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

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entitled to stand before it. The faculty of law retains its old
reputation, and the legal students are quite the pride of the
university. Since the peace, many young jurisprudents from Jersey and
Guernsey have resorted to it. Medical students generally complete their
education at Paris, where it is commonly considered in France, that,
both in theory and practice, the various branches of this faculty have
nearly attained the acme of perfection. The students, who amount to just
five hundred, are under the care of twenty-six professors, many of them
men of distinguished talents. The Abbe de la Rue fills the chair of
history; M. Lamouroux, that of the natural sciences. They receive their
salaries wholly from the government; their emoluments continue the same,
whether the students crowd to hear their courses, or whether they
lecture to empty benches. It is strictly forbidden to a student to
attempt to make any remuneration to a professor, or even to offer him a
present of any kind. The whole of the dues paid by the scholars go to
the state; and the state in its turn, defrays the expences of the

There is likewise at Caen an Academy of Sciences, Arts and Belles
Lettres, which has published two volumes; not, strictly speaking, of its
Transactions, but exhibiting a brief outline of the principal papers
that have been read at the meetings. The antiquarian dissertations of
the Abbe de la Rue, which they contain, are of great merit; and it is
much to be regretted, that they have not appeared in a more extended
form. A chartered academy was first founded here in the year 1705; and
it continued to exist, till it was suppressed, like all others
throughout France, at the revolution. The present establishment arose in
1800, under the auspices of General Dugua, then prefect of the
department, who had been urged to the task by the celebrated Chaptal,
Minister of the Interior.--Some interesting, letters are annexed to the
second part of the poems of Mosant de Brieux, in which, among much
curious information relative to Caen, he describes the literary meetings
that led to the foundation of the first academy. The town at that time
could boast an unusual proportion of men of talents. Bochart, author of
_Sacred Geography_; Graindorge, who had published _De Principiis
Generationis_; Huet, a man seldom mentioned, without the epithet
_learned_ being attached to his name; and Halley and Menage, authors
almost equally distinguished, were amongst those who were associated for
the purposes of acquiring and communicating information.

Indeed, Caen appears at all times to have been fruitful in literary
characters. Huet enumerates no fewer than one hundred and thirty-seven,
whom he considers worthy of being recorded among the eminent men of
France. The greater part of them are necessarily unknown to us in
England; and allowance must be made for a man who is writing upon a
subject, in which self-love may be considered as in some degree
involved; the glory of our townsmen shining by reflection upon
ourselves. A portion, however, of the number, are men whose claims to
celebrity will not be denied.--Such, in the fifteenth century, were the
poets John and Clement Marot; such was the celebrated physician,
Dalechamps, to whom naturalists are indebted for the _Historia
Plantarum_; such the laborious lexicographer, Constantin; and, not to
extend the catalogue needlessly, such above all was Malherbe. The medal
that has been struck at Caen in honor of this great man, at the expence
of Monsieur de Lair, bears for its epigraph, the three first words of
Boileau's eulogium--"Enfin Malherbe vint."--The same inscription is also
to be seen upon the walls of the library. So expressive a beginning
prepares the reader for a corresponding sequel; and I should be guilty
of injustice towards this eminent writer, were I not to quote to you the
passage at length.--

"Enfin, Malherbe vint, et le premier en France
Fit sentir dans les vers une juste cadence:
D'un mot mis en sa place enseigna le pouvoir,
Et reduisit la muse aux regles du devoir.
Par ce sage ecrivain, la langue reparee,
N'offrit plus rien de rude a l'oreille epuree.
Les stances avec grace apprirent a tomber,
Et le Vers sur le Vers n'osa plus enjamber."

Wace and Baudius, though not born at Caen, have contributed to its
honor, by their residence here. Baudius was appointed to the
professorship of law in the university, by the President de Thou; but he
disagreed with his colleagues, and soon removed to Leyden, where he
filled the chair of history till his death. Some of his earlier letters,
in the collection published by Elzevir, are dated from Caen. His Iambi,
directed against his brethren of this university, are scarcely to be
exceeded for severity, by the bitterest specimens of a style
proverbially bitter. Their excessive virulence defeated the writer's
aim; but there is an elegance in the Latinity of Baudius, and a degree
of feeling in his sentiments, which will ensure a permanent existence to
his compositions, and especially to his poems.--He it was who called
forth the severe saying of Bayle, that "many men of learning render
themselves contemptible in the places where they live, while they are
admired where they are known only by their writings."--Wace was a native
of Jersey, but an author only at Caen. The most celebrated of his works
is _Le Roman de Rou et des Normans_, written in French verse. He
dedicated this romance to our Henry IInd, who rewarded him with a stall
in the cathedral at Bayeux.

[Illustration: Profile of M. Lamouroux]

Quitting the departed for the living, I send you a profile of M.
Lamouroux, the professor of natural history at this university, to whom
we have been personally indebted for the kindest attention. His name is
well known to you, as that of a man who has, perhaps, deserved more than
any other individual at the hands of every student of marine Botany. His
treatises upon the _Classification of the Submersed Algae_, have been
honored with admission in the _Memoires du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle_,
and have procured him the distinction of being elected into the National
Institute: his subsequent publication on the _Corallines_, is an
admirable manual, in a very difficult branch of natural history; and he
is now preparing for the press, a work of still greater labor and more
extensive utility, an arrangement of the organized fossils found in the
vicinity of Caen.

The whole of this neighborhood abounds in remains of the antediluvian
world: they are found not only in considerable quantity, but in great
perfection. In the course of last year; a fossil crocodile was dug up at
Allemagne, a village about a mile distant, imbedded in blue lias. Other
specimens of the same genus, comprising, as it appears, two species,
both of them distinct from any that are known in a living state, had
previously been discovered in a bed of similar hard blue limestone, near
Havre and Honfleur, as well as upon the opposite shores of England. But
the Caen specimen is the most interesting of any, as the first that has
been seen with its scales perfect; and the naturalists here have availed
themselves of the opportunity thus afforded them, to determine it by a
specific character, and give it the name of _Crocodilus Cadomensis_.

The civil and ecclesiastical history of Caen will be amply illustrated
in the forthcoming volumes of the Abbe de la Rue, as he is preparing a
work on the subject, _a l'instar_ of the Essays of St. Foix. In the
leading events of the duchy, we find the town of Caen had but little
share. It is only upon the occasion of two sieges from our countrymen,
the one in 1346, the other in 1417, that it appears to have acted a
prominent part. The details of the first siege are given at some length
by Froissart.--Edward IIIrd, accompanied by the Black Prince, had landed
at La Hogue; and, meeting with no effectual resistance, had pillaged the
towns of Barfleur, Cherbourg, Carentan, and St. Lo, after which he led
his army hither. Caen, as Froissait tells us, was at that time "large,
strong, and full of drapery and all other sorts of merchandize, rich
citizens, noble dames and damsels, and fine churches." In its defence
were assembled the Constable of France, with the Counts of Eu, Guignes,
and Tancarville. But the wisdom of the generals was defeated by the
impetuosity of the citizens. They saw themselves equal in number to the
invaders, and, without reflecting how little numerical superiority
avails in war against experience and tactics, they required to be led
against the foe. They were so, and were defeated. The conquerors and
conquered entered the city pell-mell; and Edward, enraged at the
citizens for shooting upon his troops from the windows, issued orders
that the inhabitants should be put to the sword, and the town burned.
The mandate, however, was not executed: Sir Godfrey de Harcourt, with
wise remonstrances, assuaged the anger of the sovereign, and diverted
him from his purpose.--Immense were the riches taken on the occasion.
The English fleet returned home loaded with cloth, and jewels, and gold,
and silver plate, together with sixty knights, and upwards of three
hundred able men, prisoners. This gallant exploit was shortly afterwards
followed by the decisive battle of Crecy.

Caen suffered still more severely upon the occasion of its second
capture; when Henry IVth marched upon the town immediately after landing
at Touques. The siege was longer, and the place, taken by assault, was
given up to indiscriminate plunder. Even the churches were not spared:
that of the Holy Sepulchre was demolished, and, among its other
treasures, a crucifix was carried away, containing a portion of the real
cross, which, as we are told, testified by so many miracles its
displeasure at being taken to England, that the conquerors were glad to
restore it to its original destination.

From this time to the year 1450, our countrymen kept undisturbed
possession of Caen. In the latter year they capitulated to the Count de
Dunois, after a gallant resistance. But though the town has
thenceforward remained, without interruption, subject to the crown of
France, it has not therefore been always free from the miseries of
warfare. A dreadful riot took place here in 1512, occasioned by the
disorderly conduct of a body of six thousand German mercenaries, whom
Louis XIIth introduced, by way of garrison, to guard against any sudden
attack from Henry VIIIth. The character given by De Bourgueville of
these _Lansquenets_ is, that they were "drunkards who guzzle wine,
cider, and beer, out of earthen pots, and then fall asleep upon the
table." Three hundred lives were lost upon this occasion, on the part of
the Germans alone.--In the middle of the same century, happened the
civil wars, originating in the reformation: and in the course of these,
Caen suffered dreadfully from the contending parties. Friend and foe
conspired alike to its ruin: what was saved from the violence of the
Huguenots, was taken by the treachery of the Catholics, under the
plausible pretext of its being placed in security. Thus, after the
Calvinists had already seized on every thing precious that fell in their
way, the Duke de Bouillon, the governor of the town, commanded all the
reliquaries, shrines, church-plate, and ecclesiastical ornaments, to be
carried to him at the castle; and he had no sooner got them into his
possession, than "all holy, rich, and precious, as they were, he caused
them to be melted down, and converted into coin to pay his soldiers; and
he scattered the relics, so that they have never been seen
more."--Loosen but the bands of society, and you will find that, in all
ages of the world, the case has been nearly the same; and, as upon the
banks of the Simoeis, so upon the plains of Normandy,--

"Seditione, dolis, scelere, atque libidine, et ira,
_Iliacos_ extra muros peccatur et intra."

* * * * *


[Footnote 80: Engravings of the same tiles, and of some others, chiefly
with fanciful patterns, are to be found in the _Gentleman's Magazine_
for March 1789, LIX. p. 211, plates 2, 3. The subjects of the latter
plate are those tiles which were hung in a gilt frame, on the walls of
the cloister of the abbey, with an inscription, denoting whence they
were taken.]

[Footnote 81: _Monumens de la Monarchie Francaise_, I. p. 402, t. 55.]



(_Bayeux, August_, 1818.)

Letters just received from England oblige us to change our course
entirely: their contents are of such a nature, that we could not prolong
our journey with comfort or satisfaction. We must return to England;
and, instead of regretting the objects which we have lost, we must
rejoice that we have seen so much, and especially that we have been able
to visit the cathedral and tapestry of Bayeux.

At the same time, I will not deny that we certainly could have wished to
have explored the vicinity of Caen, where an ample harvest of subjects,
both for the pen and pencil, is to be gathered; but the circumstances
that control us would not even allow of a pilgrimage to the shrine of
our Lady of la Delivrande, on the border of the English Channel, or of
an excursion to the village of Vieux, in the opposite
direction.--Antiquaries have been divided in opinion, concerning the
nature and character of the buildings which anciently occupied the site
of this village.--The remains of a Roman aqueduct are still to be seen
there, and the foundations of ancient edifices are distinctly to be
traced. In the course of the last century, a gymnasium was likewise
discovered, of great size, constructed according to the rules laid down
by Vitruvius, and a hypocaust, connected with a fine stone basin, twelve
feet in diameter, surrounded by three rows of seats. Abundance of
medals of the upper empire, among others, of Crispina, wife to Commodus,
and Latin inscriptions and sarcophagi, are frequently dug up among its
ruins[82]. Hence, a belief has commonly prevailed that during the Roman
dominion in Gaul, Vieux was a city, and that Caen, which is only six
miles distant, arose from its ruins. This opinion was strenuously
combated by Huet; yet it subsequently found a new advocate in the Abbe
Le Beuf[83]. The bishop contends that the extent of the buildings rather
denotes the ruins of a fortified camp, than of a city; and he therefore
considers it most probable, that Vieux was the site of an encampment,
raised near the Orne, for the purpose of defending the passage of the
river, at the point where it was crossed by the military road that led
from the district of the Bessin, to that of the Hiesmois.--Portions of
the causeway, may still be traced, constructed of the same kind of brick
as the aqueduct; and the name of the village so far tends to corroborate
the conjecture, that _Vieux_ originally denoted a ford; and the word
_Ve_, which is most probably a corruption from it, retains this
signification in Norman French.--The Abbe, at the same time that he does
not pretend to contradict the argument deduced from etymology, maintains
that a careful comparison of the position of Vieux, with the distances
marked on the _Tabula Peutingeriana_, and with what Ptolemy relates of
certain towns adjoining the Viducassian territory, will support him in
the assertion, that Vieux was the ancient _Augustodurum_ the Viducassian
capital; and that Bayeux was probably the site of _Arigenus_ another of
the towns of that tribe.--The red, veined marble of Vieux is much
esteemed in France; as are also the other marbles of this department,
which vary in color from a dull white, through grey, to blue. The
quarries, as is generally believed, were first opened and worked by the
Romans. Vieux marble is to be seen at Paris, where it was employed by
Cardinal Richelieu, in the construction of the chapel of the Sorbonne.

At about a mile from Caen, on the road to Bayeux, stands the village of
St. Germain de Blancherbe, more commonly called in the neighborhood _la
Maladerie_, a name derived from the lazar-house in it, the _Leproserie
de Beaulieu_, founded by Henry IInd, in 1161.--Robert Du Mont terms the
building a wonderful work. It was a princely establishment, designed for
the reception of lepers from all the parishes of Caen, except four,
whose patients had an especial right to be admitted into a smaller
hospital in the same place. The great hospital is now used as a house of
correction. Seen from the road, it appears to be principally of modern
architecture though still retaining a portion of the ancient structure;
the same, probably, as is mentioned by Ducarel, who says, that "part of
the magnificent chapel, which was considered as the parish church for
the lepers, and ruined by the English, is turned into a large common
hall for the prisoners, and separated from the other part, which is made
into a chapel, by means of an iron gate, through which they may have an
opportunity of hearing mass celebrated every morning."--Within the
village street stands a desecrated church of the earliest Norman style,
with a very perfect door-way. The present parish church, though chiefly
modern, deserves attention on account of the west front, which is wholly
of the semi-circular style, and is somewhat curious, from having two
Norman buttresses, that rise from a string-course at the top of the
basement story, (in which the arched door-way is contained,) and are
thence continued upwards till they unite with the roof. The decorations
round its southern entrance are also remarkable: they principally
consist of a very sharp chevron moulding, interspersed with foliage and
various figures.

The quarries in this village, and in that of Allemagne, on the opposite
side of the Orne, supply most of the free-stone, for which Caen has,
during many centuries, been celebrated. Stone of the finest quality is
found in strata of different thickness, at the depth of about sixty feet
below the surface of the ground. If worked much lower, it ceases to be
good. It is brought up in square blocks, about nine feet wide, and two
feet thick, by means of vertical wheels, placed at the mouths of the
pits. When first dug from the quarry, its color is a pure and glossy
white, and its texture very soft; but as it hardens it takes a browner
hue, and loses its lustre.

In former days this stone was exported in great quantity to our own
country. Stow, in his _Survey of London_, states that London Bridge,
Westminster Abbey, and several others of our public edifices were built
with it. Extracts from sundry charters relative to the quarries are
quoted by Ducarel, who adds that, in his time, though many cargoes of
the stone were annually conveyed by water to the different provinces of
the kingdom, the exportation of it out of France was strictly
prohibited, insomuch that, when it was to be sent by sea, the owner of
the stone, as well as the master of the vessel on board of which it was
shipped, was obliged to give security that it should not be sold to
foreigners.--We omitted to inquire how far the same prohibitions still
continue in force.

At but a short distance from St. Germain de Blancherbe, stands the
ruined abbey of Ardennes, now the residence of a farmer; but still
preserving the features of a monastic building. The convent was founded
in 1138, for canons of the Praemonstratensian order. Its Celtic name
denotes its antiquity, as it also tends to prove that this part of the
country was covered with timber. The word, _arden_, signified a forest,
and was thence applied, with a slight variation in orthography, to the
largest forest in England, and to the more celebrated forest in the
vicinity of Liege. According to tradition, the Norman ardennes
consisted: of chesnut-trees. De Bourgueville tells us that timber of
this description is the principal material of most of the houses in the
town. John Evelyn relates the same of those in London; and in our own
counties wherever a village church has been so fortunate as to preserve
its ancient timber cieling, the clerk is almost sure to state that the
wood is chesnut. Either this tree therefore must formerly have abounded
in places where it has now almost ceased to exist, or oak timber must
have been commonly mistaken for it: and we may equally adopt both these
conjectures. The yew and the service, as well as the chesnut, are
occasionally mentioned in old charters, and are admitted by botanists to
be indigenous in England. I should doubt, however, if any one of them
could now be found in a wild state; and there is a fashion in planting
as well as in every thing else, which renders peculiar trees more or
less abundant at different times.

About half way between Caen and Bayeux, is the village of Bretteville
l'Orgueilleuse, the lofty tower of whose church, perforated with long
lancet windows, and surmounted by a high spire, excites curiosity.
Churches are numerous in this neighborhood, and there is no other part
of Normandy, in which, architecturally considered, they are equally
deserving of notice. Scarcely one is to be seen that is not marked by
some peculiarity. I know not why Bretteville acquired the epithet
attached to its name; and I am equally at a loss for the derivation of
the word _Bretteville_ itself; but the term must have some
signification in Normandy, at least eleven villages in the duchy being
so called.

The first part of the road to Bayeux passes through a flat and open
district, resembling that on the other side of Caen; in the remaining
half, the country is enclosed, with a more varied surface. Apple-trees
again abound; and the old custom of suspending a bush over the door of
an inn is commonly practised here. For this purpose misletoe is almost
always selected. Throughout the whole of this district and the
neighboring province of Brittany, the ancient attachment of the Druids
to misletoe continues to a certain degree to prevail. The commencement
of the new year is hailed by shouts of "au gui; l'an neuf;" and the
gathering of the misletoe for the occasion is still the pretext for a
merry-making, if not for a religious ceremony.

Bayeux was the seat of an academy of the Druids. Ausonius expressly
addresses Attius Patera Pather, one of the professors at Bordeaux, as
being of the family of the priesthood of this district:--

"Doctor potentum rhetorum,
Tu Bajocassis stirpe Druidarum satus;"

And tradition to this hour preserves the remembrance of the spot that
was hallowed by the celebration of their mystic rites. This spot, an
eminence adjoining the city, has subsequently served for the site of a
priory dedicated to St. Nicholas _de la chesnaye_, thus commemorating by
the epithet, the oaks that formed the holy grove. Near it stood the
famous temple of Mount Phaunus, which was flourishing in the beginning
of the fourth century, and, according to Rivet, was considered one of
the three most celebrated in Gaul. Belenus was the divinity principally
worshipped in it; but, according to popular superstition, adoration was
also paid to a golden calf, which was buried in the hill, and still
remains entombed there. Even within the last fifty years, two laborers
have lost their lives in a fruitless attempt to find this hidden
treasure. Tombs, and urns, and human bones, are constantly discovered;
yet neither Druidic temples, nor pillars of stone, nor cromlechs or
Celtic remains of any description exist, at least, at present, in the
neighborhood of Bayeux.

Roman relics, however, abound. The vases and statues dug up near this
city, have afforded employment to the pen and the pencil of Count
Caylus, who, judging from the style of art, refers the greater part of
them to the times of Julius and Augustus Caesar. Medals of the earliest
emperors have likewise frequently been detected among the foundations of
the houses of the city; and even so recently as in the beginning of the
present century, mutilated cippi, covered with Latin inscriptions, have
been brought to light. These discoveries all tend to shew the Roman
origin of Bayeux, and two Roman causeways also join here; so that,
notwithstanding the arguments of the Abbe le Beuf, most antiquaries
still believe that Bayeux was the city called by Ptolemy the _Naeomagus
Viducassium_.--The term _Viducasses_ or _Biducasses_ was in early ages
changed to _Bajocasses_; and the city, following the custom that
prevailed in Gaul, took the appellation of _Bajocae_, or, as it was
occasionally written, of _Baiae_ or _Bagicae_. Its name in French has
likewise been subject to alterations.--During the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, it was _Baex_ and _Bajeves_; in the fourteenth _Bajex_; in
the sixteenth _Baieux_; and soon afterwards it settled info the present

Pursuing the history of Bayeux somewhat farther, we find this city in
the _Notitia Galileae_ holding the first rank among the towns of the
_Secunda Lugdunensis_. During the Merovingian and Carlovingian
dynasties, its importance is proved by the mint which was established
here. Golden coins, struck under the first race of French sovereigns,
inscribed _HBAJOCAS_, and silver pieces, coined by Charles the Bald,
with the legend _HBAJOCAS-CIVITAS_, are mentioned by Le Blanc. Bayeux
was also in those times, one of the head-quarters of the high
functionaries, entitled _Missi Dominici_, who were annually deputed by
the monarchy for the promulgation of their decrees and the
administration of justice. Two other cities only in Neustria, Rouen and
Lisieux, were distinguished with the same privilege.--Nor did Bayeux
suffer any diminution of its honors, under the Norman Dukes: they
regarded it as the second town of the duchy, and had a palace here, and
frequently made it the seat of their _Aula Regio_.

The destruction of the Roman Bayeux is commonly ascribed, like that of
the Roman Lisieux, to the Saxon invasion. No traces of the Viducassian
capital are to be found in history, subsequently to the reign of
Constantine; no medals, no inscriptions of a later period, have been dug
up within its precincts. During the earliest incursions of the Saxons
in Gaul, they seem to have made this immediate neighborhood the seat of
a permanent settlement. The Abbe Le Beuf places the district, known by
the name of the _Otlingua Saxonia_, between Bayeux and Isigny; and
Gregory of Tours, in his relation of the events that occurred towards
the close of the sixth century, makes repeated mention of the _Saxones
Bajocassini_, whom the early Norman historians style _Saisnes de
Bayeux_. Under the reign of Charlemagne, a fresh establishment of Saxons
took place here. That emperor, after the bloody defeat of this valiant
people, about the year 804, caused ten thousand men, with their wives
and children, to be delivered up to him as prisoners, and dispersed them
in different parts of France. Some of the captives were colonized in
Neustria; and, among the rest, Witikind, son of the brave chief of the
same name, who had fought so nobly in defence of the liberty of his
country, had lands assigned to him in the Bessin. Hence, names of Saxon
origin commonly occur throughout the diocese of Bayeux; sometimes alone
and undisguised, but more frequently in composition. Thus, in _Estelan_,
you will have little difficulty in recognizing _East-land: Cape la
Hogue_ will readily suggest the idea of a lofty promontory; its
appellation being derived from the German adjective, _hoch_, still
written _hoog_, in Flemish: the Saxon word for the Almighty enters into
the family names of _Argot_, _Turgot_, _Bagot_, _Bigot_, &c.; and, not
to multiply examples, the quaking sands upon the sea-shore are to the
present hour called _bougues_, an evident corruption of our own word

When, towards the middle of the same century, the Saxons were succeeded
by the Normans, the country about Bayeux was one of the districts that
suffered most from the new invaders. Two bishops of the see, Sulpitius
and Baltfridus, were murdered by the barbarians; and Bayeux itself was
pillaged and burned, notwithstanding the valiant resistance made by the
governor, Berenger. This nobleman, who was count of the Bessin, was
personally obnoxious to Rollo, for having refused him his daughter, the
beautiful Poppea, in marriage. But, on the capture of the town, Poppea
was taken prisoner, and compelled to share the conqueror's bed. Bayeux
arose from its ruins under the auspices of Botho, a Norman chieftain, to
whom Rollo was greatly attached, and who succeeded to the honors of
Berenger. By him the town was rebuilt, and filled with a Norman
population, the consequence of which was, according to Dudo of St.
Quintin, that William Longa-Spatha, the successor of Rollo, who hated
the French language, sent his son, Duke Richard, to be educated at
Bayeux, where Danish alone was spoken. And the example of the Duke
continued for some time to be imitated by his successors upon the
throne; so that Bayeux became the academy for the children of the royal
family, till they arrived at a sufficient age to be removed to the
metropolis, there to be instructed in the art of government.

The dignity of Count of the Bessin ceased in the reign of William the
Conqueror, in consequence of a rebellion on the part of the barons,
which had well nigh cost that sovereign his life. From that time, till
the conquest of Normandy by the French, the nobleman, who presided over
the Bessin, bore the title of the king's viscount; and, under this
name, you will find him the first cited among the four viscounts of
Lower Normandy, in the famous parliament of all the barons of this part
of the duchy, convened at Caen by Henry IInd, in 1152.--When Philip
Augustus gained possession of Normandy, all similar appointments were
re-modelled, and viscounts placed in every town; but their power was
restricted to the mere administration of justice, the rest of their
privileges being transferred to a new description of officers, who were
then created, with the name of bailiffs. The bailiwicks assigned to
these bore no reference to the ancient divisions of the duchy; but the
territorial partition made at that time, has ever since been preserved,
and Caen, which was honored by Philip with a preference over Bayeux,
continues to the present day to retain the pre-eminence.

After these troubles, Bayeux enjoyed a temporary tranquillity; and,
according to the celebrated historical tapestry and to the _Roman de
Rou_, this city was selected for the place at which William the
Conqueror, upon being nominated by Edward, as his successor to the crown
of England, caused Harold to attend, and to do homage to him in the name
of the nation. The oath was taken upon a missal covered with cloth of
gold, in the presence of the prelates and grandees of the duchy; and the
reliques of the saints were collected from all quarters to bear witness
to the ceremony. Bayeux was also the spot in which Henry Ist was
detained prisoner by his eldest brother, and it suffered for this
unfortunate distinction; for Henry had scarcely ascended the English
throne, when, upon a shallow pretext, he advanced against the city, laid
siege to it, and burned it to the ground; whether moved to this act of
vengeance from hatred towards the seat of his sufferings, or to satisfy
the foreigners in his pay, whom the length of the siege had much
irritated. He had promised these men the pillage of the city, and he
kept his word; but the soldiers were not content with the plunder: they
set fire to the town, and what had escaped their ravages, perished in
the flames.[84] In 1356, under the reign of Edward IIIrd, Bayeux
experienced nearly the same fate from our countrymen; and in the
following century it again suffered severely from their arms, till the
decisive battle of Formigny, fought within ten miles of the city,
compelled Henry VIth to withdraw from Normandy, carrying with him
scarcely any other trophies of his former conquests, than a great
collection of Norman charters, and, among the rest, those of Bayeux,
which are to this hour preserved in the tower of London.

During the subsequent wars occasioned by the reformation, this town bore
its share in the common sufferings of the north of France. The horrors
experienced by other places on the occasion were even surpassed by the
outrages that were committed at Bayeux; but it is impossible to enter
into details which are equally revolting to decency and to humanity.

Of late years, Bayeux has been altogether an open town. The old castle,
the last relic of its military character, a spacious fortress flanked by
ten square towers, was demolished in 1773; and, as the poet of Bayeux
has sung[85],--

"... Gaulois, Romains, Saxons,
Oppresseurs, opprimes, colliers, faisceaux, blasons,
Tout dort. Du vieux chateau la taciturne enceinte
Expire. Par degres j'ai vu sa gloire eteinte.
J'ai marche sur ses tours, erre dans ses fosses:
Tels qu'un songe bientot ils vont etre effaces."

And in truth, they are so effectually _effaced_, that not a single
vestige of the walls and towers can now be discovered.

Bayeux is situated in the midst of a fertile country, particularly rich
in pasturage. The Aure, which washes its walls, is a small and
insignificant streamlet, and though the city is within five miles of the
sea, yet the river is quite useless for the purposes of commerce, as not
a vessel can float in it. The present population of the town consists of
about ten thousand inhabitants, and these have little other employment
than lace-making.--Bayeux wears the appearance of decay: most of the
houses are ordinary; and, though some of them are built of stone, by far
the greater part are only of wood and plaster. In the midst, however, of
these, rises the noble cathedral; but this I shall reserve for the
subject of my next letter, concluding the present with a few remarks
upon that matchless relic, which,

"... des siecles respecte,
En peignant des heros honore la beaute."

The very curious piece of historical needle-work, now generally known by
the name of the _Bayeux tapestry_, was first brought into public notice
in the early part of the last century, by Father Montfaucon and M.
Lancelot, both of whom, in their respective publications, the _Monumens
de la Monarchie Francaise_[86], and a paper inserted in the _Memoires de
l'Academie des Inscriptions_[87], have figured and described this
celebrated specimen of ancient art. Montfaucon's plates were afterwards
republished by Ducarel[88], with the addition of a short dissertation
and explanation, by an able antiquary of our own country, Smart

These plates, however, in the original, and still more in the copies,
were miserably incorrect, and calculated not to inform, but to mislead
the inquirer. When therefore the late war was concluded and France
became again accessible to an Englishman, our Society of Antiquaries,
justly considering the tapestry as being at least equally connected with
English as with French history, and regarding it as a matter of national
importance, that so curious a document should be made known by the most
faithful representation, employed an artist, fitted above all others for
the purpose, by his knowledge of history and his abilities as a
draughtsman, to prepare an exact fac-simile of the whole. Under the
auspices of the Society, Mr. C.A. Stothard undertook the task; and he
has executed it in the course of two successive visits with the greatest
accuracy and skill. The engravings from his drawings we may hope shortly
to see: meanwhile, to give you some idea of the original, I
enclose a sketch, which has no other merit than that of being a faithful
transcript. It is reduced one half from a tracing made from the tapestry
itself. By referring to Montfaucon, you will find the figure it
represents under the fifty-ninth inscription in the original, where "a
knight, with a _private_ banner, issues to mount a led horse." His
beardless countenance denotes him a Norman; and the mail covering to his
legs equally proves him to be one of the most distinguished characters.

[Illustration: Figure from the Bayeux Tapestry]

Within the few last years this tapestry has been the subject of three
interesting papers, read before the Society of Antiquaries. The first
and most important, from the pen of the Abbe de la Rue[89], has for its
object the refutation of the opinions of Montfaucon and Lancelot, who,
following the commonly received tradition, refer the tapestry to the
time of the conquest, and represent it as the work of Queen Matilda and
her attendant damsels. The Abbe's principal arguments are derived from
the silence of contemporary authors, and especially of Wace, who was
himself a canon of Bayeux;--from its being unnoticed in any charters or
deeds of gift connected with the cathedral;--from the improbability that
so large a roll of such perishable materials would have escaped
destruction when the cathedral was burned in 1106;--from the unfinished
state of the story;--from its containing some Saxon names unknown to the
Normans;--and from representations taken from the fables of AEsop being
worked on the borders, whereas the northern parts of Europe were not
made acquainted with these fables, till the translation of a portion of
them by Henry Ist, who thence obtained his surname of
_Beauclerk_.--These and other considerations, have led the learned Abbe
to coincide in opinion with Lord Littleton and Mr. Hume, that the
tapestry is the production of the Empress Maud, and that it was in
reality wrought by natives of our own island, whose inhabitants were at
that time so famous for labors of this description, that the common mode
of expressing a piece of embroidery, was by calling it _an English

The Abbe shortly afterwards found an opponent in another member of the
society, Mr. Hudson Gurney, who, without following his predecessor
through the line of his arguments, contented himself with briefly
stating the three following reasons for ascribing the tapestry to
Matilda, wife to the Conqueror[90].--_First_, that in the many buildings
therein pourtrayed, there is not the least appearance of a pointed arch,
though much pointed work is found in the ornaments of the running
border; whilst, on the contrary, the features of Norman architecture,
the square buttress, flat to the walls, and the square tower surmounted
by, or rather ending in, a low pinnacle, are therein frequently
repeated.--_Secondly_, that all the knights are in ring armour, many of
their shields charged with a species of cross and five dots, and some
with dragons, but none with any thing of the nature of armorial
bearings, which, in a lower age, there would have been; and that all
wear a triangular sort of conical helmet, with a nasal, when represented
armed.--And, _Thirdly_, that the Norman banner is, invariably, _Argent_,
a Cross, _Or_, in a Bordure _Azure_; and that this is repeated over and
over again, as it is in the war against Conan, as well as at Pevensey
and at Hastings; but there is neither hint nor trace of the later
invention of the Norman leopards.--Mr. Gurney's arguments are ingenious,
but they are not, I fear, likely to be considered conclusive: he
however, has been particularly successful in another observation, that
all writers, who had previously treated of the Bayeux tapestry, had
called it a _Monument of the Conquest of England_; following, therein,
M. Lancelot, and speaking of it as an unfinished work, whereas, it is in
fact an _apologetical history of the claims of William to the crown of
England, and of the breach of faith and fall of Harold_, in a perfect
and finished action.--With this explanation before us, aided by the
short indication that is given of the subjects of the seventy-two
compartments of the tapestry, a new light is thrown upon the story.

The third memoir is from the pen of Mr. Amyot, and concludes with an
able metrical translation from Wace. It is confined almost exclusively
to the discussion of the single historical fact, how far Harold was
really sent by the Confessor to offer the succession to William; but
this point, however interesting, in itself, is unconnected with my
present object: it is sufficient for me to shew you the various sources
from which you may derive information upon the subject.

Supposing the Bayeux tapestry to be really from the hands of the Queen,
or the Empress, (and that it was so appears to me proved by internal
evidence,) it is rather extraordinary that the earliest notice which is
to be found of a piece of workmanship, so interesting from its author
and its subjects, should be contained in an inventory of the precious
effects deposited in the treasury of the church, dated 1476. It is also
remarkable that this inventory, in mentioning such an article, should
call it simply _a very long piece of cloth, embroidered with figures and
writing, representing the conquest of England_, without any reference to
the royal artist or the donor.

Observations of this nature will suggest themselves to every one, and
the arguments urged by the Abbe de la Rue are very strong; and yet I
confess that my own feelings always inclined to the side of those who
assign the highest antiquity to the tapestry. I think so the more since
I have seen it. No one appears so likely to have undertaken such a task
as the female most nearly connected with the principal personage
concerned in it, and especially if we consider what the character of
this female was: the details which it contains are so minute, that they
could scarcely have been known, except at the time when they took place:
the letters agree in form with those upon Matilda's tomb; and the
manners and customs of the age are also preserved.--Mr. Stothard, who is
of the same opinion as to the date of the tapestry, very justly
observes, that the last of these circumstances can scarcely be
sufficiently insisted upon; for that "it was the invariable practice
with artists in every country, excepting Italy, during the middle ages,
whatever subject they took in hand, to represent it according to the
costume of their own times."

Till the revolution, the tapestry was always kept in the cathedral, in a
chapel on the south side, dedicated to Thomas a Becket, and was only
exposed to public view once a year, during the octave of the feast of
St. John on which occasion it was hung up in the nave of the church,
which it completely surrounded. From the time thus selected for the
display of it, the tapestry acquired the name of _le toile de Saint
Jean_; and it is to the present day commonly so called in the city.
During the most stormy part of the revolution, it was secreted; but it
was brought to Paris when the fury of vandalism had subsided. And, when
the first Consul was preparing for the invasion of England, this ancient
trophy of the subjugation of the British nation was proudly exhibited to
the gaze of the Parisians, who saw another _Conqueror_ in Napoleon
Bonaparte; and many well-sounding effusions, in prose and verse,
appeared, in which the laurels of Duke William were transferred, by
anticipation, to the brows of the child and champion of jacobinism.
After this display, Bonaparte returned the tapestry to the municipality,
accompanied by a letter, in which he thanked them for the care they had
taken of so precious a relic. From that period to the present, it has
remained in the residence appropriated to the mayor, the former
episcopal palace; and here we saw it.

It is a piece of brownish linen cloth, about two hundred and twelve feet
long, and eighteen inches wide, French measure. The figures are worked
with worsted of different colors, but principally light red, blue, and
yellow. The historical series is included between borders composed of
animals, &c. The colors are faded, but not so much so as might have been
expected. The figures exhibit a regular line of events, commencing with
Edward the Confessor seated upon his throne, in the act of dispatching
Harold to the court of the Norman Duke, and continued through Harold's
journey, his capture by the Comte de Ponthieu, his interview with
William, the death of Edward, the usurpation of the British throne by
Harold, the Norman invasion, the battle of Hastings, and Harold's death.
These various events are distributed into seventy-two compartments, each
of them designated by an inscription in Latin. Ducarel justly compares
the style of the execution to that of a girl's sampler. The figures are
covered with work, except on their faces, which are merely in outline.
In point of drawing, they are superior to the contemporary sculpture at
St. Georges and elsewhere; and the performance is not deficient in
energy. The colors are distributed rather fancifully: thus the fore and
off legs of the horses are varied. It is hardly necessary to observe
that perspective is wholly disregarded, and that no attempt is made to
express light and shadow.

Great attention, however, is paid to costume; and more individuality of
character has been preserved than could have been expected, considering
the rude style of the workmanship. The Saxons are represented with long
mustachios: the Normans have their upper lip shaven, and retain little
more hair upon their heads than a single lock in front.--Historians
relate how the English spies reported the invading army to be wholly
composed of ecclesiastics; and this tapestry affords a graphical
illustration of the chroniclers' text. Not the least remarkable feature
of the tapestry, in point of costume, lies in the armor, which, in some
instances, is formed of interlaced rings; in others, of square
compartments; and in others, of lozenges. Those who contend for the
antiquity of Duke William's equestrian statue at Caen, may find a
confirmation of their opinions in the shape of the saddles assigned to
the figures of the Bayeux tapestry; and equally so in their cloaks, and
their pendant braided tresses.

The tapestry is coiled round a cylinder, which is turned by a winch and
wheel; and it is rolled and unrolled with so little attention, that if
it continues under such management as the present, it will be wholly
ruined in the course of half a century. It is injured at the beginning:
towards the end it becomes very ragged, and several of the figures have
completely disappeared. The worsted is unravelling too in many of the
intermediate portions. As yet, however, it is still in good
preservation, considering its great age, though, as I have just
observed, it will not long continue so. The bishop and chapter have
lately applied to government, requesting that the tapestry may be
restored to the church. I hope their application will be successful.

* * * * *


[Footnote 82: The most interesting relic of Roman times yet found at
Vieux, is a cippus of variegated marble, about five feet high by two
feet wide, and bearing inscriptions upon three of its sides. It
generally passes in France by the name of the _Torigny marble_, being
preserved at the small town of the latter name, whither it was carried
in 1580, the very year when it was dug up. The Abbe Le Beuf has made it
the subject of a distinct paper in the _Memoires de l'Academie des
Inscriptions_. This cippus supported a statue raised in honor of Titus
Sennius Sollemnis, a Viducassian by birth, and one of the high priests
of the town. The statue was erected to him after his death, in the
Viducassian capital, upon a piece of ground granted by the senate for
the purpose, in pursuance of a general decree passed by the province of
Gaul. The inscriptions set forth the motives that induced the nation to
bestow so marked a distinction upon a simple individual; and, in the
foremost rank of his merits, they place the games which he had given to
his fellow-citizens, during four successive days.]

[Footnote 83: _Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions_, XXI. p. 489.]

[Footnote 84: _Archaeologia_, XVII. p. 911.]

[Footnote 85: _Bayeux et ses Environs, par M. Delauney_, p. 12.]

[Footnote 86: I. p. 371-379; pl. 35-49, and II. p. 1-29; pl. 1-9.]

[Footnote 87: VI. p. 739, and VIII. p. 602.]

[Footnote 88: _Anglo-Norman Antiquities_, Appendix, No. 1.]

[Footnote 89: _Archaeologia_, XVII. p. 85.]

[Footnote 90: _Archaeologia_, XVIII. p. 359.]

[Illustration: Sculpture at Bayeux]



(_Bayeux, August_, 1818.)

Excepting the tapestry and the cathedral, Bayeux, at this time, offers
no objects of interest to the curious traveller. Its convents are either
demolished, or so dilapidated or altered, that they have lost their
characteristic features; and its eighteen parish churches are now
reduced to four. We wandered awhile about the town, vainly looking after
some relic of ancient art, to send you by way of a memento of Bayeux. At
length, two presented themselves--the entrance of the corn-market,
formerly the chapel of St. Margaret, a Norman arch, remarkable for the
lamb and banner, an emblem of the saint, sculptured on the transom
stone; and a small stone tablet, attached to an old house near the
cathedral. The whimsical singularity of the latter, induced us to give
it the preference. It may possibly be of the workmanship of the
fourteenth century, and possibly much later. In all probability, it owes
its existence merely to a caprice on the part of the owner of the
residence, whose crest may be indicated by the tortoises which surmount
the columns by way of capitals. Still there is merit in the performance,
though perhaps for nothing so much as for the accurate resemblance of
peeled wood; and this I never saw imitated with equal fidelity in stone.

But, however unattractive Bayeux may be in other respects, so long as
the cathedral is suffered to stand, the city will never want interest.
It is supposed that the first church erected here was built by St.
Exuperius otherwise called St. Suspirius, or St. Spirius, who, according
to the distich subjoined to his portrait, formerly painted on one of the
windows of the nave, was not only the earliest bishop of the diocese,
but claimed the merit of having introduced the Christian faith into

"Primitus hic pastor templi fuit hujus et auctor,
Catholicamque fidem Normannis attulit idem."

St. Exuperius lived in the third century, and his efforts towards the
propagation of the gospel were attended with so great success, that his
successor, St. Regnobert, was obliged to take down the edifice thus
recently raised, and to re-construct it on a more enlarged scale, for
the purpose of accommodating the increasing congregation. Regnobert is
likewise reported to have built the celebrated chapel on the sea-coast,
dedicated to our Lady de la Delivrande; and the people believe that a
portion at least, of both the one and the other of these original
edifices, exists to the present day. The Abbe Beziers, however, in his
_History of Bayeux_, maintains, and with truth, that St. Regnobert's
cathedral was destroyed by the Normans; and he adds that, immediately
after the conversion of Rollo, another was raised in its stead on the
same spot, and that this latter was one of those which the chieftain
most enriched by his endowments at the period of his baptism.

A dreadful fire, in the year 1046, reduced the Norman cathedral to
ashes; but the episcopal throne was then filled by a prelate who wanted
neither disposition nor abilities to repair the damage. Hugh, the third
bishop of that name, son to Ralph, Count of the Bessin, who, by the
mother's side, was brother to Duke Richard Ist, presided at that time
over the see of Bayeux. Jealous for the honor of his diocese, the
prelate instantly applied himself to rebuild the cathedral; but he lived
to see only a small progress made in his work. It was finished by a
prelate of still greater, though evil celebrity, the unruly Odo, brother
to the Conqueror, who, for more than fifty years, continued bishop of
this see, and by his unbounded liberality and munificence in the
discharge of his high office, proved himself worthy of his princely
descent. The Conqueror and his queen, attended by their sons, Robert and
William, and by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as by
the various bishops and barons of the province, were present at the
dedication of the church, which was performed in 1077, by John,
Archbishop of Rouen. Odo, on the occasion, enriched his church with
various gifts, one of which has been particularly recorded. It was a
crown of wood and copper, sixteen feet high and thirty-eight feet in
diameter, covered with silver plates, and diversified with other crowns
in the shape of towers; the whole made to support an immense number of
tapers, that were lighted on high festivals. This crown was suspended in
the nave, opposite the great crucifix; and it continued to hang there
till it was destroyed by the Huguenots, in 1562.

It is doubtful how much, or indeed if any portion, of the church erected
by Odo be now in existence. Thirty years had scarcely elapsed from the
date of its dedication, when, as I have already mentioned to you, the
troops of Henry Ist destroyed Bayeux with fire. The ruin was so
complete, that for more than fifty years, no attempt was made to
re-construct the cathedral; but it remained in ashes until the year
1157, when bishop, Philip of Harcourt, determined to restore it. A
question has arisen whether the oldest part of what is now standing, be
the work of Philip or of Odo. The lapse of eighty years in those early
times, would perhaps occasion no very sensible difference in style; and
chroniclers do not afford the means of determining, if, at the time when
Bayeux suffered so dreadfully in 1106, the church was actually burned to
the ground, or only materially damaged. In the _History of the Diocese_
we are merely told that Philip, having, by means of papal bulls, happily
succeeded in regaining possession of all the privileges, honors, and
property of the see, began to rebuild his cathedral in 1159, and
completed it with great glory and expence.--From that time forward, we
hear no more of demolition or of re-edification; but the injuries done by
the silent lapse of ages, and the continued desire on the part of the
prelates to beautify and to enlarge their church, have produced nearly
the same effect as fire or warfare. The building, as it now stands, is a
medley of various ages; and, in the absence of historical record, it
would be extremely difficult to define the several portions that are to
be assigned to each.

The west front is flanked by two Norman towers, bold and massy, with
semi-circular arches in the highest stories. The spires likewise appear
ancient, though these and the surrounding pinnacles are all gothic. The
northern one, according to tradition, was built with the church; the
southern, in 1424. They both greatly resemble those of the abbey-church
of St. Stephen at Caen. But the whole centre of this front, and indeed
both the sides also, as high as the roof, is faced by a screen divided
into five compartments. In the middle is a large, wide, pointed arch,
with a square-headed entrance beneath. North and south of this are deep
arches, evidently older, but likewise pointed, having their sides above
the pillars, and the flat arched part of the door-way, filled with small
figures. The door-ways themselves are arches that occupy only one half
of the width of those which enclose them. In the two exterior
compartments the arches are unpierced, and are flanked by a profusion of
clustered pillars. Over each of the four lateral arches, rises a
crocketed pyramid: the central one is surmounted by a flat balustrade,
above which, behind the screen, is a large pointed window, and over it a
row of saints, standing under trefoil-headed arches, arranged in pairs,
the pediment terminating above each pair of arches in a pyramidal

The outside of the nave is of florid gothic, but it is not of a pure
style; nor is the southern portal, which, nevertheless, considered as a
whole, is bold and appropriate. On each side of the door-way were
originally three statues, whose tabernacles remain, though the saints
have been torn out of the niches. Over the door is a bas-relief,
containing numerous figures disposed in three compartments, and
representing some legendary tale, which our knowledge of that kind of
lore would not enable us to decipher.--The exterior of the choir is
likewise of pointed architecture: it is considerably more simple, and
excels, in this respect, the rest of the church. But even here there is
a great want of uniformity: some of the windows are deeply imbedded in
the walls; others are nearly on a level with their surface.--The cupola,
which caps the low central tower, is wretchedly at variance with the
other parts of the building. It was erected in the year 1714, at the
expence of the bishop, Francis de Nesmond; and it is, as might be
expected from a performance of that period, rather Grecian than gothic.
Whichever style it may be termed, it is a bad specimen of either. And
yet, such as it is, we are assured by Beziers, that it was built after
the designs of a celebrated architect of the name of Moussard, and that
it excited particular attention, and called forth loud praises, on the
part of the Marechal de Vauban, who was, probably, a better judge of a
modern fortification, than of a gothic cathedral.

The interior of the church consists of a wide nave, with side-aisles,
and chapels beyond them. The first six piers of the nave are very massy,
and faced with semi-circular pillars supporting an entablature. The
arches above them are Norman, encircled with rich bands, composed
chiefly of the chevron moulding and diamonds. On one of them is a
curious border of heads, as upon the celebrated door-way at Oxford; but
the heads at Bayeux are of much more regular workmanship and more
distinctly defined. Had circumstances allowed, I would have sent you an
accurate drawing of them; but our time did not permit such a one to be
made, and I must beg of you to be contented with the annexed slight

[Illustration: Border of heads]

The wall above the arches is incrusted with a species of tessellated
work of free-stone, of varied patterns, some interwoven, others
reticulated, as seen in the sketches: the lines indented in the stones,
as well as the joints which form the patterns, are filled with a black
cement or mastich, so as to form a kind of _niello_.

[Illustration: Tessellated work of free stone]

With the sixth arch of the nave begins the pointed style. The capitals
of the pillars are complicated, and the carving upon them is an evident
attempt at an imitation of the Grecian orders. In this part of the
church there is no triforium; but a row of small quartrefoils runs
immediately above the ornaments of the spandrils; and above the
quatrefoils is a cornice of an antique pattern, which is surmounted by a
light gallery in front of the windows of the clerestory, the largest
windows I remember to have seen in a similar situation. They extend
almost from the roof to the line of the old Norman basement. Their
magnitude is rendered still more remarkable by their being arranged in
pairs, each separate pair inclosed within a pointed arch, and its
windows parted only by a clustered pillar. The very lofty arches that
support the central tower, are likewise pointed; as are those of the
transepts, the choir, the side-aisles, and the chapels. In short,
excepting the arches immediately beneath the northern and southern
towers, which are most probably relics of Odo's cathedral, the part of
the nave, which I first described, is all that is left above-ground of
the semi-circular style; and this is of a very different character from
whatever else I have seen of Norman architecture. The circular ornaments
inserted in the spandrils of the arches of the choir, possess, as a
friend of mine observes, somewhat of the Moorish, or, perhaps, Tartarian
character; being nearly in the style of the ornaments which are found in
the same situation in the Mogul mosques and tombs, though here they have
much more flow and harmony in the curves. Some are merely in bas-relief:
in others the central circles are deeply perforated, whilst the ribs are
composed of delicate tracery.--There are so many peculiarities both in
the arrangement and in the details of this cathedral[91], that it is
quite impossible to convey an adequate idea of them by a verbal
description; and I can only hope that they will be hereafter made
familiar to the English antiquarian by the pencil of Mr. Cotman or Mr.

[Illustration: Ornaments in the Spandrils of the Arches in Bayeux

The screen that separates the nave from the choir is Grecian, and is as
much at variance with the inside of such a church, as the cupola, which
is nearly over it, is with the exterior.--Upon the roof of the choir,
are still to be seen the portraits of the first twenty-one bishops of
Bayeux, each with his name inscribed by his side. The execution of the
portraits is very rude, particularly that of the twelve earliest, whose
busts are represented. The artist has contented himself with exhibiting
the heads only, of the remaining nine. Common tradition refers the whole
of these portraits to the time of Odo; but it is hardly necessary to
observe, that the groined and pointed vaulting is subsequent to his
date.--Bayeux cathedral abounded in works of this description of art:
the walls of the chapels of the choir were covered with large
fresco-paintings, now nearly obliterated.--It is believed, and with
every appearance of probability, that the Lady-Chapel was erected at a
time posterior to the rest of the building; but there is no certain
account of its date. Before the revolution, it served as a burial-place
for some of the bishops of the see, and for a duke of the noble family
of Montemart. Their tombs ornamented the chapel, which now appears
desolate and naked, retaining no other of its original decorations, than
a series of small paintings, which represent the life of the Holy
Virgin, and are deserving of some attention from the character of
expression in the faces, though the drawing in general is bad. Over the
altar is a picture, in which an angel is pointing out our Savior and the
Virgin to a dying man, whose countenance is admirable.--The stalls of
the choir display a profusion of beautiful oak carving; and beneath them
are sculptured _misereres_, the first which we have observed in
Normandy.--Very little painted glass is to be found in any part of the
church; but the glazing of the windows is composed of complicated
patterns. This species of ornament was introduced about the time of
Louis XIVth; and Felibien, who has given several pattern plates in his
treatise on architecture, observes, that it was intended to supply the
place of painted glass, which, as it was then thought, excluded the

Beneath the choir is a subterraneous chapel dedicated to St. Maimertus,
otherwise called St. Manvieu. Its character is so similar to that of the
crypt at the abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen, that there would be
little risk in pronouncing it to be part of Odo's church. It is
supported on twelve pillars, disposed in two rows, the last pillar of
each row being imbedded in the wall. The capitals of the pillars are
carved, each with a different design from the rest. Their sculpture
bears a strong resemblance to some of what is seen in similar situations
in the Egyptian temples; indeed, so strong, that a very able judge tells
me he has been led to suspect that the model might have been introduced
by an anchorite from the desert. Take the following as a specimen.

[Illustration: Capital of pillar]

The walls of the crypt are covered with paintings, probably of the
fifteenth century; but those upon the springing of the arches above the
pillars, appear considerably older. Each spandril contains an angel,
holding a trumpet or other musical instrument. The outlines of these
figures are strongly drawn in black.--Upon the right-hand side, on
entering the chapel, is the altar-tomb of John de Boissy, who was bishop
at the beginning of the fifteenth century; and, on the opposite side,
stands that of his immediate predecessor, Nicolas de Bosc. Their
monuments were originally ornamented with bas-reliefs and paintings, all
which were mutilated and effaced during the religious wars. De Boissy's
effigy, however, remains, though greatly injured; and the following
epitaph to his memory is preserved in a perfect state, over the only
window that gives light to this crypt. The inscription is curious, as
recording the discovery of the chapel, which had been forgotten and
unknown for centuries.

"En l'an mil quatre cens et douze
Tiers jour d'Avril que pluye arrouse
Les biens de la terre, la journee
Que la Pasques fut celebree
Noble homme et reverend pere
Jehan de Boissy, de la mere
Eglise de Bayeux Pasteur
Rendi l'ame a Son Createur
Et lors en foillant la place
Devant le grant autel de grace
Trova l'on la basse chapelle
Dont il n'avoit este nouvelle
Ou il est mis en sepulture
Dieu veuille avoir son ame en cure,--Amen."

This inscription is engraved as prose: verse is very frequently written
in this manner in ancient manuscripts, which custom, as Joseph Ritson
conjectured, arose "from a desire of promoting the salvation of
parchment." I must also add, that the initial letters are colored red
and blue, so that the whole bears a near resemblance to a manuscript

There is another epitaph, engraved in large letters, upon the exterior
of the southern tower, which is an odd specimen of the spirit of the
middle ages. It is supposed to have been placed there in the twelfth

"Quarta dies Pasche fuerat cum Clerus ad hujus
Que jacet hic vetule venimus exequias:
Letitieque diem magis amisisse dolemus
Quam centum tales si caderent vetule."

Some authors contend, that the old lady alluded to was the mistress of
one of the Dukes of Normandy: others believe her to have been the _chere
amie_ of Robert, Earl of Gloucester, illegitimate son to Henry Ist.

Till lately, there was an epitaph within the church, which, without
containing in itself any thing remarkable, strange, or mysterious, had a
legend connected: with it, that supplied the verger with an
inexhaustible fund of entertainment for the curious and the credulous.
The epitaph simply commemorated John Patye, canon of the prebend of
Cambremer, who died in 1540; but upon the same plate of copper with the
inscription, was also engraved the Virgin, with John Patye at her feet,
kneeling, and apparently in the act of reading from a book placed on a
fald-stool. Behind the priest stood St. John the Baptist, the patron
saint of the prebend, having one hand upon his votary's neck, while with
the other he pointed to a lamb.--In all this, there was still nothing
remarkable: unfortunately, however, the artist, wishing perhaps to add
importance to the saint, had represented him of gigantic stature; and
hence originated the story, which continues to the present day, to
frighten the old women, and to amuse the children of Bayeux.--

Once upon a time, the wicked canons of the cathedral murdered their
bishop; in consequence of which foul deed, they and their successors
for ever, were enjoined, by way of penance, annually to send one of
their number to Rome, there to chaunt the epistle at the midnight
mass. In the course of revolving centuries, this vexatious duty fell
to the turn of the canon of Cambremer, who, to the surprise of the
community, testified neither anxiety nor haste on the
occasion.--Christmas-eve arrived, and the canon was still in his
cell: Christmas-night came, and still he did not stir. At length,
when the mass was actually begun, his brethren, more uneasy than
himself, reproached him with his delay; upon which he muttered his
spell, called up a spirit, mounted him, reached Rome in the twinkling
of an eye, performed his task, and, the service being ended, he
stormed the archives of the Vatican, where he burned the compulsory
act, and then returned by the same conveyance to Bayeux, which he
reached before the mass was completed, and, to the unspeakable joy of
the chapter, announced the happy tidings of their deliverance.

So idle and unmeaning is the tale, that I should scarcely have thought
it worth while to have repeated it, but for the Latin distich, which, as
the story goes, was extemporized by the demon, at the moment when they
were flying over the Tuscan sea, and by which he sought to mislead his
rider, and to cause him to end his journey beneath the deep.--The sense
of the verses is not very perspicuous, but they are remarkable for
reading forwards and backwards the same; and though to you they may
appear a childish waste of intellect, you will, I am sure, admit them to
be ingenious, and they may amuse some of the younger members of your

"Signa te, signa, temere me tangis et angis;
Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor."--

I must dismiss the canon of Cambremer, by stating, that I am informed by
a friend, that the same story is also found in the lives of sundry other
wizards and sorcerers of the good old times.

Bayeux cathedral, like the other Neustrian churches, has been deprived
of its sainted relics, and its most precious treasures, in consequence
of the successive spoliations which have been inflicted upon it by
heathen Normans, heretical Calvinists, and philosophical jacobins. The
body of St. Exuperius was carried, in the ninth century, for safety to
Corbeil, and the chapter have never been able to recover it: that of St.
Regnobert was in after times stolen by the Huguenots. Many are the
attempts that have been made to regain the relics of the first bishop of
the see; but the town of Corbeil retained possession, whilst the
Bajocessians attempted to console themselves by antithetical
piety.--"Referamus Deo gratias, nec inde aliquid nos minus habere
credamus, quod Corbeliensis civitas pignus sacri corporis vindicavit.
Teneant illi tabernaculum beatae animae in cineribus suis; nos ipsam
teneamus animam in virtutibus suis: teneant illi ossa, nos merita: apud
illos videatur remansisse quod terrae est, nos studeamus habere quod
coeli est: amplectantur illi quod sepulchre, nos quod Paradiso
continetur. Meminerit et beatior ille vir, utrique quidem loco, sed huic
speciali se jure deberi."--St. Regnobert's _chasuble_ is however, left
to the church, together with his maniple and his stole, all of them
articles of costly and elaborate workmanship. They were found in his
coffin, when it was opened by the Calvinists; and they are now worn by
the bishop, on the anniversary of the saint, as well as on five other
high festivals, during the year; at which times, the faithful press with
great devotion to kiss them. When not in use, they are kept in an ivory
chest, magnificently embossed with solid silver, and bearing an
inscription in the Cufic character, purporting that whatever honor men
may have given to God, they cannot honor him so much as He deserves.
Father Tournemine, the Jesuit, is of opinion, that this box was taken by
the French troops, under Charles Martel, in their pillage of the Saracen
camp, at the time of the memorable defeat of the infidels; and that it
was afterwards presented to Charles the Bald, whose queen, Hermentrude,
devoted it to the pious purpose of holding the relics of Regnobert, in
gratitude for a cure which the monarch had received through the
intercession of the saint. But this is merely a conjecture, and it is
not improbable but that the chest may have been brought from Sicily,
which abounded with Arabic artificers, at the time when it was occupied
by the Normans.

St. Regnobert, who was one of the most illustrious bishops of Bayeux, is
placed second on the list, in the _History of the Diocese_; but in the
_Gallia Christiana_ he stands twelfth in order. It was customary before
the revolution, and it possibly may be so at present, for the
inhabitants of the city, upon the twenty-fourth of October, the
anniversary of his feast, to bring their domestic animals in solemn
procession to the church, there to receive the episcopal benediction, in
the same manner as is practised by the Romans with their horses, on the
feast of St. Anthony.--St. Lupus, the fourth bishop, and St. Lascivus,
the tenth, are remarkable for their names. St. Lupus is said to have
been so called from his having destroyed the wolves in the vicinity of
Bayeux[92]; and the other is reported to have been descended from the
same person, whom Ausonius addresses in the following stanza, which has
likewise been applied to this bishop.

"Iste _Lascivus_ patiens vocari,
Nomen indignum probitate vitae
Abnuit nunquam; quia gratum ad aures
Esset amicas."--

But neither among her ancient nor her modern prelates can Bayeux boast
of a name equally distinguished as that of Odo. Many were unquestionably
the misdeeds of this great man, and many were probably his crimes, but
no one who wore the episcopal mitre, ever deserved better of the see. As
a statesman, Odo bore a leading part in all the principal transactions of
the times: as a soldier, he accompanied the Conqueror to England,
fought by his side at Hastings, and by his eloquence and his valor,
contributed greatly to the success of that memorable day. Nor was
William tardy in acknowledging the merits of his brother; for no sooner
did he find himself seated firmly on the throne, than he rewarded Odo
with the earldom of Kent, and appointed him his viceroy in England,
whilst he himself crossed the channel, to superintend his affairs in
Normandy. But the mind which was proof against difficulties, yielded, as
too commonly happens, to prosperity. Nothing less than the papacy could
satisfy the ambition of Odo: he abused the power with which he was
invested in a flagrant manner; and William, finally, disgusted with his
proceedings, arrested him with his own hand, and committed him prisoner
to the old palace at Rouen, where he continued till the death of the
monarch.--The sequel of the story is of the same complexion: more plots,
attended now with success, and now with disgrace; till at length the
prelate resolved to expiate his sins by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land,
and died on his journey, at Palermo.--Such was Odo in his secular
character: as a churchman, historians unanimously agree that he was most
zealous for the honor of his diocese, indefatigable in re-building the
churches which time or war had destroyed, liberal in endowments,
munificent in presents, and ever anxiously intent upon procuring a
supply of able ministers, establishing regular discipline, and reforming
the morals of the flock committed to his charge.

The Bishop of Bayeux has at all times claimed the distinction of being
regarded the first among the suffragan bishops of the Norman church. In
the absence of the archbishop, he presides at, the ecclesiastical
assemblies and councils. His revenue, before the revolution, was
estimated at one hundred thousand livres: per annum. The see, in point
of antiquity, even contests for the priority with Rouen. From time
immemorial, the chapter has enjoyed the right of mintage; and they
appear to have used it till the year 1577, at which time their coin was
so much counterfeited, that they were induced to recal it by public
proclamation. Their money, which was of the size of a piece of two sous,
was stamped, on one side, with a two-headed eagle, and the legend
_moneta capituli_; and on the obverse, with the letter V, surrounded by
the word _Bajocensis_. The eagle was probably adopted, in allusion to
the arms of the see, which were, _gules_; an eagle displayed with two
heads, _or_[93].--Another privilege of the chapter was, that no person
of illegitimate birth could be allowed to hold place in it, under any
pretext or dispensation whatever.--Among their peculiar customs, they
imitated that of the see of Rouen, in the annual election of a
boy-bishop upon Innocents'-day; a practice prevalent in many churches in
Spain and Germany, and notoriously in England at Salisbury. The
young chorister took the crozier in his hands, during the first vespers,
at the verse in the _Magnificat_, "He has put down the mighty from their
seats, and has exalted the humble and meek;" and he resigned his dignity
at the same verse in the second vespers.--The ceremony was abolished in

* * * * *


[Footnote 91: The following are the dimensions of the church, in French
measure, according to Beziers.

Height of the central tower 224
Ditto of the two western ditto 230
Length of the interior of the church 296
Width of ditto 76
Height of ditto 76
Length of the nave 140
Width of ditto 38
Ditto of side-aisles 17
Ditto of chapels 15
Length of the transepts 113
Width of ditto 33
Length of the choir 118
Width of ditto 36


[Footnote 92: A new St. Lupus is now wanted for the see; for wolves are
by no means extinct in the neighborhood of Bayeux. We saw a tame one,
kept near the cathedral, which had been taken in the woods, about a year
ago, when it was quite young. Wild boars are likewise found in
considerable numbers, and the breed is encouraged for the purposes of

[Footnote 93: In its origin, the _Baiocco_ of Naples seems to have been
the two-penny piece of Bayeux, its denomination being abbreviated from
the last word in the legend. It has been supposed that the coin was
struck and named by lusty Joan, as a token of her affection towards a
Frisick warrier, who, in his own country, was called the _Boynke_, or
the Squire; but we think that our etymology is the most natural one.]


(_Falaise, August_, 1818.)

Previously to quitting Bayeux, we paid our respects to M. Pluquet, a
diligent antiquary, who has been for some time past engaged in writing a
history of the city. His collections for this purpose are extensive, and
the number of curious books which he possesses is very considerable.
Amongst those which he shewed to us, the works relating to Normandy
constituted an important portion. His manuscript missals are numerous
and valuable. I was also much pleased by the inspection of an old copy
of Aristophanes, which had formerly belonged to Rabelais, and bore upon
its title-page the mark of his ownership, in the hand-writing of the
witty, though profligate, satirist himself. M. Pluquet's kindness
allowed me to make the tracing of the signature, which I send you.--

[Illustration: Rabelais hand-writing]

Such an addition as we here find to Rabelais' name, denoting that the
owner of a book considered it as being the property of his friends
conjointly with himself, is not of uncommon occurrence. Our friend, Mr.
Dibdin, who had been here shortly before us, and had carried off, as we
were told, some works of great rarity from this collection, has
enumerated more than one instance of the kind in his _Bibliographical
Decameron_; and the valuable library of my excellent friend, Mr.
Sparrow, of Worlingham, contains an Erasmus, which was the property of
Sir Thomas Wotton, and bears, stamped upon its covers, _Thomae Wotton et

From Bayeux we returned to Caen, by way of Creully, passing along bad
roads, through an open, uninteresting country, almost wholly cropped
with buck-wheat.--The barony of Creully was erected by Henry Ist, in
favor of his natural son, the Earl of Gloucester: it was afterwards held
by different noble families, and continued to be so till the time of the
revolution. At that period, it gave a title to a branch of the line of
Montmorenci, whose emigration caused the domain to be confiscated, and
sold as national property; but the baronial castle is still standing,
and displays, in two of its towers and in a chimney of unusual form, a
portion of its ancient character: the rest of the building is modernized
into a spruce, comfortable residence, and is at this time occupied by a
countryman of our own, General Hodgson.

The church at Creully is one of the most curious we have seen. The nave,
side-aisles, and choir, are all purely Norman, except at the
extremities. The piers are very massy; the arches wide and low; the
capitals covered with rude, but most remarkable sculpture, which is
varied on every pillar. Round the arches of the nave runs a band of the
chevron ornament; and over them is a row of lancet windows, devoid of
ornament, and sunk in a wall of extraordinary thickness. Externally, all
is modernized.

The view of Caen, on entering from this direction, is still more
advantageous than that on the approach from Lisieux. Time would not
allow of our making any stop at the town on our return: we therefore
proceeded immediately to Falaise, passing again through an open and
monotonous country, which, thoughtfully cultivated, has a most dreary
aspect from the scantiness of its population. We saw, indeed, as we went
along, distant villages, thinly scattered, in the landscape, but no
other traces of habitations; and we proceeded upwards of five leagues on
our way, before we arrived at a single house by the road-side.

[Illustration: Castle of Falaise]

Falaise appeared but the more beautiful, from the impression which the
desolate scenery of the previous country had left upon our minds. The
contrast was almost equally pleasing and equally striking, as when, in
travelling through Derbyshire, after having passed a tract of dreary
moors, that seems to lengthen as you go, you suddenly descend into the
lovely vallies of Matlock or of Dovedale. Not that the vale of Falaise
may compete with those of Derbyshire, for picturesque beauty or bold
romantic character; but it has features exclusively its own; and its
deficiency in natural advantages is in some measure compensated, by the
accessories bestowed by art. The valley is fertile and well wooded: the
town itself, embosomed within rows of lofty elms, stretches along the
top of a steep rocky ridge, which rises abrupt from the vale below,
presenting an extensive line of buildings, mixed with trees, flanked
towards the east by the venerable remains of the castle of the Norman
Dukes, and at the opposite extremity, by the church of the suburb of
Guibray, planted upon an eminence. Near the centre stands the principal
church of Falaise, that of St. Gervais; and in front of the whole
extends the long line of the town walls, varied with towers, and
approached by a mound across the valley, which, as at Edinburgh, holds
the place of a bridge.

The name _Falaise_, denotes the position of the town: it is said to be a
word of Celtic origin; but I should rather suppose it to be derived from
the Saxon, and to be a modification of the German word, _fels_, a rock,
in which conjecture I find I am borne out by Adelung: _falesia_, in
modern Latinity, and _falaise_, in French, signify a rocky shore. Hence,
Brito, at the commencement of his relation of the siege by Philip
Augustus, says,

"Vicus erat scabra circumdatus undique rupe,
Ipsius asperitate loci Falaesa vocatus,
Normannae in medio regionis, cujus in alta
Turres rupe sedent et mA"nia; sic ut ad illam
Jactus nemo putet aliquos contingere posse."--

The dungeon of Falaise, one of the proudest relics of Norman antiquity,
is situated on a very bold and lofty rock, broken into fantastic and
singular masses, and covered with luxuriant vegetation. The keep which
towers above it is of excellent masonry: the stones are accurately
squared, and put together with great neatness, and the joints are small;
and the arches are turned clearly and distinctly, with the key-stone or
wedge accurately placed in all of them. Some parts of the wall, towards
the interior ballium, are not built of squared free-stone; but of the
dark stone of the country, disposed in a zigzag, or as it is more
commonly called, in a herring-bone direction, with a great deal of
mortar in the interstices: the buttresses, or rather piers, are of small
projection, but great width. The upper story, destroyed about forty
years since, was of a different style of architecture. According to an
old print, it terminated with a large battlement, and bartizan towers at
the angles. This dungeon was formerly divided into several apartments;
in one of the lower of which was found, about half a century ago, a very
ancient tomb, of good workmanship, ornamented with a sphynx at each end,
but bearing no inscription whatever. Common report ascribed the coffin
to Talbot, who was for many years governor of the castle; and at length
an individual engraved upon it an epitaph to his honor; but the fraud
was discovered, and the sarcophagus put aside, as of no account. The
second, or principal, story of the keep, now forms a single square room,
about fifty feet wide, lighted by circular-headed windows, each divided
into two by a short and massy central pillar, whose capital is
altogether Norman. On one of the capitals is sculptured a child leading
a lamb, a representation, as it is foolishly said, of the Conqueror,
whom tradition alleges to have been born in the apartment to which this
window belonged: another pillar has an elegant capital, composed of
interlaced bands.

Connected with the dungeon by a stone staircase is a small apartment,
very much dilapidated, but still retaining a portion of its original
facing of Caen stone. It was from the window of this apartment, as the
story commonly goes, that Duke Robert first saw the beautiful Arlette,
drawing water from the streamlet below, and was enamoured of her charms,
and took her to his bed.--According to another version of the tale, the
earliest interview between the prince and his fair mistress, took place
as Robert was returning from the chace, with his mind full of anger
against the inhabitants of Falaise, for having presumed to kill the deer
which he had commanded should be preserved for his royal pastime. In
this offence the curriers of the town had borne the principal share, and
they were therefore principally marked out for punishment. But,
fortunately for them, Arlette, the daughter of one Verpray, the most
culpable of the number, met the offended Duke while riding through the
street, and with her beauty so fascinated him, that she not only
obtained the pardon of her father and his associates, but became his
mistress, and continued so as long as he lived. From her, if we may give
credence to the old chroniclers, is derived our English word, _harlot_.
The fruit of their union was William the Conqueror, whose illegitimate
birth, and the low extraction of his mother, served on more than one
occasion as a pretext for conspiracies against his throne, and were
frequently the subject of personal mortification to himself.--The walls
in this part of the castle are from eight to nine feet thick. A portion
of them has been hollowed out, so as to form a couple of small rooms.
The old door-way of the keep is at the angle; the returns are reeded,
ending in a square impost; the arch above is destroyed.

Talbot's tower, thus called for having been built by that general, in
1430 and the two subsequent years, is connected with the keep by means,
of a long passage with lancet windows, that widen greatly inwards. It is
more than one hundred feet high, and is a beautiful piece of masonry,
as perfect, apparently, as on the day when it was erected, and as firm
as the rock on which it stands. This tower is ascended by a staircase
concealed within the substance of the walls, whose thickness is full
fifteen feet towards the base, and does not decrease more than three
feet near the summit. Another aperture in them serves for a well, which
thus communicates with every apartment in the tower. Most of the arches
in this tower have circular heads: the windows are square.--The walls
and towers which encircle the keep are of much later date; the principal
gate-way is pointed. Immediately on entering, is seen the very ancient
chapel, dedicated to St. Priscus or, as he is called in French, St.
Prix. The east end with three circular-headed windows retains its
original lines: the masonry is firm and good. Fantastic corbels surround
the summit of the lateral walls. Within, a semi-circular arch resting
upon short pillars with sculptured capitals, divides the choir from the
nave. In other respects the building has been much altered.--Henry Vth
repaired it in 1418, and it has been since dilapidated and restored.--A
pile of buildings beyond, wholly modern in the exterior, is now
inhabited as a seminary or college. There are some circular arches
within, which shew that these buildings belonged to the original

Altogether the castle is a noble ruin. Though the keep is destitute of
the enrichments of Norwich or Castle Rising, it possesses an impressive
character of strength, which is much increased by the extraordinary
freshness of the masonry. The fosses of the castle; are planted with
lofty trees, which shade and intermingle with the towers and ramparts,
and on every side they groupe themselves with picturesque beauty. It is
said that the municipality intend to _restore_ Talbot's tower and the
keep, by replacing the demolished battlements; but I should hope that no
other repairs may take place, except such as may be necessary for the
preservation of the edifice; and I do not think it needs any, except the
insertion of clamps in the central columns of two of the windows which
are much shattered[94].

From the summit we enjoyed a delightful prospect: at our feet lay the
town of Falaise, so full of trees, that it seemed almost to deserve the
character, given by old Fuller to Norwich, of _rus in urbe_: the distant
country presented an undulating outline, agreeably diversified with
woods and corn-fields, and spotted with gentlemen's seats; while within
a very short distance to the west, rose another ridgy mass of bare brown
rock, known by the name of Mont Mirat, and still retaining a portion of
the intrenchments, raised by our countrymen when they besieged Falaise,
in 1417.--By this eminence the castle is completely commanded, and it is
not easy to understand how the fortress could be a tenable position; as
the garrison who manned the battlements of the dungeon and Talbot's
tower, must have been exposed to the missiles discharged from the
catapults and balistas planted on Mont Mirat.

The history of the castle is inseparably connected with that of the
town: its origin may safely be referred to remote antiquity, the time,
most probably, of the earliest Norman Dukes. If, however, we could agree
with the fanciful author just quoted, it would claim a much earlier
date. The very fact of its having a dungeon-tower, he maintains to be a
proof of its having been erected by Julius Caesar inasmuch as the word,
_dungeon_, or, as it is written in French, _donjon_, is nothing but a
corruption of _Domus Julii_! More than once in the course of this
correspondence, I have called your attention to the fancies, or, to
speak in plain terms, the absurdities, of theoretical antiquaries. The
worthy priest, to whom we are indebted for the _Recherches Historiques
sur Falaise_, "out-herods Herod." Writers of this description are
curious and amusing, let their theories but rest upon the basis of fair
probability. Even when we reject their reasonings, we are pleased with
their ingenuity; and they serve, to borrow an expression from Horace,
"the purpose of a whetstone." But M. Langevin has nothing farther to
offer, than gratuitous assertion or vague conjecture; and yet, upon the
faith of these, he insists upon our believing, that the foundation of
Falaise took place very shortly after the deluge; that its name is
derived from _Fele_, the cat of Diana, or from the less pure source of
_Phaloi-Isis_; that the present site of the castle was that of a temple,
dedicated to Belenus and Abraxas; and that every stone of remarkable
form in the neighborhood, was either so shapened by the Druids,
(notwithstanding it is the character of rocks, like those at Falaise, to
assume fantastic figures,) or was at least appropriated by the Celtic
priesthood to typify the sun, or moon, or stars.

Various tombs, stone-hatchets, &c., have been dug up at Tassilly, a
village within six miles of Falaise, and fragments of mosaic pavements
have been discovered in the immediate vicinity of the castle[95]; but
history and tradition are alike silent as to the origin of these
remains.--The first historical mention of Falaise is in the year 1027;
during the reign of the fifth Norman Duke, Richard IIIrd, at which
period this town was one of the strong holds of the duchy, and afforded
shelter to Robert, the father of the Conqueror, when he rebelled against
his elder brother. Falaise on that occasion sustained the first of the
nine sieges, by which it has procured celebrity in history.--Fourteen
years only elapsed before it was exposed to a second, through the
perfidy of Toustain de Goz, Count of Hiesmes, who had been intrusted
with the charge of the castle, and who, upon finding that his own
district was ravaged by the forces of the King of France, voluntarily
offered to surrender to that monarch the fortress under his command, on
condition that his territory, the Hiesmois, should be spared. But Duke
William succeeded in retaking the place of his birth before the traitor
had an opportunity of introducing the troops of his new ally.--In the
years 1106 and 1139, Falaise opposed a successful resistance to the
armies of Henry Ist, and of Geoffrey Plantagenet. Upon the first of
these occasions, the Count of Maine, the general of the English forces,
retired with shame from before the walls; and Henry was foiled in all his
attempts to gain possession of the castle, till the battle of Tinchbray
had invested him with the ducal mantle, and had induced Robert himself
to deliver up the fortress in person to his more fortunate brother. On
the second occasion, Robert Marmion, lord of the neighboring barony of
Marmion le Fontenay, a name equally illustrious in Norman and in English
story, held Falaise for Eustace of Boulogne, son to Stephen, and twice
repelled the attacks of the husband of the Empress Maud.--The fourth
siege was conducted with different success, by Philip Augustus: for
seven days the citizens quietly witnessed the preparations of the French
monarch; and then, either alarmed by the impending conflict, or
disgusted by the conduct of their own sovereign, who had utterly
deserted them, they opened their gates to the enemy.--In 1417 the case
was far otherwise, though the result was the same. Henry Vth attacked
Falaise upon the fourth of November, and continued to cannonade it till
the middle of the following February; and, even then, the surrender was
attributed principally to famine. Great injuries were sustained by the
town in the course of this long siege; but, to the credit of our
countrymen, the efforts made towards the reparation of them were at
least proportionate. The fortifications were carefully restored; the
chapel was rebuilt and endowed afresh; Talbot's tower was added to the
keep; and a suite of apartments, also named after that great captain,
was erected in the castle.--The resistance made by the English garrison
of Falaise in 1450, at the time when we were finally expelled from the
duchy, was far from equal to that which the French, had previously
shewn. Vigour was indeed displayed in repeated sallies, but six days
sufficed to put the French general in possession of the place.
Disheartened troops, cooped up in a fortress without hope of succour,
offer but faint opposition; and Falaise was then the last place which
held out in Normandy, excepting, only Domfront and Cherbourg, both which
were taken almost immediately afterwards.--Falaise, from this time
forwards, suffered no more from foreign enemies: the future miseries of
the town were inflicted by the hands of its own countrymen. In common
with many other places in France, it was doomed to learn from hard
experience, that "alta sedent civilis vulnera dextrae."--Instigated by
the Count de Brissac, governor of the town, and one of the most able
generals of the league, the inhabitants were immoveable in their
determination to resist the introduction of tenets which they regarded
as a fatal variance from the Catholic faith. The troops of Henry IIIrd,
in alliance with those of his more illustrious successor, were vainly
brought against Falaise in 1589, by the Duc de Montpensier; a party of
enthusiastic peasants, called _Gautiers_, from the name of a neighboring
village, where their association originated, harassed the assailants
unremittingly, and rendered such effectual assistance to the garrison,
that the siege was obliged to be raised.--But it was only raised to be
renewed at the conclusion of the same year, by Henry of Bourbon, in
person, whom the tragical end of his late ally had placed upon the
throne of France. Brissac had now a different enemy to deal with: he
answered the king's summons to surrender, by pleading his oath taken
upon the holy sacrament to the contrary; and he added that, if it should
ultimately prove necessary for him to enter into any negotiation, he
would at least delay it for six months to come. "Then, by heavens!"
replied Henry, "I will change his months into days, and grant him
absolution;" and; so saying, he commenced a furious cannonade, which
soon caused a breach, and, in seven days, he carried the town by
assault. Brissac, who, on the capture of the fortress, had retired into
the keep, found himself shortly afterwards obliged to capitulate; and I
am sorry to add, that the terms which he proposed and obtained, were not
of a nature to be honorable to his character. The security of his own
life and of that of seven of his party, was the principal stipulation in
the articles. The rest of the garrison were abandoned to the mercy of
the conqueror, who contented himself with hanging seven of them in
memorial of the seven days of the siege; but, if we may believe the
French historians, always zealous for the honor of their monarchs, and
especially of this monarch, Henry selected the sufferers from among
those, who, for their crimes, had, subjected themselves to the pain of

From these various attacks, but principally from those of 1417 and 1589,
the fortifications of Falaise have suffered materially; and since the
last no care has been taken to repair them. The injuries sustained at
that period, and the more fatal, though less obvious ones, wrought by
the silent operation of two centuries of neglect, have brought the walls
and towers to their present state of dilapidation.

The people of Falaise are commonly supposed to be Normans II+-I" I muI3/4I?II.I1/2
[English. Not in Original: pre-eminently, especially, above all]; and
when a Norman is introduced upon the French stage, he calls himself a
Falesian, just as any Irishman, in an English farce, is presumed to come
from Tipperary. The town in the French royal calendar is stated to
contain about fourteen thousand inhabitants; but we are assured that the
real number does not exceed nine thousand. Its staple trade is the
manufacture of stockings, coarse caps, and lace. The streets are wide;
and the public fountains, which are continually playing, impart a
freshness, which, at the present burning season, is particularly
agreeable.--The town now retains only four churches, two within its
precincts, and two in the suburbs. The revolution has deprived it of
eight others. Of those which are now standing, the most ancient is that
situated near the castle, and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Langevin
assures us that it was built upon the ruins of the temple of Fele, Isis,
Belenus, and the heavenly host of constellations, and that in the fifth
century it changed its heathen for its Christian patrons. The oldest
part (a very small one it is) of the present structure, appertains to a
building which was consecrated in 1126, by the Archbishop of Rouen, in
the presence of Henry Ist, but which was almost entirely destroyed by
the cannonade in the fifteenth century. An inscription in gothic
letters, near the entrance, relates, that after this desolation, a
beginning was made towards the re-building of the church, "in 1438, a
year of war, and death, and plague, and famine;" but it is certain that
not much of the part now standing can be referred even to that period.
The choir was not completed till the middle of the sixteenth century,
nor the Lady-Chapel till the beginning of the following one.
Architecturally considered, therefore, the church is a medley of various
styles and ages.

The larger church, that of St. Gervais and St. Protais, is said to have
been originally the ducal chapel, and to stand in the immediate vicinity
of the site of the Conqueror's palace, now utterly destroyed. According
to an ancient manuscript, this church was consecrated at the same time
as that of the Trinity. The intersecting circular-headed arches of its
tower are curious. The Norman corbel-table and clerestory windows still
remain; and the exterior of the whole edifice promises a gratification
to a lover of architectural antiquity, which the inside is little
calculated to realize.--An invading army ruined the church of the
Trinity; civil discord did the same for that of St. Gervais. The
Huguenots, not content with plundering the treasure, actually set fire
to the building, and well nigh consumed it: hence, the choir is the work
of the year 1580, and the southern wall of the nave is a more recent

We see Falaise to a great advantage: every inn is crowded; every shop is
decked out; and the streets are full of life and activity; all in
preparation for the fair, which commences in three days, on the
fifteenth of this month, the anniversary of the Assumption of the Holy
Virgin. This fair, which is considered second to no other in France,
excepting that of Beaucaire, is held in the suburbs of Guibray, and
takes its name from the place where it is held. For the institution,
Falaise is indebted to William the Conqueror; and from it the place
derives the greatest share of its prosperity and importance. During the
fourteen days that the fair continues, the town is filled with the
neighboring gentry, as well as with merchants and tradesmen of every
description, not only from the cities of Normandy, but from Paris and
the distant provinces, and even from foreign countries. The revolution
itself respected the immunities granted to the fair of Guibray, without,
at the same time, having the slightest regard, either to its royal
founder, or its religious origin.--An image of the Virgin, discovered
under-ground by the scratching and bleating of a lamb, first gave the
stamp of sanctity to Guibray. Miraculous means had been employed for the
discovery of this statue; miraculous powers were sure to be seated in
the image. Pilgrims crowded from all places to witness and to adore; and
hawkers, and pedlars, and, as I have seen inscribed upon a hand-bill at
Paris, "the makers of he-saints and of she-saints," found Guibray a
place of lucrative resort. Their numbers annually increased, and thus
the fair originated.--We are compelled to hasten, or we would have
stopped to have witnessed the ceremonies, and joined the festivities on
the occasion. Already more than one field is covered with temporary
buildings, each distinguished by a flag, bearing the name and trade of
the occupant; already, too, the mountebanks and showmen have taken their
stand for the amusement of the company, and the relaxation of the
traders; and, what is a necessary consequence of such assemblages, you
cannot stir without being pestered with crowds of boys, proffering their
services to transport your wares.

The church of Guibray, like the others of Falaise, offers specimens of
Norman architecture, strangely altered and half concealed by modern
innovations. In the first syllable of the name of the place, you will
observe the French word for misletoe, and may thence infer, and probably
not without reason, the antiquity of the station; the latter syllable,
albeit in England sheep are not wont to _bray_, is supposed by the pious
to have reference to the bleating of the lamb, which led to the
discovery of the miraculous image.--Etymology is a wide district in a
pleasant country, strangely intersected by many and deceitful paths. He
that ventures upon the exploring of it, requires the utmost caution, and
the constant control of sober reason: woe will be sure to betide the
unfortunate wight, who, in such a situation, gives the reins to fancy,
and suffers imagination to usurp the place of judgment, without
reflecting, as has been observed by the poet on a somewhat similar
occasion, that

"Tis more to curb than urge the generous steed,
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed."

* * * * *


[Footnote 94: The outline of the castle is egg-shaped; and the following
are its dimensions, in French measure, according to M.
Langevin.--Length, 720 feet; mean width, 420; quantity of ground
contained within the walls, two acres and a perch.]

[Footnote 95: _Recherches Historiques sur Falaise_, p. XIX. and XXIX.]


(_Mantes, August_, 1818)

The last letter which I wrote to you, was dated from Falaise. Look in
the map and you will see that you now receive one from a point
completely opposite. In four days we have passed from one of the most
western towns of the province, to a place situated beyond its eastern
frontier; and in four more, we may almost hope to be with you again. In
this hasty journey we travelled through a district which has not yet
become the subject of description to you; and though we travelled with
less comfort of mind, than in the early part of our tour, I am yet
enabled to send you a few details respecting it.

From Falaise we went in a direct line to Croissanville: the road, which
we intended to take by St. Pierre sur Dive to Lisieux, was utterly
impracticable for carriages. From Croissanville to Rouen we almost
retraced our former steps: we did not indeed again make a _detour_ by
Bernay; but the straight road from Lisieux to Brionne is altogether
without interest.

There are two ways from Rouen to Paris: the upper, through Ecouis,
Magny, and Pontoise; the lower, by the banks of the Seine. Having
travelled by both of them before, we could appreciate their respective
advantages; and we knew that the only recommendation of the former was,
that it saved some few miles in distance; while the latter is one of
the most beautiful rides in France, and the towns, through which it
passes, are far from being among the least interesting in Normandy. In
such an alternative, there was no difficulty in fixing our choice, and
we proceeded straight for Pont-de-l'Arche. The chalk cliffs, which
bounded the road on our left, for some distance from Rouen, break near
the small village of Port St. Ouen, into wild forms, and in one spot
project boldly, assuming the shape of distinct towers. These projections
are known by the name of the rock of St. Adrien; thus called from the
patron saint of a romantic chapel, a place of great sanctity, and of
frequent resort with pilgrims, situated nearly mid-way up the
cliff.--The chapel is indeed little more than an excavation, and is
altogether so rude, that its workmanship affords no clue to discover the
date of the building. Its south side and roof are merely formed of the
bare rock. To the north it is screened by an erection, which, were it
not for the windows and short square steeple, might easily be mistaken
for a pent-house. The western end appears to display some traces of
Norman architecture. The hill, which leads to this chapel, commands a
view of Rouen, the most picturesque, I think, of all that we have seen
of this city, so picturesque from various points. You can scarcely
conceive the eagerness with which we endeavored to catch the last
glimpse, as the prospect gradually vanished from our sight, or the
pleasure with which we still dwell, and shall long continue so to do,
upon the recollection. All round the chapel, the bare chalk is at this
time tinged with a beautiful glow, from the blue flowers of the _Viola
Rothomagensis_: the _Isatis Tinctoria_, the _true Woad_, is also common
on the steep sides of the cliff. This plant, which is here indigenous,
became, during the reign of Napoleon, an object of attention with the
government, as a succedaneum for indigo, at the same time that beet-root
was destined to supply the continent with sugar, and salsafy, or parched
wheat, to hold the place of coffee. The restoration of peace has caused
the Isatis to be again neglected; but the _Reseda luteola_, or, _Dyer's
woad_, is much cultivated in the neighborhood, as is the _Teasel_ for
the use of the cloth manufactory.

Pont-de-l'Arche, though now a small mean town, may boast of high
antiquity, if it be rightly believed to be the ancient _Pistae_, the
seat of the palace erected by Charles the Bald, in which that sovereign
convened councils in the years 861 and 869, and held assemblies of his
nobles in 862 and 864; and from which, his edicts promulgated in those
years, are dated. The same monarch also built here a magnificent bridge,
defended at one extremity by a citadel upon a small island.--From this
there seems every reason to believe that the town has derived its name;
for, in a diploma issued by our Henry IInd, he calls the place _Pontem
Arcis_; and its present appellation is nothing but its Latin name
translated into French. The fortress at the head of the bridge was
demolished about thirty years ago, at the time when Millin published
his[96] account of the town. The plate attached to that account,
represents one of the towers as still standing.--Though deprived of its
citadel, Pont-de-l'Arche retains to the present day its walls, flanked
by circular towers; and its bridge, which is the lowest stone bridge
down the Seine, is a noble one of twenty-two arches, through which the
river at a considerable depth below, rolls with extraordinary rapidity.
In the length of this bridge are some mills, which are turned by the
stream; and the current is moderated under one of the arches, by a lock
placed on the down-stream side, into which barges pass, and so proceed
with security; The bridge, with its mills, forms a very picturesque

At a short distance from the bridge, to the left, looking towards Paris,
is the _Colline des deux amans_, formerly surmounted by the priory of
the same name. Of the history of the monastery nothing is known with
certainty, nor is even the date of its foundation ascertained, though it
is stated by Millin to be one of the most ancient in Normandy[97]. But
the traditionary tale connected with this convent, forms the subject of
one of the lays of _Mary of France_; and it has been elegantly
translated by the late Mr. Ellis, in the introduction to his _History of
our Ancient Metrical Romances_;--Du Plessis[98] is, however, of opinion,
that the name of the priory is nothing more than a corruption from the
words, _deux monts_, in allusion to the twin hills, on one of which it
stands; or, if _lovers_ must have any thing to do with the appellation,
he piously suggests that divine love may have been intended, and that
the parties were no other than our Savior and the Virgin, whose images
were placed over the door of the conventual church.

On the opposite side of the bridge of Pont-de-l'Arche, stand the
remains of a far richer abbey, that of Bonport, of the Cistertian order,
founded by Richard Coeur-de-Lion, in 1190, as an _ex voto_. The monarch,
then just in possession of his crown, was indulging with his courtiers
in the pleasures of the chace, and, carried away by the natural
impetuosity of his temper, had plunged in pursuit of the deer into the
Seine, whose rapid current brought his life into imminent danger; and he
accordingly vowed, if he escaped with safety, to erect a monastery upon
the spot where he should reach the shore. Hence, according to Le
Brasseur[99], the foundation, and hence the name. I ought, however, to
add, that no record of the kind is preserved in the _Neustrta Pia_, nor
even by Millin, who has described and figured such of the monastic
buildings and monuments as had been spared at the early part of the
revolution[100]. Another view of the ruins has since been published by
Langlois, in the first number of a work which was intended to have
comprised a long series of Norman antiquities, but was discontinued for
want of encouragement. The author, whose portrait I have sent you in the
course of this correspondence, is himself a native of Pont-de-l'Arche,
and has subjoined to his fas-ciculus a couple of plates, illustrative of
the costume and customs of the neighborhood.--In one of these plates, an
itinerant male fortune-teller is satisfying a young peasant as to the
probability of her speedy marriage, by means of a pack of cards, from
which he has turned up the king and queen and ace of hearts. In the
other, _a cunning woman_ is solving a question by a book and key. The
poor girl's sweetheart is an absent soldier, and fears and doubts are
naturally entertained for his safety. To unlock the mysteries of fate,
the key is attached to the mass-book, and suspended from the tip of the
finger of the sybil, who reads the first chapter of the gospel of St.
John; and the invocation is answered by the key turning of _its own
accord_, when she arrives at the verse beginning, "and the word was made
flesh[101]."--A fine rose-window in the church of the abbey of Bonport,
and two specimens of painted glass from its windows, the one
representing angels holding musical instruments, supposed to be of the
thirteenth century, the other containing a set of male and female heads
of extraordinarily rich color, probably executed about a century later,
are given by _Willemin_ in his very beautiful _Monumens Francais
inedits_. In the same work, you will likewise find two still more
interesting painted windows from Pont-de-l'Arche; some boatmen and their
wives in the Norman costume of the end of the sixteenth century, and a
citizen of the town with his lady, praying before a fald-stool, bearing
the date, 1621.

The church of Pont-de-l'Arche, though greatly dilapidated, is a building
worth notice, in a fine style of the decorated gothic. The nave is very
lofty; the high altar richly carved and gilt; the oak pulpit embossed
with saints; and the font covered with curious, though not ancient,
sculpture. Rich tracery abounds in the windows, which are also filled
with painted glass, some of it of very good quality. Scripture history
and personages occupy, as usual, the principal part; but in one of the
windows we noticed a representation of the Seine full of islands, and
the town of Pont-de-l'Arche, with a number of persons quitting it with
their horses, baggage, &c. in apparent confusion. So shattered, however,
is the window, that the story is no longer intelligible in its details;
and fragments, quite illegible, are all that remain of the inscriptions
formerly beneath it. It is probable, that the intention of the artist
was to give a picture of the miseries experienced by the inhabitants at
the burning of the town by our troops under Edward IIIrd.--On the south
side of the church the buttresses are enriched with canopies and other
sculpture; and there was originally a highly-wrought balustrade,
ornamented with figures of children, a part of which
remains.--Pont-de-l'Arche claims the merit of having been the first town
in France, which acknowledged Henry IVth as its lawful sovereign, after
the assassination of his predecessor, in 1589.

On leaving this place, we passed through the forest of the same name, an
extensive tract covered with young trees, principally beech, oak, and
birch. The soil, a mixture of chalk and gravel, is poor, and offers but
little encouragement to the labors of the plough. All around us, the
distant prospect was pleasantly varied with gentle hills, upon one of
which, nearly in front, we soon saw Louviers, a busy manufacturing town,
of about seven thousand inhabitants, who are chiefly employed in making
the fine cloth of the district, which is considered superior in quality
to any other in France. Spanish wool is almost exclusively used for
the purpose.

Throughout the vicinity of Louviers, are the most undoubted symptoms of
commercial prosperity; new houses every where erecting, and old ones
undergoing improvement. But the streets of the town itself are, as
usual, dirty and narrow, and the people of the lower orders more than
commonly ragged and beggarly. It was impossible to mistake the nature of
their occupations; so many of them had their faces and hands, and every
part of their limbs and bodies that was visible, died of a bright
blue.--The church at Louviers is very much injured, but very handsome;
and though reduced to a nave with its four aisles it is still a spacious
edifice. The south porch, which projects boldly in the form of a
galilee, is scarcely to be excelled as a specimen of pointed
architecture at its highest pitch of luxuriant beauty. Yet, even in
this, the saints have been torn from their pedestals by the wanton
violence of the Calvinists or democrats. The central tower is square and
short: it is, however, handsome. Two windows, very similar to those of
the tower of St. Romain, in Rouen cathedral, light it on either side;
and saints, placed under canopies, ornament the angles behind the
buttresses.--The great western door is closed, and the front defaced:
the eastern end, likewise, is altogether modern.--Within, the same kind
of architecture prevails as in the exterior, but the whole is so
concealed, and degraded by ornaments in the worst of taste, and by
painted saints in the most tawdry dresses, that the effect is
disgusting. I never saw so great an array of wretched representations of
the heavenly host: the stone images collected round the holy sepulchre,
are even worse than those at Dieppe. Near the chapel of the sepulchre,
however, are four bas-reliefs, attached to the wall, exhibiting
different events in our Savior's life of good execution, and not in had
taste: an open gallery of fillagree stone-work, under the central tower
on the south side, is an object really deserving of admiration.

M. Langlois has engraved the gable end of an old house at Louviers, said
to have belonged to the Knights Templars. We found it used as an
engine-maker's shop; and neither within nor without, could we discover
any thing to justify his opinion, that it is a building of the twelfth
or thirteenth century. On the contrary, the windows, which are double,
under a flatly-pointed arch, and are all of them trefoil-headed, would
rather cause it to be considered as erected two centuries later.

The town of Louviers, though never fortified, is noticed on several
occasions in history. It was the seat of the conferences between Richard
Coeur-de-Lion and Philip Augustus, which ended in the treaty of 1195,
defining new limits to Normandy.--It was, as I have already mentioned,
one of the items of the compensation made by the same Duke to the
Archbishop of Rouen, for the injury done to the church, by the erection
of Chateau Gaillard.--During the wars of Edward IIIrd, "Louviers," to
use the language of old Froissart, "after the battle of Caen, was soon
entered by the Englishmen, as it was not closed; and they over-ran, and

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