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Seeing Europe with Famous Authors, Volume 4 (of 10) by Various

Part 2 out of 3

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little dreary valleys, where you are lost as if in the desert; no
sound, no movement, no life; scanty, leafless vegetation dots moving
soil, and its filaments fall like sickly hairs; small shells, white
and empty, cling to these in chaplets, and, wherever the foot is set,
they crack with a sound like a cricket's chirp; this place is the
ossuary of some wretched maritime tribe.

One tree alone can live here, the pine, a wild creature, inhabitant of
the forests and sterile coasts; there is a whole colony of them here;
they crowd together fraternally, and cover the sand with their brown
lamels; the monotonous breeze which sifts through them forever awakes
their murmur; thus they chant in a plaintive fashion, but with a far
softer and more harmonious voice than the other trees; this voice
resembles the grating of the cicadas when in August they sing with all
their heart among the stalks of the ripened wheat.

At the left of the village, a footpath winds to the summit of a wasted
bank, among billows of standing grasses. The river is so broad that
the other shore is not distinguishable. The sea, its neighbor, imparts
its influence; its long undulations come one after another against the
coast, and pour their little cascades of foam upon the sand; then the
water retires, running down the slope until it meets a new wave coming
up which covers it; these billows are never wearied, and their come
and go remind one of the regular breathing of a slumbering child. For
night has fallen, the tints of purple grow brown and fade away. The
river goes to rest in the soft, vague shadow; scarcely, at long
intervals, a remnant glimpse is reflected from a slanting wave;
obscurity drowns everything in its vapory dust; the drowsy eye vainly
searches in this mist some visible point, and distinguishes at last,
like a dim star, the lighthouse of Cordouan.

The next evening a fresh sea-breeze has brought us to Bordeaux.
The enormous city heaps its monumental houses along the river like
bastions; the red sky is embattled by their coping. They on one hand,
the bridge on the other, protect, with a double line, the port where
the vessels are crowded together like a flock of gulls; those graceful
hulls, those tapering masts, those sails swollen or floating, weave
the labyrinth of their movements and forms upon the magnificent purple
of the sunset. The sun sinks into the river; the black rigging, the
round hulls, stand out against its conflagration, and look like jewels
of jet set in gold.

Around Bordeaux are smiling hills, varied horizons, fresh valleys,
a river people by incessant navigation, a succession of cities and
villages harmoniously planted upon the declivities or in the plains,
everywhere the richest verdure, the luxury of nature and civilization,
the earth and man vying with each other to enrich and decorate the
happiest valley of France. Below Bordeaux a flat soil, marshes,
sand; a land which goes on growing poorer, villages continually less
frequent, ere long the desert. I like the desert as well.

Pine woods pass to the right and to the left, silent and wan. Each
tree bears on its side the scar of wounds where the woodmen have set
flowing the resinous blood which chokes it; the powerful liquor still
ascends into its limbs with the sap, exhales by its slimy shoots and
by its cleft skin; a sharp aromatic odor fills the air.

Beyond, the monotonous plain of the ferns, bathed in light, stretches
away as far as the eye can reach. Their green fans expand beneath the
sun which colors, but does not cause them to fade. Upon the horizon a
few scattered trees lift their slender columns. You see now and then
the silhouette of a herdsman on his stilts, inert and standing like a
sick heron. Wild horses are grazing half hid in the herbage. As the
train passes, they abruptly lift their great startled eyes and stand
motionless, uneasy at the noise that has troubled their solitude.

Man does not fare well here--he dies or degenerates; but it is the
country of animals, and especially of plants. They abound in this
desert, free, certain of living. Our pretty, cut-up valleys are but
poor things alongside of these immense spaces, leagues upon leagues
of marshy or dry vegetation, a level country, where nature, elsewhere
troubled and tortured by men, still vegetates, as in primeval days,
with a calm equal to its grandeur. The sun needs these savannas in
order properly to spread out its light; from the rising exhalation,
you feel that the whole plain is fermenting under its force; and the
eyes, filled by the limitless horizon, divine the secret labor by
which this ocean of rank verdure renews and nourishes itself.


[Footnote A: From a letter to his mother, written from the monastery
in 1739.]


We took the longest road, which lies through Savoy, on purpose to see
a famous monastery, called the Grande Chartreuse, and had no reason to
think our time lost. After having traveled seven days very slow (for
we did not change horses, it being impossible for a chaise to go fast
in these roads), we arrived at a little village, among the mountains
of Savoy, called Echelles; from thence we proceeded on horses, who are
used to the way, to the mountain of the Chartreuse.

It is six miles to the top; the road runs winding up it, commonly not
six feet broad; on one hand is the rock, with woods of pine-trees
hanging overhead; on the other, a monstrous precipice, almost
perpendicular, at the bottom of which rolls a torrent that, sometimes
tumbling among the fragments of stone that have fallen from on high,
and sometimes precipitating itself down vast descents with a noise
like thunder, which is made still greater by the echo from the
mountains on each side, concurs to form one of the most solemn, the
most romantic, and the most astonishing scenes I ever beheld.

Add to this the strange views made by the crags and cliffs on the
other hand; the cascades that in many places throw themselves from the
very summit down into the vale, and the river below; and many other
particulars impossible to describe; you will conclude we had no
occasion to repent our plans. This place St. Bruno chose to retire
to, and upon its very top founded the aforesaid convent, which is the
superior of the whole order. When we came there, the two fathers, who
are commissioned to entertain strangers (for the rest must neither
speak one to another nor to any one else) received us very kindly; and
set before us a repast of dried fish, eggs, butter, and fruits, all
excellent in their kind, and extremely neat. They prest us to spend
the night there, and to stay some days with them; but this we could
not do, so they led us about their house, which is, you must think,
like a little city; for there are 100 fathers, besides 300 servants,
that make their clothes, grind their corn, press their wine, and do
everything among themselves.

The whole is quite orderly and simple; nothing of finery; but the
wonderful decency, and the strange situation, more than supply the
place of it. In the evening we descended by the same way, passing
through many clouds that were then forming themselves on the
mountain's side.


[Footnote A: From "A Little Tour in France." By special arrangement
with, and by permission of, the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Co.
Copyright, 1884.]


When I say the town, I mean the towns; there being two at Carcassonne,
perfectly distinct, and each with excellent claims to the title. They
have settled the matter between them, however, and the elder, the
shrine of pilgrimage, to which the other is but a stepping-stone, or
even, as I may say, a humble doormat, takes the name of the Cite.

You see nothing of the Cite from the station; it is masked by the
agglomeration of the "ville-basse," which is relatively (but only
relatively) new. A wonderful avenue of acacias leads to it from
the station--leads past it, rather, and conducts you to a little
high-backed bridge over the Aude, beyond which, detached and erect, a
distinct medieval silhouette, the Cite presents itself. Like a rival
shop, on the invidious side of a street, it has "no connection" with
the establishment across the way, altho the two places are united
(if old Carcassonne may be said to be united to anything) by a vague
little rustic faubourg. Perched on its solid pedestal, the perfect
detachment of the Cite is what first strikes you.

To take leave, without delay, of the "ville-basse," I may say that
the splendid acacias I have mentioned flung a summerish dusk over
the place, in which a few scattered remains of stout walls and big
bastions looked venerable and picturesque. A little boulevard winds
around the town, planted with trees and garnished with more benches
than I ever saw provided by a soft-hearted municipality. This
precinct had a warm, lazy, dusty, southern look, as if the people sat
out-of-doors a great deal, and wandered about in the stillness of
summer nights. The figure of the elder town, at these hours, must be
ghostly enough on its neighboring hill.

Even by day it has the air of a vignette of Gustave Dore, a couplet
of Victor Hugo. It is almost too perfect--as if it were an enormous
model, placed on a big green table at a museum. A steep, paved way,
grass-grown like all roads where vehicles never pass, stretches up
to it in the sun. It has a double enceinte, complete outer walls and
complete inner (these, elaborately fortified, are the more curious);
and this congregation of ramparts, towers, bastions, battlements,
barbicans, is as fantastic and romantic as you please. The approach I
mention here leads to the gate that looks toward Toulouse--the Porte
de l'Aude. There is a second, on the other side, called, I believe,
Porte Narbonnaise, a magnificent gate, flanked with towers thick and
tall, defended by elaborate outworks; and these two apertures alone
admit you to the place--putting aside a small sally-port, protected by
a great bastion, on the quarter that looks toward the Pyrenees....

I should lose no time in saying that restoration is the great mark of
the Cite. M. Viollet-le-Duc has worked his will upon it, put it into
perfect order, revived the fortifications in every detail. I do not
pretend to judge the performance, carried out on a scale and in
a spirit which really impose themselves on the imagination. Few
architects have had such a chance, and M. Viollet-le-Duc must have
been the envy of the whole restoring fraternity. The image of a more
crumbling Carcassonne rises in the mind, and there is no doubt that
forty years ago the place was more affecting. On the other hand, as we
see it to-day, it is a wonderful evocation; and if there is a great
deal of new in the old, there is plenty of old in the new. The
repaired crenellations, the inserted patches, of the walls of the
outer circle sufficiently express this commixture.

Carcassonne dates from the Roman occupation of Gaul. The place
commanded one of the great roads into Spain, and in the fourth century
Romans and Franks ousted each other from such a point of vantage. In
the year 436, Theodoric, King of the Visigoths, superseded both these
parties; and it is during his occupation that the inner enceinte
was raised upon the ruins of the Roman fortifications. Most of
the Visigoth towers that are still erect are seated upon Roman
substructions which appear to have been formed hastily, probably
at the moment of the Frankish invasion. The authors of these solid
defenses, tho occasionally disturbed, held Carcassonne and the
neighboring country, in which they had established their kingdom of
Septimania, till the year 713, when they were expelled by the Moors
of Spain, who ushered in an unillumined period of four centuries, of
which no traces remain.

These facts I derived from a source no more recondite than a
pamphlet by M. Viollet-le-Duc--a very luminous description of the
fortifications, which you may buy from the accomplished custodian. The
writer makes a jump to the year 1209, when Carcassonne, then forming
part of the realm of the viscounts of Beziers and infected by the
Albigensian heresy, was besieged, in the name of the Pope, by the
terrible Simon de Montfort and his army of crusaders. Simon was
accustomed to success, and the town succumbed in the course of a
fortnight. Thirty-one years later, having passed into the hands of
the King of France, it was again besieged by the young Raymond de
Trincavel, the last of the viscounts of Beziers; and of this siege M.
Viollet-le-Duc gives a long and minute account, which the visitor who
has a head for such things may follow, with the brochure in hand, on
the fortifications themselves.

The young Raymond de Trineavel, baffled and repulsed, retired at the
end of twenty-four days. Saint Louis and Philip the Bold, in the
thirteenth century, multiplied the defenses of Carcassonne, which was
one of the bulwarks of their kingdom on the Spanish quarter; and from
this time forth, being regarded as impregnable, the place had nothing
to fear. It was not even attacked; and when, in 1355, Edward the Black
Prince marched into it, the inhabitants had opened the gates to the
conqueror before whom all Languedoc was prostrate. I am not one of
those who, as I said just now, have a head for such things, and having
extracted these few facts had made all the use of M. Viollet-le-Duc's
pamphlet of which I was capable....

My obliging friend the "mad lover" [of la Cite] handed me over to the
doorkeeper of the citadel. I should add that I was at first committed
to the wife of this functionary, a stout peasant woman, who conducted
me to a postern door and ushered me into the presence of her husband.

This brilliant, this suggestive warden of Carcassonne marched us about
for an hour, haranguing, explaining, illustrating, as he went; it was
a complete little lecture, such as might have been delivered at the
Lowell Institute, on the manner in which a first-rate "place forte"
used to be attacked and defended. Our peregrinations made it very
clear that Carcassonne was impregnable; it is impossible to imagine,
without having seen them, such refinements of immurement, such
ingenuities of resistance. We passed along the battlements and
"chemins de ronde," ascended and descended towers, crawled under
arches, peered out of loopholes, lowered ourselves into dungeons,
halted in all sorts of tight places, while the purpose of something or
other was described to us.

It was very curious, very interesting; above all, it was very
pictorial, and involved perpetual peeps into the little crooked,
crumbling, sunny, grassy, empty Cite. In places, as you stand upon
it, the great towered and embattled enceinte produces an illusion; it
looks as if it were still equipped and defended. One vivid challenge,
at any rate, it flings down before you; it calls upon you to make
up your mind on the matter of restoration. For myself, I have no
hesitation; I prefer in every case the ruined, however ruined, to the
reconstructed, however splendid. What is left is more precious than
what is added; the one is history, the other is fiction; and I like
the former the better of the two--it is so much more romantic. One is
positive, so far as it goes; the other fills up the void with things
more dead than the void itself, inasmuch as they have never had life.
After that I am free to say that the restoration of Carcassonne is a
splendid achievement. The little custodian dismissed us at last,
after having, as usual, inducted us into the inevitable repository of

After leaving it and passing out of the two circles of walls, I
treated myself, in the most infatuated manner, to another walk round
the Cite. It is certainly this general impression that is most
striking--the impression from outside, where the whole place detaches
itself at once from the landscape. In the warm southern dusk it looked
more than ever like a city in a fairy-tale. To make the thing perfect,
a white young moon, in its first quarter, came out and hung just over
the dark silhouette. It was hard to come away--to incommode one's self
for anything so vulgar as a railway train; I would gladly have spent
the evening in revolving round the walls of Carcassonne.


[Footnote A: From "Castles and Chateaux of Old Navarre." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, L.C. Page &
Co. Copyright, 1907.]


If Bayonne is the center of commercial affairs for the Basque country,
its citizens must, at any rate, go to Biarritz if they want to live
"the elegant and worldly life." The prosperity and luxury of Biarritz
are very recent; it goes back only to the Second Empire, when it was
but a village of a thousand souls or less, mostly fishermen and women.

The railway and the automobile omnibus make communication with Bayonne
to-day easy, but formerly folk came and went on a donkey side-saddled
for two, arranged back to back, like the seats of an Irish
jaunting-car. If the weight were unequal, a balance was struck by
adding cobblestones on one side or the other, the patient donkey not
minding in the least.

This astonishing mode of conveyance was known as a "cacolet," and
replaced the "voitures" and "fiacres" of other resorts. An occasional
example may still be seen, but the "jolies Basquaises" who conducted
them have given way to sturdy, barelegged Basque boys--as picturesque,
perhaps, but not so entrancing to the view. To voyage "en cacolet" was
the necessity of our grandfathers; for us it is an amusement only.

Napoleon III., or rather Eugenie, his spouse, was the faithful
godfather of Biarritz as a resort. The Villa Eugenie is no more; it
was first transformed into a hotel and later destroyed by fire; but it
was the first of a great battery of villas and hotels which has made
Biarritz so great that the popularity of Monte Carlo is steadily
waning. Biarritz threatens to become even more popular; some sixteen
thousand visitors came to Biarritz in 1899, but there were thirty-odd
thousand in 1903; while the permanent population has risen from 2,700
in the days of the Second Empire to 12,800 in 1901. The tiny railway
from Bayonne to Biarritz transported half a million travelers twenty
years ago, and a million and a half, or nearly that number, in 1903;
the rest, being millionaires, or gypsies, came in automobiles or
caravans. These figures tell eloquently of the prosperity of this
"villegiature imperiale."

The great beauty of Biarritz is its setting. At Monte Carlo
the setting is also beautiful, ravishingly beautiful, but the
architecture, the terrace, Monaco's rock, and all the rest combine
to make the pleasing "ensemble." At Biarritz the architecture of its
Casino and the great hotels is not of an epoch-making beauty, neither
are they so delightfully placed. It is the surrounding stage setting
that is so lovely. Here the jagged shore line, the blue waves, the
ample horizon seaward, are what make it all so charming.

Biarritz as a watering-place has an all-the-year-round clientele; in
summer the Spanish and the French, succeeded in winter by Americans,
Germans, and English--with a sprinkling of Russians at all times.
Biarritz, like Pau, aside from being a really delightful winter
resort, where one may escape the rigors of murky November to March in
London, is becoming afflicted with a bad case of "sport fever." There
are all kinds of sports, some of them reputable enough in their place,
but the comic-opera fox-hunting which takes place at Pau and Biarritz
is not one of them....

The picturesque "Plage des Basques" lies to the south of the town,
bordered with high cliffs, which in turn are surmounted with terraces
of villas. The charm of it all is incomparable. To the northwest
stretches the limpid horizon of the Bay of Biscay, and to the
south the snowy summits of the Pyrenees, and the adorable bays of
Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Fontarabie, while behind, and to the eastward,
lies the quaint country of the Basques, and the mountain trails into
Spain in all their savage hardiness.

The off-shore translucent waters of the Gulf of Gascony were the
"Sinus Aquitanicus" of the ancients. A colossal rampart of rocks and
sand dunes stretches all the way from the Gironde to the
Bidassoa, without a harbor worthy of the name save at Bayonne and
Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Here the Atlantic waves pound, in time of storm,
with all the fury with which they break upon the rocky coasts of
Brittany further north. Perhaps this would not be so, but for the fact
that the Iberian coast to the southward runs almost at right angles
with that of Gascony. As it is, while the climate is mild, Biarritz
and the other cities on the coasts of the Gulf of Gascony have a fair
proportion of what sailors, the world over, call "rough weather."

The waters of the Gascon Gulf are not always angry; most frequently
they are calm and blue, vivid with a translucence worthy of those of
Capri, and it is this that makes the beach at Biarritz one of the most
popular sea-bathing resorts in France to-day. It is a fashionable
watering-place, but it is also, perhaps, the most beautifully disposed
city to be found in all the round of the European coast line, its
slightly curving slope dominated by a background terrace,
decorative in itself, but delightfully set off with its fringe of
dwelling-houses, hotels, and casinos. Ostend is superbly laid out,
but it is dreary; Monte Carlo is beautiful, but it is ultra; while
Trouville is constrained and affected. Biarritz has the best features
of all these.... Saint-Jean-de-Luz had a population of ten thousand
two centuries ago; to-day it has three thousand, and most of these
take in boarders, or in one way or another cater to the hordes of
visitors who have made it--or would, if they could have supprest its
quiet Basque charm of coloring and character--a little Brighton.

Not all is lost, but four hundred houses were razed in the
mid-eighteenth century by a tempest, and the stable population began
to creep away; only with recent years an influx of strangers has
arrived for a week's or a month's stay to take their places--if idling
butterflies of fashion or imaginary invalids can really take the place
of a hardworking, industrious colony of fishermen, who thought no more
of sailing away to the South Antarctic or the banks of Newfoundland in
an eighty-ton whaler than they did of seining sardines from a shallop
in the Gulf of Gascony at their doors.


[Footnote A: From "Pencillings by the Way." Published by Charles
Scribner, 1852.]


The Saone is about the size of the Mohawk, but not half so beautiful;
at least for the greater part of its course. Indeed, you can hardly
compare American with European rivers, for the charm is of another
description, quite. With us it is nature only, here it is almost
all art. Our rivers are lovely, because the outline of the shore is
graceful, and particularly because the vegetation is luxuriant. The
hills are green, the foliage deep and lavish, the rocks grown over
with vines or moss, the mountains in the distance covered with pines
and other forest-trees; everything is wild, and nothing looks bare or
sterile. The rivers of France are crowned on every height with ruins,
and in the bosom of every valley lies a cluster of picturesque stone
cottages; but the fields are naked, and there are no trees; the
mountains are barren and brown, and everything looks as if the
dwellings had been deserted by the people, and nature had at the same
time gone to decay.

I can conceive nothing more melancholy than the views upon the Saone,
seen, as I saw them, tho vegetation is out everywhere, and the banks
should be beautiful if ever. As we approached Lyons the river narrowed
and grew bolder, and the last ten miles were enchanting. Naturally the
shores at this part of the Saone are exceedingly like the highlands of
the Hudson above West Point. Abrupt hills rise from the river's edge,
and the windings are sharp and constant. But imagine the highlands of
the Hudson crowned with antique chateaux, and covered to the very top
with terraces and summer-houses and hanging-gardens, gravel-walks and
beds of flowers, instead of wild pines and precipices, and you may get
a very correct idea of the Saone above Lyons.

You emerge from one of the dark passes of the river by a sudden turn,
and there before you lies this large city, built on both banks, at
the foot and on the sides of mountains. The bridges are fine, and
the broad, crowded quays, all along the edges of the river, have a
beautiful effect. There is a great deal of magnificence at Lyons, in
the way of quays, promenades, and buildings.... I was glad to escape
from the lower streets, and climb up the long staircases to the
observatory that overhangs the town. From the base of this elevation
the descent of the river is almost a precipice. The houses hang on the
side of the steep hill, and their doors enter from the long alleys of
stone staircases by which you ascend....

It was holy-week, and the church of Notre Dame de Fourvieres, which
stands on the summit of the hill, was crowded with people. We went
in for a moment, and sat down on a bench to rest. My companion was a
Swiss captain of artillery, who was a passenger in the boat, a very
splendid fellow, with a mustache that he might have tied behind his
ears. He had addrest me at the hotel, and proposed that we should
visit the curiosities of the town together. He was a model of a manly
figure, athletic, and soldier-like, and standing near him was to get
the focus of all the dark eyes in the congregation.

The new square tower stands at the side of the church, and rises to
the height of perhaps sixty feet. The view from it is said to be one
of the finest in the world. I have seen more extensive ones, but never
one that comprehended more beauty and interest. Lyons lies at the
foot, with the Saone winding through its bosom in abrupt curves; the
Rhone comes down from the north on the other side of the range of
mountains, and meeting the Saone in a broad stream below the town,
they stretch off to the south, through a diversified landscape; the
Alps rise from the east like the edges of a thunder-cloud, and the
mountains of Savoy fill up the interval to the Rhone.

All about the foot of the monument lie gardens, of exquisite
cultivation; and above and below the city the villas of the rich;
giving you altogether as delicious a nucleus for a broad circle of
scenery as art and nature could create, and one sufficiently in
contrast with the barrenness of the rocky circumference to enhance the
charm, and content you with your position. Half way down the hill lies
an old monastery, with a lovely garden walled in from the world.

The river was covered with boats, the bells were ringing to church,
the glorious old cathedral, so famous for its splendor, stood piled
up, with its arches and gray towers, in the square below; the day was
soft, sunny, and warm, and existence was a blessing. I leaned over the
balustrade, I know not how long, looking down upon the scene about me;
and I shall ever remember it as one of those few unalloyed moments,
when the press of care was taken off my mind, and the chain of
circumstances was strong enough to set aside both the past and the
future, and leave me to the quiet enjoyment of the present. I have
found such hours "few and far between."


[Footnote A: From a letter to his friend West.]


I take this opportunity to tell you that we are at the ancient and
celebrated Lugdunum, a city situated upon the confluence of the
Rhone and Saone (Arar, I should say) two people, who tho of tempers
extremely unlike, think fit to join hands here, and make a little
party to travel to the Mediterranean in company; the lady comes
gliding along through the fruitful plains of Burgundy.... the
gentleman runs all rough and roaring down from the mountains of
Switzerland to meet her; and with all her soft airs she likes him
never the worse; she goes through the middle of the city in state, and
he passes incog, without the walls, but waits for her a little below.

The houses here are so high, and the streets so narrow, as would be
sufficient to render Lyons the dismalest place in the world, but the
number of people, and the face of commerce diffused about it, are,
at least, as sufficient to make it the liveliest: between these two
sufficiencies, you will be in doubt what to think of it; so we shall
leave the city, and proceed to its environs, which are beautiful
beyond expression; it is surrounded with mountains, and those
mountains all bedropped and bespeckled with houses, gardens, and
plantations of the rich bourgeois, who have from thence a prospect of
the city in the vale below on one hand, on the other the rich plains
of the Lyonnois, with the rivers winding among them, and the Alps,
with the mountains of Dauphine, to bound the view.

All yesterday morning we were busied in climbing up Mount Fourviere,
where the ancient city stood perched at such a height, that nothing
but the hopes of gain could certainly ever persuade their neighbors to
pay them a visit. Here are the ruins of the emperors' palaces, that
resided here, that is to say, Augustus and Severus; they consist in
nothing but great masses of old wall, that have only their quality
to make them respected. In a vineyard of the Minims are remains of a
theater; the Fathers, whom they belong to, hold them in no esteem at
all, and would have showed us their sacristy and chapel instead of
them. The Ursuline Nuns have in their garden some Roman baths, but we
having the misfortune to be men, they did not think proper to admit

Hard by are eight arches of a most magnificent aqueduct, said to be
erected by Antony, when his legions were quartered here. There are
many other parts of it dispersed up and down the country, for it
brought the water from a river many leagues off in La Forez. Here are
remains too of Agrippa's seven great roads which met at Lyons; in some
places they lie twelve feet deep in the ground.


[Footnote A: From "Pictures from Italy," written in 1844]


So we went on, until eleven at night, when we halted at the town of
Aix (within two stages of Marseilles) to sleep. The hotel, with all
the blinds and shutters closed to keep the light and heat out, was
comfortable and airy next morning, and the town was very clean; but
so hot, and so intensely light, that when I walked out at noon it was
like coming suddenly from the darkened room into crisp blue fire. The
air was so very clear, that distant hills and rocky points appeared
within an hour's walk; while the town immediately at hand--with a kind
of blue wind between me and it--seemed to be white hot, and to be
throwing off a fiery air from its surface.

We left this town toward evening, and took the road to Marseilles. A
dusty road it was; the houses shut up close; and the vines powdered
white. At nearly all the cottage doors, women were peeling and slicing
onions into earthen bowls for supper. So they had been doing last
night all the way from Avignon. We passed one or two shady dark
chateaux, surrounded by trees, and embellished with cool basins of
water: which were the more refreshing to behold, from the great
scarcity of such residences on the road we had traveled.

As we approached Marseilles, the road began to be covered with holiday
people. Outside the public-houses were parties smoking, drinking,
playing draughts and cards, and (once) dancing. But dust, dust, dust,
everywhere. We went on, through a long, straggling, dirty suburb,
thronged with people; having on our left a dreary slope of land, on
which the country-houses of the Marseilles merchants, always staring
white, are jumbled and heaped without the slightest order; backs,
fronts, sides, and gables toward all points of the compass; until, at
last, we entered the town.

I was there, twice, or thrice afterward, in fair weather and foul;
and I am afraid there is no doubt that it is a dirty and disagreeable
place. But the prospect, from the fortified heights, of the beautiful
Mediterranean, with, its lovely rocks and islands, is most delightful.
These heights are a desirable retreat, for less picturesque
reasons--as an escape from a compound of vile smells perpetually
arising from a great harbor full of stagnant water, and befouled by
the refuse of innumerable ships with all sorts of cargoes, which, in
hot weather, is dreadful in the last degree.

There were foreign sailors, of all nations, in the streets; with red
shirts, blue shirts, buff shirts, tawny shirts, and shirts of orange
color; with red caps, blue caps, green caps, great beards, and no
beards; in Turkish turbans, glazed English hats, and Neapolitan
headdresses. There were the townspeople sitting in clusters on the
pavement, or airing themselves on the tops of their houses, or walking
up and down the closest and least airy of boulevards; and there were
crowds of fierce-looking people of the lower sort, blocking up the
way, constantly.

In the very heart of all this stir and uproar, was the common
madhouse; a low, contracted, miserable building, looking straight upon
the street, without the smallest screen or courtyard; where chattering
madmen and mad-women were peeping out, through rusty bars, at the
staring faces below, while the sun, darting fiercely aslant into their
little cells, seemed to dry up their brains, and worry them, as if
they were baited by a pack of dogs.

We were pretty well accommodated at the Hotel du Paradis, situated
in a narrow street of very high houses, with a hairdresser's shop
opposite, exhibiting in one of its windows two full-length waxen
ladies, twirling around and around: which so enchanted the hairdresser
himself, that he and his family sat in armchairs, and in cool
undresses, on the pavement outside, enjoying the gratification of the
passers-by, with lazy dignity. The family had retired to rest when we
went to bed, at midnight; but the hairdresser (a corpulent man, in
drab slippers) was still sitting there, with his legs stretched out
before him, and evidently couldn't bear to have the shutters put up.

Next day we went down to the harbor, where the sailors of all nations
were discharging and taking in cargoes of all kinds: fruits, wines,
oils, silks, stuffs, velvets, and every manner of merchandise. Taking
one of a great number of lively little boats with gay-striped awnings,
we rowed away, under the sterns of great ships, under tow-ropes and
cables, against and among other boats, and very much too near
the sides of vessels that were faint with oranges, to the "Marie
Antoinette," a handsome steamer bound for Genoa, lying near the mouth
of the harbor.

By and by, the carriage, that unwieldy "trifle from the Pantechnicon,"
on a flat barge, bumping against everything, and giving occasion for
a prodigious quantity of oaths and grimaces, came stupidly alongside;
and by five o'clock we were steaming out in the open sea. The vessel
was beautifully clean; the meals were served under an awning on deck;
the night was calm and clear; the quiet beauty of the sea and sky


[Footnote A: From "Castles and Chateaux of Old Navarre." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, L.C. Page &
Co. Copyright, 1907.]


The little republic of Andorra, hidden away in the fastnesses of the
Pyrenees between France and Spain, its allegiance divided between the
bishop of Urgel in Spain and the French government, is a relic of
medievalism which will probably never fall before the swift advance of
twentieth century ideas of progress. At least it will never be overrun
by automobiles.

From French or Spanish territory this little unknown land is to be
reached by what is called a "wagon-way," but the road is so bad that
the sure-footed little donkeys of the Pyrenees are by far the best
means of locomotion, unless one would go up on foot, a matter of
twenty kilometers or more from Hospitalet in Spanish or Porte in
French territory.

The political status of Andorra is most peculiar, but since it has
endured without interruption (and this in spite of wars and rumors of
wars), for six centuries, it seems to be all that is necessary.

A relic of the Middle Ages, Andorra-Viella, the city, and its six
thousand inhabitants live in their lonesome retirement much as they
did in feudal times, except for the fact that an occasional newspaper
smuggled in from France or Spain gives a new topic of conversation.

This paternal governmental arrangement which cares for the welfare of
the people of Andorra, the city and the province, is the outcome of a
treaty signed by Pierre d'Urg and Roger-Bernhard, the third Comte
de Foix, giving each other reciprocal rights. There's nothing very
strange about this; it was common custom in the Middle Ages for lay
and ecclesiastical seigneurs to make such compacts, but the marvel is
that it has endured so well with governments rising and falling
all about, and grafters and pretenders and dictators ruling every
bailiwick in which they can get a foot-hold. Feudal government
may have had some bad features, but certainly the republics and
democracies of to-day, to say nothing of absolute monarchies, have
some, too.

The ways of access between France and Andorra are numerous enough;
but of the eight only two--and those not all the way--are really
practicable for wheeled traffic. The others are mere trails, or

The people of Andorra, as might be inferred, are all ardent Catholics;
and for a tiny country like this to have a religious seminary, as that
at Urgel, is remarkable of itself.

Public instruction is of late making headway, but half a century ago
the shepherd and laboring population--perhaps nine-tenths of the
whole--had little learning or indeed need for it. Their manners and
customs are simple and severe and little has changed in modern life
from that of their great-great-great-grandfathers. Each family has a
sort of a chief or official head, and the eldest son always looks for
a wife among the families of his own class. Seldom, if ever, does the
married son quit the paternal roof, so large households are the rule.
In a family where there are only girls, the eldest is the heir, and
she may only marry with a cadet of another family by his joining his
name with hers. Perhaps it is this that originally set the fashion for
hyphenated names.

The Andorrans are generally robust and well built; the maladies of
more populous regions are practically unknown among them. This speaks
much for the simple life! Costumes and dress are rough and simple and
of heavy woolens, clipt from the sheep and woven on the spot. Public
officers, the few representatives of officialdom who exist, alone
make any pretense at following the fashions. The women occupy a very
subordinate position in public affairs. They may not be present at
receptions and functions and not even at mass when it is said by the
bishop. Crime is infrequent, and simple, light punishments alone are
inflicted. Things are not so uncivilized in Andorra as one might

In need all men may be called upon to serve as soldiers, and each head
of a family must have a rifle and ball at hand at all times. In other
words, he must be able to protect himself against marauders. This does
away with the necessity of a large standing police force.

Commerce and industry are free of all taxation in Andorra, and customs
dues apply on but few articles. For this reason there is not a very
heavy tax on a people who are mostly cultivators and graziers. There
is little manufacturing industry, as might be supposed, and what is
made--save by hand and in single examples--is of the most simple
character. "Made in Germany" or "Tabrique en Belgique" are the marks
one sees on most of the common manufactured articles.

The Andorrans are a simple, proud, gullible people, who live to-day in
the past, of the past and for the past; "Les vallees et souverainetes
de l'Andorre" are to them to-day just what they always were--a little
world of their own.


[Footnote A: From "A Tour Through the Pyrenees." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Henry Holt &
Co. Copyright, 1873.]


From Luz to Gavarnie is eighteen miles.

It is enjoined upon every living creature able to mount a horse, a
mule, or any quadruped whatever, to visit Gavarnie; in default of
other beasts, he should, putting aside all shame, bestride an ass.
Ladies and convalescents are there in sedan-chairs.

Otherwise, think what a figure you will make on your return.

"You come from the Pyrenees; you've seen Gavarnie?"


What then did you go to the Pyrenees for?

You hang your head, and your friend triumphs, especially if he was
bored at Gavarnie.

You undergo a description of Gavarnie after the last edition of the
guide-book. Gavarnie is a sublime sight; tourists go sixty miles out
of their way to see it; the Duchess d'Angouleme had herself carried
to the furthest rocks. Lord Bute, when he saw it for the first time,
cried: "If I were now at the extremity of India, and suspected the
existence of what I see at this moment, I should immediately leave in
order to enjoy and admire it!" You are overwhelmed with quotations
and supercilious smiles; you are convinced of laziness, of dulness
of mind, and, as certain English travelers say, of unesthetic

There are but two resources: to learn a description by heart, or to
make the journey. I have made the journey, and am going to give the

We leave at six o'clock in the morning, by the road to Scia, in the
fog, without seeing at first anything beyond confused forms of trees
and rocks. At the end of a quarter of an hour, we hear along the
pathway a noise of sharp cries drawing near; it was a funeral
procession coming from Scia. Two men bore a small coffin under a white
shroud; behind came four herdsmen in long cloaks and brown capuchons,
silent, with bent heads; four women followed in black mantles. It was
they who uttered those monotonous and piercing lamentations; one knew
not if they were wailing or praying. They walked with long steps
through the cold mist, without stopping or looking at any one, and
were going to bury the poor body in the cemetery at Luz.

At Scia the road passes over a small bridge very high up, which
commands another bridge, gray and abandoned. The double tier of arches
bends gracefully over the blue torrent; meanwhile a pale light already
floats in the diaphanous mist; a golden gauze undulates above the
Gave; the aerial veil grows thin and will soon vanish.

Nothing can convey the idea of this light, so youthful, timid, and
smiling, which glitters like the bluish wings of a dragon-fly that is
pursued and is taken captive in a net of fog.

Beneath, the boiling water is engulfed in a narrow conduit and leaps
like a mill-race. The column of foam, thirty feet high, falls with
a furious din, and its glaucous waves, heaped together in the deep
ravine, dash against each other and are broken upon a line of fallen
rocks. Other enormous rocks, debris of the same mountain, hang above
the road, their squared heads crowned with brambles for hair; ranged
in impregnable line, they seem to watch the torments of the Gave,
which their brothers hold beneath themselves crusht and subdued.

We turn a second bridge and enter the plain of Gedres, verdant and
cultivated, where the hay is in cocks; they are harvesting; our horses
walk between two hedges of hazel; we go along by orchards; but the
mountain is ever near; the guide shows us a rock three times the
height of a man, which, two years ago, rolled down and demolished a

We encounter several singular caravans: a band of young priests in
black hats, black gloves, black cassocks tucked up, black stockings,
very apparent, novices in horsemanship who bound at every step, like
the Gave; a big, jolly, round man, in a sedan-chair, his hands crossed
over his belly, who looks on us with a paternal air, and reads his
newspaper; three ladies of sufficiently ripe age, very slender, very
lean, very stiff, who, for dignity's sake, set their beasts on a trot
as we draw near them. The cicisbeo is a bony cartilaginous gentleman,
fixt perpendicularly on his saddle like a telegraph-pole. We hear
a harsh clucking, as of a choked hen, and we recognize the English

Beyond Gedres is a wild valley called Chaos, which is well named.
After a quarter of an hour's journey there, the trees disappear, then
the juniper and the box, and finally the moss. The Gave is no longer
seen; all noises are hushed. It is a dead solitude peopled with
wrecks. The avalanches of rocks and crusht flint have come down from
the summit to the very bottom. The horrid tide, high and a quarter
of a league in length, spreads out like waves its myriads of sterile
stones, and the inclined sheet seems still to glide toward inundating
the gorge. These stones are shattered and pulverized; their living
fractures and thin, harsh points wound the eye; they are still
bruising and crushing each other. Not a bush, not a spear of grass;
the arid grayish train burns beneath a sun of brass; its debris are
scorched to a dull hue, as in a furnace.

A hundred paces further on, the aspect of the valley becomes
formidable. Troops of mammoths and mastadons in stone lie crouching
over the eastern declivity, one above another, and heaped up over the
whole slope. These colossal ridges shine with a tawny hue like iron
rust; the most enormous of them drink the water of the river at their
base. They look as if warming their bronzed skin in the sun, and
sleep, turned over, stretched out on their side, resting in all
attitudes, and always gigantic and frightful. Their deformed paws are
curled up; their bodies half buried in the earth; their monstrous
backs rest one upon another. When you enter into the midst of the
prodigious band, the horizon disappears, the blocks rise fifty feet
into the air; the road winds painfully among the overhanging masses;
men and horses seem but dwarfs; these rusted edges mount in stages to
the very summit, and the dark hanging army seems ready to fall on the
human insects which come to trouble its sleep.

Once upon a time, the mountain, in a paroxysm of fever, shook its
summits like a cathedral that is falling in. A few points resisted,
and their embattled turrets are drawn out in line on the crest; but
their layers are dislocated, their sides creviced, their points
jagged. The whole shattered ridge totters. Beneath them the rock fails
suddenly in a living and still bleeding wound. The splinters are lower
down, strewn over the declivity. The tumbled rocks are sustained one
upon another, and man to-day passes in safety amidst the disaster.

But what a day was that of the ruin: It is not very ancient, perhaps
of the sixth century, and the year of the terrible earthquake told of
by Gregory of Tours. If a man could without perishing have seen the
summits split, totter and fall, the two seas of rock come bounding
into the gorge, meet one another and grind each other amidst a shower
of sparks, he would have looked upon the grandest spectacle ever seen
by human eyes.

On the west, a perpendicular mole, crannied like an old ruin, lifts
itself straight up toward the sky. A leprosy of yellowish moss has
incrusted its pores, and has clothed it all over with a sinister
livery. This livid robe upon this parched stone has a splendid effect.
Nothing is uglier than the chalky flints that are drawn from the
quarry; just dug up, they seem cold and damp in their whitish shroud;
they are not used to the sun; they make a contrast with the rest. But
the rock that has lived in the air for ten thousand years, where the
light has every day laid on and melted its metallic tints, is the
friend of the sun, and carries its mantle upon its shoulders; it
has no need of a garment of verdure; if it suffers from parasitic
vegetations, it sticks them to its sides and imprints them with its
colors. The threatening tones with which it clothes itself suits the
free sky, the naked landscape, the powerful heat that environs it; it
is alive like a plant; only it is of another age, one more severe and
stronger than that in which we vegetate.

Gavarnie is a very ordinary village, commanding a view of the
amphitheater we are come to see. After you have left it, it is still
necessary to go three miles through a melancholy plain, half buried in
sand by the winter inundations; the waters of the Gave are muddy and
dull; a cold wind whistles from the amphitheater; the glaciers, strewn
with mud and stones, are stuck to the declivity like patches of dirty
plaster. The mountains are bald and ravined by cascades; black cones
of scattered firs climb them like routed soldiers; a meager and wan
turf wretchedly clothes their mutilated heads. The horses ford the
Gave stumblingly, chilled by the water coming from the snows. In this
wasted solitude you meet, all of a sudden, the most smiling parterre.
A throng of the lovely iris crowds itself into the bed of a dried
torrent; the sun stripes with rays of gold their velvety petals of
tender blue; and the eye follows over the whole plain the folds of the
rivulet of flowers.

We climb a last eminence, sown with iris and with stones. There is a
hut where you breakfast and leave the horses. You arm yourself with a
stout stick, and descend upon the glaciers of the amphitheater.

These glaciers are very ugly, very dirty, very uneven, very slippery;
at every step you run the risk of falling, and if you fall, it is on
sharp stones or into deep holes. They look very much like heaps of old
plaster-work, and those who have admired them must have a stock of
admiration for sale. The water has pierced them so that you walk
upon bridges of snow. These bridges have the appearance of kitchen
air-holes; the water is swallowed up in a very low archway, and, when
you look closely, you get a distinct sight of a black hole.

After the glaciers we find a sloping esplanade; we climb for ten
minutes bruising our feet upon fragments of sharp rock. Since leaving
the hut we have not lifted our eyes, in order to restore for ourselves
an unbroken sensation. Here at last we look.

A wall of granite crowned with snow hollows itself before us in a
gigantic amphitheater. This amphitheater is twelve hundred feet high,
nearly three miles in circumference, three tiers of perpendicular
walls, and in each tier thousands of steps. The valley ends there; the
wall is a single block and impregnable. The other summits might fall,
but its massive layers would not be moved. The mind is overwhelmed
by the idea of a stability that can not be shaken and an assured
eternity. There is the boundary of two countries and two races; this
it is that Roland wanted to break, when with a sword-stroke he opened
a breach in the summit. But the immense wound disappeared in the
immensity of the unconquered wall. Three sheets of snow are spread out
over the three tiers of layers.

The sun falls with all its force upon this virginal robe without being
able to make it shine. It preserves its dead whiteness. All this
grandeur is austere; the air is chilled beneath the noonday rays;
great, damp shadows creep along the foot of the walls. It is the
everlasting winter and the nakedness of the desert. The sole
inhabitants are the cascades assembled to form the Gave. The
streamlets of water come by thousands from the highest layer, leap
from step to step, cross their stripes of foam, unite and fall by a
dozen brooks that slide from the last layer in flaky streaks to lose
themselves in the glaciers of the bottom.

The thirteenth cascade on the left is twelve hundred and sixty-six
feet high. It falls slowly, like a dropping cloud, or the unfolding of
a muslin veil; the air softens its fall; the eye follows complacently
the graceful undulation of the beautiful airy veil. It glides the
length of the rock, and seems to float rather than to fall. The sun
shines, through its plume, with the softest and loveliest splendor.
It reaches the bottom like a bouquet of slender waving feathers, and
springs backward in a silver dust; the fresh and transparent mist
swings about the rock it bathes, and its rebounding train mounts
lightly along the courses. No stir in the air; no noise, no living
creature in the solitude. You hear only the monotonous murmur of the
cascades, resembling the rustle of the leaves that the wind stirs in
the forest.

On our return, we seated ourselves at the door of the hut. It is a
poor, squat little house, heavily supported upon thick walls; the
knotty joists of the ceiling retain their bark. It is indeed necessary
that it should be able to stand out alone against the snows of winter.
You find everywhere the imprint of the terrible months it has gone
through. Two dead fir-trees stand erect at the door. The garden, three
feet square, is defended by enormous walls of piled-up slates. The low
and black stable leaves neither foot-hold nor entry for the winds. A
lean colt was seeking a little grass among the stones. A small bull,
with surly air, looked at us out of the sides of his eyes; the
animals, the trees and the site, wore a threatening or melancholy
aspect. But in the clefts of a rock were growing some admirable
buttercups, lustrous and splendid, which looked as if painted by a ray
of sunshine.

At the village we met our companions of the journey who had sat down
there. The good tourists get fatigued, stop ordinarily at the inn,
take a substantial dinner, have a chair brought to the door, and
digest while looking at the amphitheater, which from there appears
about as high as a house. After this they return, praising the sublime
sight, and very glad that they have come to the Pyrenees.




[Footnote A: From "Cities of Belgium."]


The Rhine constituted the great central waterway of medieval Europe;
the Flemish towns were its ports and its manufacturing centers. They
filled in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries much the same place
that Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, and Birmingham fill in the
nineteenth. Many causes contributed to this result.

Flanders, half independent under its own counts, occupied a middle
position, geographically and politically, between France and the
Empire; it was comparatively free from the disastrous wars which
desolated both these countries, and in particular it largely escaped
the long smouldering quarrel between French and English, which so long
retarded the development of the former. Its commercial towns, again,
were not exposed on the open sea to the attacks of pirates or hostile
fleets, but were safely ensconced in inland flats, reached by rivers
or canals, almost inaccessible to maritime enemies. Similar conditions
elsewhere early ensured peace and prosperity for Venice.

The canal system of Holland and Belgium began to be developed as early
as the twelfth century (at first for drainage), and was one leading
cause of the commercial importance of the Flemish cities in the
fourteenth. In so flat a country, locks are all but unnecessary. The
two towns which earliest rose to greatness in the Belgian area were
thus Bruges and Ghent; they possest in the highest degree the combined
advantages of easy access to the sea and comparative inland security.

Bruges, in particular, was one of the chief stations of the Hanseatic
League, which formed an essentially commercial alliance for the mutual
protection of the northern trading centers. By the fourteenth century
Bruges had thus become in the north what Venice was in the south,
the capital of commerce. Trading companies from all the surrounding
countries had their "factories" in the town, and every European king
or prince of importance kept a resident minister accredited to the
merchant republic.

Some comprehension of the mercantile condition of Europe in general
during the Middle Ages is necessary in order to understand the early
importance and wealth of the Flemish cities. Southern Europe, and in
particular Italy, was then still the seat of all higher civilization,
more especially of the trade in manufactured articles and objects of
luxury. Florence, Venice and Genoa ranked as the polished and learned
cities of the world. Further east, again, Constantinople still
remained in the hands of the Greek emperors, or, during the Crusades,
of their Latin rivals. A brisk trade existed via the Mediterranean
between Europe and India or the nearer East. This double stream of
traffic ran along two main routes--one, by the Rhine, from Lombardy
and Rome; the other, by sea, from Venice, Genoa, Florence,
Constantinople, the Levant, and India.

On the other hand, France was still but a half civilized country,
with few manufactures and little external trade; while England was an
exporter of raw produce, chiefly wool, like Australia in our own time.
The Hanseatic merchants of Cologne held the trade of London; those of
Wisby and Luebeck governed that of the Baltic; Bruges, as head of the
Hansea, was in close connection with all of these, as well as with
Hull, York, Novgorod, and Bergen.

The position of the Flemish towns in the fourteenth century was thus
not wholly unlike that of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston at the
present day; they stood as intermediaries between the older civilized
countries, like Italy or the Greek empire, and the newer producers of
raw material, like England, North Germany, and the Baltic towns.

In a lost corner of the great lowland flat of Flanders, defended from
the sea by an artificial dike, and at the point of intersection of an
intricate network of canals and waterways, there arose in the early
Middle Ages a trading town, known in Flemish as Brugge, in French as
Bruges (that is to say, The Bridge), from a primitive structure that
here crossed the river. A number of bridges now span the sluggish
streams. All of them open in the middle to admit the passage of

Bruges stood originally on a little river, Reye, once navigable, now
swallowed by canals; and the Reye flowed into the Zwin, long silted
up, but then the safest harbor in the Low Countries. At first the
capital of a petty Count, this land-locked internal harbor grew in
time to be the Venice of the North, and to gather round its quays or
at its haven of Damme, the ships and merchandise of all neighboring
peoples. Already in 1200 it ranked as the central mart of the
Hanseatic League.

It was the port of entry for English wool and Russian furs: the port
of departure for Flemish broadcloths, laces, tapestries, and linens.
Canals soon connected it with Ghent, Dunkirk, Sluys, Furnes and Ypres.
Its nucleus lay in a little knot of buildings about the Grand Place
and the Hotel de Ville, stretching out to the Cathedral and the Dyver;
thence it spread on all sides till, in 1362, it filled the whole space
within the existing ramparts, now largely abandoned or given over to
fields and gardens. It was the wealthiest town of Europe, outside

The decline of the town was due partly to the break-up of the
Hanseatic system; partly to the rise of English ports and
manufacturing towns; but still more, and especially as compared with
our Flemish cities, to the silting of the Zwin, and the want of
adaption in its waterways to the needs of great ships and modern
navigation. The old sea entrance to Bruges was through the Zwin, by
way of Sluys and Kadzand; up that channel came the Venetian merchant
fleet and the Flemish galleys, to the port of Damme. By 1470, it
ceased to be navigable for large vessels.

The later canal is still open, but as it passes through what is now
Dutch territory, it is little used; nor is it adapted to any save
ships of comparatively small burden. Another canal, suitable for
craft of 500 tons, leads through Belgian territory to Ostend; but few
vessels now navigate it, and those for the most part only for local
trade. The town has shrunk to half its former size, and has only a
quarter of its medieval population.

The commercial decay of Bruges, however, has preserved its charm for
the artist, the archeologist, and the tourist; its sleepy streets and
unfrequented quays are among the most picturesque sights of bustling
and industrial modern Belgium. The great private palaces, indeed,
are almost all destroyed; but many public buildings remain, and the
domestic architecture is quaint and pretty.

Bruges was the mother of arts in Flanders: Jan van Eyck lived here
from 1428 to 1440. Memling, probably from 1477 till 1494. Caxton, the
first English printer, lived as a merchant at Bruges, in the Domus
Anglorum or English factory, from 1446 to 1476, and probably put in
the press here the earliest English book printed, tho strong grounds
have been adduced in favor of Cologne. Colard Mansion, the great
printer of Bruges at that date, was one of the leaders in the art of

The very tall square tower which faces you as you enter the Grand
Place is the Belfry, the center and visible embodiment of the town of
Bruges. The Grand Place itself was the forum and meeting place of the
soldier citizens, who were called to arms by the chimes in the Belfry.
The center of the place is therefore appropriately occupied by a
colossal statue group, modern, of Pieter de Coninck and Jan Breidel,
the leaders of the citizens of Bruges at the Battle of the Spurs
before the walls of Courtrai in 1302, a conflict which secured the
freedom of Flanders from the interference of the Kings of France. The
group is by Devigne. The reliefs on the pedestal represent scenes from
the battle and its antecedents.

The majestic Belfry itself represents the first beginnings of freedom
in Bruges. Leave to erect such a bell-tower, both as a mark of
independence and to summon the citizens to arms, was one of the first
privileges which every Teutonic trading town desired to wring from its
feudal lord. This brick tower, the pledge of municipal rights, was
begun in 1291, to replace an earlier one of wood, and finished about a
hundred years later; the octagon, in stone at the summit, which holds
the bell, having been erected in 1393-96.

It consists of three stories, the two lower of which are square and
flanked by balconies with turrets; the windows below are of the simple
early Gothic style, but show a later type of architecture in the
octagon. The niche in the center contains the Virgin and Child, a
group restored after being destroyed by the French revolutionists.
Below it on either side are smaller figures holding escutcheons. From
the balcony between these last, the laws and the rescripts of the
counts were read aloud to the people assembled in the square.

The Belfry can be ascended by steps. Owing to the force of the wind,
it leans slightly to the southeast. The view from the top is very
extensive and striking. It embraces the greater part of the Plain of
Flanders, with its towns and villages. The country, tho quite flat,
looks beautiful when thus seen. In early times, however, the look-out
from the summit was of practical use for purposes of observation,
military or maritime. It commanded the river, the Zwin, and the sea
approach by Sluys and Damme; the course of the various canals; and the
roads to Ghent, Antwerp, Tournai, and Courtrai. The Belfry contains a
famous set of chimes, the mechanism of which may be inspected by the
visitor. He will have frequent opportunities of hearing the beautiful
and mellow carillon, perhaps to excess. The existing bells date only
from 1680: the mechanism from 1784.


[Footnote A: From "The Paris Sketch Book."]


It is the quaintest and prettiest of all the quaint and pretty towns I
have seen. A painter might spend months here, and wander from church
to church, and admire old towers and pinnacles, tall gables, bright
canals, and pretty little patches of green garden and moss-grown wall,
that reflect in the clear quiet water. Before the inn-window is a
garden, from which in the early morning issues a most wonderful odor
of stocks and wallflowers; next comes a road with trees of admirable
green; numbers of little children are playing in this road (the place
is so clean that they may roll on it all day without soiling
their pinafores), and on the other side of the trees are little
old-fashioned, dumpy, whitewashed, red-tiled houses.

A poorer landscape to draw never was known, nor a pleasanter to
see--the children especially, who are inordinately fat and rosy. Let
it be remembered, too, that here we are out of the country of ugly
women; the expression of the face is almost uniformly gentle and
pleasing, and the figures of the women, wrapt in long black monk-like
cloaks and hoods, very picturesque. No wonder there are so many
children: the "Guide-book" (omniscient Mr. Murray!) says there are
fifteen thousand paupers in the town, and we know how such multiply.

How the deuce do their children look so fat and rosy? By eating
dirt-pies, I suppose. I saw a couple making a very nice savory one,
and another employed in gravely sticking strips of stick betwixt the
pebbles at the house-door, and so making for herself a stately garden.
The men and women don't seem to have much more to do. There are a
couple of tall chimneys at either suburb of the town, where no doubt
manufactories are at work, but within the walls everybody seems
decently idle.

We have been, of course, abroad to visit the lions. The tower in the
Grand Place is very fine, and the bricks of which it is built do not
yield a whit in color to the best stone. The great building round this
tower is very like the pictures of the Ducal Palace at Venice; and
there is a long market area, with columns down the middle, from which
hung shreds of rather lean-looking meat, that would do wonders under
the hands of Cattermole or Haghe.

In the tower there is a chime of bells that keep ringing perpetually.
They not only play tunes of themselves, and every quarter of an hour,
but an individual performs selections from popular operas on them at
certain periods of the morning, afternoon, and evening. I have heard
to-day "Suoni la Tromba," "Son Vergin Vezzosa," from the "Puritani,"
and other airs, and very badly they were played too; for such a great
monster as a tower-bell can not be expected to imitate Madame Grisi or
even Signor Lablache. Other churches indulge in the same amusement, so
that one may come here and live in melody all day or night, like the
young woman in Moore's "Lalla Rookh."

In the matter of art, the chief attractions of Bruges are the pictures
of Memling, that are to be seen in the churches, the hospital, and the
picture-gallery of the place. There are no more pictures of Rubens to
be seen, and, indeed, in the course of a fortnight, one has had quite
enough of the great man and his magnificent, swaggering canvases.
What a difference is here with simple Memling and the extraordinary
creations of his pencil! The hospital is particularly rich in them;
and the legend there is that the painter, who had served Charles the
Bold in his war against the Swiss, and his last battle and defeat,
wandered back wounded and penniless to Bruges, and here found cure and

This hospital is a noble and curious sight. The great hall is almost
as it was in the twelfth century; it is spanned by Saxon arches, and
lighted by a multiplicity of Gothic windows of all sizes; it is very
lofty, clean, and perfectly well ventilated; a screen runs across the
middle of the room, to divide the male from the female patients, and
we were taken to examine each ward, where the poor people seemed
happier than possibly they would have been in health and starvation
without it.

Great yellow blankets were on the iron beds, the linen was
scrupulously clean, glittering pewter-jugs and goblets stood by the
side of each patient, and they were provided with godly books (to
judge from the building), in which several were reading at leisure.
Honest old comfortable nuns, in queer dresses of blue, black, white,
and flannel, were bustling through the room, attending to the wants
of the sick. I saw about a dozen of these kind women's faces; one was
young,--all were healthy and cheerful. One came with bare blue arms
and a great pile of linen from an out-house--such a grange as Cedric
the Saxon might have given to a guest for the night. A couple were in
a laboratory, a tall, bright, clean room, 500 years old at least.

"We saw you were not very religious," said one of the old ladies, with
a red, wrinkled, good-humored face, "by your behavior yesterday in

And yet we did not laugh and talk as we used at college, but were
profoundly affected by the scene that we saw there. It was a fete-day;
a work of Mozart was sung in the evening--not well sung, and yet so
exquisitely tender and melodious, that it brought tears into our eyes.
There were not above twenty people in the church; all, save three or
four, were women in long black cloaks. I took them for nuns at first.
They were, however, the common people of the town, very poor indeed,
doubtless, for the priest's box that was brought round was not
added to by most of them, and their contributions were but two-cent
pieces--five of these go to a penny; but we know the value of such,
and can tell the exact worth of a poor woman's mite!

The box-bearer did not seem at first willing to accept our
donation--we were strangers and heretics; however, I held out my hand,
and he came perforce as it were. Indeed it had only a franc in it; but
"que voulez vous?" I had been drinking a bottle of Rhine wine that
day, and how was I to afford more? The Rhine wine is dear in this
country, and costs four francs a bottle.

Well, the service proceeded. Twenty poor women, two Englishmen, four
ragged beggars, cowering on the steps; and there was the priest at the
altar, in a great robe of gold and damask, two little boys in white
surplices serving him, holding his robe as he rose and bowed, and the
money-gatherer swinging his censer, and filling the little chapel with

The music pealed with wonderful sweetness; you could see the prim
white heads of the nuns in their gallery. The evening light streamed
down upon old statues of saints and carved brown stalls, and lighted
up the head of the golden-haired Magdalen in a picture of the
entombment of Christ. Over the gallery, and, as it were, a kind
protectress to the poor below, stood the statue of the Virgin.


[Footnote A: From "Cities of Belgium."]


Flanders owes everything to its water communications. At the junction
of the Schelde with the Lys and Lei, there grew up in the very early
Middle Ages a trading town, named Gent in Flemish, and Gand in French,
but commonly Anglicized as Ghent. It lay on a close network of rivers
and canals, formed partly by these two main streams, and partly by the
minor channels of the Lieve and the Moere, which together intersect it
into several islands.

Such a tangle of inland waterways, giving access to the sea and to
Bruges, Courtrai, and Tournai, as well as less directly to Antwerp
and Brussels, ensured the rising town in early times considerable
importance. It formed the center of a radiating commerce. Westward,
its main relations were with London and English wool ports; eastward
with Cologne, Maastricht, the Rhine towns, and Italy.

Ghent was always the capital of East Flanders, as Bruges or Ypres were
of the Western province; and after the Counts lost possession of
Arras and Artois, it became in the thirteenth century their principal
residence and the metropolis of the country....

Early in the fourteenth century, the burghers of Ghent, under their
democratic chief, Jacob or Jacques Van Artevelde, attained practical
independence. Till 1322, the counts and people of Flanders had been
united in their resistance to the claims of France; but with the
accession of Count Louis of Nevers, the aspect of affairs changed.
Louis was French by education, sympathies, and interests, and
artistocratic by nature; he sought to curtail the liberties of the
Flemish towns, and to make himself despotic. The wealthy and populous
burgher republics resisted and in 1337 Van Artevelde was appointed
Captain of Ghent. Louis fled to France and asked the aid of Philip of

Thereupon, Van Artevelde made himself the ally of Edward III. of
England, then beginning his war with France; but as the Flemings did
not like entirely to cast off their allegiance--a thing repugnant to
medieval sentiment--Van Artevelde persuaded Edward to put forward his
trumped-up claim to the crown of France, and thus induced the towns
to transfer their fealty from Philip to his English rival. It was
therefore in his character as King of France that Edward came to
Flanders. The alliance thus formed between the great producer of raw
wool, England, and the great manufacturer of woolen goods, Ghent,
proved of immense importance to both parties.

But as Count Louis sided with Philip of Valois, the breach between the
democracy of Ghent and its nominal soverign now became impassable. Van
Artevelde held supreme power in Ghent and Flanders for nine years--the
golden age of Flemish commerce--and was treated on equal terms by
Edward, who stopt at Ghent as his guest for considerable periods. But
he was opposed by a portion of the citizens, and his suggestion that
the Black Prince, son of Edward III., should be elected Count
of Flanders, proved so unpopular with his enemies that he was
assassinated by one of them, Gerald Denys. The town and states
immediately repudiated the murder; and the alliance which Van
Artevelde had brought about still continued. It had far-reaching
results; the woolen industry was introduced by Edward into the Eastern
Counties of England, and Ghent had risen meanwhile to be the chief
manufacturing city of Europe.

The quarrel between the democratic weavers and their exiled counts
was still carried on by Philip van Artevelde, the son of Jacques, and
godson of Queen Philippa of England, herself a Hainaulter. Under his
rule, the town continued to increase in wealth and population. But
the general tendency of later medieval Europe toward centralized
despotisms as against urban republics was too strong in the end for
free Ghent. In 1381, Philip was appointed dictator by the democratic
party, in the war against the Count, son of his father's opponent,
whom he repelled with great slaughter in a battle near Bruges.

He then made himself Regent of Flanders. But Count Louis obtained
the aid of Charles VI. of France, and defeated and killed Philip van
Artevelde at the disastrous battle of Roosebeke in 1382. That was
practically the end of local freedom in Flanders. Tho the cities
continued to revolt against their sovereigns from time to time, they
were obliged to submit for the most part to their Count and to the
Burgundian princes who inherited from him by marriage.

The subsequent history of Ghent is that of the capital of the
Burgundian Dukes, and of the House of Austria. Here the German king,
Maximilian, afterward Emperor, married Mary of Burgundy, the heiress
of the Netherlands; and here Charles V. was born in the palace of
the Counts. It was his principal residence, and he was essentially a

The real interest of the Cathedral centers, not in St. Bavon, nor in
his picture by Rubens, but in the great polyptych of the Adoration
of the Lamb, the masterpiece of Jan van Eyck and his brother Hubert,
which forms in a certain sense the point of departure for the native
art of the Netherlands....

Stand before the west front at a little distance, to examine the
simple but massive architecture of the tower and facade. The great
portal has been robbed of the statues which once adorned its niches.
Three have been "restored"; they represent, center, the Savior; at the
left, the patron, St. Bavon, recognizable by his falcon, his sword as
duke, and his book as monk; he wears armor, with a ducal robe and cap
above it; at the right, St. John the Baptist, the earlier patron.

Then, walk to the right, round the south side, to observe the external
architecture of the nave, aisles and choir. The latter has the
characteristic rounded or apsidal termination of Continental Gothic,
whereas English Gothic usually has a square end. Enter by the south

The interior, with single aisles and short transepts (Early Gothic)
is striking for its simple dignity, its massive pillars, and its high
arches, tho the undeniably noble effect of the whole is somewhat
marred to English eyes by the unusual appearance of the unadorned
brick walls and vaulting. The pulpit, by Delvaux (1745), partly in
oak, partly in marble, represents Truth revealing the Christian Faith
to astonished Paganism, figured as an old and outworn man. It is a
model of all that should be avoided in plastic or religious art.
The screen which separates the choir from the transepts is equally
unfortunate. The apsidal end of the Choir, however, with its fine
modern stained glass, forms a very pleasing feature in the general
coup d'oeil....

The sixth chapel (of the Vydts family) contains the famous altar piece
of the Adoration of the Lamb, by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, to study
which is the chief object of a visit to Ghent. See it more than once,
and examine it carefully. Ask the sacristan to let you sit before it
for some time in quiet or he will hurry you on. You must observe it in
close detail. Taking it in its entirety, then, the altar-piece, when
opened, is a great mystical poem of the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of
the Lamb, with the Christian folk, both Church and World, adoring. The
composition contains over 200 figures. Many of them, which I have
not here identified, can be detected by a closer inspection, which,
however, I will leave to the reader.

Now, ask the sacristan to shut the wings. They are painted on the
outer side (all a copy) mainly in grisaille, or in very low tones
of color, as is usual in such cases, so as to allow the jewel-like
brilliancy of the internal picture to burst upon the observer the
moment the altar-piece is opened.

Old Ghent occupied for the most part the island which extends from the
Palais de Justice on one side to the Botanical Gardens on the other.
This island, bounded by the Lys, the Schelde, and an ancient canal,
includes almost all the principal buildings of the town, such as the
Cathedral, St. Nicholas, the Hotel-de-Ville, the Belfry, and St.
Jacques, as well as the chief Places, such as the Marche aux Grains,
the Marche aux Herbes, and the Marche du Vendredi. It also extends
beyond the Lys to the little island on which is situated the church of
St. Michael, and again to the islet formed between the Lieve and the
Lys, which contains the chateau of the Counts and the Palace Ste.

In the later middle ages, however, the town had spread to nearly its
existing extreme dimensions, and was probably more populous than at
the present moment. But its ancient fortifications have been destroyed
and their place has been taken by boulevards and canals. The line
may still be traced on the map, or walked round through a series of
shipping suburbs; but it is uninteresting to follow, a great part of
its course lying through the more squalid portions of the town.
The only remaining gate is that known as the Rabot (1489), a very
interesting and picturesque object situated in a particularly slummy

Bruges is full of memories of the Burgundian Princes. At Ghent it is
the personality of Charles V., the great emperor who cumulated in his
own person the sovereignties of Germany, the Low Countries, Spain and
Burgundy, that meets us afresh at every turn. He was born here in 1500
and baptized in a font, otherwise uninteresting, which still stands in
the north transept of the Cathedral. Ghent was really, for the greater
part of his life, his practical capital, and he never ceased to be at
heart a Ghenter.

That did not prevent the citizens from unjustly rebelling against him
in 1540, after the suppression of which revolt Charles is said to have
ascended the cathedral tower, while the executioner was putting to
death the ringleaders in the rebellion, in order to choose with his
brother Ferdinand the site for the citadel he intended to erect, to
overawe the freedom loving city. He chose the Monastery of St. Bavon
as its site, and, as we have seen, built there his colossal fortress,
now wholly demolished. The palace in which he was born and which he
inhabited frequently during life, was known as the Cour du Prince. It
stood near the Ancient Grand Beguinage, but only its name now survives
in that of a street.


[Footnote A: From "The Belgians at Home." Published by Little, Brown &


The great commercial and material prosperity of the place dates from
the commencement of the rule of the House of Burgundy. It was then,
in the fifteenth century, that the most beautiful of its many fine
buildings were erected. The Church of St. Michael and St. Gudule has
its great nave and towers dating from this period; the Hotel de Ville,
Notre Dame du Sablon, the Nassau Palace, the Palace of the Dukes of
Brabant, and many other buildings were commenced then. Manufactures
and commerce commenced to flourish, while the liberties of the
municipality were extended considerably.

It was undoubtedly under the rule of Charles V. that Brussels reached
its zenith of ancient prosperity. Then, with the era of Philip II. of
Spain, came a long period of bloodshed, persecution, and misery. The
religious disputes and troubles afflicting the Netherlands had their
effect upon the life, prosperity, and happiness of the Bruxellois. The
whole country was running with blood, and ruin stalked through the
land. But during this tragic period of Netherlands' history Brussels
saw several glorious events, and did as a city more than one noble
deed. It was in Brussels that the compromise of the nobles took place,
after which those who were rebelling against the cruelties of the
Inquisition were given the name of "Gueux," which had been bestowed
upon them contemptuously by the Comte de Barlaimont.... It was
Brussels which led the revolt against the most bloodthirsty of the
rulers sent to the Netherlands by Spain, the Duke of Alva, and
successfully resisted the imposition of the notorious "twentieth
denier" tax which it was sought to impose upon it, a tax which led
ultimately to the revolt of the whole of the Belgian provinces.

Certainly this ancient capital of the Province of Brabant, containing
nowadays with its suburbs a population of upward of 600,000, which has
quadrupled in sixty years, has come to take its place among the most
beautiful and charming capital cities of Europe. It is undoubtedly
healthy, and there is an engaging air about Brussels which soon
impresses itself upon the foreign visitor. Added to all its many
attractions of interesting museums--the homes of wonderful and in
some cases unrivaled collections of works of art--and of historical
associations with the past, it possesses the charm of being modern in
the best sense and of being a place where one may find much that is
finest in art and music. As a home of fashion it bids fair some day
to rival Paris herself, and the shops of the Montagne de la Cour,
Boulevard Anspach, and contiguous streets are scarcely less luxurious
or exclusive than those of the Rue de la Paix or Boulevard des
Italiens in the French capital. Brussels is a city of shady
boulevards, open spaces, and pleasant parks as is Paris; and the
beautiful Bois de la Cambre on its outskirts compares very favorably
with the world-renowned Bois de Boulogne as regards rural charm and

One impression that Brussels is almost certain to make upon the
visitor is its compactness. Its population, including the outskirts,
is nowadays rather over 600,000; but it is almost impossible to
realize that nearly one-eleventh of the whole population of Belgium
is concentrated in this one city, or, as might be said, in Greater
Brussels. Perhaps the real reason of this apparent lack of size
is because there are in reality two cities, Brussels interior and
Brussels exterior. The one with a population of about 225,000; the
latter with one of about 375,000. It is with the former, of course,
that the tourist and casual visitor are chiefly concerned.

The outlying suburbs are, however, connected with the city proper by a
splendid system of steam, electric, and other trams. In fact, it may
be said that Brussels is in a sense surrounded by a group of small
towns, which tho forming part of the great city are yet independent,
and are governed very much like the various boroughs which make up
Greater London, Curhegem, St. Gilles, Ixelles, St. Josse, Ten Noodle,
Molenbeek, St. Jean, and Schaerbeek, still further out, are all in a
sense separate towns, seldom visited by, and indeed almost unknown to
the tourist.

The most fashionable quarters for residences of the wealthy classes
are the broad and beautiful Avenue Louise and the streets and avenues
of the Quartier Leopold. They in a sense correspond to the Avenue du
Bois de Boulogne, Avenue des Champs Elysees, and Boulevard St. Germain
of Paris. There is another feature, too, that modern Brussels has in
common with Paris of the immediate past and of to-day. It is being
"Haussmannized," and the older and more quaint and interesting
portions of the city, as has been and is the case in Paris, are
gradually but surely disappearing to make way for the onward march of
progress and expansion. Almost on every hand, and especially in the
Porte de Namur Quarter, old buildings are constantly falling victims
to the house-wrecker, and new, in the shape of handsome mansions and
lofty blocks of flats, are arising from their ashes.

The last thirty--even twenty--years have seen many changes. During
that period the sluggish little River Senne, which once meandered
through the city, and upon whose banks stood many fine and picturesque
old houses and buildings of past ages, has been arched over, and the
fine Boulevard of the same name, and those of Hainaut and Anspach,
have been built above its imprisoned waters. The higher portions of
the city are undeniably healthy, and the climate of Brussels is less
subject to extreme changes than that of Paris. It is not unbearably
cold in winter, and tho hot in summer, is not so, we think, airless
as either Paris or London, a fact accounted for by reason of its many
open spaces, its height above sea-level, and comparative nearness to
the North Sea.

Of its fine buildings, none excels the Hotel de Ville, which is
certainly one of the most interesting and beautiful buildings of its
kind in Belgium. It is well placed on one of the finest medieval
squares in Europe, and is surrounded by quaint and historic houses. On
this Grande Place many tragedies have from time to time been enacted,
and some of the most ferocious acts of the inhuman Alva performed.
In the spring of the terrible year, 1568, no less than twenty-five
Flemish nobles were executed here, and in the June of the same year
the patriots Lamoral, Count Egmont, Philip de Montmorency, and Count
Hoorn were put to death. This atrocious deed is commemorated by a
fountain with statues of the heroes, placed in front of the Maison
du Roi, from a window of which the Duke of Alva watched his orders
carried out.

This most beautiful Hotel de Ville, with its late Gothic facade
approaching the Renaissance period, nearly 200 feet in length, was
commenced, according to a well-known authority, either in 1401 or
1402, the eastern wing, or left-hand portion as one faces it across
the Place, having been the first part to be commenced, the western
half of the facade not having been begun until 1444. The later
additions formed the quadrangle.

The Cathedral at Brussels is dedicated jointly to Ste. Gudule and St.
Michael. The former is one of the luckiest saints in that respect, as
probably but for this dedication, she would have remained among the
many rather obscure saints of the early periods of Christianity.

It is to this church that most visitors to Brussels first wend their
way after visiting the Grande Place and its delightful Flower Market,
which is gay with blossoms on most days of the week all the year
round. The natural situation of the church is a fine one, which was
made the most of by its architects and builders of long ago. Standing,
as it does, on the side of a hill reached from the Grande Place by the
fine Rue de la Montagne and short, steep Rue Ste. Gudule, it overlooks
the city with its two fine twin western towers dominating the
neighboring streets. These towers have appeared to us when viewed up
the Rue Ste. Gudule and other streets leading up from the lower town
to the church, generally to be veiled by a mystic gray or ambient
haze, and to gain much in impressiveness and grandeur from the coup
d'oeil one obtains of them framed, as it were, in the end of the
rising street.


[Footnote A: From "Les Miserables." Translated by Lascelles Wraxall.]


The battle of Waterloo is an enigma as obscure for those who gained
it as for him who lost it. To Napoleon it is a panic; Bluecher sees
nothing in it but fire; Wellington does not understand it at all.
Look at the reports; the bulletins are confused; the commentaries are
entangled; the latter stammer, the former stutter.

Jomini divides the battle of Waterloo into four moments; Muffing cuts
it into three acts; Charras, altho we do not entirely agree with him
in all his appreciations, has alone caught with his haughty eye
the characteristic lineaments of this catastrophe of human genius
contending with divine chance. All the other historians suffer from a
certain bedazzlement in which they grope about. It was a flashing day,
in truth the overthrow of the military monarchy which, to the great
stupor of the kings, has dragged down all kingdoms, the downfall of
strength and the rout of war....

In this event, which bears the stamp of superhuman necessity, men play
but a small part; but if we take Waterloo from Wellington and Bluecher,
does that deprive England and Germany of anything? No. Neither
illustrious England nor august Germany is in question in the problem
of Waterloo, for, thank heaven! nations are great without the mournful
achievements of the sword. Neither Germany, nor England, nor France
is held in a scabbard; at this day when Waterloo is only a clash of
sabers, Germany has Goethe above Bluecher, and England has Byron above
Wellington. A mighty dawn of ideas is peculiar to our age; and in this
dawn England and Germany have their own magnificent flash. They are
majestic because they think; the high level they bring to civilization
is intrinsic to them; it comes from themselves, and not from an
accident. Any aggrandizement the nineteenth century may have can not
boast of Waterloo as its fountainhead; for only barbarous nations
grow suddenly after a victory--it is the transient vanity of torrents
swollen by a storm. Civilized nations, especially at the present day,
are not elevated or debased by the good or evil fortune of a captain,
and their specific weight in the human family results from something
more than a battle. Their honor, dignity, enlightenment, and genius
are not numbers which those gamblers, heroes and conquerors, can
stake in the lottery of battles. Very often a battle lost is progress
gained, and less of glory, more of liberty. The drummer is silent and
reason speaks; it is the game of who loses wins. Let us, then, speak
of Waterloo coldly from both sides, and render to chance the things
that belong to chance, and to God what is God's. What is Waterloo--a
victory? No; a prize in the lottery, won by Europe, and paid by
France; it was hardly worth while erecting a lion for it.

Waterloo is the strangest encounter recorded in history; Napoleon
and Wellington are not enemies, but contraries. Never did God, who
delights in antitheses, produce a more striking contrast, or a more
extraordinary confrontation. On one side precision, foresight,
geometry, prudence, a retreat assured, reserves prepared, an obstinate
coolness, an imperturbable method, strategy profiting by the ground,
tactics balancing battalions, carnage measured by a plumb-line, war
regulated watch in hand, nothing left voluntarily to accident, old
classic courage and absolute correctness.

On the other side we have intuition, divination, military strangeness,
superhuman instinct, a flashing glance; something that gazes like the
eagle and strikes like lightning, all the mysteries of a profound
mind, associated with destiny; the river, the plain, the forest, and
the hill summoned, and, to some extent, compelled to obey; the despot
going so far as even to tyrannize over the battlefield; faith in a
star, blended with a strategic science, heightening, but troubling it.

Wellington was the Bareme of war, Napoleon was its Michelangelo, and
this true genius was conquered by calculation. On both sides somebody
was expected; and it was the exact calculator who succeeded. Napoleon
waited for Grouchy, who did not come; Wellington waited for Bluecher,
and he came.

Wellington is the classical war taking its revenge; Bonaparte, in his
dawn, had met it in Italy, and superbly defeated it--the old owl
fled before the young vulture. The old tactics had been not only
overthrown, but scandalized. Who was this Corsican of six-and-twenty
years of age? What meant this splendid ignoramus, who, having
everything against him, nothing for him, without provisions,
ammunition, guns, shoes, almost without an army, with a handful of
men against masses, dashed at allied Europe, and absurdly gained
impossible victories? Who was this new comet of war who possest the
effrontery of a planet?

The academic military school excommunicated him, while bolting, and
hence arose an implacable rancor of the old Caesarism against the new,
of the old saber against the flashing sword, and of the chessboard
against genius. On June 18, 1815, this rancor got the best; and
beneath Lodi, Montebello, Montenotte, Mantua, Marengo, and Arcola, it
wrote--Waterloo. It was a triumph of mediocrity, sweet to majorities,
and destiny consented to this irony. In his decline, Napoleon found
a young Suvarov before him--in fact, it is only necessary to blanch
Wellington's hair in order to have a Suvarov. Waterloo is a battle of
the first class, gained by a captain of the second.

What must be admired in the battle of Waterloo is England, the English
firmness, the English resolution, the English blood, and what England
had really superb in it, is (without offense) herself; it is not her
captain, but her army. Wellington, strangely ungrateful, declares in
his dispatch to Lord Bathurst that his army, the one which fought on
June 18, 1815, was a "detestable army."

What does the gloomy pile of bones buried in the trenches of Waterloo
think of this? England has been too modest to herself in her treatment
of Wellington, for making him so great is making herself small.
Wellington is merely a hero, like any other man. The Scots Grays, the
Life Guards, Maitland's and Mitchell's regiments, Pack's and Kempt's
infantry, Ponsonby's and Somerset's cavalry, the Highlanders playing
the bagpipes under the shower of canister, Ryland's battalions, the
fresh recruits who could hardly manage a musket, and yet held their
ground against the old bands of Essling and Rivoli--all this is grand.

Wellington was tenacious; that was his merit, and we do not deny it
to him, but the lowest of his privates and his troopers was quite as
solid as he, and the iron soldier is as good as the iron duke. For our
part, all our glorification is offered to the English soldier, the
English army, the English nation; and if there must be a trophy, it
is to England that this trophy is owing. The Waterloo column would be
more just, if, instead of the figure of a man, it raised to the clouds
the statue of a people....

But this great England will be irritated by what we are writing here;
for she still has feudal illusions, after her 1688 and the French
1789. This people believes in inheritance and hierarchy, and while no
other excels it in power and glory, it esteems itself as a nation and
not as a people. As a people, it readily subordinates itself, and
takes a lord as its head; the workman lets himself be despised; the
soldier puts up with flogging. It will be remembered that, at the
battle of Inkerman, a sergeant who, as it appears, saved the British
army, could not be mentioned by Lord Raglan, because the military
hierarchy does not allow any hero below the rank of officer to be
mentioned in dispatches. What we admire before all, in an encounter
like Waterloo, is the prodigious skill of chance. The night raid,
the wall of Hougoumont, the hollow way of Ohain, Grouchy deaf to the
cannon, Napoleon's guide deceiving him, Bulow's guide enlightening
him--all this cataclysm is marvelously managed.

There is more of a massacre than of a battle in Waterloo. Waterloo, of
all pitched battles, is the one which had the smallest front for
such a number of combatants. Napoleon's three-quarters of a league.
Wellington's half a league, and seventy-two thousand combatants
on either side. From this density came the carnage. The following
calculation has been made and proportion established: loss of men, at
Austerlitz, French, fourteen per cent.; Russian, thirty per cent.;
Austrian, forty-four per cent.; at Wagram, French, thirteen per cent.;
Austrian, fourteen per cent.; at Moscow, French, thirty-seven per
cent.; Russian, forty-four per cent.; at Bautzen, French, thirteen
cent.; Russian and Prussian, fourteen per cent.; at Waterloo, French,
fifty-six per cent.; allies, thirty-one per cent.--total for Waterloo,
forty-one per cent., or out of one hundred and forty-four thousand
fighting men, sixty thousand killed.

The field of Waterloo has at the present day that calmness which
belongs to the earth, and resembles all plains; but at night, a sort
of a visionary mist rises from it, and if any traveler walk about it,
and listen and dream, like Virgil on the mournful plain of Philippi,
the hallucination of the catastrophe seizes upon him. The frightful
June 18th lives again, the false monumental hill is leveled, the
wondrous lion is dissipated, the battlefield resumes its reality,
lines of infantry undulate on the plain; furious galloping crosses the
horizon; the startled dreamer sees the flash of sabers, the sparkle
of bayonets, the red lights of shells, the monstrous collision of
thunderbolts; he hears like a death groan from the tomb, the vague
clamor of the fantom battle.

These shadows are grenadiers; these flashes are cuirassiers; this
skeleton is Napoleon; this skeleton is Wellington: all this is
non-existent, and yet still combats, and the ravines are stained
purple, and the trees rustle, and there is fury even in the clouds
and in the darkness, while all the stern heights, Mont St. Jean,
Hougoumont, Frischemont, Papelotte, and Plancenoit, seem confusedly
crowned by hosts of specters exterminating one another.


[Footnote A: From "Two Months Abroad." Privately printed. 1878.]


The French wished to call it the battle of Mont St. Jean, but
Wellington said "The Battle of Waterloo." The victor's wish prevailed.
I know not why, except because he was the victor. The scene of the
battle is four miles from the village of Waterloo and, besides Mont
St. Jean, several villages from any one of which it might well have
been named, are included in the field. Before the battle, however, the
village of Waterloo had been the headquarters of the Duke and there he
rested for two days after the battle was won.

I am now on this memorable spot as the solitary guest of a small hotel
at the base of the Lion's Mound, after having made a night of it in
crossing from Aix-la-Chapelle to Brussels and thence, through a storm
of mist and rain to the little station of Braine-l'Alleud, which is a
good mile from the battlefield. The train reached Braine-l'Alleud long
before daybreak. When the morn had really dawned, I left the
little waiting room, a solitary loiterer, and set out to find the
battleground. From the platform of the station the eye surveyed a
wide, thickly populated but rural plain, and in one direction afar
off, clearly set against the dark rain-dripping sky, rose in solemn
majesty a mound of earth, bearing on its lofty summit an indistinct
figure of a lion.

A small rustic gate from the station led in the direction of the
Mound. From necessity, I began a tramp through the rain alone, no
conveyance being obtainable. The soil of Belgium here being alluvial,
a little rain soon makes a great deal of mud and little rains at this
season (January) are frequent. Along a small unpaved mud-deep road,
having meanwhile been joined by a peasant with a two wheeled cart
drawn by a single mule, I was soon hastening onward toward the Mound
which was growing more and more visible on the horizon. The road soon
turned away, however, but a path led toward the mound. The peasant
took the road and I the path, which led into a little clump of houses,
where were boys about their morning duties, and dogs that barked
vigorously until one of the boys to whom I had spoken silenced them.

Passing onward through streets not more than six feet wide, along
neatly trimmed hedges and past small cottage doorways, I soon entered
an open plain, but in a crippled state with heavy mud-covered shoes.
Mud fairly obliterated all trace of leather. With this burden, and wet
to the skin with rain, there rose far ahead of me that historic mound,
and at last I stood at its base alone, there in the midst of one of
the greatest battlefields history records, soon to forget in the
momentary joys of a beefsteak breakfast that man had ever done
anything in this world except eat and drink.

I must borrow an illustration--Victor Hugo's letter A. The apex is
Mount St. Jean, the right hand base La Belle Alliance, the left hand
base Hougoumont, the cross bar that sunken road which perhaps changed
the future of Europe, the two sides broad Belgian roads, paved with
square stones and bordered with graceful and lofty poplar trees, their
proud heads waving in every breeze that drifts across this undulating
plain. The Lion's Mound is just below the middle of this cross bar.
Mont St. Jean, La Belle Alliance and Hougoumont, at the three angles
of the triangle, are small villages--scarcely more than hamlets. All
were important points in the fortunes of that memorable 18th of June,
1815. Hougoumont, with its chateau and wall, in some sense was like a

Go with me if you will in imagination to the summit of the Lion's
Mound. A flight of 225 stone steps will take us there, a toilsome
ascent in this chilling air and this persistent rain. Toward Mont
St. Jean, the surface of the ground is rolling, the waves of it high
enough to conceal standing men from view. Except the lofty poplars at
the road sides, there are no trees. An admirable place for an army on
the defensive, you will at once say, since reserves can be concealed
behind the convolutions of the rolling plain. These convolutions may
also serve in the fight as natural fortifications.

Here at Mont St. Jean, Wellington pitched his tent. Hougoumont lay far
off in front of his center, and had that morning a small garrison.
Napoleon, with his army, was a mile away, his line extending to the
right and left beyond La Belle Alliance. We must turn squarely around
as we stand alongside the lion if we are to see in the distance the
ground he occupied. Our place is nearly in the center of the field.
Hougoumont we realize to have been worthy of the prodigious struggle
the French made to capture it. Half a fortress then, it provided
an admirable stand for artillery. A few men might hold it against
superior numbers.

At Waterloo the Duke had about 67,000 men--some accounts say
70,000--but many, perhaps 15,000, fled in desertion at an early hour
of the day. With these figures correct, the fighting forces of the
Allies later in the day, would remain little more than 55,000 men. The
Emperor's army has usually been placed at 70,000. His soldiers were
probably better trained than the Duke's and combined with long service
an abundance of enthusiasm for their old general, now restored to his
imperial throne and confident of victory.

The night before the battle had been wet and stormy, but the morning
gave some promise of clearing; the sky, however, remained overcast and
some rain continued to fall. The French were weary after a long march,
and the artillery moved with difficulty across this wet and muddy
plain. Altogether they were in poor condition for a battle, in which
all their fortunes were at stake. It was just such a morning as ours,
except that it was then June and is now January. If the battle began
at 8 o'clock, as one account reads, we are here on the Lion's Mound at
that same hour. Even if this be January, daisies are in blossom at our

Jerome Bonaparte, leading the attack, moves on Hougoumont, where the
Allies, who have come down from Mont St. Jean, repulse him. He renews
the attack "with redoubled fury," and a gallant resistance is made,
but he forces a way into the outer enclosure of the chateau that
crowns the hill. British howitzers are at once discharged upon the
French and compel them to retreat. New assaults are then made.
Overwhelming numbers seem to bear down upon the Allies. The stronghold
is more than once nearly lost, but it is defended with "prodigies of
valor" and firmly held to the last. Had Hougoumont been taken, the
result of the battle "would probably have been very different."

Meanwhile, the Emperor has ordered a second attack elsewhere--this
time against the left wing of Wellington. Marshal Ney sends forward
six divisions, who encounter the Netherlandish troops and easily
scatter them. Two brigades of British numbering 3,000 men then prepare
to check the advancing French. A struggle, brief but fierce, ensues,
in which the French are repulsed. They rally again, however, and
Scotch Highlanders, their bagpipes sounding the cry, advance against
them, along with an English brigade. These make an impetuous assault,
while cavalry charge Napoleon's infantry, and force a part of them
back on La Belle Alliance. But here the pursuing British meet with a
check in a scene of wild carnage that sweeps over the field.

We may look down upon the scene of that frightful struggle. It lies
just below us. Grass is growing there luxuriantly now. A north wind
sweeps over the plain. A mournful requiem seems to whistle through the
poplar trees.

If we look toward Hougoumont, French gunners are seen to have been
slain. Many cannon are silent. With the chateau in flames, confusion
reigns. Napoleon, ordering a new cavalry attack, directs Jerome to
advance with his infantry. Immediately the Allies discharge grape
and canister on the advancing host. But no Frenchman wavers. On the
contrary, the French cavalry capture Wellington's outward battalion
and press onward toward his hollow squares of infantry. All efforts to
break these squares end in failure. For a time the French abandon the
attack, but only to renew it and then follows a remarkable scene. The
French charge with unprecedented fury, and the squares are partially
broken, while friends and enemies, wounded or killed, are mingled in
inextricable confusion.

Some of the Belgian troops take flight and in mad terror run back to
Brussels, causing great consternation there by reporting a defeat for
Wellington. The squares maintain their ground to the end admirably,
and with severe losses the French retire. Hougoumont near by, all this
time was not silent. The attack being continued, the commander is
killed and at last its heights are gained. From elsewhere in the
field, Wellington learns of his loss, places himself at the head of a
brigade, and commands it to charge. Amid the utmost enthusiasm of the
Allies the French are driven back from Hougoumont.

Napoleon now turns his efforts against La Haye Sainte, a small height
forward from Mont St. Jean, occupied by the enemy's left wing. Ney,
in a furious cannonade, begins the attack, in which the Allies are
overwhelmed and their ammunition is exhausted. Masters of this point,
the French again move on Hougoumont. It is seven o'clock in the
evening, with Napoleon in fair way to succeed, but his men are already
exhausted and their losses are heavy. Some of them plunge into that
famous sunken road, unheeded of him and them, and still so great a
mystery to historians. It was a charging cavalry column that plunged
in, unknowingly, rider and horse together, in indescribable confusion
and dismay. We may see that road to-day, for we have walked in a part
of it when coming across the plain from the station--a narrow road cut
many feet deep, its bed paved with little stones. Hugo's words on that

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