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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Vol. I. (of 2) by Dawson Turner

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cathedral, where Pommeraye[76] tells us the tomb existed in his time;
with a bell engraved upon it, and the following epitaph:--

"Cy-dessous gist Jean le Machon
De Chartres homme de facon
Lequel fondit Georges d'Amboise
Qui trente six mille livres poise
Mil cinq cens un jour d'Aoust deuxieme
Puis mourut le vingt et unieme."

Nor was this the only misfortune; for, after all, this great bell
proved, like a great book, a great nuisance: the sound it uttered was
scarcely audible; and, at last, in an attempt to render it vocal, upon a
visit paid by Louis XVIth to Rouen in 1786, it was cracked[77]. It
continued, however, to hang, a gaping-stock to children and strangers,
till the revolution, in 1793, caused it to be returned to the furnace,
whence it re-issued in the shape of cannon and medals, the latter
commemorating the pristine state of the metal with the humiliating
legend, "monument de vanite detruit pour l'utilite[78]."

Some of the clerestory windows on the northern side of the nave are
circular: the tracery which fills them, and the mouldings which surround
them, belong to the pointed style; the arches may therefore have been
the production of an earlier architect. The windows of the nave are
crowned by pediments, each terminating, not with a pinnacle, but with a
small statue. The pediments over the windows of the choir are larger
and bolder, and perforated as they rise above the parapet; the members
of the mouldings are full, and produce a fine effect.

The northern transept is approached through a gloomy court, once
occupied by the shops of the transcribers and caligraphists, the
_libraires_ of ancient times, and from them it has derived its name. The
court is entered beneath a gate-way of beautiful and singular
architecture, composed of two lofty pointed arches of equal height,
crowned by a row of smaller arcades. On each side are the walls of the
archiepiscopal palace, dusky and shattered, and desolate; and the vista
terminates by the lofty _Portal of St. Romain_; for it is thus the great
portal of the transept is denominated. The oaken valves are bound with
ponderous hinges and bars of wrought iron, of coeval workmanship. The
bars are ornamented with embossed heads, which have been hammered out of
the solid metal. The statues which stood on each side of the arch-way
have been demolished; but the pedestals remain. These, as well as other
parts of the portal, are covered with sculptured compartments, or
medallions, in high preservation, and of the most singular character.
They exhibit an endless variety of fanciful monsters and animals, of
every shape and form, mermaids, tritons, harpies, woodmen, satyrs, and
all the fabulous zoology of ancient geography and romance; and each
spandril of each quatrefoil contains a lizard, a serpent, or some other
worm or reptile. They have all the oddity, all the whim, and all the
horror of the pencil of Breughel. Human groups and figures are
interspersed, some scriptural, historical, or legendary; others mystical
and allegorical. Engravings from these medallions would form a volume
of uncommon interest. Two lofty towers ornament the transept, such as
are usually seen only at the western front of a cathedral. The upper
story of each is perforated by a gigantic window, divided by a single
mullion, or central pillar, not exceeding one foot in circumference, and
nearly sixty feet in height. These windows are entirely open, and the
architect never intended that they should be glazed. An extraordinary
play of light and shade results from this construction. The rose window
in the centre of the transept is magnificent: from within, the painted
glass produces the effect of a kaleidoscope.--The pediment or gable of
this transept was materially injured by a storm, in 1638, one hundred
and thirty years after it was completed; and the damage was never

The southern transept bears a near resemblance to that which I have
already described; but it was originally richer in its ornaments, and it
still preserves some of its statues. Here the medallions relate chiefly
to scripture-history; but the sculpture is greatly corroded by the
weather, and the more delicate parts are nearly obliterated; besides
which, as well here, as at the other entrances, the Calvinists, in 1562,
and, more recently, the Revolutionists, have been most mischievously
destructive, mutilating and decapitating without mercy. The spirit,
indeed, of the French reformers, bore a near resemblance to the
proceedings of John Knox and his brethren: the people embraced the new
doctrine with turbulent violence. There was in it nothing moderate,
nothing gradual: it was not the regular flow of public opinion,
undermining abuses, and bringing them slowly to their fall; but it was
the thunderbolt, which--

"In sua templa furit, nullaque exire vetante
Materia, magnamque cadens magnamque revertens
Dat stragem late sparsosque recolligit ignes."

Among the legends recorded on the southern portal, or the _Portail de la
Calende_, is that of the corn-merchant; the confiscation of whose
property paid, as the chronicles tell us, for the erection of this
beautiful entrance. He himself, if we may believe the same authority,
was hanged in the street opposite to it, in consequence of having been
detected in the use of false measures.

The original Lady-Chapel, at the east end of the cathedral, was taken
down in 1302. The present, which is considerably more spacious, is
chiefly of a date immediately subsequent. Part, however, was built in
1430, when new and larger windows were inserted throughout the church;
whilst other parts were not finished till 1538, at which time the
Cardinal Georges d'Amboise restored the roof of the choir, which had
been injured in 1514, by the destruction of the spire.

The square central tower, which is low and comparatively plain, is the
work of the year 1200. It is itself more ancient than would be supposed
from the character of its architecture; but it occupies the place of one
of still greater antiquity, which was materially damaged in 1117, when
the original spire of the church was struck by lightning. This first
spire was of stone, but was replaced by another of wood, which, as I
have just mentioned, was also destroyed at the beginning of the
sixteenth century. A fire, arising from the negligence of plumbers
employed to repair the lead-work, was the cause of its ruin.--To remedy
the misfortune, recourse was had to extraordinary efforts: the King
contributed twelve thousand francs; the chapter a portion of their
revenue and their plate; collections were made throughout the kingdom;
and Leo Xth authorised the sale of indulgences, a measure, which, at
nearly the same period, in its more extensive adoption for the building
of St. Peter's at Rome, shook the Papacy to its foundation. The spire
thus raised, the second of wood, but the third in chronological order,
is the one which is now in existence. It was, like its predecessor,
endangered by the carelessness of the plumbers, in 1713; but it does not
appear to have required any material reparations till ten years ago,
when a sum of thirty thousand francs was expended upon it.

From what has already been said, you will not have failed to observe
that this cathedral is the work of so many different periods, that it
almost contains within itself a history of pointed architecture. To
attempt a labored description of it were idle: minute details of any one
of the portals would fill a moderate volume; and a quarto of seven
hundred pages, from which I have borrowed most of my dates, has already
been written upon the subject by a Benedictine Monk of the name of
Pommeraye, who also published the history of the Archbishops of the

The first church at Rouen was built about the year 270: three hundred
and thirty years subsequently, this edifice was succeeded by another,
the joint work of St. Romain and St. Ouen, which was burned in the
incursions of the Normans, about the year 842. Fifty years of Paganism
succeeded; at the expiration of which period, Rollo embraced the faith
of Christ, and Rouen saw once more within its walls, by the munificence
and piety of the conqueror, a place of Christian worship. Richard Ist,
grandson of this duke, and his son Robert, the archbishop, enlarged the
edifice in the middle of the tenth century; but it was still not
completed till 1063, when, according to Ordericus Vitalis, it was
dedicated by the Archbishop Maurilius with great pomp, in the presence
of William, Duke of Normandy, and the bishops of the province. Of this
building, however, notwithstanding what is said by Ducarel[80] and other
authors, it is certain that nothing more remains than the part of St.
Romain's tower, just noticed, and possibly two of the western entrances;
though the present structure is believed to occupy the same spot.

To the honor of the spirit and good feeling of the inhabitants of Rouen,
this church is one of those that suffered least in the outrages of the
year 1793. Its dimensions, in French feet, are as follows:--


Length of the interior.............. 408
Width of ditto....................... 83
Length of nave...................... 210
Width of nave........................ 27
Ditto of aisles...................... 15
Length of choir..................... 110
Width of ditto....................... 35-1/2
Ditto of transept.................... 25-1/2
Length of ditto..................... 164
Ditto of Lady-Chapel................. 88
Width of ditto....................... 28
Height of spire..................... 380
Ditto of towers at the west end..... 230
Ditto of nave........................ 84
Ditto of aisles and chapels.......... 42
Ditto of interior of central tower.. 152
Depth of chapels..................... 10

Four clustered pillars support the central tower, each of which is
thirty-eight feet in circumference; the rest, of which there are
forty-four in the nave and choir, those in the former clustered, the
others circular, are less by one-third. The windows amount in number to
one hundred and thirty-three; the chapels to twenty-five. Most of the
latter were fitted up during the minority of Louis XIVth, with wreathed
columns, entwined with foliage, the style in vogue in the seventeenth
century. In the farthest of these chapels, upon the south side, is the
tomb of Rollo, first Duke of Normandy; in the opposite chapel, that of
his son and successor, William Longue-Epee, who was treacherously
murdered at Pecquigny, in 944, during a conference with Arnoul, Count of

[Illustration: Monumental Figure of Rollo, in Rouen Cathedral]

The effigies of both these princes still remain placed upon sarcophagi,
under plain niches in the wall. They are certainly not contemporary
with the persons which they represent, but are probably productions of
the thirteenth century, to which period Mr. Stothard, from whose
judgment few will be disposed to appeal, refers the greater part of what
are called the most ancient in the _Musee des Monumens Francais_. At the
same time, they may possibly have been copied from others of earlier
date; and I therefore send you a slight sketch of the figure of Rollo.
Even imaginary portraits of celebrated men are not without their value:
we are interested by seeing how they have been conceived by the
artist.--Above the statue is the following inscription:--


Two other epitaphs in rhyming Latin, which were previously upon his
tomb, are recorded by various authors: the first of them began with the
three following lines--


Over William Longue-Epee is inscribed--


with an account of the removal of his bones, exactly similar to the
concluding part of his father's epitaph.

The perspective on first entering the church is very striking: the eye
ranges without interruption, through a vista of lofty pillars and
pointed arches, to the splendid altar in the Lady-Chapel, which forms at
once an admirable termination to the building and the prospect. The high
altar in the choir is plain and insulated. No other praise can be given
to the screen, except that it does not interrupt the view; for surely it
was the very consummation of bad taste to place in such an edifice, a
double row of eight modern Ionic pillars, in white marble, with the
figures of Hope and Charity between them, surmounted by a crucifix,
flanked on either side with two Grecian vases.

The interior falls upon the eye with boldness and regularity, pleasing
from its proportions, and imposing from its magnitude. The arches which
spring from the pillars of the aisles, are surmounted by a second row,
occupying the space which is usually held by the triforium: the vaulted
roof of the aisles runs to the level of the top of this upper tier. This
arrangement, which is found in other Norman churches, is almost peculiar
to these; and in England it has no parallel, except in the nave of
Waltham Abbey. Within the aisle you observe a singular combination of
small pillars, attached to the columns of the nave: they stand on a
species of bracket, which is supported by the abacus of the capital;
and they spread along the spandrils of the arches on either side. These
pillars support a kind of entablature, which takes a triangular plan.
The whole bears a near resemblance to the style of the Byzantine
architecture. Above the second row of arches are two rows of galleries.
The story containing the clerestory windows crowns the whole; so that
there are five horizontal divisions in the nave.--I give these details,
because they indicate the decided difference of order which exists
between the Norman and the English Gothic; a difference for which I have
not been able to assign any satisfactory cause.

The tombs that were originally in the choir, commemorating Charles Vth,
of France; Richard Coeur de Lion; his elder brother, Henry; and William,
son of Geoffrey Plantagenet, were all removed in 1736, as interfering
with the embellishments then in contemplation. The first of them alone
was preserved and transferred to the Lady-Chapel, where it has
subsequently fallen a victim to the revolution. The others are wholly
destroyed; nor could Ducarel find even a fragment of the effigies that
had been upon them; but engravings of these had fortunately been
preserved by Montfaucon[81], from whom he has copied them. The monument
of the celebrated John of Lancaster, third son of our Henry IVth, better
known as the Regent Duke of Bedford, had been previously annihilated by
the Calvinists. Lozenge-shaped slabs of white marble, charged with
inscriptions, were inserted in the pavement over the spots that contain
the remains of the princes, and they have been suffered to continue
uninjured through the succeeding tumults. On the right of the altar,
you read,--


On the opposite side:--


And in the choir behind the altar:--


Of Prince William nothing is said; it was found, upon opening his place
of sepulture, that he had not been interred here.--Richard strangely
received a triple funeral. In obedience to his wishes, his heart was
buried at Rouen, while his body was carried to Fontevraud, and his
entrails were deposited in the church of Chaluz, where he was
killed:--this division is commemorated in the quaint, yet energetic
lines, which are said to have been inscribed upon his tomb:--


Richard neither withheld his gifts nor his protection from the
metropolitan church; and, after his death, the chapter inclosed the
heart of their benefactor in a shrine of silver. But a hundred and fifty
years subsequently, the shrine was despoiled, and the precious metal was
melted into ingots, forming a portion of the ransom which redeemed St.
Louis from the fetters of his Saracen conqueror.

Henry the younger, who was crowned King of England during the life-time
of his father, against whom he subsequently revolted, also requested on
his death-bed, that his body might be interred in this church; and his
directions were obeyed, though not without much difficulty; for the
chapter of the cathedral of Mans, where his servants rested with the
body _in transitu_, seized and buried it there; nor did those of Rouen
recover the corpse, without application to the Pope and to the King his

A tablet of black marble, affixed to one of the pillars of the nave,
contains the following interesting memorial:


[Illustration: Monumental Figure of an Archbishop, in Rouen Cathedral]

In the northern aisle of the choir, there still exists a curious
monument, in an injured state indeed, but well deserving of attention,
from its antiquity. It has been referred by tradition to Maurice, or
William of Durefort, both of them archbishops of Rouen, and buried in
the cathedral, the former in 1237, the latter in 1331; but the recumbent
figure upon it seems of a yet more distant date. It differs in several
respects from any that I have seen in England[82]. The tomb is in the
wall, behind a range of pillars, which form a kind of open screen round
the apsis. Below the effigy, it is decorated with a row of whole-length
figures of saints, much mutilated: the circular part above is lined with
angels, a couple of whom are employed in conveying the soul of the
deceased in a winding-sheet to heaven[83].

[Illustration: Monument of an Archbishop]

The Lady-Chapel contains two monuments of great merit, and which,
considered as specimens of matured art, have now no rivals in Normandy;
for both owe their origin to a period of refinement and splendor. The
sepulchre raised over the bodies of the two Cardinals of Amboise,
successively Archbishops of Rouen, towers on the southern side of the
chapel. The statues of the cardinals are of white marble. The prelates
appear kneeling in prayer; and the following inscription, engraved in a
single line, and not divided into verses, is placed beneath them:--


Immediately behind the cardinals are figures of patron saints; a centre
tablet represents St. George and the Dragon; above are the apostles;
below, the seven cardinal virtues. The execution of these is
particularly admired, especially that of the figure of Prudence; but a
row of still smaller figures, in devotional attitudes, carved upon the
pilasters between the virtues, are in higher taste. Various arabesques
in basso-relievo, of great beauty, and completely in the style of the
_Loggie_ of Raphael, adorn the other parts of this sumptuous tomb.--As a
whole it is unquestionably grand, and it is yet farther valuable as an
illustration of the gorgeous taste that prevailed at the end of the
fifteenth century; but the mixture of black and white marble and gilding
has by no means a good effect, and every part is overloaded with
ornaments[85]. These, however, are the faults of the times: its merits
are its own.

On the north side of the chapel is entombed the Duke of Breze, once
Grand Seneschal of Normandy; his tomb is chaste and simple, forming a
pleasing contrast to the elaborate memorial of the cardinals. The statue
of the seneschal himself, represented stretched as a corpse, upon a
black marble sarcophagus, is admirable for its execution. The rigid
expression of death is visible, not only in the countenance, but extends
through every limb. Diana of Poitiers, a beauty who enjoys more
celebrity than good fame, erected the monument; and she caused her
statue to be placed on the tomb, where she is seen kneeling and
contemplating. In the following inscription she promises to be as
faithful and united to him after his death as she was while they both
lived: and she truly kept her word; for, during his life-time, she was
grievously suspected of infidelity[86], and she subsequently lived in
an open state of concubinage with Henry IInd, and was at last buried at
her own celebrated residence at Anet, twenty leagues from her husband.--


A second female figure on the tomb, with a child in her arms, has been
supposed intended to represent the nurse of the duke; as if the design
of the sculptor had been to read a lesson to mortality, by exhibiting
the warrior in the helplessness of infancy, in the vigor of manhood, and
as a breathless corpse. Some persons, however, consider it as a
personification of Charity; others suppose that it represents the Virgin
Mary. In the midst was originally an erect statue of De Breze, decorated
with the various symbols of his dignities; but this sinned beyond the
hope of redemption against the doctrines of liberty and equality, and it
was accordingly removed at the time of the revolution, together with two
inscriptions. One of them, which detailed his honors, with the addition
that he died July twenty-third, 1531, has recently been recovered by the
care of M. Riaux, and is restored to its place. The other inscription
and the effigy, it is feared, are irrevocably lost. An equestrian statue
in the upper part of the monument was suffered to remain, and, as a
record of the military costume of the sixteenth century, I annex a
sketch of it. The armorial hearings upon the horse and armor are nearly
obliterated.--The pile is surmounted a figure of Temperance; the bridle
in whose mouth shews how absurd is allegory, when "submitted to the
faithful eye."

[Illustration: Equestrian Figure of the Seneschal de Breze, in Rouen Cathedral]

Lenoir, who, in his work on the _Musee des Monumens Francais_, has
treated much at large of the history of Diana of Poitiers, and has
figured her own beautiful mausoleum, which he had the merit of rescuing
from destruction, pronounces[87] this monument to be from the hand of
Jean Cousin, one of the most able sculptors of the French school.

Over the altar in the Lady-Chapel is the only good painting in the
cathedral, the _Adoration of the Shepherds_, by Philip de Champagne, a
solid, well-colored, and well-grouped picture. Two cherubs in the air
are excellently conceived and drawn: the whole is lighted from the
infant Christ in the cradle, a _concetto_, which has been almost
universally adopted, since the time when Corregio painted his celebrated
_Notte_, now at Dresden.

There is no great quantity of painted glass in the church, but much of
it is of good quality. The windows of the choir, on either side of the
Lady-Chapel, are as rich as a profusion of brilliant colors can make
them; but the figures are so small, and so crowded, that the subjects
cannot be traced. They are said to be the work of the thirteenth
century. The painted windows in St. Stephen's chapel, of the sixteenth
century, are generally considered the best in the cathedral. I own,
however, that I should give the preference to those in the chapel of
St. Romain, in the south transept. One of them is filled with
allegorical representations of the virtues of the archbishop; another
with his miracles: every part is distinct and clear, and executed with
great force and great minuteness. The vestments of the saint have all
the delicacy of miniature-painting.

The library of the cathedral, formerly one of the richest in France,
disappeared during the revolution; but the noble room which contained
it, one hundred feet long, by twenty-five feet wide, still remains
uninjured; as does the door which led into it from the northern
transept, and which continues to this day to bear the inscription,
_Bibliotheca_. The staircase, communicating with this door, is delicate
and beautiful. The balustrades are of the most elegant filagree; and it
has all the boldness and lightness which peculiarly characterise the
French Gothic. Its date being well ascertained, we may note it as an
architectural standard. It was erected by the archbishop, Cardinal
d'Etouteville, about the year 1460, thirty or forty years subsequently
to the building of the room.

Respecting the contents of the sacristy, I can say little from my own
knowledge; but I find by Pommeraye, that, before the revolution, it
boasted of a large silver image of the Virgin, endued with peculiar
sanctity, a few drops of her milk, and a portion of her hair[88]; a
splinter of the true cross, set in gold, studded with pearls,
sapphires, and turquoises; and reliques of saints without number. Now,
however, it appears, that of all its treasures, it has preserved little
else except the shrine of St. Romain, and another known by the general
name of _Chasse des Saints_. The former is two feet six inches long, and
one foot nine inches high, and is of handsome workmanship, with a
variety of figures on the sides, and St. Romain himself at the top.
Formerly it was supposed to be made of gold; now I was assured by one of
the canons, that it is of silver gilt; but Gilbert[89], who is a plain
layman, maintains that it is only copper. Had it been otherwise, it
would have contributed to the ways and means of the unchristian
republic; but the democrats spared it, for they had well ascertained
that the metal was base, and that the jewels, which adorn it, are but
glass.--This is not the original shrine which held the precious relics:
the shrine in which they were deposited by the archbishop, William Bonne
Ame, when first brought to the cathedral, in 1090, was sold during a
famine, and its proceeds distributed to the starving poor; after which,
in 1179, Archbishop Rotrou caused another still more costly to be made;
but the latter was broken to pieces by the Calvinists, in 1562, and the
saint's body cast into the fire[90].

Thus, then, I have led you, as far as I am able; through the cathedral,
adjoining which, at the east end, stands the palace of the archbishop, a
large building, but neither handsome nor conspicuous, principally the
work of the Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, though begun by the Cardinal
d'Etouteville, in 1461. The rooms in it which are shewn to strangers are
the anti-chamber, commonly called _la salle de la Croix_, the library,
and the great gallery. This last, which is one hundred and sixty feet
long, is also known by the name of _la salle des Etats_. In it are
placed four very large paintings by Robert, an eminent French artist of
comparatively modern date. They represent the city of Rouen, the town of
Dieppe, that of Havre de Grace, and the archiepiscopal palace at
Gaillon. The view of Rouen represents in the foreground the _petit
Chateau_, and is on that account peculiarly interesting. All of them are
fine paintings, but much injured by the damp. In the anti-chamber are
portraits of seven prelates of the see, and among them those of the
Cardinal de la Rochefoucault, and M. de Tressan: our guide could name no

The present archbishop is the Cardinal Cambaceres, brother to the
ex-consul of that name, a man of moral life and regular in his religious
duties. He was placed here by Napoleon, all of whose appointments of
this nature, with one or two exceptions, have been suffered to remain;
but I need scarcely add that, though the title of archbishop is left,
and its present possessor is decorated with the Roman purple, neither
the revenue, nor the dignity, nor the establishment, resemble those of
former times. The chapter, which, before the revolution, consisted of an
archbishop, a dean, fifty canons, and ten prebendaries, besides
numberless attendants, now consists but of his eminence, with the dean,
the treasurer, the archdeacon, and twelve canons. The independent annual
income of the church, previous to the revolution, exceeded one hundred
thousand pounds sterling; but now its ministers are all salaried by
government, whose stated allowance, as I am credibly informed, is to
every archbishop six hundred and twenty-five pounds per annum; to every
bishop four hundred and sixteen pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence;
and to every canon forty-one pounds thirteen shillings and four-pence.
But each of these stipends is doubled by an allowance of the same amount
from the department; and care is taken to select men of independent
property for the highest dignities.--From the foregoing scale, you may
judge of the state of the religious establishment in France. It is,
indeed, unjustly and unreasonably depressed, and there is much room for
amendment; but we must still hope and trust that things will not soon
regain their former standard, though attempts are daily making to
identify the Catholic clergy with the present dynasty; and the most
lively expectations are entertained from the well-known character of
some of the royal family.


[71] _Bentham, History of Ely, 2nd edit_. I. p. 34.

[72] _Liverpool Panorama of Arts and Sciences_, article _Architecture_.

[73] The only views of the cathedral with which I am acquainted, are,

A single plate of the west front, 16 in. by 11-1/2in.--_Anonymous_;
. . . . . . . . . . . north side, 16 in. by 11-1/2in.--Marked _S.L.B._;
A small north-west view, engraved by Pouncey, in the first volume
of _Gough's Alien Priories_;
And the west front, on an extremely reduced; scale, in _Seroux
d'Agincourt's Histoire de l'Art par les Monumens, Architecture_,
t. 64. f. 21. p. 68.

[74] This great benefactor to Rouen died the following year, deeply
lamented by the inhabitants, and generally so by France; but, above all,
regretted by Louis XIIth, his sovereign, whom, to use the words of
Guicciardini, he served as oracle and authority. The author of the
History of the Chevalier Bayard, is still louder in his praise.--The
western facade of the cathedral was not finished till 1530, twenty years
after his death.

[75] A representation of this has recently been published from an
engraving on stone by Langlois.

[76] _Histoire de l'Eglise Cathedrale de Rouen_, p. 50.

[77] _Noel, Essais sur le Departement de la Seine Inferieure_, II. p.

[78] _Millin, Histoire Metallique de la Revolution Francaise_, t. 22. f.

[79] _Histoire des Archeveques de Rouen_, folio 1667.

[80] Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 12.

[81] _Monumens de la Monarchie Francaise_, II. t. 15. f. 3 and 5.

[82] As these effigies are in general little understood, even by those
who look at them with pleasure as specimens of art, or with respect as
relics of antiquity, I am happy to be able to give the following
detailed illustration of this at Rouen, extracted from a letter which
the Right Rev. Dr. Milner had lately the kindness to write me upon the

"The sepulchral monument in the cathedral of Rouen represents a
prelate; that is to say, Bishop or Mitred Abbot, as appears by his
mitre, gloves, ring, and sandals. But, as he bears the _Pallium_, (to
be seen on his neck, just above his breast, and hanging down before
him, almost to his feet) it appears that he is a _Metropolitan_, or
Archbishop, as, indeed, each of the bishops of Rouen was, from the
time of St. Ouen and St. Romanus, in the seventh century, if not from
that of St. Nicasius, in the third or fourth. The statue has been
mutilated in the mitre, the face, and the crosier; probably when the
Huguenots were masters of the city. The mitre is low, as they used to
be from the tenth century, when they began to rise at all in the
Latin Church, down to the fourteenth, since which they have grown to
their present disproportioned height. The arms are crossed, as in
prayer; and the left arm supported a crosier, the remnant of which is
seen under that arm. Both hands are wrapped up in ornamented gloves,
which were an essential part of the prelatic dress. The principal
vestment is the _Planeta, Casula,_ or _Chausible_; as it was shaped
till within these three or four hundred years. Underneath that, and
behind the hanging _Pallium_, appears the _Dalmatic_, edged with gold
lace; and under that, extending the whole breadth of the figure, and
finishing with rich and deep thread lace, is the _Alb_, made of fine
linen. The _Tunic_ is quite hidden by the dalmatic. The _Sandals_
appear to be of gold tissue, and to rest on a rich carpet.

"I ought to have mentioned, that the mitre appears, by the jewels
with which it is ornamented, to represent that which is called _Mitra
pretiosa_, from this circumstance. An inferior kind of mitre, worn on
less solemn occasions, was termed _Mitra Aurifrygiata_; and a common
one, made of plain linen or silk, was termed _Simplex Mitra_. The
only part of the dress which puzzles me, is the great ornament on the
neck and shoulders. The question is, (which those can best determine
who have seen the original statue,) whether it adheres to the
_Pallium_, or to the _Casula_. In either case, it must be considered
as part of the vestment to which it adheres.

"It is quite out of my power to determine, or even to conjecture on
any rational grounds, which, of a certain three-score of archbishops
of Rouen, the figure represents; but, if I were to choose between
Maurice, the fifty-fourth archbishop, who died in 1235, and William,
of Durefort, the sixty-first, who died in 1330, from the comparative
lowness of the mitre, and some other circumstances of the dress, I
should determine in favor of the former. Perhaps it may represent our
Walter, who was first Bishop of Lincoln, and then transferred to
Rouen, by Pope Lucius IIIrd. He died in 1208, after having signalized
himself as much as any of his predecessors or successors have done.

"P.S. On consulting with an intelligent ecclesiastic of Rouen, I am
inclined to think that the above-mentioned ornament upon the
shoulders, is the _Mozetta_, being a short round cloak, which all
bishops still wear, with the _Rochet, Pectoral Cross_, and _Purple
Cassock_, as their _ordinary dress_; but, in modern times, the
_Mozetta_ is laid aside, when the prelate puts on his officiating
vestments; though he retains the cassock, cross, and rochet,
underneath them. My informant says, that this mozett is common on the
tombs of bishops who died in former ages."

[83] The same idea is to be observed on many ancient monuments: among
others, it is engraved on the fine sepulchral brass to the memory of Sir
Hugh Hastings, in Elsing church.--See _Cotman's Norfolk Sepulchral

[84] By the words _Lilia_ and _Quercus_, are designated the armorial
bearings of the King of France, and Pope Julius IInd, of the House of

[85] The bodies of the Cardinals d'Amboise were dug up in 1793, together
with most of the others interred in the cathedral, for the sake of their
leaden coffins: at the same time the lead was also stripped from the
transepts; and a colossal statue of St. George, which stood on the
eastern point of the choir, was likewise consigned to the furnace.

[86] Ducarel says (_Anglo-Norman Antiquities_, p. 20.) that she was the
favorite mistress of two successive kings; but I do not find this
assertion borne out by history.

[87] Vol. IV. p. 47.

[88] The doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, gave rise to
some curious doubts respecting the authenticity of the Virgin's hair.
Ferrand, the Jesuit, states the arguments to the contrary with candor;
but replies to them with laudable firmness. The passage is a whimsical
specimen of the style and reasoning of the schools:--"Restat posteriore
loco de capillis Deiparae Virginis paucis dicere, enimvero an illi sint
jam in terris!--Dubitationem aliquam afferre potest mirabilis ipsius
anastasis, et in coelum viventis videntisque assumptio
triumphalis.--Quid ita?--quid si intra triduum ad vitam revocata, si
coelis triumphantis in morem invecta, si corpore gloria circumfuso
Christo assidet? _Quidquid Virgineo capiti crinium inerat hand dubie
caelis intulit_, ne quid perfectae ac numeris omnibus absolutae ipsius
pulchritudini deesse possit. Nae ille in politiori literatura imo et in
rebus humanis omnino peregrinus sit qui ignoret quantum ad muliebrem
formam comae conferat pulchritudo ... ne singulas Marianae pulchritudinis
dotes persequar, ejus ima craearies de qua, agimus tantae fuit venustatis
ut mysticus ipsius Sponsus blande querulus exclamare cogatur,
_vulnerasti cor meum in uno crine colli tui_.... Naenias igitur occinere
videtur qui Deiparae capillos in terris relatos esse memoret atque adeo
servari obfirmate asseveret, cum illos tantum ad redivivae Virginis
speciem conferre constet.--Non efficiet tamen unquam haec
_Antidicomarianitae_ fabula, quin credam bene multos ex aurea Dei
Genitricis caesarie crines, diversis in locis ecclesiisque religiose
servari.... Meae fidei non unum est argumentum; nam a prima aetate ad
confectam usque, e Mariana coma non pancos, ut fit, capillos pecten
decussit, nisi si forte caesariem B. Virginis impexam semper perstitisse
velis, quod numquam (ut inquit de Christo Diva Brigitta) super eam venit
vermis, aut perplexitas, aut immunditium. At sine causa multiplicari
miracula quis aequo animo feret?--Ubi vero Genetrix e vita discessit,
quam sollicite pollinctrices auream illam Marianae comae segetem
demessuerunt, quam in sacris suis tunc hierothecia reconderent ad
memoriam tantae Imperatricis, et ad suae consolationis et pietatis
argumentum: quod si forte totam funditusque a pollinctricibus, Deiparae
reverentissimis, demessam caesariem ferre nec possis nec velis, extremes
saltem illius cincinnos attonsos fuisse feres ab piissimis illis
faeminis, quibus vel perexiguus Dei Genitricis capillus ingentis thesauri
loco futurus etat."--_Disquisitio Reliquiaria_, l. 1. cap. II.

[89] _Description Historique de l'Eglise de Notre Dame de Rouen_, p. 83.

[90] The event is described in the metrical history of Rouen, composed
by a minstrel ycleped _Poirier, the limper_. This little tract is a
_chap-book_ at Rouen: most towns, in the north of France and Belgium,
possess such chronicle ballads in doggerel rhyme, which are much read,
and eke chaunted, by the common people.

"... un massacre horrible
Survint soudainement.
Les Huguenots terribles
Et Montgommerie puissant,
Par cruels enterprises
Renverserent les Eglises
De Rouen pour certain.
Sans aucune relache
Pillent et volent la chasse
Du corps de St. Romain.

"Le zele Catholique
Poursuivant l'Huguenot
Un combat heroique
Lui livra a propos,
Au lieu nomme la Crosse,
Et reprirent par force
La chasse du Patron.
Puis de la Rue des Carmes
La portent a Notre Dame
En deposition!"



(_Rouen, June_, 1818.)

In the religious buildings, the subject of my preceding letters, I have
endeavored to point out to you the specimens which exist at Rouen, of
the two earliest styles of architecture. The churches which I shall next
notice belong to the third, or _decorated_ style, the aera of large
windows with pointed arches divided by mullions, with tracery in flowing
lines and geometrical curves, and with an abundance of rich and delicate

This style was principally confined in England to a period of about
seventy years, during the reigns of the second and third Edward. In
France it appears to have prevailed much longer. It probably began there
full fifty years sooner than with us, and it continued till it was
superseded by the revival of Grecian or Italian architecture. I speak of
France in general, but I must again repeat, that my observations are
chiefly restricted to the northern provinces, the little knowledge which
I possess of the rest being derived from engravings. No where, however,
have I been able to trace among our Gallic neighbors the existence of
the simple _perpendicular_ style, which is the most frequent by far in
our own country, nor of that more gorgeous variety denominated by our
antiquaries after the family of Tudor.

So long as Normandy and England were ruled by the same sovereign, the
continual intercourse created by this union caused a similarity in
their architecture, as in other arts and customs; and therefore the two
earliest styles of architecture run parallel in the two countries, each
furnishing the counterpart of the other. Whether or not the _decorated_
style was transmitted to England from the continent, is a question which
cannot be solved, until our collections of continental architecture
shall become more extensive. After the reign of Henry VIth, our
intercourse with Normandy wholly ceased; and, left to ourselves, many
innovations were gradually introduced, which were not known to the
French architects, who, with nicer taste, adhered to the pure style
which we rejected. Hence arose the _perpendicular_ style of pointed
architecture, a style sufficiently designated by its name, and obviously
distinguished from its predecessors, by having the mullions of its
windows, its ornamental pannelling, and other architectural members and
features, disposed in perpendicular lines. Finally, however, both
countries discarded the Gothic style, though at different aeras. The
revival of the arts in Europe, in consequence of the capture of
Constantinople and of the greater commercial intercourse between
transalpine Europe and Italy, gradually gave rise to an admiration of
the antique: imitation naturally succeeded admiration; and buildings
formed upon the classical model generally replaced the Gothic. Italian
architects found earlier patrons and earlier scholars, in France, than
amongst us, our intermediate style being chiefly distinguished by its

I will not detain you by any attempt at a comparison between the
relative beauties of the Gothic and Grecian architecture, or their
respective fitness for ecclesiastical buildings. The very name of the
former seems sufficient to stamp its inferiority; and perhaps you will
blame the employment of a term which was obviously intended at the
outset as an expression of contempt; but I still retain the epithet, as
one generally received, and therefore, commonly understood. It may be
added, that the modern French seem to be the only _Goths_, in the real
and true acceptation of the word. They, to the present day, build Gothic
churches; but, instead of confining themselves to the prototypes left
them, they are eternally aiming at alterations, under the specious name
of improvements. Horace was indignant that, in the Augustan age, the
meed of praise was bestowed only upon what was ancient: the architects
of this nation of recent date seem under the influence of an opposite
apprehension. They build upon their favorite poet:--

"Loin d'ici ce discours vulgaire
Que l'art pour jamais degenere,
Que tout s'eclipse, tout finit;
La nature est inepuisable,
Et le genie infatigable
Est le Dieu qui la rajeunit."

But they overlook, what Voltaire makes an indispensable requisite, that
art must be under the guidance of genius: when it is not so, and caprice
holds the reins, the result cannot fail to be that medley of Grecian,
Norman, Gothic, and Gallic, of which this country furnishes too many

The church of St. Ouen is unquestionably the noblest edifice in the
pointed style in this city, or perhaps in France; the French, blind as
they usually are to the beauties of Gothic architecture, have always
acknowledged its merits. Hence it escaped the general destruction which
fell upon the conventual churches of Rouen, at the time of the
revolution; though, during the violence of the storm, it was despoiled
and desecrated. At one period, it was employed as a manufactory, in
which forges were placed for making arms; at another, as a magazine for

Nor was this the first instance of its being violated; for, like most of
the religious buildings at Rouen, it was visited in the sixteenth
century with the fury of the Calvinists[91], who burned the bodies of
St. Ouen, St. Nicaise, and St. Remi, in the midst of the temple itself;
and cast their ashes to the winds of heaven. The other relics treasured
in the church experienced equal indignities. All the shrines became the
prey of the eager avarice of the Huguenots; and the images of the saints
and martyrs, torn from their tabernacles, graced the gibbets which were
erected to receive them in various parts of Rouen.

Dom Pommeraye, in reciting these deplorable events, rises rather above
his usual pitch of passion: "O malheur!" he exclaims, "ces corps sacres,
ces temples du Saint Esprit, qui avoient autrefois donne de la terreur
aux Demons, ne trouverent ni crainte ni respect dans l'esprit de ces
furieux, qui jetterent au feu tout ce qui tomba entre leurs mains impies
et sacrileges!"--The mischief thus occasioned was infinitely more to be
lamented, he adds, than the burning of the church by the
Normans;--"stones and bricks, and gold and jewels, may be replaced, but
the loss of a relic is irreparable; and, moreover, the abbey thus
forfeits a portion of its protection in heaven; for it is not to be
doubted, but that the saints look down with eyes of peculiar favor upon
the spots that contain their mortal remains; their glorified souls
feeling a natural affection towards the bodies to which they are
hereafter to be united for ever," on that day, when

"Ciascun ritrovera la trista tomba,
Ripigliera sua carne e sua figura,
Udira cio che in eterno rimbomba."

The outrages were curiously illustrative of the spirit of the times; the
quantity of relics and ornaments equally characterise the devotion of
the votaries, and the reputed sanctity of the place.

The royal abbey of St. Ouen had, indeed, enjoyed the veneration of the
faithful, during a lengthened series of generations. Clothair is
supposed to have been the founder of the monastery in 535; though other
authorities claim for it a still higher degree of antiquity by one
hundred and thirty years. The church, whoever the original founder may
have been, was first dedicated to the twelve apostles; but, in 689, the
body of St. Ouen was deposited in the edifice; miracles without number
were performed at his tomb; pilgrims flocked thither; his fame diffused
itself wider and wider; and at length, the allegiance of the abbey was
tranferred to him whose sanctity gave him the best claims to the

Changes of this nature, and arising from the same cause, were frequent
in those early ages: the abbey of St. Germain des Pres, at Paris, was
originally dedicated to St. Vincent; that of Ste. Genevieve to St.
Peter; and many other churches also took new patrons, as occasion
required. According to one of the fathers of the church, the tombs of
the beatified became the fortifications of the holy edifices: the saints
were considered as proprietors of the places in which their bodies were
interred, and where power was given them, to alter the established laws
of nature, in favor of those who there implored their aid. But the aid
which they afforded willingly to all their suitors, they could not
bestow upon themselves. And oft, when the sword of the heathen menaced
the land, the weary monks fled with the corpse of their patrons from the
stubborn enemy. Thus, St. Ouen himself, on the invasion of the Normans,
was transported to the priory of Gany, on the river Epte, and thence to
Conde; but was afterwards conveyed to Rouen, when Rollo embraced
Christianity. Other causes also contributed to the migration of these
remains: they were often summoned in order to dignify acts of peculiar
solemnity, or to be the witnesses to the oaths of princes, like the
Stygian marsh of old,

"Dii cujus jurare timent et fallere numen."

William the Conqueror, upon the dedication of the abbey of St. Stephen,
collected the bodies of all the saints in Normandy[92].

Those who wish to be informed of the acts and deeds of St. Ouen, may
refer to Pommeraye's history of the convent, in which thirty-seven folio
pages are filled with his life and miracles; the latter commencing while
he was in long clothes. The monastery, under his protection, continued
to increase in reputation; and, in the year 1042, the abbatial mitre
devolved upon William, son of Richard IInd, Duke of Normandy, who laid
the foundation of a new church, which, after about eighty years, was
completed and consecrated by William Balot, next but one to him in the

But this church did not exist long: ten years only had elapsed when a
fire reduced it, together with the whole abbey, to ashes. An opportunity
was thus afforded to the sovereign to shew his munificence, and Richard
Coeur de Lion was not tardy in availing himself of it; but a second fire
in 1248 again dislodged the monks; and they continued houseless, till
the abbot, Jean Rousel, better known by the name of _Mardargent_, laid
the foundation in 1318, of the present structure, an honor to himself,
to the city, and to the nation. By this prelate the building was
perfected as far as the transept: the rest was the work of subsequent
periods, and was not completed till the prelacy of Bohier, who died in
the beginning of the sixteenth century.

To speak more properly, I ought rather to say that it was not till then
brought to its present state; for it was never completed. The western
front is still imperfect. According to the original design, it was to
have been flanked by magnificent towers, ending in a combination of open
arches and tracery, corresponding with the outline and fashion of the
central tower. These towers, which are now only raised to the height of
about fifty feet, jut diagonally from the angles of the facade; and it
was intended that, in the lower division, they should have been united
by a porch of three arches, somewhat resembling the west entrance of
Peterborough; and such as in this town is still seen, at St. Maclou,
though on a much larger scale. Pommeraye has given an engraving of this
intended front, taken from a drawing preserved in the archives of the
abbey. The engraving is miserably executed; but it enables us to
understand the lines of the projected building. Pommeraye has also
preserved details of other parts of the church, among them of the
beautiful rood-loft erected by the Cardinal d'Etouteville, and long an
object of general admiration. The bronze doors of this screen were of a
most singular and elegant pattern: Horace Walpole imitated them in his
bed-room, at Strawberry-Hill. The rood-loft, which had been maimed by
the Huguenots, was destroyed at the revolution; when the church was also
deprived of its celebrated clock, which told the days of the month, the
festivals, and the phases of the moon, and afforded other astronomical
information. Such gazers as heeded not these mysteries, were amused by a
little bronze statue of St. Michael, who sallied forth at every hour,
and announced the progress of time, by the number of strokes which he
inflicted on the Devil with his lance.

[Illustration: Tower of the Church of St. Ouen, at Rouen]

It is impossible to convey by words an adequate idea of the lightness,
and purity, and boldness of St. Ouen. My imperfect description will be
assisted by the sketches which I inclose. Of their merits I dare not
speak; but I will warrant their fidelity; The flying buttresses end in
richly crocketed pinnacles, supported by shafts of unusual height. The
triple tiers of windows seem to have absorbed the solid wall-work of the
building. Balustrades of varied quatrefoils run round the aisles and
body; and the centre-tower, which is wholly composed of open arches and
tracery, terminates, like the south-tower of the cathedral, with an
octangular crown of fleurs-de-lys. The armorial symbol of France, which
in itself is a form of great beauty, was often introduced by the French
architects of the middle ages, amongst the ornaments of their edifices:
it pleases the eye by its grace, and satisfies the mind by its
appropriate and natural locality.

The elegance of the south porch is unrivalled. This portion of the
church was always finished with care: it was the scene of many religious
ceremonies, particularly of espousals. Hence they gave it a degree of
magnitude which might appear disproportionate, did we not recollect
that the arch was destined to embower the bride and the bridal train.
The bold and lofty entrance of this porch is surrounded within by
pendant trefoil arches, springing from carved bosses, and forming an
open festoon of tracery. The vault within is ornamented with pendants,
and the portal which it shades is covered with a profusion of sculpture:
the death, entombment, and apotheosis of the Virgin, form the subjects
of the principal groups. The sculptures, both in design and execution,
far surpass any specimens of the corresponding aera in England. But this
porch is now neglected and filled with lumber, and the open tracery is
much injured. I hope, however, it will receive due attention; as the
church is at this time under repair; and the restorations, as far as
they go, have been executed with fidelity and judgment.

[Illustration: South Porch the Church of St. Ouen, at Rouen]

The perspective of the interior[94] is exceedingly impressive: the
arches are of great height and fine proportions. If I must discover a
defect, I should say that the lines appear to want substance; the
mouldings of the arches are shallow. The building is all window. Were
it made of cast iron, it could scarcely look less solid. This effect is
particularly increased by the circumstance of the clerestory-gallery
opening into the glazed tracery of the windows behind, the lines of the
one corresponding with those of the other. To each of the clustered
columns of the nave is attached a tabernacle, consisting of a canopy and
pedestal, evidently intended originally to have received the image of a
saint. It does not appear to have been the design of the architect that
the pillars of the choir should have had similar ornaments; but upon one
of them, at about mid-height, serving as a corbel to a truncated column,
is a head of our Saviour, and, on the opposite pillar, one of the
Virgin: the former is of a remarkably fine antique character. The
capitals of the pillars in this part of the church were all gilt, and
the spandrils of the arches painted with angels, now nearly effaced. The
high altar is of grey marble, relieved, by a scarlet curtain behind, the
effect of which is simple, singular, and good. Round the choir is a row
of chapels, which are wholly wanting to the nave. The walls of these
chapels have also been covered with fresco paintings; some with figures,
others with foliage. The chapels contain many grave-stones displaying
indented outlines of figures under canopies, and in other respects
ornamented; but neglected, and greatly obliterated, and hastening fast
to ruin. It is curious to see the heads and hands, and, in one instance,
the crosier of a prelate, inlaid with white or grey marble; as if the
parts of most importance were purposely made of the most perishable
materials. I was much interested by observing, that many of these
memorials are almost the exact counterparts of some of our richest
English sepulchral brasses, and particularly of the two which are
perhaps unrivalled, at Lynn[95].--How I wished that you, who so delight
in these remains, and to whom we are indebted for the elucidation of
those of Norfolk, had been with me, while I was trying to trace the
resemblance; and particularly while I pored over the stone in the chapel
of Saint Agnes, that commemorates Alexander Berneval, the master-mason
of the building!

[Illustration: Head of Christ, in the Church of St. Ouen, at Rouen, seen in profile]
[Illustration: Head of Christ, in the Church of St. Ouen, at Rouen, seen in front]

According to tradition, it was this same Alexander Berneval who executed
the beautiful circular window in the southern transept. But being
rivalled by his apprentice, who produced a more exquisite specimen of
masonry in the northern transept, he murdered his luckless pupil. The
crime he expiated with his own life; but the monks of the abbey,
grateful for his labors, requested that his body might be entombed in
their church; and on the stone that covers his remains, they caused him
to be represented at full length, holding the window in his hand.

These large circular windows, sometimes known by the name of rose
windows, and sometimes of marigold windows, are a strong characteristic
feature of French ecclesiastical architecture. Few among the cathedrals
or the great conventual churches, in this country, are without them. In
our own they are seldom found: in no one of our cathedrals, excepting
Exeter only, are they in the western front; and, though occasionally in
the transepts, as at Canterbury, Chichester, Litchfield, Westminster,
Lincoln and York, they are comparatively of small size with little
variety of pattern. In St. Ouen, they are more than commonly beautiful.
The northern one, the cause of death to the poor apprentice, exhibits in
its centre the produced pentagon, or combination of triangles sometimes
called the pentalpha.--The painted glass which fills the rose windows is
gorgeous in its coloring, and gives the most splendid effect. The church
preserves the whole of its original glazing. Each inter-mullion contains
one whole-length figure, standing upon a diapered ground, good in
design, though the artist seems to have avoided the employment of
brilliant hues. The sober light harmonizes with the grey unsullied
stone-work, and gives a most pleasing unity of tint to the receding

Among the pictures, the-best are, the _Cardinal of Bologna opening the
Holy Gate, instead of the Pope_, in the nave; and _Saint Elizabeth
stopping the Pestilence_, in the choir: two others, in the Lady-Chapel,
by an artist of Rouen, of the name of Deshays, the _Miracle of the
Loaves_, and the _Visitation_, are also of considerable merit.--Deshays
was a young man of great promise; but the hopes which had been
entertained of him were disappointed by a premature death.

A church like this, so ancient, so renowned, and so holy, could not fail
to enjoy peculiar privileges. The abbot had complete jurisdiction, as
well temporal as spiritual, over the parish of St. Ouen; in the Norman
parliament he took precedence of all other mitred abbots; by a bull of
Pope Alexander IVth, he was allowed to wear the pontifical ornaments,
mitre, ring, gloves, tunic, dalmatic, and sandals; and, what sounds
strange to our Protestant ears, he had the right of preaching in public,
and of causing the conventual bells to be rung whenever he thought
proper. His monks headed the religious processions of the city; and
every new archbishop of the province was not only consecrated in this
church, but slept the evening prior to his installation at the abbey;
whence, on the following day, he was conducted in pomp to the entrance
of the cathedral, by the chapter of St. Ouen, headed by their abbot, who
delivered him to the canons, with the following charge,--"Ego, Prior
Sancti Audoeni, trado vobis Dominum Archiepiscopum Rothomagensem vivum,
quem reddetis nobis mortuum."--The last sentence was also strictly
fulfilled; the dean and chapter being bound to take the bodies of the
deceased prelates to the church of St. Ouen, and restore them to the
monks with, "Vos tradidistis nobis Dominum Archiepiscopum vivum; nos
reddimus eum vobis mortuum, ita ut crastina die reddatis eum
nobis."--The corpse remained there four and twenty hours, during which
the monks performed the office of the dead with great solemnity. The
canons were then compelled to bear the dead archbishop a second time
from the abbey cross (now demolished) to the abbey of St. Amand[96],
where the abbess took the pastoral ring from off his finger, replacing
it by another of plain gold; and thence the bearers proceeded to the
cathedral. These duties could not be very agreeable to portly,
short-winded, well-fed dignitaries; and consequently the worthy canons
were often inclined to shrink from the task. In the case of the funeral
of Archbishop d'Aubigny, in 1719, they contented themselves with
carrying him at once to his dormitory; but the prior and monks of St.
Ouen instantly sued them before the parliament, and this tribunal
decreed that the ancient service must be performed, and in default of
compliance, the whole of their temporalities were to be put under
sequestration: it is almost needless to add, that a sentence of
excommunication would scarcely have been so effectual in enforcing the
execution of the sentence.

The gardens formerly belonging to the abbey are at this time a pleasant
promenade to the inhabitants of the town: the remains of the monastic
buildings are converted into an _Hotel de Ville_, where also the library
and the museum are kept, and the academy hold their sittings. No
remains, however, now exist of the abbatial residence, which was built
by Anthony Bohier, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and which,
according to the engraving given of it by Pommeraye, must have been a
noble specimen of domestic architecture. The sovereigns of France always
took up their abode in it, during their visits to Rouen.--The circular
tower called the _Tour des Clercs_, mentioned in a former letter, is the
only vestige of Norman times.--The cloister corresponded with the
architecture of the church: the south side of the quadrangle attached
to the northern aisle still exists, but blocked up and dilapidated, and
converted into a sort of cage for those who are guilty of disturbances
during the night.

[Illustration: Stone Staircase in the Church of St. Maclou, at Rouen]

The church of St. Maclou is unquestionably superior to every other in
the city, except the cathedral and St. Ouen. Its principal ornament are
its carved doors, produced during the reign of Henry IIIrd, by Jean
Goujon, a man so eminent as to have been termed the Corregio of
sculpture; but they have been materially injured by repairs and
alterations by unskilful hands. Within the church, near the west
entrance, is a singularly elegant stair-case, in filagree stone-work,
which formerly led to the organ.--This building was erected in the year
1512, and chiefly by voluntary contributions, if such can be called
_voluntary_ as were purchased by promises from the archbishop, first of
forty, and then of one hundred, days' indulgences, to all who would
contribute towards the pious labor.--The central tower resembles that of
the cathedral, both in the interior and the exterior. It now appears
truncated; but it was originally surmounted by a spire, which was of
such beauty, that even Italian artists thought it worthy to be engraved
and held out as a model at Rome[97]. The spire, however, was greatly
injured by a hurricane, in 1705, and it was at last taken down thirty
years afterwards. To the triple porch, I have already alluded, in
describing the intended front of St. Ouen. The general lines of the
church, are such as in England would be referred to the fourteenth
century: on a closer examination, however, the curious eye will
discover the peculiar beauties of the French Gothic. Thus the bosses of
the groined roof are wrought and perforated into filagree, the work
extending over the intersections of the groins, which are seen through
its reticulations. Such bosses are only found in the French churches of
the sixteenth century. In other parts, the interior closely resembles
the style of the cathedral[98].

St. Patrice is a building of the worst style of the commencement of the
sixteenth century: to use the quaint phraseology of Horace Walpole, it
exhibits "that _betweenity_ which intervened when Gothic declined and
Palladian was creeping in." The paintings on the walls of this church,
and the stained glass in its windows, are more deserving of notice than
its architecture. The first are of small size, and generally better than
are seen in similar places. One of them is after Bassan, an artist,
whose works are not often found in religious edifices in France. The
painted windows of the choir deserve unqualified commendation. They are
said to have been removed from St. Godard. Each is confined to a single
subject; among which, that of the _Annunciation_ is esteemed the best.

To this church was attached a confraternity[99], established in 1374,
under the name of the _Guild of the Passion_. Its annual procession,
which continued till the time of the revolution, took place on
Holy-Thursday. It consisted of the usual pageantry; a host of children,
dressed like angels, increased the train, which also included twelve
poor men, whose feet the masters of the brotherhood publicly washed
after mass. Like some other guilds, they were in possession of a pulpit
or tribune, called, in old French, a _Puy_, from which they issued a
general invitation to all poets, who were summoned to descant upon the
themes which were commemorated by their union. The rewards held out to
the successful candidates were, in the true monastic spirit of the
guild, a reed, a crown of thorns, a sponge, or some other mystic or
devotional emblem. Occasionally, too, they gave a scenic representation
of certain portions of religious history, according to the practice of
early times. The account of the _Mystery of the Passion_ having been
acted in the burial-ground of the church of St. Patrice, so recently as
September, 1498, is preserved by Taillepied[100], who tells us, that it
was performed by "bons joueurs et braves personages." The masters of
this guild had the extraordinary privilege of being allowed to charge
the expence attendant on the processions and exhibitions, upon any
citizen they might think proper, whether a member or otherwise.

The neighboring church of St. Godard possesses neither architectural
beauty, nor architectural antiquity; for, although it occupies the scite
of an edifice of remote date, yet the present structure is coeval with
St. Patrice. It has been supposed that this church was the primitive
cathedral of the city[101]. One of the proofs of this assertion is found
in a procession which, before the revolution, was annually made hither
by the chapter of the present cathedral, with great ceremony, as if in
recognition of its priority. The church was originally dedicated to the
Virgin; but it changed its advocation in the year 525, when St. Godard,
more properly called St. Gildard, was buried here in a subterranean
chapel; and, for the reasons before noticed, the old tutelary patroness
was compelled to yield to the new visitor. In the succeeding century,
St. Romain, a saint of still greater fame, was also interred here; and,
as I collect from Pommeraye[102], in the same crypt. This author
strenuously denies the inferences which have been drawn from the annual
procession, which he maintains was performed solely in praise and in
honor of St. Romain; for the chapter, after having paid their devotions
to the Host, descended into the chapel, to prostrate themselves before
the sepulture of the saint; on which subject, an antiquary[103] of Rouen
has preserved the following lines:--

"Ad regnum Domini dextra invitatus et ore,
Huic sacra Romanus credidit ossa loco;
Sontibus addixit quae caeca rebellio flammis,
Nec tulit impietas majus in urbe scelus.
Quid tanto vesana malo profecit Erynnis?
Ipsa sui testis pignoris extat humus.
Crypta manet, memoresque trahit confessio cives,
Nec populi fallit marmor inane fidem.
Orphana, turba, veni, viduisque allabere saxis,
Est aliquid soboli patris habere thorum."

The body of St. Godard was carried to Soissons; but the tomb, which, has
doubtfully been designated as appropriated either to him or to St.
Romain, was left to the church, and remained there at least till the
revolution. I have even been told that it is there still; but I had no
opportunity of going down into the chapel to verify this point. It
consisted, or rather consists, of a single slab of jasper, seven and a
half feet long, by two feet wide, and two feet four inches thick. Upon
it was this inscription:--

"Malades, voulez-vous soulager vos douleurs?
Visitez ce tombeau, baignez-le de vos pleurs;
Rechauffez vos esprits d'une divine flame;
Touchez-le settlement du doigt,
Et vous y trouverez (si vous avez la foi)
Et la sante du corps, et la sante de l'ame."

The building retains, at this time, only two of its celebrated painted
windows; but they are fortunately the two which were always considered
the best. One of them represents the history of St. Romain; the other,
the genealogy of Jewish kings, from whom the Holy Virgin descended.
Rouen has, from a very early period, been famous for its manufactories
of painted glass. But the windows of this church were still esteemed the
_chef d'oeuvre_ of its artists; and these had so far passed into a
proverb, that Farin[104] tells us it was common throughout France to
say, in recommendation of choice wine, that "it was as bright as the
windows of St. Godard." The saying, however, was by no means confined to
Rouen, for it was also applied to the windows of the Ste. Chapelle, at

It was at St. Godard that the burst of the reformation was first
manifested. The Huguenots, taking courage from the secret increase of
their numbers, broke into the building, in 1540, demolished the images,
and sold the pix to a goldsmith. But the man suffered severely for his
purchase: he was shortly afterwards sentenced, by a decree of the
parliament, to be hanged in front of his shop; and two of those
concerned in the outrage also suffered capital punishment. The spark
thus lighted, afterwards increased into a conflagration; and, to this
hour, there is a larger body of Protestants at Rouen, than in most
French towns.

I do not expect that you will reproach me with the prolixity of these
details. The subject is attractive to me, and I feel that you will
accompany me with pleasure in my pilgrimage, from chapel to shrine,
dwelling with me in contemplation on the relics of ancient skill and the
memorials of the piety of the departed. Nor must it be forgotten, that
the hand of the spoliator is falling heavily on all objects of
antiquity. And the French seem to find a source of perverse and
malignant pleasure in destroying the temples where their ancestors once
worshipped: many are swept away; a greater number continue to exist in
a desecrated state; and time, which changes all things, is proceeding
with hasty strides to obliterate their character. The lofty steeple
hides its diminished head; the mullions and tracery disappear from the
pointed windows, from which the stained glass has long since fallen; the
arched entrance contracts into a modern door-way; the smooth plain walls
betray neither niches, nor pinnacles, nor fresco paintings; and in the
warehouse, or manufactory, or smithy, little else remains than the
extraordinary size, to point out the original holy destination of the


[91] The following brief statement of their excesses is copied from a
manuscript belonging to the monastery: the full detail of them engages
Pommeraye for nearly seven folio pages:--"Le Dimanche troisieme de May,
1562, les Huguenots s'etans amassez en grosse troupe, vinrent armez en
grande furie dans l'Eglise de S. Ouen, ou etant entrez ils rompirent les
chaires du choeur, le grand autel, et toutes les chapelles: mirent en
pieces l'Horloge, dont on voit encore la menuiserie dans la chapelle
joignant l'arcade du coste du septentrion, aussi bien que celles des
orgues, dont ils prirent l'etaim et le plomb pour en faire des balles de
mousquet: puis ils allumerent cinq feux, trois dedans l'Eglise et deux
dehors, ou ils brulerent tous les bancs et sieges des religieux, auec le
bois des balustres des chapelles, les bancs et fermetures d'icelles,
plusieurs ornemens et vestemens sacrez, comme chappes, tuniques,
chasubles, aubes, vne autre partie des plus riches et precieux ornemens
de broderie et drap d'or ayant este enlevee en l'hotellerie de la pomme
de pin, ou ils les brulerent pour en auoir l'or et l'argent. Ils firent
la mesme chose des saintes reliques, qu'ils brulerent, ayant emporte
l'or, l'argent, et les pierreries des reliquaires."--_Histoire de
l'Abbaye Royale de St. Ouen_, p. 205.

[92] Farin, Histoire de Rouen, IV. p. 134.

[93] _Histoire de l'Abbaye Royales de Saint Ouen_, p. 204.

[94] The following are the dimensions of the interior of the building,
in French feet:

Length of the church.................. 416
Ditto of the nave..................... 234
Ditto of the choir.................... 108
Ditto of the Lady-Chapel.............. 66
Ditto of the transept................. 130
Width of ditto........................ 34
Ditto of nave, without the aisles..... 34
Ditto, including ditto................ 78
Height of roof........................ 100
Ditto of tower........................ 240

[95] _Figured in Cotmans Norfolk Sepulchral Brasses_.

[96] The house of the abbess of St. Amand is still standing, though
neglected, and in a great degree in ruins. What remains, however, is
very curious; and is, perhaps, the oldest specimen of domestic
architecture in Rouen. It is partly of wood, the front covered with
arches and other sculpture in bas-relief, and partly of stone.

[97] _Farin, Histoire de Rouen_, IV. p. 156.

[98] The dimensions of the building, in French feet, are,--

Length of the nave.................... 70
Ditto of choir........................ 40
Ditto of Lady-Chapel.................. 30
Ditto of the whole building.......... 140
Width of ditto........................ 76
Height to the top of the lanthorn.... 142

[99] _Farin, Histoire de Rouen_, IV. p. 168.

[100] _Antiquitez et Singularitez de la Ville de Rouen_, p. 186.

[101] _Farin, Histoire de Rouen_, IV. p. 132.

[102] _Histoire des Archeveques de Rouen_, p. 130.

[103] _La Normandie Chretienne_, p. 487.

[104] _Histoire de Rouen_, IV. p. 134.



(_Rouen, June_, 1818.)

Amongst the secular buildings of Rouen, the Palais de Justice holds the
chief place, whether we consider the magnificence of the building, or
the importance of the assemblies which once were convened within its

The three estates of the Duchy of Normandy, the parliament, composed of
the deputies of the church, the nobility, and the good towns, usually
held their meetings in the Palace of Justice. Until the liberties of
France were wholly extirpated by Richelieu, this body opposed a
formidable resistance to the crown; and the _Charte Normande_ was
considered as great a safeguard to the liberties of the subject, as
Magna Charta used to be on your side of the channel. Here, also, the
_Court of Exchequer_ held its session. According to a fond tradition,
this, the supreme tribunal of Normandy, was instituted by Rollo, the
good Duke, whose very name seemed to be considered as a charm averting
violence and outrage. This court, like our _Aula Regia_, long continued
ambulatory, and attendant upon the person of the sovereign; and its
sessions were held occasionally, and at his pleasure. The progress of
society, however, required that the supreme tribunal should become
stationary and permanent, that the suitors might know when and where
they might prefer their claims. Philip the Fair, therefore, about the
year 1300, began by enacting that the pleas should be held only at
Rouen. Louis the XIIth remodelled the court, and gave it permanence;
yielding in these measures to the prayer of the States of Normandy, and
to the advice of his minister, the Cardinal d'Amboise. It was then
composed of four presidents, and twenty-eight counsellors; thirteen
being clerks; and the remainder laymen. The name of exchequer was
perhaps unpleasing to the crown, as it reminded the Normans of the
ancient independence of their duchy; and, in 1515, Francis Ist ordered
that the court should thenceforward be known as the _Parliament of
Normandy_; thus assimilating it in its appellation to the other supreme
tribunals of the kingdom. There is an old poem extant, written in very
lawyer-like rhyme, which invests all the cardinal virtues, and a great
many supernumerary ones besides, with the offices of this most honorable
court, in which purity is the usher, truth has a silk gown, and
virginity enters the proceedings on the record.

"De ceste _court_ grace est grand _chanceliere_,
Vertus ont lieu de _presidens_ prudens:
Verite est premiere _conseillere_,
Et purete _huyssiere_ la-dedans:
La _greffiere_ est virginite feconde,
Et la _concierge_ humilite profonde.
Pythie _procure_ a vuider les discords,
Comme _advocat_, amour ayde aux accords.
De _geolier_ vacque le seul office:
Aussy on voyt par _officiers_ concors,
La noble _court_ rendante a tous justice."

In the same style and strain is a ballad, which, thanks to the care of
De Bourgueville, the author of the _Antiquities of Caen_, hath been
preserved for the edification of posterity. It enumerates all the
members of the court _seriatim_, and compares their lordships and
worships, one after another, to the heroes and demi-gods of ancient

The parliament in its turn has given way to the _Court of Assizes_; and,
where the states once deliberated, the electors of the department now
come together for the purpose of naming the deputies who represent them
in the great council of the nation;--such are the vicissitudes of all
human institutions.

When the Jews were expelled from Normandy, in 1181, the _Close_, or
Jewry, in which they dwelled, escheated to the king. The sons of Japhet
spoiled the sons of Shem with pious alacrity. The debtor burnt his bond;
the bailie seized the store of bezants; the synagogue was razed to the
ground. In this _Close_ the palace was afterwards built. The wise custom
of Normandy was mooted on the spot where the law of Moses had once been
taught; and, by a strange, perhaps an ominous, fatality, the judge held
the scales of justice, where whilome the usurer had poised his balance.

The palace forms three sides of a quadrangle. The fourth is occupied by
an embattled wall and an elaborate gate-way. The building was erected
about the beginning of the sixteenth century; and, with all its faults,
it is a fine adaptation of Gothic architecture to civil purposes. It is
in the style which a friend of mine chooses to distinguish by the name
of _Burgundian architecture_; and he tells me that he considers it as
the parent of our Tudor style. Here, the windows in the body of the
building take flattened elliptic heads; and they are divided by one
mullion and one transom. The mouldings are highly wrought, and enriched
with foliage. The lucarne windows are of a different design, and form
the most characteristic feature of the front: they are pointed and
enriched with mullions and tracery, and are placed within triple
canopies of nearly the same form, flanked by square pillars, terminating
in tall crocketed pinnacles, some of them fronted with open arches
crowned with statues. The roof, as is usual in French and Flemish
buildings of this date, is of a very high pitch, and harmonizes well
with the proportions of the building. An oriel, or rather tower, of
enriched workmanship projects into the court, and varies the elevations.
On the left-hand side of the court, a wide flight of steps leads to the
hall called _la Salle des Procureurs_, a place originally designed as an
Exchange for the merchants of the city, who had previously been in the
habit of assembling for that purpose in the cathedral. It is one hundred
and sixty feet in length, by fifty in breadth.

"In this great hall," says Peter Heylin, "are the seats and desks of the
procurators; every one's name written in capital letters over his head.
These procurators are like our attornies; they prepare causes, and make
them ready for the advocates. In this hall do suitors use, either to
attend on, or to walk up and down, and confer with, their
pleaders."--The attornies had similar seats in the ancient English
courts of justice; and these seats still remain in the hall at
Westminster, in which the Court of Exchequer holds its sittings. The
walls of the Salle des Procureurs are adorned with chaste niches. The
coved roof is of timber, plain and bold, and destitute either of the
open tie-beams and arches, or the knot-work and cross timber which adorn
our old English roofs. If the roof of our priory church was not
ornamented, as last mentioned, it would nearly resemble that in
question.--Below the hall is a prison; to its right is the room where
the parliament formerly held its sittings, but which is now appropriated
to the trial of criminal causes. The unfortunate Mathurin Bruneau, the
soi-disant dauphin, was last year tried here, and condemned to
imprisonment. He is treated in his place of confinement with ambiguous
kindness. The poor wretch loves his bottle; and, being allowed to
intoxicate himself to his heart's content, he is already reduced to a
state of idiotism.--Heylin, who saw the building when it was in
perfection, says, speaking of this _Great Chamber_, "that it is so
gallantly and richly built, that I must needs confess it surpasseth all
the rooms that ever I saw in my life. The palace of the Louvre hath
nothing in it comparable; the ceiling is all inlaid with gold, yet doth
the workmanship exceed the matter."--The ceiling which excited Heylin's
admiration still exists. It is a grand specimen of the interior
decoration of the times. The oak, which age has rendered almost as dark
as ebony, is divided into compartments, covered with rich but whimsical
carving, and relieved with abundance of gold. Over the bench is a
curious old picture, a _Crucifixion_. Joseph and the Virgin are standing
by the cross: the figures are painted on a gold ground; the colors deep
and rich; the drawing, particularly in the arms, indifferent; the
expression of the faces good. It was upon this picture that witnesses
took the oaths before the revolution; and it is the only one of the six
formerly in this situation that escaped destruction[105]. Round the
apartment are gnomic sentences in letters of gold, reminding judges,
juries, witnesses, and suitors, of their duties. The room itself is said
to be the most beautiful in France for its proportions and quantity of
light. In the _Antiquites Nationales_, is described and figured an
elaborately wrought chimney-piece in the council-chamber, now destroyed,
as are some fine Gothic door-ways, which opened into the chamber. The
ceiling of the apartment called la _seconde Chambre des Enquetes_,
painted by Jouvenet, with a representation of Jupiter hurling his
thunderbolts at Vice, is also unfortunately no more. It fell in, from a
failure in the woodwork of the roof, on the first of April, 1812. It was
among the most highly-esteemed productions of this master, and not the
less remarkable for having been executed with the left hand, after a
paralytic stroke had deprived him of the use of the other.

Millin observes, with much justice, that one of the most remarkable of
the decrees that issued from this palace, was that which authorized the
meetings of the _Conards_, a name given to a confraternity of buffoons,
who, disguised in grotesque dresses, performed farces in the streets on
Shrove Tuesday and other holidays. Nor is it a little indicative of the
taste of the times, that men of rank, character, and respectability
entered into this society, the members of which, amounting to two
thousand five hundred, elected from among themselves a president, whom
they dressed as an abbot[106], with a crozier and mitre, and, placing
him on a car drawn by four horses, led him, thus attired, in great pomp
through the streets; the whole of the party being masked, and
personating not only the allegorical characters of avarice, lust, &c.
but the more tangible ones of pope, king, and emperor, and with them
those of holy writ. The seat of this guild was at Notre Dame de Bonnes

[Illustration: Sculpture, representing the Feast of Fools]

In the cathedral itself the more notorious _Procession des Fous_ was
also formerly celebrated, in which, as you know, the ass played the
principal part, and the choir joined in the hymn[107],--

"Orientis partibus
Adventavit Asinus," &c.

These, or similar ceremonies, call them if you please absurdities, or
call them impieties, (you will in neither case be far from their proper
name,) were in the early ages of Christianity tolerated in almost every
place. Mr. Douce has furnished us with some curious remarks upon them in
the eleventh volume of the _Archaeologia_, and Mr. Ellis in his new
edition of _Brand's Popular Antiquities_. I am indebted to the first of
these gentlemen for the knowledge that the inclosed etching, copied some
time ago from a drawing by Mr. Joseph Harding, is allusive to the
ceremony of the _feast of fools_, and does not represent a group of
morris-dancers, as I had erroneously supposed. Indeed, Mr. Douce
believes that many of the strange carvings on the _misereres_ in our
cathedrals have references to these practices. And yet, to the honor of
England, they never appear to have been equally common with us as in
France.--According to Du Cange[108], the confraternity of the Conards or
Cornards was confined to Rouen and Evreux. I have not been able to
ascertain when they were suppressed; but they certainly existed in the
time of Taillepied, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, about
fifty years previously to which they dropped their original name of
_Coqueluchers_. At this time too they had evidently degenerated from the
primary object of their institution, "ridendo castigare mores atque in
omne quod turpiter factum fuerat ridiculum immittere." Taillepied was
an eye-witness of their practices; and he prudently contents himself
with saying; "le fait est plus clair a le voir que je ne pourrois icy

At a short distance from the palace is a small square, called the _Place
de la Pucelle_, a name which it has but recently acquired, in lieu of
the more familiar appellation of _le Marche aux Veaux_. The present
title records one of the most interesting events in the history of
Rouen, the execution of the unfortunate Joan of Arc, which is said to
have taken place on the very spot now covered by the monument that
commemorates her fate. Three different ones have in succession occupied
this place. The first was a cross, erected in 1454, only twenty-four
years after her death; for even at this early period, the King of France
had obtained from Pope Calixtus IIIrd, a bull directing the revision of
her sentence, and he had caused her innocence to be acknowledged. The
second was a fountain of delicate workmanship, consisting of three
tiers of columns placed one above the other, on a triangular plan, the
whole decorated with arabesques and statues of saints, while the Maid
herself crowned the summit, and the water flowed through pipes that
terminated in horses' heads. The present monument is inferior to the
second, equally in design and in workmanship: it is a plain triangular
pedestal, ornamented with dolphins at the base, and surmounted by the
heroine in military costume. Of the two last, figures are given by
Millin[109], who could not be expected to suffer a subject to escape
him, so calculated for the gratification of national pride. In a
preceding volume of the same work[110], he has represented the monument
erected to her memory by Charles VIIth, upon the bridge at Orleans: the
latter is commemorative of her triumphs; that at Rouen, only of her
capture and death. But the King testified his gratitude by more
substantial tokens: he ennobled her three brothers and their
descendants; and even allowed the females of the family to confer their
rank upon the persons whom they married, a privilege which they
continued to enjoy till the time of Louis XIIIth, who abolished it in

In the square is a house within a court, now occupied as a school for
girls, of the same aera as the Palais de Justice, and in the same
_Burgundian style_, but far richer in its sculptures. The entire front
is divided into compartments by slender and lengthened buttresses and
pilasters. The intervening spaces are filled with basso-relievos,
evidently executed at one period, though by different masters. A
banquet beneath a window in the first floor, is in a good _cinque-cento_
style. Others of the basso-relievos, represent the labors of the field
and the vineyard; rich and fanciful in their costume, but rather wooden
in their design: the Salamander, the emblem of Francis Ist, appears
several times amongst the ornaments, and very conspicuously. I believe
there is not a single square foot of this extraordinary building, which
has not been sculptured.--On the north side extends a spacious gallery.
Here the architecture is rather in Holbein's manner: foliaged and
swelling pilasters, like antique candelabra, bound the arched windows.
Beneath, is the well-known series of bas-reliefs, executed on marble
tablets, representing the interview between Francis Ist of France, and
Henry VIIIth of England, in the _Champ du Drap d'or_, between Guisnes
and Ardres. They were first discovered by the venerable father
Montfaucon, who engraved them in his _Monumens de la Monarchie
Francaise_[111]; but to the greater part of our antiquaries at home,
they are, perhaps, more commonly known by the miserable copies inserted
in Ducarel's work, who has borrowed most of his plates from the
Benedictine.--These sculptures are much mutilated, and so obscured by
smoke and dirt, that the details cannot be understood without great
difficulty. The corresponding tablets above the windows, are even in a
worse condition; and they appear to have been almost unintelligible in
the time of Montfaucon, who conjectures that they were allegorical, and
probably intended to represent the triumph of religion. Each tablet
contains a triumphal car, drawn by different animals, one by elephants,
another by lions, and so on, and crowded with mythological figures and
attributes.--A friend of mine, who examined them this summer, tells me,
that he thinks the subjects are either _taken_ from the triumphs of
Petrarch, or _imitated_ from the triumphs introduced in the _Polifilo_.
Graphic representations of allegories are susceptible of so many
variations, that an artist, embodying the ideas of the poet, might
produce a representation bearing a close resemblance to the mythological
processions of the mystic dream.--Of one of the most perfect of the
historical subjects, I send you a drawing: it is the first in order in
Montfaucon's work, and exhibits the suite of the King of England, on
their way from the town of Guisnes, to meet the French monarch. Two of
the figures might be mistaken for Henry himself and Wolsey, riding
familiarly side by side; but these dignified personages have more
important parts allotted them in the second and third compartments,
where they appear in the full-blown honors of their respective

[Illustration: Bas-Relief, from the representations of the Champ du Drap d'or]

The interior has been modernized; so that a beam covered with small
carvings is the only remaining object of curiosity. On the top, a bunch
of leaden thistles has been a sad puzzle to antiquaries, who would fain
find some connection between the building and Scotland; but neither
record nor tradition throw any light upon their researches. Montfaucon,
copying from a manuscript written by the Abbe Noel, says, "I have more
than once been told that Francis Ist, on his way through Rouen, lodged
at this house; and it is most probable, that the bas-reliefs in question
were made upon some of these occasions, to gratify the king by the
representation of a festival, in which he particularly delighted." The
gallery sculptures are very fine, and the upper tier is much in the
style of Jean Goujon. It is not generally known that Goujon re-drew the
embellishments of Beroald de Verville's translation of the Polifilo; and
that these, beautiful as they are in the Aldine edition, acquired new
graces from the French artist.--I have remarked that the allegorical
tablets appear to coincide with the designs of the Polifilo: a more
accurate examination might, perhaps, prove the fact; and then little
doubt would remain. The building is much dilapidated; and, unless
speedily repaired, these basso-relievos, which would adorn any museum,
will utterly perish. In spite of neglect and degradations, the aspect of
the mansion is still such that, as my friend observed, one would expect
to see a fair and stately matron standing in the porch, attired in
velvet, waiting to receive her lord.--In the adjoining house, once,
probably, a part of the same, but now an inn, bearing the sign of _la
Pucelle_, is shewn a circular room, much ornamented, with a handsome
oriel conspicuous on the outside. In this apartment, the Maid is said to
have been tried; but it is quite certain that not a stone of the
building was then put of the quarry.

Hence I must take you, and still under the auspices of Millin[112], to
the great town-clock, or, as it is here called, _la Tour de la Grosse
Horloge_; and I cannot help wishing on the occasion, that I had half the
powers of instructing and amusing which he possessed. Like the writers
in our most popular Reviews, he uses the subjects which he places at the
head of his articles as little more than a peg, whereon to hang whatever
he knows connected with the matter; and the result is, that he is never
read without pleasure or information. Such is peculiarly the case in the
present instance, in which he takes an opportunity of giving the history
of the origin of clocks, tracing them from the simple dial, and
particularising the most curious and intricate contrivances of modern
ingenuity. Another name of the tower which contains this clock, is _la
Tour du Beffroi_, or, as we should say in English, the _Belfry_; for the
two words have the same meaning, and it is not to be doubted but that
they originated from the same root, the Anglo-Saxon _bell_, whence
barbarous Latinists have formed _Belfredus_ and _Berfredus_, terms for
moveable towers used in sieges, and so denominated from their
resemblance in form to bell-towers. I mention this etymology, because
the French have misled themselves strangely on the subject; and one of
them has wandered so widely in his conjectures, as to derive _beffroi_
from _bis effroi_, supposing it to be the cause of double alarm!
Happily, in the most alarming of all times for France, that of the
revolution, this bell, though appointed the _tocsin_, had scarcely ever
occasion to sound. There is, however, another purpose, alarming at all
periods, and especially in a town built of wood, to which it is
appropriated, and to which we only yesterday heard it applied, the
ringing to announce a fire. The precautions taken against similar
accidents in Rouen, are excellent, and they had need be so; for
insurance-companies of any kind are unknown, I believe, in France[113],
or exist only upon a most limited scale, at the foot of the Pyrenees,
where the farmers mutually insure each other against the effects of the
hail. The daily office of this bell is to sound the curfew, a practice
which, under different names, is still kept up through Normandy. Here it
rings nightly at nine. In other towns it rings at nine in winter only,
but not till ten in summer. In some places it is called _la retraite_.

Adjoining the bell-tower is a fountain, ornamented with statues of
Alpheus and Arethusa, united by Cupid; a specimen of the taste of the
far-famed _siecles de Louis XIV et de Louis XV_, and a worthy companion
of the water-works at Versailles. There are in Rouen more than thirty
public fountains, all supplied by five different springs, among which,
those of Yonville and of Darnetal are accounted to afford the purest
water.--The Robec and the Aubette also flow through Rouen in artificial
channels. St. Louis granted them both to the city in 1262; but it was
the great benefactor of the place, the Cardinal d'Amboise, who brought
them within the walls, by means of a canal, which he caused to be dug
at his own expence. For a space of two leagues their banks are
uninterruptedly lined with mills and manufactories of various
descriptions; and it is this circumstance which has given rise to the
saying, that Rouen is a wonderful place, for "that it has a river with
three hundred bridges, and whose waters change their color ten times a

As a building, the fountain of Lisieux, decorated with a bas-relief
representing Parnassus, with Apollo, the Muses, and Pegasus, is most
frequently pointed out to strangers; a wretched specimen of wretched
taste. Infinitely more interesting to us are the Gothic fountains or
conduits, which are now wholly wanting in England. Such is the fountain
_de la Croix de Pierre_, which, in shape, style, and ornaments,
resembles the monumental crosses erected by; our King Edward Ist, for
his Queen Eleanor. The water flows from pipes in the basement. The stone
statues, which filled the tabernacles, were destroyed during the
revolution: they have been replaced by others in wood.--The fountain _de
la Crosse_ is of inferior size, and more recent date. It is a polygon,
with sides of pannelled work, each compartment occupied by a pointed
arch, with tracery in the spandrils. It ends in a short truncated
pyramid, which, in Millin's time, was surmounted by a royal crown[114].
Its name is taken from a house, at whose corner it stands, and on whose
roof was originally a crozier.

Writing to a friend may be regarded, if we extend to writing the happy
comparison which Lord Bacon has applied to conversation, not as walking
in a high-road which leads direct to a house, but rather as strolling
through a country intersected with a variety of paths, in which the
traveller wanders as fancy or accident directs. Hence I shall scarcely
apologize for my abrupt transition to another very different subject,
the hospitals.--There are at Rouen two such establishments, situated at
opposite extremes of the town, the _Hospice General_ and the _Hotel
Dieu_, more commonly called _la Madeleine_. The latter is appropriated
only to the sick; the former is also open to the aged, to foundlings, to
paupers, and to lunatics. For the poor, I have been able to hear of no
other provision; and poor-laws, as you know, have no existence in
France; yet, even here, in a manufacturing town, and at a season of
distress, beggary is far from extreme. These institutions, like all the
rest at Rouen, are said to be under excellent management.

The annual expences of la Madeleine are estimated at two hundred and
forty thousand-francs[115]; out of which sum, no less than forty-seven
thousand francs are expended in bread. The number of individuals
admitted here, during the first nine months of 1805, the last authentic
statement I have been able to procure, was two thousand seven hundred
and seventeen: during the same period, two thousand one hundred and
fifty-eight were discharged, and two hundred and seventy died. The
building is modern and handsome, and situated at the end of a fine
avenue. The church, a Corinthian edifice, and indisputably the
handsomest building of that description at Rouen, is generally admired.
The Hospice General, destitute as it is of architectural magnificence,
cannot be visited without satisfaction. When I was at this hospital, the
old men who are housed there were seated at their dinner, and I have
seldom witnessed a more pleasing sight. They exhibited an appearance of
cleanliness, propriety, good order, and comfort, equally creditable to
themselves and to the institution. The number of inmates usually
resident in this building is about two thousand; and they consisted, in
1805, of one hundred and sixty aged men, one hundred and eighty aged
women, six hundred children, and eight hundred and twenty-five invalids.
Among the latter were forty lunatics. The food here allowed to the
helpless poor is of good quality; and, as far as I could learn, is
afforded in sufficient quantity: there are also two work-shops; in one
of which, articles are manufactured for the use of the house; in the
other, for sale.

The principal towns of France, as was anciently the case in England,
have each its mint. The numismatic antiquities of this kingdom are yet
involved in considerable obscurity; but it is said that the monetary
privileges of the towns were first settled by Charles the Bald[116],
who, about the year 835, enacted, that money, which had previously only
been coined in the royal palace itself, or in places where the sovereign
was present, should be struck in future at Paris, Rouen, Rheims, Sens,
Chalons sur Saone, Mesle in Poitou, and Narbonne. At present, the money
struck at Rouen is impressed with the letter _B_, indicating that the
mint is second only to that of Paris; for the city has remained in
possession of the right of coinage throughout all its various changes of
masters: it now holds it in common with ten other, cities in the
kingdom. Ducarel[117] has figured two very scarce silver pennies, coined
here by William the Conqueror, before the invasion of England; and
Snelling and Ruding[118] detail ordinances for the regulation of the
mintage of Rouen, during the reign of Henry Vth. I have not been able,
however, to procure in the city any specimens of these, or of other
Norman coins; and in fact the native spot of articles of _virtu_ is
seldom the place where they can be procured either genuine or in
abundance. Greek medals, I am told, are regularly exported from
Birmingham to Athens, for the supply of our travelled gentlemen; and, if
groats and pennies should ever rise in the market, I doubt not but that
they will find their way in plenty into the old towns of Normandy. There
is not, at Rouen, any public collection of the productions of the mint.
Since the annexation of the duchy to the crown of France, no coins have
been struck here, except the common silver currency of the kingdom: the
manufacture of medals and of gold coins is exclusively the privilege of
the Parisian mint. The establishment is under the care of a commissary
and assay-master, appointed by the crown, but not salaried. Their pay
depends upon the amount of money coined, on which they are allowed one
and a half per cent., and are left to find silver where they can; so
that, in effect, it is little more than a private concern. The work is
performed by four die-presses, moved by levers, each of which requires
ten men; and about twenty thousand pieces can be produced daily from
each press. But this method of working is attended with unequal
pressure, and causes both trouble and uncertainty: it is even necessary
that each coin should be separately weighed. The extreme superiority of
the machinery of our own mint, where the whole operation is performed by
steam, with a rapidity and accuracy altogether astonishing, affords Just
reason for exultation to an Englishman.--It is true, that the execution
of our bank paper rather counterbalances such feelings of complacency.


[105] This appears from the following inscription now upon a silver
tablet placed near it.--"Ce tableau est celui qui fut donne par Louis
XII, en 1499, a l'Exchiquier, lorsqu'il le rendit permanent. C'est le
seul de tous les ornemens de ce palais qui ait echappe aux ravages de la
revolution: il a ete conserve par les soins de M. Gouel, graveur, et par
lui remis a la cour royale de Rouen qui l'a fait placer ici, comme un
monument de la piete d'un roi, a qui sa bonte merita le surnom de pere
du peuple, et dont les vertus se reproduisent aujourd'hui dans la
personne non moins cherie que sacree de sa majeste tres chretienne,
Louis XVIII, 15 Janvier, 1816."

[106] Du Cange, (I. p. 24.) quoting from a book printed at Rouen, in
1587, under the title of _Les Triomphes de l'Abbaye des Conards_, &c.
gives the following curious mock patent from the abbot of this
confraternity, addressed to somebody of the name of De Montalinos.--

"Provisio Cardinalatus Rothomagensis Julianensis, &c.

"Paticherptissime Pater, &c.

"Abbas Conardorum et inconardorum ex quacumque Natione, vel
genitatione sint aut fuerint: Dilecto nostro filio naturali et
illegitimo Jacobo a Montalinasio salutem et sinistram benedictionem.
Tua talis qualis vita et sancta reputatio cum bonis servitiis ... et
quod diffidimus quod postea facies secundum indolem adolescentiae ac
sapientiae tuae in Conardicis actibus, induxenunt nos, &c. Quocirca
mandamus ad amicos, inimicos et benefactores nostros qui ex hoc
saeculo transierunt vel transituri sunt ... quatenus habeant te
ponere, statuere, instalare et investire tam in choro, chordis et
organo, quam in cymbalis bene sonantibus, faciantque te jocundari et
ludere de libertatibus franchisiis, &c.... Voenundatum in tentorio
nostro prope sanctum Julianum sub annulo peccatoris anno pontificatus
nostri, 6. Kalend. fabacearum, hora vero noctis 17. more Conardorum
computando, &c."

[107] The music of this hymn, or _prose_, as it is termed in the
Catholic Rituals, is given in the Atlas to Millin's Travels through the
Southern Departments of France, _plate_ 4.

[108] See under the article _Abbas Conardorum_, I. p. 24.

[109] _Antiquites Nationales_, III. No. 36.

[110] Vol. II. No. 9.

[111] Vol. IV. t. 29, 30, 31.

[112] _Antiquites Nationales_, III. No. 30.

[113] This ceased to be the case almost immediately after this remark
was made; for, on my return to France, in 1819, I observed on the whole
road from Dieppe to Paris, the letters P A C I, or others, equally
meaning _pour assurance contre l'incendie_, painted upon the fronts of
the houses.

[114] _Antiquites Nationales_, III. article 30, p. 26.--(In the figure,
however, which accompanies this article, the summit is mutilated, as I
saw it.)

[115] _Peuchet, Description Topographique et Statistique de la France,
Departement de la Seine Inferieure_, p. 33.

[116] _Histoire de la Haute Normandie_, I. p. 94.

[117] _Anglo-Norman Antiquities_, p. 33. t. 3.

[118] _Annals of the Coinage of Britain_, I. p. 505-507.



(_Rouen, June_, 1818.)

The laws of France do not recognize monastic vows; but of late years,
the clergy have made attempts to re-establish the communities which once
characterized the Catholic church. To a certain degree they have
succeeded: the spirit of religion is stronger than the law; and the
spirit of contradiction, which teaches the subject to do whatever the
law forbids, is stronger than either. Hence, most towns in France
contain establishments, which may be considered either as the embers of
expiring monachism, or the sparks of its reviving flame. Rouen has now a
convent of Ursulines, who undertake the education of young females. The
house is spacious; and for its neatness, as well as for the appearance
of regularity and propriety, cannot be surpassed. On this account, it is
often visited by strangers. The present lady-abbess, Dame Cousin, would
do honor to the most flourishing days of the hierarchy: when she walks
into the chapel, Saint Ethelburgha herself could not have carried the
crozier with greater state; and, though she is somewhat short and
somewhat thick, her pupils are all wonderfully edified by her dignity.
She has upwards of dozen English heretics under her care; but she will
not compromise her conscience by allowing them to attend the Protestant
service. There are also about ninety French scholars, and the inborn
antipathy between them and the _insulaires_, will sometimes evince
itself. Amongst other specimens of girlish spite, the French fair-ones
have divided the English damsels into two _genera_. Those who look plump
and good-humored, they call _Mesdemoiselles Rosbifs_; whilst such as are
thin and graver acquire the appellation of the _Mesdemoiselles Goddams_,
a name by which we have been known in France, at least five centuries
ago.--This story is not trivial, for it bespeaks the national feeling;
and, although you may not care much about it, yet I am sure, that five
centuries hence, it will be considered as of infinite importance by the
antiquaries who are now babes unborn. The Ursulines and _soeurs
d'Ernemon_, or _de la Charite_, who nurse the sick, are the only two
orders which are now protected by government. They were even encouraged
under the reign of Napoleon, who placed them under the care of his
august parent, _Madame Mere_.--There are other sisterhoods at Rouen,
though in small numbers, and not publickly patronized.

Nuns are thus increasing and multiplying, but monks and friars are
looked upon with a more jealous eye; and I have not heard that any such
communities have been allowed to re-assemble within the limits of the
duchy, once so distinguished for their opulence, and, perhaps, for their
piety and learning.

The libraries of the monasteries were wasted, dispersed, and destroyed,
during the revolution; but the wrecks have since been collected in the
principal towns; and thus originated the public library of Rouen, which
now contains, as it is said, upwards of seventy thousand volumes. As may
be anticipated, a great proportion of the works which it includes
relate to theology and scholastic divinity; and the Bollandists present
their formidable front of fifty-four ponderous folios.

[Illustration: Initial Letter from a MS. of the History of William of Jumieges]

The manuscripts, of which I understand there are full eight hundred, are
of much greater value than the printed books. But they are at present
unarranged and uncatalogued, though M. Licquet, the librarian, has been
for some time past laboring to bring them into order. Among those
pointed out to us, none interested me so much as an original autograph;
of the _Historica Normannorum_, by William de Jumiegies, brought from
the very abbey to which he belonged. There is no doubt, I believe, of
its antiquity; but, to enable you to form your own judgment upon the
subject, I send you a tracing of the first paragraph.

[Illustration: Historica Normannorum tracing of autograph]

I also add a fac-simile of the initial letter of the foregoing epistle,
illuminated by the monk, and in which he has introduced himself in the
act of humbly presenting his work to his royal namesake. I am mistaken,
if any equally early, and equally well authenticated representation of a
King of England be in existence. The _Historia Normannorum_ is
incomplete, both at the beginning and end, and it does not occupy more
than one-fifth of the volume: the rest is filled with a comment upon the
Jewish History.

The articles among the manuscripts, most valued by antiquaries, are a
_Benedictionary_ and a _Missal_, both supposed of nearly the same date,
the beginning of the twelfth century.

The Abbe Saas, who published, in 1746, a catalogue of the manuscripts
belonging to the library of the cathedral of Rouen, calls this
Benedictionary, which then belonged to the metropolitan church, a
_Penitential_; and gives it as his opinion, that it is a production of
the eighth century, with which aera he says that the character of the
writing wholly accords. Montfaucon, who never saw it, follows the Abbe;
but the opinion of these learned men has recently been confuted by M.
Gourdin[119], who has bestowed considerable pains upon the elucidation
of the history and contents of this curious relic. He states that a sum
of fifteen thousand francs had been offered for it, by a countryman of
our own; but I should not hesitate to class this tale among the
numberless idle reports which are current upon the continent, respecting
the riches and the folly of English travellers. The famous Bedford
Missal, at a time when the bibliomania was at its height[120], could
hardly fetch a larger sum; and this of Rouen is in no point of view,
except antiquity, to be put in competition with the English manuscript.
Its illuminations are certainly beautiful; but they are equalled by many
hundreds of similar works; and they are only three in number, the
_Resurrection_, the _Descent of the Holy Ghost_, and the _Death of the

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