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Normandy Picturesque
by Henry Blackburn
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But he was preaching to a congregation of shopkeepers, traders, and artisans, and his appeal to arms seemed to fall flatly on the trading mind; whilst the old incongruity between the building and the dress of the nineteenth century, was as remarkable as it is in Westminster Abbey; and the contrast between the unchivalrous aspect of the speaker, and the tone of his language, was more striking still.[47]

What priest or cure, in these days, stands forth in his presence or influence, as the ideal champion of a romantic faith, the ceremonials of which seem more and more alienated from the spirit of the nineteenth century—at least in the north of Europe, where colour, imagination, and passion have less influence? What real sympathy has the kind, fat, fatherly figure before us with soldiers, saints, or martyrs?[48]

He preached for nearly an hour, with frequent pauses and strange changes in the inflexion of the voice. We will not attempt a repetition of his arguments, but must record one sentence in an extempore sermon of great versatility and power; a sentence that, if we understood it aright, was singularly liberal and broad in view. Speaking of the rivalry that existed between the different sects of Christians, and making pointed allusion to the colony of protestant Huguenots established at Beuzeval on the sea-shore, he ended with the words, 'Better than all this rivalry and strife (far better than the common result amongst men, indifference) that, like ships becalmed at sea,—when a religious breeze stirs our hearts—we should raise aloft our fair white sails and come sailing into port together, lowering them in the haven of the one true church.'

He made a pause several times in his discourse, during which he looked about him, and mopped his head with his handkerchief, and behaved, for the moment, much more as if he were in his dressing-room than in a public pulpit; but he held his audience with magic sway, his influence over the people was wonderful—wonderful to us when we listened to his imagery, and to the means used to stir their hearts.[49]

In the picturesque and moving times of the middle ages it must surely have needed less forcing and fewer formulae to 'lift up the hearts of the people to the Queen of Heaven;' if it were only in the likeness of the black doll, which they worship at Chartres to this day. But until we realise to ourselves more completely the lives of warriors in mediaeval days, we shall never understand how chivalry and the worship of beauty entered into their hearts and lives, and was to them the highest and noblest of virtues; nor shall we comprehend their ready acceptance of the adoration of the Virgin as the one true religion.

In such a building as the cathedral at Rouen, it is impossible to forget the people who once trod its pavement; memories that not all the modern paraphernalia and glitter can obliterate. If we visit the cathedral after vespers, when the candles in the Lady-chapel look like glowworm-lights through the dark aisles, we are soon carried back in imagination to mediaeval days. The floor of the nave is covered with kneeling figures of warriors, each with a red cross on his breast; the pavement resounds to the clash of arms; there is a low chorus of voices in prayer, a sound of stringed instruments, a silence—and then, an army of men rise up and march to war. There is a pause of six hundred years, and another procession passes through these aisles; the pavement resounds to less martial footsteps,—they are not warriors, they are 'Cook's excursionists'!

Let us now leave the cathedral, and see something more of the town.

It is a fine summer's afternoon, in the middle of the week, the air is soft and quiet; the busy population of Rouen seem, with one consent, to rest from labour, and the Goddess of Leisure tells her beads. One, two (decrepit old men); three, four, five (nurses and children); six, seven, eight (Chasseurs de Vincennes or a 'noble Zouave),' and so on, until the Rosary is complete and there are no more seats.[50] Every day under our windows they come and wedge themselves close together on the long stone seats under the dusty trees, to rest; and thread themselves in rows one by one, as if some unseen hand were telling, with human beads, the mystery of the Rosary.

Why do we speak of what is done every day in every city of France? Because it is worth a moment's notice, that in the day-time of busy cities men can, if they choose, find time to rest. There are gardens open, and seats provided in the middle of the cities, so that the poor children need not play on dustheaps and under carriage-wheels. There is a small open square in the heart of Rouen, laid out with rocks and trees, and a waterfall, which we should dearly like to shew to certain 'parish guardians.'

The modern business-like aspect of Rouen communicates itself even to religious matters, and before we have been here long, we think nothing of seeing piles of crucifixes, and 'Virgins and children', put out in the street in boxes for sale, at a 'fabrique d'ornaments de l'eglise.' We, the people of Rouen, do a great business in chasublerie, and the like; we drive hard bargains for images of the Saviour in zinc and iron (they are catalogued for us, and placed in rows in the shop windows); we purchase lachryma Christi by the dozen; and, for a few sous, may become possessed of the whole paraphernalia of the Holy Manger.

We have been cheated so often at Rouen, that we are inclined to ask the question whether we, English people, really possess a higher working morality than the French. Are we really more straightforward and honourable than they? Are there bounds which they overstep and which we cannot pass? It has been our pride for centuries to be considered more noble and manly than many of our neighbours; is there any reason to fear that our moral influence is on the wane, in these days of universal interchange of thought, free-trade, and rapid intercommunication?

In the course of our journey through Normandy, we have not said much about modern paintings, but at Rouen we are reminded that there are many French artists hard at work. The most prominent painters are those of the school of Edouard Frere, who depict scenes of cottage life, with the earnestness, if not always with the elevated sentiment of Mason, Walker, and other, younger, English painters. The works of many of these French artists are familiar to us in England, and we need not allude to them further; but there is an exhibition of water-colour drawings at Rouen, about which we must say a word.[51]

These sketches of towns in Normandy, and of pastoral scenes, have a curious family likeness, and a mannerism which the French may call 'chic,' but which we are inclined to attribute to want of power and patient study. There is an old-fashioned formality in the composition of their landscapes, which does not seem to our eyes to belong to the world of to-day, and a decidedly amateurish treatment which is surprising. They repeat themselves and each other, without end, and evidently are thinking more about Beranger than the places of which he sang; they would seek (as some one expresses it) to 'reconcile literal facts with rapturous harmonies,' in short they attempt too much, and accomplish too little. In form and feature, these pictures remind us (like Rouen itself) of a bygone time, when travelling on the Continent was difficult and expensive, and views of foreign towns were not easy to obtain; when some distinguished amateur (distinguished, perhaps, more for his courage and industry than for his art) visited the Continent at rare intervals, and brought home in triumph a few hazy sketches of a people that we had scarce heard of, and hardly believed in; and had them engraved and multiplied, for the art-loving amongst us, as the best treasures of the time.

The modernised aspect of Rouen is one that we (as lookers-on merely) shall never cease to regret, because it is the town of all others which should tell us most of the past; and it is, moreover, the one town in Normandy which most English people find time to see.

But if most of its individuality and character have vanished, its sanitary condition and its wealth, have, we must admit, improved greatly under the new regime. 'When I walk through the enormous streets and boulevards of new Paris,' says a well-known writer, 'I feel appalled by the change, but unable to dispute with it mentally, for it bears the imprint of an idea which is becoming dominant over Europe. For the moment the individuality of man as expressed in his dwelling (as in the house in our frontispiece) is gone—suppressed. The human creature no longer builds for himself, decorates for himself; no longer lets loose his fancy, his humour, his notions of the fitting and the comfortable. Science and economy go hand in hand, and lay down his streets and erect his houses.' Thus, although, from an artistic point of view, we shall never be reconciled to the changes that have come over Normandy, we cannot ignore the consequent social advantages. Mr. Ruskin, speaking of the change in Switzerland during his memory of it (thirty-five years) says:—'In that half of the permitted life of man I have seen strange evil brought upon every scene that I best loved, or tried to make beloved by others. The light which once flushed those pale summits with its rose at dawn and purple at sunset, is now umbered and faint; the air which once inlaid the clefts of all their golden crags with azure, is now defiled with languid coils of smoke, belched from worse than volcanic fires; their very glacier waves are ebbing, and their snows fading, as if hell had breathed on them; the waters that once sunk at their feet into crystalline rest, are now dimmed and foul, from deep to deep, and shore to shore.'

But the clouds of smoke that defile the land, the shrieking of steam, and the perpetual, terrible grinding of iron against iron (sounds which our little children grow up not to heed) are part of a system which enables Mr. Ruskin, one day to address a crowd in the theatre of the British Institution, and on the next—or the next but one—to utter this lament on the banks of Lake Leman. His remarks, with which so many will sympathise, lose point and consequence from the fact of his own rapid translation from one place to another, and from the advantages we gain by his travelling on the wings of steam. And there is a certain consolation in the knowledge that in the days when the waters of Geneva were of 'purest blue,' the accommodation for travellers at the old hostelries was less favourable to peace of mind.



CHAPTER X.

THE VALLEY OF THE SEINE.

In the fruitful hills that border the river Seine, and form part of the great watershed of Lower Normandy, Nature has poured forth her blessings; and her daughters, who are here lightly sketched, dispense her bounties.

It is a pleasant thing to pass homeward through this 'food-producing' land—to go leisurely from town to town, and see something more of country life in Normandy—to see the laden orchards, the cattle upon the hills, and the sloping fields of corn. It is yet early in the autumn, but the variety of colour spread over the landscape is delightful to the eye; the rich brown of the buckwheat, the bright yellow mustard; the green pastures by rivers, and the poppies in the golden corn; the fields, divided by high hedges, and interspersed with mellowed trees; the orchards raining fruit that glitters in the sunshine as it falls; the purple heath, the luxuriant ferns. There is 'une recolte magnifique' this year, and the people have but one thought—'the gathering in;' the country presents to us a picture—not like Watteau's 'fetes galantes,' but rather that of an English harvest-home.

We are in the midst of the cornfields near Villers-sur-mer, and the hill-side is glorious; it is covered to the very summit with riches—the heavily-laden corn-stems wave their crests against a blue horizon, whilst, in a cleft of the hill, a long line of poppies winds downwards in one scarlet stream. They are set thickly in some places, and form a blaze of colour, inconceivably, painfully brilliant—a concentration of light as utterly beyond our power of imitation by the pencil, as genius is removed from ordinary minds. We could not paint it if we would, but we may see in it an allegory of plenty, and of peace (of that peace which France so urgently desires); we may see her blood-red banner of war laid down to garland the hill-side with its crimson folds, and her children laying their offerings at the feet of Ceres and forgetting Mars altogether. The national anthem becomes no longer a natural refrain—anything would sound more appropriate than 'partant pour la Syrie' (there is no time for that work)—to our little friend in fluttering blouse, who sits in the grass and 'minds' fifty head of cattle by moral force alone; we should rather sing:—

'Little boy blue, come blow me your horn, The orchards are laden, the cow 's in the corn!'

* * * * *

We cannot leave this pastoral scene, at least until the evening; when the sun goes down behind the sea—leaving a glow upon the hill-side and upon the crowd of gleaners who have just come up, and casts long shadows across the stubble and on the sheaves of corn; when the harvest moon shines out, and the picture is completed—the corn—sheaves lighted on one side by the western glow, on the other by the moon; like the famous shield over which knights did battle,—one side silver, the other gold.

All this time we are within sight, and nearly within sound, of the 'happy hunting grounds' of Trouville and Deauville, but the country people are singularly unaffected by the proximity of those pretty towns, invented by Dumas and peopled by his following.[52] It is true that on the walls of a little village inn, there is something paraded about a 'Trouville Association, Limited,' and a company for 'the passage of the Simplon,' with twenty-franc shares; but these things do not seem to find much favour amongst the thrifty peasantry. They have, in their time, been tempted to unearth their treasures, and to invest in bubble companies like the rest of the world; but there is a reaction here, the Normans evidently thinking, like the old Colonnae, that a hole in the bottom of the garden is about the safest place after all. And they have, it is true, some other temptations which come to them with a cheap press, such as 'la surete financiere,' 'le moniteur des tirages financiers,' 'le petit moniteur financier,' &c., newspapers whose special business it is, to teach the people how to get rid of their savings, we are speaking, of course, of the comparatively uneducated agricultural population—the farmers, all through the district we have come, especially near Vire and Falaise, being rich proprietaires and investing largely; and there are many other things in these half-penny French newspapers which find their way into these remote corners of France, which must make the cure sometimes regret that he had taught his flock to read. In a little paper which lies before us, the first article is entitled 'Le miroir du diable;' then follows a long account of a poisoning case in Paris, and some songs from a cafe chantant, interspersed with illustrations of the broadest kind. But let us not be too critical; we have seen many things in France which would startle Englishmen, but nothing, we venture to say, more harmful in its tendency, than the weekly broad-sheet of crime which is spread out over our own land (to the number, the proprietors boast, of at least a hundred thousand[53]), wherein John and Jane, who can only sign their names with a cross, read in hideous cartoons, suggestions of cruelty and crime more revolting than any the schoolmaster could have taught them.

In these rich and prosperous provinces, the people (revolutionary and excitable as their ancestors were) certainly appear happy and contented; the most uneducated of them are quick-witted and ready in reply, they are not boorish or sullen, they have more readiness—at least in manner—than the germanic races, and are, as a rule, full of gaiety and humour. These people do not want war, they hate the conscription which takes away the flower of the flock; they regard with anything but pleasure the rather dictatorial 'Moniteur' that comes to them by post sometimes, whether they ask for it or not, and would much rather be 'let alone.'[54]

Such is a picture of Lower Normandy, the land of plenty where we wander with so much pleasure in the summer months, putting up at wayside inns (where the hostess makes her 'note' on a slate and finds it hard work to make the amount come to more than five francs, for the night, for board and lodging for 'monsieur') and at farmhouses sometimes; chatting with the people in their rather troublesome patois, and making excursions with the local antiquary or cure, to some spot celebrated in history. They are pleasant days, when, if we will put up with a few inconveniences, and live principally out of doors, we may see and hear much that a railway traveller misses altogether. We shall not admire the system of farming, as a rule (each farmer holding only a few acres); and we shall find some of the cottages of the labourers very primitive, badly built, and unhealthy, although generally neat; we shall notice that the people are cruel, and careless of the sufferings of animals, and that no farm servant knows how to groom a horse. We shall see them clever in making cider, and prone to drink it; we shall see plenty of fine, strong, rather idle men and women in the fields carrying tremendous burdens, but hardly any children; they are almost as rare in the country as a lady, or a gentleman. Indeed, in all our country wanderings the 'gentry' make little figure, and appear much less frequently on the scene than we are accustomed to in England. There are, of course, proprietaires in this part of Normandy who spend both their time and money in the country, and are spoken of with respect and affection by the people; but they are rarae aves, men of mark, like the founder of the protestant colony at Beuzeval on the sea.

Nearly every Sunday after harvest-time there will be a village wedding, where we may see the bride and bridegroom coming to take 'the first sacrament;' seated in a prominent place in front of the altar, and receiving the elements before the rest of the congregation, the bride placing a white favour on the basket which contains the consecrated bread, and afterwards coming from the church, the bride with a cap nearly a foot high, the bridegroom wearing a dress coat, with a tremendous bouquet, and a wedding-ring on his fore-finger; and, if we stand near the church porch, we may be deafened with a salute fired by the villagers in honour of the occasion, and overwhelmed by the eloquence of the 'best man,' who takes this opportunity of delivering a speech; and finally, the bells will ring out with such familiar tone that we can hardly realise that we are in France.[55]

These people are of the labouring class, but they have some money to 'commence life' with; the poorest girls seldom marry without a portion (indeed, so important is this considered amongst them that there are societies for providing portions for the unendowed), and they are, with few exceptions, provident and happy in married life. They are so in the country at least, in spite of all that has been said and written to the contrary. A lady who has had five-and-twenty years' acquaintance with French society, both in town and country, assures us that 'the stereotyped literary and dramatic view of French married life is wickedly false.' The corruption of morals, she says, which so generally prevails in Paris, and which has been so systematically aggravated by the luxury and extravagance of the second Empire, has emboldened writers to foist these false pictures of married life on the world.

But we, as travellers, must not enter deeply into these questions; our business is, as usual, principally with their picturesque aspect. And there is plenty to see; a few miles from us there is the little town of Pont l'Eveque; and of course there is a fete going on. Let us glance at the official programme for the day:—

'At 10 A.M., agricultural and horticultural meetings.

From 11 to 12, musical mass; several pieces to be performed by the band of the 19th Regiment.

At 12-1/2, meeting of the Orpheonists and other musical societies.

1 P.M., ordering and march of a procession, and review of Sappers and Miners.

2 P.M., ascension of grotesque balloons.

2-1/2 P.M., race of velocipedes.

3-1/2 P.M., climbing poles and races in sacks.

5 P.M., performance of music in the Place de l'Eglise; band of the 19th Regiment.

6 P.M., grand dinner in the College Hall, with toasts, speeches, and concert.

8 P.M., general illumination with Chinese lanterns, &c.

9 P.M., Display of fireworks; procession with torches to the music of the military band.'

N.B. Every householder is requested to contribute to the gaiety by illuminating his own house—By order of the Maire.

How the rather obscure little town of Pont l'Eveque suddenly becomes important,—how it puts on (as only a French town knows how to do) an alluring and coquettish appearance; how the people promenade arm and arm, up the street and down the street, on the dry little place, and under the shrivelled-up trees; how they play at cards and dominoes in the middle of the road, and crowd to the canvas booths outside the town—would be a long task to tell. They crowd everywhere—to the menagerie of wild beasts, to see the 'pelican of the wilderness;' to the penny peepshows, where they fire six shots for a sou at a plaster cast of Bismarck; to the lotteries for crockery and bonbons, and to all sorts of exhibitions 'gratis.' Of the quantity of cider and absinthe consumed in one day, the holiday-makers may have rather a confused and careless recollection, as they are jogged home, thirteen deep in a long cart, with a neglected, footsore old horse, weighed down with his clumsy harness and his creaking load, and deafened by the jingling of his rusty bells.

But if we happen to be in one of the larger towns during the time of the Imperial fetes (the 15th of August), or at a seaport on the occasion of the annual procession in honour of the Virgin, we shall see a more striking ceremony still. The processions are very characteristic, with the long lines of fisherwomen in their scarlet and coloured dresses, and handkerchiefs tied round the head; the fishermen, old and weather-beaten, boys in semi-naval costume, neat and trim; and perhaps a hundred little children, dressed in blue and white. A dense mass of people crowding through the hot streets all day, impressive from their numbers, and from the quiet orderly method of their procession, headed and marshalled, of course, by the clergy and manoeuvred to the sound of bells. There is such a perpetual ringing of bells, and the trains run so frequently, that those who are not accustomed to such sights may become confused as to their true meaning. We learn, however, from the affiches that it is all in honour of 'Our Lady of Hope,' that the externes from one school parade the streets to-day, wearing wreaths and carrying banners and crowns of flowers; that others bear aloft the 'cipher of Mary,' the banner of the Immaculate Conception, baskets of roses, oriflammes, &c.; that twenty grown-up men parade the town with the 'banner of the Sacred Heart,' and that a party of young ladies, in white dresses fringed with gold, brave the heat and the dust, and crowd to do honour to the 'Queen of Angels.' A multitude with streamers and banners, a confusion of colour and gilding, passing to and from the churches all day; and at night, fire balloons, feu d'artifice, open theatres, and 'general joy.'

Of one more ceremony we must speak, differing in character, but equally characteristic and curious. We are in the country again, spending our days in sketching, or wandering amongst the hills; enjoying the 'perfect weather,' as we call it, and a little careless, perhaps, of the fact that the land is parched with thirst, that the springs are dried up, and that the peasants are beginning to despair of rain.

We see a little white smoke curling through the branches of the trees, and hear in faint, uncertain cadence, the voices of men and children singing. Presently there comes up the pathway between two lines of poplars, a long procession, headed by a priest, holding high in the air a glittering cross; there are old men with bowed heads, young men erect, with shaven crowns, and boys in scarlet and white robes, carrying silver censers; there is a clanking of silver chains, a tinkling of little bells, and an undertone of oft-repeated prayer. The effect is startling, and brilliant; the sunlight glances upon the white robes of the men, in alternate stripes of soft shadow and dazzling brightness, the wind plays round their feet as they march heavily along, in a whirl of dust which robs the leaves of their morning freshness; whilst the scarlet robes of the children light up the grove as with a furnace, and the rush of voices disturbs the air. On they come through the quiet country fields, hot and dusty with their long march, the foremost priest holding his head high, and doing his routine work manfully—never wearying of repeating the same words, or of opening and shutting the dark-bound volume in his hand; and the children, not yet quite weary of singing, and of swinging incense-burners—keeping close together two and two in line; the people following being less regular, less apparently enthusiastic, but walking close together in a long winding stream up the hill.

What does it all mean? Why, that these simple people want rain on the land, and that they have collected from all parts of the country to offer their prayers, and their money, to propitiate the Deity. Could we, but for one moment, as onlookers from some other sphere, see this line of creeping things on their earnest errand, the sight would seem a strange one. Do these atoms on the earth's surface hope to change the order of the elements, to serve their own purposes? If rain were needed, would it not come?

But we are in a land where we are taught, not only to pray for our wants, but to pay for their expression; so let us not question the motive of the procession, but follow it again in the evening, into the town, where it becomes lost in the crowded streets—so crowded that we cannot see more than the heads of the people; but the line is marked above them by a stream of sunset, which turns the dust-particles above their heads into a golden fringe. They make a halt in the square and sing the 'Angelus,' and then enter the cathedral, where the priest offers up a prayer—a prayer which we would interpret—not for rain, if drought be best, but rather for help and strength to fight the battle of life in the noblest way.

Such scenes may still be witnessed in Normandy (although, of course, becoming less primitive and characteristic every year) by those who are not compelled to hurry through the land.

In the country districts the habits of the peasant class are the only ones that a traveller has any opportunity of observing; of the upper classes he will see nothing, and of their domestic life obtain no idea whatever. It is not to be accomplished, en passant, in Normandy, any more than in Vienna. In the inns, the company at the public table consists almost invariably of French commercial travellers, and the two English ladies whom we meet with everywhere, travelling together. There is hardly an hotel in Normandy, excepting, of course, at the watering-places (of which we shall speak in the last chapter), that would be considered well appointed, according to modern notions of comfort and convenience. Ladies travelling alone would certainly find themselves better accommodated in Switzerland or in the Pyrenees; excepting in the matter of expense, for Normandy is still one of the cheapest parts of Europe to travel in—the Russians and Americans not having yet come.

We meet, as we have said, but few French people above the farming and commercial class; our fellow-travellers being generally 'unprotected' Englishwomen who may be seen in summer-time at the various railway stations—fighting their way to the front in the battle of the 'bagages,' and speaking French to the officials with a grammatical fervour, and energy, which is wonderful to contemplate[56]—taking their places on the top of a diligence, amongst fowls and cheeses, with the heroic self sacrifice that would be required to mount a barricade; in short, placing themselves continually (and unnecessarily, it must be admitted) in positions inconsistent with English notions of propriety, and exposing themselves, for pleasure's sake, to more roughness and rudeness than is good for their sex. These things arise sometimes from necessity—on which we have not a word to say—but more frequently from a rigid determination to 'economize,' in a way that they would not dream of doing at home.

We would certainly suggest that English ladies should not elect to travel by the diligences, and in out-of-the-way places, unattended; and that they had better not attempt to 'rough it' in Normandy, if they are able (by staying at home) to avoid the concussion.

To most men, this diligence travelling is charming—the seat on the banquette on a fine summer's day is one of the most enjoyable places in life; it is cheap, and certainly not too rapid (five or six miles an hour being the average); and we can sit almost as comfortably in a corner of the banquette as in an easy-chair. In this beautiful country we should always either drive or walk, if we have time; the diligence is the most amusing and sometimes the slowest method of progress. Nobody hurries—although we carry 'the mails' and have a letter-box in the side of the conveyance, where letters are posted as we go along, it is scarcely like travelling—the free and easy way in which people come and go on the journey is more like 'receiving company' than taking up passengers. As we jog along, to the jingling of bells and the creaking of rusty iron, the people that we overtake on the road keep accumulating on our vehicle one by one, as we approach a town, until we become encrusted with human things like a rock covered with limpets. There is no shaking them off, the driver does not care, and they certainly do not all pay. It is a pleasant family affair which we should all be sorry to see disturbed; and the roads are so good and even, that it does not matter much about the load. The neglect and cruelty to the horses, which we are obliged to witness, is certainly one drawback,[57] and the dust and crowding on market days, are not always pleasant; but we can think of no other objections in fine weather, to this quiet method of seeing the country.

Much has been said in favour of 'a walking tour in Normandy,' but we venture to question its thorough enjoyment when undertaken for long distances; and it can scarcely be called 'economical to walk,' unless the pedestrian's time is of no value to other people.

Let us be practical, and state the cost of travelling over the whole of the ground that we have mapped out. We may assume that the most determined pedestrian will not commence active operations until he reaches Havre, or some other seaport town. From Havre to Pont Audemer by steamboat; thence by road or railway to all the towns on our route (visiting Rouen by the Seine, from Honfleur), and so back to Havre, will cost a 'knapsack-traveller' 46 francs 50 c., if he takes the banquette of the diligence and travels third class, by railway. Thus it is a question of less than two pounds, for those who study economy, whilst at least a month's time is saved by taking the diligence.

One argument for walking is, that you may leave the high roads at pleasure, and see more of the country and of the people; but the pedestrian has his day's work before him, and must spend the greater part of an August day on the dusty road, in order to reach his destination. There are districts, such as those round Vire and Mortain, which are exceptionally hilly, where he might walk from town to town; but he will not see the country as well, even there, as from the elevated position of a banquette. The finest parts of Normandy are generally in the neighbourhood of towns which the traveller (who has driven to them) can explore on his arrival, without fatigue; chacun a son gout—these smooth, well-levelled roads are admirably adapted for velocipedes—but we confess to preferring the public conveyances, to any other method of travelling in France.

Let us conclude our remarks on this subject with an extract from the published diary of a pedestrian, who thus describes his journey from Lisieux to Caen, a distance of about twenty-six miles:—

'It is nightfall,' he says, 'before I have walked more than half-way to Caen; to the left of the road I see a number of lights indicative of a small town, but I perceive no road in that direction, and so am compelled to trudge on. I was dreadfully fatigued, for I had walked about Lisieux before starting. In the faint light, I thought I saw a dog cross the road just before me, but soon perceived that it must be a spectral one, the result of excessive fatigue. At length I reach a lamp-post, with the light still burning, indicating that I am in the suburbs of Caen. The road proceeds down a steep hill. I don't know how long it would seem to the visitor in the ordinary way, but to myself, prostrated by fatigue, it appeared on this night a long and weary tramp.'—'A Walking Tour in Normandy!'



CHAPTER XI.

ARCHITECTURE AND COSTUME.

In the course of our little pilgrimage through Normandy, it may have been thought that we dwelt with too much earnestness and enthusiasm on the architecture of the middle ages, as applicable to buildings in the nineteenth century. Let us repeat our belief, that it is in its adaptability to our wants, both practical and artistic, that its true value consists. Mediaeval architects in England are never tired of insisting upon this fact; although hitherto they must confess to a certain amount of failure, because, perhaps, they attempt too much.

If one were to judge by what appears to be going on in nearly every town in England at the present time, we should say that there never was a time when architecture was so much considered. 'Every town' (says a late writer, speaking of the extent of this movement), 'that shares the progress and character of the age, has a new town hall, a new exchange, new schools, and every institution for which an honest pretence can be found. A stranger, possessing an interest in the town, and with no claim upon it excepting that it shall please his eye, must be charmed with the profuse display of towers, turrets, pinnacles, and pointed roofs, windows of all sorts, niches, arcades, battlements, bosses, and everything else to be found in an architectural glossary. He may wonder why a lofty tower—sometimes several towers—should be necessary to the trying cases of assault and petty larceny, to the reading of newspapers, to the inspection of samples of wheat, or to the drilling of little boys in declensions and conjugations; but that is not his affair, and he has nothing to do with it, except to be thankful for a good sky-line, and a well-relieved, but yet harmonious, facade.' Nevertheless, we live in certain hope of a more practical application of beauty and simplicity of form, to the wants and requirements of our own day; and we believe that it is possible to have both cheap and useful buildings, graceful in form, and harmonious in colour and design.

But notwithstanding our admiration for the buildings of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, we are bound to confess that many of them, both churches and dwellings, fail too often in essentials. Their dwellings are often deficient in light and ventilation, and are built with a lavish expenditure of materials; and their churches sometimes fail in carrying out the very object for which they were constructed, viz., the transmission of sound.

Still it is possible—as we have seen at Caen and Bayeux—to have noble, gothic interiors which do not 'drown the voice' of the preacher; and it is also possible—as we have seen in many towns in Normandy—to build ornamental and healthy dwellings at a moderate cost. The extraordinary adaptability of Gothic architecture over all other styles, is a subject on which the general public is very ignorant, and with which it has little sympathy. The mediaeval architect is a sad and solitary man (who ever met a cheery one?), because his work is so little understood; yet if he would only meet the enemy of expediency and ugliness half-way, and condescend to teach us how to build not merely economically, but well at the same time, he would no longer be 'the waif and stray of an inartistic century.'

Shadows rise around us as we write—dim reproachful shadows of an age of unspeakable beauty in constructive art, and of (apparently) unapproachable excellence in design; and the question recurs to us again—Can we ever hope to compete with thirteenth-century buildings whilst we lead nineteenth-century lives? It may not be in our generation, but the time will assuredly come when, as has been well remarked, 'the living vigour of humanity will break through the monotony of modern arrangements and assert itself in new forms—forms which may cause a new generation to feel less regret at being compelled to walk in straight lines.'

Here our thoughts, on the great question of architectural beauty and fitness, turn naturally to a New World. If, as we believe, there is a life and energy in the West which must sooner or later make its mark in the world, and perhaps take a lead for a while, amongst the nations, in the practical application of Science and Art; may it not rest with a generation of Americans yet unborn, to create—out of such elements as the fast-fading Gothic of the middle ages—a style of architecture that will equal it in beauty, and yet be more suitable to a modern era; a style that shall spring spontaneously from the wants and requirements of the age—an age that shall prize beauty of form as much as utility of design? Do we dream dreams? Is it quite beyond the limits of possibility that an art, that has been repeating itself for ages in Europe—until the original designs are fading before our eyes, until the moulds have been used so often that they begin to lose their sharpness and significance—may not be succeeded by a new and living development which will be found worthy to take its place side by side with the creations of old classic time? Is the idea altogether Utopian—is there not room in the world for a 'new style' of architecture—shall we be always copying, imitating, restoring—harping for ever on old strings?

It may be that we point to the wrong quarter of the globe, and we shall certainly be told that no good thing in art can come from the 'great dollar cities of the West,' from a people without monuments and without a history; but there are signs of intellectual energy, and a process of refinement and cultivation is going on, which it will be well for us of the Old World not to ignore. Their day may be not yet; before such a change can come, the nation must find rest—the pulse of this great, restless, thriving people must beat less quickly, they must know (as the Greeks knew it) the meaning of the word 'repose.'

It was a good sign, we thought, when Felix Darley, an American artist on a tour through Europe (a '5000 dollar run' is, we believe, the correct expression), on arriving at Liverpool, was content to go quietly down the Wye, and visit our old abbeys and castles, such as Tintern and Kenilworth, instead of taking the express train for London; and it is to the many signs of culture and taste for art, which we meet with daily, in intercourse with travellers from the western continent, that we look with confidence to a great revolution in taste and manners.[58]

To these, then (whom we may be allowed to look upon as pioneers of a new and more artistic civilization), and to our many readers on the other side of the Atlantic, we would draw attention to the towns in Normandy, as worthy of examination, before they pass away from our eyes; towns where 'art is still religion,'—towns that were built before the age of utilitarianism, and when expediency was a thing unknown. To young America we say—'Come and see the buildings of old France; there is nothing like them in the western world, neither the wealth of San Francisco, nor the culture of its younger generation, can, at present, produce anything like them. They are waiting for you in the sunlight of this summer evening; the gables are leaning, the waters are sparkling, the shadows are deepening on the hills, and the colours on the banners that trail in the water, are 'red, white, and blue!'

* * * * *

A Word or two here may not be out of place, on some of the modern architectural features of Normandy. In some towns that we have passed through it would seem as if the old feeling for form and colour had at last revived, and that (although perhaps in rather a commonplace way) the builders of modern villas and seaside houses were emulating the works of their ancestors.

Prom our windows at Houlgate (on the sea-coast, near Trouville) we can see modern, half-timbered houses, set in a garden of shrubs and flowers, with gables prettily 'fringed,' graceful dormer windows, turrets and overhanging eaves; solid oak doors, and windows with carved balconies twined about with creepers, with lawns and shady walks surrounding—as different from the ordinary type of French country-house with its straight avenues and trimly cut trees, as they are remote in design from any ordinary English seaside residence; and (this is our point) they are not only ornamental and pleasing to the eye, but they are durable, dry, and healthy dwellings, and are not costly to build.

Here are sketches of four common examples of modern work, all of which are within a few yards of our own doors.

No. 1 is a good substantial brick-built house, close to the sea-shore, surrounded by shrubs and a small garden. The whole building is of a rich warm brown, set off by the darker tints of the woodwork; relieved by the bright shutters, the interior fittings, the flowers in the windows and the surrounding trees.

No. 2 is a common example of square open turret of dark oak, with slated roof; the chimney is of brick and terra-cotta; the frontage of the house is of parti-coloured brickwork with stone facings, &c.



No. 3 is a round tower at a street corner (the turret forming a charming boudoir, with extensive view); it is built of red and white brick, the slates on the roof are rounded, and the ornamental woodwork is of dark oak—the lower story of this house is of stone.

No. 4, which forms one end of a large house, is ornamented with light-coloured wooden galleries and carving under the eaves, contrasting charmingly with the blue slating of the roofs and the surface tiling of the frontage—smooth tiles are introduced exteriorly in diaper patterns, chiefly of the majolica colours, which the wind and rain keep ever bright and fresh-looking, and which no climate seems to affect. The ornamental woodwork on this house is especially noticeable.[59]

There may be nothing architecturally new in these modern 'chateaux' and 'chalets;' but it is as well to see what the French are doing, with a climate, in Normandy, much like our own, and with the same interest as ourselves, in building commodious and durable houses. It is pleasant to see that even French people care no longer to dim their eyesight with bare white walls; that they have had enough of straight lines and shadeless windows; that, in short, they are beginning to appreciate the beauty of thirteenth-century work.



We have hitherto spoken principally of the architecture of Normandy, but we might well go further in our study of old ways, and suggest that there were other matters in which we might take a hint from the middle ages. First, with respect to DRESS, let us imagine by way of illustration, that two gentlemen, clad in the easy and picturesque walking costume of the times of the Huguenots 'fall to a wrestling;' they may be in fun or in earnest—it matters not—they simply divest themselves of their swords, and see, as in our illustration, with what perfect ease and liberty of limb they are able to go to work and bring every muscle of the body into play. Next, by way of contrast, let us picture to ourselves what would happen to a man under the same circumstances, in the costume of the present day. If he commenced a wrestling match with no more preparation than above (i.e. by laying down his stick, or umbrella), it would befall him first to lose his hat, next to split his coat up the back, and to break his braces; he would lose considerably in power and balance from the restraining and unnatural shape of all his clothes, he would have no firmness of foothold—his toes being useless to him in fashionable boots.

Does the comparison seem far-fetched; and is it not well to make the contrast, if it may lead, however slightly, to a consideration of our own deformities? We believe that the time is coming when a great modification in the dress of our younger men will be adopted, if only for health and economy; it will come with the revival, or more general practice, of such games as singlestick, wrestling, and the like, and with an improved system of physical education. It sounds little better than a mockery to speak of deeds of valour and personal prowess, whilst we submit to confine our limbs in garments that cramp the frame and resist every healthy movement of the body. We must not go farther into the question in these pages, but we may ask—were there as many narrow-shouldered, weak-chested, delicate men, in the days when every gentleman knew how to use a sword?[60]

The extravagances and vagaries of modern costume (for which we can find no precedent in the comparative ignorance and barbarism of the middle ages) lead to the conviction that there must be a great change, if only as a question of health. Travellers who have been in Spain, notice with surprise that the men are wrapt literally 'up to their eyes,' in their cloaks, whilst the women walk abroad in the bitter wind with only a lace veil over their heads and shoulders; but the disproportionate amount of clothing that modern society compels men and women to wear in the same room seems equally absurd.[61]

And yet there must be some extraordinary fascination in the prevailing dress, that induces nearly every European nation to give up its proper costume and to be (as the saying is) 'like other people.' There is an old adage that you cannot touch pitch without being defiled, and with the people of whom we have been speaking, it certainly has its application. What is the Normandy peasant's pride on high days and holidays in the year 1869, but to put on a 'frock coat' and a chapeau noir; to throw away the costume that his fathers wore, to bid farewell to colour, character, and freedom of limb, to don the livery of a high civilization, and to become (to our poor understanding) anything but the 'noblest work of God.'

Again, in the little matter of WRITING, may we not learn something by looking back three or four hundred years—were not our ancestors a little more practical than ourselves? Did the monks of the middle ages find it necessary, in order to express a single word on paper or parchment, to make the pen (as we do) travel over a distance of eight or ten inches?[62] Here are two words,



one written by a lady, educated in the 'pot-hook-and-hanger' school, and another, the autograph of William of Malmesbury, an historian of the twelfth century. Is the modern method of writing much more legible than the old—is it more easily or quickly written; and might not we adopt some method of writing, by which to express our meaning in a letter, at less length than thirty feet?

We might add something about our misuse of words (as compared with the habit of 'calling a spade a spade' in the writings of the old chroniclers), about our unnecessary complications, and the number of words required to express an idea in these days; and suggest another curious consideration, as to how such prolixity affects our thoughts and actions.[63] Is it of no moment to be able to express our thoughts quickly and easily? Does it help the Bavarian peasant-boy to comprehend the fact of the sun's rising over his native hills, that ten consonants, in the poetic word morgenlandisch have to travel through his mind?

These things may be considered by many of slight importance, and that if they are wrong, they are not very easily remedied; but in architecture and costume we have the remedy in our own hands. Why—it may be asked in conclusion—do we cling to costume, and prize so much the old custom of distinctive dress? Because it bears upon its forehead the mark of truth; because, humble or noble, it is at least, what it appears to be; because it gives a silent but clear assurance (in these days so sadly needed) that a man's position in life is what he makes it appear to be; that, in short, there is nothing behind the scenes, nothing to be discovered or hunted out. It is the relic of a really 'good old time,' when a uniform or a badge of office was a mark of honour, when the bourgeoisie were proud of their simple estate, and domestic service was indeed what its name implies. We cling to costume and regret its disappearance, when (to use a familiar illustration) we compare the French bonne in a white cap, with her English contemporary with a chignon and the airs of 'my lady.'

But distinctive costumes, like the old buildings, are disappearing everywhere, and with them even the traditions seem to be dying out. Queen Matilda (we are soon to be told) never worked the Bayeux Tapestry, and Joan of Arc was not burnt at Rouen! The old world banners are being torn down one by one—facts which were landmarks in history are proved to be fiction by the Master of the Rolls; we close the page almost in despair, and with the words coming to our lips, 'there is nothing true under the sun.'



CHAPTER XII.

THE WATERING PLACES OF NORMANDY.

'Trouville est une double extrait de Paris—la vie est une fete, et le costume une mascarade.'—Conty.

The watering-places of Normandy are so well known to English people that there is little that is new to be said respecting them; at the same time any description of this country would not be considered complete without some mention of the sea-coast.

The principal bathing places on the north coast are the following, commencing from the east:—DIEPPE, FECAMP, ETRETAT, TROUVILLE and DEAUVILLE, VILLERS-SUR-MER, HOULGATE, CABOURG, and CHERBOURG. We will say a few words about Trouville and Etretat (as representative places) and conclude with some statistics, in an APPENDIX, which may be useful to travellers.

Life at Trouville is the gayest of the gay: it is not so much to bathe that we come here, as because on this fine sandy shore near the mouth of the Seine, the world of fashion and delight has made its summer home; because here we can combine the refinements, pleasures, and 'distractions' of Paris with northern breezes, and indulge without restraint in those rampant follies that only a Frenchman, or a Frenchwoman, understands. It is a pretty, graceful, and rational idea, no doubt, to combine the ball room with the sanatorium, and the opera with any amount of ozone; and we may well be thankful to Dumas for inventing a seaside resort at once so pleasant and so gay.

Of the daily life at Trouville and Deauville there is literally nothing new to be told; they are the best, the most fashionable, and the most extravagant of French watering-places; and there is the usual round of bathing in the early morning, breakfast at half-past ten, donkey-riding, velocipede racing, and driving in the country until the afternoon, promenade concerts and in-door games at four, dinner at six or seven (table-d'hote, if you please, where new comers are stared at with that solid, stony stare, of which only the politest nation in the world, is capable)—casino afterwards, with pleasant, mixed society, concert again and 'la danse.'

Of the fashion and extravagance at Trouville a moralist might feel inclined to say much, but we are here for a summer holiday, and we must be gay both in manner and attire. It is our business to be delighted with the varied scene of summer costume, and with all the bizarre combinations of colour that the beautiful Parisians try upon us; but it is impossible altogether to ignore the aspect of anxiety which the majority of people bring with them from Paris. They come 'possessed,' (the demon is in those huge boxes, which have caused the death of so many poor facteurs, and which the railway pours out upon us, daily); they bring their burden of extravagance with them, they take it down to the beach, they plunge into the water with it, and come up burdened as before.

Dress is the one thing needful at Trouville—in the water, or on the sands. Look at that old French gentleman, with the cross of the Legion of Honour on his breast; he is neat and clean, his dress is, in all respects, perfection; and it is difficult to say whether it is the make of his boots, the fit of his gloves, or his hat, which is most on his mind—they furnish him with food for much thought, and sometimes trouble him not a little. Of the ladies' attire what shall we say? It is all described in the last number of 'Le Follet,' and we will not attempt to compete with that authority; we will rather quote two lines from the letter of a young English lady, who thus writes home to quiet friends,—'We are all delighted with Trouville; we have to make five toilettes daily, the gentlemen are so particular.'

Of the bathing at Trouville, a book might be written on the costumes alone—on the suits of motley, the harlequins, the mephistopheles, the spiders, the 'grasshoppers green,' and the other eccentric costumes de bain—culminating in a lady's dress trimmed with death's heads, and a gentleman's, of an indescribable colour, after the pattern of a trail of seaweed. Strange, costly creatures—popping in and out of little wooden houses, seated, solitary on artificial rocks, or pacing up and down within the limits prescribed by the keeper of the show—tell us, 'Monsieur l'administrateur,' something about their habits; stick some labels into the sand with their Latin names, tell us how they manage to feather their nests, whether they 'ruminate' over their food—and we shall have added to our store of knowledge at the seaside!

It is all admirably managed ('administered' is the word), as everything of the kind is in France. In order to bathe, as the French understand it, you must study costume, and to make a good appearance in the water you must move about with the dexterity and grace required in a ball room; you must remember that you are present at a bal de mer, and that you are not in a tub. There are water velocipedes, canoes for ladies, and floats for the unskilful; fresh water for the head before bathing, and tubs of hot water afterwards for the feet, on the sands; an appreciating and admiring audience on the shore; a lounge across the sands and through the 'Etablissement,' in costumes more scanty than those of Neapolitan fish girls!

Yes, youth and beauty come to Trouville-by-the-sea; French beauty of the dresden china pattern, side by side and hand in hand, with the young English girl of the heavy Clapham type (which elderly Frenchmen adore)—all in the water together, in the prettiest dresses, 'sweetly trimmed' and daintily conceived; all joining hands, men and women having a 'merry go round' in the water—some swimming, some diving, shouting, and disporting themselves, and 'playing fantastic tricks before high heaven,'—to the admiration of a crowded beach.

'Honi soit qui mal y pense,' when English ladies join the party, and write home that 'it is delightful, that there is a refreshing disregard for what people may think at French watering-places, and a charming absence of self-consciousness that disarms criticism'! What does quiet paterfamilias think about his mermaid daughter, and of that touch about the 'absence of self-consciousness;' and would anything induce him to clothe himself in a light-green skin, to put on a pair of 'human fins,' or to perch himself on the rocks before a crowd of ladies on the beach, within a few yards of him? Yes, it is delightful—the prettiest sight and the brightest life imaginable; but is it quite the thing, we may ask, for English girls to take their tone (ever so little) from the Casino, and from the 'Guides Conty;' which they do as surely, as the caterpillar takes its colour from the leaf on which it feeds?

But the system of bathing in France is so sensible and good compared with our own; the facilities for learning to swim, the accommodation for bathers, and the accessories, are so superior to anything we know of in England, that we hardly like to hint at any drawbacks. We need not all go to Trouville (some of us cannot afford it), but we may live at most of these bathing places at less cost, and with more comfort and amusement than at home. They do manage some things better in France: at the seaside here the men dress in suits of flannel, and wear light canvas shoes habitually; the women swim, and take their children with them into the water,—floating them with gourds, which accustoms them to the water, and to the use of their limbs. At the hotels and restaurants, they provide cheap and appetizing little dinners; there is plenty of ice in hot weather, and cooling drinks are to be had everywhere: in short, in these matters the practical common sense of the French people strikes us anew, every time we set foot on their shores. Why it should be so, we cannot answer; but as long as it is so, our countrymen and countrywomen may well crowd to French watering-places.

The situation of Trouville is thus described by Blanchard Jerrold, who knows the district better than most Englishmen:—'Even the shore has been subdued to comfortable human uses; rocks have been picked out of the sand, until a carpet as smooth as Paris asphalte has been obtained for the fastidious feet of noble dames, who are the finishing bits of life and colour in the exquisite scene. Even the ribbed sand is not smooth enough; a boarded way has been fixed from the casino to the mussel banks, whither the dandy resorts to play at mussel gathering, in a nautical dress that costs a sailor's income. The great and rich have planted their Louis XIII. chateaux, their 'maisons mauresques' and 'pavillons a la renaissance,' so closely over the available slopes, round about the immense and gaudily-appointed Casino, and the Hotel of the Black Rocks, that it has been found necessary to protect them with masonry of more than Roman strength. From these works of startling force, and boldness of design, the view is a glorious one indeed. To the right stretches the white line of Havre, pointed with its electric phare; to the left, the shore swells and dimples, and the hills, in gentle curves, rise beyond. Deauville is below, and beyond—a flat, formal place of fashion, where ladies exhibit the genius of Worth to one another, and to the astonished fishermen.

Imagine a splendid court playing at seaside life; imagine such a place as Watteau would have designed, with inhabitants as elegantly rustic as his, and you imagine a Trouville. It is the village of the millionaire—the stage whereon the duchess plays the hoyden, and the princess seeks the exquisite relief of being natural for an hour or two. No wonder every inch of the rock is disputed; there are so many now in the world who have sipped all the pleasures the city has to give. Masters of the art of entering a drawing-room, the Parisians crowd seaward to get the sure foot of the mussel-gatherer upon the slimy granite of a bluff Norman headland; they bring their taste with them, and they get heartiness in the bracing air. The salon of the casino, at the height of the season, is said to show at once the most animated and diverting assemblage of Somebodies to be seen in the world.'

DEAUVILLE, separated only by the river Touques, is a place of greater pretension even than Trouville. It is, however, quite in its infancy; it was planned for a handsome and extensive watering-place, but the death of the Duc de Morny has stopped its growth,—large tracts of land, in what should be the town, still lying waste. It is quiet compared with Trouville, select and 'aristocratic,' and boasts the handsomest casino in France; it is built for the most part upon a sandy plain, but the houses are so tastefully designed, and so much has been made of the site, that (from some points of view) it presents, with its background of hills, a singularly picturesque appearance.

No matter how small or uninteresting the locality, if it is to be fashionable, il n'y aura point de difficulte. If there are no natural attractions, the ingenious and enterprising speculator will provide them; if there are no trees, he will bring them,—no rocks, he will manufacture them,—no river, he will cut a winding canal,—no town, he will build one,—no casino, he will erect a wooden shed on the sands!

But of all the bathing-places on the north coast of Normandy the little fishing-village of ETRETAT will commend itself most to English people, for its bold coast and bracing air. Situated about seventeen miles north-east of Havre, shut in on either side by rocks which form a natural arch over the sea, the little bay of Etretat—with its brilliant summer crowd of idlers and its little group of fishermen who stand by it in all weathers—is one of the quaintest of the nooks and corners of France.

There is a homelike snugness and retirement about the position of Etretat, and a mystery about the caves and caverns—extending for long distances under its cliffs—which form an attraction that we shall find nowhere else. Since Paris has found it out, and taken it by storm as it were, the little fishermen's village has been turned into a gay parterre; its shingly beach lined with chairs a volonte, and its shores smoothed and levelled for delicate feet. The Casino and the Etablissement are all that can be desired; whilst pretty chalets and villas are scattered upon the hills that surround the town. There is scarcely any 'town' to speak of; a small straggling village, with the remains of a Norman church, once close to the sea (built on the spot where the people once watched the great flotilla of William the Conqueror drift eastward to St. Valery), and on the shore, old worn-out boats, thatched and turned into fishermen's huts and bathing retreats.

Etretat has its peculiar customs; the old fisher-women, who assume the more profitable occupation of washerwomen during the summer, go down to the shore as the tide is ebbing, and catch the spring water on its way to the sea; scooping out the stones, and making natural washing-tubs of fresh water close to the sea—a work of ten minutes or so, which is all washed away by the next tide. At Etretat almost everybody swims and wears a costume of blue serge, trimmed with scarlet, or other bright colour; and everybody sits in the afternoon in the gay little bay, purchases shell ornaments and useless souvenirs, sips coffee or ices, and listens to the band. For a very little place, without a railway, and with only two good hotels, Etretat is wonderfully lively and attractive; and the drives in the neighbourhood add to its natural attractions.

The show is nearly over for the season, at Etretat, by the time we leave it; the puppets are being packed up for Paris, and even the boxes that contained them will soon be carted away to more sheltered places. It is late in September, and the last few bathers are making the most of their time, and wandering about on the sands in their most brilliant attire; but their time is nearly over, Etretat will soon be given up to the fishermen again—like the bears in the high Pyrenees, that wait at the street corners of the mountain towns, and scramble for the best places after the visitors have left, the natives of Etretat are already preparing to return to their winter quarters.

It is the finest weather of the year, and the setting sun is brilliant upon the shore; a fishing-boat glides into the bay, and a little fisher-boy steps out upon the sands. He comes down towards us, facing the western sun, with such a glory of light about his head, such a halo of fresh youth, and health, as we have not seen once this summer, in the 'great world.' His feet are bare, and leave their tiny impress on the sand—a thousand times more expressive than any Parisian boot; his little bronzed hands are crystallized with the salt air; his dark-brown curls are flecked with sea-foam, and flutter in the evening breeze; his face is radiant—a reflection of the sun, a mystery of life and beauty half revealed.

After all we have seen and heard around us, it is like turning, with a thankful sense of rest, from the contemplation of some tricky effect of colour, to a painting by Titian or Velasquez; it is, in an artistic sense, transition from darkness to light—from the glare of the lamp to the glory of the true day.



APPENDIX TO NORMANDY PICTURESQUE.

Sketch of Route, showing the Distances, Fares, &c., to and from the principal Places in Normandy.

TRAVELLING EXPENSES over the whole of this Route (including the journey from London to Havre, or Dieppe, and back) do not amount to more than 4l. 4s. first class, and need not exceed 3l. 10s. (see p. 240). HOTEL EXPENSES average about 10s. a day.

Thus it is possible to accomplish month's tour for L20, and one of two months for L35.

There are no good hotels in Normandy (excepting at the seaside) according to modern ideas of comfort and convenience. CAEN, AVRANCHES, and ROUEN may be mentioned as the best places at which to stay, en route.

Havre to Pont Audemer.—Steamboat direct.—Fare 2frs. Or via Honfleur or Trouville, by boat and diligence.

Dieppe to Pont Audemer.—Railway (via Rouen and Glosmontfort) 65 miles. Fare, first class, 12frs. 50c. (10s.)

PONT AUDEMER (Pop. 6000). Hotels: Pot d'Etain (old-fashioned in style, but no longer in prices); Lion d'Or.

Pont Audemer to Lisieux.—Diligence. Distance, 22 miles.—Or by Ry. 43 miles; fare, 8frs. 50c. (7s.) Fare.[64]

LISIEUX (Pop. 13,000). Hotels: de France, (on a quiet boulevard, with garden); d'Espagne, &c.

Lisieux to Caen.—Railway, 30 miles. Fare, 5frs. 50c. (4s. 6d.)

CAEN (Pop. 44,000). Hotels: d'Angleterre, (well-managed, central, and bustling); d'Espagne, &c.

Caen to Bayeux.—Railway, 19 miles. Fare, 3frs. 40c. (2s. 9d.)

BAYEUX (Pop. 9,500). Hotels: du Luxembourg, Grand Hotel, &c.

Bayeux to St. Lo.—Railway 28 miles. Fare, 5frs. (4s.)

[Bayeux to Cherbourg. Rly. 63 miles. Fare, 11frs. 40s. (9s. 6d.)]

[For Hotels, &c., see App., p. iv.]

ST. LO (Pop. 10,000). Hotel: du Soleil Levant (quiet and commercial.)

St. Lo to Coutances.—Diligence, 16 miles.

COUTANCES (Pop. 9000). Hotels: de France, du Dauphin, &c. (indifferent).

Coutances to Granville.—Diligence, 18 miles.

GRANVILLE (Pop. 17,000). Hotels: du Nord (large and bustling, crowded with English from the Channel Islands); Trois Couronnes, &c. (See p. 123.)

Granville to Avranches.—Diligence, 16 miles.

AVRANCHES (Pop. 9000). Hotels: d'Angleterre, de Bretagne, &c. (accustomed to English people.)

[Excursion to Mont St. Michel and back in one day; Carriage, 15frs, (12s. 6d.). Distance, 10 miles; or by Pont Orson (the best route), 13 miles.]

Avranches to Vire.—Diligence, 36 miles (via Mortain).

VIRE (Pop. 8000). Hotel: du Cheval Blanc.

[Mortain to Domfront. Diligence, 17 miles. (Pop. 3000.) Hotel de la Poste.]

Vire to Falaise.—Diligence, 34 miles [or by Rly. 65 miles. Fare, 12frs. (9s. 9d.)]

FALAISE (Pop. 9000). Hotels: de Normandie, &c. (All commercial.)

Falaise to Rouen.—Rly. 83 miles (via Mezidon and Serquiny). Fare, 15frs. 50c. (12s. 6d.)

[At Serquiny turn off to Evreux, 26 miles. Fare from Serquiny, 4frs. 60c. (3s. 9d.) Hotel: Grand Cerf.]

ROUEN (Pop. 103,000). Hotels: d'Angleterre, d'Albion, &c. (none first-rate, generally full of English people.)

Rouen to Havre by the Seine; or by Rly.



List of the WATERING-PLACES OF NORMANDY, from east to west, with a few notes for Visitors.

Dieppe (Pop. 20,000).—Busy seaport town—fashionable and expensive during the season—good accommodation facing the sea—pretty rides and drives in the neighbourhood—shingly beach, bracing air.

HOTELS: Royal, des Bains, de Londres, &c. Ry. to Paris.

Fecamp (13,000).—A dull uninteresting town, inns second-rate and dear, in summer—situated on a river, the town reaching for nearly a mile inland.

HOTELS: de la Plage, des Bains, Chariot d'Or. Ry. to Paris.

Etretat (2000).—Romantic situation—bracing air—rocky coast—shingly beach—only two good hotels—a few villas and apartments—no town—very amusing for a time.

HOTELS: Blanquet, Hauville, Dil. to Fecamp, and Havre.

Havre (75,000).—Large and important seaport on the right bank of the Seine—harbour, docks, warehouses, fine modern buildings, streets, and squares—picturesque old houses and fishing-boats on the quay—bathing not equal to Dieppe or Trouville.

HOTELS: de l'Europe, de l'Amiraute, &c., and Frascati's on the sea-shore. Ry. to Paris; Steamboats to Trouville, &c.

Honfleur (10,000).—Opposite Havre, on the Seine—old and picturesque town—pleasant walks—English society—sea-bathing, "mais quels bains," says Conty, "bains impossible!" Living is not dear for residents.

HOTELS: du Cheval Blanc, de la Paix, &c. Ry. to Paris.

Trouville (5000 or 6000).—Fashionable and very dear at the best hotels—ample accommodation to suit all purses—good sands—splendid casino—handsome villas, and plenty of apartments. Less bracing than Dieppe or Etretat.

HOTELS: Roches-Noires, Paris, Bras d'Or, &c. Ry. to Paris.

Deauville.—A scattered assemblage of villas and picturesque houses—very exclusive and select, and dull for a stranger—grand casino—quite a modern town—separated from Trouville by the river Touques.

HOTELS: Grand, du Casino, &c. Ry. to Paris.

Villers-sur-mer.—A pretty village, six miles from Trouville—crowded during the season—beautiful neighbourhood—good apartments, but expensive—inns moderate.

HOTELS: du Bras d'Or, Casino, &c. Ry. to Paris.

Houlgate.—One large hotel surrounded by pretty and well-built chalets to be let furnished; also many private villas in gardens—beautiful situation—good sands—small Casino—becoming fashionable and dear—accommodation limited. Dil. to Trouville, 11 miles.

Beuzeval.—A continuation of Houlgate, westward; lower, near the mouth of the Dives—one second-rate hotel close to the sands—quiet and reasonable—sea recedes half-a-mile (no boating at Houlgate or Beuzeval)—beautiful neighbourhood—a few villas and apartments—no Etablissement. Dil. to Trouville or Caen.

Cabourg.—A small, but increasing, town in a fine open situation on the left bank of the Dives—good accommodation and moderate—not as well known as it deserves to be. HOTELS: de la Plage, Casino, &c. Dil. do. do.

[Then follow nine or ten minor sea-bathing places, situated north of Caen and Bayeux, in the following order:—Lies, Luc, Lasgrune, St, Aubin, Coutances, Aromanches, Auxelles, Vierville, and Grandcamp; where accommodation is more or less limited, and board and lodging need not cost more than seven or eight francs a-day in the season. They are generally spoken of in French guide-books as, 'bien tristes sans ressources;' 'fit only for fathers of families'! St. Aubin, about twelve miles from Caen, is one of the best.]

Cherbourg (42,000).—Large, fortified town—bold coast—good bathing—splendid views from the heights—wide streets and squares—docks and harbours—hotels—good and dear. HOTELS: l'Univers, l'Amiraute, &c. Ry. to Paris.

Granville.—See pp. 122 and following; also Appendix, p. ii.

* * * * *

The average charge at seaside hotels in Normandy, during the season (if taken by the week) is 8 or 9 francs a-day, for sleeping accommodation and the two public meals; nearly everything else being charged for 'extra.' At Trouville, Deauville, and Dieppe, 10 or 12 francs is considered 'moderate.' Furnished houses and apartments can be had nearly everywhere, and at all prices. The sum of 10l. or 15l. a week is sometimes paid at Trouville, or Deauville, for a furnished house. Conty's guide-book, 'Les Cotes de Normandie,' should be recommended for its very practical information on these matters, but not for its illustrations.

London, May, 1870.



FOOTNOTES:

[1] We have not put CHERBOURG, DOMFRONT, or EVREAUX, as a matter of course, on our list, although they should be included in a tour, especially the two latter towns, for their archaeological interest.

[2] The same remark applies to Mantes, familiar to us from its historical associations, and by its graceful towers, which so many have seen from the railway in going to Paris. "All the world goes by Mantes, but very few stop there," writes a traveller. "The tourist, on his way to Paris, generally has a ticket which allows him to stop at Rouen but not at Mantes. People very anxious to stop at Mantes, and to muse, so to speak, amongst its embers, have had great searchings of heart how to get there, and have not accomplished their object until after some years of reflection."

[3] Trouville and Deauville-sur-mer.

[4] The architecture of Rouen, which is better known to our countrymen than that of any other town in Normandy, is later than that of Caen or Bayeux. Notwithstanding the magnificence of its cathedral, we venture to say that there is nothing in all Rouen to compare with the norman romanesque of the latter towns.

[5] 'I am not enthusiastic about gutters and gables, and object to a population composed exclusively of old women,' wrote the author of 'Miss Carew;' but she could not have seen Pont Audemer.

[6] The brightness and cleanliness of the peasant and market-women, is a pleasant feature to notice in Normandy.

[7] It is worthy of note that the very variety and irregularity that attracts us so much in these buildings does not meet with universal approval in the French schools. In the 'Grammaire des Arts du Dessin,' M. Charles Blanc lays down as an axiom, that "sublimity in architecture belongs to three essential conditions—simplicity of surface, straightness, and continuity of line." Nevertheless we find many modern French houses built in the style of the 13th and 14th century; especially in Lower Normandy.

[8] There is a great change in the aspect of Pont Audemer during the last year or two; streets of new houses having sprung up, hiding some of the best old work from view; and one whole street of wooden houses having been lately taken down.

[9] There is one peculiarity about the position of Pont Audemer which is charming to an artist; the streets are ended by hills and green slopes, clothed to their summits with trees, which are often in sunshine, whilst the town is in shadow.

[10] We, human creatures, little know what high revel is held at four o'clock on a summer's morning, by the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; when their tormentors are asleep.

[11] The approach to Lisieux from the railway station is singularly uninteresting; a new town of common red brick houses, of the Coventry or Birmingham pattern, having lately sprung up in this quarter.

[12] There is something not inappropriate, in the printed letters in present use in France, to the 'Haussmann' style of street architecture; some inscriptions over warehouses and shops could scarcely indeed be improved. We might point as an illustration of our meaning to the successful introduction of the word NORD, several times repeated, on the facade of the terminus of the Great Northern Railway at Paris.

[13] We lately saw an english crest, bearing the motto "Courage without fear;" a piece of tautology, surely of modern manufacturer?

[14] The contrast between the present and former states of society might be typified by the general substitution of the screw for the nail in building; both answering the purpose of the modern builder, but the former preferred, because removable at pleasure.

It is a restless age, in which advertisements of 'FAMILIES REMOVED' are pasted on the walls of a man's house without appearing to excite his indignation.

[15] The 'renaissance' work at the east end of this church is considered by Herr Luebke to be 'the masterpiece of the epoch.' 'It is to be found,' he says, 'at one extremity of a building, the other end of which is occupied by the loveliest steeple and tower in the world.'

[16] It is remarkable that with all their care for this building, the authorities should permit apple-stalls and wooden sheds to be built up against the tower.

[17] An architect, speaking of the Albert Memorial, now approaching completion, says:—'In ten years the spire and all its elaborate tracery will have become obsolete and effaced for all artistic purposes. The atmosphere of London will have performed its inevitable function. Every 'scroll work' and 'pinnacle' will be a mere clot of soot, and the bronze gilt Virtues will represent nothing but swarthy denizens of the lower regions; the plumage of the angels will be converted into a sort of black-and-white check-work. 'All this fated transformation we see with the mind's eye as plainly as we see with those of the body, the similar change which has been effected in the Gothic tracery of some of our latest churches.'

[18] The old woman is well known at Caen, and her encounter with the 'garcon anglais' it matter of history amongst her friends in the town.

[19] It was lately found necessary to repair the south door; but the restoration of the carved work has been effected with the utmost skill and care: indeed we could hardly point to a more successful instance of 'restoring' in France.

[20] We might point, as a notable exception, to the memorial window to Brunel, the engineer, in Westminster Abbey; especially for its appropriateness and harmony with the building.

[21] The raconteurs of the middle ages used to travel on foot about Europe, reciting, or repeating, the last new work or conversation of celebrated men—a useful and lucrative profession in days before printing was invented.

[22] In the British Museum there is a book containing a facsimile of the whole of this tapestry (printed in colours, for the Society of Antiquaries), where the reader may see it almost as well as at Bayeux; just as, at the Crystal Palace, we may examine the modelling of Ghiberti's gates, with greater facility than by standing in the windy streets of Florence.

[23] The sketch of the pulpit (made on the spot by the author) is erroneously stated in the List of Illustrations to be from a photograph.

[24] At the cathedral at Coutances the service is held under the great tower, and the effect is most melodious from above.

[25] In an article in the Pall Mall Gazette, on the 'woman of the future,' the writer argues that:—'As beauty is more or less a matter of health, too much can never be said against the abuse of it. Quite naturally the fragile type of beauty has become the standard of the present day, and men admire in real lift the lily-cheeked, small-waisted, diaphanous-looking creatures idealized by living artists. When we become accustomed to a nobler kind of beauty we shall attain to a loftier ideal. Men will seek nobility rather than prettiness, strength rather than weakness, physical perfection rather than physical degeneracy, in the women they select as mothers of their children. Artists will rejoice and sculptors will cease to despair when this happy consummation is reached—let none regard it as chimerical or Utopian.'

[26] The railway from Paris to Granville is nearly finished; and another line is in progress to connect Cherbourg, Coutances, Granville, and St. Malo.

[27] If this were the place to enlarge upon the general question of bringing children abroad to be educated, we might suggest, at the outset, that there were certain English qualities, such as manliness and self-reliance; and certain English sports, such as cricket, hunting and the like, which have less opportunity of fair development in boys educated abroad. And as to girls—who knows the impression left for life on young hearts, by the dead walls and silent trees of a French pension?

[28] It is well that sportsmen do not always make a good bag, for another drawback to the pleasures of sport in France is the 'heavy octroi duty which a successful shot has to pay upon every head of game which he takes back to town.' For a pheasant (according to the latest accounts) he has to pay '3f. 50c. to 4f.; for a hare, 1f. 50c. to 2f.; for a rabbit, 75c. to 1f. 25c.; for a partridge, 75c. to 1f. 50c. the pound; and for every other species of feathered game, 18c. the kilogramme.'

[29] The island, in this illustration, appears, after engraving, to be about two miles nearer the spectator, and to be less covered with houses, than it really is.

[30] During the last few years the prisoners have all been removed from Mont St. Michael.

[31] The sands are so shifting and variable, that it is impossible to cross with safety, excepting by well-known routes, and at certain times of the tide; many lives, even of the fishermen and women, have been lost on these sands.

[32] It a irresistible, here, not to compare in our minds, with these twelfth-century relics of magnificence and festivity, certain emblazoned 'civic banquets,' and the gay 'halls by the sea,' with which the child (old or young) of the nineteenth century is enraptured—the former being the realities of a chivalrous epoch; the latter, masquerades or money speculations, of a more advanced century. The comparison may be considered unjust, but it is one that suggests itself again and again, as typical of a curiously altered state of society and manners.

[33] The latest, and perhaps the most complete, description of Mont St Michael, will be found in the 'People's Magazine' for August, 1869.

[34] French artists flock together in the valleys of the Seine and the Somme, like English landscape painters at the junction of the Greta and the Tees—Mortain and Vire not being yet fashionable. It is hard, indeed, to get English artists out of a groove; to those who, like ourselves, have had to examine the pictures at our annual Exhibitions, year by year, somewhat closely, the streams in Wales are as familiar on canvas, as 'Finding the Body of Harold.'

[35] We speak of Mortain as we found it a few years ago; its sanitory arrangements have, we understand, been improved, but people are not yet enthusiastic about Mortain as a residence.

[36] Notwithstanding this apparent indifference to landscape, we remember finding at a country inn, the walls covered with one of Troyon's pictures (a hundred times repeated in paper-hanging); a pretty pastoral scene which Messrs. Christie would have catalogued as 'a landscape with cattle.'

[37] The neatness and precision with which they make their piles of stones at the roadside will be remembered by many a traveller in this part of Normandy. They accomplish it by putting the stones into a shape (as if making a jelly), and removing the boards when full; and, as there are no French boys, the loose pile remains undisturbed for months.

[38] Submitting to the exigencies of publishing expediency, we have been unable to have this drawing reproduced on wood; although we were anxious to draw attention to the bold forms of rocks which crown these heights, and to the line old trees which surround the castle.

[39] There are' deeds of valour' (according to the affiches) to be witnessed in these days at Falaise; we once saw a woman here, in a circus, turning somersaults on horseback before a crowd of spectators. The people of Falaise cannot be accused of being behind the age; one gentleman advertises as his specialite,' the cure of injuries caused by velocipedes'!

[40] Our peaceful proclivities may be noticed in small things; the fierce and warlike devices, such as an eagle's head, a lion rampant, and the like, which were originally designed to stimulate the warrior in battle, now serve to adorn the panel of a carriage, or a sheet of note-paper.

[41] It is rather a curious fact that Prout, notwithstanding his love for historic scenes, seems to have had little sympathy with the poor 'Maid of Orleans.' In a letter which accompanied the presentation of this drawing, the following passage occurs:—'I beg your acceptance of what is miserable, though perhaps not uninteresting, as it is part of the house in which Joan of Arc was confined at Rouen, and before which the English, very wisely, burnt her for a witch!'

Mr. Prout evidently differed in opinion from Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Bauvais, who presided at the tribunal which condemned Joan of Arc to death; for he founded a Lady Chapel at Lisieux, 'in expiation of his false judgment of an innocent woman.'

[42] It is curious to note that the wealth of cities nearly always flow westward,—converting, as in London, the market-gardens of the poor into the 'Palace Gardens' of the rich; and, with steady advance, sweeps away our landmarks,—turning the gravel pits of western London into the decorum of a Ladbroke-square.

[43] It is no new remark that more than one Englishman of artistic taste has returned to Rouen after visiting the buildings of Paris, having found nothing equal in grandeur to this cathedral, and the church of St. Ouen.

[44] The original spire was made of wood, and much more picturesque; our artist evidently could not bring himself to copy with literal truth this disfiguring element to the building.

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