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  • 1884
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that it has the shape of a playing-card, and he ex- presses his admiration for it by the singular wish that an “exact copy” of it should be erected in Paris. He even goes so far as to say that in the year 1880 this tribute will have been rendered to its charms; nothing would be more simple, to his mind, than to “have” in that city “le Pantheon de Rome, quelques temples de Grece.” Stendhal found it amusing to write in the character of a _commis-voyageur_, and some- times it occurs to his reader that he really was one.


On my way from Nimes to Arles, I spent three hours at Tarascon; chiefly for the love of Alphonse Daudet, who has written nothing more genial than “Les Aventures Prodigieuses de Taitarin,” and the story of the “siege” of the bright, dead little town (a mythic siege by the Prussians) in the “Conies du Lundi.” In the introduction which, for the new edition of his works, he has lately supplied to “Tar- tarin,” the author of this extravagant but kindly satire gives some account of the displeasure with which he has been visited by the ticklish Tarascon- nais. Daudet relates that in his attempt to shed a humorous light upon some of the more erratic phases of the Provencal character, he selected Tarascon at a venture; not because the temperament of its natives is more vainglorious than that of their neighbors, or their rebellion against the “despotism of fact” more marked, but simply because he had to name a par- ticular Provencal city. Tartarin is a hunter of lions and charmer of women, a true “_produit du midi_,” as Daudet says, who has the most fantastic and fabulous adventures. He is a minimized Don Quixote, with much less dignity, but with equal good faith; and the story of his exploits is a little masterpiece of the light comical. The Tarasconnais, however, declined to take the joke, and opened the vials of their wrath upon the mocking child of Nimes, who would have been better employed, they doubtless thought, in show- ing up the infirmities of his own family. I am bound to add that when I passed through Tarascon they did not appear to be in the least out of humor. Nothing could have been brighter, softer, more suggestive of amiable indifference, than the picture it presented to my mind. It lies quietly beside the Rhone, looking across at Beaucaire, which seems very distant and in- dependent, and tacitly consenting to let the castle of the good King Rene of Anjou, which projects very boldly into the river, pass for its most interesting feature. The other features are, primarily, a sort of vivid sleepi- ness in the aspect of the place, as if the September noon (it had lingered on into October) lasted longer there than elsewhere; certain low arcades, which make the streets look gray and exhibit empty vistas; and a very curious and beautiful walk beside the Rhone, denominated the Chaussee, – a long and narrow cause- way, densely shaded by two rows of magnificent old trees, planted in its embankment, and rendered doubly effective, at the moment I passed over it, by a little train of collegians, who had been taken out for mild exercise by a pair of young priests. Lastly, one may say that a striking element of Tarascon, as of any town that lies on the Rhone, is simply the Rhone itself: the big brown flood, of uncertain temper, which has never taken time to forget that it is a child of the mountain and the glacier, and that such an origin carries with it great privileges. Later, at Avignon, I observed it in the exercise of these privileges, chief among which was that of frightening the good people of the old papal city half out of their wits.

The chateau of King Rene serves to-day as the prison of a district, and the traveller who wishes to look into it must obtain his permission at the _Mairie of Tarascon_. If he have had a certain experience of French manners, his application will be accompanied with the forms of a considerable obsequiosity, and in this case his request will be granted as civilly as it has been made. The castle has more of the air of a severely feudal fortress than I should suppose the period of its construction (the first half of the fifteenth century) would have warranted; being tremendously bare and perpendicular, and constructed for comfort only in the sense that it was arranged for defence. It is a square and simple mass, composed of small yellow stones, and perched on a pedestal of rock which easily commands the river. The building has the usual cir- cular towers at the corners, and a heavy cornice at the top, and immense stretches of sun-scorched wall, relieved at wide intervals by small windows, heavily cross-barred. It has, above all, an extreme steepness of aspect; I cannot express it otherwise. The walls are as sheer and inhospitable as precipices. The castle has kept its large moat, which is now a hollow filled with wild plants. To this tall fortress the good Rene retired in the middle of the fifteenth century, finding it apparently the most substantial thing left him in a dominion which had included Naples and Sicily, Lorraine and Anjou. He had been a much-tried monarch and the sport of a various fortune, fighting half his life for thrones he didn’t care for, and exalted only to be quickly cast down. Provence was the country of his affection, and the memory of his troubles did not prevent him from holding a joyous court at Tarascon and at Aix. He finished the castle at Tarascon, which had been begun earlier in the century, – finished it, I suppose, for consistency’s sake, in the manner in which it had originally been designed rather than in accordance with the artistic tastes that formed the consolation of his old age. He was a painter, a writer, a dramatist, a modern dilettante, addicted to private theatricals. There is something very attractive in the image that he has imprinted on the page of history. He was both clever and kind, and many reverses and much suffering had not imbittered him nor quenched his faculty of enjoyment. He was fond of his sweet Provence, and his sweet Provence has been grateful; it has woven a light tissue of legend around the memory of the good King Rene.

I strolled over his dusky habitation – it must have taken all his good-humor to light it up – at the heels of the custodian, who showed me the usual number of castle-properties: a deep, well-like court; a collection of winding staircases and vaulted chambers, the embra- sures of whose windows and the recesses of whose doorways reveal a tremendous thickness of wall. These things constitute the general identity of old castles; and when one has wandered through a good many, with due discretion of step and protrusion of head, one ceases very much to distinguish and remember, and contents one’s self with consigning them to the honorable limbo of the romantic. I must add that this reflection did not the least deter me from crossing the bridge which connects Tarascon with Beaucaire, in order to examine the old fortress whose ruins adorn the latter city. It stands on a foundation of rock much higher than that of Tarascon, and looks over with a melancholy expression at its better-conditioned brother. Its position is magnificent, and its outline very gallant. I was well rewarded for my pilgrimage; for if the castle of Beaucaire is only a fragment, the whole place, with its position and its views, is an ineffaceable picture. It was the stronghold of the Montmorencys, and its last tenant was that rash Duke Francois, whom Richelieu, seizing every occasion to trample on a great noble, caused to be beheaded at Toulouse, where we saw, in the Capitol, the butcher’s knife with which the cardinal pruned the crown of France of its thorns. The castle, after the death of this victim, was virtually demolished. Its site, which Nature to-day has taken again to herself, has an extraordinary charm. The mass of rock that it formerly covered rises high above the town, and is as precipitous as the side of the Rhone. A tall rusty iron gate admits you from a quiet corner of Beaucaire to a wild tangled garden, covering the side of the hill, – for the whole place forms the public promenade of the townsfolk, – a garden without flowers, with little steep, rough paths that wind under a plantation of small, scrubby stone-pines. Above this is the grassy platform of the castle, enclosed on one side only (toward the river) by a large fragment of wall and a very massive dungeon. There are benches placed in the lee of the wall, and others on the edge of the platform, where one may enjoy a view, beyond the river, of certain peeled and scorched undulations. A sweet desolation, an everlasting peace, seemed to hang in the air. A very old man (a fragment, like the castle itself) emerged from some crumbling corner to do me the honors, – a very gentle, obsequious, tottering, toothless, grateful old man. He beguiled me into an ascent of the solitary tower, from which you may look down on the big sallow river and glance at diminished Tarascon, and the barefaced, bald-headed hills behind it. It may appear that I insist too much upon the nudity of the Provencal horiion, – too much, considering that I have spoken of the prospect from the heights of Beaucaire as lovely. But it is an exquisite bareness; it seems to exist for the purpose of allowing one to follow the de- licate lines of the hills, and touch with the eyes, as it were, the smallest inflections of the landscape. It makes the whole thing seem wonderfully bright and pure.

Beaucaire used to be the scene of a famous fair, the great fair of the south of France. It has gone the way of most fairs, even in France, where these delight- ful exhibitions hold their own much better than might be supposed. It is still held in the month of July; but the bourgeoises of Tarascon send to the Magasin du Louvre for their smart dresses, and the principal glory of the scene is its long tradition. Even now, however, it ought to be the prettiest of all fairs, for it takes place in a charming wood which lies just beneath the castle, beside the Rhone. The booths, the barracks, the platforms of the mountebanks, the bright-colored crowd, diffused through this midsummer shade, and spotted here and there with the rich Provencal sun- shine must be of the most pictorial effect. It is highly probable, too, that it offers a large collection of pretty faces; for even in the few hours that I spent at Tarascon I discovered symptoms of the purity of feature for which the women of the _pays d’Arles_ are renowned. The Arlesian head-dress, was visible in the streets; and this delightful coiffure is so associated with a charming facial oval, a dark mild eye, a straight Greek nose, and a mouth worthy of all the rest, that it conveys a presumption of beauty which gives the wearer time either to escape or to please you. I have read somewhere, however, that Tarascon is supposed to produce handsome men, as Arles is known to deal in handsome women. It may be that I should have found the Tarasconnais very fine fellows, if I had en- countered enough specimens to justify an induction. But there were very few males in the streets, and the place presented no appearance of activity. Here and there the black coif of an old woman or of a young girl was framed by a low doorway; but for the rest, as I have said, Tarascon was mostly involved in a siesta. There was not a creature in the little church of Saint Martha, which I made a point of visiting before I re- turned to the station, and which, with its fine Romanesque sideportal and its pointed and crocketed Gothic spire, is as curious as it need be, in view of its tradition. It stands in a quiet corner where the grass grows between the small cobble-stones, and you pass beneath a deep archway to reach it. The tradition relates that Saint Martha tamed with her own hands, and attached to her girdle, a dreadful dragon, who was known as the Tarasque, and is reported to have given his name to the city on whose site (amid the rocks which form the base of the chateau) he had his cavern. The dragon, perhaps, is the symbol of a ravening paganism, dis- pelled by the eloquence of a sweet evangelist. The bones of the interesting saint, at all events, were found, in the eleventh century, in a cave beneath the spot on which her altar now stands. I know not what had be- come of the bones of the dragon.


There are two shabby old inns at Arles, which compete closely for your custom. I mean by this that if you elect to go to the Hotel du Forum, the Hotel du Nord, which is placed exactly beside it (at a right angle) watches your arrival with ill-concealed dis- approval; and if you take the chances of its neighbor, the Hotel du Forum seems to glare at you invidiously from all its windows and doors. I forget which of these establishments I selected; whichever it was, I wished very much that, it had been the other. The two stand together on the Place des Hommes, a little public square of Arles, which somehow quite misses its effect. As a city, indeed, Arles quite misses its effect in every way; and if it is a charming place, as I think it is, I can hardly tell the reason why. The straight-nosed Arlesiennes account for it in some degree; and the remainder may be charged to the ruins of the arena and the theatre. Beyond this, I remember with affection the ill-proportioned little Place des Hommes; not at all monumental, and given over to puddles and to shabby cafes. I recall with tenderness the tortuous and featureless streets, which looked like the streets of a village, and were paved with villanous little sharp stones, making all exercise penitential. Consecrated by association is even a tiresome walk that I took the evening I arrived, with the purpose of obtaining a view of the Rhone. I had been to Arles before, years ago, and it seemed to me that I remembered finding on the banks of the stream some sort of picture. I think that on the evening of which I speak there was a watery moon, which it seemed to me would light up the past as well as the present. But I found no pic- ture, and I scarcely found the Rhone at all. I lost my way, and there was not a creature in the streets to whom I could appeal. Nothing could be more pro- vincial than the situation of Arles at ten o’clock at night. At last I arrived at a kind of embankment, where I could see the great mud-colored stream slip- ping along in the soundless darkness. It had come on to rain, I know not what had happened to the moon, and the whole place was anything but gay. It was not what I had looked for; what I had looked for was in the irrecoverable past. I groped my way back to the inn over the infernal _cailloux_, feeling like a dis- comfited Dogberry. I remember now that this hotel was the one (whichever that may be) which has the fragment of a Gallo-Roman portico inserted into one of its angles. I had chosen it for the sake of this ex- ceptional ornament. It was damp and dark, and the floors felt gritty to the feet; it was an establishment at which the dreadful _gras-double_ might have appeared at the table d’hote, as it had done at Narbonne. Never- theless, I was glad to get back to it; and nevertheless, too, – and this is the moral of my simple anecdote, – my pointless little walk (I don’t speak of the pave- ment) suffuses itself, as I look back upon it, with a romantic tone. And in relation to the inn, I suppose I had better mention that I am well aware of the in- consistency of a person who dislikes the modern cara- vansary, and yet grumbles when he finds a hotel of the superannuated sort. One ought to choose, it would seem, and make the best of either alternative. The two old taverns at Arles are quite unimproved; such as they must have been in the infancy of the modern world, when Stendhal passed that way, and the lum- bering diligence deposited him in the Place des Hommes, such in every detail they are to-day. _Vieilles auberges de France_, one ought to enjoy their gritty floors and greasy window-panes. Let it be put on re- cord, therefore, that I have been, I won’t say less com- fortable, but at least less happy, at better inns.

To be really historic, I should have mentioned that before going to look for the Rhone I had spent part of the evening on the opposite side of the little place, and that I indulged in this recreation for two definite reasons. One of these was that I had an opportunity of conversing at a cafe with an attractive young Eng- lishman, whom I had met in the afternoon at Tarascon, and more remotely, in other years, in London; the other was that there sat enthroned behind the counter a splendid mature Arlesienne, whom my companion and I agreed that it was a rare privilege to contem- plate. There is no rule of good manners or morals which makes it improper, at a cafe, to fix one’s eyes upon the _dame de comptoir_; the lady is, in the nature of things, a part of your _consommation_. We were there- fore feee to admire without restriction the handsomest person I had ever seen give change for a five-franc piece. She was a large quiet woman, who would never see forty again; of an intensely feminine type, yet wonderfully rich and robust, and full of a certain phy- sical nobleness. Though she was not really old, she was antique, and she was very grave, even a little sad. She had the dignity of a Roman empress, and she handled coppers as if they had been stamped with the head of Caesar. I have seen washerwomen in the Trastevere who were perhaps as handsome as she; but even the head-dress of the Roman contadina con- tributes less to the dignity of the person born to wear it than the sweet and stately Arlesian cap, which sits at once aloft and on the back of the head; which is accompanied with a wide black bow covering a con- siderable part of the crown; and which, finally, accom- modates itself indescribably well to the manner in which the tresses of the front are pushed behind the cars.

This admirable dispenser of lumps of sugar has distracted me a little; for I am still not sufficiently historical. Before going to the cafe I had dined, and before dining I had found time to go and look at the arena. Then it was that I discovered that Arles has no general physiognomy, and, except the delightful little church of Saint Trophimus, no architecture, and that the rugosities of its dirty lanes affect the feet like knife-blades. It was not then, on the other hand, that I saw the arena best. The second day of my stay at Arles I devoted to a pilgrimage to the strange old hill town of Les Baux, the mediaeval Pompeii, of which I shall give myself the pleasure of speaking. The even- ing of that day, however (my friend and I returned in time for a late dinner), I wandered among the Roman remains of the place by the light of a magnificent moon, and gathered an impression which has lost little of its silvery glow. The moon of the evening before had been aqueous and erratic; but if on the present occasion it was guilty of any irregularity, the worst it did was only to linger beyond its time in the heavens, in order to let us look at things comfortably. The effect was admirable; it brought back the impression of the way, in Rome itself, on evenings like that, the moonshine rests upon broken shafts and slabs of an- tique pavement. As we sat in the theatre, looking at the two lone columns that survive – part of the decora- tion of the back of the stage – and at the fragments of ruin around them, we might have been in the Roman forum. The arena at Arles, with its great magnitude, is less complete than that of Nimes; it has suffered even more the assaults of time and of the children of time, and it has been less repaired. The seats are almost wholly wanting; but the external walls minus the topmost tier of arches, are massively, rug- gedly, complete; and the vaulted corridors seem as solid as the day they were built. The whole thing is superbly vast, and as monumental, for place of light amusement – what is called in America a “variety- show” – as it entered only into the Roman mind to make such establishments. The _podium_ is much higher than at Nimes, and many of the great white slabs that faced it have been recovered and put into their places. The proconsular box has been more or less recon- structed, and the great converging passages of approach to it are still majestically distinct: so that, as I sat there in the moon-charmed stillness, leaning my elbows on the battered parapet of the ring, it was not im- possible – to listen to the murmurs and shudders, the thick voice of the circus, that died away fifteen hun- dred years ago.

The theatre has a voice as well, but it lingers on the ear of time with a different music. The Roman theatre at Arles seemed to me one of the most charm- ing and touching ruins I had ever beheld; I took a particular fancy to it. It is less than a skeleton, – the arena may be called a skeleton; for it consists only of half a dozen bones. The traces of the row of columns which formed the scene – the permanent back-scene – remain; two marble pillars – I just mentioned them – are upright, with a fragment of their entablature. Be fore them is the vacant space which was filled by the stage, with the line of the prosoenium distinct, marked by a deep groove, impressed upon slabs of stone, which looks as if the bottom of a high screen had been in- tended to fit into it. The semicircle formed by the seats – half a cup – rises opposite; some of the rows are distinctly marked. The floor, from the bottom of the stage, in the shape of an arc of which the chord is formed by the line of the orchestra, is covered by slabs of colored marble – red, yellow, and green – which, though terribly battered and cracked to-day, give one an idea of the elegance of the interior. Every- thing shows that it was on a great scale: the large sweep of its enclosing walls, the massive corridors that passed behind the auditorium, and of which we can still perfectly take the measure. The way in which every seat commanded the stage is a lesson to the architects of our epoch, as also the immense size of the place is a proof of extraordinary power of voice on the part of the Roman actors. It was after we had spent half an hour in the moonshine at the arena that we came on to this more ghostly and more exquisite ruin. The principal entrance was locked, but we effected an easy _escalade_, scaled a low parapet, and descended into the place behind file scenes. It was as light as day, and the solitude was complete. The two slim columns, as we sat on the broken benches, stood there like a pair of silent actors. What I called touching, just now, was the thought that here the human voice, the utterance of a great language, had been supreme. The air was full of intonations and cadences; not of the echo of smashing blows, of riven armor, of howling victims and roaring beasts. The spot is, in short, one of the sweetest legacies of the ancient world; and there seems no profanation in the fact that by day it is open to the good people of Arles, who use it to pass, by no means in great num- bers, from one part of the town to the other; treading the old marble floor, and brushing, if need be, the empty benches. This familiarity does not kill the place again; it makes it, on the contrary, live a little, – makes the present and the past touch each other.


The third lion of Arles has nothing to do with the ancient world, but only with the old one. The church of Saint Trophimus, whose wonderful Romanesque porch is the principal ornament of the principal _place_, – a _place_ otherwise distinguished by the presence of a slim and tapering obelisk in the middle, as well as by that of the Hotel de Ville and the museum – the interesting church of Saint Trophimus swears a little, as the French say, with the peculiar character of Arles. It is very remarkable, but I would rather it were in another place. Arles is delightfully pagan, and Saint Trophimus, with its apostolic sculptures, is rather a false note. These sculptures are equally re- markable for their primitive vigor and for the perfect preservation in which they have come down to us. The deep recess of a round-arched porch of the twelfth century is covered with quaint figures, which have not lost a nose or a finger. An angular, Byzan- tine-looking Christ sits in a diamond-shaped frame at the summit of the arch, surrounded by little angels, by great apostles, by winged beasts, by a hundred sacred symbols and grotesque ornaments. It is a dense embroidery of sculpture, black with time, but as uninjured as if it had been kept under glass. One good mark for the French Revolution! Of the in- terior of the church, which has a nave of the twelfth century, and a choir three hundred years more recent, I chiefly remember the odd feature that the Romanesque aisles are so narrow that you literally – or almost – squeeze through them. You do so with some eager- ness, for your natural purpose is to pass out to the cloister. This cloister, as distinguished and as per- fect as the porch, has a great deal of charm. Its four sides, which are not of the same period (the earliest and best are of the twelfth century), have an elaborate arcade, supported on delicate pairs of columns, the capitals of which show an extraordinary variety of device and ornament. At the corners of the quadrangle these columns take the form of curious human figures. The whole thing is a gem of lightness and preserva- tion, and is often cited for its beauty; but – if it doesn’t sound too profane – I prefer, especially at Arles, the ruins of the Roman theatre. The antique element is too precious to be mingled with anything less rare. This truth was very present to my mind during a ramble of a couple of hours that I took just before leaving the place; and the glowing beauty of the morning gave the last touch of the impression. I spent half an hour at the Museum; then I took an- other look at the Roman theatre; after which I walked a little out of the town to the Aliscamps, the old Elysian Fields, the meagre remnant of the old pagan place of sepulture, which was afterwards used by the Christians, but has been for ages deserted, and now consists only of a melancholy avenue of cypresses, lined with a succession of ancient sarcophagi, empty, mossy, and mutilated. An iron-foundry, or some hor- rible establishment which is conditioned upon tall chimneys and a noise of hammering and banging, has been established near at hand; but the cypresses shut it out well enough, and this small patch of Elysium is a very romantic corner.

The door of the Museum stands ajar, and a vigilant custodian, with the usual batch of photographs on his mind, peeps out at you disapprovingly while you linger opposite, before the charming portal of Saint Trophimus, which you may look at for nothing. When you succumb to the silent influence of his eye, and go over to visit his collection, you find yourself in a desecrated church, in which a variety of ancient objects, disinterred in Arlesian soil, have been ar- ranged without any pomp. The best of these, I be- lieve, were found in the ruins of the theatre. Some of the most curious of them are early Christian sar- cophagi, exactly on the pagan model, but covered with rude yet vigorously wrought images of the apostles, and with illustrations of scriptural history. Beauty of the highest kind, either of conception or of execu- tion, is absent from most of the Roman fragments, which belong to the taste of a late period and a provincial civilization. But a gulf divides them from the bristling little imagery of the Christian sarcophagi, in which, at the same time, one detects a vague emulation of the rich examples by which their authors were surrounded. There is a certain element of style in all the pagan things; there is not a hint of it in the early Christian relics, among which, according to M. Joanne, of the Guide, are to be found more fine sarcophagi than in any collection but that of St. John Lateran. In two or three of the Roman fragments there is a noticeable distinction; principally in a charming bust of a boy, quite perfect, with those salient eyes that one sees in certain antique busts, and to which the absence of vision in the marble mask gives a look, often very touching, as of a baffled effort to see; also in the head of a woman, found in the ruins of the theatre, who, alas! has lost her nose, and whose noble, simple contour, barring this deficiency, recalls the great manner of the Venus of Milo. There are various rich architectural fragments which in- dicate that that edifice was a very splendid affair. This little Museum at Arles, in short, is the most Ro- man thing I know of, out of Rome.


I find that I declared one evening, in a little journal I was keeping at that time, that I was weary of writing (I was probably very sleepy), but that it was essential I should make some note of my visit to Les Baux. I must have gone to sleep as soon as I had recorded this necessity, for I search my small diary in vain for any account of that enchanting spot. I have nothing but my memory to consult, – a memory which is fairly good in regard to a general impression, but is terribly infirm in the matter of details and items. We knew in advance, my companion and I that Les Baus was a pearl of picturesqueness; for had we not read as much in the handbook of Murray, who has the testimony of an English nobleman as to its attractions? We also knew that it lay some miles from Aries, on the crest of the Alpilles, the craggy little mountains which, as I stood on the breezy plat- form of Beaucaire, formed to my eye a charming, if somewhat remote, background to Tarascon; this as- surance having been given us by the landlady of the inn at Arles, of whom we hired a rather lumbering conveyance. The weather was not promising, but it proved a good day for the mediaeval Pompeii; a gray, melancholy, moist, but rainless, or almost rainless day, with nothing in the sky to flout, as the poet says, the dejected and pulverized past. The drive itself was charming; for there is an inexhaustible sweetness in the gray-green landscape of Provence. It is never absolutely flat, and yet is never really ambitious, and is full both of entertainment and re- pose. It is in constant undulation, and the bareness of the soil lends itself easily to outline and profile. When I say the bareness, I mean the absence of woods and hedges. It blooms with heath and scented shrubs and stunted olive; and the white rock shining through the scattered herbage has a brightness which answers to the brightness of the sky. Of course it needs the sunshine, for all southern countries look a little false under the ground glass of incipient bad weather. This was the case on the day of my pil- grimage to Les Baux. Nevertheless, I was as glad to keep going as I was to arrive; and as I went it seemed to me that true happiness would consist in wandering through such a land on foot, on September afternoons, when one might stretch one’s self on the warm ground in some shady hollow, and listen to the hum of bees and the whistle of melancholy shepherds; for in Provence the shepherds whistle to their flocks. I saw two or three of them, in the course of this drive to Les Baux, meandering about, looking behind, and calling upon the sheep in this way to follow, which the sheep always did, very promptly, with ovine unanimity. Nothing is more picturesque than to see a slow shepherd threading his way down one of the winding paths on a hillside, with his flock close be- hind him, necessarily expanded, yet keeping just at his heels, bending and twisting as it goes, and looking rather like the tail of a dingy comet.

About four miles from Arles, as you drive north- ward toward the Alpilles, of which Alphonse Daudet has spoken so often, and, as he might say, so in- timately, stand on a hill that overlooks the road the very considerable ruins of the abbey of Mont- majour, one of the innumerable remnants of a feudal and ecclesiastical (as well as an architectural) past that one encounters in the South of France; remnants which, it must be confessed, tend to introduce a cer- tain confusion and satiety into the passive mind of the tourist. Montmajour, however, is very impressive and interesting; the only trouble with it is that, unless you have stopped and retumed to Arles, you see it in memory over the head of Les Baux, which is a much more absorbing picture. A part of the mass of buildings (the monastery) dates only from the last century; and the stiff architecture of that period does not lend itself very gracefully to desolation: it looks too much as if it had been burnt down the year before. The monastery was demolished during the Revolution, and it injures a little the effect of the very much more ancient fragments that are connected with it. The whole place is on a great scale; it was a rich and splendid abbey. The church, a vast basilica of the eleventh century, and of the noblest proportions, is virtually intact; I mean as regards its essentials, for the details have completely vanished. The huge solid shell is full of expression; it looks as if it had been hollowed out by the sincerity of early faith, and it opens into a cloister as impressive as itself. Wherever one goes, in France, one meets, looking backward a little, the spectre of the great Revolution; and one meets it always in the shape of the destruction of something beautiful and precious. To make us forgive it at all, how much it must also have destroyed that was more hateful than itself! Beneath the church of Montmajour is a most extra- ordinary crypt, almost as big as the edifice above it, and making a complete subterranean temple, sur- rounded with a circular gallery, or deambulatory, which expands it intervals into five square chapels. There are other things, of which I have but a con- fused memory: a great fortified keep; a queer little primitive chapel, hollowed out of the rock, beneath these later structures, and recommended to the visitor’s attention as the confessional of Saint Tro- phimus, who shares with so many worthies the glory of being the first apostle of the Gauls. Then there is a strange, small church, of the dimmest antiquity, standing at a distance from the other buildings. I remember that after we had let ourselves down a good many steepish places to visit crypts and con- fessionals, we walked across a field to this archaic cruciform edifice, and went thence to a point further down the road, where our carriage was awaiting us. The chapel of the Holy Cross, as it is called, is classed among the historic monuments of France; and I read in a queer, rambling, ill-written book which I picked up at Avignon, and in which the author, M. Louis de Lainbel, has buried a great deal of curious information on the subject of Provence, under a style inspiring little confidence, that the “delicieuse chapelle de Sainte-Croix” is a “veritable bijou artistique.” He speaks of “a piece of lace in stone,” which runs from one end of the building to the other, but of which I am obliged to confess that I have no recollection. I retain, however, a suf- ficiently clear impression of the little superannuated temple, with its four apses and its perceptible odor of antiquity, – the odor of the eleventh century.

The ruins of Les Baux remain quite indistinguish- able, even when you are directly beneath them, at the foot of the charming little Alpilles, which mass themselves with a kind of delicate ruggedness. Rock and ruin have been so welded together by the con- fusions of time, that as you approach it from behind – that is, from the direction of Arles – the place presents simply a general air of cragginess. Nothing can be prettier than the crags of Provence; they are beautifully modelled, as painters say, and they have a delightful silvery color. The road winds round the foot of the hills on the top of which Lea Baux is planted, and passes into another valley, from which the approach to the town is many degrees less pre- cipitous, and may be comfortably made in a carriage. Of course the deeply inquiring traveller will alight as promptly as possible; for the pleasure of climbing into this queerest of cities on foot is not the least part of the entertainment of going there. Then you appreciate its extraordinary position, its picturesque- ness, its steepness, its desolation and decay. It hangs – that is, what remains of it – to the slanting summit of the mountain. Nothing would be more natural than for the whole place to roll down into the valley. A part of it has done so – for it is not unjust to suppose that in the process of decay the crumbled particles have sought the lower level; while the remainder still clings to its magnificent perch.

If I called Les Baux a city, just, above, it was not that I was stretching a point in favor of the small spot which to-day contains but a few dozen inhabi- tants. The history of the plate is as extraordinary as its situation. It was not only a city, but a state; not only a state, but an empire; and on the crest of its little mountain called itself sovereign of a territory, or at least of scattered towns and counties, with which its present aspect is grotesquely out of relation. The lords of Les Baux, in a word, were great feudal pro- prietors; and there-was a time during which the island of Sardinia, to say nothing of places nearer home, such as Arles and Marseilles, paid them homage. The chronicle of this old Provencal house has been written, in a style somewhat unctuous and flowery, by M. Jules Canonge. I purchased the little book – a modest pamphlet – at the establishment of the good sisters, just beside the church, in one of the highest parts of Les Baux. The sisters have a school for the hardy little Baussenques, whom I heard piping their lessons, while I waited in the cold _parloir_ for one of the ladies to come and speak to me. Nothing could have been more perfect than the manner of this excellent woman when she arrived; yet her small religious house seemed a very out-of-the-way corner of the world. It was spotlessly neat, and the rooms looked as if they had lately been papered and painted: in this respect, at the mediaeval Pompeii, they were rather a discord. They were, at any rate, the newest, freshest thing at Les Baux. I remember going round to the church, after I had left the good sisters, and to a little quiet terrace, which stands in front of it, ornamented with a few small trees and bordered with a wall, breast- high, over which you look down steep hillsides, off into the air and all about the neighbouring country. I remember saying to myself that this little terrace was one of those felicitous nooks which the tourist of taste keeps in his mind as a picture. The church was small and brown and dark, with a certain rustic richness. All this, however, is no general description of Les Baux.

I am unable to give any coherent account of the place, for the simple reason that it is a mere con- fusion of ruin. It has not been preserved in lava like Pompeii, and its streets and houses, its ramparts and castle, have become fragmentary, not through the sudden destruction, but through the gradual with- drawal, of a population. It is not an extinguished, but a deserted city; more deserted far than even Carcassonne and Aigues-Mortes, where I found so much entertainment in the grass-grown element. It is of very small extent, and even in the days of its greatness, when its lords entitled themselves counts of Cephalonia and Neophantis, kings of Arles and Vienne, princes of Achaia, and emperors of Constan- tinople, – even at this flourishing period, when, as M. Jules Canonge remarks, “they were able to depress the balance in which the fate of peoples and kings is weighed,” the plucky little city contained at the most no more than thirty-six hundred souls. Yet its lords (who, however, as I have said, were able to present a long list of subject towns, most of them, though a few are renowned, unknown to fame) were seneschals and captains-general of Piedmont and Lombardy, grand admirals of the kingdom of Naples, and its ladies were sought in marriage by half the first princes in Europe. A considerable part of the little narrative of M. Canonge is taken up with the great alliances of the House of Baux, whose fortunes, ma- trimonial and other, he traces from the eleventh cen- tury down to the sixteenth. The empty shells of a considerable number of old houses, many of which must have been superb, the lines of certain steep little streets, the foundations of a castle, and ever so many splendid views, are all that remains to-day of these great titles. To such a list I may add a dozen very polite and sympathetic people, who emerged from the interstices of the desultory little town to gaze at the two foreigners who had driven over from Arles, and whose horses were being baited at the modest inn. The resources of this establishment we did not venture otherwise to test, in spite of the seductive fact that the sign over the door was in the Provencal tongue. This little group included the baker, a rather melancholy young man, in high boots and a cloak, with whom and his companions we had a good deal of conversation. The Baussenques of to-day struck me as a very mild and agreeable race, with a good deal of the natural amenity which, on occasions like this one, the traveller, who is, waiting for his horses to be put in or his dinner to be prepared, observes in the charming people who lend themselves to con- versation in the hill-towns of Tuscany. The spot where our entertainers at Les Baux congregated was naturally the most inhabited portion of the town; as I say, there were at least a dozen human figures within sight. Presently we wandered away from them, scaled the higher places, seated ourselves among the ruins of the castle, and looked down from the cliff overhanging that portion of the road which I have mentioned as approaching Les Baux from behind. I was unable to trace the configuration of the castle as plainly as the writers who have described it in the guide-books, and I am ashamed to say that I did not even perceive the three great figures of stone (the three Marys, as they are called; the two Marys of Scripture, with Martha), which constitute one of the curiosities of the place, and of which M. Jules Canonge speaks with almost hyperbolical admiration. A brisk shower, lasting some ten minutes, led us to take refuge in a cavity, of mysterious origin, where the melancholy baker presently discovered us, having had the _bonne pensee_ of coming up for us with an umbrella which certainly belonged, in former ages, to one of the Ste- phanettes or Berangeres commemorated by M. Canonge. His oven, I am afraid, was cold so long as our visit lasted. When the rain was over we wandered down to the little disencumbered space before the inn, through a small labyrinth of obliterated things. They took the form of narrow, precipitous streets, bordered by empty houses, with gaping windows and absent doors, through which we had glimpses of sculptured chimney-pieces and fragments of stately arch and vault. Some of the houses are still inhabited; but most of them are open to the air and weather. Some of them have completely collapsed; others present to the street a front which enables one to judge of the physiognomy of Les Baux in the days of its importance. This im- portance had pretty well passed away in the early part of the sixteenth century, when the place ceased to be an independent principality. It became – by bequest of one of its lords, Bernardin des Baux, a great cap- tain of his time – part of the appanage of the kings of France, by whom it was placed under the protection of Arles, which had formerly occupied with regard to it a different position. I know not whether the Arle- sians neglected their trust; but the extinction of the sturdy little stronghold is too complete not to have begun long ago. Its memories are buried under its ponderous stones. As we drove away from it in the gloaming, my friend and I agreed that the two or three hours we had spent there were among the happiest impressions of a pair of tourists very curious in the picturesque. We almost forgot that we were bound to regret that the shortened day left us no time to drive five miles further, above a pass in the little mountains – it had beckoned to us in the morning, when we came in sight of it, almost irresistibly – to see the Ro- man arch and mausoleum of Saint Remy. To compass this larger excursion (including the visit to Les Baux) you must start from Arles very early in the morning; but I can imagine no more delightful day.


I had been twice at Avignon before, and yet I was not satisfied. I probably am satisfied now; neverthe- less, I enjoyed my third visit. I shall not soon forget the first, on which a particular emotion set indelible stamp. I was travelling northward, in 1870, after four months spent, for the first time, in Italy. It was the middle of January, and I had found myself, unexpected- ly, forced to return to England for the rest of the winter. It was an insufferable disappointment; I was wretched and broken-hearted. Italy appeared to me at that time so much better than anything else in the world, that to rise from table in the middle of the feast was a prospect of being hungry for the rest of my days. I had heard a great deal of praise of the south of France; but the south of France was a poor consolation. In this state of mind I arrived at Avignon, which under a bright, hard winter sun was tingling – fairly spinning – with the _mistral_. I find in my journal of the other day a reference to the acuteness of my reluctance in January, 1870. France, after Italy, ap- peared, in the language of the latter country, _poco sim- patica_; and I thought it necessary, for reasons now in- conceivable, to read the “Figaro,” which was filled with descriptions of the horrible Troppmann, the mur- derer of the _famille_ Kink. Troppmann, Kink, _le crime do Pantin_, very names that figured in this episode seemed to wave me back. Had I abandoned the so- norous south to associate with vocables so base?

It was very cold, the other day, at Avignon; for though there was no mistral, it was raining as it rains in Provence, and the dampness had a terrible chill in it. As I sat by my fire, late at night – for in genial Avignon, in October, I had to have a fire – it came back to me that eleven years before I had at that same hour sat by a fire in that same room, and, writ- ing to a friend to whom I was not afraid to appear extravagant, had made a vow that at some happier period of the future I would avenge myself on the _ci- devant_ city of the Popes by taking it in a contrary sense. I suppose that I redeemed my vow on the oc- casion of my second visit better than on my third; for then I was on my way to Italy, and that vengeance, of course, was complete. The only drawback was that I was in such a hurry to get to Ventimiglia (where the Italian custom-house was to be the sign of my triumph), that I scarcely took time to make it clear to myself at Avignon that this was better than reading the “Figaro.” I hurried on almost too fast to enjoy the consciousness of moving southward. On this last occasion I was un- fortunately destitute of that happy faith. Avignon was my southernmost limit; after which I was to turn round and proceed back to England. But in the interval I had been a great deal in Italy, and that made all the difference.

I had plenty of time to think of this, for the rain kept me practically housed for the first twenty-four hours. It had been raining in, these regions for a month, and people had begun to look askance at the Rhone, though as yet the volume of the river was not exorbitant. The only excursion possible, while the torrent descended, was a kind of horizontal dive, ac- companied with infinite splashing, to the little _musee_ of the town, which is within a moderate walk of the hotel. I had a memory of it from my first visit; it had appeared to me more pictorial than its pictures. I found that recollection had flattered it a little, and that it is neither better nor worse than most provincial museums. It has the usual musty chill in the air, the usual grass-grown fore-court, in which a few lumpish Roman fragments are disposed, the usual red tiles on the floor, and the usual specimens of the more livid schools on the walls. I rang up the _gardien_, who ar- rived with a bunch of keys, wiping his mouth; he un- locked doors for me, opened shutters, and while (to my distress, as if the things had been worth lingering over) he shuffled about after me, he announced the names of the pictures before which I stopped, in a voice that reverberated through the melancholy halls, and seemed to make the authorship shameful when it was obscure, and grotesque when it pretended to be great. Then there were intervals of silence, while I stared absent-mindedly, at hap-hazard, at some indis- tinguishable canvas, and the only sound was the down- pour of the rain on the skylights. The museum of Avignon derives a certain dignity from its Roman frag- ments. The town has no Roman monuments to show; in this respect, beside its brilliant neighbors, Arles and Nimes, it is a blank. But a great many small objects have been found in its soil, – pottery, glass, bronzes, lamps, vessels and ornaments of gold and silver. The glass is especially chaming, – small vessels of the most delicate shape and substance, many of them perfectly preserved. These diminutive, intimate things bring one near to the old Roman life; they seem like pearls strung upon the slender thread that swings across the gulf of time. A little glass cup that Roman lips have touched says more to us than the great vessel of an arena. There are two small silver _casseroles_, with chi- selled handles, in the museum of Avignon, that struck me as among the most charming survivals of anti- quity.

I did wrong just above, to speak of my attack on this establishment as the only recreation I took that first wet day; for I remember a terribly moist visit to the former palace of the Popes, which could have taken place only in the same tempestuous hours. It is true that I scarcely know why I should have gone out to see the Papal palace in the rain, for I had been over it twice before, and even then had not found the interest of the place so complete as it ought to be; the fact, nevertheless, remains that this last occasion is much associated with an umbrella, which was not superfluous even in some of the chambers and cor- ridors of the gigantic pile. It had already seemed to me the dreariest of all historical buildings, and my final visit confirmed the impression. The place is as intricate as it is vast, and as desolate as it is dirty. The imagination has, for some reason or other, to make more than the effort usual in such cases to re- store and repeople it. The fact, indeed, is simply that the palace has been so incalculably abused and altered. The alterations have been so numerous that, though I have duly conned the enumerations, supplied in guide- books, of the principal perversions, I do not pretend to carry any of them in my head. The huge bare mass, without ornament, without grace, despoiled of its battlements and defaced with sordid modern windows, covering the Rocher des Doms, and looking down over the Rhone and the broken bridge of Saint-Benazet (which stops in such a sketchable manner in mid- stream), and across at the lonely tower of Philippe le Bel and the ruined wall of Villeneuve, makes at a dis- tance, in spite of its poverty, a great figure, the effect of which is carried out by the tower of the church be- side it (crowned though the latter be, in a top-heavy fashion, with an immense modern image of the Virgin) and by the thick, dark foliage of the garden laid out on a still higher portion of the eminence. This garden recalls, faintly and a trifle perversely, the grounds of the Pincian at Rome. I know not whether it is the shadow of the Papal name, present in both places, combined with a vague analogy between the churches, – which, approached in each case by a flight of steps, seemed to defend the precinct, – but each time I have seen the Promenade des Doms it has carried my thoughts to the wider and loftier terrace from which you look away at the Tiber and Saint Peter’s.

As you stand before the Papal palace, and espe- cially as you enter it, you are struck with its being a very dull monument. History enough was enacted here: the great schism lasted from 1305 to 1370, dur- ing which seven Popes, all Frenchmen, carried on the court of Avignon on principles that have not com- mended themselves to the esteem of posterity. But history has been whitewashed away, and the scandals of that period have mingled with the dust of dilapi- dations and repairs. The building has for many years been occupied as a barrack for regiments of the line, and the main characteristics of a barrack – an extreme nudity and a very queer smell – prevail throughout its endless compartments. Nothing could have been more cruelly dismal than the appearance it presented at the time of this third visit of mine. A regiment, changing quarters, had departed the day before, and another was expected to arrive (from Algeria) on the morrow. The place had been left in the befouled and belittered condition which marks the passage of the military after they have broken carnp, and it would offer but a me- lancholy welcome to the regiment that was about to take possession. Enormous windows had been left carelessly open all over the building, and the rain and wind were beating into empty rooms and passages; making draughts which purified, perhaps, but which scarcely cheered. For an arrival, it was horrible. A handful of soldiers had remained behind. In one of the big vaulted rooms several of them were lying on their wretched beds, in the dim light, in the cold, in the damp, with the bleak, bare walls before them, and their overcoats, spread over them, pulled up to their noses. I pitied them immensely, though they may have felt less wretched than they looked. I thought not of the old profligacies and crimes, not of the funnel-shaped torture-chamber (which, after exciting the shudder of generations, has been ascertained now, I believe, to have been a mediaeval bakehouse), not of the tower of the _glaciere_ and the horrors perpetrated here in the Revolution, but of the military burden of young France. One wonders how young France en- dures it, and one is forced to believe that the French conscript has, in addition to his notorious good-humor, greater toughness than is commonly supposed by those who consider only the more relaxing influences of French civilization. I hope he finds occasional com- pensation for such moments as I saw those damp young peasants passing on the mattresses of their hideous barrack, without anything around to remind them that they were in the most civilized of countries. The only traces of former splendor now visible in the Papal pile are the walls and vaults of two small chapels, painted in fresco, so battered and effaced as to be scarcely distinguishable, by Simone Memmi. It offers, of course, a peculiarly good field for restoration, and I believe the government intend to take it in hand. I mention this fact without a sigh; for they cannot well make it less interesting than it is at present.


Fortunately, it did not rain every day (though I believe it was raining everywhere else in the depart- ment); otherwise I should not have been able to go to Villeneuve and to Vaucluse. The afternoon, indeed, was lovely when I walked over the interminable bridge that spans the two arms of the Rhone, divided here by a considerable island, and directed my course, like a solitary horseman – on foot, to the lonely tower which forms one of the outworks of Villeneuve-les- Avignon. The picturesque, half-deserted little town lies a couple of miles further up the river. The im- mense round towers of its old citadel and the long stretches of ruined wall covering the slope on which it lies, are the most striking features of the nearer view, as you look from Avignon across the Rhone. I spent a couple of hours in visiting these objects, and there was a kind of pictorial sweetness in the episode; but I have not many details to relate. The isolated tower I just mentioned has much in common with the detached donjon of Montmajour, which I had looked at in going to Les Baux, and to which I paid my respects in speaking of that excursion. Also the work of Philippe le Bel (built in 1307), it is amazingly big and stubborn, and formed the opposite limit of the broken bridge, whose first arches (on the side of Avignon) alone remain to give a measure of the oc- casional volume of the Rhone. Half an hour’s walk brought me to Villeneuve, which lies away from the river, looking like a big village, half depopulated, and occupied for the most part by dogs and cats, old women and small children; these last, in general, re- markably pretty, in the manner of the children of Provence. You pass through the place, which seems in a singular degree vague and unconscious, and come to the rounded hill on which the ruined abbey lifts its yellow walls, – the Benedictine abbey of Saint- Andre, at once a church, a monastery, and a fortress. A large part of the crumbling enceinte disposes itself over the hill; but for the rest, all that has preserved any traceable cohesion is a considerable portion, of the citadel. The defence of the place appears to have been intrusted largely to the huge round towers that flank the old gate; one of which, the more complete, the ancient warden (having first inducted me into his own dusky little apartment, and presented me with a great bunch of lavender) enabled me to examine in detail. I would almost have dispensed with the privi- lege, for I think I have already mentioned that an ac- quaintance with many feudal interiors has wrought a sad confusion in my mind. The image of the outside always remains distinct; I keep it apart from other images of the same sort; it makes a picture sufficiently ineffaceable. But the guard-rooms, winding staircases, loop-holes, prisons, repeat themselves and intermingle; they have a wearisome family likeness. There are always black passages and corners, and walls twenty feet thick; and there is always some high place to climb up to for the sake of a “magnificent” view. The views, too, are apt to get muddled. These dense gate-towers of Philippe le Bel struck me, however, as peculiarly wicked and grim. Their capacity is of the largest, and they contain over so many devilish little dungeons, lighted by the narrowest slit in the pro- digious wall, where it comes over one with a good deal of vividness and still more horror that wretched human beings ever lay there rotting in the dark. The dungeons of Villeneuve made a particular impression on me, – greater than any, except those of Loches, which must surely be the most grewsome in Europe. I hasten to add that every dark hole at Villeneuve is called a dungeon; and I believe it is well established that in this manner, in almost all old castles and towers, the sensibilities of the modern tourist are un- scrupulously played upon. There were plenty of black holes in the Middle Ages that were not dungeons, but household receptacles of various kinds; and many a tear dropped in pity for the groaning captive has really been addressed to the spirits of the larder and the faggot-nook. For all this, there are some very bad corners in the towers of Villeneuve, so that I was not wide of the mark when I began to think again, as I had often thought before, of the stoutness of the human composition in the Middle Ages, and the tranquillity of nerve of people to whom the groaning captive and the blackness of a “living tomb” were familiar ideas, which did not at all interfere with their happiness or their sanity. Our modern nerves, our irritable sym- pathies, our easy discomforts and fears, make one think (in some relations) less respectfully of human nature. Unless, indeed, it be true, as I have heard it main- tained, that in the Middle Ages every one did go mad, – every one _was_ mad. The theory that this was a period of general insanity is not altogether indefensible.

Within the old walls of its immense abbey the town of Villeneuve has built itself a rough faubourg; the fragments with which the soil was covered having been, I suppose, a quarry of material. There are no streets; the small, shabby houses, almost hovels, straggle at random over the uneven ground. The only im- portant feature is a convent of cloistered nuns, who have a large garden (always within the walls) behind their house, and whose doleful establishment you look down into, or down at simply, from the battlements of the citadel. One or two of the nuns were passing in and out of the house; they wore gray robes, with a bright red cape. I thought their situation most pro- vincial. I came away, and wandered a little over the base of the hill, outside the walls. Small white stones cropped through the grass, over which low olive-trees were scattered. The afternoon had a yellow bright- ness. I sat down under one of the little trees, on the grass, – the delicate gray branches were not much above my head, – and rested, and looked at Avignon across the Rhone. It was very soft, very still and pleasant, though I am not sure it was all I once should have expected of that combination of elements: an old city wall for a background, a canopy of olives, and, for a couch, the soil of Provence.

When I came back to Avignon the twilight was already thick; but I walked up to the Rocher des Doms. Here I again had the benefit of that amiable moon which had already lighted up for me so many romantic scenes. She was full, and she rose over the Rhone, and made it look in the distance like a silver serpent. I remember saying to myself at this mo- ment, that it would be a beautiful evening to walk round the walls of Avignon, – the remarkable walls, which challenge comparison with those of Carcassonne and Aigues-Mortes, and which it was my duty, as an observer of the picturesque, to examine with some at- tention. Presenting themselves to that silver sheen, they could not fail to be impressive. So, at least, I said to myself; but, unfortunately, I did not believe what I said. It is a melancholy fact that the walls of Avignon had never impressed me at all, and I had never taken the trouble to make the circuit. They are continuous and complete, but for some mysterious reason they fail of their effect. This is partly because they are very low, in some places almost absurdly so; being buried in new accumulations of soil, and by the filling in of the moat up to their middle. Then they have been too well tended; they not only look at present very new, but look as if they had never been old. The fact that their extent is very much greater makes them more of a curiosity than those of Carcas- sonne; but this is exactly, as the same time, what is fatal to their pictorial unity. With their thirty-seven towers and seven gates they lose themselves too much to make a picture that will compare with the ad- mirable little vignette of Carcassonne. I may mention, now that I am speaking of the general mass of Avignon, that nothing is more curious than the way in which, viewed from a distance, it is all reduced to nought by the vast bulk of the palace of the Popes. From across the Rhone, or from the train, as you leave the place, this great gray block is all Avignon; it seems to occupy the whole city, extensive, with its shrunken population, as the city is.


It was the morning after this, I think (a certain Saturday), that when I came out of the Hotel de l’Europe, which lies in a shallow concavity just within the city gate that opens on the Rhone, – came out to look at the sky from the little _place_ before the inn, and see how the weather promised for the obligatory excursion to Vaucluse, – I found the whole town in a terrible taking. I say the whole town advisedly; for every inhabitant appeared to have taken up a position on the bank of the river, or on the uppermost parts of the promenade of the Doms, where a view of its course was to be obtained. It had risen surprisingly in the night, and the good people of Avignon had reason to know what a rise of the Rhone might signify. The town, in its lower portions, is quite at the mercy of the swollen waters; and it was mentioned to me that in 1856 the Hotel de l’Europe, in its convenient hollow, was flooded up to within a few feet of the ceiling of the dining-room, where the long board which had served for so many a table d’hote floated dis- reputably, with its legs in the air. On the present occasion the mountains of the Ardeche, where it had been raining for a month, had sent down torrents which, all that fine Friday night, by the light of the innocent-looking moon, poured themselves into the Rhone and its tributary, the Durance. The river was enormous, and continued to rise; and the sight was beautiful and horrible. The water in many places was already at the base of the city walls; the quay, with its parapet just emerging, being already covered. The country, seen from the Plateau des Doms, re- sembled a vast lake, with protrusions of trees, houses, bridges, gates. The people looked at it in silence, as I had seen people before – on the occasion of a rise of the Arno, at Pisa – appear to consider the prospects of an inundation. “Il monte; il monte toujours,” – there was not much said but that. It was a general holiday, and there was an air of wishing to profit, for sociability’s sake, by any interruption of the common- place (the popular mind likes “a change,” and the element of change mitigates the sense of disaster); but the affair was not otherwise a holiday. Suspense and anxiety were in the air, and it never is pleasant to be reminded of the helplessness of man. In the presence of a loosened river, with its ravaging, unconquerable volume, this impression is as strong as possible; and as I looked at the deluge which threatened to make an island of the Papal palace, I perceived that the scourge of water is greater than the scourge of fire. A blaze may be quenched, but where could the flame be kindled that would arrest the quadrupled Rhone? For the population of Avignon a good deal was at stake, and I am almost ashamed to confess that in the midst of the public alarm I considered the situation from the point of view of the little projects of a senti- mental tourist. Would the prospective inundation inter- fere with my visit to Vaucluse, or make it imprudent to linger twenty-four hours longer at Avignon? I must add that the tourist was not perhaps, after all, so sentimental. I have spoken of the pilgrimage to the shrine of Petrarch as obligatory, and that was, in fact, the light in which it presented itself to me; all the more that I had been twice at Avignon without under- taking it. This why I was vexed at the Rhone – if vexed I was – for representing as impracticable an ex- cursion which I cared nothing about. How little I cared was manifest from my inaction on former oc- casions. I had a prejudice against Vancluse, against Petrarch, even against the incomparable Laura. I was sure that the place was cockneyfied and threadbare, and I had never been able to take an interest in the poet and the lady. I was sure that I had known many women as charming and as handsome as she, about whom much less noise had been made; and I was convinced that her singer was factitious and literary, and that there are half a dozen stanzas in Wordsworth that speak more to the soul than the whole collection of his _fioriture_. This was the crude state of mind in which I determined to go, at any risk, to Vaucluse. Now that I think it over, I seem to remember that I had hoped, after all, that the submersion of the roads would forbid it. Since morning the clouds had gathered again, and by noon they were so heavy that there was every prospect of a torrent. It appeared absurd to choose such a time as this to visit a fountain – a fountain which, would be indistinguishable in the general cataract. Nevertheless I took a vow that if at noon the rain should not have begun to descend upon Avignon I would repair to the head-spring of the Sorgues. When the critical moment arrived, the clouds were hanging over Avignon like distended water-bags, which only needed a prick to empty themselves. The prick was not given, however; all nature was too much occupied in following the aberration of the Rhone to think of playing tricks elsewhere. Accordingly, I started for the station in a spirit which, for a tourist who sometimes had prided himself on his unfailing supply of sentiment, was shockingly perfunctory.

“For tasks in hours of insight willed May be in hours of gloom fulfilled.”

I remembered these lines of Matthew Arnold (written, apparently, in an hour of gloom), and carried out the idea, as I went, by hoping that with the return of in- sight I should be glad to have seen Vaucluse. Light has descended upon me since then, and I declare that the excursion is in every way to be recommended. The place makes a great impression, quite apart from Petrarch and Laura.

There was no rain; there was only, all the after- noon, a mild, moist wind, and a sky magnificently black, which made a _repoussoir_ for the paler cliffs of the fountain. The road, by train, crosses a flat, ex- pressionless country, toward the range of arid hills which lie to the east of Avignon, and which spring (says Murray) from the mass of the Mont-Ventoux. At Isle-sur-Sorgues, at the end of about an hour, the fore- ground becomes much more animated and the distance much more (or perhaps I should say much less) actual. I descended from the train, and ascended to the top of an omnibus which was to convey me into the re- cesses of the hills. It had not been among my pre- visions that I should be indebted to a vehicle of that kind for an opportunity to commune with the spirit of Petrarch; and I had to borrow what consolation I could from the fact that at least I had the omnibus to myself. I was the only passenger; every one else was at Avignon, watching the Rhone. I lost no time in perceiving that I could not have come to Vaucluse at a better moment. The Sorgues was almost as full as the Rhone, and of a color much more romantic. Rush- ing along its narrowed channel under an avenue of fine _platanes_ (it is confined between solid little embank- ments of stone), with the good-wives of the village, on the brink, washing their linen in its contemptuous flood, it gave promise of high entertainment further on.

The drive to Vaucluse is of about three quarters of an hour; and though the river, as I say, was promis- ing, the big pale hills, as the road winds into them, did not look as if their slopes of stone and shrub were a nestling-place for superior scenery. It is a part of the merit of Vaucluse, indeed, that it is as much as possible a surprise. The place has a right to its name, for the valley appears impenetrable until you get fairly into it. One perverse twist follows another, until the omnibus suddenly deposits you in front of the “cabinet” of Petrarch. After that you have only to walk along the left bank of the river. The cabinet of Petrarch is to-day a hideous little _cafe_, bedizened, like a sign- board, with extracts from the ingenious “Rime.” The poet and his lady are, of course, the stock in trade of the little village, which has had for several generations the privilege of attracting young couples engaged in their wedding-tour, and other votaries of the tender passion. The place has long been familiar, on festal Sundays, to the swains of Avignon and their attendant nymphs. The little fish of the Sorgues are much esteemed, and, eaten on the spot, they constitute, for the children of the once Papal city, the classic sub- urban dinner. Vaucluse has been turned to account, however, not only by sentiment, but by industry; the banks of the stream being disfigured by a pair of hideous mills for the manufacture of paper and of wool. In an enterprising and economical age the water-power of the Sorgues was too obvious a motive; and I must say that, as the torrent rushed past them, the wheels of the dirty little factories appeared to turn merrily enough. The footpath on the left bank, of which I just spoke, carries one, fortunately, quite out of sight of them, and out of sound as well, inasmuch as on the day of my visit the stream itself, which was in tremendous force, tended more and more, as one approached the fountain, to fill the valley with its own echoes. Its color was magnificent, and the whole spectacle more like a corner of Switzerland than a nook in Provence. The protrusions of the mountain shut it in, and you penetrate to the bottom of the re- cess which they form. The Sorgues rushes and rushes; it is almost like Niagara after the jump of the cataract. There are dreadful little booths beside the path, for the sale of photographs and _immortelles_, – I don’t know what one is to do with the immortelles, – where you are offered a brush dipped in tar to write your name withal on the rocks. Thousands of vulgar persons, of both sexes, and exclusively, it appeared, of the French nationality, had availed themselves of this implement; for every square inch of accessible stone was scored over with some human appellation. It is not only we in America, therefore, who besmirch our scenery; the practice exists, in a more organized form (like every- thing else in France), in the country of good taste. You leave the little booths and stalls behind; but the bescribbled crag, bristling with human vanity, keeps you company even when you stand face to face with the fountain. This happens when you find yourself at the foot of the enormous straight cliff out of which the river gushes. It rears itself to an extraordinary height, – a huge forehead of bare stone, – looking as if it were the half of a tremendous mound, split open by volcanic action. The little valley, seeing it there, at a bend, stops suddenly, and receives in its arms the magical spring. I call it magical on account of the mysterious manner in which it comes into the world, with the huge shoulder of the mountain rising over it, as if to protect the secret. From under the mountain it silently rises, without visible movement, filling a small natural basin with the stillest blue water. The contrast between the stillness of this basin and the agitation of the water directly after it has overflowed, constitutes half the charm of Vaucluse. The violence of the stream when once it has been set loose on the rocks is as fascinating and indescribable as that of other cataracts; and the rocks in the bed of the Sorgues have been arranged by a master-hand. The setting of the phenomenon struck me as so simple and so fine – the vast sad cliff, covered with the after- noon light, still and solid forever, while the liquid ele- ment rages and roars at its base – that I had no diffi- culty in understanding the celebrity of Vaucluse. I understood it, but I will not say that I understood Petrarch. He must have been very self-supporting, and Madonna Laura must indeed have been much to him.

The aridity of the hills that shut in the valley is complete, and the whole impression is best conveyed by that very expressive French epithet _morne_. There are the very fragmentary ruins of a castle (of one of the bishops of Cavaillon) on a high spur of the moun- tain, above the river; and there is another remnant of a feudal habitation on one of the more accessible ledges. Having half an hour to spare before my omnibus was to leave (I must beg the reader’s pardon for this atrociously false note; call the vehicle a _dili- gence_, and for some undiscoverable reason the offence is minimized), I clambered up to this latter spot, and sat among the rocks in the company of a few stunted olives. The Sorgues, beneath me, reaching the plain, flung itself crookedly across the meadows, like an un- rolled blue ribbon. I tried to think of the _amant de Laure_, for literature’s sake; but I had no great success, and the most I could, do was to say to myself that I must try again. Several months have elapsed since then, and I am ashamed to confess that the trial has not yet come off. The only very definite conviction I arrived at was that Vaucluse is indeed cockneyfied, but that I should have been a fool, all the same, not to come.


I mounted into my diligence at the door of the Hotel de Petrarque et de Laure, and we made our way back to Isle-sur-Sorgues in the fading light. This village, where at six o’clock every one appeared to have gone to bed, was fairly darkened by its high, dense plane-trees, under which the rushing river, on a level with its parapets, looked unnaturally, almost wickedly blue. It was a glimpse which has left a picture in my mind: the little closed houses, the place empty and soundless in the autumn dusk but for the noise of waters, and in the middle, amid the blackness of the shade, the gleam of the swift, strange tide. At the station every one was talking of the inundation being in many places an accomplished fact, and, in particular, of the condition of the Durance at some point that I have forgotten. At Avignon, an hour later, I found the water in some of the streets. The sky cleared in the evening, the moon lighted up the submerged suburbs, and the population again collected in the high places to enjoy the spectacle. It exhibited a certain sameness, however, and by nine o’clock there was considerable animation in the Place Crillon, where there is nothing to be seen but the front of the theatre and of several cafes – in addition, indeed, to a statue of this celebrated brave, whose valor redeemed some of the numerous military disasters of the reign of Louis XV. The next morning the lower quarters of the town were in a pitiful state; the situation seemed to me odious. To express my disapproval of it, I lost no time in taking the train for Orange, which, with its other attractions, had the merit of not being seated on the Rhone. It was my destiny to move northward; but even if I had been at liberty to follow a less un- natural course I should not then have undertaken it, inasmuch, as the railway between Avignon and Mar- seilles was credibly reported to be (in places) under water. This was the case with almost everything but the line itself, on the way to Orange. The day proved splendid, and its brilliancy only lighted up the desola- tion. Farmhouses and cottages were up to their middle in the yellow liquidity; haystacks looked like dull little islands; windows and doors gaped open, without faces; and interruption and flight were represented in the scene. It was brought home to me that the _popula- tions rurales_ have many different ways of suffering, and my heart glowed with a grateful sense of cockney- ism. It was under the influence of this emotion that I alighted at Orange, to visit a collection of eminently civil monuments.

The collection consists of but two objects, but these objects are so fine that I will let the word pass. One of them is a triumphal arch, supposedly of the period of Marcus Aurelius; the other is a fragment, magnifi- cent in its ruin, of a Roman theatre. But for these fine Roman remains and for its name, Orange is a perfectly featureless little town; without the Rhone – which, as I have mentioned, is several miles distant – to help it to a physiognomy. It seems one of the oddest things that this obscure French borough – obscure, I mean, in our modern era, for the Gallo- Roman Arausio must have been, judging it by its arches and theatre, a place of some importance – should have given its name to the heirs apparent of the throne of Holland,and been borne by a king of England who had sovereign rights over it. During the Middle Ages it formed part of an independent principality; but in 1531 it fell, by the marriage of one of its princesses, who had inherited it, into the family of Nassau. I read in my indispensable Mur- ray that it was made over to France by the treaty of Utrecht. The arch of triumph, which stands a little way out of the town, is rather a pretty than an im- posing vestige of the Romans. If it had greater purity of style, one might say of it that it belonged to the same family of monuments as the Maison Carree at Nimes. It has three passages, – the middle much higher than the others, – and a very elevated attic. The vaults of the passages are richly sculptured, and the whole monument is covered with friezes and military trophies. This sculpture is rather mixed; much of it is broken and defaced, and the rest seemed to me ugly, though its workmanship is praised. The arch is at once well preserved and much injured. Its general mass is there, and as Roman monuments go it is remarkably perfect; but it has suffered, in patches, from the extremity of restoration. It is not, on the whole, of absorbing interest. It has a charm, never- theless, which comes partly from its soft, bright yellow color, partly from a certain elegance of shape, of ex- pression; and on that well-washed Sunday morning, with its brilliant tone, surrounded by its circle of thin poplars, with the green country lying beyond it and a low blue horizon showing through its empty portals, it made, very sufficiently, a picture that hangs itself to one of the lateral hooks of the memory. I can take down the modest composition, and place it before me as I write. I see the shallow, shining puddles in the hard, fair French road; the pale blue sky, diluted by days of rain; the disgarnished autumnal fields; the mild sparkle of the low horizon; the solitary figure in sabots, with a bundle under its arm, advancing along the _chaussee_; and in the middle I see the little ochre- colored monument, which, in spite of its antiquity, looks bright and gay, as everything must look in France of a fresh Sunday morning.

It is true that this was not exactly the appearance of the Roman theatre, which lies on the other side of the town; a fact that did not prevent me from making my way to it in less than five minutes, through a suc- cession of little streets concerning which I have no observations to record. None of the Roman remains in the south of France are more impressive than this stupendous fragment. An enormous mound rises above the place, which was formerly occupied – I quote from Murray – first by a citadel of the Romans, then by a castle of the princes of Nassau, razed by Louis XIV. Facing this hill a mighty wall erects itself, thirty-six metres high, and composed of massive blocks of dark brown stone, simply laid one on the other; the whole naked, rugged surface of which suggests a natural cliff (say of the Vaucluse order) rather than an effort of human, or even of Roman labor. It is the biggest thing at Orange, – it is bigger than all Orange put to- gether, – and its permanent massiveness makes light of the shrunken city. The face it presents to the town – the top of it garnished with two rows of brackets, perforated with holes to receive the staves of the _vela- rium_ – bears the traces of more than one tier of orna- mental arches; though how these flat arches were applied, or incrusted, upon the wall, I do not profess to explain. You pass through a diminutive postern – which seems in proportion about as high as the en- trance of a rabbit-hutch – into the lodge of the custo- dian, who introduces you to the interior of the theatre. Here the mass of the hill affronts you, which the in- genious Romans treated simply as the material of their auditorium. They inserted their stone seats, in a semicircle, in the slope of the lull, and planted their colossal wall opposite to it. This wall, from the inside, is, if possible, even more imposing. It formed the back of the stage, the permanent scene, and its enormous face was coated with marble. It contains three doors, the middle one being the highest, and having above it, far aloft, a deep niche, apparently intended for an imperial statue. A few of the benches remain on the hillside which, however, is mainly a confusion of fragments. There is part of a corridor built into the hill, high up, and on the crest are the remnants of the demolished castle. The whole place is a kind of wilderness of ruin; there are scarcely any details; the great feature is the overtopping wall. This wall being the back of the scene, the space left be- tween it and the chord of the semicircle (of the audi- torium) which formed the proscenium is rather less than one would have supposed. In other words, the stage was very shallow, and appears to have been ar- ranged for a number of performers standing in a line, like a company of soldiers. There stands the silent skeleton, however, as impressive by what it leaves you to guess and wonder about as by what it tells you. It has not the sweetness, the softness of melancholy, of the theatre at Arles; but it is more extraordinary, and one can imagine only tremendous tragedies being enacted there, –

“Presenting Thebes’ or Pelops’ line.”

At either end of the stage, coming forward, is an immense wing, – immense in height, I mean, as it reaches to the top of the scenic wall; the other dimen- sions are not remarkable. The division to the right, as you face the stage, is pointed out as the green- room; its portentous attitude and the open arches at the top give it the air of a well. The compartment on the left is exactly similar, save that it opens into the traces of other chambers, said to be those of a hippodrome adjacent to the theatre. Various fragments are visible which refer themselves plausibly to such an establishment; the greater axis of the hippodrome would appear to have been on a line with the triumphal arch. This is all I saw, and all there was to see, of Orange, which had a very rustic, bucolic aspect, and where I was not even called upon to demand break- fast at the hotel. The entrance of this resort might have been that of a stable of the Roman days.


I have been trying to remember whether I fasted all the way to Macon, which I reached at an advanced hour of the evening, and think I must have done so except for the purchase of a box of nougat at Monte- limart (the place is famous for the manufacture of this confection, which, at the station, is hawked at the windows of the train) and for a bouillon, very much later, at Lyons. The journey beside the Rhone – past Valence, past Tournon, past Vienne – would have been charming, on that luminous Sunday, but for two disagreeable accidents. The express from Marseilles, which I took at Orange, was full to over- flowing; and the only refuge I could find was an inside angle in a carriage laden with Germans, who had command of the windows, which they occupied as strongly as they have been known to occupy other strategical positions. I scarcely know, however, why I linger on this particular discomfort, for it was but a single item in a considerable list of grievances, – grievances dispersed through six weeks of constant railway travel in France. I have not touched upon them at an earlier stage of this chronicle, but my re- serve is not owing to any sweetness of association. This form of locomotion, in the country of the ameni- ties, is attended with a dozen discomforts; almost all the conditions of the business are detestable. They force the sentimental tourist again and again to ask himself whether, in consideration of such mortal an- noyances, the game is worth the candle. Fortunately, a railway journey is a good deal like a sea voyage; its miseries fade from the mind as soon as you arrive. That is why I completed, to my great satisfaction, my little tour in France. Let this small effusion of ill-nature be my first and last tribute to the whole despotic _gare_: the deadly _salle d’attente_, the insuffer- able delays over one’s luggage, the porterless platform, the overcrowded and illiberal train. How many a time did I permit myself the secret reflection that it is in perfidious Albion that they order this matter best! How many a time did the eager British mer- cenary, clad in velveteen and clinging to the door of the carriage as it glides into the station, revisit my invidious dreams! The paternal porter and the re- sponsive hansom are among the best gifts of the Eng- lish genius to the world. I hasten to add, faithful to my habit (so insufferable to some of my friends) of ever and again readjusting the balance after I have given it an honest tip, that the bouillon at Lyons, which I spoke of above, was, though by no means an ideal bouillon, much better than any I could have obtained at an English railway station. After I had imbibed it, I sat in the train (which waited a long time at Lyons) and, by the light of one of the big lamps on the platform, read all sorts of disagreeable things in certain radical newspapers which I had bought at the book-stall. I gathered from these sheets that Lyons was in extreme commotion. The Rhone and the Saone, which form a girdle for the splendid town, were almost in the streets, as I could easily be- lieve from what I had seen of the country after leav- ing Orange. The Rhone, all the way to Lyons, had been in all sorts of places where it had no business to be, and matters were naturally not improved by its confluence with the charming and copious stream which, at Macon, is said once to have given such a happy opportunity to the egotism of the capital. A visitor from Paris (the anecdote is very old), being asked on the quay of that city whether he didn’t ad- mire the Saone, replied good-naturedly that it was very pretty, but that in Paris they spelled it with the _ei_. This moment of general alarm at Lyons had been chosen by certain ingenious persons (I credit them, perhaps, with too sure a prevision of the rise of the rivers) for practising further upon the appre- hensions of the public. A bombshell filled with dynamite had been thrown into a cafe, and various votaries of the comparatively innocuous _petit verre_ had been wounded (I am not sure whether any one had been killed) by the irruption. Of course there had been arrests and incarcerations, and the “Intransi- geant” and the “Rappel” were filled with the echoes of the explosion. The tone of these organs is rarely edifying, and it had never been less so than on this occasion. I wondered, as I looked through them, whether I was losing all my radicalism; and then I wondered whether, after all, I had any to lose. Even in so long await as that tiresome delay at Lyons I failed to settle the question, any more than I made up my mind as to the probable future of the militant democracy, or the ultimate form of a civilization which should have blown up everything else. A few days later, the waters went down it Lyons; but the de- mocracy has not gone down.

I remember vividly the remainder of that evening which I spent at Macon, – remember it with a chatter- ing of the teeth. I know not what had got into the place; the temperature, for the last day of October, was eccentric and incredible. These epithets may also be applied to the hotel itself, – an extraordinary structure, all facade, which exposes an uncovered rear to the gaze of nature. There is a demonstrative, voluble landlady, who is of course part of the facade; but everything behind her is a trap for the winds, with chambers, corridors, staircases, all exhibited to the sky, as if the outer wall of the house had been lifted off. It would have been delightful for Florida, but it didn’t do for Burgundy, even on the eve of November 1st, so that I suffered absurdly from the rigor of a season that had not yet begun. There was something in the air; I felt it the next day, even on the sunny quay of the Saone, where in spite of a fine southerly exposure I extracted little warmth from the reflection that Alphonse de Lamartine had often trod- den the flags. Macon struck me, somehow, as suffer- ing from a chronic numbness, and there was nothing exceptionally cheerful in the remarkable extension of the river. It was no longer a river, – it had become a lake; and from my window, in the painted face of the inn, I saw that the opposite bank had been moved back, as it were, indefinitely. Unfortunately, the various objects with which it was furnished had not been moved as well, the consequence of which was an extraordinary confusion in the relations of thing. There were always poplars to be seen, but the poplar had become an aquatic plant. Such phenomena, however, at Macon attract but little attention, as the Saone, at certain seasons of the year, is nothing if not expansive. The people are as used to it as they ap- peared to be to the bronze statue of Lamartine, which is the principal monument of the _place_, and which, re- presenting the poet in a frogged overcoat and top- boots, improvising in a high wind, struck me as even less casual in its attitude than monumental sculpture usually succeeds in being. It is true that in its pre- sent position I thought better of this work of art, which is from the hand of M. Falquiere, than when I had seen it through the factitious medium of the Salon of 1876. I walked up the hill where the older part of Macon lies, in search of the natal house of the _amant d’Elvire_, the Petrarch whose Vaucluse was the bosom of the public. The Guide-Joanne quotes from “Les Confidences” a description of the birthplace of the poet, whose treatment of the locality is indeed poetical. It tallies strangely little with the reality, either as re- gards position or other features; and it may be said to be, not an aid, but a direct obstacle, to a discovery of the house. A very humble edifice, in a small back street, is designated by a municipal tablet, set into its face, as the scene of Lamartine’s advent into the world. He himself speaks of a vast and lofty structure, at the angle of a _place_, adorned with iron clamps, with a _porte haute et large_ and many other peculiarities. The house with the tablet has two meagre stories above the basement, and (at present, at least) an air of ex- treme shabbiness; the _place_, moreover, never can have been vast. Lamartine was accused of writing history incorrectly, and apparently he started wrong at first: it had never become clear to him where he was born. Or is the tablet wrong? If the house is small, the tablet is very big.


The foregoing reflections occur, in a cruder form, as it were, in my note-book, where I find this remark appended to them: “Don’t take leave of Lamartine on that contemptuous note; it will be easy to think of something more sympathetic!” Those friends of mine, mentioned a little while since, who accuse me of always tipping back the balance, could not desire a paragraph more characteristic; but I wish to give no further evi- dence of such infirmities, and will therefore hurry away from the subject, – hurry away in the train which, very early on a crisp, bright morning, conveyed. me, by way of an excursion, to the ancient city of Bourg-en-Bresse. Shining in early light, the Saone was spread, like a smooth, white tablecloth, over a considerable part of the flat country that I traversed. There is no provision made in this image for the long, transparent screens of thin-twigged trees which rose at intervals out of the watery plain; but as, under the circumstances, there seemed to be no provision for them in fact, I will let my metaphor go for what it is worth. My journey was (as I remember it) of about an hour and a half; but I passed no object of interest, as the phrase is, whatever. The phrase hardly applies even to Bourg itself, which is simply a town _quelconque_, as M. Zola would say. Small, peaceful, rustic, it stands in the midst of the great dairy-feeding plains of Bresse, of which fat county, sometime property of the house of Savoy, it was the modest capital. The blue masses of the Jura give it a creditable horizon, but the only nearer feature it can point to is its famous sepulchral church. This edifice lies at a fortunate distance from the town, which, though inoffensive, is of too common a stamp to consort with such a treasure. All I ever knew of the church of Brou I had gathered, years ago, from Matthew Arnold’s beautiful poem, which bears its name. I remember thinking, in those years, that it was impossible verses could be more touching than these; and as I stood before the object of my pilgrimage, in the gay French light (though the place was so dull), I recalled the spot where I had first read them, and where I read them again and yet again, wondering whether it would ever be my fortune to visit the church of Brou. The spot in question was an armchair in a window which looked out on some cows in a field; and whenever I glanced at the cows it came over me – I scarcely know why – that I should probably never behold the structure reared by the Duchess Margaret. Some of our visions never come to pass; but we must be just, – others do. “So sleep, forever sleep, O princely pair!” I remembered that line of Matthew Arnold’s, and the stanza about the Duchess Margaret coming to watch the builders on her palfry white. Then there came to me something in regard to the moon shining on winter nights through the cold clere-story. The tone of the place at that hour was not at all lunar; it was cold and bright, but with the chill of an autumn morning; yet this, even with the fact of the unexpected remoteness of the church from the Jura added to it, did not prevent me from feeling that I looked at a monument in the pro- duction of which – or at least in the effect of which on the tourist mind of to-day – Matthew Arnold had been much concerned. By a pardonable license he has placed it a few miles nearer to the forests of the Jura than it stands at present. It is very true that, though the mountains in the sixteenth century can hardly have been in a different position, the plain which separates the church from them may have been bedecked with woods. The visitor to-day cannot help wondering why the beautiful building, with its splendid works of art, is dropped down in that particular spot, which looks so accidental and arbitrary. But there are reasons for most things, and there were reasons why the church of Brou should be at Brou, which is a vague little suburb of a vague little town.

The responsibility rests, at any rate, upon the Duchess Margaret, – Margaret of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Maximilian and his wife Mary of Bur- gundy, daughter of Charles the Bold. This lady has a high name in history, having been regent of the Netherlands in behalf of her nephew, the Emperor Charles V., of whose early education she had had the care. She married in 1501 Philibert the Handsome, Duke of Savoy, to whom the province of Bresse be- longed, and who died two years later. She had been betrothed, is a child, to Charles VIII. of France, and was kept for some time at the French court, – that of her prospective father-in-law, Louis XI.; but she was eventually repudiated, in order that her _fiance_ might marry Anne of Brittany, – an alliance so magnificently political that we almost condone the offence to a sensitive princess. Margaret did not want for hus- bands, however, inasmuch as before her marriage to Philibert she had been united to John of Castile, son of Ferdinand V., King of Aragon, – an episode ter- minated, by the death of the Spanish prince, within a year. She was twenty-two years regent of the Nether- lands, and died at fifty-one, in 1530. She might have been, had she chosen, the wife, of Henry VII. of Eng- land. She was one of the signers of the League of Cambray, against the Venetian republic, and was a most politic, accomplished, and judicious princess. She undertook to build the church of Brou as a mau- soleum, for her second husband and herself, in fulfil- ment of a vow made by Margaret of Bourbon, mother of Philibert, who died before she could redeem her pledge, and who bequeathed the duty to her son. He died shortly afterwards, and his widow assumed the pious task. According to Murray, she intrusted the erection of the church to “Maistre Loys von Berghem,” and the sculpture to “Maistre Conrad.” The author of a superstitious but carefully prepared little Notice, which I bought at Bourg, calls the architect and sculptor (at once) Jehan de Paris, author (sic) of the tomb of Francis II. of Brittany, to which we gave some