florins were paid for one piece of scarlet for the pope, and 75 to 100 florins for the garniture of a riding cloak. Clement VI. spent 1,278 florins in the purchase of cloth of gold, woven by the Saracens of Damascus; one payment to Jacopo Malabayla of Arti for summer and winter clothing for the papal household amounted to 6,510 florins, and the same obviously Hebrew merchant received 10,652 florins in 1341 for cloth and ermine and beaver; in 1347 Clement's furrier received 1,080 ermine skins, whereof 430 were used in one cloak, 310 for a mantle, 150 for two hoods, and 88 for nine birettas; in 1351, 2,258 florins went to Tuscany for silk, and 385 for brocade to Venice.
The richness of the papal utensils beggars description; jeweled cups, flagons of gold, knife handles of jasper and ivory, forks of mother-of- pearl and gold. A goldsmith in 1382 was paid 14 florins for repairing two of the last-named implements. The flabelli, or processional feather fans, cost 14 florins; Benedict XIII., paid 300 florins for an enameled silver bit; the Golden Roses cost from 100 to 300 florins. Presents of jewels were costly and frequent. Gregory XI. gave 168 pearls, value 179 francs, to the citizens of Avellino; Clement VII. presented the Duke of Burgundy with a ring of gold, worth 335 florins; an aguière of gold and pearls, valued at 1,000 florins, and two tables each over 200 florins. Richer gifts were lavished on sovereign princes. Reliquaries were of prodigious value; the gold cross containing a piece of the true cross at the Célestins weighed fifteen pounds. In 1375 a silver arm for the image of St. Andrew cost over 2,566 florins.
The cardinals were equally munificent. The most striking example of lavish splendor is afforded by the State banquet given to Clement V., by the Cardinals Arnaud de Palegrue and Pierre Taillefer in May, 1308. Clement, as he descended from his litter, was received by his hosts and twenty chaplains, who conducted him to a chamber hung with richest tapestries from floor to ceiling; he trod on velvet carpet of triple pile; his state- bed was draped with fine crimson velvet, lined with white ermine; the sheets of silk were embroidered with silver and gold.
The table was served by four papal knights and twelve squires, who each received silver girdles and purses filled with gold from the hosts. Fifty cardinals' squires assisted them in serving the banquet, which consisted of nine courses of three plates each--twenty-seven dishes in all. The meats were built up in fantastic form: castles, gigantic stags, boars, horses, etc. After the fourth service, the cardinal offered his holiness a milk-white steed worth 400 florins; two gold rings, jeweled with an enormous sapphire and a no less enormous topaz; and a bowl, worth 100 florins; sixteen cardinal guests and twenty prelates were given rings and jewels, and twelve young clerks of the papal house and twenty-four sergeants-at-arms received purses filled with florins.
After the fifth service, a great tower with a font whence gushed forth five sorts of choicest wines was carried in; and a tourney was run during the interval between the seventh and eighth courses. Then followed a concert of sweetest music, and dessert was furnished by two trees--one of silver, bearing rarest fruits of all kinds, and the other loaded with sugared fruits of many colors. Various wines were then served, whereupon the master cooks, with thirty assistants, executed dances before the guests. Clement, by this time, having had enough, retired to his chamber, where, lest he might faint for lack of refreshment during the night, wine and spices were brought to him; the entertainment ended with dances and distractions of many kinds.
There is no reason to believe that the Avignon popes, either in their household expenditure or in their personal luxury, were more extravagant than their Roman predecessors or successors. Yet amid all this luxury, strange defects of comfort appear to the modern sense. Windows, as we have seen, were generally covered with wax cloth or linen, carpets were rare, and rushes were strewn on the floors of most of the rooms. From May to November, 1349, more than 300 loads of rushes were supplied for use in the dining-rooms and chambers of the apostolic palace. Subsequently mats were introduced, and in 1352 Pierre de Glotos, mat-maker to the palace of our lord and pope, was paid for 275 cannae of matting for the palace of Avignon and for the palace beyond the Rhone and the new chapel.
[Footnote: From "The Story of Avignon." Published by E.P. Dutton & Co.]
Intimately associated with the history of the palace of the Popes of Avignon is that of the unparalleled circuit of walls and towers which defended the city from the scourge of organized robber bands during the fourteenth century. The earliest quadrilateral fortifications embraced a relatively small area consisting of the Rocher des Doms and the parishes of St. Agricol, St. Didier, and St. Pierre; these walls, demolished and rebuilt on a more extensive scale in the twelfth century, embraced an area easily traceable on the modern map, from the Porte du Rhone, round the Rues du Limas, Joseph Vernet, des Lices, Philonarde, Campane, Trois Colombes, to the Rocher.
It was these fortifications that the Cardinal St. Angelo forced the citizens to raze in 1227. Until the acquisition of Avignon by Clement VI., the city was an open one and only defended by a double fosse. The origin of the papal walls has already been traced, and their subsequent fate may now be briefly given. The assaults of the Rhone proved more destructive than human artillery. The walls and towers having been hastily raised, towers fell by reason of bad foundation, and the upkeep of the fortifications was a continual drain on papal and communal finances.
In 1362 an irresistible flood of waters overthrew the Fortes St. Michel and Limbert, and large breaches were often made by these recurring inundations. Moreover, the expansion of the city of old and the need of access to the suburbs involved frequent displacement and opening of new gates. In 1482 the whole system of the defensive works was modified to meet the new situation caused by the introduction of gunpowder. The gates most exposed to attack were further defended by outworks, that of St. Lazare having been fortified during the rule of Giuliano della Rovere by the addition of a powerful bastide, with three round towers, a drawbridge, a new fosse which communicated with the great fosse before the main walls. Other modifications took place during the Huguenot wars.
Notwithstanding many repairs during the intervening centuries, the fortifications had, under the second Empire, suffered sad degradation, and at length Viollet-le-Duc was entrusted with their restoration. The famous architect set to work on their southern side and had completed about one- third of the restoration when the disastrous issue of the Franco-Prussian war arrested all further progress until the Third Republic feebly resumed the task. The walls along the Rhone, especially useful in time of flood, were backed with stone, their battlements and machicoulis renewed. The visitor, however, will need no reminder that the present passive aspect of the ramparts conveys but a faint impression of their former state, when a broad and deep fosse, seven feet by twelve, washed their bases, above which they raised their once impregnable curtains full thirty feet.
Two of the old gates have been demolished--the Porte de Limbert in 1896, and the Porte de l'Oulle in 1900--the former, many times repaired, was the only existing example of the external aspect of a medieval gate, the latter had been rebuilt in 1786 in the Doric style. A new gate, the Porte Pétrarque, now the Porte de la République, was erected by Viollet-le-Duc when the walls were pierced for the new street; the Porte St. Dominique is also new. These noble mural defenses, three miles in circuit, twice narrowly escaped demolition--at the construction of the railway, when they were saved by a vigorous protest of Prosper Mérimée, and in 1902, when, on the pretext that they blocked the development of the city, the municipality decided to demolish the unrestored portions. Luckily the intervention of a public-spirited Prefect of Vaucluse proved successful, and they were again rescued from the housewrecker's pick. No visitor to Avignon should omit to walk or drive round the famous ramparts.
Their stones have been subjected to careful scrutiny by antiquarians and the masons' marks (tacherons)--about 4,500--carefully examined and reduced to about four hundred and fifty types. Opinions differ as to the meaning of these curious signs, but there is little doubt that M. Maire's suggestion is the correct one--the workmen were paid by the piece, and each had his own private mark which he cut on the stones he laid and thus enabled the foreman to check his work.
We begin at the Porte du Rhône, and skirt the older part of the walls on the northwest with their different style of corbels and machicoulis. M. Maire has no hesitation in assigning this portion to the time of Clement VI., by reason of the coarser nature of the masons' marks. Turning southwards, we pass the Porte St. Dominique, and reach the Porte St. Roch (formerly the Porte du Chamfleury, and only opened at plague times) and the Porte de la République. We soon note the unrestored portions, the site of the old Porte Limbert, and turn northward to the Porte St. Lazare.
Before we reach this gate we may fitly make a digression, and in pious memory of a great Englishman, fare along the Avenue du Cimetière to the grave of John Stuart Mill, who with his wife lies buried within the cemetery under an elder-tree on the right and toward the end of Avenue 2. A plain stone slab bears the well-known inscription to Mrs. Mill's memory --the noblest and most eloquent epitaph ever composed by man for woman. It is pleasant to remember that Mill has left golden opinions of his gentleness and generosity behind him at Avignon. His house, a charming little hermitage approached by an avenue of plane trees not far from the cemetery, was sold in 1905, and a few relics were bought and still are cherished by the rare friends the somewhat self-centered philosopher made in the city. The present owner has preserved the library and study, where the "Essay on Liberty" was written, much as it was in Mill's days.
To the peasants who met the tall, bent, spare figure, musing and botanizing along the country lanes and fields, he was known as "Monsieur Émile." Before he left the city on his periodical visits to England, Mill was wont to leave 300 francs with M. Rey, pastor of the Protestant Church in Avignon: two hundred for expenses of public worship; one hundred for the poor, always charging M. Rey to write to England if any further need arose.
Mill, a great Englishman of European fame, to the amazement of his French friends, was followed to his last resting-place by no more than five mourners. As we write news comes that the civic authorities have decided to recall to posterity the association of the great thinker with Avignon by giving the name of Stuart Mill to a new boulevard, and that a bust has been unveiled to his memory near the pleasant city he loved so well. Mill was much gratified that his pamphlet on "The Subjection of Women" converted Mistral to the movement for their enfranchisement, and their legal equality with men.
[Footnote: From "The Story of Avignon." Published by E.P. Dutton & Co.]
The royal city of Villeneuve, altho geographically and politically sundered from Avignon and the County Venaissin, was socially and economically bound up with the papal city. The same reason that to-day impels the rich citizens of Avignon to dot the hills of Languedoc with their summer villas was operative in papal times, and popes and cardinals and prelates loved to build their summer places on the opposite bank of the Rhone.
How silent and neglected are the streets of this once wealthy and important city! How degraded its monuments, how faded its glory! In the hot, dusty afternoon, as the cranky old omnibus rattles along the narrow High Street, it appears to awaken echoes in a city of the dead.
Making our way northward, we pass the restored seventeenth-century portal of the palace of the sainted Cardinal of Luxembourg; the weather-worn, neglected, late Renaissance portal of the so-called Hôtel de Conti; the ruined Gothic portal of the palace of Cardinal Pierre de Thury, through which we pass to the old court-yard and a chapel subsequently restored and now used as the chapel of the Grey Penitents.
We pass many another relic of departed grandeur, and beyond the Place Neuve on our right come upon a great portal which opens on a vaulted passage leading to one of the most bewildering and extraordinary congeries of ruined monastic buildings in France, now inhabited by a population of poor folk--two hundred families, it is said--who, since the Revolution, have settled in the vast buildings of the once famous and opulent Charterhouse of Villeneuve. Founded by Innocent VI., three years after his elevation to the papal chair, and enriched by subsequent endownments, the Charterhouse of the Val de Bénédiction, the second in importance of the Order, grew in wealth and importance during the centuries until it was sacked and sold in small lots during the Revolution to the ancestors of the present occupants.
The circuit of its walls was a mile in extent; its artistic treasures were prodigious. The Coronation of the Virgin came thence; the Pietá of Villeneuve, now in the Louvre; the founder's tomb; the high altar of Notre Dame at Villeneuve, and a few other relics, alone survive of its vast possessions. The scene resembles nothing so much as a city ruined by bombardment or earthquake, but how long the wreck will remain in its present picturesque and melancholy condition is difficult to forecast. The state is slowly buying out the owners, and doubtless ere many years are passed the more valuable artistic remains will have been swept and garnished and restored.
As we return from the Chartreuse we turn left along the Place Neuve, and climb to the mighty fort of St. André, which occupies the most venerable site in the royal new city, for on the hill where it stands tradition relates that St. Cesarie, Bishop of Arles, was buried, and that there, in the sixth century, the first Benedictines settled. The primitive settlement, destroyed in the ninth century, was extensively rebuilt in 980, and within its walls, churches were dedicated to St. Andrew, St. Michael, and St. Martin. In the twelfth century the rich and powerful monastery, a strongly fortified, self-sufficing community, was held under the counts of Toulouse, and from their overlordship it was subsequently admitted by the counts to be within the territory of the republic of Avignon, whose consuls in 1210 compelled the abbot to demolish his walls and promise never to rebuild them.
In 1292 Philip the Fair was permitted to settle a small community there, to whom he accorded in 1293 valuable privileges and the same protection he granted to his good city of Paris. Philip, to whom the position was valuable as a frontier post, erected a castle there, maintained a royal garrison, and the new settlement became known as the New Town (Villeneuve). The walls and towers then raised were rebuilt in 1352 by John the Good, who exacted a toll, known as St. Andrew's penny, for maintenance on all merchandise that passes through the Senechaussée of Beaucaire.
Of these majestic ruins, restored in the sixteenth century and again in recent times, the Tour des Masques at the west angle with its simple battlements is the oldest portion, the massive machicolated towers that frown over the main entrance having been raised by John the Good. The ruined ravelin dates back to the seventeenth century. We enter and stroll about the desolate interior, crowned by a tiny Romanesque chapel of the twelfth century, that well deserves its name of Our Lady of the Fair View (Notre Dame de Belvézét), with a graceful apse (restored). From its summit, or from the tall old watch-tower of the monastery, a marvelous view is obtained of the gaping ruins of the Charterhouse of Avignon, the County Venaissin, the Cévennes, Mount Ventoux, and the distant Alps.
In the later years of the monarchy a post of artillery was stationed in the fort, and it was from the fire of a battery planted there that a young captain of artillery, one Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1793, overawed the city of Avignon, which was occupied by the Marseillais federalists who had declared against the Convention; and it was with the cannon seized at St. André that Bonaparte marched to Toulon and expelled the English from its harbor.
The papal soldiery were ever objects of scorn to the royalists of Villeneuve, who dubbed them "patachines" ("pestacchina," Ital. for slipper), and taunted them with drilling under parasols--a pleasantry repaid by the Italians who hurled the epithet "luzers" (lizards) against the royalists, who were said to pass their time sunning themselves against the hot rocks of Villeneuve.
Descending the stately stairway that leads to the foot of the Rocher des Doms, and turning to the left, we soon reach the house of the "gardien du pont," who will admit us to all that remains of the miraculous pontifical structure of the twelfth century. The destructive hand of man and the assaults of the Rhone have dealt hardly with St. Benezet's work. Ruined during the siege of 1226, it was repaired in 1234-37, and in 1349 knit to the papal fortress at the Avignon end. In 1352, when Clement VI. rebuilt four of the arches, it is described as of stone and wood; it was cut during the siege of Benedict XIII., and repaired, or rebuilt, in 1418 and 1430; in 1602 three arches collapsed; in 1633 two more fell, and in 1650 the gaps were bridged by wooden struts and planks, which were carried away in 1670 by ice-floes.
Owing to the interminable dispute between the monarchy and the papacy as to liability for its repair, each power claiming jurisdiction over the Rhone, all attempts to preserve it from ruin were abandoned in 1680, when Louis XIV. refused either to allow the legates to take toll for the necesary repairs, or to undertake them himself.
Little is known of the original bridge, which consisted of twenty-two semi-circular arches (Viollet-le-Duc gives eighteen), much lower than the present elliptic ones, which date back to the thirteenth century, according to Labaude--or to the fifteenth century, acording to other authorities--when the bridge, having proved too low-pitched, was raised to its present level, and the flood arches over the piles were built. The four subsisting arches were, with the bridge chapel, restored during the last century. The old bridge formed an elbow upstream on the Villeneuve branch of the Rhone.
The chapel of St. Nicholas, too, has suffered many vicissitudes. The primitive Romanesque building was raised to the level of the new footway by dividing the nave into two floors and building a flight of steps, supported on a squinch arch, down to what then became the lower chapel. Much battered during the sieges of the palace, it was restored and reconsecrated in 1411 and a century later the Gothic upper apse was added, whose external walls overtop the old nave. In consequence of these modifications the lower chapel has a Gothic nave and a Romanesque apse, whereas the upper chapel has a Gothic apse and a Romanesque nave.
The "Pont d'Avignon" is known to every French-speaking child, and with many variants the old "ronde" is sung and danced from the remotest plains of Canada to the valleys of the Swiss Alps. The good folk of Avignon, however, protest that their "rondes" were not danced perilously on the narrow Pont St. Benezet, but under its arches on the green meadows of the Isle de la Barthelasse, and that "Sur" in lieu of "Sous" is due to northern misunderstanding of their sweet Provençal tongue.
[Footnote: From "A Little Tour In France." By special arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Co. Copyright, 1884.]
I alighted at Orange to visit a collection of eminently civil monuments. The collection consists of but two objects, but these objects are so fine that I will let the word pass. One of them is a triumphal arch, supposedly of the period of Marcus Aurelius; the other is a fragment, magnificent in its ruin, of a Roman theater. But for these fine Roman remains and for its name, Orange is a perfectly featureless little town, without the Rhone-- which, as I have mentioned, is several miles distant--to help it to a physiognomy. It seems one of the oddest things that this obscure French borough--obscure, I mean, in our modern era, for the Gallo-Roman Arausio must have been, judging it by its arches and theater, a place of some importance--should have given its name to the heirs apparent of the throne of Holland, and been borne by a king of England who had sovereign rights over it. During the Middle Ages it formed part of an independent principality; but in 1531 it fell, by the marriage of one of its princesses, who had inherited it, into the family of Nassau. I read in my indispensable Murray that it was made over to France by the treaty of Utrecht.
The arch of triumph, which stands a little way out of the town, is rather a pretty than an imposing vestige of the Romans. If it had greater purity of style, one might say of it that it belonged to the same family of monuments as the Maison Carée at Nîmes. It has three passages--the middle much higher than the others--and a very elevated attic. The vaults of the passages are richly sculptured, and the whole monument is covered with friezes and military trophies. This sculpture is rather mixed; much of it is broken and defaced, and the rest seemed to me ugly, tho its workmanship is praised. The arch is at once well preserved and much injured. Its general mass is there, and as Roman monuments go it is remarkably perfect; but it has suffered, in patches, from the extremity of restoration. It is not, on the whole, of absorbing interest.
It has a charm, nevertheless, which comes partly from its soft, bright yellow color, partly from a certain elegance of shape, of expression; and on that well-washed Sunday morning, with its brilliant tone, surrounded by its circle of thin poplars, with the green country lying beyond it and a low blue horizon showing through its empty portals, it made, very sufficiently, a picture that hangs itself to one of the lateral hooks of the memory. I can take down the modest composition, and place it before me as I write. I see the shallow, shining puddles in the hard, fair French road; the pale blue sky, diluted by days of rain; the disgarnished autumnal fields; the mild sparkle of the low horizon; the solitary figure in sabots, with a bundle under its arm, advancing along the "chaussée;" and in the middle I see the little ochre-colored monument, which, in spite of its antiquity, looks bright and gay, as everything must look in France of a fresh Sunday morning.
It is true that this was not exactly the appearance of the Roman theater, which lies on the other side of the town; a fact that did not prevent me from making my way to it in less than five minutes, through a succession of little streets concerning which I have no observations to record. None of the Roman remains in the south of France are more impressive than this stupendous fragment. An enormous mound rises above the place, which was formerly occupied--I quote from Murray--first by a citadel of the Romans, then by a castle of the princes of Nassau, razed by Louis XIV.
Facing this hill a mighty wall erects itself, thirty-six meters high, and composed of massive blocks of dark brown stone, simply laid one on the other; the whole naked, rugged surface of which suggests a natural cliff (say of the Vaucluse order) rather than an effort of human, or even of Roman labor. It is the biggest thing at Orange--it is bigger than all Orange put together--and its permanent massiveness makes light of the shrunken city. The face it presents to the town--the top of it garnished with two rows of brackets, perforated with holes to receive the staves of the "velarium"--bears the traces of more than one tier of ornamental arches; tho how these flat arches were applied, or incrusted, upon the wall, I do not profess to explain.
You pass through a diminutive postern--which seems in proportion about as high as the entrance of a rabbit-hutch--into the lodge of the custodian, who introduces you to the interior of the theater. Here the mass of the hill affronts you, which the ingenious Romans treated simply as the material of their auditorium. They inserted their stone seats, in a semicircle, in the slope of the hill, and planted their colossal wall opposite to it. This wall, from the inside, is, if possible, even more imposing. It formed the back of the stage, the permanent scene, and its enormous face was coated with marble. It contains three doors, the middle one being the highest, and having above it, far aloft, a deep niche, apparently intended for an imperial statue. A few of the benches remain on the hillside, which, however, is mainly a confusion of fragments. There is part of a corridor built into the hill, high up, and on the crest are the remnants of the demolished castle.
The whole place is a kind of wilderness of ruin; there are scarcely any details; the great feature is the overtopping wall. This wall being the back of the scene, the space left between it and the chord of the semicircle (of the auditorium) which formed the proscenium is rather less than one would have supposed. In other words, the stage was very shallow, and appears to have been arranged for a number of performers standing in a line, like a company of soldiers. There stands the silent skeleton, however, as impressive by what it leaves you to guess and wonder about as by what it tells you. It has not the sweetness, the softness of melancholy, of the theater at Arles; but it is more extraordinary, and one can imagine only tremendous tragedies being enacted there--
"Presenting Thebes' or Pelops' line."
At either end of the stage, coming forward, is an immense wing--immense in height, I mean, as it reaches to the top of the scenic wall; the other dimensions are not remarkable. The division to the right, as you face the stage, is pointed out as the green-room; its portentous altitude and the open arches at the top give it the air of a well. The compartment on the left is exactly similar, save that it opens into the traces of other chambers, said to be those of a hippodrome adjacent to the theater. Various fragments are visible which refer themselves plausibly to such an establishment; the greater axis of the hippodrome would appear to have been on a line with the triumphal arch. This is all I saw, and all there was to see, of Orange, which had a very rustic, bucolic aspect, and where I was not even called upon to demand breakfast at the hotel. The entrance of this resort might have been that of a stable of the Roman days.
[Footnote: From "Views Afoot." Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons.]
This district borders on the desert of the Crau, a vast plain of stones reaching to the mouth of the Rhone and almost entirely uninhabited. We caught occasional glimpses of its sealike waste between the summits of the hills. At length, after threading a high ascent, we saw the valley of the Durance suddenly below us. The sun, breaking through the clouds, shone on the mountain-wall which stood on the opposite side, touching with his glow the bare and rocky precipices that frowned far above the stream. Descending to the valley, we followed its course toward the Rhone with the ruins of feudal "bourgs" crowning the crags above us.
It was dusk when we reached the village of Senas tired with the day's march. A landlord standing in his door, on the lookout for customers, invited us to enter in a manner so polite and pressing we could not choose but do so. This is a universal custom with the country innkeepers. In a little village which we passed toward evening there was a tavern with the sign "The Mother of Soldiers." A portly woman whose face beamed with kindness and cheerfulness stood in the door and invited us to stop there for the night. "No, mother," I answered; "we must go much farther to-day." "Go, then," said she, "with good luck, my children! A pleasant journey!"
On entering the inn at Senas two or three bronzed soldiers were sitting by the table. My French vocabulary happening to give out in the middle of a consultation about eggs and onion-soup, one of them came to my assistance and addrest me in German. He was from Fulda, in Hesse-Cassel, and had served fifteen years in Africa....
Leaving next morning at daybreak, we walked on before breakfast to Orgon, a little village in a corner of the cliffs which border the Durance, and crossed the muddy river by a suspension bridge a short distance below, to Cavaillon, where the country-people were holding a great market. From this place a road led across the meadow-land to L'Isle, six miles distant. This little town is so named because it is situated on an island formed by the crystal Sorgues, which flows from the fountains of Vaucluse.
It is a very picturesque and pretty place. Great mill-wheels, turning slowly and constantly, stand at intervals in the stream, whose grassy banks are now as green as in springtime. We walked along the Sorgues-- which is quite as beautiful and worthy to be sung as the Clitumnus--to the end of the village to take the road to Vaucluse. Beside its banks stands the "Hôtel de Petrarque et Laure." Alas that names of the most romantic and impassioned lovers of all history should be desecrated to a sign-post to allure gormandizing tourists!
The bare mountain in whose heart lies the poet's solitude now rose before us at the foot of the lofty Mount Ventoux, whose summit of snows extended beyond. We left the river and walked over a barren plain across which the wind blew most drearily. The sky was rainy and dark, and completed the desolateness of the scene, which in nowise heightened our anticipations of the renowned glen. At length we rejoined the Sorgues and entered a little green valley running up into the mountain. The narrowness of the entrance entirely shut out the wind, and, except the rolling of the waters over their pebbly bed, all was still and lonely and beautiful. The sides of the dell were covered with olive trees, and a narrow strip of emerald meadow lay at the bottom.
It grew more hidden and sequestered as we approached the little village of Vaucluse. Here the mountain towers far above, and precipices of gray rock many hundred feet high hang over the narrowing glen. On a crag over the village are the remains of a castle; the slope below this, now rugged and stony, was once graced by the cottage and garden of Petrarch. All traces of them have long since vanished, but a simple column bearing the inscription. "A Petrarque" stands beside the Sorgues.
We ascended into the defile by a path among the rocks, overshadowed by olives and wild fig-trees, to the celebrated fountains of Vaucluse. The glen seems as if stuck into the mountain's depths by one blow of the enchanter's wand, and just at the end, where the rod might have rested in its downward sweep, is the fathomless well whose over-brimming fulness gives birth to the Sorgues. We climbed up over the mossy rocks and sat down in the grotto beside the dark, still pool. It was the most absolute solitude.
The rocks towered above and over us to the height of six hundred feet, and the gray walls of the wild glen below shut out all appearance of life. I leaned over the rock and drank of the blue crystal that grew gradually darker toward the center till it became a mirror and gave back a perfect reflection of the crags above it. There was no bubbling, no gushing up from its deep bosom, but the wealth of sparkling waters continually welled over as from a too-full goblet.
It was with actual sorrow that I turned away from the silent spot. I never visited a place to which the fancy clung more suddenly and fondly. There is something holy in its solitude, making one envy Petrarch the years of calm and unsullied enjoyment which blest him there. As some persons whom we pass as strangers strike a hidden chord in our spirits, compelling a silent sympathy with them, so some landscapes have a character of beauty which harmonizes thrillingly with the mood in which we look upon them, till we forget admiration in the glow of spontaneous attachment. They seem like abodes of the beautiful which the soul in its wanderings long ago visited and now recognizes and loves as the home of a forgotten dream. It was thus I felt by the fountains of Vaucluse; sadly and with weary steps I turned away, leaving its loneliness unbroken as before.
We returned over the plain in the wind, under the gloomy sky, passed L'Isle at dusk, and after walking an hour with a rain following close behind us stopt at an auberge in Le Thor, where we rested our tired frames and broke our long day's fasting. We were greeted in the morning with a dismal rain and wet roads as we began the march. After a time, however, it poured down in such torrents that we were obliged to take shelter in a remise by the roadside, where a good woman who addrest us in the unintelligible Provençal kindled up a blazing fire. On climbing a long hill when the storm had abated, we experienced a delightful surprise. Below us lay the broad valley of the Rhone, with its meadows looking fresh and spring-like after the rain. The clouds were breaking away; clear blue sky was visible over Avignon, and a belt of sunlight lay warmly along the mountains of Languedoc. Many villages with their tall picturesque towers dotted the landscape, and the groves of green olive enlivened the barrenness of winter.
[Footnote: From "A Little Tour in France." By special arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Co. Copyright, 1884.]
It was a pleasure to feel one's self in Provence again--the land where the silver-gray earth is impregnated with the light of the sky. To celebrate the event, as soon as I arrived at Nîmes I engaged a calèche to convey me to the Pont du Gard. The day was yet young, and it was perfectly fair; it appeared well, for a longish drive, to take advantage, without delay, of such security. After I had left the town I became more intimate with that Provençal charm which I had already enjoyed from the window of the train, and which glowed in the sweet sunshine and the white rocks, and lurked in the smoke-puffs of the little olives.
The olive-trees in Provence are half the landscape. They are neither so tall, so stout, nor so richly contorted as I have seen them beyond the Alps; but this mild colorless bloom seems the very texture of the country. The road from Nîmes, for a distance of fifteen miles, is superb; broad enough for an army, and as white and firm as a dinner-table. It stretches away over undulations which suggest a kind of harmony; and in the curves it makes through the wide, free country, where there is never a hedge or a wall, and the detail is always exquisite, there is something majestic, almost processional. You are very near (the Pont du Gard) before you see it; the ravine it spans suddenly opens and exhibits the picture. The scene at this point grows extremely beautiful. The ravine is the valley of the Garden, which the road from Nîmes has followed some time without taking account of it, but which, exactly at the right distance from the aqueduct, deepens and expands, and puts on those characteristics which are best suited to give it effect. The gorge becomes romantic, still, and solitary, and, with its white rocks and wild shrubbery, hangs over the clear, colored river, in whose slow course there is here and there a deeper pool. Over the valley, from side to side, and ever so high in the air, stretch the three tiers of the tremendous bridge. They are unspeakably imposing, and nothing could well be more Roman.
The hugeness, the solidity, the unexpectedness, the monumental rectitude of the whole thing leave you nothing to say--at the time--and make you stand gazing. You simply feel that it is noble and perfect, that it has the quality of greatness. A road, branching from the highway, descends to the level of the river and passes under one of the arches. This road has a wide margin of grass and loose stones, which slopes upward into the bank of the ravine. You may sit here as long as you please, staring up at the light, strong piers; the spot is extremely natural, tho two or three stone benches have been erected on it.
I remained there an hour and got a complete impression; the place was perfectly soundless, and for the time, at least, lonely; the splendid afternoon had begun to fade, and there was a fascination in the object I had come to see. It came to pass that at the same time I discovered in it a certain stupidity, a vague brutality. That element is rarely absent from great Roman work, which is wanting in the nice adaption of the means to the end. The means are always exaggerated; the end is so much more than attained. The Roman rigidity was apt to overshoot the mark, and I suppose a race which could do nothing small is as defective as a race that can do nothing great. Of this Roman rigidity the Pont du Gard is an admirable example.
It would be a great injustice, however, not to insist upon its beauty--a kind of manly beauty, that of an object constructed not to please but to serve, and impressive simply from the scale on which it carries out this intention. The number of arches in each tier is different; they are smaller and more numerous as they ascend. The preservation of the thing is extraordinary; nothing has crumbled or collapsed; every feature remains; and the huge blocks of stone, of a brownish-yellow (as if they had been baked by the Provençal sun for eighteen centuries), pile themselves, without mortar or cement, as evenly as the day they were laid together.
All this to carry the water of a couple of springs to a little provincial city! The conduit on the top has retained its shape and traces of the cement with which it was lined. When the vague twilight began to gather, the lonely valley seemed to fill itself with the shadow of the Roman name, as if the mighty empire were still as erect as the support of the aqueduct; and it was open to a solitary tourist, sitting there sentimental, to believe that no people has ever been, or will ever be, as great as that, measured, as we measure the greatness of an individual, by the push they gave to what they undertook. The Pont du Gard is one of the three or four deepest impressions they have left; it speaks of them in a manner with which they might have been satisfied....
On my way back to the little inn where I had left my vehicle, I passed the Pont du Gard, and took another look at it. Its great arches made windows for the evening sky, and the rocky ravine, with its dusky cedars and shining river, was lonelier than before. At the inn I swallowed, or tried to swallow, a glass of horrible wine with my coachman; after which, with my team, I drove back to Nîmes in the moonlight. It only added a more solitary whiteness to the constant sheen of the Provençal landscape.
The weather the next day was equally fair, so that it seemed an imprudence not to make sure of Aigues-Mortes. Nîmes itself could wait; at a pinch, I could attend to Nîmes in the rain. It was my belief that Aigues-Mortes was a little gem, and it is natural to desire that gems should have an opportunity to sparkle. This is an excursion of but a few hours, and there is a little friendly, familiar, dawdling train that will convey you, in time for a noonday breakfast, to the small dead town where the blest Saint Louis twice embarked for the crusades. You may get back to Nîmes for dinner; the run is of about an hour.
I found the little journey charming, and looked out of the carriage window, on my right, at the distant Cévennes, covered with tones of amber and blue, and, all around, at vineyards red with the touch of October. The grapes were gone, but the plants had a color of their own. Within a certain distance of Aigues-Mortes they give place to wide salt-marshes, traversed by two canals; and over this expanse the train rumbles slowly upon a narrow causeway, failing for some time, tho you know you are near the object of your curiosity, to bring you to sight of anything but the horizon. Suddenly it appears, the towered and embattled mass, lying so low that the crest of its defences seems to rise straight out of the ground; and it is not till the train stops, close before them that you are able to take the full measure of its walls.
Aigues-Mortes stands on the edge of a wide étang, or shallow inlet of the sea, the further side of which is divided by a narrow band of coast from the Gulf of Lyons. Next after Carcassonne, to which it forms an admirable pendant, it is the most perfect thing of the kind in France. It has a rival in the person of Avignon, but the ramparts of Avignon are much less effective. Like Carcassonne, it is completely surrounded with its old fortifications; and if they are far simpler in character (there is but one circle), they are quite as well preserved. The moat has been filled up, and the site of the town might be figured by a billiard-table without pockets. On this absolute level, covered with coarse grass, Aigues-Mortes presents quite the appearance of the walled town that a school-boy draws upon his slate, or that we see in the background of early Flemish pictures--a simple parallelogram, of a contour almost absurdly bare, broken at intervals by angular towers and square holes.
Such, literally speaking, is this delightful little city, which needs to be seen to tell its full story. It is extraordinarily pictorial, and if it is a very small sister of Carcassonne, it has at least the essential features of the family. Indeed, it is even more like an image and less like a reality than Carcassonne; for by position and prospect it seems even more detached from the life of the present day. It is true that Aigues-Mortes does a little business; it sees certain bags of salt piled into barges which stand in a canal beside it, and which carry their cargo into actual places. But nothing could well be more drowsy and desultory than this industry as I saw it practised, with the aid of two or three brown peasants and under the eye of a solitary douanier who strolled on the little quay beneath the western wall. "C'est bien plaisant, c'est bien paisible," said this worthy man, with whom I had some conversation; and pleasant and peaceful is the place indeed, tho the former of these epithets may suggest an element of gayety in which Aigues-Mortes is deficient.
The sand, the salt, the dull sea-view, surround it with a bright, quiet melancholy. There are fifteen towers and nine gates, five of which are on the southern side, overlooking the water. I walked all round the place three times (it doesn't take long), but lingered most under the southern wall, where the afternoon light slept in the dreamiest, sweetest way. I sat down on an old stone, and looked away to the desolate salt-marshes and still, shining surface of the étang; and, as I did so, reflected that this was a queer little out-of-the-world corner to have been chosen, in the great dominions of either monarch, for that pompous interview which took place, in 1538, between Francis I. and Charles V. It was also not easy to perceive how Louis IX., when in 1248 and 1270 he started for the Holy Land, set his army afloat in such very undeveloped channels.
An hour later I purchased in the town a little pamphlet by M. Marius Topin, who undertakes to explain this latter anomaly, and to show that there is water enough in the port, as we may call it by courtesy, to have sustained a fleet of crusaders. I was unable to trace the channel that he points out, but was glad to believe that, as he contends, the sea has not retreated from the town since the thirteenth century. It was comfortable to think that things are not so changed as that. M. Topin indicates that the other French ports of the Mediterranean were not then "disponibles," and that Aigues-Mortes was the most eligible spot for an embarkation.
Behind the straight walls and the quiet gates the little town has not crumbled, like the Cité of Carcassonne. It can hardly be said to be alive; but if it is dead it has been very neatly embalmed. The hand of the restorer rests on it constantly; but this artist has not, as at Carcassonne, had miracles to accomplish. The interior is very still and empty, with small stony, whitewashed streets, tenanted by a stray dog, a stray cat, a stray old woman. In the middle is a little place, with two or three cafés decorated by wide awnings--a little place of which the principal feature is a very bad bronze statue of Saint Louis by Pradier. It is almost as bad as the breakfast I had at the inn that bears the name of that pious monarch.
You may walk round the enceinte of Aigues-Mortes, both outside and in; but you may not, as at Carcassonne, make a portion of this circuit on the chemin de ronde, the little projecting footway attached to the inner face of the battlements. This footway, wide enough only for a single pedestrian, is in the best order, and near each of the gates a flight of steps leads up to it; but a locked gate, at the top of the steps, makes access impossible, or at least unlawful. Aigues-Mortes, however, has its citadel, an immense tower, larger than any of the others, a little detached, and standing at the northwest angle of the town. I called upon the casernier--the custodian of the walls--and in his absence I was conducted through this big Tour de Constance by his wife, a very mild, meek woman, yellow with the traces of fever and ague--a scourge which, as might be expected in a town whose name denotes "dead waters," enters freely at the nine gates.
The Tour de Constance is of extraordinary girth and solidity, divided into three superposed circular chambers, with very fine vaults, which are lighted by embrasures of prodigious depth, converging to windows little larger than loop-holes. The place served for years as a prison to many of the Protestants of the south whom the revocation of the Edict of Nantes had exposed to atrocious penalties, and the annals of these dreadful chambers during the first half of the last century were written in tears and blood. Some of the record cases of long confinement there make one marvel afresh at what man has inflicted and endured. In a country in which a policy of extermination was to be put into practise this horrible tower was an obvious resource. From the battlements at the top, which is surmounted by an old disused lighthouse, you see the little compact rectangular town, which looks hardly bigger than a garden-patch, mapped out beneath you, and follow the plain configuration of its defenses. You take possession of it, and you feel that you will remember it always.
In general Nîmes is poor; its only treasures are its Roman remains, which are of the first order. The new French fashions prevail in many of its streets; the old houses are paltry, and the good houses are new; while beside my hotel rose a big spick-and-span church, which had the oddest air of having been intended for Brooklyn or Cleveland....
What nobler ornament can there be than the Roman baths at the foot of Mont Cavalier, and the delightful old garden that surrounds them? All that quarter of Nîmes has every reason to be proud of itself; it has been revealed to the world at large by copious photography. A clear, abundant stream gushes from the foot of a high hill (covered with trees and laid out in paths), and is distributed into basins which sufficiently refer themselves to the period that gave them birth--the period that has left its stamp on that pompous Peyrou which we admired at Montpellier. Here are the same terraces and steps and balustrades, and a system of water-works less impressive, perhaps, but very ingenious and charming.
The whole place is a mixture of old Rome and of the French eighteenth century; for the remains of the antique baths are in a measure incorporated in the modern fountains. In a corner of this umbrageous precinct stands a small Roman ruin, which is known as a temple of Diana, but was more apparently a nymphaeum, and appears to have had a graceful connection with the adjacent baths. I learn from Murray that this little temple, of the period of Augustus, "was reduced to its present state of ruin in 1577;" the moment at which the towns-people, threatened with a siege by the troops of the crown, partly demolished it, lest it should serve as a cover to the enemy. The remains are very fragmentary, but they serve to show that the place was lovely. I spent half an hour in it on a perfect Sunday morning (it is enclosed by a high grille, carefully tended, and has a warden of its own), and with the help of my imagination tried to reconstruct a little the aspect of things in the Gallo-Roman days.
I do wrong, perhaps, to say that I tried; from a flight so deliberate I should have shrunk. But there was a certain contagion of antiquity in the air; and among the ruins of baths and temples, in the very spot where the aqueduct that crosses the Garden in the wondrous manner I had seen discharged itself, the picture of a splendid paganism seemed vaguely to glow. Roman baths--Roman baths; those words alone were a scene.
Everything was changed; I was strolling in a jardin français; the bosky slope of the Mont Cavalier (a very modest mountain), hanging over the place, is crowded with a shapeless tower, which is as likely to be of medieval as of antique origin; and yet, as I leaned on the parapet of one of the fountains, where a flight of curved steps (a hemicycle, as the French say) descended into a basin full of dark, cool recesses, where the slabs of the Roman foundations gleam through the clear green water--as in this attitude I surrendered myself to contemplation and reverie, it seemed to me that I touched for a moment the ancient world. Such moments are illuminating, and the light of this one mingles, in my memory, with the dusky greenness of the Jardin de la Fontaine.
The fountain proper--the source of all these distributed waters--is the prettiest thing in the world, a reduced copy of Vaucluse. It gushes up at the foot of the Mont Cavalier, at a point where that eminence rises with a certain cliff-like effect, and, like other springs in the same circumstances, appears to issue from the rock with a sort of quivering stillness. I trudge up the Mont Cavalier,--it is a matter of five minutes,--and having committed this cockneyism enhanced it presently by another. I ascended the stupid Tour Magne, the mysterious structure I mentioned a moment ago. The only feature of this dateless tube, except the inevitable collection of photographs to which you are introduced by the doorkeeper, is the view you enjoy from its summit. This view is, of course, remarkably fine but I am ashamed to say I have not the smallest recollection of it; for while I looked into the brilliant spaces of the air I seemed still to see only what I saw in the depths of the Roman baths--the image, disastrously confused and vague, of a vanished world. This world, however, has left at Nîmes a far more considerable memento than a few old stones covered with water-moss.
The Roman arena is the rival of those of Verona and of Arles; at a respectful distance it emulates the Colosseum. It is a small Colosseum, if I may be allowed the expression, and is in a much better preservation than the great circus at Rome. This is especially true of the external walls, with their arches, pillars, cornices. I must add that one should not speak of preservation, in regard to the arena at Nîmes, without speaking also of repair. After the great ruin ceased to be despoiled, it began to be protected, and most of its wounds have been drest with new material. These matters concern the archeologist; and I felt here, as I felt afterward at Arles, that one of the profane, in the presence of such a monument, can only admire and hold his tongue. The great impression, on the whole, is an impression of wonder that so much should have survived. What remains at Nîmes, after all dilapidation is estimated, is astounding.
I spent an hour in the Arènes on that same sweet Sunday morning, as I came back from the Roman baths, and saw that the corridors, the vaults, the staircases, the external casing, are still virtually there. Many of these parts are wanting in the Colosseum, whose sublimity of size, however, can afford to dispense with detail. The seats at Nîmes, like those at Verona, have been largely renewed; not that this mattered much, as I lounged on the cool surface of one of them, and admired the mighty concavity of the place and the elliptical sky-line, broken by uneven blocks and forming the rim of the monstrous cup--a cup that had been filled with horrors, and yet I made my reflections; I said to myself that tho a Roman arena is one of the most impressive of the works of man, it has a touch of that same stupidity which I ventured to discover in the Pont du Gard. It is brutal; it is monotonous; it is not at all exquisite.
The Arènes at Nîmes were arranged for a bull-fight--a form of recreation that, as I was informed, is much dans les habitudes Nîmoises and very common throughout Provence, where (still according to my information) it is the usual pastime of a Sunday afternoon. At Arles and Nîmes it has a characteristic setting, but in the villages the patrons of the game make a circle of carts and barrels, on which the spectators perch themselves. I was surprised at the prevalence, in mild Provence, of the Iberian vice, and hardly know whether it makes the custom more respectable that at Nîmes and Arles the thing is shabbily and imperfectly done. The bulls are rarely killed, and indeed often are bulls only in the Irish sense of the term-- being domestic and motherly cows. Such an entertainment of course does not supply to the arena that element of the exquisite which I spoke of as wanting.
The exquisite at Nîmes is mainly represented by the famous Maison Carrée. The first impression you receive from this delicate little building, as you stand before it, is that you have already seen it many times. Photographs, engravings, models, medals, have placed it definitely in your eye, so that from the sentiment with which you regard it curiosity and surprise are almost completely, and perhaps deplorably absent. Admiration remains however--admiration of a familiar and even slightly patronizing kind. The Maison Carrée does not overwhelm you; you can conceive it. It is not one of the great sensations of antique art; but it is perfectly felicitous, and, in spite of having been put to all sorts of incongruous uses, marvelously preserved. Its slender columns, its delicate proportions, its charming compactness, seemed to bring one nearer to the century that built it than the great superpositions of arenas and bridges, and give it the interest that vibrates from one age to another when the note of taste is struck.
If anything were needed to make this little toy-temple a happy production, the service would be rendered by the second-rate boulevard that conducts to it, adorned with inferior cafés and tobacco-shops. Here, in a respectable recess, surrounded by vulgar habitations, and with the theater, of a classic pretension, opposite, stands the small "square house," so called because it is much longer than it is broad. I saw it first in the evening, in the vague moonlight, which made it look as if it were cast in bronze. Stendhal says, justly, that it has the shape of a playing-card, and he expresses his admiration for it by the singular wish that an "exact copy" of it should be erected in Paris. He even goes as far as to say that in the year 1880 this tribute will have been rendered to its charms; nothing would be more simple, to his mind, than to "have" in that city "le Panthéon de Rome, quelques temples de Grèce." Stendhal found it amusing to write in the character of a commis-voyageur, and sometimes it occurs to his reader that he really was one.
[Footnote: From "A Little Tour in France." By special arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Co. Copyright, 1884.]
There are two shabby old inns at Arles, which compete closely for your custom. I mean by this that if you elect to go to the Hôtel du Forum, the Hôtel du Nord, which is placed exactly beside it (at a right angle), watches your arrival with ill-concealed disapproval; and if you take the chances of its neighbor, the Hôtel du Forum seems to glare at you invidiously from all its windows and doors. I forget which of these establishments I selected; whichever it was, I wished very much that it had been the other.
The two stand together on the Place des Hommes, a little public square of Arles, which somehow quite misses its effect. As a city, indeed, Arles quite misses its effect in every way; and if it is a charming place, as I think it is, I can hardly tell the reason why. The straight-nosed Arlésiennes account for it in some degree; and the remainder may be charged to the ruins of the arena and the theater. Beyond this, I remember with affection the ill-proportioned little Place des Hommes; not at all monumental, and given over to puddles and to shabby cafés. I recall with tenderness the tortuous and featureless streets, which looked like the streets of a village, and were paved with villainous little sharp stones, making all exercise penitential.
Consecrated by association is even a tiresome walk that I took the evening I arrived, with the purpose of obtaining a view of the Rhone. I had been to Arles before, years ago, and it seemed to me that I remembered finding on the banks of the stream some sort of picture. I think that on the evening of which I speak there was a watery moon, which it seemed to me would light up the past as well as the present. But I found no picture, and I scarcely found the Rhone at all. I lost my way, and there was not a creature in the streets to whom I could appeal. Nothing could be more provincial than the situation of Arles at ten o'clock at night. At last I arrived at a kind of embankment, where I could see the great mud-colored stream slipping along in the soundless darkness. It had come on to rain, I know not what had happened to the moon, and the whole place was anything but gay. It was not what I had looked for; what I had looked for was in the irrecoverable past. I groped my way back to the inn over the infernal cailloux, feeling like a discomfited Dogberry.
I remember now that this hotel was the one (whichever that may be) which has the fragment of a Gallo-Roman portico inserted into one of its angles. I had chosen it for the sake of this exceptional ornament. It was damp and dark, and the floors felt gritty to the feet; it was an establishment at which the dreadful "gras-double" might have appeared at the table d'hôte, as it had done at Narbonne. Nevertheless, I was glad to get back to it; and nevertheless, too--and this is the moral of my simple anecdote--my pointless little walk (I don't speak of the pavement) suffuses itself, as I look back upon it, with a romantic tone. And in relation to the inn, I suppose I had better mention that I am well aware of the inconsistency of a person who dislikes the modern caravansary, and yet grumbles when he finds a hotel of the superannuated sort, one ought to choose, it would seem, and make the best of either alternative. The two old taverns at Arles are quite unimproved; such as they must have been in the infancy of the modern world, when Stendhal passed that way, and the lumbering diligence deposited him in the Place des Hommes, such in every detail they are to-day. Vieilles auberges de France, one ought to enjoy their gritty floors and greasy windowpanes. Let it be put on record, therefore, that I have been, I won't say less comfortable, but at least less happy, at better inns.
To be really historic, I should have mentioned that before going to look for the Rhone I had spent part of the evening on the opposite side of the little place, and that I indulged in this recreation for two definite reasons. One of these was that I had an opportunity of conversing at a café with an attractive young Englishman, whom I had met in the afternoon at Tarascon, and more remotely, in other years, in London; the other was that there sat enthroned behind the counter a splendid mature Arlésienne, whom my companion and I agreed that it was a rare privilege to comtemplate.
There is no rule of good manners or morals which makes it improper, at a café to fix one's eyes upon the dame de comptoir; the lady is, in the nature of things, a part of your "consommation." We were therefore free to admire without restriction the handsomest person I had ever seen give change for a five-franc piece. She was a large quiet woman, who would never see forty again; of an intensely feminine type, yet wonderfully rich and robust, and full of a certain physical nobleness. Tho she was not really old, she was antique, and she was very grave, even a little sad. She had the dignity of a Roman empress, and she handled coppers as if they had been stamped with the head of Caesar.
I have seen washerwomen in the Trastevere who were perhaps as handsome as she; but even the head-dress of the Roman contadina contributes less to the dignity of the person born to wear it than the sweet and stately Arlesian cap, which sits at once aloft and on the back of the head; which is accompanied with a wide black bow covering a considerable part of the crown; and which, finally, accomodates itself indescribably well to the manner in which the tresses of the front are pushed behind the ears.
This admirable dispenser of lumps of sugar has distracted me a little; for I am still not sufficiently historical. Before going to the café I had dined, and before dining I had found time to go and look at the arena. Then it was that I discovered that Arles has no general physiognomy, and, except the delightful little church of Saint Trophimus, no architecture, and that the rugosities of its dirty lanes affect the feet like knife- blades. It was not then, on the other hand, that I saw the arena best. The second day of my stay at Arles I devoted to a pilgrimage to the strange old hill town of Les Baux, the medieval Pompeii, of which I shall give myself the pleasure of speaking.
The evening of that day, however (my friend and I returned in time for a late dinner), I wandered among the Roman remains of the place by the light of a magnificent moon, and gathered an impression which has lost little of its silvery glow. The moon of the evening before had been aqueous and erratic; but if on the present occasion it was guilty of any irregularity, the worst it did was only to linger beyond its time in the heavens, in order to let us look at things comfortably. The effect was admirable; it brought back the impression of the way, in Rome itself, on evenings like that, the moonshine rests upon broken shafts and slabs of antique pavement. As we sat in the theater, looking at the two lone columns that survive--part of the decoration of the back of the stage--and at the fragments of ruin around them, we might have been in the Roman forum.
The arena at Arles, with its great magnitude, is less complete than that at Nîmes; it has suffered even more the assaults of time and of the children of time, and it has been less repaired. The seats are almost wholly wanting; but the external walls, minus the topmost tier of arches, are massively, ruggedly complete; and the vaulted corridors seem as solid as the day they were built. The whole thing is superbly vast, and as monumental, for a place of light amusement--what is called in America a "variety-show"--as it entered only into the Roman mind to make such establishments. The podium is much higher than at Nîmes, and many of the great white slabs that faced it have been recovered and put into their places. The proconsular box has been more or less reconstructed, and the great converging passages of approach to it are still majestically distinct; so that, as I sat there in the moon-charm stillness, leaning my elbows on the battered parapet of the ring, it was not impossible to listen to the murmurs and shudders, the thick voice of the circus, that died away fifteen hundred years ago.
The theater has a voice as well, but it lingers on the ear of time with a different music. The Roman theater at Arles seemed to me one of the most charming and touching ruins I had ever beheld; I took a particular fancy to it. It is less than a skeleton--the arena may be called a skeleton; for it consists only of half a dozen bones. The traces of the row of columns which formed the scene--the permanent back-scene--remain; two marble pillars--I just mentioned them--are upright, with a fragment of their entablature. Before them is the vacant space which was filled by the stage, with the line of the proscenium distinct, marked by a deep groove, imprest upon slabs of stone, which looks as if the bottom of a high screen had been intended to fit into it. The semicircle formed by the seats--half a cup--rises opposite; some of the rows are distinctly marked. The floor, from the bottom of the stage, in the shape of an arc of which the chord is formed by the line of the orchestra, is covered by slabs of colored marble--red, yellow, and green--which, tho terribly battered and cracked to-day, give one an idea of the elegance of the interior.
Everything shows that it was on a great scale: the large sweep of its enclosing walls, the massive corridors that passed behind the auditorium, and of which we can still perfectly take the measure. The way in which every seat commanded the stage is a lesson to the architects of our epoch, as also the immense size of the place is a proof of extraordinary power of voice on the part of the Roman actors. It was after we had spent half an hour in the moonshine at the arena that we came on to this more ghostly and more exquisite ruin. The principal entrance was locked, but we effected an easy escalade, scaled a low parapet, and descended into the place behind the scenes.
It was as light as day, and the solitude was complete. The two slim columns, as we sat on the broken benches, stood there like a pair of silent actors. What I called touching, just now was the thought that here the human voice, the utterance of a great language, had been supreme. The air was full of intonations and cadences; not of the echo of smashing blows, of riven armor, of howling victims and roaring beasts. The spot is, in short, one of the sweetest legacies of the ancient world; and there seems no profanation in the fact that by day it is open to the good people of Arles, who use it to pass, by no means, in great numbers, from one part of the town to the other; treading the old marble floor, and brushing, if need be, the empty benches. This familiarity does not kill the place again; it makes it, on the contrary, live a little--makes the present and the past touch each other.
If I called Les Baux a city, it was not that I was stretching a point in favor of the small spot which to-day contains but a few dozen inhabitants. The history of the place is as extraodinary as its situation. It was not only a city, but a state; not only a state; but an empire; and on the crest of its little mountain called itself sovereign of a territory, or at least of scattered towns and counties, with which its present aspect is grotesquely out of relation. The lords of Les Baux, in a word, were great feudal proprietors; and there was a time during which the island of Sardinia, to say nothing of places nearer home, such as Arles and Marseilles, paid them homage.
The chronicle of this old Provençal house has been written, in a style somewhat unctuous and flowery, by M. Jules Canonge. I purchased the little book--a modest pamphlet--at the establishment of the good sisters, just beside the church, in one of the highest part of Les Baux. The sisters have a school for the hardy little Baussenques, whom I heard piping their lessons, while I waited in the cold parlor for one of the ladies to come and speak to me. Nothing could have been more perfect than the manner of this excellent woman when she arrived; yet her small religious house seemed a very out-of-the-way corner of the world. It was spotlessly neat, and the rooms looked as if they had lately been papered and painted; in this respect, at the medieval Pompeii, they were rather a discord. They were, at any rate, the newest, freshest thing at Les Baux.
I remember going round to the church, after I had left the good sisters, and to a little quiet terrace, which stands in front of it, ornamented with a few small trees and bordered with a wall, breast-high, over which you look down steep hillsides, off into the air and all about the neighboring country. I remember saying to myself that this little terrace was one of those felicitous nooks which the tourist of taste keeps in his mind as a picture. The church was small and brown and dark, with a certain rustic richness. All this however, is no general description of Les Baux.
I am unable to give any coherent account of the place, for the simple reason that it is a mere confusion of ruin. It has not been preserved in lava like Pompeii, and its streets and houses, its ramparts and castle, have become fragmentary, not through the sudden destruction, but through the gradual withdrawal, of a population. It is not an extinguished, but a deserted city; more deserted far than even Carcassonne and Aigues-Mortes, where I found so much entertainment in the grass-grown element.
It is of very small extent, and even in the days of its greatness, when its lords entitled themselves counts of Cephalonia and Neophantis, kings of Arles and Vienne, princes of Achaia, and emperors of Constantinople-- even at this flourishing period, when, as M. Jules Canonge remarks, "they were able to depress the balance in which the fate of peoples and kings is weighed," the plucky little city contained at the most no more than thirty-six hundred souls. Yet its lords (who, however, as I have said, were able to present a long list of subject towns, most of them, tho a few are renowned, unknown to fame) were seneschals and captains-general of Piedmont and Lombardy, grand admirals of the kingdom of Naples, and its ladies were sought in marriage by half the first princes in Europe.
A considerable part of the little narrative of M. Canonge is taken up with the great alliances of the House of Baux, whose fortunes, matrimonial and other, he traces from the eleventh century down to the sixteenth. The empty shells of a considerable number of old houses, many of which must have been superb, the lines of certain steep little streets, the foundations of a castle, and ever so many splendid views, are all that remains to-day of these great titles.
To such a list I may add a dozen very polite and sympathetic people, who emerged from the interstices of the desultory little town to gaze at the two foreigners who had driven over from Arles, and whose horses were being baited at the modest inn. The resources of this establishment we did not venture otherwise to test, in spite of the seductive fact that the sign over the door was in the Provençal tongue. This little group included the baker, a rather melancholy young man, in high boots and a cloak, with whom and his companions we had a good deal of conversation.
The Baussenques of to-day struck me as a very mild and agreeable race, with a good deal of the natural amenity which, on occasions like this one, the traveler, who is waiting for his horses to be put in or his dinner to be prepared, observes in the charming people who lend themselves to conversation in the hilltowns of Tuscany. The spot where our entertainers at Les Baux congregated was naturally the most inhabited portion of the town; as I say, there were at least a dozen human figures within sight. Presently we wandered away from them, scaled the higher places, seated ourselves among the ruins of the castle, and looked down from the cliff overhanging that portion of the road which I have mentioned as approaching Les Baux from behind.
I was unable to trace the configuration of the castle as plainly as the writers who have described it in the guide-books, and I am ashamed to say that I did not even perceive the three great figures of stone (the three Marys, as they are called; the two Marys of Scripture, with Martha), which constitute one of the curiosities of the place, and of which M. Jules Canonge speaks with almost hyperbolical admiration. A brisk shower, lasting some ten minutes, led us to take refuge in a cavity, of mysterious origin, where the melancholy baker presently discovered us, having had the bonne pensée of coming up for us with an umbrella which certainly belonged, in former ages, to one of the Stéphanettes or Berangères commemorated by M. Canonge. His oven, I am afraid, was cold so long as our visit lasted.
When the rain was over we wandered down to the little disencumbered space before the inn, through a small labyrinth of obliterated things. They took the form of narrow, precipitous streets, bordered by empty houses, with gaping windows and absent doors, through which we had glimpses of sculptured chimney-pieces and fragments of stately arch and vault. Some of the houses are still inhabited; but most of them are open to the air and weather. Some of them have completely collapsed; others present to the street a front which enables one to judge of the physiognomy of Les Baux in the days of its importance. This importance had pretty well passed away in the early part of the sixteenth century, when the place ceased to be an independent principality, It became--by request of one of its lords, Bernardin des Baux, a great captain of his time--part of the appanage of the kings of France, by whom it was placed under the protection of Arles, which had formerly occupied with regard to it a different position. I know not whether the Arlesians neglected their trust; but the extinction of the sturdy little stronghold is too complete not to have begun long ago. Its memories are buried under its ponderous stones.
As ve drove away from it in the gloaming, my friend and I agreed that the two or three hours we had spent there were among the happiest impressions of a pair of tourists very curious in the picturesque. We almost forgot that we were bound to regret that the shortened day left us no time to drive five miles further, above a pass in the little mountains--it had beckoned to us in the morning, when we came in sight of it, almost irresistibly--to see the Roman arch and mausoleum of Saint Remy. To compass this larger excursion (including the visit to Les Baux) you must start from Arles very early in the morning; but I can imagine no more delightful day.
[Footnote: From "French and Italian Note Books." By special arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Co. Copyright, 1871, 1883, 1889.]
The aspect of the old French town was very different from anything English; whiter, infinitely cleaner; higher and narrower houses, the entrance to most of which seeming to be through a great gateway affording admission into a central court-yard; a public square, with a statue in the middle, and another statue in a neighboring street. We met priests in three-cornered hats, long frock-coats, and knee-breeches; also soldiers and gendarmes, and peasants and children, clattering over the pavements in wooden shoes.
It makes a great impression of outlandishness to see the signs over the shop doors in a foreign tongue. If the cold had not been such as to dull my sense of novelty, and make all my perceptions torpid, I should have taken in a set of new impressions, and enjoyed them very much. As it was, I cared little for what I saw, but yet had life enough left to enjoy the Cathedral of Amiens, which has many features unlike those of English cathedrals.
It stands in the midst of the cold, white town, and has a high-shouldered look to a spectator accustomed to the minsters of England, which cover a great space of ground in proportion to their height. The impression the latter give is of magnitude and mass; this French Cathedral strikes one as lofty. The exterior is venerable, tho but little time-worn by the action of the atmosphere; and statues still keep their places in numerous niches, almost as perfect as when first placed there in the thirteenth century. The principal doors are deep, elaborately wrought, pointed arches; and the interior seemed to us, at the moment, as grand as any that we had seen, and to afford as vast an idea of included space; it being of such an airy height, and with no screen between the chancel and nave, as in all the English cathedrals.
We saw the differences, too, betwixt a church in which the same form of worship for which it was originally built is still kept up, and those of England, where it has been superseded for centuries; for here, in the recess of every arch of the side-aisles, beneath each lofty window, there was a chapel dedicated to some saint, and adorned with great marble sculptures of the crucifixion, and with pictures, execrably bad, in all cases, and various kinds of gilding and ornamentation. Immensely tall wax candles stand upon the altars of these chapels, and before one sat a woman, with a great supply of tapers, one of which was burning. I suppose these were to be lighted as offerings to the saints, by the true believers. Artificial flowers were hung at some of the shrines, or placed under glass.
In every chapel, moreover, there was a confessional--a little oaken structure, about as big as a sentry-box, with a closed part for the priest to sit in, and an open one for the penitent to kneel at, and speak through the open-work of the priest's closet. Monuments, mural and others, to long-departed worthies, and images of the Savior, the Virgin, and saints, were numerous everywhere about the church; and in the chancel there was a great deal of quaint and curious sculpture, fencing in the Holy of Holies, where the high altar stands. There is not much painted glass; one or two very rich and beautiful rose-windows, however, that looked antique; and the great eastern window, which, I think, is modern. The pavement has, probably, never been renewed, as one piece of work, since the structure was erected, and is foot-worn by the successive generations, tho still in excellent repair. I saw one of the small, square stones in it, bearing the date of 1597, and no doubt there are a thousand older ones.
[Footnote: From "A Bibliographical Tour in France and Germany."]
The approach to Rouen is indeed magnificent. I speak of the immediate approach, after you reach the top of a considerable rise, and are stopt by the barriers. You then look down a straight, broad, and strongly paved road, lined with a double row of trees on each side. As the foliage was not thickly set, we could discern, through the delicately clothed branches, the tapering spire of the cathedral, and the more picturesque tower of the Abbaye St. Ouen--with hanging gardens, and white houses, to the left--covering a richly cultivated ridge of hills, which sink, as it were, into the Boulevards, and which is called the Faubourg Cauchoise. To the right, through the trees, you see the River Seine (here of no despicable depth or breadth), covered with boats and vessels in motion, the voice of commerce, and the stir of industry, cheering and animating you as you approach the town. I was told that almost every vessel which I saw (some of them of two hundred, and even of three hundred tons burden) was filled with brandy and wine....
First for the cathedral, for what traveler of taste does not doff his bonnet to the mother-church of the town through which he happens to be traveling, or in which he takes a temporary abode? The west front, always the forte of the architects's skill, strikes you as you go down, or come up, the principal street--La Rue des Carmes--which seems to bisect the town into equal parts. A small open space, which, however, has been miserably encroached upon by petty shops, called the Flower Gardens, is before this western front; so that it has some little breathing room in which to expand its beauties to the wondering eyes of the beholder. In my poor judgment, this western front has very few elevations comparable with it--including even those of Lincoln and York. The ornaments, especially upon the three porches, between the two towers, are numerous, rich, and for the greater part entire, in spite of the Calvinists, the French Revolution, and time.
As you enter the cathedral, at the center door, by descending two steps, you are struck with the length and loftiness of the nave, and with the lightness of the gallery which runs along the upper part of it. Perhaps the nave is too narrow for its length. The lantern of the central large tower is beautifully light and striking. It is supported by four massive clustered pillars, about forty feet in circumference; but by casting your eye downward, you are shocked at the tasteless division of the choir from the nave by what is called a Grecian screen; and the interior of the transepts has undergone a like preposterous restoration.
The rose windows of the transepts, and that at the west end of the nave, merit your attention and commendation. I could not avoid noticing, to the right, upon entrance, perhaps the oldest side chapel in the cathedral, of a date less ancient than that of the northern tower, and perhaps of the end of the twelfth century. It contains by much the finest specimens of stained glass--of the early part of the sixteenth century. There is also some beautiful stained glass on each side of the chapel of the Virgin, behind the choir; but altho very ancient, it is the less interesting, as not being composed of groups, or of historical subjects. Yet, in this as in almost all the churches which I have seen, frightful devastations have been made among the stained glass windows by the fury of the Revolutionists....
On gazing at this splendid monument of ancient piety and liberality--and with one's mind deeply intent upon the characters of the deceased--let us fancy we hear the sound of the great bell from the southwest tower--called the Amboise Tower--erected, both the bell and the tower, by the uncle and minister of Amboise. Know, my dear friend, that there was once a bell (and the largest in Europe, save one), which used to send forth its sound for three successive centuries from the said tower. This bell was broken about thirty years ago, and destroyed in the ravages of the immediately succeeding years. The southwest tower remains, and the upper part of the central tower, with the whole of the lofty wooden spire--the fruits of the liberality of the excellent men of whom such honorable mention has been made. Considering that this spire is very lofty, and composed of wood, it is surprising that it has not been destroyed by tempest or by lightning.
Leaving the cathedral, you pass a beautifully sculptured fountain, of the early time of Francis I., which stands at the corner of the street, to the right; and which, from its central situation, is visited the livelong day for the sake of its limpid waters. Push on a little further, then, turning to the right, you get into a sort of square, and observe the abbey--or rather the west front of it--full in face of you. You gaze, and are first struck with its matchless window: call it rose, or marigold, as you please.
I think, for delicacy and richness of ornament, this window is perfectly unrivaled. There is a play of line in the mullions, which, considering their size and strength, may be pronounced quite a masterpiece of art. You approach, regretting the neglected state of the lateral towers, and enter through the large and completely opened center doors, the nave of the abbey. It was toward sunset when we made our first entrance. The evening was beautiful; and the variegated tints of sunbeam, admitted through the stained glass of the window, just noticed, were perfectly enchanting. The window itself, as you look upward, or rather as you fix your eye upon the center of it, from the remote end of the abbey, or the Lady's Chapel, was a perfect blaze of dazzling light; and nave, choir, and side aisles seemed magically illumined. We declared instinctively that the Abbey of St. Ouen could hardly have a rival--certainly not a superior.
Let me, however, put in a word for the organ. It is immense, and perhaps larger than that belonging to the cathedral. The tin pipes (like those of the organ in the cathedral) are of their natural color. I paced the pavement beneath, and think that this organ can not be short of forty English feet in length. Indeed, in all the churches which I have yet seen, the organs strike me as being of magnificent dimensions.
You should be informed, however, that the extreme length of the interior, from the further end of the chapel of the Virgin, to its opposite western extremity, is about four hundred and fifty English feet; while the height, from the pavement to the roof of the nave, or the choir, is one hundred and eight English feet. The transepts are about one hundred and forty feet in length. The central tower, upon the whole, is not only the grandest tower in Rouen, but there is nothing for its size in our own country that can compare with it. It rises upward of one hundred feet above the roof of the church; and is supported below, or rather within, by four magnificent cluster-pillared bases, each about thirty-two feet in circumference. Its area, at bottom, can hardly be less than thirty-six feet square. The choir is flanked by flying buttresses, which have a double tier of small arches, altogether "marvelous and curious to behold."
I could not resist stealing quietly round to the porch of the south transept, and witnessing, in that porch, one of the most chaste, light, and lovely specimens of Gothic architecture which can be contemplated. Indeed, I hardly know anything like it. The leaves of the poplar and ash were beginning to mantle the exterior; and, seen through their green and gay lattice work, the traceries of the porch seemed to assume a more interesting aspect. They are now mending the upper part of the façade with new stone of peculiar excellence--but it does not harmonize with the old work. They merit our thanks, however, for the preservation of what remains of this precious pile. I should remark to you that the eastern and northeastern sides of the abbey of St. Ouen are surrounded with promenades and trees: so that, occasionally, either when walking or sitting upon the benches, within these gardens, you catch one of the finest views imaginable of the abbey.
[Footnote: From "The Cathedrals of France." By permission of the author. Copyright, 1900.]
For many a mile over the rich cornfields of Beauce, of which ancient district Chartres was once the capital, the spires of Chartres are visible. The river and the hill constitute at Chartres the basis of its strength in long-forgotten warfare; its walls in piping times of peace have been leveled into leafy boulevards, but it may still be entered through one of the antique gates that survive as memorials of its former fortifications.
The cathedral itself is one of that group to which belong Amiens, Rheims, Bourges and Notre Dame de Paris. It is noted for its size, magnificence and completeness, and contains in itself, from its crypt to its highest stone, an exemplification of architectural history in France from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. We may suppose that Christianity was first published in the Beauce province by the same apostles, Savinienus and Potentienius, who had evangelized Sens and the Senones. Their disciple, Aventin (Aventinus), is recognized as the first Bishop of Chartres, and as the builder of the first cathedral which stood on the site of the present building....
The naves, the north and south transept portals, and the choir belong to the thirteenth century, the north tower to the fifteenth, and the magnificent jubé, or screen, which runs round the choir, is evidently sixteenth century style, being an example of that Renaissance employment of Gothic details, of which we find such glorious counterparts at Rouen and Albi. The western façade of Chartres is plain in comparison with those of Amiens or Rheims. The voussures of the three central portals are comparatively shallow. Above them are three lancet windows which resemble windows of the Early English Style. The rose-window, beneath which the lancets are placed, is of great dimensions and effective tracery. The highest story of the front between the towers is screened by a rich arcade, over which rises the gable point.
This arcade, or gallery, is intended to break the abruptness with which the pointed roof rises between the two spires. These spires are different in design, the southern tower being much earlier than that at the north. The southern spire, in its austere simplicity and exquisite proportions, is certainly the finest I have seen in France, and can only be paralleled elsewhere by that which rises like a flower-bud almost ready to burst over Salisbury plain. The northern tower is very much more elaborate, and reminded me of those examples with which the traveler becomes so familiar in the many churches of Rouen. The richly crocketed gables, the flying buttresses and pinnacles which run half way up this spire, while they adorn it, seem to stunt the profile and rob it of its towering altitude, just as is the case with the western spires of St. Ouen. Yet this northern tower is considerably higher than the ancient one at the south, being 374 feet high, while the more ancient spire is only 348. The other dimensions of the church are as follows: It is 420 feet long; 110 feet wide; its height from ceiling vault to pavement is 115 feet. The modern tower was built by Louis XII. in 1514, the architect being an inhabitant of Beauce, a certain Jean Texier.
The carvings in the west front of the cathedral are examples of the beginning of French sculpture, as it emerges from the severity and rigidity of Byzantine types. The human figures are long, slender, and swathed almost like mummies in their drapery. The faces are strongly individualized and seem to be portraits. While these statues must be attributed to a period previous to the middle of the twelfth century, we see in them the originality of French genius struggling to break away from the fetters of Eastern precedent.
Viollet-de-Duc thinks that these faces belong to the type of the ancient Gaul; the flat forehead and raised arch of the eyebrows, the projecting eyes, the long jaws, the peaked and drooping nose, the long upper lip, the wide, closed mouth, the square chin, the long wavy hair are neither German, Roman, or French. There is a blending of firmness, grandeur and refinement in these wonderful countenances, each of them apparently copied from a different model. They are crowned and nimbused as the kings and saints of antique France. A more impressive gallery of illustrious personages is nowhere else to be found.
[Footnote: From "The Cathedrals of France." By permission of the author. Copyright, 1900.]
French cathedrals have, as it were, a royal character, and this is emphasized especially in the history and architecture of Rheims cathedral, which became, from the time of Philippe Auguste, the church at whose altar the kings of France were crowned.
The origin of the Church at Rheims dates from the third century; when we are told Pope Fabian sent into Gaul a band of bishops and teachers. Rheims was chosen as the seat of an episcopal primacy, and it was in the church built by St. Nicaise, or Nicasius, in 401, that Clovis was baptized and crowned in 496. This ancient building, doubtless of simple Roman proportions, was rebuilt in the reign of Louis the Debonair in 822, when Ebon was archbishop.
It was completed with a magnificence which vied with the churches of Constantinople, Ravenna and Rome. It was considered in its day the most splendid church in France. Its roof and walls blazed with gilding and many-tinted paintings. Its floors were of marble mosaic. Rich tapestries hung round the choir, and its treasury was filled with masterpieces of the goldsmith and the jeweler. This church continued to be the wonder of Gallic Christianity until the beginning of the thirteenth century, when it was destroyed by fire. It is remarkable to notice in the history of French cathedrals how many of them were rebuilt just at the time when the pointed style, which may be called preeminently the Christian style of architecture, had come to birth almost simultaneously in various countries of Europe.
We are obliged to come to the conclusion that the pointed arch was introduced in Germany, France and England by the Crusaders, who had seen it used in the East, and had considered it best fitted for buildings that enshrined the sublime mysteries of the Christian faith. It was in the pointed style, therefore, that the new cathedral of Rheims was built. The name of its architect is not known, but his plan shows that he must have been a man of profound genius. Archbishop Alberic Humbert laid the foundation stone in 1212. The whole province contributed liberally to the work, and in 1242 the building was sufficiently advanced for the celebration of divine service in the choir.
The Church of Notre Dame of Rheims would require a volume to describe it completely. The front is perhaps the most elaborate to be found in France. The three vast portals, peopled with statues of colossal size, their arched vaulting covered with saintly and angelic figures, the mighty rose- windows, flanked with pointed openings, crowned with carved tabernacle work, and the great gallery of kings crossing the whole front, just below the peak of the gable, and above all, the two towers pierced by majestic windows and supported at each corner by niches with three open faces, give an impression of richness and brightness and grace, mingled with that indefinable majesty, which is due partly to the vast dimensions, partly to the harmonious proportions of the whole structure.
The divisions of the front façade resemble somewhat the same part of the edifice at Amiens, excepting that it is far more florid, and less strict and severe in its main divisions. At Amiens the details are kept in strictest subservience to the structural lines of the edifice. At Rheims it is the magnificent wealth of details that crowds upon the view, the walls and arches are surcharged with statues, with niches, with brackets, pinnacles, tracery, foliage, finials and turrets. The sides of the entrances of the three portals are crowded with colossal statues, thirty- nine in number, representing patriarchs, prophets, kings, bishops, virgins and martyrs. On the trumeau of the central gate is a fine statue of the Virgin Mary; on the sides of this trumeau are bas-reliefs representing the Fall of Man, of whose restoration Mary should be the instrument.
It is quite characteristic of a medieval church that we should find, on the lintels and side-posts of these doorways, emblems of agricultural work in the various seasons of the year, as well as different symbols of arts and handicrafts. Amid the carvings of these doorways are the heroes and saints of the Old Testament, types and forerunners of the Messiah, as well as historic scenes, representing the Redemption of the World, the Conversion of the Gentiles, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Last Judgment, the Condemnation of the Wicked, the Reception of the Just into the habitations of the blest. Finally, the Assumption and Coronation of the Blessed Virgin sums up, with an imaginative legend, this series of Christian dogma perpetuated in stone.
But the medieval genius is many-sided, and never satisfied with that which is beautiful alone; and this magnificent array of Christian carving would not be complete to the mind of the medieval artist unless he had crowned the angles of his buildings with a series of grotesque gargoyles and allegoric statues, representing the streams that watered the earthly paradise, while at the summit of the roof are niched angles bearing instruments of music. As the rose is a peculiarity of Gothic churches, and from its remarkable shape gives ample room for sculpture in stone, and color in glass, so the rose at Rheims is among the most beautiful examples of the kind, and illustrates the principle that the rose is intended to light up high, remote and shadowy spaces in a long nave or aisle.
Above the great rose-window is a pointed arch in whose voussures are ten statues, relating the history of David, while over this arch runs a band of niches, forty-two in number, in which are colossal statues of the kings of France from Clovis to Charles VI.
The two portals of the transepts are richly decorated in harmony with the style of the western façade. A graceful spire rises from the eastern part of the roof. It is called "The Angel's spire," from the fact that poised upon its summit is an angel covered with gilt and holding aloft a cross. This turret rises 59 feet above the roof of the church. The church itself is 486 feet in length, and from the vaulting of the roof to the pavement is 125 feet. The towers are 272 feet high. I noticed the church is built in the form of a cross, but the transept is very close to the apse, so that the choir being too confined for the great ceremonies, such as that of royal coronations, which used to take place there, has been extended westward across the transept so as to take up three bays of the nave.
There are seven chapels at the east of the church, but none are found in the naves. The plainness of the nave, in comparison with the ornate character of the exterior, is very remarkable, but this plainness detracts nothing from the impressiveness of its long arcades, its towering roof, the noble lines which rise from the ground and support, as it were, on slender sinews of stone, the shadowy ceiling. The rose-windows, four in number, are filled with glass of the thirteenth century, and the tall windows of the chevet and clerestory contain a many colored mosaic of a similar sort. I was particularly struck with the rose-window over the western portal. It represents the Beautiful Vision; the Eternal Father is throned in the central ring of the window, and in the radiating panes is the Hierarchy of Paradise, angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven, while in a wider circumference are grouped the redeemed, contemplating in adoration the majesty of God.
I noticed two very interesting tombs in Rheims cathedral. The first was the sarcophagus of Jovinus, the Christian prefect of Rheims, in the fourth century, who protected the church and was originally buried in the Abbey of St. Nicaise, from whence his tomb was brought to the cathedral. It consists of a single block of snowy marble, nine feet long, and four feet high, on which the consular general is represented in a spirited bas- relief mounted on horseback and saving the life of a man from the lion, in whose flank Jovinus has launched his spear. Very fine indeed is the workmanship of this monument. The figures which surround Jovinus are men of handsome countenance, evidently portraits, their dress and arms being finished with the utmost nicety of detail. The figures are about half life-size.
The other tomb is that of St. Remigius, a Renaissance work erected by Cardinal Delenoncourt in 1533. It is sumptuous and gaudy rather than beautiful. Twelve statues, full life-size, represent the twelve peers of France, six are the prelates of Rheims, Laon, Langres, Beauvais, Chalons, and Noyon; the six lay peers are the dukes of Burgundy, Normandy and Aquitaine, and the counts of Flanders, Champagne, and Toulouse. The white marble of these somewhat stagey figures is beautifully worked and the effect is imposing.
The western wall of the interior is faced with niches, in which the statues seem to emerge from a cloud of gloom. At one time tombs of the most magnificent sort crowded the aisles, enshrining the relics of saints and bishops, but during the raging of the Terror the Revolutionists violated these tombs, seizing their treasures, breaking down with ax and hammer their carvings. But, after all, the church of Notre Dame of Rheims does not seem to have suffered very much loss from the clearing away of these obstructions to the vista of her arcades, which now depend for their solemn beauty upon the simplicity and dignity of their lines and proportions, the effect of their windows, and the religious gloom which lingers in their lofty recesses.
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