By permission of Mansell & Co.
MICHAEL MYERS SHOEMAKER
Author of "Islands of Southern Seas," "The Great Siberian
Railway," "The Heart of the Orient," "Prisons
and Palaces of Mary, Queen
of Scots," Etc.
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
The Knickerbocker Press
Copyrighted 1906 by
Michael Myers Shoemaker
My Dear Friend
Mrs.W. P. HULBERT
This is not a love story. These wings are wings of motion, not of Cupid, yet there is much of romance and story in these pages,—for who can travel the plaisant pays de France and not dip deeply into both?
When I entered my red machine at Nice no route had been laid out,—to me there is small pleasure in travel when that is done,—so I told Jean to start and left the direction to him. Being French he naturally turned towards his own country, and knowing whither the superb highways and enchanting byways could lead one, I tacitly agreed, and we glided away by the level sea and on into the olive-crowned hill of Provence, to where Aix—the home of politeness—dreams the years away and the air seems still to echo to King René's music. Arles, Narbonne, fantastic Carcassonne, Lourdes, and Pau followed in rapid succession, and then we rested awhile at Biarritz with short journeys into Spain. Turning northward we rolled off into Central France, pausing daily in some ancient city or quaint village, climbing mountains to long forgotten castles, or rolling into valleys in search of deserted abbeys.
So we wandered through Auvergne, through courtly Touraine, sad Anjou, and stormy Brittany, until Normandy and Picardy smiled into our faces and Paris received us within her gates. Exploring the surroundings of that great city as one can do only in an auto, we finally glided off through the forest of Fontainebleau and Côte-d'Or to the mountains of the Vosges and thence over the Schlucht to the Rhine Valley to Freiburg, and up to Baden-Baden. There the spirits of the woods seized upon us and we promptly got lost in the Black Forest, and so rolled on into Switzerland to Geneva and finally to Aix-les-Bains, where the journey ended and I bade goodbye to my staunch car which had carried me without mishap or delay for near five thousand miles. To its winged wheels the highest mountains of France were no barrier.
If all this pleases you, read these pages—if not, drop the book.
M. S. M.
Union Club, N. Y.
|Our Departure from Nice—The Road to Aix—The City of King René||8|
|The Road to Arles—The Camargue—Ruins of Arles—The "Aliscamps"||17|
|The Route to Tarascon—Castle of King René—Beaucaire—Nîmes—Montpellier—An Accident—Narbonne, Ancient and Modern||22|
|The Approach to Carcassonne—Its Picturesqueness—Its Restoration and History||29|
|The Route to Toulouse—Great Machines on the Roads of France—Delights of an Auto—Toulouse—Its University—The Château de St. Elix||36|
|The Death of a Dog—Encounters on the Highway—Travellers by the Way—People of the Provinces—Lourdes—Her Superstition and her Visions||43|
|Pau and the Life there—Delightful Roads—Ancient Orthez—Madame and her Hotel—The Château of Bidache and its History||49|
|The Route to Biarritz—Biarritz—The Hôtel du Palais||58|
|The Road to the Mountains—St. Jean-Pied-de-Port—St. Jean-de-Luz—Marriage of Louis xiv—Island of Pheasants—The Roads in Spain—The Soldiers of Spain—San Sebastian||62|
|Departures for the North—Crazy Chickens—Grand Roads—Dax—Rides through the Forests—French Scenery and People—Marmande—Automobile Club of France and its Work||69|
|Rapid Motion—Beaumont—Races and Dashes—Cadouin and its Cloisters—The Route to Tulle||76|
|The Great Course of Belmont—Difficult Steering—The "Cup Gordon Bennett"—The Mountains to Clermont-Ferrand||82|
|Climbing a Mountain in an Auto—The Château of Tournoël—Its History—Descent of the Mountain||86|
|Ancient Town of Riom—The Route to Vichy—Château de Bourbon-Busset—Vichy—The Life there—Danger of Speeding—Arrival at Bourges||95|
|Ancient Bourges—Its Cathedral—House of Jacques Cœur—Louis XI. and the Hôtel Lallement—The Hôtel Cujas—The Ride to Meillant—Its Superb Château—Its Legend||102|
|Departures from Bourges—The Château of Mehun—The Death of Charles VII—The Valleys of Touraine—Roads by the Loire—Entrance to Tours||113|
|Ride to Loches—An Accident—The Castle of Loches—Its History—The Cages of Louis XI.—Their Cost to the King—Agnes Sorel—The Mistresses of French Kings versus their Queens||116|
|Automobiles in Tours—Departure from the City—The Road to Chinon—Romance and History of Chinon—The Abbey of Fontevrault—Richard Cœur de Lion and his Tomb—The Dead King Henry II||130|
|The Road to Angers—Cathedral and Tomb of King René—Castle of Black Angers—Cradle of the Plantagenets—History—To Chateaubriant in a Storm—A French Inn—Rennes and the Trial of Dreyfus—The Roads in Brittany—Arrival at St.-Malo—The Ride to Mont St.-Michel—Inn of the Poulard Âiné—The Cathedral and Castle—Their History||138|
|Arrival at Caen—William the Norman and Charlotte Corday—Church of St. Étienne—People and Railroads of Normandy—Rouen and its Churches—The Maid of Orleans, History or Legend?—Castle of Philippe Le Bel—Departure from Rouen||149|
|The Race through Picardy—Amiens Cathedral—Its Vastness—The Road to Boulogne||161|
|The Ride to Beauvais—Dead Dogs—Great Churches—Beauvais by Night—Vast Wealth of the Churches of France—Wonderful Tapestries||166|
|The Route to Saint-Germain-en-Laye—The People—The Castle and Terrace—Their Picturesque History—First View of Paris||174|
|Paris and her so-called Republican Government—Necessity for an Automobile—The Ride to Chartres—Cathedral Notre Dame—The Aqueduct at Maintenon and its Burden of Sorrow—The Castle of Maintenon—Madame and Louis XIV.—St. Cyr and her Death—Return to Paris||180|
|My Chauffeur Summoned by the Government—The New Man—Yama's Opinion of Paris—Speed of Autos in Paris||194|
|Departure from Paris—The Cemetery of the Picpus—Ride through the Forest of Fontainebleau to Sens—The Cathedral—Tomb of the Dauphins—The Great Route to Geneva—Stoned by Boys—Tonnerre||198|
|Dijon—The French and Fresh Water—The Antiquities of Dijon—Ride through the Côte d'Or—Arrival at Besançon||208|
|The Fortress of Besançon—Autos in Heavy Rains—Dreams—Belfort—Entrance into the Vosges—The Rise to Ballon d'Alsace—Superb Ride to Gérardmer||215|
|Gérardmer and the Mountains—A Wedding—French Courtship—Excursion to St. Dié—Over the Col de la Schlucht—German Custom House—"Always a German"—Colmar—Rhine Valley—Arrival at Freiburg||222|
|Freiburg—Fantastic City—The Youths of Germany—Music and Legends of the Old Town—Cathedral by Moonlight||227|
|From Freiburg to Baden-Baden—Through the Woods to Gernsbach—Superb Roads—People of the Black Forest—Crossing the Danube—Customs Regulations as to Autos—An Old Swiss Mansion—The Ride to Geneva and Aix-les-Bains||232|
"Monsieur smiles." To begin a journey with the greeting of a little child should be a happy omen. I am leaning over the terrace at Monte Carlo, watching the sparkle of the shifting sea. Away to the eastward glisten the villas on Cape Martan, to the west rises the ancient city of Monaco, behind me towers the Casino, the scene of more misery than almost any other spot on earth. Beyond and above it, rise the hills tier on tier, dotted with hotels and villas, while far in the blue dome of sky soar the eternal snows. A scene of beauty, yet one so familiar that I scarcely note it; neither are my thoughts of the nearby misery in the Casino when the little voice murmurs "Monsieur," and I see at my feet, seated on the marble of the terrace with masses of rhododendrons all around her, a mite of a girl, with sunny hair and blue eyes, who laughingly holds up for my acceptance a pink rose. It evidently is not considered proper for a young lady of her age to be talking to a strange man and she is accordingly hustled away, her wondering and rebellious eyes gazing back at me as she waves a farewell. Bless her little heart, it must be almost the only innocent thing in this sink of iniquity. With her disappearance, I have the place all to myself, the town gives up no sounds of life and soon even the sea has murmured itself to sleep, while yonder building, from the outside, is silent as a tomb now; yet as I enter I find every table in all the vast rooms so hemmed in by a struggling humanity, that I must wait my turn almost before throwing away good money if such is my desire. All the nations of the earth come here, and to manage and keep them in check, hundreds of detectives in plain clothes are always present. Yonder a man has dropped a pocket-book, which is at once pounced upon, and he is hustled through some door in the wall which has escaped your notice. Probably he is a thief, and will not return. If you end your life at the suicides' table—the last on the right on your way out—your body will be hustled off in a like manner, and the crowd without turning to look after you will close in again, leaving no sign that you have ever been. It is said that there is a carriage belonging to this establishment especially arranged so that a dead man may be driven away seated erect as though alive without shocking the senses of those who are here for pleasure. These people would rather you did not kill yourself and will give you a ticket home if you will go, but if you must pass to the great beyond, there will be no high mass said over your silent face and no further attention paid to your stiff fingers which have ceased to pour gold on the green tables. This world has no use for one whose pockets are empty—his day is done and he might as well be dead.
You will not be impressed with the misery of Monte Carlo unless you walk this terrace after dark and note the dejected figures huddled up on the benches beneath the rhododendrons. The sea does not seem to receive many of them, yet it is a better mode of exit than to throw one's self beneath the wheels of the trains rushing east and west just beneath here. Yesterday a man was literally swept off the wheels of a locomotive—there was nothing to pick up.
Inside these halls everything is done quietly and in order. There is never any confusion or noise, and you must check hat, overcoat, and stick before you enter. Save for the orchestra in the outer hall there is nothing to be heard but the subdued call of the croupier, the click of the rakes against the heaps of gold on the tables, and the whir of the wheels. The game does not interest me, as I always lose, but the circles of silent, intent faces form a study I never tire of until the perfume-laden air drives me out of doors. To-night there are some windows opened, the air is purer and as yet the crush is not too great; so let us watch for a time this world of Monte Carlo. As I wander through the over-decorated and gorgeous rooms there is space to move about, the people are not so absorbed in play and occasionally raise their eyes from the "green carpet," affording one a glimpse of the souls behind them—gay, desperate, indifferent—sodden with misery or drunk with the love of gambling; they are all here, the only impassive face is that of the man at the wheel who in both garb and countenance strongly resembles a funeral director, and his long rake generally buries your hopes as effectually as the spade of the grave-digger. What queer figures are hereabouts. Look at that old, old man intent only on the whirling of the wheel. His daughter stands behind him stowing his gains away. It is pure business with both of them. Beyond stands a woman who has not been young for years and who was never beautiful, though she may perhaps have possessed the fascination of the devil, with that red hair and those green eyes; but to-night at least, there is nothing about her which will make clear to you why a Russian Grand Duke should have gone crazy for her. She is gowned in soft sea green and trailing mosses, as though she had risen from the unsounded sea gleaming in the moonlight yonder, while upon neck, arms, and head is one of the most wonderful displays of diamonds I have ever seen. Both in size and brilliancy, they rival any of the crown jewels of Europe, and were, so it is said, all given her by that Grand Duke. She is under the constant watch and ward of two armed detectives. She has the face of a vampire, and that word probably describes her character. The Grand Duke is not here and has probably gone the way of all men of his kind long since.
Near her, and most intent upon the game, is a young American, who is called the easiest victim that has come to Monte Carlo in many a day. He has a face which most American mothers would be apt to trust, a smiling countenance, with dark eyes and hair, while his slender figure tells of his youth. It is said that he has dropped one hundred thousand dollars on these green tables within a short time. To-night he is certainly dead to all around him save that whirling ball. Poor fool!
Near me moves a smartly gowned, chic, French, auburn-haired woman, delicate in form and features, and wedded to that man near her, a huge edition of Louis XVI. Cupid's mind was preoccupied when he made that match. She is the author of several novels which have made some stir in the world, especially in English high life which she handles without gloves.
A woman behind me, evidently an American, is telling of her desertion by an American and of her destitute state. She will not fool the man who is with her now, as I discover by a glance. But what fools we mortals be, especially we men mortals! The other day in London I was dining at Prince's. The dinner was well advanced when I became conscious of a voice behind me, evidently an American and as evidently young. He was pouring out his life story to the woman, oblivious of all around him. To please his mother he had married a woman he could never love; in fact, he never had known what love was until he met his present companion.
"How old are you," he asked.
"How old do you think?"
"Not yet twenty-four," came the reply.
I managed by much manœuvering to catch a glimpse of her face; the usual thing, painted and dyed, certainly forty if a day. As I passed out, I asked the head waiter who she was. "Bless your soul, sir, one of the most notorious women of London; used to live at the Savoy; has ruined more men than she can count; age, well forty-five if a day; why she was old when I first saw her and that was long ago."
As he was talking, the couple passed me, the poor fool of a boy flushed with wine, the woman such a palpable fraud that it was of no interest to follow. In the glare of the street lamps she gave him a look and me a look, which fully told her story. While one may excuse such infatuation in a young man, one cannot do so in a man of middle life, for he surely knows that, while it is possible for him to attract the respect and even love of a good woman, a bad woman will have use for him only so long as his money holds out and he is a fool if he does not understand this. There are many such fools and homes are constantly being wrecked, lives destroyed by them. There are many such women in these rooms at Monte Carlo, and the ruin they strew broadcast is only a shade less in degree than that of the spinning wheels.
As I pass outside, the air is full of the balmy odor of the orange and lemon; the sky, deep blue, is spangled with myriads of stars and a new moon gleams over Monaco; while the waters of the sea lap a lullaby, and the world seems full of peace. The scene is beautiful past description and I linger a while on one of the many benches facing the Casino, linger until I discover that its other occupant is huddled up in the far corner with a face full of staring misery, and then as I pass onward I realize that almost every bench holds one or more such hopeless wretches.
But enough of Monte Carlo with its glitter and misery. Let us pass to Nice, stretching away on the shores of the sea with its pale yellow and green houses glowing in the sunshine and its promenade full of everything that can move.
OUR DEPARTURE FROM NICE—THE ROAD TO AIX—THE CITY OF KING RENÉ
I had greatly desired to make a long auto tour, but being alone save for Yama, my Jap servant, I had scarce the courage to start, so I decided to go by train to Paris, and was in fact booked by that of Saturday week. As I stand on the porch of the Hôtel des Anglais gazing with regret at the flashing machines as they glide by, an old acquaintance comes out and asks me to "take a spin in his," which I gladly do, with the result that before I return to the hotel I have engaged that same machine and driver by the month. So it is settled. I offer the owner some payment in advance, but he waves it aside, "Any friend of Mr. E. is all right." However, we shall see what we shall see. I secure, as is wise, a written agreement to the effect that I am to have the auto at the rate of six hundred dollars per month, everything included except the board, lodging, and pourboire of the driver, also that I am in no way to be held responsible for any sort of accident or breakage. This is necessary as otherwise one would certainly be charged with every scratch.
So it is settled that we start two days hence and I have some consultations with the chauffeur. Everything is arranged for an extended tour through Southern France or wherever I will, and then "Jean," the driver, says that the owner would like "half a month's pay in advance." I thought that smile of the other day meant something. He reminded me of Monsieur Blandois in Little Dorrit whose "nose came down over his mustache and whose mustache went up under his nose," but a pleasant man withal. Having disposed of my railway tickets and forwarded my heavy luggage to Paris, and all being ready, we start, stopping a moment to pay Monsieur half a month in advance. That is of course as it should be. Off at last. Away over the beautiful Promenade des Anglais we roll with all Nice glittering and gleaming a goodbye at us, while the sea joins in in a soothing monotone. Our route leads over the long Corniche road, "Autos de course" thunder by us at an appalling speed, would we plod on at a modest gait of forty-five miles per hour.
A moment's pause at Cannes to say goodbye to a friend, and we are en route once more. Cannes is beautiful, but agreeable only if one owns a villa and knows the people. Hotel life there is desolate. It is the Newport of this coast. Gorgeous yachts lie in its harbor, splendid villas gleam amidst the olive trees, and the people are mostly English. Here we leave the coast and sail,—that seems the best way to describe our motion,—up into the hills of Provence until the olives vanish and we are surrounded by the peaceful mountains, while the air is laden with the balsam from the pines. We do not sight the sea again, but the ride is glorious. The racing machines are now few and far between, so one does not hold on for dear life and is not choked in dust,—one's own dust never bothers.
The roads are simply superb, hard as a floor and magnificently made. They appear to have been sprinkled with petroleum.
Towards evening as we are gliding into the peaceful land of Provence, high on an adjacent peak stands a Madonna (which forces from Jean the confession that he has not been a good Catholic). The setting sun turns her crown into glittering gold and the sad green of the olive trees into silver. The peasants' horses are plodding peacefully homeward, with their tired masters sleeping soundly in the rumbling vans. It has always been a desire of mine to visit Aix, but it seemed a sacrilege, almost, to enter it in a train of cars. To-day, however, sailing onward, soundless and with no sense of motion save that of gliding, it is almost as though we are borne on wings until the first paving stone of the city jostles us down to earth once more. But even so we are spared the usual porters and omnibus and all the paraphernalia of an hotel in the twentieth century, and moving up to the portals of the quaint hôtel Nègre Coste, are welcomed by Madame in a black gown and a white cap.
Here my first day in an auto comes to an end, and rising, I shake myself, and, rubbing my eyes, step out, and instantly the auto, Jean, and Yama vanish, and I stand,—almost wondering whether they have ever been—gazing up at the statue of King René who died four hundred years ago, and who seems to smile and hold out his bunch of grapes as he welcomes me to Aix in his fair kingdom of Provence.
The voice of Madame recalls me from the royal presence, asking, "Is it Monsieur's wish to have a chamber for himself and one for each of his domestics?"
"Yes." (Jean might go to a cheap hotel, has even so suggested, but my life is in his hands and I want good service, such as can come only from good nature. Therefore Jean will stop in the house with me.)
This hôtel Nègre Coste has made no changes since before the great Revolution, and I doubt not but that members of the Committee of Public Safety or Revolutionary tribunals have entered this same door, nay, slept in that same bed where I shall presently forget all about them. It is my day now, theirs is done, and most of them have not even graves alone, but rest in the public fosses.
From my window I look down upon the Cours Mirabeau, though it bore no such name in his day. In this city King René lived and reigned in peace, the centre of all the music and romance of this section and apparently unaware of that werewolf Louis XI, awaiting just outside for his death in order to seize the kingdom. The "Cours" is long and narrow, with a promenade in its centre, the whole being sheltered by double rows of plane trees cut square over the tops, and forming beneath a long tunnel where the sunlight filters through the green gloom of the leaves, as thick here as in Vallambrosa. At the head of the Cours the statue of the king gazes downward upon the two old moss-grown fountains, where all form and shape has long since been lost in the passing years and plashing waters. To the music of one just outside my window in the quaint little hotel, I sink to sleep and dreams of King René and Margaret of Anjou intermingle with those of wild rushes over long highways.
The morning sunlight shines brightly, and Jean would like to move on, but Jean has not that sort of a man to deal with. The twentieth century and the automobile must wait while I spend some hours in exploring this quaint town, a decision of which Madame, mine hostess, approves, as she smiles from a seat near the door where she sits knitting and watching her hotel. Madame is old and knows many things, amongst them, that "Monsieur would visit the Cathedral, it is ancient and very curious, and is to be found far up by the first turn to the left."
Modern Aix holds some thirty thousand people, and to the great outer world is but little known. One hears much of Aix-la-Chapelle and of Aix-les-Bains, but little of Aix in Provence, yet to my thinking it is more interesting than either of the others, certainly than Aix-les-Bains, though the German city with its memories of Charlemagne holds its own for interest intense and abiding.
The Cours Mirabeau divides the modern city from its ancient fellow, and as I leave the hotel, I plunge at once into the dark and narrow streets of the latter where in René's day the poets, troubadours, and gallants held high revels. Aix was the home of politeness, the theatre of the courts of love, which in the valley of the Rhone can never be platonic—and there were held fêtes and tournaments, and life was all a song. It is not always the well-known objects which attract one most in these old mediæval towns but the quaint bits and corners, fountains and monuments unnoted in any guide-book. Yonder stately façade was surely the dwelling of some one of importance in the old days. To-day it is occupied by many of a far different order. An arched portal gives entrance to a courtyard with an old fountain. A stately façade beautifully carved rises beyond; and through a distant archway one catches a glimpse of a deserted garden where the trees form a wild tangle around broken statues, and there is the murmur of water, but the soul of the house has long since passed away. Perhaps in the days of the terror those doors resounded to thunderous knocking while the silence of the night and the peace of the house vanished forever at the dread summons, "Open in the name of the nation," a sure bidding, in those times, to the guillotine; and I doubt not that, with the courage of their class, Monsieur le Marquis and Madame la Marquise went forth to their doom calmly and with great dignity.
One could stand and dream forever in this town of old Provence, but the boys are gathering in curiosity as to why I gaze at a spot that has never attracted a passing interest in their minds. "No one save Jacques the huckster lives there, why should he excite any attention?"
The faded gilding in the ceilings of the great salon visible through the dusty window tells no tale of bygone splendour to the boys, no picture of Watteau figures in high heels dancing around that broken god Pan in the garden pass before their mental visions. To-day one shaft of that old cart rests upon his flute and a blossoming plum tree casts its white shower over his head, but his music is silent for ever.
In the square beyond stands the Hôtel de Ville which shelters in its courtyard an excellent statue of Mirabeau, and just outside rises one of the old towers of the city, now dedicated by a tablet to the souls of those who have lost their lives for their country. A young woman under its shadow tells me that I shall find the Cathedral just beyond, and in company with the archiepiscopal palace and the little university, there it stands in a square by itself. The Cathedral of St. Sauveur is very ancient. As I enter, the whole interior rests in silence save for the droning voice of some priest. Candles twinkle before the many altars, and the sunlight filters through the trees outside and the painted windows, casting wavering shadows down upon the empty aisles and many tombs. In the nave one may see the portraits of King René and his second wife Jeanne de Laval, and as you gaze upon them, the picture of his life unrolls itself across your mental vision. Born in the grim castle of Angers in 1409, René was married when but twelve years of age and his eldest child came on earth when the father was but eighteen. Eventually René, Duke of Bar and Lorraine, became Duke of Anjou, Count of Provence, and King of the two Sicilies. Though he held the last-named honour but eight years he never surrendered the title. He was a friend of Agnes Sorel and of Joan of Arc, women much more to his liking than his fierce daughter Margaret. René gave all his love to this land of Provence where his palace stood intact—here in Aix—until destroyed most wantonly in 1786. His progress thither was by state barges up and down the rivers—on the Loire to Roanne and thence over land to the Rhone at Lyons and so to Tarascon. Music and flowers, sunshine and happiness seem to have been his portion, yet there was one shadow—that of Louis XI. then the dauphin, whom he met for the first time in the Castle of Tarascon. At Tarascon he instituted the Order of the Crescent and held a fête which is remembered to this day. To his credit it is recorded that he gave protection to Jacques Cœur, fleeing from the ingratitude and treachery of Charles VII., and enabled him to escape into Italy. Having already said farewell to France and Anjou, René plainly saw the absorption of his beloved Provence by King Louis. His picture—some say painted by himself—here in the Cathedral does not impress one strongly. He was too old when it was done and while interesting and beautiful in detail one does not linger long in its contemplation. This cathedral was four hundred years old when René was born and portions of it date far before that, being of Roman origin. Especially is this the case in the baptistery whose superb columns came from the temple of Apollo. The cloisters are quaint and most interesting, and the temptation to linger is strong upon me, but time presses and so I pass outward and down the queer streets to where Jean solemnly seated in the Red Machine awaits my pleasure.
Yama has the luggage already packed in the auto when I reach the hotel and we are shortly off, jumping instantly back, or rather forward, from the fourteenth to the twentieth century. Madame smiles an adieu from her seat by the door and keeps on knitting, as those women of France have ever done through sunshine and sorrow, days of happiness and days of blood.
As we speed away, Jean catches sight of the Madonna high up on the mountain and heaves a great sigh, regret I suppose at the recollection of all those neglected confessions.
THE ROAD TO ARLES—THE CAMARGUE—RUINS OF ARLES—THE "ALISCAMPS"
Leaving Aix down in her bowl in the hills with the silvery olive and flowering almond and plum trees framing her quaint old face, we roll on over the finest stretches of highway I have ever imagined. This is the level land of the mouth of the Rhone and in the next two hours we have three bits of road of ten miles each, and all as straight as a string drawn taut. What speed we seem to make; how the wind sings, and how exhilarating! The machine, a —— of some twenty-four horse-power, makes now about forty-five miles an hour; yet we feel when one of ninety horse-power passes as though we were at a stand-still.
During the morning hours our route lies through many old towns; each of which has its memories. This one of Salon holds the castle of the astrologist Nostradamus and in her church of St. Laurent he lies buried.
From Salon our way leads directly west and we skim along for twenty miles through the flat land but see nothing of the Rhone until we reach and pass through Arles. Then we bring up suddenly upon its very brink with its yellow floods rolling southward at our feet.
On our right are the gateways of the famous old city of Arles, but my eyes are drawn off and away across the river and out over the fantastic land of the Camargue, a land more akin to Africa than to Europe,—that great "Field of Reeds" between the two branches of the Rhone, only a few feet above the level of the sea, where the ibis, Egyptian vulture, and the flamingo are to be found. The whole is so low and so covered with salt that it glistens and glitters under the morning's sunlight, while the air quivers and shifts above it, and is full of the mirage, taking on strange forms and fantastic shapes as the eye wanders over it.
The people out there are as wild as the cattle which roam its plains, and their manners and customs as oriental as those of the Arabs who invaded the land centuries ago, while its one town, Les Saintes-Maries, has all the characteristics of an African town of the desert, and there Mary Magdalene, Mary of Salome, and Mary the mother of James, landed to escape persecution.
We cannot go further into the Camargue now and so turn to where, on our right, the entrance to the ancient city of Arles is guarded by two great low round towers, beyond which stretches a vista of narrow shadowy streets full of attractions and inviting exploration. The main features of the old Roman town are too well known to justify description, but every street holds some relic of the past worth inspection, and on our way to the very comfortable inn, where we dine in plenty, my eyes are constantly on the alert and yet much is missed. There are two inns in this city of Arles situated at right angles to each other in the same corner of the public square and it would appear that whichever the traveller selects he will be subjected to the pitying glances of the proprietor of the rival establishment watching from the door of his own house; however, I find nothing to complain of either in the house I enter or in the dinner service.
The day is one of blinding sunshine as we draw up before the amphitheatre. Its great arches glitter against the blue sky and the white city all around us is as silent as a tomb. There are two pictures which must arise to the thoughts here: one, that of the place in the voluptuous splendour of its Roman days. The vast crowds thronging every space; the silver netting to protect them from the beasts in the arena; the fountains in these arches casting up scented waters; the sunlight filtering through awnings of gorgeous silks; the heat; the smell of perfumes and of fresh blood; the roar of the beasts and the murmur of the multitudes,—all these made Rome what she then was and kept the people from thinking. The other picture is so widely different that it is difficult to believe it can be of this same structure, choked from the summit to far underground with the hovels of the poor, every archway closed up, the whole centre a veritable rabbit warren—thousands of outcasts found their homes in this spot. To enter it was scarcely possible save to the initiated, to leave it also was well nigh impossible. A murderer from the town had but to disappear here and all trace of him vanished. If any ventured to pursue him they never returned to tell of what they had seen. Upon this mass of vileness the plague descended in 1640—It came many more times to Arles—none were allowed to come out and the dead and living crowded the place to its utmost hidden recesses. Finally they were summoned forth to quarters beyond the town and only the dying and the dead were left to occupy this amphitheatre of Arles. We have the scene of those horrors and of former gorgeousness to ourselves to-day and we wander in and out at pleasure.
All the world knows of the Greek theatre here of which there is much left, but of the quaint Cathedral of the middle ages less is spoken though it is of interest, especially the cloisters, where you may spend a pleasant half hour back in the myths of the past. You are told again that Martha and Mary came here from the Holy Land for there are their figures carved in stone, and also here that Mary conquered the dragon by a piece of the true Cross. The portal of the Cathedral is simple, yet so beautiful that I venture to reproduce it that you may judge for yourself. Enter, and you will find a very lofty, very plain, but very dignified nave of the twelfth century. As I leave the sanctuary, I am greeted by the priest in a dignified solemn salutation,—he does not raise his eyes, and I am evidently completely forgotten before he has turned away. A lot of boys, shut up in school in one of the chapels for some hours back, stop to stare at me for an instant and then go whooping away down the quiet streets of the old city.
Arles is truly a Roman town—aside from the Cathedral,—all Roman; her amphitheatre impresses you with its majesty, her theatre charms more in its ruins than it could have done two thousand years ago in its prime, and you will linger long in that beautiful avenue of the dead, "Aliscamps," (avenue of death) just outside the gates where stately lines of cypresses march away on either side, shading in a sad sort of fashion rows of ancient sarcophagi, ruined and empty. The place is vast in extent and in the days of its splendour, the dead were brought here even from Lyons. It is mentioned by Dante in his Inferno. Pagans and Christians sleep here side by side until the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
The weather has all to do with one's impressions of a country. I always associate France with a golden sunlight, for so many times I have left London, stifling under its black fogs, and literally sailed into the sunshine on the coast of France. So especially does sunshine form a part and parcel of Southern France, somewhat too strong and blinding in summer, but in the spring with its blossoms of fruit trees and in the autumn with its splendour of color and the dreamy odor of over-ripened fruits, the sunlight of France is,—well, just the sunlight of France, and those who have seen it will remember it always. To-day in the high tide of spring all nature rejoices. These ruins gleam white and pure, the city, like an ancient dame of high degree, bears a gracious aspect, the river dances and sparkles, and the long highways stretch off and off until lost in the midst of olive groves and blossoming fruit trees.
THE ROUTE TO TARASCON—CASTLE OF KING RENÉ—BEAUCAIRE—NÎMES—MONTPELLIER—AN ACCIDENT—NARBONNE, ANCIENT AND MODERN
Leaving Arles we speed northward to Tarascon and so drop downward a thousand years in history as Tarascon belongs to the Middle Ages.
To me these mediæval cities and fortresses are far more charming, far more interesting than the Roman remains with which this land abounds. The latter seem cold and the lives led in them so far different from our own, that with it and them we can have but little sympathy, but this does not hold with the France of the middle ages. There, all is warmth and color and distant music. So it is to-day at Tarascon; I can almost fancy that King René and his troop of minstrels yet hold high revels in yonder castle and I should not be greatly astonished to see its portals open and give egress to Margaret of Anjou on her departure for England. How, by the way, came such a woman, as history paints her, to be daughter of a king who cared only for music and grapes, and the joy of laughter?
This castle of Tarascon was King René's palace of pleasure to which he came from Aix and held high revel; here you may still see his chapel and there are many apartments of his time, amongst them his private rooms all of which I did not see, for the fat jailer would under no circumstances permit my entrance. My inclination for a fight in order to secure an entrance was strong, but then it occurred to me that the quarters to which I would be consigned might not be those of King René and my sojourn therein might be protracted.
It is shameful that such a place should be used for such a purpose and our intentions to effect a change are great as we roll off to inspect the town.
I must confess that in Tarascon it is not so much King René as Daudet's "Tartarin" who occupies my thoughts. On the whole, the place is very lonely or the people all asleep. Certainly it does not seem a spot to offer much adventure, but then, who can tell? As we repass the portals of René's fortress, the jailer sits sound asleep and his prisoners might escape without difficulty. The river is not very wide awake. I feel sleepy myself, and Jean and the auto are in like condition. Here, here, now! Wake up there, get your winged wheels and let's off and away!
So we spin past the frowning towers and crossing the Rhone by a fine bridge, pass through Beaucaire, where high above the river are the ruins of another castle once belonging to the Count of Toulouse. Wars and time have left nothing save its tower and the arches of a chapel, where Saint Louis prayed on his way to the Crusade. The Castle's last tenant was Duke François de Montmorency, the last of his line and a victim of Richelieu's.
Our ride to Nîmes is hot and dusty and under a glaring sun. Nîmes is another spot too well known to need mention, and, like most of the places well known and greatly talked about, it is not so interesting as one of which one has heard but little. Certainly Nîmes, a bustling, prosperous city cannot approach Aix or Arles in interest of story and romance, and she has aside from her Roman remains nothing to detain us.
I find that I am not alone in my opinion of these Roman remains. James in his Little Tour in France speaks of them as monotonous and brutal, and not at all exquisite. He referred especially to the amphitheatres at Nîmes and Arles. They are cold and cheerless even under a brilliant sunlight; perhaps the memory of their wild beasts and all the blood and slaughter have much to do with this. Certainly here at Nîmes, while one must admire the splendid arches and sweeping lines of the whole, one does not linger with any such pleasure as, for instance, in Heidelberg or among the ruined abbeys of England. The Maison Carrée is beautiful to look upon and you feel glad that there is such a gem, yet it is cold and you soon leave it with no regret. It stands on the busy street of a too large town, and trams rattle and rush by its door. You cannot picture men in togas and sandals on those steps to-day.
The rest of Nîmes, while probably a comfortable city in which to live, will not hold your interest for a moment and I roll off and away with no desire ever to return. How different our feelings at Avignon!
Leaving Nîmes we roll southward for some hours until Montpellier is reached at half past five. The roads have been fine but the ride not so pleasant as that of yesterday. Montpellier is simply a place to spend the night with nothing to see, a busy place of some sixty thousand people. The streets and sidewalks bubble and sparkle until a late hour with the life that is so dear to these people,—open cafés and tables all over the sidewalks, much wine but never a case of intoxication. No matter in what part of the world you find this nation, they will arrange some portion of their abiding place to resemble their beloved Paris. It is so here, it is so in Saigon, and would be so on a desert island.
This afternoon, during an enforced stoppage of fifteen minutes, I saw Jean smile, and looking round beheld a group for a picture. In the middle of the long dusty highway stood my little Jap servant gazing up into the face of an old French woman perched high on a pile of rubbish which loaded a small cart almost to the breaking point, the whole being drawn by the most diminutive donkey I have ever seen. Surely there was a strange juxtaposition; she who might have been a descendant of the Vixen in Dickens' Two Cities gazing down upon a representative of the far-off rising Empire. Yama is greatly amused by the carts drawn by small dogs, and in many ways he finds France different from the Land of the Morning.
This is our third day and we are leaving Montpellier, having passed from Aix to Arles, Tarascon, and Nîmes, and thence here, and have had but one mishap, not at all our fault. In a long, straight stretch of the Corniche, between Nice and Cannes, two men were walking away from us and we fortunately were not moving at high speed. Our horn was blown constantly and there were no other machines in sight. One of the men, knowing we should follow the law of the land and pass him on his left, kept his side of the road, but the other completely lost his head, and dodging from one side to the other like a chicken, forced us either to run over him or into the ditch. Of course we did the latter. Jean managed the auto so well that no injury was done, as the ditch was but a few inches deep, but then came the problem, how to get out. The soft mud rendered our own power useless, we simply churned holes. Finally a van came along, drawn by two stately Normandy horses, the driver, after a moment's inspection of our plight, calmly hitched on to our springs and drew us on to the high-road, after which the horses stood nodding their great heads at us as though to say, "After all you have to come to us when in trouble, as you are most of the time." A few francs called down a benediction upon us from the old driver and we skimmed away, the horses still holding converse concerning us as we vanished in a cloud of dust.
Jean takes as much interest in this auto as one does in a horse. He knows all its good points and one discovers its bad ones only by noting his watching of certain parts. The tire of the right hand rear wheel seems to bother him and late in the day that tire collapses. He claims that that wheel, being mostly off the crown of the road, or rather being forced off when we meet or pass anything is subject to a greater strain than the others, and we have some trouble until at Montpellier he buys some new ones, and to-day towards Carcassonne there has been no trouble—but I anticipate.
The ride from Montpellier to Narbonne, where we have luncheon, is pleasant but not of much interest. In one village the people are en fête for the return of Monseigneur, and we shortly meet his Reverence in a coupé, the only sign of affluence I have noted in all the land. When I ask Jean who is with his reverence, he suggests "his niece," and adds that it is marvellous how many "nieces" these priests have. Now that is the suggestion of Jean, who, as I have before stated, is not a good Catholic and does not go to Mass. I know, for I saw him, that the black-robed figure beside the one in purple was a priest.
Narbonne is only five miles from the sea, and one may scent the salt marshes even in her streets. In the days of her birth, five centuries before our era, she was surrounded by lakes and so connected with the sea, making her one of the most important ports of the great Roman Empire. She is described as beautiful in the year 95, possessed of theatres, temples, baths, a superb capitol, and all that in those days made the splendour of a Roman city. All this has vanished utterly in the passage of Visigoths, and Saracens,—who defied Charles Martel and Pépin until treason aided the latter. Its history onward is that of France, but its decay began one hundred years before day dawned on America, at which time the Jews were expelled and the port began to fill up through the bursting of a dike.
To-day we roll into a commonplace town with but two relics even of the middle ages, and nothing at all of the more ancient periods. A fragment of a cathedral and a bishop's palace alone attract the eye. Of the former there is little of interest, though it would have been a great shrine if completed. The palace has a stately façade, but nothing inside worthy of note.
We find a comfortable hotel here with a garrulous old lady seated near its door, who immediately asks me where Madame is, and on my telling her that I am not married, offers to bring forth several applicants for the empty post, adding that I am none too old, as she herself married again but lately at sixty-five, and I am but a boy. However, I decline the proffered assistance, and we roll away out of the very ancient city, leaving the old dame shaking her head at the "queer ideas of those Americans."
THE APPROACH TO CARCASSONNE—ITS PICTURESQUENESS, ITS RESTORATION AND HISTORY
The ride from Narbonne via Béziers proves most enjoyable. As we leave the town, the air becomes cooler, and from the summit of a hill the Pyrenees range into view, a long line of glittering snow marching in stately procession across the southern horizon.
The air is full of the buoyant freshness of the hills, and one's thoughts turn to pine forests and rushing waters. Over the superb highway where in ancient days stately processions passed to and fro from Spain, our machine glides on with a sweeping, flying motion, until I find myself leaning over and looking for the wings which should project from the centre of each wheel,—winged wheels, surely.
What intense satisfaction such a journey brings, how different from that of the most luxuriant train, where, no matter how comfortable our bodies may be made, our eyes are constantly irritated by being shut off from some desired view of mountain, town, or castle, by a deep cut or long line of freight cars. One has a proscenium box always when in an automobile, and is enabled to ring down or up the curtain at will. So to-day with not eyes enough to see the beauties of this fair land, we glide onward to the beating of the wings when suddenly on a hill before us sharply silhouetted rise the towers of Carcassonne. The old poem is at fault this time—I have "seen Carcassonne" even though I approach no nearer and surely the prospect is enchanting.
But is that Carcassonne, or any town built by man's hands? I have seen many a mirage in distant deserts like unto this before me. Through the fantastic dancings of the afternoon's waves of light, the old city looms up as though cut out of black cardboard. Sharply and clearly against the tawny background stands forth every tower and pinnacle, cathedral spire and parapet. Behind it, rise the yellow hills, the green mountains, and the eternal snows, while to the north, east, and west, stretch the undulating valleys of France, clothed now in a blanket of spring blossoms, and over all arches the deep, fathomless, southern sky.
Occupying the top of a hill in the middle fore-ground, yonder dream city of the dark ages needs but the flaunting banners of its ancient lords and the call of trumpets to make the picture perfect. But it is ghostly and silent as we roll by, taking no note of the passage of this strange machine, which, in the Middle Ages, would have produced great commotion amongst its defenders and peopled the walls and towers with thousands to see us pass. To-day no living thing gives evidence of life, not even a dog barks, and as we glide onward and leave it, I wonder again—"Was that Carcassonne, or indeed its mirage? Shall we find it ahead of us; are there two such places in this world of the twentieth century?"
Crossing a fine bridge, we pass through the streets of a comparatively modern town, and draw up at the excellent Hôtel Bernard. It does not take long to wash the dust off and I am shortly en route in a carriage to investigate the old Cité. How ridiculously slowly these horses move, how the trap jolts! It is hot and dusty and there is no singing of the wind as we do not rush along.
I would advise those who would retain their romantic impressions of Carcassonne to content themselves with the vision which greets their eyes in the approach and passing. Then the Cité will dawn and vanish clothed in all the romance of its centuries, but when you really approach its walls and, crossing its drawbridge, enter its portals, all the romance vanishes in a flash. I suppose, as an example of a walled and fortified town, it was well to restore Carcassonne, but from a picturesque and romantic point, such restorations are always a failure. Carcassonne in ruins and covered with trailing vines would yet speak and relate its story, holding you enthralled for hours as you clambered over ruined towers and churches and the abodes of those so long dead. There are the foundations laid by the Romans, with the superstructures of the Visigoths and the battlements of later periods. In yonder citadel there are dungeons under dungeons, and a prison of the Inquisition. That cathedral was founded in the fifth century, rebuilt in the eleventh and twelfth, and restored in 1853. In fact to-day you will find a perfectly restored city, (and still the work goes on), its angles are all sharp, as though cut out of cardboard. You may not enter its citadel used as barracks, but you will in the tour of its walls mount perfectly new stairs, unlock new doors, and find sound floors beneath your feet. Not a shadow of romance or interest attaches to any of this, nor can you re-people in your imagination the place with the life of long ago. As a most perfect example of a walled town it is worthy of inspection, but Viollet-le-Duc has done so much for it and written so much about it, that it would be useless to enter here into detailed description. Loches which we will visit later, is to me of far greater interest and it cannot be said that that is merely a castle and this a whole city, for within those walls is an entire town, and there the ghosts are ever present to one's thoughts.
Carcassonne dates from the days of the Romans, but its higher and greater wall was erected by Theodoric, King of the Visigoths, upon the site of the Roman structure. With the advent of the Moors (713), silence descends upon its history, and does not raise the curtain for four centuries. Of this occupation there are no traces; which is most unusual—not a horseshoe arch or a bit of Arabic in all the town, yet it is said to derive its name from a Saracen Queen named Carcas.
The next we learn of it is in the year 1209 when it is besieged in the name of the Pope by Simon de Montfort.
The result of the Albigensian "heresy"—this revolt against the symbolism and mysteries of the Church of Rome—fell heavily upon all this section but most terribly upon Carcassonne when Simon de Montfort with a French army attacked this French fortress.
Baptism, the Mass, the Adoration of the Cross, and the sale of indulgences were absolutely rejected—with what effect one can imagine;—all this some centuries before Luther. The danger of this to the Pope and his Church promptly moved the powers of Rome to action. Béziers, through which we passed this morning, was the first point of attack, when forty thousand were slain. No quarter was given—orthodox and infidel, in all one thousand were put to death—"God will know his own," shouted the Abbé of Cîteaux; "slay them all."
Into its great Church of St. Nazaire crowded both men and women, and the priest tolled the bells until all were dead. The news of this horror caused every town to open its gates save Carcassonne, which for fourteen days was the scene of continual slaughter before it fell through want of water and famine. It is stated that three hundred thousand from all over Europe assembled here, drawn by the promises of pardon and indulgences.
How peaceful the scene to-day! How green the grass, and how blue the heavens!
It was Louis IX, who made the "Key of the South" impregnable, clearing away the surrounding town and establishing it across the river where it now is. He had the outer line of the fortifications constructed around the Cité, forming a sure refuge in all the wars with Spain. Carcassonne was never again taken by storm and when the Black Prince devastated the lower town, the Cité did not open its gates. It is stated that it required one thousand four hundred men to defend these walls and to this must be added some two thousand workmen, servants, etc.—To-day a few cannon would soon blow these towns into dust.
The custodian rolls all of this off to you as he pilots you around the inner wall, up and down ladders and staircases, and into all sorts of impossible places, which would be of interest if they were not all so new; but the theatrical effect is beautiful, and so theatrical that one is surprised to find this tower of stone, not canvas, and yonder battlement entirely safe to lean upon. From the ramparts, the traveller will observe that between the outer and inner walls the space was once occupied by the hovels of the poor, but they are all gone now, and also that, around the outer circle where the moat once was, the grass mounts to the wall itself, so that one may encircle the Cité and find nothing to distract one's attention from the old town save the wonderfully beautiful panorama of the distant mountains or far stretching valleys, all violet and pale rose in the light of the fading day. In his inspection of the Cité one finds nothing of interest save the church, as the houses are those of the middle classes. The church holds some interesting monuments. There is no semblance of palace or "hôtel de ville," and the château seems but an empty shell. I am not allowed to enter it, which I do not greatly regret, and so turning again I pass one of the portals,—and emerge from the walls of the Cité, the outer circle of which is some sixteen hundred and the inner twelve hundred yards in circumference, so that the space enclosed is not so great as that at Loches, I think. Carcassonne has but two portals, each over double draws and many portcullises. Its towers are all named and, as I have stated, they have not forgotten to call one the Tower of the Inquisition, with, I doubt not, much truth, but its walls are new, its door and floors both new, and when one enters into comparisons—which at all times are odious—with Loches, Nuremberg, or Salzburg, one quietly turns from Carcassonne, gets into the carriage and drives away, wishing again that one had been contented with that first fantastic panorama spread against that tawny sky.
THE ROUTE TO TOULOUSE—GREAT MACHINES ON THE ROADS OF FRANCE—DELIGHTS OF AN AUTO—TOULOUSE—ITS UNIVERSITY—THE CHÂTEAU DE ST. ELIX
There is nothing of interest between Carcassonne and Toulouse and so we speed along at thirty-six miles an hour on the wide highways reaching Toulouse at eleven o'clock A.M.; seventy-five miles in just two hours is quite fast enough, for the wings again come out and the sensation is therefore as near angelic as mortal man is permitted to enjoy. The projection of our hood prevents that incurling of dust, which is the curse of autos without these tops, and I find that my linen keeps remarkably clean. I could have gotten along with much less clothing, and I have only a shirt case full as it is. A dress-suit case with perhaps the addition of a hand-bag, will hold all that a man needs.
Such a ride as that of to-day demonstrates one of the many advantages of an auto over a carriage and horses. One can loiter when desirable, but one can also pass quickly over the tedious stretches which must occur in all journeys. To-day, for instance, we covered the seventy-five miles with actual pleasure, while the journey in a carriage would have taken two long, hot dusty days of absolutely no interest.
An auto is also cheaper than a team. I could not have hired any sort of horses and a comfortable trap for less than ten dollars a day and could use the team certainly not longer than ten hours per day, whereas this machine, a 25-horse-power, at twenty dollars per day, costs me less than a dollar an hour and can be used every hour of the twenty-four. So that ride of seventy-five miles, all expenses included, cost about two dollars. Of course, the expense of renting an auto by the month counts in the possible delays by sickness, or otherwise, but I have so far had none of these occur, and if I may be allowed to anticipate, can state that in the three months' tour covering nearly five thousand miles, I was never laid up save when I so desired. If I had owned the machine, my expenses would have been enormous. Mr. B. of New York, whose auto (a new one) met him at Naples, told me that he had spent one thousand dollars in tires between that city and Paris. I have paid my twenty dollars per day, and no extras save the board and lodging of my chauffeur. If I lived in Paris I should own an auto, but under no other circumstances. It is always cheaper and more satisfactory to rent than to own. This holds good with electrics as well as gasoline. For three seasons I rented an electric in Newport. It was brought in the morning and taken away at any hour I desired, late or early, and all expenses were covered by the two hundred dollars per month. For two seasons there I owned an electric which cost me certainly one hundred dollars per month and I had it barely half the time and was never sure of it. It ended by my giving it to my brother-in-law, who has scarcely spoken to me since. If you own, your chauffeur, like your butler, is forced to be in league with the tradesman. If you rent, he makes nothing by accident or delay and runs the risk of being dismissed by his employer if the car meets with accidents or delay through his fault. Of course, the pleasure, and a great one, of running the car is lost. I have not and shall not attempt that at all, as I well know that if I ran it but ten feet and all went well, any accident which occurred during the after time would be attributed to that ten feet. I should certainly wish to feel very sure of myself before running a great car on these roads where those of tremendous speed are constantly passing me. The slightest nervousness or error as to handle bars would mean death to all. I neglected to add that owners of cars must insure against all accidents, and also insure the life of the driver, whereas renting, as I did, from a responsible party, all that was upon his shoulders, not mine. If the car had been wrecked past repair and the chauffeur killed, in fact, from every sort of accident, I was held blameless.
When I dismissed it at Geneva, I asked George whether it would be of service for another long tour. "Certainly, sir. It would be well to expend about one hundred dollars on it, but it would go all right without even that. We have covered nearly five thousand miles and it is in very good condition. Also we have met with no losses, save a few pneumatics." But I anticipate—
I noticed at Montpellier, when Jean thought a new envelope was necessary for one of the rear wheels, he telegraphed to the owner at Nice before he bought it.
Toulouse, a city of 150,000 people, is one of the most prosperous in France, but it is not a place of interest for the tourist, and if the automobilist finds dusty, disagreeable roads anywhere in France it will be around this city of the Southwest, because of the very high winds prevailing in this section. Its past dates back some centuries before its capture by the Romans, and around and in it history has been made hard and fast throughout all these passing years until the present, when it is happy, contented, and prosperous, even if commonplace. It possesses probably the oldest literary institution in Europe, dating from 1300, and one which observes the singular custom of distributing flowers of gold and silver to its laureates; all of its prizes take the form of different flowers in gold or silver.
But this does not interest the ordinary mortal and as we roll into the city over her rough pavements, I feel ordinary,—the high, hot winds irritate, and I am glad, after a very comfortable luncheon at a very good hotel to start forth towards Pau.
The people of Toulouse have evidently never seen a Japanese before and I feel sorry for Yama, so great is the crowd around us at all times, but if he objects to the scrutiny his stolid, expressionless face gives no sign thereof.
The day becomes hot as we turn southward toward St. Gaudens. About an hour and a half out, an ancient château, evidently unpolluted by restoration, is seen on the right. I hesitate as to whether I shall stop, but it is hot and we are moving so well that I give up the idea, when, pop! a tire is torn wide open. Now we must stop and not three hundred yards from the château, which an old peasant, washing clothes in a brook, tells me is well worth a visit, and the lord of the manor willing to allow one. In the meantime poor Jean is down in the dust and when he pulls out the pneumatic finds a hole as large as a dime. Heat is the worst enemy of these pneumatics as the delicate rubber will not stand it. However, the work is finally done and we move off to the entrance of the Château de St. Elix. It is surrounded by its village and one approaches through an avenue guarded by stately gates. A wide moat in which water still flows is crossed by an ancient bridge, and beyond rises a structure of the date of Francis I. A central portion with an enormously high mansard roof is supported by two huge round towers, one on either side, crowned by cone-shaped tops. A winding step leads to the main portal, where a servant stands awaiting my approach. "I am a traveller, will it be permitted to inspect the château? I am told it is of great interest." I hand in my card which is carried to the master off somewhere in the out-buildings, which on one side appear to be stables, on the other, gardener's cottages and hot-houses. When he comes I meet a pleasant-faced young Frenchman, who smilingly conducts me to the house, his home, to which he seems much attached, and to me it proved most interesting.
A long wide hall leads straight from the front door out upon a rear terrace which overlooks a great square garden holding many rows of cedar trees cut in all sorts of fantastic shapes, no two alike. One represents a huge bird upon its nest, another a layer of mushrooms, while a third is round as a ball, and a fourth square as a box. "They have been trimmed that way for centuries and would not know how to grow otherwise."
But to return to the house. We enter a vast apartment with heavy rafters gilded, and in blue. Its walls are hung in ancient Flemish tapestry and a huge fire-place occupies one end. There are many curious pictures and ancient objects of art. Evidently the place has remained unchanged for centuries. What a sense of repose these places afford one, how far off the bustle of the world seems! I mention this to mine host, but he shakes his head replying, "There is little peace in France." In one of the great round towers is a library, and behind the salon a wide drawing-room where things are of the fashion of the great Louis, and where that monarch would not feel the lapse of years or out of place if he could return. Crimson damask, fast going to tatters, cover the walls, from which ladies in high wigs and gentlemen in court dresses question "your presence here in such a costume." The Grand Mademoiselle is in great array, but Marie Antoinette knows the vanity and sorrow of all things and smiles sadly at you. Here I discover that the present family have owned the château for only one century. The portraits are all of the ancient race who died out long ago. That painting under the groined roof of the great hall is of the last of that line, the Baron de St. Elix, who died childless and so the house passed to strangers. Whether the Terror was the cause of his death or not, I could not discover, but that man in the hall would have gone to the guillotine with dignity, of that I am sure. If his shade ever returns, he must feel grieved at the sadness of these old towers of his race. Some of that same sadness is reflected in the face of the present owner as he watches us speed away into the greater world of which he knows so little and which means life and progress to him. The sunlight strikes athwart the ancient portal and the stately towers, turning the garden into green and gold, lighting the village and its ancient dames in a sad sort of fashion, emphasizing the silence which is a part of it all.
A turn in the long avenue and we are off and away down the dusty highway, leaving the Château de St. Elix to its dull repose.
THE DEATH OF A DOG—ENCOUNTERS ON THE HIGHWAY—TRAVELLERS BY THE WAY—PEOPLE OF THE PROVINCES—LOURDES—HER SUPERSTITION AND HER VISIONS
Later in the day as we speed down a long incline the only thing in sight is a huge van drawn by three horses tandem. Jean sounds his horn constantly, which has the effect of causing them to straggle all across the road. No man is in sight—nothing save an old dog that is working his best to get the horses into line and out of our way. This he succeeds in doing, but alas, though Jean does his best to save him, he goes down under our wheels and I distinctly feel the crunch, crunch, as we pass over his poor old body, driving the life out. As I look back, it is only an old dog dead in the dusty highway with some old horses gazing down at his quiet figure. They have been friends for so many years,—it is all over now. When we see the stupid driver emerge from beneath the van, where he has been asleep in a swinging basket, we almost regret that it was not he instead of the old dog. My man did his best to save the dog and felt as badly as I did over his death, but he must have ditched the auto with danger to us and wreck for the machine to have done other than he did.
These vans are the terror of these highways and the government should either banish the automobiles or force the van drivers to attend to their charges. We passed dozens to-day with the drivers fast asleep underneath, as was this man, or if not asleep then yards behind their teams. Several times serious wrecking was prevented only by Jean's cool head and prompt hand. There should be a law passed and enforced with a fine, that would correct matters. The death of that poor old dog saddened the whole day.
About five o'clock in the afternoon, as the shadows lengthened and we were passing slowly through the streets of Lannemezan, on rounding a corner we were confronted by two hogs and a driver—the lesser beast fled away in terror, but the larger—a good-sized porker,—kept his place firmly planted in the middle of the road, while with his ears pointed forward and snout lowered, he gravely regarded our approach as much as to say, "Let me see, let me see, what have we here?" Just then Jean ran the machine gently against him and bowled him over, whereupon the air was rent asunder by squeals from his astounded and indignant pigship, and a volley of oaths in the patois of this section from his master, which together with remarks from Jean and shrieks of laughter from Yama rendered the spot anything but tranquil. The personalities and profanities of these two Frenchmen would certainly have caused their telephones to be removed if passed thereover.
Our route all the afternoon is glorious, on a high table-land, overlooking the Garonne and commanding the sparkling Pyrenees as far as the eye can reach both east and west; the air is fresh and full of life.
St. Gaudens and Montréjeau are passed in turn, and Tarbes reached at six o'clock, where we descend at the Hôtel de la Paix on the main square. The hotels in all this section show the influence of Spain. This one has a patio and the one at Carcassonne also possessed one with a raised platform at the end over which a vine was twined and under which Carmen might have carried on her flirtations. Three autos arrived while I was in Carcassonne, a large one with three Englishmen, which had destroyed three tires that day and caught on fire; a small one of twelve horse-power with three men, and one just like ours, of twenty-four horse-power. This held a lady, a maid, and two dogs. Imagine travelling in an auto with two dogs. Jean says the lady is an American countess and seems surprised when I tell him that we have no titles in America. He might have replied that we try to marry as many as possible, which is quite true, to our sorrow generally. This person looked like a painted countess of the stage.
One must journey through the provinces in France to find her men and understand the source of her past power. Those we meet with daily are a fine, manly looking lot of fellows, bright eyes and erect, sturdy figures, nothing effeminate about them, in all ways superior to the men of the towns who would seem to be descended from the old men and boys, all Napoléon left in the land in his wild race for self glory. What a magnificent figure his would have been in history had he placed France first and remained First Consul! How absurd that play at Emperor! Of his military and executive genius there can be no question, but for his own glory he deliberately sacrificed France and hundreds of thousands of her best men. His family playing at royalty always reminds one of some stage performance; "Belles of the Kitchen", for example.
I think we made a mistake in coming via Toulouse. It would have been more interesting to have gone via Montreal, Pamiers, and St. Gaudens. If I ever come this way again, I shall keep nearer the Pyrenees. The run to-day has covered from Carcassonne at nine o'clock to Tarbes at six, one hundred and seventy-five miles. It is but thirty miles further into Pau, but man and master both are weary and the auto must be hot, to say the least.
In Tarbes,—at the Hôtel de la Paix,—we find our last stopping place before Pau, a town with a comfortable little inn and but little else of interest. From there we turn southwest for an inspection of that centre of the greatest superstition of the nineteenth century, Lourdes. The ride is a pleasant one down, or rather up, a valley with a rushing river. Lourdes is found nestling in a nook of the foot-hills of the Pyrenees while high in its centre rises an ancient castle with the distant range of snow as a background. The location is beautiful, much like Salzburg, but Lourdes is a bustling busy city full of fine shops and big hotels, though I think I should have to be paid handsomely to sleep in any bed in the town. This is not the season, and therefore we perhaps have a better opportunity to inspect the theatre of the place, for one can call it by no other name. Beyond the castle and in a valley one first sees a sweeping circle of arches forming an approach to a species of Pantheon, at least shaped like the Roman structure and on a rock directly behind and above towers a Gothic church. Both are crammed with votive offerings of all sorts and descriptions. Passing around to the right one comes upon the sacred grotto. It is directly under the higher church, in fact, in the rock upon which that edifice stands, a simple grotto of slight depth and some thirty feet high. In a niche on the right is an image of the Virgin in white with a blue scarf. Hundreds of votive candles blaze and smoke in the grotto, smudging the whole with nasty soot. The sacred and healing spring issues from a spigot, in the front centre of the grotto, and the faithful are constantly drinking its water. Rows of benches occupy the space before the cave, which is enclosed by an iron grill, wherefore! one wonders. Certainly there is no one who would steal those candles and there is nothing else. On the left one sees a tablet upon which is inscribed the words of the peasant's dream as uttered by the Virgin, "Go to Lourdes, bathe, drink, and be cleansed," while the entire space and roof of the grotto is hung thickly with the discarded crutches, wooden legs, &c., &c., of those who, following the divine instructions, were healed. The water has been conducted into adjacent baths for men and for women, and I fancy it is the unusual cleanliness which produced the cures. Certainly there are many past all hope of cure even here, for the place is full of disgusting beggars. The whole affair is, as Jean announced, "good for commerce and politics." It is the greatest evidence of the superstition of the Middle Ages which Europe can show to-day. Let us leave it. Lourdes as God made it and its ancient rulers left it, is beautiful; Lourdes as that name means to-day is vile. No one with any regard for his health would venture near there while a pilgrimage is in progress. It is a relief to get off into the country where disease does not seem to hang in the air.
PAU AND THE LIFE THERE—DELIGHTFUL ROADS—ANCIENT ORTHEZ—MADAME AND HER HOTEL—THE CHÂTEAU OF BIDACHE AND ITS HISTORY
Our ride to Pau is down the banks of the Gave de Pau, past quaint towns and churches and many mineral baths. Near noon, that well known watering-place of Southern France comes into view, her famous terrace rising high over the river; crowned by a line of hotels and villas, and with the ancient castle, the birthplace of Henry IV, rising majestically at its further end. In the valley rushes the Gave and beyond the foot-hills the higher Pyrenees rise tier on tier to the snows and clouds. The prospect is enchanting.
I should imagine that one might become very fond of Pau. It is a quaint old city, delightfully placid, and its promenade like one great proscenium box with God's theatre of the mountains holding perpetual performance before you, and most of your time will be passed on that terrace watching the lights and shadows as they chase each other past the many mountain peaks into far-off valleys leading into Spain. You will find yourself quoting Lucile on the slightest provocation, and will become romantic if you remain too long. The window of my room in the Hôtel de France,—a good hostelry by the way,—overlooked terrace, valley, and mountains, and I found myself hanging out of it in a most dangerous fashion at all hours of the day and night, until sleep and the murmuring river drove me to bed.
The lover of golf will find in Pau, I am told, the best links in Europe. The hunter may follow the paper fox any day and the drives must be endless and all beautiful. Yet I fancy the stranger in Pau has little time to spend on them,—the social life being more attractive. It seems to be a pleasant existence, not too strenuous, and composed of pleasant people. The usual run of tourist does not come here, which is greatly in its favour.
Its château, which has been judiciously restored, holds many beautiful rooms and much of interest within its wall, but I shall not describe so well known a building.
Monday, April 3d.
The day of our departure opens cloudy with threatening rain and I am in doubt as to going forward. However it may clear by ten, and as Jean has been "summoned" for fast driving and is now in court, we must wait at all events. I do not know why they have selected Jean for a victim. We are not of the great racing community and never have gone more than thirty-eight miles an hour. Perhaps it is because of the killing of the poor old dog, or maybe because of the old lady who climbed a tree,—then again that porker may have entered protest at our too close attentions. However, it will be but a small fine if anything. Jean returns disgusted. It was all because of a "spurt" a month ago between Nice and Monte Carlo when Mr. E. had the auto. They made no move during the weeks in Nice but tracked him by his number all over our crooked course from Nice here.
We are finally off after having bidden mine host of the Hôtel de France au revoir, with thanks for the pleasant days passed in his excellent establishment and having insulted the little fat porter by asking him if he is not a German,—an insult wiped out by a franc. We roll off through the streets of this ancient capital and for a dozen kilometers fairly skim over the long white road, when an appearing sign-post shows Jean that he is off his route and we must perforce return until we find a cross-road that will put us on our way once more, a course which proves to be one of the longest stretches of straight road which we have encountered and for mile after mile the auto fairly flies. It is cloudy and there is no dust, so the sensation is delightful. It is marvellous how quickly the nerves become used to this rapid motion, so that one minds it no more than in a railway train, nor is the speed realized until the auto begins to slow down. One certainly loses all fear and ceases to hold on for dear life, and also is no more alarmed for the safety of men and beasts,—not that auto cars instill a desire for murder, but one certainly does become a species of Nero, and had that gentleman possessed an auto, Rome would not have been forced to endure so many quiet days under his rule as history relates. There would at least have been greater variety, and the game of nine pins, with useless Christians as the pins and autos as the balls, would have been much in vogue.
We halt in the town of Orthez for luncheon and I note an ancient tower which will be visited after the inner man has become satisfied. The Grand Hôtel is another of those comfortable little inns with which France abounds and the smiling landlady assured me that when she saw us rush by she knew we would return, for there was no more comfortable inn than hers and no more agreeable landlady than herself in all France. How impossible it would be in America to find in our small towns such accommodations. Here is a scrupulously clean house and I am served with a most appetising luncheon. Two kinds of native wines, a good soup, shirred eggs, an entrée, a nice piece of steak with potatoes, a pastry, cheese, fruit and coffee, all good, and for three francs.
Orthez, the ancient capital of Béarn, is a very quaint old town. Its tower is a remnant of the château of the Counts of Béarn and its streets, bordered by ancient dwellings with high slate roofs, belong to long past days. The world would never have returned to these old towns of France but for the autos, and under their passing all the post-houses are opening their eyes once more, like old gentlemen aroused from a nap, and the horns of the modern machine are not unlike in sound the ancient post-horns.
After luncheon I mount the hill to the tower, which I find in stately seclusion amidst a grove of trees and still surrounded by its moat full of stagnant water. I have it all to myself and the old stones seem desirous of telling their store of legends from the days of chivalry. The tower reminds me of Niddry, from whose windows the Scotch queen gazed downward on her first day of freedom after Lochleven. Like Niddry this is but an empty shell now, but the view from it is characteristic of France. Long lines of white highways bordered by stately Lombardy poplars, a smiling river wandering here and there, now through quiet meadows and just there where it passes through Orthez, under an ancient bridge with a tower in its centre. The steep roofs of the old town cluster around the base of the castle hill and a tall church spire points the way to heaven. On the green slopes of the hills are numerous châteaux embowered in blossoming fruit trees, lilies bloom in the stagnant moat of the castle, tall and fair, and some yellow flowers yonder cast a cascade of gold over the delicate tracery of a ruined archway.
Descending the hill, I express to Madame at the hotel my feelings that she lives in an interesting old town. "Oui, Monsieur, mais très triste." Surely, but places that have watched the passing of so many centuries, with all their joys and sorrows, must seem sad.
Our ride during the afternoon is delightful, not by the direct route to Bayonne but via Sauveterre and Bidache. As we approach the latter place, a turn in the road brings in view a magnificent mansion, part castle and part palace. As it rises majestically on its terrace above the river it resembles Linlithgow, is as stately as Rheinfels, and, like both, is all in ruins. An old peasant on the highway tells us that many visitors go there and so Jean turns the auto into a shady lane and drives past some old cottages, near one of which the custodian stands smiling and is more than willing to go with us to yonder stately mansion, through whose empty windows the birds are flying and over whose walls the ivy tumbles in dark green masses. It is the property of the Ducs de Gramont, though they seldom come here. We wander into the court of honour, into the banquet hall, open now to all the winds of heaven; stop a moment to gaze upon the majestic keep, and passing on emerge upon the terrace from which another vision of the fair land of France is spread before us. Seated here the old custodian tells her story. "This is the Château de Bidache, Monsieur, et de Gramont." It is not certainly known when it was founded but it was so long, long ago that it seems to have been here since time was. It is known to have existed in the eleventh century at which period its masters, the Barons de Gramont, were in continual strife with their neighbors, the Seigneurs d'Asqs and de Guiche, or uniting with them against the neighbouring city of Bayonne or any other which offered the show of an exciting encounter,—the necessary breath of life to the lords of those dark ages. England and Navarre both claimed its allegiance and its history has been the history of Navarre and France throughout all the years.
One of the most adventurous of the lords of Bidache would appear to have been Arnaud Guilhem II. de Gramont (1275). In wars with England, Navarre, and Spain, he sustained two sieges in the Château which was taken and burned. Then followed exile and departure for the Crusades, and a return at sixty-nine years of age. His tomb in the church of Villeneuve la Montarie was opened in 1860, when his long sword, casque, and spurs of gold were found in good condition after a lapse of five hundred and eighty-five years. He was but one of the many who made Bidache the theatre of their lives.
The Château was reconstructed in 1530, upon what scale and in what fashion you may see to-day even in its ruins.
In 1610, Louise Comtesse de Gramont, for an "intrigue galante", was tried by her husband's order before the parliament of Bidache, convicted, and executed. The endeavours of her father to save her, even by the aid of the King of France, were without avail, though the Count was later forced to grant her sepulchre in the tombs of his ancestors where she was interred with much state and ceremony. On this condition he was guaranteed relief from all attempts at revenge by the blood kin of the unfortunate lady.
Mazarin was entertained here in great state when he returned from negotiating the treaty of the Pyrenees; then the Château and all the country round about was en fête for days and Bidache was in the heyday of its popularity.
Years of silence settled after that upon the Castle, during which in the days of the great Louis this terrace, where I sit writing these notes, was constructed. Whatever sorrow this Louis XIV. brought upon France, the land certainly owes much of its beauty of architecture, which still abides, to him. Not alone in the Royal palaces but in or around almost every château of the land, one is sure to find something beautiful of his day. This terrace redoubles the charm and stateliness of Bidache, and when mortals lived within these walls it must have been a continual joy; it is so to-day to all who come this way.
Most of the improvements in the private châteaux were accomplished while the owners thereof suffered banishment from the court. Such was the case here with the lord of Bidache during the reign of Louis XIV. As usual another affair of love. To the terrace he added orangeries, fountains, and vast stables,—the latter still exist,—and Bidache reached the acme of its splendour in his day. Its library, placed on the ground floor of the great tower, was lighted from above by a dome more than thirty feet in diameter; below was a magnificent gallery of paintings (all destroyed in the final conflagration save those which had been taken to Paris) while the ground floor of the castle formed a vast armory, full of ancient and modern weapons.
In the Revolution, the Château was not greatly disturbed and certainly was not destroyed in that convulsion. It remained for a dishonest agent to commence this work during the period of the emigration and for a great conflagration on a night of 1796 to reduce the immense structure in ten hours to the state in which we find it to-day. However, no fire or storm can entirely destroy Bidache and as I wander through its superb court of honour and gaze upon its mighty towers and walls there is enough left, bowered as it is in curtains of ivy and many flowers, to impress itself upon the memory for many a day, to be remembered always as a thing of beauty, even after its death.
Turning reluctantly away, I bid the custodian farewell; she tells me she is very old and will not be here if I return, "save yonder where Monsieur can see the crosses on the hillside." I depart under her benediction, and, while Jean is at work and the auto beginning to breathe, I turn curiously to the present dwelling of the Duke of Gramont.
He comes here every year and occupies this very unpretentious structure just outside the park gates,—a long low, two-storied house. There is certainly a satisfaction to him in knowing that he has just claim to that stately ruin yonder with its history and its wealth of associations, and he shows his good taste in not attempting a restoration. Moving swiftly, the auto glides down a hill and off and away across the valley, while I turn for one last glimpse of the stately mansion, the Château de Bidache.
THE ROUTE TO BIARRITZ—BIARRITZ—THE HÔTEL DU PALAIS
The route thence into Bayonne is hilly and winding but good withal. Our car moves rapidly forward with all wings spread until that prosperous city is reached and passed, and we are on the route to Biarritz. The deep and powerfully-flowing river Adour near by shows the influence of the neighbouring ocean and there is that sense of spaciousness, that freedom of body and spirit to be experienced only by the sea, on the higher mountains, or upon our vast Western plains.
The traveller does not see the ocean itself until his machine mounts the last hill before reaching Biarritz. Nature has found it necessary to erect a huge barrier against the onslaught of all that water which just here in the right angle formed by the coasts of France and Spain rolls in with such terrible force that no wall built by man is able to withstand it. Hence the God of the earth erected these hills to protect his domain in the eternal warfare with the God of the sea, and Biarritz has set herself down on the outer side of the hills to have a good view of the conflict. Her green and pink villas and many hotels spread out before one on either hand, and down below cluster the hotels close to the water where even on "a quiet day" their windows are splashed by the attacking waves.
Fortunately the God of the earth has made this coast a rocky one, using these foot-hills of the Pyrenees as buffers against the sea; otherwise, the town would vanish some stormy night. In fact, even a rock barrier does not appear to have protected at this point, for surely in some wild moment of rage the storm dragon did seize a large mouthful from just this corner of Europe,—thus forming the Bay of Biscay,—and turning, dropped it in the shape of the Island of New Foundland in the dreariest portion of the Western Atlantic. (Examine the map for yourself.) There he hides his plunder in perpetual mists, where the fishermen from this coast go down to their graves annually by the hundreds.
Here to-day all is glorious sunshine with no thoughts of disaster. Off to the southwest the sparkling mountains of Spain stretch out and out until they blend with the swirling waters of the Bay of Biscay gleaming blackly, while to the northward the coast of France bears away on guard against further encroachments.
As we roll into the outskirts of the town of Biarritz, the route is mostly between high walls draped in trailing vines and pierced with iron gateways, through whose trellis-work stiff walks bordered by formal flower beds, are to be seen leading up to much more formal villas. There are some quaint signs on the many little hotels; here, for instance, is the "Inn of the Parlor of Love" in a shady corner all by itself. Jean seems inclined to stop, but I veto the inclination, and rolling swiftly onward, we shortly draw up at the door of the Hôtel du Palais, recently opened and so new that its magnificence hurts both the sense of smell and sight. It was originally the palace of the Empress Eugenie and stands just over the sea.
Turned into an hotel in 1893, it was burned down two years ago, and this is the rebuilt structure. Part of the palace remains. The main staircase is the original, and that woman in the days of her power and vanity must have swept down it many times. Even now she is not forgotten, as all the chandeliers bear the letters "N" and "E" in monogram. The location is magnificent, on the rocks right over the sea, whose waves in stormy times dash on the terrace and spray all the windows.
This is the so-called little season in Biarritz, the great season comes in July, August, and September, when the place is crowded, but now it is only pleasantly full, though this new hotel is not half filled.
This Grand Hôtel du Palais is evidently the Sherry's and Ritz's of Biarritz. The same life, exactly the same amount of gold lace and the same eternal dinner parties. As for the people, I fancy they are always English, Russians, or Americans. No German would pay the prices, much less a Frenchman. Yet they do not seem exorbitant. I have a very large front room with a commodious and complete bathroom, both having all the modern improvements, for which I pay twenty francs. The dinner is eight francs, and coffee and eggs three francs; add two oranges to the coffee and eggs and in New York it would be ninety cents, here certainly not more than seventy cents.
The house is a spacious structure, with grand marble halls, with an attractive dining-room almost on the water, and there is certainly one feature which to my taste could be adopted to advantage in our hotels. The old table d'hôte has vanished from Europe, with all its weary details. The long tables are gone and now the dining-rooms are filled with small tables. In most of the houses, as here for instance, one may dine at any time from seven to nine and the dinner is excellent, all one could wish to offer to any guest. I have been many times wearied and disgusted by the long bills of fare offered at our best hotels; what to order, and to be obliged to order at all is to me the great drawback. How much more attractive to find a good dinner ready whenever you desire and without words or thought. Let someone else do that for you, as the Shah said about our dancing. The dinner here costs only eighteen francs, and it is better than many a so-called feast at our American houses. The tables are beautifully decked with all that can be desired from flowers to linen and the service excellent.
THE ROAD TO THE MOUNTAINS—ST. JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT—ST. JEAN-DE-LUZ—MARRIAGE OF LOUIS XIV.—ISLAND OF PHEASANTS—THE ROADS IN SPAIN—THE SOLDIERS OF SPAIN—SAN SEBASTIAN
The Bay of Biscay roars in a sullen monotone this morning, but the clouds are high up and in the warm sunshine the valleys glow with the blossom of the fruit trees while the air is laden with the perfume of flowers and sweet grasses. We are bowling along toward St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, some fifty miles away at the base of the Pyrenees. The road is fine and the machine in good condition. Jean sings as he turns on full speed until we fairly fly down and up the hills and over long stretches of curving road. This is quite off the grand route and we meet no autos all the distance. The natives are more than usually surprised at our advent and the animals have evidently not known enough about such machines to be afraid of them. As we speed down a hill I notice in the road what appear to be small piles of brush; but as we near them, they begin to move and, as Jean with a swish and a jerk passes to one side, some small ears and a nose or two emerge from the bundles which have paused in a startled sort of fashion and a loud, scared "Hee-haw, hee-haw" rends the soft spring air. Those are quite the smallest donkeys I have ever seen impressed into service; in fact, later on, one sturdy boy simply picks up his beast and deposits it in a place of safety. They are always amusing animals to me. They never lose their ruminating tendencies inherited from ancestors bred in the silence of distant deserts, and save, as now, by the pointing of an ear or by a loud "hee-haw," take no notice of our rushing progress. They were here before auto cars and will be here when autos are things of the past.
We find St. Jean-Pied-de-Port deep in a dell in the foot-hills, and in a quaint little inn, furnished chiefly by dishes hung on the wall, we are served with refreshment for the inner man. As I enter the little dining-room, I find there two groups; in one is an Englishman and his wife, in the other, two Frenchmen. The former studiously avoid a glance, when I am looking in their direction; we must be in no way aware of the existence of each other—we have "never been introduced." The Frenchmen both bow as they meet my eye and in a few moments we are pleasantly conversing. You can make your choice, but to me the latter custom is more agreeable in travelling. Not that I do not like the English, for I most certainly do, still one cannot have too many of these small courtesies in one's fleeting life, and after all, it is the minute things which make our sunshine.
After luncheon I am recommended by the landlord to visit the castle which rises on a hill near the hotel. I have mounted but part way to the height where it stands when a soldier warns me off, "It is not permitted." I suppose the same regulations must hold all over the republic, but it would certainly seem an altogether useless rule off in these mountains, and one would have imagined from the peremptory gestures made that that old ruin was the key to France.
On our return trip we make a long detour to the west, where the roads are not so good and we are glad to strike the main highway once more and speed back to Biarritz.
While Spain is not commended for an auto tour, one can at least go so far into the ancient kingdom as the city of San Sebastian, her great watering place in the north.
The route hence, as far as the French frontier, is a delight to the automobilist. It rises and falls like the lines of a roller coaster or "Montagnes Russes" and you sail up on one side and down the other with a most delicious motion. Hills rise and fall, one's heart is gay and the scene is charming. To the right sparkles the deep blue Atlantic, while to the east and in front and far off to the westward, along the Spanish coast, range the sparkling Pyrenees.
As we roll into the plaza of St. Jean-de-Luz the people are dancing a fandango and I pause awhile to view the sight. The quaint old place is surrounded on three sides by its ancient houses. That of King Louis XIV. is to your left, while the square towers of the one which sheltered the Infanta are across the plaza, and those are seen in the accompanying illustration. Through the portals of the queer old church the fragrance of frankincense rolls out to you, while the air is full of the wild barbaric music of the land and the sound of the neighbouring ocean. In couples or singly as the humour seizes them, the people are dancing, dancing with a life and a motion known only to the Spaniards and Italians. Flashing eyes and snapping fingers keep time to the shaking of the many tambourines and the clash of sabots. Then the music changes to that of the beautiful Spanish danza; fingers cease to snap and the eyes to flash, and the motion becomes wavy and dream-like, as the dancers float hither and thither over the grass. Then suddenly the multitude falls upon its knees with bowed heads and crossed hands as the Host is borne along to some passing soul.
Passing onward, we pause a moment, to inspect the house where the grand Louis rested the night before he bestowed his affections, together with the crown matrimonial, upon the Infanta of Spain and then turn to her old palace, a quaint red and white brick structure, to which it is said strangers are admitted. A dainty maid answered my clamors of the bell but would not admit me; even the silver key had no effect. I think, had I been younger, matters might have prospered more to my advantage—as it was, I failed ingloriously and took refuge in the church of St. Jean, a very quaint old edifice where the influence of Spain is plainly evident in the rich gilding of the entire choir. Here also the men and women may not worship God together. The women have the whole body of the church while the men are confined to three galleries which rise one above the other on either side. The custom is still in force, but one wonders whether these galleries are over-crowded. If so, the men must be more religious than those in America.
The marriage of Louis and the Spanish princess was celebrated in this church of St. Jean, to which the bride advanced over a raised platform from yonder palace of the Queen-mother, Anne of Austria. Robed in white with a mantle of violet-coloured velvet, she is described as undersized, but well made, of fair complexion, and having blue eyes of charming expression; her hair was a light auburn. If she had been taller and had had better teeth, she would have been one of the most beautiful women in Europe.
Louis at that period was at his best, and is described as a head taller than either of his ministers.
Of the celebrated Island of Pheasants, where the Treaty of the Pyrenees and the contracts for this marriage were signed, there is little left. We passed it later on our ride to San Sebastian, turning off to Fontarabia for the purpose. Here, in a room half in France and half in Spain, French in its decorations in one half, Spanish in those of the other half, the Kings of Spain and France met, each advancing from doors exactly the same distance from two arm-chairs, two tables, and two inkstands—one of each in France and one of each in Spain. Neither monarch left his own kingdom but they embraced each other at the border line. We do not enter the Kingdom of Spain here but at Irun where we spend quite half an hour getting the auto and ourselves admitted. We must pay a toll of three francs and also deposit seven francs for the auto with the customs, but this is returned when we come back. Irun is a spot where the millions who have passed this way have paused in their progress to and fro. From the stately caravans down to these automobiles what a procession it has been.
How instantly the type of the people changes as we cross the border! What superb-looking women gaze at one over the line of this frontier! How deep and magnificent are their great black eyes! Yonder is a Spanish blonde with golden hair and brown eyes; what a subject for a painter, in that picturesque dress and framed by that window, draped in wisteria in full bloom!
The little soldier guarding here is funny to look at,—one cannot imagine his meeting fire and ball. Were our late opponents such boys? If so, we committed rank murder. His features are regular and he has fine eyes, but he certainly does not weigh one hundred and twenty pounds and is not five feet tall. However, his conceit is colossal, and he struts up and down with all the dignity of a Don Carlos, paying no attention to me until I happen to dismount near him and he gasps at my six feet and over. After a little, he attempts conversation, and asks if I am English. "No." And I hesitate to add "American," and when I do his eyes look doubtfully into mine until I smile and offer him my hand, which he smilingly accepts, and two francs seal our acquaintance; rather cheaper that than the unnecessary twenty million dollars we paid his country for a possession very doubtful in profit to us, some think, but——. We are off over the road into Spain and at once note the difference in its quality, bumpy and dusty and dirty, all the way, and I think on the whole that the people would rather like a break-down on our part. However, we roll into the modern town of San Sebastian and after a pause of some time turn back to France.
San Sebastian has no interest for the traveller unless there is a bull fight on at its fine amphitheatre, but there is none now and this is not the season here, so we coast back to the protection of the French republic, pausing an instant at the frontier to receive the seven francs.
The little soldier then shows me a wife and baby which he knows is more than I can do. So he smiles at me in happy content and would not think of changing places—that is if he had to leave wife and baby. At all events there is no envy in his glance as my red car speeds off towards France.
DEPARTURES FOR THE NORTH—CRAZY CHICKENS—GRAND ROADS—DAX—RIDES THROUGH THE FORESTS—FRENCH SCENERY AND PEOPLE—MARMANDE—"AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF FRANCE" AND ITS WORK
To-day we start for the heart of France. It is misty as we leave the hotel at Biarritz, but mist generally portends a fine day later on.
Our road to Bayonne passes along by the sea and is a delightful highway, running much of the time through fragrant pine trees. There are two routes between Biarritz and Bayonne, but this is much to be preferred to that by which we entered the former town. It is that to the right after passing the walls of Bayonne. In the other, to the left, one is bothered by trams and much traffic. The route by the sea must have been especially constructed for autos, and it is a splendid piece of work. Jean is evidently of the same opinion and much pleased, for he grunts, and the machine flies. Yesterday in one of his wild moments he actually took off the tail feathers of a chicken, with no further injury, so far as we could determine, to her ladyship, who flew to a neighbouring wall, where, missing the accustomed balance of said tail, she ignominiously tumbled into the dung heap on the other side. As we drew away, her lord and master, certainly a Bourbon, stood gazing down upon her very much as the grand Louis must have glared at de Montespan as he turned her out of Court.
Jean absolutely declines to pause or change his course for chickens, but he will do so for dogs. As for cats, the machine has yet to be invented that can take a tabby unawares, much less catch one; on the whole, they can beat an auto on a straight course, and yesterday a hobbled pony gave us a lively brush for an instant and at a fine gait too. Occasionally one meets a dog whose spirits are so broken that he cowers behind any available object moaning in fright, but it is not so generally, and the young steers, of which there are many, never give way. As for geese, they simply retire to a point of safety and scoff at us.
The mist shifts about us all the way to Bayonne, and when we have passed that city, seems to have settled into rain, but we are no sooner made snug by the cover and lap-robes than the clouds break and the sun shines warmly and pleasantly. The same superb condition of the highway noted between Biarritz and Bayonne continues here.
Broad and solid as a floor, it stretches away before us for miles on miles in a perfectly straight line and between Bayonne and Dax I do not think there are a dozen curves. Most of the way is through a thick pine woods where the trees are being tapped for the pitch and the air is heavy with the balsam.
The bed of the road is elevated some four feet above the forest, and as I gaze off on either side, I am reminded of Florida; even the same kind of trees and climbing vines are all around us.
I have heard many who have not travelled in automobiles in France express their fears that these long stretches of straight roadways would prove monotonous, but such is far from the case, and it cannot be, I think, with the delicious rushing motion one's car attains upon them. The run to Dax is rapidly covered and we descend at the Hôtel de la Paix for luncheon, though it is rather early. It is only in the small towns that one finds the pleasant little inns. This one at Dax is dark and dirty and I am greeted by a slovenly old woman who conducts me into an unattractive salle à manger, where the food is none too good. From Dax our route lies towards Mont-de-Marsan, and nearly the whole way is through the forest of pine. Accidents will happen, even to autos, and while we are speeding up a hill, Jean discovers by some signs that there is trouble with our left rear wheel, where we have never had any before, and on examination the ruin is very apparent. We have picked up a crooked nail which has punctured both envelopes and pneumatic. So another pneumatic must be put in place. It gives me an opportunity for a stroll in the pine forests, where I find that every tree has been blazed and to each is affixed a small concave cup; most of these are nearly full of the thick white sap. It is evident that many of these forests have been planted, as the trees stand in regular rows. During most of the day, our route lies through these forests, and is, in consequence, rather monotonous, as we cannot see beyond them, but as we pass Casteljaloux the scene changes to one of those characteristic French prospects, so familiar to most of us; a far-reaching, smiling green valley traversed by the many high-roads along which march the stately rows of Lombardy poplars, a church-crowned town here, and there a smiling river which is crossed by a graceful viaduct in light colored stone, over which a train is speeding; a sense of peace and prosperity over all, and above that a fair blue sky. That is France. One would fancy in contemplating such a picture, that trouble and sorrow never came to such a spot, and yet no land on earth has seen more of horror and bloodshed than this fair land of France. The French are a queer people, and it would take but little to erect the guillotine in any or all of these towns where the people are dancing now so merrily. It was but the other day in Paris that the police were forced to disperse a mob found dancing and singing around a guillotine (from some chamber of horrors), in the Temple Square. How long would it have been before the sound of the Carmagnole would have drawn the bloodhounds from the slums of the city, transforming that mob from monkeys who mocked to tigers which tore. The sight of that instrument to these people is as the smell of blood to a wild beast.
My Japanese boy "Yama" excites the keenest kind of interest and curiosity, and to-day as we were forced to stop a moment in Casteljaloux where a fair was being held, I really felt apprehensive for a moment,—not that they would do anything to him, but as to how long his blank Oriental face could retain its utter lack of expression before changing to one of sudden fury, as I knew the faces of these Japs could do. The people pressed around the automobile and almost fingered him, yet he never for an instant lost his Buddha-like expression, or lack of expression. Let out amongst that crowd he could floor any number, for he is a master in jiu-jitsu.
Last winter in Washington an English valet boasted to him that he could handle him with ease.
"Let's try," said the Jap, and, no sooner attempted than the stalwart Englishman lay sprawling on the far side of the room.
Again, when a burly priest weighing certainly two hundred and fifty pounds insisted upon calling for my cook at the main door of the house, upon my expressing my distaste thereat, the Jap, who weighs I should say one hundred and ten pounds, promptly offered to "put him out" if he came again, and he could probably have done so with great ease, but I declined to allow a priest of the Church to be treated in such a summary manner.
Our stopping place to-night is Marmande, an uninteresting town, with a dirty hotel. There is absolutely nothing to see or to do save to watch the inhabitants and their manners and customs.
How placidly the lives of these people seem to flow in these provincial towns. The café of this hotel—I suppose the Waldorf of the place—is the rendezvous of the wits and beaux of society hereabouts. It is a large room with sanded floor upon which are marble-topped tables ranged against the leather divans which line the walls. Madame presides in stately form over the whole and welcomes her habitués. The old gentleman in shiny black, the young gentleman in queer cut habiliments, the middle-aged gentleman with the pointed beard, all come and engage in a mild game of cards until the dinner hour. Do they dine here? Bless your soul, no; or, if so, in the outer room. "Madame" conducts me through to an inner sanctum where only the elect may break their fast, and here it is better than I had expected, judging from the hotel. This is certainly a spot in France to which not a dozen foreigners come in a year. There is no reason for their doing so unless the night overtakes them. We could have gone farther, but it was evident that Jean was tired. The strain upon a chauffeur must tell in time as it does upon the driver of an express engine. So we stopped over and are very well off. The waiter is surprised that here, where it is made, I let the wine alone.
Jean comes around as usual after his dinner and we arrange our route for the next day. It is an intense satisfaction to travel in this country. The Automobile Club of France has mapped out all the Republic and every cross-road, every hill, or dangerous curve has its iron or stone sign post with names and distances or warning. These together with the excellent charts published by A. Taride, 18 Boulevard Saint Denis, Paris, under the directions of the "Union vélocipédique de France" render it almost impossible to go astray, or to get into trouble, yet in the rush of our auto we have several times gone a few kilos wrong, having passed the posts so quickly that we could not read the names, but that matters not with these cars which move so quickly or in France where it is a pleasure to get lost.
RAPID MOTION—BEAUMONT—RACES AND DASHES—CADOUIN AND ITS CLOISTERS—THE ROUTE TO TULLE
April 7th.—We are late in starting from Marmande. Jean has just sped by with the auto, waving his hand in some sort of explanation. However, time is nothing on this trip and when we are en route the world is so beautiful that one soon forgets any irritation which the unavoidable delay has occasioned.
Nature has opened another eye during the night—all the valleys are clothed in that tender green which one associates with France, the fruit trees have suddenly put forth all their beauty and the landscape is radiant with the glory of white and pink blossoms. Almost every hill is crowned with the tower of some ancient windmill, whose arms have vanished long since; old châteaux and churches preside in stately fashion over quaint villages. Jean sings as we roll over the white roads and I ask him why. "Why, Monsieur! but the world is beautiful, it is spring, and I am young and a boy." Surely, Jean, sufficient reason for joy with any breathing mortal and it is well you appreciate that which never comes but once and goes so quickly.
We are moving rapidly, for us, forty miles an hour for four hours. Yama is the time keeper and announces our record from his throne in the rear amongst the baggage. His excitement was most intense when just now we passed in a whirl over a black hen. The feathers flew in all directions, but when last seen the hen had rejoined her friends none the worse for her encounter.
Can the naturalists inform me why all animals on the approach of a train or auto will, if possible, cross the track? For instance, that hen left the safety and seclusion of a neighbouring dung heap and did her best to throw dust in our eyes. One can have no regret for a creature that will deliberately run such risks, but when an old dog is killed doing his duty, while his lazy master sleeps, one's regret is great.
The ancient town of Lauzun with a grand château and church are passed, and shortly thereafter, a tire gives up the ghost and we stop for repairs. We have expected it for some time as it is the one that bothered in starting. However, new ones having reached us at Pau, it is only a matter of a few moments' delay.
En route once more, we leave the meadows and mount to a more sterile region, stopping at Beaumont for luncheon. The inn is certainly not in the habit of receiving many strangers,—it is the dirtiest place we have encountered and I wonder what the meal will be. The table shows the wreck of a former feast which "Madame" with a dirty napkin sweeps onto the floor. But the vegetable soup is hot and good, followed by some sort of game, of which I eat and question not. Then comes a pâté de foie gras made in this section and after that some cold mutton done up with onions and some fried fish, of all of which I eat. Coffee in a big glass with cognac follows and "Madame" even then wants me to partake of some other hot meat which a fat cook brings up smoking. But there is room for no more if I would not go to sleep. I can hear the people in the streets talking about Yama. The fat cook is greatly excited; never having seen a Jap before, she is surprised that he is not a monkey. She thinks she would rather have him little than big,—enough is as good as a feast.
Beaumont is one of those quaint old walled towns long since forgotten of the world. It has its old church and gateway, the latter once taken by the English. Its houses project over the sidewalks like those of Chester, but life has left it long ago, and we pass onward and away.
The ride all the afternoon is a delight, the roads are as fine as ever, and the air is cool and fresh. Our route lies over the hills and at last in a long descent through beautiful valleys.
Much of the last hour or two Jean shuts off all the power and we coast like the wind down the floor-like roads. Many a dog joins in the race and one kept pace with us for some hundreds of yards. I laid ten francs on the dog but there were no takers. Another poor beast met instant death. We were going at a tremendous speed down hill, when he rushed from a doorway straight at the wheels and we passed over him like a flash. I looked back, but he never moved.
Both "Madame" and her cook at Beaumont insisted that we stop at Cadouin and visit an old cloister there, which we promised to do, and on entering the town while its people are basking in the sun of this quiet day of rest we pass the ancient church and are directed by an old dame, who is washing her pans at the town pump, to a door in the rear whereby we enter an ancient kitchen garden, and wandering amongst its cabbages and sweet peas, find three portly priests who greet us smilingly. One conducts us to the ruined cloister, now a mass of broken carvings, tottering pillars and sad looking saints, around and over which nature has thrown a beautiful veil of trailing vines and flowers. Yonder saint is embowered in morning-glories, while red poppies spring from the soil in the centre where the dead sleep on and on.
The whole is charming and one is taken far back into the past and reminded of the present only by the distant puffing of one's automobile. The garrulous old priest tells his story, but the place is too enchanting to listen to details. However, he pays no attention to my distraction; he has his story to tell and will not be gainsaid. Once out again into the garden I press a coin into his palm, which, glancing to see if the other priests have observed my act and will insist upon a division, he quickly pockets, assuring me that it is for the poor only that he accepts. Surely yes, father, for the poor only. I fully understand, but mentally I add that in this case charity begins at home. As we roll away, the smiling fathers stand watching us, six fat hands reposing upon three fat stomachs within which the succulent vegetable growing here but yesterday and the chickens which lately strutted these walks sleep side by side, but the end is peace.
About four this afternoon, our auto stopped for no reason that I could see. Jean insists that he was not sure of the route, but the only other way ran into a church of no interest. However, as we stopped, there came from an open doorway a very pretty woman. I happened to glance at Jean's face and found it flaming red. Off came his cap and he seized the dame by both hands. The confab is not for me; so I do not listen but I do look. Presently Jean says that the lady would be pleased if we would stop and refresh ourselves. He looks sheepish as he puts the question. Really what does he take me for, does he think I am going to delay my journey for an hour or so that he may flirt with what I suspect is an old sweetheart? He tells me that her husband is fatigued and is upstairs, also that he is a client of his. (Just what sort of clients do chauffeurs have?) But I am obdurate and we move on. Then Jean acknowledges that he has known the lady when both were younger,—all of which his face told me half an hour ago. It is very evident that Yama has also sized up the situation, his remarks are to the point.
That Jean was disappointed is proven by the movements of the car, which are jerky and uneven all the afternoon, until we enter ancient Tulle, which, like Carlsbad, is down in a gully with the river flowing through its centre. Tulle is well off the beaten track, and but few autos come this way, though by so doing they would pass over one of the most delightful roads in France. It has not the appearance of a place of importance though full of life and bustle and boasting some twenty thousand inhabitants.
The evening shadows are falling as we enter its streets and all the people are abroad, while the cafés glitter with the life so dear to the French. As we pause a moment in the great square, the stately spire of the cathedral rises before us, backed by the fantastic old houses, piling up tier on tier and all sharply outlined against a lilac sky where the crescent of the new moon gleams faintly. But I am too tired with our rushing ride to examine the town to-night and so seek the quiet of my room at the Hôtel Moderne, and rest until dinner is served, though on the whole I think I should prefer to go to bed than to eat.
THE GREAT COURSE OF BELMONT—DIFFICULT STEERING—THE "CUP GORDON BENNETT"—DOWN THE MOUNTAINS TO CLERMONT-FERRAND
The day opens cloudy, cold, and threatening and, as our way to Clermont lies over the high lands, good weather was to be desired. However, the fortunes of war vary. The entire journey is amongst the hills, mounting higher and higher, until the snow appears on the large peaks and it is cold, but no rain falls.
We move forward very briskly; the weather must have instilled new life into the car though it was not needed. At Bourg we strike the great circuit, a circle from Clermont of some ninety kilos considered very fine for autos, though why I cannot understand. The road-bed is good and there are no trees on the side, but it is very circuitous and dangerous for fast machines. I am forced to call a halt on Jean as we are moving at a mile per minute down grade. That's not bad on a straightaway course such as we have found many times, but on these curves it is another thing. To my mind we have passed dozens of roads to be preferred to this for speeding.
We reach Rochefort at half past twelve and after racing through the wind since half past eight are too cold to go farther without something to eat, and so we stop at a wretched little inn where, however, the welcome makes up for its appearance. Two Angora cats immediately adopt me as their father, and decline to leave my chair. While the food is simple it is good, and much better than one would find in such places in our land.
This is the land of prunes. You do not know how delicious they can be until you come here, and I must say that the "dirty little inn" has put up a very good meal for us. Pity we can't have that cheese at home, though I am almost ill because of it.
The route from here on leads over the high mountain table-lands until the valley of Clermont-Ferrand comes in view far below us. From this point the descent is rapid, circuitous, and zigzaggy. I cannot imagine a worse one for high speed. It must have been selected because of the difficulty it presents in handling the great cars. Certainly the chauffeur who succeeds in driving such machines at a speed approaching the rapid, should receive a gold medal, and I doubt not that in the coming contest in July for the "Coupe Gordon Bennett" there will be numerous accidents, and I fear fatal ones. I should not care to be in a machine on that occasion. While all this is in consideration we reach the brow of the hill from whence the view down into the Valley of Clermont-Ferrand is superb. From its centre rises the city on a hill with its cathedral in the midst and the whole surrounded by an extended plain, encompassed by a circle of domes, all craters whose life died out almost before time began.
 Strange to relate there were no casualties and few accidents.
Our flight down the mountains is swift and we soon arrive at the excellent little Hôtel de l'Univers. As it has begun to rain, the shelter is very acceptable, and I am cold with my ride of two hundred kilos from Tulle. We left there at nine o'clock and reached here at three, with an hour's stoppage for luncheon, curving up and down the mountains most of the route. That's about forty miles an hour, quite fast enough. On reaching Clermont we learn that already, to-day, there has been a smash-up on the circle. A big auto, with three men, crashed into a tree and then over a bank. Result, three men in the hospital and one expensive ninety horse-power machine a total wreck, loss up in the thousands. The owner had brought the auto here to try the course before the races come on, and yesterday departed for Italy, leaving it in charge of a young man of fifteen. Said young man took two of his friends out in it to-day and essayed the zigzags, with the result above mentioned.
Clermont-Ferrand, the ancient capital of Auvergne, is now a city of some fifty thousand people,—a city on a hill in the midst of encircling mountains rising to some five thousand feet above, extinct volcanoes all of them. The city possesses a stately cathedral, surrounded by a maze of narrow crooked streets where the lover of the artistic finds many a bit of beauty to delight the eye,—both beauty in stone and beauty in flesh and blood, for the maidens of Clermont are pleasant to look upon, and also in all her streets and almost every court you will come across some ancient façade or delicate staircase of stone most beautifully carved and mellow with age, and you will spend many hours wandering at will until darkness drives you within doors.
CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN IN AN AUTO—THE CHÂTEAU OF TOURNOËL—ITS HISTORY—DESCENT OF THE MOUNTAIN.
Morning breaks with a cloudless sky and brilliant sunshine. This little city bubbles all over with life and, it being Sunday, every one is out for a good time. It is all so attractive that I decide to remain over for the day and night. That is one reason, but the second is the greater. I think it is absolutely imperative that the chauffeur have a day off now and then. The responsibility and strain is very great upon him. I can plainly detect it in Jean's face after a long day's run, more especially when the route has lain up and down the mountains like that of yesterday. Each instant of the day, every faculty is on the alert,—not only for the route ahead and behind but for what is going on in his machine. Every sound is full of meaning to his ears and anything unusual immediately attracts his attention. Yesterday while we were speeding at a rapid rate he suddenly stopped and got out, stating that there was a noise he could not account for. It turned out to be the clink of my umbrella handle on his air-pump, both of which lay in the hood; of course of no importance, but he was not sure, hence the stoppage. That is merely an incident told to show how careful a good chauffeur must be, and also how great the strain. Therefore if you desire continued perfect service you must give him a day off now and then.
Jean is of the best of natures, and does not take advantage, as he might, of the whole day, but comes to me and states that we had better go this morning to a most interesting old castle and town some kilos away, as it may rain to-morrow. My man is better than a guide-book for he knows what is good and what of no interest, and I find that I do not miss anything.
We start out after coffee and roll off into the hills nearby, mounting higher and higher every moment, until we come to the village of Volvic, where a route is pointed out, which leads to the old Château of Tournoël, far up in the mountains. I prepare to foot it, but Jean objects and turns the auto up hill. The route is but a country lane and not intended for machines, but up we go, turning and twisting ever higher and higher and I wait, wondering how long we can keep it up. Twenty-four horses have considerable power and when that power is condensed in one machine, it can do something, even considering the weight it must carry. So it proves now, for we climb like a cat and at a good pace until the castle walls frown directly above us, but even then Jean does not pause, but circles the ruins and mounting still higher comes to a halt directly under the great gateway and on a small platform not much larger than the automobile. How are we to get down, is a question which arises in my mind, even now, but do not cross a bridge until you reach it. Look rather at the superb panorama spread out before you. You are high up upon one of the domes which encircle Clermont. The vast plain stretches away below you, dotted here and there with picturesque towns, crossed by long highways, and overspread with splashes of pink and white fruit-tree blossoms. In the middle distance rises, upon a hill like that of Edinburgh, the city of Clermont, with its stately Cathedral crowning the summit. Immediately beyond is the Puy de Dôme and, stretching far away and up to the snow tops, circles the chain of mountains. Over all a brilliant sun sends glittering showers of light, and, though this is central France, Mt. Blanc can be seen on a clear day resting cloud-like on the horizon.
The auto has ceased its puffing and we have been very silent for a long time gazing on that scene, and breathing the delicious perfume of spring arising from the valley, and the balsam of the pines from the woods around.
It is Sunday and all the world up here is either asleep or gone to church. The little village of half a dozen houses, which clusters around this rock, gives no evidences of life. There is not even the bark of a dog, and the walls of the castle dominated by the great keep rise in silent majesty, while some white clouds drift by far up in a blue sky. The peace is intense and I regret to break in upon it, but there is the castle to be examined and I jangle an ancient bell at the great gateway, jangle and jangle, but no answer comes, until finally the bark of an old dog inside replies to my summons. He comes to the inside and barks again, plainly intimating that he is alone. It is Sunday and he was asleep and he wishes we would go away; he cannot open the gate, any one should have sense enough to see that. The custodian, evidently a woman from the flowers in that window, must have gone to church and locked him in, but did she carry the key to that great lock? I doubt it and settle the question by lifting a smooth stone near the arch. Underneath are the keys and Jean and I are shortly on the other side of the great gateway with all the world, save the old dog, locked out. How charming! No one to bother one with useless tales of that of which they understand nothing, and full opportunity to wander at will over this enchanted place. The old dog returns to his slumbers before the door of a room where the custodian has evidently made a home for herself as though to tell us that there at least we must not enter. As for the rest, we may do as we desire. To his decision we pay due respect and leave him to his slumbers.
The court of honour was once a splendid inclosure and its door-frames and windows still hold masses of fine carvings. On the far side, the donjon keep, a vast circular structure, rises more than one hundred feet above us. Mounting a flight of broken stairs, one comes to the ancient chapel, where the old custodian has erected an altar for herself and adorned it with some flowers and a picture of our Lady. These walls still show traces of painting and we find like traces in many of the rooms as we gaze up into them through the places where the floor used to be. The heavily carved chimney-places still retain their positions, tier above tier; that in the great hall with its pent-house roof could hold an ox. Reaching the battlements, we pass thence to the donjon, and find in its top two prisons, secure enough for the Iron Mask. In the floor of the lower one is an oubliette, through which, dropping a lighted paper, we watch it float downward until it rests far below, quite at the base of the tower one hundred feet beneath us. Those who went that way in the old days never returned to describe their experiences. This great tower holds nothing save those two donjons on top and that awful empty space downward; black as midnight, having no loopholes for any gleam of sunlight, though probably it mattered not.
On descending by the outer wall we discover an opening leading into the base of that oubliette, and used, I should say, by the lord of the castle to discover whether life yet remained in his victims after that drop from the hole glimmering faintly far above us.
There are other dungeons under the castle but nothing like this, which was the court of last resort, and one can picture the grimly smiling face of the jailer as he conducted his unsuspecting prisoner upon that rolling stone above. Even yet the blackness seems to resound with the shrieks of the poor wretch as he plunged downward, then, silence forever; while above the flag waved a summons to the Crusades "In the name of Christ" the compassionate, and the clouds drifted as idly by then as now. Gomot, in his interesting history of this castle, resents the generally accepted theory of this oubliette—holding rather that the tower was a last refuge for the besieged in this castle and this opening, yawning black before us, but the means of entrance from a ladder. I think him wrong, for all the vast space below shows no signs of any rest for a ladder, indeed the walls are smooth as a stone well for the entire one hundred feet.
It is impossible to fix the date of the foundation of the Château de Tournoël, but like all old castles it was back in the time when such places were needed to protect the surrounding land from the barbarians of the adjoining mountains and used as often as an instrument of oppression. The name in Latin was Turnolium and has passed through many changes until to-day it is Tournoël. It is first mentioned in the eleventh century, but was very ancient at that period. Durand, Abbé of Chaise-Dieu, preached a crusade at that time. Bertrand was then Seigneur of the Château and such were his offences against the Church that Pope Grégoire excommunicated him, which promptly brought him to time. With Philip Augustus on the throne in 1180 we find him using Robert, Bishop of Clermont, as a weapon against his (Robert's) brother Guy, Count of Auvergne, and Lord of Tournoël, perhaps the most picturesque figure of that age and section, and long celebrated in song and story by the wandering minstrels.
His own brother, being betrayed into his hands, was confined in this donjon frowning above us and that created war in all the province, in which the Pope and the Church and State were involved. Count Guy did not fear the anathema of the Church in the least, and locked his Bishop brother up whenever he could catch him so that the journeys by force of Robert between his ecclesiastical city of Clermont, glistening in the sun over there, and this frowning fortress were frequent. War was forever on between them save when they united in a Crusade, but that was but a temporary interruption. Guy was finally summoned by the King to appear before him and answer for his sack of the rich abbeys of Marsat and Mozat. Refusing, war was declared against him by Church and King.
Tournoël was considered impregnable with its lofty rampart, deep moat, and many towers, the whole placed so high upon the mountain that only the birds, one would think, could reach it. Three times the soldiers of the King made attacks only to be repulsed. Disease broke out amongst the royal forces and almost caused the siege to be abandoned. However, during a sortie by the garrison, the sons of Count Guy were taken prisoners, which finally caused a surrender of the fortress, and in the little chapel where the old custodian has her altar to-day were found all the stolen riches of the convents recently sacked.
Here at Tournoël the castle was confiscated because of the felony of its lord. It passed to the care of Comte Guy de Dampierre and his successor restored it to Alphonse, Comte de Poitou, brother of St. Louis, and it became an appendage of the land of Auvergne. During the invasion of the English, Tournoël was several times attacked, but always without success. Later on we find the hands of Louis XI. at work, as ever, against the power of his nobles; in this case, by giving a charter to that little town of Volvic yonder and exciting it to rebellion against its high lords in Tournoël.
As the years drift past, the history of the castle is painted also with the faces of many women, some good, mostly dissolute. During the reign of Francis I. it was repaired and restored by the Maréchal de St. André who had married its young chatelaine. Nothing was spared to make the work monumental and durable, yet the castle has been a ruin now for more than a hundred years.
We spend a long time upon the tower and still there is no sign of life; no angry summons on the old bell from an astonished custodian, until one wonders whether there ever was any one save the old dog, or whether he alone is the custodian and if so, what shape he assumes on dark nights when the wind shrieks like lost souls around the Castle walls. It is warm and sunny to-day and we finally pass downward and out, locking the dog in and depositing the key where we found it, together with two francs.
Just outside the gateway I pause to inspect an outer tower—one of the most curious bits of architecture I have ever seen. It is circular and formed by square, heavy blocks of lava, closely fitting together. Each block has carved upon it the half of a ball. There is a well in the enclosure and evidently this was the water supply for those in the Castle.
I decide not to get into the auto until Jean has turned it around and I watch this manœuvre with much interest and some fear as to results, for a sudden spurt would mean a fall of fifty feet and destruction all round. However, he manages it all as easily as I could a baby carriage, and we are shortly en route, skimming down the mountains and out onto the long white highways of the valley.
ANCIENT TOWN OF RIOM—THE ROUTE TO VICHY—CHÂTEAU DE BOURBON-BUSSET—VICHY—THE LIFE THERE—DANGER OF SPEEDING—ARRIVAL AT BOURGES
Returning to Clermont, we pass the old town of Riom, a very interesting relic of the days of Francis I. The walls have been removed but the town stands unchanged as it was constructed, and being built of blocks of lava from the Volvic quarries it will endure with time. Riom holds a beautiful chapel like the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and many stately mansions with façades of the renaissance period. On a flight of steps are a group of Auvergne women with strong faces—faces one could trust. They are spinning and give no heed to our passing.
As we are speeding through the streets, without warning, we are upon a baby carriage,—so near that it is impossible to stop and we strike it with great force. Believing that it holds a helpless child, one can fancy our feelings of horror, and also our feelings of thankful relief when out of it roll two empty milk cans. The old woman who owns it certainly makes more racket over her cans than she would have done over a baby.
Our ride to Vichy is uneventful and short, over the usual fine roads. Dropping Yama and the baggage at the very excellent Hôtel Internationale we run out twelve miles to visit the Château de Bourbon-Busset, standing on a high plateau with a fine view of the valley of the Allier. The Château has been restored, which destroys the interest to my thinking and as we are not allowed to enter I can give no descriptions nor shall I attempt any description of Vichy. It is evidently a very gay place during the summer season and one which would never interest me in the least. And yet one cannot but pause an instant to compare Vichy with the great American watering-place, Saratoga, and very decidedly to the disparagement of the latter. Nature has not endowed Vichy as she has Saratoga. The French Spa lies flat—very flat—the surrounding country is not of interest and is the least beautiful through which we have passed. Yet what do we find? The entire section of the springs has been parked and finely cultivated. It holds the most gorgeous and largest casino in Europe—a building comprising vast halls for promenades, concerts, and balls, great halls for card-playing, the whole being surrounded by beautiful terraces. Of its kind the place is a fairy-land,—where art has done all that can be done. This holds with all the other spas of Europe.
What do we find in Saratoga? Nature there has done her best, and it should be the greatest sanatorium of our country. Where Vichy is only tolerable in summer, Saratoga's climate is superb the year round; and especially is this the case in winter, when it is in all respects equal to that of the Adirondacks, and it is within four hours of New York. Its hotels are so superior to those in Vichy that no comparison is possible. Its surrounding scenery is beautiful,—I do not refer especially to that on the lake side, though that might be made a superb drive at no great expense,—but rather to the many charming roads to the north and west. That scene from Mt. McGregor is a gem even in America, and it is totally neglected and the road thereto abandoned. The scenery to the westward of the town is in its way equally fine, yet how many of the thousands who go to Saratoga know anything about it. As for the springs, where are they and how are they used? A very few are in the park, which at one period with its detached white pagodas, was lovely. Observe the gimcrackery which adorns it now. The other springs are spread through a valley upon which all the back-yards, stable and otherwise abut,—a disgrace to the place. The waters are swallowed by the mob utterly regardless of their medicinal qualities or their effects—and with dire results. As I stated above the place might be the great sanatorium of our country the year round if our physicians would take it in hand. That has been done at the Hot Springs of Virginia, and has made that place what it is, yet the waters there are as nothing when compared to those of Saratoga, which, according to the medical fraternity of Europe, has more and better springs than almost all of the spas of the old world put together. In Europe the visitor is warned to consult a physician before drinking the waters—so also at Hot Springs, Virginia. Nothing of the sort is attempted at Saratoga. The whole place is given over to gamblers and horse-racing. Reputable people, until within the last year or so, have been forced out of the great hotels and the future holds out no hope for the better. The people of the village have killed the goose provided by nature to lay their golden eggs. When they might make the place profitable the year round, they have deliberately sacrificed that opportunity for the few weeks—often dead failures—of midsummer. I speak strongly and feelingly, for I remember our beautiful "Springs" when they were the resort of all the best people in our land; and while many will not even to-day desert the spot, they are lost in the flood of the undesirables.
We start from Vichy on a threatening morning, but aside from a splash or two, have no rain, and a splendid trip all day.
The roads are fine and we meet one or two autos. I do not know of anything more Satanic in appearance than a great auto passing one at full speed. Just now one came upon us unheard because of the high winds and passed with a swerve and a swish that made us gasp. Long, low and rakish, and dark grey in color, it sped by like a spirit of evil making our motion appear as nothing. The occupants clothed in furs and goggled turned, mouthing and shrieking upon us because we had not given way, which we should have done had we been aware of their approach. The appearance of the whole thing was devilish. There was no danger in the passing as the road was of ample width and we were upon our own side.
It seems a question to me in great emergencies as to what a man in a great machine is to do. Mr. Croker, for instance, certainly sacrificed his life to the man on the motor cycle, who, to my thinking, had no business on a course where he knew those great machines were speeding and where they had come for that purpose only. On a highway it is another matter. Mr. Croker certainly knew also that when a machine is making such tremendous speed it is dangerous in the extreme to swerve. Of course it is horrible to run down a man and one would scarcely recover from the effects of so doing, yet self-preservation is the first law of nature. He certainly gave his life to save that of the other man who had no business on the course. I think I should have saved my own life and I do not consider that I am cold-blooded in saying so. It was another case with us to-day. If, on the highway, in approaching from the rear you cannot securely pass on you must stop, there is only one law as to that. We should have slaughtered no end of men and beasts had we done otherwise and as the roads are open to all from the little work dogs to the great machines, each must exercise discretion and obey the laws of the land. So we shrieked back defiance at the mouthing monsters and kept upon the even tenor of our way.
As for these very fast machines on the main roads, they should not be permitted. Every railroad is forced to maintain gates at the crossings or to pass over or under the highways, though these trains rarely exceed forty miles an hour. Yet great autos are permitted to exceed sixty miles an hour down the crowded highways. There certainly would appear to be an inconsistence in allowing the latter to traverse the length of the roads at high speed, while the former may not even cross them without gates. Again, if the tremendous speed is to be permitted, then certain routes should be set apart and the traveling world advised as to what they have to expect; otherwise loss of life, of man and beast, will occur constantly. Yet, again, if such speed is permitted the authorities should hold those who avail themselves of this permission blameless for accidents which the authorities know are bound to occur.
Our route lay all day long through smiling valleys guarded by ancient towns and picturesque castles, which I should like to have inspected but we have lost much time in stupid Vichy and the day is fine. Also my letters are waiting at Tours. So we pass Moulins, lunch at Nevers, which is interesting, and reach Bourges in due time. No rain and a glorious run, all ill health, if there was any, driven completely out of one by the rushing winds of spring.
We enter Bourges on a bright afternoon. The ancient city is steeped in sunshine and the towers and flying buttresses of the great cathedral glitter as though coated in gold. Our modern machine looks strangely out of place here as it rolls noisily through the narrow streets and one almost expects to be challenged by the sentries of the King and the reason for our intrusion demanded. But the gabled houses make no complaint; no men at arms sound rude alarms from the ancient palace of Charles VII.; and we descend at the Inn of the Boule d'Or amidst all the busy chatter of a provincial establishment. A "Madame" as usual welcomes us, but while she is showing my room to Yama I slip off on foot for a tour of the ancient city.
ANCIENT BOURGES—ITS CATHEDRAL—HOUSE OF JACQUES CŒUR—LOUIS XI. AND THE HÔTEL LALLEMENT—THE HÔTEL CUJAS—THE RIDE TO MEILLANT—ITS SUPERB CHÂTEAU—ITS LEGEND
Bourges, the ancient capital of Berry. The very name brings to the mind visions of stately days, panoramas of mediæval France, and those who come here will find the theatre of those times still intact. The great cathedral around which every thing centres remains unchanged in all its majesty; crooked streets, narrow and dark, yet in this sunshine cheerful withal, wind off and away from it down into the old city. If you take that one to your right you will find the house where Louis XI. was born; or the one to the left will lead you straight to the palace of "Jacques Cœur" as they call him; turn in any direction and these old streets will show you houses and palaces of the long ago, smiling down upon you or retiring in magnificent seclusion behind high walls. You may here have, if you so desire it, memories of Julius Cæsar, as he besieged this city, but the figures which flit across the shafts of sunlight move in stately procession into the cathedral or steal stealthily off into the shadows are to me those of the Maid, of the weak Charles, of the generous Jacques,—or of the malign and terrible Louis XI., the latter bent perhaps upon an urgent errand to poison his father a little more in yonder Castle of Mehun on the river Yèvre.
Bourges was evidently a Court City, a home of the aristocracy; even to-day with its air of seclusion it impresses the beholder as very much the fine gentleman. Your automobile clothes worry you, you feel an inclination to return to your hotel and don silks and velvets, a plumed hat and sword and high-heeled shoes, as you may be summoned into the presence of the King to be questioned as to your purpose in coming here and also about that strange and devilish machine which in old times would have brought you to the stake promptly, unless you could have first induced His Majesty to take a ride through the sunny lands stretching out on all sides of the ancient city. After which Louis would probably have locked you up in one of his cages and kept the machine.
In these days of flying, many pass this way to whom the stones of Bourges are dumb, but such is often the case. At Monte Carlo I met the owner of a great machine, who stared at me in dumb amazement when I asked him what he thought of Carcassonne. Actually he had not even seen it,—had sped by under the very walls of that vision on the hill and not known it was there,—remembered nothing save that he did not like the hotel in the modern town. Likewise later in Tours, when I asked one of the ancient faith, from America, what he thought of the châteaux which make Touraine an open book which he who runs may read, he replied that he would not give two dollars for the whole lot. He had "left Biarritz at eight o'clock in the morning" and "would reach Paris on record breaking time." His machine "was the best on the road"—a swish, and a swirl, a cloud of dust, a starting, and a getting there, that was his idea of what automobile life should be, causing one to regret that so many at home through lack of means can never see these places save in dreams, while unstinted gold is thrown away upon those who cannot appreciate them.
But all that has little to do with the ancient city of Bourges. It is to-day a town of some fifty thousand inhabitants, and its modern section holds a great arsenal and a gun foundry. Its streets are gay with the uniforms of many soldiers; its cafés bubbling over with life. Until the Maid delivered Orleans it was the capital of France. It possessed a university upon whose rolls appeared the names of Calvin and Cujas. It has been devastated by fire and sword, but I think its darkest day must have been that upon which Louis XI. first saw the light in yonder curious Hôtel Lallement; but let us pass on now and visit first the cathedral, considered by these people to be the most magnificent in France, and as one stands before its five great portals, each crowned with superb carvings, while far above soar the flying buttresses and great towers, the whole bathed in the mellow light of a setting sun, it surely is majestic, most impressive, and while perhaps not so perfect as Chartres it must delight the soul of an architect. Its location is especially fine. It stands high and is approached by long flights of steps up which the people are crowding for Vespers, to which the mellow tones of the old bells are summoning the faithful. As I enter and pass forward under the lofty arches, an ancient clock raps out the passing hour with a cheery tone and the great organ floods the silence with waves of melody. The church is especially rich in ancient glass through which the sunlight filters in long streams of colour touching here the living, bowed in prayer, and yonder an effigy of one long since dead,—dead for the sake of the Cross and holy Jerusalem.
One is permitted to wander unattended wherever fancy dictates, which is always a pleasure to the lover of these old shrines, and so one may enter into their soul and spirit until the stones almost speak. Here to-day it is quiet enough, back in the chapel of the Virgin behind the high altar, where it would be dark but for the trembling lights before the sacred image, and deserted, save for one old dame muttering her petitions.
Gazing backward the majestic double aisles reach away until lost in perspective and the roof of the nave in the fading light is so far above one as almost to seem a portion of the sky. Kings, princes, and people have passed by and left no mark, and the flying centuries have added to the beauty of this sacred edifice. A subdued murmur with the scraping of many chairs tells that the service is ended, and I pass with the people out on the great square to the south, gay with spring flowers and the brilliant scarlet of many uniforms. This is the hour when Bourges takes its pleasure and all the phases of that life so peculiar to France go on where once the walls of the city stood. That black caniche is taking excellent care of the baby in the wagon while its nurse flirts with the soldier boy. Those two officers, gorgeous in scarlet and gold, have so far made no impression upon those girls in yonder window, while from the cathedral come the black-robed priests to bask awhile in the sunshine of this world. The old dame in the kiosque, after selling me many postal cards, and giving me many bits of information about those around us but which I shall not repeat here, assures me that I shall find the "most interesting house" of Jacques Cœur far down yonder crooked street and that there is yet time to inspect it before the day ends; so I wander on to where it stands, a monument to the enterprise of one of the best of French citizens, also a monument to the ingratitude of one of the poorest and weakest of French kings.
Jacques Cœur was a famous silversmith of vast wealth, to whom Charles VII. applied for funds and who was taken at his word that "all that I have is thine." Jealousy and the sense of obligation on the part of all from the king down caused his destruction. He was accused of debasing the coinage, and of poisoning Agnes of Sorel. Sentenced to death he was saved by the Pope, and banished, and he finally died while leading a naval expedition for the Pontiff against the Turks. In this little Place you will pause a moment, ere you enter his still perfect palace, to gaze upon his statue which stands facing the house. The countenance is beautiful while stern, yet it possesses none of those attributes of craft necessary to meet such enemies as are raised up only to envy and jealousy. The house, as you see, shows a stately façade to the street and stands unchanged to-day, having been spared in the great revolution because of its history. One may even pull the same handle which jangles the same bell hung there by Jacques Cœur when the Maid of Orleans was alive.
His misfortunes made him immortal on earth and his generosity to France has preserved his house to us, a quaint and curious structure of the olden days. Note the courtyard and its curious carving, also the ceilings of the guard-rooms shaped like inverted boats. The reception-room of Jacques is now a court-room and where he gave all to his country and received no justice in return, justice is administered impartially, let us hope, to the French of to-day. After all, his life was not a failure, as he is not forgotten, and the desire to be remembered on this earth is, I think, greater than the desire to enter heaven. Certainly, it is the source of all ambition.
Bourges, however, possesses another figure in history which is better remembered by the world than that of Jacques, probably because wickedness always carves more deeply than goodness upon the pages of history and the life of a nation. Few in the world will remember who Jacques Cœur was, none can ever forget the crafty King Louis XI. and here in Bourges his sinister shadow was first cast athwart the life of France, for here in the Hôtel Lallement he was born.
It is more fitting to inspect such a spot after dark, and, as the moon shines brightly to-night, let us go. Leave the hotel and pass up the second crooked street to your left, the Rue Lallement, and you will find a queer old façade, with no evidence of life anywhere near it. The street is so narrow that one can almost touch the houses on either side and the moon can scarcely illumine the centre, much less the dark corners.
A French officer, leaning from a casement, asks what I am looking for, and tells me to pull the old bell handle. Doing so brings the custodian who is surprised at a visit by night and suggests that daylight would be better. "Not for this house surely," and I insist upon entering. I follow him across the quaint courtyard, which is alternately in deep shadow or the intense light of the moon, where carved faces grin at us as the wicked old king used to leer at his nobles. The house is not large but it possesses some curious apartments. Note the little chapel and the room near it, a good-sized chamber with heavy beams crossing a sagging ceiling and holding a deep fire-place facing the door. Here Louis was born to the delight of his father, Charles VII, who later on starved himself to death in the neighbouring castle of Mehun through fear of poison by this same son.
The old house is oppressed with these memories and the shadows are deep upon it, while the stealthy foot-falls in the street without might belong to the emissaries of that dreadful King. However, they are those of the law-abiding citizens of the Republic in this year of grace, 1905, and one may move without fear of any soul through the ancient city, and if your interest takes you to the museum in the old Hôtel Cujas, once the residence of the great Juris-consul, of that name when the University existed here (from 1465 to 1793,) you will find a statue of Louis, probably the best portrait extant, and you will remember the evil face for long thereafter. This Hôtel Cujas holds much that is curious, but it is itself of more interest than its contents, and the streets of Bourges are lined with many interesting structures, and those who pass by Bourges in the rushing mode of this twentieth century pass by one of the gems of France.
The old dame in the kiosque told me that I should not depart without a visit to the neighbouring Château of Meillant, now the property of the Duc de Mortemart. So, as it is but twenty-eight miles to the south, we are off and away, delaying our onward progress until after luncheon.
The roads are superb and the morning divine. From Bourges to St. Amand the highway is a straight line and, as we descend, it stretches away until lost in perspective, a magnificent route for high speed, and as Jean puts the auto to its best; we skim along scarcely seeming to touch the earth,—hills rise and fall, and the motion is joyous, while the spring winds sweep the dreams of dead kings off and away, leaving only the smell of the grasses and blossoming fruit trees. We pause but once, and then, as we pass one of the many curious groups to be found on these highways. This time there are half a dozen mounted police gorgeous in high boots and blue and black uniforms, gravely regarding a travelling circus. The dancing bear, erect by his owner, solemnly contemplates our passing, while the trained ape glares and evinces a desire to go along. Indeed, I should not have been surprised to find him enthroned in the place of Yama, left behind in Bourges, nor, if he had donned Yama's blue glasses, could I have been certain which was which, save that the ape possesses a more expressive countenance.
The Château of Meillant stands in a pleasant park on the road to St. Amand-Mont-Rond. It is in perfect condition and is occupied by its owner every summer. It is a Renaissance pile of great antiquity, the original portions dating from 1100.
The illustration gives one a better idea of its exterior than any description can furnish, while its interior shows a succession of rooms splendid in themselves and full of objects of beauty and interest.
The façade in the illustration is not the oldest part of the château. Pass around to the other side and, overlooking the forest, you will find the Tour des Sarasins, the only remaining portion of the feudal castle and evidently forming at one period a part of the outer fortifications. There is also the Ladies' Tower and the Tower of the Chatelaine, but the most beautiful,—that shown in the illustration—is the Tower of the Lion, with its great spiral staircase, by means of which the traveller will enter the great drawing-room with its gorgeously coloured and heavily raftered ceiling, and its fire-place, with an immense mantel, that holds a gallery for musicians. The château is not only magnificent in itself and superbly furnished, but it is one that can be used and is used to live in. It is called the most splendid of its kind in France, and as you mount to its towers and look abroad, you discover that it stands in the heart of a vast forest, twenty thousand acres in extent, so the custodian tells me, and, as we sit perched high up among the grotesque gargoyles and strange carving of the tower, he weaves the château's legend into this.
They say that this forest of Meillant is haunted by wolves of the demon order, and that one of them holds the spirit of a woman, who prowls these shadows nightly and pauses ever under the window of the former chamber of the Chevalier Bayard, who once came here to see the king and who did not respond to her advances,—in revenge for which she inserted a dreadful bit, of fangs of iron, into his horse's mouth before the battle of Milan, and so, nearly caused the death of Bayard and the loss of that conflict. Pursuing him even to his death, in the Battle of Pavia, he escaped her only by kissing the cross in his sword hilt as his spirit ascended to God and she fled shrieking away into the darkness. Now she must forever haunt the aisles of this ghostly forest in the shape of a werewolf, and it is said that on misty, moonless nights you may even see the fire of her eyes and hear her dismal howls. As I listen to this legend I wonder whether she has not perchance taken for to-day the shape of that ape which glared so malignantly at me on that hill yonder as we came down here.
The world of travel does not come often to Meillant, but perhaps now in the days of auto cars the traveller may discover it. If so he will be amply repaid. I pause a moment as I depart to inspect an exquisite little chapel in the court, and then pass away to the outer gate, where I find a dark-eyed daughter of France sitting on the steps of my machine. She has allowed Jean to bring it within the gates, and smiles pleasantly at my recognition of her courtesy, and so we glide away into the dim aisles of the forest on the return ride to Bourges.
DEPARTURES FROM BOURGES—THE CHÂTEAU OF MEHUN—THE DEATH OF CHARLES VII.—THE VALLEYS OF TOURAINE—ROADS BY THE LOIRE—ENTRANCE TO TOURS
After luncheon in Bourges, we set out for Tours, bidding the old city a reluctant farewell. Jean's interest in his country seems great, and he is always delighted when I bid him slow down or stop to visit some spot in passing. Ten miles out from Bourges we do so to inspect all that is left of the Castle of Mehun-sur-Yèvre where Charles VII. passed many years of his life with Agnes of Sorel, the earlier ones in indolence and the latter in horror of Louis, until, as I have stated, he starved himself to death for fear of poison by that same son. The accompanying illustration shows this château as it stands to-day. It suffered in the Revolution, but not until 1812 were the rooms of Agnes and the King destroyed. To-day two of the towers of the castle alone remain to testify to its former state. They are majestic structures built of very beautiful granite, rising in massive grandeur from the bosom of the swift flowing Yèvre, and on the whole, are the finest towers I have seen in France. We glide away through a stately gateway and off on our ride to Tours through the province of Touraine. It is, of course, beautiful. We are in the valley of the Cher almost the entire distance. Picturesque old towns and châteaux smile upon us from every nook and hill, and the river sings merrily. Yonder is Chenonceaux with its fantastic pinnacles and odd construction spanning the river. I visited it years ago before the old furniture had been sold and when it stood unchanged as it had been for centuries, so I do not care to see it now when it would be found full of modern stuff, a Court dame in an Edgeware Road frock, as it were.
Towards three, the towers of Tours Cathedral and the older tower of St. Martin's loom up before us and as we mount to the summit of a hill the city lies spread out before us. Here at the junction of the Cher and the Loire our route is just above the water, a long smooth road with no trees, winding away before us, over which the auto flies as though anxious to reach its goal and have done with the day's journey.
We enter the busy streets of the city, and passing on to the Hôtel de l'Univers, we leave mediæval France and rural life behind us. Here all is bustle and roar. How the times have changed the place; When I first knew Tours it was a sleepy old town where people came to rest and to learn French. It was also a cheap place in which to live.
Now, with the coming of autos, all that is gone. This hotel is one of the most expensive in France and the city roars with the passing machines. There are twenty in and around this house now, making it at times difficult to be heard and most unpleasant. This is on the highway to Spain and the châteaux bring many travellers to Touraine. It is a singular sight to see an auto puffing and snorting just within the arch of an ancient castle with the teeth of the portcullis projecting above and seemingly about to descend upon it,—but—letters and papers from home drive thoughts of Europe off and away and I spend the rest of the day back in my own land once more and dream of it all night long.
RIDE TO LOCHES—AN ACCIDENT—THE CASTLE OF LOCHES—ITS HISTORY—THE CAGES OF LOUIS XI.—THEIR COST TO THE KING—AGNES OF SOREL—THE MISTRESSES OF FRENCH KINGS VERSUS THEIR QUEENS
Life is all sparkle to-day in this fair city of Tours, her people are evidently happy and we are not the least so as the car flies down the wide avenues, through her Champs-Élysées, and crossing the river, turns south-eastward through smiling meadows, where the sheep are grazing and the people wave at us as we pass. Some miles out on a long stretch of highway we are rapidly approaching a train of a dozen empty carts, each bearing a man and a woman, and, between the rattle of the carts and the clattering tongues of their occupants, I fancy the outer world and its sounds are completely drowned. However, we have a clear stretch to their left, can easily pass without danger, and are skimming onward with little thought of a catastrophe when, as we reach the last cart but one forward, it quietly draws out immediately across our track, evidently to allow the occupants to gossip with greater ease with those of the cart in front. Jean shuts off all power, puts on all breaks, we all shriek and horn and trumpet, to the utter confusion of the peasants, who drive in every direction save the right one, like a flock of chickens. There is no averting a collision, but we minimise as far as possible its danger and it results in nothing worse than a bent lamp as we bang into the tail-board of the cart, causing the old lady and gentleman therein to turn complete somersaults and land by the wayside,—reeds shaken by the winds, as it were,—but the winds of heaven were like unto a dead calm when compared with the clatter and shrieks which arose around us. I am afraid the remarks were personal, though the ancient dame who was dumped into the grass, when I told her her tongue was as long as her arm and had caused all the damage, looked at me in grand amaze and said—nothing. She knew that it was true and she knew also that the others would tell her that it was true after we had vanished. At least I think the unfortunates of her village will be safe from the organ for a day or so.
The day changes as we move onward, and under clouds and through a gloomy forest we near the towers of Loches, the most remarkable relic extant of the darkest days of the Middle Ages, the favourite abode of Louis XI. Doubtless he had many times approached over this same road and down this way his victims must have passed, the most of them to disappear forever,—certainly Cardinal Balue came this way from Plessis-lès-Tours, to occupy a cage of his own designing for many years. The forest drops away, and off across a valley we obtain our first glimpse of the château, its great square towers rising dark and forbidding, while all around it clusters the ancient city with its convent, church, and palace. The panorama is not so fantastic as that of Carcassonne, there are not so many pinnacles, barbettes, and curious towers, it is not backed by a glowing sky, but the whole is somber, majestic, and gloomy,—a fitting appearance for a château with such history.
 Pronounced "Loche."
As we roll onward up its narrow streets, the clouds lower and we are forced to take refuge under cover; but the rain does not last long and shortly we come out again, leaving the church and palace to our left, and noting as we move onward that while Carcassonne possessed few, if any, private houses of the nobility, these streets present many even to-day. Interesting façades rise around us at every turn, but with the castle before us we do not pause until under the shadow of its great gateway. I know of nothing in Europe more impressive of its kind than this entrance to the Château of Loches. It is absolutely unchanged by the flight of years. The moat, the drawbridge, the low-browed heavy portal, with the great square donjon rising above, inspire me with a greater respect for the power of that old King Louis, and, as I clang the bell, I wonder whether I may come out again once these portals close behind me,—a question I put to the bright-eyed French woman who smilingly admits me and as smilingly assures me that I may indeed go hence.
Once inside, the great tower, which replaced an ancient Roman fortress in the eleventh century, rises one hundred and thirty feet before me in all its majesty. One does not see from here that it is but an empty shell, yet on entering it loses none of its impressiveness as one gazes upward through its vastness, noting where the floors were, and even from below descrying the many inscriptions carved by the weary prisoners of the King. I can distinctly see from here one deeply cut, "Help—God or man," which tells its own story.
In this donjon—except the floors—there is nothing which could be consumed by fire. Its walls are nine feet in thickness at their base and six at the summit. The interior shows a deep well which communicated by subterranean passages with all the feudal châteaux in the neighbourhood, and was used to re-victual the Castle in times of siege. That this great tower was the royal residence in feudal days can be seen by the divisions on the walls. Such prisoners as were here confined were of little importance as they possessed light and fresh air.
The little donjon adjoining the greater served as the residence of the Governor and communicated with the former tower by staircases in the thickness of the walls. It was in this section of the castle that history was made throughout so many centuries. We first hear of it when Foulques le Roux, Count of Anjou, acquired it by marriage in 879—but of all the lives lived out here before this date there is no tale remaining to us. It became the cradle of the Plantagenet race. John of England ceded the Castle to Philip Augustus in 1192, but Cœur de Lion on his return from captivity objecting, took it by storm; again it passed to France after a year's siege by Philip Augustus in 1205. Bells rang out for the wedding in this queer place of James V. of Scotland and Madeline of France, but that was after the days of Louis XI, and really nothing else holds the attention of the traveller here to-day save this King, sordid and devilishly horrible.
The great donjon does not contain the most famous and fearful of Louis's prisons. You must pass on to the right and enter the smaller towers to find the cages where he placed those high in his favour. Both in the round tower and the Martelet and every tower of the outer walls, you will find dungeon under dungeon, high up or far underground, where the sun never shines and where men learned to see in the black darkness, as the carvings and names testify, for, rest assured, Louis allowed no lights to his guests in Loches. Passing onward, the traveller enters the round tower built by Louis. It is still in very excellent condition. Here one finds all the original floors in place. Here are the guard-rooms and many prisons,—used as such by the town to-day,—amongst them the great conical chamber where hung the famous iron and wooden cage of Cardinal Balue—an invention of his own, in which for conspiracy with Charles le Téméraire he spent eleven years, though some authorities state that it was but three. The tower is shaped like a vast cistern with a conical top, its walls are circular and there are slit-like apertures, through which the wind moans, and the sunlight could never come save in stray shafts, making the shadows deeper by contrast.
Down the passage yonder, which communicates underground with the great donjon, Louis and his Tristan entered to torment the Cardinal, swinging like a huge bird in his cage. The walls still show two holes in each side into which the beams supporting the cage, were inserted,—the chains from each corner thereof met in a ring at the top, which was fastened into the beams and turned on a pivot. The cage composed of wood, bound and riveted with iron, formed a cube four feet in size, wherein its occupant could neither lie down or stand up, and there the Cardinal spent eleven years exposed and yet confined. A singular refinement of torture that.
This cage in Loches, in which the historian Philippe de Comines was also confined, was very different from that in the Bastille,—the prison for fourteen years of the Bishop of Verdun. The expense account of the period holds the following item concerning that cage:
"For making a great wooden cage of heavy beams, joists, and rafters, measuring inside nine feet long by eight broad and seven high between the planks, mortised and bolted with great iron bolts, which has been fixed in a certain chamber of one of the towers of the Bastille St. Antoine, in which said cage, is put and kept, by command of our Lord the King, a prisoner that before inhabited an old, decayed, and worn-out cage. Used in making said new cage ninety-six horizontal beams and fifty-two perpendiculars, ten joists each eighteen feet long; employed in squaring, planing, and fitting all the said woodwork in the yard of the Bastille, nineteen carpenters for twenty days,—used in the cage two hundred and twenty great iron bolts nine feet long,—with plates and nuts for fastening of said bolts, the iron weighing three thousand seven hundred and thirty-five pounds,—besides eight heavy iron equières, for fixing the said cage in its place with cramp-irons and nails weighing all together two hundred and eighteen pounds, without reckoning the iron for the trellis work of the windows of the chamber in which said cage has been placed, the iron bars of the door of the chamber and other articles. The whole amounts to three hundred and seventeen livres, five sol and seven deniers."
A great, cubical mass of masonry, iron, and woodwork, its windows so thickly latticed with bars of iron that no glass was visible,—its door, one large flat stone like a tomb,—a door for entrance only! "Our Lady!" exclaimed the King, "here is a cage out of all reason."
Therefore he curtailed expenses and space when he caused to be constructed the habitation for his Eminence of Balue, and then again there was exercise for the Cardinal as the cage was swung to and fro or whirled on its pivot at the bidding of Louis. What a picture! The great, gloomy, conical shaped prison, with the cage swinging to and fro, now in dense shadow and anon in the rift of sunlight shooting in through the slits in the wall,—the grotesque figure of the wretched old King crouching on the incline in yonder passage mumbling prayers before the leaden figures of the Virgin with which his greasy old hat is laden, and stopping now and then to command Tristan to "further agitate his Eminence." It is not reported that any remarks came from the Cardinal in the cage for he knew he had been guilty of treason and hope was not for him.
Cages would appear to have been the fad of King Louis. There were two in Loches, and one at the old palace of the Tournelles. The one in the Bastille was evidently too spacious (9 x 8 x 7 feet), and it was considered necessary to attach a ball to the ankle of the unfortunate Bishop of Verdun, who, it is also stated, was the originator of these cages and not Cardinal Balue. It was a distinction scarcely coveted, I fancy, to be confined in one of these "filets du Roi." The cages in Loches existed in perfect condition until the days of 1789, when they were destroyed and the wood given to the poor, but a relic of one still exists in the barred door through which you pass into the corridor just outside. That is the same door which shut in the Cardinal for so many years, and you feel like leaving one of your number—not your heir at law—on guard, to see that it does not do likewise for yourself. Knowing Louis, one is quite certain that these prisoners were not allowed to feel forgotten, as Louis XIV. probably forgot Matthioli, the Man of the Iron Mask, whose master, Charles of Mantua, was in Paris when he died in 1703. It is very doubtful whether master or captor would, at first, have remembered who the poor wretch was who was being dragged to his grave in the Cemetery of St. Paul whilst they feasted in the Luxembourg.
The Bastille witnessed few such horrors as those so common within the walls of Loches.
Passing up the corridor to lesser prisons, one comes to a chamber with a vast chimney where the question, ordinary and extraordinary, was applied, and where one still finds many of the instruments of torture. I know of no more gruesome spot on earth than this castle, unless it be those chambers at Nuremberg, where chamber after chamber is filled with every conceivable instrument of torture until one stands shuddering before the Iron Virgin. Still, after all, those chambers and their instruments meant a speedy death, but Louis knew that life, as he could dole it out here, was more horrible than any death.
It is a relief to mount a winding stair in the thickness of the walls and emerge into the free fresh air. The panorama over city and rolling country is charming, and my red auto down there at the portal re-assuring, but neither can hold us long from a renewed contemplation of this château.
Passing down into the court, we cross a grassy enclosure towards the walls, and the tower of the Martelet, where we descend ninety-six steps into prisons cut in the solid rock, passing four floors of them; the first was for ordinary prisoners and is of no interest, as there is too much sunlight and air. In the dungeon just below was imprisoned for ten years Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, a prisoner of Louis XII. in 1500. These walls are covered with carvings made during those ten years. There are many inscriptions and this carved face before us is said to be his portrait. Below is the name:
A sort of shadow of daylight penetrates through a small, heavily barred window in the wall twelve feet thick, and opposite this Ludovico deeply engraved in the stone a dial plate, which permitted him to know the passing of the hours.
Further downward in the rock you find another prison where Francis I. confined the father of Diane de Poitiers, whose hair whitened in a single night. This prison is more gloomy than the one above it. We find here the name of one of the officers in the Scotch guard of Louis XI., "Ebenezer Kelburn." In the centre of the chamber there is an oubliette to the darkness below. Down there are the fosses waiting for more victims, which in the days when this chamber above was used for the torture, were not slow in coming.
Pontbrillant, governor of Loches, who certainly knew all the secrets of the donjons found an iron door which, upon being forced open, led in to a long passage cut in the rock, which conducted to a chamber far under ground, where was seated upon a stone a gigantic man, holding his head in his hands. The admission of the air reduced him instantly to dust, and in like manner, there crumbled away a little coffer of wood which had enclosed some linen, very white and carefully folded. Who or what he had been was never known.
In the oubliette of the tower, is to be read an inscription which shows that the Revolution placed its seal upon Loches: "Without fear, we destroy the high walls, break the chains, and cause to disappear the tortures invented by the King, too weak to arrest a people moving to liberty.—1785"
Doubtless this fortress would repay weeks of research and yield up many a present unknown dungeon, each with its grizzly horror and tale of distress. Against modern artillery it would have little show, but in the Middle Ages it was almost impregnable.
The great donjon and inner sections surrounded by its immense wall, with many towers, is in its turn encompassed by a moat completely isolating the whole. The second line of fortifications established subsequently by Philip Augustus comprised also a moat "twenty-five metres in depth," and bastions flanked by round towers and "tours à bec."
On the top of the bastions which were a mile and a half in circuit was a road protected by double walls. One of its outer gates is called the "Gate of the Queen," because Maria de Medici entered there after her escape from Blois in 1619.
That there is so much of Loches standing to-day is probably due to the knowledge of the destroyers of 1793 that Louis, while he would hang a few of the people now and then, turned most of his attention to the upper classes. One was sure of good company if one went to the gibbet or to jail in those days of the fifteenth century.
Loches does not appear to have been inhabited often by royalty after the reign of Louis XII. when the usefulness of such fortresses passed away, but it stood in perfect condition until 1793, and what is left will endure while time lasts, an object of intense interest to all who behold it.
The clouds lower darker and darker as we move to leave this forbidding spot. The air is heavy as though laden with the sorrows of those who never left it, even after death; the winds sough through the ghostly trees, causing their branches to rattle against the walls of the great donjon like skeleton fingers,—and it is with a feeling of relief that we hear the outer portal clang behind us and know that we are outside. As I pause a moment, I can distinguish the sound of the foot-falls of my late guide, dying away fainter and fainter inside, and then silence deep and unbroken settles over the Château of Loches.
In the town there is a cathedral and a royal palace and the whole was at one time surrounded by a great outer wall.
Though the general effect is not so picturesque as Carcassonne, it is far more majestic, and its inspection amply repays all the time one can give while Carcassonne is a disappointment from the time one enters its inner portals.
There is another name, Agnes of Sorel, connected with Loches,—the only mortal who ever produced one manly act in the weak Charles VII. All the good of his reign appears to be traceable to her influence and it is easily believed that she could not be acceptable to the dark spirit of Louis XI. Insulted and driven from the Court, she died, many assert by poison from his agents. She left a large dower to the Church of St. Ours here, and there she was buried. In the succeeding reign, the monks, after having secured the inheritance, alleging scruples as to her life, requested permission to remove her remains, which Louis granted, provided the inheritance was returned. That placed a different light upon the matter and she rested in peace until the Revolution scattered her ashes to the winds. Her tomb now stands in one of the towers of the Royal Palace. If that face is a portrait, she had claim to some of the beauty attributed to her,—of her good influence over the weak king there is no doubt.
In the history of France, how insignificant a part her queens have generally played and how important that of many of these "lights o' love." One hears nothing of the Queen of this Charles VII., but how much of this Mistress Agnes. In the case of Louis XI. there would seem to have been no woman of importance though he had a queen—Did that figure of leather ever know passion or love?
With Louis XII. one does hear of the Queen, Anne of Brittany. But with Francis I. it is all Diane de Poitiers, and again the same Diane with his son Henry II. Poor little Francis II. knew none save his Queen, Mary of Scots, and it was not until after his death that Queen Catherine de Medici came to the front on the stage of France. With Henry IV. and all the Louis, save one, we hear much of the mistresses, little of the queens, unless there be a touch of wickedness, as with Maria de Medici. True, there was Anne of Austria, but she came forward only when a widow and as regent. It is difficult to remember even the names of the queens of Louis XIV. and XV., but none forget La Vallière, Montespan, Maintenon, Pompadour and du Barry,—women who had so greatly to do with hastening the downfall of the throne and producing the horrors of the Revolution, when again a queen comes into view and we stand with bowed heads as Marie Antoinette moves to her doom.
In all the long years from the time of Charles VII. until to-day there was but one of the royal favourites, his own Agnes of Sorel, who exerted her powers for good. As I stand in the old tower to-day gazing down upon her graven image, I quietly blow the dust away and leave a flower.
Louis XI. ended the feudal period by breaking the power of the independent barons and establishing that of royalty. The traveller from Orleans to Blois may notice to-day opposite Meung the heavy square masses of the Church of Notre Dame de Cléry. There Louis XI. built his own grave and was wont to occupy it now and then during life, though he did not rest there for many years after his death as the tomb was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1563.
Entering our car, we are off and away, rattling through the narrow streets, and gliding out on to the wide high-road for Tours. It was near Tours at "Plessis-lès-Tours" that Louis XI. met the grim destroyer. I have before this fully described that Château,  and will pass it now.
 In Palaces and Prisons of Mary Queen of Scots. G. P. Putnam's Sons: New York and London.
AUTOMOBILES IN TOURS—DEPARTURE FROM THE CITY—THE ROAD TO CHINON—ROMANCE AND HISTORY OF CHINON—THE ABBEY OF FONTEVRAULT—RICHARD CŒUR DE LION AND HIS TOMB—THE DEAD KING HENRY II.
A bright, sparkling morning. The courtyard in Tours is alive with men and machines and every moment someone departs until we are almost the only travellers left here, but our time comes, and Jean, seated in state on our red car, sails out of the garage and draws up at the main portico, where Yama directs the loading of our luggage, and then seats himself in great grandeur in the midst thereof. Then I am allowed to take my place, which is always by Jean's side in front, and we start off on our day's ride—not on the grand route towards Paris but away to the south-westward, to Chinon and Angers and so into Brittany.
Our road lies in from the Loire and through Azay-le-Rideau to where Chinon's towers circle the hilltop like a crown dominating its ancient city and wide-spreading valley. The place above is sweet and pure, while the towers with the passing rains of many centuries, glisten white in the sunlight.
Wandering up the steep ascent I clang the bell at the great entrance, kept still in good preservation. A sweet-faced little girl answers my summons and conducts me from tower to tower. There are many of them, some with dungeons under dungeons, some with one solitary oubliette; others holding chambers of state and one where the Maid slept before her departure for Tours and Orleans.
But Chinon's crown to-day is one bestowed by nature. The whole hill is embowered in lilac trees, whose bending boughs brush our hats with white and pale purple blossoms and all the air is fresh and sweet with their delicate perfume so sacred to spring. Surely a fitting bloom to adorn the spot where one so pure as the Maid offered her life and service to her country.
In contrast with the dismal, sordid Court of Louis XI. the gay court of his father Charles VII. stands forth in strong relief, and it reached its most spectacular period here in Chinon. The white château embowered in lilac blossoms formed a fairy background to the moving picture of the times. One imagines that Charles wore his gold pointed crown all the time, that his robes were of blue spangled with the silver fleur-de-lis, and that he used up many sceptres, never being without one, and that so fashioned he paced these alleys between the great white towers, the lilacs touching him now and then as though to contrast their colours with his. With him there moved the fair Agnes of Sorel in pink and silver, the many courtiers in velvets and cloth of gold, the men at arms in grim array and far above against the blue of heaven waved the white banner of France bearing its silver lilies, while from the door of yonder tower came a simple maiden to the King,—with none of the glory of his Court in her attire, but with all the glory of God in her face.
One can picture the weak, smiling countenance of the monarch, the beautiful eyes of Agnes of Sorel, the scowling, contemptuous faces of the Court as they watch the Maid approaching, all unconscious of everything save her mission to save France. Ah well! we know the whole story now, but then at Chinon there was nothing of the sadness of her after days to cloud the face of this Maid of Orleans, to dampen the spirits of Jeanne d'Arc as she moved forward to kneel at the feet of this King here under the lilacs. Here then she induced him, amidst all the jealousy and ridicule of his voluptuous Court to rise in behalf of his country. History does not tell us that Agnes of Sorel had any part in this movement but such was probably the case; neither does it state that she made any effort to save the King and France the disgrace of that death in Rouen, which almost inclines one to believe that the story of that life and death is indeed but a fable.
Leaving the castle we descend by the narrow, crooked street named for the Maid, undoubtedly the one she used four hundred and fifty years ago, though it did not bear her name at that time. This old gabled house of the town was surely here, and she may have stopped a moment by that ancient fountain which still gives its waters to the chattering women of Chinon.
In the little hotel where we luncheon there is a parrot which speaks French. That seems an outrage,—Spanish, yes, but French for a parrot should not be allowed. Leaving Chinon, we return to the banks of the Loire. As we speed along this wide road on the dykes above the river, the waters go singing along beneath us and telling of spring and life and hope, pausing ever and anon as though to call our attention to some ruin from which life and hope fled long ago,—or to some stately château where both still abide amidst the surroundings of centuries.
Reaching Candes, standing by its babbling brook whose waters rush on to the Loire, we pause a moment to inspect its quaint church of the twelfth century, where St. Martin of Tours died,—though Tours will dispute the truth of this claim,—and where they show us his tomb and recumbent effigy. Just across the brook stands the Castle of Montsoreau, once the abode of the counts of that name, who were but executioners of the bloody decree of the kings. The place to-day is an abode for the very poor, of which there appear to be many in this section.
Here we turn southward some three miles to the secluded valley where rest the town and Abbey of Fontevrault. The scene behind us is so attractive that we almost hesitate to leave it, but to all lovers of history, history in its most romantic and picturesque years, the name of Fontevrault will conjure such a series of kingly tableaux that all else will be forgotten.
Down in a valley, three miles from the Loire, the traveller comes upon the celebrated Abbey, the ancient shrine of the Plantagenets, where to-day reposes the dust of Henry II. and Richard Cœur de Lion, and while I am not tempted to do violence upon my swiftly moving machine, I certainly do enter protest against such an entrance to such a spot and command the slowest progress of which it is capable. The way should be lined with broom corn and there should be many knights and "ladyes" abroad; and towering above them all (they say he was six feet six), dressed in mail, with the sign of the Leopard on his shield—one more stately than the rest, with a lofty brow, blue eyes wide apart, reddish yellow hair and curling beard, both cut short,—Richard Cœur de Lion, Count of Anjou, King of England.
The scene was undoubtedly picturesque in his time, but it is sombre and dull to-day. The Abbey stands long, low, and gloomy in the midst of the sad little town, and where the King found a religious establishment of great importance, we find one of the largest prisons in France and must obtain a permit to visit even the church. I wait in the little place while Jean is off to the Mayor for that purpose. It is a dull, sad-looking little place, and one not often intruded upon by those who move in autos, as I discover through the attention bestowed upon my machine, though save for those imprisoned in yonder buildings, there do not seem enough people here to make a crowd. Fontevrault is as forgotten of the world as those who are sent here at the expense of the State.
It is said that King Richard came here to pray by the body of his father, King Henry, who died at Chinon, and that he was met at the head of the cathedral steps by his brother John, who succeeded him on the throne. The edifice in those days evidently stood in an open square; to-day we approach it by a covered way, through whose openings we see the prison buildings. Richard came in all humility and in deep remorse for the war he had waged upon his father, and, it is said, that when he knelt and touched the corpse it bled and shuddered. What a picture! The high altar in shadow save for its one blinking light, the many candles around the dead king on his bier, with the dark stain on his face, the living king with Count John peering in terror over his shoulder, and all the Court with the Abbess and her nuns shrinking away, while over all the great church, which even at that day (1189), had neared its century, rose dim and shadowy full of the chill taint of darkness.
Here Richard took up the Cross, and we know what followed in Palestine. To-day you must force yourself to bring to mind any of these pictures, for the church has little of romance about it. The structure is in the form of a Roman cross, with no aisles, and with short transepts having two chapels. The choir has three chapels. Where the royal dead originally slept does not appear,—certainly not in the south transept where one now finds the monuments restored after the Terrorists had done their work upon them. As for the nave, it is boarded off and divided into floors for dormitories for the prisoners. The place is more desecrated than Stirling, for that is a barrack, not a prison. The royal effigies are however of great interest, especially that of Cœur de Lion, as it is considered to be a portrait, and certainly fulfils one's idea of the appearance of that king. The traveller of to-day who does not stand long in contemplation before this figure in stone must be lacking in many ways; but the effigy of Henry II. will not hold his attention in the same degree, though he will pause a moment over that of Eleanor, queen to Henry and the mother of Richard.
The Abbey of Fontevrault was founded in 1099 by Robert of Arbrissel and held one hundred and fifty nuns and seventy monks, all under the rule of an Abbess of high degree, and the establishment existed as such throughout seven centuries to the days of the Revolution. Its cloisters and chapter house are still beautiful and in perfect preservation, and in the latter are some interesting old wall paintings. France prizes too highly her historic places to allow Fontevrault to remain long in its present state. The day will come when the traveller will find it restored almost to the state in which it stood when King Richard came over the downs and down this long avenue of poplars to visit it.
We are speeding away now and shortly are again by the placid Loire, and rolling beneath the ruins of the Castle of Dampierre, given to Margaret of Anjou by Louis XI. Louis had his weak moments (which he undoubtedly regretted) or he would never have expended fifty thousand crowns in the ransom of a woman, who could be of no possible service to him, whose day was done, and whose life was to end in sorrow and bitter tears in yonder towers.
As we move onward, the cliffs above us form a veritable rabbit warren inhabited by the poor. This stone is soft and easily cut and sawed so that many of the houses present pretentious façades to the highway and are nothing but dark holes behind. Now Saumur comes into view white and pleasing to look upon with its castle dominating the town—but the interest of the place is in this panorama before which we roll slowly on and, turning northward, cross the Loire.
THE ROAD TO ANGERS—CATHEDRAL AND TOMB OF KING RENÉ—CASTLE OF BLACK ANGERS—CRADLE OF THE PLANTAGENETS—HISTORY—TO CHATEAUBRIANT IN A STORM—A FRENCH INN—RENNES AND THE TRIAL OF DREYFUS—THE ROADS IN BRITTANY—ARRIVAL AT ST. MALO—THE RIDE TO MONT ST. MICHEL—INN OF THE POULARD ÂINÉ—THE CATHEDRAL AND CASTLE—THEIR HISTORY.
The country becomes more barren and unpleasing as we enter Anjou, and Angers is an uninteresting busy town. It holds some quaint old houses, and King René sleeps in its cathedral, being probably the only king of France—prior to 1793—who lies where he was interred. The furies of the Revolution did not discover his tomb, therefore it was not molested. I would rather sleep in fair Provence; but if he had been buried there, his ashes would long since have been scattered to the winds of heaven.
As the traveller approaches the Castle of Angers over the long bridge, it presents a most impressive, majestic appearance. Its seventeen great round towers and lofty walls seventy feet high fairly oppress the beholder. In its prime this fortress was called the key of France, and bears a key upon its shield. It commanded the outlet of the rivers of Brittany when rivers were the open highways. The château dates only from the days of Philip Augustus, but it looks ancient enough to have sheltered Cæsar. It was the birthplace of the Foulques of Anjou, the ancestors of the Plantagenets, and the place still resounds with tales of their times.
There was Foulques the black-hearted, also his son. One hears of a Geoffrey made by his father—the Black Falcon—to crawl for miles with a saddle on his back, of this same Geoffrey having led his wife, dressed in her most gorgeous robes, to the stake where he burned her swiftly and well for infidelity. He was all powerful. There was Foulques the Fifth, King of Jerusalem and his son Geoffrey Plantagenet, who married the Empress Matilda and so the countship of Anjou passed to England through their son Henry II., only to be returned to France in the next century.
We read of Bertrade of Monfort so enchanting two husbands that they sat at the same table with her here.
Roland's name is woven into the warp and woof of its history,—Charlemagne's also, though the present château is not of that date; still it is claimed that the "Tower of the Devil" is part of the early Celtic castle. It is certain that Robert the Strong, founder of the Capet family, lived here.
It came finally to King René, who with his court of love and minstrels surely felt strangely out of place within yonder gloomy walls; at least fate would appear to have thought so, for it passed Anjou on to Louis XI., a more fitting custodian for this sullen fortress of this "Black City."
Disenchantment awaits one on entering the castle for it is but a vast, empty shell. There is nothing for the traveller of to-day save the panorama of its outer walls, and I confess the disappointment drove me hence and away.
As we enter Brittany, the weather darkens, and rain sets in, so that we reach our stopping-place for the night, Chateaubriant, in a driving storm, not wet but very glad to get under cover. The little hotel has a blazing fire and the cook in cap and apron is enjoying a game of cards with one of the guests. He asks me to come in, but I do not care for cards, and so look on. The conversation is brisk. "Madame" joins in, and the cat takes her place by the fire, making the family complete. Outside the wind howls and the rain pours in torrents off the roofs of the old gabled houses. It is a night and place when one might hear such a story as that of "The Bells," but the faces all look friendly and we chat on until dinner, about anything save murder. It is a good night for sleep and I am not long in seeking that tonic of nature.
Next day the ride is through storm and clouds. The people are more opposed to automobiles than in the other sections and we have several conflicts with old women who, with their cattle, insist upon occupying the entire road.
We lunch at Rennes—a bustling, prosperous city of no interest save as the theatre for the trial of Dreyfus the Jew. One meets with soldiers everywhere in France and I have taken occasion to talk with many of them concerning this man, famous, or infamous, as the case may be, and from general to private I find but one opinion, "guilty." When I ask what they make of Esterhazy and Pâté du Clam, they do not hesitate to say that they were bought by the Jews, and that Dreyfus's entire case has been governed by money from the chosen people. I was not surprised at this opinion from the officers, but coming also from the rank and file it was unexpected, to say the least.
It is early in the afternoon when St. Malo is reached and there we pass the night, almost the only guests within the Hôtel de France.
All the world knows St. Malo, the ancient town on an island, where one must have a room on the third floor in order to see over the walls. Though it is picturesque as one approaches, St. Malo is gloomy and depressing when one enters within its gates. The whole town reeks with moisture and one is not tempted to remain, at least at this season.
The route from there onward lies over roads not in very good condition, at least for France, though they would be considered prime in America. In fact the sections of Brittany through which we have passed do not possess the superb highways universal all over the rest of the Republic, and her climate just now is rainy and cold, though the rain is more of a mist from the sea. Occupying the long cape-like projection lying between the stormy Bay of Biscay and the equally unquiet Channel, she is swept by the winds of both, alternately, and at times it would seem from both at the same moment. But when one enters Normandy, all the land is as smiling as Touraine, and one goes on rejoicing. Brittany is picturesque, but with a sad sort of picturesqueness. In all of her churches you will find a catafalque ready for the dead, and she knows all the wild, sad legends, and truths sadder than any legend, of the neighbouring ocean. Normandy smiles at you seemingly happy. Her valleys are all abloom with millions of fruit trees, and spring is well advanced.
As we turn out towards Mont St. Michel, a fussy little train makes great to-do over its no miles an hour and puffs indignantly as we, leaving it far behind, speed on over the broad high dyke, which connects St. Michel with the main land. On either side stretch the sands over which, when the tide races in, it outstrips a fast horse, but the sea is far out to-day, so far that its murmurs do not reach us, and there is no sound save our own on-rushing.
Mont St. Michel, pinnacle on pinnacle, rises directly before us five hundred feet into the blue sky and becomes more and more distinct as we approach until we finally reach a stand-still with the nose of our auto poked against—a blank wall. Where to now? Above rises the wall with no sign of a gate, and on either side and below us stretch the wet sands,—no thoroughfare there surely. However, over an elevated foot-bridge come a man and a woman, the former covers up the auto, while the latter assures us that the Hôtel Poulard Âiné is the only place for a gentleman to breakfast, a statement which causes high words with the runner of another house who arrives a moment late. But "Madame" carries the day and we follow her over the foot-bridge which the high tides cover, and rounding a corner pass under a gateway and into the quaintest spot in France. The way is narrow and steep, disappearing upwards under a second gateway, but our guide turns us promptly into a great kitchen with a bell above its entrance clanging for the meal about to be served. One finds these kitchens in France, but I have no memory of them elsewhere. Always spotlessly clean, the walls hung with shining copper utensils, while the cook, in snowy cap and apron, turns the spit where some fowls are roasting before a roaring fire, whose glow is most acceptable after our swift ride through the air. These cooks are personages in France and the proper making of an omelette an affair of State, as it were. This man greets us with a salutation so magnificent that I return it in kind as nearly as I know how—but feel that I fall short.
Every house in St. Michel climbs up the rocks. This one climbs high and I must mount four flights of stairs to find the lavatories. As for a lift, Mont St. Michel permits no such desecration of her ancient usages. If you come here you will use the legs God gave you.
After breakfast, which by the way was excellent, I descend to the street with the intention of exploring the place alone, but I reckon without my host, who, in this instance, proves to be the old lady who met us on arrival. She waves aside my gentle remonstrance, tells me that I may never come again and had best see it all, and no one can do as well for me as herself. I yield perforce, also because of her cheery old face; God bless her! I have no doubt but that she is a good mother to some one. So I start, Yama and Jean following closely. The latter will fully appreciate all he sees, but the former will not know any more two hours hence than he does now. But let him come; as my instructor in German used to say when I could not remember the dative case, that she should continue to pour it into one ear in the hopes that some of it would stick before it passed out of the other. I think she was wrong, for I never knew how I got into that case and was always at a loss as to how I was to get out.
The old lady mounts to the lower battlements and begins her story. Her French is so distinct and so slowly spoken that all must understand her. She should command a high salary in some school at home. One could not help but learn even without studying. So she rolls out the history of the celebrated spot until we reach the portals of the fortress, a lofty donjon flanked by two projecting turrets. There she must consign us to its custodian, cheerily housed with his family in the great guard-room, and under his guidance we mount the wide and stately staircase of the Abbots, and for another hour wander through gallery after gallery, crypt over crypt, here in a donjon in the rock, and there in a prison spacious and cheerful. From every casement glimpses of the beautiful panorama without greet one's eyes, but the full glory of that is reserved until, having mounted five hundred steps, we emerge upon a platform where stands the Cathedral, lifted far above the sins of the earth, a fitting place for the worship of God. Gazing downward one sees the fair land of Normandy to the left, while Brittany stretches away to the right and the glistening waters of the English Channel are behind one. The sunlight comes in long rays through the cloud rifts and the land sparkles and the sea dances where it strikes far out towards England.
High above us rise the pinnacles of the Cathedral, while on the topmost point of its Gothic spire the gilded statue of St. Michael seems to shout his hosannas upwards far towards the blue of heaven.
The wind is strong and fresh and full of life, for this is spring, and the world rejoices; this is Holy Week with its divine resurrection and its hope for all men! Lilies and apple blossoms deck these altars, while in far off New Zealand autumn leaves will crown this festival. How strange a circumstance!
There may be those in Europe and America who do not know the history of this famous spot, but it has been so often described that there can be but few so uninformed, and I fancy that its picture is certainly known to all.—A conical rock rising from the sands close to the sea and covered by houses, abbeys, and fortresses with the whole capped by a great Cathedral, which flings its gilded statue of St. Michael five hundred feet into the air where, on the apex of the delicate spire, it seems, especially on a cloudy day when the support is invisible, to float in the air.
The Holy Monks of the Order of St. Benedict founded the abbey here in the year 709, and until the Revolution of 1793 it flourished and was a prime factor in most political events from the Norman conquest downward.
Here again we hear of Louis XI. and Cardinal Balue who occupied one of these prisons for two years, probably before the King had conceived the happy thought of that cage,—and in fact, this same rock prison may have suggested the cage, for both were a singular combination of confinement and exposure. This in St. Michel, however, was spacious and supported by many columns, as you may see it in its perfect state to-day and from its loop holes the prisoner had spread out before him a page from the book of nature whose interest was inexhaustible and from which he could not be shut away save by chains or blindness. If I must go to prison I hope it will be in Mont St. Michel, for here I could scarcely be lonely. On sunny days one could see much of the world below and many stately ships on the seas, and on stormy nights what awe-inspiring sounds one must listen to, and listening, wonder whether even this fortress of stone will not be blown into high air, mere dust before the tempest, and then when the moon comes out, casting long rifts of light into the darkness amongst these arches, what strange shadows of kings, priests, knights, and prisoners must flit to and fro.
In the cathedral above, Louis XI. founded the knightly order of St. Michael, but long before his day the city on the rock was called the "City of Books," and here is a cloister in perfect condition, where many of the books were written, I doubt not. Note the exquisite capitals of the columns of polished granite and the double arcades. In the crypt below, forming a cemetery, there is an old wheel of gigantic proportions used as a windlass to haul provisions up into the castle.
The guard tells the history as he moves onward, and I notice that those of the party who evince the least reverence for the sacred places are two priests, who laugh at everything. The refectory interests them most—one of the finest Gothic halls in France—and time is spent in the inspection of the three great chimneys in the kitchen with many sighs and much patting of capacious stomachs,—in regret, I doubt not, at not having been on hand at all these feasts throughout the centuries. This portion of the monastery dates from the year 1203, and if you descend into the crypt beneath the church choir you will find pillars twelve feet in diameter. Though one sees much, I fancy, that as at Loches, there is much one does not see. If you could only come alone and be permitted the freedom of the place. But you might get lost,—it is quite possible I should think. If Louis XI. did not have some particularly choice and horrible prison hidden away in Mont St. Michel then he was not the king history paints for us. The cathedral is being restored by the State. France seems desirous of preserving her historic spots in the proper form and gives a good example to her neighbour, Great Britain, who allowed the great hall of Edinburgh Castle to be restored by a private citizen, and still permits the desecration of Stirling Castle. There are plenty of places which would serve as well and better for barracks and it is a disgrace to Scotland that she permits such a use to be made of Stirling, whose great halls are cut up and divided by common partitions to form accommodations of such a character. Royal Stirling of all places! For the sake of the history of the nation and the students thereof it should be cleared out, it would be far more instructive than any history extant.
But time passes,—we must move on.
Descending the rock, we enter our machine and are soon speeding along the wide high dyke, which forms also the dividing line between Normandy and Brittany.
These people look glad to see us. In Brittany we met with many frowns. As the day wears onward the air becomes perceptibly colder. We have a short storm or two and one burst of hail, so that the ancient city of Caen is not an unwelcome sight, nor the comfort of her hotel "Place Royale" objectionable.
ARRIVAL AT CAEN—WILLIAM THE NORMAN AND CHARLOTTE CORDAY—CHURCH OF ST. ÉTIENNE—PEOPLE AND RAILROADS OF NORMANDY—ROUEN AND ITS CHURCHES—THE MAID OF ORLEANS, HISTORY OR LEGEND?—CASTLE OF PHILIPPE LE BEL—DEPARTURE FROM ROUEN
There are two names connected with the history of Caen which obliterate the memory of all others: one of a king and warrior, the other of a woman who gave her life for her country,—William of Normandy, and Charlotte Corday. How far apart their lives lay, how widely different their history! While the story of the man is full of interest and glory, my thoughts rest longest on that of the girl, and I seem to see her stepping from the door of the old house in the Rue St. Jean and flitting away, down the long highway towards Paris and the guillotine; her figure clothed in quiet gray stuff, a white kerchief crossed on her bosom, and fastened by a bow of black ribbon, while a mass of wavy black hair is crowned by a white cap bearing a black bow, and great dark eyes light up a pallid face,—eyes glowing with that intense love of country much more common to women than to men. That is to my mind Charlotte Corday and in a simple house of the bourgeoise in this quiet street she passed most of the years of her life. Its façade is changed but the interior remains and one can picture the simple provincial household with its scant furniture, its necessary economies, the old aunt confiding to the family friend her "fear for Charlotte," the meeting with her young patriots, and the last quiet closing of the door of her home with no farewells to any one—the flitting away down this long bright highway where we are speeding joyously to-day. Follow her and you will go to the garden of the Palais Royal where she bought the knife; go with her to the chamber of Marat where she slaughtered his vileness; see her in the hands of the furies of the Revolution; watch her as she mounts the scaffold. Surely if ever murder was forgiven by God, that girl went spotless into His presence,—pure as the Maid of Orleans.
But Charlotte did not walk to Paris. She travelled in the diligence, and seems to have had a very good time of it. She is a case in point showing that vanity in women, especially in French women, is strong even in the face of death by violence. We find her smiling upon the artist who sketched her during the trial and turning her face towards him, while, as the executioner waited, she gave a sitting for her portrait in the Conciergerie. In this portrait which still exists she is clothed in the red robe in which she met her death, as she called it, "the toilette of death arranged by somewhat rude hands, but it leads to immortality."
It rained in torrents as she moved out to her doom, and then the sun shone forth. "Its departing rays fell upon her head, and her complexion heightened by the red of the chemise, seemed of an unearthly brilliance. Robespierre, Danton, and Camille Desmoulins watched her on her way, a celestial vengeance appeased and transfigured."
How different the story of the other name which makes Caen famous! Pomp and glitter, the call to arms and a throne! While the girl's grave is unknown her death was attended by a nation, though the King sleeps in the choir of the majestic Church of Saint Étienne and his descendants rule in his stead, his death was neglected and he was buried by charity. But which name stands first in the great court of God?
As the traveller enters Caen the first object which greets his eye is the Church of St. Étienne, the Church of the Abbey of Men, which was founded by the Conqueror in 1036, the same year his Queen Matilda founded the Church of the Abbey of Women,—La Trinité, which one sees over yonder, both as an expiation of the sin they had committed in marrying within the forbidden degree of consanguinity. While singularly majestic, St. Étienne is simple to severity, but what do architects think about its façade and the odd-looking spires? To me they appear as though brought by some giant on a dark night and set upon the wrong church, after which it was not worth while to take them down. Certainly to one who is not an architect, they seem oddly placed on that façade.
The interior however, the nave that is, satisfies by its dignified simplicity and was a fitting resting-place for a king like the Norman. I say "was" because the tomb under the black marble slab before the high altar is empty. The King formerly slept beneath the great central tower, but both Huguenots and Revolutionists desecrated his grave and his bones have never rested in that tomb or choir.
Caen possesses many fine churches, especially that of Saint Pierre, also the "Trinité" or "Abbaye aux Dames" founded by the Queen of the Conqueror; but while that church is fine, its crypt is unique.
Our way through Normandy is as though driving through a beautiful park. The long highways stretch off into the smiling country like great white ribbons turning and twisting on a bed of delicate green satin and the brooks bubble and sing along happy in the ever increasing life of spring. Tall poplars clothed in the pale green which seems peculiar to France in this season, march away in stately procession, while the quaint thatched cottages are all a-blossom with the flowers of peach and pear trees trained over their faces, and through which the windows twinkle out at you like the eyes of a maiden from under the frills of a white sunbonnet. There are many Evangelines abroad in this smiling country, still wearing their Norman caps and kirtles of homespun. Ancient dames sit by the open doors thankful that they may bask in the sunshine of another year, and that they will not as yet add another cross to the many on the hillside yonder. One with whom a black-robed priest is talking is evidently so old that she must say farewell to all this brightness before very long. We pass many curious groups. Here comes one on a make-shift of a wagon, evidently of home construction. It is hauled by three poor dogs, one on each side and one underneath it. A stolid-looking girl pushes behind, and in it sits enthroned a beast of a man, evidently a cripple in his legs, but with bestiality written on every feature; such a man as Quilp must have been. A wretched baby completes the party, but such groups of misery are the exception, most of the people of Normandy look happy.
Our route lies through Lisieux, a prosperous little city, earnestly engaged in its own affairs, and having no time to waste on a passing show like ourselves. But we note as we glide by that Lisieux possesses a church and many bits of curious architecture that would interest, but to-day is one of those days when it is good to be alive, when there is great joy in motion, so we sail onward almost like the flight of a great flamingo, onward and onward, until from the top of a hill the Seine comes into view, winding through its fair valley on the way to the sea; and, off in the other direction, with her spires glittering in the sunlight, sits Rouen, the pride of all this region which would appear to have placed the town in its centre, and arranged its hills like a vast amphitheatre all around it, that the looker-on might the better observe the pageant of history as it swept through the ancient city. As we move onward and into her streets we discover that the Rouen of to-day, while evidently a "member of one of our oldest families" is not a dead town. The Seine sweeping through her midst bears on its waters ships from all over the world as well as the quaint barges and puffing little steamers which come down from Paris. The old walls have vanished, giving place to wide boulevards, which encircle the ancient town and are in turn surrounded by far-spreading suburbs. Light and life is everywhere and the cafés over-flow far into the streets with their little tables and merry throngs. Evidently the fortune of the ancient city was great, for its heir of to-day is certainly in affluent circumstances,—so that there is nothing of the sadness which envelops so many of the ancient towns of the Republic, and yet few, if any, of them preserve intact so much that belongs to the Middle Ages.
Leave the wide, gay boulevard by the river and enter any of the adjoining streets and you slip at once backward for hundreds of years,—large sections stand unchanged by the flight of time,—ancient mansions gaze down upon you still bearing their coats of arms in stone,—still showing the high peaked roofs and heavy carving of a distant age.
Moving on, you will pass the exquisite Church of St. Maclou and at last pause with a feeling of satisfaction before the majestic façade of the great cathedral. This temple holds perfect beauty in its plan, is a poem in stone, which satisfies the mind and the eye ever more and more. When the traveller passes into the shadowy interior he is forced to pause in deepest admiration. The majestic pillars of its nave stretch away hundreds of feet before him until merged in one of the most beautiful choirs in Europe; centuries old all of it, and never having been restored it possesses that mellow beauty which only the passage of the years can bestow, and the artist lingers long in its shadows drinking in the charm around him, with scarcely a desire to enter into an examination of details,—nor shall I attempt such descriptions here.
As you move on into the choir, you will pass over some small lozenge-shaped pieces of marble, marking the spot where rested once the lion heart of Richard, and the body of his brother Henry. Here they found the former in a greenish taffeta bag inclosed in a case of lead,—it is now in the Museum. The gorgeous monument of George, Cardinal of Amboise and Louis de Brézé will hold the attention in one of the chapels,—both stately affairs. Brézé was the husband of Diane de Poitiers, who is here represented clothed in deep mourning and shedding many tears. An inscription upon the tomb states that she was faithful in life and will be with him in death. Doubtless Francis I. or Henry II. helped her erect the monument and compose the epitaph. As for her sepulchre, it was built in her Château of Anet and there she was buried. As for her faithfulness to her husband, those two kings, father and son, can testify better than we can. One wonders why the furies of the Revolution did not pull that tomb to bits,—for even in our day, a complacent husband is not a pleasant object. As one wanders out into the quiet streets of the old town, one wonders much as to whether things in those days were after all very different from things in our own time. Certainly those husbands did not think it worth while to kill themselves.
In the Church of St. Ouen, Rouen possesses another cathedral, beautiful in every line, but part is new and much restored, and, while the architect will be charmed with it, the artist and historian will find much greater pleasure in the Cathedral. So I wander in and out of it, and off into the winding streets of the old town, where a tide of life flows on making them cheery, cheerful places where even the ancient houses, with their weight of years, smile downward upon the passing throng like the "old, old, old, old lady at the boy just half-past three." The great clock in its ancient gate-house tower has something to say to me as I pass it by, as it has had something to say to kings and princes, to black-cowled monks and purple-robed bishops, to the Maid in her forbidden armour, to the child Queen of Scots when she slept in this ancient city,—perhaps to Charlotte Corday. "Time hath wings; how, O mortal, hast thou spent thine?"
Hearing its bell, you are reminded of that fragment in the Museum, once a part of the great bell of George of Amboise, which was melted by the Terrorists into sou pieces, bearing the inscription "Monument of Vanity, destroyed for utility, in the second year of the equality."
Passing onward the traveller comes to the Church of St. Gervais—the oldest in Rouen and in the priory of which William the Conqueror died.
The royal dead in France were generally treated with scant respect on their final journeys. Francis II. and Louis XV. were carted in old wagons by night to St. Denis, and even this English king owes his burial to a stranger. After the siege of Nantes, wounded to death, he retired to this priory of St. Gervais to die. Deserted by his sons and plundered by his servants when scarcely dead, his body lay naked and uncared for until in pity and charity, a neighbouring knight assumed the obligation of his funeral and escorted his body to the Church of St. Étienne in Caen.
St. Gervais has suffered restoration, so let us move onward to where the Maid of Orleans is supposed to have ended her life at the stake.
Which story are we to believe as to this maiden,—that given by history and with which every schoolboy is familiar, or that related by M. Lesigne, who terms the former "a beautiful legend?" He points out that it is incredible that people should seriously believe that the English were driven out by a peasant girl even though inspired and he shows that just then the power of the French was strengthened, while that of the English was weakened by dissensions at home; that Jeanne was taken up by the war party,—not to lead its armies but to instill religious fervour and courage into the hearts of its soldiers, that she was not even aware of the first action between the contending armies but was in fact in bed at the time; that Orleans fell because the English had been abandoned by their allies of Burgundy, and he gives credit for that to "the astute policy of Charles VII.," which, by the way, is the first move denoting any brains on the part of that monarch of which we have ever been made aware; that Jeanne's triumph came during the rejoicings at Orleans, and when Charles was crowned at Rheims. Taken by the Burgundians, she was transferred to the English, whose king, as a Christian monarch, was under obligations to hand her over to stand trial before the proper ecclesiastical court, but that court had no power to inflict punishment, death, or torture. The judgment of a secular court was necessary. On threat of being consigned to that court, Jeanne signed a recantation, which was accepted, provided she promised henceforth to wear woman's dress. Condemned to life imprisonment, she passed again into the hands of the English as a prisoner of war who represented a large ransom. Left to herself she soon assumed male attire and was again handed over to the Church for trial. Again recanting, she was recommended by that court to the mercy of the secular powers, the English, who had never pronounced judgment upon her. The legend of her burning was due to a desire to make her fulfil the whole prophecy of the ancient Merlin, who was supposed to have said that the islanders would put her to death, but she seems to have subsequently married Robert des Armoises, and we possess a document drawn up in the names of Robert des Armoises, Chevalier, Seigneur of Trichiemont and "Jehanne du Lys la Pucelle de France," wife of said Trichiemont. The identity of Jehanne du Lys and Jeanne d'Arc is proven by several documents, among these a part of the chronicle of Saint Thibault de Metz, describing her meeting with her brothers and mentioning her marriage. This is the substance of M. Lesigne's book, proving that every story has two sides. However, the world in general and the Church in particular accept the story as history gives it.
She is now a regularly canonised saint of the Church of Rome and I should not like to suggest to many healthy schoolboys at home that she was not burned to death. If that did occur, it was not where this meaningless and absurd monument stands to-day, but on the site of the Théâtre Français. The scene of her imprisonment, trial, and condemnation was the ancient Castle of Philip Augustus in 1204, of which nothing now remains unless, as is claimed, the donjon tower shown to-day as the prison of Jeanne d'Arc be part thereof. It certainly was not her prison as that was torn down in 1809,—a year, by the way, which seems to have been more fatal to many of these old buildings than the period of the Revolution.
This Castle of Philip was immense in size, possessed of many towers, and would be of intense interest to-day, as the illustration shows. It is said to have stood intact until 1809.
Few of the old houses which crowd these streets and point their aristocratic gables towards the sky stood here in 1400, though many of the less pretentious did do so. The great churches were here, and in whatever direction you may stroll in Rouen, you will arrange to pass through one at least of these beautiful shrines, carrying away with you into after life the memory of something which you would not forget.
We leave the city on a glorious morning. As we glide away down her wide boulevard stretching by the river, the world is all astir about its business, and this Rouen is all of to-day, but as we speed off up the encircling hillside, the modern town drops down toward earth as it were, while the majestic cathedral and her sister churches lift their dark walls and spires higher and higher, towards the sky.
THE RACE THROUGH PICARDY—AMIENS CATHEDRAL—ITS VASTNESS—THE ROAD TO BOULOGNE
So we bid farewell to Rouen, deep down in her valley by the river, and rolling swiftly through the fair country towards Neufchâtel, we pause a moment to render homage at the altar of their great god, cheese; and so onward past many picturesque spots and interesting ruins. But the day is too fair to pause for the dead past. This air is the wine of life and the rush of our car drives it into and through us until, on arriving at Amiens for luncheon, we are ready to eat anything.
One really runs a risk of being ruined by dyspepsia on such a journey, as one's appetite becomes great and one gets no exercise. After a long day's ride and a hearty dinner, bed becomes most attractive at an early hour, and I often find myself snugly ensconced at eight o'clock and awakened at two in the morning by vivid dreams of my ancestors, entangled in flying wheels.
There are few in the vast tide of travellers between London and Paris who do not note, as their train speeds across the plains of Picardy, the towering gables and gigantic roof of the great cathedral of her capital, Amiens. It rises so far above the surrounding city that it appears to have nothing in common with it, nor are there any other structures round about to detract from this impression.
In common with millions of others, I had heretofore found no time for closer inspection. The tide of life sweeps too strongly through here to allow one to do more than gasp at the immensity of this church. To-day as we roll onward from the smiling country into the streets of the town, the cathedral looms up grander and grander until all thought of anything else passes from the mind. The busy tide of life and the city of seventy thousand souls does not and will not hold your attention for half an hour while within its limits. "It is a great manufacturing town, weaves cotton velvets for Spain, spins woolen yams, makes satin for ladies' shoes, and was the cradle of cotton manufacture in France."
Yes, yes, yes,—perhaps so, perhaps so, but, what is that to us? Leave it all and move faster, into that square. Now,—stop.——What are all the cotton mills of earth compared to this stately shrine? Look at those three deeply recessed and majestic portals towering as high as an ordinary church before you, the destroyer has passed them by and they are crowded with statues, prominent amongst which, dividing the central doors is that of the "Beautiful God of Amiens. "Over the central doorway is the Last Judgment in high relief,—the twelve Apostles, the wise and foolish virgins. Yonder is the Virgin crushing a monster with a human head, and above it the expulsion of Adam and Eve. One sees the burial and assumption of the Virgin in another spot, and row after row of kings, bishops, and priests, with the great towers rising far above and equally rich in carvings to their very summit. There would appear to be too much of carved work and yet the church is so huge that it would look barren without it. Entering, you are at once impressed with the vast dimensions, which are surpassed only by St. Peter's and the Dom of Cologne. The nave rises one hundred and forty feet above you. Its height and breadth are so great and the pillars so majestic that one wonders whether this church was not built by and intended for a larger, grander race of beings than we who now walk this earth.
Passing onward down the nave and into the choir, you are again struck with the beauty and richness of the carvings both in the stalls in wood and in the stone screens and altars, all around you. The rose windows are glorious, and yet—you feel that you have dropped your sense of delightful satisfaction somewhere. What is it,—why? It is absurd to criticise such a temple, yet Amiens, notwithstanding its majestic interior, does not fascinate, is not so satisfying as the great churches of Rouen, and I think it is because there is too much light. There, all is subdued; here a glare of white light detracts from the majesty, if such a thing be possible. Certainly one shivers and is cold and fully realises that ancient coloured glass has a wonderfully beautifying effect in these old churches.
Amiens has her history also. Henry IV. from a seat up yonder watched the retreat of the Spaniards and Isabeau of Bavaria here married the idiot Charles VI.
There is nothing in the city to interest, save the cathedral, and I come again and again, and finally take a swirling view as my auto flashes around it, and off and away to the northward. As we move farther and farther afield, I turn again and again to look backward and each time the cathedral has risen higher and higher until it reigns supreme in a kingdom all its own,—a thing not made by man.
The route from Amiens to Boulogne is very unpleasant for France, narrow and badly marked, so that we several times go astray, especially before reaching Abbeville. The way is also crossed frequently by stone gutters which will in passing destroy the springs of the auto unless extreme caution be used. These should be changed, one does not find them south of Paris.
As it would be impossible to pass through Brussels without a thought of Waterloo so at Abbeville the mind wanders away from the noisy town and off to the neighbouring battlefield of Crécy whose forest we see at our right as we speed northward.
Reaching Boulogne at about three o'clock, we are almost blown backward by the winds off the Channel, and seek shelter in a draughty, desolate hotel. Yama thinks that we have come to the end of the world, and will be lost if we attempt to go out on that churning sea. He asks if England is five days off, and seems very doubtful of my truthfulness when I say it is but an hour's sail.
THE RIDE TO BEAUVAIS—DEAD DOGS—GREAT CHURCHES—BEAUVAIS BY NIGHT—VAST WEALTH OF THE CHURCHES OF FRANCE—WONDERFUL TAPESTRIES
Two days of gloom and mist in London, London during the holidays, which means a desert, rendered our return to France doubly agreeable. The sun streams out its light as we enter the harbour at Boulogne, and Jean waves his cap at us while the auto is snorting a welcome.
The important custom-house officials insisted upon examining my bundle of home papers but finding the Enquirer harmless, passed it and we sailed away. Collecting the wash and traps at the windy, disagreeable, and most expensive Hôtel Pavilion Impérial we started off once more, gladly shaking the dust of Boulogne from our wheels. It's a sadly dreary place where indigent English come over to enjoy the risk of gambling at a dead sort of casino,—good church members at home, very pillars of the sanctuary, who gamble like street arabs all the time they are here. Let us leave it and roll off and away into the fair land of France.
The ride to Beauvais proves to be one of the most delightful of the journey. The roads are superb and we meet many autos which, while they add to the danger, also give zest to the sport as they go shrieking past us. Just now we killed one poor dog so suddenly that he never knew what hurt him. Rushing at us from an out-house he got his neck just in the spot for our flying wheels to pass over it, and he never moved after that. It was over in a flash, all his wild rollicking life snuffed out like the flame of a candle. We regretted the accident but could in no way have prevented it.
Skirting the town of Abbeville and leaving Amiens well to our left, we go directly south via Poix, Grandvilliers, and "Marseilles the Little." Once during the afternoon, though the sun shines brilliantly the air becomes suddenly very cold and a short, sharp shower of hail forces us to slow down and draw up the cover. We are moving very rapidly and our momentum added to the force of the hailstones causes us to feel as though suddenly subjected to an assault of the enemy, but it lasts for a moment only, and with top again thrown back, we are speeding onward.
If you would feel the elixir of life and youth pouring into your veins, take such a ride on such a day. There is nothing with which to compare it, save the wild flight of a toboggan. An eagle may know the sensation as he soars through space, but until mortals shall have put on immortality or wings we can know it only in auto cars or toboggans, for I am told that in a balloon one feels no motion unless one falls, and it does not last long even then,—mercifully so.
The ride is superb all the way to Beauvais. It is Easter Sunday, all the villages are rejoicing. Giddy-go-rounds are in full swing, and the Beauvais hotel is occupied by boys from Paris and their best girls, the latter are not above flirting even with an elderly gentleman like myself. The fact that his arm is around her waist and his head on her shoulder does not in the least interfere with her double actions,—she can squeeze his hand while she throws languishing glances at me.
But dinner is over and the old town presents greater attraction to me than these passers-by within her limits. Darkness has come down upon the narrow streets, where, as I wander along, the lamps cast queer shadows under the eaves of the gabled houses. There is a mass of something over there that should be the cathedral, it towers so high into the sky and I pause before it in doubt. Part is Gothic and as the light will permit, I fancy very beautiful. The remainder is evidently a building of another century, certainly of a totally different style of architecture. While I am pondering, a foot-step draws nearer and nearer, the only sound of life in the city, and its owner, a little man, in answer to my question, assures me that this is not the Cathedral, but St. Étienne—a structure as old as the greater church which stands quite on the other side of the town, and "If Monsieur visits it, let him go at noon and ask for the old clock, it is well worth an inspection and very curious."
So he patters off into the silence of the night, and I wander on through street after street until the Cathedral looms up before me. Only a piece of a church, but what a piece, how gigantic! Why, since there would be few if any rivals on the earth, does not the nation complete it to its own glory? It may lose some of its majesty by daylight,—that often happens,—but to-night it is superbly solemn and most majestic, even though but a fragment.
These great religious temples are all in place here in old Europe, but I cannot but think that the erection of a vast cathedral for the Episcopal Church in America is money ill spent and but to gratify vanity. These structures were built when great temples were almost a necessity for the processions of the Church of Rome, but they are of little use, save the choir, for any other purpose even in that church of to-day and, aside from the Cathedral of Westminster in London, the Church of Rome has erected no such structures since that of Orleans.
The good people of Beauvais in the year 1225 evidently bent upon building a church which would dwarf that of their neighbors in Amiens, began this one before me; and if they had completed it they would have succeeded in their intention, for that vast edifice could then have been placed bodily within this structure, as the ridge pole of this roof is one hundred and fifty-three feet above the pavement or thirteen feet higher than that of Amiens, and three feet higher than the Cathedral of Cologne; but, money and the genius of the architect both failed,—the former want calling a halt on further progress, and the latter, through his desire to have as few inner supports as possible over-shot his mark, so the walls bulged and roof collapsed in 1284. With the repair of that damage came a cessation of all work, and so the cathedral stands to-day. As I wander around it in the darkness, I stumble upon a little structure at its western end, evidently much older than its gigantic neighbour, as it is Roman in design, and in the shadow farther on rise two great round towers of some château; exactly what it is one does not know or care to inquire, leaving all facts for the plain daylight of the morrow and allowing the darkness of to-night to claim what it may.
Even in the shadows one may discern that Beauvais is a very curious old place. Ancient it certainly is, as Cæsar mentions this district, but its most memorable day was that upon which it closed its gates in the face of a vast Burgundian army, and kept them closed until succour arrived from Paris. Women took such a prominent part in the siege that Louis XI. complimented them and declared that they should forever march first in the commemorative procession,—this they do in this year, 1905. One can well imagine that Louis cared little for the women, but it gave him another opportunity of humiliating his noblemen.
On my return to the inn, I have the great square all to myself save for a rising moon,—in fact, I wonder whether I have not the whole of Beauvais to myself, for I have not met a dozen of my kind since I started out,—but as the air is cold and the moonlight seems very old to-night, let us to bed, where I, at least, dream of disjointed churches and queer round towers when I dream of anything at all,—which is not often, for sleep after these rushing rides is as profound as death.
Daylight brings another state of affairs. The inn is alive with the noise of departing autos, and there is much wonderment that I will linger in this "queer place," with Paris and all it holds so near. There are even doubtful glances cast at my red car and insinuations that it will not go. It certainly will not now, nor for several hours to come.
Passing out into the sunny street I find a busy little bustling city, alive to its own concerns. Yonder old gentleman in that postal card shop is very much alive to the fact that I have not patronised his wares, which I do at once, and he is delighted that I really take an interest in his beloved old town. His preference is for the ancient city but he does not forget her attractions of to-day and trusts that I will not depart without an inspection of the factory where the tapestries are made. This factory was established before the Gobelins, and these good people of Beauvais consider their work far superior to that of the better known fabric near Paris.
As I enter the Cathedral, even the majesty of the building is for a time secondary to the interest excited by the splendid specimens of this work, which hang upon the walls. They are vast in size and very rich in colouring, as well as beautiful in design, and represent the histories of St. Peter and St. Paul after the cartoons of Raphael. These tapestries are worth a million and a half of francs, and it has been proven by the returns made to the Minister of Fine Arts from all over France, that the art treasures of the churches far surpass in beauty and value those of the great public institutions of Paris, Versailles, the Louvre, Luxembourg, de Cluny, and Carnavalet. In fact those vast collections are but a small part of the artistic wealth of France. Its real wealth is in its churches, and if brought to a sale would realise the fabulous sum of six thousand millions of francs, or twelve hundred millions of dollars.
The little Roman church of Conques, hidden in the mountains of the Aveyron, possesses a treasure,—shown at the Exhibition of 1900, for which a syndicate offered thirty-two million francs. It is well for France that it is inalienable. It holds the finest enamels in the world, reliquaries given by the kings, and Roman statues in gold and silver. For the silver Virgin of Amiens, eight hundred thousand francs was offered, and the one at Le Mans is valued at a million, while the Cathedral of Rheims possesses in its panel, representing the Nativity, the most valuable piece of tapestry extant.
That these treasures were not dispersed by the Terrorists is a marvel; they certainly would have produced far more money for their cause than the melting down of a few bells. The colouring of these pieces in Beauvais is of a freshness and strength which surprises one. They evidently have been shut off from the light through most of the many years since they were made.
This cathedral in the daytime still impresses by its immensity, and now one sees the painted glass of the sixteenth century. There is so much of it and the windows are so close together that the effect is like that of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris enlarged enormously, and the church has the appearance of a glass house as the stone work is far less prominent than in other cathedrals.
I spend some time in the adjacent château. The great round towers observed last night are but the guardians of the entrance to the court, across which rises the old palace of the Archbishop, now the Hôtel de Ville. The whole is picturesque, but the interior is not of interest.
There is much indeed of the picturesque in Beauvais and one may spend many hours wandering through her streets, but the attraction of motion is upon me and I am certain to secure it in yonder red car, which to-night will deposit me in the capital. But before that we shall have a delightful ride, all too speedily a thing of the past.
THE ROUTE TO SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE—THE PEOPLE—THE CASTLE AND TERRACE—THEIR PICTURESQUE HISTORY—FIRST VIEW OF PARIS
It is close to high noon when we enter the ancient and once royal city of St. Germain-en-Laye, after some miles speeding through the aisles of her forest, where they say wild boar may be found to this day. As we enter the town, the people are streaming out of the churches and off and away in every sort of vehicle for the festal part of the day. How happy they all look, especially the children, whose faces are, as it were, mirrors reflecting the sunlight. Here are the funny little donkey and dog carts, both such serious-looking concerns. Yonder is a bridal coach with its happy party, and in this tram-car is another bridal party not at all ashamed of its costumes, and all around it seem bent upon making it happy for this one day at any rate. The morrow and its sorrows will come soon enough. This is a work-a-day world, and this festival will be looked back upon throughout all the coming years. I saw last spring in one of the Parisian gardens a bride in full regalia, veil and all, proudly seated on an elephant, and very happy over the admiration of the groom and the others around below her.
Passing rapidly through the streets of Saint-Germain we emerge upon the castle square, with that picturesque structure to our left, while far beyond it, along the brow of the hill, stretches the stately and famous terrace, its balustrade, vases, and statues glimmering white against the squarely trimmed, pale green trees bordering the walks, and behind all rise the darker masses of the forest. Off and away before us the land drops to where the Seine twists and winds through the valley of rich green. Yonder are the heights of Marly and the forest of Vésinet and beyond, the white city of Paris, glittering in the sunshine, spreads away over hill after hill, crowned on the one side by the Cathedral of Montmartre and on the other by the Fortress of Mt. Valerian. There is no fairer scene in all the world than this before us,—as there is no such fair city on earth as Paris in the month of May. All the world is abroad to-day. Here in the square of the palace of St. Germain the tide of people is quite tremendous, beating its human waves against the walls of this ancient abode of the kings of France and streaming far out upon the wide walks of her terrace.
If Louis le Grand should return and visit this favourite promenade, favourite until he grew old enough to find the plainly to be seen towers of St. Denis disagreeable of contemplation, what would he think of this democratic assemblage where two centuries ago all was state and ceremony, velvets and laces? However, there are women here as lovely as La Vallière or de Montespan, and he would probably arrange a later meeting with some of them. After all is said, the people are about the same, notwithstanding the lapse of centuries. There are plenty of La Vallières and Louises in plain air on yonder terrace to-day where the gay god of love reigns just as supreme as in the days of le grand Monarque.
This old castellated château before us was built by Charles V. and finally completed by Francis I. It was more of a fort than a palace, and far too sombre to please the gay Henry of Navarre, who had constructed a gorgeous palace near where the terrace now stands, and wherein Louis XIII. died. This was destroyed by Charles X.
But there were gay days even in this château before us. Louis XIV. was born here, and it was here that he came down through the trapdoor in the ceiling in search of La Vallière sleeping probably on straw. These old palaces were not always furnished and the king's bed was hauled from house to house many times. This is said to have occurred especially here at St.-Germain, to reach which it was in those days somewhat difficult.
The terrace was inaugurated when Louis XIV. was in the height of his glory and with a splendour we can scarcely conceive, surely a contrast to the very democratic crowds which swarm its alleys and hang over its balustrade in this year, 1905. James II. of England and his Queen lived and died here and in this church to our right he lies buried. The sadness and misfortune of the fated Stuarts never forsook them for an instant even after death, for the bodies of Henrietta Maria, widow of Charles I., and her daughter Henrietta were the first to be torn from their tombs in St. Denis and cast into the fosse.
Before all this, St.-Germain witnessed the reception of the little Queen of Scotland and historic faces were clustered thickly around her fair head.
One can picture that stately assemblage as it came from yonder portal to greet the very weary, tired out little girl, whose brows already ached with her Scottish crown; Henry II., the gay gallant; Catherine de Medici,—queen as yet in name only,—with the smouldering fires of ambition and the gleam of an indomitable will in her black, velvety, opaque eyes,—eyes which held no pupil yet saw all. One always pictures her as in her latter days, garbed in sweeping black with a long veil of sombre hue sweeping down from a black cap whose white frill comes to a point in the centre of her brow. But here she was clothed in brilliancy. Henry allowed no black in his court. In the throng came the boy princes whose short lives were to be so full of tragedies. Nostradamus also appeared with his prophecies of blood for the little princess. The head of the house of Guise and all who made history in those days together with the glittering courtiers,—poured in gorgeous array from yonder archway onto this square, crowded to-day with its plebeian humanity, and, as the eye wanders past the château and rests on the far-reaching terrace, the mental picture, shifting downward through the years is filled with a throng even far more brilliant. Masses of Watteau figures headed by Louis le Grand in his high red-heeled shoes and vast wig, and clothed with pomposity, advance out of the past; then the furies of the Revolution like a pack of great gaunt wolves sweep them away as though chaff, and passing onward give place to the beautiful if mock courts of the Napoléons, and then, the picture merges into this of to-day where the stage is the same, but how different the players thereon. Yonder, glittering in the sunshine lies the cauldron of Paris, which has produced and destroyed all who have performed on this stage of St.-Germain.
Even with the gaiety of the scene around us we cannot altogether forget what has occurred here, or wonder what may not yet occur, for it is quite within the possibilities that future revolutionists may carry out the intention of Robespierre and establish the guillotine within this court as a permanence,—an intention thwarted only by his death. Certainly he was nothing if not picturesque. The grim court of this old fortress would form a picturesque surrounding for his pet instrument of destruction, and the last glimpse afforded its victims of the world they were to leave would be one of the most beautiful that the world contains. The contemplation of it holds me long to-day, but time flies, we must move on, and so, entering our red car, we drop away from St.-Germain speeding down the hillside, rushing through village after village, crossing and re-crossing the river, skimming onward through the beautiful Bois de Boulogne, where all Paris is coming outward to the races, and so through the grand avenues, past the Arch of the Star, and into the court of the hotel where the auto vanishes and we rest for a season.
PARIS AND HER SO-CALLED REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT—NECESSITY FOR AN AUTOMOBILE—THE RIDE TO CHARTRES—CATHEDRAL NOTRE DAME—THE AQUEDUCT AT MAINTENON AND ITS BURDEN OF SORROW—THE CASTLE OF MAINTENON—MADAME AND LOUIS XIV.—ST. CYR AND HER DEATH—RETURN TO PARIS.
Paris is en fête for the coming of the little Spanish King, and as the shadows lengthen, he passes in state, down the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées,—a delicate, pale-faced boy, with apparently no constitution. The French nation may be on the downward path, but this city of Paris is gay to-day with no fear of the handwriting on the wall. One seems to live, here, as in no other capital in the world; all the others are work-a-day where, to their credit be it said, business and the serious side of life are ever foremost; but here, all is pleasure and for pleasure, while work is shoved far off into the distant quarters of the city. To a citizen from a real republic, this of France seems one in name only. These people so dearly love the pomp and glitter of fine pageants that the simplicity of our republican nation could not be endured. One would judge that there are as many titles in France at the present time as before the great Revolution and I doubt the arrival of the day when they will be things of the past, to-day at least they are recognised in France and receive all due respect socially and politically.
I have visited Paris many, many times in the years gone by and thought I knew the city thoroughly. So I did and do, the immediate city within the walls, and many of the points without them, but that is far from the whole of Paris. So much lies around it which it is bother-some to reach and that I never saw or should have seen but for an auto, that I feel deeply grateful to the puffing, conceited thing, which, so to speak, swallows one up and rushes off in any and all directions, and at a moment's notice; so that day after day glides by in skimming the country round about of its rich cream of interest.
To-day we are off for Chartres,—a short run of fifty-five miles each way. I had asked an acquaintance to go along and warned him to bring his heavy wraps. He appeared in low shoes, silk socks, a light spring overcoat and wearing a delicate orchid in his buttonhole. Before we reach Chartres I have to wrap him up in about everything the car holds save the gasoline, and I think he is inclined to swallow some of that and to touch a match to it so hard are the shivers. However, a bottle of whiskey sets him on his legs again, but I fancy the next time he is warned he will take heed.
The day's ride is beautiful and proves one of utmost interest, one in which the pages of France's history are unrolled all too rapidly before us. The air is fresh and life-giving as we race past the Arch, and so on into the shade of the Bois, which this morning is so entrancing that we speed through many of its avenues before starting onward for the real ride of the day. The machine skims over these level roadways soundlessly, and so smoothly that one may write if one were so disposed on such a morning. Other autos rush past us and we hold on to our caps and almost to our hair; thousands of bicycles flash along the by-paths; Paris is out to enjoy itself as only Paris knows how to do.
Yonder is Bagatelle, to my thinking the most exquisite portion of the Bois, and one so little known, to Americans at least. Enter its gateways, and there, in the very centre of this French wood, you find a great park intensely English in its characteristics. One might imagine one's self in some English estate in the heart of that country, for, save for the villa, there is nothing to remind one that this is France. The villa itself is not of a size to greatly mar the picture, and as it is empty and closed you will spend your time in the winding walks and under the shade of the trees.
There are two statements as to the building of yonder villa, one, that it was done by the Comte d'Artois on a wager with Marie Antoinette that he would build a château in a month's time. This he accomplished. The other statement makes the wager by that same nobleman with the Prince of Wales and the time sixty days. Whichever is true, the villa was built and for many years with its park belonged to and was the home of Sir Richard Wallace, who housed his superb collection, now in London, within its walls.
Bagatelle now belongs to Paris and is part of the Bois, though still shut off by its walls and gateways, and you are only permitted to enter on foot.
It would be pleasant to linger longer here to-day, but with Chartres in our minds we move off, passing en route the Café de Madrid, which, to the many thousands who visit or pass it by, means simply a place to get something to eat and yet it occupies the site of the villa built by Francis I. on the model of his prison in Madrid (hence the name). Here the gay monarch first caused ladies to become a necessary part of his Court, insisting that "a court without women is a year without spring time and a spring time without roses."
With such power of compliment is it a marvel that he was a favourite of the fair sex, or that his taste was so perfect that his son could do no better than make his father's fair Diane the first lady of his Court?
"Madrid" was a house of pleasure. After Francis, Henry II. used it with Diane de Poitiers, Charles IX. with Mlle. de Rouet. Henry III. changed it from a menagerie of women to that of beasts. Here the gay Marguerite divorced by Henry IV. spent her latter years; how, we can well imagine. History is silent concerning it after that, though it was probably used for the same purpose by the succeeding Louis until Louis XVI. ordered its demolition. There is not a vestige of it left to-day, but on its site stands the pink restaurant with its green benches and shading trees, its white covered tables and laughing throngs, but it is too early in the day for them as yet, and the place is rather silent as we flash by it towards the murmuring river.
As we pass through Louveciennes, we pause a moment before the pavilion, all that remains of the Villa of Madame du Barry. Everything else has vanished and it is only the exterior of the pavilion that remains as she beheld it.
What was her real character,—the daughter of a dressmaker, the mistress of a king, the power before which all the Court bowed, and whose influence over the aged monarch was unbounded? How did she use it? Should we pity her fate, or turn in disgust from a thing so degraded? Some authorities state that from the first to last she was all bad,—the mistress of one Comte du Barry, she was, by the King's orders, married to another, and so presented at Court where her power soon eclipsed that of all others. The Court was at its lowest stage of depravity during her time. She cost France thirty-five millions of francs, and died a coward, showing more fear and terror on the scaffold than any other woman who mounted its fatal platform. The only thing in her favour was her patronage of art and of the men of letters.
The other side of the picture, told by an eye-witness, Madame Campan, is far different, at least as regards the standing of the frail du Barry. Therein we find her treated with indulgence by Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, and we are told that with the latter she was, during the dark days of the terror, in constant communication, giving the queen all the information which she worked so hard to obtain,—that her grief over the tragedy of the Queen was intense, and that she desired to dispose of all she possessed in their favour, in re-payment for the infinite goodness of the King and Queen towards herself. Returning to France to join the man she loved, de Bressac, she was forced to gaze upon his severed head carried on a pike past her windows in Versailles.
Betrayed at last by the negro boy Zamore, whom she had benefited and protected for years, she was guillotined.
She was evil, doubtless, but was there not enough good there to admit of the hope of a greeting in another world such as came to the woman of Palestine, "Neither do I condemn thee?"
The figures of history come trooping to us as we roll onward towards Versailles, to which we give but a passing glance. Later on, we glide through the woods where Racine first learned the language of poetry and so on to Rambouillet, where Francis I. ended his days murmuring to his son, "Beware of the Guise." The château is a gloomy pile of red brick, and it was in a chamber in its great round tower that the soul of the merry monarch sailed forth on its long journey, scarcely faster I think we glide away from his palace to-day.
To me, properly dressed, this ride is delightful. I find a lined leather jacket to be of all things the most comfortable, but poor Narcissus is chattering with cold and so we leave the Château de Maintenon for inspection on our return.
There is much rushing water around the château and its little village, and we come soon upon a majestic aqueduct spanning the river,—a structure which might be considered one of the immediate causes of the French Revolution. Rising from the placid river and its bright green banks, the arches are picturesque and beautiful to-day, and yet, to build them, forty thousand troops were employed. The spot was so unhealthy that the mortality was immense,—many thousands,—and the dead were carried away by night that the workers might not be discouraged or the pleasure of the King delayed, for this was to furnish life to his fountains at Versailles. The King intended to carry the waters of the river through a new channel eight leagues in length, and hence this aqueduct, as it was necessary to connect two mountains. However, before it was completed, the work was abandoned for the hydraulics at Marly. This structure was partly demolished to build the Château of Crécy for Madame de Pompadour. Of the forty-seven original arches, fourteen remain, each eighty-three feet high with a forty-two foot span. The loss of life caused in the building of this canal of thirty-three miles does not appear to have excited much attention at the time,—such was the power of the King, but the people remember, and the grandchildren of these did remember in 1793, when, as usual, the innocent suffered for the guilty.
Leaving the aqueduct with its burden of sorrow and the softly murmuring river, we mount the hills and enter upon La Beauce, the finest corn land in France. It spreads away from us, a vast plain, gently sloping off for miles, until far in the hazy distance of this lovely spring day the twin towers of the famous Cathedral of Chartres pierce the sky, and from now on with scarcely any power, and soundless, the car speeds on and on, ever faster and faster, until the wings come out on its hubs once more, and we are flying, fairly flying.
If Sheridan had possessed an automobile that day at Winchester, T. Buchanan Reid would have lost the opportunity to make him immortal, but still "hurrah, hurrah for Sheridan, hurrah, hurrah for horse and man," and one feels like returning to boyhood's days and giving utterance to some wild whoops as this car rushes onward and onward.
The vast plain spreads away, spangled with daisies. The hedges are all a-blossom, the air is full of perfume and this old world seems young once more, until, as we enter the ancient city of Chartres and pause before her Cathedral, we suddenly drop back again into the Middle Ages.
This Cathedral of Notre Dame is considered by architects to be the most perfect in France. Its "vast size" is also mentioned. As to the former opinion, it arises, I think, so far as the exterior is concerned, from its simplicity of outlines. One comprehends the whole at a glance, and the eye is not confused and tired by a vast conglomeration of styles, as is the case with many churches. If one were to see this at Chartres first, many of the other cathedrals would impress one as over-dressed, so to speak.
As for its size, after the churches of Rouen, Amiens, and Beauvais, this does not impress me, as it is on a far smaller scale than any of those edifices. For instance, the height of the nave is thirty-four feet less than in the Cathedral of Amiens and forty-seven less than that of Beauvais. Neither is it so long or wide as those of Rouen and Amiens. However, while it is not so vast, it is in its interior much more impressive than Amiens. Because of its ancient windows, it holds a "dim religious light" under its arches soothing to mind and heart. "Peace, be still," pervades the silence and follows you as a benediction when you go hence. But before you go, gaze a while upon the glory of these windows. Europe holds nothing like them. They are perfect, and they are eight hundred years old. Other cathedrals have a few or a few fragments, here are one hundred and thirty perfect windows; and from the great rose circle forty feet in diameter to those surrounding the aisles, all are full of that beautiful painted glass, such as we are not able to produce in this latter day.
After all, the glory of this Church of our Lady is in such details as this, and in her exquisite lace-like carvings in stone, surrounding the outer wall of the choir. These, together with the Gothic porticoes on the north and south side, form the objects of the greatest beauty and interest in Chartres.
The cathedral has been the object of vast pilgrimages because of a sacred image of the Virgin, which stood in its crypt,—it was destroyed in 1793. Henry IV. was crowned here, and here one still sees the celebrated black image of the twelfth century which was crowned with a "bonnet rouge" during the Terror, but is now restored to its ancient occupation of receiving the veneration of the faithful.
We were not impressed with the town of Chartres and so after a good dinner and much whiskey for the frozen youth of the orchids, we bid it farewell. While there we met some friends who had come from Naples in their own car, a new one, and had spent a thousand dollars for it in tires alone. It was now on the way to the shops in Paris, to be "thoroughly overhauled" and it is not two months old. My red car is not so gorgeous, but I enter it with every satisfaction, and my enjoyment of my tour is not rendered any the less by the knowledge that though I keep it a year or for ever, I shall have no such items to pay when it leaves me, nor shall I have an old car on my hands, and that means much, for the fashions of these machines change so from year to year that a "last year's car" is worth little when you try to sell it. However, as I have stated before, Jean says that this car is of such sturdy make that it should last for years with small additional expense.
As we near again the aqueduct of Louis XIV. its arches frame most picturesquely the Château de Maintenon, which stands some distance beyond it, on the river's bank. Built by Cocquereau, the treasurer of Louis XI., the castle was given by Louis XIV. to de Maintenon, and here in 1685 in its little chapel, he is supposed to have married her, though it is generally conceded that that ceremony occurred at Versailles but that they came here immediately afterwards. The King was but forty-seven and she fifty years of age, so that he lived with her thirty years. She certainly possessed charms past understanding to have enchained such a man at that comparatively youthful age, to have enchained and held him as she did for thirty years. We picture the widow Scarron as a pinched-nose, pale-faced woman of sour expression. She must have been far different and far more to have held this Louis, who probably was as nearly natural as it was possible for him to be, here in these rooms which to-day are, so they tell us, as she left them. If so, how did the Terrorists overlook them? Here is the sitting-room with its frayed green satin furniture, and yonder the bedroom and several other apartments. There was no great state maintained in Maintenon and I doubt not that the worthy couple often strolled down the banks of this placid river to look at the work on yonder aqueduct outlined against the sky.
The King is described as always majestic, yet sometimes with gaiety, leaving nothing out of place or to hazard before the world. Down to the least gesture, his walk, his bearing, his countenance, all were measured, decorous, grand and noble, and always natural, which the unique, incomparable advantages of his whole appearance greatly facilitated. In serious affairs, no man ever was more imposing, and it was necessary to be accustomed to see him, if, in addressing him one did not wish to break down. The respect, which his presence at any place inspired, imposed silence and even a sort of dread. When the mob tore him from the tomb at St. Denis they found a "black mass of spices,"—the man was lost after death in perfumes, as during life in pride, and his body was flung, together with all the other royalties of France, into the great ditch at St. Denis, and, if the story be true, his heart swallowed by a canon of Westminster was interred with the very reverend gentleman in that sacred place. It probably killed him. Another tale is to the effect that one Philip Henri Schunck, a royalist did, in the year 1819 in Paris, make the acquaintance of an artist named St. Martin, a friend of one of the officials who superintended the opening of the royal monuments in the Jesuits' churches. St. Martin states that he was present on the opening of several monuments in order to secure the royal dust to be utilized as "Momie" a valuable dark brown pigment which was often obtained from mummy cases and ancient tombs. St. Martin converted part of the heart of Louis XIV. to this use but returned the rest together with the heart of Louis XII., intact to Schunck through whom they reached St. Denis where they now are. St. Martin made this surrender during his last illness—a time when he would scarcely have perpetrated a practical joke on posterity. At the opening of the monuments two painters were present; the other was Droling, and between them they bought eleven hearts including those of Anne of Austria, Maria Theresa, Gaston of Orleans, the regent, and Madame Henrietta and all were made into "Momie." There is a picture in the Louvre by Droling—"Intérieur de Cuisine"—whose rich colours may owe their brilliancy to these hearts of dead royalties. The heart of Louis le Grand mashed up by a painter's knife and spread on canvas—where now is your greatness, O King? But of all this these murmuring waters at Maintenon told the anointed of God nothing, but reflected his image as placidly as they do ours to-day.
Madame is described as a woman of very stately elegant figure and bearing. Possessed of infinite tact she never lost her temper even before de Montespan had been banished from Court. Nothing appeared to vex her, and she would smile past and through all obstacles until she obtained what she desired. With all, she would appear to have been an austere woman, caring little for dress or the pageants of the Court and much for power. In that, she bore a certain resemblance to Catherine de Medici. As time wore on, she so influenced the King that we find the red heels, diamond buckles, laces and plumes almost all gone. That she ever loved the man is doubtful, and she certainly did not forgive his dying reference to her age, which exceeded his by two years. Her last words as she deserted him, which he probably heard—and which she intended he should hear—were as heartless as only a woman of that stamp could make them,—"There lies a man who never loved any one but himself."
To the students of history, Maintenon and its seclusion would seem a place more to the liking of its austere mistress than Versailles, and it is probable that she spent much time in the château. It may be that here she induced Louis to sign that revocation of the Edict of Nantes which so affected the fortunes of our own land, by driving the best of the population of France down the Rhine valley and out on to the ocean.
On our return to Paris we pass by St. Cyr, the immense collection of buildings which Louis built for Madame as a wedding gift and wherein she held court at the head of a convent of two hundred and fifty noble dames.
The place is at present a military school and we are not permitted to enter, but there is after all nothing to see save the black marble slab which covers her tomb. To St. Cyr she came a day before the king died, leaving him to enter upon the great hereafter alone. Here she lived the simplest and most austere of lives and here she ended her days.
A rushing ride through the afternoon brings us again to Paris, in the twilight and into the Élysées Palace Hôtel where at least two hundred of the gayest women of the under world are taking tea, and I am surprised to find the majority of them speaking English, many, by their accents, coming from our own country. It is a strange sight this; London has some such scenes, but I know of none in New York, to its credit be it said.
 In view of the present conditions in one of New York's greatest hotels, I must qualify that statement.—M. M. S.
With the auto disappeared also, but into the subway I think, the youth with the spring suit and the orchid, both sadly drooping. I believe he got into a boiling bath and filled up on what whiskeys and sodas Paris had left, for twenty-four hours, resting the while at the bottom of a deep, deep bed.
MY CHAUFFEUR SUMMONED BY THE GOVERNMENT—THE NEW MAN—YAMA's OPINION OF PARIS—SPEED OF AUTOS IN PARIS.
While I am dressing for dinner, Jean comes in with a flaming face and a telegram. He has been summoned for military service, and though it will last but two weeks it must be performed at Gap, near the Italian frontier, and what shall I do in the meantime? Certainly I do not propose to pay for an idle auto car, and can another chauffeur be gotten? Jean has wired to Nice and thinks that "George" may be sent, and if so, I will be all right as he states that George is a better chauffeur than he himself.
All this is very annoying but cannot be helped, and one does not desire to growl at the government of a country where one receives so much kindness, especially when all this is for a very necessary service. Still, to lose a chauffeur that one knows, and can trust, is a serious business, and I am almost tempted to end the tour now, but the idea of foregoing the Vosges and the Black Forest, to say nothing of what may follow, is not any more acceptable, so I decide to see what can be done in Nice, and await the reply to Jean's telegram to the owner of the auto, Monsieur le Jeunne. It comes promptly and states that George is already en route to us, and will arrive that night on the express.
In the interval I take my last ride with Jean, rambling all over old Paris, which he seems to know and love, and he is so delighted that it interests me.
Yama still insists that the capital does not look respectable. That from one of a nation which maintains the Yoshawarra, as a national institution and which does not know the meaning of the word morality, is severe. Still, I doubt whether Japan could be considered as immoral as that great Yoshawarra called Paris; rather they are unmoral. The order of things is certainly reversed in the two countries. In France, a girl is shut up in a convent until she marries, but after that, well the less said the better (I do not hold that this is the case in the provinces); whereas in Japan there is no morality, as we understand that word, before marriage, while there certainly is, after that ceremony. The Jap women are faithful wives and faithful mistresses.
We consider Japan as a semi-barbarous nation and do not judge her people by our standards but France is another so-called Christian nation, yet I think that slave market in the hotel is worse than any our Southern States knew of in their darkest days. I asked Yama which city he liked the better, New York or Paris. "Why certainly, New York, sir. Here there are such funny-looking men talking to disreputable-looking women at those dirty tables all over the street; the place is not respectable and you ought to go home."
I quite agree with him but I do not go; but then to him the other side, the fair side of Paris, is a closed book. All its beauty, all its intense historical interest he does not see and cannot comprehend, but it is difficult to understand how any living being can fail to see and feel the beauty of Paris, when the horse-chestnuts are in bloom, when the trees in the Bois are of that tender green which seems peculiar to France, when the Seine dances and sparkles in the sun, and all the world goes for an outing. For my part, I most intensely enjoy the actual living when my carriage rolls between the horses of Marly up the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées past the arch and into that fairy-land beyond it. And yet I never pass the Place de la Concord that I do not remember its terrible history, see in my mind's eye the white-robed queen moving to her death, or the shrieking tumultuous mob which carried Robespierre to justice. The prancing stone horses from Marly which the gay world passes every day looked down upon both those scenes. Those old houses in the Rue St. Honoré saw the passing of both King and Queen and the saintly Madame Elizabeth. What were even French brutes made of to destroy a woman like that?
George arrives at six o'clock in the evening, and Jean brings him to my rooms and then departs, with regret, as one can tell by the catch in his voice. Escorted by George and Yama he disappears into the "underground," and is gone to serve his country. As it turns out, that is the end of his service with me, though I have agreed to have him back when his time expires at Gap.
But I anticipate—George seems to know his business and the first run through these crowded streets places my mind at rest on that score. Motor cars in Paris are lords of the way,—the police pay no attention to them, and just why each day is not marked by fatal accidents all over the city passes my comprehension. Apparently there is no limit placed upon their speed. Yesterday I saw one enter the city and fly up the Avenue of the Grand Army at certainly fifty miles an hour. That wide thoroughfare was crowded, yet no accident happened, and the car, rounding the arch, fled away down the avenue of the Champs-Élysées at the same furious pace. In the old days, Paris was considered dangerous for pedestrians, because of its cabs and carriages. To-day one waves them aside as one would a fly and pauses only for an auto car, for it will not pause for you and it is very heavy. I confess my first ride down this Avenue in the car of one living in Paris tested my nerve. I held on for dear life, and fairly shrieked two or three times at what I thought was wilful murder. When we reached the Hôtel Ritz I descended in a shaking condition, and I had been used to a high rate of progress for two solid months.
Personally, I do not care for such speeding and will not permit it with my car for many reasons aside from the danger, but most of these people have taken as their motto, "A short life and a merry one,"—all of which may have one good result, it will save tremendous funeral expenses, for there will be little left to bury.
DEPARTURE FROM PARIS—THE CEMETERY OF THE PICPUS—RIDE THROUGH THE FOREST OF FONTAINEBLEAU TO SENS—THE CATHEDRAL—TOMB OF THE DAUPHINS—THE GREAT ROUTE TO GENEVA—STONED BY BOYS—TONNERRE
To those who love her, Paris shows even yet glimpses of the olden days, and as we flash past the Louvre and along the banks of the Seine, many a stately façade rises above us. This section was Royal Paris for many centuries, and it is to be regretted that the government of the city does not assume control and preserve what is left of the private hotels, at least preserve their exteriors. To build a modern city is at all times possible, but once down, these ancient houses can never be replaced, and their existence brings thousands of strangers and much money to this capital of France and its people. Something of such preservation has been done, but there is much which should be preserved which stands in danger. The Hôtel de Sens, unique and perfect but a year or so ago, is gone, and for what?
We leave the Column Bastille well to our left, and speed off down the Rue du Faubourg St. Antoine to the Place du Trône,—now, Place de la République—a vast open space guarded by two stately columns and from which broad avenues stretch away until lost in perspective. Here Louis XIV. erected a throne and received the homage of Paris when he returned from his Spanish marriage. All the gorgeousness and glitter of his capital gathered then with no shadows on their sky of what was to come. Just here where he was enthroned stood, later, a scaffold holding two long high posts with a glittering knife flashing up and down, a hedge of steel surrounded it and a howling mob thronged the place. When the Place de la Revolution became too slippery with blood, the guillotine came here, and here, between June 14 and July 27, 1794, fell thirteen hundred of the most illustrious heads of France. For any reason or for no reason, whole families came together and were glad to be allowed to go "together." It is related that a little child, a girl, at the Luxembourg, then a prison, came racing and shouting from the door to the waiting trumbril with the cry, "O Mama, Mama, my name is on your list and I can go too."
Close by in what is now the neighbouring cemetery of the Picpus they found rest.
Leaving the Place du Trône on the city side, by the first street to the left we enter a quiet quarter of Paris which the tide of life rarely invades. These streets are of the oldest in Paris, and this convent before us, now called the Sacred Heart, was once that of the Bernardin-Benedictin, into which Jean Valjean penetrated, and I must confess that it is with him rather than the illustrious dead that my thoughts are busy as we draw up before the gates. The whole neighbourhood seems deserted, the yellow streets are as silent as the convent and its grave-yard, and one wonders over which of these walls Jean Valjean made that wonderful escape into this abode of Perpetual Adoration, of Perpetual Silence.
But our George has jangled the porter's bell and the gate is shortly opened by a sad-faced Sister, who, with down-cast eyes conducts us through the long convent gardens, past the buildings which one may not enter, and into an oblong enclosure crowded with flat tombstones, upon which as we pass down the walks we read the most historical names in France, until upon reaching the last in the line, the name of La Fayette is before us. Two little American flags adorn it and hang motionless in the quiet air. But even La Fayette's tomb cannot hold our thoughts long here. The eye is irresistibly drawn to a small door in a wall just beyond it, guarded by an iron grill and surmounted by a tablet bearing a simple inscription.
Gazing inward you see a space some seventy-five feet square and guarded by high walls. Its grass is shaded by some cypress trees, a simple iron cross rises in the centre. There are no stones or monuments of any sort to mark this last resting place of the flower of the French aristocracy. Thirteen hundred and six were brought here from the Place du Trône and were cast pell mell into the fosse.
From a photograph by the author
Amongst them, the figure of the poet André Chénier will probably be remembered the longest. His only crime lay in his beautiful verses, in his life and character, all of which were a reproach to the wolves of the Revolution. The night following his execution a cart loaded with twenty-five headless corpses left the Place du Trône and wended its way to this deserted quarry, into which for six weeks had been tumbled pell mell, stripped of their clothing by the men in charge of the work, the victims of these last days of the Terror. This fosse remained open from day to day awaiting further executions and no day passed without its additions to the mournful assemblage. Here André Chénier was buried unknown to his family who sought for his grave, for the work was done in secret and these grave diggers never spoke of their task as to do so would have insured their joining the silent throng. The secret was discovered by a poor workwoman, Mlle. Paris, who followed the cart containing the body of her father, and each week she would repair thither to pray on the brink of his grave. The days of Robespierre accomplished and the Terror ended, the plot was bought by an inhabitant of the Faubourg de Picpus and enclosed in walls, after which it was blessed by a rebellious priest, rebellious against the Commune, in hiding in Paris.
In 1802, when Mme. de Montagu Noailles returned to France, her first care was to discover the grave of her mother guillotined in 1794. Her search was fruitless until she heard by accident of this workwoman, and so in the end succeeded in buying this sacred plot of ground.
The ancestor of Prince Salm Krybourg, who now owns the spot, was the last victim of the guillotine and sleeps here with all the others. None have the privilege of sepulchre in the outer enclosure unless they be of blood kin to those who suffered in the Terror and were buried in this fosse. If there be any aristocracy in death it is here in this cemetery of the Picpus. As I turn for a last glimpse, the spring sunshine is filtering down through the thickness of the trees caressing the grass within, and the tombs without, in a tender sort of way, as though to make up to the dead, in some small degree, for all the horrors which had been hurled upon them when alive. So we leave them under the benediction of spring and follow our sad faced guide who utters no word or sound, but stands with bowed head and crossed hands at the great gateway until we pass outward and away.
After such a spot it is well to come down to the cheerful commonplace streets of this farthest corner of Paris on our way to the South, and yet as we roll onward through the sunshine, it is some time before we recover our usual spirits and the world seems gay once more, and here is one of the charms of automobiling. If all goes well with your machine, and such has been the case with mine, you cannot long remain sad or gloomy, ill or desponding. The rushing air and the glory of living wraps you round about and you cannot but be joyous. Care may be back there somewhere, but with good luck he cannot catch you. To-day the air is moist and warm and with the smell of the asphalt comes the odour of wood violets. The market women, as they rattle past us with their loads of bright yellow carrots and well washed turnips appear jolly and good-natured. Doubtless they could enjoy a good day at the guillotine, but they are not bent upon that now. So we roll onward through mile after mile of streets and a quarter of Paris heretofore unknown to me; rather uninteresting on the whole and yet to me no section of this city is without great interest, and the panorama of her people is an inexhaustible study, and one of which I never tire.
Paris, like its wickedness, lays fast hold upon those who would leave it, as the traveller in an auto will find to his discomfort. Of all the exits from the great city there is but one, that to Brittany, which is open and straight away. As we entered two weeks ago from Beauvais we were entangled in a maze of streets which appeared to have no outlet, and so again as we leave for the south. It is all fair sailing down the magnificent avenues of the city, but once past the walls our trouble begins. George gets lost several times and it is with great relief that we at last leave the houses and roll out once more on one of the splendid highways of France.
One half the day is misty and rainy with two short, sharp showers, but with all, the ride is beautiful, passing by the lovely Seine and through the forest of Fontainebleau. It is dark as we roll into the quaint old town of Sens and seek shelter in the comfortable Hôtel de Paris. Again I am welcomed by "Madame" who shows me to a comfortable room and soon has a fire blazing,—acceptable, though this is the sixth of May.
After all, I enjoy these quaint hotels. They are so honest, their people so wholesome, and the whole such a relief after the perfume-laden air of Paris. Dinner at this hotel is served at a long white covered table, with its palms and bottles of wine, around which sit serious-looking provincials with their napkins tucked up under one ear and spread over ample stomachs. What am I writing, they wonder. They say nothing to each other but all stare at me. The newsman comes in and sells the Paris papers and high overhead chime softly the Cathedral bells noted for their silvery tones.
The importance of Sens in other days is attested by its ancient and majestic gateways, but the Sens of to-day is a small place clustering around the portals of its Cathedral, which is supposed to be the parent of the Choir of Canterbury, that church having been built by Williams of Sens. There is a resemblance but I shall not enter into description here, after having described so many other cathedrals of France.
Passing its portals, one will linger a moment before the tomb of the Dauphin, father of Louis XVI., speculating as to whether he was a stronger character than his son, and as to what effect he would have had, had he worn the crown, though realising that nothing could have prevented that deluge of 1793. A Napoléon in command would have dispersed many of the mobs, spared the world much of the horrible bloodshed, but the Bourbon throne was doomed.
Again, if the king had possessed a modern fire department he could have gained time if not saved his head. There is no mob which can stand against water as applied by a fire-engine. It has been tried and always with success. It would have saved the day at Versailles and the Tuileries and would do so at the present time in Russia—but to return to Sens.
There is another monument not mentioned in the books and one of great beauty. It is to some archbishop whose name I have forgotten. The statue kneels on a black marble sarcophagus and is of white marble. It is not so much in the statue itself that the beauty lies, but in the wonderfully natural arrangement of the robe which flows behind in billowy folds, until one touches it and marvels that it is really marble and not heavy satin.
Thomas à Becket fled to Sens to escape Henry II., and you may still see his robes and mitre in the treasury of this church. You may say your prayers if you desire at the same altar where he knelt, one wonders whether it was in adoration of himself or of God.
In Sens you again encounter the work of Viollet-le-Duc, who has restored wherever he found it possible, but there are bits which escaped his eye if you care to hunt them out. I find myself before one now, off in a quiet corner. It is only a detached head on a column and the eyes gaze into mine in a sidewise fashion as though desirous of telling me its story,—just as the lips of the deserted Buddhas in the forests of Java seem ever quivering to speak. They say you were Jean du Cognot,—but will you pardon a wanderer in these latter days if he asks, who was Jean, and why his head is here all alone on this column? Was there ever any more to him? Did he listen to the booming of these great bells rolling out their summons above us? The eyes gaze downward at me in a sad sort of fashion and seem to follow me reproachfully as I pass outward.
The people are streaming in for High Mass and it would be more respectful to get our car away from the sacred edifice, and so we move off down the streets of the little city and on into the fair land about it.
As we leave Sens her beautiful bells shower a benediction upon all mankind. Their tone is wonderfully soft and mellow and follows us far out over the misty meadows and by the placid river. A light rain sets in and the skies give no hope of a pleasant day, but an hour later the blue patch appears, and when we stop for luncheon, the sun is shining.
This is the main route to Geneva, the highways are superb, and great machines are rushing past us to and from Paris. Later on, speeding moderately, we are approaching a bridge where some boys are standing, when, as we move by, one of them casts a handful of small stones straight in our faces. Fortunately they did not strike our eyes, or there would have been a catastrophe more or less serious. Quickly stopping the car, George rushes after the fleeing culprits, but without success, those remaining on the bridge calmly tell us that we have no right to go so fast, and we reply that another time we shall answer by shooting. We were not going faster than fifteen miles an hour and the bridge was not in town, making the act one of pure deviltry. It was the first of its kind which we have encountered since starting from Nice. These towns nearly all have signs by the highway regulating speed within their limits and we have always obeyed the notice.
Later we entered a very beautiful avenue of trees leading into Tonnerre, a melancholy old place with little of interest, save the Great Hall of a hospital founded by Marguerite de Bourgogne, seven hundred years ago,—a vast chapel resembling St. Stephen's hall in Westminster and quite as large.
DIJON—THE FRENCH AND FRESH WATER—THE ANTIQUITIES OF DIJON—RIDE THROUGH THE CÔTE D'OR—ARRIVAL AT BESANÇON.
As we roll onward, Dijon comes into view, picturesquely placed at the foot of the vine-clad hills of the Côte d'Or, backed in turn by the Jura Mountains.
The sun shines brightly as we roll into this ancient capital of Charles of Burgundy. It is only since motor cars have commenced to fly over this land that any one has thought of stopping at Dijon. Its glory has long since departed. It was absorbed into that of France under Louis XI. after the death of Charles, when ceasing of importance as a capital it has remained merely a prosperous provincial town, associated in one's mind, together with its province, with much that is rich and red and good in the shape of wine. Judging by the fat bottles all down the dinner table of this hotel, that reviver of mankind is cheaper here than water.
We have descended at the Hôtel du Jura, which holds out a special inducement of "baths on every floor," an inducement I must confess, for aside from the greatest hotels in the largest cities, one finds no bathrooms in beautiful France,—and on arriving at an inn after a long auto ride, a bath is an absolute necessity, unless you are so utterly tired out, which I have never been, that nothing save bed is of the slightest importance.
Where and how does the vast mass of the French nation bathe? I am not scoffing, I would like to know. It is a fact that until the advent of English and American tourists there were no baths in any hotel in France from Brest to Nice, and even with the building of the Hôtel Continental in Paris, in 1878, if one wanted a bath one must descend to the basement. In 1900, there were but one or two in all the hotel part of that vast establishment, and the rooms containing them were usually used as bedrooms. That condition is slowly improving, but even now they cannot understand the necessity of a bath with every bedroom. The plumbers' bills would drive them to drink, and even in the present Élysées Palace Hôtel, with all its paint, glass, and glitter, unless one has a large suite one has to walk a distance down the hall to the bath and often wait half an hour. The day may come when Europe will boast the convenience of such hotels as one finds in every American city, but she cannot do so now, and in Berlin it is reported that the Royal Palace has no bathrooms, that his Majesty's tub is behind a curtain at the end of a hall. The Empress is said to have exclaimed, when reading of a New York hotel, "I should think myself in heaven if I had such luxury around me." She evidently understood that luxury in its truest sense does not mean gorgeous pageants, pomp, and glitter, but a bathroom of your own less than a block away. How was it at Versailles in the days of the grand Louis? One reads much of the state function called "the toilet" where the King is represented as washing his eyes in some spirits of wine, but one has never read of a bath being part of the royal establishment, consequently one cannot but imagine that under all its pomp and majesty, the Court of France must have been a very dirty place. In fact it is necessary to look to the extremities of Europe, Turkey and Spain, to find evidences of the proper appreciation of fresh water as applied to the human frame. The Turks—though unspeakably vile in all other respects—do bathe and southern Spain holds mute testimony to the love of the Moors for water—a trait they certainly carried away with them when they crossed the straits.
As I sally forth for an inspection of the city of Dijon the first glances show an entirely modern town of wide streets and rattling trams, while just below me the trains rush to and fro from Paris, but pass onward on to the left, and while you will not find a Bourges or Rouen, you will discover many quaint relics of another period. On the corner of the Rue du Secret and the square of the Duke of Burgundy is an ancient mansion with a turret at its angle and an image in the niche over its doorway. The whole is black with the passing ages and one wonders what the lives were which were lived out there in the old days of chivalry. It's a shop now and from the windows of the adjacent palace no faces look down. It might have housed some dainty mistress of the duke. In the little garden which separates it from the palace there is a fountain and under the trees the people sleep when they will and there, as the museum is not open just yet, I wait listening to the bells of Notre Dame and watching the progress of a love-making between a man and girl on the same bench. They pay no attention to me. The work in hand is too serious for any notice of a passing stranger. Poor fool! He is a bright-eyed, honest-looking lad and she is one of the streets in every sense of that word. They finally move away and I turn to enter the Hôtel de Ville where I find the ancient palace of its dukes, and where there is something of interest even now. The vast kitchen and its six great chimney-places, all unchanged is a curious spot. There the feasts for the "Wild Boar of Ardennes" were prepared, where whole oxen were cooked at once. Above it you may still see his Noble Hall with its richly carved stone work and great chimney with flamboyant traceries, and in its Museum, the gorgeous tombs of Philippe le Hardi and Jean-sans-peur will hold your attention by their beauty of carving and colour. Being in a museum, one can pardon their restoration which has been most successfully accomplished. I have never seen anything so exquisite as these carved draperies.
Passing outward, pause a moment before the Church of Notre Dame, and allow its curious clock, brought from Courtrai by Philippe le Hardi, to speak. If it is a quarter to the hour, it will be struck off by a child, if a half, by a "hammer woman," if the full hour, by a "hammer man," and all have been doing like service for the citizens of Dijon for six hundred years and more, and will do so for thousands long after you are dust and ashes. We would probably pull down the church and erect a skyscraper upon the premises, but these Burgundians love their ancient city, and so this old shrine will stand and yonder quaint figures continue to ring these people into life and through life and off into the realms of heaven, where I doubt not their souls will rest more in peace if sometimes the winds from earth waft to them the tones of their ancient bells.
As I wander through the streets of the town it is plain to be seen that it was a Court city, for there are many stately and interesting façades lining the way. Passing onward beyond the railway station and its puffing locomotives, one comes to the ancient Chartreuse, once the ducal burying-place for the house of Burgundy. Charles the Bold slept here until carried off to Bruges. The only relic left here now is what formed once the base of a Calvary,—a group of stone figures surrounding the pedestal where formerly rose the crucifix. The figures of Moses, David, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Daniel, and Isaiah are life size, beautifully carved and very majestic. Formerly the whole Calvary was richly gilded and was the object of many pilgrimages, for which was accorded the remission of sins. I certainly feel better after my pilgrimage, but I fear it is for no religious feeling, but rather the brisk walk and the many hours of interest I have passed this sunny morning in the fresh air of this capital of Burgundy.
However, luncheon is ready, and the auto waits, it would seem impatiently, judging from the row it is raising and so we speed away from Dijon, and enter upon the richest section of France, the Côte d'Or, where the yellow hills for league after league are smothered in vineyards, and all the prospect is green and gold, with villages nestling here and there, clean and delightful to look upon. As we ascend the terraces and speed off and away on the wide highway, winding along the table-land on their summits, the air is full of the freshness of the mountains and on reaching the top of a hill, George points out Mt. Blanc far in the distance. It is Sunday, the people are abroad and all the world goes singing onward. Everybody seems glad to see every one else. The chickens are more reckless than usual and even the machine moves joyously.
If you pass this way during the season of the vintage, the air will be laden with the odour of the over-ripened grapes, and the vines will fairly shake out at you the fragrance of Chambertin, Pommard, or Volnay, until your senses swim as though in truth you had been drinking, but to-day in May there is only the fragrance of green leaves and the smell of the rich yellow earth wafted to us as we rush onward.
Our route lies through Auxonne, which held out successfully against the Prussians in 1871;—and so on towards Dôle. Turning for a glimpse of the land behind us, we see the spires of Dijon far down in the valley, while before us and to the north stretch the mountains of the Vosges, and far in the hazy distance, the greater Alps are beginning to assume form and shape. Dôle is passed at a rapid rate, and turning northeastward towards Besançon we fairly fly along and all goes well until four o'clock when a storm, which has blackened the heavens in front of us breaks in heavy rain and—then a tire gives out. While I write, George is down in the mud putting on a new one. He does not seem to mind the work in the least.
To-night we stop at Besançon. It is in sight all the time, but that tire must be replaced at once. So George takes refuge under a tree until the worst of the storm is over and then goes to work in the mud. Yama gets out to assist and is a good second,—the flow of French, Japanese, and pigeon English going on all the time. The work done, we roll on again.
THE FORTRESS OF BESANÇON—AUTOS IN HEAVY RAINS—DREAMS—BELFORT—ENTRANCE INTO THE VOSGES—THE RISE TO BALLON D'ALSACE—SUPERB RIDE TO GÉRARDMER
Besançon is so old that Cæsar thought it of the utmost importance as a basis, and France thinks so to-day. As we approach it, we note that every hill (and it is surrounded by hills) holds its fortifications and even the river assists in the work of defence, by enclosing the town in a complete horseshoe. At the opening of the horseshoe, is a hill crowned by the citadel. If you explore the town you will find relics of the Romans on every hand, even a triumphal arch, rich with statues and bas-reliefs.
The Christian martyrs, St. Ferréol and St. Ferjeux, were slain in A. D. 212 in the amphitheatre whose remains one may see here. The wars of France have raged around Besançon to the present day. It is the most important stronghold on the Swiss frontier, and last but not least, it was the birthplace of Victor Hugo, who would seem to have acquired some of his ruggedness and strength from these surrounding mountains and yonder rushing river. The town is black and forbidding in appearance, as though strangers were not wanted, and we pass onward over the river Doubs and find refuge from the storm in the very comfortable "Hôtel des Bains," near the Casino, for Besançon is also a watering-place, has springs, a season, and a casino. Thank the Lord we are too soon for the season, and in consequence have the huge draughty hotel to ourselves.
The air is cold here and a wood fire is most cheering and acceptable. It is storming hard, and as I look downward upon the dripping trees, three autos rush past, autos without tops, and whose occupants are fairly drowned out. While a fixed top is a great weight to carry, and very hard on pneumatics, one should certainly have a calash. We are so provided and could never get wet save in a water-spout. The poor women who are coming out of these veritable bath-tubs below there are forced to pause in the rain and allow some of the accumulated water to run off them. Wearily they struggle to the lift and disappear for the night. I have the salle à manger all to myself, and gather my feet up upon the opposite chair to escape the draughts. Ensconced at last on a sofa in my room before a great blazing log, I look up the history of Besançon and while I read, the warm air gets into my brain and holds consultation with the cold air which has been rushing through it all day long, producing a drowsy effect. The dancing flames are full of shapes and fantasies, and as I watch them, the door opens and a queer figure dressed in sandals and short skirts and wearing a breast plate and helmet enters. He carries a green wreath in his hand, which, having doffed the helmet, he puts on: it has pointed leaves which stick forward over his big nose. I ask him if he likes Besançon, and he promptly tells me that it is called "Vesontio," at which I differ and we argue, finally deciding to go out and inquire. I take the auto which he scoffs at, preferring a thing shaped like a coal scuttle, with knives on its wheel hubs and drawn by three horses abreast—with a shout we are off through the storm, sweeping up and down the streets of the ancient city, past closed houses, and through silent fortresses, and even out on the face of the river, where car and auto hold a wild race, cheered by ghostly multitudes on the banks. Cæsar loses his wreath, and Yama stands up and yells a desire to have him in Manchuria. The race is mine and the Emperor of Rome is so enchanted with my red devil that he announces that it is his, and I will "just get out." Again discussion follows and he waves to his assistance some thousands or so of shadows, but a word to George and we rush right through them, and off and away until we come up with a bang somewhere, and I wake to find the fire out and the room very cold. Ah me, how one does sleep and dream after a rushing ride!
Our entrance into the Vosges was not propitious. Heavy mist and some rain attended all our morning progress until we neared the luncheon hour. The roads were fine and the scenery picturesque, what we could see of it.
At one we reached Belfort, another great army post, with soldiers everywhere,—necessary to prevent the gobbling up of one Christian nation by another.
In the very good "Hotel of the Ancient Post" I have an excellent luncheon served by a waiter who scarcely speaks French. He is an Alsatian, speaks English, and was at Chicago in 1893, says he is going back to America "just as soon as he can get there," was "a fool to leave," says this place is no good save for soldiers and there would be no soldiers if it were not for the fine clothes. Yea, verily! The Emperor William would find his army melt away if he put the men in plain clothes. Vanity and ambition form the basis of most empires.
Belfort is the last military post of great strength in this direction. If the traveller will mount to the foot of the old ruined tower which rises on a hill some twelve hundred feet above the town, he will obtain a view of all the fortifications, amongst them the famous "Intrenched Camp," capable of holding twenty thousand men. Off to the north, he will see the Vosges Mountains, and to the east, the Black Forest, while the Bernese Alps gleam in the south, rising above the Jura.
The siege and capture of Belfort by the Germans in 1871 forms an interesting chapter in the history of that conflict, and one would judge from the warlike appearance here to-day that the place would not be taken unawares if a struggle came on.
From Belfort to Ballon d'Alsace there is a rise of some four thousand feet. As we leave the former place, the clouds roll away and the sun streams out warmly. The road commences to mount soon after we quit the town and at one of the first hills the auto balks and refuses to go farther. George gets out and fusses and fixes for ten minutes and then away we go,—all of our twenty-four horses put their full speed forth and we sail up the mountains, skimming like a bird. The higher we mount, the steeper the grades, the faster we move.
Really this is a sturdy machine. In all the long journey, save a burst tire now and then, we have had no accidents and now it is lifting itself and ourselves up and over these mountains as easily as it rolled along the level.
It is good to be alive in such air and amidst such scenery. These mountains of the Vosges are very much like those at the Horse Shoe Bend and our Allegheny Mountains would be just as charming if we had such roads to reach them by. Here at an elevation of four thousand feet the highways are as fine as those in Central Park. Reaching the summit, a magnificent panorama is unrolled on all sides, but there is snow abroad and we do not linger long. Our route lies past Le Thillon. Farther on, we begin to ascend again and are soon high up in the snow line. As we round the shoulder of the peak, far off to the westward, between two great green mountain pyramids, the sun is setting in a golden glory high overhead the new moon sails in a pink sky, while far below, deep down in the valley sparkles an emerald lake on whose shore lies Gérardmer, where we shall stop for the night, the most beautiful spot in the Vosges.
The descent is rapid and very crooked, but George manages the turns as easily as with a hand cart, though I confess I hold on tightly now and then, feeling that that will help matters. Waterfalls tumble all around us and the sunlight rolls down through the pine boughs in a golden glory. Far below, the land is spread out like a map and dotted thickly with villages, while above, the sky bends, a blue arch without shadow of a cloud,—a blessing after the mists of this morning.
With all power shut off, our car glides down the white highway stretching in long curves and zigzags far below. The hills on either side are spangled with yellow easter lilies, and the glowing buttercups; the air is wine, which adds to one's lease of life; and again it is good to be alive,—one of those days and scenes which would force an atheist to believe in God.
The road winds through dense forests of pine trees where no sound breaks the silence, save that of our on-rushing and the music of the many waterfalls; and as for the sound of our wheels, this auto on the down grade is almost noiseless. It is nearly as silent on the level, but on the up grade when the speed is changed its motor talks quite loudly,—does not hesitate to discuss the change.
The journey to-day impresses me again with the advantages of motor cars over all other methods of locomotion for pleasure. We have run away from the storm and my perseverance in coming has had its reward. It was so wretched when we started and the prospects looked so hopeless that nothing save stubbornness and pride prevented my giving the order to turn southward towards the sun—if sun there could be—and give up the Vosges. My reward for not doing so has been a ride that I shall always remember as one of the most glorious of my travels. My own land holds many scenes of equal beauty, but as I have already stated we have not the roads by which to reach them. Then again we would find such wretched inns and poor food that the pleasure would be all gone, whereas here I draw up at the Hôtel de la Poste, where "Madame" shows me to a room, simple but clean, and later I sit down to a dinner which would do justice to any New York restaurant. To be sure, we are but a century old, whereas Cæsar fought for this section two thousand years ago, and I have a hazy recollection that he returns hereabouts every now and then.
GÉRARDMER AND THE MOUNTAINS—A WEDDING—FRENCH COURTSHIP—EXCURSIONS TO ST. DIÉ—OVER THE COL DE LA SCHLUCHT—GERMAN CUSTOM HOUSE—"ALWAYS A GERMAN"—COLMAR—RHINE VALLEY—ARRIVAL AT FREIBURG
Gérardmer (pronounced Je-rah-may) is considered one of the loveliest spots in these mountains. It nestles deep down in a valley by a smiling lake, and lies far apart from the rush of the great whirl of life; yet life does come here, as the several pretty half Swiss hotels proclaim. Gérardmer has its season, but not until July, and to-day the place is placid and peaceful, as though knowing that there are good times in store, and I found later in Paris that the spot is well known in the great capital—but only to the French. I fancy few Americans ever come this way.
Had I reached here yesterday, so "Madame" tells me, I would have been present at a wedding. It was here in her hotel, and she has the air of having added another leaf to her crown of laurels. She tells me that yonder middle-aged bachelor was one of the guests, and promptly lost his heart to one of the demoiselles. To-day he returns with his mother and that huge bouquet, and will shortly request the honour of the maiden's hand. But, I exclaim, you say he never saw her until yesterday? Certainly, Monsieur, but that is long enough surely, for at his age he must know his own mind. A statement which I do not think is always a true one. I watch him as he moves off into the garden of the hotel and wonder whether love can find any place under those prim angular black clothes. But the sunshine is too attractive to allow one to remain indoors, and to "Madame's" regret, who dearly loves to talk, I wander off into the streets of the town, lifting my eyes up to the hills all around it—for over them, we are told, cometh peace. The departing sunlight gilds the forests into gold, and sparkles on the cross high up on the village church, whose portals stand invitingly open bidding me enter. One of the attractions and beauties of the Catholic Church in Europe is that its sanctuaries are never closed; one may wander in at any and all times and be at rest and peace as long as one wishes it. Here in the heart of the Vosges, amidst this, busy little town is this one which I have all to myself save for the divine face looking downward from the cross and the painted saints in the windows. It is a simple structure, yet withal very impressive. Its Norman columns and arches must be very old, and very dear to these people, as the place where they have been baptised, married, and buried, throughout all the centuries. As I leave, two ancient black-robed priests greet me with smiles like a bit of late October sunshine.
This afternoon has been passed in an excursion to St. Dié, a beautiful ride to an uninteresting town, noted merely as the place where Amerigo Vespucci published his account of the land now bearing his name. Coming back, we left the beaten track, climbed mountains, and descended into valleys where autos rarely go, and our appearance created much astonishment; only two machines have passed that way this year. That route is not down on the map but plunges through the mountains to the west of St. Dié, passing Laveline, Le Valtin, and other towns. Just a run of seventy-five miles for the fun of it.
We finally leave Gérardmer on a glorious morning. George is well on time and the auto is snorting before the door at nine o'clock. Yama has become an expert in packing our goods and chattels in it, and they fit like a puzzle of his own land. The road begins to mount as soon as we leave the town, and when we reach the Col de la Schlucht we are far above the valley, and on one of the highest points of the Vosges. The road winds directly along the precipice. On one side, the pine forests mount above us, while on the other, the fall is sheer to the valley below, some three thousand feet and the panorama of the Rhine land and these mountains is magnificent. Here we enter Germany. George shuts off all power and for the next half hour we coast down the mountain in superb fashion to a village near the base where we are halted by a dapper little man in a German cap to pay a duty of one hundred francs for the auto, which will be returned when we leave the country. The number and make of the machine are taken and also my name, which I give with its present spelling; but the little man promptly changes it to that of his own land. When I venture to fear that it will cause confusion and that the spelling given has held in America for two centuries, he waves my objections aside, "Your name is Schumacher,—the fact that your family has spent the last few years away from home does not change it,—once a German, always a German." Well, perhaps, but in those two centuries and more, other strains have entered, which may claim a showing, and at least you could never get my mustache into that Kaiser fashion and I am very certain that I am exempt from military duty.
So we move on. The entire characteristics of the land have changed. All the neat, sweet appearance of France is gone, and the daintiness has vanished. Germany is a work-a-day world. No matter how interesting, and the interest is, of course, very great, at its best it cannot be called an elegant country, and that word does apply to France. The soldiers with their spiked helmets are an improvement over the rank and file of the French, but the French officers are chic, elegant. The same holds with her women, while in Germany, the word "dowdy" certainly suits the dress from the Court down.
In Colmar at the Hotel of the "Two Keys" we find as much English spoken as German, and have cabbage, boiled mutton, and carrots for luncheon. Many German officers enter and, pausing at the dining-room door, take out pocket combs and carefully arrange their hair.
I noticed a change in the highway, the moment we entered the Empire, and only trust it will not hold throughout. The excellent road-beds, well rolled and oiled to prevent dust, vanished, and we jolted on over an ordinary pike, dirty and rough, until it was agreeable to stop at Colmar. All this was before luncheon. Now that the meal has placed me more at peace with the world, my point of view is different and I am forced to retract at once. The road from Colmar to Freiburg is an excellent one, well marked, and well kept up.
We make quick time, crossing the Rhine at Breisach, and then on through its wide green valley until we reach Freiburg, nestling under the hills which form a lovely background for the stately red stone spire of the great Cathedral.
FREIBURG—FANTASTIC CITY—THE YOUTHS OF GERMANY—MUSIC AND LEGENDS OF THE OLD TOWN—CATHEDRAL BY MOONLIGHT
I cannot overcome the feeling in strolling through these old German towns that I am on the stage of a theatre. Painted houses never look solid or ancient and especially when they are fantastic in decoration and brilliant in colour and are kept up. This city certainly is ancient but it is too well scrubbed and done up to be pleasing. Even the very superb cathedral is subject to the same objection. All the images inside and out glow with colour, and all the monuments likewise, and when compared to a cathedral like Westminster, for instance, or many in France, it lacks dignity and for that very reason. If you can banish from your thoughts all this and remember only the beautiful lines of the church, then you will appreciate the structure, but you will never enjoy it.
After I had wandered around the outside, which must appeal to every one, and through the nave, I approached the choir, to be greeted by the smell of soap and wet rags. Just inside the grating in the south aisle sat half a dozen scrub-women as loudly dirty as only scrub-women know how to be, munching great hunks of bread.
I was told that I could not enter the holy of holies without the Sacristan. He was not to be found, but from the glimpse I had beyond, I don't regret it,—the chapels are full of monuments coloured to the last degree of gorgeousness,—saints in red, green, and blue with heads much too large for their bodies—which is generally the case with German statues—stand and lie around in all directions.
The statues in this great church are nearly all of plaster, which at once detracts from their interest. How they escaped throughout the centuries is a marvel.
There are many quaint structures in these streets, all freshly painted, and I find myself poking them, half expecting to discover canvas.
To-day the charm of Germany does not fasten upon me until the shadows gather and the lights come out in her ancient city of Freiburg. Perhaps the spirits of the neighbouring Black Forest then descend upon the place. It is still theatrical, but one is in the mood for theatres after night falls, and as one moves through the fantastic place one would not be surprised to be accosted by any of the figures from Grimm's Fairy Tales. There are many old fairy godmothers and Rumplestiltskins wandering about. The throng is all moving in the same direction, and if you follow you will find a vast concert hall. There are thousands there, and, not knowing the customs of the university towns, I take a seat in the central section of the hall, only to be told promptly that it is reserved, and to be waved to the surrounding galleries. Then I discover that the centre is filled by the students, hundreds of them, divided into societies, the members of each wearing a different coloured cap, and every man with a great stein of beer before him. Groups of red, blue, yellow, green, and purple caps, worn all the time, make splotches of brilliant colour all over the hall, and shade bright wholesome faces,—the hope and strength of Germany, such boys as these,—manly young fellows all of them; and I cannot but feel sad when remembering that I saw no such scene throughout all my long tour in France. There must be young men there, but where are they? All through the provinces whenever I saw any and could talk with them, I found them bent upon going to Paris, which is not usually to their advantage. They did not seem to possess the strong feeling for "home" which keeps these Germans where they were born until they leave the fatherland for ever. Certainly Berlin is very much farther from being Germany than Paris is from being France. Here to-night, two hours are spent in listening to superb music from an orchestra of a hundred and more musicians, and the contrast between the vicious, lascivious gardens and halls of Paris is borne in upon one most markedly.
Pondering upon what the future holds for these two nations, I pass off into the night with this German multitude and hear on all sides, "Good-night, good-night," and in fact, every one does seem to have gone off to bed and I shortly have this ancient university town of Freiburg all to myself, though there may be Fausts and Mephistopheles about; I should not be surprised to have the latter suddenly appear and, drawing liquid fire from yonder beer keg, sing his famous Song of Gold. The moon is at the full and the place looks more than ever like a scene in a theatre. Indeed, I think if you pushed, you could shove aside the front of yonder house and show us the interior, but, rounding a corner, I come suddenly before the great minster. Its lace-like majestic spire soars far up into the blue of heaven and seems to hold a diadem of stars around its cross. If there are any witches about, they are in the deep shadows of its great portals yonder which, being closed, protect them from a sight of the holy interior, and they may have their evil way for a time, but I see nothing save a large black cat and I do not think to-night that her mistress is evilly disposed. I am certain yonder fat King Gambrinus on the walls of that drink-hall is chuckling at me as I move off into the silence of the shadows, and so to bed where honest people should be at such an hour, leaving the moon to see what she may. Amidst the electric lights of the great cities, the moon is not of much account nowadays, but in these quiet old towns she is of importance, and to-night has thrown the shadows of yonder lace-like spire so sharply athwart the great square that I stop to trace its pattern with my stick, and looking up find her laughing at me, it would seem. She wrote a book once about what she has seen. I have it somewhere. It is in quaint old German and called, "Hear what the Moon Relates," and from its pages, I judge her to be an old gossip, for she tells much which she should keep silent about, but, to bed, to bed, or one may meet a committee of the Vehmgericht.
FROM FREIBURG TO BADEN-BADEN—THROUGH THE WOODS TO GERNSBACH—SUPERB ROADS—PEOPLE OF THE BLACK FOREST—CROSSING THE DANUBE—CUSTOMS REGULATIONS AS TO AUTOS—AN OLD SWISS MANSION—THE RIDE TO GENEVA AND AIX-LES-BAINS
The ride from Freiburg to Baden lies along the foot of the Black Forest Mountains through the Rhine valley and is hot and dusty, rough and without interest of any kind until we enter the valley of Baden-Baden, and find that lovely spa nestled under the shadow of the mountains. All the world knows the town. The portion which man has made is just like a hundred other resorts in Europe; an old section full of curious structures and a new part all great hotels, casinos, and pagodas.
On entering the grounds of the Hôtel Stephanie, George takes a wrong turn and brings up on one of the fancy foot-bridges in the park. For an instant we are in dismay as to whether the structure will hold the great weight of the car, but it does, and George does not allow of any change of mind but backs promptly off on to safer ground. In Baden-Baden the traveller falls at once into the clutches of hotel porters and waiters, each of whom levies some sort of blackmail. This Hôtel Stephanie, for charges, quite surpasses any other of my tour. For a simple dinner of soup, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, I pay $2.50. As usual, the dining-room is hermetically sealed, such is the dread of fresh air, and what air there is, is rent and tattered by the noise of the Hungarian band.
The surrounding mountains are very beautiful, very romantic. Many of the crags hold ruined castles, which the people have had the good taste not to restore, simply preserving them as best they may. That of the Alten Schloss is especially romantic. The view from its tower embraces the Rhine Valley with the Vosges to the west and the Black Forest to the east; and there I spend an hour or more talking to the custodian who interlards his description with bits of personal history, until things are somewhat mixed.
The sun has set beyond Strasburg and the mountains become dense in shadow before I seek the carriage. The woods of the Black Forest cover these mountains so thickly that only the light of the moon shows from above and it is far past the dinner hour before we reach the hotel, where the usual dinner parties are in full swing, and the fact that I do not order almost everything on the bill of fare causes the waiters to regard me as of little moment and not to be greatly bothered over. The spirit of the mountains abides too strongly to make the dining-room agreeable and I soon retire, and then for the next three hours am forced to regret that this is not a Moslem country. How softly on this delicious night air the voice of the muezzin would mingle with the sound of falling waters and music of the winds in the neighbouring forest over which the moon is sending downwards her cascades of silver light! How beautiful the scene is! How rudely the whole beauty is destroyed by the harsh tones of the brazen bells of the neighbouring church! Not only are the quarters marked with a double chime, but the full hours are struck twice on different bells in the same steeple. The clangour and noise is such that sleep is an impossibility until utter weariness compels it. Such things are a stupid nuisance, a menace to health, and a death to any religious feelings one might possess. They should be suppressed. There is nothing more beautiful than a soft-toned bell or more discordantly disagreeable than harsh tones jangled out of tune. Those bells drive me out of Baden.
The auto is at the door at nine o'clock and, though the day threatens rain, we are off and away through the woods. Our route lies via Gernsbach and Forbach to Freudenstadt, over these picturesque mountains. The road is good and well marked, and we swing along at a rapid pace, sailing upwards and downwards with a most intoxicating motion. The ride to Freudenstadt is very beautiful, all the way by a rushing stream, past the Schwarzenberg and through the forest, with glimpses of old castles high above us and red-roofed villages in the green valleys far down the distance.
In Freudenstadt in Würtemberg, at the Schwarzwald Hotel which I have all to myself apparently, I am served by the host who talks English all the time. He says that while he does not approve of the French distaste for children he considers that Germany is overdoing in that respect, that there are too many,—they are "eating each other" so to speak. Well, they are sending one thousand a month, generally those who have been trained as soldiers, to Brazil, and they will be ready to meet us when that question arises.
Freudenstadt is a quaint old town, high up in the hills. It has an antique market square and is somewhat of a watering-place. It was founded by Duke Frederick as a refuge for Protestants expelled from Salzburg.
Our host here proves of service in directing our route onward as one can easily get lost in these mountains without watchfulness. While the routes are marked, the charts are not nearly so excellent as in France. That republic is divided into squares, each numbered and with a chart of the same number for each square, showing distinctly first the roads, then the rivers and towns and all so simply that a child can understand at once, whereas the German charts are like an ordinary map with all its colours, mountains, etc., and the route not so plainly marked. The chart is too elaborate. However, both are good, only one is better, so do not growl.
Our afternoon's ride takes us through the finest section and over the best roads of the Black Forest, and includes an extra spurt of some forty versts caused by our having lost our way during an animated discussion between George and myself over the comparative merits of American and French women.
About that time two of our pneumatics give up the ghost in rapid succession, announcing that act by a report which makes George say things. We are near a secluded village around which the forest closes in thickly and, it being Sunday, we are shortly surrounded by all the children of the place; and what a lot of them there are, good-natured, respectful, little, yellow heads, whose chubby faces try to become solemn, as a funeral cortege approaches, but with little success, and I must say that shortly that cortege was diminished by half, said half coming to inspect my machine. I feel as though I were the owner of a successful rival show. These new comers are all men and all interested in my car, not superficially, but with comprehension of its parts. They tell me that they live here or hereabouts, and when I ask if they do not desire to go to Berlin or Munich they look at me wonderingly and ask, Why? There spoke the hope of Germany. This was near Triberg where we lost the route and we may as well go forward via Furtwangen and Villingen and so to Donaueschingen. When once you know the Hartz Mountains and the Black Forest you understand where these people got their knowledge of fairies and elves, witches, Christmas trees, and music. The woods are to my imagination full of funny little people who hurry away as this machine advances, and if I stop to listen I find the brooks are singing all sorts of carols to which the pine trees furnish the undertones; also I doubt not if you put a crank to yonder funny little white church its windows will glow with lights. Take the top off that pink house and you will find it full of candy. All this is because there are children everywhere and because of the children there are homes and home life—a gain—the hope of Germany.
It is getting cold as we roll into Donaueschingen where we cross the Danube, but as we are assured that it is down hill all the way to Schaffhausen and a splendid road, we speed onward, only to find shortly some of the steepest grades of our tour, one so steep that George turns the auto around and runs it up backwards, then stopping, he arranges matters and that will not have to be repeated.
At the Swiss frontier, we deposited two hundred francs, which will be returned when we leave the country, and so passing Schaffhausen we draw up for the night at Neuhausen, having made two hundred and eighty kilometers during the day. When such a day is finished, there is little inclination left one save for dinner and bed, and I am soon through with the one and in the other.
We had been told on paying that one hundred francs when we entered Germany, that it would be repaid whenever we left the Empire, but, on demanding it in Schaffhausen, the pompous officials in the German Custom House informs us that our papers stated that we would leave from some other town than Schaffhausen, and consequently he will not repay the money. When we assure him that the error, if error it is, is not ours and that our seal on the machine shows that we have not left the country since we paid that money, he waves us off and will say no more. We must write to the town where we entered and so may get back the cash. I may state here that I turned the papers over to George and understand that he never did get it back. The whole thing was absurd and most irritating and kept me kicking my heels for hours around the post-house before they would decide one way or the other.
While the town of Winterthur aside from its quaintness is not of much interest, there stands on its outskirts an ancient and curious Manor House called "Wülflingen," a stately stone structure somewhat back from the highway. We visit it on our way to Zurich and the ancient dame in charge seems delighted that any one from the outer world should take an interest in her beloved old charge. She appears to be the only soul in the house and was I believe born here. It is deserted now by the family whose ancestors built it at a period when castles had ceased to be of importance and the protection of a town more to be desired. "Wülflingen" became the home of the Steiner family about 1620 A.D., when their castle on the mountains was deserted for this more cheery habitation. We enter through a curious old doorway into a large square hall wainscotted and ceiled in oak blackened by the flight of years, and we can hear the mice in the walls scamper away as the unusual sound of foot-steps breaks the profound silence. Opposite the doorway a tall old clock built into the wall has grown weary with telling of the flight of time and given up its work—useless work now that it is deserted by all those whose lives it regulated and whose faces were friends to it. A stately staircase with carved balustrade mounts to the floor above, but before going thither we inspect the lower rooms. Both are large square apartments entirely encased in polished oak; but the old dame draws us on and upward to what she claims were the state apartments. Of these also there were two of large size and interest connected by a large square hall like the one below. In that on the left the walls and ceiling are heavily panelled and black with time. Each panel is decorated with Swiss scenes and there are some antique brass drop-lights. In one corner stands one of those great porcelain stoves of elaborate make which are found all through Germany and Russia; this one we are told, is one hundred years older than the house, having been brought from the castle on the mountains when the family migrated. It is very curious and interesting and one discovers that the panels of the room have been decorated to correspond with those of the stove. This was evidently the state apartment, if one may use the term here, yet, for the day in which it was built and for a Swiss house, "Wülflingen" was considered a great mansion. In the Switzerland of three hundred years ago, the family who could produce sufficient funds to abandon one house and build such another as this were people of wealth and importance. In passing again into and across the upper hall one notes the arms of the family carved over the doorways—they are also found in the great hall of the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva. Entering the other room, an apartment occupying the entire side of the house and evidently at one period a salon or ball-room, one meets the questioning gaze of some old family portraits. Crossing the polished floor, which causes my foot-falls to resound through the empty house with a solemn sound, I throw open the window and let in the flickering sunshine and the song of birds, and seating myself on the sill, turn to these faces on the walls. There are several of them but I note especially a stately dame and an old gentleman whose eyes meet mine in a questioning gaze seemingly demanding the reason for my intrusion upon their solitude, time was when open-hearted hospitality reigned supreme here, but in these later days visitors have been few and far between and my violation of their solemn state does not appear altogether welcome. However I whisper a fact or two which produces an expression of lively interest. It was either this or the flickering sunshine drifting over their faces. Who or what yonder ancient dame in the high cap was, there is no record, but beneath the portrait of the old gentleman one reads in Latin the following: "Henricus Steinerius Med. Doct. Poliater, Inspector Scholae et Bibliothecarius Ano 1730, Aet 55." And what, my dear Sir, may "Poliater" mean? The rest is plain enough.
In one corner of this portrait are his family arms, a steinbock on a white shield; above, a coronet on a closed helmet with a steinbock pawing the air, as crest. I am not versed in heraldry or I might read much from this coat-of-arms. The owner wears a suit of black velvet, a great white ruff and vast yellow curly wig. His hands, delicate and shapely, rest on a pile of books and are shaded by lace ruffles. He wears two signet rings. The custodian tells me that he was born in this house and also that his nephew, the Rev. John Conrad Steiner, also born here in 1707, was sent by the great council of the Reformed Church to that Church in Philadelphia in 1749, and I discover later that that church stood in what is now Franklin Square in that city. He was also in charge in Frederick, Maryland, but returning to Philadelphia to the same church, he died there in 1762, and was buried in what is now Franklin Square—in company with Wesley "Winkhams" and "Hendal" some ten feet below the surface on the north-east side of the fountain, they alone being left there when the place was changed into a public square. It certainly required great fervour in religion on the part of a young man with a family to leave a home like this in sunny comfortable Winterthur and face the ocean and the blackness of America in 1750. He should have his reward now in a brighter land than either Europe or America. This old Herrenhaus smiles down upon us in a friendly manner as we leave its portal and as our car speeds off into the greater world, the ancient dame who cares for it waves us an adieu with the hope that we may return to "Wülflingen."
Our route lies hence through Zurich to Geneva and so on to Berne. While we have no rain, it is chilly and disagreeable, and as for mountains, if I had not seen them often before, I should not believe that in Switzerland there were any, for from first to last we do not get a glimpse of their grandeur.
The roads are good at all times, and the peasants friendly, but it rains heavily as we reach Berne, and the shelter of the hotel is not objectionable.
The following morning, George comes in and announces that the incoming chauffeurs proclaim the route from here to Geneva is so deep in mud that I had better go on by train, as he may be stuck anywhere and delayed. I decide at first to do this, and then my distaste for the train overcomes all and I order the auto. That ride proved that you cannot trust these statements. There was little or no mud, the roads were excellent, the ride delightful, and we rolled into Lausanne and so on down to Ouchy in ample time for luncheon.
From there on to Geneva the sun shone all the time and by three o'clock we descended at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage. Not a drop of rain during the whole day, no dust, and no mud.
Here I find some friends and together we go to Aix-les-Bains.
There are few more beautiful rides than that from Geneva to Aix-les-Bains, and, especially on the return, one is impressed with the enchanting vistas over mountain, valley, and lakes. The roads are both good and indifferent. The former in France, the latter in Switzerland, and one is again impressed with the belief that France is the land for auto touring.
To the lover of flowers this section is fairy-land just now; especially is the wisteria beautiful; such masses of it over almost every cottage and church, and the terrace at the Hôtel Splendide in Aix is festooned from end to end with the dainty fragrant blossoms. Masses of lilacs bank the houses, while apple blossoms are abroad over all the land round about.
Lake Bourget gleams like a vast emerald framed by the shadowy mountains, and there are some glimpses of the greater glory of the snows.
The auto sings and hums and rushes down the slopes into the streets of Geneva, and swirls up before the door of the Beau-Rivage and the long tour is over. In my memory it will rank with that winter on Old Nile in a dihabiah.
To-day as George came in to say goodbye and as I watched my red carriage rush off and disappear down the streets of Geneva, I felt a positive bereavement, even as though a friend had vanished forever, and truly that car has been a friend. It has carried me safely nearly seven thousand kilos. The journey has been all sunshine and pleasure; rushing over broad highways, under the shadows of stately mountains, by fair rivers, through smiling meadows; pausing here to loiter in an old château, or again to wander the streets of a mediæval city full of romance and story; yet again amidst the beauties and glories of the capital and then off to the mountains and forests; all joy, all delight, yet I do regret that old dog dead down on that long dusty highway under the shadows of the Pyrenees.
- Abbaye aux Dames, 151, 152
- Abbeville, 164, 167
- Abbey of Men, Church of the, 151
- Abbey of Women, Church of the, 151, 152
- Adour, the, 58
- Aix, 10-16
- Aix-les-Bains, 12, 242
- Albigensian "heresy," the, 33
- "Aliscamps," the, 21
- Alphonse, Comte de Poitou, 93
- Alten Schloss, the, 233
- Amboise, George, Cardinal of, 155, 156
- Amiens, 162-164, 169, 172
- Anet, Château of, 155
- Angers, 130, 138
- Angers, Castle of, 14, 138
- Anjou, 138
- Anne of Austria, 66, 128, 191
- Anne of Brittany, 128
- Arbrissel, Robert of, 136
- Ardennes, Wild Boar of, 211
- Arles, 17-21
- Armoises, Robert des, 159
- Artois, Comte d', 182
- Asqs, Seigneur d', 54
- Automobile Club of France, 74
- Auvergne, 84
- Auvergne, Count of, see Guy, Count of Auvergne
- Auxonne, 213
- Aveyron, mountains of the, 172
- Azay-le-Rideau, 130
- Baden-Baden, 232, 233
- Bagatelle, 182, 183
- Ballon d'Alsace, 218
- Balue, Cardinal, 118, 120, 121-123
- Barry, Madame du, 129, 184
- Bastille, the, 121-124
- Bayard, Chevalier, 111
- Bayonne, 54, 58, 69, 70
- Béarn, 52
- Beaucaire, 23
- Beauce, La, 186
- Beaumont, 77-79
- Beauvais, 167-173
- Belfort, 218
- Bernardin-Benedictin, Convent of, Paris, 199
- Berne, 242
- Berry, 102
- Bertrade of Montfort, 139
- Bertrand, Count, 91
- Besançon, 214-216
- Béziers, 29, 33
- Biarritz, 58-61, 64, 69, 70
- Bidache, 53
- Bidache, Château de, 54-57
- Biscay, Bay of, 59
- Black Forest, the 218, 226, 228, 232, 233, 236
- Black Prince, the, 34
- Blanc, Mt., 88, 213
- Blois, 129
- Bois de Boulogne, the, 179, 196
- Boulogne, 164, 166
- Bourbon-Busset, Château de, 96
- Bourg, 82
- Bourges, 100-109
- Bourget, Lake, 243
- Bourgogne, Marguerite de, 207
- Breisach, 226
- Bressac, de, 185
- Brézé, Louis de, 155
- Brittany, 130, 139, 140, 141, 142, 145, 148
- Bruges, 212
- Burgundy, Duke of, 210
- Cadouin, 79
- Caen, 148, 149, 151, 152, 157
- Cæsar, Julius, 102
- Calvin, John, 104
- Camargue, the, 18
- Campan, Madame, 184
- Candes, 133
- Cannes, 9, 26
- Carcas, Queen, 32
- Carcassonne, 27, 30-35, 45, 103, 118, 127
- Casteljaloux, 72
- Catherine de Medici, 128, 177, 192
- Champs-Élysées the, Tours, 116
- Champs-Élysées the, Paris, 196, 197
- Charlemagne, 139
- Charles V., 176
- Charles VII., 15, 101, 106, 108, 127, 128, 129, 131, 158
- Charles IX., 183
- Charles X., 176
- Charles le Téméraire, 120
- Charles of Mantua, 123
- Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, 208, 212
- Chartres, 105, 181, 187-189
- Chartreuse, the, 212
- Chateaubriant, 140
- Chénier, André, 200, 201
- Chenonceaux, 114
- Cher, the, 114
- Chillon, Castle of, 240
- Chinon, 130-133
- Cîteaux, Abbé of, 33
- Clermont-Ferrand, 82, 84, 85, 88, 92, 95
- Clermont-Ferrand, Valley of, 83, 84
- Cléry, 129
- Cocquereau, 189
- Cœur, Jacques, 15, 106, 108; palace of, 102, 106
- Colmar, 225, 226
- Conciergerie, the, 150
- Concord, Place de la, Paris, 196
- Conques, 172
- Corday, Charlotte, 149, 150, 151, 156
- Corniche, the, 9, 26
- Côte d'Or, the, 208, 213
- Courtrai, 211
- Crécy, 164
- Crécy, Château of, 186
- Croker, Mr., 99
- Cujas, 104
- Dampierre, Comte Guy de, 93
- Dampierre, Castle of, 136
- Danton, 151
- Danube, the, 237
- Dax, 70, 71
- Desmoulins, Camille 151
- Diane de Poitiers, 125, 128, 155, 183
- Dijon, 208, 210-213
- Dôle, 213
- Donaueschingen, 236, 237
- Doubs, the, 216
- Dreyfus, 141
- Droling, 191
- Durand, Abbé of Chaise-Dieu, 91
- "Field of Reeds," 18
- Fontarabia, 66
- Fontevrault, Abbey of, 133-136
- Forbach, 234
- Foulques V., King of Jerusalem, 139
- Foulques le Roux, Count of Anjou, 119, 139
- Francis I., 93, 125, 128, 155, 183, 185
- Frederick, Duke, 235
- Freiburg, 226, 228-231
- Freudenstadt, 234, 235
- Furtwangen, 236
- Garonne River, 45
- Gave de Pau, the, 49
- Geneva, 206, 242, 243
- Geoffrey Plantagenet, 139
- Gérardmer, 219, 222-224
- Gernsbach, 234
- Gramont, Arnaud Guilhem II. de, 55
- Gramont, Ducs de, 54, 57
- Gramont, Louise, Comtesse de, 55
- Grandvilliers, 167
- Grégoire, Pope, 91
- Guiche, Seigneur de, 54
- Guy, Count of Auvergne, 91
- Hartz Mountains, 236
- "Hendal," 241
- Henrietta, Madam, 191
- Henry II., 128, 134-136, 139, 155, 177, 205
- Henry IV., 49, 128, 164, 176, 188
- Hugo, Victor, 215
- James II. of England, 176
- James V. of Scotland, 120
- James, Henry, Little Tour in France, 24
- Jean du Cognot, 205
- Jean-sans-peur, 211
- Jeanne d'Arc, see Joan of Arc
- Joan of Arc, 15, 103, 104, 107, 131, 132, 150, 157
- John, King of England, 120
- John, Count, 135
- Jura Mountains, 208
- La Fayette, Marquis de, 200
- Lannemezan, 44
- Lausanne, 242
- Lauzun, 77
- Laval, Jeanne de, 14
- La Vallière, 129, 176
- Laveline, 224
- Lesigne, M., 157, 159
- Lisieux, 153
- Loches, Castle of, 35, 117-127
- Loire, the, 114, 130
- Louis IX, 23, 33
- Louis XI., 15, 93, 102-104, 108, 109, 117, 120, 123, 126-129, 131, 140, 146, 147, 170, 208
- Louis XII., 124, 128, 191
- Louis XIII., 176
- Louis XIV. (Louis le Grand), 56, 64-66, 70, 128, 175, 176, 189, 191, 199
- Louis XV., 128, 157, 176
- Louis XVI., 183, 184
- Lourdes, 46-48
- Louveciennes, 184
- Luxembourg, the, 199
- Lys, Jehanne du, 159
- Madeline of France, 120
- Madrid, Café de, 183
- Maintenon, Madame de, 129, 189, 190, 192
- Maintenon, Aqueduct at, 186
- Maintenon, Château de, 185, 186, 189, 190, 192
- Maison Carrée, the, Nîmes, 24
- Margaret of Anjou, 12, 22, 136
- Maria de Medici, 126, 128
- Maria Theresa, 191
- Marie Antoinette, 129, 182, 184
- Marly, 175
- Marmande, 73, 76
- Marsat, Abbey of, 92
- "Marseilles the Little," 167
- Martan, Cape, 1
- Martel, Charles, 27
- Mary Queen of Scots, 128
- Matilda, Empress, 139
- Matilda, Queen, 151, 152
- Matthioli, 123
- Mehun, Castle of, 108, 113
- Meillant, Château of, 109-111
- Meung, 129
- Monaco, 7
- Mont-de-Marsan, 71
- Mont St. Michel, 142-147
- Monte Carlo, 1, 3-7, 51, 103
- Montespan, Madame de, 129, 176, 192
- Montfort, Simon de, 33
- Montmartre, Cathedral of, 175
- Montmorency, Duke François de, 24
- Montpellier, 25, 27, 39
- Montreal, 46
- Montréjeau, 45
- Montsoreau, Castle of, 133
- Mortemart, Duc de, 109
- Moulins, 100
- Mozat, Abbey of, 92
- Nantes, Edict of, 192
- Napoléon, 46
- Narbonne, 27, 29
- Neufchâtel, 161
- Neuhausen, 237
- Nevers, 100
- Nice, 7, 26, 51
- Nîmes, 24, 25
- Noailles, Mme. de Montagu, 201
- Normandy, 142, 152, 153
- Nostradamus, 17
- Notre Dame de Cléry, Church of, 129
- Nuremberg, Castle of, 35, 124
- Pamiers, 46
- Paris, 175, 180, 181, 193, 195-197, 199, 202, 203
- Pau, 46, 49, 50
- Pavia, Battle of, 111
- Pépin, 27
- Pheasants, Isle of, 66
- Philip Augustus, 91, 120, 126, 139; Castle of, 120, 159
- Philippe de Comines, 121
- Philippe le Hardi, 211
- Picardy, 162
- Picpus, Cemetery of, 199-202
- Plantagenets, the, 120, 134, 139
- Plessis-lès-Tours, 118, 129
- Poix, 167
- Pompadour, Madame, 129, 186
- Pontbrillant, 124
- Promenade des Anglais, 9
- Provence, 10, 11, 15, 138
- Puy de Dôme, 88
- Pyrenees, the, 29, 46, 49, 59, 64, 243
- Pyrenees, Treaty of the, 55, 66
- Racine, 185
- Rambouillet, 185
- René, King, 11-15, 22, 23, 138, 139
- Rennes, 140
- Republic, Place de la Paris, 199
- Revolution, Place de la, Paris, 199
- Rheims, Cathedral of, 172
- Rhine Valley, the, 224, 232, 233
- Richard Cœur de Lion, 134-136
- Riom, 95
- Robert, Bishop of Clermont, 91, 92
- Robert the Strong, 139
- Robespierre, 151, 178, 201
- Rochefort, 83
- Roland, 139
- Rouen, 154-160
- Rouet, Mlle. de, 183
- St. Amand-Mont-Rond, 109, 110
- St. André, Maréchal de, 93
- St. Cyr, 192, 193
- St. Denis, 175, 177, 190, 191
- St. Dié, 224
- St. Elix, Baron de, 42
- St. Elix, Château de, 40-42
- St. Étienne, Church of, Caen, 151, 157
- St. Ferjeux, 215
- St. Ferréol, 215
- St. Gaudens, 40, 45, 46
- St. Germain-en-Laye, 174-178
- St. Gervais, Church of, Rouen, 157
- St. Jean-de-Luz, 64-66
- St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, 62, 63
- St. Maclou, Church of, Rouen, 154
- St. Malo, 141
- St. Martin, an artist, 191
- St. Martin, of Tours, 133
- St. Nazaire, Church of, Béziers, 33
- St. Ouen, Church of, Rouen, 156
- St. Ours, Church of, Loches, 127
- St. Sauveur, Cathedral of, 14
- St. Thibault de Metz, 159
- Saintes-Maries, Les, 18
- Salon, 17
- Salzburg, 235
- Salzburg, Castle of, 35
- San Sebastian, 66, 68
- Saumur, 137
- Sauveterre, 53
- Scarron, Widow, 190
- Schaffhausen, 237
- Schlucht, Col de la, 224
- Schunck, Philip Henri, 191
- Schwarzenberg, the, 234
- Seine, the, 153, 154
- Sens, 203-206
- Sforza, Ludovico, Duke of Milan, 124
- Sorel, Agnes, 15, 106, 113, 127, 129, 132
- Steiner, Henry, 240
- Steiner, Rev. John Conrad, 241
- Tarascon, 15, 22, 23
- Tarbes, 45, 46
- Taride, A, 74
- Theodoric, King of the Visigoths, 32
- Thillon, Le, 219
- Thomas à Becket, 205
- Tonnerre, 207
- Toulouse, 36, 39
- Touraine, 104, 114, 115
- Tournelles, Palace of the, 123
- Tournoël, Château of, 87-93
- Tours, 100, 104, 113, 114, 116, 129, 130
- Tours Cathedral, 114
- Triberg, 236
- Trichiemont, 159
- Trinité, La (Church of the Abbey of Women), 151
- Tristan l'Ermite, 121
- Trône, Place du, Paris, 199-201
- Tulle, 80, 81
- Valerian, Mt., Fortress of, 175
- Valjean, Jean, 199, 200
- Valtin, Le, 224
- Verdun, Bishop of, 122, 123
- Versailles, 192, 210
- Vésinet, forest of, 175
- Vesontio, 217
- Vespucci, Amerigo, 224
- Vichy, 96-98, 100
- Villeneuve la Montarie, Church of, 55
- Villingen, 236
- Viollet-le-Duc, 32, 205
- Volvic, 87, 93, 95
- Vosges Mountains, 217-224
- Wallace, Sir Richard, 183
- William the Conqueror, 149, 152, 157
- "Winkhams," Wesley, 241
- Winterthur, 238
- Wülflingen, 238-241
- Würtemberg, 235
By Michael Myers SHOEMAKER
ISLANDS OF THE SOUTHERN SEAS
With 80 Illustrations. Second Edition. Large 8o. Gilt top. $2.25
"The author has not only a cultured style and highly descriptive power, but a quiet, delightful humor. Moreover, he is always interesting, even when describing the daily incidents of a tour through New Zealand and Tasmania.... 'Islands of the Southern Seas' is one of the few books of modern travel that are worthy of being kept and read over and over again. The illustrations throughout are excellent and as fittingly clear and incisive as the author's style demands. A more readable book on the nowadays somewhat hackneyed subject of travel in the Southern Seas has never been printed, and we unhesitatingly commend it."—London Chronicle.
QUAINT CORNERS OF ANCIENT EMPIRES
Southern India, Burma and Manila. With 47 Illustrations. Large 8o. Gilt top. $2.25
"Mr. Shoemaker writes descriptively, entertainingly, with ease, one would say. He carried to the 'quaint corners' which he visited a very inquiring mind, as well as a photographic eye, and sought out answers to many queries as to the why of things he saw, so that his observations and recollections are interesting and well considered."—Interior.
THE GREAT SIBERIAN RAILWAY FROM PETERSBURG TO PEKIN
8o. With 30 Illustrations and a Map. By mail, $2.20. Net, $2.00.
"The descriptions of people and places are always interesting; the personal impressions are striking, and a great deal of valuable information, not easily accessible, is given."—Independent.
Simple, direct, and graphic. Emphasizes the commercial and national possibilities of Russia's industrial development."—Literary News.
"The only authority of its kind on a great subject."—Literary World.
PALACES AND PRISONS OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
"Nine people out of ten if asked to name the most romantic figure in history would without hesitation select the beautiful Queen of Scots, round whose tragic career more controversy has raged than concerning any other personage in the history of these islands.... Those who are fascinated by the great romance, who have as yet made no detailed study of the period, will find the story here outlined by a trustworthy hand, and adorned by a wealth of artistic illustration worthy of so picturesque and royal a theme."—St. James's Gazette.
The Heart of the Orient
Saunterings through Georgia, Armenia, Persia, Turkomania, and Turkestan, to the Vale of Paradise. 8o. With 52 illustrations. Net, $2.50.
These pages and pictures are descriptive of the heart of the Orient, from high life at the Persian Court to low life in the tents of Kirghiz. They include also a description of a tarantass journey through Central Asia.
"Mr. Shoemaker's descriptive powers are of the best. He writes entertainingly, he is never tiresome, and is always enjoyable; his observation and statements of fact are unusually accurate, his style is pleasant. For big and for little, with all that makes up the intermediate, 'The Heart of the Orient,' with its excellent illustrations and its cultured letterpress, is one of the best books of travel that we have read in a long time."—Times.
Winged Wheels in France
8o, with about 60 Illustrations. Net, $2.50.
The record of a motor-car trip of nearly 5000 miles over beautiful highways and enchanting byways of the Rhine Valley and Switzerland. It is in no sense of the word a guide-book; no set itinerary is followed with feverish haste; but, as fancy directs, the traveller pauses in ancient cities or quaint villages, climbs mountains, visits long-forgotten castles, or goes in quest of deserted abbeys.
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G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
New York London