The old town of Carcassonne, crowded within the walls, has very narrow streets and tiny squares; the only open space being before the citadel and the cathedral. This latter has a fine Romanesque nave that was consecrated by Pope Urban II. in 1096, with its west end designed for defence, after the customary manner in the south. It is supported by massive piers, alternately round and square. To this plain nave is added a light and lovely choir with transepts, of the beginning of the fourteenth century. Here the glorious windows are filled with rich old stained glass—barbarously restored. And here, on one side of the high altar may be seen a slab of red marble—rightly blood-red—marking the tomb of the infamous Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, the cruel and remorseless right hand of the Pope, with which this fair region was deluged with blood. He was killed on June 20th, 1218, by a stone flung from the walls of Toulouse, which he had been unsuccessfully besieging for nine months. From the south side of the old Cite a delightful view is obtained of the Pyrenees, snow-clad when I was there in April; but the mountain forms of the chain as it approaches the Mediterranean lose boldness and picturesqueness of outline, as they also dwindle in altitude.
How Avignon passed to the Popes—The court of Clement VI.—John XXII.—Benedict XII.—Their tombs—Petrarch and Laura—The Palace of the Popes—The Salle Brulee—Cathedral—Porch—S. Agricole—Church of S. Pierre—The museum—View from the Rocher des doms—The Rhone—The bridge—Story of S. Benezet—Dancing on bridges—Villeneuve—Tomb of Innocent VI.—The Castle at Villeneuve—Defences—Tete-du-pont of the bridge.
We leave Languedoc and are again in Provence, or what was Provence, till the Popes by a fraud obtained it. Avignon belonged to Provence, which was claimed by Charles of Anjou in right of his wife, and it had descended to his son, Charles II. of Naples. On the death of the latter it fell to Robert of Naples, and from him to his grand-daughter, Joanna, the heiress of the Duke of Calabria.
The Papal residence was now at Avignon, and there it remained for a century and a quarter. Joanna fell into trouble, her kingdom of Naples was invaded by Louis, King of Hungary, who asserted his right to her throne. She fled to Provence—to Avignon—where at once Pope Clement VI. seized the occasion to purchase this portion of her Provencal inheritance of her at the price of eighty thousand gold crowns. He kept the principality, but never paid the money.
The Popes have left their indelible mark on the place in the glorious palace, a vast castle, of the boldest structure, wonderful in its size and massiveness.
The Papal court at Avignon, under Clement VI., "became", says Dr. Milman, "the most splendid, perhaps the gayest, in Christendom. The Provencals might almost think their brilliant and chivalrous counts restored to power and enjoyment. The Papal palace spread out in extent and magnificence; the Pope was more than royal in the number and attire of his retainers; the papal stud of horses commanded general admiration. The life of Clement was a constant succession of ecclesiastical pomps and gorgeous receptions and luxurious banquets. Ladies were freely admitted to the Court, and the Pope mingled with ease in the gallant intercourse. The Countess of Turenne, if not, as general report averred, actually so, had at least many of the advantages of the Pope's mistresses—the distribution of preferments and benefices to any extent, which this woman, as rapacious as she was handsome and imperious, sold with shameless publicity."
Under the Papal rule, with such an example before it, Avignon became the moral sink of Christendom. To see what its condition was, and how flagrant was the vice in all quarters, the letters of Petrarch must be read. He speaks of the corruption of Avignon with loathing abhorrence; Rome itself, in comparison, was the seat of matronly virtue.
But I must step back for a moment to John XXII. because of the lovely monument to him in the cathedral, and because thereon we have his authentic portrait.
This Pope was a cobbler's son of Cahors; he was a small, deformed, but clever man: the second cobbler's son who sat on the seat of S. Peter. He had gone, when a youth, to Naples, where his uncle was settled in a little shop. There he studied, his talents and luck pushed him into notice, and he became bishop of Frejus. But he preferred to live on the sunny shores of Naples, and to keep within the circle of the king, where lay chances of higher preferment, and he troubled his diocese little with his presence. He became a cardinal, and in 1316 was elected Pope at the conclave of Lyons. He at once dropped down the Rhone, and fixed the seat of his pontificate at Avignon. Able, learned though he was, he was not above the superstitions of his age. He had been given a serpentine ring by the Countess of Foix, and had lost it. He believed that it had been stolen from him wherewith to work some magic spell against his health. The Pope pledged all his goods, movable and immovable, for the safe restoration of his ring: he pronounced anathema against all such as were involved in the retention of it. It was rumoured that one of those involved in the plot by witchcraft to cause his death through this serpentine ring was Gerold, bishop of his own native city, Cahors. The alarmed and angry sovereign Pontiff had the unhappy bishop degraded, flayed alive, and torn to pieces by wild horses.
John XXII. issued an edict of terrible condemnation against all such as dealt in magical arts, who bottled up spirits, made waxen images and stuck pins into them, and the like. He died at the age of ninety, having amassed enormous wealth by drawing into his own power all the collegiate benefices throughout Christendom, and by means of reservations, an ingenious mode of getting large pickings out of every bishopric before the institution of a new bishop. The brother of Villani the historian, a banker, took the inventory of his goods when he was dead. It amounted to eighteen millions of gold florins in specie, and seven millions in plate and jewels. His face, on his monument, is indicative of his harsh, grasping, and cold character.
Now look at this other face, it is that of the successor of John, of James Fournier, who took the name of Benedict XII. He lies in the north aisle of the cathedral.
On the death of John XII. twenty-four cardinals met, mostly Frenchmen, and their votes inclined to a brother of the count of Comminges, but they endeavoured to wring from him an oath to continue to make Avignon the seat of the Papacy. He refused; and then, to his own surprise, the suffrages fell on the Cistercian abbot, James Fournier.
"You have chosen an ass!" he said, in humility or in irony.
But he did himself an injustice: he was a man of shrewdness and sagacity, he lacked only courage and strength to have made a great Pope. His whole reign was a tacit reproach against the turbulence, implacability and avarice of his predecessor. The court of Avignon was crowded with fawning courtier bishops seeking promotion: he sent them flying back to their sees. He discouraged the Papal reserves, the iniquitous system whereby Pope John had amassed his wealth; he threw open the treasury of his predecessor, and distributed some of the coin among the cardinals, the rest he spent in the erection of the huge castle-palace that is now the wonder of all who visit Avignon, and the construction of which made the money circulate among the poor and industrious artificers.
When Benedict died, after a brief reign of eight years, his reputation was disputed over with singular pertinacity by friends and foes.
"He was a man wiser in speech than in action, betraying by his keen words that he saw what was just and right, but dared not follow it. Yet political courage alone was wanting. He was resolutely superior to the Papal vice of nepotism. On one only of his family, and that a deserving man, he bestowed a rich benefice. To the rest he said, 'As James Fournier I knew you well, as Pope I know you not. I will not put myself in the power of the King of France by encumbering myself with a host of needy relatives.' He had the moral fortitude to incur unpopularity with the clergy by persisting in his slow, cautious, and regular distribution of benefices; with the monks by his rigid reforms. He hated the monks, and even the Mendicant Orders. He showed his hatred, as they said, by the few promotions which he bestowed upon them." 
[Footnote 1: Milman: 'Latin Christianity.']
The bitter hatred begotten in return was displayed in the epitaph set up over him, describing him as a Nero, as death to the laity, a viper to the clergy, a liar and a drunkard.  But malignity of disappointed ambition and repressed vice did not go so far as to caricature his face. The graver had to copy the epitaph given him, but the sculptor reproduced the face of the man himself, and that face, sweet, gentle, and pure, tells its own tale. It is quite another face from that of John XXII. John has a magnificent shrine of incomparable Gothic pinnacle-work; but Benedict is laid in a very humble tomb, yet over it is the best of monuments, his own good face. Of this "Nero" there is not recorded one single act of cruelty; and he was guiltless of human blood shed in war.
[Footnote 1: "Ille fuit Nero, laicis mors, vipera clero, Devius a vero, cuppa repleta mero."]
Here, at Avignon, and writing of the very epoch in which he lived, it is not possible to withhold the pen from some lines relative to Petrarch, and I feel the more disposed to write about him, for I think that the words used relative to him and Laura in Murray's Handbook are not quite just. Speaking of Vaucluse, the author says: "It is more agreeable to contemplate Petrarch in these haunts, as the laborious student retired from the world, than as the mawkish lover sighing for a married mistress."
Petrarch was an exile, living at Avignon in exile, when he saw his Laura in a church there, and lost his heart. He was then aged twenty-one, and she was twelve or thirteen; she belonged to the illustrious family of Sade. Now it so happens that the chief authority for the history of Petrarch is the Abbe de Sade, who set to work with a determination to show that his family were lineal descendants of Petrarch's Laura, and he ingenuously left out such particulars as militated against his doctrine. The great family of Sade, who had their castle between Avignon and Vaucluse, had not the smallest intention of suffering a daughter of the house to become allied to an exile of no great birth and prospects; accordingly every impediment was put in the way of a meeting. Petrarch's love for her was well known, indeed his imprudence was great, he allowed his poems in her honour to pass from hand to hand. It was impossible for her relatives to suffer this to continue. She was placed with her aunt Stephanette de Romanie; and died unmarried. Her father was Hugo de Sade, and her mother Laura de Neves; and the Abbe de Sade, and all who follow him, suppose that Petrarch was in love with the mother, whereas there is abundant evidence that the object of his passion was the daughter. 
[Footnote 1: The whole matter has been thoroughly discussed, and I think the story of his love for the wife of Hugo de Sade refuted by Bruce-Whyte ('Hist. des Langues Romanes,' t. iii. c. 38)].
Whether Petrarch's love for Laura was as pure as he represents it in some of his sonnets—whether the unhappy Laura did not suffer from his pursuit in honour as she certainly lost in repute, is uncertain. Petrarch in some of his poems exalts his passion for her into the most pure platonic affection, but other verses addressed to her have a very different complexion.
The vast fortress-palace of the Popes at Avignon has stood a siege. It was at the time of the Great Schism, when three grey-headed claimants to be representatives of S. Peter and Vicegerents of Christ were thundering anathemas against each other and the supporters of their rivals. Benedict XIII. was then Pope in Avignon, but there was a general desire in Christendom that the scandal should be terminated. All his cardinals except two deserted Benedict, and the King of France required his renunciation of the tiara. "Pope I have written myself; Pope I have been acknowledged to be; Pope I will remain to the end of my days," was his answer. Then he was besieged in his palace and forced to capitulate, and thrown into prison, where he lingered under the jealous ward of the cardinals for five years.
The palace has been restored, and is now a barrack. In it is shown a hall, the principal dining hall, called now la Salle Brulee, as in 1441 the Papal Legate brought together into it the burghers and nobles of Avignon, and in the height of revelry withdrew himself, and had fire applied to barrels of gunpowder under it, and blew the guests into the air. This was done in revenge for the murder of his nephew, a young libertine who had dishonoured a maiden of good family in the town.
Adjoining the palace, on higher ground, the Rocher des doms, is the cathedral of Notre Dame, small and early. With barbarous taste, the fine Romanesque west tower has been finished off with an octagonal structure supporting as apex a gigantic figure of the Virgin, leaning against a lightning conductor that is screwed into her head and back, and looks much like the apparatus of a photographer to steady her for a successful carte. To the cathedral ascent is made by flights of stone steps, and it is entered by a porch that is made up of Corinthian pillars taken from a Classic temple. Some have thought the whole porch to be of Roman architecture, but it is not so. For some time Provencal architecture was much influenced by the remains that covered the soil, and from which the builders of churches not merely drew their ideas but also appropriated materials.
The dome of the cathedral is noticeable within from the bold and effective manner in which it is sustained on four successive receding arches. There is a fine north aisle, the vaulting of which starts as though it were about to spread into the fan-tracery of English Perpendicular. It is curious as showing French architects on the eve of reaching the same marvellous development attained in England.
There is a fine church at Avignon, S. Agricole, of noble proportions, the vaulting and arcades springing from the pillars without capitals. In the south aisle is a curious fourteenth-century shrine. The west front of the church is of very poor design.
S. Pierre is a flamboyant church, the details passing into Renaissance. In the north aisle is a superb Renaissance altar-piece, representing Christ between S. Peter and S. Paul. Underneath is the Last Supper. It was too fine and good to be appreciated, and a modern vulgar altar and altar-piece have been erected at the side for use. The choir-stalls are really wonderful. They are also of Renaissance woodwork, with painted panels in the back representing architectural scenes alternating with vases of flowers. They are separated by Corinthian columns gilt, and very sumptuous, yet the whole effect is subdued and pleasing, not gaudy. In this church also the arches spring from the pillars without capitals. Altogether this church deserves careful study.
The museum of Avignon is the richest in antiquities in the south of France. Unfortunately the substance of the collection was gathered by a M. Calvert who made no note as to where he got the various articles he collected, and this naturally deprives much that is there of its value. However, there is a great deal there to be seen; notably a bronze cavalry standard, Roman, in admirable preservation; a stamp in bronze with the letters
A I V N
and the seven-branched-candlestick between, clearly a Jewish stamp. A magnificent gold necklace and gold bracelets with a large medallion of a Roman Empress in gold in the midst. The head is said to be that of Orbiana, third wife of Severus Alexander, unknown to history, and known only by her coins.
Among the statues preserved there is the Venus Victrix found at Pourrieres, and a very rude but interesting Gaulish warrior, discovered at Montdragon in 1834, cut in sandstone. He is leaning on a huge shield. There are several busts of Roman emperors, a good one, but with nose broken, of the Elder Drusus, Lucius Verus, Tiberius, Trajan, a Plautilla—and some that are doubtful.
Of the paintings in the Muse I cannot say much, as I looked at two only—two perfectly delicious Brueghels, a Flemish Fair, and, I think, a wedding. I won the heart of the concierge by studying them. He found me careering about the gallery, like an owl in sunlight, looking for Brueghel, and when he found what I was after, led me back to them, one on each side of the entrance door. "Why do you want to see Brueghel?" he asked. "Why? because I love his oddities." "Are you a Belge?" "No." "But you seem to know the Flemish artists. I am by ancestry a Belge. My grandfather came from Brussels." So we talked over dear, delightful Belgium for half-an-hour, and I had the most eager, amiable guide to all that was of interest in the museum, after that. And it is a collection! The mediaeval and Renaissance sculptures alone deserve a visit.
One can hardly bear to think of the amount of good work that has perished in Avignon. The city possessed before the Revolution sixty churches, and of these only eighteen remain; of between two and three hundred towers and spires, not one-tenth are left standing. There is, however, a very fine tower and east end in S. Didier, a church of the fourteenth century, another in the Hotel de Ville built round with a tasteless Classic structure that obscures it from view. The Musee Requien is in an old convent, the chapel of which is given up to the Protestants; it has a rich flamboyant window to the north, unfortunately blocked.
A quaint and picturesque tower stands by itself in the Rue Carreterie; it is machicolated and has a delicate little spire. It is all that remains of the church of the Augustinians. Nearly opposite is a rich flamboyant portal.
Avignon is completely surrounded by its old walls and towers. Much of the space inside is now occupied by gardens and vineyards; apparently in the time when Avignon was the seat of the Papacy, it was far more populous than at present. I should like the clergy of Rome to see Avignon with its fifty-two desecrated churches and its thirty-five abandoned convents, and compare it with Rome where nearly everything is left them; then perhaps they would be inclined to salute their king and queen.
What a lovely view that is from the gardens on the Rocher des Domes! To the east rises Mont Ventoux, a spur of the Alps thrown out into the plain, and in April veiled in snow. To the west the chain of the Cevennes, and the plain gleaming with water from the many windings of the Rhone, and from its branches, as it splits and circumvents islands clothed with willow and poplar.
Above Avignon is a very large island, and below it the Durance enters the Rhone through a lacework of rubble-beds with scanty growths upon them, the water flickering in a thousand silver threads between. Then, immediately under the Rocher des Domes is the mighty river sweeping on with strong purpose, and half-bridged by a quaint old structure, built between 1177 and 1185 under the direction of S. Benezet. On the second pile is a little chapel, erected in honour of the founder, in which Mass is still said on his day, April 14th. S. Benezet was a shepherd, he was baptised by the name of Benedict, but, being a very little man, he received the diminutive that has adhered to him. He heard of the accidents that happened to those who crossed the rapid Rhone in boats, and he considered in his mind that it were well if the prelates and burghers of Avignon would devote their wealth to making a good bridge, instead of squandering it in show and riotous living. So he came into the city, and adjured the Pope and the bishop of the see to construct a bridge. The haughty ecclesiastics scoffed at him, and, as he would not desist from his urgency, sent him to the city governor to be chastised. Unshaken by this treatment, the shepherd persisted. He went among the citizens, he sought out the clergy, he collected knots of men to listen to him in the market-place, preaching the advantage of a bridge. It was his one idea. He was ignorant, perhaps foolish, in other matters, but he was possessed with the belief that God had sent him to induce the Avignonese to build a bridge. After a while, nothing was talked of in the place but the great question of this same bridge. Its advantage was apparent to all. Finally it was decided by acclamation that they must have a bridge, and when it was built, and the shepherd died, "Really," said the good people of Avignon, "he must have been a saint to have roused us out of our apathy."
The poor shepherd's body was not respected by the revolutionists, though he was a sans-culotte, but he was a sans-culotte who was a constructor and not a destroyer, therefore—to the dogs with him.
There was a saying—
"Avenio ventosa Cum vento fastidiosa, Sine vento venenosa."
That may be rendered in French—
"Avignon venteuse Avec vent ennuyeuse, Sans vent pernicieuse."
Windy it was when I was there, and when I went out on the broken-down bridge of S. Benezet I was nearly blown off it. This bridge in French nursery rhyme takes much the same place as does London Bridge in English children's jingles. We have:—
"London Bridge is broken down, Dance over my Lady Lee."
And the French have:—
"Sur le Pont d'Avignon tout le monde danse, danse; Sur le Pont d'Avignon tout le monde danse en rond."
Why dancing should be associated with bridges I cannot tell for certain, but there is probably some mythologic origin. It was customary in Pagan times to sacrifice a human being when the foundations of a bridge were laid, by burying the victim alive under it, and every year an offering of a life was made to the river to propitiate it, and ensure the stability of the bridge. Our nursery games of children dancing in a round, and one being taken by the casting of a kerchief, is a relic of an old heathen sors, by which a victim for immolation was selected; and it is very probable that the dancing on bridges had something to do with this. One out of the chain that danced over the bridge, or the ring that wheeled on it was chosen, and cast over the parapet as an offering to the river.
This superstition lingered on through the Middle Ages, in spite of Christianity. We say in Devon:—
"The River Dart Every year demands a heart."
Anciently the Dart was given his victim; now, however, he takes it.
The bridge of S. Benezet is broken down and abandoned, but a suspension bridge unites Avignon with the farther bank of the Rhone, and this must be crossed to reach Villeneuve, which stood to Avignon as Beaucaire to Tarascon. Villeneuve was French, and Avignon Papal down to the Revolution, when in 1791 it was annexed to France. At Villeneuve the army was assembled that besieged Pope Benedict XIII. in his palace.
Villeneuve is full of picturesque points. It was originally well fortified, and was a frontier fortress of Languedoc. The old Hopital contains the tomb of Pope Innocent VI., which may be compared with that of John XXII. in the cathedral. Innocent was a native of Limoges. There was a strange struggle at his election.
On the death of Clement VI. a conclave of cardinals assembled to consider about choosing John Borelli, Carthusian superior, but, when Cardinal Talleyrand warned them that a man of such stern simplicity would in a very few days order their stately caparisoned horses to be turned to toil at the plough, they were alarmed, and looked elsewhere. But first of all they passed a law by unanimous vote that the College of Cardinals should become a dominant, self-elective assembly, superior to the Pope, and that one-half of the revenues of the Papacy should be diverted into the pockets of the cardinals. Then they proceeded to elect, and chose Stephen Aubert, a distinguished canon lawyer, who assumed the title of Innocent VI., and his first act was to emancipate himself from the oath he had taken, to rescind and declare null this statute of the Conclave. He was a severe disciplinarian. He drove away a great portion of the swarm of bishops and beneficed clergy, who passed their time in Avignon in luxury and indolence, on the look-out for rich emoluments. One story is told of his conduct with regard to preferments. A favourite chaplain presented his nephew, a boy, and asked for him a rich benefice.
"You are already the holder of seven," said the Pope, "give him one of those." The chaplain looked discouraged. The Pope compelled him to choose three of the best. "These must suffice thee and the boy," said Innocent, "I will give the others to poor and deserving clerks."
It was under Cardinal Albornoz, the martial legate of this Pope, that Rienzi was subdued, and Rome recovered to the Papal chair.
The castle of Villeneuve was built by Philip the Bold in the thirteenth century, and is interesting in many ways. It contains a little chapel of an earlier date with a small apse and little round-headed windows. The whole of the body is under a very low-pitched roof supported on an almost Classic cornice. The fortifications of the castle are an example of a stage of defence carried beyond what was attained at Aigues Mortes. There, as we saw, the upper portion of the walls was covered with a balcony of wood on to which the besieged stepped through the doorways left in the battlements.
When, in sieges, the catapults were made to fling barrels of flaming tar over these balconies, and set them on fire, recourse was had to structures of stone, and the wooden hourdes, or balconies, disappeared. Then came the machicolated galleries. But even these were deemed insufficient, and echauguettes were erected, sentry-boxes between the towers standing forward beyond the curtains, and with double slits in the floor, through which two streams of flaming combustible or of stones could be sent down on the besiegers. The palace of the Popes at Avignon exhibits these on piers standing forth from the wall. They are also to be seen at Villeneuve.
The fine Gothic church of the Chartreuse is ruinous; in that stood the tomb of Innocent VI. A grand tower, erected by Philip the Fair, formed the Tete du Pont of the bridge of S. Benezet. It was erected after the bridge had been constructed, as a protection against the troops of the Papacy. Thereupon the popes raised a tower of defence at their end of the bridge. There were originally seventeen arches in the bridge, resting on eighteen piers.
A dull town—Cathedral—Jacques Cujas—His daughter—Pius VI.—His death—Maison des Tetes—Le Pendentif—The castle of Crussol—The dukes of Uzes—A dramatic company of the thirteenth century.
What a sleepy place Valence is! There was supposed to be a fair there when I was at Valence, but even that could not wake it up. But the fair was in a condition of the utmost somnolence itself. Why—I did not suspect till I reached Vienne, when I found that this latter place had drawn to it all that was enterprising, startling, attractive, and left only the very dregs of fairings to poor Valence.
It has a great boulevard, very wide, very inviting, but the spotted boys, and fat girls, and bearded women, would have nothing to say to it—they herded to Vienne. It has a vast terrace, planted with trees, where any amount of stalls might stand, but there were erected there only some very inconsiderable ranges of boot and shoe tables, and of old cutlery, and slop clothes.
The cathedral is interesting and fine. The apse at the east end is early and curious; in place of buttresses receding in stages are Corinthian pillars tied into the walls they are to support at their heads by caps laid on them. There is no clerestory to the church, only an arcade of rude character. The walls of the cathedral are of sandstone, and have been so gnawed by the wind and rain, that the whole pile looks like a piece of very decayed cheese. The interior, however, is quite sound, reposeful, and lovely. That weather-beaten exterior, with its calm sweet interior, struck me as a picture of many a good Christian, buffeted and worn by storm and trial without, whose inner self is ever still and untouched.
The church was consecrated in 1095 by Pope Urban II. in person. A new western tower has been erected and a very fine west entrance in the Romanesque style, all very good, except the topmost stage of the tower, which has probably been confided to an inferior architect, who has managed to mar a work of great promise.
Jacques Cujas, born at Toulouse in 1520, one of the most famous lawyers of his time, taught at Valence. He was a candidate for the chair of laws in the university of his native city, but was refused it; a certain Forcadel was elected instead, whose chief merit seems to have been that he was a wag. Cujas, on leaving Toulouse, turned, and shaking the dust off his feet against it said, "Ungrateful fatherland, in you my bones shall not rest." He kept his word, he died and was buried at Bourges. After he was gone from the place and his fame was sounded abroad, the university of Toulouse wanted to recall him, and sent a letter to him nominating him to the chair of laws. His answer was, "Frustra absentem requiris, quem praesentem neglexistis." "In vain do you desire him absent whom present you flouted."
At Valence he had eight hundred scholars, who attended his lectures. So great was the reverence shown for his opinion, that it is said that in the schools of Germany, when the professors quoted him they were wont to raise their hands to their caps. And he deserved it. His burning ambition was to break down the system of injustice to the accused which prevailed in French courts, where one charged with a crime, if the crime were unproved did not obtain complete acquittal. He wrote in the cause of humanity against the abuses of tyranny and ignorance. "Where there is not complete proof of guilt," said he, "there let there be no condemnation," a maxim observed in England, but not in France. "What is not full truth," is a saying of his, "is full falsehood." It was his hope, his prayer, that he might live to see the injustice of the French laws swept away. That he was not destined to see. He was a kind professor to all his scholars. When he found that some were needy, he assisted them with money and books. "I was once a poorer lad than you," said he to one whom he assisted, "and very grateful if any one would have pity on me."
He had a daughter, unworthy of her virtuous father. When his scholars were caught flirting with the damsel, they were wont to excuse themselves by saying that they were only "commenting on the works of Cujas."
On this the following epigram was composed:—
"Videras immensos Cujaci labores AEternum patri commeruisse decus: Ingenio haud poterat tam magnum aequare parentem Filia; quod potuit corpore fecit opus."
In his will Cujas desired that none of his books should be sold to a Jesuit; and that his library should be sold in parcels, lest any one should use his ill-digested notes for publication. His behest was obeyed. The booksellers of Lyons purchased his MSS. and used them as binding for books. It was not till sixteen years after his death that Alexander Scott of Carpentras, one of his pupils, collected his works.
At Valence died and was buried the unfortunate Pope Pius VI. who had been treated with great harshness, and had been loaded with insults by the French. His was, indeed, a strange story. He began his pontificate in splendour in 1775, and set to work at once to aggrandise his family, the Braschi. He was a man of rapacious avarice; of this one glaring instance is given. He persuaded, or compelled, a certain Amanzio Lepri to constitute him his heir, and hand over to him the title-deeds of an estate worth many millions of lire. The natural heirs of Lepri were greatly annoyed at this, and instituted proceedings before the tribunals, which gave judgment sometimes for them and sometimes for the Pope, and the matter might have dragged on indefinitely, had not public opinion begun to manifest itself with such force that Pius thought it best to agree to a compromise.
In everything relating to himself and his family the Pope showed unbounded extravagance and ostentation. He had pedigrees manufactured to prove the descent of his family from ancient Scandinavian heroes, and that of his nephews, on whom he heaped honours, from the Dukes of Benevento. He collected all the proudest devices of heraldry to incorporate them as quarterings into his arms, and this gave rise to an epigram from the pen of an ex-Jesuit, to this effect: "The eagle belongs to the Empire, the lilies of the field to France, to heaven belongs the stars—to Braschi what? Puff."
His extravagance had become so great that the States of the Church were practically bankrupt long before the French overran and pillaged them. In his money difficulties he laid his hands on the funds appropriated to pious works, and so barefaced were his robberies at last, that ten years before the French invasion he had appropriated 36,000 pounds weight of silver from the Holy House of Loretto. Then came the crash. This luxurious and splendid Pope, in his old age, was reduced to be a prisoner, and to be hustled about from place to place by the French. He had been sent first to the Certosa, near Florence, with only two companions; then, by order of the Directory, was conveyed to Parma. There he was allowed to remain only thirteen days, and, in spite of his age and growing infirmities, was conveyed to the citadel of Turin. One day was there allowed him for repose, and then he was carried over the Alpine pass of Mont Genevre in April to Briancon. There he was left in peace, but sick and feeble, till the end of June, when he was hurried away by Gap towards Dijon, but at Valence he became so ill that he could be no further moved, and there he died on the 29th August 1799, three days after his arrival.
The story is told that the official at Briancon on receiving him, sent to headquarters a formal receipt couched in these terms: "Recu—un pape, en fort mauvais etat."
There is not much of interest in domestic architecture at Valence, with the sole exception of the Maison des Tetes, which stands near the market-place, and which is sculptured over with great richness, with heads representing the seasons, and Roman emperors. The enrichment of this house is in the style of Flamboyant passing into Renaissance; the facade being in sandstone has been sadly gnawed by the tooth of Time, has indeed lost all edge to the sculpture, but within the entrance porch, where protected, the sandstone retains its sharpness. Curiously enough, no one knows for whom this gorgeous mansion was raised. It has a pretty interior court, but there is not much sculpture therein. One cannot quite forgive the original owner and edifier of the mansion for a bit of ostentation and vulgarity of which he has been guilty. The house has one portion looking on to the square, but at the side bends away at an obtuse angle down the street. As the whole facade was not visible at a single glance, only that portion which was most seen was sculptured, and that with overpowering richness, whereas the other portion in the street was left bare to baldness. Wind and rain and frost are engaged in rubbing down all the decoration, and flattening the surface of the decorated portion to the simplicity of the other part.
The same destroying agencies are at work upon a very quaint mausoleum, on the north side of the cathedral, called Le Pendentif, which was erected in 1548 in Classic style as a monument to the Mistral family. It is quadrangular, and consists of four great piers at the angles, and is adorned with pillars and with arches in the sides sustaining a vault. In the rusticated space that fills the sides, quaint sculptures of monsters and birds of foreign plumage may, or rather might have been traced, the honeycombing by weather has made them almost undiscoverable. Probably the structure is more picturesque now in its decay than it ever was before.
Immediately opposite Valence, on the farther side of the Rhone, rises a bold scarp of sandstone cliff, crowned with the ruined castle of Crussol above the village of S. Peray at its feet, where is made a very capital sparkling wine, not at all inferior to champagne. There is also there an odd chateau, designed, it is believed, by Marshal Vauban, on the plan of a mimic fortress, with bastions, curtains, glacis, portcullis, and loopholes. It is now the residence of the owner of the great vineyards where the S. Peray effervescing wine is made.
The view of the cliff of Crussol and the village of S. Peray from the terrace of Valence is spoiled by the river being at some distance from the base of the terrace, and the flat land that intervenes being covered by poplars, manufactories and cottages, so that the Rhone is shut out from sight.
Originally, certainly, the cliff on which stands the cathedral, as well as that now converted into a promenade, were swept by the Rhone, but it has thrown its gravels on to the left bank and cut its way farther to the west.
The castle of Crussol belonged to the Dukes d'Uzes, and occupies a headland formed by the torrent at its side, that has sawn a chasm through the soft sandstone in its course to join the Rhone. Within the walls may be seen the remains of a small town that clustered there, much like Les Baux, but now completely deserted. The family of Crussol was not of much note till Louis de Crussol gained the favour of Louis XI., and was created his chamberlain, and governor of Dauphine. The son married the heiress of Uzes, and with her the title of viscount passed to their son Charles, whose son Anthony obtained the title of Duke d'Uzes. There is nothing very remarkable in the story of the Crussols, but the origin of the Uzes is of romantic interest.
There were three brothers, Ebles, Guy, and Pierre, who had a little estate and castle at Uzes near Nimes. There they lived together, unmarried, and in very pinched circumstances. So, one day Ebles said to his brothers that it was a shabby life for three gentlemen thus to live scraping a few coppers together whilst all was beautiful beyond Uzes. Let them all three leave the crumbling walls and leaky roof of Uzes to the bats and owls, and seek their fortunes in the courts of princes.
His advice was relished, and they invited their cousin, named Elias, a comic poet, to travel with them. Now Guy, the youngest of the brothers, and Ebles the eldest, had a pretty gift at poetry, and the second brother, Pierre, had a pleasant pipe, so they agreed that Ebles should write sirventes, and Guy chansons, and that Pierre should sing them. Moreover, Elias should compose little comedies that could be performed by their small party, and the profits were to be equally shared between them. They also put their hands together and vowed to be true and friendly, and not to separate till they came back to ramshackle Uzes.
So the company started, and went first to the court of Reynald, Viscount of Albuzoni and of Marguerite his wife, who received them with pleasure, both of them being fond of Provencal poetry. The brothers and cousin had great success with their songs and comedies, sent round the hat, and got a handsome sum. Then, when they had sucked their orange, they went farther, mounted like paladins, and passed into the territories of the Countess of Montferrat, who received them quite as cordially as had the Viscount of Albuzoni. There they sang and twanged the guitar, but having unhappily composed some satirical verses under the title of "The Life of the Tyrants" in which the morals and greed of the popes and some of the princes of Europe were chastised, the Papal Legate complained and threatened them with public punishment; he finally imposed silence on them, under threat of excommunication. Then the little company returned home laden with treasures, but sad at heart; and Guy died about 1230. The company must have done pretty well, if Guy founded with his share of the profits the family which later became one of viscounts. I fear dramatic and musical companies nowadays have not the same success.
Historic associations—Salvation Army bonnets—The fair—A quack—A vampire—The amphitrite—A carousel—Temple of Augustus and Livia—The Aiguille—Cathedral—Angels and musical instruments—S. Andre-le-Bas—Situation of Vienne—Foundation of the Church there—Letter of the Church on the martyrdoms at Lyons.
I went on to Vienne with mind full of thoughts of the Burgundian kingdom of which it was the capital in the fifth century, of S. Avitus, of King Clovis, of Calixtus II., of the condemnation of the Templars at the Council of Vienne in 1307—one of the most cruel and iniquitous deeds done by the Crown of France in compact with the Papacy—and I found myself plunged, unexpectedly, suddenly, into the vortex of a great popular fair. I had passed from a fair in a condition of languor into one in full flush of life.
Which was to be done first, the temple of Augustus and Livia, the remains of the Roman theatre—microscopic I found afterwards—the cathedral of S. Maurice, or the shows?
But surely, the proper study of mankind is man, so I resolved on seeing the fair first, and after that of studying the antiquities, and indulging in antiquarian and historic dreams.
The weather was sorry: wind and threatenings of rain. Moreover it was cold and overcast. Yet nothing damped the ardour of the sellers, and the acquisitiveness of the buyers. But—had I come upon a nursery of hallelujah lasses? Were the nights to be made hideous with Salvation Army howls? On all sides of me were great girls and little girls, matrons and maids, in Salvation Army straws. I turned sick and faint with dismay. In the city of S. Mamertius, of S. Avitus and of Ado—"General" Booth's great Religious Speculation! It was not so, however, I was rejoiced to find, only all the women had been buying straws in the fair of the Salvation Army shape that were selling cheap, and having bought them ran home, trimmed them, and then out they popped again and marched about to show them.
An avenue of booths and stalls. Boots, straw hats and Salvation bonnets, ribbons, kerchiefs, books and engravings. There was even a reduced household selling off all their worldly goods, lamps, chairs, prayer-books, kettles, crocks, linen—and a spinning-wheel. I looked lovingly, longingly at that spinning-wheel, and might have bought it for a franc and a half, and would have done so, had I not been encumbered with the hurdy-gurdy. That had brought me into such difficulties that I felt convinced a hurdy-gurdy + a spinning-wheel would lodge me in a lunatic asylum. So reluctantly I left it.
A gust of wind, and away went the straw hats from the stall, up into the air, over the heads of the crowd, spinning along in the gutters; one, a very kiss-me-quick, was blown slap in the face of an old priest trudging along reading his breviary. Then such outcries, entreaties, objurgations, as the straw hats and bonnets were run after and recovered, or sought to be recovered.
Here—a quack with an assortment of bones that were so brown they looked as if they had been devilled, but they had acquired their tone from his hands. He held up a distorted piece of spine and pelvis, and declared he had a plaster so curative—fifty centimes, ten sous—that it would restraighten the most curved back. As for corns! He raised a horrible foot, applied to it some tow steeped in green fat, rapidly narrated the treatment he recommended—et voila!—he drew away the tow, and the supposed corn was lodged in the midst of it. An inflammation of the lungs? a darling child sick? He opened a coffin and exposed a baby skeleton. "Look! your cher enfant will be like this, but for fifty centimes I will save it, I guarantee. Pelt me with rotten apples, with addled eggs, if I fail. This plaster placed here (he applied it to the breast of the skeleton), and your child breathes thus (drew a long inhalation)—is well. Warts (a labourer held up a horny hand, the middle joint of the little finger disfigured with such excrescences)? Nothing easier! You take this bottle—warts are my speciality—you rub the wart with this. Thank you, fifty centimes. Come here next Sunday. If the wart be not gone—I do not say it will not leave a scar, but the scar will disappear in a month—here is a knife, stick it into my heart. I give you leave. I will not resist. I will not budge."
Here—a man selling silvering-liquor, to be applied to vulgar yellow spoons, only a franc a bottle, and a whole set turned into purest silver-plating, plating that will not wear out through all your lives.
Then, among the shows:—Cora, the Beautiful Serpent Charmer. Cora was outside beating a drum, and was quite the reverse of beautiful; she may have had the faculty of charming serpents, but not men. A cluster of young soldiers stood without, shook their heads, and would not be allured within.
"Galerie des actualites artistiques"—a peep-show at photographs from the Paris Exhibition.
"The real Vampire, alive, living on BLOOD. Called by the Chinese, from its powers of traversing twenty kilometres in an hour, 'The Flying Horse.'"
The showman was outside, haranguing. His system was to thrill the audience with horror, till they precipitated themselves in a spasm of terror into his show. Just as when one is on a height, a nervous, uncontrollable impulse fills some men to throw themselves down out of very fear of falling, so did this great artist in horrors work up the feelings of his audience to such tension that it became insupportable, they must go headlong in, and see the vampire, if they died for it.
"The vampire is to be seen—smacking his lips—thirsting, ravening, for BLOOD. A live rabbit will be offered him; he will roll his eyes, look at the human beings present, try the bars of his cage—he cannot reach them. En fin, a rabbit is better than nothing! Mesdames, je vous implore! Do not bring your babes within. A stern necessity—a care for the consequences would prevent me from admitting them. The sight of a human babe rouses in the vampire the sanguinary passion to a paroxysm of frenzy. In its natural state the vampire sucks the blood of men. This vampire has sucked that of KINGS, and to have to descend to—RABBIT!"
I did not expend my sous to see the wretched bat, but I did lavish thirty centimes on the amphitrite next door. The programme was so characteristically French that I give it:—
"Amphitrite vivante. Tous les soirs au couche du soleil elle laisse son palais royal de coraux et d'algues, et sort des vagues sombres pour jouir de son amour ideal. Legere et vaporeuse comme un ange, elle caresse les ondes, et observe d'un doux regard son ideal, et replonge au fond de l'ocean. Depeindre avec quelle perfection on presente cette experience au public est impossible!!!"
Thirty centimes, reserved seats; twenty, unreserved. As it turned out, there were no seats at all, but a slushy soil on which one stood, where the water had run in under the sides of the booth, and which sightseers had, with their boots, churned into mud.
I supposed I was to see a nautilus; it was legere et vaporeux, it could not then be a seal. No, a nautilus. Thirty centimes—here goes for a sight of the nautilus. But it was touching to observe the confidence of the showman. He refused the entrance fee.
"No, gentlemen. You shall yourselves decide whether the amphitrite is worth six sous. If you say not—go forth; I am content, but I pity you."
A piece of drugget served as a curtain, which cut off what may be termed the stage. At a signal the drugget was withdrawn, and the spectators looked into a cave, the sides made of painted calico. Beyond this was the rippling ocean, with the evening sun sparkling on it, much like the scene in "Oberon," only on a very small scale, and with no stage. At a word from the showman, Amphitrite arose. By Ginger! not a nautilus, not a seal, but a living girl of sixteen summers, in fleshings, who floated in the air, made revolutions, waved her hands, stood on her head, touching nothing, precisely as if she really were devoid of all specific gravity. Only when hand or foot touched the calico-rocks did these same rocks begin to wave about.
I supposed at the time, I suppose still, that the trick is done by means of mirrors. But how—I cannot conceive. Presently the hat went round for Amphitrite's special benefit: her amour ideal had something of the sordid mammon in it. As everyone put a copper into the hat, "Merci, monsieur; merci, madame!" was what she said. So that there is a difficulty in supposing that the phenomenon was achieved by reflectors. She watched and acknowledged every offering made, as she calmly folded her arms and floated in mid-air, with head on one side, observant.
I can't explain it—I am puzzled still. I paid my thirty centimes with alacrity, so did every one else. The show was worth the money.
There was a merry-go-round—a carousel; the only feature in it with which I was unfamiliar was a ship, sails spread, on a pivot athwart the ring, so that it swayed as on a rolling sea when the carousel was in revolution. I would not have entered that ship for twenty francs. Before the orchestrion that accompanied the merry-go-round had accomplished the first strain of Strauss's waltz I should have been feebly calling for the steward. I observed that those silly youngsters with nautical proclivities who did scramble into the swaying ship, got out with livid lips, and did not ask to go in again.
Some years ago I was at Innsprueck with a friend. We were sauntering together in the afternoon, not exactly knowing what to do with ourselves, when we found one of these carousels. We went farther; then I said, "We will return and go and see the Xaverianum"—a collection of paintings, mostly daubs, at Innsprueck. "No," said my companion, "I don't feel inclined for the Xaverianum, I'll go down by the river." So we parted. Now, I had not gone far along my way in the direction of the Xaverianum, before I said to myself, "I don't want to see the Xaverianum either; but, as my friend is away—upon my word—I am unknown here! I'll—yes, I will—by Jove, I will—I'll go and have a round on the whirligig."
So I retraced my steps, and, on reaching the merry-go-round, what should I behold but my friend seated on a piebald horse, with a short sword in his hand, aiming at the targets he passed in his revolution. He was a bald-headed man, with a long grey beard. His face and head became like a beetroot when he saw me; but I comforted him. At Wuerzburg, in the Episcopal palace, is a carousel, in which the bishop—a prince elector—was wont on rainy days to go round and round, seated in a purple velvet chair with the Episcopal arms embroidered on the curtains, and the mitre over it.
Enough of the fair. Now to graver matters; and first the temple of Augustus and Livia. I do not know whether it was that the weather was gloomy, or that the fair had set me out of tune for antiquities; but somehow this temple did not impress me as did the dear little Maison Carree at Nimes. For one thing the stone is dingy, whereas that of Nimes is bright and white; and the proportions did not please me. I believe the knowing ones say that the Nimes temple is not proportioned according to the laws of Vitruvius, and this at Vienne is. If that be the case, then I am sorry for Vitruvius. The temple is structurally perfect—as perfect as that of Nimes.
Another object of interest is the Aiguille, a Roman obelisk seventy-six feet high. There is a square base, pierced by arches in each face, and the obelisk, or pyramid rather, stands on this. It is not very beautiful, but it is worth examining. It is thought that the monument to Marius at Pourrieres was somewhat similar.
The cathedral of Vienne is of sandstone, and has decayed accordingly. The west end, which was very rich, and is rich still, has suffered from corrosion in the upper part; but a firmer, less friable sandstone was fortunately employed for the lower stage, in which is the richest sculpture, and that is fairly perfect. Murray pooh-poohs this west front: "It is rich in flamboyant ornaments, but they are clumsy and without delicacy." The sculpture was adapted to the material, and any other would not have looked well. After the severe and bald west fronts in Provence, I was disposed, I suppose, to be pleased with the rich facade at Vienne. I confess that "clumsy and without delicacy" though it might be, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But that facade caught me quite by my weak point. There is a central doorway, and one into each aisle, and round the archways into these lateral doors are sculptured angels playing upon musical instruments. As I have told the reader, ancient forms of musical instruments are my hobby, or rather one of my hobbies. I at once pulled out my sketch-book and drew them; there are angels with fiddles, angels with viols—no, not hurdy-gurdys!—but twanged with the fingers, angels with pipes and horns, one with a harp, two with portable organs of ten pipes in each, two angels with bagpipes with single drones. Conceive of a salutation on bagpipes from the celestial choir! An angel plays the cymbals, and another with a plectrum strikes a metal disc.
The interior of the cathedral is remarkable for the peculiarly fine sculpture of the capitals of the pillars. The foliage is of exquisite loveliness and variety; but over the transept door is a very Brueghel creation of horrors—in fact, the zodiacal signs worked up together into a nightmare.
A church of remarkable interest in Vienne is S. Andre-le-Bas; it has in it two Roman marble Corinthian columns supporting the arch of the apse, and a Corinthian capital used as a font.
The situation of Vienne is remarkable, it resembles one of the towns on the Rhine, where the river is contracted among hills.
The mountains rise immediately behind the city, and are crowned with old castles. The space between the river and the bases of the heights is small, and the city is somewhat cramped accordingly. But the Gere issues from the hills on the north, and gives some scope for the suburbs of the old town to creep up its banks.
Vienne is one of the most ancient towns of Gaul, it was the capital of the Allobroges; it claims as the founder of the Church there Crescens, disciple of S. Paul. Crescens, it will be remembered, was sent by Paul into Galatia. That was quite sufficient for these Gallic enthusiasts, who desired to give to the French bishoprics Apostolic founders. They supposed that Galatia was a slip of the pen for Gallia, and argued, if to Gallia, then to Vienne, the most ancient and important city therein, q.e.d. But no bishop of Vienne appears fixed with any certainty before Verus, who attended the Council of Arles in A.D. 314. It is, however, quite certain that the Church was founded there before A.D. 150; for one of the most precious and authentic records of the early Church we have is the letter written by the Vienne Christians to those of the East, recording the martyrdom of the bishop Pothinus of Lyons.
It used to be said of the old Gallo-Roman city that its wealth was so great that the streets were paved with mosaic. Now one would be thankful for a bit that was smooth. The pavement is almost as bad as that of Arles.
The siege of Avaricum by Caesar—The complete subjugation of Gaul—The statue of the Dying Gaul at Rome—Beauty of Bourges—The cathedral—Not completed according to design—Defect in height—Strict geometrical proportion in design not always satisfactory—Necessity of proportion for acoustics—Domestic architecture in Bourges—The house of Jacques Coeur—Story of his life—A rainy day—Why Bourges included in this book—A silver thimble—Que de singeries faites-vous la, Madeleine?—Adieu.
Bourges stands in the very forefront of Gaulish history marked by a great disaster. There, on a little height at the junction of the Yevre and the Auron, the gallant Bituriges had their capital, Avaricum. In six campaigns Caesar had, as he believed, broken the neck of all resistance, and Gaul was under the iron heel of Rome. "My aunt Julia," said Caesar, "is, maternally, the daughter of kings; paternally—" he passed his fingers through his curled and scented locks—"paternally, she is descended from the immortal gods." After that, even barbarians must feel that it was in vain to strive against a man thus preordained to mastery. Yet they did not see it.
When Julius Caesar was in Rome, after six years of stubborn conflict, after incredible suffering and bloodshed, the heart of the people though bowed down was not broken.
There lived among the Arvernians, in the high mountainland, among the volcanic peaks of Auvergne, as it is now called, a young chief, whose real name is not known, but whom history calls Vercingetorix, that is, Head over a Hundred Tribes. The time was come for an united, determined, and desperate resistance. He sent messengers throughout Gaul. The downtrodden inhabitants rose to a man and invested Vercingetorix with the chief command.
In the year of Rome 702, B.C. 32, Caesar was suddenly informed in Italy that his work of six years was threatened with ruin. Most of the Gallic nations, united under a chieftain hitherto unknown, were rising with one common impulse, and recommencing war.
Caesar at once returned to Gaul. He had one quality, rare even amongst the greatest men, he remained cool amidst the hottest alarms. He was always quick, never hasty. He placed himself at the head of his troops, and, in the early part of March, moved to what is now Sens, the very centre of revolt, and looked round to decide where first to strike.
Vercingetorix from the outset knew that the ill-armed and worse disciplined Gauls could not cope in the open field with Caesar and the Roman legions; he therefore formed a plan of campaign that required great sacrifices on the side of the Gauls, for the sake of the common safety. No walls, he assured the confederates, could withstand the skill of the Romans in engineering, no array maintain itself in the field against their phalanx. But he reminded them that through the winter and early spring the soil on which the enemy trod could not furnish him with provision. He must disperse his troops among the fortresses. Let then, said he, no further attempts be made to defy the Roman in the open field; let him rather be followed in detail, and cut off when separated into cantonments, and above all, let the towns that served him for magazines be destroyed by the hands of the inhabitants themselves. He recommended in fact the very course pursued more than eighteen hundred years later by the Russians against the French Caesar, a course which proved fatal to him.
The assembled council of Gaulish states assented gallantly to this proposal. In one day twenty cities of the Bituriges were flaming, and similar havoc was made throughout the territories of the allies. But when the fate of Avaricum (Bourges) came to be discussed, the hearts of the Bituriges failed them. Their deputies knelt to the assembled chiefs and interceded for the preservation of their beautiful, and as they deemed it, impregnable city. The council yielded. In vain did Vercingetorix urge them to carry out their determination without exception. They would surrender every other city to the flames, but not their loved capital, not Avaricum.
The situation was admirably calculated for defence. It stood on rising ground, and the only approach to it then was a causeway between the river and a morass. The garrison laboured night and day to strengthen their defences with earthworks and with palisades of sharpened stakes. The Romans at once moved from Sens and surrounded the place. The story of its fall I will take from the graphic pen of Dean Merivale:—"Whilst the Bituriges within their city were hard pressed by the machinery which the Roman engineers directed against their walls, the forces of the proconsul on their side were harassed by the fatigues of the siege and the scarcity of provisions. Caesar is lavish of praise in speaking of the fortitude with which his soldiers bore their privations; they refused to allow him to raise the siege, and when he at last led them against the enemy's army, and finding it too strongly posted for an attack, withdrew them again within their lines, they submitted to the disappointment, and betook themselves once more without a murmur to the tedious operations of the blockade. The skill of the assailants at length triumphed over the bravery of the defenders. The walls were approached by towers at various points, and mounds constructed against which the combustible missiles of the besieged were unavailing. Finally, a desperate sally was repulsed, and then, at last the constancy of the Bituriges began to fail. Taking advantage of a moment when the watch on the walls had relaxed its vigilance, Caesar marshalled his legions behind his works, and poured them suddenly against the opposing ramparts. They gained the summit of the walls, which the defenders abandoned without a blow, rallying, however, in the middle of the town, in such hasty array as the emergency would allow. A bloody struggle ensued; both parties were numerous, and the assailants gave no quarter. The Gauls were routed and exterminated, their women and children mercilessly slaughtered, and the great central city of Gaul fell into the hands of the conquerors without affording a single captive for their triumph." After that the fate of the insurrection was sealed. The war was carried on with fluctuations of fortune even into an eighth campaign, and then the yoke of Rome, iron, and doubly weighted with the wrath of the conqueror, was riveted on to the neck of prostrate Gallia, never again to be shaken off.
Now, day after day at Rome during the winter had I stood before the Dying Gaul in the Capitoline Museum, that statue of incomparable pathos:—
"He leans upon his hand—his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony, And his drooped head sinks gradually low— From the red gash fall heavy, one by one, Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now The arena swims around him—he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won."
The statue is not of a Dying Gladiator, but of a Gaulish chief, who has dealt himself the death-wound rather than fall into servitude to the Roman, and then has broken his sword.
And, after having looked and dreamed over that figure, could one come to Bourges and not think of that heroic and fatal struggle?
Bourges was a beautiful city in those times, loved by the Bituriges so that they could not resolve to destroy it; but oh! how beautiful it is now, with its quaint Mediaeval and Renaissance houses, and above all that most glorious cathedral, one of the very finest creations of art in the world. And yet, it is not perfect. The original design was not carried out. The nave has not the height proposed. Funds failed, and it was finished off as best might be. It wants about forty-six feet of the height it should have had, to be in correct proportion. The flying buttresses outside were designed and executed to carry a vaulting some forty-six feet higher than the present one, and they are now of no use; they sustain nothing, all the outward thrust of the central vault is thrown on the second stage of buttresses. Fine as is the interior, it ought to be finer. The clerestory windows are dwarfed, and the height of the side aisles is felt to be out of all proportion to that of the nave. Moreover, there is nothing of the wonderful skill of design in the apsidal chapels, that is seen at Amiens, Vezelai, Beauvais, &c. Instead of forming an integral portion of the plan, they are mere excrescences in the sides of the apse.
However, in spite of defects, partly in design, but mainly through lack of means to carry it out, the cathedral of Bourges is of singular beauty. In one point the architect was a greater man than the designers of Amiens and Cologne. These two cathedrals are in strict proportion in all their parts. The designer of each, like the architect of York Minster, was a great man with the compasses. But an architect should be artist as well as geometrician. I have ever felt in York Minster, in Amiens and Cologne, that there is a lack of genius, of the human soul in the creation.
There is strict formality, exact rule, that is all. No allowance has been made for effect of perspective, for the foreshortening to the eye at distances; there is no poetry in these three cathedrals. The designers drew them out on paper without having the faculty of seeing them in their minds' eye rise before them out of the soil. These churches made better sketches than they do structures. They are in admirable proportion on paper, but they are out of proportion when seen in stone. Now such architects as the men who designed Beauvais and Bourges were geniuses. They were not tied hard and fast by rule of compass. They worked from a definite geometric plan, but deviated from it where their taste and feeling for beauty taught them that such deviation was advisable. Now at Beauvais and at Bourges the exact, proportions have been abandoned. For instance, at Bourges, to be exact, each of the two side aisles should have been half the width of the nave. But the architect was perhaps afraid of the great span, perhaps he dreaded too great formality, and he made the aisle next to the nave about 2 ft. 3 in. less than the width it ought to have had, if in exact proportion. The outer aisle was given almost, but not quite, the exact proportional width.
The great defect of our modern architects is that they do not work from a foundation of geometrical proportion, but design out of their own heads by eye; we are sometimes distressed at finding that our churches recently built are bad acoustically. This is very generally due to the fact that they have been built regardless of geometric proportion.
If Bourges had been carried out as intended, the crown of the vault would have been exactly seven times half the width of the nave. S. Servin, Toulouse, has the keystone of the vault exactly five times the half width. If we desire to have good acoustic qualities in our churches and halls we must observe some such rule. So with the plan. The length of Autun is seven times the width of the nave; Beauvais the same, or would have been, had the nave been completed. Amiens has exactly the same proportion, measured to the end of the apse. So Noyon. In fact, the Mediaeval architects were careful to build so as never to give even proportions. Twice, four times, six times, would have had bad acoustic effects. There would have been an echo.
Of the sculpture on the west facade, the richly, deeply-recessed portals, I will not speak. That has been sufficiently observed and admired by other writers. I am not writing a guide-book, and I do not as a rule notice at any length what may be found in easily-accessible works. Here, as at Rouen, is a butter tower, so called because built with money paid for indulgence to be allowed to eat butter in Lent. Does the reader know how strictly the observance of Lent was enforced down to the Civil Wars in England? I have gone through some episcopal registers of our English bishops since the Reformation, and find that in James I.'s time a bishop's licence was sought to obtain permission to eat meat in Lent. Not only so, but all schoolmasters, surgeons, and midwives were required to obtain an episcopal licence before being permitted to practise in the diocese.
In Bourges one feels that one is removed altogether from the influences that moulded architecture in Provence. There the abundance of Classic remains affected the minds and formed the taste of the Mediaeval builders. In Central France there were few traces of the Roman conquerors, and Gothic architecture developed freely according to its own genius. The domestic architecture is different. We come now to the gables standing over the street. There are many and charming specimens in Bourges. Among the houses is that of Cujas, concerning whom some anecdotes have already been told. Bourges was famous for its University and School of Laws, and Cujas was invited to a professorship in it. The house is of brick, of the sixteenth century, and richly adorned. Another interesting house is that of Charles VII., with a graceful staircase, and an old hall with open fireplace. But the striking mansion of all is that of Jacques Coeur, the Bourges jeweller, father of an Archbishop of this his native city. Throughout the house is introduced his canting device, a human heart and the scallopshell of S. James. His motto is also graven, "A vaillants coeurs rien impossible."
I hate doing a thing again and in an inferior manner that has already been done inimitably; and Madame Parkes-Belloc, with her fresh pen dipped in sunlight has written about Bourges and Jacques Coeur's house in her charming book, 'La Belle France,'  and I dare not tread after her. So I simply quote her words—I fear her pleasant book is not much sought after and read now:—"His dwelling must have fitted Jacques Coeur as its skin fits an animal. All its quaint architectural corners seem, as it were, wrinkles and creases, whereby it adapted itself to the nature and genius of the man. We, in our day, know nothing of such a style of building. If we want a large house we send for an architect, who submits his plans to our enlightened judgment; allotting ample stairs, a sufficiency of best bedrooms, kitchen, butler's pantry, &c. If rather less, then rather cheaper; and as to making the slightest difference in style on account of our late pursuits, as whether, for instance, we were a retired candlestick-maker, or a Lord Chancellor, or a physician, the very idea would savour of lunacy. Not so Jacques Coeur. This man wished, in dying, to leave a beautiful shell behind him, so that the passers-by might say: 'Here lived a great merchant; he had a wife, sons, and a daughter, and numerous domestics. He liked his money, but loved art more. He kept a negro; he was pious, also loyal. He didn't mind fighting, if needs must be; but preferred commerce and politics. He loved Bourges, and Bourges loved him; for he paid his workmen well.' All this, and more, Jacques Coeur continued to write in legible characters on the walls of his house, some of it on the outside, some of it on the inside."
[Footnote 1: Published in 1868.]
He had humour, a quaint conceit, this man of gold and jewelry. He had the very knocker to his door made to strike upon a heart. Under the eaves of his observatory he had his negro sculptured hugging his money-box, and a little beyond an angel exhibiting his newly-acquired coat-of-arms. The one led to the other—the money-box brought on gentility. Hard by is the shield of an allied commercial family, their coat one of fleurs-de-lis interspersed with woolsacks. The Fuggers of Augsburg, when desiring a coat, asked Maximilian for lilies—for, said these wealthy spinners—as for the lilies, "They toil not, neither do they spin." With droll invention Jacques had one of his fireplaces made like a fortress, with little windows above, out of which folk are peeping. He had a gift for pungent mottoes. Here are some he had wrought into the decorations of his house:—
"A close bouche Il n'entre mouche."
"Entendre, taire, Dire, et faire, Est ma joie."
I remember a merchant's house, very sumptuous, at Schaffhausen, on which he had written this bitter device—"God preserve me from my friends; I will protect myself from my enemies." Another man altogether from Jacques Coeur.
The ending of this bright, merry, pomp-loving merchant was sad. He fell into disgrace with his king—he had probably lent him too much money; he was accused falsely of several crimes—forging money and selling arms to infidels, and was thrown into prison. The king then seized his wealth, tore up the bills in his name, and left one of Jacques' sons only a remnant of his treasure and the house. Jacques Coeur managed to escape from prison, got to Rome, and was taken into favour by Nicolas V. and Calixtus III., and was appointed captain of an expedition against the Turks. He is thought to have been wounded in a skirmish with them, for he is known to have died in Chios. And so he passed his old age, and laid his bones far from the house he had built for himself in which to end his days, and was not buried in the chapel of the cathedral which he had constructed as his mausoleum.
Another very delightful old house in Bourges is the Hotel Lallemand, constructed after the great fire of 1487; there is another in the Rue des Toiles, and another again in the Rue S. Suplice.
The reader may ask—If you are writing a book on Provence and Languedoc, why give us Bourges? Bourges, which is in Berry, which is in the very centre of France? For the same reason that I began with Florence. One does not drop out of a balloon into Provence, nor ascend out of it by one. One must stay somewhere in going there, and stay somewhere and see something on leaving there. And as my stay at Florence led on as a sort of preface to my flight up and down in Provence, so will this chapter on Bourges serve as an epilogue. For, in verity, as my encounter with the Jew dealer served me as an introduction so shall a little incident I met with in Bourges serve me as an easy mode of making my exit with a bow.
It was raining. It had rained all day. The interior of the cathedral, dark at all times with its deep-dyed (and dirty) glass, was in darkness, too deep to see and study much. The gurgoyles were spouting, the eaves dripping, the gutters running as mountain torrents. However, towards sunset, the windows of heaven were closed, the rain ceased, and folk who had been indoors all day came out with umbrellas and pattered and splashed about.
Now, by some fatality a thimble had been brought down from the roof of one of the houses by a descending water-spout; perhaps a dragon-gurgoyle had spat it disdainfully down. How had the thimble got on the roof? That was the question, not how it got down into the gutter. Had a cunning jackdaw, as in the 'Gazza di Ladra' carried it off, or had a child tumbled it out of an attic window on to the leads?
I was not the only person interested in this thimble. There was a young man, a student, a French exquisite, who also observed it; and I saw him poking at it in the water with the ferrule of his umbrella. Indeed it was his behaviour towards the thimble that attracted my attention to it. Presently he managed to extricate the thimble from the flood, to lodge it on a paving-stone, but it was slippery and round, and rolled off between two cobbles. Then he put up his eye-glass and studied it. Was it worth soiling his fingers over or not? Was it of silver or of brass? He walked round the thimble, with his eye-glass up, stood astride over the little torrent that had brought it down, stiffened his back, clapped the umbrella under his arm, and pursed up his lips to consider. Then he formed his resolution, stooped, and with the extreme point of his forefinger turned the thimble about. Then he stood erect again, pulled out a pocket handkerchief—saw it was of spotless cleanliness, considered that it would cost him two sous to have it washed if he dirtied it by drying thereon his forefinger, replaced it, and put his finger up his back under his coat tails and wiped it on the calico of his waistcoat.
He had made up his mind to have nothing more to do with the thimble, when along the trottoir came tripping a pretty damsel, with the purest of white caps, a sallow face, with fine dark eyes and abundant black hair. She bore over her shoulder, expanded, a plum-coloured umbrella. It had ceased raining, but the plum-colour threw out her pleasant face into relief: she knew that, and tripped on without folding it.
Instantly down bent the student, and, regardless of the dirty water, picked up the thimble. It slipped from his fingers into the gutter. Boldly he plunged his hand in, soiling thereby his manchette; but he recovered the trifle. The girl was abreast of him, and had passed before he was prepared.
He now pulled out a dogskin glove and polished the article. It was silver. He affixed it to the end of his little finger and waited his opportunity.
Three ladies approached. The youth plucked up courage—holding out his little finger shod with the thimble. It was like Paris and the Three Goddesses. The ladies looked at him, at his thimble, then at each other, tossed their heads, and walked on.
Then came a very ugly woman—the exquisite put the thimble resolutely behind his back.
Next—back, under her plum-coloured umbrella, returned the grisette. At once the dandy stood forward.
"Mademoiselle, as you passed just now, assuredly you dropped this."
"Mais, Monsieur! ce n'est pas possible. Ce n'est pas a moi."
"Pardon, mademoiselle, you dropped it; I saw you. I heard it fall."
"Cependant,—it is not mine."
"Then it is nobody's. I will throw it away."
"Mais, monsieur, it is of silver."
"Take it, mademoiselle, I pray."
She held the little silver thimble between thumb and forefinger, turned it about, studied it, hesitated, was inclined to take it, but did not wish to place herself under an obligation to a fop, and a stranger—knitted her brows—when up came a young workman, with a lead pencil in his hand—in his blouse.
"Mais! que de singeries faites-vous la, Madeleine?" said he, and flip!—with his pencil he sent the thimble out from her hand, flying—neither he, nor the girl, nor I saw whither it went, or where it fell.
And—just thus stands the author of this little work, offering his trifle to the gentle and well-disposed reader, who is inclined, may be, to be pleased with it, and to adopt it. But up comes the envious reviewer, and with his pen—flip—he sends the poor little article away—away—away, into the limbo of forgotten books, "que de singeries faites-vous la—avec cette bagatelle la?"
A.—MONUMENTS FROM THE ALYSCAMPS.
1. The inscription to Cornelia, daughter of Marius, is something of a puzzle. Against its genuineness may be urged that he is represented as conqueror of the Cimbri, whereas the Cimbri were not defeated till the following year, near Vercelli. Now it is strange that he should have left his daughter at Arles instead of moving her into Italy; and it is also odd that, if she were left there, he should be designated as conqueror of the Cimbri, whereas in the engagement with the Cimbri he shared the glory with Catulus; and he alone was victor over the Teutons and Ambrons near Aix. Moreover, one would have supposed that at Arles he would have been entitled the conqueror of these latter, the terror of whom had fallen on the province, and not of the Cimbri who did not menace it.
On the other hand, the inscription is in shockingly bad Latin; Calpurnia is made conqueror of the Cimbri, not her father, by a grammatical blunder; and one would suspect a forger would have avoided such a grotesque error, which is quite in agreement with other blunders made by the sculptors of monuments in the Alyscamps, who were clearly Gallo-Greeks, and hardly understood Latin.
Also—and this is remarkable—the name of the girl is Calpurnia; and Caius Marius was a native of Arpinum, and when this town was taken by the Romans from the Samnites, in B.C. 188, the franchise was given to the inhabitants, who were enrolled in the Calpurnian gens. Now this is a little fact that it is most improbable a forger would know—but it quite explains the girl receiving the name of Calpurnia, if genuine.
2. The Tomb of Julia Tyranna. The inscription runs:—
IVLIAE . LVC . FILIAE . TYRANNIAE . VIXIT ANN . XX . M . VIII . QVAE MORIBVS . PARITER . ET . DISCIPLINA . CETERIS . FEMINIS . EXEMPLO . FVIT . ANTARCIVS . NVRVI . LAVRENTIVS . VCXORI .
It was raised to her memory by her father-in-law Antarcius, and by her husband, Laurentius. The organ is represented with seven pipes.
O DOLOR . QVANTAE LACHRIMAE . FECERE SEPVLCRVM . IVL . LV CINAE . QVAE . VIXIT . KA D . RISSIMA . MATRI . FLOS . AE M. TATIS . HIQ . IACET . INTVS . CONDITA . SAXOO . VTINAM . POSSIT . REPARARI . SPIRITVS . ILLE . VT . SCIRET . QVANTVS . DOLOR . EST . QVAE . VIXIT . ANN . XXVII . M . X . DIE XIII . IVL . PARTHENOPE . POSVIT . INFELIX MATER .
"O Grief! what tears have watered this tomb of Julia Lucina who in life was very dear to her mother. Carried off in the flower of her age, here she lies, buried in this marble tomb. Would that her spirit might be restored, that she might learn how great is my grief. She lived twenty-seven years, ten months, and thirteen days. Julia Parthenope, her unhappy mother, raised this."
HYDRIAE TERTVLLAE C . F . CONIVGI . AMANTISSI MAE ET AXIAE OELIANAE . FILIAE DVLCISSIMAE . TERENTIVS MVSEVS HOC SEPVLCRVM POSVIT .
"Terentius Musaeus placed this to his most loving wife, Hydria Tertulla, and to his most sweet daughter, Axia Oeliana." On this is a child with a cock in hand, an oblation to the infernal deities.
F . MARIO . MF . MARINO . EXS . TESTA MENTO .
Observe in this, as in No. 3, the queer spelling, in both phonetic:—HIQ, SAXOO, EXS.
6. Here is a Christian inscription:—
INTEGER . ATQVE . PIVS . VITA . ET . CORPORE . PVRVS . AETERNO . HIC . POSITVS . VIVIT . CONCORDIVS . AEVO . QVI . TENERIS . PRIMVM . MINISTER . FVLSIT . IN . ANNIS . POST . ETIAM . LECTVS . COELESTI . LEGE . SACERDOS TRIGINTA . ET GEMINOS . DECEM . VIX . REDDIDIT . ANNOS . HVNC . CITO . SIDEREAM . RAPTVM . OMNIPOTENTIS . IN AVLAM MATER . BLANDA . ET . FRATER . SINE FVNERE QVAERVNT .
"Intact and pious, pure in life and body, here lies buried, but eternally lives Concordius, who in his tender years shone first as a deacon, afterwards chosen by the celestial law a priest; he lived hardly fifty years. Transported too soon to the starry hall of the Almighty, his gentle mother and his brother seek him without bewailing him."
This is on a sarcophagus of white marble with a colonnade carved on the face, the pillars channeled and spiral. In the centre is Jesus Christ, seated on a throne, instructing His apostles and a crowd, which is seen through the arcade, at the right a man, on the left a woman, on the cover are the twelve apostles with rolled volumes before them. This sarcophagus belongs to the fourth century.
PAX AETERNA DVLCISSIMAE . ET . INNOCEN TISSIM . FILLIAE . CHRYSOGONE . IV NIOR . SIRICIO . QVAE . VIX . ANN . III . M . II . DIEB . XXVII . VALERIVS . ET . CHRY SOGONE . PARENTES . FILLIAE . KARIS SIMAE . ET . OMNI . TEMPORE . VI TAE . SVE . DESIDERANTISS . M . A . E .
"Peace eternal to the most sweet and innocent girl, Chrysogone (the younger) Siricio, who lived three years, three months, and twenty-seven days. Valerius and Chrysogone, her parents, raised this monument to their most dear daughter, whom they will regret all their lives."
The bones were found in a leaden coffin enclosed in one of stone. The body of the little Chrysogone had been enveloped in a rich brocade of gold thread and silk.
8. A curious column dedicated by the good people of Arles to Flavius Valerius Constantinus (Constantine the Great), son of Constantius, long served the boatmen on the Rhone to fasten their vessels to, and it is sadly furrowed by the chains and cords so employed. It bears the inscription:—
IMP . CAES . FL . VAL . CONSTANTINO P . F . AVG . DIVI CONSTANTI . AVG . RII . FILIO .
Constantius Chorus also bore the names of Flavius Valerius.
B.—THE CAMPAIGN OF MARIUS.
For determining this the following points must be settled:—
I. Where was his camp?
To fix the position of his camp we must see where he could best watch the barbarians cross the Rhone, in such a place as he would have his rear covered, and where he could keep open his communications with Rome, and receive both reinforcements and victuals.
Now there is absolutely no point that answers these requirements like S. Gabriel. It was certain that the barbarians would not cross at Arles, for they could not advance thence south of the chain of Les Alpines, owing to the lagoons and morasses, and the desert of the Great Crau. They must cross below Avignon and at or above Tarascon. Now, as they would almost certainly march along the high table-land that extends from Montpellier by Nimes to Beaucaire, and not wade through the marshes below these hills, they would arrive with dry feet at Beaucaire, and there, naturally would cross and follow up the valley of the Durance. S. Gabriel was a natural watch-tower, whence Marius could observe them. It is an ancient Roman settlement. Numerous Roman remains have been found there. Marius had but to mount the heights behind the little town, and he commanded all the country to the north-west and south for a vast distance. Then, again, by means of his canal, connecting the lagoons, he was able to bring ships with supplies under his walls. His canal opened out of the Etang de Galejon, with a station at Fos, not at the exact entrance of the canal, which was low and marshy, but at the entrance of the channel of Martigues that opens into the Etang de Berre. Through Galejon it ran north, cutting through a chain of lagoons, passed under Mont Majeur to S. Gabriel, and there probably received the waters, the overspill of the Durance, above Chateau Renard. Plutarch says that it was connected with the Rhone, but this was probably an error. Its course to S. Gabriel remained in use and falling into decay in the Middle Ages as the Canal des Lonnes. Between S. Gabriel and the Etang de Galejon it could also be traced, and bore the name of Le Vigueirat. This canal of Marius was perfectly protected from the barbarians by the morasses that intervened between it and the Rhone.
II. To determine his march.
The old pre-Roman road from Nimes to Aix certainly followed the high and dry ground to Tarascon, thence traced up the valley of the Durance. It could no longer follow the high ground, as that is broken into limestone peaks, but it followed up the river below them, carried above the rubble of the Durance. The first station after Tarascon was Glanum, now S. Remi. Then it went to Orgon, where it touched the Durance for the first time, and whence branched the roads to Italy—one by Mont Genevre, the other by Aix and the coast. I suppose that Marius, following the barbarians, he on the heights, they in the valley, observed the direction they took to right or to left, from the precipitous crags of Orgon. It must be remembered that Marius had an army made up of demoralised soldiers, who had escaped from defeat by the barbarians, and of raw levies, and all were in deadly fear of their savage foes, so that he dare not bring them to a pitched battle till they had become accustomed to the sight of the Teutons and Ambrons, and were themselves impatient to come to blows with them.
The host of invaders turned south towards Aix. Marius pursued: there can, I think, be little question that he pursued the same tactics, exchanging a sandstone range for one of limestone, and following them steadily step by step, keeping the heights.
Now, if the camp of Marius was at S. Gabriel, and if the Teutons marched up the Durance valley to Orgon, and then turned to Aix, then, it seemed to me, on the spot, that no one save an idiot in command of the Roman soldiers could have done anything else than strike for the sandstone ridge and march along that, still observing the enemy.