Nantes is a cheerful, busy, handsome city, but wanting in the picturesque characteristics of the towns of Lower Brittany. Quimper, Vannes, Rennes, and Nantes, have all been successively capitals of the duchy, but Nantes was the usual residence of its dukes.
The cathedral contains its principal artistic monument, the tomb of Duke Francis II. and his second wife, Marguerite de Foix, called "sein de lys," from the beauty of her complexion. It was erected by their daughter, the Queen-Duchess Anne, and was executed by Michel Colomb, a sculptor of St. Pol de Leon, originally a herd-boy. This monument, considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance, is not copied from any Italian original, but is entirely the offspring of the artist's own fancy. There is much simplicity in its design and execution. The tomb, about five feet high, is of white marble, diapered with ermine and the letter F. On a black slab repose the effigies of the Duke and Duchess, and at their feet are lying a lion and a greyhound, holding their several escutcheons. Four large allegorical figures are at each angle of the tomb, representing the cardinal virtues. Justice carries the book of the laws, and the sword by which she makes them respected. This figure is said to be the portrait of the Duchess Anne. Temperance, in a monastic dress, is characterised by a bit and a lantern. Prudence, double faced, holds a mirror and a compass, and has a serpent at her feet. This figure is in the costume of a peasant girl of St. Pol; the second face, that of an old man, is also in the dress of Lower Brittany. Strength or Fortitude, handsome, resolute, and calm, strangles a dragon with his grasp.
Upon the principal sides of the tomb are the twelve Apostles, and below, in niches, sixteen mourners (pleureuses) in monastic habits, the faces and hands white, the rest of the body black. The beautiful attitude of these figures is much admired. Some are kneeling, others are seated—all in the attitude and expression of prayer. This monument was originally in the church of the Carmelites, whence it was transferred to the cathedral.
Besides the remains of Duke Francis and his two wives, it formerly contained the heart of his daughter, the Queen-Duchess Anne, enshrined in a golden case in the form of a heart, surmounted by a crown, and surrounded by a cordeliere; but the tomb was rifled during the Reign of Terror. It now holds the remains of the Constable Duke Arthur III.
Duke John IV. also died at Nantes, after his long eventful reign, having acquired a military glory which earned him the name of Conqueror, and equalled that of Du Guesclin and Clisson. Twice he lost and twice he regained his crown. He alienated Du Guesclin and his faithful subjects by his partiality to England. The Bretons rose, and he fled to Edward III.; but when Charles V. entered the duchy, with the intention of confiscating it to the crown of France, the Bretons all united to defend their nationality against the ambition of the French King, and recalled their Sovereign. So great was the enthusiasm on his arrival at St. Malo, that the nobles plunged into the water to approach his ship; and even the widow of his rival, Charles of Blois, went to welcome him. His cowardly attempt against the Constable Clisson again compromised his reputation, and was disgracefully avenged upon his son by the implacable daughter of Clisson.
The old ducal castle still rises on the left bank of the river. It was here Anne of Brittany was born, and here she married, 1499, her old admirer, the chivalrous Duke of Orleans, then King Louis XII., according to her stipulation, that the King, "viendra l'espouser en sa maison de Nantes." Left at the age of eleven, by the death of her father, a prey to claimants to her hand, which carried with it the powerful duchy of Brittany, Anne was a prize worth a king's seeking, even at a time when there were so many other rich heiresses undisposed of—Mary of Burgundy, Elizabeth of York, Isabella of Castille, and Catherine de Foix. Anne is described as handsome, but slightly lame, generous, and gentle, but grave and proud in her demeanour. Louis XII. called her his "fiere Bretonne," and allowed her the uncontrolled government of Brittany, "tout ainsi que si elle n'estoit point sa femme."
Though the wife of two Kings of France, Anne never forgot the interests of her duchy, whose nationality she always strove to maintain with the pertinacity of a true Breton, and showed herself, by her spirit and independence, to be the most worthy of all her race to wear the ducal crown. Jean Marot addresses her as "Royne incomparable, deux fois devinement sacree, Anne Duchesse de Bretagne."
Like most of the ladies of her age, Anne was an accomplished linguist. She understood Latin and Greek, and most of the European languages. She corresponded with her husband in Latin verse. Her letters, still extant, breathe the most tender affection. One, written to him (1499) during the Italian wars, begins, "Une epouse tendre et cherie ecrit a son epoux encore plus cheri, l'objet a la fois de ses regrets et de son estime, conduit par la gloire loin de sa patrie. Amante infortunee, il n'est pour elle aucun instant sans alarmes. Quel malheur affreux que celui d'etre prive d'un Prince que l'on aime, d'un Prince plus amant qu'epoux."
It was in this castle that Henry IV. signed his celebrated Edict of Nantes, so fatally revoked by Louis XIV.
The Duc de Mercoeur, when governor of Brittany, made Nantes a regular fortified town. Having married Marie de Luxembourg, heiress of the house of Penthievre, he sought to secure to himself the duchy of Brittany, while his brother, the Duke de Guise, aimed at the crown of France. Head of the League in that province, he looked upon it as a means of attaining his end: his wife joined him in his plans of ambition, and they by turns tyrannized and caressed the Nantais, amusing them with fetes, in which the Duchess condescended to dance with the townsfolk. For twenty years Mercoeur held the province; but a peace was eventually signed between him and Henry IV., through the mediation of Gabrielle d'Estrees, whose son Cesar de Vendome, then four years of age, was affianced to the Duke de Mercoeur's daughter, then only six. When Henry IV. made his entry into Nantes after the pacification, he observed, on surveying the fortifications, "Ventre Saint Gris, les Ducs de Bretagne n'etaient pas de petits compagnons."
Nantes has been the scene of many an act of vengeance on the part of the Kings of France.
The Place du Bouffay, the place of execution, was the scene of the tragic death of the young Henri de Talleyrand, Comte de Chalais, executed by Louis XIII. for his part in the conspiracy which bears his name. Its object was the death of the Cardinal, and to place the crown on the head of the feeble Gaston, who was celebrating his marriage at Nantes at the time that his victim Chalais was paying the penalty of his crime.
The restless, intriguing Cardinal de Retz was imprisoned in Nantes Castle during the minority of Louis XIV., and made a wonderful escape by letting himself down from the walls to the river, where a boat awaited him. It was also at Nantes that the same monarch caused Fouquet to be arrested, not, as alleged, for his malpractices in office, but because his ambition and pomp offended the pride of his royal master.
For their part in the conspiracy of Cellamare, the Marquis de Poncallec and three other Breton gentlemen suffered on the Place du Bouffay, and the Vendean chief, La Charette, was also there shot in 1795.
Not far from the castle is the Rue Haute du Chateau. At the Maison Juigny, in this street, the Duchesse de Berri was arrested, after having remained sixteen hours concealed in an aperture behind a chimney on the third floor, scarcely a foot and a half high and four feet long. The police, having information of her being in the house, through the treachery of a Jew, had made a fruitless search, but had left a watch behind. The soldiers lighted a fire in the chimney, and the Duchess, with her three attendants, sallied out, her dress completely scorched. They had endured the heat, but were unable to bear the suffocation.
Nantes has some fine promenades and boulevards, planted with trees. In the Cours Saint Pierre and St. Andre are statues of the Duchess Anne and of the three Breton constables, Du Guesclin, Clisson, and Richmont.
One of the leading characteristics of Nantes is its numerous bridges: a regular chain of them form a continuous line across the river and canals, and others unite the islands which form the suburbs to the town itself.
The Museum contains a large collection of pictures, which the bequest of the Duke de Feltre (Marechal Clarke) has increased considerably. These consist mostly of sketches by Paul Delaroche, and the charming Italian subjects of Leopold Robert.
"L'enfant charitable"—a nun on her deathbed embracing a child who is standing by her side, an angel behind—is a touching composition of Ary Schaeeffer. Another, by Paul Baudry, represents the death of Marat: Charlotte Corday's open, handsome face, looks incapable of the crime she has just perpetrated. There is one by Ziegler—Daniel in the lion's den—an angel staying the lions from molesting him. The atmosphere of light surrounding the angel is wonderful and unearthly. These two are in the general collection, together with numerous examples of the old masters.
Near our hotel is one of the curiosities of Nantes, the Passage de la Pommeraye, consisting of three stories of iron galleries or arcades, uniting the Rue de Crebillon with the Rue de la Fosse. The second arcade communicates by a flight of stairs with the third, called the Galerie de la Fosse, opening upon the street of that name.
The Garden of Plants is beautifully laid out; groves and avenues of magnolias in full flower, with rocks, waterfalls, rustic bridges, all most picturesquely disposed, making it one of the prettiest gardens and public promenades in France.
We descended the Loire by steamer, passing by vast granite buildings, built as magazines for colonial imports, called Les Salorges, in front of which the horrible noyades of Carrier took place, and these warehouses served as a temporary place of confinement for the victims. We next steamed past the island of Indret, the great manufacture of steam-engines for the State. Here we landed some market women, in caps of the same form, with high combs, as those of clear muslin worn by the Nantaises, only of a coarse material, and edged with black. On the right was Coueron, where Duke Francis II. died in consequence of a fall from his horse. The battle of St. Aubin-du-Cormier had decided his fate and that of his daughters,—a humiliation from which he never recovered. His faithful friend Rieux, who commanded his army, defeated by the youthful Louis de la Tremouille; the chivalrous Louis of Orleans, a prisoner in an iron cage in the "Grosse Tour" at Bourges; and the safety of his daughters at the mercy of King Charles VIII., or worse, of his imperious sister, the Regent Anne de Beaujeu, who would have committed some act of spoliation, had not the Chancellor Rochefort saved the duchy by his integrity, declaring to Anne that "a conqueror without right is but an illustrious robber."
At Les Pellerins, barges were loading with hay, and heaps of it standing on the river's edge ready for embarkation. On the left bank is Paimboeuf, where diligences run to Pornic, a favourite little watering-place south of the Loire.
St. Nazaire is a bustling seaport town, now the point of departure of the transatlantic steamers for the West Indies and Mexico. A Mexican, in his picturesque costume, all the seams of his dress fringed with hanging silver buttons, was living in the same hotel with ourselves. St. Nazaire has now a large floating basin, opened in 1858, capable of holding 200 ships of large size, and another is in course of construction.
It was from St. Nazaire that Prince Charles, the young Pretender, sailed on the adventurous expedition of '45, furnished with a frigate and a ship of the line by Mr. Walsh, of Nantes. Among the noble cavaliers who had sacrificed everything to follow the Stuarts into exile was the Walsh family, originally from Ireland. They had shared the wandering fortunes of Charles II., returned with him at the Restoration to find the greater part of their property confiscated; but they did not hesitate to sacrifice the rest when James II. abdicated the throne, and a Walsh commanded the ship which carried the King to France. Sent on a secret mission to England, he was recognized, denounced, and arrested. James II. created him an Earl at St. Germain. Two of his sons had retired to St. Malo and Nantes, and engaged in commercial speculations, endeavouring thereby to restore the fortunes of their house. Commerce was strictly forbidden to the Breton nobles; but, when war or misfortune had reduced their fortunes, they were allowed to enter into commerce, or any other profession, without derogating from their rank, provided they first deposited their swords with the Parliament, to be again claimed when their circumstances were improved. All will remember the anecdote in the 'Sentimental Journey.' As a book, called 'The State of Nobility in Brittany,' published in 1681, sets forth: "When nobles are engaged in commerce, their noble blood sleeps; but when the derogatory works are over, it revives. It is never lost but in death." But to return to the Walsh family. One of the brothers had embarked the remains of his little fortune in the business of "armateur"—a kind of shipowner, or one who fits out and charters ships, and sometimes commands them himself—the profession of Jean Bart and Duguay Trouin.(23) It was to this Anthony Walsh, and a banker of Dunkirk, that Prince Charles addressed himself to fit out an old worm-eaten seventy-gun man-of-war, the 'Elizabeth,' they had just obtained from Government for his expedition. True to the hereditary loyalty of his family, Mr. Walsh not only devoted all he possessed to the armament of the frigate, but also fitted out a brig, called the 'Doutelle'—both intended as privateers to cruise against the English—and took the command of her himself. On the 28th June, 1745, furnished with about 4000l. of money, Charles Edward embarked on the Loire, in a fisherman's boat, to join the 'Doutelle' at St. Nazaire, and the 'Elizabeth' at Belle-Isle. He passed for a young Irish priest, and wore the habit of a student of the Scots' College at Paris. The ships encountered an English man-of-war, the 'Lion.' At the sound of the first shot, the Prince rushed on deck and asked for a sword. Mr. Walsh, by virtue of his authority as captain, took him by the arm and said to him sternly, "M. Abbe, your place is not here; go below with the passengers." The Prince obeyed, night separated the combatants, and on the 18th of July he was safely landed in Scotland. On Michaelmas Day, the following year, the disasters of Culloden again threw him an exile on the shores of Brittany.
From St. Nazaire we took a carriage for Guerande, to visit that remarkable district called the Canton de Croisic, and consisting chiefly of that place and the Bourg de Batz. We first came to Escoublac, a corruption of Episcopi lacus, deriving its name from a lake belonging to the bishop of the diocese.
The old town has been entirely buried by the moving sands which have blown over it, and, in 1779, its inhabitants transferred their houses to the present site. Hills of sand surround it in every direction.
Here we left the high road, and turned off to the left to Poulignan, a little white bay, as its name implies; a charming retreat, with beautiful white sands and picturesque rocks. This is a favourite watering-place with the Nantais. Its whole population appeared to be in the water. A row of small wooden chalets are built along the shore for the bathers, no machines are used.
From Escoublac begins the large extent of salt-pans in which consist the riches of this country. They reach to Batz and Le Croisic, the peninsula which forms this district having formerly been an island which gradually has been transformed into a marsh.
These salt-pans, cut out into small squares, have the appearance of one great chess-board, interspersed with occasional hamlets and woods. The working of them employs the whole population of the district.
They consist of large basins, dug at different depths, into which the water of the sea is introduced, and are divided into squares called "oeillets." The salt-water is turned upon the marsh by canals styled "etiers," edged with narrow paths or roads called "bossis," elevated, some of them, three or four feet above the marsh; on these the newly collected salt is generally laid. The water passes by a subterranean conduit, the "coef," into the "vasiere," where the first evaporation takes place; and then successively into the "cobiers," "fares," and "adernemetres," until it flows finally into the "oeillets," where the salt is definitively formed. Each "oeillet" is about 20 feet by 30. The heat of the sun and the wind effect the evaporation, which the paludier assists by stirring the water from time to time. The salt which forms on the surface resembles a kind of white cream, and exhales an agreeable perfume resembling violets. This is the finest salt; that which falls to the bottom of the salt-pan is of a greyish cast. The salt when formed is then scraped off, drained, and the women collect it and stack it on the "bossis" into conical heaps, which they cover with a coating of clay, to render them impervious to weather. In the salting season, the salt marshes with their innumerable hillocks of white salt have the appearance of a vast tent-covered camp. Each "oeillet" produces about 150 lbs. of salt. The same salt-pans are worked from century to century by the same "paludiers" or their descendants. The proprietors may change, but the workmen remain, considering the salt-pans their prescriptive inheritance. For payment, they receive one-fourth of the salt. The dress of the paludier is a smock-frock of irreproachable whiteness, with pockets, white shoes, gaiters, and linen breeches, an enormous black flap hat turned up on the side in a point or horn. The young man wears the point over the ear, the married turns it behind, and the widower in front. We reached the Bourg de Batz in time for vespers, and had an opportunity of seeing the people in their Sunday dress. The men wear three or four cloth waistcoats, all of different lengths, so as to let the various colours, red, white, and blue, with which they are bound, appear one above the other in tiers, a muslin turnover collar, full plaited breeches of fine cloth tied at the knee by garters of floating ribbon, white woollen stockings with worked clocks and light yellow shoes, their flap hats ornamented with a roll of chenille of varied colours. The headdress of the women is singular and most intricate. The hair, in two rolls, twisted round with white tape, forms a kind of coronet across their heads; over this, a piece of net is drawn tight, forming a sort of cap, describing a peak behind, and crossing in front like a handkerchief.
The dress consists of several petticoats of cloth plaited, red body, turned-up sleeves, and large coloured bibs or plastrons which they call "pieces," of the same stuff as their dresses. The girls' aprons are plain, without pockets, but the women's are of coloured silk, some of a rich brocade. A shawl with fringed border completes the costume. Some of the women had their heads and shoulders wrapped up in a triangular, black, shaggy sheepskin mantle; these were widows.
At the inn where we alighted, they keep the splendid costumes worn by the people at weddings and other great occasions; and, by paying them for their trouble, they will put them on for inspection. The bride's costumes are of great magnificence; they array themselves in three different dresses on their wedding-day. First, a gown of white velvet, with apron of moire antique; secondly, one of violet velvet; and the third equally costly. Embroidered sleeves, the "piece" of cloth of gold, the petticoats looped up with a wide sash, embroidered in gold, and gold clocks to the stockings.
We were shown a state bed, or "lit de mariage," a tall four-post, painted red, with green reps tester and curtains, embroidered with yellow chenille. The great sign of wealth is to have the bedding reach to the top of the bedstead. To effect this, the base is formed of bundles of vine-stalks, over which is spread the straw, and when this scaffolding has been raised some feet, a paillasse is placed over it, then the feather-bed, so that it literally requires a ladder to ascend to the top of this mountain of bedding, and then it is difficult to crawl into it. There were a bolster and two pillows covered with velvet, which, with the sheets, were all trimmed with a kind of lace or cutwork.
The houses are solidly built of granite, and slated; the windows large. The furniture is good, generally comprising a well-waxed carved oak armoire, upon which are arranged earthenware plates of various colours.
The paludiers of Batz preserve their original type distinct from the peasants of the environs; and form, like the Jews, a separate people, intermarrying among themselves, retaining their own peculiar manners and customs. They are supposed to descend from a Saxon colony. The paludier is tall in stature; their women remarkable for their fair complexions, which contrast strongly with their sunburnt neighbours. They are loyal and devout, true to their word, courageous and enduring; though the paludier is miserably poor, from the oppressiveness of the salt-tax, he never complains. Begging is unknown. Their food consists of rye bread, porridge of black corn, potatoes, and shellfish. They are sober, and drink wine in small quantities.
Formerly the salt was distributed over the adjacent provinces by means of "saulniers," the journeymen labourers of the paludiers. Dressed in their picturesque costume, with a train of mules, whose tinkling bells announced their arrival, the saulnier was welcomed in every village where he sold his salt or exchanged it for other merchandize. "Le sucre des pauvres," as salt has been aptly called, was severely taxed under the old regime; distributions of the "sel royale" were yearly made by the Government among the gentry of the provinces, but the poor, who had no such privileges, severely felt the oppression, and smuggling was consequently extensively carried on, and the "faux saulnier," with his double bag across his shoulders, secretly sold salt upon which the gabelle had not been paid. With a faux saulnier originated the great peasant rising in Brittany, the Chouan war; a war to which Napoleon said, "All preceding wars have been but games." Jean, father of the four brothers Cottereau, was a maker of wooden shoes, and lived in a forest near Laval (Maine). From his solitary life he had acquired such sombre, wild, melancholy habits, that people gave him the name of Chouan, Maine patois for Chat-huant, and his family received the sobriquet long before the insurrection of 1792. Jean Cottereau was the most celebrated faux saulnier of Maine; he had accidentally killed a revenue officer in one of his encounters, and his heroic mother made a journey to Versailles, barefooted, "sur le cuir de ses pieds," to obtain his pardon. Jean's master and patron was guillotined, his two sisters shared the same fate, and one of his brothers died of his wounds, and his body was disinterred by the Revolutionists. These personal wrongs, the treatment of the King, the interdiction of the Catholic religion, its processions, its bells, the persecution of its ministers, all goaded the Breton peasantry to revolt; and Jean was the first to fire a gun against a Republican at the cry of "Vive le Roi." The rising began with a few peasants, armed with a gun or a stick, dressed in short breeches open at the knee, with leather gaiters, and coloured garters; their long hair streaming over the shoulders, their heads covered with a wide-brimmed hat, or brown or red cap, sabots tipped with iron, and, in cold weather, a loose coat of goatskin. The Chouans assembled in small bands and attacked the Republicans at night in ambuscade, and when they had killed a few "Bleus" disappeared among the corn-fields or the furze-bushes. Simple peasants, they fought against the Republicans in defence of the altar and the throne. Their "commandements" ran thus:—
"Ton Dieu, ton Roy, tu serviras Jusqu'a la mort fidelement. Docile a tes chefs tu seras, Afin de vaincre surement. Sobre et discret te montreras, Buvant peu, parlant rarement; De ton chef jamais n'agiras Attendant le commandement; Violemment rien ne prendras, Mais en payant exactement. Age et sexe respecteras, Etant soldat et non brigand. Les comites corrigeras, Et les mouchards chretiennement; Ne Breton, tu n'oublieras, Afin d'agir loyalement. Dans le succes clement seras; Dans le malheur, ferme et constant. Chaque jour ton Dieu tu prieras; Que peux tu sans son bras puissant?"
Such were the first Chouans: they had no organisation until they followed Larochejaquelin and the Vendean army to Granville, and accompanied them in their retreat; when their numbers were materially increased and their character completely changed by the deserters and brigands, who joined and eventually succeeded the peasantry.
The church of Batz is of cut stone. It has a square tower, surmounted by a cupola steeple, which with that of Le Croisic serves as a landmark to vessels having to steer between the two dangerous rocks Le Four, in front of Le Croisic, and Les Blanches, situated near the mouth of the Loire.
The choir is inclined, like that of St. Pol and others in Brittany. On one of the bosses in the interior is a grotesque carving of a man torn to pieces by the seven capital sins. On others are the Santa Veronica, the Good Shepherd, Ste. Barbara, &c. Near the church are the pretty ruins of the chapel of Notre Dame-du-Murier.
We drove on to Le Croisic, in Breton, "Little Cross;" so called from the small chapel of the Crucifix, built to commemorate the baptism by St. Felix, Bishop of Nantes, in the sixth century, of the Saxon colony who occupied the peninsula. Le Croisic was one of the first towns in Brittany which received Christianity, and bears for its arms a cross between four ermines. Along the road-side are cisterns or wells dug in the sand, and girls were filling with water the classical stone pitchers they carried upon their heads—quite an Eastern picture, suggestive of Rebecca and the damsels of her country. Le Croisic is almost surrounded by the sea, low, and without shelter, which renders it cold, damp, and exposed to the winds; turf is almost the only fuel used.
It is much frequented as a watering-place, and has an Etablissement. It is also a sea-port, with a rocky entrance to the harbour, and the dangerous rock with its lighthouse, called Le Four, extending for a league in front. The inhabitants of Le Croisic are principally engaged in the sardine fishery, and the curing of these fish consumes much of the salt of the marshes. The people complain this year they have no large orders for sardines, and there is but little white salt.
The chapel of St. Goustan, on the edge of the harbour, is singularly built; its western gable perched upon a little rock, half of which is inside and half outside the building. The church is no longer open for Divine service; but the peasant-girl who desires to know if she will be married this year, tries to pass a pin through the bars of the northern window without touching the wall. On the opposite side of the estuary are Periac and La Turbale, both seats of the sardine fishery. Returning the way we came, we stopped at the Plage Valentin, another bathing-place in a pretty little bay; with dressing-rooms and a small Etablissement. An omnibus conveys the bathers from Le Croisic, for two sous. The sea looks more inviting here and at Poulignan than at Le Croisic, where there is so much seaweed in the harbour. We returned through Batz; the cathedral tower of Saint Aubin at Guerande is to be seen at a great distance, and is a prominent object in the scenery; the whole country is covered with salt-pans. Guerande stands on a height, and turning back, the view of the whole district is most extensive. We passed through Saille, where Duke John IV. married Joan of Navarre, afterwards the second wife of Henry of Lancaster.
Guerande, built on a vine-covered granite slope, is a singular old feudal town of the fifteenth century. It was fortified by Duke John V., and is nearly surrounded by granite walls, with ten towers and four old gateways, placed at the cardinal points of the compass. St. Michel, the principal gate, or rather a fortress, is flanked by two high towers, and contains the prison, archives, and hotel de ville. A moat formerly surrounded the walls; but it has long been filled in, and boulevards substituted. From the battlements hang festoons of honeysuckle and ivy, and the moat is full of the yellow iris and water-lilies; nevertheless, Guerande has an austere, sombre aspect. There is a fine terrace walk, called the Mail, commanding a view of the whole country over Poulignan, Batz, and Le Croisic—a tented plain of salt.
The church of St. Aubin has Romanesque columns, with grotesque capitals. In one, two persons are sawing a third, stretched upon a wheel. On the left of the double-arched porch, is a pulpit outside the church, and there is some good painted glass within. Notre Dame Blanche, a chapel of the fourteenth century, is a pretty little building with stone pulpit and a sculptured group of Notre Dame-de-la-Salette with the two peasant children of Alsace. Next day, we took a private carriage for La Roche Bernard; the road lying over a wide extent of land through Herbignac to La Roche Bernard (Morbihan), which is most picturesquely situated on a rocky height overhanging the Vilaine, here traversed by an elegant suspension-bridge, opened in 1839, about 666 feet long and above 108 feet above high-water mark—a terrible dizzy height to cross even in calm weather. A few years since, the postman, his cart, and horse were all blown over into the river, and nothing more was ever heard of them. We went fishing several days in a large etang close to La Roche Bernard, and one evening took a pretty walk over the hills to another pond situated in a lovely secluded valley near a water-mill. La Roche Bernard was an early Protestant colony, founded by the Sieur d'Andelot, Seigneur of La Roche Bernard, brother to Admiral Coligny, and one of the firmest supporters of Calvinism. The Calvinists used to assemble at his chateau of Bretesch, where the minister of La Roche Bernard came to preach to them. D'Andelot and his sister, who was equally zealous in the cause, are, it is said, interred at La Roche Bernard. Near the Halles is a square block of houses; one of timber, with "Voie au Duc" inscribed upon it. These houses are said to have belonged to a Protestant community, and all to communicate with each other.
The evening of our arrival there was a wedding supper given at our hotel, the grand dinner having taken place elsewhere. The bride wore a white sash, with wreaths of white flowers round her Nantais cap. After supper the party danced Breton "ronds." The dancers form a large ring (grand rond), holding each other's hands, which they swing violently as they sidle round in a kind of hop-skip-and-a-jump step, accompanied by singing in a most monotonous tone. This went on until midnight. This kind of dance dates, they say, from Celtic times. The music consists of the biniou or bagpipe, and the flageolet or hautboy, sometimes with the addition of a drum. The biniou, cornemuse, or bagpipe, is the national instrument of western and southern France. How it came to be introduced into Scotland and expel the harp—which was as much the original music of Scotland as of Wales and Ireland—is a mystery. But, as in the sixteenth century the harp went out and the bagpipes came into fashion, it may be surmised that it was brought in, with other French novelties, on the return of Queen Mary, perhaps by the Queen herself, or, maybe, some itinerant player of the cornemuse may have accidentally been in her train, and his music set a fashion which has now become national.
On market-day numbers of the women from Muzillac, a place about ten miles distant, came in with their fruit. They all wear an enormous plaited black cap, which looks like the cowl of a friar. The graceful form of the earthenware pots attracted our attention: probably they came from the adjacent town of Herbignac. The 15th August, Fete de la Vierge, and also that of the Emperor, was kept as a general holiday. An immense concourse of people arrived from the neighbourhood, and attended the six o'clock mass. We walked to the quay, to see the sports on the water; the spectators picturesquely grouped on a mass of bare rocks, commanding a pretty view up and down the river.
The amusements consisted of some races, and a mat de cocagne, or greased pole, placed horizontally over the river; the feat being to walk safely to the end, where the prize was fixed, without falling into the water. In the evening "ronds" were danced, and every house had illuminations, in the shape of a candle stuck in a potato, and placed on each end of the window sill.
Next day we left by diligence for Vannes, passing through Muzillac and on to Auray, where we took the steamer for Belle Isle.
A steamer sails daily from the quay at Auray. The banks of the River Loch are very picturesque, the pine-trees (Pinus maritima) growing to the water's edge. On the left, the islands of the Morbihan; on the right, Locmariaker; the view extending to Carnac and Mont St. Michel, over the whole sweep of the bay formed by the peninsula of Quiberon.
At Port Navalo we emerged from the Morbihan, and, on our right, passed the little rocky island of Teigneuse, with its lighthouse; and, on the left, those of Houat and Haedik (the duck and the duckling); the former famous as the retreat of St. Gildas, who leaped from here with one bound, a distance of ten miles, to the peninsula of Rhuys, where he built his monastery. From Auray to Belle Isle is in all forty-eight miles—ten miles of river to Port Navalo, the rest open sea. After eight hours' sail we reached Le Palais, the port and principal town of Belle Isle, built on the north-east side, and overhung by the citadel, the work of Vauban. The town consists of one principal street—the Rue Trochu—so called after the General of that name and his brother, who were the first, at the beginning of this century, to introduce agriculture into the island. We passed, at a distance to the right, the model farm of M. Trochu fils, on our way across the island to the lighthouse,—a cheerless drive, as there are no trees to be seen except near Le Palais. When M. Trochu commenced his labours, agriculture was little attended to in France, but he persevered in his exertions, beginning by clearing about sixty acres of granite rock, a land covered with heath and furze, setting at defiance the Breton saying, "Lande tu fus, lande tu es, lande tu seras." This same district is now covered with rich meadows, fine woods, productive arable fields, and magnificent pasture land, on which horses are extensively reared.
We gathered on the heathy moor three kinds of heath, the Cornish among others. The artichoke grows wild in the waste grounds. Wheat, turnips, beetroot, Indian corn, and potatoes, are the chief produce of the land in cultivation. This last vegetable was introduced by the families from Nova Scotia (Acadia), who settled in Belle Isle, after that province was ceded to England by the Treaty of Paris, in 1766. This was several years before Parmentier had extended the use of the potato, or "truffe rouge," as it was first called, over other parts of France. Indian corn was probably also brought in by the Nova Scotians. The leaves are constantly cut during its growth as fodder for the cattle, so that the cob hardly attains a foot in height from the ground. On the left of our road we saw in the distance the village of Bangor, which gives its name to one of the four districts into which Belle Isle is divided. A little south is the fine granite lighthouse, of the stupendous height of 450 feet. We toiled up 255 steps (223 stone and 32 iron) before we gained the lantern, and, though the view was very extensive, we were rejoiced at finding ourselves safe down. One of the guardians had been waylaid, kicked, and beaten, a few evenings before, for some slight grudge. He seemed in great suffering, but had no doctor; the Breton, in his simple confiding faith—that with the Almighty are the issues of life and death, and that illness will end according to His decree—considers the calling in of a medical adviser but an unnecessary expense to his family. From the lighthouse we walked to the sea-shore. Belle Isle is a table-land, surrounded by steep cliffs, averaging 130 feet in height, which can only be descended to the shore in particular places. We walked to the Grotte du Port Coton, where begins the "Mer Sauvage," as it is called, an extent of five to six miles of most picturesque rocks, some elevated from 130 to 160 feet above the level of the sea, jagged and torn into most fantastic forms by the ceaseless dashing of the waters of the Atlantic, which have formed various grottoes in the cliffs. We descended into one of these caverns by a narrow gulley, but could not proceed far, as the tide was entering fast, and would soon have surrounded us, cutting off all means of retreat.
It reminded us of the description in the 'Vicomte de Bragelonne' of the grotto at Locmaria, which was blown up, and crushed the mousquetaire Porthos, at the moment of his and Aramis' triumph over the soldiers of the King. So great at times is the fury of the waves, that our guide at the lighthouse told us he had seen on several occasions the spray driven over to Le Palais, nearly five miles distant. Continuing our walk along the cliffs, we came to an enormous mass of rock, standing far out detached from the cliff, and covered with screaming sea-gulls. We again descended by another fissure into a pretty sandy cove, surrounded by the same wild granite rocks; but in most places there is no beach at all. It was now high water, so it was useless to attempt the Grotte des Apothecaires,—the finest, they say, of them all, and we returned to Le Palais well pleased with the remarkably wild coast we had seen. Belle-isle forms now a canton in the department of Morbihan. In ancient days it belonged to the Abbot of Saint-Croix, at Quimperle, who sold it, in the time of Charles IX., to the Marechal de Gondi, and, in 1573, it was erected into a Marquisate. (Cardinal de Retz lived here after his escape from the castle of Nantes.) One of his successors, Henri de Gondi, being overwhelmed with debt, sold the island to Nicolas Fouquet, the ill-fated Superintendent of Finance, on whose disgrace, and his being subsequently consigned to the fortress of Pignarol, his grandson, the Marquis de Belle Isle, exchanged it with Louis XV. for the Comte of Gisors, erected into a duchy in 1742. Fouquet built a palace and completed the citadel, for which he employed Vauban. He also projected fortifications to enclose the town, which are now in course of completion by the Emperor, after Vauban's plans. Several guns had just been landed, the day before we visited the citadel, to see which an order is requisite. Near the citadel is the "Maison centrale des detenus," now only containing a few old men, too feeble for hard labour. We were too tired to walk to look at the celebrated cistern of Vauban, which holds, we were told, above thirty thousand imperial gallons of water. Fouquet's palace was, it is said, destroyed to complete the line of fortifications. A house was pointed out to us as having formed part of the original building. Some years since, a stone was picked up in the harbour bearing his ambitious device—a squirrel, with the motto, Quo non ascendum? "To where shall I not rise?" The greater number of the population of Belle Isle are employed in the fisheries; of these the sardine and the tunny are the chief. There are large establishments for curing sardines, which are very abundant, and lobsters, taken in the rocks of Belle Isle and the little islands of Houat and Haedic, are sent to London and Paris. The boats go as far as Spain, to the coast of Catalonia, for the tunny fishery, which extends from August to the beginning of October. These fish are taken by lines hung along the sides of the vessel, with a bell attached to each to give notice of a bite. The most esteemed part of the tunny is the underneath, or "panse." The next morning we sailed back to Auray. The nearest point to Belle Isle is Quiberon, only ten miles from Le Palais. From Auray by rail to Quimper, where we took the diligence to Pont l'Abbe, an old town formerly of some importance, in the midst of a fertile, rich country. The costume worn at Pont l'Abbe and along the Bay of Audierne is very singular. The cap, or "bigouden," is composed of two pieces: first, a kind of skull-cap, or serre-tete, fitting tight to the head over the ears, then a little round bit, resembling, the young people said, a "pork-pie" hat, made of starched linen, pinched into a three-cornered peak, the middle peak embroidered and tied on by a piece of tape fastening under the chin; the hair is turned up, "en chignon," over the skull-cap. The body of the dress has a large "piece" of red or yellow, and sleeves to match. The men wear several very short coats, one over the other, the shortest trimmed with fringe; sometimes sentences are embroidered with coloured woollens round the edge. It was market day; the women were sitting, with distaff and spindle, on each side of the entrance to the Halle. Some of them have short bead-chains with a ring, attached to the left shoulder, to stick their distaffs in when not at work. There was abundance of fruit and vegetables, potatoes, and sardines, which, with bigoudens and other articles of dress, formed the principal commodities for sale. Pont l'Abbe and its Port, Loctudy, carry on an extensive trade with Jersey, and large quantities of potatoes are exported to that island. There were some Jersey merchants at the table-d'hote.
The church of Pont l'Abbe has only one aisle. There is a fine rose window over the west entrance, of great lightness and richness, with a smaller one at the left; at the east end is another rose window of larger dimensions, the mullions forming geometric patterns, but differing in design from the other. The French architects always took great pains in the decoration of this part of the church, and these wheel windows really rival those of Rouen.
Attached to the church, are the cloisters of the Carmelite convent to which the church formerly belonged, built in the beginning of the fifteenth century by Bertram de Rosmadec, who had so much contributed to the completion of the cathedral at Quimper. The square is surrounded by an interlaced circular arcade, forming trefoiled pointed arches, all in excellent preservation. The access to the cloisters is through the conventual building, now a private house and garden, the proprietor kindly granting us permission.
We drove to Loctudy, on the mouth of the Pont l'Abbe river opposite the little island of Tudy, called after an English saint of that name. Fleeing from the persecutions of the Picts and Scots who desolated his country, he founded here, at the end of the fifth century, a considerable monastery, afterwards destroyed by the Normans.
At Loctudy is a curious Romanesque church, one of the best preserved in Brittany, which dates from the Templars of the twelfth century. It has a nave with aisles going all round the choir, and three round apsidal chapels at the end. The five arches on each side of the nave are horse-shoe shaped, and the choir is surrounded by the same number of high narrow arches, resting on columns with grotesque capitals of complicated design. The three chapels behind are seen through the opening; on one of the capitals is sculptured the cross of the Templars. The whole building is spoiled by whitewash.
"Chevaliers en ce monde cy Ne peuvent vivre sans souci; Ils doivent le peuple defendre, Et leur sang pour la foi espandre." EUSTACHE DESCHAMPS.
We engaged a rough kind of vehicle, much like a butcher's cart, to visit the Torche de Penmarch, a rocky promontory, so called from its fancied resemblance to a horse's head, forming the southern extremity of the department of Finistere. The Torche is a mass of rocks separated from the mainland by a chasm called the "Saut de Moine," because an Irish saint, named Viaud, jumped across it on his landing. In rough weather, the noise made by the sea dashing against its sides and rushing through the crevices of the rocks, is said to be heard at Quimper, a distance of twenty-one miles. A line of rocks runs all along the coast, marked by a lighthouse at Penmarch; we proceeded to another group of rocks near which M. de Chatellier, a proprietor and antiquary of this country, has built a house for painting and enjoying the scenery. One of our party clambered down to see the "Trou d'Enfer," a tremendously deep hole in the rocks, the bottom covered with a pink sort of sea-weed, and the water as clear as crystal. The whole country is a dreary sandy level, with salt-marshes, over which we passed to the ruined church of St. Fiacre, and close by is that of St. Guenole, both situated near the sea. The countryman who showed us the church, knelt reverently down at the threshold and put up a short prayer before he entered the sacred building. The general devoutness and strong faith of the Bretons is most impressive and genuine, mixed, no doubt, with great superstition; but, as Wesley says, "Heaven makes allowance for invincible ignorance, and blesses the faith notwithstanding the superstition."
St. Guenole consists of an unfinished square tower, with crocketed pinnacles and a porch of considerable size, under a large mullioned window of the fifteenth century. On each side of the porch are rude sculptures of ships and fishes, not uncommon in these parts, set there to show the church has been built with the thank-offerings of the fisher population of the district. In our tour we met with several churches with this sign, evidences of the piety of the fishermen; indeed, at Dunkirk, when the church was burned down in the sixteenth century by the French, it was entirely rebuilt by the contribution called "le filet saint," from an ancient custom among the fishermen of having one net so called, the produce of which was set apart for the church.
Towards the lighthouse are the ruins of the old town of Penmarch, much celebrated in the maritime history of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries; its commerce extended even to Spain, and the riches of its inhabitants were so surpassingly great, that they drank out of silver cups, and the lords of a manor near the Torche furnished the silk required to line the road traversed by religious processions, their wealth being due to the "viande de careme," that is to say, to the cod fishery. But the discovery of Newfoundland deprived them of this lucrative monopoly, and the ravages of Fontenelle le Ligueur completed their ruin. All now is a scene of desolation. Penmarch has been called the Palmyra of Brittany.
Guy Eder Fontenelle, the Leaguer, who spread terror and devastation throughout Brittany in the sixteenth century, was a member of the Beaumanoir family; the name he adopted was that of one of the family estates. He was born in the Chateau of Beaumanoir (near Evran), and his elder brother early foresaw his guilty career. He escaped from college and united himself with a set of young men as lawless as himself; they formed themselves into a band, which soon became the dread of all Brittany. They ravaged the whole of Treguier and Cornouaille, surprised the chateaux of Coetfrec and others, took the church of Carhaix, which they fortified, and the towns of Paimpol, Lannion, and Landerneau, which they pillaged, Penmarch and Pontcroix, whence they carried off an immense booty and 300 vessels, with which they scoured the seas; and lastly, Douarnenez and the Island of Tristan (in 1595), whence fruitless attempts were made to dislodge them. For three years Fontenelle made this island his head-quarters, issuing from his stronghold to devastate the country. He murdered above fifteen hundred peasants at Plougastel, sank an English ship, without allowing her crew a moment to save themselves, imprisoned and tortured at Douarnenez all who fell into his hands. His victims never survived his cruelties more than three or four days, when their bodies were cast out into the bay to the fishes. These were only a few of his atrocities. As he called himself one of the leaders of the League in Brittany, the Duke de Mercoeur, its chief, indignant at the barbarities perpetrated in its name, caused Fontenelle to be imprisoned, but he was liberated on paying a ransom; and, fearing he would give Douarnenez over to the Spaniards, Fontenelle was included in the pacification of Mercoeur with Henry IV. But four years later he was implicated in the conspiracy of Biron; on which occasion all his old crimes were raked up against him, and he was condemned to be dragged on a hurdle, and broken alive upon the wheel, which sentence was executed on the Place de Greve at Paris in 1602. In consideration of the illustrious house to whom he belonged, the king granted that in the act of condemnation he should not go by his own name. We next went to see the church of Saint Nonna in the town, the largest of the numerous churches in the parish of Penmarch. Ships are sculptured in front of the tower, as at St. Guenole. On the left of the porch is a pretty window, the mullions formed by three fleur de lis. In the church is a curious old painting styled, "Procession du voeu de Louis XIII." Portraits of the King, the Dauphin (Louis XIV.), Anne of Austria, and Cardinal Richelieu, are introduced, and a view of the church of St. Nonna is in the background.
On our way home we passed, on the left, at Kerscaven, two menhirs, one curiously furrowed and shaped like a half-opened fan.
We had a pretty drive from Pont l'Abbe, with occasional views of the Bay of Audierne, extending from Penmarch to the Pointe du Raz. Midway the horse, going down a steep hill, fell, and we all found ourselves upon the road, but happily unhurt. We met numbers of peasants returning from the fair at Pontcroix; and our driver, a butcher by trade, coolly stopped the vehicle, to discourse with them on the price of stock, and to handle the sheep they had bought. Our drive was enlivened with occasional peeps of the Bay of Audierne till we reached the little port of that name, the view of which is very pretty. Audierne is approached by a bridge across the river or estuary. At its entrance is a lighthouse, and on the right a sandy bay, with bathing-machines in the season.
The town consists of three streets of cut granite houses, with the name of the builder and the date of their construction inscribed over the door. Fishing is the occupation of the inhabitants, and the table-d'hote at our comfortable, clean, little inn was plentifully supplied with magnificent john dorys, large red mullet, langoustes, and fish of every description.
From Audierne we took a carriage to visit the Pointe du Raz, a promontory so famous for its rocks and wrecks. We went through a treeless country; near a pretty bay, on the left, is the chapel of Notre Dame-de-Bon-Voyage, destined chiefly for sailors, after which the country becomes more wild, barren, and cheerless. We passed over a bridge which no Breton would dare to cross at night, for fear of being flung by the spirits into the river. According to their belief, a hare appears on the bridge, and terrifies the horses, who throw their rider, and the traveller is dragged by the phantom into the muddy river, where he is kept till morning's dawn, when he is allowed to pursue his way, exhausted with cold, and half dead with fright. They are very superstitious here, as in all Cornouaille. A writer says, "every nation of the earth has its superstitions and absurdities, but Brittany has those of all other nations united." An old woman in a village hard by, said our driver, has never been seen inside the walls of a church; the people say she has sold herself to the evil one, and no one dares go near or speak to her.
On the left is the pretty steeple of the church of Plogoff, situated on an eminence, and dedicated to Saint Colledoc, a Welsh bishop of the sixth century, contemporary of King Arthur, and associated with many of the doings of Queen Guinevre and the knights of the Round Table. Lescoff is the last village we passed through before—after driving over a barren plain—we arrived at the lighthouse, built thirty years back at the Pointe.
We walked thence to the Pointe, a gigantic and magnificent mass of rocks, eighty feet above the level of the sea. We met with a good-natured woman, who led the young people over the rocks to look down the "Enfer de Plogoff." They had a slippery scramble to reach the hole, a kind of tunnel through which the sea rushes with great violence, so much more terrible than that of Penmarch, that the noise has been compared to the distant roaring of some thousands of wild beasts issuing from the depths of a forest. In the mean time, we remained seated on the bank enjoying the view. On the south lay the Bay of Audierne, extending in the form of a crescent, the promontories of Penmarch and Raz forming the extreme points. The currents, and the numerous rocks of the bay, render it a dangerous coast, formerly peopled by barbarous wreckers, who despoiled the shipwrecked mariners as our Cornish men of old. Opposite the Raz, about seven miles distant, is the Island of Sein, and to the right, the Baie des Trepasses. The island of Sein was anciently the seat of an oracle, interpreted by nine Druidesses, who were versed in every art and science. Moreover, they appear to have been accomplished needlewomen; for a Breton chronicler, giving an account of the coronation of an early king (Erech) at Nantes, describes his mantle as embroidered by these priestesses with figures of Arithmetic, Astronomy, and Music. Their skill in divination caused them to be associated with the fairies; and Morgan—i.e. "born of the sea"—one of these priestesses, who lived in the first century of the Christian era, was famous among the British fairies.
"Avec succes cultivait la magie, Morgan de plus, etait assez jolie."
Chateaubriand celebrates Velleda, the last of the Druidesses of Sein, tall in stature, her eyes blue, with long fair floating hair, dressed in a short black tunic, without sleeves, bearing a golden sickle suspended from a brazen girdle, and crowned with a branch of oak. Here King Arthur was brought by Merlin to recover of his wounds. The inhabitants of the island were celebrated for their ferocity as wreckers.
The passage between the island and the point or Bec du Raz—"qu'aucun n'a passe sans mal ou sans crainte"—is very dangerous, owing to the number of rocks and the violence of the currents; hence the well-known prayer of the Breton sailor, "Mon Dieu, secourez-moi pour traverser le Raz, car mon navire est petit et la mer est grande." Having no wish to run the risk of being detained at the island by rough weather, we did not attempt the passage.
The Baie des Trepasses, over which we looked on the right, is so called from the Celtic legend that the Druids embarked in this bay after their death, to be buried in the island of Sein:—
"Autrefois, un esprit venait, d'une voix forte; Appeler chaque nuit un pecheur sur sa porte; Arrive dans la baie, on trouvait un bateau Si lourd et si charge de morts qu'il faisait eau, Et pourtant il fallait, malgre vent et maree, Les mener jusqu'a Sein, jusqu'a l'ile sacree." BRIZEUX.
The bay also derives its name from the numerous shipwrecks that have taken place on its rocks, and from the number of corpses that have been floated there by the currents from ships foundered in the gulf comprised between the entrance of Brest, the Ouessant Islands, and Sein. The whole extent of the coast of Brittany is one long wall of rocks, placed as it were to protect it from the inroads of the sea and from foreign invasion. Heaped one over the other, they resemble the bastions of a citadel, the advanced rocks extending out to sea, jutting up in every direction in endless reefs. Or its line of coast may be compared to the jagged teeth of a comb, with a second line of defence in the rocks further out to sea.
On the desolate shore of the Baie des Trepasses is a piece of water, the etang de Laoual, site of the city of Is—submerged by Divine vengeance, according to popular tradition, in the fifth century—a place of great commerce, arts, riches, and also of luxury. Gradlon, or Grallo, the king, alone attempted to stem the torrent. Built in the vast basin which now forms the Bay of Douarnenez, it was protected from the ocean by a strong dyke, the sluices only admitting sufficient water to supply the town. King Gradlon kept the silver key (which opened, at the same time, the great sluice and the city gates) suspended round his neck. His palace was of marble, cedar, and gold; in the midst of a brilliant Court sat enthroned his daughter Dahut, a princess who "had made a crown of her vices, and had taken for her pages the seven capital sins." Taking advantage of the sleep of her father, Dahut one night stole the silver key, and instead of opening the city gate, by mistake unlocked the sluices. The King was awakened by St. Guenole, who commanded him to flee, as the torrent was reaching the palace. He mounted his horse, taking his worthless daughter behind him. The torrent was gaining upon him fast, when a voice from behind called out, "Throw the demon thou carriest into the sea, if thou dost not desire to perish." Dahut felt her strength failing her; the hands that convulsively grasped her father's waist relaxed their hold; she rolled into the water, disappeared, and the torrent immediately stopped its course. The King reached Quimper safe and sound, and that town became afterwards the capital of Cornouaille.
So runs the legend. That a great city once existed in the Bay of Douarnenez admits of no doubt. Besides the religious chronicles of the country, which have preserved the memory of its existence, in the sixteenth century, remains of old edifices were standing at the entrance of the bay, old paved roads have been traced, and walls found under water near the Pointe du Raz.
The tradition of a town thus swallowed up is common among the Celtic race. In Wales, the site of the submerged city is in Cardigan Bay; in Ireland, in Lough Neagh:—
"On Lough Neagh's banks, where the fisherman strays, At the hour of eve's declining, He sees the round towers of other days Beneath the waters shining."—MOORE.
One of our party went out fishing to the Pointe, and returned well laden with his spoils.
The road from Audierne to Douarnenez passes by Pontcroix, a little town on the same river (Goazien) as Audierne, along which the road runs—a charming drive. It has a magnificent Romanesque church of the twelfth (probably of the fifteenth) century, with a remarkable porch, richly embroidered in quatrefoils and trefoils. A tower in the centre, with octagonal spire is second to none in Cornouaille, except that of Quimper. The arches of the nave are horseshoe, the transepts very narrow. Under the altar of the Lady Chapel is a "Cene," half the size of nature, sculptured in ivory and marble, of marvellous workmanship.
Eleven miles from Douarnenez we stopped to see the pretty little chapel of Notre Dame-de-Comfort, in a hamlet of that name, with light open-work steeple. Attached to one of the arches, on the left of the choir, is a wooden wheel, hung round with bells, to which is attached a long string. It is erroneously called "the wheel of fortune;" but is, in fact, the old wheel of sacring bells in use before the single bell was adopted. The boy who showed us the chapel pulled the string which was fastened to a hook near the altar, and the wheel revolved and rang a merry peal. Formerly there was a little wooden figure attached to the wheel, which performed the same office. The road runs round a hill, along an estuary formed by the river, and suddenly the beautiful lake, called the Bay of Douarnenez, bursts on the sight, of a blue as lovely as the Italian seas.
The dirty little town of Douarnenez is charmingly situated to the south of the bay, the hills clothed with trees to the water's edge. The Pointe du Raz forms the western boundary of the bay, and it is shut in to the north by the peninsula of Crozon; its extreme point, Pointe de la Chevre, advancing nearly midway into the bay. The tide here falls eighteen feet. The triple peaks of the Mene-Hom, one of the Montagnes Noires, is a prominent feature in the view. Islands are scattered over the gulf, and the island of Tristan, retreat of Fontenelle le Ligueur, is so close to Douarnenez, that it may be reached on foot at low water.
The hotel was crammed, gentlemen sleeping on the billiard-table, or littered down in the room of the table-d'hote: the place was crowded. All the world had flocked in to assist at the Pardon of Sainte Anne-la-Palue, which was to take place the following morning. No vehicle was to be had, and we were in despair of being able to go, when a good-natured voyageur kindly offered to drive us in his carriage—a proposal we thankfully accepted. In all our wanderings we had hitherto never been so fortunate as to see a Pardon, and we were very anxious to go.
The Pardon of Sainte Anne-la-Palue takes place the last Sunday in August, continuing three days, and is one of the most frequented in Finistere.
At Plonevez-Porzun we turned off the Crozon road, and about two miles further arrived at the chapel. The road all the way was lined with peasants walking to the Pardon. The young men of Douarnenez wear blue jackets, embroidered in colours, with rows of plated buttons, the sleeves and waistcoat of a darker blue than the jacket, scarlet sashes, some with plaited bragou bras and shining leather gaiters; but most of them wore trowsers, their hair long, and their hats with two or three rows of coloured variegated chenille. The women had square caps, and aprons with bibs. Those who were in mourning wore light yellow caps, called "bourladins," stained that colour with beeswax or saffron.
St. Anne is a newly-built church, standing on the slope of a down which separates it from the sea, in a perfectly insulated situation. It is only opened once a year for the Pardon. Round it were erected numerous stalls, with toys, epinglettes, and rosaries (chapelets), in heaps for sale; for rosaries must always be purchased at the Pardon, to preserve the wearer from thunder and hydrophobia. The great fabric for them is at Angers, where they are made in immense quantities. In the principal manufactory a steam-engine is used for turning the beads; in the others the common lathe. One maker told us she sent annually into Brittany alone rosaries to the value of 800l. There were tents and booths erected for the accommodation of the pilgrims who had arrived the preceding day. They eat, drink, and dance in the tents by day, and sleep on the tables at night.
At ten o'clock, at the ringing of a bell, a procession was formed, consisting of a long line of peasants, preceded by priests and banners, which made the round of the church; the penitents, en chemise to the waist, barefooted, carrying wax-tapers in their hands. The penance is sometimes executed by proxy: a rich sinner may, for a small sum, get his penance performed by another. One woman made the round of the church on her knees, telling her beads as she hobbled along. This was in performance of a vow made for some special deliverance.
We proceeded to the top of the hill, from which the beautiful Bay of Douarnenez presented a most lively appearance; fleets of small boats arriving from every direction, and a huge steamer from Brest, which was obliged to land its passengers in small boats, on account of the shallowness of the water.
The appearance of the downs now became very animated, covered with gaily-dressed peasants arranged in groups, sitting or lying on the grass, in every kind of attitude.
At four o'clock the grand procession took place. First came the priests of all the surrounding districts, with the banners and crosses of their parishes; then followed five girls (three and two) in white, carrying a banner, and eight more in similar attire, bearing a statue of the Virgin. Next appeared the banner of Sainte Anne, carried by women in the gorgeous costume of the commune—gowns of cherry-coloured silk, trimmed half the way up with gold lace, a silver lace scarf, and aprons of gold tissue or rich silk brocade. Under their lace caps was a cap of gold or silver tissue. Four more of these superbly-dressed bearers ("porteuses") carried the statue of Ste. Anne.
Girls carrying blue flags walked by their side. Troops of barefooted penitents and shaggy-headed beggars closed the procession, which was followed by a countless train of the peasants. It slowly wound its way over the hill, and again descended to the church, where it mingled among the crowds of assembled spectators, which filled the churchyard and were seated on the steps of the calvary.
Not far from the church is the holy well of Ste. Anne, where devotees were engaged pouring the holy water over their hands and backs, dipping their children, and testing its miraculous efficacy by various other ablutions.
We proceeded next morning to Quimper, having had no opportunity of seeing Douarnenez itself. In the season it is a favourite watering-place, the bathing being about two miles from the town. It is a great place for the sardine fishery. From Quimper we went by rail to Rosporden, whence an omnibus runs to Concarneau. The church of Rosporden is situated on a little promontory, jutting out into a large etang fed by the river Aven, which runs through it and flows on to Pontaven.
We took a carriage at Rosporden for Le Faouet, passing by Scaer on the Isole, a stream which rises at the foot of the Montagnes Noires, takes a curve round the town of Scaer, and joins the Laita. It is full of trout and salmon.
Scaer is a town remarkable for having preserved many old customs and superstitions; among others, the bees are considered to be entitled to share in the joys and sorrows of the family. Their hives are surrounded with a red stuff on the occasion of a marriage; with a black on that of a death. This custom is still preserved in Wales. In all parts of Brittany bees are treated with special affection. As the redbreast is sacred, because she broke a thorn from the crown of our Lord that pierced His brow, so are the bees revered because, as we learn from the code of Hoel the Good, though they were sent from heaven to earth after the fall of man, the blessing of Heaven has ever followed them in their exile. This, too, is the reason the wax they produce has the privilege of lighting the altars for the divine office.
It was the day of a Pardon, and the peasants were all in gala dresses. A wrestling match unfortunately had just been finished; for throughout Cornouaille wrestling has been, from time immemorial, as favourite a game as in our county of the same name. Our driver tried without success to procure for us some of the little double crystals, intersecting each other at right angles, called "pierre de croix"—by mineralogists grenatite—found in the Coatdry, a small affluent of the Aven, washed out of the mica slaty rocks in which they abound. The peasants assign to them a miraculous origin, and wear them in little bags round the neck as charms against headache, blindness, shipwreck, and hydrophobia, being, as they allege, signed with the cross. According to tradition, a pagan chief, having, in his impious rage, thrown down the cross in the chapel of Coatdry, Heaven, in memorial of the outrage, placed the sacred symbol upon the stones of the river.
At Le Faouet we again entered the department of the Morbihan. This pretty little town is situated between the Sterlaer and the Elle. We first walked to see the chapel of Ste. Barbe, perched, in the most singular manner, in the cleft of a high rock, about a mile from the town.
After a steep climb we reached the plateau of the hill, where is the monument of a M. Berenger, who desired to be buried in this elevated spot, which commands a charming view of the surrounding country, the silvery waters of the Elle winding at the base of the mountain. We then descended, by a flight of handsome, broad, granite steps, with balustrades, to the chapel, placed on so narrow a space that it was impossible to give it the usual inclination to the east. The entrance-porch is to the southwest, and the high altar opposite, against the walls of the chapel, to the north-east. On the top of the steps is the belfry, consisting of a roof, supported by four columns. The day of the Pardon each pilgrim rings the bell. The chapel was built in this singular spot, according to tradition, by a knight, who was overtaken by a storm in the valley of the Elle beneath. He saw an enormous mass of detached rock on the point of falling down and crushing him, when he invoked the intercession of Sainte Barbe, the guardian saint against thunder, promising to build her a chapel, if delivered from the danger. His prayer was heard; the rock was stayed in its descent and rested on the cleft, where, next day, the grateful knight began building the chapel, as a thank-offering for his escape. Above Ste. Barbe, stationed on an insulated rock, one of the highest peaks in Brittany, is a small chapel, dedicated to St. Michael, also approached by a flight of stone steps, like Ste. Barbe, with bridge built over an archway. The rock on which it stands is so abrupt, that rings are placed along the sides of the chapel for the pilgrims, when creeping round, to hold on by. Many have perished in the attempt; none, they say, have ever succeeded in making the circuit.
There was a wedding at Le Faouet during our stay there. Guests, invited from all quarters, to the number of 250, arrived in their gala costumes, some of them magnificent: one woman wore a gown entirely of gold tissue; it was her wedding-dress. The musicians, with biniou and hautboy, went round to summon the guests. We saw the procession going to church. The bride was prettily dressed, with a high cap, beautifully "got up," pointed in form, and trimmed with lace, and embroidered; a muslin apron, also lace-trimmed, and a double muslin shawl, similarly trimmed, the lace beautifully plaited; a violet silk dress, white moire sash, and a small bunch of white flowers. The bridegroom was "en bourgeois." Outside the church door were tables, laid out with cakes; after the service the bride and all the party took each a cake and put money in the plates, as an offering for the poor. They next adjourned to the Place, where they danced three "gavottes" under the trees. The ceremony of stealing away the bride then took place; that is, she was chased by some dozen of the youths of the company, and he who had the good fortune to capture her she treated to a cup of coffee at a cafe. Dinner followed, and then they returned to the interminable gavotte. They hold each other's hands "en grand rond," then wind themselves round the centre couple, executing most elaborate steps, and uncoil again to return to the grand rond. We counted as many as thirty couples in one gavotte. These festivities last two, or sometimes three, days, during which time all the wedding party are entertained free of expense.
Le Faouet is a great fishing quarter. The Elle, which flows round the town, is a stream of considerable size; and, four miles below Le Faouet, it is joined by the Laita, and before Quimperle unites its waters with the Isole, whence its mingled streams flow into the Atlantic, under the name of the Laita. We were told that large fish were taken in a pond in the grounds of the Abbey of Langonnet, not far from Le Faouet, but it is strictly preserved.
The people of this district retain all the old Breton superstitions; they believe in the Car of Death, drawn by six black horses, driven by the "Ankou," or Phantom of Death, with an iron whip. They also have full faith in the Washerwomen of the Night (Lavandieres de la Nuit), who wash the shrouds for the dead, and fill the air with their melodious songs:—
"Si chretien ne vient nous sauver, Jusqu'au jugement faut laver: Au clair de la lune, au bruit du vent, Sous la neige, le linceul blanc."
"If no good soul our hands will stay, We must toil on till judgment-day: In strong wind or clear moonlight, We must wash the death-shroud white."
They engage the passer-by to help them in wringing the linen; if he refuses, they drown him in their washing trough, or suffocate him in a wet sheet. Should he show himself ill-disposed, after having agreed to help them, they dislocate his arm. If he wrings the wrong way, his fate is inevitable; but if docile and obliging, they give him some clothes and dismiss him.
A mile and a half from Le Faouet, on a height a little off the Quimperle road, is the beautiful church of Saint Fiacre, dating from the middle of the fifteenth century, celebrated for its carved wooden jube, or rood-screen, and its painted glass. The church is falling to decay. It would be tedious to enumerate all the figures, and describe the details of this beautiful jube. The carving is a perfect tracery of lace-work. Three large figures represent our Saviour and the two thieves. Then there are the Virgin and St. Joseph; the latter, with carpenter's plane and hammer. Below, Adam and Eve, and the Angel with the flaming sword. Two angels hold cartouches, on one of which is inscribed, "L'an mil C/IIII XX/IIII (1480) fut fait cette sculpture par Olivier de Loergan;" and, on the other, "Cette passion fut peinte l'an 1627. Yves Perez fabricant. Tous repaint en 1866." Below are panels carved in the flamboyant style, of exquisite workmanship. The two middle panels have the sacred monogram, those on the east side ermines surrounded by cordelieres.
The side of the rood-loft facing the choir has pendents with grotesque carvings of allegorical signification.
A man in an apple-tree, gathering the fruit, symbolizes theft. Next comes a disgusting representation of gluttony: a man relieving himself of a pig he has swallowed, the tail alone remaining in his mouth. Then follow a young man and woman, gaily attired, emblematic of luxury. So far, three of the "sept peches capitaux" are represented; but after these comes a national subject: a man playing on the bagpipe. The figures throughout the rood-screen are all boldly executed, and the tracery most elegant and delicate.
The painted glass in the church is considerable, and represents the Life of Our Saviour, that of St. Fiacre, the Feast of Herod, and the Martyrdom of the Baptist, figures of the Prophets of the Old Testament, with many others. In most of the subjects, the figures are much mutilated. On one window is inscribed, "Pierre Androuet ouvrier demeurant a Kemperle 1552." Over one altar is a sculpture, representing the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, between two archers, in the quaint costume of the sixteenth century.
About six miles from Le Faouet, is the ruined castle of Poncallec, with its forest, etang, and forge; once the demesne of the young marquis of that name, who was implicated in that conspiracy to transfer the Regency from the Duke of Orleans to Philip V. of Spain, called the plot of Cellamare. Of the hundred and forty-eight gentlemen included in the accusation, all escaped to Spain, except Poncallec and three others. Poncallec refused to accompany them from a superstitious fear, a fortune-teller having foretold he should perish by the sea, "par la mer." They took refuge in a church, but were surprised by a party of cavaliers who had muffled the feet of their horses to reach them unheard. They escaped through a subterranean passage, and, for fifteen days, lay concealed in the hollow of a yew-tree, fed in secret by faithful peasants. Poncallec traversed France in the disguise of a priest, but was arrested at the Pyrenees. He with the three others were all convicted of high treason, and, a few hours after their condemnation, were beheaded at Nantes. Poncallec was the last to suffer. When ascending the scaffold, he asked the executioner his name; on his answering "La Mer," Poncallec felt the witch's prophecy was fulfilled.
The estates of the four victims were confiscated, their arms effaced from the fronts of their houses, the moats of their castles filled in, and their trees (hautes futaies) cut down, "a hauteur d'infamie," that is, within nine feet of the ground, in like manner as were those of Moor Park, after the execution of the Duke of Monmouth. A list was presented to the Regent Philip of other offenders, but he tore the paper, and published an amnesty. The story of Poncallec is dramatically told by Alexandre Dumas, in his novel, called 'Une fille du Regent.' The Bretons honoured the victims as martyrs, and M. de la Villemarque, in his 'Chansons Bretons,' gives a touching elegy which shows the sympathy excited by the tragic fate of Poncallec:
"Quand il arriva a Nantes, il fut juge et condamne, Condamne non par ses pairs, Mais par des gens tombes de derriere les carrosses. Ils demanderent a Poncallec: 'Seigneur marquis, qu'avez vous fait? —Mon devoir; faites notre metier.' Il est mort, chers pauvres, celui qui vous nourissait, Qui vous vetissait, qui vous soutenait; Il est mort celui qui vous aimait, habitants de Berne Celui qui aimait son pays et qui l'a aime jusqu'a mourir. Il est mort a vingt-deux ans Comme meurent les martyrs et les saints; Que dieu ait pitie de son ame! Le seigneur est mort … Ma voix s'eteint, … Toi qui l'as trahi, sois maudit, sois maudit; Toi qui l'as trahi, sois maudit."
We left Le Faouet and its comfortable primitive inn, the "Lion d'Or," with much regret; the country around is beautiful, and we had arranged to set out early that we might cross the Montagnes Noires by daylight; but we were disappointed in procuring a carriage, and it was not till late in the afternoon that we were able to leave in a diligence, of which the coupe alone was reserved to us, the interior being occupied by Breton farmers, returning from a horse-fair. From the elevated wooded ground of Le Faouet, the road makes a precipitous descent, and crosses the little stream of Moulin-au-duc, after which it again rises, in a winding direction, along the side of a mountain with a valley and little stream beneath. Then a rapid descent brought us to Gourin, where we would gladly have risked staying the night, and waited till morning to pursue our road over the mountains, but we had paid our fare to Carhaix. Up hill and down again, like all the roads in mountainous Finistere, from Gourin we ascended again and passed a crest of the Montagnes Noires, which separates the three departments of Finistere, Morbihan, and Cotes-du-Nord; and proceeded through a valley to Carhaix, where we arrived at midnight, and therefore had no opportunity of seeing the beauties of the mountain scenery.
Carhaix is a dirty, unpaved, dull town of the middle ages, much decayed from its ancient importance when capital of the country dismembered from Cornouaille, in the sixth century, by Comorre the Breton Bluebeard. It is situated on an eminence, commanding an extensive view of the barren monotonous surrounding country, bounded by the Arre mountains, the Alps of Finistere. It is the centre of Lower Brittany, and the Duke d'Aiguillon, Minister of Louis XV., caused six roads to be made from it to Brest, Quimper, Morlaix, St. Brieux, Vannes, and Chateaulin, with the hope of introducing commerce and civilisation into this barren district, "le dernier trou du monde," as it is styled by the Parisian.
La Tour d'Auvergne, Premier Grenadier de France, was born here, and a bronze statue of him, by Marochetti, has been erected to his memory. He is in the uniform of a private soldier, and presses to his heart the sword of honour just presented to him by the First Consul. Round the pedestal are four bas-reliefs, representing scenes in his life. In the first, he saves a wounded soldier; in the second, he forces the gates of Chambery; in the third, he takes leave of the parents of a youth, for whom he goes as a substitute into the army. The last represents his death; he was killed by a lance at Ober-hausen (Bavaria), fighting against the Austrians. The monument bears this inscription on its four sides:—
"La Tour d'Auvergne, 1^er Grenadier de France, ne a Carhaix le 23 Decembre, 1715; mort au champ d'honneur le 27 Juin, 1800.
"Ecrivain, Citoyen, Soldat, sa vie toujours glorieusement remplie ne laisse que de sublimes exemples a la posterite.
"Tant de talens, et de vertus, appartenaient a l'histoire et au premier Consul, de les devancer.
"Celui qui meurt dans une lutte sacree trouve pour le repos une patrie meme sur la terre etrangere."
Preferring the title of "Premier Grenadier de France" to higher honours, La Tour d'Auvergne remained as a private soldier to his death; but in a decree of Buonaparte, then First Consul, preserved in the Musee des Archives, he orders that La Tour d'Auvergne's name should still be kept on the muster-roll of his old regiment; and, when called, the corporal should answer, "Mort au champ d'honneur!"
The moderation and absence of ambition in the character of La Tour d'Auvergne is expressed in a letter to Le Coq, Bishop of Ille-et-Vilaine. He writes,—"Je me prosterne bien plus volontiers devant la Providence pour le remercier que pour rien demander; du pain, du lait, la liberte; et une coeur qui ne puisse jamais s'ouvrir a l'ambition, voila l'objet de tous mes desirs."
La Tour d'Auvergne had a learned dog, which he educated as a soldier; he went through the whole drill, and his master made him always wear boots. He marched in them, on one occasion, the whole distance from Paris to Guingamp.
A horse fair and market were going on at Carhaix. Some of the women wore curious flannel hoods, edged with colours. There were baskets of burnt limpet shells and lime, used in washing as substitutes for soap. In the porch of the church dedicated to St. Tremeur (son of the Bluebeard Comorre) are some of the little skull-boxes so common in the north of Brittany. One was labelled, "Ci git le chef de Mr. Thomas Francois Nonet, ancien notaire et maire de la ville de Carhaix le 28 J^ier 1776, decedee le 8 7^bre 1842." The curfew bell rings at Carhaix at a quarter to ten.
We left next day for Huelgoat, fifteen miles distant, the road up and down, wild and dreary. At Pont Pierre, about nine miles from Carhaix, we crossed the Aulne, even here a considerable river, with a beautiful thick forest on our right. At a place called La Grande Halte, we turned off the road to the right for Huelgoat, about a mile and a half off. It is prettily situated on a large pond or lake, nearly a mile and a half in circumference, and of great depth (20 feet). It was market day; the men wore brown serge coats, close white breeches and black gaiters, with straw hats bound with black. The countrymen from Saint Herbot were there in their black shaggy goat or sheepskin overcoats, the hair turned outwards (there are flocks of black sheep throughout Finistere), without sleeves, and the white breeches, black gaiters, and straw hats. The women of Huelgoat wear large white turnover collars and caps with long ends turned up.
We first walked to the rocking stone on the slope of a steep hill, considered the third largest in Brittany; the block forming a kind of double cube, that is, about twice the length of its height. It requires a very slight impulse to make it rock. This "fairy stone" is often consulted by the peasants. In the ravine close by, below the path, is what is called the "Cuisine de Madame Marie," but termed in the guide-books the "Menage de la Vierge;" a recess formed of large masses of fantastically shaped granite rocks, through which a small stream of water flows, arriving thither from the pond, by a subterranean course. One stone, hollowed out, is called the ecuelle of the Virgin, and others have each the name of some different utensil requisite for the "Menage" of our Lady. The young people managed to scramble to the bottom.
Huelgoat (Breton, "high wood") is celebrated for its lead-mines, which are now no longer worked. A well-kept path, cut on the top of the ridge, leads to the mines, about two miles and a half distant, along a neat little canal, three feet wide, issuing from the great pond, and supplying the hydraulic machine used to pump the water out of the mine. The deeply wooded valley, along the ridge of which it runs, is traversed by a rushing stream, which runs over rocks; and at a place called Le Gouffre, the rounded granite masses are piled in the wildest confusion, like those of the Menage de la Vierge, forming a large dark cavern, at the bottom of which the imprisoned river foams and roars, and has forced itself an escape through a gorge at some distance from the place, where it is lost to view. A young girl is said, about a century back, to have fallen down this gulf. Attempting to gather some of the mosses that line the sides of the rocks, she slipped in and perished in the sight of her intended. Her body never reappeared, but our guide assured us that her ghost was seen four years since, and that sighs and groans are to be heard at eve issuing from the fatal chasm.
The pretty little ivy-leaved campanula was growing here in abundance. We visited in succession the "robber's cave," the "Pierre cintre" (a natural archway), and other wonders, and returned much pleased with the infinite variety of fantastic rocks, rushing waters, and hanging woods, which form this charming scene.
The lead-mines of Huelgoat have been worked since the fifteenth century for the silver which the lead-ore (galena) contains.
The right of working these mines and those of Poullaouen was given by Louis XIII. to Jean du Chatelet, Baron of Beausoleil, and his wife. He was at that time General of the Mines in Hungary, and inspector of the French mines. They were accompanied by German miners, but their mysterious researches caused them to be accused of sorcery and magic. Richelieu had them imprisoned in the Bastille, where they both died, victims of the fanaticism of the age, and the works were abandoned till the eighteenth century. They are now no longer in operation, but it is said are about to be re-opened.
Retracing our steps to La Grande Halte, on the Carhaix road, we turned off to the left to see the cascade of St. Herbot. We left our carriage, and walked up a hill covered with underwood, opposite the fall. The cascade is formed by the little river Elez falling through a mountain gorge about 650 feet in length, filled with granite rocks of every shape and size, the sides overhung with woods of oak. The height of the fall is 230 feet.
There was no water in the cascade. At the best, it must be only a succession of small falls. The river tumbles from rock to rock, forming on some of the ledges pools of water, filled with small trout, some of which were caught by our party.
According to the legend, a giant of the country, wishing to clear the fields of his friend, a Druid, from the rocks that encumbered them, rolled them down the torrent.
We descended the hill to the road where we had left our carriage, and went to the chapel of St. Herbot, a building of the sixteenth century, on the side of a rushing brook. It has a high square tower opening into the church, and a rood-screen of wood beautifully carved in the style of the Renaissance, which forms three sides round the altar. Two angels are represented with cups, the "sainte graal" receiving the blood of Christ. The entrance to the church is up a flight of steps. It has a beautifully sculptured south porch, with statues of the Apostles, and some fine painted-glass windows. One part of the church has the windows with iron bars, as if for defence.
Near the altar is the tomb of the anchorite, St. Herbot; his effigy reposes under a Gothic canopy, upon a granite sarcophagus, represented in his hermit's gown, the hood thrown back, flowing hair, long beard, his breviary suspended to his girdle, and his pilgrim's staff by his left arm. His feet repose on a recumbent lion. St. Herbot is the great patron of cattle; the three days of the fair and pardon all the bullocks rest; and when an animal is ill, an offering of his hair is made to the saint. We saw a heap of horsehair and cows' tails lying on one of the altars. These are annually sold for the profit of the church, and the proceeds amount to a considerable sum. Our guide gravely assured us that on the first of May, day of the Pardon of St. Herbot, the cows "d'elles memes" walk three times round the church.