[Frontispiece: Tower of St. Trophimus, Arles.]
A Ramble in
Provence and Languedoc.
S. Baring-Gould, M.A.,
AUTHOR OF "MEHALAU," "JOHN HERRING," "OLD COUNTRY LIFE," ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY J. E. ROGERS.
"What is this life, if it be not mixed with some delight? And what delight is more pleasing than to see the fashions and manners of unknown places? You know I am no common gadder, nor have oft troubled you with travell."—Tom of Reading, 1600.
With Murray, Baedeker, Guide Joanne, and half-a-dozen others—all describing, and describing with exactness, the antiquities and scenery—the writer of a little account of Provence and Languedoc is driven to give much of personal incident. When he attempts to describe what objects he has seen, he is pulled up by finding all the information he intended to give in Murray or in Baedeker or Joanne. If he was in exuberant spirits at the time, and enjoyed himself vastly, he is unable, or unwilling, to withhold from his readers some of the overflow of his good spirits. That is my apology to the reader. If he reads my little book when his liver is out of order, or in winter fogs and colds—he will call me an ass, and I must bear it. If he is in a cheerful mood himself, then we shall agree very well together.
LEW TRENCHARD, DEVON,
October 28, 1890.
The Tiber in Flood—Typhoid fever in Rome—Florence—A Jew acquaintance—Drinking in Provence—Buying bric-a-brac with the Jew—the carro on Easter Eve—Its real Origin—My Jew friend's letters—Italian dolce far niente
No ill without a counterbalancing advantage—An industry peculiar to Italy—Italian honesty—Buffalo Bill at Naples—The Prince and the straw-coloured gloves—The Riviera—A tapestry—Nice—Its flowers—Notre Dame—The chateau—My gardener—A pension of ugly women—Horses and their hats—Antibes—Meeting of Honore IV. and Napoleon—The Grimaldis—Lerins, an Isle of Saints—A family jar—Healed
The freedman of Pliny—Forum Julii—The Port of Agay—The Port of Frejus—Roman castle—Aqueduct—The lantern of Augustus—The cathedral—Cloisters—Boy and dolphin—Story told by Pliny—The Chains des Maures—Desaugiers—Dines with the porkbutchers of Paris—Sieyes—Sans phrase—Agricola—His discoveries
The three islands Phoenice, Phila, Iturium—Marseilles first a Phoenician colony—The tariff of fees exacted by the priests of Baal—The arrival of the Ionians—The legend of Protis and Gyptis—Second colony of Ionians—The voyages of Pytheas and Euthymenes—Capture of Marseilles by Trebonius—Position of the Greek city—The Acropolis—Greek inscriptions—The lady who never "jawed" her husband—The tomb of the sailor-boy—Hotel des Negociants—Menu—Entry of the President of the Republic—Entry of Francis I.—The church of S. Vincent—The cathedral—Notre Dame de la Garde—The abbey of S. Victor—Catacombs—The fable of S. Lazarus
The Basin of Berre—A neglected harbour—The diluvium—Formation of the Crau—The two Craus—Canal of Craponne—Climate of the Crau—The bise and mistral—Force of the wind—Cypresses—A vision of kobolds
Difficulty of finding one's way about in Arles—The two inns—The mistral—The charm of Arles is in the past—A dead city—Situation of Arles on a nodule of limestone—The Elysian Fields—A burial-place for the submerged neighbourhood—The Alyscamp now in process of destruction—Expropriation of ancient tombs—Avenue of tombs—Old church of S. Honore—S. Trophimus—S. Virgilius—Augustine, apostle of the English, consecrated by him—The flying Dutchman—Tomb of AElia—Of Julia Tyranna—Her musical instruments—Monument of Calpurnia—Her probable story—Mathematical versus classic studies—Tombs of utriculares—Christian sarcophagi—Probably older than the date usually attributed to them—A French author on the wreckage of the Elysian Fields
The Arles race a mixture of Greek and Gaulish—The colonisation by the Romans—The type of beauty in Arles—The amphitheatre—A bull-baiting—Provencal bull-baits different from Spanish bull-fights—The theatre—The ancient Greek stage—The destruction of the Arles theatre—Excavation of the orchestra—Discovery of the Venus of Arles—A sick girl—Palace of Constantine
Sunday in France—Improved observance—The cathedral of Arles—West front—Interior-Tool-marks—A sermon on peace—The cloisters—Old Sacristan and his garden—Number of desecrated churches in Arles—Notre Dame de la Majeur—S. Caesaire—The isles near Arles—Cordes—Montmajeur—A gipsy camp—The ruins—Tower—The chapel of S. Croix
The chain of the Alpines—The promontory of Les Baux—The railway from Arles to Salon—First sight of Les Baux—The churches of S. Victor, S. Claude, and S. Andrew—The lords of Les Baux claimed descent from one of the Magi—The fair maid with golden locks—The chapel of the White Penitents—The deimo—History of the House of Les Baux—The barony passes to the Grimaldi—The ladies of Les Baux and the troubadours—Fouquet—William de Cabestaing—The morality of the loves of the troubadours—The Porcelets—Story of a siege—Les Baux a place of refuge for the citizens of Arles—Glanum Liviae—Its Roman remains—In the train—Jaeger garments
THE CAMPAIGN OF MARIUS.
The Tremaie—Representation of C. Marius, Martha, and Julia—The Gaie—The Teutons and Ambrons and Cimbri threaten Italy—C. Marius sent against them—His camp at S. Gabriel—The canal he cut—The barbarians cross the Rhone—First brush with them—They defile before him at Orgon—The rout of the Ambrons at Les Milles—He follows the Teutons—The plain of Pourrieres—Position of Marius—The battle—Slaughter of the Teutons—Position of their camp—Monument of Marius—Venus Victrix—Annual commemoration
TRETS AND GARDANNE.
The fortifications of Trets—The streets—The church—Roman sarcophagus—Chateau of Trets—Visit to a self-educated archaeologist—His collection made on the battle-field—Dispute over a pot of burnt bones—One magpie—Gardanne—The church—A vielle—Trouble with it—Story of an executioner's sword
Dooll, but the mutton good—Les Bains de Sextius—Ironwork caps to towers—S. Jean de Malthe—Museum—Cathedral—Tapestries and tombs—The cloisters—View from S. Eutrope—King Rene of Anjou—His misfortunes—His cheeriness—His statue at Aix—Introduces the Muscat grape
Formation of the delta of the Rhone—The diluvial wash—The alluvium spread over this—The three stages the river pursues—The zone of erosion—The zone of compensation—The zone of deposit—River mouths—Estuaries and deltas—The formation of bars—Of lagoons—The lagoons of the Gulf of Lyons—The ancient position of Arles between the river and the lagoons—Neglect of the lagoons in the Middle Ages—They become morasses—Attempt at remedy—Embankments and drains—A mistake made—The Camargue now a desert—Les Saintes Maries—No evidence to support the legend—Based on a misapprehension
Position of Tarascon and Beaucaire opposite each other—Church of S. Martha—Crypt—Ancient paintings—Catechising—Ancient altar—The festival of the Tarasque—The Phoenician goddess Martha—Story of S. Fronto—Discussion at dejeuner over the entry of M. Carnot into Marseilles—The change in the French character—Pessimism—Beaucaire—Font—Castle—Siege by Raymond VII.—Story of Aucassin and Nicolette
The right spelling of Nimes—Derivation of name—The fountain—Throwing coins into springs—Collecting coins—Symbol of Agrippa—Character of Agrippa—What he did for Nimes—The Maison Carree—Different idea of worship in the Heathen world from what prevails in Christendom—S. Baudille—Vespers—Activity of the Church in France—Behaviour of the clergy in Italy to the King and Queen—The Revolution a blessing to the Church in France—Church services in Italy and in France—The Tourmagne—Uncertainty as to its use—Cathedral of Nimes—Other churches—A canary lottery—Altars to the Sun—The sun-wheel—The cross of Constantine—Anecdote of Flechier
AIGUES MORTES AND MAGUELONNE.
A dead town—The Rhones-morts—Bars—S. Louis and the Crusades—How S. Louis acquired Aigues Mortes—His canal—The four littoral chains and lagoons—The fortifications—Unique for their date—Original use of battlements—Deserted state of the town—Maguelonne—How reached—History of Maguelonne—Cathedral—The Bishops forge Saracen coins—Second destruction of the place—Inscription on door—Bernard de Treviis—His romance of Pierre de Provence—Provencal poetry not always immoral—Present state of Maguelonne
BEZIERS AND NARBONNE.
Position of Beziers—S. Nazaire—The Albigenses—Their tenets—Albigensian "consolation"—Crusade against them—The storming of Beziers—Massacre—Cathedral of Beziers—Girls' faces in the train—Similar faces at Narbonne, in cathedral and museum—Narbonne a Roman colony—All the Roman buildings destroyed—Caps of liberty—Christian sarcophagi—Children's toys of baked clay—Cathedral unfinished—Archiepiscopal palace—Unsatisfactory work of M. Viollet-le-Duc—In trouble with the police—Taken for a German spy—My sketch-book gets me off
Siege of Carcassonne by the Crusaders—Capture—Perfidy of legate—Death of the Viscount—Continuation of the war—Churches of New Carcassonne—La Cite—A perfect Mediaeval fortified town—Disappointing—Visigoth fortifications—Later additions—The cathedral—Tomb of Simon de Montfort
How Avignon passed to the Popes—The court of Clement VI.—John XXII.—Benedict XII.—Their tombs—Petrarch and Laura—The Palace of the Popes—The Salle Brulee—Cathedral—Porch—S. Agricole—Church of S. Pierre—The museum—View from the Rocher des doms—The Rhone—The bridge—Story of S. Benezet—Dancing on bridges—Villeneuve—Tomb of Innocent VI.—The castle at Villeneuve—Defences—Tete-du-pont of the bridge
A dull town—Cathedral—Jacques Cujas—His daughter—Pius VI.—His death—Maison des Tetes—Le Pendentif—The castle of Crussol—The dukes of Uzes—A dramatic company of the thirteenth century
Historic associations—Salvation Army bonnets—The fair—A quack—A vampire—The amphitrite—A carousel—Temple of Augustus and Livia—The Aiguille—Cathedral—Angels and musical instruments—S. Andre-le-Bas—Situation of Vienne—Foundation of the Church there—Letter of the Church on the martyrdoms at Lyons
The siege of Avaricum by Caesar—The complete subjugation of Gaul—The statue of the Dying Gaul at Rome—Beauty of Bourges—The cathedral—Not completed according to design—Defect in height—Strict geometrical proportion in design not always satisfactory—Necessity of proportion for acoustics—Domestic architecture in Bourges—The house of Jacques Coeur—Story of his life—A rainy day—Why Bourges included in this book—A silver thimble—Que de singeries faites-vous la, Madeleine?—Adieu
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
Tower of S. Trophimus, Arles Abbey of S. Victor, Marseilles Part of the North Cloister of Arles Cathedral Les Baux The Pont du Gard Beziers from the River An Entrance to Carcassonne The Cathedral and the Palace of the Popes, Avignon
The Carro A Florentine Torch Holder A Horse in a Hat Lerins Aqueduct of Frejus Lantern of Augustus Map of Massalia Musical Instruments from the Tomb of Julia Calpurnia's Monument An Arelaise. (From a Photograph.) Part of the Amphitheatre of Arles Back of a House at Arles A Boat with two rudders at Arles On a House at Arles Samson and the Lion, from the West door of the Cathedral of Arles On a House at Arles South Entrance to the Cloister, Arles Cathedral Church of Notre Dame de la Majeur, Arles Tower of the desecrated Church of S. Croix, Arles Part of the Courtyard of the Convent of S. Caesarius, Arles Church of the Penitents Gris, Arles In the Cloisters, Montmajeur In the Cloister at Arles Les Baux Range of the Alpines from Glanum Liviae Ruins S. Gabriel La Tremaie Les Gaie Caius Marius (From a bust in the Vatican.) Orgon and the Durance Mont Victoire and the Plain of Pourrieres Sketch Plan of the Battle-fields Monument of Marius Venus Victrix Gardanne The Vielle Les Saintes Maries Early Altar, Tarascon Spire of S. Martha's Church, Tarascon Iron Door to Safe in S. Martha's Church King Rene's Castle, Tarascon A bit in Tarascon The Chapel of Beaucaire Castle Beaucaire Castle from Tarascon.—Sunset In the Public Garden, Nimes The Maison Carree, Nimes Cathedral of Nimes.—Part of West Front Aigues Mortes.—One of the Gates Aigues Mortes.—Tower of the Bourgignons Sketch Map of Aigues Mortes and its Littoral Chains Original use of Battlements. (From Viollet-le-Duc.) Second stage of Battlements East End of the Church of Maguelonne Beziers.—Church of S. Nazaire Fountain in the Cloister of S. Nazaire, Beziers Types of faces, Narbonne: Modern—Sixteenth-Century Tomb in Cathedral—Classic Bust in Museum Freedmen's Caps, Narbonne Children's Toys in the Museum, Narbonne Towers on the Wall, Carcassonne A Bit of Carcassonne Inside the Wall, Carcassonne Papal Throne in the Cathedral of Avignon John XXII. Benedict XII. An Angle of the Papal Palace, Avignon Lantern at the Cathedral, Avignon Angel at West Door, Church of S. Agricole A Bit of the Old Wall, Avignon Part of Church of S. Didier, Avignon Bridge and Chapel of S. Benezet At Villeneuve Castle of S. Andre, at Villeneuve At Villeneuve A Well at Villeneuve Cathedral of Valence Doorway in the House Dupre Latour, Valence Doorway and Niche in the Maison des Tetes, Valence House in Vienne At Vienne Hurdy-Gurdy Played by an Angel Church of S. Andre-le-Bas.—The Tower Porte de l'Ambulance, Vienne A Street Corner, Bourges Part of Jacques Coeur's House Turret in the Hotel Lallemand Staircase in the Hotel Lallemand Sculpture over the Kitchen Entrance at Jacques Coeur's House Jacques Coeur's Knocker
The Tiber in Flood—Typhoid fever in Rome—Florence—A Jew acquaintance—Drinking in Provence—Buying bric-a-brac with the Jew—The carro on Easter Eve—Its real Origin—My Jew friend's letters—Italian dolce far niente.
Conceive yourself confronted by a pop-gun, some ten feet in diameter, charged with mephitic vapours and plugged with microbes of typhoid fever. Conceive your sensations when you were aware that the piston was being driven home.
That was my situation in March, 1890, when I got a letter from Messrs. Allen asking me to go into Provence and Languedoc, and write them a book thereon. I dodged the microbe, and went.
To make myself understood I must explain.
I was in Rome. For ten days with a sirocco wind the rains had descended, as surely they had never come down since the windows of heaven were opened at the Flood. The Tiber rose thirty-two feet. Now Rome is tunnelled under the streets with drains or sewers that carry all the refuse of a great city into the Tiber. But, naturally, when the Tiber swells high above the crowns of the sewers, they are choked. All the foulness of the great town is held back under the houses and streets, and breeds gases loathsome to the nose and noxious to life. Not only so, but a column of water, some twenty to twenty-five feet in height, is acting like the piston of a pop-gun, and is driving all the accumulated gases charged with the germs of typhoid fever into every house which has communication with the sewers. There is no help for it, the poisonous vapours must be forced out of the drains and must be forced into the houses. That is why, with a rise of the Tiber, typhoid fever is certain to break out in Rome.
As I went over Ponte S. Angelo I was wont to look over the parapet at the opening of the sewer that carried off the dregs of that portion of the city where I was residing. One day I looked for it, and looked in vain. The Tiber had swelled and was overflowing its banks, and for a week or fortnight there could be no question, not a sewer in the vast city would be free to do anything else but mischief. I did not go on to the Vatican galleries that day. I could not have enjoyed the statues in the Braccio Nuovo, nor the frescoes in the Loggia. I went home, found Messrs. Allen's letter, packed my Gladstone bag, and bolted. I shall never learn who got the microbe destined for me, which I dodged.
I went to Florence; at the inn where I put up—one genuinely Italian, Bonciani's,—I made an acquaintance, a German Jew, a picture-dealer with a shop in a certain capital, no matter which, editor of a bric-a-brac paper, and a right merry fellow. I introduce him to the reader because he afforded me some information concerning Provence. He had a branch establishment—never mind where, but in Provence—and he had come to Florence to pick up pictures and bric-a-brac.
Our acquaintance began as follows. We sat opposite each other at table in the evening. A large rush-encased flask is set before each guest in a swing carriage, that enables him to pour out his glassful from the big-bellied flask without effort. Each flask is labelled variously Chianti, Asti, Pomino, but all the wines have a like substance and flavour, and each is an equally good light dinner-wine. A flask when full costs three francs twenty centimes; and when the guest falls back in his seat, with a smile of satisfaction on his face, and his heart full of good will towards all men, for that he has done his dinner, then the bottle is taken out, weighed, and the guest charged the amount of wine he has consumed. He gets a fresh flask at every meal.
"Du lieber Himmel!" exclaimed my vis-a-vis. "I do b'lieve I hev drunk dree francs. Take up de flasche and weigh her. Tink so?"
"I can believe it without weighing the bottle," I replied.
"And only four sous—twenty centimes left!" exclaimed the old gentleman, meditatively. "But four sous is four sous. It is de price of mine paper"—brightening in his reflections—"I can but shell one copy more, and I am all right." Brightening to greater brilliancy as he turns to me: "Will you buy de last number of my paper? She is in my pocket. She is ver' interesting. Oh! ver' so. Moche information for two pence."
"I shall be charmed," I said, and extended twenty centimes across the table.
"Ach Tausend! Dass ist herrlich!" and he drew off the last drops of Pomino. "Now I will tell you vun ding. Hev you been in Provence?"
"Provence! Why—I am on my way there, now."
"Den listen to me. Ebery peoples hev different ways of doing de same ding. You go into a cabaret dere, and you ask for wine. De patron brings you a bottle, and at de same time looks at de clock and wid a bit of chalk he mark you down your time. You say you will drink at two pence, or dree pence, or four pence. You drink at dat price you have covenanted for one hour, you drink at same price anodder hour, and you sleep—but you pay all de same, wedder you drink or wedder you sleep, two pence, or dree pence, or four pence de hour. It is an old custom. You understand? It is de custom of de country—of La belle Provence."
"I quite understand that it is to the interest of the taverner to make his customers drunk."
"Drunk!" repeated my Mosaic acquaintance. "I will tell you one ding more, ver' characteristic of de nationalities. A Frenchman—il boit; a German—er sauft; and an Englishman—he gets fresh. Der you hev de natures of de dree peoples as in a picture. De Frenchman, he looks to de moment, and not beyond. Il boit. De German, he looks to de end. Er sauft. De Englishman, he sits down fresh and intends to get fuddled; but he is a hypocrite. He does not say de truth to hisself nor to nobody, he says, I will get fresh, when he means de odder ding. Big humbug. You understand?"
One morning my Jew friend said to me: "Do you want to see de, what you call behind-de-scenes of Florence? Ver' well, you come wid me. I am going after pictures."
He had a carriage at the door. I jumped in with him, and we spent the day in driving about the town, visiting palaces and the houses of professional men and tradesmen—of all who were "down on their luck," and wanted to part with art-treasures. Here we entered a palace, of roughed stone blocks after the ancient Florentine style, where a splendid porter with cocked hat, a silver-headed baton, and gorgeous livery kept guard. Up the white marble stairs, into stately halls overladen with gilding, the walls crowded with paintings in cumbrous but resplendent frames. Prince So-and-So had got into financial difficulties, and wanted to part with some of his heirlooms.
There we entered a mean door in a back street, ascended a dirty stair, and came into a suite of apartments, where a dishevelled woman in a dirty split dressing-gown received us and showed us into her husband's sanctum, crowded with rare old paintings on gold grounds. Her good man had been a collector of the early school of art; now he was ill, he could not attend to his business, he might not recover, and whilst he was ill his wife was getting rid of some of his treasures.
There we entered the mansion of a widow, who had lost her husband recently, a rich merchant. The heirs were quarrelling over the spoil, and she was in a hurry to make what she could for herself before a valuer came to reckon the worth of the paintings and silver and cabinets.
In that day I saw many sides of life.
"But how in the world," I asked of my guide, "did you know that all these people were wanting to sell?"
"I have my agents ebberywhere," was his reply.
I thought of the Diable boiteux carrying the student of Alcala over the city, Madrid, removing the roofs of the houses, and exposing to his view the stories of the lives and miseries of those within.
I was at Florence on Easter Eve. A ceremony of a very peculiar character takes place there on that day at noon. In the morning a monstrous black structure on wheels, some twenty-five feet high, is brought into the square before the cathedral by oxen, garlanded with flowers. This erection, the carro, is also decorated with flowers, but is likewise covered with fireworks. A rope is then extended from the carro to a pole which is set up in the choir of the Duomo, before the high altar. For this purpose the great west doors are thrown open, and the rope extends the whole length of the nave. Upon it, close to the pole, is perched a white dove of plaster.
Crowds assemble both in the square and in the nave of the cathedral. Peasants from the countryside come in in bands, and before the hour of noon every vantage place is occupied, and the square and the streets commanding it are filled with a sea of heads.
At half-past eleven, the archbishop, the canons, the choir, go down the nave in procession, and make the circuit of the Duomo, then re-enter the cathedral, take their places in the choir, and the mass for Easter Eve is begun. At the Gospel—at the stroke of twelve, a match is applied to a fusee, and instantly the white dove flies along the rope, pouring forth a tail of fire, down the nave, out at the west gates, over the heads of the crowd, reaches the carro, ignites a fusee there, turns, and, still propelled by its fiery tail, whizzes along the cord again, till it has reached its perch on the pole in the choir, when the fire goes out and it remains stationary. But in the meantime the match ignited by the dove has communicated with the squibs and crackers attached to the carro, and the whole mass of painted wood and flowers is enveloped in fire and smoke, from which issue sheets of flame and loud detonations. Meanwhile, mass is being sung composedly within the choir, as though nothing was happening without. The fireworks continue to explode for about a quarter of an hour, and then the great garlanded oxen, white, with huge horns, are reyoked to the carro, and it is drawn away.
The flight of the dove for its course of about 540 feet is watched by the peasants with breathless attention, for they take its easy or jerky flight as ominous of the weather for the rest of the year and of the prospects of harvest. If the bird sails along without a hitch, then the summer will be fine, but if there be sluggishness of movement, and one halt, then another, the year is sure to be one of storms and late frosts and hail.
Now what is the origin of this extraordinary custom—a custom that is childish, and yet is so curious that one would hardly wish to see it abolished?
Several stories are told to explain it, none very satisfactory. According to one, a Florentine knight was in the crusading host of Godfrey de Bouillon, and was the first to climb the walls of Jerusalem, and plant thereon the banner of the Cross. He at once sent tidings of the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre back to his native town by a carrier pigeon, and thus the Florentines received the glad tidings long before it reached any other city in Europe. In token of their gladness at the news, they instituted the ceremony of the white pigeon and the carro on Easter Eve.
Another story is to the effect that this Florentine entered the city of Jerusalem before the first crusade, broke off a large fragment of the Holy Sepulchre, and carried it to Florence. He was pursued by the Saracens, but escaped by shoeing his horse with reversed irons. Another version is that he resolved to bring back to Florence the sacred flame that burnt in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Accordingly he lighted thereat a torch, and rode back to Italy with the torch flaming. But to protect it from the wind, he rode with his face to the tail of his steed, screening the torch with his body. As he thus rode, folk who saw him shouted "Pazzi! Pazzi!"—Fool! Fool! and this name was assumed by his family ever after. The Pazzis of Florence every year paid all the expenses of the carro till quite recently, when the Municipality assumed the charge and now defray it from the city chest. Clearly the origin of the custom is forgotten; nevertheless it is not difficult to explain the meaning of the ceremony.
In the Eastern Church, and still, in many churches in the West, the lights are extinguished on Good Friday, and formerly this was the case with all fires, those of the domestic hearth as well as the lamps in church. On Easter Day, fresh fire was struck with flint and steel by the bishop, and all candles, lamps and hearths were rekindled from this new light. At the present day one of the most solemn scenes in the Eastern Church is this kindling of the Easter fire, and its communication from one to another in a vast congregation assembled to receive it and carry it off to their homes. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, the new fire kindled and blessed by the patriarch, is cast down from the height of the dome.
In Florence, anciently, it was much the same. The archbishop struck the Easter fire, and it was then distributed among the people; but there were inconveniences, unseemly scuffles, accidents even, and the dove was devised as a means of conveying the Easter fire outside the Duomo, and kindling a great bonfire, whereat the people might light their torches without desecrating the sacred building by scrambling and fighting therein for the hallowed flame. At this bonfire all could obtain the fire without inconvenience. By degrees the bonfire lost its significance, so did the dove, and fables were invented to explain the custom. The bonfire, moreover, degenerated into an exhibition of fireworks at mid-day.
One morning my Jew friend insisted on my reading a letter he had just received from his daughter, aged fourteen. He was proud of the daughter, and highly pleased with the letter.
It began thus: "Cher papa—nous sommes sauves. That picture of a Genoese lady you bought for 200 francs, and doubted if you would be able to get rid of, I sold before we left home for Provence to an American, as a genuine Queen Elizabeth for 1,000 francs." Then followed three closely-written pages of record of business transactions, all showing a balance to the good, all showing a profit nowhere under thirty per cent. Finally, the letter concluded: "Mamma's back is better. Louis and I went on Sunday to see a farm. A cow, a stable, an old peasantess saying her rosary, a daughter knitting—all real, not waxwork. Votre fille tres devouee, LEAH."
"That is a girl to be proud of," said my acquaintance. "And only fourteen! But hein! here is another letter I have received, and it is awkward." He told me that when he had been in London on business he had lodged in the house of a couple who were not on the best of terms. The husband had been a widower with one child, a daughter, and the stepmother could not abide the child. Whilst M. Cohen, my friend, was there, the quarrels had been many, and he had done his best to smooth matters between the parties. Then he had invited them over to visit the Continent and stay at his house. They had come, and he had again to exercise the office of mediator. "And now," lamented my good-hearted friend, "nebber one week but I get a letter from de leddy. Here is dis, sent on to me. Read it." The letter ran as follows:—
"Do write to me. I fear my last letter cannot have reached you, or you would have answered it. I am miserable. My husband is so cross about that little girl, because I cannot love the nasty little beast. Oh, Mr. Cohen, do come to London, or let me come abroad and live in your house away from my husband and that child. You were so sensible and so kind. I can't bear to be longer here in the house with my husband and the spoiled child."
My friend looked disconsolately at me.
"What am I to do?" he asked. "She writes ebery week, and I don't answer. And my wife sends on dese letters."
"Do?" said I. "Send this one at once to Madame Cohen, and ask her to answer it for you. That London lady will never trouble you again."
The following circumstance I relate, not that it has the smallest importance except as a characteristic sketch of Italian dolce far niente, and as a lesson to travellers. The proper study of mankind is man, and a little incident such as occurred to me, and which I will now relate, raises the curtain and shows us a feature of humanity in Italy. When I hurried from Rome, I sent off all my luggage by goods train to England, except such articles as I could compress into a Gladstone bag; a change of raiment of course was there. But mark the cruelty of fate. My foot slipped on a white marble stair, and I rent a certain garment at the knee. I at once dived into my Gladstone bag and produced another pair, but found with a shock that they also had suffered—become threadbare, and needed attention from a tailor. What was to be done? I had to leave Florence at noon. The discovery was made the night before. I rose early, breakfasted early, and hung about the shop door of a tailor at 8 A.M. till the door was opened, when I entered, stated my case, and the obliging sartore promised that the trifling remedy should be applied and I should have my garment again in one hour. "In one hour!" he said, holding up his hand in solemn asseveration.
Nine o'clock came; then ten, and my raiment had not returned. I flew to the tailor's shop and asked for my garment. "It was all right," said he, "only the thread being knotted. It should be sent to my inn." So I returned and waited. I had my lunch, paid my bill, packed my bag, looked at my watch. The omnibus was at the door. No garment. I ran to the tailor's. He listened to my tale of distress with an amiable smile on his face, then volunteered to come with me to my inn, and talk the matter over with the host. Accordingly he locked up his shop and sauntered with me to Bonciani's. Bonciani and he considered the circumstances at length, thrashed the subject thoroughly. Then, as the horses were being put into the omnibus—"Come," said the tailor, "I have a brother, a grocer, we will go to him."
"But why?" asked I. "Do you see, the boxes are being put on the omnibus. I want my—garment."
"You must come with me to my brother's," said the tailor. So to the grocer's went we. Vainly did I trust that the journeyman who was engaged on my article of apparel lodged there, and that, done or undone, I could recover it thence. But no—not so. The whole story was related with embellishments to the brother, the grocer, who listened, discussed, commented on, the matter.
"There goes the 'bus!" I shouted, looking down the street. "Even now, if you will let me have the article, I can run to the station and get off; I have my ticket."
"Subito! subito!" said the tailor.
Then the grocer said that the thing in request might be sent by post. "But," I replied, "I am going into France, to Nice, and clothes are subjected to burdensome charges if carried across the frontier."
"Ten minutes!" I gasped. "Almost too late."
A moment later—
"The clock is striking. I am done for."
"Appunto!" and he lighted a cigarette.
So I had to travel by night, instead of by day.
No ill without a counterbalancing advantage—An industry peculiar to Italy—Italian honesty—Buffalo Bill at Naples—The Prince and the straw-coloured gloves—The Riviera—A tapestry—Nice—Its flowers—Notre Dame—The chateau—My gardener—A pension of ugly women—Horses and their hats—Antibes—Meeting of Honore IV. and Napoleon—The Grimaldis—Lerins, an Isle of Saints—A family jar—Healed.
That was not all. The dawdling of the tailor not only made me lose the mid-day train, but delayed my arrival in Nice for twenty-four hours. I took the night train to Pisa, where I purposed catching the express from Rome. But the express came slouching along in a hands-in-the-pocket sort of way, and was over half-an-hour late, and would not bestir itself to pick up the misspent, lost moments between Pisa and Genoa, the consequence of which was that the train for Nice had gone on without waiting, and accordingly those who desired to prosecute their journey in that direction were obliged to loiter about in the small hours of the morning between a restaurant, half asleep, and a waiting-room where the electric light had gone out, till the hour of seven.
Before leaving Italy, I may mention an industry which I found cultivated there, original, and I believe unique. When I procured postage stamps at the post-offices, I was surprised, if I took them home with me, to find that their adhesive power had failed. I also received indignant letters from correspondents in England remonstrating with me for posting my communications to them unstamped. This surprised me, and at Rome, where I had been accustomed to purchase franco-bolli at the head office, I took them home and regummed them. But the remarkable phenomenon was, that such stamps as were purchased at tobacconists' shops had gum on them—only those acquired at the post-offices were without. I learned that the same peculiarity existed at Florence, and indeed elsewhere in Italy, and finally the explanation was vouchsafed to me. The functionary at the post-office passes a wet sponge over the back of the sheets of franco-bolli supplied to him, thus removing the adhesive matter. When he sells stamps at the window, he hopes that those who purchase will proceed at once to apply them to their letters, without perceiving their deficiencies. As soon as the stamp becomes dry it falls off, and quite a collection of stamps of sundry values can thus be gathered at every clearing of the box, and the postal clerk reaps thence a daily harvest that goes a long way towards the eking out the small pittance paid him by Government. It is interesting to see the directions taken by human enterprise.
Whilst I was in Rome, Buffalo Bill was in Naples exhibiting his troupe of horses and gang of Indians. The Italian papers informed the public of a remarkable exploit achieved by the Neapolitans. They had done Buffalo Bill out of two thousand francs. It had been effected in this wise. His reserved seats were charged five francs. Four hundred forged five-franc notes were passed at the door of his show by well-dressed Neapolitans, indeed, the elite of Neapolitan society; and the trick played on him was not discovered till too late. Now consider what this implies. It implies that some hundreds of the best people, princes, counts, marquesses at Naples lent themselves to see Buffalo Bill's exhibition by a fraud. They wanted to see and be seen there, but not to pay five francs for a seat. There must have been combination, and that among the members of the aristocracy of Naples. The Italian papers did not mention this in a tone of disgust, but rather in one of surprise that Italians should have been able to overreach a Yankee. But I do not believe such a fraud would have been perpetrated at Rome, Florence, or Milan. It was considered quite in its place at Naples.
A lady of my acquaintance was staying in a pension at Naples. There resided at the time, in the same pension, a prince—Neapolitan, be it understood. One day, just before she left, she brought in a packet of kid gloves she had purchased, among them one pair, straw-coloured. She laid them on the table, went out for two minutes, leaving the prince in the room with the gloves. On her return, the prince and the straw-coloured gloves were gone. She made inquiries of the landlady, who, when told that the prince had been in the room, laughed and said: "But of course he has them. You should never leave anything in the room unguarded where there is a prince." Two days after the departure of this lady, the straw-coloured gloves were produced by his highness and presented by him to a young lady whom he admired, then in the same pension.
No evil comes without a counterbalancing good. The day I was detained in Florence by that tailor, and the loss of the night train at Genoa were not immense evils. A furious gale broke over the coast, and when at seven in the morning we steamed out of Genoa, the Mediterranean was sullen, the rain poured down, and the mountains were enveloped in vapour. But as we proceeded along the coast the weather improved, and before long every cloud was gone, the sky became blue as a gentian, and the oranges flamed in the sunshine as we swept between the orchards. Had I gone by the noon train from Florence I should have travelled this road by night, had I caught the 3.27 A.M. train I should have seen nothing for storm and cloud. And—what a glorious, what an unrivalled road that is! It was like passing through a gallery hung with Renaissance tapestry, all in freshness of colour. The sea deep blue and green like a peacock's neck, the mountains pale yellow, as shown in tapestry, with blue shadows; the silvery-grey olives, the glossy orange trees with their fruit—exactly as in tapestry. Surely the old weavers of those wondrous webs studied this coast and copied it in their looms.
I have said that the sea was like a peacock's neck; but it had a brilliancy above even that. As I have mentioned tapestry I may say that it resembled a sort of tapestry that is very rare and costly, of which I have seen a sample in a private collection at Frankfort, and another in the Palazzo Bardini at Florence. It consists of the threads being drawn over plates of gold and silver. In the piece at Florence the effect of the sun shining through a tree is thus produced by gold leaf under the broidery of tree-leaves. Silver leaf is employed for water, with blue silk drawn in lines over it. So with the sea. There seemed to be silver burnished to its greatest polish below, over which the water was drawn as a blue lacquer.
And Nice. What shall I say of that bright and laughing city—with its shops of flowers, its avenues of trees through which run the streets, its gardens, its pines and cactus and aloe walks? Only one blemish can I pick out in Nice, and that is a hideous modern Gothic church, Notre Dame, filled with detestable garish glass, so utterly faulty in design, so full of blemish of every sort, that the best wish one could make for the good people of Nice is that the next earthquake that visits the Riviera may shake this wretched structure to pieces, so as to give them an opportunity of erecting another in its place which is not a monstrosity.
The Avenue de la Gare is planted with the eucalyptus, that has attained a considerable size. It is not a beautiful tree, its leaves are ever on the droop, as though the tree were unhealthy or unhappy, sulky at being transplanted to Europe, dissatisfied with the climate, displeased with the soil, discontented with its associates. It struck me as very much like a good number of excellent and very useful souls with whom I am acquainted, who never take a cheerful view of life, are always fault-finding, hole-picking, worry-discovering, eminently good in their place as febrifuges, but not calculated to brighten their neighbourhood.
What a delightful walk is that on the cliff of the chateau! The day I was at Nice was the 9th of April. The crags were rich with colour, the cytisus waving its golden hair, the pelargonium blazing scarlet, beds of white stock wafting fragrance, violets scrambling over every soft bank of deep earth exhaling fragrance; roses, not many in flower, but their young leaves in masses of claret-red; wherever a ledge allowed it, there pansies of velvety blue and black and brown had been planted. In a hot sun I climbed the chateau cliff to where the water, conveyed to the summit, dribbled and dropped, or squirted and splashed, nourishing countless fronds of fern and beds of moss, and many a bog plant. The cedars and umbrella pines in the spring sun exhaled their aromatic breath, and the flowering birch rained down its yellow dust over one from its swaying catkins.
I see I have spoken of the cytisus. I may be excused mentioning an anecdote that the sight of this plant provokes in my mind every spring. I had a gardener—a queer, cantankerous creature, who never saw a joke, even when he made one. "Please, sir," he said to me with a solemn face, "I've been rearing a lot o' young citizens for you."
"Have you?" said I, with a sigh. "I fancy I'm rearing a middling lot of them myself."
"Please, sir," said he to me on another occasion, "that there lumbago be terrible trying to know what to do with it."
"Oh!" said I with alacrity, "nothing equals hartshorn and oil applied to the small of the back with a flannel. You have a wife—"
"Yes, sir." He looked at me vacantly. "And yet, it's a beautiful thing."
"Well—yes, when it attacks one's deadly enemy."
"I've cut it down, and trimmed it out, and tied it up," said the gardener. He meant the Plumbago capense!
That man never would allow that he was beaten. My eldest boy one day held some pansies over the fumes of ammonia, turned them green, and showed them as a lusus naturae to the gardener. He smiled contemptuously. "Them's the colour of biled cabbage," said he; "I grew them verdigris green—beds of 'em, when I was with Squire Cross."
One day he said to me: "The nurserymen call them plants big onias just to sell them, I call them little onias; you shall just see them I grow, them be the true big onias, as large as the palm of your hand."
I tumbled, by hazard, at Nice into a pension, where I believe I saw at table d'hote a score of the ugliest women I have ever had the trial of sitting over against in my long career. I found out, in conversation with a porter at the station afterwards, that this pension was notorious for the ugly women who put up there, and it is a joke among the porters when they see one very ill-favoured arrive by the train, that she is going to be an inmate of the Hotel ——. The name I will not give, lest any of my fair readers, in that spirit of delightful perversity that characterises the sex, should go there and spoil the credit of the pension. I could not endure the table d'hote there for many days. An ugly woman is, or may be, restful for the eye when her face is in repose—not when she is chewing tough beef or munching an apple. Besides, Lent was passed.
When I was in Rome there appeared in a comic paper at the beginning of Lent the picture of a very stout lady, who thus addressed her spouse. "Hubby, dear! you haven't kissed me." "Can't, love," he replies, "fat is forbidden in Lent." Ugliness was uncongenial to me in radiantly beautiful Nice, and in sparkling Easter—so I packed my Gladstone bag and went further.
The snow still lying on the crests of the Maritime Alps and the intermediate ranges broken into fantastic forms, the lovely range of red porphyry Esterel to the south, with the intensely blue sea drawing a thread of silver about its base, together made a picture of incomparable loveliness.
The sun was so hot that the horses had already assumed their summer hats. "A good man is merciful to his beast," and the good-hearted peasants of the Riviera and Provence, thinking that their horses must suffer from the burning heat of the sun, provide, them with straw hats, very much the same sort of hats as girls wear, adorned also with ribbons and rosettes, but to suit the peculiarity of formation of the horse's head, two holes are cut in the hat through which the ears are drawn. The effect is comical when you are being driven in a carriage with a pair of horses before you wearing straw hats, and their ears protruding, one on each side, like the horns in the helmets of mediaeval German knights. One lovely glimpse of the sea I got that I shall never forget. The blue sea was in the background gleaming; against it stood a belt of sombre cypresses; before the cypresses the silvery, smoke-grey tufts of olive, in a grove; and before the olive, in mid-distance, a field of roses in young claret-red foliage—a landscape of belts of colour right marvellous.
Then Antibes—a blue bay with castle on one horn, on the other the little town, its lighthouse, and a couple of bold towers.
It was at Cannes that Prince Honore IV. of Monaco encountered Napoleon in 1815, as he was returning from Paris in his carriage to take possession of his principality, that had been restored to him by the Treaty of Paris in 1814.
The Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard stopped his carriage, made the prince descend, and conducted him before a little man with clean-cut features, whom he at once knew as the Emperor—returned from Elba.
"Ou allez-vous, Monaco?" asked Napoleon bluntly.
"Sire," replied Honore IV., "je vais a la decouverte de mon royaume."
The Emperor smiled.
"Voila une singuliere rencontre, monsieur," said Napoleon. "Deux majestes sans place; mais ce n'est peut-etre pas la peine de vous deranger. Avant huit jours je serai a Paris, et je me verrai force de vous renverser du trone, mon cousin. Revenez plutot avec moi, je vous nommerai sous-prefet de Monaco, si vous y tenez beaucoup."
"Merci de vos bontes, sire," replied the prince in some confusion; "mais je tiendrais encore plus a faire une restauration, ne dut-elle durer que trois jours."
"Allons! faites la durer trois mois, mon cousin, je vous garderai votre place de chancellier, et vous viendriez me rejoindre aux Tuileries."
The two monarchs separated after having shaken hands amicably. The story would be spoiled by translation.
The Grimaldis anciently possessed much more extensive territories than at present. At Cagnes, near Vence, is their ancient chateau, now converted into a hospital and barrack, and they owned considerable property, manors and lordships near Cannes and Vence. We shall meet them again as Princes of Les Baux.
The present reigning family are not properly Grimaldis. The last representative was a daughter, married to the Count of Thorigny in 1715, who, on the extinction of the male line in 1731, assumed the name of Grimaldi, and succeeded to the principality.
Everywhere, for the mere delight of the eye, not from thought of any gain gotten out of it, is the Judas tree covered with pink flowers, standing among the cool grey olives. Here and there is a mulberry bursting into fresh, green, vivid leaf; in every garden the palms are rustling their leaves in the pleasant air, and are glistening in the sun. Out at sea lies the low, dull island of Lerins; but, though low and dull, full of interest, as taking the place to Provence occupied by Iona to Scotland and Lindisfarne to Northumberland, a cradle of Christianity, a cradle rocked by the waves. I cannot do better than quote Montalembert's words on this topic. "The sailor, the soldier, or the traveller who proceeds from the roadstead of Toulon to sail towards Italy and the East, passes among two or three islands, rocky and arid, surmounted here and there by a slender cluster of pines. He looks at them with indifference, and avoids them. However, one of these islands has been for the soul, for the mind, for the moral progress of humanity, a centre purer and more fertile than any famous isle of the Hellenic Archipelago. It is Lerins, formerly occupied by a city, which was already ruined in the time of Pliny, and where, at the commencement of the fifth century, nothing more was to be seen than a desert coast. In 410, a man landed and remained there; he was called Honoratus. Descended from a consular race, educated and eloquent, but devoted from his youth to great piety, he desired to be made a monk. His father charged his eldest brother, a gay and impetuous young man, to turn him from his purpose; but, on the contrary, it was he who won over his brother. Disciples gathered round them. The face of the isle was changed, the desert became a garden. Honoratus, whose fine face is described to us as radiant with a sweet and attractive majesty, opened here an asylum and a school for all such as loved Christ."
From this school went forth disciples, inspired with the spirit of Honoratus, to rule the churches of Arles, Avignon, Lyons, Vienne, Frejus, Valence, Nice, Metz, and many others. Honoratus himself, taken from his peaceful isle to be elevated to the metropolitan see of Arles, had for his successor, as Abbot of Lerins, and afterwards as Bishop of Arles, his pupil and kinsman S. Hilary, to whom we owe the admirable biography of his master. Hilary was celebrated for his graceful eloquence, his unwearied zeal, his tender sympathy with all forms of suffering, his ascendency over a crowd, and by the numerous conversions which he worked. But, indeed Lerins was a hive whence swarmed forth the teachers and apostles of Southern Gaul. Hence came the modest Vincent of Lerins, the first controversialist of his time, who at the head of his greatest work inscribed a touching testimony of his love for that poor little isle where he had spent so many years, and learned so much. Salvian, also, the "Master of Bishops," as he was called, though himself only a priest, was held to be the most eloquent man of his day, only second to S. Augustine. S. Eucherius of Lyons, S. Lupus of Troyes, who had married the sister of S. Hilary, were other prelates trained in this holy isle. When Troyes was threatened by Attila and his Huns, Lupus boldly went forth to meet him. "Who art thou?" asked the bishop. "I am Attila, the Scourge of God," was the reply. The intrepid gentleness of the bishop disarmed the ferocious invader. He left Troyes without injuring it, and drew back to the Rhine. And this isle through Lupus claims some regard from a native of Britain, for Lupus, trained in it, was chosen by the Council of Arles in 429 to combat the Pelagian heresy in Great Britain, along with S. Germanus of Auxerre.
Into the same carriage with me, at Nice, got a pair—a young couple; he, with an amiable but weak face; she heavy featured, her only charm her eyes. There had been a breeze between the pair, evidently, before they took their places, and she was sulky. He, poor fool, endeavoured by every means to allay her ruffled temper, always ineffectually. He pulled out his Guide Joannot, and endeavoured to interest her in the places we passed, their history, their antiquities; in vain, she sat scowling, with pursed lips. He called her attention to the red porphyry cliffs of Esterel with purple shadows in their hollows, to the blue bays opening between their red horns—all to no purpose, she would not look out at the window. He produced a box of jujubes, and offered her one between his thumb and forefinger. She refused it, but thrust her fingers into the box and extracted one for herself. Then she leaned back in the carriage, drew her hat over her face, and exposed to view only a chin and a mole under it, that moved up and down as she sucked her jujube.
Next, the feeble, amorous husband, endeavoured to get hold of her hand. She snatched it away vixenishly. Hectic spots formed on his cheeks, and perspiration stood in great drops on his brow. This was clearly the first ruffle he had experienced on the hymeneal sea. He got out of the carriage at Cannes, and hung about the buffet till the extreme moment, hoping to betray her into tokens of uneasiness lest he should miss the train. As it was, at the final moment he swung himself into another carriage. She thrust her hat a little on one side, protruded an eye to see what became of him, then covered it once more. He got in at the next station, breathless, in pretended agitation. He had nearly lost his place—he was all but left behind. Had he been so left, what would she have done? She vouchsafed no reply. Tired, however, of looking into the crown of her hat, she now removed it and placed it on her lap. The face was still sullen, with the jowl hanging down, the coarse lips set in defiance, and an ugly flicker in the eyes. Now the hectic-cheeked husband became boisterous in merry conversation with other travellers near him, but always with an eye reverting at periods to his wife, whose lips retained a contemptuous curl. Then he sulked in his turn, folded his arms, thrust forth his feet under the seat opposite, and looked gloomily into the space between them. Thereat she began to hum an air from "La Traviata," when suddenly the situation was altered. By some marvellous instinct she discovered that I had been observing the little play; the comedy a deux, and had made my comments thereon—not in her favour.
Instantly the expression of her countenance changed. She turned to her husband. "Gustave!" said she, "Je souffre," and she laid her head on his shoulder. A flash in his face, full of surprise sliding into ecstasy. He could not understand this sudden change in her disposition, and I am quite sure she never gave him the key.
I left the carriage at Frejus, and at parting caught her eye. She laughed, so did I. We understood each other. Now, as it happened, at Nice, when I was seeking a carriage, I entered one where were a lady and an elderly gentleman.
At the first glance I recognised a "Milord Anglais," the lady was his daughter. At the same moment that I said to myself, "This carriage will never do for me," the lady addressed me, "Monsieur! ce voitoore est reservee a noos doox."
If I had gone to Frejus with them, I should have missed that little episode of the young married couple and that would have grieved me, and the reconciliation would not have been brought about before Marseilles. Oh, how grateful I was to fate, that the lady had said, "Monsieur! ce voitoore est reservee a noos doox."
The freedman of Pliny—Forum Julii—The Port of Agay—The Port of Frejus—Roman castle—Aqueduct—The lantern of Augustus—The cathedral—Cloisters—Boy and dolphin—Story told by Pliny—The Chaine des Maures—Desaugiers—Dines with the porkbutchers of Paris—Sieyes—Sans phrase—Agricola—His discoveries.
It was strange. The first person I thought of, on arriving at Frejus, was not Julius Caesar the founder of this old port—no, nor Agricola, a native of Frejus, who is so associated with British history, especially with Scottish—no! it was Pliny's sick freedman, about whom that polished orator wrote in his nineteenth letter, in Book V. of his collected epistles. Pliny was a native of Como, he had two villas on the lake. He was a kindly, honourable, somewhat bumptious man—but what great talkers think small matter of themselves? He had a slave, a Greek, named Zosimus, of whom he writes to his friend Paulinus, who had an estate at Frejus: "He is a person of great worth, diligent in his services, and well skilled in literature; but his chief talent is that of a comedian. He pronounces with great judgment, propriety, and gracefulness; he has a very good hand too upon the lyre, and performs with more skill than is necessary for one of his profession. To this I must add, he reads history, oratory, and poetry. He is endeared to me by ties of long affection, now heightened by the danger in which he is."
Pliny had given Zosimus his liberty, but Zosimus remained attached to his service as freedman. Some years before, this accomplished slave had overstrained his voice, and begun to spit blood. Thereupon Pliny sent him to Egypt, where in the dry air he seemed better, and after a while Zosimus returned to his master, apparently completely restored. Pliny goes on, in his letter: "Having exerted himself again beyond his strength, there was a return of his former malady and a spitting of blood. For this reason, I intend to send him to your farm at Forum Julii (Frejus), having often heard you mention the exceeding fine air there, and recommend the milk of that place as very salutary in disorders of this nature. I beg you will give directions to your people to receive him into your house, and to supply him with what he shall have occasion for: which will not be much; for he is so temperate as not only to abstain from delicacies, but even to deny himself the necessaries his ill health requires. I shall supply him with all that is needful for his journey. Farewell."
Now, on reaching Frejus on a balmy day in April, when the air was soft as butter-milk, and the sun was hot, not scorching, my thoughts went at once to poor Zosimus, with his hacking cough, his delicate complexion, come here to inhale the soft air and drink the warm milk. And I thought of him the more from certain experiences of my own relative to Como. I went to that city in January from England, thinking that it lay in a warm nook, and that there I might bask for a few weeks, when recovering from an attack of bronchitis, till I was able to go further south.
I went into an hotel where I had stayed in summer and been comfortable; but—oh!—never shall I forget the horrors of that hotel in January! I was the sole person staying in it. There was no bedroom that had in it a stove. In the salle-a-manger the fire was lighted for half-an-hour at nine in the morning, then let out and not rekindled through the day. The fountain in the square was frozen. An icy wind descended from the Alps. My bedroom was a tomb; brick-floored, stone vaulted. My bed measured two feet across, and the sheet and crimson duvet were so nicely adjusted as exactly to fit the bed, when unoccupied. When I lay in the bed, that duvet was balanced like a logan stone on the ridge of my body shivering under it, and it oscillated as I shivered. Then it slid gently to the floor, and left me with a chill and damp linen sheet over me, the thermometer being below zero, and I—afflicted with a cough.
Next morning I fled—fled to Milan—was stabbed there by the Tramontana, fell ill, escaped to Genoa, and there recovered.
Now, perhaps, the reader will understand how it was that naturally, and at once, my mind turned to poor Zosimus, as I entered Frejus. His dust is laid there—I doubt not. He had wandered there—some eighteen hundred years ago, and, like me, had inhaled the sweet scent of the flowering beans, looked on the Esterel chain glowing as if red-hot in the sunshine, and had entertained, like me, kindly, affectionate thoughts of that somewhat pedantic, conceited, but eminently worthy Caius Plinius Caecilius Secundus.
Although Julius Caesar is said to have formed the port at Forum Julii, and to have given the place his name, it is probable that there was a settlement there earlier. He, however raised it into consideration by the construction of the harbour. The port is there still, within its moles, and guarded by two castles on heights above it, but—alas for the well being of Frejus, the harbour is filled with sand and soil brought down by the river Argens and washed in by the waves, and is now a level meadow, every portion belonging to a farmer cut off from another portion by a ditch, in which spring the rushes and croak the frogs. Augustus enlarged the port, and after the decisive battle of Actium (B.C. 31) sent thither the galleys captured from Anthony. The sea is now two miles distant.
The mistake of making ports at the mouths of rivers was one constantly made by the Romans. The Greeks knew better—Marseilles has not been choked.
Hard by, at Agay, is a perfect natural harbour. The red porphyry mountains rise in fantastic shapes above it, and plunge in abrupt crags into the deep blue water. It is a little harbour that calls out "Come and rest in me from every wind." Now a lighthouse has been erected at the extremity of one of the natural moles of rock, a coastguard establishment crowns the heights, two or three fishermen's cottages nestle in the lap of the bay—that is all.
On the south of the port of Frejus is an old castle. There must have existed there originally a nodule of rock, but out of this a platform has been formed artificially of earth gathered from the port, and this platform was converted in Roman times into a fort. On one side may be seen a curious contrivance for resisting the outward pressure of the earth heaped up within. The basement wall has not buttresses thrust forth, but consists of a series of semicircular concave depressions in its face. In Mediaeval times a strong castle with circular towers was erected on the ancient basement, that also is now in ruins, the ledges where the old Roman wall ended and the Mediaeval wall sprang at half the thickness of the former were, when I saw them, dense with white irises.
Frejus was supplied in Roman times with an aqueduct, the arches of which, broken and ruinous, still stretch across the plain, and were destined to convey into the town the waters of the Siagnole, from a distance of about fifty miles. The arcade is about forty-five feet high.
Following a path that leads along the ancient mole one reaches a quadrangular tower of Roman masonry with a stone conical roof, which goes by the name of the Lantern of Augustus, and is supposed to have served as lighthouse at the entrance of the harbour, but the height is too insignificant for this purpose, it is not over thirty-five feet, and there is no indication of any contrivance whereby it could have been utilised for the purpose of a pharos. In the Torlonia Museum at Rome is a bas-relief representing the port of Ostia, with its pharos; that is a structure of several stages, each receding as it is superposed on the other, and the topmost sustains the ever-burning fire—quite a different sort of building from this tower at Frejus.
Frejus is a cathedral city, though numbering only 3,500 inhabitants, but it is an ancient see, dating from about 374, when it was an important maritime place. Its fortunes had gone down in the Middle Ages, and the citizens and prelates were never in a position to build much of a cathedral. The present church is of the eleventh century, both small and plain. It contains little of interest save a fine painting on gold ground of S. Margaret and other saints, brought from the ancient Monastery of Lerins. The organ gallery is supported on granite pillars, Classic, found among the ruins of the amphitheatre. The baptistery is surrounded by eight porphyry columns with Corinthian capitals taken from a pagan temple.
The carved doors of the cathedral deserve to be seen, they are of rich Renaissance work. In the north aisle of the cathedral to the west is the tomb of two bishops of the seventeenth century, Bartholomew and Peter de Camelin, kneeling; and at the east end are two alabaster monuments of bishops three centuries earlier. The cloisters are of the usual Provencal type, the arcade resting on double columns, but walls have been erected blocking up the spaces, and the interior yard is turned into the bishop's fowl-house.
But—is not that sufficient? I am not writing a guide book; and I enter into these details here solely because the guide books pass over the cathedral very slightingly, and concern themselves chiefly with the Roman antiquities. Of these latter, besides what I have mentioned, there is the Porte Doree, one arcade only of what was formerly a noble portico facing the harbour; also a fine amphitheatre, now traversed by a highway, not however as perfect as those of Nimes and Arles. Fragments also remain of the ancient theatre, but they are unimportant.
Hard by the Hotel de Ville is a beautiful red porphyry figure of a boy and a dolphin which one would have taken to have been Renaissance work, but that the Renaissance artists would hardly have taken the pains to sculpture such intractable material as porphyry for a petty town of the size of Frejus. The group recalls that very odd story told by Pliny in one of his letters, which, as it may not be familiar to many of my readers, I will venture here to repeat. He says that the story "was related to him at table by a person of unsuspected veracity." At Hippo, in Africa, when the boys were playing in the lake that communicates with the sea, and the lads were contending together which could swim furthest, one boy found a dolphin play about him as he swam, and he ventured to climb on the back of the fish. The dolphin was not alarmed, but conveyed the little fellow on his back to the shore. The fame of this remarkable event spread through the town, and crowds came down to the water's edge to see the boy and ask him questions. Next day he went into the water again, and once more the dolphin appeared, played round him, and again took him on his back. This happened several times, and the circumstance was bruited throughout the neighbourhood, so that great numbers of people came in from the countryside to see the fish play in the water with the children, and carry them on its back. At last the authorities of the town, annoyed at the concourse of the curious, destroyed the playful dolphin, a bit of barbarity that excites Pliny's wrath.
To the south-west of Frejus lies the Chaine des Maures, the outline of which is by no means so bold as that of the porphyry Esterel, but the mountains rise in sweeping lines from a broad and fertile plain covered and silvered with olives, growing out of rich red soil, like the old red sandstone of Devonshire. The red sandstone rocks through which the line passes are ploughed with rains. On the right appears the wonderfully picturesque little town of La Pauline, with an extensive ruined castle, and the walls and towers of the town in tolerable condition. Above it rises a stately peak capped with the white limestone that forms the mountains about Toulon and Marseilles, and having all the appearance of a flake of snow.
When we reach the basin between Aubaine and Camp-Major we are surrounded by these barren white ranges, so white that they look as if a miller had shaken his flour-bag over them.
But I have not quite done with Frejus yet. I fear the reader will think I have given him a dull chapter of antiquarian and historical detail, so I will here add an anecdote, to spice it, concerning a worthy of Frejus, Desaugiers, one of the liveliest of French poets. He was born at Frejus in 1772. One day he was invited to preside at the annual banquet of the pork-butchers. At dessert everyone present was expected to pronounce an epigram or sing a song; and when the turn came to Desaugiers, he rose, cleared his throat, looked around with a twinkle in his eye, and thundered forth "Des Cochons, des Cochons."
The pork-butchers bridled up, grew red about the cheeks and temples, believing that an insult was intended, when Desaugiers proceeded with his song:—
"Decochons les traits de la satire."
Sieyes was another native of Frejus, that renegade priest, to whom is attributed the ferocious saying, when called on to give his vote on the condemnation of Louis XVI., "La mort—sans phrases." Some few years after the Directory sent Sieyes as ambassador to Berlin. He invited a prince of the blood royal of Prussia to dine at the embassy with him; but the prince took the invitation and scored across it his answer:—
Napoleon as national recompense to Sieyes for the services he had rendered to France, and to himself personally, gave him the estate of Crosne. This gave rise to the epigram—
"Bonaparte a Sieyes a fait present de Crosne, Sieyes a Bonaparte a fait present du trone."
But after all, it is chiefly as the birthplace of Agricola, that true model of a Roman soldier of the best description, that Frejus interests us most. His father, Julius Graecinus, had fallen a victim to Caligula, because he refused to undertake the prosecution of a man the Emperor was determined to destroy, and there is some reason to suspect that Agricola himself was sacrificed to the suspicions and envy of Domitian. Like most good and honourable men, he had a good mother, whose virtues Tacitus records.
When Agricola was proconsul of Britain, his rule was mild, and he took pains to win the confidence of the provincials. He it was who drew a chain of forts from sea to sea between the Tyne and Solway, to protect the reclaimed subjects of the southern valleys from the untamed barbarians who roved the Cheviots and the Pentlands. He was not merely a conqueror, but an explorer and discoverer, in Scotland. In A.D. 83 he passed beyond the Frith and fought a great battle with the Caledonians near Stirling. The Roman entrenchments still remaining in Fife and Angus were thrown up by him. In 84 he fought another battle on the Grampians, and sent his fleet to circumnavigate Britain. The Roman vessels at all events for the first time entered the Pentland Frith; examined the Orkney islands, and perhaps gained a glimpse of the Shetlands.
It was interesting to tread the soil where the childhood was passed of a man who left such permanent marks in Britain, and to whom we are indebted for our first knowledge of Scotland.
The three islands Phoenice, Phila, Iturium—Marseilles first a Phoenician colony—The tariff of fees exacted by the priests of Baal—The arrival of the Ionians—The legend of Protis and Gyptis—Second colony of Ionians—The voyages of Pytheas and Euthymenes—Capture of Marseilles by Trebonius—Position of the Greek city—The Acropolis—Greek inscriptions—The lady who never "jawed" her husband—The tomb of the sailor-boy—Hotel des Negociants—Menu—Entry of the President of the Republic—Entry of Francis I.—The church of S. Vincent—The Cathedral—Notre Dame de la Garde—The abbey of S. Victor—Catacombs—The fable of S. Lazarus.
The traveller approaching Marseilles from the sea observes three islets of bare limestone rock that are apparently a prolongation of that rocky promontory now crowned by the fortress of S. Nicolas, and that act as a natural breakwater against wave and storm from the S.E. They go by the names of Pomegue, Ratonneau, and Chateau d'If. But the classic geographers called the group the Little Stoechades, and named these islets Phoenice, Phila, and Iturium; and these three appellations give us in a compact form the story of ancient Marseilles, founded by the Phoenicians, refounded by the Greeks, and then made a dependency under the Roman empire.
That Marseilles was a Phoenician colony before the Phoceans settled there is shown by the monuments that have been exhumed from the foundations of the modern houses, and are now collected in the museum. There are some curious images of Melkarth and Melita, the Hercules and Venus of these Asiatic traders, known also to us through the Bible as Baal and Ashtaroth. But most curious of all is a long Phoenician table of charges made by the priests of Baal for the various sacrifices and oblations offered by the people. This tariff of charges was found in 1845. It consists of twenty-one lines, and begins:—
"The Temple of Baal.—This is the regulation relative to the dues legally established by Italis-Baal, the suffete, son of Bod-tanith, son of Bod-Milcarth, and by Italis-Baal.
"For an entire ox, the ordinary sacrifice, the priests are to receive ten shekels. At the sacrifice, in addition, three hundred mishekels of flesh.
"Item. For the ordinary sacrifice, of cereals and flour of wheat, also the hide, the entrails, and the feet of the victim. All the rest of the flesh goes to the master of the sacrifice."
So it continues to regulate the fees for a calf, a ram, a bird; also for cakes, and for offerings made by lepers and by common people. The table of fees is extremely curious and is, I believe, unique.
The Phoenician colony at Marseilles was probably in decline when, in B.C. 599, a Greek fleet left the port of Phocaea, one of the twelve Ionian cities of Asia Minor, seeking new homes in the West. The colony was under the command of an adventurer named Protis. Attracted by the Bay of Marseilles, and the basin surrounded by hills that lay in its lap, the Greek colony disembarked.
And now for a legend.
The first measure taken by the new arrivals was to send a deputation to the King of the Segobrigae, a Keltic race occupying what is now called Provence. The king was at Arles, which was his capital; his name was Nannos. By a happy coincidence the embassy arrived on the day upon which Nannos had assembled the warriors of his tribe, for his daughter, Gyptis, to choose a husband among them.
The arrival of the young Greek, Protis, in the midst of this banquet was a veritable coup-de-theatre; he took his place at the board. His natural grace, his easy and polished manners, the nobleness and elegance of his person and features, contrasted strangely with the savagery and coarseness of the Gaulish warriors.
Free to choose whom she would, Gyptis rose from the table, filled a cup, and made the circuit of the board. Every eye was fixed on her; he was to be her choice to whom she offered the bowl. She did not hesitate for a moment, she went to the Greek stranger and extended it to him. Protis put the goblet to his lips, and the alliance was concluded.
The example of Gyptis was followed by some of her maidens. The Gauls agreed to receive the Greeks, and suffer them to colonise the basin of Marseilles.
But the chiefs who had been set aside by the fair Gyptis bore a grudge against the new-comers. The growing prosperity and rapid development of the new settlement aroused their jealousy, which was probably augmented by the defection of some of their wives and daughters. Profiting by the Feast of Flora in May, they presented themselves at the gates of Marseilles in attendance on some waggons laden with green boughs, under which were their arms concealed. But love, that had founded the Ionian colony, was destined to save it. A young Gaulish woman revealed the plot to her Hellenic lover, and the Greeks laid their hands on the arms that were to have been employed against them, turned them against the intrusive Gauls, and massacred them to a man.
But having thus saved themselves from one danger they felt that they had incurred another. They had provoked the deadly animosity of the whole tribe of the Segobrigae. They therefore appealed to their countrymen in Ionia to come to their aid. The appeal met with a ready response, a second fleet of colonists arrived. Marseilles was encompassed with walls on the land side, and thus made secure against the assaults of undisciplined barbarians.
Such is the graceful legend of the origin of Marseilles. It is only so far historical that it gives us in poetic and romantic form the main facts, that the first colony settled at Marseilles without opposition, that after a while it got embroiled with the Gaulish tribes of the neighbourhood, and that a second Ionian colony came to strengthen the first. But this second colony arrived B.C. 542, fifty-seven years after the first, and was due to the taking of Phocaea by the Medes and Persians.
As a Greek mercantile colony Marseilles flourished, and sent forth other colonies, that formed settlements along the Ligurian coast, as a Literal crown from Ampurias and Rhode in Catalonia to the confines of Etruria. Free, rich, protected by the Roman legions, these Greek settlements cultivated the arts and sciences with ardour, as well as carrying on the trade of the Mediterranean.
In the year B.C. 350 two of her most illustrious citizens, Pytheas and Euthymenes, explored the northern and southern Atlantic. Pytheas was charged to make a voyage of discovery towards the north. He coasted Spain, Portugal, Aquitania, Brittany, discovered Great Britain, coasted it, and reached Thule, which some have supposed to be Iceland, but others the Orkney Isles. In a second voyage he penetrated the Baltic by the Cattegat and Sound, and reached the mouths of the Dwina or the Vistula. On his return he composed two works, records of his discoveries, of which precious fragments have been preserved by Pliny and Strabo. Thanks to his labours, Marseilles was the first town whose latitude was determined with some precision.
About the same time, Euthymenes was commissioned to make explorations in the opposite direction. He sailed south-west, traced the western coast of Africa, and penetrated the mouths of the Senegal, whence he brought back gold dust.
Marseilles was taken, B.C. 49, by Trebonius, the lieutenant of Julius Caesar. Two naval battles ruined her fleet; and, but for the clemency of Caesar, the doom of the city would have been sealed. She had enthusiastically taken the part of Pompey, and had resisted Caesar with unusual determination. But he appreciated the importance of the colony and the mercantile energy of her inhabitants, and he did not lay his hand in retribution too severely upon her.
The old Greek city of Massilia occupied the promontory which is still old Marseilles, clustered on the Butte St. Laurent and Butte des Moulins, where was the Acropolis, with the temples of Apollo and Diana, and the Butte des Cannes. The harbour was the natural fiord, which is now the Vieux port; and the modern splendid street Canebiere runs along the site of the old shipbuilding-docks of the Greeks. Here was found a few years ago an ancient galley with keel and ribs of cedar, and coins in her of the date of Julius Caesar. She is now in the museum. To the south of the old port was a marsh; the rectangular canal and the Bassin du Carenage mark the position of this marsh, now built over—a marsh that reached to the base of the limestone hills that rise to the peak now occupied by Notre Dame de la Garde.
The old Greek walls of Massilia ran in a sweep along where is now the Boulevard des Dames, Rue d'Aix, and reached the Vieux port at the Bourse.
Considering the importance of the Greek city, its wealth and splendour, it is surprising to find nowhere in Marseilles any ruins of its ancient founders. But Marseilles has traversed every historic period, in the midst of storm; and after a voyage of three thousand years through history, she has been plundered of every fragment of her ancient treasures. In Rome the Colosseum and the tomb of Augustus were robbed of their materials for the construction of houses; and in Marseilles every stone of her ancient temples and acropolis have been appropriated for baser purposes. She has passed through twenty fires, and as many sieges. Taken, sacked, decimated, she has been rebuilt over and over again, always hurriedly, consequently always with material taken where nearest at hand, without respect for her monuments and historic recollections. The disturbed soil of Marseilles is not even a heap of ruins, for every stone found in the soil has been utilised as material for construction. Nevertheless some traces of the Greek founders remain in the beautiful coins of the colony, and in inscriptions that have been picked out of the walls or foundations of mediaeval houses. The coins, stamped with classic beauty, are well-known to numismatists.
We have space to notice only one or two inscriptions. One is the sign of Athenades, son of Dioscorides, professor of Latin grammar, probably set up two thousand years ago over his door; another is a notice of a young lad, Cleudemos, son of Dionysius, having gained a prize. A curious Greek inscription is found at Carpentras, a colony from Marseilles, that illustrates the manner in which foreign religions got mixed up with those that were proper to the Greeks.
"Blessed be Thebe, daughter of Thelhui, laden with oblations for the God Osiris—she never jawed her husband—she was blameless in the eyes of Osiris, and receives his benediction."
Truly such a wife deserved that her conduct towards her husband should be commemorated through ages upon ages, and we may thank good fortune that it has preserved to us the name of this incomparable lady.
As I am on the subject of Greek inscriptions, I may quote the following touching one, that has been found built into the wall of a house at Aix.
"On the banks, beaten by the waves, a youth appeals to thee, voyager! I, beloved by God, am no more subject to the domination of Death. I passed my life sailing on the sea, myself a sailor, like to the youthful gods, the Amyclaeans, saviours of sailors, free from the yoke of matrimony. Here in my tomb, which I owe to the piety of my masters, I rest sheltered from all maladies, free from toil, from cares, from pains; whereas in life, all these woes fall on our gross envelopes of matter. The dead, on the other hand, are divided into two classes, of which one returns to the earth, whereas the other rises to join the dance with the celestial choirs; and it is to this latter class that I belong, having had the good fortune to range myself under the banners of the Divinity."
Clearly this was the tomb of a young sailor-boy, a native of Aix, who had served in a merchant vessel of Marseilles. There is something graceful and pathetic in the monument.
But enough of the past. Now for the present, and in considering the present let us attend to that which feeds and builds up that gross envelope of matter the young Greek sailor had laid aside.
At Marseilles I put up at the Hotel des Negociants, in the Cours Belzunce. Let me observe that I do not see the fun of going to hotels of the first class. Not only is one's expense doubled, but one is thrown among English and American travellers, and sees nothing whatever of the people in whose country one is travelling. Now, here in this commercial inn, I had for dinner the following dishes, which I am quite sure I should not have had in the Grand Hotel de Noailles, where a dinner is six francs, whereas at my inn I paid just half. I must also observe that the dinners were abundant and excellent, but among the dishes were some that were peculiar to the Provencal cuisine, for instance:—
Bread slices sopped in saffron, with fish, garnished with small crabs, to be chewed up, shell and all.
Artichokes, raw, with oil and vinegar.
Oranges with pepper and salt.
On the table were glass jugs with tar-water, and I observed that over half those present drank their wine diluted with this tar-water.
One day in summer I was at table-d'hote in France when I saw a very fine melon on the table. Said I, in my heart of hearts, "I'll have some of you by-and-by!" But, to my consternation, the melon was taken round with stewed conger eel, and eaten with salt and pepper. I could not summon up courage to try the mixture, and the whole melon was consumed before the next course came on.
I was at Marseilles when M. Carnot, the President of the Republic visited it, April 16th. Great efforts were made to give him a splendid reception. Venetian masts were set up, strings of fairy lamps were suspended between them, and tricolours were hung as banners to the masts, or grouped together in trophies. But alas! No sooner were all preparations made, than a furious gale broke over the coast, the venetian masts swayed in the wind and were upset or thrown out of the perpendicular, the little lamps jingled against each other and were broken, such as were not shivered were filled with rain, the banners were lashed with the broken wires and torn to shreds, and when M. Carnot arrived, in a pouring rain, it was amidst a very wreckage of festival preparations, and he was received by a crowd of umbrellas. Under such circumstances enthusiasm was damped and ejaculations of welcome were muffled. The President occupied an open landau, and drove along the boulevards without umbrella or waterproof, bowing to right and left in a slashing rain. A deputation of flower women presented him with a sodden bouquet, by the hand of a dripping little girl in white that clung to her as a bathing gown. The President insisted on the maid being lifted to him into the carriage, where he hugged and kissed her, whilst the moisture ran out of her garments like a squeezed sponge, and this demonstration provoked some damp cheers.
I bought Henri Rochefort's paper next day, to see what his correspondent had to say about the visit. Some passages from it are too racy not to be quoted.
"Il faisait un temps a ne pas mettre un ministre dehors, lorsque le train presidentiel est arrive en gare, et le defile a la detrempe etait pitieux a voir dans le gargouillement et la transsudation de ce degorgement cataractal. Sadi Carnot avait donne l'ordre de laisser son landau decouvert, afin de recevoir les ovations enthousiastes des parapluies.
"Bref, la Presidence est arrivee a la prefecture trempee comme une soupe a l'oignon et fortement dessalee."
Verily there is no tongue like the French for saying nasty things in a nasty way.
I do not know whether it is fair for one to pass an opinion on a man from a sight of his face overrun with rain-water, and with his nose acting like a shoot from a roof; but certainly the impression produced on me by M. Sadi Carnot was that his features were wooden, and that he was but a very ordinary man—intellectually. I pass this opinion with hesitation. When dried possibly the sparks of genius may be discovered and may flare up; they were all but extinguished in the downpour when I saw him.
That cheerful king, Rene of Anjou and Provence, paid a visit to Marseilles in 1437, and made his royal entry on Sunday, December 15th. He was delighted with the reception accorded him, and in a gush of kindly feeling promised to make Marseilles his headquarters. But he forgot his promise, or circumstances were against his keeping it. He never revisited Marseilles. On January 22, 1516, Francis I. entered the town and was received by children carrying banners and garlands, and troupes of young girls in white, then followed archers, arquebusiers, the consuls, and the clergy bearing the relics of S. Lazarus and S. Victor. A theatre was erected at every street corner, on which were presented to his sight incidents from the life of S. Louis. The procession ended with a battle of oranges and lemons, in which the king gave and received a good many blows on the head with the golden fruit.
At the head of the Allees des Capucins, a fine street planted with trees and with a handsome fountain in the place where the Allees de Meilhan unites with it, is a really fine modern Gothic church with twin west spires of open tracery. They are perhaps too thin, a usual fault with modern work, but otherwise the church is very good and stately. It is as fine within as without, but sorely disfigured by the coloured glass, which is garish. French painted glass is very bad. It is precisely the sort of stuff that was turned out by English glass-painters about thirty years ago, the colours crude and distressing to the eye—windows that our more cultured taste cannot now endure. But the French artists have not advanced, the windows put in to-day are as detestable as those they put in at the beginning of the revival. Unfortunately, every cathedral is crowded through the length and breadth of France with this abominable stuff, that is only tolerable in a modern tasteless church, vulgar in its architecture and insipid in its sculpture, but is painfully out of place in a venerable minster.
The city of Marseilles has been lucky in securing a good architect for the Church of S. Vincent de Paul, but in another architectural venture Marseilles has been unfortunate. She was resolved to have a cathedral, and she gave the designing of it to a man void of taste, who has built a hideous erection on the quay in what he is pleased to call Byzantine style. I am quite sure any Byzantine architect would cheerfully have jumped into the Bosphorus rather than disfigure a city with such a structure as Notre Dame.
The Germans have a saying that the higher a monkey climbs the more he exposes his monkeyishness; and unfortunately this architect has been allowed to climb very high. He was given the peak of Notre Dame de la Garde, that towers over Marseilles, on which to erect a church. The site is exceptionally good, one on which a man of ordinary genius would have done something, could hardly have failed to have done something, that would have been picturesque. But such is the perversity of this unfortunate man's talent that he has erected a structure on the limestone crag, of almost miraculous hideousness. It is also in so-called Byzantine architecture. There is a dish-cover which serves as a dome, and a tower which would be comical if it were not irritating. It resembles the handle of a renaissance knife or fork stuck into a sheath and standing upright with a figure at top. We have made a blunder at South Kensington in setting side by side a depressed dome—the Albert Hall, and the acute pinnacle of the Albert Memorial; but a road runs between them, and it is possible to shut one eye and see one of these two structures apart from the other. But in Notre Dame de la Garde the two are combined in one building, and tease the eye from every point in Marseilles.
I ascended the steep crag to the church and found it full of a devout congregation. The service was the "Salut," and the Host was being elevated to the strains of "The Last Rose of Summer," on the hautbois stop of the organ.
The view from the platform of the church, of Marseilles, the coast, the blue Mediterranean and the islands is beautiful. Below Notre Dame de la Garde, and above the old port, stands the ancient Abbey of S. Victor; this abbey, of which the church alone remains, occupies a site where the successive generations of Massaliots buried their dead from the earliest pagan times, and here the first Christians formed catacombs of which some traces remain under the church, subterranean passages bearing some resemblance to those in the outskirts of Rome. The abbey itself was founded by Cassian, in the fourth century, over these galleries containing the bones of the first Christians, but his monastery was wrecked by the Saracens four hundred years later, and it was rebuilt in the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. What remains of this famous Abbey of S. Victor has rather the appearance of a fortress than a church; the walls and ramparts date from 1350, and were the work of William de Grimoard, who was prior of the monastery before he was elevated to be pope under the title of Urban V. The heavy, clumsy pile is a type of the architecture, at once military and ecclesiastical, that characterises most of the churches along the coast.
Externally the venerable church is devoid of beauty. No attempt at decoration has been made. It seems a shapeless pile of towers and machicolated and battlemented curtains, falling into almost complete ruin. But on passing through the single entrance, one finds oneself in a well-proportioned church of nave and side aisles, a south chapel, and an apse. Each buttress of the apse is battlemented outside and forms a turret, and two strong towers are adapted internally to serve as a transept and a porch.
Marseilles claims to have had as its first apostle Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead. The foundation of this myth is that in the fourth century it perhaps had a prelate of the name of Lazarus, though the earliest known bishop was Orestius, A.D. 314. The fact is that the existence of S. Lazarus at Marseilles was unsuspected till the eleventh century. When Cassian founded his abbey he dedicated it to S. Victor. If he had known anything about Lazarus, almost certainly he would have dedicated the church to him; he erected moreover, two other chapels, one to SS. Peter and Paul, the other to the Blessed Virgin and S. John the Baptist. When, in 1010, Benedict IX. enumerates the glories of the abbey restored after the destruction by the Saracens, he does not make the most transient allusion to S. Lazarus. However, Benedict IX., in 1040, does mention the passion of this Lazarus raised from the dead by Christ, as one of the causes why the abbey was venerable. His relics were said to have been transported thence to Athens, to preserve them from the Saracens. We shall learn more about this fable when we come to the Camargue.
The Basin of Berre—A neglected harbour—The diluvium—Formation of the Crau—The two Craus—Canal of Craponne—Climate of the Crau—The Bise and Mistral—Force of the wind—Cypresses—A vision of kobolds.
On leaving Marseilles by train for Arles, the line cuts through the limestone ridge of the Estaque, and the traveller passes from the basin of Marseilles into the much more extensive basin of Berre, surrounded by hills on all sides, a wide bowl like a volcanic crater, with the great inland salt lake of the Etang de Berre occupying its depths. This is a great natural harbour, seven times the size of the port of Toulon, and varying in depth from 28 to 32 feet; it is perfectly sheltered from every wind, and entire fleets might anchor there in security, not only out of reach, but out of sight of an enemy, for the chain of l'Estaque intervenes between it and the sea. It would seem as though Nature herself had designed Berre as a safe harbour for the merchant vessels that visit the south coast of France. It is almost inconceivable how this sheet of water, communicating with the sea by the channel of Martignes, can have been neglected; how it is that its still blue waters are not crowded with ships, and its smiling shores not studded with a chain of industrial and populous towns. "The neglect of this little inland sea as a port of refuge," says M. Elisee Reclus, "is an economic scandal. Whilst on dangerous coasts harbours are constructed at vast expense, here we have one that is perfect, and which has been neglected for fifteen centuries." But though the Romans or Greeks had a station here, they did not utilise the lagoon. At S. Chamas are remains of the masters of the ancient world, but no evidence that they had there a naval station.
The line cuts again through the lip of the basin, and we are in the Crau.
At a remote period, but, nevertheless, in one geologically modern, the vast floods of the diluvial age that flowed from the Alps brought down incredible quantities of rolled stones, the detritus of the Alps. This filled up a great bay now occupied by the mouths of the Rhone, and spread in a triangle from Avignon as the apex, to Cette in the west, and Fos in the east. This rubble, washed down from the Alps, forms the substratum of the immense plain that inclines at a very slight angle into the Mediterranean, and extends for a considerable distance below the sea. Not only did the Rhone bring down these boulders, but also the Durance, which enters the Rhone above Arles, and formed between the chain of Les Alpines and the Luberon another triangular plain of rolled stones, with the apex at Cavaillon and the base between Tarascon and Avignon. But the Durance did more. There is a break in the chain on the south, between the limestone Alpines and the sandstone Trevaresse; and the brimming Durance, unable to discharge all her water, choked with rubble, into the Rhone, burst through the open door or natural waste-pipe, by Salon, and carried a portion of her pebbles into the sea directly, without asking her sister the Rhone to help her. Now the two great plains formed by the delta of the Rhone, and that of the Durance into the Rhone, are called the great and little Craus. They were known to the ancients, and puzzled them not a little. Strabo says of the Great Crau: "Between Marseilles and the mouth of the Rhone, at about a hundred stadia from the sea, is a plain, circular in form, and a hundred stadia in diameter, to which a singular event obtained for it the name of the Field of Pebbles. It is, in fact, covered with pebbles, as big as the fist, among which grows some grass in sufficient abundance to pasture herds of oxen."