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Notre-Dame de Paris The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

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Notre-Dame de Paris

Also known as:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

by Victor Hugo


A few years ago, while visiting or, rather, rummaging about
Notre-Dame, the author of this book found, in an obscure
nook of one of the towers, the following word, engraved by
hand upon the wall:--


These Greek capitals, black with age, and quite deeply
graven in the stone, with I know not what signs peculiar
to Gothic caligraphy imprinted upon their forms and upon
their attitudes, as though with the purpose of revealing that
it had been a hand of the Middle Ages which had inscribed
them there, and especially the fatal and melancholy meaning
contained in them, struck the author deeply.

He questioned himself; he sought to divine who could have
been that soul in torment which had not been willing to quit
this world without leaving this stigma of crime or unhappiness
upon the brow of the ancient church.

Afterwards, the wall was whitewashed or scraped down, I
know not which, and the inscription disappeared. For it is
thus that people have been in the habit of proceeding with
the marvellous churches of the Middle Ages for the last two
hundred years. Mutilations come to them from every quarter,
from within as well as from without. The priest whitewashes
them, the archdeacon scrapes them down; then the
populace arrives and demolishes them.

Thus, with the exception of the fragile memory which the
author of this book here consecrates to it, there remains
to-day nothing whatever of the mysterious word engraved
within the gloomy tower of Notre-Dame,--nothing of the
destiny which it so sadly summed up. The man who wrote
that word upon the wall disappeared from the midst of the
generations of man many centuries ago; the word, in its turn,
has been effaced from the wall of the church; the church
will, perhaps, itself soon disappear from the face of the

It is upon this word that this book is founded.

March, 1831.




I. The Grand Hall
II. Pierre Gringoire
III. Monsieur the Cardinal
IV. Master Jacques Coppenole
V. Quasimodo
VI. Esmeralda

I. From Charybdis to Scylla
II. The Place de Grève
III. Kisses for Blows
IV. The Inconveniences of Following a Pretty Woman through
the Streets in the Evening
V. Result of the Dangers
VI. The Broken Jug
VII. A Bridal Night

I. Notre-Dame
II. A Bird's-eye View of Paris

I. Good Souls
II. Claude Frollo
III. Immanis Pecoris Custos, Immanior Ipse
IV. The Dog and his Master
V. More about Claude Frollo
VI. Unpopularity

I. Abbas Beati Martini
II. This will Kill That

I. An Impartial Glance at the Ancient Magistracy
II. The Rat-hole
III. History of a Leavened Cake of Maize
IV. A Tear for a Drop of Water
V. End of the Story of the Cake




Three hundred and forty-eight years, six months, and nineteen
days ago to-day, the Parisians awoke to the sound of all
the bells in the triple circuit of the city, the university, and
the town ringing a full peal.

The sixth of January, 1482, is not, however, a day of which
history has preserved the memory. There was nothing notable
in the event which thus set the bells and the bourgeois
of Paris in a ferment from early morning. It was neither an
assault by the Picards nor the Burgundians, nor a hunt led
along in procession, nor a revolt of scholars in the town of
Laas, nor an entry of "our much dread lord, monsieur the
king," nor even a pretty hanging of male and female thieves
by the courts of Paris. Neither was it the arrival, so frequent
in the fifteenth century, of some plumed and bedizened embassy.
It was barely two days since the last cavalcade of
that nature, that of the Flemish ambassadors charged with
concluding the marriage between the dauphin and Marguerite
of Flanders, had made its entry into Paris, to the great annoyance
of M. le Cardinal de Bourbon, who, for the sake of pleasing the
king, had been obliged to assume an amiable mien
towards this whole rustic rabble of Flemish burgomasters, and
to regale them at his Hôtel de Bourbon, with a very "pretty
morality, allegorical satire, and farce," while a driving rain
drenched the magnificent tapestries at his door.

What put the "whole population of Paris in commotion," as
Jehan de Troyes expresses it, on the sixth of January, was
the double solemnity, united from time immemorial, of the
Epiphany and the Feast of Fools.

On that day, there was to be a bonfire on the Place de
Grève, a maypole at the Chapelle de Braque, and a mystery at
the Palais de Justice. It had been cried, to the sound of the
trumpet, the preceding evening at all the cross roads, by the
provost's men, clad in handsome, short, sleeveless coats of
violet camelot, with large white crosses upon their breasts.

So the crowd of citizens, male and female, having closed
their houses and shops, thronged from every direction, at
early morn, towards some one of the three spots designated.

Each had made his choice; one, the bonfire; another, the
maypole; another, the mystery play. It must be stated, in
honor of the good sense of the loungers of Paris, that the
greater part of this crowd directed their steps towards the
bonfire, which was quite in season, or towards the mystery
play, which was to be presented in the grand hall of the
Palais de Justice (the courts of law), which was well roofed
and walled; and that the curious left the poor, scantily flowered
maypole to shiver all alone beneath the sky of January,
in the cemetery of the Chapel of Braque.

The populace thronged the avenues of the law courts in
particular, because they knew that the Flemish ambassadors,
who had arrived two days previously, intended to be present
at the representation of the mystery, and at the election of
the Pope of the Fools, which was also to take place in the
grand hall.

It was no easy matter on that day, to force one's way into
that grand hall, although it was then reputed to be the largest
covered enclosure in the world (it is true that Sauval had not
yet measured the grand hall of the Château of Montargis).
The palace place, encumbered with people, offered to the
curious gazers at the windows the aspect of a sea; into which
five or six streets, like so many mouths of rivers, discharged
every moment fresh floods of heads. The waves of this
crowd, augmented incessantly, dashed against the angles of
the houses which projected here and there, like so many
promontories, into the irregular basin of the place. In the
centre of the lofty Gothic* façade of the palace, the grand
staircase, incessantly ascended and descended by a double
current, which, after parting on the intermediate landing-place,
flowed in broad waves along its lateral slopes,--the grand
staircase, I say, trickled incessantly into the place, like a
cascade into a lake. The cries, the laughter, the trampling
of those thousands of feet, produced a great noise and a great
clamor. From time to time, this noise and clamor redoubled;
the current which drove the crowd towards the grand staircase
flowed backwards, became troubled, formed whirlpools.
This was produced by the buffet of an archer, or the horse of
one of the provost's sergeants, which kicked to restore order;
an admirable tradition which the provostship has bequeathed
to the constablery, the constablery to the ~maréchaussée~, the
~maréchaussée~ to our ~gendarmeri~ of Paris.

* The word Gothic, in the sense in which it is generally employed,
is wholly unsuitable, but wholly consecrated. Hence we accept it
and we adopt it, like all the rest of the world, to characterize
the architecture of the second half of the Middle Ages, where the
ogive is the principle which succeeds the architecture of the first
period, of which the semi-circle is the father.

Thousands of good, calm, bourgeois faces thronged the windows,
the doors, the dormer windows, the roofs, gazing at the
palace, gazing at the populace, and asking nothing more; for
many Parisians content themselves with the spectacle of the
spectators, and a wall behind which something is going on
becomes at once, for us, a very curious thing indeed.

If it could be granted to us, the men of 1830, to mingle in
thought with those Parisians of the fifteenth century, and to
enter with them, jostled, elbowed, pulled about, into that
immense hall of the palace, which was so cramped on that
sixth of January, 1482, the spectacle would not be devoid of
either interest or charm, and we should have about us only
things that were so old that they would seem new.

With the reader's consent, we will endeavor to retrace in
thought, the impression which he would have experienced in
company with us on crossing the threshold of that grand hall,
in the midst of that tumultuous crowd in surcoats, short,
sleeveless jackets, and doublets.

And, first of all, there is a buzzing in the ears, a dazzlement
in the eyes. Above our heads is a double ogive vault, panelled
with wood carving, painted azure, and sown with golden
fleurs-de-lis; beneath our feet a pavement of black and white
marble, alternating. A few paces distant, an enormous pillar,
then another, then another; seven pillars in all, down the
length of the hall, sustaining the spring of the arches of the
double vault, in the centre of its width. Around four of
the pillars, stalls of merchants, all sparkling with glass and
tinsel; around the last three, benches of oak, worn and polished
by the trunk hose of the litigants, and the robes of the
attorneys. Around the hall, along the lofty wall, between the
doors, between the windows, between the pillars, the interminable
row of all the kings of France, from Pharamond down:
the lazy kings, with pendent arms and downcast eyes; the
valiant and combative kings, with heads and arms raised
boldly heavenward. Then in the long, pointed windows,
glass of a thousand hues; at the wide entrances to the hall,
rich doors, finely sculptured; and all, the vaults, pillars,
walls, jambs, panelling, doors, statues, covered from top to
bottom with a splendid blue and gold illumination, which, a
trifle tarnished at the epoch when we behold it, had almost
entirely disappeared beneath dust and spiders in the year of
grace, 1549, when du Breul still admired it from tradition.

Let the reader picture to himself now, this immense, oblong
hall, illuminated by the pallid light of a January day, invaded
by a motley and noisy throng which drifts along the walls,
and eddies round the seven pillars, and he will have a confused
idea of the whole effect of the picture, whose curious
details we shall make an effort to indicate with more precision.

It is certain, that if Ravaillac had not assassinated Henri
IV., there would have been no documents in the trial of
Ravaillac deposited in the clerk's office of the Palais de Justice,
no accomplices interested in causing the said documents
to disappear; hence, no incendiaries obliged, for lack of better
means, to burn the clerk's office in order to burn the documents,
and to burn the Palais de Justice in order to burn the
clerk's office; consequently, in short, no conflagration in 1618.
The old Palais would be standing still, with its ancient grand
hall; I should be able to say to the reader, "Go and look at
it," and we should thus both escape the necessity,--I of
making, and he of reading, a description of it, such as it is.
Which demonstrates a new truth: that great events have
incalculable results.

It is true that it may be quite possible, in the first place,
that Ravaillac had no accomplices; and in the second, that if
he had any, they were in no way connected with the fire of
1618. Two other very plausible explanations exist: First,
the great flaming star, a foot broad, and a cubit high, which
fell from heaven, as every one knows, upon the law courts,
after midnight on the seventh of March; second, Théophile's

"Sure, 'twas but a sorry game
When at Paris, Dame Justice,
Through having eaten too much spice,
Set the palace all aflame."

Whatever may be thought of this triple explanation, political,
physical, and poetical, of the burning of the law courts in
1618, the unfortunate fact of the fire is certain. Very little
to-day remains, thanks to this catastrophe,--thanks, above
all, to the successive restorations which have completed what
it spared,--very little remains of that first dwelling of the
kings of France,--of that elder palace of the Louvre, already
so old in the time of Philip the Handsome, that they sought
there for the traces of the magnificent buildings erected by
King Robert and described by Helgaldus. Nearly everything
has disappeared. What has become of the chamber of the
chancellery, where Saint Louis consummated his marriage?
the garden where he administered justice, "clad in a coat of
camelot, a surcoat of linsey-woolsey, without sleeves, and a
sur-mantle of black sandal, as he lay upon the carpet with
Joinville?" Where is the chamber of the Emperor Sigismond?
and that of Charles IV.? that of Jean the Landless?
Where is the staircase, from which Charles VI. promulgated
his edict of pardon? the slab where Marcel cut the throats of
Robert de Clermont and the Marshal of Champagne, in the
presence of the dauphin? the wicket where the bulls of
Pope Benedict were torn, and whence those who had brought
them departed decked out, in derision, in copes and mitres,
and making an apology through all Paris? and the grand
hall, with its gilding, its azure, its statues, its pointed arches,
its pillars, its immense vault, all fretted with carvings? and
the gilded chamber? and the stone lion, which stood at the
door, with lowered head and tail between his legs, like the
lions on the throne of Solomon, in the humiliated attitude
which befits force in the presence of justice? and the beautiful
doors? and the stained glass? and the chased ironwork,
which drove Biscornette to despair? and the delicate woodwork
of Hancy? What has time, what have men done with
these marvels? What have they given us in return for all
this Gallic history, for all this Gothic art? The heavy flattened
arches of M. de Brosse, that awkward architect of the
Saint-Gervais portal. So much for art; and, as for history,
we have the gossiping reminiscences of the great pillar, still
ringing with the tattle of the Patru.

It is not much. Let us return to the veritable grand hall
of the veritable old palace. The two extremities of this
gigantic parallelogram were occupied, the one by the famous
marble table, so long, so broad, and so thick that, as the
ancient land rolls--in a style that would have given Gargantua
an appetite--say, "such a slice of marble as was never
beheld in the world"; the other by the chapel where Louis XI.
had himself sculptured on his knees before the Virgin, and
whither he caused to be brought, without heeding the two
gaps thus made in the row of royal statues, the statues of
Charlemagne and of Saint Louis, two saints whom he supposed
to be great in favor in heaven, as kings of France.
This chapel, quite new, having been built only six years, was
entirely in that charming taste of delicate architecture, of
marvellous sculpture, of fine and deep chasing, which marks
with us the end of the Gothic era, and which is perpetuated
to about the middle of the sixteenth century in the fairylike
fancies of the Renaissance. The little open-work rose window,
pierced above the portal, was, in particular, a masterpiece
of lightness and grace; one would have pronounced it a
star of lace.

In the middle of the hall, opposite the great door, a platform
of gold brocade, placed against the wall, a special
entrance to which had been effected through a window in
the corridor of the gold chamber, had been erected for the
Flemish emissaries and the other great personages invited to
the presentation of the mystery play.

It was upon the marble table that the mystery was to be
enacted, as usual. It had been arranged for the purpose,
early in the morning; its rich slabs of marble, all scratched
by the heels of law clerks, supported a cage of carpenter's
work of considerable height, the upper surface of which,
within view of the whole hall, was to serve as the theatre,
and whose interior, masked by tapestries, was to take the
place of dressing-rooms for the personages of the piece. A
ladder, naively placed on the outside, was to serve as means
of communication between the dressing-room and the stage,
and lend its rude rungs to entrances as well as to exits.
There was no personage, however unexpected, no sudden
change, no theatrical effect, which was not obliged to mount
that ladder. Innocent and venerable infancy of art and

Four of the bailiff of the palace's sergeants, perfunctory
guardians of all the pleasures of the people, on days of festival
as well as on days of execution, stood at the four corners
of the marble table.

The piece was only to begin with the twelfth stroke of the
great palace clock sounding midday. It was very late, no
doubt, for a theatrical representation, but they had been
obliged to fix the hour to suit the convenience of the ambassadors.

Now, this whole multitude had been waiting since morning.
A goodly number of curious, good people had been shivering
since daybreak before the grand staircase of the palace;
some even affirmed that they had passed the night across
the threshold of the great door, in order to make sure that
they should be the first to pass in. The crowd grew more
dense every moment, and, like water, which rises above its
normal level, began to mount along the walls, to swell around
the pillars, to spread out on the entablatures, on the cornices,
on the window-sills, on all the salient points of the architecture,
on all the reliefs of the sculpture. Hence, discomfort,
impatience, weariness, the liberty of a day of cynicism and
folly, the quarrels which break forth for all sorts of causes--a
pointed elbow, an iron-shod shoe, the fatigue of long waiting--had
already, long before the hour appointed for the
arrival of the ambassadors, imparted a harsh and bitter
accent to the clamor of these people who were shut in, fitted
into each other, pressed, trampled upon, stifled. Nothing
was to be heard but imprecations on the Flemish, the provost
of the merchants, the Cardinal de Bourbon, the bailiff of the
courts, Madame Marguerite of Austria, the sergeants with
their rods, the cold, the heat, the bad weather, the Bishop
of Paris, the Pope of the Fools, the pillars, the statues, that
closed door, that open window; all to the vast amusement of
a band of scholars and lackeys scattered through the mass,
who mingled with all this discontent their teasing remarks,
and their malicious suggestions, and pricked the general bad
temper with a pin, so to speak.

Among the rest there was a group of those merry imps, who,
after smashing the glass in a window, had seated themselves
hardily on the entablature, and from that point despatched
their gaze and their railleries both within and without,
upon the throng in the hall, and the throng upon the Place.
It was easy to see, from their parodied gestures, their
ringing laughter, the bantering appeals which they exchanged
with their comrades, from one end of the hall to the other,
that these young clerks did not share the weariness and
fatigue of the rest of the spectators, and that they understood
very well the art of extracting, for their own private diversion
from that which they had under their eyes, a spectacle
which made them await the other with patience.

"Upon my soul, so it's you, 'Joannes Frollo de Molendino!'"
cried one of them, to a sort of little, light-haired
imp, with a well-favored and malign countenance, clinging to
the acanthus leaves of a capital; "you are well named John
of the Mill, for your two arms and your two legs have the air
of four wings fluttering on the breeze. How long have you
been here?"

"By the mercy of the devil," retorted Joannes Frollo,
"these four hours and more; and I hope that they will be
reckoned to my credit in purgatory. I heard the eight singers
of the King of Sicily intone the first verse of seven o'clock
mass in the Sainte-Chapelle."

"Fine singers!" replied the other, "with voices even more
pointed than their caps! Before founding a mass for Monsieur
Saint John, the king should have inquired whether
Monsieur Saint John likes Latin droned out in a Provençal

"He did it for the sake of employing those accursed singers
of the King of Sicily!" cried an old woman sharply from
among the crowd beneath the window. "I just put it to
you! A thousand ~livres parisi~ for a mass! and out of the tax
on sea fish in the markets of Paris, to boot!"

"Peace, old crone," said a tall, grave person, stopping up
his nose on the side towards the fishwife; "a mass had to be
founded. Would you wish the king to fall ill again?"

"Bravely spoken, Sire Gilles Lecornu, master furrier of
king's robes!" cried the little student, clinging to the

A shout of laughter from all the students greeted the
unlucky name of the poor furrier of the king's robes.

"Lecornu! Gilles Lecornu!" said some.

"~Cornutus et hirsutus~, horned and hairy," another went on.

"He! of course," continued the small imp on the capital,
"What are they laughing at? An honorable man is Gilles
Lecornu, brother of Master Jehan Lecornu, provost of the
king's house, son of Master Mahiet Lecornu, first porter of
the Bois de Vincennes,--all bourgeois of Paris, all married,
from father to son."

The gayety redoubled. The big furrier, without uttering a
word in reply, tried to escape all the eyes riveted upon him
from all sides; but he perspired and panted in vain; like a
wedge entering the wood, his efforts served only to bury still
more deeply in the shoulders of his neighbors, his large,
apoplectic face, purple with spite and rage.

At length one of these, as fat, short, and venerable as
himself, came to his rescue.

"Abomination! scholars addressing a bourgeois in that
fashion in my day would have been flogged with a fagot,
which would have afterwards been used to burn them."

The whole band burst into laughter.

"Holà hé! who is scolding so? Who is that screech owl of
evil fortune?"

"Hold, I know him" said one of them; "'tis Master
Andry Musnier."

"Because he is one of the four sworn booksellers of the
university!" said the other.

"Everything goes by fours in that shop," cried a third;
"the four nations, the four faculties, the four feasts, the four
procurators, the four electors, the four booksellers."

"Well," began Jean Frollo once more," we must play the
devil with them."*

* ~Faire le diable a quatre~.

"Musnier, we'll burn your books."

"Musnier, we'll beat your lackeys."

"Musnier, we'll kiss your wife."

"That fine, big Mademoiselle Oudarde."

"Who is as fresh and as gay as though she were a widow."

"Devil take you!" growled Master Andry Musnier.

"Master Andry," pursued Jean Jehan, still clinging to his
capital, "hold your tongue, or I'll drop on your head!"

Master Andry raised his eyes, seemed to measure in an
instant the height of the pillar, the weight of the scamp,
mentally multiplied that weight by the square of the velocity
and remained silent.

Jehan, master of the field of battle, pursued triumphantly:

"That's what I'll do, even if I am the brother of an archdeacon!"

"Fine gentry are our people of the university, not to have
caused our privileges to be respected on such a day as this!
However, there is a maypole and a bonfire in the town; a
mystery, Pope of the Fools, and Flemish ambassadors in the
city; and, at the university, nothing!"

"Nevertheless, the Place Maubert is sufficiently large!"
interposed one of the clerks established on the window-sill.

"Down with the rector, the electors, and the procurators!"
cried Joannes.

"We must have a bonfire this evening in the Champ-Gaillard,"
went on the other, "made of Master Andry's books."

"And the desks of the scribes!" added his neighbor.

"And the beadles' wands!"

"And the spittoons of the deans!"

"And the cupboards of the procurators!"

"And the hutches of the electors!"

"And the stools of the rector!"

"Down with them!" put in little Jehan, as counterpoint;
"down with Master Andry, the beadles and the scribes; the
theologians, the doctors and the decretists; the procurators,
the electors and the rector!"

"The end of the world has come!,' muttered Master Andry,
stopping up his ears.

"By the way, there's the rector! see, he is passing through
the Place," cried one of those in the window.

Each rivalled his neighbor in his haste to turn towards the

"Is it really our venerable rector, Master Thibaut?" demanded
Jehan Frollo du Moulin, who, as he was clinging to
one of the inner pillars, could not see what was going on outside.

"Yes, yes," replied all the others, "it is really he, Master
Thibaut, the rector."

It was, in fact, the rector and all the dignitaries of the
university, who were marching in procession in front of the
embassy, and at that moment traversing the Place. The students
crowded into the window, saluted them as they passed
with sarcasms and ironical applause. The rector, who was
walking at the head of his company, had to support the first
broadside; it was severe.

"Good day, monsieur le recteur! Holà hé! good day there!"

"How does he manage to be here, the old gambler? Has
he abandoned his dice?"

"How he trots along on his mule! her ears are not so long
as his!"

"Holà hé! good day, monsieur le recteur Thibaut! ~Tybalde
aleator~! Old fool! old gambler!"

"God preserve you! Did you throw double six often last

"Oh! what a decrepit face, livid and haggard and drawn
with the love of gambling and of dice!"

"Where are you bound for in that fashion, Thibaut, ~Tybalde
ad dados~, with your back turned to the university, and trotting
towards the town?"

"He is on his way, no doubt, to seek a lodging in the Rue
Thibautodé?"* cried Jehan du M. Moulin.

* ~Thibaut au des~,--Thibaut of the dice.

The entire band repeated this quip in a voice of thunder,
clapping their hands furiously.

"You are going to seek a lodging in the Rue Thibautodé,
are you not, monsieur le recteur, gamester on the side of the

Then came the turns of the other dignitaries.

"Down with the beadles! down with the mace-bearers!"

"Tell me, Robin Pouissepain, who is that yonder?"

"He is Gilbert de Suilly, ~Gilbertus de Soliaco~, the chancellor
of the College of Autun."

"Hold on, here's my shoe; you are better placed than I,
fling it in his face."

"~Saturnalitias mittimus ecce nuces~."

"Down with the six theologians, with their white surplices!"

"Are those the theologians? I thought they were the
white geese given by Sainte-Geneviève to the city, for the
fief of Roogny."

"Down with the doctors!"

"Down with the cardinal disputations, and quibblers!"

"My cap to you, Chancellor of Sainte-Geneviève! You
have done me a wrong. 'Tis true; he gave my place in the
nation of Normandy to little Ascanio Falzapada, who comes
from the province of Bourges, since he is an Italian."

"That is an injustice," said all the scholars. "Down with
the Chancellor of Sainte-Geneviève!"

"Ho hé! Master Joachim de Ladehors! Ho hé! Louis
Dahuille! Ho he Lambert Hoctement!"

"May the devil stifle the procurator of the German nation!"

"And the chaplains of the Sainte-Chapelle, with their gray
~amices; cum tunices grisis~!"

"~Seu de pellibus grisis fourratis~!"

"Holà hé! Masters of Arts! All the beautiful black copes!
all the fine red copes!"

"They make a fine tail for the rector."

"One would say that he was a Doge of Venice on his way
to his bridal with the sea."

"Say, Jehan! here are the canons of Sainte-Geneviève!"

"To the deuce with the whole set of canons!"

"Abbé Claude Choart! Doctor Claude Choart! Are you in
search of Marie la Giffarde?"

"She is in the Rue de Glatigny."

"She is making the bed of the king of the debauchees."
She is paying her four deniers* ~quatuor denarios~."

* An old French coin, equal to the two hundred and
fortieth part of a pound.

"~Aut unum bombum~."

"Would you like to have her pay you in the face?"

"Comrades! Master Simon Sanguin, the Elector of Picardy,
with his wife on the crupper!"

"~Post equitem seclet atra eura~--behind the horseman sits
black care."

"Courage, Master Simon!"

"Good day, Mister Elector!"

"Good night, Madame Electress!"

"How happy they are to see all that!" sighed Joannes de
Molendino, still perched in the foliage of his capital.

Meanwhile, the sworn bookseller of the university, Master
Andry Musnier, was inclining his ear to the furrier of the
king's robes, Master Gilles Lecornu.

"I tell you, sir, that the end of the world has come. No
one has ever beheld such outbreaks among the students! It is
the accursed inventions of this century that are ruining
everything,--artilleries, bombards, and, above all, printing,
that other German pest. No more manuscripts, no more
books! printing will kill bookselling. It is the end of the
world that is drawing nigh."

"I see that plainly, from the progress of velvet stuffs,"
said the fur-merchant.

At this moment, midday sounded.

"Ha!" exclaimed the entire crowd, in one voice.

The scholars held their peace. Then a great hurly-burly
ensued; a vast movement of feet, hands, and heads; a general
outbreak of coughs and handkerchiefs; each one arranged
himself, assumed his post, raised himself up, and grouped
himself. Then came a great silence; all necks remained
outstretched, all mouths remained open, all glances were
directed towards the marble table. Nothing made its appearance
there. The bailiff's four sergeants were still there, stiff,
motionless, as painted statues. All eyes turned to the estrade
reserved for the Flemish envoys. The door remained closed,
the platform empty. This crowd had been waiting since daybreak
for three things: noonday, the embassy from Flanders, the
mystery play. Noonday alone had arrived on time.

On this occasion, it was too much.

They waited one, two, three, five minutes, a quarter of an
hour; nothing came. The dais remained empty, the theatre
dumb. In the meantime, wrath had succeeded to impatience.
Irritated words circulated in a low tone, still, it is true.
"The mystery! the mystery!" they murmured, in hollow
voices. Heads began to ferment. A tempest, which was
only rumbling in the distance as yet, was floating on the
surface of this crowd. It was Jehan du Moulin who struck
the first spark from it.

"The mystery, and to the devil with the Flemings!" he
exclaimed at the full force of his lungs, twining like a serpent
around his pillar.

The crowd clapped their hands.

"The mystery!" it repeated, "and may all the devils take

"We must have the mystery instantly," resumed the student;
"or else, my advice is that we should hang the bailiff
of the courts, by way of a morality and a comedy."

"Well said," cried the people, "and let us begin the hanging
with his sergeants."

A grand acclamation followed. The four poor fellows
began to turn pale, and to exchange glances. The crowd
hurled itself towards them, and they already beheld the
frail wooden railing, which separated them from it, giving
way and bending before the pressure of the throng.

It was a critical moment.

"To the sack, to the sack!" rose the cry on all sides.

At that moment, the tapestry of the dressing-room, which
we have described above, was raised, and afforded passage to a
personage, the mere sight of whom suddenly stopped the crowd,
and changed its wrath into curiosity as by enchantment.

"Silence! silence!"

The personage, but little reassured, and trembling in every
limb, advanced to the edge of the marble table with a vast
amount of bows, which, in proportion as he drew nearer, more
and more resembled genuflections.

In the meanwhile, tranquillity had gradually been restored.
A1l that remained was that slight murmur which always rises
above the silence of a crowd.

"Messieurs the bourgeois," said he, "and mesdemoiselles
the ~bourgeoises~, we shall have the honor of declaiming and
representing, before his eminence, monsieur the cardinal, a
very beautiful morality which has for its title, 'The Good
Judgment of Madame the Virgin Mary.' I am to play Jupiter.
His eminence is, at this moment, escorting the very
honorable embassy of the Duke of Austria; which is detained,
at present, listening to the harangue of monsieur the
rector of the university, at the gate Baudets. As soon as his
illustrious eminence, the cardinal, arrives, we will begin."

It is certain, that nothing less than the intervention of
Jupiter was required to save the four unfortunate sergeants
of the bailiff of the courts. If we had the happiness of having
invented this very veracious tale, and of being, in consequence,
responsible for it before our Lady Criticism, it is not against
us that the classic precept, ~Nec deus intersit~, could be invoked.
Moreover, the costume of Seigneur Jupiter, was very handsome,
and contributed not a little towards calming the crowd, by
attracting all its attention. Jupiter was clad in a coat of
mail, covered with black velvet, with gilt nails; and had it
not been for the rouge, and the huge red beard, each of which
covered one-half of his face,--had it not been for the roll of
gilded cardboard, spangled, and all bristling with strips of
tinsel, which he held in his hand, and in which the eyes
of the initiated easily recognized thunderbolts,--had not his
feet been flesh-colored, and banded with ribbons in Greek
fashion, he might have borne comparison, so far as the severity
of his mien was concerned, with a Breton archer from
the guard of Monsieur de Berry.



Nevertheless, as be harangued them, the satisfaction and
admiration unanimously excited by his costume were dissipated
by his words; and when he reached that untoward conclusion:
"As soon as his illustrious eminence, the cardinal,
arrives, we will begin," his voice was drowned in a thunder
of hooting.

"Begin instantly! The mystery! the mystery immediately!"
shrieked the people. And above all the voices, that
of Johannes de Molendino was audible, piercing the uproar
like the fife's derisive serenade: "Commence instantly!"
yelped the scholar.

"Down with Jupiter and the Cardinal de Bourbon!" vociferated
Robin Poussepain and the other clerks perched in the window.

"The morality this very instant!" repeated the crowd;
"this very instant! the sack and the rope for the comedians,
and the cardinal!"

Poor Jupiter, haggard, frightened, pale beneath his rouge,
dropped his thunderbolt, took his cap in his hand; then he
bowed and trembled and stammered: "His eminence--the
ambassadors--Madame Marguerite of Flanders--." He did not
know what to say. In truth, he was afraid of being hung.

Hung by the populace for waiting, hung by the cardinal for
not having waited, he saw between the two dilemmas only an
abyss; that is to say, a gallows.

Luckily, some one came to rescue him from his embarrassment,
and assume the responsibility.

An individual who was standing beyond the railing, in the
free space around the marble table, and whom no one had yet
caught sight of, since his long, thin body was completely sheltered
from every visual ray by the diameter of the pillar
against which he was leaning; this individual, we say, tall,
gaunt, pallid, blond, still young, although already wrinkled
about the brow and cheeks, with brilliant eyes and a smiling
mouth, clad in garments of black serge, worn and shining
with age, approached the marble table, and made a sign to the
poor sufferer. But the other was so confused that he did not
see him. The new comer advanced another step.

"Jupiter," said he, "my dear Jupiter!"

The other did not hear.

At last, the tall blond, driven out of patience, shrieked
almost in his face,--

"Michel Giborne!"

"Who calls me?" said Jupiter, as though awakened with a start.

"I," replied the person clad in black.

"Ah!" said Jupiter.

"Begin at once," went on the other. "Satisfy the populace;
I undertake to appease the bailiff, who will appease monsieur
the cardinal."

Jupiter breathed once more.

"Messeigneurs the bourgeois," he cried, at the top of his
lungs to the crowd, which continued to hoot him, "we are
going to begin at once."

"~Evoe Jupiter! Plaudite cives~! All hail, Jupiter! Applaud,
citizens!" shouted the scholars.

"Noel! Noel! good, good," shouted the people.

The hand clapping was deafening, and Jupiter had already
withdrawn under his tapestry, while the hall still trembled
with acclamations.

In the meanwhile, the personage who had so magically
turned the tempest into dead calm, as our old and dear Corneille
puts it, had modestly retreated to the half-shadow of
his pillar, and would, no doubt, have remained invisible there,
motionless, and mute as before, had he not been plucked by
the sleeve by two young women, who, standing in the front
row of the spectators, had noticed his colloquy with Michel

"Master," said one of them, making him a sign to approach.
"Hold your tongue, my dear Liénarde," said her neighbor,
pretty, fresh, and very brave, in consequence of being dressed
up in her best attire. "He is not a clerk, he is a layman;
you must not say master to him, but messire."

"Messire," said Liénarde.

The stranger approached the railing.

"What would you have of me, damsels?" he asked, with alacrity.

"Oh! nothing," replied Liénarde, in great confusion; "it
is my neighbor, Gisquette la Gencienne, who wishes to speak
with you."

"Not so," replied Gisquette, blushing; "it was Liénarde
who called you master; I only told her to say messire."

The two young girls dropped their eyes. The man, who
asked nothing better than to enter into conversation, looked
at them with a smile.

"So you have nothing to say to me, damsels?"

"Oh! nothing at all," replied Gisquette.

"Nothing," said Liénarde.

The tall, light-haired young man retreated a step; but the
two curious maidens had no mind to let slip their prize.

"Messire," said Gisquette, with the impetuosity of an
open sluice, or of a woman who has made up her mind,
"do you know that soldier who is to play the part of Madame
the Virgin in the mystery?"

"You mean the part of Jupiter?" replied the stranger.

"Hé! yes," said Liénarde, "isn't she stupid? So you know

"Michel Giborne?" replied the unknown; "yes, madam."

"He has a fine beard!" said Liénarde.

"Will what they are about to say here be fine?" inquired
Gisquette, timidly.

"Very fine, mademoiselle," replied the unknown, without
the slightest hesitation.

"What is it to be?" said Liénarde.

"'The Good Judgment of Madame the Virgin,'--a morality,
if you please, damsel."

"Ah! that makes a difference," responded Liénarde.

A brief silence ensued--broken by the stranger.

"It is a perfectly new morality, and one which has never
yet been played."

"Then it is not the same one," said Gisquette, "that was
given two years ago, on the day of the entrance of monsieur
the legate, and where three handsome maids played the

"Of sirens," said Liénarde.

"And all naked," added the young man.

Liénarde lowered her eyes modestly. Gisquette glanced at
her and did the same. He continued, with a smile,--

"It was a very pleasant thing to see. To-day it is a morality
made expressly for Madame the Demoiselle of Flanders."

"Will they sing shepherd songs?" inquired Gisquette.

"Fie!" said the stranger, "in a morality? you must not
confound styles. If it were a farce, well and good."

"That is a pity," resumed Gisquette. "That day, at the
Ponceau Fountain, there were wild men and women, who
fought and assumed many aspects, as they sang little motets
and bergerettes."

"That which is suitable for a legate," returned the stranger,
with a good deal of dryness, "is not suitable for a princess."

"And beside them," resumed Liénarde, "played many brass
instruments, making great melodies."

"And for the refreshment of the passers-by," continued
Gisquette, "the fountain spouted through three mouths,
wine, milk, and hippocrass, of which every one drank who

"And a little below the Ponceau, at the Trinity," pursued
Liénarde, "there was a passion performed, and without
any speaking."

"How well I remember that!" exclaimed Gisquette; "God
on the cross, and the two thieves on the right and the left."
Here the young gossips, growing warm at the memory of
the entrance of monsieur the legate, both began to talk at

"And, further on, at the Painters' Gate, there were other
personages, very richly clad."

"And at the fountain of Saint-Innocent, that huntsman,
who was chasing a hind with great clamor of dogs and hunting-horns."

"And, at the Paris slaughter-houses, stages, representing
the fortress of Dieppe!"

"And when the legate passed, you remember, Gisquette?
they made the assault, and the English all had their
throats cut."

"And against the gate of the Châtelet, there were very fine

"And on the Port au Change, which was all draped above!"

"And when the legate passed, they let fly on the bridge
more than two hundred sorts of birds; wasn't it beautiful,

"It will be better to-day," finally resumed their interlocutor,
who seemed to listen to them with impatience.

"Do you promise us that this mystery will be fine?" said

"Without doubt," he replied; then he added, with a certain
emphasis,--"I am the author of it, damsels."

"Truly?" said the young girls, quite taken aback.

"Truly!" replied the poet, bridling a little; "that is, to
say, there are two of us; Jehan Marchand, who has sawed the
planks and erected the framework of the theatre and the
woodwork; and I, who have made the piece. My name is
Pierre Gringoire."

The author of the "Cid" could not have said "Pierre Corneille"
with more pride.

Our readers have been able to observe, that a certain
amount of time must have already elapsed from the moment
when Jupiter had retired beneath the tapestry to the instant
when the author of the new morality had thus abruptly
revealed himself to the innocent admiration of Gisquette
and Liénarde. Remarkable fact: that whole crowd, so
tumultuous but a few moments before, now waited amiably
on the word of the comedian; which proves the eternal truth,
still experienced every day in our theatres, that the best
means of making the public wait patiently is to assure them
that one is about to begin instantly.

However, scholar Johannes had not fallen asleep.

"Holà hé!" he shouted suddenly, in the midst of the peaceable
waiting which had followed the tumult. "Jupiter, Madame the
Virgin, buffoons of the devil! are you jeering at us?
The piece! the piece! commence or we will commence again!"

This was all that was needed.

The music of high and low instruments immediately became
audible from the interior of the stage; the tapestry was
raised; four personages, in motley attire and painted faces,
emerged from it, climbed the steep ladder of the theatre, and,
arrived upon the upper platform, arranged themselves in a
line before the public, whom they saluted with profound reverences;
then the symphony ceased.

The mystery was about to begin.

The four personages, after having reaped a rich reward
of applause for their reverences, began, in the midst of
profound silence, a prologue, which we gladly spare the
reader. Moreover, as happens in our own day, the public
was more occupied with the costumes that the actors wore
than with the roles that they were enacting; and, in truth,
they were right. All four were dressed in parti-colored robes
of yellow and white, which were distinguished from each other
only by the nature of the stuff; the first was of gold and silver
brocade; the second, of silk; the third, of wool; the fourth,
of linen. The first of these personages carried in his right
hand a sword; the second, two golden keys; the third, a pair
of scales; the fourth, a spade: and, in order to aid sluggish
minds which would not have seen clearly through the transparency
of these attributes, there was to be read, in large,
black letters, on the hem of the robe of brocade, MY NAME
IS NOBILITY; on the hem of the silken robe, MY NAME IS
CLERGY; on the hem of the woolen robe, MY NAME IS MERCHANDISE;
on the hem of the linen robe, MY NAME IS LABOR.
The sex of the two male characters was briefly indicated to
every judicious spectator, by their shorter robes, and by the
cap which they wore on their heads; while the two female
characters, less briefly clad, were covered with hoods.

Much ill-will would also have been required, not to
comprehend, through the medium of the poetry of the prologue, that
Labor was wedded to Merchandise, and Clergy to Nobility,
and that the two happy couples possessed in common a magnificent
golden dolphin, which they desired to adjudge to the
fairest only. So they were roaming about the world seeking
and searching for this beauty, and, after having successively
rejected the Queen of Golconda, the Princess of Trebizonde,
the daughter of the Grand Khan of Tartary, etc., Labor and
Clergy, Nobility and Merchandise, had come to rest upon the
marble table of the Palais de Justice, and to utter, in the
presence of the honest audience, as many sentences and
maxims as could then be dispensed at the Faculty of Arts,
at examinations, sophisms, determinances, figures, and acts,
where the masters took their degrees.

All this was, in fact, very fine.

Nevertheless, in that throng, upon which the four allegories
vied with each other in pouring out floods of metaphors,
there was no ear more attentive, no heart that palpitated
more, not an eye was more haggard, no neck more outstretched,
than the eye, the ear, the neck, and the heart of
the author, of the poet, of that brave Pierre Gringoire, who
had not been able to resist, a moment before, the joy of telling
his name to two pretty girls. He had retreated a few
paces from them, behind his pillar, and there he listened,
looked, enjoyed. The amiable applause which had greeted the
beginning of his prologue was still echoing in his bosom,
and he was completely absorbed in that species of ecstatic
contemplation with which an author beholds his ideas fall,
one by one, from the mouth of the actor into the vast silence
of the audience. Worthy Pierre Gringoire!

It pains us to say it, but this first ecstasy was speedily
disturbed. Hardly had Gringoire raised this intoxicating cup of
joy and triumph to his lips, when a drop of bitterness was
mingled with it.

A tattered mendicant, who could not collect any coins, lost
as he was in the midst of the crowd, and who had not probably
found sufficient indemnity in the pockets of his neighbors,
had hit upon the idea of perching himself upon some conspicuous
point, in order to attract looks and alms. He had,
accordingly, hoisted himself, during the first verses of the
prologue, with the aid of the pillars of the reserve gallery, to
the cornice which ran round the balustrade at its lower edge;
and there he had seated himself, soliciting the attention and
the pity of the multitude, with his rags and a hideous sore
which covered his right arm. However, he uttered not a word.

The silence which he preserved allowed the prologue to
proceed without hindrance, and no perceptible disorder would
have ensued, if ill-luck had not willed that the scholar Joannes
should catch sight, from the heights of his pillar, of the
mendicant and his grimaces. A wild fit of laughter took
possession of the young scamp, who, without caring that he
was interrupting the spectacle, and disturbing the universal
composure, shouted boldly,--

"Look! see that sickly creature asking alms!"

Any one who has thrown a stone into a frog pond, or fired a
shot into a covey of birds, can form an idea of the effect produced
by these incongruous words, in the midst of the general
attention. It made Gringoire shudder as though it had been
an electric shock. The prologue stopped short, and all heads
turned tumultuously towards the beggar, who, far from being
disconcerted by this, saw, in this incident, a good opportunity
for reaping his harvest, and who began to whine in
a doleful way, half closing his eyes the while,--"Charity,

"Well--upon my soul," resumed Joannes, "it's Clopin
Trouillefou! Holà he, my friend, did your sore bother you
on the leg, that you have transferred it to your arm?"
So saying, with the dexterity of a monkey, he flung a bit of
silver into the gray felt hat which the beggar held in his
ailing arm. The mendicant received both the alms and the sarcasm
without wincing, and continued, in lamentable tones,--

"Charity, please!"

This episode considerably distracted the attention of the
audience; and a goodly number of spectators, among them
Robin Poussepain, and all the clerks at their head, gayly
applauded this eccentric duet, which the scholar, with his
shrill voice, and the mendicant had just improvised in the
middle of the prologue.

Gringoire was highly displeased. On recovering from his
first stupefaction, he bestirred himself to shout, to the four
personages on the stage, "Go on! What the devil!--go on!"
--without even deigning to cast a glance of disdain upon the
two interrupters.

At that moment, he felt some one pluck at the hem of his
surtout; he turned round, and not without ill-humor, and
found considerable difficulty in smiling; but he was obliged
to do so, nevertheless. It was the pretty arm of Gisquette la
Gencienne, which, passed through the railing, was soliciting
his attention in this manner.

"Monsieur," said the young girl, "are they going to continue?"

"Of course," replied Gringoire, a good deal shocked by the

"In that case, messire," she resumed, "would you have the
courtesy to explain to me--"

"What they are about to say?" interrupted Gringoire.
"Well, listen."

"No," said Gisquette, "but what they have said so far."

Gringoire started, like a man whose wound has been probed
to the quick.

"A plague on the stupid and dull-witted little girl!" he
muttered, between his teeth.

From that moment forth, Gisquette was nothing to him.

In the meantime, the actors had obeyed his injunction, and
the public, seeing that they were beginning to speak again,
began once more to listen, not without having lost many
beauties in the sort of soldered joint which was formed
between the two portions of the piece thus abruptly cut
short. Gringoire commented on it bitterly to himself.
Nevertheless, tranquillity was gradually restored, the scholar held
his peace, the mendicant counted over some coins in his hat,
and the piece resumed the upper hand.

It was, in fact, a very fine work, and one which, as it seems
to us, might be put to use to-day, by the aid of a little
rearrangement. The exposition, rather long and rather empty,
that is to say, according to the rules, was simple; and Gringoire,
in the candid sanctuary of his own conscience, admired
its clearness. As the reader may surmise, the four allegorical
personages were somewhat weary with having traversed the
three sections of the world, without having found suitable
opportunity for getting rid of their golden dolphin. Thereupon
a eulogy of the marvellous fish, with a thousand delicate
allusions to the young betrothed of Marguerite of Flanders,
then sadly cloistered in at Amboise, and without a suspicion
that Labor and Clergy, Nobility and Merchandise had just
made the circuit of the world in his behalf. The said dauphin
was then young, was handsome, was stout, and, above
all (magnificent origin of all royal virtues), he was the son of
the Lion of France. I declare that this bold metaphor is
admirable, and that the natural history of the theatre, on a
day of allegory and royal marriage songs, is not in the least
startled by a dolphin who is the son of a lion. It is precisely
these rare and Pindaric mixtures which prove the poet's enthusiasm. Nevertheless, in order to play the part of critic also,
the poet might have developed this beautiful idea in something
less than two hundred lines. It is true that the mystery
was to last from noon until four o'clock, in accordance
with the orders of monsieur the provost, and that it was
necessary to say something. Besides, the people listened

All at once, in the very middle of a quarrel between Mademoiselle
Merchandise and Madame Nobility, at the moment when Monsieur Labor
was giving utterance to this wonderful line,--

In forest ne'er was seen a more triumphant beast;

the door of the reserved gallery which had hitherto remained
so inopportunely closed, opened still more inopportunely; and
the ringing voice of the usher announced abruptly, "His
eminence, Monseigneur the Cardinal de Bourbon."



Poor Gringoire! the din of all the great double petards of
the Saint-Jean, the discharge of twenty arquebuses on
supports, the detonation of that famous serpentine of the Tower
of Billy, which, during the siege of Paris, on Sunday, the
twenty-sixth of September, 1465, killed seven Burgundians at
one blow, the explosion of all the powder stored at the gate
of the Temple, would have rent his ears less rudely at that
solemn and dramatic moment, than these few words, which
fell from the lips of the usher, "His eminence, Monseigneur
the Cardinal de Bourbon."

It is not that Pierre Gringoire either feared or disdained
monsieur the cardinal. He had neither the weakness nor the
audacity for that. A true eclectic, as it would be expressed
nowadays, Gringoire was one of those firm and lofty, moderate
and calm spirits, which always know how to bear themselves
amid all circumstances (~stare in dimidio rerum~), and who
are full of reason and of liberal philosophy, while still setting
store by cardinals. A rare, precious, and never interrupted
race of philosophers to whom wisdom, like another
Ariadne, seems to have given a clew of thread which they
have been walking along unwinding since the beginning of
the world, through the labyrinth of human affairs. One finds
them in all ages, ever the same; that is to say, always according
to all times. And, without reckoning our Pierre Gringoire,
who may represent them in the fifteenth century if we
succeed in bestowing upon him the distinction which he
deserves, it certainly was their spirit which animated Father
du Breul, when he wrote, in the sixteenth, these naively sublime
words, worthy of all centuries: "I am a Parisian by
nation, and a Parrhisian in language, for ~parrhisia~ in Greek
signifies liberty of speech; of which I have made use even
towards messeigneurs the cardinals, uncle and brother to
Monsieur the Prince de Conty, always with respect to their
greatness, and without offending any one of their suite, which
is much to say."

There was then neither hatred for the cardinal, nor disdain
for his presence, in the disagreeable impression produced
upon Pierre Gringoire. Quite the contrary; our poet had
too much good sense and too threadbare a coat, not to
attach particular importance to having the numerous allusions
in his prologue, and, in particular, the glorification of the
dauphin, son of the Lion of France, fall upon the most eminent
ear. But it is not interest which predominates in the noble
nature of poets. I suppose that the entity of the poet may
be represented by the number ten; it is certain that a chemist
on analyzing and pharmacopolizing it, as Rabelais says, would
find it composed of one part interest to nine parts of

Now, at the moment when the door had opened to admit
the cardinal, the nine parts of self-esteem in Gringoire,
swollen and expanded by the breath of popular admiration,
were in a state of prodigious augmentation, beneath which
disappeared, as though stifled, that imperceptible molecule of
which we have just remarked upon in the constitution of
poets; a precious ingredient, by the way, a ballast of
reality and humanity, without which they would not touch
the earth. Gringoire enjoyed seeing, feeling, fingering, so to
speak an entire assembly (of knaves, it is true, but what matters
that ?) stupefied, petrified, and as though asphyxiated in
the presence of the incommensurable tirades which welled up
every instant from all parts of his bridal song. I affirm that
he shared the general beatitude, and that, quite the reverse of
La Fontaine, who, at the presentation of his comedy of the
"Florentine," asked, "Who is the ill-bred lout who made
that rhapsody?" Gringoire would gladly have inquired of his
neighbor, "Whose masterpiece is this?"

The reader can now judge of the effect produced upon him
by the abrupt and unseasonable arrival of the cardinal.

That which he had to fear was only too fully realized.
The entrance of his eminence upset the audience. All heads
turned towards the gallery. It was no longer possible to
hear one's self. "The cardinal! The cardinal!" repeated
all mouths. The unhappy prologue stopped short for the
second time.

The cardinal halted for a moment on the threshold of
the estrade. While he was sending a rather indifferent
glance around the audience, the tumult redoubled. Each
person wished to get a better view of him. Each man vied
with the other in thrusting his head over his neighbor's

He was, in fact, an exalted personage, the sight of whom was
well worth any other comedy. Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon,
Archbishop and Comte of Lyon, Primate of the Gauls, was
allied both to Louis XI., through his brother, Pierre, Seigneur
de Beaujeu, who had married the king's eldest daughter, and
to Charles the Bold through his mother, Agnes of Burgundy.
Now, the dominating trait, the peculiar and distinctive trait
of the character of the Primate of the Gauls, was the spirit
of the courtier, and devotion to the powers that be. The
reader can form an idea of the numberless embarrassments
which this double relationship had caused him, and of all
the temporal reefs among which his spiritual bark had been
forced to tack, in order not to suffer shipwreck on either
Louis or Charles, that Scylla and that Charybdis which had
devoured the Duc de Nemours and the Constable de Saint-Pol.
Thanks to Heaven's mercy, he had made the voyage
successfully, and had reached home without hindrance. But
although he was in port, and precisely because he was in
port, he never recalled without disquiet the varied haps of
his political career, so long uneasy and laborious. Thus, he
was in the habit of saying that the year 1476 had been
"white and black" for him--meaning thereby, that in the
course of that year he had lost his mother, the Duchesse de
la Bourbonnais, and his cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, and
that one grief had consoled him for the other.

Nevertheless, he was a fine man; he led a joyous cardinal's
life, liked to enliven himself with the royal vintage of Challuau,
did not hate Richarde la Garmoise and Thomasse la
Saillarde, bestowed alms on pretty girls rather than on old
women,--and for all these reasons was very agreeable to the
populace of Paris. He never went about otherwise than surrounded
by a small court of bishops and abbés of high lineage,
gallant, jovial, and given to carousing on occasion; and more
than once the good and devout women of Saint Germain
d' Auxerre, when passing at night beneath the brightly illuminated
windows of Bourbon, had been scandalized to hear the
same voices which had intoned vespers for them during the
day carolling, to the clinking of glasses, the bacchic proverb of
Benedict XII., that pope who had added a third crown to the
Tiara--~Bibamus papaliter~.

It was this justly acquired popularity, no doubt, which preserved
him on his entrance from any bad reception at the
hands of the mob, which had been so displeased but a moment
before, and very little disposed to respect a cardinal on
the very day when it was to elect a pope. But the Parisians
cherish little rancor; and then, having forced the beginning
of the play by their authority, the good bourgeois had got the
upper hand of the cardinal, and this triumph was sufficient
for them. Moreover, the Cardinal de Bourbon was a handsome
man,--he wore a fine scarlet robe, which he carried off
very well,--that is to say, he had all the women on his side,
and, consequently, the best half of the audience. Assuredly,
it would be injustice and bad taste to hoot a cardinal for having
come late to the spectacle, when he is a handsome man,
and when he wears his scarlet robe well.

He entered, then, bowed to those present with the hereditary
smile of the great for the people, and directed his course
slowly towards his scarlet velvet arm-chair, with the air of
thinking of something quite different. His cortege--what
we should nowadays call his staff--of bishops and abbés
invaded the estrade in his train, not without causing redoubled
tumult and curiosity among the audience. Each
man vied with his neighbor in pointing them out and naming
them, in seeing who should recognize at least one of them:
this one, the Bishop of Marseilles (Alaudet, if my memory
serves me right);--this one, the primicier of Saint-Denis;--this
one, Robert de Lespinasse, Abbé of Saint-Germain des
Prés, that libertine brother of a mistress of Louis XI.; all
with many errors and absurdities. As for the scholars, they
swore. This was their day, their feast of fools, their saturnalia,
the annual orgy of the corporation of Law clerks and of
the school. There was no turpitude which was not sacred on
that day. And then there were gay gossips in the crowd--Simone
Quatrelivres, Agnes la Gadine, and Rabine Piédebou.
Was it not the least that one could do to swear at one's ease
and revile the name of God a little, on so fine a day, in such
good company as dignitaries of the church and loose women?
So they did not abstain; and, in the midst of the uproar, there
was a frightful concert of blasphemies and enormities of all
the unbridled tongues, the tongues of clerks and students
restrained during the rest of the year, by the fear of the hot
iron of Saint Louis. Poor Saint Louis! how they set him at
defiance in his own court of law! Each one of them selected
from the new-comers on the platform, a black, gray, white,
or violet cassock as his target. Joannes Frollo de Molendin,
in his quality of brother to an archdeacon, boldly
attacked the scarlet; he sang in deafening tones, with his
impudent eyes fastened on the cardinal, "~Cappa repleta

All these details which we here lay bare for the edification
of the reader, were so covered by the general uproar, that
they were lost in it before reaching the reserved platforms;
moreover, they would have moved the cardinal but little, so
much a part of the customs were the liberties of that day.
Moreover, he had another cause for solicitude, and his mien
as wholly preoccupied with it, which entered the estrade
the same time as himself; this was the embassy from

Not that he was a profound politician, nor was he borrowing
trouble about the possible consequences of the marriage of
his cousin Marguerite de Bourgoyne to his cousin Charles,
Dauphin de Vienne; nor as to how long the good understanding
which had been patched up between the Duke of Austria
and the King of France would last; nor how the King of
England would take this disdain of his daughter. All that
troubled him but little; and he gave a warm reception every
evening to the wine of the royal vintage of Chaillot, without
a suspicion that several flasks of that same wine (somewhat
revised and corrected, it is true, by Doctor Coictier), cordially
offered to Edward IV. by Louis XI., would, some fine morning,
rid Louis XI. of Edward IV. "The much honored embassy
of Monsieur the Duke of Austria," brought the cardinal
none of these cares, but it troubled him in another direction.
It was, in fact, somewhat hard, and we have already hinted
at it on the second page of this book,--for him, Charles de
Bourbon, to be obliged to feast and receive cordially no one
knows what bourgeois;--for him, a cardinal, to receive
aldermen;--for him, a Frenchman, and a jolly companion, to
receive Flemish beer-drinkers,--and that in public! This
was, certainly, one of the most irksome grimaces that he had
ever executed for the good pleasure of the king.

So he turned toward the door, and with the best grace in
the world (so well had he trained himself to it), when the
usher announced, in a sonorous voice, "Messieurs the Envoys
of Monsieur the Duke of Austria." It is useless to add that
the whole hall did the same.

Then arrived, two by two, with a gravity which made a
contrast in the midst of the frisky ecclesiastical escort of
Charles de Bourbon, the eight and forty ambassadors of Maximilian
of Austria, having at their head the reverend Father
in God, Jehan, Abbot of Saint-Bertin, Chancellor of the
Golden Fleece, and Jacques de Goy, Sieur Dauby, Grand Bailiff
of Ghent. A deep silence settled over the assembly, accompanied
by stifled laughter at the preposterous names and all
the bourgeois designations which each of these personages
transmitted with imperturbable gravity to the usher, who then
tossed names and titles pell-mell and mutilated to the crowd
below. There were Master Loys Roelof, alderman of the city
of Louvain; Messire Clays d'Etuelde, alderman of Brussels;
Messire Paul de Baeust, Sieur de Voirmizelle, President of
Flanders; Master Jehan Coleghens, burgomaster of the city
of Antwerp; Master George de la Moere, first alderman of the
kuere of the city of Ghent; Master Gheldolf van der Hage,
first alderman of the ~parchous~ of the said town; and the
Sieur de Bierbecque, and Jehan Pinnock, and Jehan Dymaerzelle,
etc., etc., etc.; bailiffs, aldermen, burgomasters; burgomasters,
aldermen, bailiffs--all stiff, affectedly grave, formal,
dressed out in velvet and damask, hooded with caps of black
velvet, with great tufts of Cyprus gold thread; good Flemish
heads, after all, severe and worthy faces, of the family which
Rembrandt makes to stand out so strong and grave from the
black background of his "Night Patrol "; personages all of
whom bore, written on their brows, that Maximilian of Austria
had done well in "trusting implicitly," as the manifest
ran, "in their sense, valor, experience, loyalty, and good

There was one exception, however. It was a subtle, intelligent,
crafty-looking face, a sort of combined monkey and diplomat
phiz, before whom the cardinal made three steps and a
profound bow, and whose name, nevertheless, was only,
"Guillaume Rym, counsellor and pensioner of the City of

Few persons were then aware who Guillaume Rym was. A
rare genius who in a time of revolution would have made a
brilliant appearance on the surface of events, but who in the
fifteenth century was reduced to cavernous intrigues, and to
"living in mines," as the Duc de Saint-Simon expresses it.
Nevertheless, he was appreciated by the "miner" of Europe;
he plotted familiarly with Louis XI., and often lent a hand to
the king's secret jobs. All which things were quite unknown
to that throng, who were amazed at the cardinal's politeness
to that frail figure of a Flemish bailiff.



While the pensioner of Ghent and his eminence were
exchanging very low bows and a few words in voices still
lower, a man of lofty stature, with a large face and broad
shoulders, presented himself, in order to enter abreast with
Guillaume Rym; one would have pronounced him a bull-dog
by the side of a fox. His felt doublet and leather jerkin
made a spot on the velvet and silk which surrounded him.
Presuming that he was some groom who had stolen in, the
usher stopped him.

"Hold, my friend, you cannot pass!"

The man in the leather jerkin shouldered him aside.

"What does this knave want with me?" said he, in stentorian
tones, which rendered the entire hall attentive to this
strange colloquy. "Don't you see that I am one of them?"

"Your name?" demanded the usher.

"Jacques Coppenole."

"Your titles?"

"Hosier at the sign of the 'Three Little Chains,' of Ghent."

The usher recoiled. One might bring one's self to announce
aldermen and burgomasters, but a hosier was too much. The
cardinal was on thorns. All the people were staring and
listening. For two days his eminence had been exerting his
utmost efforts to lick these Flemish bears into shape, and to
render them a little more presentable to the public, and this
freak was startling. But Guillaume Rym, with his polished
smile, approached the usher.

"Announce Master Jacques Coppenole, clerk of the aldermen
of the city of Ghent," he whispered, very low.

"Usher," interposed the cardinal, aloud, "announce Master
Jacques Coppenole, clerk of the aldermen of the illustrious
city of Ghent."

This was a mistake. Guillaume Rym alone might have
conjured away the difficulty, but Coppenole had heard the

"No, cross of God?" he exclaimed, in his voice of thunder,
"Jacques Coppenole, hosier. Do you hear, usher? Nothing
more, nothing less. Cross of God! hosier; that's fine enough.
Monsieur the Archduke has more than once sought his ~gant~*
in my hose."

* Got the first idea of a timing.

Laughter and applause burst forth. A jest is always understood
in Paris, and, consequently, always applauded.

Let us add that Coppenole was of the people, and that the
auditors which surrounded him were also of the people. Thus
the communication between him and them had been prompt,
electric, and, so to speak, on a level. The haughty air of the
Flemish hosier, by humiliating the courtiers, had touched in
all these plebeian souls that latent sentiment of dignity still
vague and indistinct in the fifteenth century.

This hosier was an equal, who had just held his own before
monsieur the cardinal. A very sweet reflection to poor fellows
habituated to respect and obedience towards the underlings
of the sergeants of the bailiff of Sainte-Geneviève, the
cardinal's train-bearer.

Coppenole proudly saluted his eminence, who returned the
salute of the all-powerful bourgeois feared by Louis XI.
Then, while Guillaume Rym, a "sage and malicious man," as
Philippe de Comines puts it, watched them both with a smile
of raillery and superiority, each sought his place, the cardinal
quite abashed and troubled, Coppenole tranquil and haughty,
and thinking, no doubt, that his title of hosier was as good as
any other, after all, and that Marie of Burgundy, mother to
that Marguerite whom Coppenole was to-day bestowing in
marriage, would have been less afraid of the cardinal than of
the hosier; for it is not a cardinal who would have stirred up
a revolt among the men of Ghent against the favorites of the
daughter of Charles the Bold; it is not a cardinal who could
have fortified the populace with a word against her tears and
prayers, when the Maid of Flanders came to supplicate her
people in their behalf, even at the very foot of the scaffold;
while the hosier had only to raise his leather elbow, in order
to cause to fall your two heads, most illustrious seigneurs,
Guy d'Hymbercourt and Chancellor Guillaume Hugonet.

Nevertheless, all was over for the poor cardinal, and he was
obliged to quaff to the dregs the bitter cup of being in such
bad company.

The reader has, probably, not forgotten the impudent beggar
who had been clinging fast to the fringes of the cardinal's
gallery ever since the beginning of the prologue. The arrival
of the illustrious guests had by no means caused him to relax
his hold, and, while the prelates and ambassadors were packing
themselves into the stalls--like genuine Flemish herrings--he
settled himself at his ease, and boldly crossed his legs
on the architrave. The insolence of this proceeding was
extraordinary, yet no one noticed it at first, the attention of
all being directed elsewhere. He, on his side, perceived nothing
that was going on in the hall; he wagged his head with
the unconcern of a Neapolitan, repeating from time to time,
amid the clamor, as from a mechanical habit, "Charity,
please!" And, assuredly, he was, out of all those present,
the only one who had not deigned to turn his head at the
altercation between Coppenole and the usher. Now, chance
ordained that the master hosier of Ghent, with whom the
people were already in lively sympathy, and upon whom all
eyes were riveted--should come and seat himself in the front
row of the gallery, directly above the mendicant; and people
were not a little amazed to see the Flemish ambassador, on
concluding his inspection of the knave thus placed beneath
his eyes, bestow a friendly tap on that ragged shoulder. The
beggar turned round; there was surprise, recognition, a lighting
up of the two countenances, and so forth; then, without
paying the slightest heed in the world to the spectators, the
hosier and the wretched being began to converse in a low
tone, holding each other's hands, in the meantime, while the
rags of Clopin Trouillefou, spread out upon the cloth of gold
of the dais, produced the effect of a caterpillar on an orange.

The novelty of this singular scene excited such a murmur
of mirth and gayety in the hall, that the cardinal was not
slow to perceive it; he half bent forward, and, as from the
point where he was placed he could catch only an imperfect
view of Trouillerfou's ignominious doublet, he very naturally
imagined that the mendicant was asking alms, and, disgusted
with his audacity, he exclaimed: "Bailiff of the Courts, toss
me that knave into the river!"

"Cross of God! monseigneur the cardinal," said Coppenole,
without quitting Clopin's hand, "he's a friend of mine."

"Good! good!" shouted the populace. From that moment,
Master Coppenole enjoyed in Paris as in Ghent, "great favor
with the people; for men of that sort do enjoy it," says
Philippe de Comines, "when they are thus disorderly."
The cardinal bit his lips. He bent towards his neighbor,
the Abbé of Saint Geneviéve, and said to him in a low
tone,--"Fine ambassadors monsieur the archduke sends here, to
announce to us Madame Marguerite!"

"Your eminence," replied the abbé, "wastes your politeness
on these Flemish swine. ~Margaritas ante porcos~, pearls
before swine."

"Say rather," retorted the cardinal, with a smile, "~Porcos
ante Margaritam~, swine before the pearl."

The whole little court in cassocks went into ecstacies over
this play upon words. The cardinal felt a little relieved; he
was quits with Coppenole, he also had had his jest applauded.

Now, will those of our readers who possess the power of
generalizing an image or an idea, as the expression runs in
the style of to-day, permit us to ask them if they have formed
a very clear conception of the spectacle presented at this
moment, upon which we have arrested their attention, by the
vast parallelogram of the grand hall of the palace.

In the middle of the hall, backed against the western wall,
a large and magnificent gallery draped with cloth of gold, into
which enter in procession, through a small, arched door, grave
personages, announced successively by the shrill voice of an
usher. On the front benches were already a number of venerable
figures, muffled in ermine, velvet, and scarlet. Around
the dais--which remains silent and dignified--below, opposite,
everywhere, a great crowd and a great murmur. Thousands
of glances directed by the people on each face upon the
dais, a thousand whispers over each name. Certainly, the
spectacle is curious, and well deserves the attention of the
spectators. But yonder, quite at the end, what is that sort
of trestle work with four motley puppets upon it, and more
below? Who is that man beside the trestle, with a black
doublet and a pale face? Alas! my dear reader, it is Pierre
Gringoire and his prologue.

We have all forgotten him completely.

This is precisely what he feared.

From the moment of the cardinal's entrance, Gringoire had
never ceased to tremble for the safety of his prologue. At
first he had enjoined the actors, who had stopped in suspense,
to continue, and to raise their voices; then, perceiving that
no one was listening, he had stopped them; and, during the
entire quarter of an hour that the interruption lasted, he had
not ceased to stamp, to flounce about, to appeal to Gisquette
and Liénarde, and to urge his neighbors to the continuance
of the prologue; all in vain. No one quitted the cardinal,
the embassy, and the gallery--sole centre of this vast circle
of visual rays. We must also believe, and we say it with
regret, that the prologue had begun slightly to weary the
audience at the moment when his eminence had arrived,
and created a diversion in so terrible a fashion. After all,
on the gallery as well as on the marble table, the spectacle
was the same: the conflict of Labor and Clergy, of Nobility
and Merchandise. And many people preferred to see them
alive, breathing, moving, elbowing each other in flesh and
blood, in this Flemish embassy, in this Episcopal court,
under the cardinal's robe, under Coppenole's jerkin, than
painted, decked out, talking in verse, and, so to speak, stuffed
beneath the yellow amid white tunics in which Gringoire had
so ridiculously clothed them.

Nevertheless, when our poet beheld quiet reestablished
to some extent, he devised a stratagem which might have
redeemed all.

"Monsieur," he said, turning towards one of his neighbors,
a fine, big man, with a patient face, "suppose we begin

"What?" said his neighbor.

"Hé! the Mystery," said Gringoire.

"As you like," returned his neighbor.

This semi-approbation sufficed for Gringoire, and, conducting
his own affairs, he began to shout, confounding himself
with the crowd as much as possible: "Begin the mystery
again! begin again!"

"The devil!" said Joannes de Molendino, "what are they
jabbering down yonder, at the end of the hall?" (for Gringoire
was making noise enough for four.) "Say, comrades,
isn't that mystery finished? They want to begin it all over
again. That's not fair!"

"No, no!" shouted all the scholars. "Down with the
mystery! Down with it!"

But Gringoire had multiplied himself, and only shouted
the more vigorously: "Begin again! begin again!"

These clamors attracted the attention of the cardinal.

"Monsieur Bailiff of the Courts," said he to a tall, black
man, placed a few paces from him, "are those knaves in a
holy-water vessel, that they make such a hellish noise?"

The bailiff of the courts was a sort of amphibious magistrate,
a sort of bat of the judicial order, related to both the
rat and the bird, the judge and the soldier.

He approached his eminence, and not without a good deal
of fear of the latter's displeasure, he awkwardly explained to
him the seeming disrespect of the audience: that noonday
had arrived before his eminence, and that the comedians had
been forced to begin without waiting for his eminence.

The cardinal burst into a laugh.

"On my faith, the rector of the university ought to have
done the same. What say you, Master Guillaume Rym?"

"Monseigneur," replied Guillaume Rym, "let us be content
with having escaped half of the comedy. There is at least
that much gained."

"Can these rascals continue their farce?" asked the bailiff.

"Continue, continue," said the cardinal, "it's all the same
to me. I'll read my breviary in the meantime."

The bailiff advanced to the edge of the estrade, and cried,
after having invoked silence by a wave of the hand,--

"Bourgeois, rustics, and citizens, in order to satisfy those
who wish the play to begin again, and those who wish it
to end, his eminence orders that it be continued."

Both parties were forced to resign themselves. But the
public and the author long cherished a grudge against the

So the personages on the stage took up their parts, and
Gringoire hoped that the rest of his work, at least, would be
listened to. This hope was speedily dispelled like his other
illusions; silence had indeed, been restored in the audience,
after a fashion; but Gringoire had not observed that at the
moment when the cardinal gave the order to continue, the
gallery was far from full, and that after the Flemish envoys
there had arrived new personages forming part of the cortege,
whose names and ranks, shouted out in the midst of his dialogue
by the intermittent cry of the usher, produced considerable
ravages in it. Let the reader imagine the effect in the
midst of a theatrical piece, of the yelping of an usher, flinging
in between two rhymes, and often in the middle of a line,
parentheses like the following,--

"Master Jacques Charmolue, procurator to the king in the
Ecclesiastical Courts!"

"Jehan de Harlay, equerry guardian of the office of chevalier
of the night watch of the city of Paris!"

"Messire Galiot de Genoilhac, chevalier, seigneur de Brussac,
master of the king's artillery!"

"Master Dreux-Raguier, surveyor of the woods and forests
of the king our sovereign, in the land of France, Champagne
and Brie!"

"Messire Louis de Graville, chevalier, councillor, and
chamberlain of the king, admiral of France, keeper of the
Forest of Vincennes!"

"Master Denis le Mercier, guardian of the house of the
blind at Paris!" etc., etc., etc.

This was becoming unbearable.

This strange accompaniment, which rendered it difficult to
follow the piece, made Gringoire all the more indignant because
he could not conceal from himself the fact that the interest
was continually increasing, and that all his work required
was a chance of being heard.

It was, in fact, difficult to imagine a more ingenious and
more dramatic composition. The four personages of the
prologue were bewailing themselves in their mortal embarrassment,
when Venus in person, (~vera incessa patuit dea~) presented
herself to them, clad in a fine robe bearing the heraldic
device of the ship of the city of Paris. She had come herself
to claim the dolphin promised to the most beautiful. Jupiter,
whose thunder could be heard rumbling in the dressing-room,
supported her claim, and Venus was on the point of carrying
it off,--that is to say, without allegory, of marrying monsieur
the dauphin, when a young child clad in white damask, and
holding in her hand a daisy (a transparent personification of
Mademoiselle Marguerite of Flanders) came to contest it with

Theatrical effect and change.

After a dispute, Venus, Marguerite, and the assistants
agreed to submit to the good judgment of time holy Virgin.
There was another good part, that of the king of Mesopotamia;
but through so many interruptions, it was difficult to
make out what end he served. All these persons had ascended
by the ladder to the stage.

But all was over; none of these beauties had been felt nor
understood. On the entrance of the cardinal, one would have
said that an invisible magic thread had suddenly drawn all
glances from the marble table to the gallery, from the southern
to the western extremity of the hall. Nothing could disenchant
the audience; all eyes remained fixed there, and the
new-comers and their accursed names, and their faces, and their
costumes, afforded a continual diversion. This was very
distressing. With the exception of Gisquette and Liénarde, who
turned round from time to time when Gringoire plucked them
by the sleeve; with the exception of the big, patient neighbor,
no one listened, no one looked at the poor, deserted morality
full face. Gringoire saw only profiles.

With what bitterness did he behold his whole erection of
glory and of poetry crumble away bit by bit! And to think
that these people had been upon the point of instituting a
revolt against the bailiff through impatience to hear his work!
now that they had it they did not care for it. This same
representation which had been begun amid so unanimous an
acclamation! Eternal flood and ebb of popular favor! To

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