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Title: A Spring Walk in Provence
Author: Marshall, Archibald
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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                       A SPRING WALK IN PROVENCE



                         _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

                        THE HOUSE OF MERRILEES
                        RICHARD BALDOCK
                        EXTON MANOR
                        THE SQUIRE'S DAUGHTER
                        THE ELDEST SON
                        THE HONOUR OF THE CLINTONS
                        THE GREATEST OF THESE
                        THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH
                        WATERMEADS
                        UPSIDONIA
                        ABINGTON ABBEY
                        THE GRAFTONS
                        THE CLINTONS, AND OTHERS
                        SIR HARRY
                        MANY JUNES
                        A SPRING WALK IN PROVENCE
                        PEGGY IN TOYLAND

[Illustration: EVENING AMONG THE OLIVES]



                           A SPRING WALK IN
                               PROVENCE

                                  BY

                          ARCHIBALD MARSHALL

                     AUTHOR OF "EXTON MANOR," "SIR
                             HARRY," ETC.

                          WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
                           FROM PHOTOGRAPHS

  [Illustration]

                               NEW YORK
                        DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
                                 1920



                          COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
                     DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.

                       The Quinn & Boden Company

                          BOOK MANUFACTURERS
                          RAHWAY  NEW JERSEY



                                  To
                            SIR OWEN SEAMAN



PREFACE


The following pages owe a considerable debt to what others who have
been over the same ground have written. Mr. T. A. Cook's[1] "Old
Provence" (London: Rivington's, 2 vols.) is a most valuable record of
the history of the country as it attaches to the innumerable places
of interest to be visited, and his taste and knowledge when brought
to bear upon its architectural remains have greatly enhanced my own
appreciation of those rich treasures. I know of no book, either in
French or English, from which a visitor to Provence could get so much
to supplement his own observation, and I have made constant use of it.
To Mr. Thomas Okey's[2] "Avignon" in Dent's "Mediæval Towns" series, I
also owe a great debt of gratitude. The Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould's "In
Troubadour Land" (London: W. H. Allen), though slighter than those two
works, contains much interesting information. Mistral's "Mes Origines"
(Paris: Libraire Plon), translated from the Provençal, is of course
invaluable for its pictures of Provençal life, and from that book and
from M. Paul Mariéton's "La Terre Provençale" (Paris: Ollendorf) one
can get the best information about the movement of the Félibrige,
which has done so much to revivify the old life of Provence. A good
deal of desultory information is afforded by M. Louis de Laincel's
"La Provence" (Paris: Oudin), and some of the stories that linger
on Provençal soil are well told in M. Charles-Roux's "Légendes de
Provence" (Paris: Bloud). These books, and the French translation of
Mistral's "Mirèio," which is a mine of Provençal lore, besides being a
noble poem, have been my chief "authorities," but they have been very
usefully supplemented by the various pamphlets to be picked up locally.
Some of these have been excellent, and I have made mention of their
authors in the following pages.

The photographs are of my own taking, except those very kindly given
to me by Mr. Hope Macey, whom I was fortunate enough to come across in
Avignon in the course of an expedition that coincided with mine at many
points. The one of Mistral's birthplace I bought at Arles, and those of
the picture and tapestry at Aix in Paris.[3]

This account of my spring journey has been finished under the shadow
of the great war, which might have caused me to look upon the _jours
de conscription_ with which I fell in on the early days of the walk in
a light much sadder, if I could have foreseen it. I left Provence in a
train full of young soldiers going to their homes in various distant
parts of France for their Easter furlough. Of those who crowded the
carriage in which I travelled from Arles to Lyons the faces come before
me as clearly as if I saw them in the flesh, and I can hear their
songs and jokes and laughter. They seemed to have been drawn from all
classes, but to mix in the readiest frankest comradeship. Whenever I
read now of the French in action I think of those light-hearted boys
in their holiday mood, and wonder what they are doing, and how many of
them are still alive. One has somewhat changed one's view of the toll
that France has taken of her manhood since those days that now seem so
far off.

  CHATEAU D'OEX, _August, 1914_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The world has changed since this book was written, but I hope that the
record of an expedition made in the happy days before the war may still
be read with pleasure, now that the great shadow is in part removed. I
have been over the manuscript again and made a few alterations here and
there, but have altered nothing that shows it to have been written five
years ago.

  BURLEY, HANTS, _August, 1919_.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                            PAGE

      I. HILLS AND OLIVES                                               1

     II. FLOWERS AND SCENTS                                            18

    III. IN OLD PROVENCE                                               31

     IV. DRAGUIGNAN AND SAINT-MAXIMIN                                  48

      V. THE CHURCH OF SAINT-MAXIMIN                                   68

     VI. CAIUS MARIUS AND THE GREAT BATTLE                             85

    VII. AIX                                                           97

   VIII. SALON AND THE CRAU                                           116

     IX. LES BAUX                                                     127

      X. LES BAUX (_Continued_)                                       143

     XI. MISTRAL                                                      158

    XII. SAINT-REMY                                                   168

   XIII. AVIGNON                                                      175

    XIV. THE PALACE OF THE POPES                                      190

     XV. VAUCLUSE                                                     209

    XVI. NIMES AND THE PONT DU GARD                                   227

   XVII. AIGUES-MORTES AND THE CAMARGUE                               239

  XVIII. SAINTES-MARIES DE LA MER                                     252

    XIX. SAINT-GILLES AND MONTMAJOUR                                  266

     XX. THE LAST WALK. ST. MICHEL DE FRIGOLET                        282

    XXI. VILLENEUVE-SUR-AVIGNON                                       301

   XXII. ARLES                                                        311



ILLUSTRATIONS


  Evening among the olives                                 _Frontispiece_

                                                                   FACING
                                                                     PAGE

  The road downhill "looks just like a temperature chart"              10

  I "posed" him among the ruins                                        11

  A Provençal shepherd                                                 44

  Fayence could be seen on its own hillside                            44

  How they prune the plane-trees                                       45

  The dolmen near Draguignan                                           45

  Altar of the Crucifixion, Saint-Maximin                              74

  The Field of the Great Battle, with Mount Olympus in the background  75

  The Canterbury Tapestry                                             106

  The famous "Tarasque"                                               107

  Le Buisson Ardent                                                   110

  Porte d'Eyguières                                                   111

  The Castle Ruins, Les Baux                                          130

  The Castle Dovecot, Les Baux                                        131

  Pavillon de la Reine Jeanne                                         140

  Huguenot Chapel in Les Baux                                         141

  Les Baux from the Castle Ruins                                      150

  One of the beauties of Les Baux                                     151

  Mistral's birthplace, Mas du Juge                                   160

  Fresco in the Palace of the Popes at Avignon                        161

  The Mausoleum, Saint-Remy                                           170

  The Triumphal Arch, Saint-Remy                                      171

  Sixteenth century doors and Virgin and Child of
  Eighteenth Century, St. Pierre, Avignon                             182

  The Pont Benezet                                                    183

  The Cathedral, Avignon                                              194

  "The Popes' Palace is most like those almost
  brutally strong buildings that the Romans left"                     195

  The "fountain," Vaucluse                                            212

  The caves above the "fountain"                                      213

  The Pont du Gard                                                    228

  The Fountains, Nîmes                                                229

  The Maison Carrée                                                   234

  The Amphitheatre, Nîmes                                             235

  Aigues-Mortes, the Ramparts                                         244

  "Looked away to the desolate salt marshes"                          245

  Saintes-Maries, the Fortress Church                                 256

  Saint-Gilles, the Central Porch                                     257

  The Maison-Romaine                                                  276

  The staircase in the farmyard at Montmajour                         277

  Saint-Michel de Frigolet                                            284

  The Coronation of the Virgin, Villeneuve-Sur-Avignon                285

  A courtyard in Villeneuve                                           308

  The Rotunda at Villeneuve                                           309

  The Arena at Arles                                                  312

  The Greek Theatre, Arles                                            313

  The Cloisters, South walk, St. Trophime                             316

  The Cloisters, North walk, St. Trophime                             317

  Arles, the Alyscamps                                                320

  Boy's head in marble, Musée Lapidaire, Arles                        321



A SPRING WALK IN PROVENCE



A SPRING WALK IN PROVENCE



CHAPTER I

_Hills and Olives_


I was to walk through the country from the Italian border, but it
rained so heavily on the first day that I went to Mentone and took the
mountain tramway to Sospel, where in any case I had intended to spend
the night.

Two years ago, before this tram-line was quite finished, I motored
up to Sospel to play golf. It was a pleasant experience, though not
without its thrills, for the road zigzags and corkscrews up mountain
sides and across deep gorges in a way to make one thankful for strong
brakes and a reliable driver, especially on the return journey. The
hillsides are cultivated everywhere. The precipitous slopes have been
terraced with infinite labour, and orange and lemon groves surrounding
pretty little lodges and cottages, only give way as one mounts higher
to the grey-green of olive plantations.

When you have climbed up 2,300 feet, the road, as if tired of twisting
and turning, boldly attacks the mountain side, runs through a tunnel
pierced in the solid rock and comes out on the other side of the peak.
Then it takes a turn so sharp that not long ago a car coming too fast
through the tunnel went over the precipitous edge and all its occupants
were killed.

The crowning danger safely surmounted, you drop down into a green
mountain valley, surrounded by what Smollett, who passed through Sospel
on his way from Nice to Italy a hundred and fifty years ago, described
as "prodigious high and barren mountains." The valley is all verdant
pasture, watered by a broad, shallow, tree-shaded river, which, to
quote the same authority, "forms a delightful contrast with the hideous
rocks surrounding it." All mountains were "hideous" and "horrid" in the
eyes of our ancestors. We, as we play along the grassy meadows, and
cross here and there the clear river rippling over its pebbles, have
come to think that the towering rock-ramparts, upon which the sun and
the clouds play with infinite gradations of light and colour, have as
much to do with the beauty of the scene as the verdant valley itself,
or the little old huddled Italian-looking town which hugs both banks of
the river.

It was that little old town, which the golfer coming up from Mentone
only skirts on his way to the links, that had remained in my memory,
even more than the unusual charm of the links and the excellence of
the greens. It stands curiously aside from the wave of modernity that
has washed up to it from the wealthy delocalized coast. Turn to the
right when you reach the corner, and you are still in the atmosphere of
the Côte d'Azur, although you are fifteen miles inland from Mentone;
turn to the left and you are in southern provincial France, in a street
of little shops and little _cafés_ and _buvettes_, and pick your way
amongst a crowd of peasants and townspeople, buying and selling,
talking of their crops and their commerce, and as little concerned with
what is going on half a mile away as if they had never seen a mashie
or a putter, and none of them had ever shouldered a bag of clubs for a
curiously-garbed curiously-spoken foreigner.

Probably it is only the caddies or the ex-caddies who ever mention golf
in the town of Sospel. It stands so aloof that even its prices have not
yet been affected by the lavish ways of the holiday coast, with which
it has formed this late new connection.

So I turned to the left. I wanted to have done for a time with
everything English, and more particularly with the sort of hotel that
has an English-speaking waiter, or indeed a waiter at all. Sospel was
to provide me with my first genuine experience of a French inn, as used
by the people of the country and not by the tourist.

Sospel rose adequately to the occasion, as I had thought it would. I
found an hotel facing the market stalls and the river beyond them. I
went up a flight of stone stairs and into a kitchen, which was also
the bureau of the _patronne_. Yes, I could have a room for the night,
and the charge would be two francs. I went up to see the room. It had
a tiled floor, which was very clean, a large four-poster bed hung
round with muslin curtains, and a few old cumbrous pieces of furniture
besides--just the sort of room I wanted.

I had a good dinner, which I ate in company with four _commis
voyageurs_ and an engineer, all of whom were cordially interested in
my coming expedition, and none of whom had a word of English or seemed
to have any idea in their minds of connecting Sospel with golf. I felt
that I had fallen plumb into it by taking that left-hand turn, and
it needed an effort to call to mind the great new hotel at the other
end of the links two miles away, where no diner had tucked his napkin
inside his collar, or would soak his dessert biscuits in his wine;
where the waiter brought a clean knife and fork for every course, and
the proprietor would have requested me to leave if I had sat down in
the clothes in which I intended to walk on the morrow. I felt happy, as
I went to bed at nine o'clock, after a look at the rapid-flowing river
on which the moon was now shining through the parting clouds. The fun
had begun.

I felt happier still at six o'clock the next morning, when I took
the road with my pack on my back. The clouds had blown away from the
mountain tops, though wisps of them hung about the lower slopes, and
the cup of the valley still held a light mist. It was going to be a
lovely day, and perhaps hotter than would be altogether comfortable
for a walker habited and burdened as I was. For it was still early
in March, and I had come down from Alpine snows. Moreover, the
replenishments of clothing that I had sent on ahead were at least a
week away, and I carried "changes" to a rather nervous extent; also
some reading matter, which is a mistake, for books weigh heavy, however
light their contents, and if your day on the road is not filled with
walking, eating and sleeping, and whatever recreation in the way of
talk may come to you, you are not throwing yourself enough into the
spirit of your adventure.

The road wound and turned and twisted, always going uphill, but never
very steeply. I was on the old high road from the north, where it
enters on its last stage of about five and twenty miles to Nice. I
thought I must have come near to its highest point when I had climbed
up on a level with the heavy fort that frowned on me from a hill near
by, and sat down to take my last look at the green valley now lying far
beneath me.

It showed as a level carpet of vivid green, broken by the grey mass
and outlying buildings of the town, with the river threading it
lengthwise. The hills rose up sheer on every side. Their lower slopes
were so regularly terraced that at this distance they had the effect
of horizontal "shadings" in a pencil drawing. Above that they were
grey, and dark green, and red as with heather, and the summits of some
of them still held snow. White roads jagged them here and there, but
the flat valley floor had the effect of being completely cupped and
confined by the rugged heights, as indeed it is, except just where the
river, having filled up the bottom of the cup with a rich layer of
alluvium, must have broken through at some time, and left the fertile
plain all ready and waiting for cultivation. It was like looking down
on a miniature Promised Land, so marked was the contrast between the
fresh green of the valley and the sombre tones of its encircling hills.

This southern country flushes to tender spring green only here and
there. The cultivated hillsides keep their darker colours, though they
may be most sweetly lit with the pink of almonds. March would be a
glorious month in Provence if it were only for the almond blossom.
Mixed with the soft grey of the olives it makes delicious pictures, and
it is to be found everywhere. And the wild rosemary is in flower--great
bushes of it, lighting up the rocky hillsides with their delicate blue.
They were all around me as I sat on this height, and there were brooms
getting ready to flower, and wild lavender, and thyme. The air held
an aromatic fragrance, and as I walked on between the pines and the
deciduous trees, not yet in leaf, the birds were singing and the water
rushing down its channels from the snowy heights very musically. There
were primroses and violets by the roadside, as if it had been spring
in England, and juicy little grape hyacinths to remind one that it was
not. There was something to look at and enjoy at every step.

I was nowhere near the top of the pass, as I had thought, but reached
it at last at the Col de Braus, where I found a rude little inn, and
entered it not without reluctance in search of refreshment.

I found myself in a vaulted stone kitchen, its floor below the level of
the ground outside. An elderly woman sat by the hearth, winding wool,
with a child playing at her knee; a younger woman brought me wine and
bread and cheese. The place was very dirty, but the wine was good and
the viands eatable.

The older woman was a picture of grief as she sat under the great stone
chimney and told me how hard life was in that exposed spot, especially
in the winter, when they were sometimes flooded out of the lower rooms.
And now they had taken away her only son, for his military service, and
what she should do without him she could not think. It was a hard tax
on poor mothers. In three years, when he had done with the army, who
knew? She might be dead.

"But you have a husband, madame, isn't it so? Otherwise they could not
take him."

Yes; she had a husband. She nodded her head slowly with infinite
meaning, and as if to interpret it there entered the room an extremely
unattractive person, dirtier even than his dirty surroundings, who
addressed her, or the younger woman, or perhaps me, in a flood of
intemperate speech, of which I could not make out a single word. Nobody
answered him, and he slouched out of the room again.

"Is that your husband, madame?"

She nodded her head slowly up and down, without speaking. I could see
for myself.

We talked about the little child, and her face lighted up. Presently
the husband came in again, and expressed himself in his unrecognizable
tongue with as much freedom and fervour as before. Again nobody took
any notice of him, and again he went out. I don't know whether he was
drunk or not, but am inclined now to think that he only wanted to be.
I was sure that he was annoyed with me, for some reason, by the way
he glared at me, and as I was a customer and prepared to pay for my
entertainment it must either have been because I did not offer him any
or because I was interfering with the hour of his own repast. I think
it is likely that his bark, which was strident enough, was worse than
his bite, that he was merely a ne'er-do-well with an unusual gift of
self-expression, which had ceased to interest those about him. His wife
took no steps to carry out whatever may have been his wishes at this
particular juncture of circumstances, and her attitude of frozen grief,
effective at the time, thawed enough to enable her to make a mild
overcharge when I came to settle up. She gave me permission to take a
photograph of the room and its occupants if I wished to do so, but I
said that the light was not good enough, and came away.

Now I changed my view for a different set of hills, and began to
descend on roads that zigzagged more than ever. There was a good deal
of quarrying going on. Great blocks of stone were lying by the roadside
ready to be built up into the parapet, and presently I came upon a
group of Italian workmen busy with their picks and crowbars. I don't
know why, after all these years, the enormous work of protecting this
old road should be taken in hand, but certainly there are places in
it at which a fall over the edge can hardly be thought of without a
shudder, and with the surface in the muddy state in which I found it
a motor-car might easily skid with danger. At one place, if you stand
where it rounds a point and look down to where it takes another slope,
it looks just like a temperature chart, where the thermometer has taken
a series of rises and drops and at last runs off steadily downwards.

This long downward slope led me at last to welcome shade, and I found a
little lawn under olive boughs, below the road and above a river gorge
which was an ideal place for a siesta. If food and drink are so good
when one is on the long steady tramp, sleep is no less so. There are
those who scorn it except at night between sheets, but when one has
made an early start, and has covered many miles by the time the sun has
reached its greatest power, it is pleasant enough to sleep for an hour
under the shade of a tree, and to wake up refreshed for what remains to
be done of the day's journey.

The sound of the river beneath me, and the birds singing all around,
lulled me to sleep. But for this there was no sound, except a very rare
noise of wheels, and once a motor-car, on the road above, to arouse me
for a moment and to make the sinking back into sleep more blissful.
The first time, on an expedition of this sort, that you take your pack
for a pillow, mother earth for your bed and green leaves for your
canopy, there is something that falls away from you of the troubles and
irritations of the world. You are as near to nature as you are ever
likely to be in this sophisticated age, and nature will smooth things
out for you if you trust yourself to her.

[Illustration: THE ROAD DOWNHILL "LOOKS JUST LIKE A TEMPERATURE CHART"]

[Illustration: I "POSED" HIM AMONG THE RUINS
                                         _Page 20_]

I dropped down to L'Escaréne, a picturesque old town with an ancient
bridge straddling across the quick-flowing river. But before I reached
it I was met by a man with a drum and several intoxicated youths
carrying a flag, who cried "Vive la République" and "Vive l'armée,"
with the most patriotic fervour. I had begun my walk just at the
time when the conscripts were being called up from their homes all
over France, and lived in the thick of the concomitant disturbances
during the next few days. These rather pathetic little processions
of service-old boys, usually accompanied by middle-aged men more
drunk than they were, trailing out of a town and back again, became a
commonplace. They shouted at me frequently, but never rudely.

I sat under a naked vine-trellis on a raised terrace outside an inn and
drank wine. A talkative damsel, with needlework to occupy her hands,
but nothing to keep her fine eyes from noting everything that happened
in the _place_, for the observation of which this was a vantage-ground,
kept me company. She explained to me, with much shrugging of shapely
shoulders, some of the differences between the _patois_ used in
this part of the country and the true French, but she disclaimed
knowledge of Provençal. I was in Provence, but not yet among the true
Provençals--unless I mistook her altogether, which is quite possible.

She gave me excited and exhaustive instructions how to reach the hill
town of Berre, where I had thought to spend the night. I had had a
description of it from the engineer in whose company I had dined the
evening before, and when I came within sight of it, perched on its rock
summit, an hour or two later, its high walls and dominating church
tower lit by the westering sun, it gave me a little thrill--it was so
beautiful, and so just right.

It was just right to look at from a distance, or for a walk through its
narrow twisting alleys, part staircase, part passage, part drain. There
is nothing more picturesque than these little rock-perched towns and
villages that lie behind the Italian and French Rivieras. They are as
untouched as anything in the way of congregated buildings can be in
these days, and carry your imagination right back into the past. And
I had thought that a night spent in some old inn in one of them would
strengthen that touch of romance for me.

But in Berre there was no inn such as I had pictured, where one would
sleep in such a room as I had slept in the night before and awake to a
glorious view as from some commanding tower. There were two _cafés_,
and I penetrated one of them in search of dinner and a bed. Militarism
was being celebrated with much consumption of fluid, and much singing
and shouting, and the place was very dirty, and had that air of hard
discomfort and newness which is the peculiar property of French
_buvettes_ of the poorer sort. I was not sorry to be told that it was
impossible for me to have a bed there. I think I could have got one by
pressing for it, but I did not press. The romance of Berre was oozing
out fast, and I still had in me the four miles or so that would take me
to Contes, in the valley below.

The revellers here were all men of middle age, or at any rate long
past the age at which the new three years' service could affect them
personally, but their enthusiasm for it was very great. One of them,
who had detached himself from the rest while I had been making my
enquiries and was reeling down the road waving a branch of mimosa and
singing loudly, showed me the way to Contes; for I already knew better
than to follow the road, which always approaches these high-perched
villages in an over-deliberate fashion for pedestrians. He was very
amiable about it, and I rather feared that he would offer to go with
me. But he only came a little way, to where he could point me out
a mule-track, and during our walk together I understood him to be
persuading me, and possibly himself, that he was on the eve of gaining
much military glory. But he was bald and pot-bellied, and I think that
he was only touched by that noble and unselfish enthusiasm which takes
patriotic men when there is question of other people doing their duty.

Dusk was falling, and I went down stony paths between olive gardens,
which are very peaceful and mysterious in twilight. I met some of the
inhabitants of Berre mounting slowly to their little town after their
day's work. Most of the women carried cut olive boughs on their heads,
and some of the men drove asses laden with them. It was the time of
pruning, and olive leaves are very acceptable to most animals as food.
By and bye I had the track to myself, and sometimes lost it, but I did
not much mind. I could see the lights of Contes below me, and whenever
I found myself on a path that seemed to lead aside from them I took
a straight line over the terraces till I found a more suitable one. I
was rather tired, but rest and refreshment were not far off, and it
was soothing to the spirit to walk in this odorous dusk, and in such
quietness.

It was quite dark by the time I came to Contes, and I was quite ready
for my dinner. But I did not reach it for some time yet. When I had
gone down long, steep, paved paths between walls to what seemed to
be the heart of the town I had to go down much farther still until I
thought I should never come to the end of things. But at last, there
was the bottom of the hill, and an hotel, no less, with a garden in
front of it.

I sat down in the _café_, since, although a room was promised me, there
was no suggestion of taking me to it, and at the moment I had no wish
to mount stairs even for the sake of a wash. There are certain habits
of civilization that are very easily dropped. One comes to the end of a
day's march, and one's first desire is for rest, one's second for food
and drink; and in these little inns this sequence of desire seems to
be well understood. It seemed quite natural to exchange my heavy dusty
boots for a pair of slippers out of my pack, sitting by the table, to
pass at once to the consumption of wine, and as soon as might be to
the consumption of food, without any further preparation.

The wine was very good, with a slight tang that was almost a sparkle in
it, and as I sat blissfully at rest with it the room was invaded first
by a man with a drum, then by a man with a cornet, then by several
more men with very loud voices. I was immediately whisked away by the
youth who had received me, and who seemed to be in sole charge of the
place, into another little room across a passage, where he presently
served me with dinner, consisting of soup, an omelette, beef, potatoes
and carrots, cheese, oranges, and biscuits, and another litre of
the good wine. Soon after that he showed me a clean little room, in
which I slept deeply, hardly disturbed by the voices of the _jour de
fête_ beneath me, and was only once thoroughly awakened, at about one
o'clock, by a great bustle of arrival in a room adjoining mine.

The busy young man was still as active as possible at that hour, but he
was quite ready to give me my coffee at six o'clock the next morning,
at a little table in the garden. He had also thoroughly cleaned my
boots, but before I left I heard him called a marauder for something or
other he had omitted to do for the two gentlemen who had arrived in the
night.

For the whole of this entertainment I paid five francs and a half, and
the helpful and willing young man explained that the charge was rather
high because I had drunk two litres of wine.

And so I came happily to my second day, in the bright spring sunshine.



CHAPTER II

_Flowers and Scents_


If you look at a map of this coast, before it begins to run south from
Cagnes and Villeneuve, you will see that the hills stretch down to the
sea like the fingers of a hand spread out, and the main roads run down
between them. I should have preferred to keep away from the coast and
cross the remaining ranges by tracks and footpaths, but I wanted to see
a relative who lives at Nice. Otherwise I should never have gone near
such a place, for which I was quite unsuited, both in spirit and attire.

Contes is only fourteen miles or so from Nice by a good road, and I
thought I might pay my visit, and in the afternoon get back into the
hills again. But crowning the ridge opposite to the one I had come down
the night before was the old deserted town of Châteauneuf, and in the
soft early morning sunshine it looked so attractive that I thought I
would go up to it, and walk down to Nice along the valley on the other
side.

It was a steep and stony climb. When I got a little way up I was
already glad I had embarked upon it, for if I had gone down by the
road I should have missed the glorious view I had looking back upon
Contes, and upon Berre on its wooded height far above it. I saw now
that Contes itself was a most picturesque little town on a hill of its
own, crowned by the spire of its church, that its outlying houses ran
straggling up the higher slope down which I had come, and that the inn
at which I had slept was in another little group right at the bottom
of the hill. It was not nearly so large as it had seemed to me in the
dark, but it was wonderfully picturesque, from whatever shifting point
of view I saw it.

I sat for half an hour outside a little inn before I climbed the
last steep slope to the ruins above me. They loomed big and massive,
and I asked why the place had been deserted. Owing to lack of water,
they told me, but there was still a woman who inhabited it with her
children, and had some small "lands" to cultivate thereabouts. There
were a few little pocket handkerchiefs of terraced soil among the lower
ruined walls, and some tall cypresses growing among the scattered
stones. But it was a scene of desolation when one went along what had
been a street or lane of the village. The ruin was too far advanced
to tell many stories, and only the glorious view, which embraced the
sea to the south and all the great panorama of the hills and distant
mountains elsewhere, made the reward of the climb.

A ragged child came running towards me over the stones. I "posed" him
among the ruins which were his habitation, and asked him questions
about them, which he did not answer. I found his mother, with some
smaller children, in a dwelling not so very uncomfortable, and she
was pleasant with me, and said there was no lack of water at all in
Châteauneuf, and it was a convenient enough place to live in, and cheap.

There was not much to stay there for. The ragged child was instructed
to take me to some grotto or other which his mother said was well worth
seeing, and he did accompany me a few hundred yards on my way down the
other side of the hill; but I saw nothing of any grotto, and presently
he went back again.

A depression of spirit came upon me as I walked down the road to Nice,
which, however, was picturesque enough, passing for some distance
through a narrow gorge with a foaming river running along the bottom of
it. But there were people in carriages and motor-cars, and presently
there were tram-lines and untidy-looking buildings such as always
hang on to the skirts of a French town. I was coming into a sort of
civilization that I wanted none of at that time. I cut short the
approach by taking a tram, and I will say nothing more of Nice except
that I spent the rest of the day and the night there.

It took me a long time to get out of it the next morning, and in fact
its atmosphere seemed to hang about me all day. I walked along the
pavement of the interminable Promenade des Anglais, drank coffee at an
_auberge_ somewhere at the end of it, and then took a tram to Cagnes,
where they play golf. I must not be taken to throw scorn upon Nice
because it did not happen to be the sort of place I wanted at that
particular time. It is the chief of the pleasure cities of that sunny
flowery coast, and was so when all the rest were mere fishing villages.
It is bright and gay, and fronts its curving shore with a flaunting
elaboration of architecture that spells wealth and luxury down to the
smallest eccentric pavilion. And this wealth and luxury spreads its
influence for miles around.

It was evident in the little _café restaurant_ at which I rested early
in the afternoon, which was just off the dusty high road to Grasse,
and was continually passed by motor-cars speeding along in either
direction. It was not a place at which any of them were ever likely to
stop, but I was charged at least double prices for the mild refreshment
that I took, and when I had paid for it was requested to leave as soon
as possible, for the lady of the house wished to shut it up and go
and wash at the fountain. I was sitting outside, and could only have
carried off a chair and a table if I had been minded to carry off
anything, but I was not to be allowed to sit there a little longer. She
had got my money and wanted to see my back.

I walked on, into the land of flowers--flowers grown not for their
beauty but for their scent, and grown in terraced fields, just like any
other crop. Grasse, the centre of the industry, draws supplies for its
scents and soaps, pomades and oils, from miles of country around it,
and I was getting near to Grasse.

There were great plantations of roses, all carefully pruned and
trained on low trellises, but not yet in flower. Sometimes the rows
were interspersed with vines, and many of the fields were bordered
with mulberries. There were ledges covered with the green foliage of
violets, and great double heads of purple, scented bloom peeping out of
it. There were fields of jasmine, of tuberoses; terraces of lavender,
of lilies of the valley, carnations, mignonette; gardens of orange
trees, grown more for their flowers than for their fruit; and of course
groves of olives, of which the oil forms so important a part in the
local manufactures. This day and the next day I walked for miles with
the scent of flowers all about me.

I climbed up to another Châteauneuf; there must be a round dozen of
them in Provence alone, and they are all very old. This was another
most picturesque hill town, and again I thought I might get a bed
there. But I could get no such thing, and after sitting for half an
hour on a terrace and enjoying the wide view I set out again as the sun
sank behind the hills to walk to Grasse.

I had come up by a wide sweeping road, and took a short cut down
through the olive groves to where I thought I should strike it again.
But my sense of direction, never very strong, failed me altogether, and
I don't know where I might have wandered to if I had not frequently
caught sight of the lights of Grasse in the distance. Presently I
seemed to be going right away from them, but between me and them there
was a deep valley, and I knew that the road which I ought to have
taken, or found again, kept to the level on my right. So I turned, to
round the slope of the hill which would take me on to it.

I wandered for an hour up paths and down paths and along the edges of
terraces where there were no paths, but keeping my face generally to
the right quarter. The lights of Grasse shone more and more plainly
between the tree-trunks, but were still a very long way off. Sometimes
I came across little secluded farms, and in the garden of one of them
a great stretch of yellow jonquil shone in the dusk like a square of
sunshine left behind from the departed day, and its fragrance followed
me for a long way. From another a dog barked and somewhat alarmed me,
for dogs are not to be lightly regarded in this country. Later on I
should have been more alarmed still, for reasons which will presently
appear. But this dog did no more than bark savagely, and bye and bye,
when it was quite dark, I came out onto the road, not so very far from
Châteauneuf, round which I had walked almost in full circle.

I was still four miles or so from Grasse, but had no wish to walk there
if I could find my dinner and bed closer at hand, and just beyond where
I had come out onto the road there was an inn, in which I got both. I
think this place was called Pré du Lac, but am not sure.

I dined in the _café_, which was so large as to take up nearly the
whole of the ground floor. There was a billiard table in it, but it was
in a corner and seemed to make small impression on the floor space.
As I sat at my table against a wall, the people of the inn dined at
another one, pushed up against an iron stove, and at such a distance
from mine that we had to raise our voices in talking to one another.

They were an interesting group, but I had some difficulty in making out
their relationship. There was a woman at the head of things, bustling
and voluble, who brought me one special dish, which she said was a
_plat du pays_, and not given to every guest. I have forgotten all
about it, except that it was good. There was a man with one eye who may
have been her husband, but I think he was only a friend of the family.
There was a married daughter, rather handsome, with a small child who
went to sleep over his macaroni. These sat at the table. But there were
besides, a son, who was to be off on his military service the next day,
and a girl who may have been a younger daughter. She wore a boy's cloth
cap and a black skirt, and looked very much like a Kentish hop-picker.
These two hovered about the scene. There were also people coming in now
and then, to bring something or to take something away, and they all
stayed for a word or two before going out into the night, and slamming
the door.

One man, who had just cut his beard very short, or else had not shaved
for a week, came to fill a bottle with wine. He stood for a minute or
two by the table, talking loudly, and then made for the door, still
talking. By the time he reached it he had found something to say that
took him back to the table, where he stayed for another two or three
minutes. Then he went to the door again, stood there as before, and
came back. He did this six or seven times. He first came in as I
finished my soup, and finally left us as I was peeling my orange, and
I am quite sure that he pictured himself as having stopped just to say
a word, and told his wife so when he got home with the wine for their
meal.

I watched them as they sat and stood there, talking vociferously, and
frequently all at the same time, and thought how different they were
from our northern peasantry. They live far better; the poorest of
them have well-cooked food and wholesome natural wine as a matter of
course. Their ideas flow more freely, and they take a great delight in
imparting them. They are not so much under the domination of richer
men. One could not, in England, walk through the country and drop down
to the way of life of the peasantry without a conscious and possibly
irksome process of self-adjustment--as irksome to them as to oneself.
There one lives exactly as they do, and lives better than in most
middle-class houses in England; and they will talk to you freely, and
interest you.

I went over and sat at their table, while the one-eyed man and the
married daughter played a game of cards, which they explained to me
but I did not understand, and offered me most fragrant coffee, from
the stove at the lady's elbow. The _patronne_ came in, and gave me a
liqueur glass of rum, which she said would be good for me. A handsome
young man in the clothes of a plasterer came in and watched the card
game, and another rather older man joined the circle, together with the
son and the girl in the cloth cap, who had carried off the sleeping
child and put him to bed. She was smoking a cigarette. I suggested that
the rum should go round to my order, but only the _patronne_ herself,
the one-eyed man and the young plasterer accepted it. The budding
soldier would have done so, but his mother forbade him.

The talk was of military service, as it had been throughout the
evening. They all disliked the new three years' law, except the
one-eyed man, who said that soldiering was all fun and no work, and
you saw the world. But they cried out at him that he had never done
military service, and he subsided and helped himself largely to
counters out of the pool.

They were all as genial as possible with me, looked at my map with
interest, and suggested various places that I might visit. The
conscript presently showed me up to my room, which was bare but clean,
and asked me how many handkerchiefs I had with me. I thought it was
rather a personal question, but showed them to him, and he deluged
each one with a different scent. He said they were the best scents
that could be obtained in or around Grasse, and they were certainly
very strong. For some days thereafter my "essences turned the live
air sick," and one of the handkerchiefs now, after several washings,
retains a faint commemorative odour. But the attention I valued, though
the scent I came to dislike extremely.

They were nice people, all of them, though a little greedy, as next
morning's settling up showed. But I was still on the high road between
Nice and Grasse, and I suppose was fair game.

The weather was still lovely as I set out early in the morning, and
Grasse was a sight to see, with its towers and roofs lit up by the sun,
as it stood on its dominating height over the wide valley, in which the
light mists still lingered.

I walked right through the town, but if I had not already seen
something of the processes by which the scents from the miles of
flowery fields through which I was passing are extracted and hoarded,
I think I should have stayed to do so. For I am so constituted that
every manufacturing process remains a complete and insoluble mystery to
me until I have seen it, and yet arouses my curiosity and my willing
interest.

It was about this time of the year that I had visited one of the light,
airy factories of Grasse. I remember a huge, scented mass of the
heads of violets heaped up on a white sheet on one of the upstairs
floors. It was half as high as I was, and smelt divinely. These were
the only flowers in evidence, for the full harvest, when all the great
space of this chamber would be covered with gathered blossoms, was
not yet. But there were sacks of lavender there besides, and bundles
of sweet-scented roots--orris, and patchouli, and _vétiver_--which
can be turned into essences as sweet as those taken from the flowers
themselves.

I remember in other rooms boiling vats, very clean, and bright copper
vessels, and great stills; and casks full of the fine grease which is
used to catch and hold the distilled essences. It is spread on sheets
of glass, framed in wood, like school slates, which are stacked in
tiers; and other tiers hold the wooden trays for the flower-heads ready
to be treated. And of course there were great stores of attractive
flasks and bottles, all labelled and ribboned, and ready to take their
places in the shops of Bond Street or the Rue de la Paix, and every
other place where there is a market for them.

There was a room, too, with machinery for turning out scented soap. You
saw a soft fat pink deliciously-smelling roll squeezed out of a press,
and in no time sections were cut off and stamped in another press into
cakes ready for the toilet table.

I must confess that I have only the dimmest idea now as to the actual
details of the various processes by which the scent of the flowers is
stoppered up into the aristocratic bottles, but I have seen it all
done, and the impression remains on my mind that any scent that bears
a label from Grasse does come from the flowers themselves, and with no
adulteration that I could see anywhere.



CHAPTER III

_In Old Provence_


I now finally left behind me the cosmopolitan coast, and came into the
true Provence.

My objective was the old city of Aix, which lay almost due east, across
country in which there are not many places standing out on the map as
of any importance, but which seemed to me rather more attractive on
that account.

Once at Aix, one would be in the thick of it. Avignon, Nîmes, Arles,
and a score of points of interest lie within a few miles of one
another. When I reached this rich and crowded corner, the adventure of
walking through unknown country would take second place. But at least
as long as the weather held I wanted to be on foot, and in the country
that lies apart from the main tourist routes.

When I had passed beyond the sphere of the villas with their flowery
gardens the road became rather lonely. The fields of blossom became
rarer, but there were vines and olives everywhere. The earth was
red, and looked rich, and the hills on either side of me took on all
sorts of lovely shades of orange and purple and blue, as the light
changed and shifted during the day. I could still see, when I turned
round, some of the higher mountains from among which I had come, and
the country did not sensibly change its character until I had crossed
another pass later on in the day.

I walked for some miles, hoping to come across an inn where I could get
something to drink. I had had nothing since the bread and coffee of the
early morning, and had walked straight through Grasse, only stopping to
get my letters and buy some provisions.

I believe that most people on the tramp find it enough to have one good
meal at the end of the day. Some of them find it necessary to start
with a stout breakfast, but that is hardly possible outside England,
and for my part the coffee and roll of France or Switzerland carries me
on very well for two or three hours, when I am ready for something more
substantial.

You need not trust to an inn for this second collation, and if you do
they will only send out to get for you what you could have got for
yourself, and charge you rather more for it. They quite understand
your bringing your own _vivres_ with you, and eating them to the
accompaniment of their wine. Even the wine you can buy and carry with
you, but it is hardly necessary to do that as long as you are in a
country where you can get it anywhere.

You go to a _boulangerie_ and buy a crisp, newly baked loaf for a
penny. Then you go to an _épicerie_ and buy cheese or sausage, or both;
also oranges and chocolate to amuse yourself with at odd moments during
the day. Here is food fit for the gods, and all you want is wine to
wash it down with. My own preference is for a great deal of wine at
such times, but there are some who may be content with water. I want
water, too, and a great deal of that, and carry an aluminum folding cup
with me, filling it almost anywhere without regard to possible germs.
It may be dangerous in some places, and possibly so in Provence; but I
have never taken any harm from it, there or anywhere.

It was on this morning that I realized for the first time that it was
not necessary to find an inn in order to find wine. Everybody makes
wine in Provence and almost anybody will sell it to you. I got my
litre at a blacksmith's; they brought me out a chair under a tree,
and I ate and drank to the ring of the anvil. The wine cost fourpence
halfpenny--I like to present these little sums in English money--and
was drinkable, but no more. I was beginning to get rather tired of the
ordinary red wine of the country, though I never drank white that was
not good. But it is mostly red wine that the peasants make, and it is
only occasionally that it is anything more than a mere beverage.

That afternoon I came to a beautiful place. The road had been falling
for some time, and at last entered a deep and narrow valley of verdant
meadows through which flowed a very clear river. I had walked a long
way, and it was very hot. The idea came to me to find a sheltered spot
and bathe in these clear waters. Perhaps fortunately, there was an
inn at the point at which the road crossed a bridge and doubled back
on the other side of the gorge, and when I had refreshed myself there
bathing did not seem such a reasonable undertaking. The river, though
invitingly clear, was rapid, and must have been fed by snows not so
very far away; and it was still early March, in spite of the hot sun.

There were motor-cars in front of this inn, and a party had finished a
late and from evidence a long _déjeuner_ at a table in the open. They
were flushed with food and wine and other liquors, and chattered like
parrots before they packed themselves into their cars and made off
in the direction of the coast. I disliked them one and all, and felt
vastly superior to them--a feeling which no doubt they also experienced
towards me, if they took any notice of me at all. Their sensation
of superiority would be based upon the fact that they were showing
themselves in command of quite a lot of money, and would be heightened
by the mild delirium that comes from over-feeding and being carried
along swiftly in that state, with no call for bodily or mental effort.
Mine arose from the pride of living frugally and feeling particularly
well from having walked a good many miles and being ready to walk a
good many more in about half an hour's time. I'm not sure, now that I
have drawn the comparison, that the one feeling was any more laudable
than the other.

I crossed the bridge, which was called the Pont de la Saigne, and began
the long ascent to the Colle Noire. When I had reached it the scenery
began to show a change. I had left the high rugged hills behind me at
last, and was dropping down into a fertile valley, which spread out
into a plain. The hills, more rounded now, bounded this plain to the
north, and were dotted at intervals with little towns that showed up
picturesquely from a distance on their blue and purple slopes. I was
making for one of them--Fayence, where I had been assured that I should
find a good inn. It was still a long way off after a few hours' walk,
and still hidden from me by an intervening hill, and I had walked quite
far enough that day.

I sat down on the coping of a bridge as the dusk began to steal over
the fields and hills. It was a peaceful, soothing scene. An old
shepherd came slowly towards me with his flock following him to their
night's shelter. It was like a picture by Millet. There was not enough
light for a photograph, but I took one of another shepherd with his
flock later on. They watch their sheep as the Swiss watch their cattle
in the mountain pastures, never leaving them alone; and I never saw a
flock of sheep in Provence that numbered above thirty.

When I had walked on a little farther I got a lift in a cart drawn by
an old white horse that was jogging along my way. It was driven by a
good-looking young man with a wonderful set of teeth and a pleasant
smile. He was a sort of general carrier. He dropped a large bundle of
what looked like washing at one cottage and a basket of provisions at
another, and a man stopped him on the road to hand in a lantern for
repair, and a woman at a railway crossing asked for medicine to be
brought the next day. There was a little conversation on general topics
at every stop, and the tongue was the true Provençal, which he told me
they all talked among themselves, though most of them talked French as
well.

Provençal is soft and sweet. It is not difficult to make out its
meaning in print if one knows some Latin and some French, but I never
succeeded in catching more than the glimmer of an idea of what was
being talked about. Of Provençal as a literary language there will be
more to say later on.

As we rounded the hill that had hidden Fayence, there came into view
a castle with two towers that stood most imposingly on a summit
overlooking the valley; but as we approached it turned out to be, not
an ancient ruined keep as it had seemed in the dusk, but a not very
ancient unfinished château of enormous proportions. It had been built
so far, my friend informed me, by a General Fabre, or Favre, and, as I
afterwards learnt, about the year 1836. I made up my mind to visit it
the next day, for it showed up as a most lordly pleasure house, with
terraced gardens commanding the great stretch of country between the
range of hills on which it stood, and the mountains of the Estérel and
the Maures towards the sea.

Fayence lay just beyond it. My carrier was going on to Seillans, and
dropped me at the foot of the hill, and I made my way slowly up a
winding road to my night's shelter.

I found a good inn where they gave me an excellent dinner and a
delicious white wine. The dinner consisted of pea soup, a spit upon
which was impaled alternate morsels of liver and bacon, a dish of
little sausages with succulent cabbage, a dish founded on beef or
mutton, I forget which, cream cheese, biscuits, oranges, and nuts,
and the charge for this, including the wine, of which I drank a large
quantity, was two francs. My bed, in a small clean room, was also two
francs, and coffee and rolls the next morning fifty centimes. This
comes to about three shillings and ninepence for a day's living, apart
from what one consumes upon the road; and this was the chief hotel in a
town of fifteen hundred inhabitants.

Such hotels are common all over southern France, and easy enough
to find in a town not too large or too small. They are not so well
furnished or so comfortable as an English inn of the same class, but it
would be rare indeed to find an English inn where the food would be so
good. An evening meal would have to be ordered or cooked specially, and
one would consider oneself charged moderately in a bill that came to no
more than three times as much. In the bigger towns such hotels are more
difficult to find, but they are there if one knows where to look for
them, and has learnt exactly what to look for. In the smaller places to
which tourists go, and there is no choice, the charges are considerably
higher; but one can usually get a bath, which is an unknown luxury in
the ordinary way of things.

I wish very much that I had not left these wanderings on foot over
foreign countries until middle age. I can imagine no more delightful
experience for a young man, either alone or in company. If I could go
back to undergraduate days, I would spend some part of every spring and
summer vacation on foot in this way. Ready money is apt to be scarce at
that happy age, but it need cost so little.

My own experiences, for various reasons, are no particular guide,
but Mr. Hilaire Belloc, who is pastmaster in the art of seeing fresh
country, is worth quoting on the subject. He wrote to me when I asked
him for advice before setting out on this expedition:

 "I think the thing is quite easy if one only remembers that the
 conditions, upon the Western Continent at least, that is, in France,
 Italy and Spain, are so different from those in England that no one
 asks questions and no one dreams of interfering with one's liberty.
 The rule is as simple as possible. Any inn whatsoever in France and
 almost any inn north of Naples in Italy gives you a tolerable bed,
 and on entering it you ask the price of a room and of coffee the next
 morning. They are accustomed to the process and bargain with you. I
 have been to dozens of places where I was charged no more than a franc.

 "For your mid-day meal you will be wise to carry a leather bottle
 which the French call a _Gourde_ and the Spaniards a _Bota_, holding
 wine, which again you must have filled in shops where wine is sold
 retail. You will again do well to ask before it is filled at what
 price the wine is sold. I have carried a half-gallon _gourde_ of this
 kind over many journeys. It is slung from the shoulders by a strap and
 is purchasable in all the mountain countries. Bread is purchasable
 everywhere, and that kind of sausage which the French call by various
 names, which the Spaniards call 'Salpicon' and the Italians 'Salami'
 is common to all countries and is with cheese the accompaniment of the
 meal. Your night meal you must make the principal meal of the day,
 and if you wish to save money eat it at some place different from the
 place where you sleep. Thus accoutred you can live indefinitely at a
 rate of five francs a day and see all that there is to be seen. Always
 carry upon your person in such countries one good 'piece,' as they
 call it, for identification, the best of which is a passport issued
 by the British authorities wherever you are. Be careful to have it
 _viséd_ by the consul of the countries where you are to travel. It
 is the _visa_ that counts more than the passport. For instance, if
 you are starting from Switzerland get such a document _viséd_ by the
 consul in some principal towns of France, Italy and Spain, then you
 have nothing to fear.

 "Remember that telegrams or letters sent to you at one place _poste
 restante_ do not tie you to going to that place. You have but to send
 a message to the post office to have them forwarded to another, and
 it will be done. But you cannot get your letters, still less your
 registered letters, at a _poste restante_ without some such 'piece' as
 I mentioned.

 "It is a good rule not to carry personal luggage except in the
 smallest amount in your sack, and to buy things as you need them. It
 is cheaper in the long run."

Now five francs a day is not quite thirty shillings a week, and for
the price of a few days' revel "in town" an enterprising youngster
might spend a fortnight walking through almost any beautiful stretch
of country in nearer Europe, including his journey there and back to
England. However it may have been in the past, it is now possible to
travel third class on the Continent in no more discomfort than in
England, and indeed in the holiday season third class is apt to be
a good deal less crowded than second, on the fast trains in which
third-class passengers are carried. They are not carried, of course,
in all trains; but where the saving of shillings is an object it is no
particular hardship to spend a few hours more on the way, and unless
the journey is a very long one the time lost is small and the money
saved considerable.

The burden to be carried is a more debatable matter. Mr. Belloc's
advice is worth a good deal more than mine, but his early training in
arms must have used him to a less fearful regard of discomfort than is
possible with most of us. The less you carry the easier your walking
will be, and I would never hamper myself with any protection against
rain. Unless you can keep your legs as well as your body protected you
must occasionally expect to be under the necessity of having something
dried before a fire, and while you are about it you may as well go to
bed and have everything dried. But I should not care to be without a
spare shirt, at least one pair of spare socks, and a pair of light felt
slippers, and with other small necessaries for comfort and a reasonable
degree of cleanliness this already makes up a fair weight. Let every
one choose for himself. My experience is that one very quickly gets
used to a moderate pack strapped upon one's shoulders, and hardly
notices it, except for a time after one may have taken a day off and
walked about carrying nothing.

I took a day off at Fayence. It was Sunday, although I had no idea of
it until well on into the morning.

I came down at about half past seven, and found that the three _commis
voyageurs_ in whose company I had dined the night before had already
finished their breakfast and gone out; but two of them came in again
as I was finishing mine, and transacted serious business with some
townspeople whom they brought with them. They keep early hours in
France.

I walked up to the top of the hill upon which the town is built, and
found an old and very solid tower with a clock in its face and a bell
in a cage of wrought iron on the top of it. The clock had a date on
it--1908--and I took some little trouble to discover whether it could
be seen from any part of the town except by climbing up to it as I had
done. I found that it could not. Then I made my way to the Château du
Puy.

I approached it along a sort of drive, and stood in a doorway looking
down three stories deep into the stone-built husks of enormous rooms,
and up into three or four stories more. There was a series of great
halls, one above the other, in the main part of the building, and many
rooms opening out of them in both wings, which were carried up into
imposing towers; and there were lateral extensions besides. The house
seemed to have been designed for the accommodation of a regiment
rather than one solitary general.

The gardens to the south of it were on a level two stories lower, and
the gate to them was locked; but by a little scrambling I reached them.
The terraces had been laid out on a grand scale, and gardening had been
begun at some date or other. There were overgrown beds of iris getting
ready to flower, and in one corner a _pièce d'eau_, without which no
French garden is complete. A tall palm grew in one corner, and there
were fig-trees and bushes of hibiscus. In an extension of the main
building there were signs of habitation, and an orange-tree bright with
fruit grew in the middle of a chicken-run. Olives and almonds had been
planted where the ordered garden should have been, and most of the
ground had been made use of.

I had been able to get no information about the building of this great
pile; the tradition seemed to have departed. I do not know whether
it had been stopped by the death of the owner, or, as seems not
improbable, by a lack of money to go on. I imagined him, as I sat and
smoked in the deserted garden, as having thought continually of this
glorious site in his native country, and coming back to it when his
fighting was done to build himself the finest house for many miles
around. I think he must have enjoyed himself enormously while it was in
the building, but not without some doubts as to the way in which it was
to be lived in when it should at last be finished.

[Illustration: A PROVENÇAL SHEPHERD
                                   _Page 36_]

[Illustration: FAYENCE COULD BE SEEN ON ITS OWN HILLSIDE
                                                        _Page 45_]

[Illustration: HOW THEY PRUNE THE PLANE-TREES
                                            _Page 50_]

[Illustration: THE DOLMEN NEAR DRAGUIGAN
                                       _Page 53_]

His site must have given him continual pleasure. From his terraced
garden the wide fertile plain was spread out before him, in front and
on either side. As I saw it, it was all browns and greens, threaded
with white roads, and punctuated by dark cypress spires. Miles away it
was bounded by pine-clad mountain slopes, beyond which lay the sea. At
the back of the house the little town of Tourettes showed its huddle
of old roofs and walls a mile away, and behind it the hills rose until
snow could be seen on distant summits. From the little side garden with
the fish pond, Fayence could be seen on its own hillside, and a range
of blue and purple hills beyond it. The sun came out as I sat there,
and the shadows of clouds played all over the beautiful scene. It was
the true Provence, which gets into the blood of those who are born in
it, and makes them think that no country in the world is fairer.

I walked back to the town and went into the church, a large eighteenth
century structure of some dignity, with an unornamented tower that
looks much older. The curé came in as I was looking about me. He was
as handsome and dignified as his church, with his white hair and
portly presence, and reminded me of Parson Irvine in "Adam Bede." He
was inclined to deprecate my admiration of his church. It was large,
yes, not particularly fine, he thought. But I was judging by other
standards. A church as large as this would hardly have been built in
England in the eighteenth century for a thriving town; for one of the
size of Fayence the idea of it would have been laughed at.

It would hardly have been built in Fayence a few years later. When I
had gone out on to the little _place_ in front of it, where there were
busy market stalls under a row of giant planes, and a view past the
Château du Puy to the rich plain and the mountains beyond it, I went
back into the church and watched the congregation arrive for Mass.
It was not until then that I made it out to be Sunday. One enjoys a
blessed disregard of the calendar on such expeditions as mine, walking
on from day to day.

Women and children--they filled about a quarter of the seats provided,
and these filled hardly more than half the church. There were two old
men besides, and one middle-aged one, who came in with his family with
an air of importance. The rest of the male population of Fayence was
buying and selling outside in the market, or in the shops, or talking
together on the terrace steps above the _place_, or in the _cafés_, or
walking up and down the steep streets.

In the late afternoon I walked over to Seillans, and saw the populace
of that town enjoying themselves on a fine promenade that they have on
the edge of their hill. It is planted with the ubiquitous shady plane,
and overlooks the magnificent view to the south.

A good many of the men were playing their game of _boule_, which needs
only a few yards of hard ground, and some wooden balls about the size
of a cricket ball, studded closely with nails. They throw a "jack"
about fifteen or twenty yards and then follow closely the rules of our
game of bowls. But they throw the ball with the back of the hand up,
and give it a spin which makes it run on after it has fallen. When
all of them do no more than this the game is dull enough, at least to
watch, although the inequalities of the ground give it some interest to
the players. But the good players will aim at coming right down upon
an adversary's ball and punching it away out of danger. They bend down
very low with the right leg curiously crooked, and then run forward
fast and spin the ball in the air. It looks a most difficult shot, but
I saw it brought off many times by these players at Seillans.



CHAPTER IV

_Draguignan and Saint-Maximin_


Early on Monday morning I set out to walk to Draguignan, which lay on
the other side of a range of hills to the southwest, at a distance of
about twenty-two miles. I kept to the high road all the way, but did
not pass a single village, although the land was cultivated almost
everywhere, with olives, vines, mulberries and cereals. The only
episode of a rather dull walk that remains in my memory is a chat with
a very stout proprietor of vineyards, who sold me a litre of his _bon
vin_ for fourpence. He said that his wine was very wholesome, and I
had no fault to find with any of its qualities, except possibly that
of taste. He talked to me about Mistral, the poet. He had seen him,
and said he was a very great man; but he did not seem to have read
his poems. There was to be a big Provençal _fête_ at Draguignan in
May, and Mistral would be there, as gay as any of them, in spite of
his eighty-four years. But alas! Mistral's death was to move all this
country for which he had done so much in little more than a week from
that time.

It was on that day that the wind, from which the poet's family took
its name, and which so vexes the plains of Provence, began to blow. I
did not recognize it at first. The sun still shone brightly in a blue
sky, and I was rather glad of the strong clean wind that cooled me as
I walked. There is something about the name _mistral_ that had seemed
to me to connote an unhealthful fever-bringing air. I suppose I had
unconsciously connected it with the word "malarial." But the _mistral_
of Provence is the _magistral_, the great master-wind from the north or
the north-east, which rushes down from the Alps and Cevennes to replace
the hot air that rises from the sun-baked plains in the great Rhône
delta. It is like our east wind, keen and strong, and seems to deprive
the air of all moisture, and to make even a cloudless sky look cold.

I first saw Draguignan some four miles away, as I rounded the shoulder
of a hill. It is the capital of the Department of Var, having replaced
Toulon, which now has more than ten times its population, at the end
of the eighteenth century. Baedeker describes it as an _assez belle
ville_, but it was not _assez belle_ for me. I thought it the dullest
possible sort of town, although there were picturesque "bits" in the
streets of the older quarter. The first thing that struck the eye
as I neared it was an enormous range of new barracks, with a huge
barrack square. The bugles were blowing gaily, and when I came to the
town it was alive with soldiers in dirty white, with dark-blue waist
sashes, puttees and tam-o'-shanters. As I walked up the narrow streets
of the old town into the untidy-looking newer part, I could not help
comparing it with another French military city that I had visited some
months before. This was Besançon, the brightest, cleanest, pleasantest
large town that I have seen in the whole of France, and I have seen a
good many. Perhaps it was hardly fair to compare the two, for I was
in Besançon on a fine mellow September day, and Draguignan must have
been about at its worst, with the _mistral_ tearing along its streets,
filling the eyes with dust and making the pavements look as if all the
waste paper and light rubbish of the town were habitually thrown on to
them.

And they were pruning the plane-trees. No one who has not visited the
south of France when this operation is going on can form any idea of
what it means. These trees are planted everywhere, and in summer give
a most welcome shade to the hot streets and the wide squares of the
bigger towns. They grow to an immense girth, and those in Draguignan
were especially fine. The way they prune them, from the very first time
of their planting, shows that they know very well what they are about,
for they get a wide spread of branch and an even and impenetrable roof
of green. The trees are never allowed to get out of hand, and are kept
at school when they have passed the span of the longest human life.
With ladders and saws and ropes they remove great branches with as
little concern as one cuts into a rose-bush. The reward comes in the
summer, but an avenue or a "square" of these trees in March, when the
saws have been at work upon them, is a desolating sight. Those that I
photographed the next morning are umbrageous compared with some. I have
seen far bigger planes than these kept to three branches, each as big
as a good-sized tree.

I read in the official Directory of the Department of Var that towards
the end of the fifth century the town was infested by an enormous
dragon (symbol of heresy). The inhabitants had recourse to St.
Hermentaire, Bishop of Antibes, who delivered them from the monster.
To perpetuate the memory of this happy disencumbrance the town changed
its ancient name of Griminum to that of Dragonia, from which has come
Draguignan. And St. Hermentaire has been regarded with affection in the
locality ever since, though his name is little known outside of it.

I had been recommended by my friends among the _commis voyageurs_ at
Fayence to an hotel of the right sort. I should certainly have passed
it by but for that, for it seemed to be nothing but a large restaurant,
not of the first order nor even of the second, and there was nothing
to show that it had much accommodation elsewhere. But when I asked
for a bedroom, and suggested two francs for it instead of two and a
half, I was introduced to a noble apartment, which reminded me of the
pictures one sees in the illustrated papers, when His Majesty the King
is put up for a few days at an Embassy abroad. It was very large, and
the furniture was old, and some of it handsome, especially the bed,
which had more in the way of canopy and curtains than I am accustomed
to. The lady of the house told me afterwards that she kept a shop
of antiquities in the town, which accounted for some of the unusual
splendour. I felt ashamed at paying no more than one and eightpence for
the privilege of sleeping in such a room.

The dinner was the same price, and included a bottle of white wine that
was worth thinking about as one drank it. A good many men came in to
dine, at any time between half past seven and half past eight. Very few
of them looked to be above the rank of a workman, and all of them kept
on their hats as they ate. They sat in groups at different tables, and
enjoyed themselves in much the same way as men do in a club in London.
Probably they paid even less for the same dinner than I did, and I hope
their wives had as good a one at home.

The _mistral_ blew as keenly as ever the next morning, and I determined
to cut off a bit of the distance by train. I wanted to get to some of
the interesting places, which are nearly all in the west of Provence.
It was a two days' march to Saint-Maximin, where there is a noble
church, but I thought I would sleep there that night.

The train did not start until half past nine. I had time to walk out a
few miles on the other side of Draguignan to see a famous dolmen, the
only remains of prehistoric life to be found in this immediate region.

It was a curious well-preserved structure, hard by a little farmhouse
just off the road. I paid a youth who said he was the proprietor fifty
centimes for the privilege of looking at it, but thought his demand
for a further two francs because I had photographed it unreasonable.
He blustered, but made no effort to detain me as I walked off the
field with the two francs in my pocket instead of his. I had already
been asked once or twice if I was travelling for the purpose of taking
picture postcards, and probably that was his idea. But he was a
potential robber all the same, and I doubt if he was the proprietor at
all. I wish I had thought of threatening him with St. Hermentaire.

It took three hours to cover the thirty miles to Barjols, where I took
the road again at half past twelve. Barjols is quite out of the beaten
track, although this pottering little line, which eventually reaches
Arles, passes near it. As I walked through a very wide _place_ I
stopped to ask a group of school children playing marbles which was my
route. At the sound of my voice they scattered away with every sign of
alarm, and I laughed at them and went on, with my vanity rather wounded
at being regarded as an object of terror.

When I had gone a mile down the hill I met a man in his best clothes
reading a newspaper. I had seen the start of a funeral procession in
Barjols, and I supposed him to have the intention of joining it at his
own convenience. He asked me where I was going, and told me I could cut
off four kilometres if I followed the route he would describe to me.
He took immense trouble about it, and it was a kindly thought, but I
wished afterward that he had not had it, although I found his interest
in me soothing after having so lately been run away from.

I left the road bye and bye and followed the path that he had
indicated, but, as generally happens in such circumstances, it soon
ceased to be a path at all, and I found myself wandering among the
hills with a very small idea of where I was on the map. There was
frequent cultivation, but very few signs of habitation, and I saw no
living soul until I struck the high road again more than two hours
later. It was not the high road I had expected, and left me about
eleven miles to do out of what would have been a total of fifteen if my
adviser had been punctual at the funeral. The road to Saint-Maximin was
quite straight for the last three miles, and I saw the long line of the
great church standing high above the roofs of the town from far away.

I approached Saint-Maximin with an agreeable sense of anticipation.
The learned M. Rostan considers that its church shows the fairest page
of Gothic art in the South, and to be the only religious monument of
real architectural importance in Provence. This is perhaps extravagant
praise, but it was at any rate the first big thing of its kind that I
was to see. I had surveyed the country at large for a week, and was
ready for a different sort of interest, especially as the _mistral_ had
blown steadily all day long and walking was beginning to lose the edge
of its rapture.

It is not only the architectural beauties of this noble church that
give it its interest. It is its connection with a tradition that has
left its marks all over Provence, and in past centuries has met with
such universal acceptance that it is small wonder that innumerable
people firmly believe in it to this day. Saint-Maximin was the first
place to which I came that had to do with it.

I read about it that evening sitting before a wood fire in a room more
comfortable than is to be found in most French inns. I had come in
to Saint-Maximin as dusk was beginning to fall and had gone straight
to the church. But it was closed for the night. All I saw was the
disappointing west front, which has never been finished. So I betook
me to the hotel. Saint-Maximin is a town of small importance in the
present day, but it contains a good one, something like an old English
coaching inn, both in appearance and custom. It was a pleasant change
to dine in a medium-sized parlour instead of a large bare _café_, and
to find a fire in it; for the _mistral_ had blown away all the warmth
in the air and was blowing still.

Possibly it was from this inn that Lucien Bonaparte married his first
wife, who was the daughter of an _aubergiste_ of Saint-Maximin, where
at the age of twenty-one he administered the military provisions of the
Revolutionary army. The Revolutionists, disliking any name inclusive of
Saint, called the town Marathon, but it reverted later.

So I sat very late before the fire and read about Saint-Maximin and
about the legend of the three Marys. It must have been after ten
o'clock when I took my candle and went up to bed. Here is the story,
adapted from the learned M. Rostan, who made a life study of the
antiquities of Provence and especially of Saint-Maximin, and whose
memory is deservedly held in honour throughout the country.

After the death of Jesus Christ and his divine resurrection, the Jews,
alarmed by the rapid progress made by the new faith in Jerusalem, began
a terrible persecution, for which the martyrdom of St. Stephen was, so
to speak, the signal. They threw into a boat, without sails, oars or
rudder, the following saints: Mary Magdalene,[4] Lazarus and Martha
with their servant Marcelle, Sidonius, the man who was born blind,
Maximin, one of the seventy-two disciples, Mary the wife of Cleophas,
and Mary the wife of Zebedee, also called Salome, and several others,
including Sarah the black servant of these last two Marys, Trophimus,
and Joseph of Arimathea.

(The list extended itself as the legend grew, for it almost certainly
began with three only, as we shall see later. But M. Rostan includes
most of the above.)

The illustrious confessors were exposed to what seemed a certain and
horrible death, but the sacred barque, far from being overwhelmed by
the waves, floated in a calm that spread immediately around it, and
protected by the mercy of Providence on its long and perilous voyage,
touched at last the shores of Provence at the mouth of the Rhône, at
the place now called Saintes-Maries, or Notre Dame de la Mer.

Mary the mother of James the Less, and Salome stayed in that place
with their black servant Sarah. The other holy men and women spread
themselves over different parts of the country and diligently preached
their religion. St. Maximin went to Aix, of which he was the first
bishop, St. Martha to Tarascon, which she delivered from the ravages of
a horrible monster, St. Lazarus and St. Mary Magdalene to Marseilles.

Now although the church and town of Saint-Maximin bear the name of
that illustrious saint their chief glory is of a still greater. St.
Mary Magdalene made herself celebrated at Marseilles, then one of
the chief cities of the world, by her preaching. After having made
numerous converts and performed striking miracles, she went to Aix,
where she was named in the charter of the Church of St. Saviour as
co-founder with the bishop, St. Maximin. After some years she formed a
wish to take refuge from the eyes of the world, and betook herself to
the heart of the mysterious mountain forest now called Sainte-Baume,
because of the cave in which she passed the last thirty years of her
life in the practice of the most austere penitence. Seven times a day
angels came to her in this wild retreat and exalted her to the summit
of the mountain, so that her ears might be ravished by the celestial
harmonies. As her last moments approached they transported her some
distance from Sainte-Baume near to an obscure spot in which St. Maximin
was then in retreat. She received the last sacraments at his hands, and
a few days later breathed her last sigh, leaving behind her, says the
Golden Legend, "an odour so sweet that the oratory was perfumed by it
for seven days." Her mortal remains were reverently interred, and her
tomb became thenceforward an object of remarkable devotion. Shortly
afterwards the holy Prelate himself, with others of the blessed saints,
was buried at her side, and above these sacred remains arose a church
that became from that time a place of pilgrimage and deep veneration.

It is unfortunate that the invasions of the Saracens in the eighth
century should have made it impossible to produce documentary evidence
of any of this earlier than that date, for those barbarians devastated
everything. Seven or eight hundred years is a big gap to cover, and
when we begin to look into profane history the gap becomes much
bigger; for the legend cannot be traced earlier than the translation of
the relics of St. Trophimus in the twelfth century, and did not receive
general acceptance until three hundred years later still. But since
that time it has exercised an immense power upon the imagination of
Christendom.

M. Rostan, who was an antiquarian of note, believed in it. He summons
in evidence the stones of Saint-Maximin itself. In 1859, when the
church was undergoing restoration, he examined a brick-built tomb
which was incontestably of the date of the early Christian era, and
"might well be the primitive burial-place of one of the holy personages
venerated on this spot." It is true that the tomb was empty, but the
sacred relics are stated to have been removed after the persecutions
of the fifth century into the sarcophagi which are there to this day.
The walls of the crypt also, exposed in course of further restoration
thirty years ago, convinced M. Rostan, who saw them uncovered, that
this was "the veritable Cubiculum, the sepulchral chamber of St.
Magdalene, not only in its plan and dimensions, but in its still living
reality, as it existed when the celebrated penitent was buried there,
and where they placed her sarcophagus in the fourth or fifth century
after the triumph of the Church. The vaulting alone is not the same."

Out of all of which the sceptic may at least accept the fact,
interesting enough, that the crypt as it stands is of the date at which
St. Mary Magdalene probably died.

When the Saracens were burning all the churches, and scattering all
the sacred relics that they could lay hands upon, the Cassianite monks
who had been in charge of these peculiarly holy ones for three hundred
years, filled the crypt of their church with earth so as to hide it,
and for further precaution moved the bones of St. Mary Magdalene from
their tomb in the place of honour into that previously occupied by
those of Sidonius, where they remained for five hundred years.

So far, then, we have in evidence the tradition of the landing of
this company of saints on the shores of Provence and their subsequent
missions, not from St. Maximin alone, but also from Aix, Marseilles,
Tarascon and Saintes-Maries, in each of which places are monuments to
their glory. We have also the evidence of a burial-place of the first
century which was an object of veneration at that time and remained so
thereafter.

It is true that during the epoch of the Crusades the magnificent
church of Vezelay in Burgundy, in which Bernard of Clairvaux preached
and Richard Coeur de Lion took the vows, attracted to itself great
honour by its claim to possess the true relics of St. Mary Magdalene.
But M. Rostan points out that this belief on the part of Vezelay, so
far from being in flagrant contradiction to the Provençal tradition,
confirms it; for the monks of the Abbey of Vezelay attributed the
possession of these sacred relics to the piety of their founder,
Gérard de Roussillon, who was Count and Governor of Provence under
the Emperor Lothair. "But as the body of St. Magdalene had not been
visible at Saint Maximin for a long time, and the precise spot in which
it was hidden was not known, the statement of Vezelay was believed,
and conferred great celebrity upon it as a place of pilgrimage, until
the moment when it entered the designs of Providence to clear up the
mystery that enveloped the tomb of the glorious saint and dispel all
uncertainty upon the subject of her relics."

The instrument of this discovery was the Prince of Salerno, known later
as Charles II, King of Sicily and Count of Provence, who was the son of
Charles of Anjou, the belligerent brother of St. Louis.

It was in 1279. While Charles I was fighting in Italy, his son, then at
Aix, moved by a great devotion towards St. Mary Magdalene and a lively
desire to recover her relics, betook himself to Saint-Maximin in order
to have excavations made beneath the pavement of the church. He put
himself at the head of the workers, and on the ninth day of September
had the singular happiness of uncovering the ancient sarcophagus which
held the venerated body. Restraining the zeal of his assistants the
prince put his seal on the tomb, and at once summoned a convocation
of prelates to witness the exhumation of the sacred bones, which took
place on the eighteenth day of the same month. In the dust of the tomb
was discovered a box of cork enclosing an inscription on parchment or
papyrus, which, translated from the Latin, runs thus:

 "In the year of our Lord 716, in the month of December, very secretly
 in the night, when the most pious Odo was king of the French, at the
 time of the invasion of the perfidious nation of the Saracens, this
 body of the most dear and revered Mary Magdalene was translated from
 its own tomb of alabaster into this one of marble, out of fear of the
 said perfidious nation of the Saracens, because it is more secret
 here, the body of Sidonius having been removed."

Contemporary historians unanimously report the miraculous circumstances
that accompanied the discovery. All make mention of the delicious odour
that came from the sarcophagus when it was opened. They tell, too,
how a verdant plant of fennel grew from the tongue of the blessed
penitent, whose body had not yet known corruption. The _noli me
tangere_, the spot on the forehead which the Saviour had touched, was
in a perfect state of preservation. Among the eminent churchmen who
vouched for the miraculous events that surrounded the disinternment was
the Cardinal de Cabassoles, Petrarch's friend, whose country retreat at
Vaucluse we shall visit later.

Prince Charles caused a magnificent reliquary to be made at Aix to hold
the head of the saint. It was of silver gilt, in the form of a hollow
bust, into which the skull was fitted. The face and the hair were of
gold, and it was surmounted by a gold crown set with precious stones.

In the next year Prince Charles was taken prisoner by Peter of Aragon,
and shut up in Barcelona for four years. He attributed his deliverance
and the restoration of his kingdom--his father having died in the
meantime--to the influence of St. Mary Magdalene, and set in hand the
building of a church at Saint-Maximin which should be more worthy
of the holy relics it contained. But it was not until more than two
hundred years later that it was finished.

Charles carried to Rome the sacred head, to offer it for the veneration
of the Pope, Boniface VIII. We are not told how it had come about, but
the head had been discovered deprived of the lower maxillary. The Pope
knew that a relic of this sort was honoured at the church of St. John
Lateran in connection with St. Mary Magdalene. It was found to fit
perfectly, and the Pope presented it to the King, who did not keep it
with the greater part of the head, possibly because the magnificent
reliquary would have had to be altered to receive it, but presented
it in his turn to the nuns of Notre Dame de Nazareth at Aix. There it
remained, until the amiable King René, who has left such a pleasant
memory of himself in Provence, finally restored it to Saint-Maximin.

During all the two hundred and forty years that the great church
was in the building the precious relics that it enshrined attracted
pilgrims without number. Six Popes visited them, to say nothing
of two anti-Popes; in one year alone five kings bowed before the
shrine; royalties came from as far off as Sweden; the unfortunate
Albigenses, after they had "abjured their errors," were compelled to
make pilgrimage to it; and finally Louis XIV, with his mother, Anne
of Austria, his brother, afterwards Duke of Orleans, and a numerous
and splendid following, bent his knee at the sacred tomb, and assisted
in the translation of the relics into a magnificent receptacle of
porphyry. These relics would not, of course, include the head. Some
vertebræ were offered to the Queen, who accepted them with gratitude.
The sacred bones were examined by the King's head physician, and
immediately placed in a case of lead covered with gold brocade, upon
which the King placed his seal in six places. It was carried the next
day in procession, and the church was filled with people, who shed
tears of joy to see renewed in their own day "a devotion so holy and
august in the presence of a king and queen so pious and devout."

During all these years, however, the relics had not been preserved
without vicissitude or diminution. Under the Queen Jeanne, Provence
was overrun by brigands, and for three years they were hidden at
Sainte-Baume. King René gave part of the lower arm to the nuns who
had the lower jaw. In 1505 a Neapolitan monk robbed the reliquary of
its jewels, and was caught and hanged. After this mutilation a new
reliquary was presented by the Queen of France, Anne of Brittany, as
splendid as the old one, and a statuette of herself was added to it in
enamelled gold. Louis XIII asked for some fragments of the body, and
was refused. Four years later he asked again, on behalf of the Queens
Mary of Medici and Anne of Austria, and was more successful, obtaining
also a fragment to be presented to the Sovereign Pontiff.

In 1639 a portion of the much venerated _noli me tangere_ was stolen
from the head, and, whether it is the same or not, a minute particle
of the _noli me tangere_ is cherished in the church of Mane, in the
Basses-Alps. In 1781 Louis XVI ordered a thigh bone to be detached and
presented to the Duke of Parma, which was done.

We have followed the story for nearly eighteen hundred years, and now
comes the Revolution, which wrought more havoc than all the successive
disturbances that had taken place before it. The church was spoiled
and the sacred relics profaned. The porphyry urn was violated, and
the documents it contained burnt. The glorious remains of the saint
were thrown pell-mell on the pavement, the head was torn from its gold
case, and the other bones from their reliquaries. But the piety of the
sacristan preserved the chief glory of the church, which was restored
to it five years later. The head, a bone from one of the arms, some
locks of hair, together with the reliquary of the Holy Ampulla, and
sundry fragments of the bodies of other saints were received back when
the storm had passed over, and there the bulk of them remain to this
day.



CHAPTER V

_The Church of Saint-Maximin_


So persuasive was M. Rostan that when I had read his account of all
this, sitting in front of the fire at my inn, within a stone's throw of
the great church that had been the scene of so many strange and moving
happenings, it is small wonder that I was inclined to believe at least
a good half of it. It was my first introduction to the legend, which
was to colour so much of my future wanderings, and many of the facts
that I have given were unknown to me then. I thought, at least, that
the main facts vouching for its truth went much farther back than they
seem to, and if it was difficult to accept quite that galaxy of New
Testament names, or the story of the miraculous voyage, still I thought
there might be some truth in the tradition as attaching to some of them.

What emerges as indisputable fact, and what moved me at the time, is
that through some centuries countless people did believe in every word
of it, and thronged this little town where I was resting from all parts
of the then known world. And there in the church which I was to see on
the morrow was--no doubt about this either--the very thing that had
brought them here--princes and prelates, hard soldiers and lawyers, men
and women of every degree, making journeys, some of them, of immense
difficulty just for the sake of beholding what I or any other traveller
coming into a dull little town could see for a few sous before passing
on our way. Or would not even take the trouble to see. A man with whom
I had talked at dinner came to Saint-Maximin several times in the year
and had never seen it. He was '_bon Catholique_,' too, and said that
there was no doubt at all that it was the head of St. Mary Magdalene
they had in the church there. Some day he would go and see it, but not
to-morrow, for he was too busy.

You may put your finger on strange gaps in such a story; you may find
the first foundations upon which it rests too weak to bear it; parts of
it you may refuse altogether to believe. But make what deductions you
wish, and what a lot remains.

_Some_ poor tired body was laid to rest in the soil from which this
great church has sprung at a time when there were still alive those who
had walked and talked with Our Lord; and it was the body of one who
was venerated. Out of the dusk of successive centuries come gleams of
light that show innumerable people, who differed not so greatly from
ourselves, believing that the remains they had knowledge of were those
that their forbears had held in honour from the beginning. It becomes
hardly more difficult to believe that they were than that they were not.

Say that there has been error, say that there has been fraud if you
like, and what have you denied? Nothing in the way of strong and moving
power over those who have believed. There is the church, to which men
whose names stand out in history made successive gifts through two
centuries and a half, until it stood the splendid monument that it is
today. There is the dust that countless pilgrims' feet have trodden
for two centuries past. There is the echo of prayers and hymns, sighs
from burdened hearts and praise from lightened ones that have gone up
through ages from this place. The Revolution, which was to sweep away
all error and superstition, might despise these sanctities, and scatter
the venerated human dust, but it could not destroy the least particle
of the faith that had been. It did not move the iconoclasts, but it had
moved the world, and its effects remain in spite of them.

The wind had blown itself out the next morning and the air was cold,
but sunny and still, as I paid my early visit to the church.

Its beauty is compelling, and when I had walked round it I sat down
and tried to find out for myself in what it consists.

The first impression is one of austere simplicity. There are a nave and
two aisles, with chapels, no transepts, and except for the Renaissance
work about the choir and the altar, and the fine pulpit, scarcely
any decoration. Rows of clustered pillars carry arches between the
nave and the aisles; and between the arches spring from the floor
itself successive groups of three very slender pillars, like rods of
stone attached to the wall, which run up uninterrupted far above the
arcading, until from a simple moulding spring the delicate ribs of
the vaulting, all as light as if it were a roof of leaves held up by
slim tree-trunks. The sense of lightness is wonderful, gained as it is
without the slightest disguise of the solid masonry, by sculpture or
other suggestion; and the wonder increases when one remembers that this
is not the work of one architectural genius, but the flower of many
successive periods of building. It is clean and strong and beautiful, a
church with a true religious significance.

The choir contains some very fine wood-carving and metal-work of the
seventeenth century, and above the gilt and jasper of the high altar is
a rich device of almost life-size angels and cherubs, surrounding and
enclosing a little oval window on which the Holy Dove is emblazoned.
The morning sun, shining through this window, made a striking effect,
though it is perhaps at variance with the pure dignity of the church
itself. The celestial figures are wrought with a gay and delightful
luxuriance of imagination. They overflow from the main composition with
its sweep and spread of angels' wings; delicious cherubic forms perch
on the marble of the reredos, on the carved frames of the medallions
which it encloses, on the rich screens of the choir itself; and each of
them has its own attitude of devotion, or interest, or expectation, or
even curiosity.[5]

The inspiration of the Gothic had begun to die away when the fabric of
the church had come near to completion. We may perhaps be thankful that
it was never quite finished, for it has such perfection of life as it
stands: life that sprang from an impulse lasting through centuries. No
such impulse exists now. It is safe to say that the most understanding
and sympathetic architecture would seem like a dead thing if it were
sought to complete what was left undone.

The church lovers of the Renaissance made no such mistake. Their work
was alive, too, and they spent their inspiration not on the beautiful
fabric of the church but on its rich furnishing. What they wrought is
as far away from us as the work of the Gothic builders was from them,
and it is almost as unapproachable.

The iconoclasts of the Revolution wreaked their devastating zeal upon
this Gloria, and upon any symbol or figure in the rich carvings of the
choir that spoke of power or privilege. The church itself they spared,
though you may see a device of _fleur de lys_ on a boss of the roof
vaulting spitefully disfigured by bullets.

What was it that they hated so? The arrogance of a church that had
allied itself too much with the rich and powerful and worked on
superstitions of mankind to gain riches and power and glory to itself,
when there was so much wretchedness all around that it made small
attempts to cope with? They would have said so, and to imagine them
possessed only by the spirit of wickedness would be to make the same
mistake about them as they made about the Church. In that dark hour
the Church reaped the reward of its virtues at the same time as it
paid for its sins. To the extent that it had been faithful those who
had drawn comfort and consolation from it came to its aid; and if
the fury of its attackers had been ten times as great they could not
have stamped out the life that persisted through all the years of
destruction; and flowered again profusely when the poor substitutes
that had been planted in its place had wilted away. Religion could
have done everything to heal the wrongs that had been suffered by the
people who were now rising up to take the redress of wrongs into their
own hands; and religion had done very little. It had been chiefly on
the side of the oppressors, not of the oppressed. At its best it had
given consolation in trouble that it had not sought to remove, at its
worst it had committed crimes unspeakable. No wonder that a blind,
insensate fury against the outward tokens of such a system seized those
who thought that they had a mission to remove all oppression from
the world. The buildings that enshrined it they could put to other
uses, and the churches themselves were spared. But sacred relics they
scattered to the dust with bitter contempt, and the treasures of art
which spoke of an impotent faith that they despised, they destroyed or
mutilated.

One of the minor glories of Saint-Maximin is the Altar of the
Crucifixion, or the _Corpus Domini_, at the end of the north aisle.
The high reredos, with gilded columns and pilasters, frames two large
paintings and a series of sixteen smaller ones on wood, which are of
the utmost interest. It has only comparatively lately become known
that these are the work of a Venetian painter of the early sixteenth
century, Antonio Ronzen, who stayed at Saint-Maximin two years and a
half to execute them, together with the reredos itself.

[Illustration: ALTAR OF THE CRUCIFIXION, SAINT-MAXIMIN]

[Illustration: THE FIELD OF THE GREAT BATTLE, WITH MOUNT OLYMPUS IN THE
BACKGROUND
         _Page 94_]

Though Ronzen came into Provence from Venice, it seems unlikely that
he was an Italian. His name is Dutch, and so is his style of painting;
and a striking resemblance has been pointed out between one of these
paintings and an engraving of the same subject executed by Lucas van
Leyden ten years before. Wherever he came from, Ronzen was a great
artist, and left behind him at Saint-Maximin a great treasure.

The sixteen panels are of different scenes in the Passion. The light
was not good when I was in the church, and some of them are too high to
be seen easily; but most of them are wonderfully fresh and vivid and
suggestive, crowded with figures, and creating that sense of intimacy
which has always been the mark of the Dutch school. Each of the scenes
is set in a characteristic landscape. You can pick out the Ducal Palace
at Venice, the Palace of the Popes at Avignon, the Coliseum; and the
figures include all the types of the period, from the aristocrat to
the peasant. Many of them, no doubt, are portraits of people very well
known in their time, who came in and out of the church, or wherever the
artist did his work, to see how he was getting on, and had a great deal
to say about the painting and about the magnificent present that the
Seigneur de Semblançay was making to the church, and what a fortunate
thing it was that so clever an artist had been available to undertake
the commission. Perhaps they used a little flattery, so that he should
offer to "put them in."

He was an important person, this Jacques de Beaune, Seigneur de
Semblançay. He was superintendent of the finances of Francis I, whose
finances wanted a good deal of looking after, and lived at this time
chiefly in Paris. But previously he had been Treasurer-General of
Provence, and it might have been well for him if he had stayed in his
own country. For he fell into disgrace, and was put to death seven
years after Ronzen had finished the pictures he had ordered from him.
Probably he found time, during the period from the end of 1517 to July,
1520, when Ronzen was at Saint-Maximin, to pay him a few visits and
see how he was progressing. According to the custom of the time his
portrait would almost certainly have been included among the figures
that still appear so lifelike after five hundred years, and remains
there, if we could only tell which of them all it is. Did he have
any premonition or dread of the fate that was hanging over him, and
did the people who were taking such a lively interest in the work he
was inaugurating think of him as having attained to the pinnacle of
success, and much to be envied in comparison with themselves, living
humdrum lives in their beautiful Provence?

Saint-Maximin has a fine Sacristy, furnished with presses and panelling
of beautifully carved walnut, of the seventeenth century. Before the
Revolution it contained many rich treasures, gold cups and chalices,
silver reliquaries, ornaments jewelled and enamelled. Kings and
Sovereign Pontiffs had showered gifts upon it; but in 1793 everything
was rifled.

 "Barras and Fréron came to carry out the spoliation. Barras presented
 himself to the Popular Assembly to announce his mission, and a simple
 peasant, Jean Saurin, who died in 1842, Member of the Club, alone rose
 before the representative of the Convention to protest against the
 act of vandalism. He spoke honourably and with energy, but without
 success: the church was despoiled. Some rare and precious fragments,
 however, were saved from the wreck by the care and devotion of the
 sub-sacristan, Joseph Bastide, whose name deserves to be held in
 grateful memory by archæologists; for besides the sacred bones that
 the Church of Saint-Maximin can still offer, thanks to him, to public
 veneration, he was able to withdraw from the revolutionary spoliation
 a few rich ornaments, some ancient reliquaries, and a textile specimen
 of great value, the cope of St. Louis d'Anjou, Bishop of Toulouse.
 This cope, of the end of the thirteenth century, left by the holy
 bishop to the convent founded by his father, is one of the most
 beautiful and curious ornaments of the period."

Thus M. Rostan, who proceeds to describe it. But alas! it is no longer
there. The sacristan, worthy descendant of the pious Joseph Bastide,
told me the sad story after he had made me admire the beautiful
woodwork and shown me how the long drawers in the presses that held the
vestments drew in and out, as if they had been made yesterday instead
of two hundred and fifty years ago.

He had taken such care of the treasures under his charge, locking up
everything whenever he left the church, and seeing that all was fast
when he went home for the night. And often he would look out of his
window, in the little ancient house in which he lived hard by, to
satisfy himself that no marauders were about.

But ten years ago--how well he remembered it--the marauders had come.
He pointed to the iron-barred window through which they had made their
entry. They had taken I forget what from the sacristy, but not the
precious cope. I think he rather wished they had. Then they had broken
into the church and into the crypt, and from there they had stolen the
Holy Ampulla.

"This name is given," wrote M. Rostan, some years before the theft,
"to a tube of crystal bearing the characters of the fourteenth century,
and containing little fragments of glass, the remains of a phial still
more ancient, which enclosed, according to tradition, some of the
precious blood of the Saviour, collected by St. Mary Magdalene on Mount
Calvary, brought by her to our country and discovered with the remains
of this illustrious penitent."

The thieves had broken into the iron-protected case in which this relic
was kept, together with the skull of the saint in its rich and heavy
reliquary, and a bone from the arm. They had stolen the bone, too, but
had left the chief treasure intact, possibly because it was too heavy
and bulky to bear away with safety.

What was the meaning of this strange crime? As far as I understand
what happened, the breaking in was difficult, and nothing of great
intrinsic value was taken, though many things might have been. Much
money, certainly, would be paid for such relics as were stolen, if
they could have been bought openly; but if the fact that they had been
stolen would have to be disclosed, as it would in order to attach even
a damaged authenticity to them, of what value were they to anybody?

Protestant zeal, which sometimes indulges itself in a similar way
in England, may be ruled out. In France it does not act with those
impulsions, and in any case destruction or contemptuous mutilation
would be its object rather than theft, and I think the people who
had done the damage would be rather inclined to advertise it, and
themselves. The sacred skull was not damaged.

Is it not forced upon one to believe that their value to the thief, or
to those who may have encouraged the theft, was precisely that which
they had always had; which was not represented by money at all?

"If our tradition is well-founded," wrote M. Rostan, "the _Sainte
Ampoule_ is evidently the most precious relic of the Church of
Saint-Maximin. It has enjoyed wide celebrity throughout centuries, and
frequent miracles have been attributed to it. On Good Friday, after the
reading of the Passion, the traces of the divine blood were seen to
liquefy, to rise and fall, bubbling, and to fill the whole phial. It
was called the 'holy miracle.' A great crowd of pilgrims came each year
to witness it."

Where is the relic hidden now? Does the thief who risked so much to
possess it cherish it in secret, with his sin on his conscience,
but hoping from its possession one knows not what in the way of
preservation or blessing? Or is it hidden fearfully in some church--a
priceless treasure that may never be displayed, but may be expected,
by its secret presence, to sanctify its resting-place above other
places? Do those who hold it still watch with strained attention on
Good Fridays for the "holy miracle" to be performed? Do they perhaps
persuade themselves that they see it, as many others must have done
before them? For even M. Rostan, good and believing Catholic that he
is, does not assert that the liquefaction has been plain to see within
living memory.

I asked the sacristan whether the theft had been held to be the work of
religious enthusiasts, but either he misunderstood me or his grievance
overshadowed all such questions.

They had taken the wonderful cope out of his care. It was a unique
specimen of thirteenth century needlework, and is now in safe keeping
in Paris. After so many years they might have trusted him to look after
it, he said, ignoring the fact that his care had proved unequal to the
preservation of relics still more valuable, at least in the eyes of the
Church. The Ministry of Fine Arts, or whatever authority had deprived
Saint-Maximin of the cope, had been quite content that it should keep
the sacred skull, showing some cynicism, it may be thought, as well as
indulgence.

With much unlocking of iron grilles and doors, we descended into the
crypt, the storied place that has seen so much during centuries past,
where kings and popes have bent the knee, and before which so many
princes and nobles have put off their arms.

It is almost square--a vaulted chamber about fourteen feet wide and a
little longer, with an apse containing the altar, behind which is the
reliquary enclosing the skull. The staircase leading down to it, and
the side walls of the crypt itself, have been decorated with marble,
comparatively recently, but the form of the chamber remains much as it
always has been.

The sacred tombs, heavily carved with Biblical subjects, in the manner
of the fourth century, are ranged on either side. They are said to be
those of St. Maximin, St. Marcelle, St. Susan, St. Sidonius, and St.
Mary Magdalene herself. They have been a good deal mutilated "by the
piety of pilgrims," and in some degree made up, for the covers do not
always belong to the sarcophagi on which they are fixed, or indeed to
any other here.

The head of the Magdalen is contained in an elaborate gilt reliquary
of the year 1860, of small artistic value. Under a heavy canopy four
angels hold up a hollow metal bust with flowing hair, into which the
head has been fitted.

What can one say of it? The sacristan pointed out to me the _noli me
tangere_ on the forehead, and I tried hard but could not distinguish
it, though he said that it was quite plain to him. He was a believer,
and I, frankly, was not, although the great antiquity of the relic and
its stirring history aroused at least an endeavour to put myself in the
mood of one who believed. But he, the believer, made it all appear so
commonplace, holding up his stump of a candle here and there to exhibit
a great curiosity, but showing no sign either in manner or speech of
being moved to veneration or awe, or to any feeling outside those
attaching to his customary occupation, that it is little wonder that I
was scarcely able to produce any emotion at all.

One asks oneself many questions. Are not all the signs and wonders
wrought by such relics as these a matter of self-deception, induced by
crowds and movement and the atmosphere of enthusiasm? Or, in the rare
instances in which they have been experienced by one alone, arising
out of some state of ecstasy, hardly to be accepted as convincing
testimony? If not, then how vaguely and arbitrarily these occult powers
work! Faced by a known, even if half understood, power of nature, one
knows the power to be there, and it will be felt beyond question if
contact is made with it. Here, with a supposed spiritual power, there
is only deadness of spirit, even with those who have the faith.

With one's facile modern venerations one is inclined to shudder at the
iconoclasm of the Revolutionists, who laid rude hands on such objects
as this. But may they not have been right after all? Long periods of
deadness of spirit are a heavy price to pay for an occasional and
questionable exhibition of arbitrary activity. And there are spiritual
powers that do react to an exercise of faith, neither occasionally nor
questionably, nor arbitrarily, which belief in tangible sanctities
tends to obscure.

We locked and barred the grilles and doors and came up into the
sunlight, leaving the much venerated relic to keep its watch in the
dark crypt. With whatever lack of emotion it may be faced now, even by
a believer, there has been no lack of it in the long past. And whatever
view you may take of it, it is the seed from which sprang this strong
and beautiful church.



CHAPTER VI

_Caius Marius and the Great Battle_


It was still early when I had finished with these sights and took the
long straight road to Trets on my way to Aix. The sky was very clear
and cold, and the country was flat and open. For a long time, whenever
I looked back, I could see the great church standing up across the
plain, and it was a long time before I ceased thinking about it.

But gradually another interest began to take its place, for I was
passing through country where scenes had been enacted that changed the
current of history long before the legend of which my mind had been
full had had its beginning. Indeed, centuries were to elapse before the
legend was to emerge out of the twilight of rumour and tradition and
to rest upon documentary evidence, and yet the one story seems to go
back to the dim ages of history while the other far earlier one is as
plain in its main facts as if it were of yesterday. For it is of the
Roman occupation of this country, and our feet are on the solid rock of
history.

After two thousand years, the name of the great deliverer, Caius
Marius, is still alive in Provence. Twice alive, indeed, if the very
legend of the Marys which permeates the country can be traced back to
the tradition of the Marii, of which there seems little doubt. But to
that we shall come when we visit Les Baux and the monuments there.

In the year 102 B.C. Caius Marius gained a great victory over the
Ambrons and Teutons at a spot between Saint-Maximin and Trets which I
was to pass that morning. It was one of the decisive battles of the
world, and to judge by the number of the slain one of the fiercest.
You may read all about it in Plutarch, and here on the very spot you
may follow the details of the parallel march of the Romans and the
barbarians until they came to the place of the great slaughter, with
recognition at every step, finding indeed here and there actual traces
of the battle itself. Certain doubtful points have been cleared up and
the story told by the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, who went over the whole
ground, Plutarch in hand, and published his results in a chapter of his
interesting book, "In Troubadour Land."

In the year 113 B.C. the northern frontiers of Italy were threatened
by a vast horde of barbarians, of whom the chief were the Cimbri and
the Teutons. They did not, however, cross the Alps, but swept westwards
into Gaul, carrying with them other tribes, among whom were the
Ambrons.

They reached the Rhône three years afterwards and defeated the governor
of the Roman province. Three successive consuls were sent against them
from Rome, and were also defeated. Their chiefs exalted by success
consulted as to whether they should march into Italy and exterminate
or enslave the Romans, but although they devastated the province they
could not yet make up their minds to march upon Rome.

The Cimbri divided from the rest and poured into Spain, which they
ravaged. A few years later they returned, and it was now decided to
invade Italy. The Cimbri were to enter it by way of the Brenner Pass,
the Teutons and Ambrons by the Maritime Alps.

The menace of the barbarians had been hanging over Rome for ten years,
and the utmost consternation now prevailed. Marius was despatched into
Provence, as the only man who could cope with the danger there. The
barbarian horde had not yet reached the Rhône on their eastward march,
but were moving slowly in that direction, and Marius had a winter
in which to organize the demoralized Roman troops and to choose his
positions.

In the spring, when the grass had grown enough to provide food for
their horses and oxen, the barbarians put themselves in motion. Marius
left the Cimbri to take their agreed-upon route to the north-east,
and waited for the Teutons and Ambrons. He allowed them to cross the
Rhône, and they drew up before his fortified camp at St. Gabriel on
the westernmost spur of the Alpilles, and shouted defiance and insult
to his troops. But he restrained the Romans from attacking them. Their
ambition, he told them, should not now be for triumphs and trophies
but to dispel the dreadful storm that hung over them and to save Italy
itself from destruction.

The barbarians made a half-hearted attack upon the Roman camp, which
was easily repulsed, and then moved on. It was said that though they
moved forward without pause it took them six days to pass the camp, so
vast were their numbers. They were indeed nations and not only armies
on the march. The cumbrous house-wagons with which they moved were
their homes, for their wives and families were with them, and none had
been left behind.

The hot-blooded Romans were by now inured to their insults, one of
which was to shout the question whether they had any commands for their
wives in Italy, for they would shortly be with them. One can picture
them sulkily watching from the high ground, where they were encamped,
the interminable rabble moving on day after day, and wondering whether
they would ever end. But directly the barbarians had passed Marius
struck camp and followed them, not by the straight Roman road which
they had taken along the valley, but by the heights to the south, and
observed all their movements, himself out of sight.

At Aix the Ambrons detached themselves from their allies to make a
descent upon Marseilles. Marius had fixed upon a hill for his camp at
Les Milles, four miles to the south of Aix. It was unexceptionable in
point of strength, but afforded little water. By this circumstance,
says Plutarch, they tell us he wanted to excite his soldiers to action,
and when many of them complained of thirst he pointed to the river Arc,
which ran close by the enemy's camp, and told them that thence they
must buy water with their blood.

It was this lack of water that precipitated the contest. The soldiers
obeyed the order first of all to fortify their camp, but the servants
of the army could not be restrained from going down to the river
for water. Some of the enemy were bathing in the hot springs that
well up in this place, others were eating. These were cut off by the
camp-followers, others came to their assistance, and the Roman soldiers
rushed down from the hill to rescue their servants. The engagement
became general, and the Ambrons were beaten with great loss, the river
being choked with their dead.

This was a good beginning, but the Romans spent the night in fear of
attack, for their camp was not yet fortified. "There remained yet many
myriads of the barbarians unconquered; and such of the Ambrons as
escaped mixing with them, a cry was heard all night not like the sighs
and groans of men, but like the howling and bellowing of wild beasts.
As this came from such an innumerable host the neighbouring mountains
and the hollow banks of the river returned the sound, and the horrid
din filled all the plains. The Romans felt a sense of terror, and
Marius himself was filled with apprehension at the idea of a tumultuous
night engagement."

Fortunately, however, the barbarians did not attack, but after a day
and a night moved on and joined the Teutons, who were passing along the
road to the north of the river Arc. At this point Plutarch's narrative
becomes confused, for he does not effectually distinguish the fields of
the two battles, which were fought two days apart. It is here that Mr.
Baring-Gould's careful investigations are valuable in elucidating the
narrative.

The barbarians halted at the Roman station Tegulata, now the hamlet of
La Petite Pugère, a day's march from Aix. Marius crossed the river
and kept to the south of it till he reached Trets. At his rear he had
a fortified camp on Mount Olympus, to the north of the barbarians
was another fortified Roman camp, Panis Annonæ, still called Pain de
Munition. To this he had sent the day before an officer with three
thousand men, who had made their way to it protected by the range of
Mont Victoire. His plan must have been made long before, from a careful
consideration of the route the enemy was likely to take, and the
commanding positions fortified and provisioned. The barbarians were in
a trap, but did not yet know it.

In the morning the enemy awoke to see the bulk of the Roman army drawn
up on the slope of a hill to the south of their camp. They could not
contain their impatience until the army advanced into the plain, and
received their first setback by rushing up to attack it. Marius sent
his officers among the troops with orders to stand still and await the
onslaught. When the enemy was within reach they were to throw their
javelins, and then, sword in hand, press them down with their shields.
He knew that the slope was so slippery that the blows of the enemy
would be delivered with no great force and that they could not keep any
close order.

When this attack had been repulsed the Romans crossed the river and
fell upon the main body of the enemy, who was beginning to form again.
But at the same time the ambushed troops descended from Panis Annonæ in
the rear, and panic seized the barbarians. The slaughter was terrific.
Plutarch gives the number of killed as a hundred thousand of the enemy
alone. Some accounts double the number, and give that of the prisoners
as another eighty thousand. It is said also that three hundred thousand
of the camp-followers and women were either killed or sold into
slavery. It was the extermination not of an army but of a nation.

So frightful was the carnage that the field of battle was known as
Campi Putridi, and the neighbouring village is still called Pourrières.
It was said that the inhabitants of Marseilles walled in their
vineyards with the bones they found in the field, and that the rain
which fell the winter following soaked in the moisture of the putrefied
bodies and the ground was so enriched by it that it bore a prodigious
crop.

 "After the battle, Marius selected from among the arms and other
 spoils such as were elegant and entire, and likely to make the
 greatest show in his triumph. The rest he piled together, and offered
 as a splendid sacrifice to the gods. The army stood round the pile,
 crowned with laurel; and himself, arrayed in his purple robe, and
 girt after the manner of the Romans, took a lighted torch. He had just
 lifted it up with both hands towards heaven, and was about to set
 fire to the pile, when some friends were seen galloping towards him.
 Great silence and expectation followed. When they were come near, they
 leaped from their horses and saluted Marius as consul for the fifth
 time, delivering him letters to the same purpose. This added great joy
 to the solemnity, which the soldiers expressed by acclamations and by
 clanking their arms; and while the officers were presenting Marius
 with new crowns of laurel, he set fire to the pile and finished the
 sacrifice."[6]

How different from the sort of corroboration brought to bear upon the
later Christian history of Provence is the fact that the spot on which
this great holocaust took place two thousand years ago has lately been
identified by the ashes, melted lead and other metals, and fragments of
burnt pottery discovered there!

Here also was erected a monument to Marius, which existed in its
entirety up to the time of the Revolution, and was then partially
destroyed, one would like to know why. And here was found some five and
twenty years ago a beautiful Greek marble statue of Venus Victrix,
but without head and arms, which is now in the museum at Avignon. Mr.
Baring-Gould considers that this proves that the monument was raised
by Julius Cæsar, for there would be an indirect compliment to his
own family in it. "Venus was the ancestress of the Julian race, and
Cæsar perhaps insinuated, if he erected the statue, that the success
of Marius was due to the patronage of the divine ancestress and
protectress of the Julian race, and of Julius Cæsar's aunt, the wife of
Marius, quite as much as to the genius in war of Marius himself."

On the top of Mount Victoire, which overlooks the scene of the terrific
battle, a temple was erected and dedicated to Venus Victrix. This
became a Christian church, and Venus Victrix became St. Victoire. Right
up to the time of the Revolution the inhabitants of the neighbouring
villages ascended the mountain on March 23rd, bearing boughs of box and
shouting "Victoire! Victoire!" and Mass was celebrated. Then a bonfire
was lit, and the peasants with garlands on their heads danced the
farandole round it. The beautiful ancient music to which the peasants
made their progress is still preserved; so hard does tradition die in
this land of long memories.

I should have liked to make a stay at Trets, and to explore this
country. There is so much to see in connection with the battle--the
ruins of the church on Mont Victoire, the ruins of the trophy on the
field itself, the traces of the fortifications on the Pain de Munition,
and perhaps the very hill slope of slippery marl upon which the Romans
first bore back the attacking enemy. But I wanted to get on to Aix, the
first large Provençal city in my itinerary, and thence to Arles and
Nîmes and the rest of the beautiful places that are like a cluster of
jewels in the country's diadem. So I contented myself with identifying
the mountain heights which played their part in that grim struggle
twenty centuries ago.

There was the great range running parallel to the road on the south,
with Mount Aurelian rising up and overlooking Saint-Maximin, and Mount
Olympus due south from the field of battle. There was the bold rampart
of Mont Victoire away to the north, and the hills among which is the
Pain de Munition, on the other side of the plain on which the battle
was fought. I could picture it alive with the tents and wagons of the
vast horde of barbarians, so soon to be exterminated, and then strewn
with their dead or mangled bodies. I knew that I was looking upon the
same everlasting hills as those thousands upon thousands of dying eyes
looked upon centuries ago; and there was more of a thrill in that than
in the sight of the blackened skull in the church of Saint-Maximin.

For this mighty conflict happened here, without a doubt, and the
plain and the hills upon which our eyes look today were a part of the
happening. There is something for the imagination to rest and work
upon.



CHAPTER VII

_Aix_


The rain began to fall as I sat outside the inn at Porcieux, and by
the time I reached Trets I was wet through. So I went to bed in an inn
until my clothes should be dry, and greatly daring ordered a cup of
tea. When it came it was of a pale straw colour, and its flavour would
not have satisfied the connoisseurs of Mincing Lane. But it was tea,
with the astringent quality possessed by that beverage alone among all
infusions of herbs or berries. Wine is one of the gifts of God that in
this drab world one may be thankful for, but as a beverage it palls. Of
all the many drinks I enjoyed in my travels in Provence I think that
cup of indifferent tea stands out as the most refreshing.

My clothes were brought up to me in an hour or two's time almost as
wet as ever, and I put them on and went down into the kitchen to
dry them myself. There was an enormous open hearth, but very little
fire on it; but they threw on bundles of sticks, and very soon there
was a hot fire. The master of the inn, his wife and daughters, the
cook in his white cap and apron, who had just come in to begin his
evening's work, and one or two maids, all took the most serious and
sympathetic interest in the process. I hung my coat on the back of a
chair, which I placed on the hearth itself, and stood by the fire,
turning to it first one side and then the other, enveloped in a cloud
of steam from my sopping flannel trousers. I should have thought that
most people under the necessity of drying their clothes would have
done so something after this fashion, but to them it seemed to show
an ingenious originality, and people were summoned from tables in the
_café_ to stand at the kitchen door and see the remarkable sight. When
I was fairly dry we all drank wine together, after which we shook hands
and I went out to see the town, leaving behind me, by all tokens, an
agreeable memory.

Trets is very old, and has the appearance of being uncared for. One
is so accustomed, in France, to seeing remains of historic interest
cleaned and furbished up and saved from further decay, that these
ruinous gateways and towers and fortifications, and narrow untidy
streets with decayed-looking houses lining them, strike a dismal note.
The church is partly of the eleventh century, very massive and very
dark inside, and has an unfinished tower that adds to the general
appearance of decay. Perhaps the rain, which had begun to fall again,
had something to do with the impression that the place made upon me; I
was glad enough to get away from it and take the train to Aix.

I dined for a franc at Gardanne, and reached Aix after dark in renewed
torrents of rain. But I had something to look forward to--an hotel that
I knew, which would provide a hot bath, and a bag of clothes waiting
for me. I had been on the road for nine days, and was ready for a
little ordinary comfort.

It was dull and cold the next morning, and Aix is a city that has
provided itself against heat. Its fine broad central boulevard, the
Cours Mirabeau, is shaded by a double avenue of planes, which must be
among the largest to be found even in this land of planes. The Place de
la Rotonde, at one end of it, has an elaborate system of fountains, and
there are three other fountains in the middle of the boulevard itself,
one of which is fed by a hot spring. The shade of the giant trees and
the plash of the water must be pleasant enough in hot weather, but the
bare branches conveyed none of the charm that their foliage would give
later on, and Aix seemed to me a little cheerless, though I hasten to
say that that is not its true character.

Aix rejoices in the name of "The French Athens." It has always been
learned, classical, and aristocratic. The streets are lined with
the fine hotels of the Provençal _noblesse_, some of which are still
occupied by families whose roots strike far back into history. Many of
them are said to contain rare treasures of art, hidden from the public
gaze in proud seclusion, and for the most part unknown to the world.

These things are not for the wayfarer to see, but I think that if I had
read M. Paul Mariéton's charming book, "La Terre Provençal," before my
walk in Provence instead of after, I should have made an attempt to see
some of them.

 "In Aix," he writes, "you will find masterpieces in rooms scarcely
 furnished, mansions mouldering to decay, with staircases of honour
 bare and cold leading to garden courts uncultivated--unless a few
 vegetables for the pot are grown between staves in wine casks.

 "An undoubted masterpiece, in a mansion neither cold nor bare, but
 full of laughter and gaiety, is the portrait of Rubens by Vandyke,
 which the master presented to his friend Peiresc at Antwerp. The
 existence of this page of genius, the most significant, it seems to
 me, of the great painter's work, is not suspected by the critics, and
 scarcely known except to a few amateurs."

In another vast Louis XIV hotel, M. Mariéton mentions a Teniers, two
Van Eycks, a Vanloo, a Hobbema, and a Raphael; in another, a superb
ivory Christ attributed to Cellini. And he speaks of the store of
historic documents, still unpublished, to be found in these ancient
houses.

A wandering Englishman might possibly receive a welcome in some of
these houses because of his nationality. Aix used to be a favourite
place of residence for English people of rank and wealth. In the
cathedral is a memorial tablet which I find inscribed in a guide-book
as that of the wife of "sir Dolben, baronnet d'Angleterre," and of his
three children, who died, the first aged seven years, the second seven
days, and the third seven hours; and there is another to "sir Webb,
baronnet anglais."

M. Louis de Laincel wrote thirty years ago of his childhood's memories
of a very rich Englishwoman, "my lady Russel."

"This lady had the generous habit of sending magnificent presents to
all the children of her acquaintance on New Year's Day. Dieu! what joy
for the children, when the lackey of mylady Russel rang at the door of
the house, carrying on his arm an enormous basket full of presents!
What bonbons, and what delightful toys! Bonne lady!"[7]

This was in the twenties and thirties of the nineteenth century, but
it is quite likely that in this country of long memories the tradition
of English generosity still remains.

But there is plenty to see in Aix without invading privacies. The city
itself I found not very attractive, partly for the reasons I have
already given. But it is lacking in the pleasant public gardens which
make so many French towns places of grateful memory: there is only
one, rather small and uninteresting, on the outskirts. Perhaps it was
the society of Aix that attracted our forbears; otherwise one would
have expected them to prefer Avignon, or Nîmes or Arles, of the inland
cities of southern France.

The large church of St. Madeleine is of the early eighteenth century,
with a rather clumsy imitation Renaissance façade of the year 1860. It
faces the Place des Prêcheurs, which opens out into the larger Place du
Palais, on the west side of which is the fine Palais de Justice, and
behind it the heavy ancient prison. A busy market was going on in this
open space, and people were crowding in and out of the church for the
Thursday's Mass.

It was being sung at a side altar. From the stacks of chairs by the
west door those who entered would take one, slipping the necessary
_sous_ into the hand of the old woman in charge of them, and put
it down in the most convenient place available within view of the
ceremony. The organist sat at a harmonium to the left of the altar,
with his choir boys about him and the congregation almost jostling
his elbows. There was a sort of domesticity about the scene. One felt
that all the people who came into the church so busily and familiarly
thought of it as a place in which to make themselves at home.

There was no such air about the fine cathedral church of St. Saviour.
It gave the impression, more than any French church I have visited,
that one gets in an English cathedral: of a noble monument of the
past, kept in apple-pie order, but with its religious usages somewhat
subordinated to its historic interest. At St. Madeleine, the little
votive tablets and pictures and relics that pious souls have brought to
their favourite altars for years past are stuck all over the walls of
the chapels in great profusion, and with no particular regard to order.
The cathedral is not without them, but they are confined severely to
the neat oval tablet with a gilt frame and gold lettering on a blue or
red ground, and they are disposed upon the walls or over the arches
in austere devices. And there is none of the tawdriness about the
altars that belongs to churches in which people make themselves at
home. Indeed, the high altar, and the choir, might belong to a stately
Anglican cathedral, with which the common people have about as much to
do as with the furnishing of the Deanery.

This cathedral church of St. Saviour is full of happy surprises. Its
component parts have been built in widely different periods, but it
has "come together" in the most satisfactory way, and its variety is
only equalled by its beauty. The first surprise, upon entrance, is the
magnificent octagonal Baptistery. It is said to have been originally
a Temple of Apollo, and the eight monolithic columns that support the
modern cupola are of the Roman period. Two are of granite, and the rest
of porphyry, but the bases and the delicately carved capitals are of
white marble. The effect of the whole structure is exquisite; it can be
seen from different parts of the cathedral through intervening arches,
and adds enormously to the charm of the building.

The Baptistery is to the south of the aisle that was the original
church. This aisle was consecrated in 1103. The present nave, with the
choir slightly out of axis, and the north aisle, were begun at the end
of the thirteenth century and not finished until the sixteenth. The
central nave is enclosed by walls almost entirely solid, and the effect
of the narrow openings cut through them, with glimpses into the side
aisles, is singularly pleasing.

The long rows of carved stalls on either side of the choir are
surmounted by some very fine tapestries. The design is attributed
to Quentin Matsy's, and although the guide-books call them the
"Cantorbéry" tapestry, they state that they came from our St. Paul's
Cathedral and were bought in Paris in the year 1656 for twelve hundred
crowns. But Dr. Montagu Rhodes James, Provost of King's College,[8]
investigated the whole question some years ago, and read a paper before
the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, from which it appears that there
is no foundation for the connection with St. Paul's. Nor does he say
anything about Quentin Matsy's, though the tapestries are undoubtedly
Flemish, and of his date.

In the Inventory of Christchurch, Canterbury, taken in 1540, after the
suppression of the monastery, is the entry "Item one faire new hanging
of riche tapestrie con(taining) vj peces of the story of Christ and our
Lady." Three of them were the gift of a prior, Thomas Goldston, whose
device appears in the border, and three of Richard Dering, cellarer;
and on the border is part of an inscription, of which the beginning
is lost: _celarius me fieri fecit anno domini millesimo quingentesimo
undecimo_; ... the cellarer had me made A.D. 1511.

So there is no doubt about it. These fine tapestries hung in the choir
of Canterbury Cathedral for at least a hundred and thirty years, and
then they were sold and taken to Aix, where part of them hang in the
choir and part in the Archbishop's Palace. They have been a good deal
cut about, and Dr. James thinks there must originally have been five
scenes to a piece, which would give thirty instead of the twenty-six
now to be seen.

Katharine of Aragon is said, but not by Dr. James, to be represented
among the figures in the "Descent from the Cross," and there is a whole
bevy of fair Englishwomen in the first panel of all, which represents
"The Birth of the Virgin." They are portraits of ladies of the English
court, and might be beautiful English girls of today, so lifelike and
characteristic are they; some of them with the sweetest young faces
of a type that is as well known now as it apparently was four hundred
years ago.

I tried to get photographs of at least some of this delightful work in
Aix, but without success. There are postcards of the whole series, but
they are evidently from drawings and not photographs of the original.
In that charming picture of the English girls the faces lose most of
their character and half their beauty. Let nobody who may happen to
receive one of these postcards imagine that it gives a satisfactory
reproduction of the original.[9]

[Illustration: THE CANTERBURY TAPESTRY]

[Illustration: THE FAMOUS "TARASQUE"
                                   _Page 108_]

Behind the high altar is the Chapel of St. Mitre. The life of this
saint is pictured in many of its episodes in a curious painting of the
sixteenth century which is to be seen there. His end was remarkable.
He was beheaded but rose to his feet, picked up his head, and carried
it more than a thousand paces to this very spot. You may see him
approaching the cathedral, his head in his hands, and the bishop with
his attendant clergy waiting for him at the door. And in the centre of
the composition he is represented, still with his head in his hands,
with many people on their knees around him, including the whole family
of the pious Jacques de la Roque, who did not happen to have been
present at the time, but who gave the picture.

St. Mitre's tomb is upheld by two columns of soft stone, from which is
said to exude moisture that cures blindness. There is a little hole in
the right hand pillar in which the sweating is supposed to show itself,
and during the octave of the saint many people come to do him honour
and to anoint their eyes from the pillar.

In the Chapelle de l'Université in the north aisle is a moving
representation of St. Martha and the Dragon, the famous "Tarasque,"
from which she freed the stricken country. The bull's head of this
curious monster wears an expression of mildness and mournful surprise,
as if it is wondering what it has done to make itself so disliked. It
seems to be saying: "I was made like this; I can't help it; I have only
followed the dictates of my nature." The tradition of the Tarasque is
all over Provence, and as most of the early Christian legends are based
upon Roman happenings it is probable that the dragon stands for the
scourge of invasion by the barbarians, and the various rescuing saints
for Marius and his Romans.

The triptych, called "Le Buisson Ardent," famous since it was exhibited
in the great exhibition of "Primtifs" in the Louvre, in 1904, hangs on
a wall of the nave. It is kept closed, but a few _centimes_ will unlock
it, and also uncover the beautiful carving of the west doors.

This very fine picture is by Nicolas Froment, a fifteenth century
painter from Avignon. It has been attributed to King René, but skilful
as that versatile amateur was he could never have painted anything half
so beautiful. The central picture, with its exquisite and wonderfully
preserved gold border, represents the Virgin and the Holy Child seated
upon a great mass of foliage, from which spring little flickering
flames. Beneath them is an angel appearing to Moses, who is struck
with astonishment and is taking off his shoe. A flock of sheep and
goats is pasturing between them, and Moses's dog, resting at his feet,
turns his head to the angel with a look of interest and watchfulness.
Behind is a rich Provençal landscape, with the Rhône running through
it. It is a delicious picture, both in design and colouring.

The side panels contain portraits of King René, and of his second
wife, Jeanne de Laval, kneeling--a panel to each. Above the king stand
Saints Madeleine, Antoine, and Maurice, above the queen Saints Nicolas,
Catharine and John, all of them evidently contemporary portraits. The
old king, whose many trials and happy disposition, as well as his
love for Provence, have preserved his memory as that of few kings has
been preserved, is shown to us here as realistically as if we could
look in on him in the flesh. It is a serious moment with him, and his
mouth is set tightly above the jutting double chin. But it is not the
seriousness of austerity. When he rises from his knees his face will
break out into smiles, and he will have much to say about the details
of the ceremony at which he has just assisted. For he was well versed
in such matters, and a patron of all the arts besides.

He was like a monarch out or a book, this good King René; and he has
been put into at least one famous book, though not without a touch of
caricature. In "Anne of Geierstein," Sir Walter Scott describes him
thus:

 "René was a prince of very moderate parts, endowed with a love of the
 fine arts, which he carried to extremity, and with a degree of good
 humour, which never permitted him to repine at fortune, but rendered
 its possessor happy, when a prince of keener feelings would have died
 of despair. This _insouciant_, light-tempered, gay and thoughtless
 disposition conducted René, free from all the passions which embitter
 life, to a hale and mirthful old age. Even domestic losses made
 no deep impression on the feelings of this cheerful old monarch.
 Most of his children had died young; René took it not to heart. His
 daughter Margaret's marriage with the powerful Henry (VI) of England
 was considered a connection above the fortunes of the King of the
 Troubadours. But in the issue, instead of René deriving any splendour
 from the match, he was involved in the misfortunes of his daughter,
 and repeatedly obliged to impoverish himself to supply her ransom....
 Among all his distresses, René feasted and received guests, danced,
 sang, composed poetry, used the pencil or brush with no small skill,
 devised and conducted festivals and processions, studied to promote
 the mirth and good humour of his subjects."

[Illustration: LE BUISSON ARDENT]

[Illustration: PORTE D'EYGUIÈRES
                               _Page 128_]

Of his genuine skill with the brush there is a most pleasing example
preserved in the Bibliothèque Méjane at Aix--a Book of Hours, of which
the initial letters are beautifully illuminated by his hand. There
is also a patent of nobility signed by him in a bold and picturesque
manner. Whether the illuminations are authentic or not--and I have no
reason to throw doubt upon them--René could sign his name, like a king
and an artist.

At the end of the Cours Mirabeau is a large statue of this merry
monarch, of no great artistic value, but showing him holding in his
hand a bunch of Muscat grapes, which he first introduced into Europe.
It is not his least claim to memory.

We have not quite done with the cathedral. The wonderful carving of the
west doors is protected by wooden covers, which have kept them in a
perfect state of preservation. They are of walnut wood, and were done
in 1504, seven years before Richard Dering, the Canterbury cellarer,
gave that commission for the tapestries which now hang near them. In
the lower parts are figures of Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah,
each under a rich canopy; and above them are the twelve Sibyls, each
of a different nation and with appropriate symbol. The borders of
fruit and flowers are exquisite. There is hardly a finer piece of
wood-carving on a large scale to be seen anywhere than on these massive
doors, and they and the triptych should on no account be missed by any
one who finds himself in the cathedral.

The portal that enshrines these beautiful doors is of the same date,
and is quite worthy of them. There is a charming figure of the Virgin
and Child on a pedestal between the doors. The lusty, well-grown baby
is held upon his mother's arm, and she looks at him with smiling pride,
as mothers do all the world over.

The cloisters should also be visited, for the sake of the carvings on
the double rows of pillars that hold up the arcading, in which the
sculptors have let themselves loose in all sorts of luxuriant fancies.
They are hardly less interesting than those in the famous cloisters of
St. Trophime at Arles.

Aix is rich in pictures, besides those in the churches. I spent a
pleasant rainy afternoon in the Museum, and found a great deal to
interest me. Not to mention the very fine examples of the "Primitives,"
there are several pictures by Ingres, including the richly coloured
"Jupiter and Thetis," and the very interesting portrait of Granet.

But it was my discovery of Granet himself that gives me my pleasantest
recollection of the Aix Museum. There is a whole room devoted to his
pencil and water-colour drawings, which contains also many of his best
known paintings. His subjects are something of the same as those of
Wilkie, who was his contemporary, but in his composition and beautiful
effects of lighting he seems to me an incomparably greater artist.
He was a native of Aix, and died there in 1849. I was told by an old
gossip at Avignon that he was servant in the house of a rich amateur
painter, and that he used to lock himself into his garret, whenever
he had a moment to himself, to make his own experiments. One day his
master looked through the keyhole and saw what he was doing. He might,
said my gossip, have been struck with jealousy. But he was of the
_noblesse_. He was struck instead with admiration of the work that he
beheld--probably after having knocked at the door--, greeted the valet
as _his_ master, and assisted him to make his career.

The late afternoon was fine. I walked all about the town, visited the
remaining churches, and paid due attention to other objects of interest.

Among the curiosities of Aix is the monument of Joseph Sec, which the
owner of that harmonious name caused to be erected on the edge of his
garden in 1792. It faces the street, and bears the inscription:

  Venez, habitants de la terre,
  Nations, écoutez la loi!

It includes the figures of Themis and Moses, and among other symbols
two bas-reliefs of banknotes for a hundred and two thousand francs.
The whole erection is rather absurd, although it was the work of the
sculptor Chastel. But probably Joseph Sec was one of those patrons of
the arts who know what they want and see that they get it. I have not
the smallest doubt that Chastel, who was a sculptor of merit, heard
from him the phrase: "I pay the piper, and it is only fair that I
should call the tune," or its French equivalent.

Joseph Sec called another very curious tune to Chastel, of which M.
Mariéton tells.

He was taken into the deserted garden behind the monument--"the Trianon
of the bourgeois of Aix," he calls it--and into a little Louis XVI
kiosk littered with tools. In it was an old sofa, the seat of which was
lifted for him to see the life-sized figure of a naked man in painted
marble, with a bloodstained scar on his forehead--a dreadful, realistic
representation of a workman who had been killed by a stone falling from
Joseph Sec's monument.

How modern he was, this good bourgeois of Aix, who died over a hundred
years ago! A taste for the arts, and money enough to indulge it! I own
that I should have tried to get a glimpse of this artistic atrocity of
his, if I had known of its existence.



CHAPTER VIII

_Salon and the Crau_


Ever since I first saw Les Baux, on a motoring trip from the north to
the south of France, I had wanted to get back to it. I saw Aix and
Avignon and Nîmes and Arles at the same time, and I wanted to get back
to them. But Les Baux was the _bonne bouche_. When I contemplated this
spring walk it was what I was thinking of as the central point of
interest of the whole expedition; and I was thinking of it all the time
I was walking through the country during those first nine days.

For it sums up the whole past of Provence. It is connected with the
Græco-Phoenician colonies that preceded the Roman occupation; with
the Roman occupation itself, and especially with that stirring episode
of the Marian defeat of the barbarian invaders; with the Christian
Marian legends; almost more than any other place with the romantic
era of the Troubadours; with every internal struggle of the many that
disturbed the country during the Middle Ages; with the religious wars;
and indeed with every movement of significance in Provence down to the
time of the merging of the kingdom into that of France.

After that its importance dwindled, but did not expire until much
later. When it did, its ruin was so complete that it acquired another
sort of interest altogether. It arouses much the same feelings now as
the one-time flourishing cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, for it is
almost as dead as they, and its ruins tell as eloquently of the time
when it was alive. Added to which, it is most romantically situated, in
the very heart of the country that is most characteristic of Provence
as it is today--the Provence that lives its rich, picturesque life
with an eye kept always on its rich, picturesque past; the country of
Mistral, and the scenes of that moving epic in which all the poetry and
glamour of Provence is garnered up: "Mireille."

I shouldered my pack once more, but was in such a hurry now to get to
Les Baux that I took the train early in the morning as far as Maussane.
It was well that I did so, for the rain fell heavily when I reached
Salon, where I had an hour to wait.

Nostradamus, who was born at Saint-Remy, lived at various times at
Salon, and died there. Out of his thousand prophecies it is not
surprising that a few hit the mark, and from them he gained an immense
reputation. Exactly a hundred years after his death we find Pepys
writing: "Amongst other discourse we talked much of Nostradamus, his
prophecy of these times, and Sir George Cartaret did tell a story how
at his death he did make the town (of Salon) swear that he should
never be dug up or his tomb opened after he was buried; but that they
did after sixty years do it, and upon his breast they found a plate
of brasse saying what a wicked, unfaithful people the people of that
place were, who after so many vows should disturb and open him such a
day and year and hour, which, if true, is very strange." Probably it
was not true, as to the time; but he would not have risked much if he
had prophesied the fact. He did, however, prophesy that a new era would
begin for France in the year 1792, which was a bold shot, as it was
more than two hundred years after his death; and Napoleon is said to
have seen predictions that concerned himself in his writings.

M. Mariéton tells of the fashion in which he seized his opportunity in
the town of Salon.

Charles IX was making a solemn progress through Provence with his
mother Catharine de' Medici and the little Prince Henry of Navarre.
The town of Salon made elaborate preparations for their reception, and
Nostradamus was asked where he would like to walk in the procession.
He said that he proposed to have a little procession of his own. When
the royal party appeared before the gates the queen mother looked
anxiously about for the prophet, and when she saw him apart from the
rest beckoned him to take up his position between herself and the king.
He had been counting on something of this sort, for he had already been
in Paris, and had gained a considerable ascendancy over Catharine.
He was lodged in the castle during the royal visit, and invited to
a solemn consultation on the subject of the stability of the royal
line. Catharine wanted him to tell the fortune of Prince Henry. He
was quite ready to do it, and ordered the child to be undressed, as a
preliminary. The little prince thought he was going to be whipped, and
filled the castle with his howls. When he had calmed down, Nostradamus
boldly announced that he would come to be king.

If this story is true, it shows the prophet to have been a schemer
rather above his kind. Catharine had three sons still alive, and could
not have been expected to welcome the announcement. Nor would the young
king have been particularly pleased with it. Indeed, it may be said
to have been a prophecy not altogether free from risk to the man who
was bold enough to make it. But he seems to have judged human nature
aright. His reputation was vastly increased by the prediction, and
Catharine summoned him to Paris for the second time, which was no
doubt what he wanted.

The royal visit to Salon took place in the year 1564, and while the
great humbug of the time was preparing for his own little private
effect there must have been somewhere in the crowd that filled the
streets strewn with rosemary and lavender and thyme a young man who
deserved far better to be noticed. This was Adam de Craponne, who by
that time had already begun his work of fertilizing the Great Crau.

Mr. Baring-Gould, in the book already mentioned, gives an interesting
account of this "little Sahara in Europe," which occupies 30,000 acres.

 "At a remote period, but, nevertheless in one geologically modern,
 the vast floods of the diluvial age that flowed from the Alps
 brought down incredible quantities of rolled stones, the detritus
 of the Alps.... This rubble, washed down from the Alps, forms the
 substratum of the immense plain that inclines at a very slight angle
 to the Mediterranean, and extends for a considerable distance below
 the sea.... There is a break in the chain on the south, between the
 limestone Alpines and the sandstone Trévaresse; and the brimming
 Durance, unable to discharge all her water, choked with rubble, into
 the Rhône, burst through the open door or natural waste-pipe, by
 Salon, and carried a portion of her pebbles into the sea directly,
 without asking her sister the Rhône to help her. Now the two great
 plains formed by the delta of the Rhône, and that of the Durance
 with the Rhône, are called the Great and the Little Crau. They were
 known to the ancients, and puzzled them not a little. Strabo says of
 the Great Crau: 'Between Marseilles and the mouth of the Rhône, at
 about a hundred stadia from the sea, is a plain, circular in form,
 and a hundred stadia in diameter, to which a singular event obtained
 for it the name of the Field of Pebbles. It is, in fact, covered
 with pebbles, as big as the fist, among which grows some grass in
 sufficient abundance to pasture heads of oxen.'"

The singular event referred to was the fight between Hercules and the
Ligurians. Hercules had used up all his arrows, and had retired to a
cave in the Alpilles to make his last stand, when Jupiter came to his
assistance and rained down a shower of stones which killed all his
enemies. When the hero, thus miraculously aided, emerged from his cave,
he saw the great plain covered with stones as it is today. Or rather,
as it was; for thanks to Craponne and those who came after him the
desolate area is now much circumscribed.

This legend, which is still alive in Provence, takes us back to the
very earliest times. For Hercules is the Phoenician Melkarth, and
wherever his name survives it is in connection with Phoenician
trading, before the Greek colonization.

Craponne's scheme was to bring "some of the waters of the Durance
through the gap where some of its overspill had flowed in the diluvial
period, by a canal, into the Great Crau, so that it might deposit its
rich alluvium over this desert of stones. He spent his life and his
entire fortune in carrying out his scheme, and it is due to this that
year by year the barren desert shrinks, and cultivation advances."

There are few things more interesting to learn about than the bold
works by which man gets the better of nature, or rather sets nature to
work to correct, as it were, her own mistakes. About a hundred years
later than this, Vermuyden, the Dutch engineer, started draining the
Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire fens, a work of even greater magnitude,
which gave England some of its richest agricultural land. The draining
of Holland was already a thing accomplished; the draining of the
Rommy marshes in Kent and Sussex was partly effected before the Roman
conquest of Britain. Of late years Australia has dammed up a great
river, and turned a dry valley into a lake over two hundred feet deep,
from which land will be irrigated as many miles away.

In all these great works, varied in means but the same in intention,
the thing to be done is as simple as a child's diversion of water on
the sloping sands of the seashore. What he does with his wooden spade,
digging his channels and building up his banks, the engineers do with
their laborious machinery, trenching canals, and piling up the huge
masses of their dams. The waters, obeying the few simple laws of their
fall, do all the rest.

The greatest of all these works, and one of the simplest in idea,
was the damming of the Nile at Assouan. More than two thousand years
before Christ the yearly rise and fall of the great river began to
be recorded, but it was not until four thousand years later that the
action was adapted to man's more effective use. The natural laws are
there waiting, always to be trusted. There is no scale too great, as
there is none too small, upon which they can be applied.

The result of this slow fertilization of the Provençal Crau is plain
to be seen from the line that skirts it on the way to Arles. There are
great plantations of olives, each tree clipped and pruned like a rare
shrub in a conservatory, every branch and almost every twig at an even
distance from the next, so as to get the maximum of air and sun to the
buds and the fruit. And there are wonderful sheets of almond blossom,
sometimes covering acres. As far as the eye can see on the level, the
plain is of the richest. There are frequent villages and homesteads,
and everywhere lines of cypresses, planted very close together and
allowed to grow as tall as they please. These are to break the force of
the _bise_, which blows so strongly as to scoop the crops out of the
ground if they are left unprotected, and once actually carried away the
suspension bridge between Beaucaire and Tarascon.

We pottered along the little single line, while the rain still came
down, but the clouds began to look a little lighter. One of my
fellow-travellers was a young conscript who was on furlough from his
regiment in Tunis. He was a handsome, charming-mannered youth. He said
that he liked soldiering, and there was little hardship in the life.
He wore his uniform when he was going on a journey, because soldiers
are taken at half fares on the railways. He told me with a grin that
he was liable to be court-martialled for wearing patent-leather boots,
but on this line he thought he might risk it. He was inclined to be
facetious at the expense of the line, and told me a story about it that
I first heard some twenty years or so ago in connection with one of our
own railways. And he said that it was a good deal used by companies of
cinema actors; that at any time you might find yourself in the society
of desperate characters prepared to do desperate deeds, or slowing down
between stations so that somebody might be photographed crawling along
the footboard or the roof of the carriages. The railway company had
obligingly arranged for a collision not long before, being glad enough
to sell some of its antiquated stock for this purpose; and in fact,
if it had not been for the money made out of the cinema operators, it
would have closed down long before.

He told me something about the Crau, too. This fertile tract through
which we were passing was very unlike the part that was still desert,
which I should be able to see from the heights of Les Baux. It is dry
and desolate, scorched by the sun in summer, but in winter affording
pasturage for flocks and herds that are brought down from the Alps.

The flocks are led by wise old goats, who know every mile of their
three weeks' journey; then come the she-goats, and after them the
innumerable company of sheep. The dogs of the shepherds surround
the flock, and the rear of the procession is brought up by asses,
carrying the baggage, and the little lambs that are too young to follow
their dams. Every night the great flock is shut in with hurdles,
and the shepherds keep guard over them. There are said to be two or
three hundred thousand sheep in the flocks that make these yearly
migrations, which have been going on for hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of years. Pliny mentions them, and there is little doubt that the order
followed in his day was much the same as it is now. For the primal
industries of the world do not change much, and in this ancient land
scarcely at all.

I asked my young soldier if he had ever seen the flights of flamingoes
that are said to make lovely the desert of the Crau, but I do not think
that he had, although he would not say that they were not to be seen.
He expressed himself with admiration and affection about his beautiful
country of Provence, and especially about this corner of it, in which
he had been brought up. A station or two before we reached Maussane, he
got out. There was an open carriage waiting for him, and an elderly,
prosperous-looking gentleman in it whom I took to be his uncle, on no
grounds except that I liked to think of him during his holiday coming
out from Salon to visit relations who lived in some roomy, picturesque
"mas," where there was welcome and good cheer for him in the hospitable
old-fashioned way of the country.



CHAPTER IX

_Les Baux_


As I got out of the train the rain ceased, though there looked to be
more to come, and I walked the three miles to Les Baux with the sun
shining, and the birds singing among the drenched leaves of the trees.

I was faced by the craggy rampart of the Alpilles, which hang over the
great plain, and were once sea cliffs washed by the Mediterranean. They
are of white limestone, and rise in places to a height of close upon a
thousand feet. Just at this point they thrust themselves forward in a
series of fantastic crags, rising up sheer from the plain and crowned
by great masses of gleaming rocks that look almost as if they had been
placed there by some giant hand.

I knew that Les Baux was upon one of these crags, and thought that I
remembered which it was. But there was nothing of it to be seen from
the plain. The line of cliffs was quite bare; the road might have been
leading over some deserted col to fairer regions beyond. No one could
have guessed himself to be nearing the remains of a once flourishing
city.

The road led up through a fertile valley in which there were fields and
scattered houses and gardens, and some sort of a mill. The cliff rose
abruptly to the right, and at a turn of the road--the green valley now
lying some way below--there came into view the walls of a few houses.
They were perched up high overhead, and seemed to be growing out of
the cliff itself, as indeed they were; for half of this strange city
is built out of the solid rock, and its ruins remain part of the cliff
from which they were hewn.

The road has been remade, so that it now zigzags steeply to an entrance
from the north. But the foot passenger can leave it and take a still
steeper track to the ancient gateway that was once the chief entrance
into this eagle's aerie. It is called the Porte d'Eyguières, and
is still in a good state of preservation, with the grooves of its
portcullis to be seen, and a stone bearing the arms of the Lords of
Les Baux--the star with sixteen rays which marks their descent from
Balthasar, one of the wise kings from the East, who brought gifts to
the Infant Christ.

A steep and narrow lane leads up through the still inhabited quarter of
the town, past the old but rebuilt Hôtel de Ville to the place where
the new road comes in and the two inns are situated. So far there is
nothing particularly to strike the visitor--nothing at all to compare
for picturesqueness with the old hill towns of western Provence, from
which I had come. Picturesqueness is not the note of Les Baux, and in
the lower quarter of the town the air is rather that of a poor village
which contains the bare remnants of some past importance.

But as one mounts up towards the summit of the crag this impression
of something like squalor gives place to a very different one. The
inhabited cottages are soon left behind. They have already been seen to
be interspersed with the ruins of noble mansions, and to be themselves,
for the most part, salvage from greater buildings. They line a narrow,
winding street, paved with rock in which the ruts of old cartwheels
are worn, just as they are in the streets of Pompeii. And now there is
nothing but ruin on either side, except where part of a great house has
been put into some sort of repair for the purposes of a museum. It is
ruin complete and irreparable; but it is not like other ruins. There
stands up a bare wall, with apertures for windows and doors; and it is
seen to be, not the remains of a structure of built-up stones, but a
shell of living rock, from which the inside has been scooped, like a
cheese with nothing left but the rind.

Now one is on the summit of the crag. It is a wide, grassy platform,
upon which rear themselves huge masses of rock cut into the forms of
towers and battlements, like a giant's castle in some fantastic dream.

The castle itself stands back on the northern edge of the cliff. Nearer
at hand are the remains of dwellings that are nothing but caves in
great jutting masses of rock. But they are caves with a difference.
They are carefully squared chambers, with chimney places still showing
the marks of fire, with holes into the walls that were once cupboards,
with ceilings cut into so as to provide hanging for lamps. They are
open to the south, and the entrances blocked with débris; but there is
no doubt that they were once merely the back parts of houses, which
showed fronts as well built as some of those still standing in the
streets below.

The grassy height is strewn with the stones of many buildings quite
destroyed, but once it contained the ordered precincts of the great
pile that nothing has been able completely to destroy. It stands grim
and majestic, towering over the whole mass of tumbled walls and the few
roofs and chimneys that are all that remain of the rich city. One can
see stone stairs and galleries high up in the rock and can mount up to
some of them. The dungeon, cut out of solid stone, shows a yawning hole
in the ground. It lies open to the sky, but the ribs of its vaulting
are still seen springing from the corners. Two sides of a rock hard by
are scooped into cells. This was the great castle dovecot. There is a
little ruined chapel, its roof delicately carved.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE RUINS, LES BAUX]

[Illustration: THE CASTLE DOVECOT, LES BAUX]


From the summit of the castle there is a magnificent view of the great
plain to the south. It includes the whole extent of the Crau; and now
you can see which part of it has been fertilized, with the threads
of canals running through it, and which part still remains in its
stony desolation. The great lagoon, called the Etang de Berre, lies
a glistening sheet almost on the horizon, and you can just descry
the line of the sea beyond it. To the right you see Arles and the
famous abbey of Montmajour, and the Rhône rolling its turgid waters
through the plain of the Camarque, to where Stes. Maries rears its
fortress church on the edge of the sea, and the holy men and women from
Palestine miraculously landed. It is very far away, but there is hardly
so much as a hillock between you and it.

From here too can be seen the strange, blanched desolation of the
valleys that creep up into the solitudes of these stony hills. They
are strewn with gigantic rocks that take on all sorts of fantastic
tortured shapes. Part of it is called the Val d'Enfer, and it is said
that Dante, who is known to have sojourned in Arles, took from it the
scenery of his Inferno. In the spring it is lightened with the delicate
flush of almond blossom, and Les Baux is beautiful with the silvers
and blues and purples of its surrounding country, and its own wild
aspect of strength and desolation. But its appeal is to the past, and
without some knowledge of its history it must present itself as an
almost undecipherable riddle.

We need not linger over the importance that this natural fortress had
in the time of Marius, who had camps very near to Les Baux, and perhaps
on the very spot; nor the story of the Christians who were driven to
take refuge here by Alaric the Visigoth. The first of the long line of
the counts of Les Baux who is known to history was Leibulf, who lived
at the end of the eighth century. From that time, until the year 1426,
when the death of the Princess Alix at last brought it to an end, it
continually increased in wealth and importance, until it vied with
the rest of the royal houses in Europe. Yes; this deserted, almost
forgotten city, which now contains a bare hundred of inhabitants,
was the seat of princes who intermarried with the reigning families
of England, France, Poland, Savoy, Nassau, Brunswick and many more.
It was the centre of a principality that included seventy-nine towns
and bourgs, villages, or castles. Its rulers were Princes of Orange,
besides, from which our own royal house is sprung; they derived
titles from Milan, Naples, Piedmont, Marseilles and elsewhere;
they were kings of Arles and Vienne; Princes of Achaia, Counts of
Provence, Cephalonia, Spoleto, and other places; finally emperors of
Constantinople, and that this was not an empty title is shown by the
fact that an embassy was sent to a reigning princess of Les Baux to
treat for her rights as empress. In the twelfth century the towns owned
by the prince of Les Baux included Aix, Saint-Remy, Salon, Pertvis, and
the Bourg-Neuf at Arles. The possessions of "La Baussenique" already
made of it a second Provence. Indeed, Raymond des Baux, who died in
1150, claimed, through his marriage with the daughter of the Count of
Provence, the whole of the country, and fought for it until his death.

There was continual fighting, with Les Baux as its centre, during the
Middle Ages, and sometimes its lords were on the summit of fortune,
sometimes forced to give up some of their lands. They fought with the
Saracen corsairs, with the counts of Barcelona and kings of Aragon,
with the counts of Anjou and Poitou, the king of Naples, and many more.
They went crusading with the rest, and one of them is mentioned with
honour in the pages of Froissart.

It was at the siege of La Reole in Gascony. The Earl of Derby lay
before it for nine weeks, and the townspeople were so reduced by
starvation that they wished the place to be given up. But Sir Agos des
Baux, who commanded the troops, would not consent to this, and retired
to the castle, with plenty of wine and other provisions. The castle had
been erected by the Saracens, and was much stronger than the English
had supposed. So they prepared to mine under it, and then the garrison
grew alarmed. So "Sir Agous dyscendedde downe fro the hygh towre, and
dyd put out his heed at a lytell wyndo, and make a token to speke with
some of the host." Lord Derby, Sir Walter Manny and Lord Stafford
came to parley with him, and he offered to give up the fortress if he
and his troops might retain "our lyves and goodes saved." Lord Derby
replied, "Sir Agos, Sir Agos, you will not get off so. We know your
distress, and will receive only an unconditional surrender." Then Sir
Agos said that he would trust to the honour of the English, and Lord
Derby, commending his gallantry, granted honourable surrender to the
garrison, with their armour.

"Then they dyd on their harnesse and toke their horses, whereof they
hadde no mo but sixe; some bought horses of thenglysshmen, the whiche
they payed for truely. Thus Sir Agous de Baus departed fro the Ryoll,
and yelded up the castele to the Englysshemen, and Sir Agos and his
company wente to Tholons."

One of the bloodiest struggles of all that had surrounded Les Baux took
place when the Princess Alix succeeded to its sovereignty at the age
of seven, and it was twenty-six long years before she was able, as a
widow, to take up her residence in her much battered but still noble
castle.

She was the ward of the Viscount of Turenne, the "Scourge of Provence,"
who married her at the age of thirteen to a young noble whom he
thought he could use for his own purposes, which were of course to get
possession of his ward's property. But Adon de Villers unexpectedly
decided to fight him, and succeeded in gaining valuable support, from
the neighbouring cities, and from the Pope himself, who was then
seated at Avignon. Besides men at arms, the Pope launched a threat of
excommunication against Turenne, who laughed at it, and said that for
a thousand florins he could get more soldiers than the Pope for seven
years of plenary absolution. He was not in the least particular where
he got his fighters from. He allowed a robber-chief to seize and sack
Les Baux itself and to murder and pillage in all the country round,
and he roused the Mediterranean pirates to spread further devastation
through the lands of his ward.

But, in the meantime, the Pope who had been deified died, and it
happened that the King of France had a quarrel with his successor and
sent troops against him under Marshal Boucicaut. When this little
affair was settled Boucicaut turned his attention to Turenne, whose
daughter he had married. As persuasion was useless, he besieged and
took Les Baux and other towns, and Turenne was brought to his knees.
He broke out again immediately afterwards, and there is no knowing how
much longer the poor Princess Alix could have been kept out of her
rights if he had not been accidentally drowned while he was crossing
the Rhône.

Her castle was almost defenceless, but she married again and lived in
it in peace for another twenty-four years. When she lay dying, it is
said that a bright star descended from the heavens and entered her
room, hanging over her until she breathed her last, when it faded away.
It was thought to be that very Star of the East which had shone upon
the founder of her long race, now extinguished with her.

Mr. T. A. Cook, in his admirable book on Provence, from which I have
chiefly drawn for the above facts, gives an account of the inventory
of Princess Alix's household effects, made for the crown after her
death. It makes a welcome impression of peace and luxury, which no one
can feel inclined to grudge this much-tried lady after the strife and
bloodshed with which half of her life had been surrounded, and shows
the grim castle of Les Baux in a light that is pleasant to contemplate.

"The entrance-courtyard of the château lay to the south. The chapel of
Ste. Marie, with its vaulted roof, was in the rez-de chaussée, near
several large reception-rooms, with kitchens, bakery, larders, and
cellars beneath them. Above were fifteen more out of the thirty-five
rooms. That in which Alix died was situated in a tower, beneath a
granary. It was furnished with two candlesticks of silver, with plate
of silver and of gold, with many lengths of tapestry, and with fine
Eastern rugs. In the oaken chests were robes of silk and velvet,
of cloth of gold, and 'vair'; furs, belts, eight rosaries set with
pearls, prayer-books, and books of hours, bound in red cloth of gold,
with clasps of silver-gilt. Within the 'Chambre de la Rose' were more
books of prayer, bound in cloth of gold and pearls, and set in a case
of stamped leather, bound with a silver band all gilt with fleurs de
lys. The chapel and its vestry were filled with rich ecclesiastical
garments and plate, chalices, pattens, candlesticks, and reading-desks,
in gold and silver-gilt, enriched with gems, enamel, and embroidery, a
number of illuminated liturgies, and a set of tapestries, showing the
adoration of the Magi, with Balthasar, the traditional ancestor of the
house. In other rooms were tables with huge legs enriched with carving,
long seats that opened to form linen-chests, sideboards in solid
worked wood, cupboards let straight into the stone, and lined with
cedar. In the larders and cellars were tuns of wine, both white and
red, great store of nuts and grain, piles of salt beef and pork, rows
of fishing-nets, and stronger nets for hunting the stag and the wild
boar; with herds of cattle, pigs, and sheep, in the pastures below, and
nearly fifty chickens. In the halls and passages were trophies of arms,
cuirasses, helmets, arbalètes, coulevrines, bombardelles, lances; and
swords; 'the most of them rusty,' for their day was over; the furniture
was partly sold by order of the king, partly bequeathed to the Bishop
of Tortosa, and partly sent over to the Château of Tarascon."

The princedom of Les Baux now became merged in that of Provence, and
a few years later the good King René succeeded to its honours. As Les
Baux had been famous in the annals of the Troubadours, it is probable
that he took considerable interest in the romantic place. He restored
the ramparts and the towers of the castle, and made over the barony for
life to his second wife, Jeanne de Laval, whose kneeling figure faces
him in the Triptych at Aix. There is a charming little reminder of her
still to be seen at Les Baux. In the valley beneath the fortress-rock
is a square walled-in field which was once a garden. In a corner of it
is a little stone pavilion with delicately carved Renaissance work,
upon which time and weather have had very little effect. There was
once one of these in each corner, but all signs of the others have
disappeared, as well as the "knots" and parterres and treillages and
the beds of sweet smelling herbs that lay between them. The one that
is left is called the Pavillon de la Reine Jeanne, and if it did not,
actually belong to her, which it probably did not, for she would have
had her pleasaunce nearer to the castle, it must have given delight to
some fair lady of her court, or to the wife of one of the Provençal
nobles whose mansions lined the narrow streets of Les Baux. Fine as
their remains show them to have been, they had no more ground attached
to them than a house in a street of Mayfair, and it is agreeable to
think that it was possible at this time for the ladies of Les Baux to
enjoy a garden outside the fortifications, and not to be cooped up day
after day within the protecting walls.

Soon after the principality of Les Baux became merged in that of
Provence, Provence itself came to the throne of France. Louis XI
was on the throne, and in the last year of his reign he ordered the
destruction of the ramparts and the castle of Les Baux. It was not the
first time that the castle had been destroyed, and it was not to be the
last. Its immense strength seems to have given it a sort of vitality
that suffered dismemberment without complete destruction, and even
now it seems not to be quite dead, though it is long since it was at
last rendered uninhabitable. Probably on this occasion it was only the
offensive and defensive parts of the castle that were destroyed, for
fifty years later, during a royal progress through Provence, Francis I
visited it with a brilliant train, and was entertained there by his own
High Constable, Anne de Montmorency, to whom he had given the barony of
Les Baux. Another royal visit, in 1614, ended in sad disaster. The Duc
de Guise was entertained one Sunday in May in the castle, and at every
toast that was drunk there was a salvo of artillery. Being probably a
little flushed with wine, the prince announced his intention of firing
a cannon himself. The cannon exploded and shattered his leg, and a few
days later he was buried at St. Trophime in Arles.

In the sixteenth century Les Baux, still in the thick of whatever
strife was going forward, became the battleground of Catholics and
Protestants. In 1543 Claude de Savoie, Count of Tende, who was
Seneschal of Provence, took up his residence in the castle, and
stayed there for a year trying to bring peace between the factions.
In 1561 the Protestants got into Les Baux, and made havoc, quite in
the old-fashioned way. In three months they were turned out, not at
all gently. But two years later they were back again, not only free
to practise their religion, but with the governor, Jehan de Manville,
a convert to it. He converted part of his house into a chapel to the
Huguenots. The house is in ruins, but there is enough left to show what
a fine one it was, and among the remains is a pedimented Renaissance
window of the chapel, with the famous Reformation motto carved over it
in stone: "Post Tenebras Lux," and the date 1571.

[Illustration: PAVILLON DE LA REINE JEANNE]

[Illustration: HUGUENOT CHAPEL IN LES BAUX]

This family of Manvilles is the most important in the annals of Les
Baux after that of its titulary princes. They held some sort of
seignorial authority for about a hundred years, but in 1621 the fourth
and last of them had to resign his rights for continuing to harbour the
Protestants.

A few years later the prosperity of Les Baux departed. Louis XIII
sent troops against its last seigneur, Antoine de Villeneuve, who was
an adherent of the Duke of Orleans, and Richelieu ordered the final
destruction of the castle.

This time the work was done thoroughly. But the stout old pile made a
resistance of its own. It took a month to demolish it, and gunpowder
had to be used to blow it up. And even now there is a great deal of it
left.

After that Les Baux steadily declined until it became no more than a
refuge for a handful of peasants, who squatted amongst the ruins, fed
their sheep where the grass grew over the castle courts, and cultivated
a few fields outside. But it kept one church out of its five or six,
and has always had some sort of corporate life. It is a little more
prosperous now, because of its visitors; but compared with its rich
past the life is a mere trickle, and only the ruins remain to tell of
what it once was.



CHAPTER X

_Les Baux_ (continued)


Mr. Cook had written of the inn at Les Baux that lunch was "a perilous
adventure, and any other form of hospitality impossible." This did not
frighten me, because when one takes a pack on one's back one drops
a good many prejudices. Read what the inns were like when Smollett
travelled through France, or Casanova, or Arthur Young. Probably the
inn at Les Baux, when Mr. Cook visited it, would have seemed to an
eighteenth century traveller a most desirable place of entertainment.
At any rate, the reproach is now removed altogether, for there is an
excellent inn at Les Baux. It is called the Hôtel de la Reine Jeanne.

The other inn is called the "Hôtel de Monte Carlo," which recalls
a curious episode in the history of Les Baux--the last in its long
history.

It was after Richelieu had wrecked it, and was caused, says Mr. Cook,
by the ambition of Spain to become possessed of Monte Carlo.

 "The young Honoré de Grimaldi, seeking the protection of Louis XIII,
 who had no desire to see the Spaniards conveniently planted between
 Genoa and Nice, so near to his own territories, arranged by the Treaty
 of Péronne for the independence of Monaco, and the protection of a
 French garrison, in 1641, together with sufficient lands in France to
 compensate for the loss of any Italian revenues confiscated by Spain.
 Grimaldi got the Spaniards out of Monaco by a cleverly audacious
 ruse, and was rewarded by lands in France which were called his
 Duchy of Valentinois; and in 1643 Les Baux was created a marquisate
 in the possession of the Grimaldis, Princes of Monaco, and Dukes of
 Valentinois. The title that had been held by Diane de Poitiers, and
 by Cæsar Borgia, added perhaps the last touch of sinister romance
 that was needed to complete the history of Les Baux. A little country
 pleasure-house, beneath the ruins of the fort, was enough for the
 Grimaldis; and even that was knocked to pieces by the Revolution,
 which also cut down every forest on the mountain-slopes."[10]

This "Hôtel de Monte Carlo" used to be called "A la Chevelure d'Or."

Some years ago when the pavement of the church was undergoing repair
there was found the body of a beautiful young girl, wrapped in a mantle
of her own golden hair. It fell to dust when exposed, all but the long
strands of hair which the innkeeper possessed himself of and displayed
in his tavern. When he left Les Baux he took the "Cabelladuro d'Or"
with him, but a tress of it is now in the Musée Arlaten at Arles. The
rock beneath the church is honeycombed with graves of the knights and
ladies of old time, and this fair girl is supposed to have been the
Princess Strella of Florence, who came to Les Baux to marry the Reine
Jeanne's seneschal, but died instead, and was buried beneath the stone
on which she would have stood to be wedded. A sad little story, very
real at the time, then forgotten for four hundred years, and now again
real enough to touch the heart!

All that afternoon and evening I wandered about among the ruins of the
deserted city. I call it deserted because the greater part of it is
actually so, and the life of the part that is inhabited is so different
from the life it once enshrined that it has little power to change the
meaning of the old buildings in which it shelters.

The church is perhaps an exception, for so many churches as ancient
as this have survived. But if you sit in its darkness and silence for
a time the present drops away from you and you are back again in the
days when it rang with the tread of mailed knights and rustled with the
silks and satins of their ladies. It has been clumsily enough restored
without, but inside it is much as it was centuries ago. The south aisle
is the oldest, and it has three chapels, as well as an altar, scooped
out of the living rock. Mr. Cook reminds us of Dumas' visit to it. "As
he entered the little, cold, dark building (in the days before its
restoration) he heard a sound of sorrow at the eastern end. Upon an
open bier, before the high altar, lay the dead body of a little girl.
Her two tiny sisters knelt on either side. Her mother sat crying in
a corner, and continued sobbing after the good Alexandre had thrown
her his whole purse. Her little brother tried to toll the bell for a
service at which no priest was present. A dozen or so of beggars had
looked in to see the sight. They comprised the whole population of Les
Baux."

In front of the church is a terrace overlooking the valley in which is
the garden with the pavilion. In one corner of it are the ruins of a
chapel of the White Penitents. On the other side the rock rises sheer
and steep, and in it is hollowed out a semi-circular cistern called
the Deïmo. Into this the vassals of the Lords of Les Baux poured their
tithes of wine and corn and olive oil.

One can picture this terrace on a sunny spring morning filled with the
people who had just come out from hearing Mass in the church. They
would linger awhile to gossip by the stone parapet, or round the steps
of the cross in the middle of the little _place_, before they went off
to their fine houses in the narrow streets. Les Baux was a favourite
residence of the Provencal nobility in its more peaceful days. Hardly
less interesting than the ruins of the castle and the older houses are
those of the fifteenth and sixteenth century mansions, with their noble
proportions and their rich decoration.

One of them, hard by the church, is still standing, and is used as a
school. You can get permission to see its vaulted frescoed hall. It
belonged to the noble family of the Porcelets, the origin of whose name
is legendary.

A proud lady of the family drove away a beggar woman, rebuking her
for bringing into the world more children than she could provide for.
The beggar chanced to be a witch, as so frequently happened in such
circumstances, and prophesied in return that the lady herself would
bear as many children as there should be little pigs in the litter of a
sow that was near them. The sow produced nine _porcelets_, and the lady
as many children, who with their descendants were thenceforward called
Porcelet.

If only one could catch just one glimpse of the place as it was in
the days of high romance! It would be impossible to dip anywhere into
the history of song and chivalry in the south during the Middle Ages
without coming across mention of Les Baux. Some of its princes were
noted Troubadours, knights and ladies thronged its Courts of Love, and
the names of its queens ring musically through the poetry that was made
there. Passe-Rose, Douce, Etiennette, Adélasie, Briande, Clairette,
Barbe, Aybeline, Baussette--how sweet they sound! And there are stories
to be told of all of them.

Characteristic of the times is that of the fair Azalais, wife of
Count Barral des Baux. Her charms were sung by the famous Troubadour,
Foulquet of Marseilles, but "neither by his prayers nor by his songs
could he ever move her to show him favour by right of love." Whether
or no he actually transferred his affections to his lady's young
sister-in-law, Laura, or only pretended to do so, Azalais took umbrage,
and "would have no more of his prayers or fine words." So, "he left
off singing and laughing, for he had lost the lady whom he loved more
than the whole world." But his homage continued, and we hear no more of
Laura.

Barral des Baux grew tired of his countess and divorced her, but
Foulquet, in spite of his friendship with her husband, maintained his
allegiance to Azalais. At last he wearied of his fruitless sighing, and
took the cowl. He rose to be Bishop of Toulouse, and his name lives,
not as one of the greatest poets of his time, which he was, but as the
cruel persecutor of the Albigensian heretics.

As one mounts towards the summit of the rock one sees the ruins of yet
other churches and chapels, and on the grassy plateau is a wide space
that was once used as an arena for bull-fights, but before that was the
site of a hospital for lepers, of which there were many in Les Baux
during the seventeenth century. In the foundations of the walls that
are left can be seen the recesses for the beds of the patients cut into
the rock.

It rained a good deal that afternoon, but as I was standing on the
summit of the rock in the evening, looking out over the plain, the sun
sank into a clear belt of sky between the clouds, and the whole wide
landscape, with its encircling hills, was bathed in a glory of golden
light. I turned, and almost held my breath at the beauty that was
revealed to me. The setting sun had caught the ruins of the castle,
and it was glowing in the unearthly light, like a fairy palace, while
the walls and roofs below it were still in shadow. The deep blues and
purples of the hills beyond were indescribably lovely. I could not
expect to get a reminder of their beauty; but the castle, standing out
like that--I might get it in a photograph. I turned and ran down the
steep street to get my camera. I had carried it about with me all day,
but had left it behind for my evening stroll. As I hurried up to the
top again, the sun was just touching the lower bank of heavy cloud. As
I ran towards the first place from which I could possibly get a view,
the light slowly faded from the towers and battlements; as I reached
it, it died away altogether. The ruins were once more cold and grim and
forbidding.

It was the more disappointing because it is very difficult to get any
view of Les Baux that is characteristic of the place as a whole. The
castle stands up boldly from the north-east, but even there the rock on
which it is built does not show its height. The view of the town taken
from the castle gives some idea of its situation, with the rocks on the
other side of the valley and the plain spread out below; but it is only
a fragment, after all, and the only photograph I took of it that "came
out" was when there was a driving scud of rain that blotted out the
view, and shows few details of the foreground.

Another trouble came upon me that night. I was walking through a
narrow street in the darkness when a big dog rushed out of a doorway
and made for me. I turned quickly to defend myself, and at the same
time a man standing in the doorway shouted at the dog and picked up
a stone to throw at it. I felt a sudden pain in the calf of my leg,
and thought that the dog had bitten me, or a stone had hit me, very
sharply. But it was a split muscle, and it kept me laid up in Les Baux
for two days longer than I had intended. And that produced the greatest
disappointment of all. On Sunday I should have gone to Maillane, on
my way to Avignon, and seen Mistral, who was then quite well, and who
liked to see visitors. But on Monday I could not walk so far, and put
off the visit till later; and on Monday Mistral was taken ill with the
illness from which he died on Wednesday.

[Illustration: LES BAUX FROM THE CASTLE RUINS]

[Illustration: ONE OF THE BEAUTIES OF LES BAUX
                                              _Page 152_]

But this further disappointment was hidden from me at the time, and
I spent the next two days hobbling about Les Baux and getting an
indelible impression of it, as familiarity with its nooks and corners
increased. It became, by degrees, not so much a ruined city as a city
of ruined houses, with a character to each. There are many intersecting
streets and lanes, and as one poked about them here and there, some
faint shadow of reality made itself felt above the destruction. Little
bits of staircases, windows, hearths, chimneys, stood out from the mass
of heaped stones. One could imagine the houses whole and clean and
occupied. From some life seemed only recently to have departed, though
they had been left to decay for centuries. The ghosts of the men and
women of the past were very near to showing themselves, especially at
dark, when what is preserved and what is destroyed was difficult to
distinguish.

I spent much time on the quiet grassy summit of the rock. A few sheep
are fed there, and the shepherds watch them, as they always do in this
country, sitting in the shade of some ruin or leaning over the rough
stone parapet to look at the valley below. An old inhabitant came up
to read his paper there, as he told me he did every evening when it
was fine, and we saw the first swallow of the summer as we talked. The
children came to cut plants for salads, busily turning over the stones
and filling their wire baskets. They are very friendly, the children of
Les Baux. When I had been there two years ago a slim little dark-eyed
girl of twelve had shown me the church, and I had taken her photograph
sitting on the steps of the cross. Now I found her grown into a young
woman, and present her here as one of the beauties of Les Baux. Her
name is Martha Montfort and I wondered if perhaps she was a descendant
of the great Montforts. For our Simon de Montfort's father was Count of
Toulouse, and campaigned it here against the Albigenses.

The people at the inn were very kind to me over my accident, provided
me with embrocation and cotton wool and the best of advice, and sent
me away nearly cured. Mistral had visited them in the early days of
their occupancy, and had written in their visitors' book, in his fine
delicate hand, the following poem:

    Fiéu de Maiano
  S'ère vengu d'ou tèms
    de Dono Jano
  Quand èro à soun printems
    e soubeirano
  Coune èron autre-tèms
    S'ènso autro engano
  que soun regard courons,
  aurieu, d'elo amourouns,
  trouva, j'eu benurons
  vaur fino canvouneto
  que la bella Janeto
  m'aurié donna'n mantèu
  pèr parèisse au cassèn.

One can get the lilt of the soft Provençal, in which the poet sings so
sweetly, and with the French translation, added in his own hand, make
out the sense.

    Fils de Maillanne,
  Si j'étais venu au temps
    de Madame Jeanne,
  Comme ou l'était dans sa fleur
    et Souveraine,
  Comme on l'était jadis,
    sans autre politique
  que son regard brillant,
  j'aurais, amoureux d'elle
    trouvé, moi bienheureux,
  chansonette si fine
  que la belle Jeanette
  m'eût donné un manteau
  pour paraître au château.

Mistral would certainly have been rewarded if he had appeared at the
castle of Les Baux in the time of the Troubadours. He sings in the same
tongue, poems at least as beautiful as any that they have left behind
them. He was anxious that the _patronne_ of the inn should wear the
Provençal costume, and I do not wonder at it, for although she is a
Swiss from Valais, she has the regular features and the stately bearing
of the Arlesiennes who are said to be the most beautiful women in
Europe.

I found an English artist settled at Les Baux. He had bought one of the
old houses and restored part of it, a great deal with his own hands. We
sat and talked in a large upstairs room with a fine open fireplace and
the window open to the western valley and the hills beyond it. And on
Sunday we visited the Val d'Enfer together, and the chapel of the Trois
Maries, or the "Trémaïé."

The carved stone in front of which this little shrine is built--it
lies under the castle rock to the west--supplies the key to much that
we have already heard about. It is one of the great limestone rocks
with which the hillside and the valley are littered--about twenty-five
feet high, and is a semi-circular niche twelve feet or so from the
ground containing the weathered carving of these draped figures, nearly
life-size.

At first sight they appear to be those of three women, and for
centuries the tradition has been that they were the three Marys who
landed with the other saints at Stes. Maries de la Mer. But the carving
is Roman, and the figures are Roman, dressed quite recognizably in
togas and tunics, the right-hand figure facing us is a man, the other
two are women, the one in the middle, taller than the others and
wearing a sort of turban and carrying a rod decorated with foliage,
though this is not easy to make out now. But it is not difficult to
identify the three figures. There is a wealth of evidence to show that
they are contemporary portraits of Caius Marius, his wife Julia, and in
the middle Martha the prophetess who attended Marius in his campaign
against the barbarians.

"For he had with him," writes Plutarch, "a Syrian woman named Martha,
who was said to have the gift of prophecy. She was carried about in a
litter with great respect and solemnity, and the sacrifices he offered
were all by her direction. She had formerly applied to the senate in
this character, and made an offer of predicting for them future events,
but they refused to hear her. Then she betook herself to the women, and
gave them a specimen of her art. She addressed herself particularly
to the wife of Marius, at whose feet she happened to sit when there
was a combat of gladiators, and fortunately enough told her which of
them would prove victorious. Marius's wife sent her to her husband,
who received her with the utmost veneration, and provided for her the
litter in which she was generally carried. When she went to sacrifice
she wore a purple robe lined with the same, and buttoned up, and held
in her hand a spear adorned with ribbons and garlands."

       *       *       *       *       *

The inscription below the figures has almost entirely disappeared; but
enough remains to show its date, and the name of the sculptor, Caldus.
Mr. Cook makes the interesting suggestion that this may have been "that
plebeian partisan of Marius, who forged his own way to the front, was
made tribune in 107 B.C., and won his honours by hard work like his
master." For "he was lieutenant at Les Baux with Marius before he went
to Spain; and in memory of his Spanish campaigns he struck the gold
medals which record his rise to the consulate in 97 B.C."

Here then are the three Marii: Caius Marius, Martha Marii, and
Julia Marii; and as is the way of such things they became presently
transformed to the three Maries, and a whole new tradition was attached
to them. There is little doubt either that Martha the sister of Mary
who rid Provence of the scourge of the dragon derived from Martha the
companion of Marius, who rid it of the scourge of the barbarians.

Not far from the rock of the Trémaïé is that of the Gaïé which bears
the much mutilated carving of two figures which are probably those of
Caius Marius and his wife Julia, or possibly of Martha.

These two stones, and especially the Trémaïé, are from one point of
view the most interesting remains in the whole of Provence; for they
join on the past to a past still more remote, and a story that took two
thousand years in the telling is made plain.



CHAPTER XI

_Mistral_


I started early on Monday morning to walk to Saint-Remy. It was fine
and sunny again, but there was a touch of the _mistral_. The road
winds up through the limestone crags to a _col_ from which there is a
view even more magnificent than that from Les Baux to the south. The
undulating plain, all silver and delicate green and indigo and deep
purple, stretches away on either hand, and very far away rise the snow
peaks of the Pyrenees, like mountains in a dream. The Rhône and the
Durance are at about equal distances to the right and left, the Durance
flowing on one side of the Alpilles to join her sister at Avignon, and
both these together passing the other side on their way to the sea.
Beyond Avignon are the heights of the Cevennes and the Basses-Alpes to
close in the picture, of which the foreground is the very heart of the
rich and picturesque Provençal country.

The life of the soil, as it existed for hundreds of years, and exists
still though shorn of some of its character since the days of steam,
has been immortalized by Mistral, who was born in the village of
Maillane a few miles off the road I was taking that day, spent all
his life there, and was to die two days later. All its sweet charm
is summed up in the great epic of "Mirèio," or "Mireille" published
when he was twenty-five and instantly hailed by no less a critic
than Lamartine as a work of genius. I had been reading it at Les
Baux, in a version in which a French rendering--prepared, I am told,
by Mistral himself--is printed parallel to the Provençal. It was
possible to get an idea of the swing and mastery of the original verse.
With some knowledge of Latin and French, with a few simple rules of
pronunciation, which were given in the Introduction, and with the ear
attuned somewhat to the sounds--for I had constantly heard Provençal
spoken--I could take a stanza here and there and make it out. But one
was carried along by the translation, even though it was in prose, and
I could not put it down until I had finished its twelve books.

The story is of the innocent burning loves of a youth, the son of a
wandering basket-maker, and of a young girl, the daughter of a rich
farmer. The earliest books are full of simple and beautiful feeling for
the common episodes of country life, as they unrolled themselves before
the poet's own eyes at the time he was writing of them. We see the
basket-maker and his son joining the master of the farm, his family,
and his numerous dependents, at their meal on the long stone table
under the vine-trellis in front of the house, and hear the stories they
tell; we see the girls picking the mulberry leaves from the trees, and
winding the silk from the cocoons, their hands and tongues alike busy;
and hear wise talk of seasons and crops, and of all the active pastoral
and agricultural life of the country.

There come three rich suitors for the hand of the fair Mireille; a man
of mighty flocks, who brings his sheep and goats down from the high
Alps to winter on the Crau; the owner of troops of horses running wild
on the windy marshes of the Camarque; and the strong tamer of bulls,
tales of whose strength and prowess ring through the country, who
fights a Homeric battle with the young lover, is defeated by him, but
by a stroke of malevolent cunning leaves him for dead before he goes to
his own death in the flooded river.

The after scenes have immortalized the Grotto des Fées in the Val
d'Enfer of Les Baux, and the pilgrimage church of Saintes-Maries, in
which Mireille dies, after hearing from the saints themselves the story
of their miraculous voyage and their landing in Provence. All the
scenes of the poem are laid within a few miles of Mistral's home, and
neither in this poem nor in any other has he drawn inspiration except
from the life and legends of his own Provence.

[Illustration: MISTRAL'S BIRTHPLACE, MAS DU JUGE]

[Illustration: FRESCO IN THE PALACE OF THE POPES AT AVIGNON
                                                          _Page 203_]

He has told the story of his own life in a charming book. His father
was of the old peasant aristocracy of the country of Arles, and married
his second wife, Mistral's mother, when he was already fifty-five.

 "One year, on St. John's day, the master, François Mistral, was in his
 cornfields, which the harvesters were cutting with their sickles. A
 crowd of women followed the reapers to pick up the grain which escaped
 the rake. Soon my father noticed a pretty girl who hung behind them
 as if she were afraid to glean like the others. He approached her and
 said:

 "'Where do you come from, little one? What is your name?'

 "'I am the daughter of Etienne Poulinet, Mayor of Maillane,' she
 replied. 'My name is Délaïde.'

 "'What!' said my father, 'the daughter of Poulinet, Mayor of Maillane,
 coming out to glean!'

 "'Master,' she replied, 'we are a large family, six girls and two
 boys, and our father, although he is fairly well-off, when we ask him
 for pin-money, says, "My dears, if you want money to make yourselves
 smart go and earn it." So that is why I have come to glean.'

 "Six months after this meeting, which reminds one of the old story
 of Ruth and Boaz the gallant yeoman asked Master Poulinet for his
 daughter, and I was born of this marriage.

 "Well, then, my arrival in the world having taken place on September
 8, 1830, in the afternoon, the happy mother sent for my father, who
 was at that time, as usual, in his fields.

 "As soon as the running messenger came within hearing, he called out:
 'Come, master, for the mistress has just been delivered.'

 "'How many?' asked my father.

 "'One--a fine boy.'

 "'A son! May the bon Dieu make him strong and wise!'

 "And without more, as if nothing had happened, the good man finished
 his work and returned deliberately to the farm. This showed no lack
 of tenderness, but, brought up, and indoctrinated, like the old
 Provençals, in the Roman tradition, his manner showed the surface
 roughness of the ancient _pater familias_."[11]

The child narrowly escaped being christened Nostradamus, but was called
Frédéric instead, in memory of a poor little urchin who had carried
love-letters between Mistral's parents during their courtship and had
died shortly afterwards.

His childhood was spent in soaking in the details of the large simple
life in and about his home, and all the lore of the past that was
stored up by the country people. He went to the University of Avignon,
and to Aix to study law, and there gradually formed in him the purpose
to devote his life to the literary revival of the national tongue,
which had sunk from its proud estate as a language of high poetry
to little more than a peasant dialect. He was not alone in his love
for it. Other names were honoured throughout Provence of the joyous,
high-mettled band that formed themselves into a society to advance
their object, and made such an immense pleasure of their lives as they
worked towards their end. There were sweet singers among them--Aubanel,
Roumanille, Félix Gras, and others--although none whose names will live
as Mistral's will; for he long outlived them all, and his fame has
spread everywhere. They called themselves the "Félibres," and their
movement the "Félibrige," using a word that Mistral had found in an
old legend to designate the seven Doctors of the Law with whom Christ
disputed in the Temple; and no one who has visited Provence needs
telling how much alive the movement is. Besides his poems, and some
charming stories, Mistral has produced an exhaustive Dictionary of the
Provençal language, and if his fame had not been established half a
century ago on the publication of "Mireille," his museum at Arles, in
which he sought to gather up all the story of Provençal life, so that
what has passed or is passing away should never be forgotten, would
keep his memory green. It is a noble gift in itself, this museum housed
in one of the ancient buildings of Arles. In 1906 Mistral was awarded
the Nobel Prize for literature, and dedicated it to this purpose. He
wanted nothing for himself that money could buy. For eighty-four years
he lived among his own people the common life of the land, and came to
be supremely honoured by them all. They called him the Emperor of the
South; there was no one whose name carried more weight.

For the gift that he brought to his people, his grand old father
of whom he draws such a delightful portrait in his Memoirs, must
be accorded some of the thanks. As in the case of Ruskin and of
Browning, a parent who had no connection with literature himself
fostered the early studies of the son and left him to follow his bent,
while relieving him of the necessities which often smother talent,
though never perhaps genius. But then Mistral's father was himself an
inspiration to the work his son set himself to do when he returned to
the large liberty of his home.

"The Judge's farm was at this time a true home of pure poetry,
biblical and idyllic. Did it not live and sing around me, this poem
of Provence with its blue depths framed by the Alpilles? One had only
to go out to be dazzled by it. Did I not see Mireille passing, not
only in my young dreams, but even in person, sometimes in one of those
pretty young girls of Maillane, who came to pick mulberry leaves for
their silkworms, sometimes in the grace of those who came and went
with bare throats and white coifs among the corn and the hay, in the
olive-gardens and among the vines?

"Did not the actors in my drama, the labourers, harvesters, herdsmen
and shepherds, come and go before my eyes from dawn till dusk? Could
you have a finer old man, more patriarchal, more worthy to be the
prototype of my Master Ramon, than old François Mistral, whom no one,
not even my mother, ever called anything but the Master? My poor
father--sometimes when the work was pressing and he wanted help, either
to get in the hay or to draw up the water from the well, he would call
out: 'Where is Frédéric?' Although at that moment I might be stretched
under a willow idly pursuing some fugitive rhyme, my dear mother would
reply: 'He is writing.' And immediately the rough voice of the good
man would soften as he said: 'Don't disturb him.' For to him, who had
never read anything in his youth but the Bible and Don Quixote, writing
was almost a holy office."

As a young man Mistral's father had been requisitioned to carry corn
to Paris during the Reign of Terror, and was struck with horror at the
execution of the king.[12]

       *       *       *       *       *


"He was profoundly religious. Every evening, summer as well as winter,
kneeling at his chair, head uncovered, hands to his forehead, with his
hair in a queue tied by a silk ribbon, he would pray for us aloud; and
when the evenings lengthened in the autumn he would read the Gospels to
his children and his servants....

"Although he would pick up a fagot on the road and carry it home;
although he would content himself for his ordinary fare with vegetables
and brown bread; although, in the midst of plenty, he was always
abstemious, and would mix water with his wine, yet his table was always
open, as well as his hand and his purse, to any poor wayfarer. Then, if
there was talk of any one, he would ask first: 'Is he a good worker?'
and if the answer was, yes, he would say: 'Ah, he's a good man; I'm his
friend.'"[13]

This charming book of Mistral's and his poems, give more of flavour of
Provence than anything I have read, and the link between our times and
his was not even snapped by his death on the day I walked through the
country that he more particularly wrote of.

He was never for long away from Provence during the eighty-four years
of life, but was much lionized when he did venture as far as Paris. I
very much wish that I had seen him, for his personality counted for a
great deal in the movement he spent his life in fostering, and he was
the last survivor of the original Félibres. It now remains to be seen
whether the revival will continue of itself. I have heard it compared
with other national revivals, fostered by intellectuals, but taking
no great hold of the people, and prophecies of its decay. But I think
it has life in it. Mistral would certainly not have called himself an
intellectual, and he never behaved like one. He was one of the people
himself, and they are fortunate to have found such an interpreter.



CHAPTER XII

_Saint-Remy_


On the way up from Les Baux to the _col_, and for some distance beyond,
the country is arid and cold; but the wealth of aromatic and flowering
shrubs that carpet the ground in these stony regions, and the breathing
spirit of the spring, gives them a charm of their own that is far
removed from desolation. The road was lonely enough. A few flocks of
sheep and goats clattered among the loose stones of the hillsides that
were on either side, among the pines and the thyme and rosemary and the
yellow brooms; and the shepherds watched and whistled to them, never
very far away. A motor-car passed me as I rested at the top of the
hill, and a carriage jogging along the straight road to the "plateau
des antiquités" offered itself for a lift; for I was on my way to see
something that every tourist in these parts comes to see, and this
one was plying for hire in this lonely region in the ordinary way of
business. But otherwise I had the road to myself in the early morning,
and took my time over the six or seven kilometres that were all that I
was yet able to accomplish.

The two noble monuments that stand in an open space a mile or so to
the south of Saint-Remy, and dominate the wide expanse on all sides,
can be seen long before one reaches them, from the south. The wildness
of the hills has begun to give place to cultivation, but they stand by
themselves with no other buildings near them, reminders of a story that
has never been forgotten by the poorest and least educated of those who
work within sight of them.

The so-called mausoleum is the older of the two. It has an inscription
that has caused considerable difficulties to the antiquarians. I need
not go into the controversy, but will accept the conclusions set
forth by Mr. Cook, who deals with the question in his own lucid and
convincing way.

The inscription is to the effect that Sextus, Lucius, and Marcus,
Julii, and sons of Caius, dedicated this monument to their parents;
and within the colonnade on the top of it are two statues which have
been supposed to represent these objects of filial piety. But the
inscription is not less than a hundred years later than the date of
the monument on which it was carved, and the probability is that some
rich colonials "calmly appropriated a fine 'antiquity,' wrote their own
names on it, and buried the respected corpses of their parents within a
building originally intended for entirely different uses."

The bas-reliefs on the four sides of the base represent a Roman
triumph, and there seems little doubt that this noble monument was
erected to commemorate the great victory of Caius Marius over the
barbarians, on the spot where he had first met them. It was erected by
Julius Cæsar, the nephew of Marius, and the two figures represent the
great general himself, and Catullus, his colleague in the consulship,
when their combined forces crushed the Cimbrians upon the Raudine Plain.

The Triumphal Arch, which stands close to the monument, was also
erected by Julius Cæsar, to celebrate his great victory over
Vercingetorix. It is the earliest Roman triumphal arch outside Italy,
and there are probably only two in Rome that are earlier.

[Illustration: THE MAUSOLEUM, SAINT-REMY]

[Illustration: THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH, SAINT-REMY]

The photographs will show the wonderful state of preservation of the
monument, as well as its beautiful details. The arch also preserves
much of its detail, and the two monuments together have a striking
effect. Mr. Cook draws a just comparison between these sane and
beautiful relics of classical antiquity and the misery and squalor of
the mediæval ruins of Les Baux. It is a comparison that strikes one
forcibly throughout Provence. We shall see other examples of Roman
architecture--in the Pont du Gard, the Arenas at Nîmes and Arles,
and elsewhere--and in comparison with them all but fragments of the
oldest churches and palaces and fortifications that came after them
are things of yesterday. And yet the Roman works seem to be built to
stand for ever, and tell their tale so that all may read it; while
with the buildings of centuries after, the tale is confused often
beyond unravelment. We know of the history that led to the erection of
these "antiquities" at Saint-Remy, and the men who made them, almost
as if they were things of a generation ago. Move forward a thousand
years and the long history of Les Baux was just beginning. Its princes
crept out of obscurity, and its stately buildings arose, to arrive at
splendour through long centuries, to decay and to lie in ruins for
centuries more; and all the time these other buildings within a few
miles of them, whose life has been twice as long as theirs in all
their phases, have continued almost in their first perfection. And you
must move on for much more than a thousand years before you find the
Christian legends that derived from the people and events which these
monuments commemorated firmly fixed in the minds of men, and giving
rise to the beautiful buildings which now vie with those of the Romans
in interest. In this country, one is not allowed to forget how many
hundreds of years it took for the church to produce its fine flowers
of architecture, when one is continually coming across those of a
civilization that was old before the Church ever existed.

Not far from these Roman "antiquities" is an interesting church and
cloister of the twelfth century, but I did not turn aside to see it,
as walking had now become a painful business, and it took me half an
hour to limp down the long avenue that led to the pleasant town of
Saint-Remy. It is a gay, clean little town, its broad streets and
squares shaded by great limes and planes and chestnuts, its gardens
full of flowering shrubs, and rich with beds of colour. One seems to
have got back to the country about Grasse, but here the flowers are
grown for seed, not for scent. Saint-Remy's chief industry is the
production of seeds for the horticulturists. I should have liked to see
something of it, but had to content myself with sitting still until the
departure of the omnibus for Avignon.

This was a great clumsy petrol-driven conveyance in which the men
stood in one compartment, holding on to anything within reach as it
lurched and swayed along the road, and the women sat in another. I
think it was market-day. At any rate the seated compartment was full
of peasant women nursing their baskets, every window closed and the
heat considerable. I might have borne that for the sake of a seat, of
which there was one vacant, but when I opened the glass door between
the compartments I was met with such a powerful efflux of garlic that I
closed it again hurriedly and swayed and lurched with the rest until we
reached Châteaurenard.

It was a charming, fertile country that we passed through, with one
farm succeeding another--comfortable-looking, rambling, stone-built
houses and outbuildings, shielded from the fierce winds by rows of tall
cypresses, and even the fields and market-gardens fenced in with dried
reeds. The _mistral_ and the _bise_, when they really set to work,
are a scourge. But as old François Mistral used to say when he heard
grumbling about the weather: "Good people, there is One above who knows
what He is about, and what is good for us. Supposing those great winds
which bring life to Provence never blew, how would the mists and fogs
of our marshes be dispersed? And if we never had the heavy rains, how
would our wells and springs and rivers be fed? We need all sorts, my
children."

At Châteaurenard we changed omnibuses for the five miles' journey to
Avignon. They were mostly townspeople now who crowded the compartments.
There was a family in the corner of mine--a mother with three handsome
daughters who crocheted or knitted busily during the whole journey,
and a father who sat silent and looked learned, but amiable. Perhaps he
was a _félibre_; they are mostly learned and amiable; and Avignon is
one of their chief centres.

We crossed the Durance, a broad and mighty river, soon to join its
waters with those of the Rhône. The sun was setting over it, and the
knitting ladies laid down their wool and exclaimed at the beauty of
the scene. After another mile or so we were set down just outside the
ramparts of the ancient city.



CHAPTER XIII

_Avignon_


Some one had told me that he had stayed at Avignon for a night while
motoring down to the Riviera early in March, and had seen the Rhône
under a full moon from the garden of the Popes' Palace, while the
nightingales sang among the trees all around him. This information had
been presented to me amidst the dreary days of clouds and thawing snow
which come with the end of winter in the Swiss Alps, and the contrast
was so entrancing that I had half a mind to make straight for Avignon
first of all, by train. I had seen that beautiful garden, and the grand
view from its terraces, with the Rhône rolling its mighty stream down
below; the fabled bridge of St. Bénézet still throwing a few arches
across it, with its two-storied chapel at the end of them; the forts
and towers of Villeneuve a mile away on the other side; and the distant
mountains closing in the great expanse of fruitful country. It was a
spot to dream of and to long for.

But I think there must have been a mistake about the nightingales; or
at least about the month. It was now the twenty-fourth of March, and,
although the trees were beginning to break into leaf at last, I heard
no nightingales in Provence.

Avignon has a famous inn--the Hôtel de l'Europe--very old, very
picturesque, with its archway and flower-grown court. Indeed, it is so
much in keeping with all the rest that a stay there serves to heighten
the pleasant memories that every visitor must carry away with him of
the fascinating city. But on this journey I was on the lookout for
something more retiring; and by good fortune I found something as good
of its kind as I have ever happened upon.

I walked up the broad Rue de la République, with its gay and busy
shops, _cafés_ and picture palaces, its trams, plane-trees, soldiers
and citizens, and all the life and appearance of a modern street, and
came to the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. On either side of this main
artery lies the old Avignon, and I knew that I only had to turn aside
from it to lose that somewhat disconcerting note of modernity, and
perhaps to find my ideal _auberge_. I found it just off the _place_,
very ordinary outside, and indeed in, but with a host and hostess whose
sole aim seemed to be the welfare of their guests, and with cooking
that would make the fortune of one of those Soho restaurants that the
world occasionally discovers and flocks to for a time. Good wine, too,
and all at a price that makes one wonder how these things are done.
Find it for yourselves, ye travellers who want to save your pockets,
and are content with a clean bed, good fare and a kindly welcome;
commend me to madame, and ask her to give you a dish of _bouillabaisse_.

I went up that evening, past the huge looming mass of the Popes' Palace
and the cathedral to that delightful garden, with its dark foliage,
gleaming sheets of water, statues and balustrades, and looked out over
the Rhône and the dim country beyond. It is one of those places in
which the past of a very old city seems to concentrate its memories.
Whatever one knows of its history comes before one, half real; whatever
is left of the city itself that is part of its history takes on its old
meaning, and whatever is new is forgotten. In this corner of Avignon,
the buildings round the great oblong of the Place du Palais, the
ancient streets just off it, the huge rocks that lift it high in the
air, the ramparts and towers and forts below, the cottages and quays
along the river, the half-ruined bridge--all are of the old storied
Avignon, and only the garden itself is new, though its newness takes
off none of the effect of its surroundings.

The site of this garden was in papal times a barren windswept waste,
with windmills and forts, and a cemetery used when Avignon was
isolated by floods. When the Rue de la République was cut right through
the city, the débris was carted up here and mixed with soil from the
river banks, and this delightful garden laid out. Shortly after the
Crimean war Marshal Canrobert planted an oak among the ilexes and
cedars and cypresses that mix their dark foliage with the living green
of the deciduous trees, and dedicated the garden to the use of the
citizens of Avignon.

It is a charming spot at all times. I found myself continually
wandering up there, in the intervals of more serious sight-seeing, or
in the early morning before sight-seeing began, or in the evening when
it was over. Sight-seeing is really the bane of all beautiful places;
one wants to see everything and is glad one has done so afterwards, but
the way to enjoy a place is to live one's own life in it, for however
short a time, and take the sights as they come. Unfortunately they do
not come quickly enough when one has only a day or two to spare for a
place that is full of them, and the only way is to make a business of
sight-seeing, with whatever intervals of peace one can afford.

I did my duty the next day in spite of the rain that fell
intermittently. In retrospect there are churches; crooked mediæval
streets with little shrines in niches of the walls; broader Renaissance
streets with handsome buildings; the immense ring of rampart, too big
to make any single impression, but effective enough here and there when
one found oneself at the edge of the city; the busy modern boulevards,
which after a time fail to take away from the impression of the whole
as a very ancient and very picturesque city; and the mighty palace
so dominating everything that one is hardly ever able to forget it,
however far one's wanderings take one.

I think St. Agricol was the first church I visited. It is of the
fourteenth century, on a very much older foundation, simple and
pleasing, with a late Renaissance memorial chapel, richly and
gracefully decorated, and containing some beautiful statuary. Avignon
employed many sculptors of note in the days of its wealth and fame, and
their work is to be found here and there, sometimes outside of a church
and sometimes inside. One learns to look out for it, and gains many
a little thrill of pleasure in spotting something true and right and
beautiful, among a good deal that is commonplace. The same may be said
of the paintings of which the churches are full, but both buildings and
pictures are apt to be dark, and without a great deal of trouble it is
difficult to pick out the good from the ordinary. Probably the best
are in the Musée, and some of those are so fine that one is content to
enjoy thoroughly a few, and let the rest go by.

St. Agricol was rather busy on the morning I visited it. In one of
the side chapels a number of small boys were awaiting their turn at
the confessional box. They sat on wooden benches, their bare legs
dangling, and occupied themselves as is usual with small boys on their
best behaviour, not making too much noise and ready to be diverted
by anything in the shape of novelty that came their way. When I came
unexpectedly upon them they showed great interest in me, but the
opportunities for comment that I afforded were immediately displaced
by something much more worthy of attention. The great west doors were
opened and a coffin was carried in and laid in the chancel. There
was a muttered service lasting a very few minutes, and silverheaded
_aspersoirs_ were handed from one to the other of the scant body of
mourners. Then the untidy-looking men with their cloth caps on their
heads lifted up the coffin and almost ran with it down the church, led
by a cocked-hatted functionary whose aim seemed to be to get the whole
business over as quickly as possible. It was the briskest funeral I
have ever seen.

After that, the church rapidly filled up with crowds of children, and
the small boys from the side chapel, relieved of their burdens of sin,
clattered in to join the rest. A handsome, cheerful-looking priest
mounted the pulpit and began to address them and ask them questions.
He very soon had them interested, and the church rang with their eager
answers and not infrequent laughter, as he cleverly led them from one
point to another, and caught and threw back every word that he drew
from them. Just as I was going out of the church a mischievous urchin
poked his head in at another door and shouted something opprobrious,
then ran away as fast as his legs would carry him. The priest was as
ready for this interruption as he had been for the calls of his flock.
He said something too quickly for me to catch, and the whole churchful
of children shouted their applause.

More beautiful than St. Agricol is the church of St. Pierre. Its fine
Gothic front, completed early in the sixteenth century, shows a wealth
of delicate carving, and it fronts a picturesque _place_ which enables
one to get its full effect. The façade is worth examining in detail,
with the luxuriant carving, round the portal, of vines and oak leaves
and acorns and little figures engaged in all sorts of agricultural
pursuits. I did not see the carved sixteenth century doors, which are
protected in the same way as those of the cathedral at Aix, but in
a niche between them is a lifelike eighteenth century statue of the
Virgin and Child--the Mother, tender and matronly, bending forward
and holding up her flowing drapery--which is well worth noting. Very
attractive is the little plane-shaded _Place du Cloître_, approached
under an archway to the north of the church. The old ecclesiastical
buildings have been taken possession of by all and sundry, and are
alive with the signs of modern habitation--clothes fluttering, gay
pot-flowers in windows of old grey stone, children playing under the
trees. But it is a sweet and peaceful spot in the midst of a busy city,
and its cloistered charm still hangs to it.

I visited this church several times during the days I found myself in
Avignon, between journeys. It has the same sort of interest as the
churches one goes in and out of in Italy, though to a less degree than
the finest of them--a sense of perfection in the whole, and a good
deal that is worth looking at in detail. There is a lovely little
Gothic pulpit of white stone, with statues of apostles and saints
under delicately carved canopies; richly carved and gilded woodwork in
the choir, which frames a series of dark but decorative pictures; a
Renaissance altar-piece with a relief of the Last Supper; some really
fine pictures by the best-known artists of Avignon--Nicholas Mignard,
Simon de Châlons, Pierre Parrocel, and others. But the most human and
pathetic possessions of this church are the cardinal's hat and tunic
of St. Pierre de Luxembourg hung up in a glass case in one of the side
chapels.

[Illustration: SIXTEENTH CENTURY DOORS AND VIRGIN AND CHILD OF
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, ST. PIERRE, AVIGNON]

[Illustration: THE PONT BÉNÉZET
                              _Page 185_]

This infant phenomenon of the Church had won fame in Paris for his
learning and piety at the age of nine. At fourteen, already a bishop,
he was made a cardinal, and summoned to the papal court at Avignon by
Clement VII, in order that his fame might convert the Urbanists to the
Clementine obedience. His reputation spread throughout Christendom,
and was enhanced by the stories of his extraordinary self-disciplines.
The poor child caused himself to be scourged as he was lying on his
deathbed, and gave orders that he was to be buried in the common
cemetery of the poor. His shroud and vestments were torn to shreds, and
even the bier broken into fragments for relics, and countless miracles
were wrought by the touch of his body and afterwards at his grave.
Three thousand of these were attested by the papal commissioners, not
of the common sort, it was explained, such as "recovery from fevers and
such trivial ills, but the blind were given sight, the deaf heard, the
dumb spake, and, what is more, the dead were raised to life."

This boy-bishop was canonized a hundred and fifty years after his
death. Now he is forgotten, and his relics hang there dusty and
neglected. Baedeker does not even mention them, though Joanne does.
There are none of the signs of devotion and remembrance that are
shown to saints of popular memory, no candles or other offerings. The
Church itself seems to have forgotten him. Has the efficacy of his
self-tortured life died out, or is there still virtue in these relics
of his princedom, which is there for any one to whom it may occur to
draw on it?

In the rather dark church of St. Didier is a notable work of art
formerly known as the _Image du Roi René_, for whom it was executed.
It is a relief in marble representing Christ bearing the Cross, with
a figure of the Virgin on her knees in the foreground, and a score or
so of other figures, with an architectural background. Its realism is
striking, and rather painful, but it should not be missed, for it is
one of the earliest sculptures of the Renaissance to be seen in France.
High up on the wall opposite to the chapel in which this relief is half
hidden is a beautiful Gothic pulpit, or tribune, which is also worth
notice. Probably it was not used for preaching from. Mr. Okey in his
admirable historical and descriptive account of Avignon, suggests that
it was built for the exposition of relics.

St. Didier has a fine tower and belfry, which draw the eye when one
looks down upon the roofs of Avignon from the heights above. There are
not many left now of the two or three hundred towers that were there
before the Revolution, and of the sixty churches or chapels there
are only eighteen, not all of which are intact, or used for their
original purpose. But there are many curious "bits" still left in
Avignon, which one continually comes across as one strolls about the
streets--noble fronts of rich mansions, carved porches and doorways,
innumerable ancient streets of smaller houses, which have remained
almost untouched, and here and there a church or a single tower that
has escaped destruction so long that one hopes it will be preserved for
ever.

Avignon, indeed, would be interesting enough if its great lions were
left out; as it is, they dwarf everything else, and perhaps an apology
is needed for dealing with the parish churches before the cathedral and
the Palace of the Popes. But before we give ourselves over to the big
things of Avignon, let us finish with the smaller.

Every one has heard of the Bridge of St. Bénézet, and the old jingle:

  _Sur le Pont d'Avignon
  L'on y danse l'on y danse,
  Sur le Pont d'Avignon
  L'on y danse tout en rond.
  Les beaux messieurs font Comm' çà,
  Et puis encor Comm' çà.
  Sur le Pont d'Avignon
  L'on y danse tout en rond._

It was a stupendous work of its time, which even the Romans seemed
to shirk; indeed, so great that it was necessary to assign it to a
supernatural origin. The story was told by order of Friar Raymond of
the Bridge, and sealed by the Pontifical Rectors.

When Benet was a young child and was watching his mother's sheep, the
voice of Jesus Christ came to him ordering him to build a bridge over
the Rhône, which until then he had never heard of. An angel in the
guise of a pilgrim led him to the place where the bridge was to be
built and telling him to cross the river and show himself to the bishop
and the townspeople of Avignon, vanished from his sight.

The ferryman was a Jew, and scoffed at his prayer to be taken over the
river for the love of God and Our Holy Lady Mary, but Little Benet
gave him the three farthings which were all his worldly wealth, and he
ferried him across.

Little Benet interrupted the bishop's sermon by announcing his mission.
He was led to the provost of the city to be chastised, and announced it
also to him. The provost reviled him but said that if he could carry
away a certain stone which he had in his palace he would believe that
he could build the bridge. The bishop and all the townspeople looked on
while he raised the stone, which thirty men could not have moved, as
easily as if it were a small pebble and carried it away to form the
foundation stone of his bridge.

So, with a gift of money from the repentant provost, and more from the
townsfolk, and with the usual miracles of healing and raising the dead
to life, the bridge was begun, and Little Benet hailed as a true saint.

The pretty story, which is given in full, translated from the
Provençal, in Mr. Okey's book need not be rejected entirely. There
_was_ a Little Benet, as well as a Great, and he was instrumental
in building the bridge. For he was chief of a community of Friars
Hospitallers founded at Maupas, near Avignon, in 1164, "to establish
ferries, build bridges, and give hospitality to travellers along the
rivers of Provence."[14]

One of the most attractive exhibitions of religious feeling in the
Middle Ages, among a good many that are not at all attractive, was this
undertaking of works of necessity by men of piety who believed that
they were doing service to God by doing service to men. "Travellers
were considered as unfortunates deserving pity," says M. Jusserand in
his "English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages," in which there is much
interesting information about the building and preservation of roads
and bridges, "and help was given to them to please God."

Thus, when Henry VIII gave the lands of the dissolved monastery of
Christ Church to Canterbury Cathedral, he declared that he made this
donation "in order that charity to the poor, the reparation of roads
and bridges, and other pious offices of all kinds should multiply and
spread afar." It is probable that the Frères Pontifes, taking their
pattern from the Collegium Pontificum of Rome, owed their Christian
impetus to St. Benet of Avignon, for his is the first society of its
kind that is known, though it was soon copied all over Europe. It took
him eleven years to build the bridge, and he also built the chapel of
St. Nicholas that still stands upon it. He was buried in this chapel,
and his body remained there for five hundred years. But the great
floods of 1669 so shook the structure that his remains were translated
to a chapel at the end of the bridge, thence to the church of the
Célestines, and finally at the Revolution, into the church of St.
Didier.

Is it too fanciful to suppose that there is some foundation in fact
for the legend of his beginning his great work as a child? I like to
imagine him filled with his great idea as he walked by the side of
the Rhône as a boy, talking about it and being laughed at, gradually
forming a strong purpose, and finally bringing it to a triumphant
issue. It reminds me of Dickens, as a poor child, passing the mansion
of Gad's Hill and making up his mind that he would some day live there.

The bridge passed through many vicissitudes. It was much quarrelled
over, and seems to have been kept in fair repair whenever the Church's
rights in it were recognized, but let go when it was in the hands of
the laity. It has been in ruins now for two hundred and fifty years,
but the few arches that remain show how well Little Benet and his
bridge-builders did their work; and as it stands now it is one of the
most picturesque features of the beautiful city.



CHAPTER XIV

_The Palace of the Popes_


"No one who did not see Avignon in the time of the Popes has seen
anything. For gaiety, life, animation and one fête after the other,
there was never a town like it. From morning till night there were
processions, pilgrimages, streets strewn with flowers and hung with
stuffs, disembarkings of cardinals from the Rhône, banners flying,
galleys gay with flags, the soldiers of the Pope singing Latin in the
squares, the begging friars swinging their rattles. And from top to
bottom of the houses that pressed humming round the great papal palace,
like bees round their hive, there was the _tic-tac_ of the lace-makers'
bobbins, the flying shuttles that wove cloth of gold for the chasubles,
the little hammers of the metal-workers who made the chalices, the
sound-boards being adjusted by the lute-makers, the songs sung over
the looms; and above it all the pealing of the bells, and always the
beating of tambourines down by the bridge. For with us, when people
are happy they must dance, they must dance; and as in those times the
streets of the town were too narrow for the _farandole_, fifes and
tambourines posted themselves _sur le pont d'Avignon_, in the fresh
air of the Rhône, and day and night _l'on y dansait, l'on y dansait_.

"Ah, happy time! happy town! Halberds without an edge; state prisons in
which wine was kept to cool! Never any scarcity; never any fighting!
That was how the Popes of the Comtat knew how to rule their people; and
that is why their people have missed them so much."

Thus Alphonse Daudet, a true son of Provence, draws his picture of
papal Avignon, in that delicious story of his, "La Mule du Pape." As
for the freedom of Avignon from war, during the seventy years that the
Popes had their seat there, history would hardly justify the people
of Avignon in regretting them on that account; nor probably were the
dungeons of the papal palace lacking in tenants even at the best of
times, for it was a cruel age, and the pleasures of the best of Popes
would not have been greatly disturbed by the thought of men rotting in
misery beneath the hall in which he was feasting. But the experience
of all times of strife is that life goes on side by side with fear and
danger, and merrily enough when the weight is lifted ever so little.
Very likely Daudet's picture of Avignon enjoying itself is true enough.
Clement VI, to whose time his story would refer, if it were intended
to refer to any particular pontificate, was not much like the kindly
old man who fed his mule with spiced wine, and advanced the adventurer
who admired her, but neither was he like what a Pope would have to be
nowadays.

 "Generous and open-handed," writes Mr. Okey, "a thousand hungry
 clerics are said to have crowded into Avignon seeking preferment,
 none of whom went empty away; for no suitor should leave a prince's
 court, said he, unsatisfied. Exquisitely polite and courteous, Clement
 had a gracious amenity of manner. Accustomed to the society of noble
 ladies, his court was crowded with fair dames and gallant knights;
 his stables were filled with beautiful horses; his hospitality was
 regal and his table loaded with rich viands and rare wines. The fair
 Countess of Turenne, his constant companion, disposed of benefices
 and preferments, and her favour was the surest avenue to fortune. No
 sovereign of his time kept so brilliant and expensive a court, and
 when one of the cardinals remonstrated and recalled the examples of
 Benedict and John, he replied magnificently: 'Ah! my predecessors
 never knew how to be a pope.' Clement relaxed the rigid constitution
 of Gregory X, _Ubi magis_, for the government of conclaves, made in
 1274, and ordered that the cardinals might have curtains to their
 cells, to be drawn when they rested or slept; they might have two
 servants, lay or cleric, as they pleased, and after the lapse of three
 days, in addition to their bread and wine, they might have fruit,
 cheese, and an electuary, and one dish of meat or fish at dinner, and
 another at supper."[15]

It was in 1309, for reasons that we need not go into, that Clement V
set up his court at Avignon in the papal county of Venaissan. "This was
a man," wrote Villani, "most greedy for money and a simoniac. Every
benefice was sold in his court for money, and he was so lustful that
he openly kept a most beautiful woman, the Countess of Perigord, for
his mistress." But he was also a great lover of the arts, as is shown
by "the vast treasure of gold and silver vessels, gems, antiques and
manuscripts seized by his nephew at his death." He died five years
later, when there was an interregnum for two years. Then the Bishop of
Avignon was elected Pope under the title of John XXII.

He was a small, wiry, learned and subtle old man of seventy-one, the
son of a cobbler, and he lived to be nearly ninety. The conclave took
place at Lyons, and he is said to have compassed his election by a
promise to the Roman cardinals that he would not mount horse or mule
except to go to Rome. So he got into a boat, and dropped down the
Rhône to Avignon, "entered the papal palace on foot, and never left it
again save to cross to the cathedral."[16]

His palace was the old bishop's palace that stood where the mighty
mass of the Pope's Palace stands now, but the cathedral was the same,
although it has been very much altered.

It stands very nobly, high above the _place_, and towering above the
palace itself, which it adjoins. Its square tower is surmounted by a
colossal gilt statue of the Virgin, which was put there in 1859, and
bears that appearance. The cathedral dates from the eleventh century,
but was rebuilt in the twelfth. The west porch with its Corinthian
architecture was long thought to be of Roman construction, but it was
probably erected rather later than the first rebuildings, and owes its
classical appearance to the influence that Roman work had upon the
Provençal architects, who had before them many fine buildings to study.
It was once decorated with frescoes by Simone Memmi, who was brought
to Avignon from Siena in the fourteenth century and did some beautiful
work there, some of which we shall see later in the Popes' Palace. His
paintings in the cathedral have unfortunately disappeared, all but
a few fragments, which, however, include a figure in a green gown,
kneeling, which is said to be a portrait of Petrarch's Laura. Simone
did meet Laura in Avignon and painted her portrait, for which Petrarch
paid him in two sonnets that "brought more fame to the poor life of
Master Simone," says Vasari, "than all his works have brought him or
will bring."

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL, AVIGNON]

[Illustration: "THE POPES' PALACE IS MOST LIKE THOSE ALMOST BRUTALLY
STRONG BUILDINGS THAT THE ROMANS LEFT"]

The great west doors of the cathedral stand open, and its floor is
wholly bare. It is much more effective so, but it makes the church look
smaller than it is. Indeed, when you consider that you are standing in
what was, during the seventy years of the "Babylonian Captivity," the
first church in Christendom, you must be struck by its smallness. But
the Popes of Avignon gave most of their attention to their palace, and
not much was done for the cathedral.

The main plan is a high nave, lighted, from an octagonal lantern in the
last bay, and a semi-circular apse. The chapels came later. So did the
elaborately carved marble gallery and tribunes on either side of the
nave.

One of the two chapels first to be built contains the remains of the
beautiful tomb of Pope John XXII and his nephew. It has been much
mutilated and much restored. The recumbent figure is not that of the
Pope whose effigy first lay there, and of the sixty marble statues that
adorned its niches none remain, though it is possible that one or two
of those on the pulpit of St. Pierre, which we have already seen, may
have been taken from the tomb. It must have been a glorious monument
when it was first erected, and is even now a thing to see. What is
called the tomb of Benedict XII in another chapel is a pure "make-up,"
much of it of the nineteenth century. There _was_ a beautiful monument
to this great pope, but in the eighteenth century all that was left of
it was moved. It stood in the chapel of the Tailors' Guild, and they
wanted the space for a monument to a tailor.

The Revolution created great havoc in the cathedral. The cloisters and
chapter-house that stood to the east of it were swept away, and all
their treasures and those of the cathedral looted, or else broken up.
For some reason the old papal throne was spared, and stands in the
choir--a plain chair of white marble, with the lion of St. Mark and the
ox of St. Luke carved upon it.

It was John XXII who really fixed upon Avignon as the papal
city--Clement V had thought of transferring his seat to Bordeaux--and
he soon set about housing himself in a manner worthy of a pope.
He bought land, and began to build splendidly, not only a palace
for himself, but one for his nephew, who had been presented with
the bishopric. It still stands on the north side of the _place_, a
comfortable and roomy house enough, though nothing beside the vast
pile upon which it looks. He also built himself splendid country
houses, one of them at Châteauneuf, where were the famous papal
vineyards, and from which still comes a famous wine.

Experts have pointed out some traces of Pope John's work, as well as
of the small palace which he replaced; but the great fortified pile
in which these were incorporated dates from the next reign--that of
Benedict XII. The necessity there was for building a fortress is rather
curious. Pope John had amassed a treasure so vast that his successor
had to take exceptional steps to guard it.

 "According to Villani--who makes the statement on the authority of his
 brother, who was the representative at Avignon of the great Florentine
 banking house of the Bardi, of which they were members--eighteen
 millions of gold florins were found in the papal treasury at John's
 death; and gold and silver vessels, crosses, mitres, jewels and
 precious stones to the value of seven millions more. And this
 prodigious wealth, adds the historian, was amassed by his industry
 and sagacity and the system of the reservation of all the collegiate
 benefices in Christendom on the plea of preventing simony."[17]

Mr. Okey goes into an elaborate and interesting discussion as to the
present-day value of this vast sum, and puts "the approximate value of
the papal treasure at John's death, according to Villani's statement,
at the incredible figure of one hundred million pounds sterling." No
wonder the walls of the palace were built to stand!

Benedict XII was the third French Pope, and in spite of remonstrances
decided to stay on at Avignon. Indeed, Rome was impossible at this
time. Civil strife raged there; and "so neglected and ruinous and
overgrown with weeds were the churches, that cattle browsed up to the
altars in St. Peter's and the Lateran, and a papal legate offered the
marbles of the Coliseum for lime-burning."

Sometimes, in all that welter of crime and piety, squalor and luxury,
cruelty and sentiment, of the Middle Ages, there stands out the figure
of a man whom we seem to recognize as something nearer to ourselves
than most of them. Our religion--even the religion of Catholic
countries--is so different in spirit from the religion of those days
that it is difficult to account for the actions of one after another of
the great churchmen, except under the supposition that they were a set
of greedy, bloodthirsty hypocrites, which probably most of them were
not. But through it all there were constantly arising men and women
who were actuated by much the same ideas as we should recognize as holy
and righteous if we contemplated them in a living person. The greatest
of these saints, we know, helped to fix the standard of goodness that
is generally held today. They were men and women of genius, and we
understand them as well as they were understood in their own day or
perhaps better.

But it is something a good deal less than genius that brings that sense
of recognition in the case of a character like that of Benedict XII.
He was a large, red-faced man, who was said by his detractors to love
coarse jokes and to drink heavily; but his detractors were the clergy
from whom he insisted upon behaviour much more in accordance with
modern ideas than with those of his own age, and they could not forgive
him. "He was a man," wrote one of them, "hard, obstinate, avaricious;
he loved the good overmuch, and hated the bad; he was remiss in
granting favours, and negligent in providing for the services of the
church; more addicted to unseemly jests than to honest conversation;
he was a mighty toper, and '_Bibamus papaliter_--let us drink like a
pope'--became a proverb of the day."

The indictment contains more than a touch of spite. It is not to be
supposed that a man who drank mightily, if he really did so, or laughed
at a broad story, would have been thought deserving of much censure in
those days, especially by one who felt no incongruity in accusing him
of loving the good overmuch or setting his face against nepotism. Those
were virtues that were hated in that society, so crooked in its views
that it could even brand them openly as faults without fear of reproach.

This bluff, honest man built the greater part of the palace, "which,"
wrote one of his chroniclers, "with its walls and towers of immense
strength stands like himself, four-square and mighty." About half as
much again, however, was added in later pontificates, and Benedict's
building was a good deal altered; but the four great fortified towers
are his, and the buildings in between, which include his chapel. These
are used now for the storing of archives, and other similar purposes,
and are not shown to the public, but one or two of the towers can be
ascended and magnificent views obtained from them.

Of the massive walls little has been destroyed either by time or by the
many vicissitudes through which the great building has passed. Of all
the architecture that one sees in this country the Popes' Palace is the
most like those huge, enduring, almost brutally strong, buildings that
the Romans left behind them. An ineffaceable impression is gained of
it as one walks up the narrow, winding Rue de la Peyrolie which leads
from the lower parts of the town on the east to the Place du Palais.
Part of the street has been cut out of the naked rock, and far overhead
towers the south wall of the building, looking no less solid and
permanent than the rock itself. It is like a gigantic cliff rearing its
bulk above one, and that impression as of something vaster and stronger
than mere human building is never quite absent from the whole mass, on
whatever point of view it obtrudes itself.

The enormous Court of Honour, which is the first thing you see after
passing in, is undergoing repair, as, fortunately, is the whole of the
building. It badly needed it, for until seven or eight years ago the
greater part of the palace was used as a military barracks, and not
only was the noble Hall of Justice divided up into three floors, and
other parts ruthlessly adapted, but great Gothic windows were destroyed
to give place to commonplace square openings, and in fact no beauty was
spared where it might interfere with convenience. The restoration has
been in hand for over seven years and is expected to take about as long
again before the palace is put back into something like its original
state. The work is being done with the utmost care, as all such things
are done in France, but in many details the damage done has been
irreparable.

The great _Salle du Conclave_ has been cleared of its rubbish and the
tall Gothic windows restored. It is huge and bare. There are no more
than the worn remains of the frescoes with which Clement VI caused
its walls to be covered, either by Simone Memmi himself, or by some
one of his school. Some effort was made nearly a hundred years ago to
induce the military authorities to look after their preservation; but
"the Commandant of the Engineers replied that he did not share the
commissioners' views with regard to the frescoes; they were of little
artistic interest and not worth preserving; in fact they were not
consonant with the spirit of a military establishment."

It was in this hall that Queen Joan of Naples defended herself from the
charge of being privy to the murder of her first husband, and won the
day by her eloquence and beauty. Avignon was hers, and she sold it for
80,000 golden florins to Clement VI, who thus made an excellent bargain
for the papacy.

By a broad staircase one mounts to the fine doorway leading to the
"new" chapel. It contains two doors, and the part on the left has been
barbarously mutilated, but the whole is now carefully restored, as well
as the beautiful chapel itself.

You pass through numerous chambers and corridors, some of them restored
to what they were, others in the hands of the work-people, and some
still showing the hideous wreck that the adaptations to military use
made everywhere of the interior of the palace. There is a room with
charming fourteenth century frescoes of country scenes as pleasant as
anything of the sort I know of. There is a garden with a fish pond and
people preparing to take the disturbed-looking fish out of it; nymphs
bathing; boys getting fruit from a tree; sportsmen rabbiting with
ferrets; others hunting with falcons. The walls are covered with a
realistic and most decorative groundwork of foliage and grass, in which
you can pick out all sorts of trees, flowers, fruits, birds and little
animals. Fortunately the greater part of these delightful paintings are
intact, and a great deal of skill has been shown in restoring them to
something of their pristine state.

The more famous frescoes of Simone Memmi in the chapel of St. John the
Baptist, and those of Matteo di Viterbo in that of St. Martial above it
have not escaped so well.

 "In 1816 a Corsican regiment being quartered in the Palace, some of
 the soldiers (who as Italians knew the value to collectors of the
 St. Jean frescoes) began the exploitation of the neglected chapel
 and established a lucrative industry in the corps. Special tools
 were fashioned for the work; the men became experts in the art of
 detaching the thin layer of plaster whereon the heads were painted,
 which they sold to amateurs and dealers."[18]

So in these beautiful New Testament scenes which cover roof and walls
there are many unsightly white patches which sadly lessen the effect of
the whole. But I cannot help thinking that the soldiers must have been
stopped in their depredations, for very much more is left than has been
taken away.

I forget in which of these two chapels it was that I noticed on a
patch of white wall names scribbled, with dates, quite in the modern
tourist's fashion, and as fresh as if they had been written yesterday.
But the script was "German," and the dates of three hundred or so years
ago. So little do habits change!

The rest of the palace that one is allowed to see has left no very
definite impression on my mind, except that of vast space, and, where
it has not yet been cleared of its barrack adaptations, of miserable
degradation. One sees the funnel chimney in the middle of the great
kitchen which was for so long said to have been the torture chamber of
the Inquisition; one gets beautiful views from the higher chambers and
windows and from the towers; and here and there one looks down on to a
neglected space that was once a trim garden.

If one cannot picture the old popes and cardinals walking in the
beautiful garden from which we now look down to the Rhône and across to
Villeneuve and the purple country beyond, they were not without such
pleasures, although it never occurred to any of them to make a garden
just there.

 "Among the amenities of the old palace were the spacious and lovely
 gardens on the east, with their clipped hedges, avenues of trees,
 flower-beds and covered and frescoed walls, all kept fresh and green
 by channels of water. John XXII maintained a menagerie of lions and
 other wild and strange beasts; stately peacocks swept proudly along
 the green swards,--for the inventory of 1369 specifies seventeen
 peacocks, some old and some young, whereof six are white."[19]

Even when the restoration is finished it will need a strong effort of
imagination to recall the scenes that were witnessed by these gigantic
walls. They tell of the strength of the place and of the necessity for
that strength. One can imagine the fighting, but it will all be too
much swept and garnished to call up the scenes of splendour and luxury
that were piled one upon another even in times of misery--of war and of
flood and of plague.

The luxury was like nothing that we know of except that of some of
the Roman Imperial courts. Mr. Okey has collected many extraordinary
details, from which I take as an example the account of the banquet
given by two cardinals to Pope Clement V.

 "Clement, as he descended from his litter, was received by his hosts
 and twenty chaplains, who conducted him to a chamber hung with richest
 tapestries from floor to ceiling; he trod on velvet carpet of triple
 pile; his state-bed was draped with fine crimson velvet, lined with
 white ermine; the sheets of silk were embroidered with silver and
 gold. The table was served by four papal knights and twelve squires,
 who each received silver girdles and purses filled with gold from the
 hosts; fifty cardinals' squires assisted them in serving the banquet,
 which consisted of nine courses of three plates each--twenty-seven
 dishes in all. The meats were built up in fantastic form: castles,
 gigantic stags, boars, horses, &c. After the fourth service, the
 cardinals offered his holiness a milk-white steed worth 400 florins;
 two gold rings, jewelled with an enormous sapphire and a no less
 enormous topaz; and a bowl, worth 100 florins; sixteen cardinal guests
 and twenty prelates were given rings and jewels, and twelve young
 clerks of the papal house and twenty-four sergeants-at-arms received
 purses filled with florins. After the fifth service, a great tower
 with a fount whence gushed forth five sorts of choicest wines was
 carried in; and a tourney was run during the interval between the
 seventh and eighth courses. Then followed a concert of sweetest music,
 and dessert was furnished by two trees--one of silver, bearing rarest
 fruits of all kinds, and the other loaded with sugared fruits of many
 colours. Various wines were then served, whereupon the master cooks,
 with thirty assistants, executed dances before the guests. Clement,
 by this time, having had enough, retired to his chamber, where, lest
 he might faint for lack of refreshment during the night, wine and
 spices were brought to him; the entertainment ended with dances and
 distractions of many kinds."[20]

The luxury has gone, and so has the terror. The thick-barred windows of
the towers speak of the many who were immured there in pain and misery;
if the kitchen was not a torture-chamber, such a chamber was certainly
to be found elsewhere; somewhere on the walls is the hook from which
was suspended the iron cage in which a cardinal who had offended the
pope was hung up for months in the sight of all. The times needed a
good deal of gilding.



CHAPTER XV

_Vaucluse_


It was very pleasant to get on to the road again, with my pack on my
back. I was not yet tuned up to the nearly twenty mile walk between
Avignon and Vaucluse, though my damaged muscles were now giving me
little trouble, so I took the train to L'Isle-sur-Sorgue, which is
distant from Vaucluse between four and five miles.

In 1789, Arthur Young made this pilgrimage to the shrine of Petrarch
and Laura, and allowed himself to be more moved by sentimental interest
than was his custom. L'Isle has changed very little since that time. It
is still the bright, pleasant, well-watered little town he describes it.

 "L'Isle is most agreeably situated," he wrote. "On coming to the
 verge of it I found fine plantations of elms, with delicious streams,
 bubbling over pebbles on either side; well dressed people were
 enjoying the evening at a spot I had conceived to be only a mountain
 village. It was a sort of fairy scene to me. Now, thought I, how
 detestable to leave this fine wood and water, and enter a nasty,
 beggarly, walled, hot, stinking town; one of the contrasts most
 offensive to my feelings. What an agreeable surprise, to find the inn
 without the town, in the midst of the scenery I had admired! And more,
 a good and civil inn. I walked on the banks of this classic stream for
 an hour, with the moon gazing on the waters, that will run for ever
 in mellifluous poetry: retired to sup on the most exquisite trout and
 crawfish in the world. To-morrow to the famed origin."[21]

I do not remember the elms, but the planes were there, as usual, and
fine, spreading ones they were; and what was more, they were beginning
to show a delicate haze of green, which was very delightful, and what
I had been looking out for ever since I had started on my expedition.
During the two days I had been at Avignon the spring seemed to have
taken that little definite step forward which makes all the difference.
In the south, where the sun gets hot long before the trees get green,
and so many flowers come forth to greet it, this longed-for arrival
of the true spring is apt to be discounted, and comes with less of a
thrill than is felt in the north. But the thrill is there, if one's
senses are open to it; and I felt it on that morning as I walked to
Vaucluse.

"I am delighted with the environs of L'Isle," Arthur Young wrote of
his next morning's ride; "beautiful roads, well planted, surround and
pass off in different directions, as if from a capital town, umbrageous
enough to form promenades against a hot sun, and the river splits and
divides into so many streams, and is conducted with so much attention
that it has a delicious effect, especially to an eye that recognizes
all the fertility of irrigation."

       *       *       *       *       *

It is still a fertile, carefully cultivated country, but gets wilder
as one approaches the famous spring "justly said to be as celebrated
almost as that of Helicon." The river Sorgue, whose source provides
the fountain, is already a full and rapid stream as one nears the
village, and flows through green meadows down the valley not far from
the winding road. The hills are high on either side and a great cliff
looms in front of one, closing in the gorge. One's eye instinctively
searches for a cleft down which the torrent must descend; but none is
to be seen--only the tall rampart of rock.

The village is pleasant enough, and contains two inns, each of them
quite capable of providing for a comfortable night's lodging. Too much,
I think, has been written in disgust of the paper-mills, which use the
power of the stream and provide the village with employment. Their
buildings are old enough to make them not so very incongruous, and
they are a small detail beside the huge masses of rock that enclose the
village on three sides. Nor is either of them in the village itself.
There is an ancient church, an old stone bridge, gardens and terraces
and parapets, and much shade of trees, and the beautiful sparkling
river that makes music all the time. And dominating the village on a
high crag are the ruins of the Bishop of Cavaillon's castle, up to
which Petrarch so often climbed to see his friend.

The fountain is some little distance beyond the village. The road,
which runs by the river, passes one of the factories and then the
garden of a _café_, where everything was being painted up and prepared
for the coming influx of visitors, and "La Belle Laure," the motor-boat
upon which trips can be taken on the river, was just about to be drawn
from her winter quarters. With all this, and with the booths for the
sale of picture-postcards and all sorts of reminiscent rubbish, most
of which has nothing to do with Vaucluse, or even with Provence, the
place has been cockneyfied enough, and I dare say that if I had seen it
later in the year, or on a Sunday, when it is crowded with people, I
should not have carried away with me the next morning such an agreeable
impression. But I had it pretty well to myself, and when I had got past
the last of the booths on to the rocky path above the stream it was as
lonely as it must have been in Petrarch's time, six hundred years ago.

[Illustration: THE "FOUNTAIN," VAUCLUSE]

[Illustration: THE CAVES ABOVE THE "FOUNTAIN"
                                            _Page 223_]

But where was the fountain? I had read of a rocky cave in which it
bubbles up, and had pictured I don't know what in the way of gloom and
mystery. The path led up to the straight, towering cliff, and there
stopped. To my right was a broad pool of water, and that was all. At
first sight it was just a pool at the foot of the great rock.

Then I saw that the water was flowing all the time as it were from the
face of the rock itself. There may have been an inch, but not more, of
the top of the cavern showing. I had found it at its fullest. Sometimes
it sinks so low that the waters of the pool do not rise to the rocks
over which they were now thundering to the torrent below, and then the
river is fed by an underground stream, of which the waterfall is only
the overflow.

The pool was very still, and very blue, and the rocks about it were
very bold, but naked and oppressive. I must confess to having been
rather disappointed; for this is a place in which countless people have
been moved to tears by the beauty of their surroundings as well as by a
sensibility to the past of which we seem in these prosaic days to have
lost the knack. Mr. Okey tells us how in 1783 Alfieri, "on his way to
buy horses in England, turned aside with transport to visit the magic
solitude of Vaucluse, and 'the Sorgue,' he writes, 'received many of my
tears; and not simulated or imitative tears, but verily hot, scalding,
heartfelt tears.'" Also how Wordsworth, "on his way to Italy in 1837,
was most of all pleased with the day he spent at Vaucluse, where he was
enchanted with the power and beauty of the stream and the wildness and
grandeur of the rocks."

In the eighteenth century the cult of Petrarch and Laura was very
much alive, and no traveller with any pretensions to taste would
have omitted a visit to the famous fountain if he had found himself
anywhere near. We have already seen how Arthur Young, who was anything
but a sentimentalist, thought nothing of Avignon except in connection
with the loves of Petrarch and Laura. The engaging rascal Casanova,
who was a sentimentalist beyond everything, went to Avignon for no
other purpose but to make the pilgrimage to Vaucluse. Of course he
wept copiously; nothing else was to be expected of him, and I do not
see why Mr. Okey should take it for granted that his emotion was not
genuine.[22] He was not the most estimable of characters, but there
can be no doubt of his love of letters, nor indeed of the power of such
a story as that of Petrarch and Laura to touch him. "I threw myself
on the ruins," he tells us, "arms extended as if to embrace them; I
kissed them, I moistened them with my tears; I sought to breathe the
divine breath which had animated them." And then he characteristically
proceeded to draw a moral from his emotion that would help him with the
lady to whom he was paying court at the time.

 "I asked pardon of Mme. Stuard for having relinquished her arm to
 render homage to the shade of a woman who loved the finest spirit that
 the age had produced.

 "I say spirit; for the flesh, as it seems, was not concerned in the
 matter. 'It is four hundred and fifty years, madame,' said I to the
 frigid statue that regarded me with an air of amazement, 'since Laura
 de Sade walked on the very spot on which you stand now. It is quite
 likely that she was not so beautiful as you are, but she was gay,
 bright, sweet, merry and good. May this air which she breathed, and
 which you are breathing at this moment, enliven you with the divine
 fire that ran in her veins, that made her heart beat and her breast
 palpitate! Then you will capture the homage of all sensible men, and
 you will find none who will dare to cause you the least annoyance.
 Gaiety, madam, is the lot of the happy, and sadness is the dreadful
 shadow of spirits condemned to eternal torments. Be gay then, and thus
 merit your beauty!'"[23]

It is sad to read that this inspiring address was received by the lady
with no signs of emotion whatever. She took the chevalier's arm again
and the party returned to the house of Messer Francesco d'Arezzo, where
Casanova spent a quarter of an hour in carving his name; after which
they dined and went back to Avignon.

From Casanova's description this scene must have passed at a house just
below Philip de Cabassole's castle, as he describes himself mounting
to the point of a rock. Such a house was shown as Petrarch's during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and one opposite to it,
with an underground passage between the two, was shown as Laura's.
I do not remember either of these houses, which I believe no longer
exist. And it is pretty certain that none of the places that were ever
celebrated as Petrarch's house was really his, though a fair case for
the situation of his dwelling, and the garden he describes with such
affection, has been made out.

The story of Petrarch's love for Laura, like that of Dante for
Beatrice and Abelard for Héloïse, has passed into the very texture of
literature, and need not be told here. And it would be an affectation
for one who is unable to read Italian to pretend to any absorbing
interest in Petrarch's expression of it. I must confess that, for my
own part, I find much more to delight me in the details of his life
at Vaucluse than in anything that I can gather at second-hand of his
worship of Laura, and those details are real and fresh enough to give
to the place such a charm as hangs over no other that I visited in
Provence. Mr. Okey has collected them so well in his chapter "Petrarch
at Vaucluse," that I cannot do better than make a long extract from his
pages.

 "In 1337 the poet, revolted by the atmosphere of the papal court, and
 perhaps a little disappointed at curial insensibility to his claims
 for beneficial favours, turned his back on Avignon and withdrew to
 live the simple life near the source of the Sorgue at Vaucluse,
 whose romantic beauty had been impressed on his mind since a boyish
 excursion he had made thither in 1316. To a modest little house fit
 for a Cato or a Fabricius, with no companion but a dog given him
 by Cardinal Colonna, living on hard rustic fare and dressed like a
 peasant, figs, nuts, almonds and some fish from the Sorgue his sole
 luxuries, the poet retired with his beloved books; the only sounds
 that greeted his ears in that sylvan solitude were the songs of birds,
 the lowing of oxen, the bleating of lambs, the murmuring of the
 stream. Like Horace, he scorns gold and gems and ivory and purple;
 the only female face he looks upon is that of his stewardess and
 servant--a visage withered and arid as a patch of the Libyan desert,
 and such that if Helen had possessed it, Troy would yet be standing.
 But her soul was as white as her body was black, and her fidelity
 was imperturbable. By indomitable industry she was able to attend to
 the poet's wants as well as to those of her own household; faring on
 hard, dry, black bread, watered wine, sour as vinegar, she lay on the
 bare ground, and would rise with the dawn; in the fiery heat of the
 dog-days, when the very grasshoppers are overcome, her invincible
 little body would never tire. Two small gardens the poet had: one a
 shady Transalpine Helicon, sacred to Apollo, overlooked the deep,
 mysterious, silent pool where the Sorgue rises, beyond which there was
 nothing save naked, barren, precipitous, trackless crags, inhabited
 only by wild animals and birds--the like of it could not be found
 under the sun. The other garden, better tilled and nearer his house,
 was bathed by the crystal waters of the rapid Sorgue, and hard by,
 separated by a rustic bridge from his house, was a grotto whose cool
 shade and sweet retirement fostered study; there, in a little retreat,
 not unlike the _atriolo_ where Cicero was wont to declaim, the happy
 recluse passed the hot afternoons in meditation; in the cool of the
 evening he roamed about the green meadows, and in the morning rose
 early to climb the hills. Were not Italy so far and Avignon so near
 the poet could end his days there, fearing nothing so much as the
 return to a town.

 "Dear friends, too, are not lacking. The cultured Philip of
 Cabassoles, Bishop of Cavaillon, dwells in the château that crowns
 the hill above his hermitage, and the great ones of the earth are
 pleased to seek him in his rustic home. The island garden of the
 Sorgue gave incessant trouble. Writing to Guglielmo di Pastrengo, the
 studious recluse recalls the stony patch of ground his friend helped
 to clear with his own hands, and informs him, the once barren waste
 is now enamelled with flowers, rebellious nature having been subdued
 by human toil. In a charming epistle, in Latin verse, to Cardinal
 Colonna, Petrarch tells of the fierce frontier wars he waged with
 the naiads of the Sorgue in order to recover possession of the garden
 which he had usurped from them and which they had reconquered during
 his absence in Italy. By dint of strenuous labour he had cleared
 a stony patch of land and planted there a little green meadow, as
 a retreat for the Muses. The nymphs, taking it ill that he should
 establish strangers in their territory and prefer nine old maids to a
 thousand young virgins, rushed furiously down the mountain to ravage
 and destroy his budding garden; he retires terrified, but, the storm
 passed, he returns shamefacedly and restores the desolated land to its
 former verdure. Scarce had the sun run his course when the furious
 nymphs return, and once more undo all his labour. Again he prepares to
 restore the evicted Muses, but is called away to foreign parts. After
 six years he returns to his solitude: not a vestige remains of his
 handiwork, and fish swim at their ease over the site of his garden.
 Grief gives him arms, and anger, strength; he calls to his aid the
 peasant, the shepherd, the fisherman; together the allies roll away
 great stones and tear out the entrails of the earth; they chase forth
 the invading nymphs; with Phoebus's help re-establish the sacred
 Muses in their place and build them an abiding temple. The enemy
 retires breathing vengeance and awaits the help of the winter floods
 and storms; but the victorious champion of the Muses is prepared; he
 defends his conquest by a rocky rampart and defies the fury of the
 nymphs. Now will he enjoy a lasting peace and fear no foes; not even
 were they allied to the waters of the Po and the Araxes. His triumph
 was, however, short-lived, for we learn from a further letter that
 with their allies, the winter floods, the naiads of the spring gained
 a final victory, and the defeated Petrarch was forced to lodge the
 Muses in another spot.

 "The poet always found solace and refreshment in his gardens. A true
 lover of horticulture, he cultivates exotics, experiments on soils and
 plants, and writes to Naples for peach and pear trees. He invites the
 Archdeacon of Genoa to his dwelling, happy, celestial and angelic; to
 the silence and liberty of his grateful solitude; he will find secure
 joy and joyful security, instead of the noise and strife of cities; he
 shall listen to the nocturnal plaints of Philomela, and the turtledove
 cooing for her mate.

 "He bids the convalescent Bishop of Viterbo find health of body and
 serenity of mind in the soft and balmy air of Vaucluse. There in the
 warm sun, by the crystal fountain, in umbrageous woods and green
 pastures, he shall experience the delights of Paradise as described by
 theologians, or the charms of the Elysian fields as sang by poets; a
 good supply of books and the society of faithful friends shall not be
 lacking."[24]

That is a picture worthy to be put beside those that one makes for
oneself of Horace enjoying his Sabine retreat, and indeed, if one were
to leave Laura out of consideration, there is an almost exact parallel
in the retirement of the two poets. If one could have read Petrarch,
as one reads Horace, there would have been a constant series of little
discoveries and recognitions to be made all about Vaucluse. Even as it
was, wandering about the pleasant quiet place as I did that afternoon
and evening, with the music of its many waters always in my ears, I
gained an impression that comes back to me now as among the best that
that land of many memories afforded me. It was only the "fountain"
itself in which I was a little disappointed. The rest was as sylvan
and poetic and peaceful as one would wish such a place to be, and the
shade of the courtly nature-loving poet seemed to brood over it all, so
little has it changed in essentials.

I made my way up through the olive gardens to the ruins of the castle,
of which there are enough left to provide a most picturesque feature,
but hardly enough to enable one to picture it as it was when Petrarch
visited his friend there. One sees the pool and the cliff from it, and
the river running over its stones below, the curious cave dwellings
high up in the rocks opposite, and the pleasant fertile valley opening
out on the other side. It must have been a delightful country retreat,
and in that remote spot fairly safe from the disturbances that were
apt to centre round such dwellings, although it was strongly built and
fortified.

The next morning I set out early to walk back to L'Isle by a roundabout
way which took me over the hills to Saumane, where I had heard that
there was an ancient castle still inhabited.

I found a hill village, very picturesque, as is the way of such
villages in Provence, and walked round the walls that guarded the
château from the gaze of the vulgar, but found it more inaccessible
to curiosity than is usual with such places. So I went down again to
the village and into the _auberge_ to refresh myself, and found a
friendly postman also refreshing himself at a table in the kitchen,
who conversed with me on many subjects but particularly on that of
dogs. He seemed to take an occasional bite as something in the ordinary
way of his rounds, and only showed apprehension in the case of the
dog that bit him being "malade." I am bound to confess that this
possibility gave me something of a chill. I had seen the teeth of so
many dogs, which seem to be of a particularly unfriendly disposition
in that country, and although I had always managed to drive them off,
my accident at Les Baux had made me nervous about them. But I had
not considered the chance of hydrophobia, which an Englishman is apt
to forget all about. However, I suffered nothing further, except an
occasional scare; but whenever I approached a farm and heard the bark
of a dog, I went past very gingerly.

Both the postman and the woman of the inn gave me to understand that,
although the château was kept strictly closed against unauthorized
visitors, something might possibly be done for me if I called at a
certain cottage with a large rose over the porch and rattled the coins
in my pocket. Which I did, and was sent up the road hopefully. On it I
met a man leading a donkey laden with fagots, who promised to join me
at the entrance when he had disposed of his load.

Parts of the château date back to the twelfth century, but the dull
square front is of the seventeenth. It is magnificently situated on
a point of rock above the village, and commands splendid views. Or
rather, the terraces do, for a grove of ilexes has been planted all
along the front--I suppose for shade, and shelter from the wind--and
nothing can be seen from those windows.

I had exhausted the interest of the gardens, and the immediate
surroundings of the château long before the man with the ass
reappeared. There was an untidy "pièce d'eau" on the sandy square in
front of the house, and some dejected-looking peacocks in a cage, and
over all the rest was that air of makeshift and economy which marks
so strange a contrast between the châteaux of France and the lavishly
kept-up country houses of England. Nor was the impression altered
when I was taken inside, as far as the appointments of the rooms were
concerned. I have never been inside any of the great French provincial
châteaux, but I have seen a good many of the size of an ordinary
English country house, and never one that was not full of rubbish, or
that had gardens kept up except with the bare minimum of labour. They
have the air of places to which their owners occasionally retire for a
sort of picnic existence, and I suppose that is what they are generally
used for--as appanages to some fine house in a city.

But all the rubbishy furniture and decoration of this château could not
detract from its interest. It had belonged to the Marquises of Sade. I
do not know whether the infamous eighteenth century marquis ever owned
or lived in it, but it was the property of the Sades when Petrarch was
at Vaucluse, and even if Laura had not married into the family, as it
is generally supposed that she did, Petrarch must have visited it. The
vaulted dining-hall, with its curious echo, can have changed but little
since his time, and one can say almost with certainty that his feet
trod the stones upon which one stands today, or at least that he knew
the room as one sees it.

The appalling dungeon cells, most of them too dark and inconvenient to
be used now even as storerooms, show that this castle was equipped with
all the conveniences of the middle ages. One could more easily imagine
a nobleman of those days doing without his dungeons than a modern one
without his bathrooms or garage. But the owners of this château seem to
have been more enterprising in making economic use of their prisoners
than most of their fellows. They ran an illicit mint. There are the
stone trough and table in one of the maze of cells underground. Nobody
could have been indelicate enough to pry into the domestic arrangements
of a gentleman's dungeons, and the coiners were no doubt as safe from
detection there as anywhere. Nor was it probable that any of them would
give away the secret. They did not mix with the outside world, and were
not likely to do so again when once they had been initiated into their
new trade.



CHAPTER XVI

_Nîmes and the Pont du Gard_


The surpassing charm of Nîmes is provided by its waters, which are the
chief feature of a garden as beautiful of its kind as is to be seen
anywhere. But these waters were considered too sacred for common use in
Roman times, and in order to provide this quite unimportant colonial
town, which is not even mentioned by classical writers, with pure
drinking water, an aqueduct was built to convey to it the waters of the
springs five and twenty miles away; and the remains of this aqueduct
are one of the wonders of the world. We will take the Pont du Gard
first, as I did on this expedition, walking from Remoulins, and then
back again by the other side of the river, and on to Nîmes.

It was a bright, hot, spring day, and the first view I had of the
famous aqueduct was through a haze of foliage which later on would
have been thick enough to hide it until one was almost underneath its
soaring arches. Taking this road to the left, which is the usual and
the shorter one, the huge structure comes as a sudden surprise; but I
am not sure that it does not provide a more interesting sight seen
over miles of olive gardens from the other road.

No detailed description of this mere fragment of a monumental and
enduring work is necessary, as I am able to give an excellent
photograph of it from a point of view that is not usually taken. But
I doubt if its immensity can be gauged from any photograph that it is
possible to take. It rises a hundred and eighty feet from the level of
the river. The huge blocks of which it is composed are put together,
and have held together, without any mortar. It has lasted for close
upon two thousand years, and looks as if it would last till the end of
the world, without much trouble being taken to keep it in repair. Its
effect, indeed, as one lingers about it, and looks at it now from the
hills above, now from the road below, now from a distance across the
plain, and tries to get some definite outstanding impression, is of a
work on such a scale that it rivals that of nature herself. It is huge
and yet it is light; it is regular in design, but irregular in detail;
its use is gone, yet it has life.

It stands in majestic solitude. The blue river with its sandy bars
flows between rocky, wooded hills, and the white road keeps it company,
but seems to be little used. There is some sort of a _café_ near it,
but it is hidden by the trees. I had the place all to myself during the
hour or so that I stayed there. The impression of something belonging
to nature more than to the art of man deepened.

[Illustration: THE PONT DU GARD]

[Illustration: THE FOUNTAINS, NÎMES]

The photograph, taken from the north bank of the river, shows the end
of the squared channel which conducted the water, and a little farther
along the roofing with which the whole length of it was covered. A
tall man can walk under it upright; but if he is inclined to be bulky
there are places where he may have to squeeze himself through. This is
because of the calcareous deposit left by the water flowing through
the channel for centuries. The thickness and hardness of this coating
must be seen to be believed. At first I could not imagine how such
enormous masses of what looked like natural rock had been raised to
the summit, and then I remembered reading something about the deposit,
and recognized it for what it was. Houses have been built of it, and a
whole church in a village not far off.

The jutting-out stones in the middle row of arches may also be noticed.
They were put there by the Romans probably to provide for scaffolding
when repairs should become necessary.

I do not know why it is that my stay in Nîmes seems in retrospect
rather depressing. The weather was fine, and what there is to see
is well worth seeing. Perhaps I was getting a little tired of being
alone; perhaps the large, dirty hotel in which I spent the night
had something to do with it. One puts up with very poor quarters
in the country, and always has some sort of intercourse with one's
fellow-creatures. But in a town it is different, and I was glad enough
to get away from Nîmes the next morning, bearing with me nothing very
fresh in the way of impressions to add to those that I had formed of
the place during an hour's visit two years before. In fact, a motorist
who stays to lunch at Nîmes, and sees the fountains, the arena and the
Maison Carée, may congratulate himself that he has tasted the full
flavour of the brew.

But these three sights, and the "Temple of Diana," by the fountains,
are by all means worth seeing. Except the Arena, which is somewhat
similar to the one at Arles, there is nothing to equal them.

The "fountains" are, as to their aspect, seventeenth century of the
happiest. How far they follow the lines of the Roman baths and washing
pools I have not troubled to enquire, nor does it very much matter.
Probably the semi-circular basin in which rises the once sacred
spring is much the same as it was in shape. From it the waters are
led underneath pavings and bridges to the various balustraded and
ornamented pools of the central garden, and then into canals, still
of formal architecture, until they disappear somewhere at either end
of the long tree-shaded Quai. It is always fascinating to see water
flowing, and I know nothing more attractive of its sort than the way
this limpid spring comes from under the dark arches leading to the
central pool and covers a shallow stone floor recessed all the way
round in a colonnade. The photograph gives some idea of this happy
invention, but it is not possible to convey its pleasing ingenuity. The
gardens, beautifully planted, slope up in a series of bold staircases
and terraces. They show a wealth of variegated foliage that makes a
most pleasing background to the graceful architecture of the pools and
fountains, and on the lower side broad avenues of trees lead away from
the charming place quite in the best style of French garden planning.

In the garden itself are the ruins of a Roman temple, which has for
long been known as the Temple of Diana. In 1739 an inscription was
found dedicating it to the god Nemausus and the goddess Diana on behalf
of the commonwealth of Nîmes, and attributing its building to the
munificence of the Emperor Augustus.

Part of the beautiful colonnaded portico has been reconstructed. It
connected the temple with the Nymphæum, which was where the central
square basin now is. Preserved in the temple is a single tall
pillar--one of those used to support the _velarium_ under which the
Roman ladies reclined in the course of their bathing.

The architecture of this temple forms a valuable connecting link
between that of the Romans and of the later Provençal builders,
concerning which Mr. Cook has something interesting to tell us. He
is more interesting still on the subject of the Maison Carrée, for
he gives us, with a wealth of technical detail and illustration, the
curious reason for its being so supremely satisfying to the eye.

No one even with an uneducated eye for beauty can look at this little
gem of Greek architecture without a sensation of pleasure. Mr.
Baring-Gould, whose eye is not uneducated, writes of it: "It is the
best example we have in Europe of a temple that is perfectly intact.
It is _mignon_, it is cheerful, it is charming. I found myself unable
at any time to pass it without looking round over my shoulder, again
and again, and uttering some exclamation of pleasure at the sight of
it."[25]

And Mr. Henry James, in that delightful book, "A Little Tour in
France," writes in his own way:

 "The first impression you receive from this delicate little building,
 as you stand before it, is that you have already seen it many times.
 Photographs, engravings, models, medals, have placed it definitely
 in your eye, so that from the sentiment with which you regard it
 curiosity and surprise are almost completely, and perhaps deplorably,
 absent. Admiration remains, however,--admiration of a familiar and
 even slightly patronizing kind. The Maison Carrée does not overwhelm
 you; you can conceive it. It is not one of the great sensations of the
 antique art; but it is perfectly felicitous, and, in spite of having
 been put to all sorts of incongruous uses, marvellously preserved. Its
 slender columns, its delicate proportions, its charming compactness,
 seemed to bring one nearer to the century that built it than the great
 superpositions of arenas and bridges, and give it the interest that
 vibrates from one age to another when the note of taste is struck."

In a word, the beauty of this little temple is alive, and one of the
reasons for its being so I now proceed to extract from Mr. Cook's
discussion of a subject that he has made particularly his own.

Why is it that the Maison Carrée is so eminently pleasing to the
eye--is alive--while the Madeleine in Paris, which is a strictly
mathematical enlargement of it, is "dull and unsuccessful"? Because
the lines of the Madeleine are straight, and those of this temple, as
of all Greek architecture, are not, though they are so nearly so that
the fact was not discovered until about twenty years ago.

The divergences are surprisingly small, and in fact this great secret
of the ancient builders--Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine and Gothic, as well
as Greek--was not suspected until it was proved on the Parthenon in the
middle of the last century. "In the Parthenon the curve is under four
inches in two hundred and twenty-eight feet. At Nîmes it is nearly five
inches in less than a hundred feet."[26]

These skilful curves can be traced in Gothic cathedrals. The walls in
the nave of Westminster Abbey "are bent inwards at about the height of
the keystones of the arches and outwards above and below this point,
and they are structurally sound unto this day."[27]

Mr. Cook explains the difference caused by following this principle
"as something of the difference between an architectural drawing done
with compass and rulers, and an artist's painting of the same building
done with a free hand and with just those 'inaccuracies' which give it
life and beauty." It is "an essential principle which, known to Greece,
and known to the builders of the Maison Carrée, is one of the chief
reasons why this little temple is the greatest treasure of classical
architecture north of the Alps."[28]

[Illustration: THE MAISON CARRÉE]

[Illustration: THE AMPHITHEATRE, NÎMES]

The Maison Carrée has been at various times a kind of Hôtel de Ville, a
private dwelling, a stable, a church, a granary, and a public market,
and it is surprising that with all the structural changes it has
undergone there is anything of it left. But fortunately its exterior
was never much interfered with, and now its interior has been cleared
out, and is used as an antiquarian museum.

The amphitheatre at Nîmes is very slightly smaller than that at Arles,
but it is rather better preserved. In fact, it is the best preserved
of any of the Roman amphitheatres--far better than the Coliseum, for
instance. Its seating accommodation was about twenty-two thousand, as
against ninety thousand of the Coliseum, but the area of the arena was
in the proportion of about seven to twelve, so that this provincial
city was very well off in this respect, as compared with the capital of
the world.

The photograph will show what a noble building this was, and will
incidentally provide an example of the manner in which the French treat
their ancient monuments. You may imagine from it an ellipse of about
four hundred and thirty feet by three hundred and thirty, all of it in
much the same state. It will be seen that where the original structure
is strong enough it has been left, where it needs repair the old work
has been copied, and here and there--as in the balustrading beneath
the upper row of arches--features have been restored not absolutely
necessary to the support of the building. There are those who object
to this sort of restoration. I suppose it is a matter of knowledge and
imagination; but ordinary persons, of whom in questions of architecture
and archæology I am one, may be grateful for a system that shows
plainly what an ancient building really looked like, and what purposes
it served, while he is nowhere invited to take the new for the old.

As the original seating accommodation of the amphitheatre would provide
for more than a quarter of the present inhabitants of Nîmes--that at
Arles would take some thousands more than there are now people in
Arles--it has not been necessary to restore all the tiers of seats for
the uses to which the arena is put. Consequently, it is possible to see
the ingenious plan on which it was constructed, so as to give ample
means of ingress and egress, and to divide up the spectators according
to their rank. There were thirty-four tiers of them--four for the
senators, ten for the knights, ten for the freedmen, and ten for the
slaves and menials--and everybody had an uninterrupted view of what
went on in the arena. The holes for the masts supporting the gigantic
awning that sheltered the spectators can be seen here and there in the
topmost circle; but the moderns do without that luxury, and watch their
bull-fights in the full glare of the Southern sun.

I cannot describe a Provençal bull-fight, as the season had not begun
when I was in the country, though preparations were being made for a
spectacle on the following Sunday. It is an ancient sport with the
Provençaux, but, as Mr. Henry James says, "the thing is shabbily and
imperfectly done. The bulls are rarely killed, and indeed often are
bulls only in the Irish sense of the term,--being domestic and motherly
cows." But the "Grande Tauromachie" is creeping in. Large bills were
posted about the amphitheatre announcing events in which Spanish
matadors and toréadors would compete for the favour of the populace,
and the organizers of the sport were full of self-commendation of the
noble struggle they were making over the innovation. It seemed to be
almost a matter of conscience with them. They spoke of their loyalty
and simplicity, of their scrupulous honesty and untiring good-will, and
of the inexhaustible force of energy that they would bring to bear in
this contest against discouraging circumstance.

Mises à Mort they call their Spanish bull-fights, and to judge by a
picture postcard that I bought of one in progress, in which every
seat in the amphitheatre is occupied, and dense masses of people are
standing where there are no seats, they are taking very kindly to the
pastime.



CHAPTER XVII

_Aigues-Mortes and the Camargue_


Aigues-Mortes, like Les Baux, is one of those places which are apt
to dawn upon the traveller only when he is in reach of them. I might
hesitate to confess that I had never heard of Les Baux before my first
journey in Provence, or of Aigues-Mortes even then, if I had not met
so many well-informed and well-travelled people who had never heard of
either of them.

And yet Aigues-Mortes is a place of absorbing interest. It is
romantically situated on the edge of the great plain of the Camargue,
surrounded by salt marshes, lagoons, canals, and only a few miles
from the sea. Here the town is entirely confined within its unbroken
mediæval fortifications, and its walls and gates and towers are more
perfectly preserved than those of any other fortified town in Europe;
more so even than those of Carcassonne, which owe much to modern
restoration.

The story of its building is soon told, and it is a story that cannot
be forgotten when one visits the place, for there has been nothing
since that has overshadowed it. The poor little town, laid out in
square "blocks" like an American village that hopes some day to
become a city, has hardly a voice of its own, it is so nothing-at-all
compared with its girdling ramparts. These are as nearly as possible a
mile round, and probably the stones of all the buildings they enclose
would not suffice for one side of them. So the walls and towers are
everything at Aigues-Mortes, and speak insistently of the purpose for
which they were built.

When St. Louis took his crusading vows in 1244, he had to acquire
a port from which to embark. He exchanged land with the Abbey of
Psalmodi for the site of Aigues-Mortes and the marshland between it
and the sea. There was already an old fortified tower there, erected
five hundred years before as a place of refuge from the Saracens, and
this was rebuilt as the Tour de Constance. St. Louis also dug the long
winding canal to the sea, which is now completely silted up, and its
place taken, for the barge traffic to Beaucaire, by one quite straight
and about half its length. By this he embarked an army of thirty-six
thousand men in 1248.

In 1270 he embarked another great crusading army at Aigues-Mortes, but
died almost immediately upon landing at Tunis.

Between the two crusades the walls of the fortress town had begun
to be built, but it was St. Louis's son Philip III who completed
the fortifications as we see them today. They have lasted for seven
centuries and a half, and although the history of Aigues-Mortes did not
quite end in the thirteenth century, they have sustained no destruction
or decay, and no essential modification.

This, then, is what one sets out to see--a town which presents itself
to our eyes exactly as it did to the eyes of the crusaders, who built
it. Can one see the like anywhere else in Europe?

I left Nîmes on a bright Sunday morning and travelled by the pottering
little train that runs across the plain of the Camargue. It was a
little too far to walk in one day, and I wanted to see Aigues-Mortes
that afternoon and start early the next morning for Saintes-Maries.

It was a very pleasant journey. The flat country lay soaking in a haze
of sunshine, and the hills to the north showed lovely soft purples
and golds and blues. At first the country reminded me very much of
that stretch of reclaimed marshland across which one travels to get to
our old English town of Rye. There were brooks and willows and green
fields, and to one who has lived on "the Marsh" it was plain that all
this fertility had the same origin--alluvial soil spread over what was
once a bare expanse, from which the sea had receded. Or perhaps it
would be more accurate to say that I knew the fact and recognized the
signs of it. But after a time this English-looking scenery gave place
to the Provençal rows of cypresses, to groups and dottings of stone
pines, and to scattered buildings on an unkinder-looking soil.

After St. Laurent d'Aigouze, the next station before Aigues-Mortes and
ten kilometres from it, the unreclaimed marsh begins, with stunted
vegetation growing on poor stony soil, and water here and there, but
not yet the great reed-bordered "étangs," which are the home of so many
wild fowl. To the left of the line straggles the broad road, and beyond
it is the clean-cut line of the canal that leads from the sea through
St. Gilles to Beaucaire. On a sort of island in the marsh stand the
ruins of the Abbey of Psalmodi, and a little farther on is the outpost
Tour Carbonnière, which is about two miles from Aigues-Mortes and its
main fortifications.

The line, which runs quite straight from St. Laurent takes a
right-handed turn just before it reaches Aigues-Mortes, and before the
turn comes you can see the walled city in front of you, just as you can
see the surprising picturesque little town of Rye, growing out of the
marsh, as it were, before you come to it from Ashford.

"On this absolute level, covered with coarse grass," writes Mr. Henry
James, "Aigues-Mortes presents quite the appearance of the walled town
that a schoolboy draws upon his slate, or that we see in the background
of early Flemish pictures,--a simple parallelogram, of a contour almost
absurdly bare, broken at intervals by angular towers and square holes."

The sight makes its instant appeal. One is back in a long past century,
the aspect of which is familiar from just those pictures which Mr.
James recalls, and from little illuminated drawings in old manuscripts.
There is an agreeable sense of surprise and recognition, almost of awe.
It is rather as if one had suddenly come face to face with some dead
personage well known from portraits--such as Napoleon or Henry VIII.
One had no idea that there was anything left quite like that.

You mount up through a fortified gateway into the little town, which
although old is almost entirely devoid of interest. Its rectangular
streets gave me a reminiscence of our old English Cinque Ports. About
the time that Philip le Hardi was building Aigues-Mortes, Edward I was
building, or causing to be built, the new town of Winchelsea in place
of the old one that had been submerged by the sea; and Winchelsea was
also laid out in rectangles, and surrounded by walls. The two princes
had crusaded together. Perhaps they had talked over this new way of
laying out a town, in place of the old way of radiating streets from
a centre; but they could hardly have foreseen that it would be some
hundreds of years before their plan would be generally adopted.

There is a good inn at Aigues-Mortes, for people make an excursion of
it from Nîmes and Arles, and on the Sunday I was there there were a
good many visitors. And all the inhabitants of the town seemed to be
about the streets. There was a confirmation going on in the church,
and after it a well attended funeral, in which none of the mourners
were dressed in black. I would rather have struck the place on any
other day, for the slight air of bustle and holiday-making did not
suit it. M. Maurice Barrès has made it the background of "Le Jardin
de Berenice," and every one who has read that remarkable novel will
remember the atmosphere of brooding peace and suggestion in which he
has bathed it.

Mr. Henry James indicates its charm no less skilfully:

 "It is true that Aigues-Mortes does a little business; it sees certain
 bags of salt piled into barges which stand in a canal beside it,
 and which carry their cargo into actual places. But nothing could
 well be more drowsy and desultory than this industry as I saw it
 practised, with the aid of two or three brown peasants and under the
 eye of a solitary douanier, who strolled on the little quay beneath
 the western wall. 'C'est bien plaisant, c'est bien paisible,' said
 this worthy man, with whom I had some conversation; and pleasant and
 peaceful is the place indeed, though the former of these epithets may
 suggest an element of gaiety in which Aigues-Mortes is deficient.
 The sand, the salt, the dull sea view, surround it with a bright,
 quiet melancholy. There are fifteen towers and nine gates, five of
 which are on the southern side, overlooking the water. I walked all
 round the place three times (it doesn't take long) but lingered most
 under the southern wall, where the afternoon light slept in the
 dreamiest, sweetest way. I sat down on an old stone, and looked away
 to the desolate salt marshes and the still, shining surface of the
 _étang_; and, as I did so, reflected that this was a queer little
 out-of-the-world corner to have been chosen, in the great dominions of
 either monarch, for that pompous interview which took place, in 1538,
 between Francis I and Charles V."[29]

[Illustration: AIGUES-MORTES, THE RAMPARTS]

[Illustration: "LOOKED AWAY TO THE DESOLATE SALT MARSHES"]

This meeting between the Emperor and the Pope and the King of France is
one of the few outstanding episodes in the history of Aigues-Mortes. It
need only be remarked of it that Louis IX's channel had already fallen
into disuse, and another and a shorter one had been dug out through the
lagoons for the royal and papal galleys. This, from Grau de Croisette,
has also ceased to be practicable, and the present canal starts from
Grau de Roi, a little fishing and bathing resort at the nearest
possible point on the coast, to which this railway also runs.

Another chapter in the history of Aigues-Mortes--the last before it
sank to be the unimportant village it is now--is a long and painful
one. It centres round the strong Tour de Constance, which was used as
a prison for Protestants in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
until the horror was finally removed from it in 1767. It was mostly
women who were interned in it during long years, amidst circumstances
of great cruelty. I quote, from Mr. T. A. Cook's pages, the account of
one who accompanied the Prince de Beauvan in his mission of release.

 "We found at the entry of the tower," writes de Boufflers, "an eager
 guardian, who led us through a dark and twisting passage, and opened
 a great clanging door on which Dante's line might well have been
 inscribed: _Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate_. I have no colours
 in which to paint the terrors of the picture which gradually grew
 upon our unaccustomed eyes. The scene was hideous yet pathetic, and
 interest in its victims struggled with disgust at their condition.
 Almost without air and light, fourteen women languished in misery and
 tears within that stone-walled chamber. As the commandant, who was
 visibly touched, entered the apartment, they all fell down together at
 his feet. I can still see them, bathed in tears, struggling to speak,
 unable at first to do anything but sob. Encouraged by our evident
 sympathy they all began to tell us their sorrows at once. Alas, the
 crime for which they were then suffering was the fact that they had
 been brought up in the same religion as Henri Quatre. The youngest of
 them was fifty, and she had been here since she was eight years old.
 In a loud voice that shook with emotion the marshal said, 'You are
 free!' and I was proud to be his servant at that moment."[30]

You can visit the three round chambers, one above the other, in which
these unfortunate women were imprisoned, which are in exactly the same
structural state. Their walls are of enormous thickness, and they are
lighted by mere slits of windows. They have been swept and furnished,
and one can admire their vaulting and other architectural features, but
not without a thought of the misery that they contained, which is too
recent and too detailed to lose any of its horror in the mists of time.

At the other end of the north-west wall is the Tour des Bourgignans,
round which also cling dreadful memories. In 1421 a party of
Burgundians seized the town but were all massacred and their bodies
were thrown into this tower, and covered with salt in order to avoid a
plague.

To the south of Aigues-Mortes lie the shimmering lagoons and the
desolate marshlands of the Carmague, which breed fever and ague, and
make the peace of the little dead town not altogether so desirable.
This great plain, which contains something like twenty thousand acres,
has had a varied history. It is naturally formed by the Rhône delta.
The river rolls down its detritus which gradually chokes up its mouth.
There is no tide in the Mediterranean to scour it out, and a bar is
formed. Then the river has to find another outlet, and this happens
again and again until it has wandered all over a large area, leaving
behind it more and more deposit raised above the sea level. In the
meantime, behind the bars thrown up both by the river and the sea, are
left lagoons of fresh water, into which the sea sometimes rushes in
times of storm, and leaves behind brackish and stagnant water.

Now in classical times it was well understood that if outlets to these
lagoons were kept open, not only were their surroundings perfectly
healthy, but that natural forces would do what was necessary to turn
the great expanse of the Camargue from a desert waste into fertile
corn-growing land. These natural forces were the simple ones which have
made the Nile and other deltoid rivers the fertilizers of the land
about them--periodical floodings and changes of their beds. In fact in
the time of the Roman occupation the Camargue was called "The granary
of the Roman army," and Arles, which was the market for its corn was so
flowing with plenty as to be called "The Breasts."

Why is only part of this great stretch of land now fertile, and
the rest a desolating waste? The mistake was made in the sixteenth
century, when the engineers of Louis XIV examined the country and made
recommendations for its treatment. The outlets from the lagoons had
been allowed to get choked up, and the Camargue had for long been a
fever-breeding waste instead of providing the rich corn land that it
had once done. The king's engineers recommended the embanking of the
Rhône, so that it should be kept to its course, instead of flooding
the adjacent land, and the building of dykes against the inrush of
the sea. Drains, protected by traps, were also cut to carry out the
stagnant water from the lagoons into the sea, and all this was done
at an original cost of about a million pounds, and is kept up at an
annual cost of about five thousand. There are now two hundred and
thirty miles of dike, and although the land is fertile enough where
the Rhône is allowed its periodical overflow, and has been laboriously
reclaimed elsewhere, the main effect of these works has been to reduce
the Camargue to sterility. It has been estimated that at every overflow
of the Rhône, eighteen thousand cubic yards of rich alluvial soil was
deposited over the land. This is now carried out to sea, and thrown
down to make new bars. Perhaps some day the work will be done again,
the dikes removed and the river allowed to take its natural course. All
that would have to be done then would be to keep open the mouths of the
lagoons, to prevent them from stagnating and breeding fever and ague;
and then the whole Camargue would once more be one of the most fertile
tracts of the earth.

In the meantime it has its own picturesque wild life, just as the fen
country of eastern England had before it was drained. As in all flat
countries it domed with magnificent skies; the mirage is a common
effect of the scorched desolation; flights of rose-coloured flamingoes
are to be seen among the commoner wild fowl. Bulls and horses roam the
great solitudes in a wild state, until the time comes round for one of
those great pastoral manoeuvres, half business, half sport, in which
a whole countryside takes part, when the animals that are wanted are
cut out from the rest and their ownership settled.

The _Guardiens_ ride over the wide territory committed to their charge,
mounted on wiry little white horses of the breed that is most common
on the plain. They are splendid-looking young men, for the most part,
and it gave me quite a thrill to see one of them a few days later.
For there is a romance about them, and the wild yet anciently ordered
life they lead, which is hardly of our civilization. You may read all
about it in some of the novels of Jean Aicard, and especially in "Roi
de Camargue," which seems to cry aloud for translation into English,
it is so much finer than later ones by which he is chiefly known here.
Now that Mistral and Daudet are dead Jean Aicard is the chief literary
interpreter of Provençal life, and in his pictures of this wild life
of the great plains with its primitive pursuits and passions he stands
supreme.



CHAPTER XVIII

_Saintes-Maries de la Mer_


I was on the road early the next morning with a twenty-mile walk before
me to Saintes-Maries de la Mer. I had to follow the canal for a couple
of miles to the north, then to strike across the plain to the westward,
then to follow the course of the Little Rhône to the south. This took
me through country that has been for the most part reclaimed, and grows
acres upon acres of vines. To the south and west of Aigues-Mortes it
is nothing but _étangs_ and unreclaimed marsh, and if there is a way
through it all I could hardly have expected to find it and should
certainly have been cut off by water besides.

The walk was not very inspiring. Any one who knows the reclaimed fen
lands of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire will agree that, fertile
though these flats may be, they provide the modicum of picturesque
scenery. I imagine that the vine-growing industry hereabouts is a
comparatively new thing, but it is already a big one. After walking
along a straight road between vineyards--flat fields regularly planted
with vines about the size of small gooseberry bushes--for five miles,
I saw ahead of me an enormous castellated, spired building which I
afterwards learnt to be a wine lodge, but which was not on my map at
all. And just outside the walls of Aigues-Mortes they have recently
erected a building having to do with the shipping or storage of wine
over which there has been a good deal of controversy; for it is built
in a sham castellated style, and interferes with the effect of the
ancient fortifications.

My road turned before I came to the big building I have mentioned, and
presently the fields became less ruled and planed, and little bits of
untouched marshland began to encroach upon them. I came to the hamlet
of Sylvéreal at a turn of the Little Rhône, where there is a bridge
and a road running to Saintes-Maries on either side of the river. I
refreshed myself at a poor little inn and was heavily charged for sour
bread and hard cheese. But these regions are really out of the world,
habitations are sparse and communications rare. Five miles further on
I came to a ferry--the Bac du Sauvage--and was put across the Little
Rhône, which is not little at all, but a big river with a rapid flow.
Except for the quite good road, one might well have imagined oneself
during these last miles in a new country gradually being opened up.
The river carries no merchandise, its banks are deserted. Since
Aigues-Mortes, in sixteen miles or so, I had passed no village except
Sylvéreal, and there cannot be more than a dozen houses there. I
could not rid myself of the feeling of being somewhere in the bush of
Australia, which I know best of the new countries. Even the occasional
wayside shanties were not absent--little groups of them occasionally,
in which there was nearly always one announcing itself as that of a
_coiffeur_.

The feeling vanished when I came within sight of the fortress church
of Saintes-Maries towering above the low roofs of the village that
surrounds it. It could be seen from afar across the plain, and
immediately carried the mind back to the past, which is never very far
away from you wherever you go in Provence. And this is one of the most
ancient and storied places of the whole country. The walls and towers
of Aigues-Mortes are new beside it. If you reject the story of the
landing of the New Testament saints here--and you will find it hard to
reject in Saintes-Maries itself--still the church itself dates partly
from the tenth century; it was built on the site of another church
destroyed by the Saracens; and that church was built on the site of a
temple erected by Augustus. In Roman times there was a sort of island
here, and a prosperous settlement. The state of almost destitution
to which the wretched little town has come must be owing to the
defertilization of the Camargue, of which I have already written. But
in the time of King René it was a prosperous town with many privileges,
afterwards confirmed to it by the kings of France, and at least since
that time the church has been the object of a yearly pilgrimage that
has kept its fame alive to an extent that is perhaps not equalled
anywhere in France, except at Lourdes.

I cannot but think that "Les Saintes," as it is commonly called, must
be now at the very nadir of its poverty. It is right on the edge of the
Mediterranean, and beautiful firm sands backed by sand dunes stretch
away from it on either side. It is on a little line of railway from
Arles; and by far the nearest possible watering-place to that city, and
even to Avignon. In fact, Le Grau du Roi, near Aigues-Mortes, would be
its only rival for the central cities of Provence. In England, a place
of this historical importance and advantageous situation would be a
prosperous town instead of a squalid village.

I need scarcely say that to the sentimental traveller the present
dejected state of Saintes-Maries, in which nothing detracts from
the extraordinary interest of its shrine, is a boon almost beyond
gratitude. But one can hardly help being struck by its possibilities,
and the difference between France and England in respect of making use
of such; nor by the fact that at any time the whole aspect of the place
may become changed.

There are two inns in Saintes-Maries, and I went to the worst of them,
because it faced the sea. It was the dirtiest inn I struck in Provence,
but that was not altogether the fault of the proprietors, as part of
it was rebuilding. Perhaps the visitors to Saintes-Maries have already
begun to demand more accommodation, and this is the sign of it. I
did come across one honeymoon couple, or one that looked like it,
sunning themselves below the stones of the dike in view of the shining
Mediterranean, but I walked along the sands to the mouth of the Little
Rhône, a distance of about two miles, without seeing any one else,
except a few fishermen. And at the mouth of the river there were only a
few scattered huts. It seemed almost ludicrous that a mighty and famous
river--even if only the lesser branch of it--should be allowed to take
to the sea with so little ceremony. Again the likeness to a stretch of
coast in a brand-new country was overwhelming. But one only had to turn
round and see that ancient church for the odd sensation to pass away
again; and only the peace and the windy solitude of the sea remained of
it.

[Illustration: SAINTES-MARIES, THE FORTRESS CHURCH]

[Illustration: SAINT-GILLES, THE CENTRAL PORCH
                                             _Page 268_]

The church is, I think, the most compelling thing in Provence. The
photograph will give an idea of its fortress exterior, but not of the
way it dominates the country for miles around. That is a thing to
remember, but unfortunately my own photograph, taken from the shore
some little way off, went wrong.

The first thing that strikes one in the dark interior--what windows
there are are mere slits in the thick wall--are the rows of rough deal
seating that run round three sides of the church in a sort of narrow
gallery. These are for the crowds that come on May 24th, and during
the following week for the great annual festival, when the coffin
containing the bones of the blessed saints is let down from the chapel
above the apse, and the church is packed full of pilgrims. They are a
makeshift affair and do not add to the dignity of the church, although
they serve to remind one that this church does not depend for its fame
on its age or architecture.

The high altar with its simple decoration of wrought iron stands
forward. The priest celebrates facing the congregation; it is a
privilege granted by the Pope to this church. Immediately in front of
it is the entrance to the crypt. In front of that, just aside from
the main aisle, is the miraculous well, with pitcher and pulley all
complete.

When the saints landed near to this place, they set about building
a little oratory, "erecting an altar for the celebration of the holy
mysteries, as near as possible like to the one which Moses constructed
by the order of God. The two Marys, with Martha and Magdalene, prepared
the ground for this purpose, and God made known to them how agreeable
in his eyes were their devotion and their sacrifices, by causing to
spring up a fountain of sweet water in a place where hitherto only salt
water had been known."

This well must have been of the utmost value to those who stood a
siege in the church some hundreds of years later, and may be thought
to have been sunk for that purpose. But its miraculous properties are
still recognized, and its waters are resorted to by "persons bitten by
enraged animals."

The narrow little chapels that line the church are fuller of votive
offerings than any others I have seen. Besides the usual _ex voto_
tablets, and chaplets and ribbons of first communions, there is a
regular picture gallery of miraculous escapes, most of them, it must be
confessed, of the lowest possible artistic value, but going a long way
back, and telling a series of tales of considerable interest.

A characteristic one, which bears the date of 1777, is of a man being
attacked by five dogs. His companion is not going to his assistance,
but is represented on his knees, and in an upper corner of the picture
appear the two Marys, who presumably saved the victim from any ill
effects of the attack. Another rather well-executed pencil drawing
represents a man dragging a horse out of a swollen river. Another is of
a child being run over--or possibly just not run over--by a cart. Many
are of elderly people in bed with friends and relatives standing around
them--and the saints in their usual corner.

In one of the chapels are the old carved wood figures of the two Marys
in their boat, which are carried every year in procession to the sea,
and into it, in commemoration of the miraculous voyage which ended at
this place.

I don't know how it was that I did not realize on my first visit to the
church that the chapel containing the sacred remains, the outside of
which can be seen in the photograph above the apse, was to be seen by
taking a little trouble about it. From the inside of the church appear
the doors from which the double ark is let down by ropes and carried in
procession, but I had not thought that there was rather an elaborate
chapel up there behind the doors. It was rather late in the evening
when the old priest came out from his presbytery to take me up to it.

It is approached by a narrow, winding stairway from the outside of
the church, and is about forty feet from the ground. It was enriched
in the time of Louis XV, but its decorations were much damaged by
the Revolutionaries. The pictured coffer containing the relics of
the saints is in a chamber closed by ornamented double doors, in
which are also the pulleys and cords by which it is lowered to the
floor of the church on the great day of the pilgrimage. All round
the little chapel are the crutches and other offerings of those who
have been cured by attendance at the shrine. One of the latest is a
sort of strait-waistcoat left behind by a cripple who had used it for
many years, but went away, as the curé told me, on his own feet, and
praising God and the blessed saints.

I walked all round the strong battlements, from which a glorious view
extends itself, of the plain with its bright sheets of water on the one
side, and the sea and the sands on the other. It was a lovely, peaceful
evening, and the old priest admired it as much as I did. He said he
liked to come up here away from the world, and often said his Mass in
the quiet chapel high above the low roofs of the town. I bought from
him the little book he has written about his church, which contains the
hymns and prayers and canticles, partly in Latin, partly in French,
partly in Provençal, that are used during the days of pilgrimage.

Of the church as a work of defence, he writes: "It is a fortress,
with its sentry's walk, its watch tower, its crenellations and
machicolations. When Saracens or pirates invaded us, and during the
wars of religion, the men went up to the high chapel for defence,
at the summons of the watchman, who gave the alarm, while the women
and children were shut up in the church, which communicated by two
staircases with the roof. During the religious wars, the church was
smoked out several times by the assailants."

It was nearly dark when we went down into the crypt, and what I saw of
the tomb of the servant Sarah was by the light of a candle which the
curé lit for me, dropping the grease about plentifully, as seems to
be the way of those who show sacred treasures. It will be remembered
that this black servant of the holy ladies accompanied them on their
miraculous voyage to Provence. Her body, exhumed with theirs, under the
auspices of the good King René, and in his presence, was reburied here,
and this half subterranean chapel at Saintes-Maries has been from time
immemorial the centre of a cult, the strangest of any with which we
have to do.

At the time of the yearly pilgrimage, when good Catholics come to
venerate die remains of the saints, there come also hordes of gipsies,
who prostrate themselves before the tomb of the servant Sarah, and
practise strange rites which have nothing to do with the Christian
religion. The good curé in his book mentions the fact that they come
in, but says nothing about their worship, which is said to include the
adoration of fire, and other mysteries of an immemorially old religion.

I have been able to find nothing very illuminating that bears upon this
strange survival and its origins. The Marquis de Baroncelli-Javon has
published a little illustrated pamphlet which is of some interest on
the subject of gipsies in general, and those that are to be found in
this stretch of seaboard in particular, but he is not able to suggest
why St. Sarah, as he calls her--but I do not think that she was ever
canonized, or regarded as a Christian saint--should have attracted
to herself this ancient worship, except by reminding us that she was
commonly supposed to be an Egyptian, which is hardly convincing. But
that the gipsies should gather at this particular spot and perform
their rites, he does find some reason for, and his theories are at
least interesting.

He says, first of all, that there are two distinct races of _Bohémiens_
different in feature, in bone formation, colour, character, language
and traditions; that they have nothing in common and treat each other
not only as strangers but often as enemies. "A gipsy who traffics in
horses will never have anything to do with one who leads about dancing
bears or works in copper; there will be no understanding between them
and they will treat one another with indifference if not with hatred.
But this trafficker in horses will immediately recognize as his blood
brother another _maquignon_ at Saintes-Maries, it matters not where he
comes from."

Now at Saintes-Maries the gipsies with performing bears, or the
tinsmiths, are never to be met with. These are the Zingaris, and their
home is in the east of Europe. They talk the languages of the north and
the east willingly and easily, but with difficulty those of the south.

The gipsies who are to be found in Spain, Languedoc, Provence and
parts of Italy call themselves Gitanos or Gitans. These are they who
come once at least during their life wanderings to Saintes-Maries, "to
salute the earth, to fulfil strange rites, and to regard the sea, their
eyes fixed in ecstasy." Where do they come from?

"From the parts where the sun sets," they say of themselves; and if you
ask an American Indian the same question he will tell you that he comes
"from the parts where the sun rises." They are the ancient inhabitants,
says M. de Baroncelli-Javon, of the lost Atlantis, which lay between
the old world and the new.

The resemblances between the Gitanos and the Redskins are curious, not
only in appearance and language but in many small details and habits.
They use, for instance, exactly the same actions when they examine a
horse's teeth. The author adds to the list of survivors of Atlantis
the Basques, the Bretons and perhaps the Copts of Egypt, and finds
resemblances in them too. My small ethnological knowledge prompts me to
reject the Bretons, but the Basques have always been a puzzle, and seem
to fit in with this theory. There is also a hint, in a footnote, of the
inclusion of the Laps, Samoyeds, and Esquimaux, whom we might perhaps
accept in place of the Celts.

But to continue. The Egyptians and the Gitanos--probably two
branches of the same family--found themselves on either side of the
Mediterranean. The Egyptians moved westwards to the Nile and the Red
Sea, the Gitanos took up a roving life and were to be found everywhere
along the coast, from the Gaudalquiver to the Var. They are thus not
descendants, but brothers of the Egyptian race.

"Little by little arrive the Iberians, and then others and still
others. The Gitano flies before the invader; he finds refuge nearer
and nearer to the coast, following the last wild horses into the
most lonely places, among the lagoons and the unhealthy marshes,
uninhabitable by all except him, the aboriginal. There he erects
his temples, in which he adores Fire and the Sun, like the Redskin
and the Egyptian, where he buries his chiefs and his wise men, thus
consecrating special places. And he is always moving on, with the
wild horse, along the line of the sea. Centuries and centuries pass,
Christianity shines forth, which founds the altars of its saints on
those of the pagans, and it is not unscientific to think that the
pilgrimage to the place of the Saintes-Maries existed long before
Christianity, and honoured first the gods of the soil, then those of
the Iberians and Ligurians, before it honoured our saints."



CHAPTER XIX

_Saint-Gilles and Montmajour_


This was to be the last full day's walk. I had to meet a friend at
Avignon the next afternoon; then to Arles with no further time for
walking; and then home.

There was a lot of ground to cover. The first stage, after going
halfway to Arles by train, was an eight-mile walk across the plain to
Saint-Gilles. The train started at six, and soon after seven I was on
the road, on a fine still spring morning, and in company with an old
peasant woman who was also going to Saint-Gilles, and had suggested in
the train that we should walk together. I had not known quite how to
refuse, but had thought that after a mile or so I might say that I was
in a hurry, and push on from her. Provençal was her tongue, and French
is not mine; the burden of a conversation lasting for two hours daunted
me.

We walked and talked together for about a mile, and although she must
have been getting on for seventy, and carried a heavy basket, her
steady pace was just a trifle faster than my usual one at the beginning
of a long day's walk. I could not for shame suggest that I should drop
back; besides, she would have offered to walk more slowly. So when we
had exhausted the first burst of conversation, I drew myself together,
lifted my hat, and with a word of apology, forged on ahead with all the
air of a Marathon racer.

She chased me for miles. Whenever I looked back I saw her plodding
form on the straight road across the marsh. I was ashamed of myself,
but I couldn't keep it up. The walk to Saint-Gilles was only to be the
beginning of my day. At a wide turn of the road I took what looked to
be an easy short cut across the marsh. If it had been easy, of course
she would have taken it too, and the end of it was that when I came out
on to the road again after my windings there was her black determined
figure a quarter of a mile ahead of me. So I let her take her pace,
and I took mine, and she crossed the great suspension bridge into
Saint-Gilles nearly half an hour before I did. I saw her the whole way,
and she never looked round. I hope she thought I was ahead of her.

Scarcely any of its original importance is left to Saint-Gilles,
which dates from the earliest dawn of Provençal history. It was the
Phoenician Heraktra. In those days the branch of the Rhône upon which
it stands was an open trade route. The Phoenician traders came to it
from their expeditions to Britain, by way of the Seine valley and the
Rhône. Early in the twelfth century the building of one of the noblest
churches in Provence was begun here; and its remains, in spite of the
successive destructions and mutilations it has received, make it still
well worth a visit.

All that is left in its original state is the wonderful carved façade,
which is finer even than the famous one, of about the same date, of St.
Trophimus at Arles, and takes in three portals instead of one. It is
in its original state only as far as its main structure is concerned,
for its figures have been sadly mutilated by successive generations of
enraged Protestants. But one can be thankful to them for sparing it at
all, instead of treating it as they did the church behind it.

The story of St. Gilles is charmingly told by M. J. Charles-Roux, in
his "Légendes de Provence."

He was a Greek, of royal lineage. In all the country there was not
to be found a man richer than his father, or a woman more chaste and
charitable than his mother. He was baptized with great rejoicing, and
from an early age his parents sought to bring him up in their faith. At
seven years of age he was taught his letters, and thus early he devoted
himself to study and the service of God. Modest and of fine address,
he grew into the flower of his country's youth; his hair was fair and
curling, his skin as white as milk, he had a delicate nose and ears,
white teeth and a sweet mouth.

The day came when God was ready to show His designs concerning him. He
was on his way to school, when he saw crouching in the gutter a poor
cripple, pale, hideous and horrible. The child addressed him, and he
replied, "Sir, hunger is killing and cold overwhelming me; death is
near, and I only want to die." Gilles's eyes filled with tears, and as
he had neither silver nor gold he gave the poor wretch his coat, and he
at once arose cured and thanked God with such fervour that presently
more than a hundred persons appeared on the scene.

The fame of Gilles's holiness began to spread, and soon afterward he
healed a man bitten by a venomous snake.

After his father and mother died he was pressed to marry by his
vassals, who wished him to continue his royal race, but he begged
a respite. He was much troubled by the crowd that besieged his
doors--crippled, dumb, blind, lame,--who besought him to heal them. He
was willing to do so, but dreaded the worldly fame that was beginning
to attach itself to his name. He wished to seek a road that would bring
him nearer to God, and he determined to go to Rome.

He ordered a great feast in his palace, and at night, when all
were sleeping, overcome with the fumes of wine, after praying for a
long time he left his chamber softly, and made his escape from the
battlements, hidden in a fog. He was never seen there again.

After wandering on foot for a long time, he came to the sea, and saw a
ship being driven on to the rocks in a storm. He prayed to God, and the
storm abated, and the ship came safe to shore. He asked the sailors to
take him to Rome, and they, recognizing him for a holy man, took him on
board.

They were for the most part Provençals, and were carrying a rich cargo
of corn from Russia, silks, precious stuffs and spices. They sailed
for days under a clear sky, and never had to touch a rope, for God was
guiding them.

They landed at Marseilles, and Gilles, who had been so rich, went from
door to door, begging his food. After a time, having heard of the good
bishop, Cæsar of Arles, he went to that ancient city. He lodged with
a widow whose daughter had been paralysed for twelve years. When he
had prayed for a moment beside her bed she arose well and joyful. When
the good bishop heard of this miracle, he sent his archdeacon to bring
Gilles to him. The archdeacon found him praying in the church. The
bishop received him with affection and honour and kept him by him for
twelve years, during which time he wrought many miracles.

But this was not the sort of life Gilles had dreamed of. He escaped
from Arles and plunged into the wild forest which surrounded it. At
last he came to a monstrous rock in which some steps had been cut. He
climbed up them and found a pious hermit with whom he lived for twelve
years in perfect communion of prayer and meditation.

Although his retreat was remote and hidden, the piety and the miracles
of St. Gilles were so renowned that at last it was discovered. So he
resolved to find a hiding-place more impenetrable still.

He wandered far into the forest until he came to a cave choked with
brambles. He hid its opening with branches, leaves and clods of turf,
and took it as his hermitage. A fresh spring welled up at a short
distance from it, round which grew a cress upon which he sustained
himself until God sent him a doe which gave him milk. Every day while
he was at his prayers she went into the forest to feed, and returned at
fixed hours to the cave, where Gilles had prepared for her a couch near
his own.

At this time Florenz was king in Provence, under Charlemagne. Holding
his Christmas court at Montpelier, he entertained all the lords of
the country round at banquets and parties of the chase. One evening
as they were feasting news was brought in by the royal huntsman of a
wonderful white hind that had been tracked to her hiding-place in the
forest, and early the following morning the king set out with a great
retinue to chase her. The chase was long and Florenz found himself
ahead of his companions with the hind flying in front of him. As she
was disappearing among the trees, he launched an arrow at her, and
immediately the hermit, Gilles, appeared, to whom the hind had flown
for shelter, and whose hand the king's arrow had pierced.

After this the king conceived a great veneration for the saint, visited
him often alone and pressed him to accept presents. Gilles resisted him
for a long time, but said at last: "Sire, if you really wish to give me
a portion of your lands, of your treasures, of your vessels of gold and
silver, found a monastery upon this spot, and fill it with monks for
the service of God, who shall pray day and night for your people and
for your law."

"I will do so," said the king, "if you will be their abbot."

After much hesitation Gilles consented, and the noble abbey was built
and greatly enriched by gifts from the king. Gilles continued to live
in it the same life as he had lived in the woods, and that his flesh
might be still further mortified he prayed that the wound in his hand
might never heal; which prayer was granted to him.

After a time Gilles's great renown reached Charlemagne, who wished to
confess his sins to so holy a man, and sent an embassy to invite him
to Paris. After consultation with his brethren he went there, and was
received with the utmost veneration and magnificence. But the honour
done to him caused him nothing but shame.

Charlemagne confessed all his sins but one, which he had not the
courage to avow. Gilles pleaded with him for twenty days, but in vain.
One Sunday, as he was going to celebrate the Mass at St. Croix he saw a
demoniac chained to a pillar of the church. His prayers drove out the
demon; all the bells in the city began to ring, and the king came with
a great crowd to hear the Mass. During the celebration Gilles prayed
that the king might be brought to confess the sin that it would cost
him so much to acknowledge, and an angel appeared above the altar and
deposited near the sacred Host a little letter which God Himself had
sent His faithful servant. You can see the scene sculptured on a pillar
in the cathedral of Chartres. The letter announced that the famous sin,
of which we do not know the details, might be remitted to the king
together with all other sins humbly confessed and secretly detested;
also that the saint's own life would soon end and his reign in glory
begin.

Gilles, refusing the king's rich presents, made the journey back to his
monastery in great pain because of his still open wound, but in great
joy, and learnt that during his absence his monks had behaved in all
respects as he could have wished them. He resumed his customary life of
prayer and meditation, but feeling that he would not for long continue
to direct the affairs of his flourishing abbey, and that the favour of
kings was fleeting, he determined to go to Rome to put his monastery
under the protection of the Holy See.

The Pope received him with great honour and granted his request. He
also showed his interest in the church that St. Gilles had built by
giving him two doors of cypress wood, wonderfully carved. St. Gilles
threw them into the Tiber, commanding the water to carry them to his
church. He himself arrived at the moment when they stranded on the
banks of the river, in perfect preservation, and was made happy by this
still further proof of divine favour.

His work was now done, and he prepared himself for death. His monks
stood around him, scarcely able to recite the sacred offices because
of their sobs. Just before midnight he began to recall to them events
in the life of the Saviour, and at the moment of death he had a vision
of the glorious resurrection of Our Lord, and prayed St. Michael
to conduct him to God. These were his last words; he made signs of
blessing those who knelt around him, and two of them saw angels take
the soul that issued from his lips, to carry it to Paradise.

Although the story which I have condensed speaks of Charlemagne, it was
his grandfather, Charles Martel, in whose reign St. Gilles lived, and
who gave him shelter when he fled from the Saracens who had attacked
his monastery. But St. Gilles did die in peace in it in 721, and he had
long before handed over the property to the Holy See, for the Pope's
Bull taking it over in 685 is still extant.

The fine crypt, which fortunately still remains, was constructed in
the eleventh century to receive the tomb of the saint, and its high
altar consecrated by the Pope in 1095. The church above it was begun
twenty years later, and its magnificence can be judged from the ruins
of the choir, which stretch far to the east of the present building,
as well as from the carving of the front which took over thirty years
to complete. In 1562 the victorious Protestant troops murdered the
priests and the choir boys and threw their bodies into the well that is
still to be seen in the crypt. The church, says Mr. T. A. Cook, "was
alternately desecrated by the reformers and used as a fortress by the
churchmen." It was completely destroyed in 1622, the tomb of St. Gilles
removed and the crypt filled with rubbish; "and the façade itself seems
only to have been left standing in order that its carvings might the
more openly be debased and mutilated." At the Revolution still further
havoc was wrought, and it was not until seventy years later that the
crypt was excavated and restored under the auspices of the Commission
of "Monuments Historiques," who also restored as far as possible the
façade.

Considering the vicissitudes it has gone through this splendid work
retains a surprising effect. It stretches right across the front of the
church, except for the two narrow towers on each flank, and is of a
wonderful interest and richness. Another wonderful relic is the Vis de
St. Gilles, the spiral stone staircase that stands among the ruins of
the choir, and the tower. It is famous everywhere among architects for
the delicacy and preciseness of its stone-cutting and vaulting.

Another thing to see in Saint-Gilles is the Maison-Romaine, a tall town
house of the twelfth century which was restored at the same time as the
church. It comes as something of a surprise to the inexpert, it looks
so very modern--rather like the sort of house an advanced architect
might build in Munich today. But its proportions are beautiful, and
the quiet wall space contrasting with the decorations of the windows
is very effective. Indeed, the advanced architect might do worse than
copy such a model. After eight hundred years he could learn more of the
twelfth century builder than he could teach him.

[Illustration: THE MAISON-ROMAINE]

[Illustration: THE STAIRCASE IN THE FARMYARD AT MONTMAJOUR]

I took train to Arles and walked straight out of the station towards
the Abbey of Montmajour two miles distant. Arles itself was to wait for
a few days.

The road lay along a broad shady avenue too full of traffic for
pleasurable tramping, but turned off presently from the main road to
Tarascon, and the mass of the great Abbey could be seen towering above
the trees across the open country.

This great Benedictine abbey, under the stones of which lie buried
the ancient kings of Arles, was founded in the sixth century, and its
splendid church was rebuilt in the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.

It was situated on an island among the lagoons of the Camargue, but now
stands overlooking the fertile plain right away to the sea, on what is
no more than a low hill overgrown on one side by a little wood.

I left the road, which goes round by the front, and climbed up through
the trees, to find myself in a littered farmyard, with the walls of
a seventeenth century building, now in ruins, towering above me. The
remains of a carved stone staircase finished off by a rickety wooden
bridge ran up under a bold arch, and had a very extraordinary effect,
springing thus out of the straw and muck of the yard. This great
palace, joined on to the original monastic buildings, seems strangely
out of place even now, more than a hundred years after both suffered
the same destruction. It was built when the abbey was at its richest
and proudest, but was not occupied for long, for the Revolution swept
new and old alike away. Of all the treasures it contained, only three
remain--a Bible of 1320, which is in the museum at Arles, an abbatial
cross in the museum of Cluny, and a twelfth century pyx, now in the
Louvre.

What remain of the buildings themselves have suffered no less changes
of ownership. When they were sold by the state after the Revolution
many of the walls were broken down and the stones taken away to build
bridges and houses and to mend roads. The painter Réatlu of Arles
bought the great tower and saved it. The chapel of St. Croix became
the property of a fisherman, but finally fell into the hands of the
city of Arles, and was restored and maintained by them. This stands
apart from the rest of the abbey, of which the site is still private
property. Until recently the later buildings were partly inhabited by
peasants. Gradually the rest has been bought back, and classed among
the "Monuments Historiques." The buildings thus saved from further
desecration are the church with its crypt and cloisters, the tower, the
"Confessional" of St. Trophimus, and the chapel of St. Croix, and each
and all of these are remarkable.

The church, which was begun early in the eleventh century and was
never quite finished, is of a severe and grateful simplicity. The
enormous crypt beneath it is of a still earlier date, and is still more
remarkable. The apse is divided into five little chapels opening on to
an ambulatory, and from each can be seen the high altar. The cloisters
are best preserved of anything, and retain their stone penthouse
roofing.

But the most interesting thing about Montmajour is the little chapel,
part scooped out of the living rock, part built in the ninth century,
which is called the Confessional of St. Trophimus.

You descend to it down stairs cut in the side of the rock. It stands
in a sort of overgrown garden, and looks as if it were trying to hide
itself. Its rock chambers were no doubt used by the early Christians
for hiding and shelter, in the same way as the catacombs at Rome. At
the east end is a big chamber almost entirely filled with a stone
bench, which opens into two other chambers. Whether St. Trophimus was
ever there or not, it has very much the appearance of a confessional.
And scepticism sinks before this pathetic little secret place, in
which beyond doubt the holy mysteries were celebrated and the faith
taught at a date before one can be certain of perhaps any other
ecclesiastical remains in the country, whatever antiquity they may
claim.

The curious Eastern-looking Chapel of St. Croix stands at some little
distance from the rest of the abbey buildings. It is in the form of
a Greek cross with four semi-circular apses radiating from a central
square-domed tower, and a porch attached to that on the west. Its date
is 1019, but there was probably a cemetery on this spot at a much
earlier date, and it was built entirely as a mortuary chapel. Viollet
le Duc wrote of it:

 "The monks brought their dead here processionally; the body was placed
 in the porch and the brethren remained outside. When Mass was said,
 the body was blessed, and it was conveyed through the chapel and out
 at the little south door, to lay it in the grave. The only windows
 which lighted this chapel looked into the walled cemetery. At night,
 a lamp burned in the centre of this monument, and, in conformity with
 the use of the first centuries of the Middle Ages, these three little
 windows let the gleam of the lamp fall upon the graves. During the
 office for the dead a brother tolled the bell hung in the turret, by
 means of a hole reserved for the purpose in the centre of the dome."

This little architectural gem with its delicate exterior carvings has
been very carefully preserved. Up to the eighteenth century it was
the object of a popular and crowded pilgrimage on May 3rd, but on the
destruction of the abbey the precious indulgences with which it had
been dowered by successive Popes were transferred to the church of St.
Julian at Arles, and it is now nothing but a "Monument Historique."



CHAPTER XX

_The Last Walk. St. Michel de Frigolet_


I walked on from Montmajour through the most delightful country. The
road dipped up and down, crossed thymy, brambly, rocky heaths, and
gave promise of pleasant villages to come. One begins here to get out
of the plain, and on the low heights the comfortable land, dotted with
nestling farms and towers and steeples, can be seen stretching away to
the white Alpilles, upon which Les Baux perches and makes its romantic
presence felt, though it cannot be seen.

This little corner is full of curiosities, but I had a long walk before
me and a fair one behind, and turned aside to see none of them. There
are the remains of the Roman aqueduct, built to carry the waters of
Vaucluse into the Arena at Arles. It is still called Ouide de Sarrasin
(stonework of the Saracens) by the country people, because the Spanish
Moors marched along it to attack Arles. At the foot of the Montagne
de Cordes are the remains of fortifications, contemporary and perhaps
built by the invading Saracens. On the top of the same hill is the
Grotto of the Fairies, with its curious pavement and stones which were
cut in prehistoric times. And there are other megalithic remains
in the little hill of Castellet, and a cavern in which were found a
hundred skeletons, and among other objects ornaments of a stone only to
be found in the Indies and the Caucasus. The French call it _calaïs_; I
do not know its English name. All these things are to be seen within a
mile or two of Montmajour.

But two of the sights I did see, because they lay right on my road, and
the second of them I would have gone out of it a reasonable distance to
see in any case.

The first was the "_allées couvertes_," of which signposts obligingly
give notice, at so many metres from the road. They are subterranean
passages, running at a short distance beneath the surface, on either
side of the road and parallel to it, broken into here and there, and
their entrances covered with brambles. When they were constructed, or
what for, I have not the slightest idea, and no book that I have been
able to get hold of tells me. My impression is that they extend for
some miles, but I don't know where I got it from, and perhaps I am
wrong. The "_allées couvertes_" are a mystery of which I am content to
be without the key.

But nearly halfway between Arles and Tarascon is the charming little
village of Fontvieille, and there is something to see there that I
would not willingly have missed. It is the disused mill which Alphonse
Daudet bought to retire to as a young man, and from which he wrote
that delightful collection of tales and essays about his beloved
native country to which he gave the title "Lettres de Mon Moulin."
They breathe Provence, as nothing modern does, except the works of
Mistral and his brother Félibres, and some of the tales of Jean Aicard,
and if one wanted to make a pilgrimage to the heart of it, one would
come either to the "Mas" at Maillane in which Mistral was born, or to
Daudet's mill at Fontvieille.

Nevertheless when I came within sight of it I was a trifle
disappointed. There it stood on its thymy hill overlooking the village,
familiar enough in its aspect from the photograph in my edition of this
book. But there were two other mills exactly like it on the little
hill, and all three quite close together; and it was in full view of
the village, and not very far from it. I had imagined a place of more
reflective solitude. I was glad to have seen it, but did not trouble to
go up and examine it more closely.

[Illustration: SAINT-MICHEL DE FRIGOLET]

[Illustration: THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN, VILLENEUVE-SUR-AVIGNON
                                                            _Page 303_]

In the evening I came to the roadside chapel of St. Gabriel, which
was marked on my map with a cross, showing it to be something worth
looking at, but was left without mention alike by the German Baedeker
and the French Joanne. It is just a single, heavily buttressed nave
with a richly carved porch, within the arch of which is a curious
relief representing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It stands in an
olive garden by the side of the road and there are no other buildings
quite near to it, so that it comes as something of a surprise. It is
important, as I have learnt since from Mr. T. A. Cook, as a link in the
progression of early Provençal architecture, and is certainly worth
seeing on its own account.

A little farther on was an _auberge_, before which some great wagons
were standing while their drivers refreshed themselves within. It was
in a quiet and pleasant corner, where four roads met, all overshadowed
by trees now in their full leafage. I should have liked to get a bed
and a dinner there, as by this time I had walked quite far enough, and
it was the sort of peaceful countrified place that it is pleasant to
wake up in. But they did not want me, and after sitting there for a
time I tramped the three or four miles into Tarascon.

It was dark by the time I got there, and I saw very little of the
immortal Tartarin's town. I went up under an old gateway, and wandered
about the streets on the lookout for an inn. I would have taken the
first that came, for I was very tired by this time. But I could not
find one at all. At last I was directed to a large hotel, where they
gave me a bad dinner and charged me preposterously.

But I got a good deal of fun out of it. Tarascon is a military town,
and the big dining-room in a corner of which I sat was providing
entertainment for many of the soldiers of the regiments quartered
there, and their friends among the townspeople. There were cavalry
officers in natty little Cambridge-blue tunics, and troopers with
tunics of a deeper shade of blue. They did not mix, but their friends
were all of the same class, and of course a trooper of a French cavalry
regiment may be just as well bred as his officers. It seemed to me,
remembering the character that Daudet fixed upon the Tarasconnais,
that he had done them no injustice. There was a sort of theatrical
swagger about those that came within my view that marked them off
from their companions of the military even more than their civilian
garb. I remember Sir Henry Irving in "The Lyons Mail" taking a meal
with his back to the audience. He seemed to be eating chiefly with his
shoulders, and that was exactly the way in which these gentlemen of
Tarascon ate, as if they were in the limelight, and everything must be
done for effect. When they talked, they did so with terrific emphasis
and gesticulation, and when somebody else was talking they would
suddenly withdraw themselves from the conversation and reflectively
twirl their moustaches. And when my waiter, who was tremendously
overworked, did bring my long pauses of reflection to an end, he served
me with a flourishing air that would have made it almost indecent to
complain of being kept waiting, since my reward was to be attended to
with an amount of pomp and circumstance that must warm the coldest of
victuals.

I was up early next morning and walked out of the town by a roundabout
way, which gave me a sight of its quaint arcaded streets, King René's
castle, which would have been worth a visit if I had had time for it,
and the suspension bridge across the river to Beaucaire. I passed along
a plane-shaded boulevard on the outskirts of the town, always on the
lookout for Tartarin's villa, which I think I saw, though there were no
signs of the india-rubber tree in its elegant little garden.

I was on a literary pilgrimage. You remember Daudet's story "L'Elixir
du Révérend Père Gaucher"--how the monastery of the White Canons had
fallen upon such evil times that even the belfry was as silent as a
deserted dovecot, and the monks, for lack of money, were obliged to
sound to matins with rattles of almond-wood; how the humble cowherd
restored them to affluence by the cordial cunningly distilled from
Provençal herbs, of which he had learnt the secret from the naughty
old woman who had brought him up; and the dreadful things that followed
when the wonderful elixir proved too seductive for his soul's health.
Now this monastery was St. Michel de Frigolet, up in the hills a mile
or two off the road from Tarascon to Avignon, and there is a good deal
more attached to it than Daudet's story.

To begin with, Mistral went to school there, and I will make use of
another chapter of his Memoirs to describe its situation and tell its
story.

It was nearly eighty years ago that he was taken there from Maillane
in the farm cart, together with a small folding bed, a deal box to
hold his papers and a bristly pigskin trunk containing his books and
belongings.

 "At the Revolution, the lands of Saint-Michel had been sold piece by
 piece for paper money, and the despoiled abbey, deserted and solitary,
 remained up there, bereft in the wilds, open to the four winds and the
 wild animals. Sometimes smugglers would use it to make their powder
 in. When it rained the shepherds would shelter their sheep in the
 church. The gamblers of the neighbourhood would hide there in winter
 at midnight to avoid the police, and there by the pale light of a few
 candles, as the gold followed the movement of the cards, the vaulted
 roof echoed with oaths and blasphemies instead of psalms. Then when
 their game was finished these rakes ate and drank and revelled and
 rioted until dawn.

 "About 1832 some mendicant friars established themselves there. They
 had put a bell in the old Roman belfry, and rang it on Sundays. But
 they rang in vain; nobody came up the hill to their offices, for they
 had no faith in them. The Duchess de Berry about this time had come to
 Provence to raise the Carlists against Louis Philippe, and I remember
 it being whispered that these runaway friars were nothing but Spanish
 bandits under their black robes plotting some dubious intrigue.

 "Following these friars a worthy native of Cavaillon, M. Donnat, came
 and started a boarding-school for boys at the Convent of Saint-Michel,
 which he had bought on credit.

 "He was an old bachelor, yellow and swarthy in complexion, with lank
 hair, flat nose, large mouth with prominent teeth, in a long black
 frock-coat and tanned shoes. Very devout, and as poor as a church
 mouse, he had made shift to start his school and to find pupils
 without a penny to bless himself with.

 "For instance, he would go to Graveson, or Tarascon, or Barbentane or
 Saint-Pierre to a farmer who had boys.

 "'I have come to tell you,' he would say, 'that I have opened a school
 at Saint-Michel de Frigolet. You have thus at your very door an
 excellent institution to which you can send your sons and have them
 prepared for their examinations.'

 "'My dear sir,' the father of the family would reply, 'that may be all
 very well for rich people, but we are not the sort of folk to give our
 boys so much learning. They will have quite enough for working on the
 land.'

 "'Look here,' M. Donnat would say, 'there is nothing better than a
 good education. Don't worry about payment. Give me every year so many
 measures of corn, so many casks of wine, so many drums of oil, and
 arrange matters in that way.'

 "So the worthy farmer would send his children to Saint-Michel de
 Frigolet.

 "Then I suppose M. Donnat would go to a tradesman and begin thus:

 "'What a fine boy you have there! He looks sharp enough, too. I
 suppose you are not going to turn him into a counter-jumper.'

 "'Oh, sir, if we only could, we should be glad to give him a little
 education, but schools are dear, and when there isn't much money----!'

 "'If it's a question of a school,' M. Donnat would reply, 'send him to
 mine at Saint-Michel de Frigolet. We will teach him Latin and make a
 man of him. As for payment, let it come out of the shop. You will have
 an extra customer in me, and a very good customer too.'

 "And then and there the shopkeeper would promise him his son.

 "Another time he would pass a carpenter's house, and supposing he saw
 a child playing in the gutter who looked pale, he would say to his
 mother: 'What's the matter with this pretty little fellow? He looks
 very white. Is he ill, or has he been eating cinders?'

 "'Oh, no,' she would reply, 'it is always playing about that makes him
 look like that. Play is meat and drink to him, sir.'

 "'Well, then, why not send him to my school at Saint-Michel de
 Frigolet?' M. Donnat would say. 'The good air alone will give him rosy
 cheeks in a fortnight. And he will be watched over and taught his
 lessons; and when he has been well educated he will find an easier
 occupation than a carpenter's.'

 "'Ah, sir! But when one is poor!'

 "'Don't trouble about that. We have up there I don't know how many
 doors and windows to mend. I can promise your husband more work as
 a carpenter than he will know how to get through; and so, my good
 woman, we shall settle the matter of fees.'

 "So this child would also find himself at Saint-Michel, with those
 of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker, and by these
 means M. Donnat collected into his school about forty boys, of whom I
 was one. Out of them all, I and a few others were there for a money
 payment, but three-quarters of them were paid for in kind, or by the
 labour of their parents. In a word, M. Donnat had solved the problem
 of the Bank of Exchange, quite simply and without any fuss, which the
 celebrated Proudhom tried in vain to establish in Paris in 1848....

 "In those days Saint-Michel was of much less importance than it has
 since become. There was left just the cloister of the Augustinian
 monks, with its green in the middle of the court; to the south the
 refectory and chapter-house; then the dilapidated church of St.
 Michael, with its frescoes of the damned, and of demons armed with
 forks, and the battle between the devil and the great archangel in the
 middle; and then the kitchen and stables.

 "But apart from this little group of buildings there was a buttressed
 chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Succour, with a porch in front of
 it. Masses of ivy covered the walls, and the interior was lined
 with gilded carvings which enclosed pictures said to be by Mignard
 representing scenes in the life of the Virgin. Anne of Austria, mother
 of Louis XIV, had given these decorations in accordance with a vow she
 had made to the Virgin if she should bear a son.

 "This chapel, a real gem, hidden in the mountains, had been saved
 during the Revolution by the good people who piled up fagots under the
 porch and hid the entrance. It was there that every morning in the
 year, at five o'clock in summer and six in winter, we were taken to
 hear Mass; it was there that I prayed, I remember--we all prayed--with
 a faith that was really angelic....

 "The little hills all around were covered with thyme, rosemary,
 asphodel, box and lavender. In odd corners there were vines, which
 produced a wine of some repute-the wine of Frigolet; patches of olives
 on the lower slopes; plantations of almond-trees, twisted, dark and
 stunted, on the stony ground; and wild fig-trees in the clefts of the
 rocks. This sparse vegetation was all that these rugged hills could
 show; the rest was nothing but waste and scattered rocks. But how
 delicious it smelt! The scent of the mountains at sunrise intoxicated
 us....

 "We became as rugged as a troop of gipsies. But how we revelled in
 these hills and gorges and ravines, with their sonorous Provençal
 names ... eternal monuments of the country and its language, all
 embalmed in thyme and rosemary and lavender, all illumined in gold
 and azure. Oh, sweet land of scents and colours and delights and
 illusions, what happiness, what dreams of paradise thou didst reveal
 to my childhood!"[31]

This idyllic existence came suddenly to an end. M. Donnat, being
frequently away collecting pupils, neglected to educate them when he
had found them, and being anxious to increase his numbers took pupils
who paid little or nothing, and they were not those who ate the least.
One morning the cook disappeared.

 "No cook, no broth for us. The masters left us in the lurch one after
 the other. M. Donnat had disappeared. His poor old mother boiled us
 some potatoes for a few days, and then his father said to us one
 morning, 'Children, there is nothing more to eat; you had better go
 home.'"[32]

This was the end of poor M. Donnat's experiment, and he finally died in
an almshouse.

The old monastery was abandoned for twelve years, and was then bought
by a Premonstrant, who restored it under the rules of his order, which
had ceased to exist in France.

 "Thanks to the activity and preaching and begging of this ardent
 zealot, the little monastery grew enormously. Numerous crenellated
 buildings were added to it, a new, magnificently decorated church was
 built, with a nave and two aisles and two towers. A hundred monks
 or novices occupied its cells, and every Sunday the neighbouring
 people drove up to admire the elaborate pomp of their offices. The
 abbey of the White Fathers became so popular that when in 1880 the
 Republic ordered the convents to be closed a thousand peasants or
 inhabitants of the plains shut themselves up in it to protest against
 the execution of the decree. And it was then that we saw a whole army
 on the march--cavalry, infantry, generals and captains, with their
 commissariat and all the apparatus of war--and encamping round the
 Convent of Saint-Michel de Frigolet, seriously undertaking the siege
 of a comic-opera citadel, which would have given in to four or five
 gendarmes."[33]

It may be remembered that the romantic heart of the immortal Tartarin
was stirred within him to take part in these proceedings. Equipped
with a regular arsenal of weapons, he led his followers up the hill
one dark night and taking immense pains to circumvent the investing
troops crawled laboriously to the gates of the monastery. As he was
crouching behind a stone, an officer on guard, who had often met him
at his club, called out affably, "Bon soir, M. Tartarin," and made no
difficulty whatever about his proceeding. The more people there were
inside the monastery to consume its stock of provisions the quicker the
siege would end. It has been made the basis of other stories and poems,
but Mistral assures us that none of them are half as comic as were the
facts themselves. I have read elsewhere that two thousand soldiers,
horse and foot, united to expel twenty recalcitrant but unarmed monks,
who were finally reduced by hunger and led triumphantly between two
files of dragoons to Tarascon.

I do not know when or how the monks came back to their monastery, but
they were finally expelled with all the rest ten years ago, and settled
themselves somewhere in Belgium.

Well, you will agree that Saint-Michel de Frigolet was a place to see.
I got up to it by a winding track among the hills. It was a clear,
sunny morning, and the bees were humming among the scented herbs that
give such a character to these stony hills, just as they did in the
poet's happy childhood. On this side of the hill were a few olives
here and there, but no other sign of cultivation until I came to the
top of a hill, where there was a patch of dug ground, and beyond it a
collection of pinnacles and walls conveying the impression that I had
unexpectedly hit upon a large modern cemetery.

The first building I came to was a tall, jerry-built structure which
seemed to have been used as a sort of factory. Its doors were open and
its chambers empty and already beginning to fall to pieces. I walked
down the hill between this and another building of the same sort,
modern, hideous and deserted, and came to a large church, which looked
on the outside much like a pretentious Nonconformist chapel in a London
suburb. The west doors stood open, and I looked over an iron railing
to find the interior blazing with gold and bright blues and reds and
greens on every inch of wall and roof, and with coloured windows to
match. At first sight it looked gorgeous, at second, its gorgeousness
was seen to be mere garish vulgarity. The sacristan was inside, and
I pushed open the iron gate and went in. He showed me the glories of
the church with pride. He said that the decorations alone had cost one
million six hundred thousand francs, which is £64,000, and the more I
looked the more depressed I became at the senseless, conscienceless
waste of it all. This was the building that the Premonstrants had
erected in 1854, the "magnificently decorated church" to which Mistral
describes all the neighbouring countryside flocking to admire the
elaborate pomp of its offices. But all Mistral's artistic genius went
into his poetry. He seems to have been incapable of appreciating
the art that surrounded him so richly. I was told that the tomb he
had erected for himself in the churchyard at Maillane was a close
copy of the Pavillon de la Reine Jeanne at Les Baux, but that he
had substituted the heads of favourite dogs for the carvings on the
keystones of the arches; and I came across another instance of his lack
of artistic understanding later on in his Musée Arlaten.

The Premonstrants have for their object the celebration of the
ceremonies of the Church with the highest possible degree of
elaboration, and I suppose that when they acquired this monastery money
was lavished upon them for enriching it. It was the same spirit, one
would have said, that had created the treasures of ecclesiastical art
and architecture of which Provence is so full, but if so, what had
become of its creative force? And yet the people--the uncontaminated
sons of the soil, to whom the latest doctrine would have us look for
the truest appreciation of art--flocked to this pinchbeck shrine, and
took its gaudy ignorance for a true revival of ancient splendours.

The sacristan took me over the rest of the buildings. They had all been
bought a few years before by a rich priest who admirably uses them
for the training of boys whom he sends out to the colonies. He has
bought farms and large tracts of land all around, and the score or so
of youths that he looks after work on them. I should have liked a chat
with him, but he was away for the day, and I suppose the boys were all
out at work, for I did not see any of them.

Some of the buildings that were used by the original monks--and I
suppose also by M. Donnat--are used now; others, even of the newer
ones, are empty and some of them dilapidated. I was shown the
library--two big rooms fitted up with painted deal shelves from which
all the books had been removed. They looked poor and desolate, and
there was not a trace of architectural dignity about anything else
I saw that had been built in the last century, though it was all
convenient enough for its purpose.

And yet there was the old church which these aspiring religionists had
left to its quiet decay while they built their vulgar modern one, the
sweet little peaceful cloister, the chapel of Our Lady of Succour,
which Mistral has described, with its gilded Louis XIV _boiseries_
round the altar, from which, however, the pictures had been removed.
They had models around them, if they had had the wit to use them.

I went down the expensively embanked road towards Graveson, when I
had seen all that there was to see. It was lined on either side with
heavily built shrines exhibiting the Stations of the Cross, which
looked like the rooks of a set of clumsy chessmen. And the last thing I
saw of this derelict monument of bad taste, before the windings of the
road hid it, was a large cross toppling over sideways, as if even that
had not been built to last.



CHAPTER XXI

_Villeneuve-sur-Avignon_


My walking was done. I had another day and a half for Avignon and a day
and a half for Arles, and that was to be the extent of this expedition.
I wish it could have included Carcassonne, which is not, however, in
Provence. But neither are Nîmes nor Aigues-Mortes, nor Saintes-Maries
nor Saint-Gilles, strictly speaking. The old province of Provence ended
with the Rhône, and Languedoc began on the other side of it. I should
have liked, too, to renew my acquaintance with Orange, and visited
Montelimar, if only for the sake of its _nougât_, and Martigues, and
half a dozen other towns. But it is not a bad thing to leave out some
places in a country one loves. There is always something to come back
for.

I have said nothing yet about Villeneuve, which, by the bye, is also
in Languedoc; but one can never forget it in Avignon. The great fort
of St. André frowns across the river on to the papal city; and the
tower of Philip le Bel, at which the Pont Bénezet used to end, is a
conspicuous object on the lower ground.

I suppose the two cities, one very much alive, the other almost dead,
are about a mile apart. The two branches of the Rhône and the Isle
de Barthelasse are between them. It seems a long way round by the
suspension bridge on a hot day, but it is worth going there, if only to
see Avignon from the other side. The city stands up magnificently, its
rock crowned by the cathedral and the palace.

But there is much to see in Villeneuve itself. There is a fine
fourteenth century church, which contains among other treasures a
wonderful ivory virgin and child, coloured, which was presented by
Cardinal Arnaud de Via, nephew of Pope John XXII, who founded the
church in 1333. It is kept in an ancient safe in the sacristy, and
there is a tremendous fuss of unlocking by various keys when it is
shown.

There is also the very fine Gothic tomb of Pope Innocent VI, which,
although much restored, is still in better preservation than the not
dissimilar one of John XXII in the cathedral at Avignon.

 "When seen by Mérrimée in 1834," writes Mr. Okey, "the monument was
 in the possession of a poor vine-grower and used as a cupboard; casks
 were piled up against it, and all the beautiful alabaster statuettes
 had been destroyed or sold. Another visitor of the period saw the
 tomb in use as a rabbit hutch."[34]

The tomb stands in the middle of the little chapel of the Hôpital,
which also contains a small collection of paintings, one at least of
which is of first-rate importance. It represents the coronation of
the Virgin. It was long attributed to King René, as were most of the
pictures of its date of which the authorship was doubtful, then to Jan
van Eyck, and then to Van der Meere. But in 1889 the contract for its
painting was discovered, "drawn up in the spicer's shop of Jean Brea
at Avignon, between a priest, Jean de Montagnac, and Master Enguerrand
Charonton, of Laon, and dated April 24, 1453." As this contract shows
the sort of terms on which artists of the middle ages worked, and how
little was left to their own initiative, and is an interesting document
besides, it is worth quoting Mr. Okey's mention of it.

 "Every detail is specified, narrowly and precisely, as in a contract
 for building a house, and in order that the artist may have no excuse
 for not following the specification, the details are written in
 French, whereas the terms of the contract are in Latin. First, there
 was to be the representation of a Paradise, and in this Paradise
 must be (_doit estre_) the Holy Trinity. There is to be no difference
 between the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost must be in the form
 of a dove. Our Lady is to be crowned by the said Holy Trinity, and the
 vestments are to be rich; that of Our Lady is to be cloth of white
 damask, figured as may seem best to the said master. The disposition
 of the angels and archangels, the cherubim, seraphim, prophets,
 patriarchs and saints is specified in elaborate detail: moreover, all
 the estates of the world are to be represented in the Paradise. Above
 Paradise are to be the heavens, with sun and moon, and the Church of
 St. Peter, and the walls of Rome are to be figured over against the
 setting sun; and at the issue of the church is to be a pine cone of
 bronze; thence spacious steps are to descend to the great piazza, and
 a street is to lead to the bridge of St. Angelo, with houses and shops
 of all kinds. The castle of St. Angelo must be also seen and many
 churches; the Tiber is to be shown starting from Rome and entering the
 sea; and on the sea are to be a certain number of galleys and ships.
 Beyond the sea must be figured part of Jerusalem: first, the Mount of
 Olives and the Crucifixion of my Saviour and a Carthusian in prayer
 at the foot of the cross; and a little further the sepulchre of my
 Saviour, and an angel saying: _Surrexit, non est hic_. At the foot
 of the sepulchre shall be two (persons) praying; and at the right
 side, the Vale of Jehosaphat, between two mountains, and in the valley
 a church with the tomb of Our Lady, and an angel saying: _Assumpta
 est_, etc., and there shall be a figure praying at the foot of the
 tomb. On the left is to be a valley, wherein are three persons of one
 and the same age, and from all these three shall shine forth rays of
 the sun, and there shall be seen Abraham coming out of his tent and
 worshipping the said three persons, saying, _Domini si inveni_, etc.;
 on the second mountain shall be Moses tending his sheep, and a young
 girl playing the pipes, and Our Lord in the burning bush, and Our Lord
 shall say: _Moyses, Moyses_, and Moses shall answer, _Assum_. And
 on the right shall be Purgatory with angels leading forth rejoicing
 those that are going to Paradise, whereat the devils shall show forth
 great grief. On the left side shall be Hell, and an angel is to be
 seen comforting the souls in Purgatory. Then in the part where Hell
 is shall be a devil, very hideous, turning his back to the angel and
 casting certain souls into Hell which other devils are handing to
 him. In Hell and Purgatory, too, all estates of the world are to be
 represented according to the judgment of the master. The said picture
 is to be painted in fine oil colour, and the blue must not be German
 blue but fine blue of Acre; German blue may, however, be used on the
 border. The gold used for the picture and the border must be fine
 burnished gold. The said master is to display all his science in the
 representation of the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin, and the
 rest may be painted according to his conscience. On the reverse of the
 picture is to be painted a fine cloth of crimson damask figured with
 fleur-de-lys. The said master is to have the said picture faithfully
 done by St. Michael's Day, and to be paid 120 florins at 24 soldi
 to the florin, of which sum the master had received 40 florins on
 account; the balance is to be paid--20 florins when the picture was
 half finished; 40, according to the rate of the progress of the
 work thereafter; and the remaining 20 florins when the picture was
 completed and delivered at the Carthusian Church."[35]

Almost an anecdotal picture! But a very beautiful one. It was amusing
to stand before it with this description in one's hand and pick
out the various commissions which Master Enguerrand Charonton so
conscientiously fulfilled. They could do these things, even at that
early date, without sacrificing composition or anything that is the
mark of a great picture in all ages. I think there are not many
artists who could do it now.

The sleepy high street, or what corresponded to such, of the once
famous city is full of memorials of its past grandeur, although they
are for the most part hidden behind the rows of ordinary looking
house-fronts. There are courtyards surrounded by stately buildings,
deposed from their once high estate, when the princes of the Church and
the great nobles of Provence had their summer palaces here; but the
main surprise that Villeneuve holds out to the visitor is the ruins of
the great charter house of the Val de Benediction, which was founded by
Innocent III, and so grew in importance that it became the second of
the Order.

It is a surprising place to visit. The circuit of the walls was a full
mile round, and they are mostly standing on the two sides towards
the open country. On the other two sides there are streets, and the
main entrance is in the Grande Rue--a fine gateway standing between
the house-fronts and leading by a vaulted passage to what is left
of the monastic buildings. These are all mixed up with houses and
cottages, some rebuilt from the old materials, others adapted for
modern dwellings out of the walls as they stood. At the Revolution
the monastery was sacked, and its buildings sold in small lots. There
are said to have been two hundred families of the poorer sort living
within the walls, and there are still a very large number, although the
whole is being very gradually bought up, and as much as possible of it
restored as an historical monument.

The church still stands, though in advanced ruin, and the chapel of the
Holy Trinity, built by Innocent VI retains some of its frescoes. There
are also the remains of a fine cloister, and in the cloister garth is
the eighteenth century rotunda, built over the old well of St. Jean. To
my mind, however, the interesting thing about these ruins are not the
important remains, but the endless little ones that one comes across as
one wanders about the narrow alleys and yards. There is probably not a
hovel that has not got something about it that tells of the past. As
I was poking about, two urchins accosted me and asked if I would like
to see the _plafond_. They took me to a house standing in a row of
others like it--a house of perhaps half a dozen rooms--and up a stone
stair into a bedroom of which the ceiling was painted, not in the least
ecclesiastically, but in a good eighteenth century style. It was in
excellent preservation, and indeed the whole house, into some of the
other rooms of which I peeped, was no more dilapidated than any house
might be that had come down in the world, but not so very far. I do not
know what purpose it may have served in the monastic days. I suppose
there were those in this great monastery who lived much in the style of
people outside, and this was the dwelling of one of them. The place was
a town in itself, and not a very small one.

[Illustration: A COURTYARD IN VILLENEUVE]

[Illustration: THE ROTUNDA AT VILLENEUVE]

The photograph of the Rotunda will give some idea of the sort of
buildings that now surround this and other remains of the past. A lane
runs round the two sides of the old walls that do not face the town,
and doors are cut into them leading to the houses inside, or into
their yards. The clearing out must be a very slow process, if all the
descendants of those who acquired the many "lots" at the Revolution are
to be removed. I doubt if the result will be worth while, except here
and there. The whole has been destroyed and altered past repair, and it
is interesting enough in its present state.

The mighty fort of St. André stands on the hill above the monastery.
With its double fortress towers and frowning battlements, it is the
most conspicuous object in Villeneuve as seen from Avignon, and Avignon
is seen from its heights, as well as the wonderful stretch of country
around, perhaps to greater advantage than from any other point.

Its long history was closed, except for later restorations, by an
occupation which Mr. Okey describes as follows:

 "In the later years of the monarchy a post of artillery was stationed
 in the fort, and it was from the fire of a battery planted there
 that a young captain of artillery, one Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1793,
 overawed the city of Avignon, which was occupied by the Marseillais
 federalists who had declared against the Convention; and it was with
 the cannon seized at St. André that Bonaparte marched to Toulon and
 expelled the English from its harbour. The papal soldiery were ever
 objects of scorn to the royalists of Villeneuve, who dubbed them
 _patachines_ (_petachina_, Italian for slipper), and taunted them
 with drilling under parasols--a pleasantry repaid by the Italians who
 hurled the epithet _luzers_ (lizards) against the royalists, who were
 said to pass their time sunning themselves against the hot rocks of
 Villeneuve."[36]



CHAPTER XXII

_Arles_


Of all the larger towns in Provence, Arles is perhaps the one that
creates the deepest impression upon the visitor. Avignon is much finer,
and its interest is at least as great as that of Arles, although it
lacks that of Roman remains. And the Roman remains of Nîmes are finer
than those of Arles, although Nîmes has very little mediæval interest.
But both Avignon and Nîmes are thriving modern cities, while Arles
is a comparatively small provincial town. Its ancient remains are
everything, and you can never forget them in connection with it.

I do not remember any feeling of modernity at all about Arles. The
streets are cobbled, narrow and puzzling. If you once get away from any
central point you must use a map to get back again. I do not remember
any modern houses or any large shops. It is a sleepy old town, and a
pleasant one to wander about in, even when one has no immediate object
in the direction of its outstanding antiquities.

Of the Arena I need say little. The exterior is less striking than
that of Nîmes, because it is not nearly so well preserved. The
arches of the upper tier stand naked all the way round, and it is not
possible anywhere to get an idea of what the exterior looked like
without more knowledge and imagination than most visitors are likely
to possess. The interior, as will be seen by the photograph, has been
to some extent restored for spectacular purposes. As it was built to
hold thirty thousand spectators, and the whole population of Arles is
now about half that number, the ancient seats of honour afford ample
accommodation, and the rest has been left to its ruin.

But this ruin is really a considerable restoration in itself. The
arenas, both at Arles and Nîmes, suffered many vicissitudes after
the Roman occupation. The square tower above the entrance was a
fortification of the Saracens, and there is another still standing
which is not shown in the photograph. In the seventeenth century
the whole area was crowded with houses. According to contemporary
prints, the round tops of the arches, with the coping above them
removed, formed the roofs of separate narrow dwellings; here and there
extensions clung to the outside walls; the interior was a mass of
buildings and alleys, and there was even a church. It was a little town
within a town, and a very horrible one at certain times of its history,
for it was the resort of criminals of the basest type, who made a
sort of fortress of it. In 1640 the plague that ravaged Arles broke
out first in this crowded den, and its inhabitants were shot down if
they came out of it. It was not until 1825 that it began to be cleared
of buildings, and a careful restoration was set in hand twenty years
later and carried on slowly until the present considerable result was
attained.

[Illustration: THE ARENA AT ARLES]

[Illustration: THE GREEK THEATRE, ARLES]

The remains of the Greek theatre are unfortunately even less complete,
but they are enough to cause one to linger over this unique survival of
ancient days. The two beautiful marble columns which remain give one
an idea of what the proscenium must have been like. One is of white
marble from Carrara, the other of African marble. Charles IX took eight
columns of porphyry and one of verd-antique for shipment to Paris, and
they were lost in the Rhône. One would willingly exchange the whole
of the Arena--contenting oneself with that of Nîmes--for an equal
preservation of the theatre. But its destruction dates very far back.
It was in 441 that the Deacon Cyril aroused a fanaticism that led a
Christian mob to attack and wreck it, and they left it in little better
state than it is now. In 1664 a monastery was built with the materials,
actually on the stage of the theatre itself.

This complete and sudden demolition, however, had the effect of
preserving some precious objects which would otherwise have disappeared
entirely. When excavations were made, possibly in preparation for the
building of the monastery, there was brought to light the beautiful
Vénus d'Arles, now in the Louvre, and there are other priceless remains
of statuary and architecture in the Musée Lapidaire of Arles itself,
which go to show what a treasure-house this theatre was; for the early
iconoclasts paid special attention to the destruction of the statuary.

Behind the stage of the theatre rises the Romanesque tower of the
cathedral of St. Trophime. This wonderful church has suffered as little
as anything of its date in Provence. Its carved façade is not so fine
as that of St. Gilles, but it has been better preserved, and while
St. Gilles has lost nearly everything that was behind its façade, St.
Trophime has kept nearly everything.

The interior of the church is very solid and very dignified. It has
little decoration, but the light that is let in on it is just enough to
give it mystery and solemnity. The aisles are so narrow that looking
up to the vaulting one has the impression of mere passages, but their
narrowness is effective, and the whole structure conveys an uplifting
sense of austerity.

The richness of the famous cloister, happily in good preservation,
comes as something of a surprise when one steps into it from the
dark church, though its earliest "walk" is of the same date as the
portal and not less luxuriant in decoration. This beautiful cloister
is one of the most satisfying things in all ecclesiastical Provence,
and would make a visit to Arles memorable if there were nothing else
there to see. A chapter might be written on its carvings alone, and
its irregularities of date and of construction provide constant fresh
interest. The photographs of the north and south walks will show the
great variety that exists. The north is of the twelfth century, the
south as it was altered at the end of the fourteenth, and the west
is later still. At the south-east corner is a well, said to have
been originally fed by a Roman aqueduct which was older than the
amphitheatre, for the water rose in a channel cut through the rock
beneath it.

Mr. Henry James speaks of the Musée Lapidaire as the most Roman thing
he knows of outside Rome, and, indeed, its contents, which are not so
numerous as to confuse the mind, show what Arles had lost in the way
of beauty centuries before St. Trophimus and other mediæval glories
were bestowed upon it. I was pleased to come across, in Mr. James's
pages, mention of the delightful little boy's head in marble, of the
second century, which had particularly struck me. There is another
similar one, not quite in such perfection, but even more tender and
"naturalistique". One seems to know these little children, who died
close upon two thousand years ago, and almost to love them.

In the Musée are some of the finest of the early Christian tombs from
the Alyscamps, which has enriched half the museums in Europe with its
treasures. This ancient burying-place lies a little outside the town.
It is a rather mournful avenue of poplars underneath which are the rows
of stone coffers, all empty now, which remain of the many that once
stood there, and an ancient ruined church at the end of it.

 "Here," writes Mr. T. A. Cook, "was the true necropolis of Gaul,
 consecrated, as the legend runs, by the blessing of the Christ
 Himself, who appeared to St. Trophime upon this sacred spot.... At
 first a Roman burial-place, this cemetery gradually became the chosen
 bourne of every man who wished his body to await in peace the coming
 of the resurrection. By the twelfth century it was sufficient to place
 the corpse of some beloved dead, from Avignon or further, into a rude
 coffin, fashioned like a barrel, and to commit it to the Rhône, which
 brought its quiet charge in safety to the beach of La Roquette. No
 sacrilegious hands were ever laid upon that travelling bier; for once
 a man of Beaucaire had robbed the coffin that was floating past his
 bridge, and straightway the corpse remained immovable in the current
 of the river, and stayed there until the thief confessed his crime and
 put the jewels back."[37]

[Illustration: THE CLOISTERS, SOUTH WALK, ST. TROPHIME]

[Illustration: THE CLOISTERS, NORTH WALK, ST. TROPHIME]

The ancient church of St. Honorat, at the end of the avenue, is in a
sad state of desolation, for its ruin went very far before what was
left of it began to be cared for. I remember little of it but the
octagonal domed belfry which gives it its character in the scene,
the enormous round pillars of the interior, and a side chapel which
interested me because it belonged to the Porcelets of Les Baux. St.
Honorat was only one of nineteen churches and chapels within the
Alyscamps when it was most famous. The translation of the body of
St. Trophimus to the cathedral in 1152 took away something of its
prestige. It was served by the monks of St. Victor of Marseilles until
the middle of the fifteenth century, by which time the people of Arles
seem to have realized that they had an almost inexhaustible supply
of coveted Christian antiquities to dispose of, and ever since the
sixteenth century the spoliation has been going on. There is nothing
of much value left compared with what can be seen of the treasures of
the Alyscamps elsewhere, and even the sacred ground has been whittled
away by degrees, and the railway has set up workshops on the very spot
where so many Christians of the first centuries were buried. One hears
the clang of metal as one walks along the melancholy avenue, or stands
in the empty ruined church. The glory has all departed, and most of the
romance.

There are many other memories of the past in Arles, but they need not
detain us. The ancient city has of late years been the centre of the
Provençal revival of the Félibres, and we may take leave of it as
well as of the charming land of Provence, with a glance at the Musée
Arlaten, which owes its foundation to the patriotism and largely to the
generosity of Mistral.

It is housed in a fine old mansion built round a courtyard in which
have lately been discovered some valuable Roman remains. It fills
all the rooms and passages of the first floor and is already an
ethnological and local museum of great value. They call it the Palace
of the Félibrige, and it aims to sum up all the life and traditions
of Provence. "Art, letters, customs, manners, pottery, costumes,
furniture," announces the catalogue, "all are there. The whole of
Provence unfolds itself and lives again in all its aspects in these
admirable galleries, masterpieces of patience as well as genius."

The patience as well as the genius have been mostly Mistral's. His
neat, angular writing is to be seen on nearly all the labels, and up to
the very week before his death he came regularly to the museum one day
every week and worked there cataloguing and arranging. As I was waiting
at Graveson station after visiting Saint-Michel de Frigolet, the
station-master told me how much they should miss him. Every Thursday he
would come over from Maillane, in the old diligence, and take the train
to Arles. He talked a great deal about his museum. It was his pride and
his chief interest of latter years.

One of the smaller rooms is called the Salo Mistralenco, or the
Cabinet de Mistral. "The walls of this _salle d'honneur_ are decorated
with illustrations of _Mireille_, _Nerte_, _Calendal_, &c. On the
chimneypiece a superb bust of the Master. In glass cases: the works
of Mistral, things that have belonged to him, the 'original' of the
great Nobel Prize adjudged to the poet, and a letter to the same from
Roosevelt, President of the United States, etc. In the middle of the
_salle_, a wonderful reliquary estimated at over 10,000 francs, the
gift of M. Mistral-Bernard of Saint-Remy: it contains the hair, the
christening robe and the cradle of the infant Mistral; in the cradle
the manuscript of 'Mireille.'"

There may seem something a little odd to English ideas in this naïve
acceptance of immortality, and preparation for the veneration of
posterity, in a man's own lifetime. But Mistral's advanced years may
excuse it, if excuse is needed. Long ago he saw his cause triumph, and
it is a cause that looms big in Provence. He could hardly help knowing
that he was its central figure, and from the very first he has laid
all the fame that it brought him at the feet of his beloved country.
In any case the slight anachronism will soon disappear. It was already
beginning to fade away when I was there in the week after his death,
and saw the chamber darkened and the pathetic reminders of his infancy
all swathed and wreathed in black.

[Illustration: ARLES, THE ALYSCAMPS]

[Illustration: BOY'S HEAD IN MARBLE, MUSÉE LAPIDAIRE, ARLES
                                                          _Page 313_]

Two of the larger rooms have been given up to a kind of wax-work show,
the one of a Christmas Eve feast in the kitchen of a Provençal farm,
the other of the ceremonies surrounding the birth of a child. The
descriptions in the catalogue, probably written by Mistral himself, may
be quoted.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Salle de Noël.--Here is Christmas Eve represented in all the truth
of its poetry, very spaciously and completely, in the kitchen of a
Provençal 'mas.' A dozen very expressive _mannequins_ in coloured
stucco by M. Férigoule represent the inhabitants of the farm.... On the
table; three cloths and three candles; the _pain calendal_ is served
with the great pike cooked with black olives, and with snails, celery,
artichokes, brandied raisins, and the little cask of mulled wine. By
the hearth, facing the grandmother, the head of the house sprinkles
with wine and blesses the Yule log. Round the table the servants mix
with the masters: here family simplicity equalizes all ranks.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Chambre Conjugale.--Another group, superb in arrangement, expression
and poetry. In the room, discreetly lighted, there arrive, wonderfully
dressed in Arlésian costume, the relations and friends of the young
mother, lying with her new-born child in a bed of the fifteenth
century. The visitors are bringing the symbolical and traditional
gifts, of bread, salt, a match and an egg. They are expressing the
customary wishes: _Sage coume la sau;--bon coume lou pan;--plen coume
un ion;--dre coume uno brouqueto_; which means, May your child be as
wholesome as salt, as good as bread, as full as an egg, and as straight
as a match. With what jealous care does the grandmother, seated apart,
seem to watch that those coming and going shall behave quietly! Bravo,
M. Férigoule, for your composition; you have done the work of an
artist. The scene, indeed, is religious in its impression."

Well, I suppose M. Férigoule has done his work as well as such work
can be done; but as for art!--it is the negation of all art, this
imitation of life, which is as dead as the stuff of which it is made.
The more realistic such figures are the more dreadful they are. For
my part I can never look at them without a shudder, and those in the
Musée Arlaten took away all my pleasure in the careful and interesting
furnishing of the rooms, in which they stand and sit and lie in their
horrible immobility. If only they were taken out, how imagination might
play about the rooms themselves, which contain every detail of the
warm picturesque home-life of the past, now fading away. With them,
imagination is killed. It is as if the rooms had been prepared for
corpses.

But one must not let one's disgust for these _mannequins_, which
cannot be felt by everybody, or so great a man as Mistral would not
have been so pleased with them, stand for one's whole impression of
this interesting museum. I spent a couple of hours in it very happily
employed in gathering up the pleasure that this spring expedition
in Provence had brought me. It touches on all the life and all the
memories of that fascinating country, and it is especially rich in the
accessories of the ancient and picturesque work of the soil, perhaps
more ancient and more picturesque in Provence than in most countries.
In Mistral's youth there can have been little change from the ways
of centuries past. He lived to see much that made his country unlike
others disappear, and gathered what he could in his museum so that
it should not be forgotten. But it has not all disappeared. Except
here and there, men and women have given up their old distinctive
costumes, harvests are reaped by machinery, the Rhône no longer bears
its freights drawn by the huge teams of horses or oxen, the festivals
of the church do not see every house decked and every street strewn
with green. But the queenly Arlésian women still wear their becoming
coifs; and on high days and holidays some of the rich dresses, of which
there is such a variety in this museum, are taken out of old coffers
and presses, in the great country farmhouses the old furniture that has
descended from father to son is polished and cherished, and many of the
old customs are kept up. The harvest of the olives sees the girls of
Provence filling their baskets as they did in the days of Mireille, and
the old-fashioned mills grind out their tons of rich oil. The shepherds
lead their flocks over the stony, herb-scented hills as they led them
when Marius drove out the barbarians. The wild bulls and horses roam
the plains of the Camargue, and the life of the men who have to do with
them is not changed.

Of all these things, and many others, there is evidence in the Musée
Arlaten, and walking through the country one sees it for one's self,
enough at least to make one love the fair sunburnt land that holds so
many memories, and to love its roads and fields and hills no less than
the treasures it hoards in its ancient cities.

THE END.



APPENDIX

_The Provençal Legend_


Dr. M. R. James has sent me a pamphlet, "Saint Lazare et Saint
Maximin," by Dom G. Morin, which, although published in Paris in
1897, he considers to be the last word on the Provençe legends of St.
Lazarus, etc. I summarize its conclusions shortly.

1. Dom Morin produces evidence that the cult of St. Lazarus by the
Church of Marseilles, which dates at least from the eleventh century,
has, for historic foundation, the burial of a bishop of that name in
the crypt of the Abbey of Saint-Victor. This was not the Lazarus of the
New Testament, but most probably a Bishop of Aix in the first half of
the fifth century, who was dispossessed of his See for the part that he
had taken in the Pelagian controversy, and came to end his days with
the Bishop of Marseilles, who had ordained him.

2. For the cult of the saints of Saint-Maximin there is an ingenious
and probable explanation. In the ancient town of Billom, in the
Auvergne, and in the adjacent villages, the relics of several saints
were venerated from a very early date. Among them were St. Maximin,
a Confessor, perhaps a Bishop; St. Sidonius, who was none other than
Sidonius Apollinaris, the fifth century poet and orator; St. Marcelle,
a shepherdess for whom the villagers of Chauriat have had from time
immemorial a deep veneration.

Now these are not names that are to be found scattered all over the
martyrologies. Besides those of Billom and Saint-Maximin, there are
only three or four other St. Maximins, one St. Sidonius, and two St.
Marcelles; and there are not two of any of them, otherwise, who can
be referred to the same locality or between whom there exists any
connection whatever. Dom Morin can find no other explanation of this
curious 'bilocation' than by supposing a translation of relics either
from Auvergne to Provence or from Provence to Auvergne; and he gives
good reasons for preferring the first supposition.

June, 1920.



INDEX


  Aicard, Jean, 251, 284

  Aigues-Mortes, 239, 240, 241, 242, 244, 245, 246, 248, 252, 254, 255, 301

  Aix, 31, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 85, 89, 91, 95, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 106,
       113, 116, 133, 163, 181

  Alaric the Visigoth, 132

  Albigenses, 65, 149, 152

  Alix, Princess, 132, 135, 136, 137

  "Allées convertes," 283

  Alpilles, 88, 121, 127, 158, 165, 282

  Alpines, 120

  Alps, 49, 86, 120, 125, 160, 175, 235

  Altar of the Crucifixion, or Corpus Domini, St. Maximin, 74

  Alyscamps, 316, 317

  Ambrons, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90

  Anne of Austria, 65, 66, 293

  Anne of Brittany, 66

  Arc, 89, 90

  Arena, The, Arles, 171, 235, 282, 311, 313

  Arena, The, Nîmes, 171, 230, 235, 311, 312, 313

  Arles, 31, 54, 95, 102, 116, 123, 131, 132, 161, 164, 171, 230, 235,
         236, 244, 249, 255, 266, 268, 271, 277, 278, 281, 282, 283, 301,
         302, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 317, 318, 319

  Aubanel, 163

  Avignon, 31, 94, 102, 108, 113, 116, 135, 151, 158, 163, 172, 173, 174,
           175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 190,
           191, 192, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 202, 209, 210, 214, 216,
           217, 219, 255, 266, 288, 301, 302, 303, 309, 311, 316

  Augustus, Emperor, 231

  Azalais, 148


  Bac du Sauvage, 253

  Barbentane, 290

  Barjols, 54

  Baroncelli-Javon, Marquis de, 262, 263

  Barras, 77

  Barrés, M. Maurice, 244

  Basses-Alps, 67, 158

  Bastide, Joseph, 77, 78

  Baux, Sir Agos des, 133, 134

  Baux, Count Barrai des, 148

  Baux, Raymond des, 133

  Beaucaire, 124, 240, 242, 287, 316

  Beauvan, Prince de, 246

  Beaune, Jacques de, 75, 76

  Benedict XII, Avignon, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200

  Bernard of Clairvaux, 61

  Berre, 12, 13, 14, 19

  Berry, Duchess de, 289

  Besançon, 50

  Bibliothèque Méjane, 111

  "The Birth of the Virgin," Aix, 106

  Bonaparte, Lucien, 56

  Bonaparte, Napoleon, 310

  Boniface VIII, Pope, 64

  Boucicaut, Marshal, 135

  Bourg-Neuf, Arles, 133

  Brenner Pass, 87


  Cabassoies, Cardinal de, 64

  Cabassole, Philip de, Bishop of Cavaillon, 212, 216

  "Cabelladuro d'Or," 145

  Cæsar Borgia, 144

  Cæsar of Arles, Bishop, 270

  Cagnes, 18, 21

  Caldus, 156

  Camargue, The, 131, 160, 239, 241, 248, 249, 250, 255, 277, 323

  Campi Putridi, 92

  Canrobert, Marshal, 178

  "Cantorbery" tapestry, Aix, 105

  Carcassonne, 239, 301

  Carlists, 289

  Casanova, 143, 214, 216

  Cassianite Monks, 61

  Castellet, 283

  Catullus, 170

  Cavaillon, 289

  Célestines, Church of, Avignon, 188

  Cevennes, 49, 158

  Châlons, Simon de, 182

  Chapelle de l'Université, Aix, 107

  Charlemagne, 271, 273, 275

  Charles II, Count of Provence, 62, 64

  Charles V, 245

  Charles IX, 118, 313

  Charles Martel, 275

  Charles of Anjou, 62

  Charonton, Master Enguerrand, 303, 306

  Chartres, Cathedral of, 273

  Chastel, 114

  Château du Puy, 43, 46

  Châteauneuf, 18, 20, 23, 24, 197

  Châteaurenard, 173

  Cimbri, 86, 87, 88, 170

  Cinque Ports, 243

  Clement V, Pope, 193, 196, 206, 207

  Clement VI, Pope, 191, 192, 202

  Clement VII, Pope, 183

  Cluny Museum, 278

  Col de Braus, 7

  Colle Noire, 35

  Contes, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19

  Cook, A. T., 136, 143, 146, 156, 169, 170, 232, 233, 234, 246, 275,
        285, 316

  Côte d'Azur, 3

  Craponne, Adam de, 120, 121, 122

  Crau, 123, 125, 126, 131, 160

  Crusades, 61


  Daudet, Alphonse, 191, 251, 284, 286, 287, 288

  Deacon Cyril, 313

  Deïmo, 146

  Derby, Earl of, 133, 134

  "Descent from the Cross," Aix, 106

  Donnat, M., 289, 290, 291, 292, 294, 299

  Dragonia, 51

  Draguignan, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53

  Dumas, Alexandre, 146

  Durance, 120, 122, 158, 174


  Estérel, 37

  Etang de Berre, 131


  Fabre, or Favre, General, 37

  Fayence, 35, 37, 43, 45, 46, 51

  "Félibres," 163, 167, 284, 318

  "Félibrige," 163, 318

  Field of Pebbles, 121

  Florenz, King of Provence, 271, 272

  Fontvieille, 283, 284

  Foulquet of Marseilles, 148

  Fountains, The, Nîmes, 230

  Francis I, 76, 140, 245

  Fréron, 77

  Friars Hospitallers, 187

  Froissart, 133

  Froment, Nicolas, 108


  Gardanne, 99

  Gaul, 86

  Gitanos, or Gitans, 263, 264

  Granet, Portrait of, Aix, 112, 113

  Gras, Félix, 163

  Grasse, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 30, 32, 172

  Grau de Croisette, 246

  Grau de Roi, Le, 246, 255

  Graveson, 89, 299, 319

  Great Crau, 120, 122

  Grimaldi, Honoré de, 143, 144

  Griminum, 51

  Grotto des Fées, Les Baux, 160

  Guardiens, 251

  Guise, Duc de, 140


  Henry VI of England, 110

  Henry of Navarre, Prince, 118, 119

  Henri Quatre, 247

  Hercules, 121, 122

  Holy Ampulla, 67, 78, 80

  Holy Trinity, Chapel of, Villeneuve, 308

  Hôtel de la Reine Jeanne, Les Baux, 143

  Hôtel de l'Europe, Avignon, 176

  "Hôtel de Monte Carlo," Les Baux ("A la Chevelure d'Or"), 143, 144

  Hôtel de Ville, Les Baux, 128

  Huguenots, 141


  Iberians, 264, 265

  "Image du Roi René," Avignon, 184

  Innocent III, 307

  Innocent VI, Pope, 302, 308

  Isle de Barthelasse, 302


  Jeanne, Queen, 66, 109, 138, 145

  Joan of Naples, Queen, 202

  John XXII, Pope, 193, 195, 196, 197, 198, 205, 302

  Joseph of Arimathea, 57

  Julia, wife of Caius Marius, 155, 156, 157

  Julius Cæsar, 94, 170

  Jupiter, 121

  "Jupiter and Thetis," by Ingres, Aix, 112


  Katharine of Aragon, 106


  "La Baussenique," 133

  Laincel, Louis de, 101

  Lamartine, 159

  Languedoc, 263, 301

  La Petite Pugère, 90

  La Reole, Gascony, siege of, 133

  La Roquette, 316

  Laura, 195, 209, 214, 215, 216, 217, 222, 225

  "Le Buisson Ardent," Aix, 108

  Leibulf, 132

  "Le Jardin de Berenice," 244

  "L'Elixir du Révérend Père Gaucher," 287

  Les Baux, 86, 116, 117, 125, 127, 128, 129, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135,
            136, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149,
            150, 151, 152, 154, 156, 158, 159, 168, 170, 171, 239, 282, 317

  L'Escaréne, 11

  Les Milles, 89

  "Lettres de Mon Moulin," 284

  Ligurians, 121, 265

  L'Isle-sur-Sorgue, 209, 210, 223

  Little Benet, 186, 187, 189

  Little Crau, 121

  Little Rhone, 252, 253, 256

  Lothair, Emperor, 62

  Louis IX, 246

  Louis XI, 139

  Louis XIII, 66, 141, 143

  Louis XIV, 65, 249, 293

  Louis XV, 260

  Louis XVI, 67

  Louis Philippe, 289

  Lourdes, 255

  Louvre, 108, 278, 314


  Madeline, The, Paris, 233, 234

  Maillane, 151, 159, 165, 284, 288, 298, 319

  Maison, Carée, Nîmes, 230, 232, 233, 235

  Maison-Romaine, Saint-Gilles, 276

  Mane, 67

  Manny, Sir Walter, 134

  Manville, Jehan de, 141

  Mariéton, Paul, 100, 114, 118

  Maritime Alps, 87

  Martha, 155, 156, 157

  Marius, Caius, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 108, 132, 155, 156,
          169, 170, 323

  Marius Mausoleum, Saint-Remy, 169

  Marseilles, 58, 61, 89, 92, 121, 270

  Martigues, 301

  Mary of Medici, 66

  Mary, wife of Cleophas, 57, 58, 258, 259

  Mary, wife of Zebedee (Salome), 57, 58, 258, 259

  Matsys, Quentin, 105

  Maupas, 187

  Maures, 37

  Maussane, 117, 126

  Medici, Catharine de, 118, 119

  Memmi, Simone, 194, 195, 202, 203

  Mentone, 1, 2, 3

  Mignard, Nicholas, 182, 293

  Millet, 36

  "Mireille," or "Mirèio," 117, 159, 160, 164, 165, 319, 323

  Mistral, François, 161, 162, 164, 165, 166, 173

  Mistral, Frédéric, 48, 117, 151, 152, 154, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164,
           165, 167, 251, 284, 288, 296, 297, 298, 299, 318, 319, 320, 322

  Mistral-Bernard, M. of Saint-Remy, 319

  Monaco, 144

  Montagnac, Jean de, 303

  Montagne de Cordes, 282

  Montelimar, 301

  Montfort, Martha, 152

  Montfort, Simon de, 152

  Montmajour, Abbey of, Les Baux, 131, 277, 279, 282, 283

  Montmorency, Anne de, 140

  Montpelier, 271

  Mont Victoire, 91, 94, 95

  Monuments Historiques, 276, 278, 281

  Mount Aurelian, 95

  Mount Olympus, 91, 95

  Musée Arlaten, Arles, 145, 298, 318, 322, 324

  Musée Lapidaire, Arles, 314, 315, 316

  Museum, Aix, 112, 113

  Musée, Avignon, 179


  Nice, 2, 5, 18, 20, 21, 28, 144

  Nîmes, 31, 95, 102, 116, 171, 227, 229, 230, 231, 234, 235, 236, 241,
         244, 301, 311, 312

  Noli me tangere, 64, 66, 67, 82

  Nostradamus, 117, 118, 119

  Notre Dame de Nazareth, Nuns of, Aix, 65


  Odo, 63

  Okey, Thomas, 184, 187, 192, 198, 206, 213, 214, 217, 302, 303

  Orange, Princes of, 132

  Orange, 301

  Orleans, Duke of, 65, 141

  Ouide de Sarrasin, 282

  Our Lady of Succour, Chapel of, Saint-Michel de Frigolet, 292, 299


  Palace of the Popes, Avignon, 75, 175, 177, 185, 194, 200, 201, 203

  Palais de Justice, Aix, 102

  Panis Annonæ, 91, 92

  Pain de Munition, 91, 95

  Parma, Duke of, 67

  Parrocel, Pierre, 182

  "Passion, The," St. Maximin, 75

  Pavillon de la Reine Jeanne, Les Baux, 139, 298

  Peiresc, 100

  Périgord, Countess of, 193

  Péronne, Treaty of, 144

  Pertvis, 133

  Peter of Aragon, 64

  Petrarch, 64, 195, 209, 212, 214, 215, 216, 217, 219, 221, 222, 225, 226

  Philip III (Philip le Hardi), 241, 243

  Philip le Bel, Tower of, 301

  Plutarch, 86, 89, 90, 92, 155

  Poitiers, Diane de, 144

  Pont Bénezet, Villeneuve, 301

  Pont de la Saigne, 35

  Pont du Gard, Nîmes, 171, 227

  Porcelets, 147, 317

  Porcieux, 97

  Porte d'Eyguières, 128

  Poulinet, Délaïde, 161

  Poulinet, Etienne, 161, 162

  Pourrières, 92

  Pré du Lac, 24

  Premonstrants, 294, 297, 298

  Promenade des Anglais, 21

  Proudhon, 292

  Provence, 6, 12, 23, 31, 33, 36, 45, 49, 53, 55, 57, 58, 61, 62, 65, 66,
            75, 76, 86, 87, 93, 97, 108, 109, 116, 117, 118, 122, 126,
            129, 133, 136, 138, 139, 140, 157, 160, 161, 163, 165, 167,
            173, 176, 187, 212, 217, 223, 239, 254, 255, 256, 257, 261,
            263, 268, 271, 284, 289, 298, 301, 307, 311, 314, 315, 318,
            320, 322, 323

  Psalmodi, Abbey of, 240, 242

  Pyrenees, 158


  Raudine Plain, 170

  Réattlu, 278

  Remoulins, 227

  René, King, 65, 66, 108, 109, 110, 111, 138, 255, 261, 287, 303

  Rhône, 49, 58, 87, 88, 109, 120, 121, 131, 136, 158, 174, 175, 177, 186,
         188, 190, 191, 194, 205, 248, 249, 250, 267, 268, 301, 302, 313,
         316, 323

  Richard Coeur de Lion, 61

  Richelieu, 141, 143

  Riviera, 12, 175

  "Roi de Camargue," 251

  Romans, 86, 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 95, 108

  Ronzen, Antonio, 74, 75, 76

  Roque, Jacques de la, 107

  Rostan, M., 55, 57, 60, 62, 68, 78, 80, 81

  Roumanille, 163

  Roussillon, Gerard de, 62

  Rubens, portrait of, by Vandyke, 100


  Sade, Marquises of, 225

  Sainte-Baume, 59, 66

  Saintes-Maries, or Les Saintes, or Notre Dame de la Mer, 58, 61, 131,
            155, 160, 241, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 261, 263, 265, 301

  Saint-Gilles, 266, 267, 276, 301, 314

  Saint-Maximin, 53, 55, 56, 60, 62, 64, 65, 69, 74, 75, 76, 77, 80, 86,
                 95, 96

  Saint-Pierre, 290

  Saint-Remy, 117, 133, 158, 169, 171, 172

  Salo Mistralenco, or the Cabinet de Mistral, 319

  Salon, 117, 118, 120, 121, 126, 133

  Saracens, 59, 61, 63, 66, 134, 240, 254, 261, 275, 282, 312

  Sarah, 57, 58, 261, 262

  Saumane, 223

  Saurin, Jean, 77

  Savoie, Claude de, 140

  See, Joseph, 113, 114

  Seillans, 37, 47

  Smollett, 2, 143

  Sorgue, 211, 214, 217, 218, 219, 220

  Sospel, 1, 2, 3, 4

  St. Agricol, Church of, Avignon, 179, 180, 181

  St. André, Fort of, Villeneuve, 301, 309

  St. Antoine, 109

  St. Bénézet, Bridge of, Avignon, 175, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189

  St. Catherine, 109

  St. Croix, Chapel of, Montmajour, 273, 278, 279, 280

  St. Didier, Church of, Avignon, 184, 188

  St. Gabriel, Camp of, 88

  St. Gabriel, Chapel of, 284

  St. Gilles, 242, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276

  St. Hermentaire, Bishop of Antibes, 51, 54

  St. Honorat, Church of, Arles, 317

  St. John, 109

  St. Julian, Church of, Arles, 281

  St. Laurent d' Aigouze, 242

  St. Lazarus, 57, 58

  St. Louis, 62, 240

  St. Louis d' Anjou, Bishop of Toulouse, 77

  St. Madeleine, 109

  St. Madeleine, Church of, Aix, 102, 103

  St. Marcelle, 57, 82

  Ste. Marie, Chapel of, Les Baux, 137

  St. Martha, 57, 58, 107, 258

  St. Mary Magdalene, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 69, 79, 82, 258

  St. Maurice, 109

  St. Maximin, 57, 58, 59, 61, 82

  St. Michael, 275

  St. Michel de Frigolet, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 295, 296, 319

  St. Mitre, Chapel of, Aix, 107

  St. Nicolas, 109

  St. Pierre, Church of, Avignon, 181, 183, 196

  St. Saviour, Church of, Aix, 58, 103, 104

  St. Sidonius, 57, 61, 63, 82

  St. Stephen, 57

  St. Susan, 82

  St. Trophimus, 57, 60, 112, 140, 268, 279, 314, 315, 316, 317

  St. Victor of Marseilles, Monks of, 317

  St. Victoire, 94

  Strella of Florence, Princess, 145

  Sylvéreal, 253, 254


  Tailors' Guild, Chapel of, Avignon, 196

  Tarascon, 58, 61, 124, 138, 277, 283, 285, 286, 288, 290, 296

  "Tarasque," 108

  Tartarin, 285, 287, 295, 296

  Tegulata, 90

  "Temple of Diana," Nîmes, 230, 231

  Teutons, 86, 87, 88, 90

  Tomb of Innocent VI, Villeneuve, 302

  Tortosa, Bishop of, 138

  Toulon, 49, 310

  Tour Carbonnière, 242

  Tour de Constance, 240, 246

  Tour des Bourgignans, 248

  Tourettes, 45

  Trets, 85, 86, 91, 94, 97, 98

  Trévaresse, 120

  Triumphal Arch, Saint-Remy, 170

  Trois Maries, or the "Trémaïé," Les Baux, 154, 157, 160

  Troubadors, 116, 138, 148, 154

  Turenne, Countess of, 192

  Turenne, Viscount of, "Scourge of Provence," 135, 136


  Urbanists, 183


  Val de Benediction, Villeneuve, 307

  Val d' Enfer, Les Baux, 131, 154, 160

  Valentinois, Duchy of, 144

  Var, Department of, 49, 51

  Vasari, 195

  Vaucluse, 64, 209, 210, 212, 214, 217, 222, 225, 282

  Venaissan, 193

  Venice, 75

  ----, Ducal Palace, 75

  Venus d'Arles, 314

  Venus Victrix, 94

  Vercingetorix, 170

  Vermuyden, 122

  Vezelay, 61, 62

  Via, Cardinal Arnaud de, 302

  Villeneuve, Antoine de, 141

  Villeneuve-sur-Avignon, 18, 175, 205, 301, 302, 307, 309, 310

  Villers, Adon de, 135

  Vis de St. Gilles, Saint-Gilles, 276

  Viterbo, Matteo di, 203


  White Canons, Monastery of, Tarascon, 287, 295

  White Penitents, Chapel of, Les Baux, 146


  Young, Arthur, 143, 209, 211, 214


  Zingaris, 263, 264



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Now Sir T. A. Cook.

[2] Now Professor Okey.

[3] I have added others recently bought.

[4] According to the tradition held from time immemorial by the
churches of Provence, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Mary of Bethany
were one and the same.

[5] I have not been able to get a photograph of the Gloria,
but some of the cherubs are to be seen over the Altar of the
Crucifixion.

[6] Plutarch.

[7] Laincel, _La Provence_.

[8] Now Provost of Eton.

[9] I have since procured the accompanying photograph in Paris, but
something seems to have been lost even in that, besides the fresh
colouring.

[10] Cook, _Old Provence_.

[11] Mistral, _Mes Origines_.

[12] Mistral, _Mes Origines_.

[13] Mistral, _Mes Origines_.

[14] Okey, _Avignon_.

[15] Okey, _Avignon_.

[16] Okey, _Avignon_.

[17] Okey, _Avignon_.

[18] Okey, _Avignon_.

[19] Okey, _Avignon_.

[20] Okey, _Avignon_.

[21] Young, _Travels in France_.

[22] The robust Dr. Samuel Butler, Bishop of Lichfield, wrote in
his diary, in 1822: "I could not contemplate from this spot (the
Capitol), which commands all the monuments of Ancient Rome, without
feeling very strong sensations; in short I could not refrain from
an actual gush of tears."

[23] Casanova, _Mémoires_.

[24] Okey, _Avignon_.

[25] Baring-Gould, _In Troubadour Land_.

[26] Cook, _Old Provence_.

[27] Cook, _Old Provence_.

[28] Cook, _Old Provence_.

[29] James, _A Little Town in France_.

[30] Cook, _Old Provence_.

[31] Mistral, _Mes Origines_.

[32] Mistral, _Mes Origines_.

[33] Mistral, _Mes Origines_.

[34] Okey, _Avignon_.

[35] Okey, _Avignon_.

[36] Okey, _Avignon_.

[37] Cook, _Old Provence_.



                        TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

-Plain print and punctuation errors fixed.





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