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Title: Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France, Volume 1
Author: Rose, Elise Whitlock
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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CATHEDRALS AND CLOISTERS OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE



[Illustration: _Rodez._

"Sheer and straight the pillars rise, ... and arch after arch is lost on
the shadows of the narrow vaulting of the side-aisle."]



CATHEDRALS
_and_ CLOISTERS
OF THE
SOUTH OF FRANCE

BY

ELISE WHITLOCK ROSE

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

BY

VIDA HUNT FRANCIS


_IN TWO VOLUMES_

_VOLUME I._

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
The Knickerbocker Press
1906



Copyright, 1906
by
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS



PREFACE.


For years the makers of this book have spent the summer time in
wandering about the French country; led here by the fame of some old
monument, or there by an incident of history. They have found the real,
unspoiled France, often unexplored by any except the French themselves,
and practically unknown to foreigners, even to the ubiquitous maker of
guide-books. For weeks together they have travelled without meeting an
English-speaking person. It is, therefore, not surprising that they were
unable to find, in any convenient form in English, a book telling of the
Cathedrals of the South which was at once accurate and complete. For the
Cathedrals of that country are monuments not only of architecture and
its history, but of the history of peoples, the psychology of the
christianising and unifying of the barbarian and the Gallo-Roman, and
many things besides, epitomised perhaps in the old words, "the struggle
between the world, the flesh, and the devil." In French, works on
Cathedrals are numerous and exhaustive; but either so voluminous as to
be unpractical except for the specialist--as the volumes of
Viollet-le-Duc,--or so technical as to make each Cathedral seem one in
an endless, monotonous procession, differing from the others only in
size, style, and age. This is distinctly unfair to these old churches
which have personalities and idiosyncrasies as real as those of
individuals. It has been the aim of the makers of this book to
introduce, in photograph and in story,--not critically or exhaustively,
but suggestively and accurately,--the Cathedral of the Mediterranean
provinces as it exists to-day with its peculiar characteristics of
architecture and history. They have described only churches which they
have seen, they have verified every fact and date where such
verification was possible, and have depended on local tradition only
where that was all which remained to tell of the past; and they will
feel abundantly repaid for travel, research, and patient exploration of
towers, crypts, and archives if the leisurely traveller on pleasure bent
shall find in these volumes but a hint of the interest and fascination
which the glorious architecture, the history, and the unmatched climate
of the Southland can awaken.

For unfailing courtesy and untiring interest, for free access to private
as well as to ecclesiastical libraries, for permission to photograph and
copy, for unbounding hospitality and the retelling of many an old
legend, their most grateful thanks are due to the Catholic clergy, from
Archbishop to Curé and Vicar. For rare old bits of information, for
historical verification, and for infinite pains in accuracy of printed
matter, they owe warm thanks to Mrs. Wilbur Rose, to Miss Frances Kyle,
and to Mrs. William H. Shelmire, Jr. For criticism and training in the
art of photographing they owe no less grateful acknowledgment to Mr.
John G. Bullock and Mr. Charles R. Pancoast.

E. W. R.

V. H. F.



CONTENTS.


                                                          PAGE
THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

  I. THE SOUTH OF FRANCE                                     3

 II. ARCHITECTURE IN PROVENCE, LANGUEDOC, AND GASCONY       29


PROVENCE

  I. THE CATHEDRALS OF THE SEA                              55
     Marseilles--Toulon--Fréjus--Antibes--Nice

 II. CATHEDRALS OF THE HILL-TOWNS                           72
     Carpentras--Digne--Forcalquier--Vence--Grasse

III. RIVER-SIDE CATHEDRALS                                 101
     Avignon--Vaison--Arles--Entrevaux--Sisteron

 IV. CATHEDRALS OF THE VALLEYS                             178
     Orange--Cavaillon--Apt--Riez--Senez--Aix


LANGUEDOC

  I. CATHEDRALS OF THE CITIES                              237
     Nîmes--Montpellier--Béziers--Narbonne--Perpignan--
     Carcassonne--Castres--Toulouse--Montauban



Illustrations


                                                                    Page
RODEZ                                                     _Frontispiece_
    "Sheer and straight the pillars rise, ... and arch
     after arch is lost on the shadows of the narrow vaulting
     of the side-aisle."

"CARCASSONNE, THE INVULNERABLE"                                        5

"THE TOWER OF AN EARLY MARITIME CATHEDRAL"--_Agde_                    10

"A NAVE OF THE EARLIER STYLE"--_Arles_                                15

"A NAVE OF THE LATER STYLE"--_Rodez_                                  19

"THE DELICATE CHOIR OF SAINT-NAZAIRE"--_Carcassonne_                  23

"A CLOISTER OF THE SOUTH"--_Elne_                                     27

"A ROMANESQUE AISLE"--_Arles_                                         31

"THE SCULPTURED PORTALS OF SAINT-TROPHIME"--_Arles_                   33

"A GOTHIC AISLE"--_Mende_                                             35

"CORRESPONDING DIFFERENCES IN STYLE"--_Carcassonne_                   39

"FORTIFIED GOTHIC BUILT IN BRICK"--_Albi_                             43

"A CHURCH FORTRESS"--_Maguelonne_                                     45

"STATELY GOTHIC SPLENDOUR"--_Condom_                                  47

ENTREVAUX                                                             52
    "People gather around the mail-coach as it makes its
     daily halt before the drawbridge."

"THE NEW CATHEDRAL"--_Marseilles_                                     57

"THE DESECRATION OF THE LITTLE CLOISTER"--_Fréjus_                    65

"THE MILITARY OMEN--THE TOWER"--_Antibes_                             70

"THE INTERIOR OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-BOURG"--_Digne_                        77

"THE INTERIOR HAS NEITHER CLERESTORY NOR TRIFORIUM"--_Digne_          81

"A LARGE SQUARE TOWER SERVED AS A LOOKOUT"--_Forcalquier_             86

"A SUGGESTIVE VIEW FROM THE SIDE-AISLE"--_Forcalquier_                87

"THE OLD ROUND ARCH OF THE BISHOP'S PALACE"--_Vence_                  92

"THE LOW, BROAD ARCHES, AND THE GREAT SUPPORTING PILLARS"--_Vence_    93

"HIGHER THAN THEM ALL STANDS THE CATHEDRAL"--_Grasse_                 97

"THE PONT D'AVIGNON"                                                  99

"THE INTERIOR HAS A SHALLOW, GRACEFULLY BALUSTRADED
BALCONY"--_Avignon_                                                  103

"THE PORCH, SO CLASSIC IN DETAIL"--AVIGNON                           107
     From an old print

"NOTRE-DAME-DES-DOMS"--_Avignon_                                     111

"THE TOWER OF PHILIP THE FAIR"--_Villeneuve-les-Avignon_             114

"THE GREAT PALACE"--_Avignon_                                        119

"ON THE BANKS OF A PLEASANT LITTLE RIVER IS VAISON"                  123

"THE RUINED CASTLE OF THE COUNTS OF TOULOUSE"--_Vaison_              125

"THE WHOLE APSE-END"--_Vaison_                                       127

"THE SOUTH WALL, WHICH IS CLEARLY SEEN FROM THE ROAD"--_Vaison_      129

"TWO BAYS OPEN TO THE GROUND"--_Vaison_                              131

"THE GREAT PIERS AND SMALL FIRM COLUMNS"--_Vaison_                   133

"IN THE MIDST OF THE WEALTH OF ANTIQUE RUINS"--_Arles_               135

"THE FAÇADE OF SAINT-TROPHIME"--_Arles_                              137

"RIGHT DETAIL--THE PORTAL"--_Arles_                                  141

"LEFT DETAIL--THE PORTAL"--_Arles_                                   145

"THROUGH THE CLOISTER ARCHES"--_Arles_                               147

"A NAVE OF GREAT AND SLENDER HEIGHT"--_Arles_                        149

"THE BEAUTY OF THE WHOLE"--_Arles_                                   151

"THE GOTHIC WALK"--Cloister--_Arles_                                 153

"THIS INTERIOR"--_Entrevaux_                                         156

"THE ROMANESQUE WALK"--Cloister--_Arles_                             157

"ONE OF THE THREE SMALL DRAWBRIDGES"--_Entrevaux_                    159

"THE PORTCULLIS"--_Entrevaux_                                        160

"A FORT THAT PERCHES ON A SHARP PEAK"--_Entrevaux_                   161

"A TRUE 'PLACE D'ARMES'"--_Entrevaux_                                163

"THE LONG LINE OF WALLS THAT ZIGZAG DOWN THE HILLSIDE"--_Entrevaux_  165

"THE CHURCH TOWER STOOD OUT AGAINST THE ROCKY PEAK"--_Entrevaux_     169

"THE CATHEDRAL IS NEAR THE HEAVY ROUND TOWERS OF
THE OUTER RAMPARTS"--_Sisteron_                                      172

"THE BRIDGE ACROSS THE DURANCE"--_Sisteron_                          173

"ENTRANCES TO TWO NARROW STREETS"--_Sisteron_                        176

"IT WAS A LOW-VAULTED, SOMBRE LITTLE CLOISTER"--_Cavaillon_          182

"THE CATHEDRAL'S TOWER AND TURRET"--_Cavaillon_                      187

"THE MAIN BODY OF THE CHURCH"--_Apt_                                 191

"THE VIRGIN AND SAINT ANNE--BY BENZONI"--_Apt_                       194

"SAINT-MARTIN-DE-BRÔMES WITH ITS HIGH SLIM TOWER"                    197

"THE FORTIFIED MONASTERY OF THE TEMPLARS"--_near Gréoux_             199

"THE TOWER OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-SIÈGE"--_Riez_                           201

"NOTHING COULD BE MORE QUAINTLY OLD AND MODEST THAN
THE BAPTISTERY"--_Riez_                                              202

"BETWEEN THE COLUMNS AN ALTAR HAS BEEN PLACED"--Baptistery, _Riez_   203

"THE BEAUTIFUL GRANITE COLUMNS"--_Riez_                              207

"THE MAIL-COACH OF SENEZ"                                            211

"THE OPEN SQUARE"--_Senez_                                           213

"THE PALACE OF ITS PRELATES"--_Senez_                                214

"THE CATHEDRAL"--_Senez_                                             215

"THE CATHEDRAL"--_Senez_                                             218

"TAPESTRIES BEAUTIFY THE CHOIR-WALLS"--_Senez_                       219

"BETWEEN BRANCHES FULL OF APPLE-BLOSSOMS--THE
CHURCH AS THE CURÉ SAW IT"--_Senez_                                  221

"THE SOUTH AISLE"--_Aix_                                             224

"THE ROMANESQUE PORTAL"--_Aix_                                       225

"THE CLOISTER"--_Aix_                                                227

"THE CATHEDRAL"--_Aix_                                               231

"AN AMPHITHEATRE WHICH RIVALS THE ART OF THE COLISEUM"--_Nîmes_      238

"THE GENERAL EFFECT IS SOMEWHAT THAT OF A
PORT-COCHÈRE"--_Montpellier_                                         244

"THE FINEST VIEW IS THAT OF THE APSE"--_Montpellier_                 245

"THE CLOCK TOWER IS VERY SQUARE AND THICK"--_Béziers_                248

"THE QUAINT AND PRETTY FOUNTAIN"--_Béziers_                          250

"THE DOOR OF THE CLOISTER"--_Narbonne_                               255

"THIS IS A PLACE OF DESERTED SOLITUDE"--_Narbonne_                   257

"THESE FLYING-BUTTRESSES GIVE TO THE EXTERIOR ITS
MOST CURIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL EFFECT"--_Narbonne_                       261

"ALL THE OLD BUILDINGS OF THE CITY ARE OF SPANISH
ORIGIN"--_Perpignan_                                                 265

"THE UNFINISHED FAÇADE"--_Perpignan_                                 267

"THE STONY STREET OF THE HILLSIDE"--_Carcassonne_                    269

"THE ANCIENT CROSS"--_Carcassonne_                                   272

"OFTEN TOO LITTLE TIME IS SPENT UPON THE NAVE"--_Carcassonne_        275

"THE CHOIR IS OF THE XIV CENTURY"--_Carcassonne_                     279

"THE FAÇADE, STRAIGHT AND MASSIVE"--_Carcassonne_                    281

"PERSPECTIVE OF THE ROMANESQUE"--_Carcassonne_                       283

"THE NAVE OF THE XIII CENTURY IS AN AISLE-LESS CHAMBER,
LOW AND BROADLY ARCHED"--_Toulouse_                                  291

"THE PRESENT CATHEDRAL IS A COMBINATION OF STYLES"--_Toulouse_       294



LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED.


BAYET. _Précis de l'Histoire de l'Art._

BODLEY. _France._

BOURG. _Viviers, ses Monuments et son Histoire._

CHOISY. _Histoire de l'Architecture._

COUGNY. _L'Art au Moyen Age._

COOK. _Old Provence._

CORROYER. _L'Architecture romane._

  "          _L'Architecture gothique._

COX. _The Crusades._

DARCEL. _Le Mouvement archéologique relatif au Moyen Age._

DE LAHONDÈS. _L'Église Saint-Etienne, Cathédrale de Toulouse._

DEMPSTER. _Maritime Alps._

DUCÉRÉ. _Bayonne historique et pittoresque._

DURUY. _Histoire de France._

FERREE. _Articles on French Cathedrals appearing in the "Architectural
Record._"

GARDÈRE. _Saint-Pierre de Condom et ses Constructeurs._

GOULD. _In Troubadour Land._

GUIZOT. _Histoire de France._

  "          _Histoire de la Civilisation en France._

HALLAM. _The Middle Ages._

HARE. _South-eastern France._

  "          _South-western France._

_History of Joanna of Naples, Queen of Sicily_ (_published_ 1824).

HUNNEWELL. _Historical Monuments of France._

JAMES. _A Little Tour through France._

_Le Moyen Age_ (_avec notice par Roger-Milès_).

LARNED. _Churches and Castles of Mediæval France._

LASSERRE, L'ABBÉ. _Recherches historiques sur la Ville d'Alet et son
ancien Diocèse._

LECHEVALLIER CHEVIGNARD. _Les Styles français._

MACGIBBON. _The Architecture of Provence and the Riviera._

MARLAVAGNE. _Histoire de la Cathédrale de Rodez._

MARTIN. _Histoire de France._

MASSON. _Louis IX and the XIII Century._

  "          _Francis I and the XVI Century._

MÉRIMÉE. _Études sur les Arts au Moyen Age._

MICHELET. _Histoire de France._

MICHELET AND MASSON. _Mediævalism in France._

_Monographie de la Cathédrale d'Albi._

MONTALEMBERT. _Les Moines d'Occident._

MILMAN. _History of Latin Christianity._

PALUSTRE. _L'Architecture de la Renaissance._

PASTOR. _Lives of the Popes._

PENNELL. _Play in Provence._

QUICHERAT. _Mélanges d'Archéologie au Moyen Age._

RENAN. _Études sur la Politique religieuse du Règne de Philippe le Bel._

RÉVOIL. _Architecture romane du Midi de la France._

ROSIERES. _Histoire de l'Architecture._

SCHNASSE. _Geschichte der bildenden Künste._ (_Volume III, etc._)

SENTETZ. _Sainte-Marie d'Auch._

SORBETS. _Histoire d'Aire-sur-l'Adour._

SOULIÉ. _Interesting old novels whose scenes are laid in the South of
France_:--

  "          "_Le Comte de Toulouse._"

  "          "_Le Vicomte de Béziers._"

  "          "_Le Château des Pyrénées_," _etc._

STEVENSON. _Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes._

TAINE. _The Ancient Regime._

  "          _Journeys through France._

  "          _Origins of Contemporary France._

  "          _Tour through the Pyrénées._

_'Twixt France and Spain._

VIOLLET-LE-DUC. _Histoire d'une Cathédrale et d'un Hôtel-de-Ville._

_Entretiens sur l'Architecture._

_Dictionnaire raisonné de l'Architecture française du XI^e au XVI^e
siècle._



The South of France.



I.

THE SOUTH OF FRANCE.


If it is only by an effort that we appreciate the valour of Columbus in
the XV century, his secret doubts, his temerity, how much fainter is our
conception of the heroism of the early Mediterranean navigators. Steam
has destroyed for us the awful majesty of distance, and we can never
realise the immensity of this "great Sea" to the ancients. To Virgil the
adventures of the "pious Æneas" were truly heroic. The western shores of
the Mediterranean were then the "end of the earth," and even during the
first centuries of our own era, he who ventured outside the Straits of
Gibraltar tempted either Providence or the Devil and was very properly
punished by falling over the edge of the earth into everlasting
destruction. "Why," asks a mediæval text-book of science, "is the sun so
red in the evening?" And this convincing answer follows, "Because he
looks down upon Hell."

For centuries before the Christian era the South of France, with Spain,
lay in the unknown west end of the Sea. Along its eastern shores lay
civilisations hoary with age; Carthage, to the South, was moribund;
Greece was living on the prestige of her glorious past; while Rome was
becoming all-powerful. Legend tells that adventurous Phoenicians and
Greeks discovered the French coasts, that Nîmes was founded by a Tyrian
Hercules, and Marseilles, about 600 B.C., by a Phoenician trader who
married a chief's daughter and settled at the mouth of the Rhone. But
these early settlements were merely isolated towns, which were not
interdependent;--scarcely more than trading posts. It was Rome who took
southern Gaul unto herself, and after Roman fashion, built cities and
towns and co-ordinated them into well-regulated provinces; and it is
with Roman rule that the connected history of Gaul begins.

From the outset we meet one basic fact, so difficult to realise when
France is considered as one country, the essential difference between
the North and the South. Cæsar found in the South a partial Roman
civilisation ready for his organisation; and old, flourishing cities,
like Narbonne, Aix, and Marseilles. In the North he found the people
advanced no further than the tribal stage, and Paris--not even Paris in
name--was a collection of mud huts, which, from its strategic position,
he elevated into a camp. The two following centuries, the height of
Roman dominion in France, accentuated these differences. The North was
governed by the Romans, never assimilated nor civilised by them. The
South eagerly absorbed all the culture of the Imperial City; her
religions and her pleasures, her beautiful Temples and great
Amphitheatres, finally her morals and effeminacy, till in the II century
of our era, anyone living a life of luxurious gaiety was popularly said
to have "set sail for Marseilles." To this day the South boasts that it
was a very part of Rome, and Rome was not slow to recognise the claim.
Gallic poets celebrated the glory of Augustus, a Gaul was the master
of Quintilian, and Antoninus Pius, although born in the Imperial City,
was by parentage a native of Nîmes.

[Illustration: "CARCASSONNE, THE INVULNERABLE."]

Not to the rude North, but to this society, so pagan, so
pleasure-loving, came the first missionaries of the new Christian faith,
to meet in the arenas of Gaul the fate of their fellow-believers in
Rome, to hide in subterranean caves and crypts, to endure, to persist,
and finally to conquer. In the III and IV centuries many of the great
Bishoprics were founded, Avignon, Narbonne, Lyons, Arles, and
Saint-Paul-trois Châteaux among others; but these same years brought
political changes which seemed to threaten both Church and State.

Roman power was waning. Tribes from across the Rhine were gathering,
massing in northern Gaul, and its spirit was antagonistic to the
contentment of the rich Mediterranean provinces. The tribes were
brave, ruthless, and barbarous. Peace was galling to their
uncontrollable restlessness. The Gallo-Romans were artistic, literary,
idle, and luxurious. They fell, first to milder but heretical foes;
then to the fierce but orthodox Frank; and the story of succeeding
years was a chronicle of wars. Like a great swarm of locusts, the
Saracens--conquerors from India to Spain--came upon the South. They
took Narbonne, Nîmes, and even Carcassonne, the Invulnerable. They
besieged Toulouse, and almost destroyed Bordeaux. Other cities,
perhaps as great as these, were razed to the very earth and even their
names are now forgotten. Europe was menaced; the South of France was
all but destroyed.

Again the Frank descended; and like a great wind blowing clouds from a
stormy sky, Charles Martel swept back the Arabs and saved Christianity.
Before 740, he had returned a third time to the South, not as a
deliverer, but for pure love of conquest; and by dismantling Nîmes,
destroying the maritime cities of Maguelonne and Agde, and taking the
powerful strongholds of Arles and Marseilles, he paved the way for his
great descendant who nominally united "all France."

But Charlemagne's empire fell in pieces; and as Carlovingian had
succeeded Merovingian, so in 987 Capetian displaced the weak descendants
of the mighty head of the "Holy Roman Empire." The map changed with
bewildering frequency; and in these changes, the nobles--more stable
than their kings--grew to be the real lords of their several domains.
History speaks of France from Clovis to the Revolution as a kingdom; but
even later than the First Crusade the kingdom lay somewhere between
Paris and Lyons; the Royal Domain, not France as we know it now. The
Duchy of Aquitaine, the Duchy of Brittany, Burgundy, the Counties of
Toulouse, Provence, Champagne, Normandy, and many smaller possessions,
were as proudly separate in spirit as Norway and Sweden, and often as
politically distinct as they from Denmark.

In the midst of these times of turmoil the Church had steadily grown.
Every change, however fatal to North or South, brought to her new
strength. Confronted with cultured paganism in the first centuries, the
blood of her martyrs made truly fruitful seed for her victories; and
later, facing paganism of another, wilder race, she triumphed more
peacefully in the one supreme conversion of Clovis; and the devotion and
interest which from that day grew between Church and King, gradually
made her the greatest power of the country. After the decline of Roman
culture the Church was the one intellectual, almost peaceful, and
totally irresistible force. The great lords scorned learning. An Abbot,
quaintly voicing the Church's belief, said that "every letter writ on
paper is a sword thrust in the devil's side." When there was cessation
of war, the occupation of men, from Clovis' time throughout Mediævalism,
was gone. They could not read; they could not write; the joy of hunting
was, in time, exhausted. They were restless, lost. The justice meted out
by the great lords was, too often, the right of might. But at the
Council of Orléans, in 511, a church was declared an inviolable refuge,
where the weak should be safe until their case could be calmly and
righteously judged. The beneficent care of the Church cannot be
overestimated. Between 500 and 700 she had eighty-three councils in
Gaul, and scarcely one but brought a reform,--a real amelioration of
hardships.

Something of the general organisation of her great power in those rude
times deserves more than the usual investigation. Even in its small
place in the "Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France," it is an
interesting bit of Church politics and psychology.

The ecclesiastical tradition of France goes back to the very first years
of the Christian era. Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Mary the
Mother of James, are only a few of those intimately connected with
Christ Himself, who are believed to have come into Gaul; and in their
efforts to systematically and surely establish Christianity, to have
founded the first French Bishoprics. This is tradition. But even the
history of the II century tells of a venerable, martyred Bishop of
Lyons, a disciple of that Polycarp who knew Saint John; and in the III
century Gaul added no less than fourteen to the Sees she already had.
Enthusiastic tradition aside, it is evident that the missionary ardour
of the Gallic priests was intense; and the glory of their early
victories belongs entirely to a branch of the Church known as "the
Secular Clergy."

[Illustration: THE TOWER OF AN EARLY MARITIME CATHEDRAL.--AGDE.]

The other great branch, "the Religious Orders," were of later
institution. From the oriental deserts of the Thebaid, where Saint
Anthony had early practised the austerities of monkish life, Saint
Martin drew his inspiration for the monasticism of the West. But it was
not until the last of the IV century that he founded, near Poitiers, the
first great monastery in France. The success of this form of pious life,
if not altogether edifying, was immediate. Devotional excesses were less
common in the temperate climate of France than under the exciting
oriental sun, yet that most bizarre of Eastern fanatics, the "Pillar
Saint," had at least one disciple in Gaul. He--the good Brother
Wulfailich--began the life of sanctity by climbing a column near Trèves,
and prepared himself to stand on it, barefooted, through winter and
summer, till, presumably, angels should bear him triumphantly to heaven.
But the West is not the East. And the good Bishops of the neighbourhood
drew off, instead of waiting at the pillar, as an exalted emperor had
humbly stood beneath that of Saint Simeon Stylites. Far from being
awe-struck, they were scandalised; and they forced Wulfailich to descend
from his eminence, and destroyed it. This is one of the first Gallic
instances of the antagonisms between the "secular" and the "regular"
branches of the reverend clergy.

Within the French Church from early times, these two great forces were
arrayed, marching toward the same great end,--but never marching
together. It is claimed they were, and are, inimical. In theory, in
ideal, nothing could be further from truth. They were in fact sometimes
unfriendly; and more often than not mutually suspicious. For the great
Abbot inevitably lived in a Bishop's See; and with human tempers beneath
their churchly garb, Abbot and Bishop could not always agree. Now the
Bishop was lord of the clergy, supreme in his diocese; but should he
call to account the lowest friar of any monastery, my Lord Abbot replied
that he was "answerable only to the Pope," and retired to his vexatious
"imperium in imperio."

The beginning of the VI century saw much that was irregular in monastic
life. The whole country was either in a state of war or of unrestful
expectation of war. Many Abbeys were yet to be established; many merely
in process of foundation. Wandering brothers were naturally beset by the
dangers and temptations of an unsettled life; and if history may be
believed, fell into many irregularities and even shamed their cloth by
licentiousness. Into this disorder came the great and holy Benedict, the
"learnedly ignorant, the wisely unlearned," the true organiser of
Western Monachism. Under his wise "Rules" the Abbey of the VI century
was transformed. It became "not only a place of prayer and meditation,
but a refuge against barbarism in all its forms. And this home of books
and knowledge had departments of all kinds, and its dependencies formed
what we would call to-day a 'model farm.' There were to be found
examples of activity and industry for the workman, the common tiller of
the soil, or the land-owner himself. It was a school," continues
Thierry, "not of religion, but of practical knowledge; and when it is
considered that there were two hundred and thirty-eight of such schools
in Clovis' day, the power of the Orders, though late in coming, will be
seen to have grown as great as that of the Bishops."

From these two branches sprang all that is greatest in the
ecclesiastical architecture of France. As their strength grew, their
respective churches were built, and to-day, as a sign of their dual
power, we have the Abbey and the Cathedral.

The Bishop's church had its prototype in the first Christian meeting
places in Rome and was planned from two basic ideas,--the part of the
Roman house which was devoted to early Christian service, and the
growing exigencies of the ritual itself. At the very first of the
Christian era, converts met in any room, but these little groups so soon
grew to communities that a larger place was needed and the "basilica" of
the house became the general and accepted place of worship. The
"basilica" was composed of a long hall, sometimes galleried, and a
hemicycle; and its general outline was that of a letter T. Into this
purely secular building, Christian ceremonials were introduced. The
hemicycle became the apse; the gallery, a clerestory; the hall, a
central nave. Here the paraphernalia of the new Church were installed.
The altar stood in the apse; and between it and the nave, on either
side, a pulpit or reading-desk was placed. Bishop and priests sat around
the altar, the people in the nave. This disposition of clergy, people,
and the furniture of the sacred office is essentially that of the
Cathedral of to-day. There were however many amplifications of the first
type. The basilica form, T, was enlarged to that of a cross; and
increasingly beautiful architectural forms were evolved. Among the first
was the tower of the early Italian churches. This single tower was
doubled in the French Romanesque, often multiplied again by Gothic
builders, and in Byzantine churches, increased to seven and even nine
domes. Transepts were added, and as, one by one, the arts came to the
knowledge of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, each was pressed into
the service of the Cathedral builders. The interior became so beautiful
with carvings, windows of marvellously painted glass, rich tapestries
and frescoes, that the ritual seemed yearly more impressive and
awe-inspiring. The old, squat exterior of early days was forgotten in
new height and majesty, and the Cathedral became the dominant building
of the city.

Although the country was early christianised, and on the map of
Merovingian France nearly all the present Cathedral cities of the
Mediterranean were seats of Bishoprics, we cannot now see all the
successive steps of the church architecture of the South. The main era
of the buildings which have come down to us, is the XI-XIV centuries. Of
earlier types and stages little is known, little remains.

[Illustration: A NAVE OF THE EARLIER STYLE.--ARLES.]

In general, Gallic churches are supposed to have been basilican, with
all the poverty of the older style. Charlemagne's architects, with San
Vitale in mind, gave a slight impetus in the far-away chapel at
Aix-la-Chapelle, and Gregory of Tours tells us that Bishop Perpetuus
built a "glorious" church at Tours. But his description is meagre. After
a few mathematical details, he returns to things closer to his
heart,--the Church's atmosphere of holiness, the emblematic radiance of
the candle's light, the ecstasy of worshippers who seemed "to breathe
the air of Paradise." And Saint Gregory's is the religious, uncritical
spirit of his day, whose interest was in ecclesiastical establishment
rather than ecclesiastical architecture. Churches there were in numbers;
but they were not architectural achievements. Their building was like
the planting of the flag; they were new outposts, signs of an advance of
the Faith. With this missionary spirit in the Church, with priests still
engaged in christianising and monks in establishing themselves on their
domains, with a very general ignorance of art, with the absorbing
interest of the powerful and great in warfare, and the very great
struggle among the poor for existence, architecture before the X century
had few students or protectors. France had neither sufficient political
peace nor ecclesiastical wealth for elaborate church structures. No
head, either of Church or State, had taste and time enough to inaugurate
such works.

Many causes have combined to destroy such churches as then existed. If
they escaped the rasings and fires of a siege, they were often destroyed
by lightning, or decayed by years; and some of the fragments which
endured to the XIII century were torn down to make room for more
beautiful buildings.

It was the XI and XII centuries which saw the important beginnings of
the great Cathedrals of both North and South. These were the years when
religion was the dominant idea of the western world,--when everything,
even warfare, was pressed into its service. Instead of devastating their
own and their neighbour's country, Christian armies were devastating the
Holy Land; doing to the Infidel in the name of their religion what he,
in the name of his, had formerly done to them. The capture of Jerusalem
had triumphantly ended the First Crusade; the Church was everywhere
victorious, and the Pope in actual fact the mightiest monarch of the
earth. These were the days when Peter the Hermit's cry, "God wills it,"
aroused the world, and aroused it to the most diverse accomplishments.

One form of this activity was church building; but there were other
causes than religion for the general magnificence of the effort. Among
these was communal pride, the interesting, half-forgotten motive of much
that is great in mediæval building.

The Mediævalism of the old writers seems an endless pageant, in which
indefinitely gorgeous armies "march up the hill and then march down
again;" in newer histories this has disappeared in the long struggle of
one class with another; and in neither do we reach the individual, nor
see the daily life of the people who are the backbone of a nation. Yet
these are the people we must know if we are to have a right conception
of the Cathedral's place in the living interest of the Middle Ages. For
the Bishop's church was in every sense a popular church. The Abbey was
built primarily for its monks, and the Abbey-church for their meditation
and worship. The French Cathedral was the people's, it was built by
their money, not money from an Abbey-coffer. It did not stand, as the
Cathedral of England, majestic and apart, in a scholarly close; it was
in the open square of the city; markets and fairs were held about it;
the doors to its calm and rest opened directly on the busiest, every-day
bustle. It is not a mere architectural relic, as its building was never
a mere architectural feat. It is the symbol of a past stage of life, a
majestic part of the picture we conjure before our mind's eye, when we
consider Mediævalism.

[Illustration: A NAVE OF THE LATER STYLE.--RODEZ.]

Such a picture of a city of another country and of the late Middle Ages
exists in the drama of Richard Wagner's Meistersinger; and his Nuremberg
of the XVI century, with changes of local colour, is the type of all
mediæval towns. General travel was unknown. The activity of the great
roads was the march of armies, the roving of marauders, the journeys of
venturesome merchants or well-armed knights. Not only roads, but even
streets were unsafe at night; and after the sun had set he who had gone
about freely and carelessly during the day, remained at home or ventured
out with much caution. When armies camped about her walls, the city was
doubtless much occupied with outside happenings. But when the camp broke
up and war was far away, her shoemaker made his shoes, her goldsmith,
fine chains and trinkets, her merchants traded in the market-place.
Their interests were in street brawls, romancings, new "privileges," the
work or the feast of the day--in a word town-topics. Yet being as other
men, the burghers also were awakened by the energy of the age, and
instead of wasting it in adventures and wars, their interest took the
form of an intense local pride, narrow, but with elements of grandeur,
seldom selfish, but civic.

This absence of the personal element is nowhere better illustrated than
in Cathedral building. Of all the really great men who planned the
Cathedrals of France, almost nothing is known; and by searching, little
can be found out. Who can give a dead date, much less a living fact,
concerning the life of that Gervais who conceived the great Gothic
height of Narbonne? Who can tell even the name of him who planned the
sombre, battlemented walls of Agde, or of that great man who first saw
in poetic vision the delicate choir of Saint-Nazaire in Carcassonne?
Artists have a well-preserved personality,--cathedral-builders, none.
Robert of Luzarches who conceived the "Parthenon of all Gothic
architecture," and the man who planned stately Sens and the richness of
Canterbury, are as unknown to us as the quarries from which the stones
of their Cathedrals were cut. It is not the Cathedral built by Robert of
Luzarches belonging to Amiens, as it is the Assumption by Rubens
belonging to Antwerp. It is scarcely the Cathedral of its patron, Saint
Firmin. It is the Cathedral of Amiens.

[Illustration: "THE DELICATE CHOIR OF SAINT-NAZAIRE."--CARCASSONNE.]

We hear many learned disquisitions on the decay of the art of church
building. Lack of time in our rushing age, lack of patience, decline of
religious zeal, or change in belief, these are some of the popular
reasons for this architectural degeneracy. Strange as it may seem none
of these have had so powerful an influence as the invention of printing.
The first printing-press was made in the middle of the XV
century,--after the conception of the great Cathedrals. In an earlier
age, when the greatest could neither read nor write and manuscripts even
in monasteries were rare, sculpture and carving were the layman's books,
and Cathedrals were not only places of worship, they were the
people's religious libraries where literature was cut in stone.

In the North, the most unique form of this literature was the drama of
the Breton Calvaries, which portrayed one subject and one only,--the
"Life and Passion of Christ," taken from Prophecy, Tradition, and the
Gospels. Cathedrals, both North and South, used the narrative form. They
told story after story; and their makers showed an intimate knowledge of
Biblical lore that would do credit to the most ardent theological
student. At Nîmes, by no means the richest church in carvings, there are
besides the Last Judgment and the reward of the Evil and the
Righteous,--which even a superficial Christian should know,--many of the
stories of the Book of Genesis. At Arles, there is the Dream of Jacob,
the Dream of Joseph, the Annunciation, the Nativity, Purification,
Massacre of the Innocents, the Flight into Egypt; almost a Bible in
stone. In these days of books and haste few would take the trouble to
study such sculptured tales. But their importance to the unlettered
people of the Middle Ages cannot be overestimated; and the incentive to
magnificence of artistic conception was correspondingly great.

The main era of Cathedral building is the same all over France. But with
the general date, all arbitrary parallel between North and South
abruptly ends. The North began the evolution of the Gothic, a new form
indigenous to its soil; the South continued the Romanesque, her
evolution of a transplanted style, and long knew no other. She had grown
accustomed to give northward,--not to receive; and it was the reign of
Saint Louis before she began to assimilate the architectural ideas of
the Isle de France and to build in the Gothic style, it was admiration
for the newer ideals which led the builders of the South to change such
of their plans as were not already carried out, and to try with these
foreign and beautiful additions, to give to their churches the most
perfect form they could conceive.

And thus, from a web of Fate, in which, as in all destinies, is the
spinning of many threads, came the Cathedrals and Cloisters of the
South. Are they greater than those of the North? Are they inferior to
them? It is best said, "Comparison is idle." Who shall decide between
the fir-trees and the olives--between the beautiful order of a northern
forest and the strange, astounding luxuriance of the southern tangle?
Which is the better choice--the well-told tale of the Cathedrals of the
North, with their procession of kingly visitors, or the almost untold
story of the Cathedrals of the South, where history is still legend,
tradition, romance--the story of fanatic fervour and still more fanatic
hate?

[Illustration: A CLOISTER OF THE SOUTH.--ELNE.]



II.

ARCHITECTURE IN PROVENCE, LANGUEDOC, AND GASCONY.


No better place can be found than the Mediterranean provinces to
consider the origins of the earliest southern style. Here Romanesque
Cathedrals arose in the midst of the vast ruins of Imperial antiquity,
here they developed strange similarities to foreign styles, domes
suggesting the East, Greek motives recalling Byzantium, and details
reminiscent of Syria. And here is the battle-field for that great army
who decry or who defend Roman influences. Some would have us believe
that the Romanesque dome is expatriated from the East; others, that it
is naturalised; others, that it is native. The plan of the Romanesque
dome differs very much from that of the Byzantine, yet the general
conception seems Eastern. If conceivable in the Oriental mind, why not
in that of the West? And yet, in spite of some native peculiarities of
structure, why should not the general idea have been imported? Who shall
decide? In a book such as this, mooted questions which involve such
multitudinous detail and such unprovable argument cannot be discussed.

It is unreasonable to doubt, however, that Roman influences dominated
the South, herself a product of Roman civilisation; and as in the
curious ineradicable tendency of the South toward heresy we more than
suspect a subtle infiltration of Greek and Oriental perversions, so in
architecture it is logical to infer that Mediterranean traders,
Crusaders, and perhaps adventurous architects who may have travelled in
their wake, brought rumours of the buildings of the East, which were
adopted with original or necessary modifications. Viollet-le-Duc, in
summing up this much discussed question, has written that "in the
Romanesque art of the West, side by side with persistent Latin
traditions, a Byzantine influence is almost always found, evidenced by
the introduction of the cupola." In the lamentable absence of records of
the majority of Cathedrals, reasonings of origin must be inductive, and
more or less imaginative, and have no legitimate place in the scope of a
book which aims to describe the existing conditions and proven history
of southern Cathedrals.

[Illustration: A ROMANESQUE AISLE.--ARLES.]

Quicherat, who has had much to say upon architectural subjects, defines
the Romanesque as an art "which has ceased to be Roman, although it has
much that is Roman, and that is not yet Gothic, although it already
presages the Gothic." This is not a very helpful interpretation.
Romanesque, as it exists in France to-day, is generally of earlier
building than the Gothic; it is an older and far simpler style. It was
not a quick, brilliant outburst, like the Gothic, but a long and slow
evolution; and it has therefore deliberation and dignity, not the
spontaneity of northern creations; strength, and at times great vigour,
but not munificence, not the lavishness of art and wealth and adornment,
of which the younger style was prodigal. Few generalisations are
flawless, but it may be truly said that Romanesque Cathedrals are
lacking in splendour; and it will be found in a large majority of cases
that they are also without the impressiveness of great size; that they
are almost devoid of shapely windows or stained glass, of notable
carvings or richness of decorative detail. Their art is a simple art, a
sober art, and in its nearest approach to opulence--the sculptured
portals of Saint-Trophime of Arles or Saint-Gilles-de-Languedoc--there
is still a reserved rather than an exuberant and uncontrolled display of
wealth.

[Illustration: "THE SCULPTURED PORTALS OF SAINT-TROPHIME."--ARLES.]

By what simple, superficial sign can this architecture be recognised by
those who are to see it for the first time? It exists "everywhere and
always" in southern France; but, side by side with the encroachments
and additions of other styles, how can it be easily distinguished?
Quicherat writes that the principal characteristic of the Romanesque is
"la voûte," and the great, rounded tunnel of the roofing is a
distinction which will be found in no other form. But the easiest of
superficial distinctions is the arch-shape, which in portal, window,
vaulting or tympanum is round; wherever the arcaded form is
used,--always round. With this suggestion of outline, and the universal
principles of the style, simplicity and dignity and absence of great
ornamentation, the untechnical traveller may distinguish the Romanesque
of the South, and if he be akin to the traveller who tells these
Cathedral tales, the interest and fascination which the old architecture
awakes, will lead him to discover for himself the many differences which
are evident between the ascetic strength of the one, and the splendour
and brilliance of the other.


[Sidenote: Provence.]

[Illustration: A GOTHIC AISLE.--MENDE.]

The three provinces which compose the South of France are Provence,
Languedoc, and Gascony, and of these Provence is, architecturally and
historically, the first to claim our interest. During the era of
colonisation it was the most thoroughly romanised, and in the early
centuries of Christianity the first to fall completely under the
systematic organisation of the Church. It has a large group of very old
Cathedrals, and is the best study-ground for a general scrutiny and
appreciation of that style which the builders of the South assimilated
and developed until, as it were, they naturalised it and made it one
of the two greatest forms of architectural expression. Provence does not
contain the most impressive examples of Romanesque. Two Abbeys of the
far Norman North are more finished and harmonious representations of the
art, and Languedoc, in the basilica of Saint-Sernin of Toulouse, has a
nobler interior than any in the Midi, and many other churches of
Languedoc and Gascony are most interesting examples of a style which
belonged to them as truly as to Provence.

Yet it is in this province that the Romanesque is best studied. For here
the great internecine struggles--both political and religious--of the
Middle Ages were not as devastating as in Languedoc and Gascony;
Provence was a sunny land, where Sonnets flourished more luxuriantly
than did Holy Inquisition. Her churches have therefore been preserved in
their original form in greater numbers than those of the two other
provinces. They are of all types of Romanesque, all stages of its
growth, from the small and simple Cathedrals which were built when
ecclesiastical exchequers were not overflowing, to the greater ones
which illustrate very advanced and dignified phases of architectural
development; and as a whole they exhibit the normal proportion of
failure and success in an effort toward an ideal.


[Sidenote: Languedoc.]

Léon Renier, the learned lecturer of the Collège de France, says: "It is
remarkable that the changes, the elaborations, the modifications of the
architecture given by Rome to all countries under her domination were
conceived in the provinces long before they were reproduced in Italy.
Rome gave no longer; she received ... a transfusion of a new blood, more
vital and more rich." In Languedoc, the greater number of monuments of
this ancient architecture have been destroyed; and those of their
outgrowth, the later Romanesque, were so repeatedly mutilated that the
Cathedrals of this province present even a greater confusion of
originalities, restorations, and additions than those of Provence. To a
multitude of dates must be added corresponding differences in style.
Each school of architecture naturally considered that it had somewhat of
a monopoly of good taste and beauty, or at least that it was an
improvement on the manner which preceded it; and it would have been too
much to expect, in ages when anachronisms were unrecognised, that
churches should have been restored in their consonant, original style.
Architects of the Gothic period were unable to resist the temptation of
continuing a Romanesque nave with a choir of their own school, and
builders of the XVIII century went still further and added a showy Louis
XV façade to a modest Romanesque Cathedral. Some churches, built in
times of religious storm and stress, show the preoccupation of their
patrons or the lack of talent of their constructors; others belong to
Bishoprics that were much more lately constituted than the Sees of
Provence, and in these cases the new prelate chose a church already
begun or completed, and compromised with the demands of episcopal pomp
by an addition, usually of different style. The numerous changes,
political and religious, of the Mediævalism of Languedoc, had such
considerable and diverse influence on the architecture of the
province that it is not possible, as in Provence, to trace an
uninterrupted evolution of one style. The Languedocian is generally a
later builder than the Provençal; he is bolder. Having the Romanesque
and the Gothic as choice, he chose at will and seemingly at random. He
had spontaneity, enthusiasm, verve; and when no accepted model pleased
his taste, he re-created after his own liking. Languedoc has therefore a
delightful quality that is wanting in Provence; and in her greater
Cathedrals there is often an originality that is due to genius rather
than to eccentricity. There is delicate Gothic at Carcassonne, lofty
Gothic at Narbonne, Sainte-Cécile of Albi is fortified Gothic built in
brick. The interior of Saint-Sernin of Toulouse is an apotheosis of the
austere Romanesque, and Saint-Etienne of Agde is a gratifying type of
the Maritime Church of the Midi.

[Illustration: "CORRESPONDING DIFFERENCES IN STYLE."--CARCASSONNE.]

This Cathedral of the Sea is a fitting example of a peculiar type of
architecture which exists also in Provence,--a succession of
fortress-churches that extend along the Mediterranean from Spain to
Italy like the peaks of a mountain chain. Nothing can better illustrate
the continuous warrings and raidings in the South of France than these
strange churches, and their many fortified counterparts inland, in both
Languedoc and Gascony. Castles and walled towns were not sufficient to
protect the Southerner from invasions and incursions; his churches and
Cathedrals, even to the XIV century, were strongholds, more suitable for
men-at-arms than for priests, and seemingly dedicated to some war-god
rather than to the gentle Virgin Mother and the Martyr-Saints under
whose protection they nominally dwelt.

Although most interesting, the military church of the interior is seldom
the Bishop's church. The maritime church on the contrary is nearly
always a Cathedral, with strangely curious legends and episodes. The
French coast of the Mediterranean was the scene of continuous pillage.
Huns, Normans, Moors, Saracens, unknown pirates and free-booters of all
nationalities found it very lucrative and convenient to descend on a
sea-board town, and escape as they had come, easily, their boats loaded
with booty. "As late as the XII century," writes Barr Ferree,
"buccaneers gained a livelihood by preying on the peaceful and
unoffending inhabitants of the villages and cities. The Cathedrals, as
the most important buildings and the most conspicuous, were strongly
fortified, both to protect their contents and to serve as strongholds
for the citizens in case of need. In these churches, therefore,
architecture assumed its most utilitarian form and buildings are real
fortifications, with battlemented walls, strong and heavy towers, and
small windows, and are provided with the other devices of Romanesque
architecture of a purely military type."

[Illustration: "FORTIFIED GOTHIC BUILT IN BRICK."--ALBI.]

"Time has dealt hardly with them. The kingly power, being entrenched in
Paris, developed from the Isle de France. The wealth that once enriched
the fertile lands of the South moved northwards, and the great
commercial cities of the North became the most important centres of
activity. Then the southern towns began to decline," and the
buildings which remain to represent most perfectly the "Church-Fortress"
are not those of Provence, which are "patched" and "restored," but those
of Languedoc, Agde, and Maguelonne, and Elne of the near-by country of
Rousillon.

[Illustration: "A CHURCH FORTRESS."--MAGUELONNE.]


[Sidenote: Gascony.]

Gascony, the last of the southern provinces and the farthest from Rome,
had great prosperity under Imperial dominion. Many patricians emigrated
there, roads were built, commerce flourished, and as in Provence and
Languedoc, towns grew into large and well-established cities.
Christianity made a comparatively early conquest of the province; and
at the beginning of the IV century, eleven suffragan Bishoprics had been
established under the Archbishopric of Eauze. Gascony has many old
Cathedral cities, and has had many ancient Cathedrals; but after the
fall of the Roman Empire in the V century, a series of wars began which
destroyed not only the Christian architecture, but almost every trace of
Roman wealth and culture. Little towers remain, supposed shrines of
Mercury, protector of commerce and travel; pieces of statues are found;
but the Temples, the Amphitheatres, the Forums, have disappeared, and
even more completely, the rude Christian churches of that early period.

Although the province has no Mediterranean coast and could not be
molested by the marauders of that busy sea, it lay directly upon the
route of armies between France and Spain; and it is no "gasconading" to
say that it was for centuries one of the greatest battle-fields of the
South. Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, Saracens, Normans,--Gascons against
Carlovingians, North against South, all had burned, raided, and
destroyed Gascony before the XI century. It is not surprising, then,
that there are found fewer traces of antiquity here than in Provence and
Languedoc. Even the few names of decimated cities which survived,
designated towns on new sites. Eauze, formerly on the Gélise, lay long
in ruins, and was finally re-built a kilometre inland. Lectoure and Auch
had long since retired from the river Gers and taken refuge on the hills
of their present situations, while other cities fell into complete ruin
and forgetfulness.

[Illustration: STATELY GOTHIC SPLENDOUR.--CONDOM.]

The year 1000, which followed these events, was that of the predicted
and expected end of the world. The extravagances of Christians at that
time are well known, the gifts of all property that were made to the
Church, the abandonment of worldly pursuits, the terrors of many, the
anxiety of the calmest, the emotional excesses which led people to live
in trees that they might be near to heaven when the "great trump" should
sound,--"Mundi fine appropinquante." But the trumpet did not sound, and
Raoul Glaber, a monk of the XI century, writes that all over Italy and
the Gaul of his day there was great haste to restore and re-build
churches, a general rivalry between towns and between countries, as to
which could build most remarkably. "This activity," says Quicherat, "may
show a desire to renew alliance with the Creator." It certainly proves
that the generation of the year 1000 had fresh and new architectural
ideas.

This was the period of recuperation and re-building for Gascony. The
monks of the VIII, IX, and X centuries had devoted themselves with zeal
and success to the cultivation of the soil. They had acquired fertile
fields, and desiring peace, they had placed themselves in positions
where their strength would defend them when their holy calling was not
respected. These monasteries were places of refuge and soon gave their
name and their protection to the towns and villages which began to
cluster about them. Except the declining settlements of Roman days,
Gascony had few towns in the X century; and many of her most important
cities of to-day owe their foundation, their existence, and their
prosperity to these Benedictine monasteries. Eauze regained its life
after the establishment of a convent, and in the XI, XII, and XIII
centuries, the Abbots of Cîteaux, Bishops, and even lords of the laity,
occupied themselves in the creation of new cities. Many of the towns of
mediæval creation possessed broad municipal and commercial privileges,
they grew to the importance of "communes" and Bishoprics, and some even
styled themselves "Republics."

Although these were times of much re-building, restoring, and carrying
out of older plans of ecclesiastical architecture, the XI and XII
centuries were none the less filled with innumerable private wars, and
in 1167 began the bloody and persistent struggle with England. The city
of Aire was at one time reduced to twelve inhabitants, and the horrors
of the mediæval siege were more than once repeated. In these wars,
Cathedrals, as well as towns and their inhabitants, were scarred and
wounded. Hardly had these dissensions ended in 1494, when the Wars of
Religion commenced under Charles IX, and Gascony was again one of the
most terrible fields of battle. Here the demoniac enthusiasm of both
sides exceeded even the terrible exhibitions of Languedoc. The royal
family of Navarre was openly Protestant and contributed more than any
others to the military organisations of their Faith. Jeanne d'Albret, in
1566, wishing to repay intolerance with intolerance, forbade religious
processions and church funerals in Navarre. The people rose, and the
next year the Queen was forced to grant toleration to both religions.
Later the King of France entered the field and sent an army against the
Béarnaise Huguenots, Jeanne, in reprisal, called to her aid Montmorency;
and with a thoroughness born of pious zeal and hatred, each army began
to burn and kill. All monasteries, all churches, were looted by the
Protestants; all cities taken by Montluc, head of the Catholics, were
sacked. Tarbes was devastated by the one, Rabestans by the other, and
the Cathedral of Pamiers was ruined. With the Massacre of Saint
Bartholomew, in 1572, the struggle began again, and the League
flourished in all its malign enthusiasm. "Such disorder as was
introduced," says a writer of the period, "such pillage, has never been
seen since war began. Officers, soldiers, followers, and volunteers were
so overburdened with booty as to be incommoded thereby. And after this
brigandage, the peasants hereabouts [Bigorre] abandoned their very farms
from lack of cattle, and the greater number went into Spain."

During long centuries of such religious and political devastation the
architectural energy of Gascony was expended in replacing churches which
had been destroyed, and were again to be destroyed or injured. It would
be unfair to expect of this province the great magnificence which its
brave, cheerful, and extravagant little people believe it "once
possessed," or to look, amid such unrest, for the calm growth of any
architectural style. It is a country of few Cathedrals, of curious
churches built for war and prayer, and of such occasional outbursts of
magnificence as is seen in the Romanesque portal of Saint-Pierre of
Moissac and in the stately Gothic splendour of the Cathedrals at Condom
and at Bayonne. It is a country where Cathedrals are surrounded by the
most beautiful of landscapes, and where each has some legend or story of
the English, the League, of the Black Prince, or the Lion-hearted, of
Henry IV, still adored, or of Simon de Montfort, still execrated, where
the towns are truly historic and the mountains truly grand.



Provence.



I.

THE CATHEDRALS OF THE SEA.


[Sidenote: Marseilles.]

Perhaps a Phoenician settlement, certainly a Carthaginian mart, later a
Grecian city, and in the final years of the pagan era possessed by the
Romans, no city of France has had more diverse influences of antique
civilisation than Marseilles, none responded more proudly to its ancient
opportunities; and not only was it commercially wealthy and renowned,
but so rich in schools that it was called "another, a new Athens." It
was also the port of an adventurous people, who founded Nice, Antibes,
la Ciotat, and Agde, and explored a part of Africa and Northern Europe;
and at the fall of the Roman Empire it became, by very virtue of its
riches and safe harbour, the envy and the prey of a succession of
barbaric and "infidel" invaders. In the Middle Ages it had all the
vicissitudes of wars and sieges to which a great city could be
subjected. It had a Viscount, and from very early days, a Bishop; it was
at one time part of the Kingdom of Arles; and later it recognised the
suzerainty of the Counts of Provence. When these lords were warring or
crusading, it took advantage of their absence or their troubles and
governed itself through its Consuls; became a Provençal Republic after
the type of the Italian cities and other towns of the Mediterranean
country; treated with the Italian Republics on terms of perfect
equality; and although finally annexed to France by the wily Louis of
the Madonnas, its people were continually haunted by memories of their
former independence, and not only struggled for municipal rights and
liberties, but took sides for or against the most powerful monarchs of
continental history as if they had been a resourceful country rather
than a city. It succored the League, defied Henry IV and Richelieu; and
treating Kings in trouble as cavalierly as declining Counts, Marseilles
tried at the death of Henry III to secede from France and recover its
autonomy under a Consul, Charles de Cazaulx. Promptly defeated, it still
continued to think independently, and struggle, as best it might, for
freedom of administration; and although from the time of Pompey to that
of Louis XIV it has had an ineradicable tendency to stand against the
government, it has survived the results of all its contumacies, its
plagues, wars, and sieges, and the destructiveness of its phase of the
Revolution, when it had a Terror of its own. Notwithstanding modern
rivals in the Mediterranean, Marseilles is to-day one of the largest and
most prosperous of French cities. Built in amphitheatre around the bay,
it is beautiful in general view, its streets bustle with commercial
activity, and its vast docks swarm with workmen. The storms of the past
have gone over Marseilles as the storms of nature over its sea, have
been as passionate, and have left as little trace. Instead of Temples,
Forum, and Arena, there are the Palais de Longchamps, the Palais de
Justice, and the Christian Arch of Triumph. Instead of the muddy and
unhealthy alley-ways of Mediævalism, there are broad streets and wide
boulevards, and in spite of its antiquity Marseilles is a city of
to-day, in monuments, aspect, spirit, and even in class distinction.
"Here," writes Edmond About, "are only two categories of people, those
who have made a fortune and those who are trying to make one, and the
principal inhabitants are parvenus in the most honourable sense of the
word."

[Illustration: _Entrevaux._

People gather around the mail-coach as it makes its daily halt before
the drawbridge.]

[Illustration: THE NEW CATHEDRAL.--MARSEILLES.]

"In the most honourable sense of the word," the Cathedral of Marseilles
is also typical of the city, "parvenue." Its first stone was placed by
Prince Louis Napoleon in 1852, and as the modern has overgrown the
classic and mediæval greatness of Marseilles, so the new "Majeure" has
eclipsed, if it has not yet entirely replaced, the old Cathedral; and
except the stern Abbey-church of Saint-Victor, an almost solitary relic
of true mediæval greatness, it is the finest church of the city.

The new Cathedral and the old stand side by side; the one strong and
whole, the other partly torn down, scarred and maimed as a veteran who
has survived many wars. Even in its ruin, it is an interesting type of
the maritime Provençal church, but so pitiably overshadowed by its
successor that the charm of its situation is quite lost, and few will
linger to study its three small naves, the defaced fresco of the dome,
or even the little chapel of Saint-Lazare, all white marble and carving
and small statues, scarcely more than a shallow niche in the wall, but
daintily proportioned, and a charming creation of the Renaissance. Fewer
still of those who pause to study what remains of the old "Majeure,"
will stay to reconstruct it as it used to be, and realise that it had
its day of glory no less real than that of the new church which replaces
it. In its stead, Saint-Martin's, and Saint-Cannat's sometimes called
"the Preachers," have been temporarily used for the Bishop's services.
But now that the greater church, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, has been practically completed, it has assumed, once and for all,
the greater rank, and a Cathedral of Marseilles still stands on its
terrace in full view of the sea. Tradition has it that a Temple of Baal
once stood on this site and later, a Temple to Diana; that Lazarus came
in the I century, converted the pagan Marseillais and built a Christian
Cathedral here. A more critical tradition says that Saint Victor first
came as missionary, Bishop, and builder. All these vague memories of
conversion, more or less accurate, all the legends of an humble and
struggling Christianity, seem buried by this huge modern mass. It is not
a church struggling and militant, but the Church Established and
Triumphant. It is a vast building over four hundred and fifty feet long,
preceded by two domed towers. Its transepts are surmounted at the
crossing by a huge dome whose circumference is nearly two hundred feet,
a smaller one over each transept arm, and others above the apsidal
chapels. The exterior is built with alternate layers of green Florentine
stone and the white stone of Fontvieille; and the style of the church,
variously called French Romanesque, Byzantine, and Neo-Byzantine, is
very oriental in its general effect.

An arcade between the two towers forms a porch, the entrance to the
interior whose central nave stretches out in great spaciousness. The
lateral naves, in contrast, are exceedingly narrow and have high
galleries supported by large monolithic columns. These naves are
prolonged into an ambulatory, each of whose chapels, in consonance with
the Cathedral's colossal proportions, is as large as many a church. The
building stone of the interior is grey and pink, with white marble used
decoratively for capitals and bases; and these combinations of tints
which would seem almost too delicate, too effeminate, for so large a
building, are made rich and effective by their very mass, the gigantic
sizes which the plan exacts. All that artistic conception could produce
has been added to complete an interior that is entirely oriental in its
luxury of ornamentation, half-oriental in style, and without that sober
majesty which is an inherent characteristic of the most elaborate styles
native to Western Christianity. Under the gilded dome is a rich
baldaquined High Altar, and through the whole church there is a
magnificence of mosaics, of mural paintings, and of stained glass that
is sumptuous. Mosaics line the arches of the nave and the pendentives,
and form the flooring; and in the midst of this richness of colour the
grey pillars rise, one after the other in long, shadowy perspective,
like the trees of a stately grove.

In planning this new Provençal Cathedral its architects did not attempt
to reproduce, either exactly or in greater perfection, any maritime type
which its situation on the Mediterranean might have suggested, nor were
they inspired by any of the models of the native style; and perhaps, to
the captious mind, its most serious defect is that its building has
destroyed not only an actual portion of the old Majeure, but an historic
interest which might well have been preserved by a wise restoration or
an harmonious re-building. And yet, with the large Palace of the
Archbishop on the Port de la Joliette near-by, the statue of a devoted
and loving Bishop in the open square, and the majestic Cathedral of
Sainte-Marie-Majeure itself, the episcopacy of Marseilles has all the
outward and visible signs of strength and glory and power.


[Sidenote: Toulon.]

Toulon, although a foundation of the Romans, owes its rank to-day to
Henry IV, to Richelieu, and to Louis XIV's busy architect, Vauban. It is
the "Gibraltar of France," a bright, bustling, modern city.
Sainte-Marie-Majeure, one of its oldest ecclesiastical names, is a title
which belonged to churches of both the XI and XII centuries; but in the
feats of architectural gymnastics to which their remains have been
subjected, and in the wars and vicissitudes of Provence, these buildings
have long since disappeared.

A few stones still exist of the XI century structure, void of form or
architectural significance, and the ancient name of Sainte-Marie-Majeure
now protects a Cathedral built in the most depressing style of the
industrious Philistines of the XVII and XVIII centuries. It is not a
Provençal nor a truly "maritime" church, it is not a fortress nor a
defence, nor a work of any architectural beauty. It has blatancy, size,
pretension,--a profusion of rich incongruities; and although religiously
interesting from its chapels and shrines, it is architecturally
obtrusive and monstrous.

The vagaries of the architects who began in 1634 to construct the
present edifice, are well illustrated in the changes of plan to which
they subjected this unfortunate church. The length became the breadth,
the isolated chapel of the Virgin, part of the main building; the choir,
another chapel; and the High Altar was removed from the eastern to the
northern end, where a new choir had been built for its reception. This
confusion of plan was carried out with logical confusion of style and
detail. The façade has Corinthian columns of the XVII century; the nave
is said to be "transition Gothic," the choir is decorated with mural
paintings, and the High Altar, a work of Révoil, adds to the banalities
of the XVII and XVIII centuries a rich incongruity of which the XIX has
no reason to be proud. The whole interior is so full of naves of unequal
length, and radiating chapels, of arches of differing forms, tastes, and
styles, that it defies concise description and is unworthy of serious
consideration. Provence has modest Cathedrals of small architectural
significance, but except Sainte-Réparate of Nice, it has none so chaotic
and commonplace as Sainte-Marie-Majeure of Toulon.


[Sidenote: Fréjus.]

Fréjus, which claims to be "the oldest city in France," was one of the
numerous trading ports of the Phoenician, and later, during the period
of her civic grandeur, an arsenal of the Roman navy. Her most
interesting ruins are the Coliseum, the Theatre, the old Citadel, and
the Aqueduct, suggestions of a really great city of the long-gone past.
Fréjus lost prestige with the decadence of the Empire, and after a
destruction by the Saracens in the X century, Nature gave the blow which
finally crushed her when the sea retreated a mile, and her old Roman
light-house was left to overlook merely a long stretch of barren, sandy
land. Owing to this stranded, inland position, she has escaped both the
dignity of a modern sea-port and the prostitution of a Rivieran resort,
and is a little dead city, the seat of an ancient Provençal "Cathedral
of the Sea." This Cathedral is largely free from XVII and XVIII century
disfigurements; and the pity is that having escaped this, a French
church's imminent peril, it should have become so built around that the
character of the exterior is almost lost. The façade is severely plain,
an uninteresting re-building of 1823, but the carved wood of its portals
is beautiful. The towers, as in other maritime Cathedrals of Provence,
recall the perils and dangers of their days; and these towers of Fréjus,
although none the less practically defensive, have a more churchly
appearance than those of Antibes, Grasse, and Vence. Over the vestibuled
entrance rises the western tower. Its heavy, rectangular base is the
support of a super-structure which was replaced in the XVI century by
one more in keeping with conventional ecclesiastical models. Then the
windows of the base, whose rounded arches are still traceable, were
walled in; and the new octagonal stage with high windows of its own was
completed by a tile-covered spire. The more interesting tower is that
which surmounts the apse. This was the lookout, facing the sea, the
really vital defence of the church. Its upper room was a storage place
for arms and ammunition, and on the side which faces the city was open,
with a broad, pointed arch. Above, the tower ends in machiolated
battlements and presents a very strong and stern front seaward, perhaps
no stronger, but more artistic and grim than towers of other Provençal
Cathedrals.

The entrance of the church is curiously complicated. To the left is the
little baptistery; directly before one, a narrow stairway which leads to
the Cloister; and on the right, a low-arched vestibule which opens into
the nave of the Cathedral. The interior of Saint-Etienne is dark and
somewhat gloomy, but that is an inherent trait of a fortress-church, for
every added inch of window-opening brought an ell of danger. The nave is
unusually low and broad, and its buttressed piers are of immense weight,
ending severely in a plain, moulded band. On these great piers rest the
cross-vaults of the roof and the broad arches of the wall. The north
aisle, disproportionately narrow, is a later addition. Behind the altar
is a true Provençal apse, shallow and rectangular, and beyond its
rounded roof opens the smaller half-dome. Architecturally, this is an
interesting interior; but the traveller who has not time to spend in
musings will fail to see it in its original intention;--cold, severely
plain, heavy, with perhaps too many arch-lines, but sober and simple. A
futile wooden wainscot now surrounds the church and breaks its wall
space, liberal coats of whitewash conceal the building material, and
taking from the church the severity of its stone, give it an appearance
of poor deprecatory bareness.

[Illustration: "THE DESECRATION OF THE LITTLE CLOISTER."--FRÉJUS.]

Near the entrance of the Cathedral is its most ancient portion, the
baptistery, formerly a building apart, but now an integral part of the
church itself. It is perhaps the most interesting Christian monument in
Fréjus, a reminder of those early centuries when, in France as in Italy,
the little baptistery was the popular form of Christian architectural
expression. Here it has the very usual octagonal shape; the arches are
upheld by grayish columns of granite with capitals of white marble, and
in the centre stands the font. Between the columns are small
recesses, alternately rectangular and semi-domed, and above all, is a
modern dome and lantern. Structurally interesting, and reminiscent of
the stately baptistery of Aix, the effect of this little chamber, like
the church's interior, is marred by the whitewashes from whose
industrious brushes nothing but the grayish columns have escaped. And
here again, the traveller who would see the builders' work, free from
the disfigurements of time, must pause and imagine.

Yet even imagination seems powerless before the desecration of the
little Cloister. Charming it must have been to have entered its quiet
walks, with their slender columns of white marble, to have seen the
quaint old well in the little, sun-lit close. Now, between the slender
columns, boards have been placed which shut out light and sun. The
traveller sat down on an old wheel-barrow, waiting till he could see in
the dim and misty light. All around him was forgetfulness of the
Cloister's holy uses; signs of desecration and neglect. One end of the
cloister-walk was a thoroughfare, where the wheel-barrow had worn its
weary way; and even in the deserted corners there was the dust and dirt
of a work-a-day world. The beautiful little capitals of the slender
columns rose from among the boards, clipped and worn; above, he dimly
saw the curious wooden ceiling which would seem to have taken the place
of the usual stone vaulting; through chinks of the plank-wall he caught
glimpses of a little close; and at length, having seen the most
melancholy of "Cathedrals of the Sea," in its disguise of whitewash,
decay, and misuse, he went his way.


[Sidenote: Antibes.]

That part of the southern coast of France called the Riviera seems now
only to evoke visions of the most beautiful banality; of a life more
artificial than the stage--which at least aims to present
reality--transplanted to a scene of such incomparable loveliness that
Nature herself adds a new and exquisite sumptuousness to the luxury of
civilisation. The Riviera means a land of many follies and every
vice;--each folly so delicious, each vice so regal, they seem to be
sought and desired of all men. Where else can be seen in such careless
magnificence Dukes of Russia with their polish of manner and their
veiled insolence; Englishmen correct and blasé; Americans a bit
vociferous and truly amused; great ladies of all ages and manners;
adventurers high and low; and the beautiful, sparkling women of no name,
bravely dressed and barbarously jewelled? Such is the Riviera of to-day;
the life imposed upon it by hordes of foreign idlers in a land whose
warmth and luxuriance may have lent itself but too easily to the vicious
and frivolous pleasures for which they have made it notorious, but a
land which has no native history that is effeminate, nor any so unworthy
as its exotic present. "The Riviera" may be Nice, Beaulieu, and their
like, but the Provençal Mediterranean and its neighbouring territory
have been the fatherland of warriors in real mail and of princes of real
power, of the Emperor Pertinax of pagan times, of those who fought
successfully against Mahmoud and Tergament, and of many Knights of
Malta, long the "Forlorn Hope" of Christendom.

Discreetly hidden from vulgar eyes that delight in the architecture of the
modern caravanserai, are the ruins of these older days--Amphitheatres,
Fountains, Temples, and Aqueducts of the Romans; the Castles, Abbeys,
and Cathedrals of mediæval times. Here are the larger number, if not the
most interesting, of those curious churches of the sea, which protected
the French townsman of the Mediterranean coast from the rapacity of
sea-rovers and pirates, and many more orthodox enemies of the Middle Ages.

From the great beauty of its situation, the small city of Antibes is
at once a type of the old régime and of the new. Lying on the sea,
with a background of snow-capped mountains, it has not entirely
escaped the fate of Nice; neither has it yet lost all its old
Provençal characteristics. It is a pathetic compromise between the
quaint reality of the old and the blatancy of the new. The little
parish church is of the very far past, having lost its Cathedral rank
over six hundred years ago to Sainte-Marie in Grasse, a town scarcely
younger than its own. It is the type of the church of this coast, with
its unpretentious smallness, its strength, and its disfiguring
restorations; and it is, especially in comparison with Vence and
Grasse, of small architectural interest. The façade, and the double
archway which connects the church and the tower, are of the
unfortunate XVIII century, the older exterior is monotonous, and the
interior, an unpleasing confusion of forms.

[Illustration: "THE MILITARY OMEN--THE TOWER." ANTIBES.]

The real interest of the little Cathedral is its ancient military
strength, neither very grand nor very imposing, but very real to the
enemy who hundreds of years ago hurled himself against the hard, plain
stones. From this view-point, the mannered façade and the inharmonious
interior matter but little. Toward the foe, whose sail might have arisen
on the horizon at any moment, the protecting church presented the heavy
rounded walls and safely narrowed windows of its three apses, and behind
them the military omen of the severe, rectangular tower. High in every
one of its four sides, seaward and landward, was a window, from which
many a watcher must have looked and strained anxious eyes. This is the
significance of the little sea-side Cathedral, this the story its tower
suggests. And now when the sea is sailed by peaceful ships, and the
Cathedral only a place of pious worship, the tower with its gaping
windows is the only salient reminder of the ancient dignity of the
church; the reminder to an indifferent generation of the days when
Antibes fulfilled to Christians the promise of her old, pagan name,
Antipolis, "sentinel" of the perilous sea.


[Sidenote: Nice.]

The situation of its Cathedral reveals a Nice of which but little is
written, the city of a people who live in the service of those whose
showy, new villas and hotels stretch along the promenades and lie dotted
on the hills in the Nice of "all the world." Besides this exotic city,
there is "the Nice of the Niçois," a small district of dark, crowded
streets that are too full of the sordid struggles of competing
work-people to be truly picturesque. Here, in the XVI century,
when the Citadel of Nice was enlarged and the Cathedral of
Sainte-Marie-de-l'Assomption destroyed, the Church of Sainte-Réparate
was re-built, and succeeded to the episcopal rank. Standing on a little
open square, surrounded by small shops and the poor homes of
trades-folk, it seems in every sense a church of the people. Here the
native Niçois, gay, industrious, mercurial, and dispossessed of his
town, may feel truly at home. Finished in the most exuberant rococo
style, it is an edifice from which all architectural or religious
inspiration is conspicuously absent. It is a revel of luxurious bad
taste; a Cathedral in Provence, a Cathedral by the Sea, but neither
Provençal nor Maritime,--rather a product of that Italian taste which
has so profoundly vitiated both the morals and the architecture of all
the Riviera.



II.

CATHEDRALS OF THE HILL-TOWNS.


[Sidenote: Carpentras.]

Carpentras is a busy provincial town, the terminus of three diminutive
railroads and of many little, lumbering, dust-covered stages. It stands
high on a hill, and from the boulevards, dusty promenades under
luxuriant shade-trees, which circle the town as its walls formerly did,
there is an extended view over the pretty hills and valleys of the
neighbouring country. At one end of the town the Hospital rises, an
immense, bare, and imposing edifice of the XVIII century, built by a
Trappist Bishop; and at the other is the Orange Gate, the last tower of
the old fortifications. Between these historic buildings and the
encircling boulevards are the narrow streets and irregular,
uninteresting buildings of the city itself. It is strange indeed that so
isolated a place, which seems only a big, bustling country-town, should
have been of importance in the Middle Ages, and that bits of its
stirring history must have caused all orthodox Europe to thrill with
horror. Stranger still would be the forgetfulness of modern writers, by
whom Carpentras is seldom mentioned, were it not that the city's real
history is that of the Church political, a story of strange manners and
happenings, rather than a step in the vital evolution towards our own
time.

In the Middle Ages Carpentras was an episcopal city, the capital of the
County Venaissin, governed by wealthy, powerful, and ambitious Bishops,
who took no small interest in worldly aggrandisement. Passing by gift to
the Papacy, after the sudden death of Clement V it was selected as the
place of the Conclave which was to elect his successor. The members were
assembled in the great episcopal Palace, when Bertrand de Goth, a nephew
of the dead Pope, claiming to be an ally of the French prelates against
the Italians in the Conclave, arrived from a successful looting of the
papal treasury at Montreux to pillage in Carpentras. He and his
mercenaries massacred the citizens and burned the Cathedral. The
episcopal Palace caught fire, and their Eminences--in danger of their
lives--were forced to squeeze their sacred persons through a hole which
their followers made in the Palace wall and fly northward.

This unfortunate raid left Carpentras with many ruins and a demolished
Cathedral, deserted by those in whose cause she had unwittingly
suffered. The new Pontiff was safely elected in Lyons, and upon his
return to the papal seat of Avignon he administered Carpentras by a
"rector," and it continued as it had been before, the political capital
of the County. During the reigns of succeeding Popes it was apparently
undisturbed by dangerous honours, until the accession of the Anti-Pope,
Benedict XIII. So great was this prelate's delight in the city that he
reserved to himself the minor title of her Bishop, re-built her walls,
and was the first patron of the present and very orthodox Cathedral,
Saint-Siffrein. By a curious destiny, the church had this false prelate
not only as its first patron, but as its first active supporter; and in
1404 he sent Artaud, Archbishop of Arles, in his name, to lay its first
stone.

Wars and rumours of wars soon possessed the province. Benedict fled, and
through unrest and lack of money the work of Cathedral building was
greatly hindered. In the meantime the ruins of the former Cathedral seem
to have been gradually disintegrating, and in 1829 the last of its
Cloister was destroyed, to be replaced by prison cells; and now only the
choir dome and a suggestion of the nave exist, partly forming the
present sacristy. From these meagre remains and from writings of the
time, it may be fairly inferred that Saint-Pierre was a Cathedral of the
type of Avignon and Cavaillon and the old Marseillaise Church of La
Majeure, and that, architecturally considered, it was a far more
important structure than Saint-Siffrein. With this depressing knowledge
in mind the traveller was confronted with a sight as depressing--the
present Cathedral itself.

Fortunately, churches of a period antedating the XVII century are seldom
so uninteresting. Nothing more meagre nor dreary can be conceived than
the façade with its three, poor, characterless portals. They open on a
large vaulted hall, with chapels in its six bays and a small and narrow
choir. The principal charm of the interior is negative; its dim misty
light, by concealing a mass of tasteless decorations and the poverty and
bareness of the whole architectural scheme, gives to the generous height
and size of the room an atmosphere of subdued and mysterious
spaciousness. The south door is the one bit of this Gothic which passes
the commonplace. Set in a poor, plain wall, the portal has a graceful
symmetry of design; and its few carved details, probably limited by the
artistic power of its builder, are so simple and chaste that they do not
inevitably suggest poverty of conception. The tympanum holds an exotic
detail, a defaced and insignificant fresco of the Coronation of the
Virgin; and on the pier which divides the door-way stands a very
charming statue of Our Lady of Snows, blessing those who enter beneath
her outstretched hands.

This simple portal, and indeed the whole church, is a significant
example of Provençal Gothic, a style so foreign to the genius of the
province that it could produce only feeble and attenuated examples of
the art. Compared with its northern prototypes, it is surprisingly
tentative; and awkward, unaccustomed hands seem to have built it after
most primitive conceptions.


[Sidenote: Digne.]

Well outside the Alpine city of Digne, and almost surrounded by graves,
stands a small and ancient church which is seldom opened except for the
celebration of Masses for the Dead. Coffin-rests stand always before the
altar, and enough chairs for the few that mourn. There are old
candlesticks for the tapers of the church's poor, and hidden in the
shadows of the doors, a few broken crosses that once marked graves,
placed, tenderly perhaps, above those who were alive some years ago and
who now rest forgotten; on battered wood, one can still read a baby's
age, an old man's record, and the letters R. I. P.

In this strange, melancholy destiny of Notre-Dame-du-Bourg there seems
to be a peculiar fitness. The mutability of time, forgetfulness, and at
length neglect, which death suggests, are brought to mind by this old
church. Once the Cathedral of Digne, but no longer Cathedral, it stands
almost alone in spite of its honours and its venerable age. After the
desecration by the Huguenots, its episcopal birthright was given to a
younger and a larger church; the city has moved away and clusters about
its new Cathedral, Saint-Jérome; and Notre-Dame-du-Bourg is no longer on
a busy street, but near the dusty high-road, amid the quiet of the
country and the hills.

Parts of its crypt and tower may antedate 900, but the church itself was
re-built in the XII and XIII centuries. The course of time has brought
none of the incongruities which have ruined many churches by the
so-called restorations of the last three hundred years, and although its
simple Romanesque is sadly unrepaired, it is a delight to come into the
solitude and find an unspoiled example of this stanch old style.

[Illustration: THE INTERIOR OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-BOURG.--DIGNE.]

The Romanesque shows forth its great solidity in the exterior of its
churches, and nowhere more than in Digne's deserted Cathedral. Flat
buttresses line the walls, the transepts are square and plain, and on
either side the façade wall is upheld by a formidable support. This
severity of line is not greatly modified by the deep recesses of a few
windows; nor is the tower--which lost its spire three hundred years
ago--of less sober construction, less solidly built. Below the
overhanging eaves of a miserable roof and the curious line of the nave
vault which projects through the wall, is a round window with a frame of
massive rolls and hollows; and below this again, under a narrow sloping
covering, is the deep arch of the Cathedral's porch. This, in its prime,
must have been the church's ornamental glory. Beneath the outer arch,
which is continued to the buttresses by half-arches, are the great
roll-mouldings that twist backward to a plain tympanum. Capitals still
support these massive curves of stone, but the niches in which the
columns formerly stood are empty, and grinning lions, lying on the
ground, no longer support the larger columns of the plain arch. All
stands in solemn decay.

The traveller entered a battered, brass-nailed door and saw before him
the stretch of a single, empty nave, a choir beneath whose lower vault
are three small windows, and on either side the archways which he knew
must lead to narrow transepts. In the south side, plain, rounded windows
give a glimmering light, and over each projects an arch, the modest
decoration of the walls. Far above rises the tunnel-vault, whose sheer
height is grandly dignified; the arches rest on roughly carved capitals,
and the outer rectangle of the piers is displaced for half a column. The
rehearsal of these most simple details seems but the writing of "the
letter which killeth," and not the portrayal of the spirit that seems to
live within these walls. Details which seem so poorly few when read, are
nobly so when seen. This small old church has a true religious
stateliness, and it seemed as if a priest should bring the
Sanctuary-light which says, "The Lord is in His holy temple."

Saint-Jérome was built between 1490 and 1500, a hundred years before its
episcopal elevation, and forms a most complete antithesis to
Notre-Dame-du-Bourg which it supplanted in 1591. Where Notre-Dame is
small, Saint-Jérome is large, where the old church is simple, the newer
one is either pretentious or sumptuous, and where the one is Romanesque,
the other is Gothic.

The present Cathedral stands on the heights of the city; and from one
side or another its clean, straight walls can be seen in all their large
angularity and absence of architectural significance. Towers rise
conventionally above the façade; and a big broad flight of white stone
steps leads to three modern portals that have been built in an
economical imitation of the sculptured richness of the XIII century.

The interior, also Gothic, has neither clerestory nor triforium, and its
naves are covered by a vaulting which springs broadly from the round,
supporting piers. The conception is not noble, it has no simplicity, and
no more of spiritual suggestion than a Madonna of Titian; but the space
of the nave is so largely generous and the new polychrome so richly
toned that the church has majesty of space and harmony, deep lights and
subdued colourings; it is large and sumptuous with the munificence of a
Veronese canvas, a singular and most curious contrast to the cold
severity of its outer walls.

[Illustration: "THE INTERIOR HAS NEITHER CLERESTORY NOR
TRIFORIUM."--DIGNE.]

Before the High Altar of this Church lies buried one whose spirit
suggests the Christ, a Bishop, yet a simple priest, whose life deserves
more words than does the whole of Saint-Jérome, once his
Cathedral-church. He was a Curé of Brignoles, one of those keen, yet
simple-hearted and hard-working priests who often bless Provençal towns.
He had no great ambitions, no patronage, no ties except a far-off
brother who was an upstart general of that most upstart Emperor,
Napoleon. One day while the priest was pottering in his little
garden,--as Provençal Curés love to dig and work,--a letter was handed
him, marked "thirty sous of postage due." He was outraged. His shining
old soutane fell from the folds in which he had prudently tucked it, he
shrugged his shoulders and protested,--"A great expense indeed for a
trivial purpose. Where should he find another thirty sous for his poor?
He never wrote letters. Therefore by no argument of any school of logic
could he be compelled to receive them. Obviously this was not for him."
The unexpected letter was one for which his brother had asked and which
Napoleon had signed, a decree which made him Bishop.

Long afterwards this simple, saintly prelate saved a man from crime, and
history relates that this same man died at Waterloo as a good and
faithful soldier fighting for the fatherland. His benefactor, that loyal
servant of Christ and His Church, soon followed him in death, and unlike
many a Saint whom this earth forgets his memory lives on, not only in
the little city of the snow-clad Alps, but in the hearts of those who
read of his good deeds. For Monseigneur Miollis of Digne is truly
Monseigneur Bienvenu of "Les Misérables," and only the soldier of
Waterloo was glorified in Jean Valjean.


[Sidenote: Forcalquier.]

If it is difficult to picture sleepy, stately Aix as one of the most
brilliant centres of mediæval Europe, and the garrisoned castle of
Tarascon filled with the gay courtiers and fair ladies of King René's
Court, it will be almost impossible to walk in the smaller Provençal
"cities," and see in imagination the cavalcades of mailed soldiers who
clattered through the streets on their way to the castle of some
near-by hill-top, my lord proudly distinguishable by his mount or the
length of his plume, a delicate Countess languishing between the
curtains of her litter, or a more sprightly one who rode her palfrey and
smiled on the staring townsfolk. It is almost impossible to conceive
that the four daughters of Raymond Bérenger, a Queen of the Romans, of
France, of Naples, and of England, were brought up in the castle of the
little hillside hamlet of Saint-Maime Dauphin. Provence is quiet, rural,
provincial; a land of markets, busy country inns, and farms; not of
modern greatness nor of modern renown. Its children are a fine and busy
race, no less strong and fine than in the land's more stirring times,
but they live their years of greatness in other, "more progressive"
parts of France, and the Provençal genius, which remains very native to
the soil, is broadly known to fame as "French." Like some rich old wine
hidden in the cellars of the few, Provence lies safely ensconced behind
Avignon and Arles, and only the epicures of history penetrate her hills.

Her mediæval ruins seem to belong to a past almost as dead and ghostly
as her Roman days, and to realise her Middle Ages, one must leave the
busy people in the town below, climb one of the hills, and sitting
beside the crumbling walls of some great tower or castle, watch the hot
sun setting behind the low mountains and lighting in a glow the bare
walls of some other ruined stronghold on a neighbouring height. The
shadows creep into the valleys, the rocks grow grey and cold, and the
clusters of trees beside them become darkly mysterious. Then far beneath
a white thread seems to appear, beginning at the valley's entrance and
twisting along its length until it disappears behind another hill. This
is the road; and by the time the eye has followed its long course,
daylight has grown fainter. Then Provence takes on a long-lost
splendour. To those who care to see, cavalcades of soldiers or of
hunters come home along the road, castles become whole and frowning, the
dying sun casts its light through their gaping window-holes, as light of
nightly revels used to shine, and a phantom Mediævalism appears.

One of the powerful families of the country, the Counts of Forcalquier,
sprang from the House of Bérenger in the XI century, and a hundred and
fifty years later, grown too great, were crushed by the haughty parent
house. More than one hill of Eastern Provence has borne their tall
watchtowers, more than one village owed them allegiance, and a large
town in the hills was their capital and bore their name. And yet not a
ruined tower that overlooks the Provençal mountains, not a village,
gate, or castle--Manosque or old Saint-Maime,--but speaks more vividly
of the old Counts than does Forcalquier, formerly their city, now a mere
country town which has lost prestige with its increasing isolation, many
of its inhabitants by plagues and wars, and almost all of its
picturesque Mediævalism through the destructiveness of sieges.

Long before this day of contented stagnancy, in 1061, when Forcalquier,
fortified, growing, and important, claimed many honours, Bishop Gérard
Caprérius of Sisteron had given the city a Provost and a Chapter, and
created the Church of Saint-Mary, co-cathedral with that of Notre-Dame
of Sisteron. Not contented with this honour, Forcalquier demanded and
received a Bishopric of her own. Her hill was then crowned by a Citadel,
her Cathedral stood near-by, her walls were intact. Now the Citadel is
replaced by a peaceful pilgrims' chapel, the walls are gone, Saint-Mary,
ruined in the siege of 1486, is recalled only by a few weed-covered
stumps and bits of wall, and its title was given to Notre-Dame in the
lower part of the town.

No Cathedral is a sadder example of architectural failure than
Notre-Dame of Forcalquier because it has so many of the beginnings of
real beauty and dignity, so many parts of real worthiness that have been
unfortunately combined in a confused and discordant whole. If, of all
little cities of Provence, Forcalquier is one of the least unique and
least holding, its Cathedral is also one of the least satisfying. It is
not beautiful in situation nor in its own essential harmony, and the
fine but tantalising perspectives of its interior may be found again in
happier churches.

The exterior shows to a superlative degree that general tendency of
Provençal exteriors to be without definite or logical proportions. A
large, square tower, heavier than that of Grasse, served as a lookout, a
tall, thin little turret served as a belfry. In the façade there is a
Gothic portal which notwithstanding its entire mediocrity is the chief
adornment of the outer walls. They are irregular and uncouth to a degree
and their only interesting features are at the eastern end. Here the
smaller, older apses on either side betray the church's early origin.
The central apse, evidently of the same dimensions as the Romanesque one
originally designed, was re-built in severe, rudimentary Gothic. Looking
at this shallow apse alone, and following its plain lines until they
meet those of the big tower, there is a straight simplicity that is
almost fine,--but this is one mere detail in a large and barren whole,
and the Cathedral-seeker turns to the nearest entrance.

[Illustration: "A LARGE, SQUARE TOWER SERVED AS A
LOOKOUT."--FORCALQUIER.]

[Illustration: "A SUGGESTIVE VIEW FROM THE SIDE AISLE."--FORCALQUIER.]

The first glimpse of the interior is so relieving that one is not quick
to notice its lack of architectural unity. The few windows give a soft
light, and the brown of the stone has a mellowness that is both rich and
reposeful. If the Cathedral could have been finished in the style of the
first bays of the nave, it would have been a nobly dignified example of
the Romanesque. Could it have been re-built in the slender Gothic of the
last bay, it would have been an exquisite example of Provençal Gothic.
Rather largely planned, its old form of tunnel vaulting and the fine
curve of its nave arches and heavy piers are in violent contrast to the
Gothic bay, with its pointed arch, its clustered columns and carved
capitals, which, even with the shallow choir and its long, slim windows,
is too slight a portion of the Cathedral to have independence or real
beauty. From its ritualistic position, it is the culminating point of
the church, and its discord with the Romanesque is unpleasantly
insistent. The side aisles, which were built in the XVII century, are
low, agreeable walks ending in the chapels of the smaller apses. They
are neither very regular nor very significant; but they give the church
pleasant size and perspectives, and by avoiding the unduly large and
shining modern chandeliers which hang between the nave arches, one gets
from these side aisles the suggestive views which show only too well
what true and good architectural ideas were brought to confusion in the
re-building, the additions, and the restorations of the centuries. In
painting, anachronisms may be quaint or even amusing; but in
architecture, they are either grotesque or tragic, and in a church of
such fine suggestiveness as Notre-Dame at Forcalquier, one is haunted by
lingering regrets for what might and should have been.


[Sidenote: Vence.]

A founder of the French Academy and one of its first immortal forty was
Antoine Godeau, "the idol of the Hôtel Rambouillet." His mind was
formed, as it were, by one of the most clever women of that brilliantly
foolish coterie, he sang frivolous sonnets to a beautiful red-haired
mistress whom he sincerely admired, and when he entered Holy Church,
none of his charming friends believed that he would do more than modify
the proper and agreeable conventionalities of his former life. They
thought that he would add to the grace of his worldly manner the suavity
of the ecclesiastic, that he would choose a pulpit of Paris, and that,
sitting at his feet, they could enjoy the elegant phrases with which he
would embellish a refined and delicately attenuated religion. But an
aged prelate of the far South judged the new priest differently, he had
sounded the heart of the man who, at the age of thirty, had quietly
renounced a flattering, admiring world; and his dying prayer to
Richelieu was that Godeau should succeed him in the See of Vence. The
keen worldly wisdom of the Cardinal confirmed the old Bishop's more
spiritual insight, and Godeau was named Bishop of the neighbouring
Grasse.

Far away in his mountain-city of flower gardens and sweet odours, the
new Bishop wrote to his Parisian friends that, for his part, he "found
more thorns than orange-blossoms." The Calvinists, from the rock of
Antibes, openly defied him; in spite of the vehement opposition of their
Chapters and against his will, the Bishoprics of Grasse and Vence were
united, and he was made the Bishop of the two warring, discontented
Sees. He was stoned at Vence; and even his colleague in temporal power,
the Marquis of Villeneuve, showed himself as insolent as he dared. At
length the King came to his aid, and being given his choice of the Sees,
Godeau immediately left "the perfumed wench," as he called Grasse, and
chose to live and work among his one-time enemies of Vence. This gentle
and courageous prelate is typical of the long line of wise men who ruled
the Church in the tight little city of the Provençal hills. From Saint
Véran the wonder-worker, and Saint Lambert the tender nurse of lepers,
to the end, they were men noted for bravery, goodness, and learning, and
it was not till the Revolution that one was found--and fittingly the
last--who, hating the "Oath" and fearing the guillotine, fled his See.

This city of good Bishops was founded in the dim, pagan past of Gaul.
From a rocky hill-top, its inhabitants had watched the burning of their
first valley-town and they founded the second Vence on that height of
safety to which they had escaped with their lives. Here, far above the
Aurelian road, the Gallic tribes had a strong and isolated camp. Then
the prying Romans found them out, and priests of Mars and Cybele
replaced those of the cruder native gods, and they, in turn, gave way to
the apostle of the Christians. Where a temple stood, a church was built;
and unlike many early saints who looked upon old pagan images as homes
of devils and broke them into a thousand pieces with holy wrath and
words of exorcism, the prelate of Vence buried an image of a vanquished
god under each and every pillar of his church, in sign of Christian
triumph.

These early days of the Faith were days of growth for the little city,
and she prospered in her Mediævalism. High on her hill, she was too
difficult of access to suffer greatly from marauding foes, and hidden
from the sea, she did not excite the cupidity of the Mediterranean
rovers. When Antibes and Nice were sacked, her little ledge of rock was
safe; and people crowded thick and fast behind her walls, until no
bee-hive swarmed so thick with bees as her few streets with citizens.
Here were arts and occupations, burghers and charters, riches and
liberties. Here came the Renaissance, and Vence had eager, if not famous
sculptors, painters, and organ-builders, and a family of artists whom
even the dilettante Francis I deigned to patronise.

Such memories of a busy, energetic past seem fairy-tales to those who
walk to-day about the dark and narrow streets of Vence. She scarcely has
outgrown her ancient walls, her civic life is dead, and in her virtual
isolation from the modern world she lives a dreary, quiet old age.

The old Cathedral, Notre-Dame, lies in the heart of the town; and takes
one back along the years, far past the Renaissance, to those grim
mediæval days when even churches were places of defence. It is a low,
unimpressive building, said to have been built on the site of the Roman
Temple in the IV century. Enlarged or re-built in the X century, it was
then long and narrow, a Latin cross. But in the XII century, deep, dark
bays were added; in the XV, tribunes were built, the form of the apse
was changed to an oval and it was decorated in an inharmonious style;
and a hundred years ago the nave vault was re-built in an ellipse.

[Illustration: "THE OLD ROUND ARCH OF THE BISHOP'S PALACE."--VENCE.]

In the side wall there is a low portal of a late, decadent style, which
opens on the little square, but there is no real façade; and to see the
church, the traveller passed under the old round arch of the Bishop's
Palace, through a small, damp street to another tinier square where the
apse and tower stand. The little Cathedral-churches of Provence are
always simply built, but here a rectangle, a low gabled roof, a small,
round-headed window in the wall, would have been architectural bareness
if a high, straight tower had not crowned it all. This crenellated tower
is a true type of its time, square, yet slim and strong, and crudely
graceful as some tall young poplar of the plains beneath. In the XI and
XII centuries, its early days, it was the city's lookout. Families lived
high up in its walls, and the traveller could imagine, in this little
old, deserted square, the crowds who gathered round the tower's base,
and called for news of enemies and battle as moderns gather about the
more prosaic bulletin of printed news. He could see them surging,
peering up; and from above he almost heard the watcher's cry, "They're
coming on,"--with the great answering howl beneath, and the rush to
arms. Or, "They pass us by," and then what breaking into little laughing
groups, what joy, what dancing, and what praying, that lasted far into
the evening hours.

[Illustration: "THE LOW, BROAD ARCHES AND THE GREAT, SUPPORTING
PILLARS."--VENCE.]

The traveller came back in thought to modern times and went into the
church, that church of five low naves and many restorations, that
product of most diverse fancies. It is painted in lugubrious white, and
its pillars have false bases in a palpable imitation of veined red
marble. Its pure and early form, the Latin cross, is gone, its fine old
stalls are hidden in a gallery, and at the altar Corinthian columns
desecrate its ancient Romanesque. Yet in spite of the incongruities the
atmosphere of the church is truly that of its dim past. There are the
low broad arches, the great, supporting pillars that are massive
buttresses; there is the simple practicality of a style that aimed at a
protecting strength rather than at any art of beauty; there is the
semi-darkness of the small, safe windows, and the little, guarded space
where the praying few increased a thousand-fold in times of danger. This
is, in spite of all defects, the small Provençal church where in days of
peace cloudy incense slowly circled round the shadowy forms of chanting
priests, and where in times of war a crowd of frightened women and their
children prayed in safety for the men who sallied forth to fight in
their defence.


[Sidenote: Grasse.]

He who is unloving of the past may well rush by its treasures in a
puffing automobile, he who is bored by olden thoughts can hurry on by
rail, but the man who wishes to know the old hill-towns of France, to
see them as they seemed to their makers, and realise their one-time
magnificence and strength, must walk from one town to the next, and
climb their steep heights; must see great towers rise before him, great
walls loom above him, and realise how grandly strong these places were
when it was man to man and sword to sword, strength against strength. He
must arrive, dust-covered, at the cities' gates or drive into their
narrow streets on the small coach which still passes through,--for they
are of the times when great men rode and peasants walked and steam was
all unknown. Then he will realise how very large the world once was, how
far from town to town; and once within those high, protecting walls, he
will understand why the citizen of mediæval days found in his town a
world sufficient to itself, and why he was so often well content to
spend his life at home.

The power and the force of an isolated, self-concentrated interest is
well illustrated in the history of the free cities of the Middle Ages,
and Grasse may be counted one of these. Counts she had in name; but the
Bérengers and Queen Jeanne had granted her charters which she had the
power to keep; she was once wealthy enough to declare war with Pisa, and
in the XII century the leaders of her self-government were "Consuls by
the grace of God alone." Therefore when Antibes continued to be greatly
menaced by blasphemous pirates, the Bishopric was removed to Grasse,
rich, strong, and safe behind the hills, where it endured from 1244,
through all the perils of the centuries, until by a pen-stroke Napoleon
wiped it out in 1801.

[Illustration: "HIGHER THAN THEM ALL STANDS THE CATHEDRAL."--GRASSE.]

To come to Grasse on foot or in the stage, will well repay the traveller
of old-fashioned moods and fancies. Afar, her houses seem to crowd
together, as they used to crowd within the walls, her red roofs rise
fantastically one above the other, and higher than them all stands the
Cathedral with its firm, square tower. Such must have been old Grasse,
perched on the summit of her hill. But once inside the town, these
illusions cease. Here are the hotels and the Casino of a thermal
station, and the factories of a new world. The traveller finds that the
broad upper boulevards are filled with tourists and smart English
visitors; and in the narrow streets pert factory-hands come noisily from
work. Still he climbs on toward the Cathedral, through tortuous streets
and little alley-ways. And in the gloomiest of them all there is no
odour of a stale antiquity, but the perfume of a garden-full of roses,
of a thousand orange-blossoms, and of locusts, honey-sweet, and he
begins to think himself enchanted. He feels the dark, old houses are
unreal, as if, instead of cobble-stones beneath his feet, there must be
the soft and tender grass of Araby the Blest. Such is the magic of a
trade, the perfume industry of Grasse that for so many hundreds of years
has made her meanest streets full of refreshing fragrance.

Breathless from the climb, the traveller stepped at length into the
little square, before a most ungainly Cathedral. "Chiefly built in the
XII century," it may have been, but so bedizened by the Renaissance that
its heavy old Provençal walls and massive pillars seem to exist merely
as supports for additions or unreasonable decorations of a poor Italian
style. A certain Monseigneur of the XVII century re-built the choir in a
deep, rectangular form; another prelate enlarged the church proper and
ruined it by constructing a tribune over the aisles, and desiring the
revenues of a new burial-place, he ordered Vauban to accomplish the
daring construction of a crypt. Still another Bishop with like
architectural tastes built a large new chapel which opens from the south
aisle; and with these additions and XVIII century changes in the façade,
the original style of the church was obscured. In spite of the pitiful
remains of dignity which its three aisles, its firm old pillars, and its
height still give to the interior, it is as a whole so mean a building
that it has fittingly lost the title of Cathedral.

[Illustration: THE "PONT D'AVIGNON."]



III.

RIVER-SIDE CATHEDRALS.


[Sidenote: Avignon.]

Everything which surrounds the Cathedral of Avignon, its situation, its
city, its history, is so full of romance and glamour that it is only
after very sober second thought one realises that the church itself is
the least of the papal buildings which majestically overtower the Rhone,
or of those royal ruins which face them as proudly on the opposite bank
of the river. Yet no church in Provence is richer in tradition, and in
history more romantic than tradition.

The foundation of this church goes back to the first Avignon, a small
colony of river-fishermen which gave way before the Romans, who
established a city, Avernio, on the great rocky hill two hundred feet
above the Rhone. Some hundreds of years later the first Christian
missionaries to Gaul landed near the mouth of this river,--Mary the
mother of James, Saint Sara the patron of gypsies, Lazarus, his sister
Martha, and Saint Maximin. Before these storm-tossed Saints lay the fair
and pagan country of Provence, the scene of their future mission; and if
tradition is to be further believed, each went his way, to work mightily
for the sacred cause. Maximin lived in the town that bears his name,
Lazarus became the first Bishop of Marseilles, and Saint Martha ascended
the Rhone as far as Avignon and built near the site of the present
Cathedral an oratory in honour of the Virgin "then living on the earth."
Two early churches, of which this chapel was perhaps a part, were
destroyed in the Saracenic sieges of the VIII century; an inscription in
the porch of the present Cathedral records the very interesting mediæval
account of its re-building and re-consecration nearly a hundred years
later. It was, so runs the tale, the habit of a devout woman to pray in
the church every night; and after the Cathedral had been finished by the
generous aid of Charlemagne, she happened there at midnight, and
witnessed the descent of Christ in wondrous, shining light. There at the
High Altar, surrounded by ministering angels, he dedicated the Cathedral
to His Mother, Our Lady of Cathedrals; and so it has been called to the
present day. If it is an impossible and ungrateful task to disprove that
the re-construction, or at least the re-founding of this Cathedral was
the work of Charlemagne, so munificent a patron and dutiful a son of the
Church, to prove it is equally impossible. A martyrology of the XI
century speaks of a dedication in 1069, but as this ceremony had been
preceded by another extensive re-building, and was followed by many
other changes, the oldest portions of the present church are to be most
accurately ascribed to the XI, XII, and XIV centuries. The additions of
the centuries following the papal return to Rome have greatly changed
the appearance of the church. A large chapel, built in 1506, gives
almost a northern nave. In 1671, Archbishop Ariosto thought the interior
would be gracefully improved by a Renaissance gallery which should
encircle the entire nave from one end of the choir to the other. To
accomplish this new work, the old main piers below the gallery were cut
away, the wall arches were changed, and columns and piers, almost
entirely new, arose to support a shallow, gracefully balustraded balcony
and its bases of massive carving. Nine years later a new Archbishop
added to the north side a square XVII century chapel, richly ornamental
in itself, but entirely out of harmony with the fundamental style of the
church. Other chapels, less distinguished, which have been added from
time to time, line the nave both north and south, and all are excrescent
to the original plan. Of the exterior, only the façade retains its
primitive character. The side-walls, "entirely featureless," as has been
well said, "reflect only the various periods of the chapels which have
been added to the Cathedral," and the apse was re-built in 1671, in a
heavy, uninteresting form.

[Illustration: "THE INTERIOR HAS A SHALLOW, GRACEFULLY BALUSTRADED
BALCONY."--AVIGNON.]

These additions, superimposed ornamentations, and rebuildings, together
with the very substantial substructure of the primitive Cathedral, form
to-day a small church of unimpressive, conglomerate style, and except
for its history, unnoteworthy. It is therefore a church whose interest
is almost wholly of the past; and the traveller goes back in
imagination, century after century, to the era of Papal residency, when
the Cathedral was not only ecclesiastically important, but
architecturally in its best and purest form. This church, which Clement
V found on his removal to Avignon, and which may still be easily traced,
was of the simple, primitive Provençal style. No dates of that period
are sufficiently accurate to rely upon; but its interest lies not so
much in chronology as in its portrayal of the general type. The interior
is the usual little hall church of the XI century, with its aisle-less
nave of five bays, and plain piers supporting a tunnelled roof, with
double vault arches. Beyond the last bay, over the choir, is the
Cathedral's octagonal dome, and from the rounded windows of its lantern
comes much of the light of the interior, which is sombre and without
other windows of importance.

The façade is architecturally one of the most significant parts of the
church. Above the portal the wall is supported on either side by plain
heavy buttresses, and directly continued by the solid bulk of the tower.
In 1431 this tower replaced the original one which fell in the
earthquake of 1405. It is conjecturally similar, a heavy rectangle which
quite overweighs the church; plain, with its stiff pilasters and two
stories of rounded windows; without grace or proper proportion, but
pleasing by the unblemished severity of its lines. Above the balustrade
with which the tower may be properly said to terminate, the religious
art of the XIX century has erected as its contribution to the Cathedral
a series of steps, an octagon, and a colossal, mal-proportioned statue
of the Virgin. These additions are inharmonious; and the finest part of
the façade is the porch, so classic in detail that it was formerly
supposed to be Roman, a work of the Emperor Constantine. Like the rest
of the church, its general structure is plain and somewhat severe, with
small, richly carved details, in this instance closely Corinthian. The
rounded portal of entrance is an entablature, enclosed as it were by
two supporting columns; and above, in the pointed pediment, is a
circular opening curiously foreshadowing that magnificent development of
the North--the rose-window. Passing through the vestibule, whose
tunnel-vault supports the tower, the minor portal appears, almost a
replica of the outer door, and the whole forms an unusual mode of
entrance, graceful in detail, ponderous in general effect. Far behind
the tower of the façade rises the last significant feature of the
exterior, the little lantern. It is an octagon with Doric and Corinthian
motifs, continuing the essential characteristics of the interior, and
exceedingly typical of Provence.

[Illustration: "THE PORCH SO CLASSIC IN DETAIL."--AVIGNON. _From an old
print._]

Into this church, with its few, unusually classic details, its
Provençal simplicity, its very modest size and plainness, the
munificence of papal pomp was introduced. This was in 1308, an era of
papal storm and stress. Not ten years before, Boniface VIII, with the
tradition of Canossa spurring his haughty ambitions, had launched a bull
against Philip III, whom he knew to be a bad king and whom he was to
find an equally bad, rebellious Christian. "God," said the Prelate, from
Rome, "has constituted us, though unworthy, above kings and kingdoms, to
seize, destroy, disperse, build, and plant in His name and by His
doctrine. Therefore, do not persuade thyself that thou hast no superior,
and that thou art not subject to the head of the ecclesiastical
hierarchy; he who thinks thus is insensate, he who maintains it is
infidel."

Past indeed was the time of Henry of Germany, long past the proud day
when a Pope received an Emperor who knelt and waited in the snow. Philip
burned the Bull; and to prevent other like fulminations, sent an agent
into Italy. Gathering a band, he found the aged Pontiff at Anagni, his
birthplace, seated on a throne, crowned with the triple crown, the Cross
in one hand and in the other Saint Peter's Keys, the terrible Keys of
Heaven and Hell. They called on him to abdicate, but Boniface thought of
Christ his Lord, and cried out in defiant answer, "Here is my neck, here
is my head. Betrayed like Jesus Christ, if I must die like him, I will
at least die Pope." For reply, Sciarra Colonna, one of his own Roman
Counts, struck him in the face. Buffeted by a noble, and openly defied
by a king, Boniface died "of shame and anger." A month later, this same
king rejoiced, if nothing more, at the death of the Pope's successor;
and in the dark forests of Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Philip bargained and
sold the great Tiara to a Gascon Archbishop who, if Villani speaks
truly, "threw himself at the royal feet, saying, 'It is for thee to
command and for me to obey; such will ever be my disposition!'" As was
not unnatural, the will of the French king was that the Pope should
remain within the zone of royal influence. So Clement lived at Bordeaux
and at Poitiers, and finally retired to the County of Venaissin which
the Holy See possessed by right, and established the pontifical court at
Avignon.

This transfer of the papal residence to Avignon has left many and deep
traces on the history of French Catholicism. The Holy See was no longer
far remote; the French ecclesiastic desirous of promotion had no
dangerous mountains to traverse, no strange city to enter, no foreign
Pontiff to besiege, ignorant or indifferent to his claims. The next
successor of Saint Peter would logically be a Frenchman, and there was
not only a possibility, but a probability for every man of note, that he
might be either the occupant of the Sacred Chair or its favoured
supporter. So Avignon became a city of priests as Rome had been before
her; and as France was the richest country in Europe and the Church
regally wealthy, splendour, luxury, and constant religious spectacles
rejoiced the city, and Bishop, Archbishop, and Abbot, brazenly
neglecting the duties of their Sees, lived here and were seldom "in
residence." Every one had a secret ambition. Of such a situation, the
Popes were not slow to reap the benefits. Difference of wealth, which
brought difference of position, counted much and was keenly felt. Abbots
of smaller monasteries found themselves inferior to Bishops, especially
in freedom from papal interference; while from the inherent wealth and
power of their foundations, the heads of the great monasteries ranked
sometimes with Archbishops, sometimes even with Cardinals. The Pope had
the right to elevate an Abbey or a Priory into a Bishopric, and those
who could offer the "gratification" or the "provocative," might
reasonably hope for the desired elevation which at once increased their
local importance, belittled a neighbouring diocese, and freed them to
some extent from the direct intermeddling of the Pope. The applications
for such an increase of power became numerous, and by 1320 a number of
Benedictine Abbeys had been made Bishoprics. Their creation greatly
decreased the direct and intimate power of the Papacy, but temporarily
increased the papal treasury; and John XXII, who left ten million pieces
of silver and fifteen million in gold with his Florentine bankers, seems
to have thought philosophically, "After us, the deluge."

[Illustration: NOTRE-DAME-DES-DOMS.--AVIGNON]

Another favourite diplomatic and financial device, which was invented by
these famous Popes of Avignon, was the system of the "Commende," which
enabled relatives of nobles and all those whom it was desirable to
placate, not alone ecclesiastics, but mere laymen and bloody barons, to
become "Commendatory Abbots" or "Commendatory Priors," and to receive at
least one-third of the monastery's revenues, without being in any way
responsible for the monastery's welfare. This care was left to a
Prior or a Sub-prior, a sort of clerical administrator who, crippled in
means and in influence, was sometimes unable, sometimes unwilling, to
carry out the duties and beneficences of past ages, and who was always
the victim of a great injustice. The depths of uselessness to which this
infamous practice reduced monastic establishments may be inferred, when
it is remembered that before the XVIII century the famous Abbey of La
Baume had had thirteen Commendatory Abbots, and that the bastards of
Louis XIV were Commendatory Priors in their infancy.

The Popes found the Commende useful, not only as a means of income, but
as a method--at once secure and lucrative--of gaining to their cause the
great feudal lords of France, and making the power of these lords an
added buffer, as it were, between Avignon and the grasping might of the
French Kings. For although the Popes were under "the special protection"
of the Kings, it was as sheep under the special protection of a shearer,
and they found that they must protect themselves against a too "special"
and royal fleecing. For they did not always agree that--

    "'Tis as goodly a match as match can be
    To marry the Church and the fleur-de-lis
    Should either mate a-straying go,
    Then each--too late--will own 'twas so.'"

[Illustration: "THE TOWER OF PHILIP THE FAIR."--VILLENEUVE-LES-AVIGNON.]

Haunted by the humiliation of their heaven-sent power, caged in
"Babylonish captivity," it is conceivable that the Popes were too
occupied or, perhaps too distracted, to object to the unsuitable
modesty of Notre-Dame-des-Doms. When a Pope swept forth from his
Cathedral, new-crowned, to give "urbis et orbi" his first pontifical
benediction, his eye glanced, it is true, on the crowds prostrate before
him, before the church, awed and breathless; but it fell lingeringly--it
was irresistibly drawn--across the swift Rhone to the town of the kings
who had defied his power, to the royal city of Villeneuve, and to the
strong tower of Philip the Fair, standing proudly in the sunlight. Would
it be thought strange if their thoughts wandered, or if the portraits of
the "French Popes" which hang about the Cathedral walls at Avignon,
show more worldly preoccupation than is becoming to the successors of
Saint Peter and Vicars of Christ?

Little indeed in the days of their residency did the Popes add to
Notre-Dame-des-Doms. A fragile, slender marvel of Gothic architecture,
the tomb of John XXII, was placed in the nave before the altar; and a
monument to Benedict XII was raised in the church. But their Holinesses
incited others in Avignon to good works so successfully that Rabelais
laughingly called it the "Ringing city" of churches, convents, and
monasteries. The bells of Saint-Pierre, Saint-Symphorien, Saint-Agricol,
Sainte-Claire, and Saint-Didier chimed with those of chapels and
religious foundations; the Grey Penitents, Black Penitents, and White
Penitents, priests, and nuns walked the streets, and Avignon grew truly
papal. Clement V and his successors proceeded to the safeguarding of
their temporal welfare in truly noble fashion; and scarcely fifty years
later they had become so well pleased with their new residence that the
magnificent Clement VI refused to leave in spite of the supplications of
Petrarch and Rienzi and a whole deputation of Romans.

During the reign of this Pontiff, the Papal Court became one of the
gayest in Christendom. Clement was frankly, joyously voluptuous; and his
life seems one moving pageant in which luxurious banquets, beautiful
women, and ecclesiastical pomps succeeded each other. The lovely
Countess of Turenne sold his preferments and benefices, the immense
treasure of John XXII was his, and he showered such benefits on a
grateful family that of the five Cardinals who accompanied his corpse
from Avignon, one was his brother, one his cousin, and three his
nephews; and that the Huguenots who violated his tomb at La-Chaise-Dieu,
should have used his skull as a wine-cup, seems an horrible, but not an
unfitting mockery. It was in vain that Petrarch hotly wrote, "the Pope
keeps the Church of Jesus Christ in shameful exile." The desire for
return to Rome had passed.

Avignon was not an original nor a plenary possession of the Holy
Fathers, but "the fairest inheritance of the Bérengers," and it was from
that family that half of the city had to be wrested--or obtained. Now
the lords of Provence were Kings of Naples and Sicily, and therefore
vassals of the Holy See. For when the Normans took these Southern states
from the Greeks and thereby incurred the jealousy of all Italy, they had
warily placed themselves under the protection of the Pope and agreed to
hold their new possessions as a papal investiture. It happened at this
time that the vassal of the Pope in Naples and in Sicily was the
beauteous "Reino Joanno," the heiress of Provence. What she was no
writer could describe in better words than these, "with extreme beauty,
with youth that does not fade, red hair that holds the sunlight in its
tangles, a sweet voice, poetic gifts, regal peremptoriness, a Gallic
wit, genuine magnanimity, and rhapsodical piety, with strange indecorum
and bluntness of feeling under the extremes of splendour and misery,
just such a lovely, perverse, bewildering woman was she, great
granddaughter of Raymond-Bérenger, fourth Count of Provence,--the pupil
of Boccaccio, the friend of Petrarch, the enemy of Saint Catherine of
Siena, the most dangerous and most dazzling woman of the XIV century. So
typically Provençal was this Queen's nature, that had she lived some
centuries later, she might have been Mirabeau's sister. The same
'terrible gift of familiarity,' the same talent of finding favour and
swaying popular assemblages, the same sensuousness, bold courage, and
great generosity were found in this early orphaned, thrice widowed
heiress of Provence. To this day, the memory of the Reino Joanno lives
in her native land, associated with numbers of towers and fortresses,
the style of whose architecture attests their origin under her reign. It
says much for her personal fascinations that far from being either
cursed or blamed she is still remembered and praised. The ruins of
Gremaud, Tour Drainmont, of Guillaumes, and a castle near Roccaspervera,
all bear her name: at Draguignan and Flagose, they tell you her canal
has supplied the town with water for generations: in the Esterels, the
peasants who got free grants of land, still invoke their benefactress.
At Saint-Vallier, she is blessed because she protected the hamlet near
the Siagne from the oppression of the Chapters of Grasse and Lérins. At
Aix and Avignon her fame is undying because she dispelled some
robber-bands; at Marseilles she is popular because she modified and
settled the jurisdiction of Viscounts and Bishops. Go up to Grasse and
in the big square where the trees throw a flickering shadow over the
street-traders, you will see built in a vaulted passage a flight of
stone steps, steps which every barefoot child will tell you belong to
the palace of 'La Reino Joanno.' Walls have been altered, gates have
disappeared, but down those time-worn steps once paced the liege lady of
Provence, the incomparable 'fair mischief' whose guilt ... must ever
remain one of the enigmas of history." This "enigma" has strange
analogies to one which has puzzled and impassioned the writers of many
generations, the mystery of that other "fair mischief" of a later
century, Mary Queen of Scots. Like Mary, Jeanne was accused of the
murder of her young husband, and being pressed by the vengeance of his
brother--no less a person than the King of Hungary,--she decided to
retreat to her native Provence and appeal to the Pope, her gallant and
not over-scrupulous suzerain. "Jeanne landed at Ponchettes," continues
the writer who has so happily described her, "and the consuls came to
assure her of their devotion. 'I come,' replied the heiress, whose wit
always suggested a happy phrase, 'to ask for your hearts and nothing but
your hearts.' As she did not allude to her debts, the populace threw up
their caps; the Prince de Monaco, just cured of his wound at Crécy,
placed his sword at her service; and the Baron de Bénil, red-handed from
a cruel murder, besought her patronage which, perhaps from a
fellow-feeling, she promised with great alacrity. At Grasse she won all
hearts and made many more promises, and finally, arriving at Avignon,
she found Clement covetous of the city and well-disposed to her. Yet
morality obliged him to ask an explanation of her recent change of
husbands, and before three Cardinals, whom he appointed to be her
judges, the Queen pleaded her own cause. Not a blush tinged her cheek,
no tremor altered her melodious voice as she stood before the red-robed
Princes of the Church and narrated, in fluent Latin, the story of the
assassination of Andrew, the death of her child, and her marriage with
the murderer, Louis of Tarento, who stood by her side. The wily Pope
noted behind her the proud Provençal nobles, the Villeneuves and
d'Agoults, the de Baux and the Lescaris, who brought the fealty of the
hill-country, and who did not know that, having already sold her jewels
to the Jews, their fair Queen was covenanting with the Pope for Avignon.
The formal trial ended, the Pontiff solemnly declared the Queen to be
guiltless,--and she granted him the city for eighty thousand pieces of
gold."

[Illustration: "THE GREAT PALACE."--AVIGNON.]

Clement enjoyed ownership in the same agreeable manner as his
predecessors, "without the untying of purse-strings." Perhaps he used
the purse's contents for the more pressing claim of the great Palace of
which he built so large a part; perhaps he handed it, still filled, to
Innocent VI who built the famous fortifications of Avignon and protected
himself against the marauding "White Companies," perhaps it was still
untouched when Bertrand du Guesclin and his Grand Company stood before
the gate and demanded "benediction, absolution, and two hundred thousand
pounds." "What!" the Pope is said to have cried, "must we give
absolution, which here in Avignon is paid for, and then give money
too--it is contrary to reason!" Du Guesclin replied to the bearer of
these words, "Here are many who care little for absolution, and much for
money,"--and Urban yielded.

Gregory XI, the last of the "French Popes," returned to Rome, and at his
death the "Great Schism" followed;--Clement VII, in Avignon, was
recognised by France, Spain, Scotland, Sicily, and Cyprus; Urban VI, in
Rome, by Italy, Austria, and England. The County Venaissin was ravaged
by wars and the pests that come in their train. At length the
Avignonnais, who had not enjoyed greater peace under their anointed
rulers than under worldling Counts, rose against Pierre de Luna, the
"Anti-pope" Benedict XIII, who fled. From that time no Pontiff entered
the gates, and the city was administered by papal legates. In later
days, in spite of the sacred character of its rulers and his own
undoubted orthodoxy, Louis XIV seized Avignon several times; and Louis
XV, in unfilial vengeance for the excommunication of the Duke of Parma,
took possession of the city. But it was not until after the beginning
of the French Revolution, in 1791, that the Avignonnais themselves
arose, chased the Vice-Legate of the Pope from the city, and appealed
for union with France; and it was at this period that the Chapel of
Sainte-Marthe, the Cloister, and the Chapter House were swept away. Thus
ended the temporal power of the Papacy in France, planned for worldly
profit and carried out with many sordid compromises;--a residency
unnoted for great deeds or noble intentions and whose close marked the
"Great Schism."

To-day papal Avignon is become French Avignon, a pleasant city where the
Provençal sun is hot and where the Mistral whistles merrily. Above the
banks of the Rhone the simple Cathedral stands, with its priests still
garbed in papal red, its Host still carried under the white papal
panoply. Here also is the great Palace of the Popes, "which is indeed,"
says Froissart, "the strongest and most magnificent house in the world."
And yet its grim walls suggest neither peace nor rest; and to him who
recalls, this great, impressive pile tells neither of glories nor of
triumphs. Bands of unbelieving Pastoureaux marched toward it; soldiers
of the "White Companies" and soldiers of du Guesclin gazed mockingly at
it; it was the prison of Rienzi, and the home of the harassed Popes who
had ever before them, just across the river, the menacing tower of that
"fair king" who had led them into "Babylonish captivity."


[Sidenote: Vaison.]

On the banks of a pleasant little river among the Provençal hills is
Vaison, one of the ancient Gallic towns which became entirely romanised;
and many illustrious families of the Empire had summer villas there as
at Arles and Orange. Barbarians of one epoch or another have devastated
Vaison of all her antique treasures, except the remains of an
Amphitheatre on the Puymin Hill. Germanic tribes who swooped down in
early centuries destroyed her villas and her greater buildings; and
vandals of a later day have scattered her sculptures and her tablets
here and there. Some are in the galleries of Avignon; a Belus, the only
one found in France, was sent to the Museum of Saint-Germain; and in the
multitude of treasures in the British Museum, the most beautiful of all
her statues, a Diadumenus, is artistically lost. In the days when it
still adorned the city, during the reign of the Emperor Gallienus,
Vaison was christianised by Saint Ruf, her Bishopric was founded, and in
337 the first General Council of the Church held in Gaul assembled here.
Another Council in the V century, and still another in the VI, are proof
of her continued importance.

[Illustration: "ON THE BANKS OF A PLEASANT LITTLE RIVER IS VAISON."]

[Illustration: "THE RUINED CASTLE OF THE COUNTS OF TOULOUSE."--VAISON.]

Among the first of Gallo-Roman cities, she was also among the first to
suffer. Chrocus and his horde who sacked Orange, seized her Bishop and
murdered him; and Alains, Vandals, and Burgundians, following in their
wake, brought disaster after disaster to the cities lying near the
Rhone. Vaison, by miracle, did not lose her prestige. In the X and XI
centuries she built her fine Cathedral with its Cloisters, and in 1179
she was still great enough to excite the covetousness of Raymond VI,
Count of Toulouse. This magnificent and ambitious prince built a castle
on a height above the city, and as he had before terrorised my Lord
Bishop of Carpentras, so now he seized the anointed person of Bérenger
de Reilhane, who was not only Vaison's Bishop, but her temporal prince
as well. Bérenger was a sufficiently powerful personage to make an
outcry which re-echoed throughout Christendom; the Pope and the Emperor
came to his aid; and in the Abbey Church of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard,
Raymond VI did solemn penance, and, before receiving absolution, was
publicly struck by the Papal Legate with a bundle of birch rods. Above
the Bishop's Palace the great castle still loomed in menace, but on that
day Bérenger de Reilhane triumphed and Vaison was at peace.

It was a peace which presaged her quiet, uneventful downfall. For other
interests were growing stronger in the country, other cities grew where
she stood still, and in the XIV century, when Avignon became the seat of
papal power, Vaison had passed from the world's history. Her Bishopric
endured till 1801, but her doings are worthy only of provincial
chronicles and to-day she is but a little country town, served by the
stage-coach. She still lies on both banks of the river; the "high city,"
with long rows of deserted houses, climbs the side of the steep hill and
is dominated by the ruins of the great castle, which Richelieu
destroyed. The "lower city," which is the busier of the two, lies on the
opposite bank; and on its outskirts, in a little garden-close, almost
surrounded by the fields, is the Cathedral,--solitary, lonely, and old.

[Illustration: "THE WHOLE APSE-END."--VAISON.]

[Illustration: "THE SOUTH WALL WHICH IS CLEARLY SEEN FROM THE
ROAD."--VAISON.]

The decoration of the exterior is slight, a dentiled cornice and a
graceful foliated frieze extend along the top of the side-walls, which
although most plainly built, are far from being severely angular or
gaunt and have a quaint and pleasing harmony of line. The west front is
so featureless that it scarcely deserves the title of façade. The south
wall, which is clearly seen from the road, has a small portal and plain
buttresses that slope at the top. The central apse is rectangular and
heavy, the little southern apse is short and round, and that of the
north is tall and thin as a pepper-box. Behind them rise the pointed
roof of the nave and the heavy tower. The whole apse-end is constructed
in most picturesque irregularity, and the new red of the roof-tiles and
sombre grey of the old stone add greatly to its charm.

Unlike many churches of its period Notre-Dame of Vaison is three-aisled.
Slender, narrow naves, whose tunnel vaults are not extremely lofty, end
in small circular apses. The nave is a short one of three irregular
bays, and over the last, which precedes the choir, is the little
eight-sided dome, which instead of projecting above the roof is
curiously placed a little lower than the tunnel vaulting of the other
bays. The High Altar, which originally belonged to an older church, is
well placed in the simple choir; for it belongs in style, if not in
actual fact, to the first centuries of the Faith; and in the
semi-darkness behind the altar, the old episcopal throne still stands
against the apse's wall, in memory of the custom of the Church's early
days. The low arches of the aisles, the dim lighting of the church, its
simple ornaments of classic bands and little capitals, its slight
irregularities of form and carvings, make an interior of fine and strong
antique simplicity.

A little door in the north wall leads to the Cloisters, which are
happily in a state of complete restoration, and not as a modern writer
has described them, "practically a ruin." The wall which overlooks them
has an inscription that adjures the Canons to "bear with patience the
north aspect of their cells." The short walks have tunnel vaults with
cross-vaults in the corners and in parts of the north aisle. Great piers
and small, firm columns support the outer arches; and on the exterior of
the Cloister the little arches of the columns are enclosed in a large
round arch. Many of the capitals are uncarved, some of the piers have
applied columns, but many are ornamented in straight cut lines. On one
side, two bays open to the ground, forming an entrance-way into the
pretty close, where the bushy tops of a few tall trees cast flickering
shadows on the surrounding walls and the little grassy square.

[Illustration: "TWO BAYS OPEN TO THE GROUND."--VAISON.]

[Illustration: "THE GREAT PIERS AND SMALL FIRM COLUMNS."--VAISON.]

The Cloister is small and simple in its rather heavy grace. Noise and
unrest seem far from it, and underneath its solid rounded vault is peace
and shelter from the world. And in its firm solidity of architecture
there is the spirit of a perfect quiet, a tranquil charm which must
insensibly have calmed many a restless spirit that chafed beneath the
churchly frock, and fled within its walls for refuge and for helpful
meditation.

Few Provençal Cathedrals have the interest of Vaison and its Cloister.
Lying in the forgotten valley of the Ouvèze, in an old-fashioned town,
all its surroundings speak of the past and its atmosphere is quite
unspoiled. The church itself has been spared degenerating restorations;
and although it has no sumptuousness as at Marseilles, no grandeur as at
Arles, no stirring history as the churches that lay near the sea,
although it is one of the smallest and most venerable of them all, no
Cathedral of the Southland has so great an architectural dignity and
merit with so ancient and so quaint a charm.


[Sidenote: Arles.]

In the midst of the wealth of antique ruins, near the Theatre, the
Coliseum, and the Forum of this "little Rome of the Gauls," stands a
noble monument of the ruder ages of Christianity, the Cathedral,
Saint-Trophime. Here Saint Augustine, apostle to England, was
consecrated; here three General Councils of the Church were held, here
the Donatists were doomed to everlasting fire, and here the Emperor
Constantine, from his summer palace on the Rhone, must have come to
"assist" at Mass. The building in which these solemn scenes of the early
Church were enacted soon disappeared and was replaced by the present one
whose older walls Révoil attributes to the IX century. The present
Cathedral's first documentary date is 1152, in the era of the Republic
of Arles. The name of Saint-Etienne was changed, and the body of
Saint-Trophime, carried in state from the ruined Church of the
Aliscamps, was buried under a new altar and he was solemnly proclaimed
the Patron of the richest and most majestic church in all Provence.

[Illustration: "IN THE MIDST OF THE WEALTH OF ANTIQUE RUINS."--ARLES.]

[Illustration: THE FAÇADE OF SAINT-TROPHIME.--ARLES.]

Nearly eight hundred years later a traveller stood before the portal of
this church. In the midst of his delighted study he suddenly felt the
attraction of a pair of watchful eyes, and turned to find a peasant
woman gazing fixedly at him. In her strange fascination she had placed
beside her, on the ground, two huge melons and a mammoth cabbage, and
her wizened hands were folded before her, Sunday-fashion. She was a
little witch of a woman, old and bent and brown.

"Yes, my good gentleman," she said, "I have been looking at you,--five
whole minutes of the clock, and much good it has done me. In these days
of books and such fine learning there is not enough time spent before
our door; and I who pass by it every day, year in, year out, I have
watched well, and only two except yourself have ever studied it. The
foreigners come with red books and look at them more than at the door
itself,--they stay perhaps three minutes, and go off, shaking their wise
heads. Our people, passing every day, see but a door, a place for going
in and coming out." She paused for breath.

"And what do you see?" asked the traveller.

"You ask me?" She smiled wisely. "But you know, since you are standing
here and looking too. Listen!" And her old eyes began to gleam. "I'll
tell you of a time before you were born. I was a child then; and we
marched here every Sunday, other little girls and myself, and we stood
before this door. And the nuns--it was often Sister Mary Dolorosa--told
us the stories of these stones. See! Here is Our Lord Who loves all
mankind, but has to judge us too;--and there is Saint-Trophime. But I
cannot read, Monsieur. An old peasant woman has no time for such fine
things, and you will laugh at me for telling you what you have in your
books,--but I have them all here, here in my heart, and many a time I
too come to refresh my old memory, and to pray. Those pictures tell
great lessons to those that have eyes to see them. Well, well-a-day, I
must pick up my melons and begone, for I have taken up your time and
said too much. But you will excuse it in an old woman who is good for
little else than talking now."

They parted in true French fashion, with "expressions of mutual esteem,"
and the traveller turned to the portal which was still fulfilling its
ancient mission of teaching and of making beautiful the House of God.
Applied to a severe façade typical of the plainness of Provençal outer
walls, this is one of the noblest works of Mediævalism, the richest and
most beautiful portal of the South of France; and no others in the Midi,
except those of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard and Moissac, are worthy of
comparison with it. In boldness and intellectuality of conception it
excels many of the northern works and equals the finest of them. For the
builder of the northern portal seems to have held closely to one
architectural form, the beautiful convention of the Gothic style; and
within that door he placed, in a more or less usual way, the subjects
which the Church had sanctioned. In nearly every case the treatment of
the subject is subordinated to the general architectural plan and
symmetry. At Saint-Trophime there was the limit of space, the axiom that
a door must be a door, and doubtless many allowable subjects. But within
these necessary bounds the unknown sculptor recognised few
conventionalities. The usual place for the portrayal of the Last
Judgment, the tympanum, was too small for his conception of the scene;
the pier that divides his door-way was not built to support the statue
of the church's patron saint; he had a multitude of fancies, and instead
of curbing them in some beautiful conventionality of form, as one feels
great northern builders often did, this artist made a frame within which
his ideas found free play, and, forcing conventionality to its will, his
genius justified itself. For not only is the portal as a whole, full of
dignity and true symmetry, but its details are thoughtfully worked out.
They show, with the old scholastic form of his Faith, the grasp of the
unknown master's mind, the intellectuality of his symbolism, and few
portals grow in fascination as this one, few have so interesting an
originality.

[Illustration: RIGHT DETAIL, PORTAL.--ARLES.]

In design it is simple, in execution incomparably rich. The principal
theme of the Last Judgment has Christ seated on a throne as the central
figure, and about him are the symbols of the four Evangelists. This is
the treatment of the tympanum. Underneath, Patriarchs, Saints, Just, and
Condemned form the beautiful frieze. The Apostles are seated; and to
their left is an angel guarding the gates of Paradise against two
Bishops and a crowd of laymen who have yet to fully expiate their sins
in Purgatory. Behind them, naked, with their feet in the flames, are
those condemned to everlasting Hell; and still beyond is a lower depth
where souls are already half-consumed in hideous fires. On the Apostles'
extreme right is the beginning of our human history, the Temptation of
Adam and Eve; and marching toward the holy men, on this same side, is
the long procession of those Redeemed from Adam's fall, clothed in
righteousness. An angel goes before them, and hands a small child--a
ransomed soul--to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The end panels treat the
last phases of the dominant theme;--a mammoth angel in the one weighs
the souls of the dead; and an equally awe-inspiring devil in the other
is preparing to cast two of the Lost into a sea of fire.

The remainder of the portal tells of many subjects, and represents much
of the theological symbolism of its time. Light, graceful columns, with
delicately foliated capitals and bases rich with meaning sculptures,
divide the lower spaces into niches, and in these niches stand statues
of Apostles and of Saints, each having his story, each his peculiar
attributes; and about these chief figures are carved rich designs,
strange animals, and numberless short stories of the Bible. Above there
is a small, subsidiary frieze; below, the pedestals which tell the tale
of those who stand upon them. The figures have life and meaning, if not
a true plasticity; and in this portal there is instruction, variety, and
majesty, wealth of allegory and subtle symbols for those who love
religious mysteries, and splendour of sculpture for those who come in
search of Art.

There are those to whom a simple beauty does not appeal. After the
richness of the portal's carving, the interior of Saint-Trophime is to
them "far too plain;" in futile comparison with the Cloister's grace, it
is found "too severe;" and one author has written that only "when the
refulgence of a Mediterranean sun glances through a series of long
lances, ... then and then only does the Cathedral of Saint-Trophime
offer any inducement to linger within its non-impressive walls."

It may not be denied that, together with nearly all the Cathedrals of
Provence, this interior has suffered from the addition of inharmonious
styles. The most serious of these is its Gothic choir of the XV century,
which a certain Cardinal Louis Allemand applied to the narrower
Romanesque naves. With irregular ambulatory, chapels of various sizes,
and a general incongruity of plan, this construction has no
architectural importance except that of a prominent place in the
church's worship. The remaining excrescences, Gothic chapels, Ionic
pilasters, elliptical tribune, and the like, are happily hidden along
the side aisles or in the transepts; and during the restoration of
Révoil the naves were relieved of the disfiguring "improvements" of the
XVII century, and stand to-day in much of their fine old simplicity.
Beyond the fifth bay, and rising in the tower, is the dome of dignified
Provençal form that rests on the lower arches of the crossing. Small
clerestory windows cast sheets of pale light on the plain piers,
rectangular and heavy, that rise to support a tunnel vault and divide
the church into three naves of great and slender height.

The stern, ascetic style of the XI and XII centuries has given the nave
piers mere small, plain bands as capitals, and for churchly decoration
has allowed only a moulding of acanthus leaves placed high and unnoticed
at the vaulting's base. There is no pleasing detail and no charming
fancy; but a fine, exquisite loftiness, a faultless balance of
proportion, are in this severe interior, and its solemn and majestic
beauty is not surpassed in the Southern Romanesque.

[Illustration: LEFT DETAIL, PORTAL.--ARLES.]

Beyond the south transept, a short passage and a few steps lead to the
Cloisters, the most famous of Provence, perhaps of France. Large,
graceful, and magnificent in wealth of carving, they have yet none of
the poetic charms that linger around many a smaller Cloister. The
vaultings are not more beautiful than other vaults less known; although
they have the help of the great piers, the little, slender columns seem
too light to support so much expanse of roof, and even the church's
tower, square and high, looks dwarfed when seen across the close. The
very spaciousness is solitary, and the long vista of the walks conduces
to vague wonderings rather than to peaceful hours of thought. It has not
the dreamy solitude of Vaison, nor the bright beauty of Elne's little
close, nor any of the sunny cheerfulness that brightens the decaying
walls of Cahors.

[Illustration: THROUGH THE CLOISTER-ARCHES.--ARLES.]

The marvel of these Cloisters is the sculptured decorations of their
piers and columns. Those of the XII century are the richest, but each of
the later builders seems to have vied as best he might, in wealth of
conception and in lavishness of detail, with those who went before, and,
even in enforced re-building, the addition of the Gothic to the
Romanesque has not destroyed the harmony of the effect. In all the
sculptors' schemes, the outer of the double columns were given foliated
patterns or a few, simple symbols, and the outer of the piers were
channelled and conventionally cut; and although the fancy of the
sculptor is marvellously subtle and full of grace, his greatest art was
reserved for the capitals of the inner columns and the inner faces of
the piers, which meditating priests would see and study. The symbolism
authorised by Holy Church, the history of precursors of Our Lord, the
incidents of His life and the more dramatic doings of the Saints, all
these are carved with greatest love of detail and of art; and in them
the least arduous priest could find themes for a whole year of
meditation, the least enthusiastic of travellers, a thousand quaint and
interesting fancies and imaginations. It is not so much the beauty of
the whole effect that is entrancing in these Cloisters, nor that most
subtle influence, the good or evil spirit of a past which lingers round
so many ancient spots, as that mediæval thought and mediæval genius that
found expression in these myriad fine examples of the sculptor's art.

[Illustration: "A NAVE OF GREAT AND SLENDER HEIGHT."--ARLES.]

[Illustration: "THE BEAUTY OF THE WHOLE."--ARLES.]

Alexandre Dumas has written of Arles: "Roman monuments form the soil;
and about them, at their feet, in their shadow, in their crevasses, a
second Gothic city has sprung--one knows not how--by the vegetative
force of the religious civilisation of Saint Louis. Arles is the
Mecca of archæologists." It is also the Mecca of those who love to
study people and customs, for, in spite of the railroad, and the
consequent influx of "foreign French," it has preserved the old
græco-roman-saracenic type which has made its beautiful women so
justly famous, and, underneath its Provençal gaieties, their classic
origins may easily be traced. One should see the Roman Theatre, the
solitary Aliscamps, by moonlight, the busy market in the early day,
the Cathedral at a Mass, and a fête at any time,--for

    "When the fête-days come, farewell the swath and labour,
      And welcome revels underneath the trees,
      And orgies in the vaulted hostelries,
    Bull-baitings, never-ending dances, and sweet pleasures."


[Sidenote: Entrevaux.]

The most celebrated fortified town in France is the Cité of Carcassonne,
yet, even in the days of its practical strength, it was scarcely a type.
It was rather a marvel, a wonder,--the "fairest Maid of Languedoc," "the
Invincible." And now the citadel is almost deserted. The inhabitants are
so few that weeds grow in their streets, and one who walks there in the
still mid-day feels that all this completion of architecture, these
walls, perfect in every stone, may be an enchanted vision, a mirage; he
more than half believes that the cool of the sunset will dispel the
illusion, and he will find himself on a pleasant little hill of
Languedoc, looking down upon the commonplace "Lower City" of
Carcassonne.

At Entrevaux there is no suggestion of illusion. This is not a
show-place that once was real; it is one of a hundred little
agglomerations of the French Middle Ages. They had no great name to
uphold; no riches to expend in impregnable walls and towers. They clung
fearfully together for self-preservation, built ramparts that were as
strong as might be, and dared not laugh at the "fortunes of war." Except
that there is safety outside the walls, and a tiny post and telegraph
office within, they are now as they were in those dangerous days. The
fortress of Carcassonne is dead; but in the back country of Provence,
Entrevaux is living, and scarcely a jot or tittle of its Mediævalism is
lost. Among high rocks that close around it on every side, where,
according to the season, the Chalvagne trickles or plunges into the
river Var, and dominated by a fort that perches on a sharp peak, is the
strangest of old Provençal towns.

[Illustration: THE GOTHIC WALK, CLOISTER.--ARLES.]

The founding of the tiny episcopal city was after this wise. Toward the
close of the XIV century, in a time of plagues, Jewish persecutions, the
growth of heresies, and the uncurbed ravages of free-booters, the city
of Glandèves, seat of an ancient Bishopric, was destroyed. The living
remnant abandoned its desolate ruins. Searching for a stronger, safer
home, they chose a site on the left bank of the Var, and commenced the
building of Entrevaux. The Bishop accompanied his flock, and although he
retained the old title of Glandèves, in memory of the antiquity of the
See and its lost city, the Cathedral-church was established at
Entrevaux.

The first edifice, Saint-Martin's, built shortly after the founding of
the town, has long been destroyed; and the second, begun in 1610, to the
honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, held episcopal rank
until the See was disestablished by the great Concordat. Although this
Cathedral was built in the XVII century, a date perilously near that of
decadence in French ecclesiastical architecture, it was situated in so
obscure a corner of Provence that its plan was unaffected by innovating
ideas; it is of the old native type, a building of stout walls and heavy
buttresses, a single tower, square and straight, and a tunnel-vaulted
room, the place of congregation. This interior, with no beautiful
details that may not be found in other churches, has as many of the
defects of the Italian school as the treasury could afford,--marble
columns, frescoes, gilding, and other rococo decorations which show that
the people of Entrevaux had no higher and no better tastes than those of
Nice; and that the old, simple purity of the church's form was rather a
matter of ignorance or necessity than of choice. The attraction of the
episcopal church pales before the quaint delight of the episcopal city,
and it is as part of the general civic defence that it shares in the
interest of Entrevaux.

[Illustration: "THIS INTERIOR."--ENTREVAUX.]

[Illustration: THE ROMANESQUE WALK, CLOISTER.--ARLES.]

[Illustration: "ONE OF THREE SMALL DRAWBRIDGES."--ENTREVAUX.]

[Illustration: "THE PORTCULLIS."--ENTREVAUX.]

Leaving the train at the nearest railroad station, the traveller
followed the winding Var, and he had scarcely walked four miles when he
saw, across the river, the sharp peak with its fort, and the long lines
of walls that zigzag down the hillside till they reach the crowded roofs
that are clustered closely, in charming irregularity, near the bank.
Along the water's edge, the only part of the town that is not protected
by rocks and hills, there is another line of stout walls and two heavy,
jutting bastions. From a mediæval point of view Entrevaux looks strong
indeed. The only means of entrance, now as in those olden days, is by
one of three small drawbridges, and so narrow is every street of the
town that no wagon is allowed to cross, for if it made the passage of
the bridge it would be caught hard and fast between the houses. As the
traveller put foot on the drawbridge he felt as though he were a petty
trader or wandering minstrel, or some other figure of the Middle Ages,
entering for a few hours' traffic or a noon-day's rest, and when he
paused under the low arch of the portcullis-gate, people stared at him
as they do at a stranger in little far-off towns. Once inside, he turned
into a street, and was immediately obliged to step into a door-way, for
a man leading a horse was approaching, and they needed all its breadth.
Houses, several stories high, bordered these incredibly dark, narrow
ways, and some of the upper windows had the diminutive balconies so dear
to the South. It was a bright, hot day, but the sun seldom peeped into
these streets; and in the shops the light was dull at mid-day. As he
thought of the men and women of Mediævalism, who did not dare to wander
in the fields beyond the town, because their safety lay within its
ramparts, suddenly, the little public squares of walled towns appeared
in all the real significance of their light and breadth and sunshine.
Space is precious in Entrevaux, and open places are few. There is one
where the hotels and cafés are found, another across the drawbridge
behind the Cathedral-tower, and a tiny one before the church itself.
This is the most curious of them all; for, far from being a "Place de la
Cathédrale," it is a true "Place d'Armes." Near the portals, on whose
wooden doors the mitre and insignia of papal favour are carved, a few
steps lead to a narrow ledge where archers could stand and shoot from
the loop-holes in the walls. As the traveller sat on this ledge and
wondered what scenes had been enacted here, how many deadly shots had
sped from out the holes, what crowds of excited townsfolk had gathered
in the church, what grave words of exhortation and of blessing had been
spoken from the altar or the threshold by anxious prelate, robed and
mitred for the Mass of Supplication to a God of Battles, an humble
funeral appeared,--a priest, a peasant bearing a black wooden Cross with
the name of the deceased painted on it, a rope-bound coffin carried by
hot and sorrowing women, and a little procession of friends. The pomps
and vanities of the past disappeared as a mist from the traveller's
mind, and he saw Entrevaux as it really is, without the comforts of this
world's goods, without the greatness of a Bishopric, a small Provençal
village whose perfection of quaintness--so charming to him who passes
on--means hardship and discomfort to those who have been born and must
live and die there.

[Illustration: "A FORT THAT PERCHES ON A SHARP PEAK."--ENTREVAUX.]

[Illustration: "A TRUE PLACE D'ARMES."--ENTREVAUX.]

And yet so potent is that charm, when the traveller re-crossed the
drawbridge and looked up at the sharp teeth of the portcullis that may
still fall and bite, when he had passed out on the high-road and turned
again and again to watch the fading sunlight on the tangled mass of
roofs, the illusion had returned. The bastions stood out in bold relief,
the church tower with its crenellated top stood out against the rocky
peaks, the sun fell suddenly behind the hill, and the traveller felt
himself again a minstrel wandering in a mediæval night.

[Illustration: "THE LONG LINES OF WALLS THAT ZIGZAG DOWN THE
HILLSIDE."--ENTREVAUX.]


[Sidenote: Sisteron.]

The traveller is curious,--frankly curious. Almost every time that he
enters a Cathedral, his memory recalls the words of Renan, "these
splendid marvels are almost always the blossoming of some little
deceit," and after he has feasted his eye, he thinks of history and of
details, and of Renan, prejudiced but well-informed, and wonders what
was here the "little deceit." At Grasse, he had longed for the papers a
certain lawyer has, which tell much of the city's life a hundred and
fifty years ago, and at Sisteron, he sat by the Durance, wondering how
he could induce a kind and good old lady of a remote corner of Provence
to lend him an ancient manuscript, which even the gentle Curé said she
"obstinately" refused to "impart." Blessed are they who can be satisfied
with guide-books, as his friends who had visited Avignon and Arles,
Tarascon and the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and had seen Provence to
their entire edification while he was merely peering about
Notre-Dame-des-Doms and the Fort Saint-André. Of a more indolent and
leisurely turn of mind, he suffers--and perhaps justly--the penalty of
his joyous idleness, for even lawyers and good ladies with hidden papers
are rare. Revolutionary sieges, fires, and a wise discretion have led to
the destroying of many a fine old page, and it is often in vain one goes
to these decaying cities of Provence. "We see," he said, gesticulating
dejectedly, "we see their towers and their walls, but if we say we know
that place, how many times do we deceive ourselves. It is too often as
though we claimed to know the life and thought and passions of a man
from looking on his grave."

But--to consider what we may know. Sisteron is an old Roman city, most
strongly and picturesquely built in a narrow defile of the Durance. On
one side the river is the high, bare rock of La Baume; on the other, a
higher rock where houses, supporting each other by outstretched
buttresses, seem to cling to the sheer hillside as shrubs in mountain
crevasses, and are dominated and protected by a large and formidable
fortress-castle that crowns the very top of the peak. The town walls are
almost gone; the fortress is abandoned; since the Revolution there are
no longer Bishops in Sisteron; but the old town has lost little of its
war-like and romantic atmosphere of days when it commanded an important
pass, and when the way across the Durance was guarded by a drawbridge,
and a big portcullis that now stands in rusty idleness.

[Illustration: "THE CHURCH TOWER STOOD OUT AGAINST THE ROCKY
PEAKS."--ENTREVAUX.]

It is claimed that the Bishopric of this stronghold was founded in the
IV century, and grew and flourished mightily, until the Bishop dwelt
securely on his rock, his Brother of Gap had a "box" on the opposite
bank, the Convent of the little Dominican Sisters was further up the
river, and, besides this busy ecclesiastical life, there was the world
of burghers in the town and its Convent of Ursulines. Here came once
upon a time a sprightly lady who added a thousand lively interests. This
was Louise de Cabris, sister of the great Mirabeau, "who, when a mere
girl, had been married to the Marquis de Cabris. Part knave, part fool,
the vices of de Cabris sometimes ended in attacks of insanity. His
marriage with one who united the violence of the Mirabeaus to the
license of the Vassans was unfortunate; ... and after Louise began to
reign in the big dark house of the Cours of Grasse, life never lacked
for incidents." Matters were not mended by the arrival of her brother,
twenty-four and wild, and supposed to be living under a "lettre de
cachet" in the sleepy little town of Manosque. The two were soon
embroiled in so outrageous a scandal that their father, who loved a
quarrel for its own sake, sided with the prosecution; and declaring that
"no children like his had ever been seen under the sun," took out a
"lettre de cachet" for Louise, who was sent up to Sisteron, where he
requested her to "repent of her sins at leisure in the Convent of the
Ursulines." Inheriting a brilliant, restless wit and unbridled morals,
her life with the stupid, vicious Marquis had not improved her natural
disposition, and she soon set Sisteron agog. On pretence of business all
the lawyers flocked to see her; and with no pretence at all the garrison
flocked in their train. When the Ursulines ventured to remonstrate, she
diverted them with such anecdotes of gay adventure as were never found
between the pages of their prayer-books. Finally the whole town was
divided into two camps; her foes called her "a viper," and many an eye
peered into the dark streets, many a head was judiciously hidden behind
bowed shutters, to see who went toward the Convent; till by wit and
scheming and after some months of most surprising incident, Louise
carried her point, left the good Ursulines to a well-merited repose,
and returned to the Castle of Mirabeau,--to laugh at the townsfolk of
Sisteron.

[Illustration: "THE CATHEDRAL IS NEAR THE HEAVY, ROUND TOWERS OF THE
OUTER RAMPARTS."--SISTERON.]

[Illustration: "THE BRIDGE ACROSS THE DURANCE."--SISTERON.]

When in the city, the prelates occupied their Castle of the Citadel with
the high lookouts and defences, far from their Cathedral, which is in
the lower town near the heavy, round towers of the ramparts. This
church, which has been very slightly and very judiciously restored, is
of unknown date, probably of the XII century, it is faithful to the
native architectural tradition, and in some details more interesting
than many of the Provençal Cathedrals. Its exterior is small and low.
There are the familiar, friendly little apses of the Romanesque; near
them, above the east end of the north aisle, the squat tower with a
modest, modern spire; and at its side, above the roof-line, is the
octagon that stands over the dome. All this structure is unaffectedly
simple. The walls and buttresses which enclose the aisles are plain, and
it is only by comparison with this architectural Puritanism that the
façade may be considered ornate. Near the top of its wall, which is
supported by sturdy piers, are three round windows, with deep, splayed
frames. The largest of them is directly above the high, slender portal
that is somewhat reminiscent of the Italian influence, so elaborately
marked further up the valley, at Embrun. The rounded arch of the
door-way and its pointed gable are repeated, on either side, in a
half-arch and half-gable. An allegorical animal, in relief, stands above
the central arch, and a few columns with delicate capitals complete the
adornment of the entrance-way, which, in spite of being the most
decorative part of the church, is most discreet.

Nine steps lead down into an interior that is small, very usually
planned, and much defaced by XVII century gilt--yet is essentially
dignified and impressive. Eliminate the tawdry altars, take away the
stucco Saints and painted Virgins, let the chapels be mere shadowy
corners in the dark perspective, and the little church appears like the
meeting-place of the Faithful of an early Christianity. Its nave and
each of the narrow side aisles rise to round tunnel-vaults; there are
but five bays, and the last is covered by a small, octagonal dome. The
whole church is built of a dark stone that is almost black, its lighting
is very dim, and centres in the little apses where the holiest statues
stand and the most sacred rites are celebrated; and the worshippers,
shrouded in twilight, have more of the atmosphere of mystery than is
usual in the Cathedrals of Provence, the subtle influence of quiet
shadowy darkness that is so potent in the churches of the Spanish
borderland.

[Illustration: "ENTRANCES TO TWO NARROW STREETS."--SISTERON.]

Many will pass through Sisteron and enjoy its rugged strength, its
sun-lit days, its narrow streets, and the peaks that stand out in solemn
sternness against the dark blue sky at night. Notre-Dame-de-Pomeriis has
none of the salient beauty of any of these, and to appreciate its
ancient charm, it must not be forgotten that the Provençal Cathedral has
not the distinction of size or the elaboration of the greater Cathedrals
of Gascony, that it is far removed from the fine originalities of
Languedoc, that it is conventional, and, as it were, clannish, and that
its highest dignity is in a simple quiet that is never awe-full. There
is, in truth, more than one church of this country that needs the
embellishment of its history to make it truly interesting. But
Notre-Dame of Sisteron is not of these. It is not the big, empty shell
of Carpentras, nor the little rough Cathedral of Orange. It is the
smaller, more perfect one, of finer inspiration, which the many will
pass by, the few enjoy.



IV.

CATHEDRALS OF THE VALLEYS.


[Sidenote: Orange.]

Lying on the Rhone, and almost surrounded by the papal Venaissin, is a
tiny principality of less than forty thousand acres. This small state
has given title to more than one distinguished European who never
entered its borders, and who was alien to it not only in birth, but in
language and family. So great was the fame of its rulers that this
small, isolated strip of land suffered for their principles, and
probably owes to them much of its devastation in the terrible Wars of
Religion. From the well-known convictions of the Princes of Orange, the
country was always counted a refuge for heretics of all shades, and in
1338 they were in sufficient force to demolish the tower of the
Cathedral. Later in history, Charles IX declared William of Nassau "an
outlaw" and his principality "confiscate"; and in 1571, there was a
three days' massacre of Protestants. In spite of this horrid orgy the
Reformers rose again in might and soon prevented all celebration of
Catholic rites. Refugees fleeing from the Dragonnades of Dauphiné and of
the Cévennes poured into the principality; and when the Princes of
Orange were strong enough to protect their state, its Catholics lived
restricted lives; but when the Protestant power waned, Kings and
Captains of France raided the land in the name of the Church. And at
the death of William of Orange, King of England, Louis XIV seized the
capital of the state, razed its great palace and its walls, and after
the Treaty of Utrecht had awarded the principality to the French crown,
treated the defenceless Huguenots with the same impartial cruelty he had
meted to their fellow-believers in other parts of the kingdom. Orange's
changes in religious fate are not unlike those of Nîmes, with this
essential difference, that here Catholicism has conquered triumphantly.
Where ten worship in the little Protestant temple, a thousand throng to
the Mass.

Both in history and its monumental Roman ruins, the capital of this
province, Orange, is one of the richest cities of the Southland, but its
Cathedral is very poor and mean. The plan is one of the simplest of the
Provençal conceptions, a "hall basilica," archæologically interesting,
but in its present state of patch and repair, architecturally
commonplace and unbeautiful. In spite of Protestant attacks and Catholic
restorations, the XI century type has been maintained, a rectangle whose
plain double arches support a tunnel vault and divide the interior into
four bays. The piers are heavy and severe; and between them are alcoves,
used as chapels. The choir, narrower than the nave, is preceded by the
usual dome, and beyond it is a little unused apse, concealed from the
rest of the interior by a wall. Unimportant windows built with
distinctly utilitarian purpose successfully light this small, simple
room, and no kindly shadow hides its bareness or diminishes the unhappy
effect of the paintings which disfigure the walls. The Cathedral's
exterior is so surrounded by irregular old houses that the traveller had
discovered it with some difficulty. It has little that is worthy of
description, and after having entered by a conspicuously poor
Renaissance portal only to go out under an uninteresting modern one, he
found himself lost in wonder that the Cathedral-builders of
Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth should have utterly failed in a town which
offered them such inspiring suggestions as the great Arch of Triumph and
the still greater Imperial Theatre, besides all the other remains of
Roman antiquity which, long after the building of Notre-Dame, the
practical Maurice of Orange demolished for the making of his mediæval
castle.


[Sidenote: Cavaillon.]

It was growing dusk, of a spring evening, when the traveller arrived at
Cavaillon and wandered about the narrow streets and came upon the
Cathedral. Glimpses of an interesting dome and a turret-tower had
appeared once or twice above the house-tops, leading him on with
freshened interest, and there was still light enough for many first
impressions when he arrived before the low cloister-door. But here was
no place for peaceful meditation. An old woman, coiffed and bent,
brushed past him as she entered, a chair in each hand; and as he effaced
himself against the church wall, a younger woman went by, also
chair-laden. Two or three others came, talking eagerly, little girls in
all stages of excitement ran in and out, and little boys came and went,
divided between assumed carelessness and a feeling of unusual
responsibility. Then a priest appeared on the threshold, not in
meditation, but on business. Another, old and heavy, and panting,
hurried in; and through the cloister-door, Monsieur le Curé, breviary in
hand, prayed watchfully. A little fellow, running, fell down, and the
priest sprang to lift him; the child was too small not to wish to cry,
but too much in haste to stop for tears. The priest watched him with a
kindly shrug and a smile as he ran on;--there was no time for laughing
or crying, there was time for nothing but the mysterious matter in hand.

"What is it?" the traveller finally asked.

"Ah, Monsieur, to-morrow is the day of the First Communion. We all have
just prayed, just confessed, in the church; and our parents are
arranging their places. For to-morrow there will be crowds--everybody.
You too, Monsieur, are coming perhaps? The Mass is at half-past six."

Such was the living interest of the place that the traveller moved away
without any very clear architectural impression of the Cathedral, except
of the curiously narrow bell-turret and of the height of the dome.

He did not see the early Mass, but toward ten wandered again to the
Cathedral and entered the cloister-door. It was a low-vaulted, sombre
little Cloister which all the chattering, animated crowds could not
brighten. Formerly two sides were gated off, and priests alone walked
there. The other sides were public passage-ways to the church. Now only
the iron grooves of the gates of separation remain, and the four walks
were thronged with people. Little girls in the white dresses of their
First Communion, veiled and crowned with roses, were hurrying to their
places; an old grandmother, with her arm around one of the little
communicants, knelt by a column, gazing up to the Virgin of the
cloister-close; proud and anxious parents led their children into
church, and friends met and kissed on both cheeks. In one corner, an old
woman was driving a busy trade in penny-worths of barley candy.
Diminutive altar-boys in white lace cassocks and red, fur-trimmed
capes, offered religious papers for sale. It was a harvest day for
beggars, and "for the love of the good God" many a sou was given into
feeble dirty hands.

[Illustration: "IT WAS A LOW-VAULTED, SOMBRE LITTLE CLOISTER."
CAVAILLON.]

For a time the traveller walked about the Cloister, so tiny and worn a
Cloister that on any other day it must have seemed melancholy indeed. So
low a vaulting is not often found, massive and rounded and seeming to
press, lowering, above the head. The columns, which help to support its
weight, are short and heavy and thick, so worn that their capitals are
sometimes only suggestive and sometimes meaningless. On one side the
carving is distinctly Corinthian; on another altogether lacking. Between
the columns, one could glance into a close so small that ten paces would
measure its length. It was a charming little spot, all filled with
flowers and plants that told of some one's constant, tender care. From
above the nodding flowers and leaves rose the statue of the Madonna and
the Child.

The tolling bell called laggards to Mass. With them, the traveller
entered the church, and found it so crowded that it was only after
receiving many knocks from incoming children, and sundry blows on the
head and shoulders from ladies who carried their chairs too carelessly,
after minutes of time and a store of patience, that he finally reached a
haven, a corner of the Chapel of Saint-Véran. There, under the care of
the Cathedral's Patron, he escaped further injuries and assisted at a
long, interesting ceremony.

Mass had already begun, but the voice of the priest and the answering
organ were lost in the movement of excited friends, the murmur of
questions, and the clatter of nailed shoes on the stone floor. A Suisse,
halberd in hand, and gorgeous in tri-cornered hat and the red and gold
of office, kept the aisle-ways open with firm but kind insistence; and
the priests who were directing the children in the body of the church,
were wise enough to overlook the disorder, which was not irreverence,
but interest. For days, everybody had been thinking of this ceremony;
everybody wanted "good places." But few found them. For the little nave
of the church was chiefly given up to the communicants. They sat on long
benches, facing each other. The boys, sixty or seventy of them, were
nearest the Altar; the girls, even more numerous, nearest the door. A
young priest walked between the rows of boys and the old, panting Father
directed the girls.

The whole interior of the church, at whose consecration no less a
prelate than Pope Innocent IV had presided, is small and its plan is
essentially of the Provençal type. The high tunnel vault rests, like
that of Orange, on double arches; and as the nave is very narrow and its
light very dim, the church seems lofty, sombre, and impressive, with a
very serious dignity which its detail fails to carry out. The chapels,
which lie between the heavy buttresses, are dim recesses which increase
the darkened effect of the interior. Of the ten, only three differ
essentially from the general plan; and although of the XVII century,
their style is so severe and they are so ill-lighted that they do not
greatly debase the church. The choir is entered from under a rounded
archway, and its dome is loftier than the nave and much more beautiful
than the semi-dome of the apse, whose roof, in these practical modern
times, has been windowed.

That which almost destroys the effect of the church's fine lines and
would be intolerable in a stronger light, is the mass of gilt and
polychrome with which the interior is covered. The altars are
monstrously showy, the walls and buttresses are coloured, and even the
interesting, sculptured figures beneath the corbels have been carefully
tinted. The dead arise with appropriate mortuary pallor, the halo of
Christ is pure gold, and all the draperies of God and His saints are in
true, primary shadings.

From the contemplation of this misuse of paint, and of a sadly misplaced
inner porch of the XVII century, the traveller's attention was recalled
to the old priest. His hand was raised, the eye of every little girl was
fixed on him and instantly, in their soft, shrill voices, they began the
verse of a hymn. The traveller glanced down the nave. Every boy was on
his feet, white ribbons hanging bravely from the right arm, the Crown of
Thorns correctly held in one white-gloved hand, a Crucifix fastened with
a bow of ribbon to the coat lapel. Every eye was on the young priest,
who also raised his hand. Then they sang, as the girls had sung, and
with a right lusty will. And then, under the guiding hands, both boys
and girls sang together. There was a silence when their voices died
away, and from the altar a deep voice slowly chanted "Ite; missa est,"
and the High Mass of the First Communion Day was over.

Outside, little country carts stood near the church, and fathers and
brothers in blue blouses were waiting for the little communicants who
had had so long and so exciting a morning. Walking about with the
crowds, the traveller saw an exterior whose façade was plainly
commonplace and whose bare lateral walls were patched, and crowded by
other walls. Finally he came upon the apse, the most interesting part of
the church's exterior; and he leaned against a café wall and looked
across the little square.

Externally, the apse of Saint-Véran has five sides, and each side seems
supported by a channelled column. The capitals of these columns are
carved with leaves or with leaves and grotesques; on them round arches
rest; and above is a narrow foliated cornice. In relieving contrast to
the artificial classicism of the Renaissance of the interior, the
feeling of this apse is quite truly ancient and pagan, and it is not
less unique nor less charming because it is placed against a plain,
uninteresting wall. The eye travelling upward, above the choir-dome,
meets the lantern with its rounded windows and pointed roof, and by its
side the high little bell-turret which completes a curious exterior; an
exterior which is interesting and even beautiful in detail, but
irregular and heterogeneous as a whole.

The Cathedral of Cavaillon is one of many possibilities. Although small
like those of its Provençal kindred, it has more dignity than Orange,
more simplicity of interior line than the present Avignon, and it is to
be regretted that it should have suffered no less from restoration than
from old age.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL'S TOWER AND TURRET.--CAVAILLON.]


[Sidenote: Apt.]

Few of the Cathedral-churches of the Midi are without holy relics, but
none is more famous, more revered, and more authentic a place of
pilgrimage than the Basilica of Apt. It came about in this way, says
local history. When Martha, Lazarus, and the Holy Marys of the Gospels
landed in France, they brought with them the venerated body of Saint
Anne, the Virgin's Mother; and Lazarus, being a Bishop, kept the holy
relic at his episcopal seat of Marseilles. Persecutions arose, and
dangers innumerable; and for safety's sake the Bishop removed Saint
Anne's body to Apt and sealed it secretly in the wall. For centuries,
Christians met and prayed in the little church, unconscious of the
wonder-working relic hidden so near them; and it was only through a
miracle, in Charlemagne's time and some say in his presence, that the
holy body was discovered. This is the history which a sacristan recites
to curious pilgrims as he leads them to the sub-crypt.

The sub-crypt of Sainte-Anne, one of the earliest of Gallo-Roman
"churches," is not more than a narrow aisle; its low vault seems to
press over the head; the air is damp and chill; and the one little
candle which the patient sacristan moves to this side and to that, shows
the plain, un-ornamented stone-work and the undoubted masonry of Roman
times. It was part of the Aqueduct which carried water to the Theatre in
Imperial days, and had become a chapel in the primitive Christian era.
At the end which is curved as a choir is a heavy stone, used as an
altar; and high in the wall is the niche where the body of the church's
patron lay buried for those hundreds of years. It is a gloomy, cell-like
place, most curious and most interesting; and as the traveller saw faith
in the earnest gaze of some of his fellow-visitors, and doubt in the
smiles of others, he wondered what ancient ceremonials, secret Masses,
or secret prayers had been said in this tiny chamber, and what rows of
phantom-like worshippers had filed in and out the dark corridor.

Directly above is the higher upper crypt of the church, a diminutive but
true choir, with its tiny altar and ambulatory,--a jewel of the
Romanesque, heavy and plain and beautifully proportioned, with columns
and vaulting in perfect miniature. This, from its absolute purity of
style, is the most interesting part of the church; and being a crypt, it
is also the most difficult to see. In vain the sacristan ran from side
to side with his little candle, in vain the traveller gazed and
peered,--the little church was full of shadows and mysteries, dark and
lost under the weight of the great choir above.

[Illustration: "THE MAIN BODY OF THE CHURCH."--APT.]

Even the main body of the church, above ground, is dimly lighted by
small, rounded windows above the arches of the nave, and from the dome
of Saint Anne's Chapel. Doubtless, on Sundays after High Mass, when the
great doors are opened, the merry sun of Provence casts its cheerful
rays far up the nave. But this is a church which is the better for its
shadows. A Romanesque aisle of the IX or X century, built by that same
Bishop Alphant who had seen the construction of the little crypt church,
a central nave of the XI century, Romanesque in conception, and a north
aisle of poor Provençal Gothic make a large but inharmonious
interior. Restoration following restoration, chapels of the XVIII
century, new vaultings, debased and conglomerate Gothic, and spectacular
decorations of gilded wood have destroyed the architectural value and
real beauty of the Cathedral's interior. Yet in the dim light, which is
the light of its every-day life, the great height of the church and its
sombre massiveness are not without impressiveness.

The exterior dominates the city, but it is so hopelessly confused and
commonplace that its natural dignity is lost. The heavy arch which
supports the clock tower forms an arcade across a narrow street and
makes it picturesque without adding dignity to the church itself. The
walls are unmeaning, often hidden by buildings, and there is not a
portal worthy of description. There is the dome of Saint Anne's Chapel
with a huge statue of the Patron, and the lantern of the central dome
ending in a pointed roof; but each addition to the exterior seems only
an ignorant or a spiteful accentuation of the general architectural
confusion.

To the faithful Catholic, the interest of Sainte-Anne of Apt lies in its
wonderful and glorious relics. Here are the bodies of Saint Eléazer and
Sainte Delphine his wife, a couple so pious that every morning they
dressed a Statue of the Infant Jesus, and every night they undressed it
and laid it to rest in a cradle. There is also the rosary of Sainte
Delphine whose every bead contained a relic; and before the Revolution
there were other treasures innumerable. During many years Apt has been
the pilgrim-shrine of the Faithful, and great and small offerings of
many centuries have been laid before the miracle-working body of the
Virgin's sainted Mother.

[Illustration: THE VIRGIN AND SAINT ANNE. _By Benzoni._]

The most famous of those who came praying and bearing gifts was Anne of
Austria, whose petition for the gift of a son, an heir for France, was
granted in the birth of Louis XIV. In gratitude, the Queen enriched the
church by vestments wrought in thread of gold and many sacred ornaments;
and at length she commanded Mansart to replace the little chapel in
which she had prayed, by a larger and more sumptuous one, a somewhat
uninteresting structure in the showy style of the XVII century, which is
now the resting-place of Saint Anne. In this chapel is the most
beautiful of the church's treasures which, strange to say, is a piece of
modern sculpture given by the present "Monseigneur of Avignon." It is
small, and badly placed on a marble altar of discordant toning, with a
draped curtain of red gilt-fringed velvet for its background. Yet in
spite of these inartistic surroundings it has lost none of its tender
charm. Seated, with a scroll on her knees, the aged mother is earnestly
teaching the young Virgin who stands close by her side. The slender old
hand with its raised forefinger emphasises the lesson, and the loving
expression of the wrinkled, ascetic face, the attentiveness of the
Virgin and her slim young figure, make a touching picture, and a
beautiful example of the power of the modern chisel. Yet faith in
shrines and miraculous power is not, in this XX century, as pure nor as
universal as in the days of the past; and Faith, in Provençal Apt which
possesses so large a part of the Saint's body, is not as simple, and
therefore not as strong as in Breton Auray which has but a part of her
finger. Republicanism in the south country is not too friendly to the
Church, kings and queens no longer come with prodigal gifts, and
Sainte-Anne of Apt has not the peasant strength of Sainte-Anne of Auray.
And in spite of the great feast-day of July, in spite of Aptoisian
pride, in spite of the devotion and prayers of faithful worshippers, the
Cathedral of Apt is a church of past rather than of present glories.


[Sidenote: Riez.]

Just as the church-bells were chiming the morning Angelus, and the warm
sun was rising on a day of the early fall, a traveller drove out of old
Manosque. He had no gun,--therefore he had not come for the hunting; he
had no brass-bound, black boxes, and therefore could not be a "Commis."
What he might be, he well knew, was troubling the brain of the
broad-backed man sitting before him, who, with many a long-drawn
"Ou-ou-u-u-" was driving a fat little horse. But native courtesy
conquered natural curiosity and they drove in silence to the long, fine
bridge that spans the river of evil repute:

    "Parliament, Mistral, and Durance
    Are the three scourges of Provence."

At that time of year, however, the Durance usually looks peaceable and
harmless enough; half its great bed is dry and pebbly, and the water
that rushes under the big arches of the bridge is not great in volume.
But the size and strength of the bridge itself and certain huge rocks,
placed for a long distance on either side of the road, are significant
of floods and of the spring awakening of the monstrous river that, like
Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, has two lives.

[Illustration: "SAINT-MARTIN-DE-BRÔMES WITH ITS HIGH, SLIM TOWER."]

[Illustration: "THE FORTIFIED MONASTERY OF THE TEMPLARS."--(NEAR
GRÉOUX).]

The road wound about the low hills of the Alps, past a massive,
fortified monastery of the Templars whose windows gape in ruin; past
Saint-Martin-de-Brômes with its high, slim, crenellated watch-tower;
past many quiet little villages where in the old times, Taine says,
"Good people lived as in an eagle's nest, happy as long as they were not
slain--that was the luxury of the feudal times." Between these villages
lay vast groves of the grey-green olive-trees, large flourishing farms,
and, further still, the bleak mountains of the Lower Alps. It was toward
them the driver was turning, for rising above a smiling little valley,
surrounded by fields of ripened grain, lay Riez. A donjon stands above a
broken wall, on the hillside houses cluster around a church's spire, and
alone, on the top of the hill, stands the little Chapel of Saint-Maxime,
the only relic of the Great Seminary that was destroyed by the
Revolutionists of '89. Here, after the destruction of one of the several
Cathedrals of Riez, the Bishop celebrated Masses, but the little chapel
was never consecrated a Cathedral. It has been recently restored and
re-built in an uninteresting style,--the exterior is bare to ugliness,
the interior so painted that the six old Roman columns which support the
choir are overwhelmed by the banality of their surroundings. The plateau
on which the chapel is built is now almost bare; olive-trees grow to its
edges and there is no trace of the Seminary that was once so full of
active life. The traveller, sitting in the shade of the few pine-trees,
looked over the broad view toward the peaks whose bare rocks rise with
awful sternness, and the little hills that stand between them and the
valley, till finally his eyes wandered to the town beneath, and the
firm, broad roads which approach it from every direction. For Riez,
although in the lost depths of Provence, far from railways and tourists,
is a bee-hive of industry, largely supplying the necessities of these
secluded little towns. Its hat-making, rope factories, and tanneries are
quite important; the shops of its main streets are not without a
tempting attractiveness, and there is all the provincial stateliness of
Saint-Remy with much less stagnancy.

Riez was the Albece Reiorum Apollinarium in the Colonia Julia Reiorum of
the Romans, but there are very few traces of the city with this
high-sounding name. The whole atmosphere of the little town is XII
century. Two of its old gates, part of the wall, and the crenellated
tower still stand, with ruined convents and monasteries of Capuchins,
Cordeliers, and Ursulines; and it may be inferred from the remains of
the Bishop's Palace and the broad promenade which was one of its
avenues, and from the episcopal château at Montagnac, that
ecclesiastical state was not less worthily upheld at Riez than in the
other Sees of the South of France.

Many difficulties, however, had beset the Cathedral-building prelates.
Their first church, Notre-Dame-du-Siège, dating partly from the
foundation of the See in the IV century, partly from the X and XII
centuries, was destroyed by storm and flood, and its site near the
treacherous little river being considered too perilous, a new Cathedral
of Notre-Dame-du-Siège and Saint-Maxime was begun; and it was then that
the Bishops celebrated temporarily at Saint-Maxime's on the hill.

During the Revolution the See was suppressed; the church has been much
re-built and changed; so that only a tower which is part of the present
Notre-Dame-du-Siège, and the traces of the earliest foundation near the
little Colostre, remain to tell of the different Cathedrals of Riez.

[Illustration: "THE TOWER OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-SIÈGE."--RIEZ.]

Near the site of the oldest church is one of the few monuments of a very
early Christianity which have escaped the perils of time. It is of
unknown date, and although it is said to have been part of the Cathedral
which stood between it and the river, it appears to have been always an
independent and separate building. The peasants say that in the memory
of their forefathers it was used as a chapel, they call it indefinitely
"the Pantheon," "the Temple," or "the Chapel of Saint-Clair," but it was
almost certainly a baptistery of that curious and beautiful type which
was abandoned so early in the evolution of Christian architecture.

[Illustration: "NOTHING COULD BE MORE QUAINTLY OLD AND MODEST THAN THE
BAPTISTERY."--RIEZ.]

Following the road which his innkeeper pointed out, the traveller became
so absorbed in the busy movement of the communal threshing-ground, the
arrival of the yellow grain, the women who were wielding pitchforks, and
the horses moving in circles, with solemn rhythm, that he nearly passed
a low building, the object of his search. Nothing could be more quaintly
old and modest than the baptistery of Riez. It is a small square
building of rough cemented stone whose stucco has worn away. The roof is
tiled, and from out a flattened dome, blades of grass sprout sparsely. A
tiny bell-turret and an arch in the front wall complete the
ornamentation of this humble, diminutive bit of architecture, and except
that it is different from the usual Provençal manner of construction,
one would pass many times without noticing it.

[Illustration: "BETWEEN THE COLUMNS AN ALTAR HAS BEEN
PLACED."--BAPTISTERY, RIEZ.]

Walking down the steps which mark the differences that time has made in
the levels of the ground and entering a small octagonal hall, one of the
most interesting interiors of Provence meets the eye. "Each of its four
sides," writes Jules de Laurière, "which correspond to the angles of the
outer square, has a semicircular apse built in the walls themselves. The
eight columns, placed in a circle about the centre of the edifice,
divide it into a circular nave and a central rotunda, and support eight
arches which, in turn, support an octagonal drum, and above this is the
dome." This room is of simple and charming architectural conception, and
even in melancholy ruin, it has much beauty. It gains in comparison with
the re-constructed baptisteries of Provence, for something of a
primitive character has been preserved to which such modern altars and
XVII century trappings as those of Aix and Fréjus are fatal. Under the
heavy dust there is visible an unhappy coating of whitewash, traces of a
fire still blacken the walls, fragments of Roman sculpture are scattered
about, and between the columns a pagan altar has been placed for
safe-keeping. The columns themselves are of pagan construction, and as
they differ somewhat in size and capitals, it is not improbable that
they came from the ruins of several of the great public buildings of
Riez. At the time of the baptistery's construction, the barbaric
invasion had begun, and these Roman monuments may have been in ruins;
but in any case, it was a pious and justifiable custom of Christians to
take from pagan structures, standing or fallen, stones and pillars that
would serve for building churches to the "one, true God." The pillars
procured for this laudable purpose at Riez, with their beautiful, carved
capitals, gave the little baptistery its one decoration, and far from
disturbing the simplicity of its style, they add a slenderness and
height and harmony to a room which, without them, would be too stiffly
bare. In the rotunda which they form, excavations have brought to light
a baptismal pool, and conduits which brought to it sufficient quantities
of water for the immersion--whole or partial--that was part of the
baptismal service of the early Church. But the archæological work has
abruptly ceased, and it is to be deeply regretted that here, in this
deserted place, where the Church desires no present restorations in
accordance with particular rites or modern styles of architecture, there
should not be a complete rehabilitation, a baptistery restored to the
actual state of its own era.

[Illustration: "THE BEAUTIFUL GRANITE COLUMNS."--RIEZ.]

Wandering across the fields, with the re-constructive mania strong upon
him, the traveller came across the beautiful granite columns which with
their capitals, bases, and architraves of marble, are the last standing
monument of Riez's Roman greatness. Fragments of sculpture, bits of
stone set in her walls, exist in numbers; but they are too isolated, too
vague, to suggest the lost beauty and grandeur which these lonely
columns express. He gazed at them in wonder. Was he stepping where once
had been a grand and busy Forum, was he looking at the Temple of some
great Roman god? The voices of the threshers sounded cheerily, the
Provençal sun shone bright and warm, but one of the greatest of
mysteries was before him,--the silent mystery of a dead past that had
once been a living present. He sat by the river, and tossed pebbles into
its shallow waters; the slanting rays of the sun gave the columns
delicate tints, old yellows and greys and violets, and at length, as
evening fell, they seemed to grow higher and whiter in the paler light,
until they looked like lonely funereal shafts, recalling to the memory
of forgetful man, Riez's long-dead greatness.


[Sidenote: Senez.]

In the comfortable civilisation of France, the stage-coach usually
begins where the railroad ends; and however remote a destination or
tedious a journey, an ultimate and safe arrival is reasonably certain.
This was the reflection which cheered the traveller when he began to
search for Senez, an ancient city of the Romans which was christianised
in the early centuries and enjoyed the rank of Bishopric until the
Revolution of '89. In spite of this dignified rank and the tenacity of
an ancient foundation, it lies so far from modern ken that even worthies
who live fifty miles away could only say that "Senez is not much of a
place, but it doubtless may be found ten--perhaps fifteen--or even
twenty kilometres behind the railroad."

"If Monsieur alighted at Barrême, probably the mail for Senez would be
left there too. And where letters go, some man or beast must carry
them, and one could always follow."

With these vague directions, the traveller set gaily out for Barrême,
where a greater than he had spent one bleak March night on the anxious
journey from Elba to Paris. The town shows no trace of Napoleon's
hurried visit. It looks a mere sleepy hamlet, and when the traveller
left the train he had already decided to push his journey onward.

"To Senez?" A man stepped up in answer to his inquiry. "Certainly there
was a way to get there, the mail-coach started in an hour. And a hotel?
A very good hotel--not Parisian perhaps, but hot food, a bottle of good
wine, and a clean bed. Could one desire more on this earth?"

The traveller thought not, and left the station--to stand transfixed
before the most melancholy conveyance that ever bore the high-sounding
name of "mail-coach." A little wagon in whose interior six thin persons
might have crowded, old windows shaking in their frames, the remains of
a coat of yellow paint, and in front a seat which a projecting bit of
roof protected from the sun,--this was the mail-coach of Senez, drawn by
a dejected, small brown mule, ragged with age, and a gaunt white horse
who towered above him. To complete the equipage, this melancholy pair
were hitched with ropes.

In due course of time the driver came, hooked an ancient tin box marked
"Lettres" to the dash-board, threw in a sacking-bag, and cap in hand,
invited the traveller to mount with him "where there was air." The long
whip cracked authoritatively, the postilion, a beautiful black dog,
jumped to the roof, and the mail-coach of Senez, with rattle and creak,
started on its scheduled run.

"Houp-là, thou bag of lazy bones done up in a brown skin! Ho-là, thou
whited sepulchre, thinkest thou I will get out and carry thee? Take this
and that."

[Illustration: "THE MAIL-COACH OF SENEZ."]

On either side the whip hit the road ferociously, but the old beasts of
burden shook their philosophic heads and slowly jogged on, knowing well
they would not be touched.

The hot sun of Provence, which "drinks a river as man drinks a glass of
wine," shone on the long, white "route nationale" that stretched out in
well-kept monotony through a valley which might well have been named
"Desolation." On either hand rose mountains that were great masses of
bare, seared rocks, showing the ravages of forgotten glaciers; the soil
that once covered them lay at their feet. Scarcely a shrub pushed out
from the crevices, and even along the road, the few thin poplars found
the poorest of nourishment.

Crossing a small bridge, there came into view an ancient village, a mere
handful of clustered wooden roofs, irregular, broken, and decayed.

"It was a city in the days when we were Romans," said the Courier, "and
they say that there are treasures underneath our soil. But who can tell
when people talk so much? And certainly two sous earned above ground buy
hotter soup than one can gain in many a search for twenty francs below."

He whipped up for a suitable and striking entry into town, turned into a
lane, and with much show of difficulty in reining up, stood before the
"hotel."

The traveller, having descended, entered a room that might have been the
subject of a quaint Dutch canvas. He saw a low ceiling, smoky walls,
long rows of benches, a sanded floor, and pine-board tables that
stretched back to an open door; and through the open door, the pot
swinging above the embers of the kitchen fire. The mistress of the inn,
a strong white-haired woman of seventy, came hurrying in to greet her
guest. "It was late," she said, and quickly put a basin full of water, a
new piece of soap, and a fresh towel on a chair near the kitchen door;
and as the traveller prepared himself for dinner he heard the crackling
of fresh boughs upon the fire and the cheerful singing of the pot.
Little lamps were lighted, and when he came to his table's end, he found
good country wine and a steaming cabbage-soup. Others came in to dine
and smoke and talk, and later from his bed-room window, he saw their
ghostly figures moving up and down the unlighted streets and heard them
say good-night. The inn-door was noisily and safely barred, and when the
retreating footsteps and the voices had died away, the quiet of the dark
remained unbroken until a watchman, with flickering lantern, passed, and
cried aloud "All's well."

[Illustration: "THE OPEN SQUARE."--SENEZ.]

Next morning the sun shone brightly on Senez, and the traveller hurried
to the open square. A horse, carrying a farmer's boy, meandered slowly
by, a chicken picked here and there, and water trickled slowly from the
tiny faucet of the village fountain.

[Illustration: "THE PALACE OF ITS PRELATES."--SENEZ.]

In this quiet spot, near the lonely desolation of the hills, is the
Cathedral. The Palace of its prelates, which is opposite, is now a
farm-house where hay-ricks stand in the front yard, and windows have
been walled up because Provençal winds are cold and glass is dear.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL.--SENEZ.]

Looking at this residence, one would think that the last Bishops of
Senez were insignificant priests, steeped in country wine and country
stagnancy. But such a supposition is very far from true. For we know
that in the XVIII century, Jean Soannen, Bishop of the city, was called
before a Council at Embrun to answer a charge of resistance to the
far-famed Bull "Unigenitus," and so strong were his convictions and so
great his loyalty to his conscience, that he resisted the Council as
well as the Bull, and was deprived of his See as a Jansenist and
recalcitrant, and exiled to the Abbey of La-Chaise-Dieu. In quiet Senez
there must always have been time for reflection, and one can imagine the
bitter struggle of this brave man as he walked the rooms of the Palace,
as he crossed and re-crossed the small square to the Cathedral. One can
imagine his wrestling with God and his conscience every time that he
celebrated a Mass for the people before the Cathedral's altar. One can
understand the bitter fight between two high ideals, irreconcilable in
his life,--that of work in God's vineyard or of doctrinal purity as he
saw it. He had to choose between them, this Bishop of Senez, and when he
left the town to answer the summons of the Council at Embrun, his heart
must have been sore within him, he must have said farewell to many
things. Few decisions can be more serious than the renunciation of
family and home for the service of God, few more solemn than the
struggles between the flesh and the spirit; but no more pathetic picture
can exist than that sad figure of Jean Soannen; for he had renounced
family and the world, and for the sake of "accepted truth" which was
false to him, endured helpless, solitary insignificance under the
espionage of suspicious and unfriendly monks. The traveller remembered
his tomb, that tomb in a small chapel near the foot of the stair-case in
the famous Abbey far-away, and sighing, hoped that in his mournful
exile, the Bishop may have realised that "they also serve who only stand
and wait."

The Bull Unigenitus, which caused his downfall, is believed to have
caused, during the last years of Louis XIV's bigotry, the persecution of
thirty thousand respectable, intelligent, and orderly Frenchmen. De
Noailles, several Bishops, and the Parliament of Paris refused to accept
it, though they stopped short of open rebellion, and even Fénélon
"submitted" rather than acceded to it. This famous and vexatious
document was an unhappy emanation of Pope Clement XIII. Hard pressed by
his faithful supporters, the Jesuits, he promulgated it in 1713, and it
condemns with great explicitness one hundred and one propositions which
are taken from Quesnel's Jansenistic "Réflexions morales sur le Nouveau
Testament." The Jesuits held the Jansenists in a horror which the
Jansenists reciprocated; the Pope owed almost too heavy a debt of
gratitude to the order of Saint Ignatius and was constrained to repay.
But the Bull, instead of procuring peace, brought the greatest
affliction and desolation of mind to His Holiness, and when later, the
French envoy asked him why he had condemned such an odd number of
propositions, the Pope seizing his arm burst into tears.

"Ah Monsieur Amelot! Monsieur Amelot! What would you have me do? I
strove hard to curtail the list, but Père Le Tellier"--Louis XIV's last
confessor and a devoted Jesuit--"had pledged his word to the King that
the book contained more than one hundred errors, and with his foot on my
neck, he compelled me to prove him right. I condemned only one more!"

The Cathedral of Senez is an humble village church where frank and
simple poverty exists with the remains of ancient splendour. It is
small, as are all churches of its style, and although it does not lack a
homely dignity, it is a modest work of XII century Romanesque, and the
sonorous title of its consecration in 1242, "the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary," suggests an impressiveness which the Cathedral
never had.

Two heavy buttresses that support the façade wall are reminiscent of the
more majestic Notre-Dame-du-Bourg of Digne, and on them rest the ends of
a pointed gable-roof. Between these buttresses, the wall is pierced by a
long and graceful round-arched window, and below the window is the
single, pointed portal whose columns are gone and whose delicate
foliated carvings and mouldings are sadly worn away. A sun-dial painted
on the wall tells the time of day, and at the gable's sharpest point a
saucy little angel with a trumpet in his mouth blows with the wind.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL.--SENEZ.]

Entering the little portal, the traveller saw the poor wooden benches of
the congregation massed together, and beyond them, the stalls of
long-departed Canons. In front of these old stalls, stood the church's
latest luxury, a melodeon, and above them hung the tapestries of its
richer past. Tapestries also beautify the choir-walls, and on either
side, are the narrow transepts and the apses of a good old style. There
are also poor and tawdry altars which stand in strange, pitiable
contrast with the old walls and the fine tunnel vaulting, the dignified
architecture of the past.

[Illustration: "TAPESTRIES BEAUTIFY THE CHOIR WALLS."--SENEZ.]

Leaving the interior, where a solitary peasant knelt in prayer, the
traveller saw side-walls bare as the mountains round about, the squat
tower that rises just above the roof, and coming to the apse-end he
found the presbytery garden. From the garden, beyond the fallen gate, he
saw the church as the Curé saw it, the three round apses with their
little columns, the smaller decorative arches of the cornices, the
pointed roof, and between branches full of apple blossoms, the softened
lines of the low square tower. Here, trespassing, the Curé found him.
And after they had walked about the town, and talked the whole day long
of the great world which lay so far beyond, they went into the little
garden as the sun was going down, and fell to musing over coffee cups.
The priest was first to speak.

"Perhaps, buried under those old church walls, lie proofs of our early
history, the stones of some old Temple, or statues of its gods; for we
were once Sanitium, a Roman city in a country of six Roman roads.
Perhaps all around us were great monuments of pagan wealth, a Mausoleum
near these bare old rocks like that which stands in loneliness near
Saint-Remy, Villas, Baths, or Triumphal Arches."

The keen eyes softened, as he continued in gentle irony, "Down in this
little valley of the Asse de Blieux, our town seems far away from any
scene in which the great ones of earth took part. Although I know that
it is true, it often seems to me a legend that the gay and gallant
Francis I, rushing to a mad war, stopped on his way to injure us; and
that four hundred years ago a band of Huguenots raved around our old
Cathedral, and tried to pull it to the ground."

"And do you think it can be true," the traveller asked, "that Bishops
held mysterious prisoners in that tower for most dreary lengths of
time?"

[Illustration: "BETWEEN BRANCHES FULL OF APPLE-BLOSSOMS, THE CHURCH AS
THE CURÉ SAW IT."--SENEZ.]

The Curé smiled, and shook his white head. "That is a story which the
peasants tell,--an old tradition of the land. It may be true, since
priests are mortal men and doubtless dealt with sinners." He smiled
indulgently. "Through the many years I have been here, I have often
wondered about all these things, but it is seldom I can speak my
thoughts. Sometimes when I am here alone, I lose the sense of present
things and seem to see the phantoms of the past. Then the dusk comes on,
as it is coming now; the night blots Senez from my sight as fate has
blotted out its record from history,--and I realise that our human
memory is in vain."


[Sidenote: Aix.]

The old Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur at Aix is not one of those rarely
beautiful churches where a complete and restful homogeneity delights the
eye, nor is it a church of crude and shocking transitions. It is rather
a well-arranged museum of ecclesiastical architecture, where, in
sufficient historical continuity and harmony, many Provençal conceptions
are found, and the evolution of Provençal architecture may be very
completely followed. As in all collections, the beauty of Saint-Sauveur
is not in a general view or in any glance into a long perspective, but
in a close and loving study of the details it encloses; and so charming,
so really beautiful are many of the diverse little treasures of Aix,
that such study is better repaid here than in any other Provençal
Cathedral. For this is one of the largest Cathedrals of the province,
and the buildings which form the ecclesiastical group are most
complete. With its baptistery, Cloister, church, and arch-episcopal
Palace, it is not only of many epochs and styles, but of many historical
uncertainties, and the hypotheses of its construction are enough to daze
the most hardened archæologist.

[Illustration: "THE SOUTH AISLE."--AIX.]

The oldest part of the Cathedral is the baptistery, and the date of its
origin is unknown. Much of its character was lost in a restoration of
the XVII century, but its old round form, the magnificent Roman columns
of granite and green marble said to have been part of the Temple to
Apollo, give it an atmosphere of dignity and an ancient charm that even
the XVII century--so potent in architectural evil--was unable to
destroy.

[Illustration: THE ROMANESQUE PORTAL.]

In 1060, after the destructive vicissitudes of the early centuries,
Archbishop Rostaing d'Hyères issued a pastoral letter appealing to
the Faithful to aid him in the re-building of a new Cathedral; and it
may be reasonably supposed that the nave which is at present the south
aisle, the baptistery, and the Cloisters were the buildings that were
dedicated less than fifty years later. They are the only portions of the
church which can be ascribed to so early a period, and with the low door
of entrance, the single nave and the adjoining cloister-walk, they
constitute the usual plan of XI century Romanesque. Considering this as
the early church, in almost original form, it will be seen that the
portal is a very interesting example of the Provençal use not only of
Roman suggestion, but of the actual fragments of Roman art which had
escaped the invader; that the south aisle, in itself a completed
interior, bears a close resemblance to Avignon; and that the Cloister,
although now very worn and even defaced, must have been one of the
quaintest and most delicate, as it is one of the tiniest, in Provence.
Three sides of its arcades support plain buildings of a later date; the
fourth stands free, as if in ruin. Little coupled columns, some
slenderly circular, some twisted, and some polygonal, rest on a low
wall; piers, very finely and differently carved, are at each of the
arcade angles; the little capitals of the columns were once beautifully
cut, and even the surfaces of the arches have small foliated disks and
rosettes and are finished in roll and hollow. Unfortunately, a very
large part of this detail-work is so defaced that its subjects are
barely suggested, some are so eaten away that they are as desolate of
beauty as the barren little quadrangle; and the whole Cloister seems to
have reached the brink of that pathetic old age which Shakespeare has
described, and that another step in the march of time would leave it
"sans everything."

[Illustration: THE CLOISTER.--AIX.]

About two hundred years later, in 1285, the Archbishop of Aix found the
Cathedral too unpretending for the rank and dignity of the See, and he
began the Gothic additions. Like many another prelate his ambitions were
larger than his means; and the history of Saint-Sauveur from the XIII to
the XIX century, is that oft-told tale of new indulgences offered for
new contributions, halts and delays in construction, emptied treasuries,
and again, appeals and fresh efforts. The beginnings of the enlarged
Cathedral were architecturally abrupt. The old nave, becoming the south
aisle, was connected with the new by two small openings; it retained
much of its separateness and in spite of added chapels much actual
isolation. The Gothic nave, the north aisle and its many chapels, the
apse, and the transepts, whose building and re-construction stretched
over the long period between the XIII and XVII centuries, are
comparatively regular, uniform, and uninteresting. The most ambitious
view is that of the central nave, whose whole length is so little broken
by entrances to the side aisles, that it seems almost solidly enclosed
by its massive walls. Here in Gothic bays, are found those rounded,
longitudinal arches which belong to the Romanesque and to some structure
whose identity is buried in the mysterious past. The choir, with its
long, narrow windows, and clusters of columnettes, is very pleasing, and
its seven sides, foreign to Provence, remind one of Italian and Spanish
constructive forms and take one's memory on strange jaunts, to the
far-away Frari in Venice and the colder Abbey of London. From the choir
of Saint-Sauveur two chapels open; and one of them is a charming bit of
architecture, a replica in miniature of the mother-apse itself. The
paintings of this mother-apse are neutral, its glass has no claim to
sumptuousness, and the stalls are very unpretending; but above them hang
tapestries ascribed to Matsys, splendid hangings of the Flemish school
that were once in old Saint Paul's.

With these beautiful details the rich treasure-trove of the interior is
exhausted, and one passes out to study the details of the exterior. The
Cathedral's single tower, which rises behind the façade line, was one of
the parts that was longest neglected,--perhaps because a tower is less
essential to the ritual than any other portion of an ecclesiastical
building. Begun in 1323, the work dragged along with many periods of
absolute idleness, until 1880, when a balustrade with pinnacles at each
angle was added to the upper octagonal stage, and the building of the
tower was thus ended. The octagon with its narrow windows rests on a
plain, square base that is massively buttressed. It is a pleasant,
rather than a remarkable tower, and one's eye wanders to the more
beautiful façade. Here, encased by severely plain supports, is one of
the most charming portals of Provençal Gothic. Decorated buttresses
stand on either side of a large, shallow recess which has a high and
pointed arch, and in the centre, a slim pier divides the entrance-way
into two parts, pre-figuring the final division of the Just and the
Unjust. A multitude of finely sculptured statues were formerly hidden in
niches, under graceful canopies, and in the hundred little nooks and
corners which lurk about true Gothic portals. Standing Apostles and
seated Patriarchs, baby cherubs peering out, and the more dramatic
composition of the tympanum--the Transfiguration,--all lent a dignity
and wealth to Saint-Sauveur. Unfortunately many of these sculptures were
torn from their crannies in the great Revolution; and it is only a few
of the heavenly hosts,--the gracious Madonna, Saint Michael, and the
Prophets,--that remain as types of those that were so wantonly
destroyed. The low, empty gables that sheltered lost statues, their
slender, tapering turrets, and the delicate outer curve of the arch, are
of admirable, if not imposing, composition. The portal's wooden doors,
protected by plain casings, abound in carvings partly Renaissance,
partly Gothic. The Sibyls and Prophets stand under canopies, surrounded
by foliage, fruits, and flowers, or isolated from each other by little
buttresses or pilasters. This Gothic portal quite outshines, in its
graceful elaboration, the smaller door which stands near it, in the
simpler and not less potent charm of the Romanesque. And side by side,
these portals offer a curiously interesting comparison of the essential
differences and qualities of their two great styles. If the Romanesque
of Saint-Sauveur is far surpassed at Arles and Digne and Sisteron,
nowhere in Provence has Gothic richer details; and if the noblest of
Provençal creations must be sought in other little cities, the lover of
architectural comparisons, of details, of the many lesser things rather
than of the harmony of a single whole, will linger long in Aix.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL.--AIX.]

The old city itself shows scarcely a trace of the many historic dramas
of which it has been the scene,--the lowering tragedy of the Vaudois
time,--the bright, gay comedy of good king René's Court,--the shorter
scenes of Charles V's occupation,--the Parliament's struggle with
Richelieu and Mazarin,--the day of the fiery Mirabeau,--the grim
melodrama of the Revolution,--all have passed, and time has destroyed
their monuments almost as completely as the Saracens destroyed those of
the earlier Roman days. Only a few, unformed fragments of the great
Temple of Apollo remain in the walls of Saint-Sauveur. The earliest
Cathedral, Sainte-Marie-de-la-Seds, has entirely disappeared, the old
thermal springs are enclosed by modern buildings, and only the statue of
"the good King René" and the Church of the Knights of Malta give to Aix
a faint atmosphere of its past distinction. Who would dream that here
were the homes of the elegant and lettered courtiers of King René's
brilliant capital, who would think that this town was the earliest Roman
settlement in Gaul, the Aquæ Sextiæ of Baths, Temples, Theatres, and
great wealth? Aix is a stately town, a provincial capital which Balzac
might well have described--with old, quiet streets that are a little
dreary, with a fine avenue shaded by great trees in whose shadows a few
fountains trickle, with lines of little stages that come each day from
the country,--a city whose life is as far in spirit from the near-by
modernity of Marseilles as it is from that of Paris, as quaintly and
delightfully provincial as that other little Provençal city, the
Tarascon of King René and of Tartarin.



Languedoc.



I.

CATHEDRALS OF THE CITIES.


[Sidenote: Nîmes.]

Entering Languedoc from the valley of the Rhone, the Cathedral-lover is
doomed to disappointment in the city of Nîmes. All that intense,
intra-mural life of the Middle Ages seems to have passed this city by,
and its traces, which he is so eager to find, prove to be neither
notable nor beautiful.

[Illustration: "AN AMPHITHEATRE WHICH RIVALS THE ART OF THE
COLISEUM."--NÎMES.]

The great past of Nîmes is of a more remote antiquity than the Cathedral
Building Ages. A small but exquisite Temple, a Nymphæum, Baths, parts of
a fine Portal, Roman walls, and an Amphitheatre which rivals the art of
the Coliseum,--these are the ruins of Nîmean greatness. She was
essentially a city of the Romans, and that, even to-day, she has not
lost the memory of her glorious antiquity was well illustrated in 1874,
when the Nîmois, with much pomp and civic pride, unveiled a statue to
"their fellow-countryman," the Emperor Antoninus Pius. These are the
memories in which Nîmes delights. Yet her history of later times, if not
glorious, is full of strange and curious interest. Like all the ancient
cities of the South, she fell into the hands of many a wild and alien
foe, and at length in 737, Charles Martel arrived at her gates. Grossly
ignorant of art, no thing of beauty that stood in his path escaped fire
and axe; and smoke-marks along the arena walls show to-day how narrowly
they escaped the irreparable destruction which had wiped out the Forum,
the Capitol, the Temple, the Baths, and all the magnificence of Roman
Narbonne. To both the early and the later Middle Ages, Roman remains had
scarcely more meaning than they had for the Franks. The delicate Temple
of Trajan's wife, scorned for its pagan associations, was used as a
stable, a store-house, and, purified by proper ceremonials, it even
became a Christian church. The Amphitheatre has had a still stranger
destiny. To a mediæval Viscount, it was naturally inconceivable as a
place of amusement, and as naturally, he saw in its walls a stronghold
where he could live as securely as ever lord in castle. As a fortress
which successfully defied Charles Martel, it was a place of no mean
strength, and in 1100 it had become "a veritable hornets' nest, buzzing
with warriors."

A few years before, Pope Urban II had landed at Maguelonne and ridden to
Clermont to preach the First Crusade. On his return he stopped at Nîmes
and held a Council for the same holy purpose. Raymond de Saint-Gilles,
Count of Toulouse and overlord of Nîmes, travelled there to meet the
Sovereign Pontiff, and amid the wonderful ferment of enthusiasm which
the "Holy War" had aroused, the South was pledged anew to this romantic
and war-like phase of the cause of Christ. Trencavel, Viscount of Nîmes,
loyal to God and his Suzerain, followed Raymond to Palestine. Its
natural protectors gone, the city formed a defensive association called
the "Chevaliers of the Arena." As its name implies, this curious
fraternity was composed of the soldiers of the ancient amphitheatre.
Like many others of the time it was semi-military, semi-religious, its
members bound by many solemn oaths and ceremonies, and thus, by the
eccentricity of fate, this old pagan playground became a fortress
consecrated to Christian defence, the scene of many a solemn Mass.

The divisions in the Christian faith, which followed so closely the
fervours of the Crusades, were most disastrous to Nîmes. From the XIII
until the XVII centuries, wars of religion were interrupted by
suspicious and unheeded truces, and these in turn were broken by fresh
outbursts of embittered contest. An ally of the new "Crusaders" in Simon
de Montfort's day, Nîmes became largely Protestant in the XVI century;
and in 1567, as if to avenge the injuries their ancestors had formerly
inflicted on the Albigenses, the Nîmois sacked their Bishop's Palace and
threw all the Catholics they could find down the wells of the town. This
celebration of Saint Michael's Day was repaid at the Massacre of Saint
Bartholomew. The wise Edict of Nantes brought a truce to these
hostilities,--its revocation, new persecutions and flights. A hundred
years later the Huguenots were again in force, and, aided by the unrest
of the Revolution, successfully massacred the Catholics of the city; and
during the "White Terror" of 1815 the Catholics arose and avenged
themselves with equal vigour. When it is remembered that this savage and
vindictive spirit has characterised the Nîmois of the last six hundred
years, it is scarcely surprising that they should prefer to dwell on the
remote antiquity of their city rather than on the unedifying episodes of
her Christian history.

Between the glories of her paganism and the disputes of Christians, the
Faith has struggled and survived; but in the Cathedral-building era,
religious enthusiasm was so often expended in mutual fury and reprisals
that neither time nor thought was left for that common and gentle
expression of mediæval fervour, ecclesiastical architecture. And the
Church of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor, which would seem to have suffered
from the neglect and ignorance of both patrons and builders, is one of
the least interesting Cathedrals in Languedoc.

A graceful gallery of the nave, which also surrounds the choir, is the
notable part of the interior, and the insignificance of the exterior is
relieved only by a frieze of the XI and XII centuries. On this frieze is
sculptured, in much interesting detail, the Biblical stories of the
early years of mankind; but it is unfortunately placed so high on the
front wall that it seems badly proportioned to the façade, and as a
carved detail it is almost indistinguishable. As has been finely said
the whole church is "gaunt" and unbeautiful; it is a depressing mixture
of styles, Roman, Romano-Byzantine, and Gothic; and in studying its one
fine detail, a photograph or a drawing is much more satisfactory than an
hour's tantalising effort to see the original.


[Sidenote: Montpellier.]

Montpellier is "an agreeable city, clean, well-built, intersected by
open squares with wide-spread horizons, and fine, broad boulevards, a
city whose distinctive characteristics would appear to be wealth, and a
taste for art, leisure, and study." The "taste" and the "art" are
principally those of the pseudo-classic style, an imitation of "ancient
Greece and imperial Rome," which the French of the XVIII century carried
to such unpleasant excess. The general characteristics of the imitation,
size and bombast, are well epitomised in the principal statue of
Montpellier's fine Champ de Mars, which represents the high-heeled and
luxurious Louis XIV in the unfitting armour of a Roman Imperator,
mounted on a huge and restive charger. Such affectation in architectural
subjects is the death-blow to all real beauty and originality, and
Montpellier has gained little from its Bourbon patrons except a series
of fine broad vistas. No city could offer greater contrast to the
ancient and dignified classicism of Nîmes.

If the mediæval origin of Montpellier were not well known, one would
believe it the creation of the Renaissance, and the few narrow, tortuous
streets of the older days recall little of its intense past, when the
city grew as never before nor since, when scholars of the genius of
Petrarch and the wit of Rabelais sought her out, when she belonged to
Aragon or Navarre and not to the King of France. This is the interesting
Montpellier.

In the XIII century, she had a University which the Pope formally
sanctioned, and a school of medicine founded by Arabian physicians which
rivalled that of Paris. More significant still to Languedoc, her
prosperity had begun to overshadow that of the neighbouring Bishopric of
Maguelonne, and a bitter rivalry sprang up between the two cities. From
the first Maguelonne was doomed. She had no schools that could rival
those of Montpellier; she ceased to grow as the younger city increased
in fame and size, till even history passed her by, and the stirring
events of the times took place in the streets of her larger and more
prosperous neighbour. Finally she was deserted by her Bishops, and no
longer upheld by their episcopal dignity, her fall was so overwhelming
that to-day her mediæval walls have crumbled to the last stone and only
a lonely old Cathedral remains to mark her greatness. In 1536 my Lord
Bishop, with much appropriate pomp and ceremony, rode out of her gates
and entered those of Montpellier as titular Bishop for the first time.

He did not find the townsmen so elated by the new dignity of the city as
to have broken ground for a new Cathedral, nor did he himself seem
ambitious, as his predecessors of Maguelonne had been, to build a church
worthy of his rank. However, as a Bishop must have a Cathedral-church,
the chapel of the Benedictine monastery was chosen for this honour and
solemnly consecrated the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre of Montpellier. This
chapel had been built in the XIV century, and at the time of these
episcopal changes, only the nave was finished. It was, however, Gothic;
and as this style had become much favoured by the South at this late
period, the Bishop must have believed that he had the beginning of a
very fine and admirable Cathedral. In the religious wars which followed
1536, succeeding prelates found much to distract them from any further
building; the Cathedral itself was so injured that such attention as
could be spared from heretics to mere architectural details was devoted
to necessary restorations and reconstructions, and the finished
Saint-Pierre of to-day is an edifice of surprising modernity.

In the interior, the nave and aisles are partially of old construction,
but the beautiful choir is the XIX century building of Révoil. Of the
exterior, the entire apse is his also, and as the portal of the south
wall was built in 1884 and the northern side of the Cathedral is
incorporated in that of the Bishop's Palace, only the tower and the
façade are mediæval.

[Illustration: "ITS GENERAL EFFECT IS SOMEWHAT THAT OF A
PORTE-COCHÉRE."--MONTPELLIER.]

None of the towers have much architectural significance, either of
beauty or originality. In comparison with the decoration of the façade
they make but little impression. This decoration has more original
incongruity than any detail ever applied to façade, Gothic or
Romanesque, and is an extreme example of the license which southern
builders allowed themselves in their adaptation of the northern style.
It is a vagary, and has appealed to some Anglo-Saxon travellers, but
French authorities, almost without dissent, allude to it apologetically
as "unpardonable." Its general effect is somewhat that of a
porte-cochère, whose roofing, directly attached to the front wall, is
gothically pointed, and supported by two immense pillars. The pillars
end in cones that resemble nothing in the world so much as sugar-loaves,
and the whole structure is marvellously unique. Yet strange to say, the
effect of the façade, with the smoothness and roundness of its pillars
and the uncompromising squareness of its towers, while altogether bad,
is not altogether unpleasing. Standing before it the traveller was both
bewildered and fascinated as he saw that even in the extravagance of
their combinations, the builders, with true southern finesse, had
avoided both the grotesque and the monstrous.

[Illustration: "THE FINEST VIEW IS THAT OF THE APSE."--MONTPELLIER.]

As a whole, Saint-Pierre is a fine Cathedral; through many stages of
building, enlarging, and re-constructing, its style has remained
consonant; but the general impression is not altogether harmonious. The
perspective of the western front, which should be imposing, is destroyed
by a hill which slopes sharply up before the very portal. The façade is
attached to the immense, unbroken wall of the old episcopal Palace, and
the majesty, which is a Cathedral's by very virtue of its height alone,
is entirely destroyed by a seemingly interminable breadth of wall.
Reversing the natural order of things, the finest view is that of the
apse. And this modern part is, in reality, the chief architectural glory
of this comparatively new Cathedral and its comparatively modern town.


[Sidenote: Béziers.]

"You have only to look from a distance at any old-fashioned
Cathedral-city and you will see in a moment the mediæval relations
between Church and State. The Cathedral is the city. The first object
you catch sight of as you approach is the spire tapering into the sky,
or the huge towers holding possession of the centre of the
landscape--majestically beautiful--imposing by mere size. As you go
nearer, the pinnacles are glittering in the tints of the sunset, when
down below among the streets and lanes twilight is darkening. And even
now, when the towns are thrice their ancient size, ... the Cathedral is
still the governing force in the picture, the one object which possesses
the imagination, and refuses to be eclipsed." These words are the
description of Béziers as it is best and most impressively seen. From
the distance, the Cathedral and its ramparts rise in imposing mass, a
fine example of the strength, pride, and supremacy of the Church.

As we approach, the Cathedral grows much less imposing, and its façade
gives the impression of an unpleasant conglomeration of styles. It is
not a fortress church, yet it was evidently built for defence; it is
Gothic, yet the lightness and grace of that art are sacrificed to the
massiveness and resistive strength, imperatively required by southern
Cathedrals in times of wars and bellicose heretics. The whole building
seems a compromise between necessity and art.

It is, however, a notable example of the Gothic of the South, and of the
modifications which that style invariably underwent, through the
artistic caprice of its builders, or the political fore-sight of their
patrons, the Bishops.

The façade of Saint-Nazaire of Béziers has a Gothic portal of good but
not notable proportions, and a large and beautiful rose-window. As if to
protect these weaker and decorative attempts, the builder flanked them
with two square towers, whose crenellated tops and solid, heavy walls
could serve as strongholds. Perhaps to reconcile the irreconcilable,
crenellations joining the towers were placed over the rose-window, and
at either end of the portal, a few inches of Gothic carving were cut in
the tower-wall. The result is frank incongruity. And the traveller left
without regret, to look at the apse. It cannot be denied that the
clock-tower which comes into view is very square and thick; but in spite
of that it has a simple dignity, and as the apse itself is not florid,
this proved to be the really pleasing detailed view of the Cathedral.
The open square behind the church is tiny, and there one can best see
the curious grilled iron-work, which in the times of mediæval outbreaks
protected the fine windows of the choir and preserved them for future
generations of worshippers and admirers. It was after noon when the
traveller finished his investigations of Saint-Nazaire; and as the
southern churches close between twelve and two, he took déjeuner at a
little café near-by and patiently waited for the hour of re-opening. Had
there been nothing but the interior to explore, he could not have spent
two hours in such contented waiting. But there was a Cloister,--and on
the stroke of two he and the sacristan met before the portal.

[Illustration: "THE CLOCK-TOWER IS VERY SQUARE AND THICK."--BÉZIERS.]

In describing their "monuments," French guide-books confine themselves
to facts, and the adjectives "fine" and "remarkable"; they are almost
always strictly impersonal, and the traveller who uses them as a
cicerone, has a sense of unexpected discovery, a peculiar elation, in
finding a monument of rare beauty; but he is never subjected to that
disappointed irritation which comes when one stands before the
"monument" and feels that one's expectations have been unduly
stimulated. The Cloister of Béziers is a "fine monument," but as he
walked about it, the traveller felt no sense of elation. He found a
small Cloister, Gothic like the Cathedral, with clustered columns and
little ornamentation. It was not very completely restored, and had a
sad, melancholy charm, like a solitary sprig of lavender in an old
press, or a rose-leaf between the pages of a worn and forgotten Missal.
In the Cloister-close, stands a Gothic fountain; but the days when its
waters dropped and tinkled in the stillness, when their sound mingled
with the murmured prayers and slow steps of the priests,--those days are
long forgotten. The quaint and pretty fountain is now dry and
dust-covered; while about it trees and plants and weeds grow as they
may, and bits of the Cloister columns have fallen off, and niches are
without their guarding Saints.

[Illustration: "THE QUAINT AND PRETTY FOUNTAIN."--BÉZIERS.]

By contrast, the Cathedral itself seems full of life. Its interior is an
aisle-less Gothic room, whose fine height and emptiness of column or
detail give it an appearance of vast and well-conceived proportions.
Except the really beautiful windows of the choir, which are a study in
themselves, there is very little in this interior to hold the mind; one
is lost in a pleasant sense of general symmetry. As the traveller was
sitting in the nave, a few priests filed into the choir, and began, in
quavering voices, to intone their prayers, and in the peacefulness of
the church, in the trembling monotony of the weak, old voices, his
thoughts wandered to the stirring history which had been lived about the
Cathedral, and within its very walls. For Béziers was and had always
been a hot-bed of heretics. Here in the IV century, long before the
building of the Cathedral, the Emperor Constantius II forced the
unwilling Catholic Bishops of Gaul to join their heretical Aryan
brethren in Council; here the equally heretical Visigoths gave new
strength to the dissenters; and here, again, after centuries of
orthodoxy which Clovis had imposed, a new centre of religious storm was
formed. It was about this period, the XII and XIV centuries, that the
Cathedral was built; and it is perhaps because of the strength of those
French protestants against the Church of Rome, the Albigenses, that its
essentially Gothic style was so confused by military additions. At the
beginning of the troublous times of which these towers are reminders,
Raymond-Roger of Trencavel, the gallant and romantic Lord of
Carcassonne, was also Viscount of Béziers; and contrary to the fanatical
enthusiasm of his day, was much disposed toward religious toleration;
therefore in the early wars of Catholics and Protestants the city of
Béziers became the refuge not only for the terrified Faithful of the
surrounding country, but for many hunted Protestants. In the XIII
century, the zeal of the Catholic party, reinforced by the political
interests of its members, grew most hot and dangerous. Saint Dominic had
come into the South; and in his fearful, fiery sermons, he not only
prophesied that the Albigenses would swell the number of the damned at
the Day of Judgment, but also advocated that, living, they should know
the hell of Inquisition. Partisans of the Catholic Faith were solemnly
consecrated "Crusaders" by Pope Innocent III, and wore the cross in
these Wars of Extermination as they had worn it in the Holy Wars of
Palestine. In 1209 their army advanced against Béziers, and from out
their Councils the leaders sent the Bishop of the city to admonish his
flock.

All the inhabitants were summoned to meet him, and they gathered in the
choir and transepts of the Cathedral,--the only parts which were
finished at that time. One can imagine the anxious citizens crowding
into the church, the coming of the angered prelate, whose state and
frown were well calculated to intimidate the wavering, and the tense
silence as he passed, with grave blessing, to the altar. In a few words,
he advised them of their peril, spiritual and material; he told them he
knew well who was true and who false to the Church, that he had, in
written list, the very names of the heretics they seemed to harbour.
Then he begged them to deliver those traitors into his hands, and their
city to the Legate of the Holy Father. In fewer words came their answer;
"Venerable Father, all that are here are Christians, and we see amongst
us only our brethren." Such words were a refusal, a heinous sin, and
dread must have been written on every face, as without a word or sign of
blessing, the outraged Bishop swept from the church and returned to the
camp of their enemy.

The Crusaders' Councils were stormy; for some of the nobles wished to
save the Catholics, others cried out for the extermination of the whole
rebellious place, and finally the choleric Legate, Armand-Amaury, Abbot
of Cîteaux, could stand it no longer, and cried out fiercely, "Kill them
all! God will know His own." The words of their Legate were final, the
army attacked the city, and--as Henri Martin finely writes,--"neither
funeral tollings nor bell-ringings, nor Canons in all their priestly
robes could avail, all were put to the sword; not one was saved, and it
was the saddest pity ever seen or heard." The city was pillaged, was
fired, was devastated and burned "till no living thing remained."

"No living thing remained" to tell the awful tale, and yet with time and
industry, a new and forgetful Béziers has risen to all its old prestige
and many times its former size; the Cathedral alone was left, and its
most memorable tale to our day is not that of the abiding peace of the
Faith, but that of the terrible travesty of religion of the
twenty-second of July, hundreds of years ago.


[Sidenote: Narbonne.]

"Narbonne is still mighty and healthful, if one is to judge from the
activities of the present day; is picturesque and pleasing, and far more
comfortably disposed than many cities with a more magnificently imposing
situation." These words, which were running in the traveller's mind,
grew more and more derisive, more and more ironical, as he walked about
Narbonne. Not in all the South of France had he seen a city so
depressing. Her decline has been continuous for the long five hundred
years since the Roman dykes gave way and she was cut off from the sea.
Agde, almost as old, displays the decline of a dignified, retired old
age; Saint-Gilles-du-Gard was as dirty, but not a whit as pretentious;
Nîmes was majestically antique; Narbonne, simply sordid.

It is sad to think that over two thousand years ago she was a second
Marseilles, that she was the first of Rome's transalpine colonies, and
that under Tiberius her schools rivalled those of the Capital of the
world. It is sadder to think that all the magnificence of Roman luxury,
of sculptured marble--a Forum, Capitol, Temples, Baths, Triumphal
Arches,--stood where dreary rows of semi-modern houses now stand. It is
almost impossible to believe in the lost grandeur of this city, and that
it was veritably under the tutelage of so great and superb a god as
Mars.

The eventful Christian period of Narbonne was very noted but not very
long. Her melancholy decay began as early as the XIV century. Of her
great antiquity nothing is left but a few hacked and mutilated carvings;
of her ambitious Mediævalism, nothing but an unfinished group of
ecclesiastical buildings. Long gone is the lordly "Narbo" dedicated to
Mars, gone the city of the Latin poet, whose words repeated to-day in
her streets are a bitter mockery, and gone the stronghold of mediæval
times. There remains a rare phenomenon for cleanly France,--a dirty
city, whose older sections are reminiscent of unbeautiful old age,
decrepit and unwashed; and whose newly projected boulevards are
distinguished by tawdry and pretentious youth.

In the midst of this city, stands a group of mediæval churchly
buildings, the Palace of the prelate, his Cathedral, and an adjoining
Cloister. They are all either neglected, unfinished, or re-built; but
are of so noble a plan that the traveller feels a "divine wrath" that
they should never have reached their full grandeur of completion, that
this great architectural work should have been begun so near the close
of the city's prosperity, and that in spite of several efforts it has
never been half completed. It is as if a fatality hung over the whole
place, and as if all the greatness Narbonne had conceived was
predestined to destruction or incompletion.

[Illustration: "THE DOOR OF THE CLOISTER."--NARBONNE.]

Of the three structures, the least interesting is the former Palace of
the Archbishops. This is now the Hôtel-de-Ville, and as all the body of
the structure between the towers of the XII century was built in our day
by Viollet-le-Duc, very little of the old Palace can properly be said to
exist. Besides its two principal towers, a smaller one, a gate, and a
chapel remain. Viollet-le-Duc has constructed the Hôtel-de-Ville after
the perfectly appropriate style of the XIII century, but its stone is so
new and its atmosphere so modern and republican that the traveller left
it without regret and made his way up the dark, steep, badly-paved
alley-way which leads to the door of the Cloister.

This Cloister, which separated the Palace from the Cathedral, is now
dreary and desolate and neglected. Like the Cathedral, it is Gothic,
with sadly decaying traces of graceful ornament. The little plot of
enclosed ground, which should be planted in grass or with a few flowers,
is a mere dirt court, tramped over by the few worshippers who enter the
Cathedral this way. Two or three trees grow as they will, gnarled or
straight. The sense of peaceful melancholy which the traveller had felt
in the Cloister of Béziers is wanting here. This is a place of deserted
solitude; and with a sigh for the beauty that might have been, the
traveller crossed the enclosure and entered the church by the
cloister-door.

[Illustration: "THIS IS A PLACE OF DESERTED SOLITUDE."--NARBONNE.]

Architecturally dissimilar, the fate of this Cathedral is not unlike
that of Beauvais. Each was destined to have a completed choir, and each
to remain without a nave. At Beauvais the addition of transepts adds
very materially to the beauty of the Cathedral. At Narbonne no transepts
exist. There is simply a choir, which makes a very singular disposition
of the church both religious and architectural. Entering the gates which
lead from the ambulatory to the choir, the traveller found that
Benediction had just begun. On his immediate right, before the altar all
aglow with lights, were the officiating priests and the altar-boys; on
his left, in the choir, was the congregation in the Canons' stalls;
and at the back, as at the end of a nave, rose the organ.

The traveller walked about the ambulatory, and leaning against the
farthest wall, tried to view the church, only to be baffled. There was
no perspective. The ambulatory is very narrow and the choir-screen very
high. The impressions he formed were partly imaginative, partly
inductive; and the clearest one was that of sheer height, straight,
superhuman height that is one of the unmatchable glories of French
Gothic. Here the traveller thought again of Beauvais, and wished as he
had so often wished in the northern Cathedral and with something of the
same intensity, that this freedom and majesty of height might have been
gloriously continued and completed in the nave. Such a church as his
imagination pictured would have been worthy of a place with the best of
northern Gothic. Now it is a suggestion, a beginning of greatness; and
its chief glory lies in the simplicity and directness of its height.
Clustered columns rise plainly to the pointed Gothic roof. There is so
marked an absence of carving that it seems as if ornamentation would
have been weakening and trammelling. It is not bareness, but beautiful
firmness, which refreshes and uplifts the heart of man as the sight of
some island mountain rising sheer from the sea.

The exterior of the Cathedral, imposing from a distance, is rather
complicated in its unfinished compromise of detail. In the XV century,
two towers were built which flank the western end as towers usually
flank a façade; and this gives the church a foreshortened effect. Of
real façade there is none, and the front wall which protects the choir
is plainly temporary. In front of this wall there are portions of the
unfinished nave, stones and other building materials, a scaffolding, and
a board fence; and the only pleasure the traveller could find in this
confusion was the fancy that he had discovered the old-time appearance
of a Cathedral in the making.

The apse is practically completed, and one has the curious sensation
that it is a building without portals. Having no façade, it has none of
the great front entrances common to the Gothic style; neither has it the
usual lateral door. The choir is entered by the temporary doors of the
pseudo-façade; the ambulatory is entered through the Cloister, or a
pretty little Gothic door-way which if it were not the chief entrance of
the church, would properly seem to have been built for the clergy rather
than for the people who now use it. If these portals are strangely
unimportant, their insignificance does not detract materially from the
stateliness of the apse, which is created by its great height--one
hundred and thirty feet in the interior measurement--and the magnificent
flying-buttresses.

These flying-buttresses give to the exterior its most curious and
beautiful effect. They are a form of Gothic seldom attempted in the
South, and exist here in a rather exceptional construction. Over the
chapels which surround the apse rise a series of double-arched supports,
the outer ones ending in little turrets with surmounting crenellations.
On these supports, after a splendid outward sweep, rest the abutments of
the flying arches. These have a fine sure grace and withal a lightness
that relieves the heaviness imposed on the church by the towers and the
immense strength of the body of the apse. They are the chief as well as
the most salient glory of the exterior, and give to the Cathedral its
peculiar individuality.

[Illustration: "THESE FLYING-BUTTRESSES GIVE TO THE EXTERIOR ITS MOST
CURIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL EFFECT."--NARBONNE.]

Apart from its buttresses, Saint-Just has little decorative style. Its
crenellations and turrets are military and forceful, not ornate. For the
church had its defensive as truly as its religious purpose, and formerly
was united on the North with the fortifications of the Palace, and
contributed to the protection of its prelates as well as to their
arch-episcopal prestige.

In spite of the fostering care of the French government, the Palace, the
Cloister, and the Cathedral seem in the hands of strangers. The
traveller who had longed to see them in their finished magnificence
realised the futility of this wish, but he turned away with another as
vain, that he might have known them even in incompletion, when they were
in the hands of the Church, when the Archbishop still ruled in his
Palace, when the Canons prayed in the Cloister, and the Cathedral was
still a-building.


[Sidenote: Perpignan.]

Perpignan, like Elne, is in Rousillon. The period of her most brilliant
prosperity was that of the Majorcan dominion in the XII century. Later
she reverted to Aragon, and was still so fine a city that for two
hundred years France coveted and sought her, until she finally yielded
to the greedy astuteness of Richelieu and became formally annexed to
the kingdom of Louis XIII. Perpignan is a gay little town, much affected
by the genius and indolence of the Spanish race. Morning is work-time,
noon-tide is siesta, but afternoon and evening were made for pleasure;
and every bright day, when the sun begins to cast shadows, people fill
the narrow, shady streets and walk along the promenade by the shallow
river, under the beautiful plane-trees. The pavements in front of the
cafés are filled with little round tables, and here and there small
groups of men idle cheerfully over tiny glasses of liqueur and cups of
cool, black coffee; perhaps they talk a little business, certainly they
gossip a great deal. Noisy little teams filled with merry people run
down from the Promenade to the sea-shore; and after an hour's dip,
almost in the shadow of the tall Pyrénées, the same merry people return,
laughing, to a cooler Perpignan. In the evening, they seek the bright
cafés and the waiters run busily to and fro among the crowded little
tables; the narrow streets, imperfectly lighted, are full of moving
shadows, and through the open church-doors, candles waver in the fitful
draught, and quiet worshippers pass from altar to altar in penance or in
supplication.

All the old buildings of the city are of Spanish origin. The prison is
the brick, battlemented castle of a Majorcan Sancho, the Citadel is as
old, and the Aragonese Bourse is divided between the town-hall and the
city's most popular café.

The Cathedral of Saint-Jean, which faces a desolate, little square, was
also begun in Majorcan days and under that Sancho who ruled in 1324. At
first it was merely a church; for Elne had always been the seat of the
Bishopric of Rousillon, and although the town had suffered from many
wars and had long been declining, it was not shorn of its episcopal
glory until there was sufficient political reason for the act. This
arose in 1692, and was based on the old-time French and Spanish claims
to the same county to which these two cities belonged.

[Illustration: "ALL OF THE OLD BUILDINGS OF THE CITY ARE OF SPANISH
ORIGIN."--PERPIGNAN.]

Over a hundred years before Charles VIII had plenarily ceded to
Ferdinand and Isabella all power in Rousillon, even that shadowy feudal
Suzerainty with which, in default of actual possession, many a former
French king had consoled himself and irritated a royal Spanish brother.
Ferdinand and Isabella promptly visited their new possessions, and made
solemn entry into Perpignan. Unfortunately the Inquisition came in their
train, and the unbounded zeal of the Holy Office brought the Spanish
rule which protected it into ever-increasing disfavour. In vain Philip
III again bestowed on Perpignan the title of "faithful city," which she
had first received from John of Aragon for her loyal resistance to Louis
XI; in vain he ennobled several of her inhabitants and transferred to
her, from Elne, the episcopal power. The city was ready for new and
kinder masters than the Most Catholic Kings, and in 1642 the French were
received as liberators.

During all these years the Cathedral had grown very slowly. Commenced in
1324, over a century elapsed before the choir was finished and the
building of the nave was not begun until a hundred years later. The High
Altar, a Porch, and the iron cage of the tower were added with equal
deliberation, and even to-day it is still unfinished. The most beautiful
part is the strongly buttressed apse; the poorest, the unfinished
façade, which has been very fitly described as "plain and mean." Looking
disconsolately at it from the deserted square, scarcely tempted to go
nearer, the traveller was astounded at the thought that for several
centuries this unsightly wall had stared on generations of worshippers
without goading them into any frenzy of action,--either destructive or
constructive. His only comfort lay in the scaffolding which was building
around it, and which seemed to promise better things.

[Illustration: "THE UNFINISHED FAÇADE."--PERPIGNAN.]

The interior of the Cathedral is very large and lofty. It is without
aisles and the chapels are discreetly hidden between the piers. Far
above one's head curves the ribbed Gothic vaulting, and all around is
unbroken space that ends in darkness or the vague outline of an altar,
dimly lighted by a flickering candle. The walls are painted in rich,
sombre colours, and the light comes very gently through the good old
stained-glass windows. It is a southern church, dark, cool, and somewhat
mysterious; quite foreign to the glare and heat of reality. People are
lost in its solemn vastness, and even with many worshippers it is a
solitude where most holy vigils could be kept, a mystic place where the
southern imagination might well lose itself in such sacred ardours as
Saint Theresa felt. The traveller liked to linger here; in the day-time
when he peered vainly at the re-redos of Soler de Barcelona, at
Mass-time, when the lighted altar-candles glimmered over its fine old
marble, but best of all he liked to come at night. Those summer nights
in Rousillon were hot and full of the murmur of voices. The Cathedral
was the only silent place; more full than ever of the mysterious--the
felt and the unseen. As one entered, the sanctuary light shone as a star
out of a night of darkness; in a near-by chapel, a candle sputtered
itself away, and a woman--whether old or young one could not
see--lighted a fresh taper. Sometimes a man knelt and told his beads,
sometimes two women entered and separated for their differing needs and
prayers. Sometimes one sat in meditation, or knelt, unmoving, for a
space of time; once a child brought a new candle to Saint Antony; always
some one came or some one went, until the hour of closing. Then, the
bell was rung, the door shut by a hand but dimly seen, and the last few
watchers went out--across the little square, down this street or that,
until they were lost in the darkness of the summer's night.

[Illustration: "THE STONY STREET OF THE HILLSIDE."--CARCASSONNE.]


[Sidenote: Carcassonne.]

The train puffed into the station at Carcassonne, and the impatient
traveller, throwing his bags into an hotel omnibus, asked for the
Cathedral and walked eagerly on that he might the more quickly "see in
line the city on the hill," "the castle walls as grand as those of
Babylon," and "gaze at last on Carcassonne." His mind was full of the
poem, and faithfully following directions, he hurried through clean,
narrow streets until he came at length, not upon a poetic vision of
battlemented walls and towers, but on the most prosaic of boulevards and
the Church of Saint-Michel which has been the Cathedral since 1803, a
large, uncouth building with a big, unfinished tower. There is no façade
portal, and a small door-way in the north side leads into the great
vaulted hall, one of the most usual and commonplace forms of the Gothic
interior of the South. This room, which is painted, receives light from
a beautiful rose-window at the West, and a series of small roses, like
miniatures of the greater one, are cut in the upper walls of the nave;
and little chapels, characterised by the same heavy monotony which hangs
like a pall over the whole Cathedral, are lost in the church's capacious
flanks.

[Illustration: "THE ANCIENT CROSS."--CARCASSONNE.]

Having lost much of his enthusiasm, the traveller asked for the old--he
had almost said the "real"--Cathedral, and with new directions, he
started afresh. Leaving the well-built, agreeable, commonplace "Lower
city" of the plain, he came to the bridge, and there, sitting on its
parapet, near the ancient Cross, he feasted his longing eyes on that
perfect vision of Mediævalism. The high, arid, and almost isolated hill
of the Cité stood before him, and at the top rose battlements and
flanking towers in double range, bristling, war-like, and strong; yet
beautiful in their mass of uneven, peaked tower-roofs and crenellations.
He climbed wearily up the stony street of the hillside, and as he passed
through the open gate, he realised that Hunnewell had written truly when
he said "Carcassonne is a romance of travel." For he went into a town
so quiet, into streets so still, so weed-grown, and lonely, and yet so
well built, that he felt as a "fairy prince" who has penetrated into
some enchanted castle, and it seemed as if the inhabitants were asleep
in the upper rooms, behind those bowed windows, and as if, when the
mysterious word of disenchantment should be uttered, all would come
trooping forth, men-at-arms hurrying to clean their rusty swords, old
women trudging along to fill their dusty pitchers at the well, and
younger women staring from doors and windows to see the stranger within
their streets.

The Cadets de Gascogne knew the city before the evil spell of modern
times was cast about it. They know and miss it now. And although they
may no longer wear the plumed hat and clanking sword of their ancestors,
the spirit beneath their more conventional garb is as gay and daring as
that of Cadets more picturesque. They have conceived a plan as exciting
as any old adventure, an idea which they present to the world, not as
Cyrano, their most famous member, was wont to convey his thoughts at the
end of a sword, but none the less dexterously and delightfully. This
plan, like the magic word of the traveller's fancy, is to make the old
Carcassonne live again, not as the traveller had timidly imagined, in
time of peace, but in the stirring times of war and battle, and its
magic word is "the siege of Carcassonne." Truly it is but a matter of
bengal lights, blank cartridges, and fire-crackers, though for the
matter of that, Cinderella's coach was but a pumpkin, yet the effect was
none the less real.

[Illustration: "OFTEN, TOO LITTLE TIME IS SPENT UPON THE
NAVE."--CARCASSONNE.]

On the evening of "the siege," a rare, great fête, the forces of the
Cadets with their lights and ammunition are in the "upper town", and
long before dark, their friends and every inhabitant of the country for
miles around have gathered in the houses which face the Cité, on the
bridges, and along the banks of the little Aude. As the sunlight fades
and the shadows creep along, a strange feeling of expectancy comes over
everybody, a hush, almost a dread of danger. The towers on the hill-top
loom dark against the sky and the battlements bristle in the moonlight,
no sound comes from the Cité, and it seems to lay in unconcerned
security. Memories of besieging armies which have vainly encamped in
this valley return to the traveller's mind, memories of the treacheries
of Simon de Montfort, and he wonders if any "crusading" sentinel ever
paced where he now stands watching along the Aude, if any spy or even
the terrible Simon himself had ever crept so near the walls to
reconnoitre. Suddenly every one is startled by the sound of distant
shots, which are repeated nearer the walls. Every one peers into the
darkness. There is no sign of life on wall or tower, the attacking force
must still be climbing the hill, out of range of the stones and burning
oil of the defenders. More shots are fired, and now there are answering
shots from the besieged; and so naturally does the din increase, that
one can follow, by listening, the progress of the attack and the slow,
sure gain of the invader. Some of the illusion of the anxiety and mental
tension which war brings, steals over the watching crowd, and they
breathlessly await the outcome of the struggle. The attacking party is
now seen under the walls--now on them--they throw wads of burning
cotton, which are at first extinguished. They still gain--they fire the
walls in several places; and the defenders, who can be seen in the
flashes of light, run frantically to the danger spots; but they are
gradually overcome, beaten back by the intensity of the heat. Flames now
burst forth from a tower; there is an explosion, and the fire curls and
creeps along the walls unchecked. Another explosion follows, another
burst of flames which soar higher and higher. The men of the Cité seem
still more frantic and powerless. All the towers now stand out in bold
relief,--as if they were just about to crumble into the seething mass
below. Roofs within the walls are on fire, and finally a red tongue
licks the turret of the Cathedral. In a few seconds its walls are
hideously aglow, and the people in the valley--although they know the
truth--groan aloud, so real is the illusion. The nave lines of the
Cathedral are silhouetted as it burns, the fires along the walls growing
brighter, spread gradually at first,--then rapidly, and the whole Cité
is the prey of great, waving clouds of flame and smoke. Men and women,
as if fascinated by this lurid and magnificent destruction, press
forward to get the last view of the Cathedral's lovely rose, or the
peaked roof of some tower which is dear to them. But slowly the deep red
flames are growing paler, less strong, and less high. Then the glare,
too, begins to die away; the fire turns to smoke and the light becomes
grey and misty. "It is all over," some one whispers, and with backward
glances at the charred, smoldering hill-top, they turn silently towards
home.

A few, sitting on the stone parapet of the bridge, remain to talk of the
evening's magic, of the inspiration of the Cadets de Gascogne, and other
scenes which their memory suggests, of wars and rumours of other wars.
And when at length they turn to go, they see the moonlight on the
glimmering Aude, the peaceful lower city, and above, Carcassonne--the
Invincible--rising from her ashes.

[Illustration: "THE CHOIR IS OF THE XIV CENTURY."--CARCASSONNE.]

[Illustration: "THE FAÇADE--STRAIGHT AND MASSIVE."--CARCASSONNE.]

The Cathedral of the Cité is worthy of great protecting walls and there
are few churches whose destruction would have been so sad a blow to the
architecture of the Midi. Saint-Nazaire is typical at once of the
originality of the southern builders, of their idealism, and their
joyous freedom from conventional thrall. The façade, straight, and
massive, has the frowning severity of an old donjon wall. Its towers are
solid masses of heavy stone; instead of spires, there are crenellations;
instead of graceful flying-buttresses at the sides, there are solid,
upright supports on the firm, plain side-walls. This is the true old
Romanesque. A few steps further, and the apse appears, as great a
contrast to the body of the church as a bit of Mechlin lace to a
coat-of-mail. A little tower with gargoyles, another with a fine-carved
turret, windows whose delicate traceries could be broken by a blow, and
an upper balustrade which would have been as easily crushed as an
egg-shell in the hands of the lusty Huguenots,--these are the ornaments
of its wall, as true XIV century Gothic as the nave is XII century
Romanesque. It is sadly disappointing to find the Cloisters in
uninteresting ruin, but the church within is so full of great beauty
that all other things are unimportant. The windows glow in the glory
of their glass, and the tombs, especially those of the lower Chapel
of the Bishop, are wonderfully carved. The first burial place of de
Montfort, terrible persecutor of his Church's foes, lies near the High
Altar, and in the wall, there is a rude bas-relief representing his
siege of Toulouse. All these admirable details are puny in comparison
with the interior which contains them. It is to be feared that often,
too little time is spent upon the nave. Even in mid-day, lighted by the
southern sun, its beautiful, severe lines are mellowed but little, and
one turns too instinctively to the Gothic, the greater lightness beyond.
Yet it is a nave of exceedingly fine, rugged strength, and to pass on
lightly, to belittle it in comparison with its brighter choir, is to
wantonly miss in the great round columns, the heavy piers, and the dark
tunnel vaulting, the conception of generations of men who had ever
before their mind--and literally believed--"A mighty fortress is our
God." The choir is of the XIV century, a day when the "beauty of
holiness" seems to have been the Cathedral architect's ideal. Delicate,
clustered columns from which Saints look down, long windows beautifully
veined, a glorious rose at each transept's end, and high vault arches
springing with a slender pointed grace, all these are of exquisite
proportions; and the brilliant stained-glass adds a softening warmth of
colour, but not too great a glow, to the cold fragility of the shafts of
stone. Nothing in the Gothic art of the South, little of Gothic
elsewhere, is more thoughtfully and lovingly wrought than this choir of
Saint-Nazaire, and few churches in the Romanesque form are more finely
constructed than its nave. On the exterior, the Gothic choir and the
Romanesque nave are so different in style it seems they must be,
perforce, antagonistic, that the grace of the Gothic must make
Romanesque plainness appear dull, or that the noble simplicity of the
rounded arch must cause the Gothic arches, here so particularly tall and
slender, to seem almost fragile and undignified. In reality, this
juxtaposition of the styles has justified itself; and passing from one
to the other, the traveller is more impressed by the subtle analogies
they suggest than by the differences of their architectural forms. On
week-days, when the church is empty, they seem to prefigure the two
ideals of the religion which they serve--the stern, self-conquering
asceticism of a Saint Dominic, and the exquisite, radiant visions which
Saint Cecelia saw when heavenly music was vouchsafed her. Or, if one has
time to fancy further, the nave is the epic of its great religion; the
choir, a song which is the expression of most delicate aspiration, most
tender worship. On Sunday, when to this beauty of the godly habitation
is added all the beauty of worship, the music of the oldest organs in
France, slow-moving priests in gorgeous vestments, sweet smelling
incense, chants, and prayers of a most majestic ritual, one is tempted
to read into these stones symbolical meanings,--as if the heavy nave,
where the dim praying figures kneel, were typical of their life of
struggle--and their glances altarward, where all is light and beauty,
presaged their final coming into the presence and glory of God.

[Illustration: PERSPECTIVE OF THE ROMANESQUE.--CARCASSONNE.]

Hunnewell has finely written, that "while the passions and the terrors
of a fierce, rude age made unendurable the pleasant land where we may
travel now so peacefully, ... and while Religion, grown political,
forgot the mercy of its Lord and ruled supreme, ... an earnest faith and
consecrated genius were creating some of the noblest tributes man has
offered to his Creator," and it may be truly said that of these one of
the noblest is the church begun in that most cruel age of Saint Dominic
and de Montfort, in the very heart of the country they laid waste, in
the city which one conquered by ruse and the other tortured by
inquisition, the old Cathedral of Saint-Nazaire in Carcassonne.


[Sidenote: Castres.]

In the VII century Castres, which had been the site of a Roman camp,
became that of a Benedictine Abbey; and around this foundation, as about
so many others, a town grew through the Middle Ages, and came safely to
prosperity and importance. Untrue to its early protectors and in
opposition to the fervent orthodoxy of the neighbouring city of Albi,
Castres became a Protestant stronghold, and its fortunes rose and fell
with the chances of religious wars. It was, perhaps, one of the most
intrepid and obstinate of all the centres of heresy, and the centuries
of struggle seem only to have strengthened the fierceness of its faith.
In 1525, when the Duke de Rohan was absent and a royal army again
summoned it to submission and conversion, the Duchess had herself
carried from a sick bed to the gate of the city which was threatened,
and it is related that the inhabitants of all classes, men, women, and
children, without distinction of sex or age, armed themselves and rushed
victoriously to her aid. Thirty-five years later, their children sacked
churches, destroyed altars and images, and drove out monks and nuns.

Bellicose incidents make history a thrilling story, but they are
accompanied by such material destruction that they too often rob a city
of its greatest treasures, and leave it, as far as architectural
interest is concerned, an arid waste. Such a place is Castres,
prosperous, industrial, historically dramatic, but actually commonplace.
Old houses, picturesque and mouldy, with irregular, overhanging eaves,
lean along the banks of the little river as they are wont to line the
banks of every old stream of the Midi, and they are nearly all the
remains of Castres' Mediævalism. For her streets are well-paved,
trolleys pass to and fro, department stores are frequent, and that most
modern of vehicles, the automobile, does not seem anachronistic. No
building could be more in harmony with the city's atmosphere of
uninteresting prosperity than its Cathedral, and he who enters in search
of beauty and repose, is doomed to miserable disappointment.

Confronted in the XIV century by a growing heresy, John XXII devised,
among other less Christian methods of combat, that of the creations of
Sees, whose power and dignity of rank should check the progress of the
enemies of the Church; and in 1317, that year which saw the beginning of
so many of these new Sees, the old Benedictine Abbey of Castres, lying
in the very centre of Protestantism, was created a Bishopric. The
century, if unpropitious to Catholicism, was favourable to architecture,
the Abbey was of ancient foundation, and from either of these facts, a
fine Cathedral might reasonably be hoped for,--a dim Abbey-church whose
rounded arches are lost in the gloom of its vaulting, or a bit of
southern Gothic which the newly consecrated prelate might have
ambitiously planned. But the Cathedral of Saint-Benoît is neither of
these, for it was re-constructed in the XVII century, the XVII century
in all its confusion of ideas, all its lack of taste, all its travesty
of styles. There is the usual multitude of detail, the usual
unworthiness. Portals which have no beauty, an expanse of unfinished
façade, dark, ugly walls whose bareness is not sufficiently hidden by
the surrounding houses, heavy buttresses, ridiculously topped off by
globes of stone,--such are the salient features of the exterior of
Saint-Benoît.

The "spaciousness" of the interior has given room, if not for an
impartial representation, at least for a reminder of all the styles of
architecture to which the XVII century was heir. There is the
Renaissance conception of the antique in the ornamental columns; in the
rose-window, there is a tribute to the Gothic; the tradition of the
South is maintained by a coat of colours--many, if subdued; and the
ground plan of nave and side-chapels might be called Romanesque.
Although the vaulting is high and the room large, there is no
simplicity, no beauty, no artistic virtue in this interior.

Opposite the church is the episcopal Palace which Mansart built, a large
construction that serves admirably as a City Hall. Behind it, along the
river, are the charming gardens designed by Le Nôtre, where Bishops
walked and meditated, looking upon their not too faithful city of
Castres. Upon this very ground was the ancient Abbey and close of the
Benedictines; and as if in memory of these monkish predecessors, Bishop
and builder of the XVII century left in an angle of the Palace the old
Abbey-tower. This is the treasure of Castres' past, a Romanesque belfry
with the pointed roofing of the campanile of Italy, heavy in comparison
with their grace, and stout and strong.


[Sidenote: Toulouse.]

Toulouse is one of the most charming cities of the South of France. It
is also one of the largest; but in spite of its size, it is neither
noisy nor stupidly conventional; it is, on the contrary, an ideal
provincial "capital," where everything, even the climate, corresponds to
our preconceived and somewhat romantic ideal of the southern type. When
the wind blows from the desert it comes with fierce and sudden passion,
the sun shines hot, and under the awnings of the open square, men fan
themselves lazily during a long lunch hour. Under this appearance of
semi-tropical languor, there is the persistent energy of the great
southern peoples, an energy none the less real because it is broken by
the long siestas, the leisurely meal-times, and the day-time idling,
which seem so shiftless and so strange to northern minds. This is the
energy, however, which has made Toulouse a rich, opulent city,--a city
with broad boulevards, open squares, and fine buildings, and a city of
the gay Renaissance rather than of the stern Middle Ages. Yet for
Toulouse the Middle Ages were a dark time. What could be gotten by the
sword was taken by the sword, and even the mind of man, in that gross
age, was forced and controlled by the agony of his body. It is a time
whose most peaceful outward signs, the churches, have been preserved to
Toulouse, and the war-signs, towers, walls, and fortifications,
dungeons, and the torture-irons of inquisition, are now--and
wisely--hidden or destroyed. Of the fierce tragedies which were played
in Toulouse, even to the days of the great Revolution, few traces
remain,--the stern, orthodox figure of Simon de Montfort, and of Count
Raymond, his too politic foe, and the anguish of the Crusaders' siege,
the bent form of Jean Calas and the shrewd, keen face of Voltaire, who
vindicated him from afar, these memories seem dimmed; and those which
live are of light-hearted troubadours and gaily dressed ladies of the
city of the gay, insouciant Renaissance to whom an auto-da-fè was a gala
between the blithesome robing of the morning and the serenade in the
moonlight. Fierce and steadfast, sentimentally languishing, dying for a
difference of faith, or dying as violently to avenge the insult of a
frown or a lifted eye-brow, such are the Languedocians whom Toulouse
evokes, near to the Gascons and akin to them. Here is the Académie des
Jeux-Floreaux, the "College of Gay Wit" which was founded in the XIV
century, and still distributes on the third of every May prizes of gold
and silver flowers to poets, and writers of fine prose; and here are
many "hôtels" of the Renaissance, rich and beautiful homes of the old
Toulousan nobility whose courts are all too silent. Here is the Hôtel du
Vieux-Raisin, the Maison de Pierre, and the Hôtel d'Assézat where Jeanne
d'Albret lived; and near-by is a statue of her son, the strongest,
sanest, and most debonnaire of all the great South-men, Henry of
Navarre. Here in Toulouse is indeed material for a thousand fancies.

[Illustration: "THE NAVE OF THE XIII CENTURY IS AN AISLE-LESS CHAMBER,
LOW AND BROADLY ARCHED."--TOULOUSE.]

And here the Cathedral-seeker, who had usually had the proud task of
finding the finest building in every city he visited, was doomed to
disappointment. In vain he tried to console himself with the fact that
Toulouse had had two Cathedrals. Of one there was no trace; in the
other, confusion; and he was met with the axiom, true in architecture
as in other things, that two indifferent objects do not make one good
one. The "Dalbade," formerly the place of worship of the Knights of
Malta, has a more elegant tower; the Church of the Jacobins a more
interesting one; the portal of the old Chartreuse is more beautiful; the
Church of the Bull, more curious; and the Basilica of Saint-Sernin so
interesting and truly glorious that the Cathedral pales in colourless
insignificance.

Some cities of mediæval France possessed, at the same time, two
Cathedrals, two bodies of Canons, and two Chapters under one and the
same Bishop. Such a city was Toulouse; and until the XII century,
Saint-Jacques and Saint-Etienne were rival Cathedrals. Then, for some
reason obscure to us, Saint-Jacques was degraded from its episcopal rank
and remained a simple church until 1812 when it was destroyed. The
present Cathedral of Saint-Etienne is a combination of styles and a
violation of every sort of architectural unity, and realises a confusion
which the most perverse imagination could scarcely have conceived.
According to every convention of building, the Cathedral is not only
artistically poor, but mathematically insupportable. The proportions are
execrable; and the interior, the finest part of the church, reminds one
irresistibly of a good puzzle badly put together. The weak tower is a
sufficient excuse for the absence of the other; from the tower the roof
slopes sharply and unreasonably, and the rose-window is perched, with
inappropriate jauntiness, to the left of the main portal. The whole
structure is not so much the vagary of an architect as the sport of
Fate, the self-evident survival of two unfitting façades. Walking
through narrow streets, one comes upon the apse as upon another church,
so different is its style. It is disproportionately higher than the
façade; instead of being conglomerate, it is homogeneous; instead of a
squat appearance, uninterestingly grotesque, it has the dignity of
height and unity. And although it is too closely surrounded by houses
and narrow streets, and although a view of the whole apse is entirely
prevented by the high wall of some churchly structure, it is the only
worthy part of the exterior and, by comparison, even its rather timid
flying-buttresses and insignificant stone traceries are impressive.

[Illustration: "THE PRESENT CATHEDRAL IS A COMBINATION OF
STYLES."--TOULOUSE.]

The nave of the early XIII century is an aisle-less chamber, low and
broadly arched. As the eye continues down its length, it is met by the
south aisle of the choir,--opening directly into the centre of the nave.
Except for this curiously bad juxtaposition, both are normally
constructed, and each is of so differing a phase of Gothic that they
give the effect of two adjoining churches. The choir was begun in the
late XII century, on a new axis, and was evidently the commencement of
an entire and improved re-construction. In spite of the poorly planned
restoration in the XVII century, the worthy conception of this choir is
still realised. It is severe, lofty Gothic, majestic by its own
intrinsic virtue, and doubly so in comparison with the uncouth
puzzle-box effect of the whole. Its unity came upon the traveller with a
shock of surprise, relieving and beautiful, and after he had walked
about its high, narrow aisles and refreshed his disappointed vision, he
left the Cathedral quickly--looking neither to the right nor to the
left, without a trace of the temptation of Lot's wife, to "glance
backward."


[Sidenote: Montauban.]

Although Montauban was founded on the site of a Roman station, the Mons
Albanus, it is really a city of the late Middle Ages, re-created, as it
were, by Alphonse I., Count of Toulouse in 1144. And it was even a
greater hot-bed of heretics than Béziers. Incited first by hatred of
the neighbouring monks of Le Moustier, and then by the bitter agonies of
the Inquisition, it became fervently Albigensian, and as fervently
Huguenot; and even now it has many Protestant inhabitants and a
Protestant Faculty teaching Theology.

The Montauban of the present day is busy and prosperous, very prettily
situated on the turbid little Tarn. In spite of her constant loyalty to
the Huguenot cause, perhaps partly because of it, she has had three
successive Cathedrals; Saint-Martin, burned in 1562; the Pro-cathedral
of Saint-Jacques; and, finally, Notre-Dame, the present episcopal
church, a heavy structure in the Italian style of the XVIII century.
Large and light and bare, the nudeness of the interior is uncouth, and
the stiff exterior, decorated with statues, impresses one as pleasantly
as clothes upon crossed bean-poles. It is artificial and mannered; the
last of the City Cathedrals of Languedoc and the least. If the notorious
vices of the XVIII century were as bad as its style of ecclesiastical
architecture, they must have been indeed monstrous.



END OF VOLUME I.





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