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Title: Vanished Halls and Cathedrals of France
Author: Edwards, George Warton
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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VANISHED HALLS AND CATHEDRALS OF FRANCE

By George Warton Edwards

Illustrated with 32 Plates in full Color and Monotone.

1917

[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0010]

[Illustration: 0013]



VANISHED HALLS AND CATHEDRALS OF FRANCE



FOREWORD

Quis funera faudo Explicet, aut possit lacrymis aequare Labores?
Urbs antiqua ruit, fnultos dominât a per annos; Plurima perque vias
sternuntur inertia passim. Corpora, perque domos, et religiosa deorum
Limina!

(Virgil, Æneid, II. v. 361.)

Surviving the ancient wars and revolutions in this, "the Cockpit of
Europe," the great examples of architecture of the early days of France
remained for our delight. The corroding fingers of time, it is true,
were much more merciful to them, but certainly the destroyers of old
never ventured to commit the crimes upon them now charged against
the legions of the present invader. These fair towns of Picardy and
Champagne are sacked, pillaged and burned even as were the beautiful
Flemish towns of Ypres, Malines, Termonde, Dixmude, and Dinant on the
Meuse....

Never again shall we enjoy them: the chalices are broken and the perfume
forever vanished....

The catastrophe is so unbelievable that one cannot realize it. The Seven
Churches of Soissons, Senlis, Noyon, Laon, Meaux, Rheims, St. Remi;
these such as man probably never again can match, are either razed to
the foundations, or so shattered that it will be impossible to restore
them.

It is said that the Imperial Government has promised to rebuild these
Gothic masterpieces....

One cannot trust one's self to comment upon this announcement.

Imagine these sacred ruins.... Rheims!... Rheims can never be restored
to what it was before the bombardment. Let it rest thus.... A sacred
ruin--the scarred, pierced heart of France!

Likewise "these fair sweet towns" of the middle ages; these wonderful
little streets and byways, filled with the gray old timbered houses,
"old in Shakespeare's day." Up to the outbreak of the war there were
many of these throughout France, in spite of the wave of modernity which
resulted in so much so called town improvement.

In Arras the two old Squares, the Grand Place and the Petit Place,
survived until destroyed by bombs in 1914. Those double rows of Ancient
Flemish gables, and the beautiful lace like tower of the Town Hall
cannot be forgotten, although they are now but calcined beams and ashes.
Between the Seine and the Flemish frontier lay a veritable storehouse
of incomparable architectural monuments. Of these Rouen, with its famous
Cathedral, is happily out of reach of the guns of the invader, and
one hopes out of danger. Beauvais likewise has not yet suffered,
nor Chalons, with its great church of St. Loup and St. Jean, but the
Cathedral and the town of Noyon have been leveled, and the gray walls
of incomparable coucy-le-Château, "that greatest of the castles of the
Middle Ages," whose lords arrogantly proclaimed "Roi ne suys, ne prince,
ne duc, ne conte aussi; je suys le Sire de Coucy," have vanished forever
from the heights under the wanton fire of the invaders' shells, and
twenty thousand pounds of powder placed in the walls and exploded in
revenge on the day of the retreat (April 1917).

Amiens, for some reason, has been spared, but it too may yet receive
its baptism of fire, even as Rheims. Amiens and Rheims! Never were there
such miracles of art as shown in these temples! Rheims is now a ragged
ruin of roofless leaning walls. So Amiens, miraculously preserved,
is now the greatest existing example of Christian architecture in the
world.

In the following chapters I have quoted extracts from accounts written
by eyewitnesses of acts committed by the invader in the devastated towns
of France. I am not responsible for these statements, nor can I vouch
absolutely for their truth, or correctness. I give them for what they
are worth as part of the setting--the frame work of the pictures I
have made of the noble, now vanished monuments which can never be
replaced....

If I have betrayed bitter feeling it is because of their destruction by
whomsoever accomplished.

"Woe be unto him from whom offense cometh."

The Author.

Greenwich, Conn.

May 1917.

[Illustration: 0027]



ARRAS

|It was half-past six o'clock on a summer's morning, and a deep-toned
bell in the cathedral sounded over the quaint gables of this really
Flemish city of Arras. Although we were in France, little difference
either in the people, costumes or architecture could be noted, so
mingled here were the characteristics of the French and the Belgians.
The sun was well up and gleamed hotly upon the old roof tops of the
town, old many of them in Shakespeare's day, and flooded with golden
light the quaint market place, now filled with swarming peasants. There
were great heaps of flowers here and there, among the booths containing
varied merchandise, and some of the market people were taking their
morning bowls of hot _café au lait_, made fresh in green and yellow
earthenware "biggins," over small iron braziers containing burning
charcoal. The odor was inviting, and as the people are always kindly
disposed towards the traveler who has _savoir faire_, one may enjoy
a fragrant and nourishing bowl with them in profitable and friendly
commune, for almost whatever he chooses to offer, and not rarely free
of any fee whatever save a "thank you," which is always received with
a gracious smile and a murmured "_N'pas d'quoi, M'sieu_," or an "_Au
plaisir_."

It was perchance a market morning in Arras, and the long open square
lined on either hand with strangely gabled Flemish houses, and closed at
the upper end by the admirable lofty towered Town Hall, was filling fast
with arrivals from the country round about.

Town Hall Arras

[Illustration: 0031]

Everything was fresh and clean from the late rains, and the air was
laden with the mingled perfume of flowers; with butter and cheese.
Country carts of extravagant design and painted green were unloading,
and the farmer's boys were fitting together the booths for the sale of
their varied commodities. Here and there were active dark complexioned
Hebraic looking men and women, hard faced and sinister, who presided
over stalls for the sale of cloth, shoes and the trinkets of small value
calculated to tempt the peasantry. A cinematograph booth, resplendent
with gilding, mirrors, and red and white paint, towered over the canvas
covered booths, and a "merry go round," somewhat shabby by contrast,
stood near it, its motive power, a small fat horse, contentedly eating
his breakfast out of a brass hooped pail. The shops were opening one by
one, displaying agricultural tools, and useful articles desired by
the peasants. One heard bargaining going on, sometimes in the Flemish
tongue, proving how near we were to Flanders, and sometimes in
Walloon. Both tongues are used here, and the costumes partake of their
characteristics, the women in neat if coarse stuffs, and the men in
stiff blue blouses, usually in wooden shoes, too. This was remarkable,
for the wooden shoe was fast vanishing from the towns. We noted too,
that women were abandoning the snowy white lace trimmed caps once
forming such a quaint feature of market day gatherings. Now various
hideous forms of black and purple bonnets, decked out with beads and
upstanding feathers disfigured them, but with what pride they were worn!

This market place at Arras was a sight worth a long journey to witness,
if but to see the display of animals, chickens, and flowers on a bright
sunny morning in the square beneath the tower of the Town Hall. The
fowls squawked and flapped their wings; dogs barked; horses neighed; and
hoarse voiced vendors called out their bargains. Here and there the fowl
were killed on the spot for the buyer, and carried off by rosy cheeked
unsentimental housewives, carried off, too, often hidden in bunches of
bright flowers.

Did I write unsentimental?--An error. Nowhere were the common people
more given to sentiment. Does not one remember the large room that la
belle madame at the 'Couronne d'or provided for the traveling painter,
who occupied it for two weeks, and during the season too, and when he
discovered on the morning of departure that it was not included in the
bill, on pointing out the omission to madame, did she not, and with the
most charming smile imaginable say, with a wave of her shapely brown
hands--"One could not charge for a room used as M'sieur's studio.
The honor is sufficient to the 'Couronne d'or." And how to repay such
kindness?

In an hour the noise and chattering of a market morning was in full
sway. And over all sounded the great bell of the Cathedral: other
church bells joined in the clamor, and at once began an accompaniment of
clattering wooden shoes over the rough cobbles towards the church doors.
Following these people up the street, we entered the dim pillared nave
of the old church. On Sundays and market days the interior formed a
picture not to be forgotten, and one especially full of human interest.
The nave was freer of modern "improvements" than most of the churches,
and there was much quiet dignity in the service. A large number
of confessional cabinets, some of very quaint and others of most
exquisitely carved details, were set against the walls. Some of these
had heavy green baize curtains to screen them instead of doors, and some
of the cabinets were in use, for the skirt of a dress was visible below
one of the curtains. The women before the altar knelt on the rush seats
of small chairs, resting their clasped hands, holding rosaries, on the
back, furnished with a narrow shelf between the uprights. They wore dark
blue or brown stuff dresses, and small plaid shawls. We noted that not
one of these wore wooden shoes or sabots. All on the contrary wore neat
leather shoes.

The women, especially the older ones, all turned their heads and
curiously examined us as we tip-toed about, without, however,
interrupting their incessant prayers for an instant. And they did not
seem to resent our presence in the church, or regard it as an intrusion.

In the subdued colored light from the painted windows, with the clouds
of incense rising, the proportions of the columns and the lancet
arches and windows were most impressive, and together with the kneeling
peasants made a very fine effect.

While there was little to be found in Arras that was really remarkable,
for the town was given over to the traffic in grain and the townspeople
were all very commercial, there were bits of the town corners and side
streets worthy of recording. Near the dominating Town Hall were many
types of ancient Flemish gabled houses, of which we shall not find
better examples even in Flanders itself. Arras was as noisy as any
Belgian market town where soldiers are stationed. There was the passing
of heavy military carts through the ill-paved streets; the clatter of
feet; the sounds of bugle and rolling of drum at sundown. The closing
of the cafés at midnight ended the day, while at dawn in the morning the
din of arriving and passing market wagons commenced again, followed by
the workmen and women going to their daily tasks at the factories.

"Do these people never rest?" asked Lady Anne, whose morning nap was
thus rudely interrupted. Ma-dame's answer came:

"Ah, indeed, yes. But not in the summer. Mark you, in the dark short
days of winter, there is little going on in Arras. Then we are very
quiet."

Urselines Tower: Arras

[Illustration: 0039]

The old town was old, very old. There were of course some modern looking
white houses of stucco in which we were told some rich people live, and
there were large blank walled factories with tall chimneys, from which
heavy black smoke poured the livelong day. There were plate glass
windows here and there, too, in some of the shops, with _articles de
Paris_ exposed for sale, and there were occasionally smooth pavements
to be found, but mainly there were quaint old corners, high old yellow
fronted, narrow windowed houses, and old, old men and older women
passing to and fro in the narrow by streets.

In one corner of the market place sat an ancient dame in a wonderful lace
cap, who presided over a huge pile of pale green earthenware pots of
various sizes and fine shapes, who all unconsciously made for me a
picture in sunlight and shadow; brown wrinkled hands busy with knitting;
brown wrinkled face and bright shrewd greeny blue eyes, twinkling below
the flaps of her lace cap; all against a worn, old, rusty-hinged green
door! I could not resist the opportunity. So in a convenient doorway I
paused to make a note of it without attracting much attention from the
passers-by.

Entering the wide "place" (there were two of these) one was confronted
by an astonishing vista of quaintly gabled Flemish houses on either
hand, all built mainly after one model but presenting some variations of
minor detail. These led to the Hotel de Ville. The houses were furnished
with arcades below supported by monolithic sandstone columns. The Hotel
de Ville, built in the sixteenth century (not a vestige of which remains
at this writing, April, 1917), was one of the most ornate in France. Its
fine Gothic façade rose upon seven quaintly different arcades, in the
elaborate Renaissance style, pierced by ornate windows with Gothic
tracery in the best of taste and workmanship. Overhead rose the graceful
Belfry, terminating in a gilded ducal crown at the height of some two
hundred and fifty feet. The weekly market fair was in full progress,
and the old Grand' Place was swarming with carts, animals, booths, and
chattering peasants. Before the Revolution, the Chapelle des Ardents
and the spire of La Sainte-Chapelle on the Petit' Place commemorated the
deliverance of Arras in the twelfth century from the plague called the
"_mal des ardents_," when the Virgin is believed to have given a candle
to two fiddlers, declaring that "water into which a drop of its holy wax
had fallen would save all who drank it." *

Behind the dominating tower of the Hotel de Ville was the modern
Cathedral, formerly the abbey church of St. Vaast, with an unfinished
tower of 1735.

We found in the Chapel of the Virgin the tomb of Cardinal de la Tour
d' Auvergne-Lauraguais, and the twelfth century tombs of an abbot, of
Philippe de Torcy, a governor of Arras, and his wife. The treasury is
said to have contained the blood-stained "_rochet_" worn by Thomas à
Becket when he was murdered, but the sacristan refused to show it unless
he was first paid a fee of two francs, which we thought exorbitant.

     *  Hare's "Northeastern France."

Arras was the capital of the Gallic tribe "Atrebates," and even in the
dim fourth century was famous for the manufacture of woolen cloth, dyed
with the madder which grows luxuriously in the neighborhood. The wearing
of tapestry hangings gave Arras a high reputation, and examples are
preserved in the museums of France and England, where the name of the
town is used to identify them. The art has long since ceased to exist,
needless to say.

Briefly, the town followed the fortunes of the Pays d' Artois, of which
it was the capital, passing by marriage from the house of France to
Burgundy, Flanders, Burgundy again, Germany and Spain. After the battle
of Agincourt, the English and French signed the treaty of peace at
Arras. The town was finally incorporated with France in 1640.

According to legend one of the ancient gates, of which no trace now
remains, bore the proud distich=

```"Quand les souris prendront les chats,

```Le roi sera seigneur d'Arras."=

which is said to have so enraged Louis of France that he expelled the
whole population, abolishing even the name of Arras, which he changed to
that of Franchise.

Here was born the great Robespierre, but we were unable to find the
house, or even the street in which it was situated, nor could any of the
ecclesiastics to whom we applied for information enlighten us in regard
to the matter.

The Cathedral, a romanesque structure, at an angle of the abbey
buildings, and approached by high stone steps broken by a platform, was
built in 1755. Perhaps if we had not seen it after having feasted our
eyes upon the exquisite details of the Hotel de Ville, it might have
seemed more impressive and interesting. It contained some good pictures,
including a "Descent from the Cross," and "The Entombment," attributed
to Rubens and Van Dyck respectively.

The high altar enshrined a notable bas-relief in gilt bronze. The
Abbatial buildings were occupied by the 'Evéche, Seminary, Library, and
the Musée, the latter containing a lot of modern paintings, badly hung,
and seemingly indifferent in quality.

In the cloisters, however, were rooms containing an archaeological
collection of sculptures and architectural fragments, and a small
collection of Flemish pictures by "Velvet" Breughel, Heemskerk, N. Maes
and others, and upstairs, a fine model of an antique ship, "offered"
by the States of Artois to the American Colonies in the War of
Independence. One wonders why it was never sent.

At the end of a quiet street which crossed the busy and crowded Rue St.
Aubert, we came upon the remains of a remarkable old town gate, and
the remains, too, of the ancient fortified walls, and farther on, the
dismantled citadel constructed by the great Vauban in 1670, and called
"La Belle Inutile." Here in this region, called the "cockpit of Europe,"
for ages incessant wars have been waged, covering the land with such a
network of evidences of bitterly fought rivalries as no other portion of
the earth can show, and when no foreign foe had to be baffled or beaten
off, then the internecine wars of clan against clan have flooded the
fair land with gore and ruin.

But all was peaceful here about this old town this bright morning in
July, 1910. There was no evidence of the red waves of the wars which
had rolled over and eddied about this very spot, save the old dismantled
Vauban tower and the remains of the ancient wall, in which we were only
mildly interested. It was the present day's wanderings which interested
us more; the lives of the peasants, their customs and their daily
occupations. Time seemed to stand still here without any consciousness
of backwardness. Nothing hurried at Arras, and change for the sake
of change had no attraction for it. The ways of the fathers were good
enough for the children.

There was a newspaper here, of course, but yet the town crier held his
own,--a strange looking old man in a long crinkly blue blouse, balloon
like trousers of velveteen corduroy, wooden shoes and a broad brimmed
felt hat. A drum hung suspended from his shoulder by a leather strap.
He was followed by a small procession of boys and girls. He stopped and
beat a vigorous tattoo on the drum; windows above and doors below were
filled with heads as if by magic. He produced a folded paper from his
pocket, glanced about him proudly conscious of the importance of the
occasion, and read in a loud voice some local news of interest, and then
announced the loss of something or other, with notice to hand whatever
it was to the commissaire de Police, and then marched off down the
street to repeat the performance at the next corner. The heads vanished
from the windows like the cuckoos of German clocks, and the street
was quiet again. Who could have believed that such a custom could have
survived in the days of telegraph and telephone, and in a city of, say,
thirty thousand inhabitants?

The old streets and highways about the town were indescribably
attractive, and beyond in the country, the shaded ways beneath large
trees offered charming vistas, and shelter from the sun. The people
seemed to have an intuitive feeling for harmony, and little or nothing
in or about the cottages, save an occasional odoriferous pig sty,
offended one.

Colors melted into half tones in the most seductive fashion, and there
was, too, an insistent harmony in the costumes of the peasants, the
stain of time on the buildings or the grayish greens of the landscape.

But of all this the peasant was most certainly unconscious. The glories
of nature and her marvelous harmonies were no more to him than to the
beast of the field. He was hard of heart, brutal of tongue and mean of
habit. Balzac has well described him in his "Sons of the Soil." Money
was his god, and greed his pursuit. Yet all about him nature bloomed and
fructified, while he toiled and schemed, his eyes ever bent earthwards.
The peasant had no sentiment. It was best therefore to view him
superficially, and as part of the picturesqueness of the country, like
the roofs and gables of the old town, say, without seeking out secrets
of the "menage" behind the walls.

We were interested in the various occupations of these semi-Flemish
peasants, and the cries of the vendors in the streets in the early
morning. Most of these cries were unintelligible to us because of the
mixed patois, but it amused us to identify the cry of the vendor
of eels, which was most lugubrious--a veritable wail of distress,
seemingly. And when we saw her in the street below our windows, laden
with two heavy baskets containing her commodity, her fat rosy face
lifted to the sky, her appearance so belied the agonizing wail that we
laughed aloud--and then--she heard us! What vituperation did she not
address to us? Such a vocabulary, too! although we did not understand
more than a few words she made it very plain that she regarded us as
most contemptible beings.

"_Miserable espece de Mathieux_" she called up to us again and again.
Whatever that meant, whatever depths of infamy it denoted, we did not
know, nor did we ever find out. We were much more careful thereafter,
and kept away from the window, for setting down her baskets she planted
herself on the curb opposite and there presiding over the curious group
of market people whom she had collected about her, she raged and stormed
with uplifted fat red arms gesticulating at our windows, until the
crowd, wearying of her eloquence, gradually melted away. We never saw
her again.

There was also the seller of snails, whose cry was a series of ludicrous
barks and cackles. I don't know how else to describe the extraordinary
sounds he made. They quite fascinated us, for he varied them from
time to time, taking seemingly much enjoyment in the ingenuity of
his performance. His baskets, which hung by brass chains from a green
painted yoke on his shoulders, contained a collection of very large
snails, all, as he said, freshly boiled, and each shell being closed by
a seal of fresh yellow butter, sprinkled, I think, with parsley (I
never tasted them), and prettily reposing upon a bed of crisp pale green
lettuce leaves. These seem to be highly esteemed by the people.

Our chief search in Arras, after valuing the ancient halls and the
limited treasures of the museum, was for some examples of the wonderful
tapestries known far and near by the name of "Arras." In vain we sought
a specimen; there was none in the museum, nor in the town hall either.
Those whom we thought might be able to assist us in our search professed
ignorance of any such article, and the priest whom we met in the
cathedral, directed us to the local furniture shop for what he called
"_belle tapis_" So we gave it up, most reluctantly, however.

It is strange that not one example could be found in the town of this
most renowned tapestry, for this ancient town enjoyed a reputation
second to none in the low countries for art work of the loom. Cloth
and all manner of woolen stuffs were the principal articles of Flemish
production, but it was chiefly from England that Flanders drew her
supply of wool, the raw material of her industry, and England was her
great market as early as the middle of the twelfth century. There was a
great guild established in London called the Flemish "Hanse," to which
the merchants sent their manufacture. It was governed by a burgher of
Bruges who was styled "Count of the Hanse."

"The merchants of Arras became so prosperous and powerful, that (says a
chronicler), Marguerite II, called The Black, countess of Flanders
and Hainault, 1244 to 1280, was extremely rich, not only in lands but
furniture, jewels, and money; and, as is not customary with women, she
was right liberal and right sumptuous, not alone in her largesses, but
in her entertainments and whole manner of living; insomuch that she kept
up the state of a queen rather than a countess." (Kervyn de Lettenhove,
Histoire d' Flandre, t, ii. p. 300.)

To Arras, in common with the neighboring towns, came for exchange
the produce of the North and the South, the riches collected in the
pilgrimages to Novogorod, and those brought over by caravans from
Samarcand and Bagdad,--the pitch of Norway and oils of Andalusia, the
furs of Russia and dates from the Atlas, the metals from Hungary and
Bohemia, the figs of Granada, the honey of Portugal, the wax of Morocco
and the spices from Egypt: "Whereby" says the ancient manuscript, "no
land is to be compared in merchandise to this land."

And so, even if the guide books do dismiss Arras at the end of a few
curt details with the words "The Town is now given over to various
manufactures, and its few attractions may be exhausted between trains,"
Arras certainly did offer to the curious tourist many quaint vistas,
a Town Hall of great architectural individuality, and in her two
picturesque squares, the "Grand' Place" and the "Petit' Place," a
picture of antiquity not surpassed by any other town in Northern France.

Saint Jean Baptiste: Arras

[Illustration: 0053]

Quoting that eminent architect, Mr. Ralph Adams Cram, "We may pause in
spirit in Arras (it would not be well to be there now in body, unless
one were a soldier in the army of the Allies, when it would be perilous,
but touched with glory), for sight of an old, old city that gave a
vision, better than almost any other in France, of what cities were
in this region at the high-tide of the Renaissance. It is gone now,
utterly, irremediably, and the ill work begun in the revolution and
continued under the empire, when the great and splendid Gothic Cathedral
was sold and destroyed, has been finished by Prussian shells.

"Capital of Artois, it had a vivid and eventful history, continuing
under Baldwin of the Iron Arm, who became the first Count of Arras; then
being halved between the Count of Flanders and the King of France; given
by St. Louis to his brother Robert, passing to the Counts of Burgundy,
reverting to Louis de Male, of Flemish fame, abandoned to the Emperor,
won back by France;... coming now to its end at the hands of the German
hosts.

"What Arras must have been before the Revolution we can only guess, but
its glorious Cathedral, its Chappelle des Ardents, and its 'Pyramid
of the Holy Candle' added to its surviving Town Hall, with its
fantastically beautiful spire, and its miraculously preserved streets
and squares lined with fancifully gabled and arcaded houses, it must
have been a sanctuary of old delights. The Cathedral was of all styles
from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, while the Chapel and the
Pyramid were models of medieval art in its richest state. Both were
destroyed by one Lebon, a human demon and an apostate priest, who
organised a 'terror' of his own in his city, and has gone down to
infamy for his pestilential crime. Both the destroyed monuments
were votive offerings in gratitude to Our Lady for her miraculous
intervention in the case of the fearful plague in the twelfth century,
the instrument of preservation being a certain holy candle, the melted
wax from which was effective in preserving the life of all it touched.
The Pyramid was a slender Gothic tabernacle and spire, ninety feet
high, standing in the 'Petit' Place,' a masterpiece of carved and gilded
sculpture, unique of its kind. Every vestige has vanished,--Berlin has
just announced that it has been completely and intentionally destroyed
by gun-fire.

"The fine vigor of the Renaissance and its life were gone with the color
and gold of the carved and painted shrines and houses, the fanciful
costumes, the alert civic life.--Wantonly destroyed!"

Madeline Wartelle, a voluntary nurse, who was in Arras during the great
bombardment in July, 1915, wrote in the volume "Les Cites Meurtries"
the following account of her experiences during the destruction of the
Cathedral and the other noble buildings.

"On July 2d, about six o'clock in the evening several shells fell upon
the Cathedral. Then followed a calm for two hours. At half past eight,
a bomb dropped from above, set fire to the house of M. Daquin in the rue
de' l'Arsenal, and in a few moments the flames were mounting to a great
height. When the firemen (_pompiers_) arrived, the fire had already
spread to the house of Mme. Cornnan, and could not be confined even
to the neighboring ones. During and following this catastrophe, at
one o'clock in the morning, an avalanche of great bombs, those called
'Marmites,' fell all over this quarter of the town. This time, alas,
we had no trouble in getting all the details of the happening, for our
house collapsed, being struck by the second bomb dropped by the 'Taube,'
which went through the roof to the cellar. Luckily, we had gone to R--s
when the fire broke out, and thus we all escaped.

"Forced to leave (Arras) we did not see the demolishment of the
Cathedral and the Palace of St. Vaast on Monday, July 5th, but I
set down here what I have learned from the lips of a witness of the
deplorable 'aneantisment.'

"From six o'clock on that date, the gun-fire of the 'Huns' was
especially directed at the Cathedral, and the fire which ensued spread
to the end of the Palace of St. Vaast, which contained the archives
of the town, and which was entirely consumed, and spreading further
likewise destroyed the Library and the Museum of the Seminary. The fire
department did what it could to save the books and sacred objects, but
their efforts were in vain, such was the rain of projectiles from the
'Taubes' above, and the shells from the great guns miles away. So the
order to evacuate was given by the authorities.

"At one o'clock the following morning the smouldering fire in the
Cathedral was fanned by a high wind which sprang up, and soon enveloped
the whole interior; the two great organs, the large pulpit, and the
Bishop's stalls were entirely consumed. The fire in the Cathedral burned
two whole days, watched by a mourning throng of the townspeople, who
thus braved death by the falling bombs. All was consumed but the great
door on the rue des Charriottes, which did not fall until the week
following. On the twelfth day, at five in the morning, the fire
demolished the Bishopric, and the Chapel of the great Seminary. Nothing
is now left but a heap of smoking cinders and ashes, from which some
charred beams protrude. The treasured Chateau d'Eau is gone!"

Château, d'Eau: Arras

[Illustration: 0061]

"Happily, the 'Descent from the Cross' by Rubens, which decorated the
Cathedral was removed from its place some hours before the fire, when
the first of the great shells fell upon the town, and secreted by the
priests. Also two 'triptychs' by Jean Bellegambe were saved by M. Levoy,
who buried them in the cellar of the Chateau of the Counte de
Hauteclocque. Curiously enough, some little time after they were thus
secreted, a shell penetrated this cellar, but it is said that the damage
to the pictures is small and may easily be repaired.

"The Abbe Miseron, Vicar of the Cathedral, himself, at the peril of his
life saved some of the most precious objects in the Treasury. He says
(happily) that the great tombs of the Bishops, though buried beneath the
ashes of the Cathedral, have suffered small damage.

"Of the four colossal statues of the Evangelists, not a trace remains;
they are entirely pulverized by the great shells exploding before them.

"Of the Library, too, not a trace remains! Some of the archives have, I
hear, been saved, together with a number of paintings, and M. Dalimeir,
under secretary of Beaux Arts has decided to send them to Paris. All the
rest has vanished. A fragment of the plan in relief of the old town of
Arras, formerly in the Invalides was saved, but nothing remains of the
Roman antiquities which were discovered in the caves beneath the town,
nor of the old tapestries, nor the faience, nor of the objects which
filled the galleries of Natural History in the museum.--All is gone!

"In eleven months since the bombardment began, one hundred and
seventy-five of our citizens have been killed in the streets and in
their houses, and the number of wounded is more than double that number.
After the demolition of our charming home, we found shelter for three
nights in the cellar of a kind neighbor, but on the fifth of July, in
the early morning, we had to take in our turn 'le chemin d' 'Exil.' For
nine months now we have had to retreat from place to place, each filled
with possible dangers, and certain discomfort, but with hearts filled
too with profound emotion, and the hope that we may soon return to our
beloved town and to our charming old home, our house so beloved--so
peaceful once in those happy days, when the pigeons cooed on the
eaves in the warm sunlight, the swallows darting to their nests on the
chimney--all the cherished souvenirs of those past days--my tears--"...
Our poor town"--(_ville Meurtrie_).

"Around about Arras, the villages, once so smiling and prosperous, are
now all in ruins.--Later on when glorious peace breaks upon the land of
France, each hamlet shall be starred upon the pages of the golden book
of history. And this black page of war once closed, that Arras-la-Morte
shall rise from her ruins and ashes, more beautiful than ever, is my
prayer."

(Signed) Madeline Wartelle.


July, 1915.

In the _Journal Officiel_, of Paris, is the following:=

````Ministère de la Guerre.

```Citation à l' ordre de l' Armée.=

Wartelle (Madeleine), Infirmière volontaire à l' ambulance 1/10 du Saint
Sacrement: N'a cessé de prodiguer des Soins aux blessés et de fournir
aux médicins la plus précieuse collaboration; a contribué par une action
personnelle, lors du bombardment du 25 Juin, à sauver les blessés en les
mettant hors d'atteinte des projectiles ennemis (27 Septembre 1915).=

````Ministère de l'Intérieur.=

Le Gouvernement porte la connaissance du pays la belle conduite de Mlle.
Wartelle (Madeleine): a fait preuve, dans des circonstances tragiques,
du plus grand courage.

Alors que l'ambulance du Saint-Sacrement à Arras, où elle était
infirmière voluntaire, venait d' etre violemment bombardée, que des
soldats et des religieuses etaient tués, elle est demeurée résolument à
son poste, ardent à descendre à la cave les blessés, prodignant à tous
ses soins empressés. (28 Novembre 1915.)



LILLE

|OUR fruitless search in Arras for some examples of the ancient
tapestries somewhat dampened the ardor of our tour at the very
beginning. But in the train on our way to Lille we Had a charming view
of suburban Arras lying basking in the sun, all girt by its verdant belt
of dense dark green trees. From the window of the railway carriage we
saw the horizon expand, and hill after hill unroll, covered with waving
corn, and realized that France s great northern granary lay spread
before our eyes, the fields like cabochon emeralds set royally in virgin
gold.

Approaching Lille one got the impression of a region in which the
commonweal formed the keynote, so to speak, and after the beauties
surrounding quaint Arras, it seemed somewhat sordid. The embossed
fair green hills were replaced by level plains; the smiling cornfields
vanished before barren brown moors. The wealth of the earth here lay
far below the plains, and man was busied in bringing it to the surface.
Ceres gave way to Vulcan: Prosperous picturesque farmsteads were
displaced by high black and ugly furnaces from which tremendous volumes
of pitch black smoke issued the live-long day, and maybe the night as
well. The stacks of grimy chimneys were seemingly as high as the spires
of churches, and ashes and dust covered all. Lille is in the coal
region. Somehow as we approached it we thought of our own Pittsburgh.
The latter is no whit dirtier, but it is not so picturesque as was
Lille. Roubaix, on the horizon, is even dirtier, so a traveling
companion informed us, and gave us other information which kept us away
from that Flemish town. Lille was said to be the administrative factor
of northern France, in point of industry. The town had upwards of one
hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants, among whom there were some
possessed of great fortunes. These built for themselves houses of
magnificent proportions on both sides of boulevards leading nowhere. In
this region we found a café restaurant of princely aspect "as good as
any in Paris," the townspeople proudly said, with a huge mansard roof,
and a tower which did not fit it. On the river bank, lined with barges,
were two fine promenades, brand new, and at the end of one was an
artificial waterfall with plenty of water falling over artificial rocks
in doubtful taste, of which the Lilleois were so pathetically proud that
we could only smilingly agree to their extravagant joy in it as a work
of art. Here we found American made tram cars running through the
rather commonplace streets, which however were teeming with life and
"business." In response to a question, a "cabby" urged as the greatest
attraction a ride out to the hydraulic works situated on a plain, where
a great engine pumped drinking water from a deep well inclosed in brick
work. The whole atmosphere of the place was like unto that of one of
our own Yankee towns. But there were, of course, some notable and
picturesque buildings in Lille. There was the Exchange, the chief
architectural ornament of the city, and really it was impossible to see
it without pausing in admiration of its characteristics. Occupying, as
it did, the great Market Place, I know of no other building like it save
perhaps the Exchange in Antwerp, that lovely semi-Moorish hall with its
shield-emblazoned frieze, and its lofty glass ceiling. This one at Lille
was, of course, smaller, but it had the great advantage of being free
from encroaching buildings, and standing quite alone, being visible from
all four sides.

Then, too, it was a genuine example of its order of architecture, a
beautifully preserved specimen of the ancient Spanish style, with
an added touch here and there of Italian Renaissance which blended
charmingly. The walls were of Flemish red brick, while the Atrium, open
to the sky, and serving as an inner court, was pure Italian. Here was
a fine bronze statue of Napoléon I, all clad in imperial robes, about
which the busy, bustling merchants of Lille transacted some of their
business in the afternoons. In the mornings we found most delightful
solitude here in this court, which then by contrast seemed liker unto
the cloisters of some abbey than the busy commercial center it was later
in the day. Emblazoned here upon marble slabs one could read of the
records of famous citizens of the town whose deeds were esteemed as
precious and noteworthy. It is said that it was at either Lille or
Tournai that Napoleon found the golden bees which he adopted for the
Imperial insignia, these being taken from the tomb of a Frankish king.

We were further reminded of the Palais Royal in Paris, in the small
shops, most brilliantly lighted at night, which formed the outer ring of
the building. Here were displayed _bijoux-or-et-argent_, and also more
or less exquisitely made robes for Madame de Lille.

The upper part of the building, which was two-storied, had dormer
windows, and a quadrant of beautifully designed and executed interlaced
stonework with a profusion of caryatides, pilasters, and bands of carved
stone fruit and garlands of flowers, all of the greatest richness,
within an astonishingly small space. Nowhere could we find the name of
the architect, but it is said that the foundation was laid in 1652 by
the Spanish. Workmen were busy cleaning a small turret of most
graceful design which rose from above the walls of this quaint old
Hispano-Flemish monument, and I noted the care with which the work was
being done, a pleasing testimonial to the love of the people of Lille
for their ancient work of art.

The Rihour Palace was far greater in size than the Exchange, but it did
not match it in importance. The greater part of it was modern, for it
was almost destroyed in the eighteenth century. Used as a town hall in
the time of Louis Philippe, it became a sort of academy of art, wherein
was displayed, and very well, too, a princely collection of paintings
of Flemish and Dutch schools, and also the great collection of drawings
known as the "Wicar Legacy," representing the Italian school, and
containing a piece of sculpture of which all the museums of Europe
envied that of Lille.

This in the catalogue was described as, "A waxen head of Raphael's time,
titled thus by the hand of Wicar himself when in 1834 he drew up in Rome
the inventory of the old Italian art collection." * Huet regards this
as a marvel that one should not miss seeing. He says, "In truth, one
fancies himself to be looking at the transparent, softly tinted face of
one of Raphael's Madonnas. Innocence and gentleness dispute each other
the palm in the expression of the features, they have settled on the
pure brow, they play tranquilly and somewhat sadly around the mouth,
they are crowned by the plaits of the fair tresses." We admired the head
and treasured Wicar's description of it.

     * "The Land of Rubens," C. B. Huet.

Enumeration of the treasures contained in the Palais des Beaux
Arts would take a volume in itself. Suffice it to say here that the
collection contained in this edifice was among the most important in all
France.

Rumors have appeared in print during the last two years, that this whole
collection has been carefully packed and sent to Berlin. At this date of
writing (May, 1917) Lille has not yet been evacuated by the Germans,
and we are told that none of the buildings has been destroyed save some
unimportant ones near the railway station. Just what will be the fate
of the town may be conjectured when one reflects upon what happened to
Noyon, to Rheims, to Soissons, and to St. Quentin, when the invaders
were no longer able to hold them.

Let us pray that the Musée Wicar may be spared, by some happy chance.
Wicar was an artist who died in 1834, who made a great deal of money
by his work, and whose real hobby was the collection of the drawings
by great masters, including nearly two hundred and fifty drawings by
Michelangelo, sixty-eight by Raphael, and a large number by Francia,
Titian and others, besides endless examples of the Renaissance.

Statue of Jeanne d'Arc: Rheims

[Illustration: 0077]

Wandering about in Lille one came upon some handsome buildings behind
the Hôtel de Ville in the Rue du Palais, which proved to be those of the
Military Hospital, formerly a Jewish college. Here was an ancient chapel
of the seventeenth century, containing a remarkable altar, and some huge
dark paintings which may have been good, but the light was so dim,
and they were hung so high that it was impossible to examine them.
Continuing the wandering one reached the fine old town gate, the ancient
Porte de la Barre, in a good state of preservation. There were a number
of these gates. The old Porte de Paris was part of the fortifications,
and built in the form of a sort of triumphal arch to the honor of Louis
XVI. Some quaint streets as yet untouched by the march of commercialism,
led from here into busy thoroughfares teeming with life and activity.
One, running eastwards from the Porte de Paris, passed between a square
and the old Hôtel du Génie, and this led one to the Gothic church of
St. Sauveur, noteworthy for its double aisles, and most elaborate white
marble high altar, carved in the Gothic style and with a bewildering
detail and accompaniment of statues and alto-reliefs. There was also the
great church of St. Maurice in the Flamboyant style, with a most notable
west portal, most carefully restored in very good taste. An open-work
spire of stone rose above it, all of admirable character. The interior
proved to be distinguished by the width of the nave and the double
aisles all of the same height, and by the richness of the effect lent by
the remarkable lightness of the columns.

The handsomest streets of the old town were the Rue Esquermoise and the
Rue Royale. Near the entrance to the latter was the ancient church
of St. Catherine, founded in the twelfth century, and rebuilt in its
present style in the sixteenth, and restored again in the eighteenth
century. Here above the altar was a fine "Martyrdom of St. Catherine,"
by Rubens.

In common with the other Flemish cities of Douai, Cambrai, and
Valenciennes, Lille suffered regularly from sieges and sackings,
invasions and conquests from its very beginnings. "In June, 1297, Philip
the Handsome, in person, laid siege to Lille, and on the 13th of August,
Robert, Count of Artois, at the head of the French chivalry, gained
at Furnes, over the Flemish army a victory which decided the campaign.
Lille capitulated."

"The English reinforcements arrived too late and served no other purpose
but that of inducing Philip to grant the Flemings a truce for two years.
A fruitless attempt was made with the help of Pope Boniface VIII, to
change the truce into a lasting peace. The very day on which it expired,
Charles, Count of Valois, and brother of Philip the Handsome, entered
Flanders with a powerful army, surprised Douai,... gave a reception to
its magistrates who came and offered him the keys. 'The burghers of the
towns of Flanders,' says a chronicler of the age, 'were all bribed by
gifts or promises from the King of France, who would never have dared to
invade their frontier had they been faithful to their Count.' The
Flemish communes desired the peace necessary for the prosperity of their
commerce; but patriotic anxieties wrested with material interests....

"In the spring of 1304 the cry of war resounded everywhere. Philip had
laid an import extraordinary upon all real property in his kingdom;
regulars and reserves had been summoned to Arras to attack the Flemings
by land and sea. He had taken into his pay a Genoese fleet commanded by
Regnier de Grimaldi, a celebrated Italian admiral; and it arrived in
the North Sea, blockaded Zierickzee, a maritime town of Zealand....
The Flemish fleet was beaten. A great battle took place on the 17th
of August between the two great land armies at Mons-en-Puelle, or
Mont-en-Pévèle, according to the true local spelling, near Lille. The
action was for some time indecisive, and even after it was over both
sides hesitated about claiming a victory; but when the Flemings saw
their camp swept off and rifled, and when they no longer found in it
'their fine stuffs of Bruges and Ypres, their wines of Rochelle, their
beers of Cambrai, and their cheeses of Bethune,' they declared that they
would return to their hearths; and their leaders, unable to restrain
them, were obliged to shut themselves up in Lille, whither Philip, who
had himself retired to Arras, came to besiege them. When the first days
of downheartedness were over, and the danger which threatened Lille, and
the remains of the Flemish army became evident, all Flanders rushed to
arms.

"The labors of the workshop and the field were everywhere suspended; the
women kept guard in the towns; you might traverse the country without
meeting a single man, for they were all in the camp at Courtrai, to the
number of twelve hundred thousand (!) according to popular exaggeration,
swearing to one another that they would rather die fighting than live in
slavery. Philip was astounded.

"'I thought the Flemings were destroyed,' said he, 'but they seem to
rain from heaven.'

"The burghers of Bruges had made themselves a new seal whereon the old
symbol of the bridge of their city on the river Reye was replaced by the
Lion of Flanders, wearing the crown and armed with the cross, with this
inscription: 'The Lion hath roared and burst his fetters' (Rugiit leo,
Vincula fregit).

"During ten years, from 1305 to 1314, there was between France
and Flanders a continual alternation of reciprocal concessions and
retractions, of treaties concluded and of renewed insurrections without
decisive and ascertained results. It was neither peace nor war; and
after the death of Philip the Handsome, his successors were destined for
a long time to come to find again and again amongst the Flemish communes
deadly enmities and grievous perils." *

     * Guizot's "History of France."

What wonder then that Lille retains so few remarkable public monuments.
Perhaps of all the Flemish towns she suffered most from pillage and
fire. Farther on in the Rue Royale, beyond the statue of General
Négrier, was the eighteenth century church of St. André, once belonging
to the "Carmes déchaussés," where there were some good paintings by
a native artist, Arnould de Vuez, who enjoyed considerable celebrity.
Following the attractive quays along the river front, which was teeming
with life and movement, one reached the small square of St. Martin,
where was the church of "Notre Dame de la Trielle," which is said to
have occupied the site of the ancient moated Chateau du Buc, which
formed the origin of the city of Lille, and which the Flemish to this
day call Ryssel. A fortress of the first class, Lille's citadel is
said to have been Vauban's masterpiece, and perhaps this is one of
the reasons why the invaders of 1914 surrounded it with the network of
concrete trenches and galleries which formed the angle of the famous
Hinden-burg line after the disastrous retreat from Arras in April, 1917.
So far Lille has not suffered very much from the bombardment of this
present year, but it is safe to say now that the invader will not spare
it in retreat.



AMIENS

|THERE was no better way of realizing the great bulk and height of the
Cathedral than by proceeding to the banks of the river Somme northward,
and from this point appraising its architectural wonder rising above
the large and small old gray houses, tier above tier, misted in the soft
clouds of gray smoke from their myriad chimneys, capped with red dots of
chimney pots, "a giant in repose."

In approaching Amiens the traveler was offered no "coup d'oeil" like
that of other cathedral towns; here "this largest church in the world
except St. Peter's, at Rome," was hidden from view as one entered the
town, and followed the Rue des Trois Cailloux, along what was formerly
the boundaries of the ancient walls. It was difficult to obtain a good
view of the façade, that of the west point was seen from a parvis, which
qualified the difference in level between the east and west ends, and
here was the central porch which took its name, "Porche de le Beau Dieu
d'Amiens," from the figure of the Savior on its central pillar, and of
which Ruskin wrote, "at the time of its erection, it was beyond all that
had then been reached of sculptured tenderness."

It is not known at this time of writing (May, 1917) whether Amiens
has suffered greatly at the hands of the Germans. Perhaps without its
destruction there have been sufficient crimes committed against the
church in the name of military necessity, and it thus has been spared.

For some reason or other Ruskin was not overenthusiastic over Amiens.
He described the beautiful "flèche," which rose so gracefully from
the great bulk against the sky, as "merely the caprice of a village
carpenter," and he further declared that the Cathedral of Amiens is "in
dignity inferior to Chartres, in sublimity to Beauvais, in decorative
splendor to Rheims, and in loveliness of figure sculpture to Bourges."
On the other hand, the great Viollet-le-Duc called it the "Parthenon of
Gothic Architecture."

Of the two authorities, one may safely pin one's faith to the opinion
of the eminent Frenchman, who spent his life in restoring great works
rather than in abusing them.

Whewell says: "The mind is filled and elevated by the enormous height
of the building (140 feet), its lofty and many colored clerestory, its
grand proportions, its noble simplicity. The proportion of height to
breadth is almost double that to which we are accustomed in English
cathedrals; the lofty solid piers, which bear up this height, are far
more massive in their plan than the light and graceful clusters of
our English churches, each of them being a cylinder with four engaged
columns. The polygonal E apse is a feature which we seldom see, and
nowhere so exhibited, and on such a scale; and the peculiar French
arrangement which puts the walls at the outside edge of the buttresses,
and thus forms interior chapels all around, in addition to the aisles,
gives a vast multiplicity of perspective below, which fills out the idea
produced by the gigantic height of the center. Such terms will not be
extravagant when it is recollected that the roof is half as high again
as Westminster Abbey." Indeed this great height is only surpassed by
that of one cathedral in all of France--Beauvais.

The vast arches here rose to nearly half the height of the structure,
and then above these the architect placed a lovely band or frieze of
carved foliage; then the triforium, and above this the glorious windows,
separated from each other only by tall slender pillars springing
gracefully from heavier ones. Nearly all the original painted glass was
destroyed in the thirteenth century, but that which replaced it was of a
certainty entirely satisfying.

Between two immense pillars at the entrance to the nave were the heavily
ornamented gilded brass tombs of the Bishops who founded the Cathedral.
That on the left was Geoffroi d'Eu, who died in 1236, and on the right
was that of Evrard de Fouilloy, who died in 1223. Each shows a recumbent
figure in full robes inclosed in Gothic canopies with pointed arches,
and sustained by lions. The great organ loft was beneath the magnificent
"rose de mer" window which was filled with the arms of the house of
Firmin de Coquerel. In the choir were one hundred and ten carved stalls,
said to have been designed and made by local artists of Amiens, and
these alone would have made any cathedral noteworthy. According to that
eminent authority, Mr. Francis Bond, the height of the nave and the
aisles is three times their span, and this feature gave the effect for
which the architect worked, that is, a splendid blaze of luminosity
shining down into gloomy and most mysterious shadow. This blaze of
light and color came not only from the clerestory, but also from the
triforium, in which the superb blue glass shone with celestial splendor.

The meaning of the word "triforium" is perhaps somewhat obscure to all
save architects. Herbert Marshall * defines the word as "Applied to the
ambulatory or passage, screened by an arcade, which runs between the
pier arches and clerestory windows and is considered to refer to the
three openings, or spaces, 'trinae fores,' into which the arcading
was sometimes divided. It probably has nothing to do with openings
in multiples of three, nor with a Latinised form of 'thoroughfare' as
suggested by Parker's Glossary, although the main idea is a passage
running round the inside of a church, either as at Westminster, in the
form of an ambulatory chamber, or of a gallery pierced through the main
walls, from whence the structure may be inspected without the trouble of
using ladders. M. Enlart in his 'Manuel d'Archéologie Française' derives
the word from a French adjective, 'trifore,' or 'trifoire,' through the
Latin 'transforatus,' a passage pierced through the thickness of the
wall; and this idea of a passageway is certainly suggested by an
old writer, Gervase, who, in his description of the new cathedral of
Canterbury, rebuilt after the fire, alludes to the increased number
of passages round the church under the word 'triforia.' 'Ibi triforium
unum, hie duo in Choro, et in alâ ecclesiae tercium.'"

     * "Gothic Architecture in England."

Ruskin wrote in his diary under date of May 11th, 1857: "I had a happy
walk here (Amiens) this afternoon, down among the branching currents
of the Somme: it divides into five or six, shallow, green and not
over-wholesome; some quite narrow and foul, running beneath clusters of
fearful houses, reeling masses of rotten timber; and a few mere stumps
of pollard willow sticking out of the banks of soft mud, only retained
in shape of bank by being shored up with timbers; and boats like paper
boats, nearly as thin at least, for costermongers to paddle about
in among the weeds, the water soaking through the lath bottoms, and
floating the dead leaves from the vegetable baskets with which they were
loaded. Miserable little back yards, opening to the water, with steep
stone steps down to it, and little platforms for the ducks; and separate
duck staircases, composed of a sloping board with cross bits of wood
leading to the ducks' doors; and sometimes a flower pot or two on them,
or even a flower--one group of wall flowers and geraniums curiously
vivid, being seen against the darkness of a dyer's backyard, who had
been dyeing black, and all was black in his yard but the flowers, and
they fiery and pure; the water by no means so, but still working its way
steadily over the weeds, until it narrowed into a current strong enough
to turn two or three 'wind mills,' (!) one working against the side
of an old Flamboyant Gothic church, whose richly traceried buttresses
sloped down into the filthy stream; all exquisitely picturesque, and no
less miserable. (! ) We delight in seeing the figures in these boats,
pushing them about the bits of blue water, in Prout's drawings; but as
I looked to-day at the unhealthy face and melancholy mien of the man in
the boat pushing his load of peat along the ditch, and of the people,
men as well as women, who sat spinning gloomily at cottage doors, I
could not help feeling how many persons must pay for my picturesque
subject and happy walk."

The reader will probably exclaim: "Well, if this is Ruskin's idea of a
'happy walk,' what then would be his description of a gloomy one?"

We did not find the view of the town so squalid as this. Rising against
the golden glow of the evening sky, the great bulk of the Cathedral
massed itself in purple mist, its slender needle-like center tower and
spire piercing the sky. Below lay the dull reds and slaty grays of the
houses, concealed here and there by the massive foliage of the trees
that lined the river bank. Barges of picturesque shape were tied up to
the banks here and there, with lines of pink, white and blue freshly
washed clothes strung along the decks, where children played, and there
were brightly painted cabin deck houses, all white and green, from the
chimney pipes of which ascended long pale lines of smoke from the galley
stoves, showing that the evening meal was being cooked. On the decks of
these barges nervous shaggy dogs ran up and down barking furiously at
one thing or another; over all seemed to rest the air of well being and
sweet content. If there were stagnant pools of filthy water, as Ruskin
claimed, we saw them not, nor did the peasants seem unhealthy or
miserable to our eyes.

Amiens was delightful to look upon, and we drove back to the hotel quite
satisfied with our first view of it.

Day by day afterwards we haunted the great Cathedral, studying it from
every viewpoint. Again and again we returned to the choir to gloat over
the one hundred and ten magnificent stalls, carved as fluently as if
modeled in clay, the forms so flowing and graceful as to suggest living
branches, pinnacle crowning pinnacle, and detail of grace of design so
exquisite as to be almost painful to follow--"Imperishable, fuller of
leafage than any forest, and fuller of story than any book." (Ruskin.)
The outside wall of the choir was quite concealed by the most richly
Flamboyant Gothic archwork. In these arches were quantities of figures
of saints, all emblazoned with gold and crimson and blue. These groups
have been described by Lubke so well that I can do no better than quote
him: "St. John is shown when he sees Christ and points him out to the
multitude; then St. John preaching in the wilderness, and the Baptism
of Christ, which is arranged with peculiar beauty and simplicity; lastly
St. John as a preacher of repentance when the listening multitude is
depicted with life. Then there are four scenes: the Apprehension of St.
John; the Banquet, at which Herodias asks for the head of the Preacher
of Repentance--a scene executed with genre-like style, the figures
appearing in the costume of the period; the 'Beheading of St. John';
and, lastly, another banquet scene, in which the severed head appears on
the table, and Herodias puts out the eyes, at which her daughter sinks
in a swoon, and is caught up by a young man, while a page in horror runs
away with the dish. Below these larger representations, in the one case
in ten, in the other in five medallions, scenes from the youth of
St. John are depicted. The relief is more shallow, and with simple
arrangement is very attractive in expression."

The great blazing rose windows of the transept were named "Fire" and
"Water," but which was which we never quite discovered, because of a
difference of opinion held by those whom we questioned, but this did
not in the least affect our opinion of their great artistic value, or
interfere with our admiration.

In the south transept we readily found the gravestone in memory of the
Spanish Captain Hernando Tiello, who captured Amiens in 1597, and just
opposite, the great stone sarcophagus of the Canon Claude Pierre, who
must have been a canon of great importance, to have been so favored and
placed. In the Chapel of Notre Dame de Puy were a great number of marble
tablets emblazoned with the names of the Fraternity of Puy, and bore
reliefs in marble, showing scenes in the life of the Virgin Mary. Here
there was much intricate Flamboyant tracery framing some scenes in the
life of St. James the Great, of the sixteenth century style, presented
by Canon Guillaume Aucouteaux.

The north transept contained the fine monument of the Canon Jehan Wyts,
who died in 1523. This showed the temple at Jerusalem, in four
scenes depicting the "Sanctum," the "Atrium," the "Tabernaculum," and
"Sanctum-Sanctorum." In this transept was buried the remains of the
comic poet "Gresset," who flourished in the eighteenth century, and a
great shrine for the head of John the Baptist, said to be incased here,
and to have been brought from the Holy Land and presented with imposing
ceremonies, by the Crusader Wallon de Sarton, who was likewise Canon of
Picquigny. Singularly enough there were several other heads incased in
magnificent jeweled reliquaries which were to be seen in other churches,
notably in the south of France, and in Genoa, each one claiming, with
much documentary proof, to be the sole and only authentic head of the
Great Preacher of Repentance.

In one of the chapels in the left aisle of the nave, that of St. Saulve,
was a remarkable crucifix, which enjoyed great repute, for it was
gravely alleged to have bowed its head upon the occasion of the
installment of the sacred relics of St. Honoré.

Inside the great open porches the whole space was filled with the most
delicate fourteenth century lacework in stone. The principal one showed
on its frontal a statue of St. Michael conquering the dragon. The
fine ironwork of the doors was made in the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries by natives of Amiens, whose names are forgotten. Walter Pater
("Miscellaneous Studies") says: "The builders of the church seem to have
projected no very noticeable towers; though it is conventional to regret
their absence, especially with visitors from England, where indeed
cathedral and other towers are apt to be good and really make their
mark.... The great western towers are lost in the west front, the
grandest, perhaps the earliest, of its species--three profound
sculptured portals; a double gallery above, the upper gallery carrying
colossal images of twenty-two kings of the house of Judah, ancestors
of our Lady; then the great rose; above it the Singers' Gallery, half
marking the gable of the nave, and uniting at their topmost stories the
twin, but not exactly equal or similar towers, oddly oblong in plan as
if meant to carry pyramids or spires. In most cases these early Pointed
churches are entangled, here and there, by the construction of the old
round-arched style, the heavy Norman or other, Romanesque chapel or
aisle, side by side, though in strange contrast, with the soaring new
Gothic nave or transept. But of the older manner of the round arch,
the 'plein-cintre,' Amiens has nowhere, or almost nowhere, a trace.
The Pointed style, fully pronounced, but in all the purity of its first
period, found here its completest expression."

Amiens, the ancient capital of Picardy, was one of the greatest of the
manufacturing towns of France. There were many large factories engaged
in the production of cashmere, velvet, linen, and woolens, and in the
early morning, and again at night, thousands of the employees filled the
streets of the town on their way to and from work. It was called by the
Ambiani, before it was captured by Cæsar, Samarobriva, and was their
chief town.

Christianity was introduced by St. Firmin in the year 301, which perhaps
is as far back as any one cares to go in the matter. And history farther
cautions the reader not to confound this St. Firmin with that other St.
Firmin, who was only a "Confessor" or something of the sort.

The Normans seem to have had a strong desire to put an end to the town,
for they regularly pillaged and burned it. The place was ceded to the
Duke of Burgundy in 1435, but was recovered in 1463 by Louis XI. The
Spaniards conquered it in 1597, but Henry IV retook it from them. The
Peace of Amiens between France, Great Britain, Spain and Holland was
signed here in 1802.

The battle of Amiens, in the Franco-Prussian War, resulted in the entry
of the Germans in November, 1870. Its present fate is problematical,
but it would seem, in view of the retirement of the invader northward of
Arras and Lens, that the great and noble monuments of the ancient town
are now safe.

Heinrich Heine long ago wrote the following prophetic words:
"Christianity--and this is its highest merit--has in some degree
softened, but it could not destroy, the brutal German joy of battle.
When once the taming talisman, the Cross, breaks in two, the savagery
of the old fighters, the senseless Berserker fury, of which the Northern
poets sing and say so much, will gush up anew. That talisman is decayed,
and the day will come when it will piteously collapse. Then the old
stone gods will rise from the silent ruins, and rub the dust of a
thousand years from their eyes. Thor, with his giant's hammer, will at
last spring up, and shatter to bits the Gothic Cathedrals."



PÉRONNE

|THE delightful banks of the river Somme are imprinted on one's memory
among those "sweet places" where it would seem as though man could not
but choose to be happy, so liberally had nature decked them with her
gifts. Yet all of this region formerly known as Flanders, has from time
immemorial been war's favorite playground, "the Cockpit of Europe."

Even in the intervals of wars, strife equally bitter, if less bloody,
has raged here,--the struggle of industry against adequate reward. One
could never forget the sight of women laboring early and late in the
fields, or harnessed together at the end of long tow lines, painfully
dragging barges against the current of the river, or in the factory
yards, trampling with bare feet a mixture of coal dust and clay which,
molded into briquettes, was used as fuel.

Strangely enough, these women and girls, some of them of tender age,
seemed happy and content with their work. The sound of their singing as
they labored could be heard for a long distance. As the barges passed on
the river bank, with these women bending forward, straining at the yoked
ends of the tow rope, moving slowly step by step, we noted that not
seldom they were quite handsome of face, and of good figure. Invariably
they saluted us good humoredly with smiles, but when I removed my hat in
response, I could see that this courtesy struck them as unusual, and
did not leave the impression I desired. Thereafter I modified the
salutation.

At the inn in Péronne a young "commis-voyageur" with whom I made
conversation, and related this incident, told me that I had better
beware of offering such civilities in future, since these Amazons had
been known to seize strangers for fancied offenses, and after giving
them rough treatment, cast them into the river. He called upon the
proprietor of the inn to substantiate his warning, and the latter
satisfied me as to its truth, giving details which need not be set down
here, and which quite decided the matter.

Péronne as an historic and notable town was second to none in all
Picardy. Here the early kings had a great palace given to them by Clovis
II.

Hotel de Ville: Péroinne

[Illustration: 0107]

Erchinold, the Mayor, erected a monastery near by for Scotch monks,
presided over by St. Fursy. Not a trace of this now remains. It is said
to have contained the tomb of Charles the Simple, who died of famine
at the hands of Hubert in a dungeon. When Philip d'Alsace, Count of
Vermandois, was killed in the Crusades (1199) the towns of Péronne and
St. Quentin were united to the crown of France, and so remained. Charles
V, in 1536 unsuccessfully besieged Péronne, and during this siege a
young woman named Marie Fourré performed prodigious deeds of heroism
which history records.

The great Ligue of 1577 was proclaimed here, following its announcement
at Paris. Until the Duke of Wellington captured it on his way to Paris'
after the battle of Waterloo, Péronne-la-Pucelle had never been taken by
an enemy.

In the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71, Péronne was sacked and burned after
a most memorable siege, in which many of the remarkable old buildings
were destroyed, but in 1910 the town, when I last saw it, was one of the
quaintest in all Picardy. There was a remarkable old church here, that
of St. Jean, which dated from the sixteenth century, which had a portal
of three Gothic arches and arcades surmounted by a great flamboyant
rose-window, the glass of which, though modern, was of fine quality
and workmanship. It had a tower flanked by a "tourelle" of beautiful
proportions, and in the interior the vaulting, pulpit, and the stained
glass windows were pronounced by experts to be well-nigh faultless.

This church, and the most singular and picturesque Hôtel de Ville
(sixteenth century), a sketch of which I made in 1910, the invaders took
great pains entirely to destroy in April, 1917, when they made their
celebrated "victorious retreat." The latest accounts say that not a
trace of these two remarkable monuments now exists, that for a week or
more before the retreat, the German engineers used tons of explosives to
destroy them.

The gray old square before the Hôtel de Ville is now a yawning pit,
bordered by shapeless piles of stone and ashes.

At this time we know not what other mischief the invader has committed
in this neighborhood. There are endless opportunities for destruction
and pillage, and we may be fully prepared for irreparable damage and
losses in all of this region before the Iconoclasts are driven back to
their last line of defenses.

All of Champagne, of Picardy,--all of Flanders were filled with
exquisite villages, towns, and cities, each of which was unique in works
of art and antiquity. These have shriveled like a garden of flowers
before a heavy frost. This great catastrophe has so stunned humanity,
that we are only beginning to realize what it means.

The invader says contemptuously that no cathedral is worth the life
of one German soldier. So Rheims has been destroyed; so St. Peter's of
Louvain; so--but why enumerate here?--The list is recorded in letters of
fire.



CAMBRAI, and the SMALL TOWNS

|THE "Cameracum" of ancient days of Roman occupation, holding this name
up to the twelfth century, Cambrai, at the outbreak of the war in 1914,
was entirely satisfying to the seeker of the charms of picturesqueness,
as well as the historian. After what is known as the period of
the Antonine Itinerary, it became the capital of a petty episcopal
arrondisement, under the protection of the Dukes of Burgundy who, unable
to hold it, gave it over "for privileges" to the German emperors, who
thereafter retained it under the title of "Châtelains," as it was a
fortified stronghold.

Situated on a hillside on the right bank of the river Scheldt, it was a
busy and prosperous commercial town, with a semi-Flemish population of
about twenty-five thousand. Its history in thumbnail form is as follows:

In 1508 the Emperor Maximilian, Pope Julius II, Ferdinand of Aragon, and
Louis XII of France formed here the celebrated League of Cambrai, which
was directed against Venice. In 1529 the so-called Paix de Dames was
signed by Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria, who negotiated its
provisions in the castle on the hill, for Francis I and Charles V.
However, by the treaty of Nimwegen, Louis XV recovered it, and it was
thus held by France until captured by the Duke of Wellington in 1815.

Many celebrated men were born at Cambrai, or became identified with the
town, such as the chronicler, Enguer-rand de Monstrelet, who died in
1453. The great Fénelon was Archbishop of Cambrai, as was also Cardinal
Dubois, who served as minister for Louis XV, and then follows an array
of names that lent glory to the annals of Flanders.

Perhaps few know that the town gave name to that fine linen which was
produced here in the fifteenth century, the invention of a native named
Baptiste. The English named the cloth "Cambric," but to the Flemish and
French it was known, and is still for that matter, as "Ba'tiste" after
the inventor. At the outbreak of the war this linen cloth was the chief
product of the town.

Entrance to the town was through the gate called "Porte Robert," near
which was the citadel. There was a large and impressive square called
the "Esplanade," where statues had been raised to "Batiste" and the
historian "Enguerrand de Monstrelet." Then followed the "Place aux
Bois," lined with handsome trees, and large "Place d'Arms," on which was
the "Hôtel de Ville," which, while of comparatively modern construction
and rebuilt in the last century, was sufficiently interesting even to a
student of ancient Flemish architecture. Its most elaborate façade was
sculptured by one Hiolle of Valenciennes. The tower bore two gigantic
statues, much venerated by the townspeople, named respectively "Martin"
and "Martine," but curiously enough there was a wide difference of
opinion as to which was which, some saying that the left hand giant was
Martin, and others protesting the contrary. The figures dated from the
time of Charles V, and were presented by him to the town in 1510.

On the square at the opening of the Rue St. Martin was a fine Gothic
belfry dated 1447, and attached to the church of that name. This
contained a notable chime of bells, a carillon, the work of the Hemonys.
* In the Rue de Noyon was the Cathedral of "Notre Dame," part of which
had been rebuilt since a fire which consumed it about sixty years ago.
The interior contained notably the fine marble and bronze monument of
Fénelon, and a statue to this celebrity, the work of David d'Angers, all
worth a considerable journey to see. The body of the church was of
the eighteenth century and while of purity in detail, offered no very
striking features. There were eight very large mural paintings "en
grisaille" after the works of Rubens, by Geeraerts, a modern artist
of Antwerp, but these, despite the obvious merit of the work, seemed
somehow out of key with the interior.

     * See "Vanished Towers and Chimes of Flanders,"
       for chapter on bell founding.

Wandering about, we came upon a small street in which we found a
remarkable collection of paintings of the Netherlands School owned by
a private collector, who was pleased to show them, and delighted by our
enthusiasm over their qualities. This gentleman insisted upon becoming
our guide about the town, and showed us so many attentions that my Lady
Anne became bored with him, and this led to our leaving Cambrai before
the time we had set--but we left a letter of appreciation and thanks
addressed to him.

He it was who brought us to the church of St. Géry in the Place Fénelon,
on the site of one founded by St. Vaast in 520. This had a remarkable
dome which was upheld by four very slender columns, of very unusual
character, and there was also a magnificent renaissance "jube," or altar
screen, of colored marble, and a transept containing a large painting
of the "Entombment," attributed to Rubens. The "Episcopal Palace of
Fénelon" was just across the street, or at least a fragment of the
original building, with a very richly decorated triple portal in the
Renaissance style.

It was this palace that Fénelon opened to the fugitives of the battle
of Malplaquet, who thronged the town of Cambrai for protection and food.
History states that every corner of the building was filled with the
hapless people, and their small belongings hastily gathered together in
the flight. The gardens and courts were crowded with cows, calves,
and pigs, and the scene is said to have been indescribable. Emanuel de
Broglie, who wrote the account ("Fénelon a Cambrai," de Broglie),
says, "Officers to the number of one hundred and fifty, both French and
prisoners of war, were received by Fénelon at his house, and seated at
his table at one time."

"God will help us," said the Archbishop; "Providence hath infinite
resources on which I can confidently rely. Only let us give all we have:
it is my duty and my pleasure."

Over the side doors were inscriptions on "banderoles"--"A Clare
Justitia" on one, and on the other "A gladio pax." The fine "Chateau de
Selles," on the banks of the Scheldt River, was built in the fifteenth
century. The beautiful reliefs of its gables, its statues, and the
wrought iron grills of its balconies were still perfect, and the view
from its green terrace was most enjoyable.

There was a curious sort of penthouse shown to us, near a building
called "Vieux Château" of which pillars with rudely sculptured capitals
remained. Near this was a well with some ancient rusty ironwork, and
a stone which our quondam guide said had served in ages long ago as
a block in executions. Somehow we thought that he lied, and with
considerable skill withal, but we dismissed him with payment of a
franc for his pains. He did not go, however, but followed us about at
a distance muttering to himself and occasionally waving his hands in a
most absurd manner, until at length we happily lost him.

There was a curious small building called the Grange aux Dimes, divided
into two parts, one subterranean, the other on the level of the soil.
Two staircases, one inside, the other outside, led to a hall on the
first floor. This was divided by two ranges of pillars, with ornate
capitals of foliage. The door to the subterranean passage was unfastened
and we ventured down into the darkness and must for a short distance.
I am convinced that we might have had some adventures below had we
explored the tunnel. Near this was "Le Puits," supposed to be the
entrance to other vast vaults, a subterranean town extending beneath the
hill for miles, and formerly used for many purposes in the Middle Ages.

These vaults were to be found in many of the towns hereabouts, and
during the occupancy of the country by the Germans since the invasion of
1914, the soldiers have used them to store away ammunition and supplies.
Over these small towns for three years now have raged battles the like
of which for fierceness and bloody loss the world has never seen.

The small town of Marcoing, about five miles from Cambrai, had one of
these wonderful caverns of refuge dating from the Middle Ages, and there
were others at Villers-Guizlain and at Honnecourt, where there were
the ruins of a Roman town, and an immense church with a porch of
the eleventh century. This was said to have been a famous place of
pilgrimage in the twelfth century. Tradition has it that in that century
three brothers of the family of Courcy le Marchais were taken prisoners
during the crusades. In the power of the Sultan they languished, until
at length he bethought him to send his young daughter to their dungeon,
where they lay in chains, thinking that she might by the power of her
beauty and eloquence bring them to the faith of the Mussulmans. But
strange to relate, she it was who succumbed to the arguments of the
three fair-haired brothers, and finally promised to become a Christian
provided that they show her an image of the Holy Virgin of whom they
had so eloquently told her. Now the three brothers had no image of the
Virgin, everything having been taken from them when they were cast
into the dungeon. But all at once, says the Chronicle, the image of the
Virgin bathed in golden Celestial light appeared miraculously before
them in a niche on the wall, so the Sultan's daughter, thus convinced,
not only set the three fair-haired brothers free, but accompanied them,
bearing in her bosom the sacred image, which henceforth was enshrined
here on the altar and venerated.

The three brothers then built a church in the twelfth century, on the
site of which this present one of the fourteenth century was erected.
Its portal was fifteenth century, and at the cross was a spire with
quaintly formed pinnacles. Inside, a remarkably rich "jube," or altar
screen, divided the nave from the choir, almost hiding the sanctuary
containing a singular coal black doll-like sort of image, and a large
collection of "Ex-votos," with some other offerings most tawdry in
character.

North of Valenciennes and very near the Flemish border was the old
town of St. Amand-les-Eaux, famous for its mud baths for the cure of
rheumatism and gout since the time of the Romans. The town was situated
at the confluence of the rivers Elnon and Scarpe, and is said to have
grown up around an abbey built by St. Amand in the seventh century.
Save for the portal and the façade of the church nothing remained of
the original structure. A tower containing a fine carillon of bells by
Flemmish founders, perhaps the Van den Gheyns of Malines, is said to
have been designed by Peter Paul Rubens. From the summit of the tower a
wonderful view of the surrounding country was had, and for this reason
the Germans blew it up in April, 1917, before their retreat.

Maison du Provost: Valenciennes

[Illustration: 0123]

There was here a quaint Hôtel de Ville in the Flemish-Renaissance style,
much floriated in parts. Let us hope that this has been spared. The site
of the ancient abbey had been most charmingly covered with a blooming
garden of brilliant flowers, and here children and nurses played, while
"invalides" dozed on the benches in the sunlight. From the baths a very
wild and beautiful park stretched across the country to the forest of
Raismes through the forest of St. Amand.

Epehy is another small town now held by the Germans because of its
strategical value. It is on the ancient Roman road, or "Chaussée
Brunehaut," which runs from Arras to Rheims. Under the great church are
subterranean galleries, which, it is said, stretch for unknown distances
in every direction; indeed, it seems as if the whole country hereabouts
were undermined by these ancient galleries, many of which were
unexplored, and in some instances shunned by the peasants as haunted
by evil spirits, and many and fantastic were the tales told of some
of these caverns, during the summer days when wanderings about the
countryside held us here in happy durance. It was delightful to watch
the grave old men of the village playing bowls or skittles, and their
pride over the skill which enabled one of them, a patriarch, to account
for six pins at one shot. His cannoning was the very poetry of statics.
As a foil the unskillful efforts of the present writer were not
altogether unsuccessful, for they brought to the stolid faces of the
players smiles not unkindly, but of considerable latitude.

In the little "estaminet" (Spanish estamento) at the foot of the hill,
cutlets, broiled young chicken, and a rough and cheap but good sparkling
wine, all graced by the good humor of the proprietor, raised our
content to enthusiasm, so we saw and studied the locality, socially and
mythologically, to the end of its possibilities.

We found that these peasants, seemingly so phlegmatic and commonplace,
were really chimerical, and their tales and conversation skirted the
borderland of fact and fancy. The two were so melted down and run into
one mold as to be impossible of separation. I have listened to some of
these tales with interest, until the splashes of golden light were gone
from the valleys and a vast canopy of rose-shot lilac emblazoned the
setting of the sun. In the woods hereabouts, as in other parts of this
region of caverns, thin mysterious sounds were often audible at night
to those who had ears to hear: the noise of a distant hunt, the sound of
winding horns, the confused shouts of a troop of hunters, and the chime
of hounds in full cry. Pious and superstitious peasants, listening
indoors, crossed themselves, those who were abroad in the lanes hastened
their steps, not glancing in the direction from which the sounds came.
It was the Wild Chasseur. This is the story: St. Amand, Count of the
Palatinate, lived hereabouts in the tenth century, in a great castle of
which even the foundations have long since disappeared. He was known as
a mighty hunter, but was a profane prince, caring naught for the worship
of the Lord, nor the chant of the priest, but following ever the wild
creatures, rather than the ways of truth and righteousness. There came
one day in the autumn, and it was Sunday, long before the coming dawn
disclosed the distant dome of the Cathedral. When this reckless count
mounted his great horse, and at the head of an equally reckless band of
merry hunters, started out on the chase, the great dim forests rang with
the loud blasts of the horn, and the loud shouts of the young men broke
the calm stillness of the holy day and scandalized the good priests, and
the pious people of the neighborhood. Out came the noisy cavalcade into
the open where four roads met. To them, one from the North and one from
the South, and galloping furiously, came two horsemen; the one from the
North was young, blonde and handsome, with an air of distinction, all
clad in bright new cloak and bonnet of golden yellow.

The cavalier from the South seemed a man of temper, and was of sinister
visage, bestriding a great horse of a temper to match that of its rider.
His costume was of black velveteen save for his headpiece of scarlet
cloth, which flowed scalloped down his back.

The Count at the head of his troop saluted these two strangers
courteously and invited them bear him company in the chase.

"My lord," answered the rider from the North, removing his bonnet, and
showing his fair hair in a golden mass about his shoulders, "the Sabbath
bells are ringing in your church for the service in praise of our Lord
and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for'tis the hour in which the voices of men
in holy canticle are sent on high asking forgiveness of our sins and
iniquities. This day is sanctified to Him above. I do bid you
now accompany me unto the throne of Grace, on bended knee, in all
humility.--For upon the offender shall descend the vengeance of the Most
High, forever and ever."

"In Satan's name, Sir Golden Locks!" answered St. Amand scornfully,
"thou hast a tongue like a ranting priest. What right hast thou to wear
a sword, pray?--I have no mind for canticles to-day!"

Loud laughed the troop of cavaliers at this, and then was heard the
voice of the rider in black from the South, whose great horse champed
the bit and tossed its head restlessly.

"Come, let us away, St. Amand! What care have we for monastery bells and
sniveling priests!--Let us to the noble chase for mass, with sound of
the winding horn for organ note!"

"Well said, Sir Red Crest," replied St. Amand, with a loud laugh and a
wave of his gauntleted hand. "_Ventre son gris!_ Let us away then!"

The whole troop sprang forward at the word. Over the hills, through
the ravines and deep ditches, and into the dark woods, ever rode the
strangers, one at the right and one at the left of St. Amand. On the
right, the fair young golden haired knight, and on the left, the black
clad sinister man with the crimson hood.

All at once appeared among the great trunks of the beech trees an
antlered deer white as the driven snow, which after one startled look at
the furiously riding troop of men, sped away like the wind. With winding
horn the hunters pursued it over the green meadows and up and down
the hills, trampling corn fields and peasant gardens under foot all
unmindful of what ill they did. Naught counted for these men but the
chase, and ever St. Amand headed the band, and on his right rode the
fair young blonde rider from the North and on his left the swarthy
knight from the South.

Finally, with trembling limbs the antlered deer slackened its speed
before the open door of a chapel in the midst of the wildwood. Here
stood the frightened animal, its fur flicked with bloody foam, unable
to stir a step further. From the open door of the chapel stepped a holy
friar, who placed a sheltering arm about the panting animal's neck, and
stood with uplifted arm warning back the band of hunters. In vain did
the fairhaired stranger plead with Amand to spare the deer, for the
jeering voice of the knight of the scarlet hood urged him on, and
dismounting from his horse Count St. Amand pushed aside the monk and was
about to run the animal through with his hunting knife, when there came
a burst of thunder sound that shook the earth as though the heavens had
fallen.

The Count was stunned: When he came to himself he was alone in a clear
space in the forest; the chapel, the deer, the monk, all his band,
including the two strangers, had vanished as though they had never been.
Over all was a terrible silence. When St. Amand attempted to call,
no sound came from his parched lips. Then came a blinding flash of
lightning, which split the darkness, and on the wings of the rushing
wind he heard a terrible voice in judgment.--"Even as thou hast flouted
and mocked at the Lord thy God, and have had no compassion upon man
nor beast, so shalt thou fly before the wrath of the Most High! Pass on
then, thou accursed Knight, forever be thou the hunted by evil spirits
until the end of the world!"

"And so," continues the legend, "since that day the wraith of that
sinful Count St. Amand has haunted these hills and dales by night, and
these great caverns underneath by day, the fiends of hell at his heels.
After him fly these hideous fiends, driving him ever on towards the
judgment that waits him on the last day."

As may be surmised, with such tales as this to hold over the youth of
the valleys, the people hereabouts were most devout and God fearing.
Here in this region have raged battles innumerable from the earliest
days of history, with fire, famine and pestilence. It was all
prosperous, when I last saw it, and charming to look upon. But now the
beautiful orchards have been cut down by the invader, the homesteads
have been burned, and the once happy peasants transported to hard labor
in another country.



ST. QUENTIN

|UGLY and down at the heel," were the uncomplimentary terms used by an
æsthetic fellow traveler to describe this prosperous manufacturing town
situated rather picturesquely on a hill rising above the banks of the
river Somme. And while it may be admitted that St. Quentin is not very
clean looking when viewed from the railway station, certainly a later
and more intimate inspection revealed charms which repaid leisurely
investigation on our part, and even our first view of the gray walls and
gables of the houses, and the quaint pinnacles of the town hall, and the
tower of the church rising against the golden glow of the sunset sky was
quite satisfying.

The road to the town on the hill was by way of the Rue de l'lsle, which
brought us to the small square on which was the flamboyant Gothic Hôtel
de Ville. It had a most charming and unusual pent roof, over which rose
a slender tower with large clock face shining in the sunlight. On the
ground floor of the façade was an open arcaded gallery above which were
richly ornamented flamboyant Gothic windows divided by niches. The upper
story had a quaint and ornate balustrade and three gables. From the
central gable the campanile rose gracefully.

This much we were able to see on our way to the Hôtel du Cygne, the
landlady of which gave us more comfort than our quondam traveling
companion had led us to expect. This individual quite abandoned us
to our fate thereafter, as impossible Yankees who gloated over
picturesqueness and gables, and meekly ate whatever was set before
them--even of an omelette which he scorned, and fussed about at the
table d'hôte. He listened with a sarcastic grin to our admiring comment
on the furnishings of the dining-room, with its paneled walls in the
Flemish fashion, on which hung brass placques and some good old china
plates, and after lighting a cigarette, noisily kicked back his chair,
shrugged his shoulders, and vanished from our ken forever.

Madame told us that he was a "commis-voyageur" in the woolen trade, from
Brussels, and "bien difficile."

St. Quentin was the ancient capital of the Gaulish Veromanduens, and
took its present name from Caius Quintinus, a priest who came here to
preach Christianity in the third century, and for his pains was martyred
by the Prefect Rictius Varus.

Honor to his remains was encouraged by St. Eloi in the time of Dagobert.

Whilst here we may recall that the building of the Escurial was due to
a vow which Philip II of Spain made in case of success, when he was
besieging St. Quentin in 1557.

The town was given back to France in 1589, and in the following year was
bestowed as a dowry upon Mary Stuart, who possessed its revenues till
her death. On January 19, 1871, a great victory was gained near St.
Quentin by the Prussian General Goeben over the French army of the
north, * under Faidherbe.

     * Hare's "Northeastern France."

In the "Place du Huit Octobre" was a very good monument by Barrias,
symbolizing the successful defense of the town against the first attack
by the Germans on October 8, 1870. We found that the Hôtel de Ville
contained a most unusual "Salle du conseil," a large well proportioned
room, the roof of which rested upon two circular wooden vaults. This
was furnished with a most elaborate mantel or chimney piece in the mixed
Gothic and Renaissance styles, and of remarkable workmanship. In the
great German retreat of April, 1917, this noble building was blown
up with bombs. Perhaps they placed upon it, as they did upon other
shattered structures, a sign bearing the inscription: "Nicht Argern, nur
Wundern."

There was a noble "Collegiate Church of St. Quentin" near this Hôtel
de Ville, considered by architects to be a splendid example of French
Gothic of the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. This was unfortunately
so shut in by small buildings as to make a study of it difficult. Its
choir, nave, and portal, and its really vast height, formed unusual
features, and added to these wonders were the beautiful triforium and
terminal windows of the principal transept (there were two of these,
"very rare in a Gothic church," says Hare).

The oldest part of the church was easily discovered between these
transepts. There were seven absidal chapels; in that of St. Roch was the
incised tombstone of "Mahaus Patrelatte," dated 1272.

Under the choir were crypts said to have been of the ninth century,
and in one of these was a stone sarcophagus of St. Quentin and
SS. Victorious and Gentianus, who were St. Quentin's companions in
martyrdom. The west portal of the church was formerly adorned with
a large number of statues, vestiges of which were plainly visible.
A statue of Quentin Delatour, a famous draftsman in crayon of the
eighteenth century, a native of the town, stood before the church; it
was by Lauglet the sculptor, and of considerable merit. A collection of
Delatour's crayon drawings were in the small museum in the rue du
Petit-Origny....

Unfortunate St. Quentin, now once more in ashes, and this time so
completely obliterated that nothing remains on the hill but some
blackened ragged piles of masonry, was besieged by Philip II in 1558,
when war broke out between Picardy and Flanders.

"Philip II had landed there with an army of forty-seven thousand men,
of whom seven thousand were English. Never did any great sovereign
and great politician provoke and maintain for long such important wars
without conducting them in some other fashion than from the recesses
of his cabinet and without ever having exposed his life on the field
of battle. The Spanish army was under the orders of Emmanuel-Philibert,
Duke of Savoy, a young warrior of thirty, who had won the confidence of
Charles V. He led it to the siege of St. Quentin, a place considered one
of the bulwarks of the kingdom.

"Philip II remained at some leagues' distance in the environs. Henry II
was ill prepared for so serious an attack; his army, which was scarcely
20,000 strong, mustered near Laon under orders of the Duke of Nevers,
Governor of Champagne; at the end of July, 1557, it hurried into
Picardy, under the command of the Constable de Montmorency, who was
supported by Admiral de Coligny, his nephew, by the Duke of Enghien, by
the Prince of Condé, by the Duke of Montpensier, and by nearly all the
great lords and the valiant warriors of France. They soon saw that St.
Quentin was in a deplorable state of defense; the fortifications
were old and badly kept up; soldiers and munitions of war, as well as
victuals were all equally deficient. Coligny did not hesitate, however;
he threw himself into the place on the 2nd of August during the night
with a small corps of 700 men and Saint Remy, a skillful engineer, who
had already distinguished himself in the defense of Metz. The Admiral
packed off the useless mouths, repaired the walls at the points
principally threatened, and reanimated the failing courage of the
inhabitants.

"The Constable and his army came within hail of the place; and
d'Andelot, Coligny's brother, managed with great difficulty to get 450
men into it.

"On the 10th of August the battle was begun between the two armies. The
Constable affected to despise the Duke of Savoy's youth: 'I will soon
show him,' said he, 'a move of an old soldier.'

"The French army, being very inferior in numbers, was for a moment on
the point of being surrounded. The Prince of Condë sent the Constable
warning. 'I was serving in the field,' answered Montmorency, 'before the
Prince of Condé came into the world; I have good hopes of still giving
him lessons in the art of war for some years to come.'

"The valor of the Constable and his comrades-in-arms could not save
them from the consequences of their stubborn recklessness, and their
numerical inferiority; the battalions of Gascon infantry closed their
ranks, with pikes to the front, and made a heroic resistance, but all
in vain, against repeated charges of the Spanish cavalry; and the defeat
was total.

"More than 3,000 men were killed; the number of prisoners amounted to
double this figure; and the Constable, left upon the field with his
thigh shattered by a cannon ball, fell into the hands of the Spaniards,
as was also the case with the Dukes of Longueville and Montpensier,
la Rochefoucauld, d'Aubigné, etc.... The Duke of Enghien, Viscount de
Turenne and a multitude of others, many great names amidst a host of
obscure, fell in the fight. The Duke of Nevers and the Prince of Condé,
sword in hand, reached La Fère with the remnants of their army. Coligny
remained alone at St. Quentin with those who survived of his little
garrison, and a hundred and twenty arquebusiers whom the Duke of Nevers
threw into the place at a loss of three times as many. Coligny held
out for a fortnight longer, behind walls that were in ruins and were
assailed by a victorious army. At length, on the 27th of August, the
enemy entered St. Quentin in shoals.

"The Admiral, who was still going about the streets with a few men to
make head against them, found himself hemmed in on all sides, and did
what he could to fall into the hands of a Spaniard, preferring rather to
await on the spot the common fate than to incur by flight any shame or
reproach. They took him prisoner, after having set him to rest a while
at the foot of the ramparts, and took him away to their camp, where as
he entered, he met Captain Alonzo de Cazieres, commandant of the old
bands of Spanish infantry; when up came the Duke of Savoy, who ordered
the said Cazieres to take the Admiral to his tent." *

     * Commentaire de François de Rabutin sur les Guerres entre
     Henri II., roi de France, et Charles Quint, empereur. Vol.
     I, p. 95, in the Petitot Collection.

"D'Andelot, the Admiral's brother, succeeded in escaping across the
marshes. Being thus master of St. Quentin, Philip II, after having
attempted to put a stop to the carnage and plunder, expelled from the
town, which was half in ashes, the inhabitants who had survived, and
the small adjacent fortresses of Ham and Catalet did not hesitate long
before surrendering. Five years later, in 1557, after the battle and
capture of St. Quentin, France was in a fit of stupor; Paris believed
the enemy to be already beneath her walls; many of the burgesses were
packing up and flying--some to Orleans, some to Bourges, some still
further." * And now once more history repeats itself in the sacking and
burning of this quaint town, in the retreat of the invader of 1914-5
after three years of agony endured by its people. "God makes no account
of centuries, and a great deal is required before the most certain and
most salutary truths get their place and their rights in the minds
and communities of men," says Guizot, quaintly, and thus dismisses the
record of Henry II: "On the 29th of June, 1559, a brilliant tournament
was celebrated in lists erected at the end of the street of Saint
Antoine, almost at the foot of the Bastile. Henry II, the Queen, and the
whole court had been present at it for three days."

     * Guizot's "Histoire de France." Vol. Ill, p. 204.

"The entertainment was drawing to a close. The King, who had run several
tilts 'like a sturdy and skillful Cavalier,' wished to break yet another
lance, and bade the Count de Montgomery, captain of the guards, to run
against him. Montgomery excused himself; but the King insisted. The tilt
took place. The two jousters, on meeting, broke their lances skilfully;
but Montgomery forgot to drop at once, according to usage, the fragment
remaining in his hand; he unintentionally struck the King's helmet and
raised the visor, and a splinter of wood entered Henry's eye; he fell
forward upon his horse's neck."

All the appliances of art were useless; the brain had been pierced.
Henry II languished for eleven days and expired on the tenth of July,
1559, aged forty years and some months. "An insignificant man and a
reign without splendor, though fraught with facts pregnant of grave
consequences," concludes the historian.

The fame of Henry Martin, noted as an historian, who died in 1883, was
commemorated by a bronze statue "such as the chimes and the great bell
of the Collegiate erected before the Lycée," a rather handsome building
in the Rue du Palais de Justice. Before leaving St. Quentin in April,
1917, the invaders shipped this statue to Germany, it is announced in
the German press, and melted it up at the gun works with other scrap
metal, "such as the chimes and the great bell of the Collegiate Church
of St. Quentin."

A few miles to the northeast on the river Oise was the small town of
Guise, most picturesquely situated, and commanded by an ancient castle,
or chateau, as these ruins are sometimes styled, which dated from the
sixteenth century, and was occupied by a few soldiers as a sort of
garrison. In this château in troublous times the nuns of the Guise, and
those of the neighboring nunneries as well, took refuge. There was
here, too, a most famous chapter of monks, but the nuns were of greater
renown. These threw off the severe rules of St. Benedict in the twelfth
century, and becoming "chanoinesses," lived apart with the utmost
comfort, their abbess bearing a scepter rather than a cross. Endowed by
successive ducal rulers, this chapter became one of the most illustrious
of the province. "Its abbess, always chosen from a family of the most
exalted rank, exercised almost sovereign authority over the domain, and
furthermore in virtue of a document from the Emperor Rudolph (1290),
bore the title of Princess of the Holy Empire. She was elected only
by the united voice of the chapter, and went to Rome to receive
consecration from the Pope himself in the Lateran. To him she is said to
have offered in sign of homage, every three years, a white horse and a
piece of purple velvet; and when after many years the Pope remitted this
tax, she bore, in all solemn processions, a red silk banner sprinkled
with gold and silver buds in remembrance of it. A double handed sword
was carried before her in processions. She had the right of granting
liberty to prisoners. In the choir of the cathedral she sat upon a
throne placed upon a carpet of crimson velvet ornamented with gold
leaves, and upon fête days she held 'grand-couvert,' as was the custom
with sovereigns. The chapter counted sixty-four abbesses, of whom the
last in line was Louise-Adelaide de Bourbon-Condé." *

     * Brantôme, Paris, 1822. Vol. I.

Considering its part in history, it is surprising how little interest
was taken in Guise of late years. In 1339 the English, under John of
Hainault, burned the town, but were unable to conquer the castle, owing
to the courageous resistance of the small body of warriors who were
commanded by the noble lady of its absent lord, the daughter of John
of Hainault himself. In the curious old crypt were the tombs of several
abbesses, and the shrine contained the relics of SS. Romaric, Arnat, and
Idulphe, which the nuns brought with them in the tenth century from the
old church on the hill. On one of the streets were ancient houses with
stone arcades.

Guise was the birthplace of Camille Desmoulins, the revolutionary. Near
the town, which was busy and prosperous, with a population of
eight thousand or so, there was a sort of workmen's colony upon the
communistic plan, and included a "phalanstère," or common dwelling place
for the members, upon the Fourier plan, founded by some philanthropist.
As far as we could judge superficially it was successful, and it is said
the chance visitor was always welcomed most cordially by the members who
happened to be present.

These inoffensive people have been shipped away, no one now seems to be
able to say just where, and the little town, gutted by fire, has ceased
to exist save in the memory of those who once knew its charm.

A few miles southwest of St. Quentin, on the river Somme, was a
small town named Ham, which had, however, nothing in common with that
excellent viand. Here was a famous château of the tenth century, of the
Comtes de Vermondais. In 1374 it passed to the Coucy family, and then
to the Comtes of St. Pol, from whom it came by marriage to the house of
Bourbon-Vendôme. This great stronghold had a donjon, the walls of which
were thirty-five feet thick, and the room inside it was one hundred
and ten feet broad, and the same number of feet high. In shape it was
a rectangle, flanked at each corner by a round tower, and with square
towers on the north and west. Rising from a canal on the northeast angle
was a huge round tower, named the Tour de Connétable, built by Louis
de Luxembourg in 1490. Emblazoned on the stone over the portal was the
motto of the founder: "Mon Myeulx" (My Best). The walls of this tower
were said to have been of enormous thickness. The figures varied so much
that I omit all of them, but from the appearance of the tower one might
believe even the most exaggerated statements.

Its lower apartment was a vast hall of hexagonal shape, the vaulting of
which was Gothic in style, and we were shown some curious arched spaces,
said to be intended for furnaces or magazines to be blown up and thus
destroy the castle in case of its capture. There was a great "Salle de
Gardes," where the soldiers slept and ate in time of siege, and this
contained an enormous fireplace, a well of considerable depth, and an
oven where bread had been baked. Above this vast room was the "Chambre
de Conseil," lighted by a single large window, and furnished with
stone benches below it. Here Jeanne d'Arc was imprisoned by Jean of
Luxembourg, and many other notables languished in the dungeons from the
time of the Revolution down to the time of the capture of Prince Louis
Napoléon, in August, 1840, at Boulogne, and from which he escaped
disguised as a workman on the morning of May 22, 1846. He took refuge at
St. Quentin, went thence to Belgium, and finally reached England.

Like all of the other great castles in the region occupied by the
invaders, Ham was blown up before the German army "victoriously"
retreated to the now celebrated "Hindenburg" line, in April, 1917.



VALLENCIENNES

|THE town of lace," wrote William of Orange to the Estates on the 13th
of April, 1677, "is lost to us. We are very sorry to be obliged to tell
your High Mightinesses that it has not pleased God to bless on this
occasion the arms of the State under our guidance." And then fell also
to the troops of Louis XIV the towns of Cambrai, St. Omer, and the
defense of Lorraine.

But there is now no lace made in Valenciennes. The larger part of the
population of twenty-eight thousand worked in the iron foundries and the
great machine shops surrounding the town, from which clouds of soft coal
smoke rose, reminding one of our own Pittsburgh, but with the addition
of much quaint antiquity, which was now (1910) unhappily rapidly
disappearing through lack of interest on the part of not only the
inhabitants but the authorities, whom one would think alive to their
value as an attraction to the town.

Formerly strongly fortified and most powerful, this quaint semi-Flemish
town, which was now given over thus to prosaic manufacture, was situated
at the junction of the rivers Scheldt and Rhondelle. There were huge,
ugly sugar factories as well as iron mills, indeed,'tis said that nearly
all the sugar used in France was produced here.

Like all Flemish towns, Valenciennes had a good deal of drunkenness to
contend with on the part of its working people, but I must confess I saw
little of it.

It is said that Valentinian I, Roman Emperor, gave name to the town,
which was at first the capital of a small independent principality.
Later it passed into the hands of the Counts of Hainault; suffered and
resisted sieges by Margaret of Hainault in 1254; by Louis XI, in 1477;
by Turenne, in 1656; and by the Spaniards in the seventeenth century;
and by Scherer in 1794. Since the treaty of Nymegen in 1678 it has
belonged to France.

A great many celebrated men were born at Valenciennes, and all about
the statue of Froissart their effigies are arranged in a series of
medallions. Among these are Antoine, Louis and François Watteau, Pujol,
the painters, Lemaire and Carpeaux, the sculptors, and Charles, Sire
de Lannoy and Viceroy of Naples--all natives of the little town. Madame
d'Epinay, the author, also was born here.

Valenciennes had a most attractive and picturesque square, which
occupied the former glacis of the ancient fortifications demolished
about twenty years ago, and there was a handsome street, called the Rue
de Ferrand, upon which was the "Lycée," formerly a Jesuit college, and
the Ecole des Beaux Arts, in which was a museum of natural history,
containing a fine collection of minerals of which the townspeople
were inordinately proud. They quite ignored the value of a splendid
collection of MSS., numbering nearly a thousand examples of mediaeval
workmanship, contained in the Municipal Library, occupying part of
the old Jesuit college. The custode wrung his hands in despair at the
indifference of the authorities to its importance, and became positively
and alarmingly affectionate over me when I showed enthusiasm for some
of the specimens, so that I had to place myself behind one of the cases
where he could not well reach me while I examined the illuminations.
There was a fine statue of Antoine Watteau, the painter, by the sculptor
Carpeaux, with four figures grouped about it representing Italian
comedy. (This statue, I am informed, was shipped to Germany by the
invaders in 1916, to be melted up and cast into cannon. An irreparable
loss, as it was considered one of the finest examples of the work of
Carpeaux.)

In the Square was the ancient Church of St. Géry, a remarkable example
of Gothic workmanship dating from the thirteenth century, and much
studied and valued by architects. In its choir were fine wood carvings
illustrating events in the life of St. Norbert, who was the founder of
the Præmonstratensian order. The handsome and noteworthy Place d'Armes
contained some most quaint and ancient timber dwellings, which were
dated variously during the seventeenth century, and in an astonishingly
fine state of preservation. But by far the most interesting building
in Valenciennes was the Hôtel de Ville, which though lately restored
(1868), dated from the seventeenth century, the period of the Spanish
occupation. The façade was quite imposing, consisting of a row of Doric
columns, upholding a row of Ionic columns, which supported a number
of caryatides and a sort of open gallery above. Carpeaux designed the
sculptures ornamenting the pediment, which represented the Defense of
Valenciennes.

Corner of Grand' Place: Valenciennes

[Illustration: 0157]

This building was occupied by the Musée of Paintings and Sculpture,
which was really one of the most important and extensive collections in
France of examples of the Flemish school of painting. Here I saw in
1910 a large number of beautiful original drawings, and a collection of
Flemish tapestries of incalculable value. There were nine or ten
rooms devoted to the Flemish masters, and to mention only a few of
the treasures they contained, I note here: "Hell-fire"; Breughel, Toil
Devoured by Usury; Jordaens, Twelfth Night; Van Balen, Rope of Europa;
P. A. da Cortona, Herodias; Seghers, St. Eloi and the Virgin; Neets, the
younger, Church Interior; Vinckboons, Forest; Van Aelst, Still Life;
Van Mieris, Pan and Syrinx; Al. Adriensis, Fish Merchant; Van Goyen,
Landscape; "Velvet" Breughel, Landscape; Van de Velde, Sea Piece; Van
Oost, Adoration of the Shepherds; Pourbus (younger), Marie de Medicis;
Brouwer, Tavern Scene; Wouverman, Hunters; Teniers, Interior of Grotto;
Rubens, Descent from the Cross; Guido (?), St. Peter; Metsys, Banker and
His Wife.

The fate of this remarkable collection of Flemish and Spanish paintings
is at present shrouded in mystery. It is said, and denied variously,
that they were removed to Paris before the German army arrived. I
understand from reports in the newspapers, which may or may not be
authentic, that this old Hôtel de Ville was entirely destroyed by
British shells early in the war, and that the venerable Maison du
Prévost, built during the Spanish invasion, and the old timbered and
slated houses at the corner of the Grand' Place, one of them occupied by
the "Café Modeste," have been entirely destroyed. But at present (May,
1917) Valenciennes is behind the curtain of mystery drawn over its
miseries by the Germans.

This little town played a small part in the peace of Cambrai, called the
"Ladies' peace," in honor of the Princesses who while at Valenciennes
had negotiated it there between Charles V and Francis I. "Two women,
Francis I's mother and Charles V's aunt, Louise of Savoy, and Margaret
of Austria, had the real negotiation of it; they had both of them
acquired the good sense and the moderation which come from experience of
affairs and from the difficulties in life; they did not seek to give one
another mutual surprises and to play off one another reciprocally.
They resided in two contiguous houses, between which they caused
a communication to be made from the inside, and they conducted the
negotiation with so much discretion that the petty Italian princes who
were interested in it did not know the results of it until peace was
concluded on the 5th of August, 1529.... These women, though morally
different and of very unequal social status, both had minds of a rare
order, trained to recognize political necessities and not to attempt any
but possible successes. They did not long survive their work; Margaret
of Austria died on the 1st of December, 1530, and Louise of Savoy on the
22nd of September, 1531." *

     * Guizot's "France," Vol. Ill, p. 94.

This peace lasted until 1536; incessantly troubled, however, by far from
pacific symptoms, proceedings and preparations, but it was certainly
a monument to the skill of these two princesses. Charles V, on his
way through the kingdom, after passing a week at Paris, pushed on to
Valenciennes, the first town in his Flemish dominions, where he rested
in state. When his eyes rested upon all the wealth and cheerful industry
that surrounded him here, he said (according to Brantôme), "There is not
in this world any greatness such as that of a King of France."

Valenciennes, when I saw it before the outbreak of the great war
in 1914, was a rather sleepy little town given over to most prosaic
manufactures. There was little evident picturesqueness; most of the
ancient buildings had given way to stupid looking stucco covered houses.
In vain did my Lady Anne seek the lace makers; they were not to be
found--if they existed. There were no bric-a-brac or antique shops,
either, wherein one might browse, but there was a quaint and most
comfortable hotel, presided over by a garrulous landlord whose (artful)
innocence and unworldliness quite took us in, and whose bill, when
presented, proved to be fifty per cent more than we had reckoned upon.

Valenciennes should have been an economical town to live in, but it was
not so; at least in the delightful hotel, which was so well kept and
apparently so clean. The day following our arrival two charwomen started
at the top of the house with buckets of water and scrubbing brushes.
The buckets, by the way, were not the ordinary iron ones, but immense
affairs of rough earthenware of a rich buff color outside, and a most
delicious bright green enamel inside. The women scrubbed the floors from
attic to back door--except the parquet floors--ignoring the corners, for
cleanliness comes evidently very near to godliness in these semi-Flemish
towns of Northern France; they are not very thorough. Following these
bare-armed amazons came the housemaid with a great cake of beeswax,
which was fixed into a fork of wood at the end of the handle as long
and thick as a broomstick. With this beeswax she rubbed the floor most
energetically until the grain of the old oak floor came out clearly.
Then followed the polisher with a large, thick, flat brush made in the
form of a sort of sandal which was fastened to one foot by a wide strap
of leather, the brushless foot was kept stationary; the other with deft
slides backwards and forwards produced a most beautiful polish like
varnish. There were few carpets to be found anywhere, and in the summer
one did not miss them, but I should imagine that the houses would be
very damp and cold in the winter, when there is little provision made
for heating these old drafty rooms, and (if one might consider expense)
wood for the grate fires is charged for at the rate of "F. 1.25 per
basket of nine sticks." (Per published tariff.)

We were told that the proper way to study this part of the country is
to take a small house for the summer. One could furnish cheaply here, it
was urged, in the country style, no carpets, and with the furniture made
hereabouts.

My Lady Anne was quite taken with the idea.

The furniture was in good taste, stained a dark brown; it made a
charming foil for the bright yellows and pale greens of the crockery.

The bedrooms had alcoves for the beds, with a curious little door cut
out of the wooden partition wall at the back of the bed: this was for
the convenience of the housemaid, as it saved the necessity of pulling
out the bed to get behind it. These walls were almost always made of
boards, and thus the doors were easily cut, so that covered with wall
paper one scarcely ever noticed them.

My Lady Anne discovered that the clothing sent to be washed was, unless
otherwise ordered, sent home rough dried! Ironing is special. Following
the custom here there was no weekly washing day, but washing was done
once a month or even two months, and this is the reason why there were
so many of the really fine oak or chestnut armoirs to be found. Some of
these were most beautiful, made of polished wood, and had often unique
brass hinges and locks. Every household had one or more, in spite of the
fact that the dealers were on the quest for them. The peasants who
lived off the beaten track of travel willingly parted with them for
comparatively small prices. We thought it rather extraordinary to find
in a poor laborer's cottage a specimen of these fine chests fit for the
hall of a millionaire collector. There were also fine wardrobes to be
found, with handsomely carved chestnut or applewood panels polished like
glass, and with brass knobs and locks worn bright with the use of many
generations.

Occasionally one could find the old fashioned double decked bed made
of dark oak, and the long heavy Norman table, which was the household
larder, for in its long and deep drawer were generally stored the
household provisions of ham, bacon, or dried fish; never the bread,
though, for this was kept overhead upon a well polished board, in the
older houses, hung from the ceiling, well out of the way of the rats,
the torment of the peasant. In these houses the clothes were hung on
ropes high up against the sloping roofs to prevent these pests from
gnawing them. The broken necks of bottles were fastened at the ends of
these cords or ropes, and on these the rats jumped from the rafters and
went spinning over onto the floor far beneath. In all the villages there
were public washing pools, a feature of the country. No washing was done
in the cottages. Hundreds of peasant women washed the clothes, kneeling
in long lines at the sides of the streams, keeping up all the time a
chattering and laughing that could be heard from a distance.

Sometimes there were shelters overhead for their protection from sun and
rain, sometimes not. They washed the clothes on flat boards, and beat
them when lathered with a flat wooden sort of paddle. The washing was
well done too, surprising to tell, but although they say not, one would
think that the process was rather hard upon the clothes.

These quaint customs quite charmed us, and we were inclined to shut our
eyes to certain evidences of drunkenness and its accompanying sins among
the lower classes which could not be concealed, and which perhaps need
not be entered into here.

Valenciennes was a manufacturing town, and the condition of the artisan
classes was said to be even worse than that in Belgium just over the
border. The hours of labor were long--unquestionably too long--and
said to be as a rule fixed by the employer. Children of tender age were
employed in factory and warehouse, and this perhaps explains the stunted
appearance of the poor people. The law says that no child under
sixteen can be kept at work for more than twelve hours a day, but it is
understood that this law was easily evaded. The result was inevitable.
If the child could be kept at work for twelve hours a day, then it will
be understood that an adult was assumed to be able to do more.

Of course the man did not really work as hard as our own men do, and
that he did piece work, and also that a considerable portion of his time
must be deducted for shirking, for gossip and for rest. Still, at the
foundries the hours and the labor were both excessive. The thought had
not occurred to these manufacturers and proprietors that a man might
do more in sixty hours a week than he will do in seventy. The terrible
"Borinage" district of the mines of Belgium, which extends as far west
as Quevrain on the border, really runs over the line, and some of its
conditions existed at Blanc Misseron, Fresnes, and at Bruay. The name
"Borinage" signifies the place of boring. Here was to be found a state
of society that does not exist in any other part of the country, and the
miners and their wretched families were a type quite distinct from all
the rest of their countrymen. By the character of their work and by the
deficiencies or lack of education, supplemented by the poisonous effects
of the fiery and deleterious potato brandy and other decoctions which
they freely imbibe, they had sunk into a state of both physical and
mental decay.

"A visit to these places is not a pleasant experience, and the closer
the acquaintance made with the life of the mining population the less
attractive does it appear. The employment of children of tender years
lies at the root of the ignorance of the people of the province.... To
the proprietors, with rare exceptions, the miners are mere beasts of
burden, in whom they do not feel the least interest. No steps whatever
are taken to improve the lot of the miners, to elevate their ideas, or
even to provide them with amusement or recreations.... The only places
of resort are the 'Estaminets' and cabarets that are to be found in
every third or fourth house.... It is scarcely going too far to say that
morality does not exist in the Borinage; but the great curse in this
community is the large number of immature mothers, and the consequent
inseparable deterioration of the whole race.... Ignorance and immorality
explain the low condition to which the mining population has sunk, but
even these causes would not have produced such an appalling result if
they had not been supplemented by the prevalence of drunkenness. As
there is no restriction upon the sale of drink, every house may retail
intoxicating liquors, and in many places where it is procurable there is
no external appearance of the place being a drinking shop. The room of
the cottage will contain a few chairs and benches, besides a table, and
the liquor comes from a cupboard or an inner room. In warm weather the
table and chairs are placed outside, and on Sundays and feast days there
is not one of these houses which will not be crowded with visitors. The
only amusement known to these people is to drink and to get drunk....
The beer drinkers are the more reasonable drunkards of the two. Having
soaked themselves with 'faro' (a thin sour beer) they sleep it off. Not
so the spirit drinkers, for when they have finished their orgies they
are half mad with the poisonous alcohol which they have imbibed.

"The true explanation of the evils that follow this spirit drinking is
to be found in the character of the spirit itself. In name it is gin or
'genievre,' but it bears little or no trace of that origin. What it
is, no one outside the place of manufacture--which appears to be
unknown--can correctly declare, but by the smell it would seem to be
mainly composed of paraffin oil. This beverage is called 'Schnick' and
is the favorite spirit of the miners. It is sold for ten centimes (1
penny) for a large wine glass, and five centimes (1/2 penny) for a
small, and official statistics show that a large majority of the
miners drink a pint of this stuff every day of their lives, while it
is computed that there are no fewer than fifty thousand who drink a
quart.... Lest the reader should imagine that there is some exaggeration
in the figures just given, it may be mentioned that the total
consumption of spirits per head of the population (of Belgium) exceeds
fifty quarts." *

     *  "Belgian Life in Town and Country." Demetrius C. Boulger, p. 76.

This is, of course, written of Belgium, but as this mining country
extends beyond the border into France, as I have said, these conditions
exist in the neighboring villages to the north and east of Valenciennes.
It is a relief to turn from this terrible picture to the vistas
southwards, but it is only just to add that the Belgian Government was
doing its best to cleanse this region when the war broke out and put a
stop to the work.

How could the people who dwell in this terrible spot be other than
debased? Conditions were all against them. World welfare demands the
product of the mines; so workers are automatically produced to supply
it, and thus across this fair land stretches this great black belt,
like a vast unhealed wound, that extends from the western boundaries of
Picardy, far beyond the German Westphalian province, and digs deep into
the bowels of the earth, its presence being detected from afar by the
heavy clouds of pungent, evil smelling black and brown smoke of the
furnaces, as one approaches, and by the great heaps of clay and ashes
along the railway lines.

This is the territory coveted by the "war lord." This is the road to the
Channel, and over this strip by day and by night fall the shells of the
invaders and defenders alike.

Gone now are the peaceful farmsteads; the quaint old villages clustered
about the gray towers of the churches and monasteries, and the many
towered, white walled châteaux in the vine clad gardens. The quiet towns
and villages which we explored in those memorable summer days of 1910
are swept from the face of the earth, and there are now long level wide
roads stretching towards and into the horizon, upon which the whole day
and night, two mighty lines of silent armed men linking together heavy
wagons and immense shapeless masses of heavy guns and tractors, to and
from the fighting lines, form endless processions.

The God of Efficiency in destruction now reigns where once peaceful
thrift was enthroned.



SOISSONS

|BOTH Abelard and Thomas à Becket are identified with this venerable
fortress town, which was lately noted for its haricot-beans, and whose
people, steeped in trade with Paris, were entirely oblivious to the
value and beauty of the great cathedral of Notre Dame, SS. Gervais and
Protais, the equal of which was perhaps not in all France.

Here Abelard was imprisoned in a tower which was shown, to those who
sought it out, by a lame old priest. This tower was surmounted by a
small chapel; it contained nothing, however, which was identified with
the prisoner. There was also to be seen the ancient Abbey of St. Jean
des Vignes, in which Thomas à Becket "spent nine years." The chief and
most interesting part of this was the west façade or "portail," in the
style of the thirteenth century, and flanked by a great tower more
than 200 feet high, some say 225 feet, which could be seen from a great
distance.

The approach to the town by way of the river bank was all that could
be desired for picturesqueness, and above the trees and the quaint red
tiled roofs of the many gabled houses, the great tower of the venerable
cathedral lifted its heavy gray mass against a fleecy sky. The river
was full of quaintly fashioned barges, and heavily built boats with
huge rudders painted with stripes of vivid green and red, something
like those on the Maas in Holland. Here and there a small black steamer
belched forth pungent sooty smoke, and there seemed to be a great deal
of business going on all about, and an air of prosperity and alertness,
entirely out of keeping in so venerable a town, and which one could not
decide to be quite as it should be or not. There were modern shops also
with windows dressed quite _à la Paris_, and a good hostelry, the _Lion
Rouge_, where one was made extraordinarily comfortable for a rather
small sum. The streets were filled with quaint and unusual characters,
and now and again we saw costumes and some headdresses on the peasant
women that we had not seen elsewhere.

An old traveler writing of Soissons said: "At a small inn, 'Des Trois
Pucelles,' I had a noble salmon, that still excites emotions in me when
I think of it. I have never met with its like since--and there was also
venison, a whole haunch brought to table, and claret the like of which
would grace the king's table."

I looked for "Des Trois Pucelles," but alas, it had been pulled down
long since.

Cathedral: Soissons

[Illustration: 0177]

In this pleasant town, one might have lingered indefinitely and not
lacked entertainment.

Soissons was called Augusta Suessionum under the early Empire. The town
has great notoriety among historians for the great number of sieges it
has undergone, down to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when for three
days it resisted all attempts to take it.

Here Pépin le Bref was proclaimed King, and Louis le Débonnaire's
undutiful sons imprisoned him in the Abbey of S. Medard.

From the beginning of the eleventh century to the middle of the
fourteenth century, Soissons was ruled by its hereditary counts, but one
of these, Louis de Chatil-lon, who fell at the battle of Crécy,
being imprisoned in England, to pay his ransom, sold his countship to
En-guerrand VII de Coucy in 1367, and with all the rest of the appanage
of Coucy, it was taken by the crown of Louis XII.

From Cæsar to Napoleon its importance from a military point of view has
been of the greatest value from its splendid position on the banks of
the river Aisne. For centuries it had to defend itself from continued
attacks, and in these, although many times successful, the stronghold
seems to have worn down to its walls and towers. It has been called by
historians "The City of Sieges," and certainly few towns seem to have
suffered more. Doubtless its magnificent strategic position on the river
Aisne has been the reason for the successive attacks upon it. It was
also a favorite seat of royalty, and the capital of a Roman king,
Syagrius. Architects have pronounced the Cathedral's interior even more
impressive than that of Rheims, and say that "the beautiful proportions
of the nave, the simplicity and purity of the carved capitals, the
splendid glass, rendered it one of the most beautiful cathedrals of
France." ("Cathedral Cities of France," Herbert Marshall.)

It was a splendid example of mixed Romanesque and Gothic of the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries. The west façade had three beautiful doors,
and a great rose window of Gothic design containing glass, the equal of
which cannot, in the writer's opinion, be found in all France. There is
a great square tower on the south side, terminating in an apse.

Inside, I saw some tapestry of the fifteenth century in good condition,
and the sacristan showed an "Adoration of the Shepherds," which he
attributed to Rubens, but it was so badly lighted that little of the
detail could be seen.

Soissons suffered much at the hands of the Germans during the
Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it was besieged by a force under the
command of the Duke of Mecklenburg, whose soldiers burned and destroyed
to their hearts' content.

Even as late as 1910, when I visited the town, the sacristan of the
Cathedral, in response to a question as to his knowledge of the siege,
became quite incoherent in his denunciations of the enemy. One wonders
what has become of this cultured and delightful old man, who was at once
priest and patriot. The south transept is said to have been the oldest
part of the Cathedral, and here was the sacristy (dated the end of the
twelfth century). The sacristan showed us the choir (1212) which was
surrounded by eight square, and the apse by five chapels of polygonal
form. Of these "Fergusson" says, "Nothing can exceed the justness of the
proportions of the center and side aisles, both in themselves and to one
another."

Kneeling statues of the abbesses, Marie de la Rochefoucauld and
Henriette de Lorraine d'Elbeuf were placed at either side of the west
portal. These were from the royal abbey of Notre Dame, but the sacristan
could not, or at any rate did not, give me any other information
concerning them. In the west end was a lovely little chapel, in what is
called the "Salle capit-ulaire," entrance to which is through an early
Gothic cloister with graceful vaulting supported by two beautiful
columns.

Very little remained of the once magnificent Abbey of St. Jean des
Vignes, except two spires, and a ruined façade, and this is on an
eminence near the station. In the bombardment of the town during the
Franco-Prus-sian War these were greatly damaged, but not destroyed.
Here Thomas à Becket lived in 1170. Some of the remaining buildings were
being used as a military prison in 1910.

The beautiful remains of the royal abbey of Notre Dame were given
over to the authorities as a soldiers' barracks, and admission to the
premises was refused us at the gate by a sentry.

Behind the Cathedral was the Hôtel de Ville, which contained the Library
and the Museum, neither of which was impressive.

Near the royal abbey of Notre Dame was the old Tour Lardier, in which,
according to legend, Satan was put in chains and confined by St. Vaast.

Outside the town, to the north, was the ruined church of St.
Crepin-en-Chaye, where in an abbey built in the eleventh century, the
Saints Crepinien were burned at the stake as martyrs. The abbots of old
were certainly militant personages, and their castles were strongholds.
We saw the remains of the abbey of St. Medard, which is said to have
been founded in 560 by Clotaire I. Here the Kings Clotaire and Sigebert
were buried, and here Childeric III was deposed; Pépin of Heristal
received his crown, and Louis le Débonnaire imprisoned by his heartless
sons in 833. Abelard, condemned at the Council of Soissons, was confined
here for years.

Cathedral: Noyon

[Illustration: 0185]

The monastery was one of the richest in France, holding an appanage of
two hundred and fifty villages, including manor houses and farmsteads.
A warrior abbot headed one hundred and fifty armed vassals at the Battle
of Bouvines.

Of the seven churches of St. Medard nothing remained, and the site was
occupied by some nondescript buildings used as some sort of charitable
institution.

In a crypt under the chapel of the abbey church we were shown a large
stone coffin, alleged to be that of Clotaire, and a small vault contains
a cell in which the unfortunate Louis le Débonnaire languished. There is
an inscription supporting this as follows:=

```"Hélas, je suys bons prins des douleurs

`````que j'endure!

````Mourir mieux me vaudrait:

`````la peine me tient dure."

`````(Fourteenth Century.)=

Of the genuineness of this inscription some authorities are doubtful,
but I include it here, nevertheless.

This whole region is now hidden behind the mask of smoke and mystery of
the present infernal war.

Just what ruin lies behind this dropped curtain is uncertain. It has
been reported that Soissons is in ashes, burned and sacked in revenge
for the failure of the Verdun attack. At any rate its inhabitants are
confined within the limits of the town, and it is understood that they
are compelled to toil unceasingly for the invaders. The vast farmsteads
and fields are understood to be worked to the utmost by the townspeople
in regular "gangs" under the eyes of German officers, and that the crops
have been regularly gathered and distributed under the remarkable system
for which the Germans are noted. Other than these no details have been
allowed to creep forth from this unfortunate town. That this sanctuary
of architecture may perchance escape entire destruction at the hands
of these barbarians is not too much to hope for, but that the Cathedral
should be spared is inconceivable, when one remembers the fate of
Rheims, Ypres, Louvain, Arras, Malines and Noyon, to mention but a few
of the incomparable treasures that have vanished before their onslaught.

Soissons' magnificent monuments are now probably heaps of calcined stone
and charred beams. Those marvels of painted glass will live henceforth
only in the memory of those whose good fortune it was to have seen and
valued them.

As I write this the Cathedral of Lâon is reported to be a wreck, and is
thus added to the list. Words fail me.

These "murdered cities" are glorified forever more....

How one's imagination responds to their very names: Verdun, Amiens,
Soissons, Rheims, Arras, Valenciennes!--and those others of Flanders:
Bruges, Ghent, Louvain, Malines, Lille and Ypres--how full are these of
grace and fancy. What ring of shield!--What clang of arms!

For forty years these towns have enjoyed peace and fancied security,
while that once great power, with hypocritical words of good will
towards all men, even while sending delegates to the conferences at The
Hague, was deliberately planning the destruction of sleeping nations
whose lands are now invaded; whose young manhood is disappearing in
a storm of blood and iron; whose architectural treasures are now but
smoldering heaps of ashes!

Rheims Cathedral, it is urged, was a landmark; a menace to the
invader;--and this is true. It was a landmark, most certainly, and
therefore it was a menace to the army of the invader, and was destroyed.
This fact established, there followed the destruction of the other
cathedrals, and it may be that before the invader is beaten off and
pushed back over his own boundary line, those other great works of art
still untouched will vanish under the rain of fire and shell--and none
remain.

Such a catastrophe is appalling, and it may be realized before the war
is over, for there is small reason why all should not suffer the fate of
great St. Martin's at Ypres, and Rheims, at the hands of the descendants
of the Huns and the Allemanni. As it is now six great cathedral towns
lie inclosed within their iron clad battle lines--Soissons, Lâon,
Senlis, Amiens, Noyon and Rheims; of these Rheims, Soissons, Noyon and
Senlis have been ruined; Amiens remains (so we are told) intact. No such
assurance is given of Lâon, with its wonderful square ended choir,
the only one in France, and the remarkable effigies of oxen, carved in
stone, on the tops of the twin towers.



NOYON

|NOYON is really a most beautiful little town asleep amid surrounding
heavy verdure and, with its dominating cathedral towers of Notre Dame,
half Romanesque, half Gothic, which architects pronounce one of the best
specimens of the transition period in France, is a veritable storehouse
of interest." (I find this in my notebook, dated July, 1910.)

It was named by the Romans "Noviodunam Veroman-duorum" and was notable
as the residence of the great Bishops SS. Medard and Eloi.

Here Charlemagne was crowned King of the Franks in 768. Jacques Sarrazin
was born here in 1592, and a monument to him by the sculptor Mohlknecht
was placed on the promenade in 1851.

Just what the invaders have done to this sleepy, peaceful, little town,
can not at this writing be ascertained, but it is reported that the
great towers of the cathedral have been shot away, and that most of the
town is a mass of shapeless debris. Mr. Ralph Adams Cram, the eminent
architect who has made a study of the cathedral, says in his scholarly
and informing book ("The Heart of Europe," p. 99), "The ancient
cathedral was burned in 1131, and the present work begun shortly
after, though it is hard to believe that much of the existing structure
antedates the year 1150. The crossing and transepts date from about
1170, and the nave ten years later, while the west front and towers are
of the early part of the next century. The certainty and calm assurance
of the work is remarkable. Paris, which is later, is full of tentative
experiments, but there is no halting here, rather a severe certainty
of touch that is perfectly convincing.... In 1293 the whole town was
destroyed by fire, and the cathedral wrecked; but it was immediately
reconstructed, however; and at this time the sexpartite gave place to
the quadripartite vaulting, while the west front with its great towers,
very noble in their proportions and their powerful buttressing, was
completed."

From the earliest days Noyon in common with its neighboring towns seems
to have had a hard time of it, whether in war or peace. The communes
constantly fought with each other, the ancient burghers of Noyon being
at daily loggerheads with the established metropolitan clergy. A
certain Baudri de Larchainville, a native of Artois who had the title of
chaplain of the bishopric, "a man of wise and reflecting mind" who
did not share the violent aversion felt by most of his order for the
existing institutions of communes, realized that sooner or later all
would have to bow to authority, and that it was better to surrender to
the wishes of the citizens than to shed blood in order to postpone an
unavoidable revolution.

Elected Bishop of Noyon in 1098, he found this town in the same state
of unrest and insurrection as Cambrai. The registers of the church
contained a host of documents entitled "Peace Made between Us and the
Burghers of Noyon."

But no reconciliation was lasting. "The truce was soon broken either by
the clergy or by the citizens, who were the more touchy in that they had
less security for their persons and their property."

The new bishop believed that the establishment of a commune sworn to
by both the rival parties might become a sort of compact of alliance
between them, and he set about realizing this noble idea before the word
commune had served at Noyon as the rallying cry of popular insurrection.

"Of his own mere motion he convoked in assembly all the inhabitants of
the town, clergy, knights, traders, and craftsmen. He presented them
with a charter which constituted the body of burghers, an association
forever under magistrates called _Jurymen_, like those of Cambrai.
'Whosoever,' said the charter, 'shall desire to enter this commune shall
not be able to be received as a member of it by a single individual, but
only in the presence of the Jurymen. The sum of money he shall then give
shall be employed for the benefit of the town, and not for the private
advantage of any one whatsoever. If the commune be outraged, all those
who have sworn to it shall be bound to march to its defense, and none
shall be empowered to remain at home unless he be infirm or sick, or
so poor that he must needs be himself the watcher of his own wife and
children lying sick. If any one have wounded or slain any one on the
territory of the commune, the Jurymen shall take vengeance therefor.'"
The other articles guarantee to the members of the commune of Noyon the
complete ownership of their property, and the right of not being handed
over to justice save before their own municipal magistrates. The bishop
first swore to this charter, and the inhabitants of every condition
took the same oath after him. In virtue of his pontifical authority
he pronounced the anathema, and all the curses of the Old and New
Testament, against whoever should in time to come try to dissolve the
commune or infringe its regulations. Furthermore, in order to give this
new pact a stronger warranty, Baudri requested the King of France, Louis
the Fat, to corroborate it, as they used to say at the time, by his
approbation and by the great seal of the Crown. The King consented to
this request of the bishop, and that was all the part taken by Louis the
Fat in the establishment of the Commune of Noyon.

Fifteenth Century House: Noyon

[Illustration: 0199]

The King's Charter is not preserved but, under the date of 1108, there
is extant one of the bishop's own, which may serve to substantiate the
account given. "Baudri, by the grace of God, bishop of Noyon, to all
those who do persevere and go on in the faith:

"Most dear brethren, we learn by the example and words of the holy
Fathers, that all good things ought to be committed to writing for fear
lest hereafter they come to be forgotten.

"Know then all Christians present and to come, that I have formed
at Noyon a commune, constituted by the council and in an assembly of
clergy, knights and burghers; that I have confirmed it by oath, by
pontifical authority and by the bond of anathema, and that I have
prevailed upon our lord King Louis to grant this commune and corroborate
it with the King's Seal. This establishment formed by me, sworn to by a
great number of persons, and granted by the King, let none be so bold
as to destroy or alter; I give warning thereof, on behalf of God and
myself, and I forbid it in the name of Pontifical Authority.

"Whosoever shall transgress and violate the present law, be subjected to
excommunication; and whosoever, on the contrary, shall faithfully keep
it, be preserved forever amongst those who dwell in the house of the
Lord."

Thus was formed the Commune of Noyon in the year of our Lord 1108.

At the end of the eleventh century the town had become one of the most
important in the kingdom, filled with rich and industrious inhabitants;
thither came, as to Lâon, the neighboring people for provisions or
diversion; and such concourse led to many disturbances. Thierry says,
"The nobles and their servitors, sword in hand, committed robbery upon
the burghers; the streets of the town were not safe by night or even by
day, and none could go out without running a risk of being stopped and
robbed or killed."

"Let me give as example," says Guibert of Nogent, "a single fact, which
had it taken place amongst the Barbarians or Scythians, would assuredly
have been considered the height of wickedness, in the judgment even of
those who recognize no law. On Saturday the inhabitants of the country
places used to leave their fields, and come from all sides to get
provisions at the market. The townsfolk used then to go round the place
carrying in baskets or bowls or otherwise, samples of vegetables or
grain or any other article, as if they wished to sell. They would offer
them to the first peasant who was in search of such things to buy; he
would promise to pay the price agreed upon; then the seller would say to
the buyer, 'Come with me to my house to see and examine the whole of the
articles I am selling you.' The other would go; and then when they came
to the bin containing the goods, the _honest_ seller would take off and
hold up the lid, saying to the buyer, 'Step hither and put your head or
arms into the bin to make quite sure that it is exactly the same goods
as I showed you outside.' And then when the other unsuspecting, jumping
on to the edge of the bin, remained leaning on his belly, with his head
and shoulders hanging down, the worthy seller, who kept in the rear,
would hoist up the thoughtless rustic by the feet, push him suddenly
into the bin, and clapping down the lid as he fell, keep him shut up in
this safe prison until he _bought_ himself out."

This story, told of the Commune of Lâon, formed in imitation of that at
Noyon, was typical of all such communities. Lâon elected one Gaudri,
a Norman by birth, referendary of Henry I, King of England, and one of
those churchmen who according to Thierry's expression, "had gone in the
train of William the Bastard to seek their fortunes amongst the English
by seizing the property of the vanquished." Of scarcely edifying life,
he had the tastes and habits of a soldier; was hasty and arrogant; a
fighter and also something of a glutton. He met at Langres Pope Pascal
II, come to France to keep the festival of Christmas at the Abbey of
Cluny. The Pope had heard of his reputation, for afterwards he asked the
ecclesiastics who accompanied Gaudri, "why they had chosen a man unknown
to them."

"The question being asked in Latin, none of the priests knew even the
rudiments of the tongue, so they could not answer," (says Guibert de
Nogent, who records the matter).

Gaudri certainly was scantily fitted for the bishopric, as the town soon
discovered. "Scarcely had he been installed when he committed strange
outrages. He had a man's eyes put out on suspicion of connivance with
his enemies; and he tolerated the murder of another in the metropolitan
church. In imitation of rich crusaders on their return from the East,
he kept a black slave, whom he employed upon his deeds of vengeance.
The burghers began to be disquieted and to wax wroth. So a commune
was resolved upon like that at Noyon, and was speedily set up and
proclaimed, to the manifest wrath of Gaudri, who for days abstained from
entering the town. But the burghers, craftily acting upon his cupidity
and avariciousness, 'offered him so large a sum of money as to appease
the tempest of his words,' so he accepted the commune and swore to
respect it.

"For the space of three years all went well, and the burghers were happy
and proud of the liberty they enjoyed, but when in 1112 the Bishop had
spent the money thus received, he meditated over and keenly regretted
the power thus bartered away, and resolved to return the townspeople to
the old condition of serfdom. Consulting with King Louis the Fat, he won
his consent to the plan he had in mind, by promising him untold sums of
money."

The Charter, sealed with the King's Seal, was annulled; and on the part
of the King and the Bishop an order was issued to all the magistrates of
the commune to cease from their functions, to give up the seal and the
banner of the town, to ring no longer the belfry chimes which rang out
the opening and closing of their audiences.

But at this proclamation, so violent was the uproar in the town, that
the King, who had hitherto lodged in a private hotel, thought it prudent
to leave, and go to pass the night in the Episcopal Palace, which was
surrounded by high walls. Not content with this precaution, and probably
a little ashamed of what he had done, he left the next morning at
daybreak with all his train, without waiting for the celebration of
the festival of Easter for which he had undertaken the journey. Such
troubles and disorders marked the rise and fall of all the communes.
Those who are interested in such history of the struggles of the people
for liberty of person and action may read further the accounts of the
communes in Guizot's admirable History of France, from which these are
extracts. Suffice it to say here that all the towns of Cambrai,
Beauvais, Amiens, Soissons, Rheims and several others displayed at this
period a vast deal of energy and perseverance in bringing their lords to
recognize the most natural and the most necessary rights of every human
creature and community.

From this brief account some idea may be had of the ancient conditions.

Let us now turn to the terrible state of affairs under which the
unfortunate inhabitants of these quaint towns of Northern France are
suffering. In the book of Octave Beauchamp, "Le Tour de France aux
Cités Meurtries," is the following letter (which I translate roughly) of
Leonie Godfroy, a nurse, known as "Schwester" God-froy:

"During the night of the 28th to the 29th of August, the Mayor of Noyon
advised the people, that as the situation had become critical because of
the approach of the German army, all those who could do so should leave
the town to escape the terrors of the invasion."

L' Ancien Eveche: Noyon

[Illustration: 0209]

"In one of my school books, I remember a picture which, when I first saw
it, filled me with horror. It represented the Exodus of the Gauls at the
approach of the Huns, and was drawn, I think, by Gustav Doré,--the
women half naked, dragged away by the savage soldiers; the terrified and
crying children; the old men and women hurrying away, some empty-handed,
others laden with all manner of objects which at any other time, or
under different conditions would have seemed ridiculous, but which
coupled with their terror, became pathetic. This picture now was enacted
by my unfortunate fellow townspeople in their attempt to escape from the
dangers of the bombardment and acts of the invaders. Crowds were running
towards the railway depot, not realizing that the cars were already
crowded to suffocation with half fainting women and terrified children.
Others sat beside the ways, wailing and wringing their hands; here and
there sat groups silent, staring as if they had lost their senses!

"The forests outside the town were filled with hiding, terrified women,
and here the Uhlans gathered on the morning of the 30th, after the
invasion and occupation of Noyon. During this flight from town many
women became mothers by the roadside, and lay there helpless until
attended to by the German Ambulance Corps. The Germans arrived on the
30th of August. They entered Noyon after having fired three great shells
into the city, which met with no response. The silence of death was over
the town, save for the howling here and there of an abandoned dog, shut
indoors.

"We, the staff at the hospital, gathered about the president of our
committee, with clasped hands, vowed solemnly that come what would, we
should remain at our post, to do our duty to the end. With us stayed
some courageous young women nurses, and several of the attendants.

"Some hours before we had received at the hospital some dozen or so
wounded English soldiers from the front. We were in the midst of our
work with these, when there came the sound of violent banging on the
front door. Two Uhlans burst in past the attendant and entered the
court.

"Catching sight of us ranged about the cot of a wounded soldier, these
pushed us aside, examined the condition of the wounded men in the
room and without saying one word to any of us, hurriedly took their
departure.

"From this instant our wounded were prisoners of war, and must resign
themselves to all the circumstances of such state. The smallest
resistance (of course there could be no resistance whatever on their
part, wounded unto death as they were) would be visited upon us all; we
would be shot in groups, and the hospital burned. Shortly after this
a 'section' (so-called) entered the hospital without any formality,
pistols in hand. The officers at once commandeered the autos in the
court, and demanded our entire supply of gasolene.

"Behind these advance soldiers, the German troops began to defile past
the windows in plain sight. Then came weary men covered with dust
and grime of the march, demanding food and drink. Some of these threw
themselves upon the cots beside the lesser wounded, and seemed instantly
to fall asleep.

"We were soon unable to reply satisfactorily to the questions of the
officers. They asked us, Frenchmen, how we found the French; if the
English were numerous; if they had burned the bridges. We answered
as well as we could, and as briefly as possible without giving them
offense. The rooms being full, we placed foot tubs in the court, and
attended to them. For the most part they impressed us filled with
a great anxiety, even fear...." (Here follow allegations that are
untranslatable--ignoble--they are omitted.)

"We saw from the windows regiments of men in gray passing in great
disorder, the men covered with dust and grime, and not always keeping
step. Great army wagons passed, the drivers of which slept nodding on
the seats. Some we saw fall as the wagons lurched. The horses seemed
spent, and only kept going because of heavy blows and prods from
bayonets.

"This army of invasion resembles more an army in retreat. Imagine
the state of affairs in this little city of Noyon, once so happy and
peaceful, now resounding with the noise of the great guns of the Germans
both day and night--nights of terror!

"All the grocery shops are pillaged and gutted, so also the pharmacies
and the bazaars.

"Many of the houses are turned into something like shops for the barter
of objects stolen by the soldiers in the town. In these furniture,
silver, objects of art and linen are exchanged and packed up to be
sent to Germany. The inhabitants are commanded to deposit with the
'Kommandantur' not only all firearms, but also all photographic cameras
and telephone instruments in their possession. All pigeons in the town
have been killed to prevent their being employed as messengers by the
people. In occupying Noyon, the Germans have attempted to strip the
place thoroughly of everything of value. Their hospital ambulances,
called 'lazarets,' are used to gather in the proceeds of their thefts.

"There is one at the theater, and others in the most important
establishments. Here all that is collected by the soldiers each day
is taken. The wine cellars have been emptied, it is said, and large
quantities shipped to Germany. It has for days now been impossible for
us to get a bottle of wine for our patients."

Retable in the Cathedral: Noyon

[Illustration: 0217]

"In the great bombardment now going on of Noyon by the French
endeavoring to drive out the enemy, the _faubourgs_ have suffered
greatly; that of d'Amiens, the boulevards and the Rue d'Oroire
particularly. The gas works and the depot are both destroyed, as well
as the military casernes. I have heard the officers say how much they
admire the French cannon, and the artillery corps. They frequently
repeat in our hearing the ancient 'blague'--the Germans and the French
should be friends--they will be sooner or later--they should unite for
the good of humanity and for the downfall of England!--From officer
to soldier this is the shibboleth. It does not ring true! Now and then
there are visits from princes and dignitaries, accompanied by tremendous
excitement and troops blazing with color, bands of music, and all
intended to impress and encourage the dusty, dirty troops of soldiers
who are continually coming from and going to the front, and lend a
factitious animation to the town. Each day the German 'Etat Major' sends
out the 'communiqués,' which are placarded all over town. The people of
Noyon who remain pay little attention to them.

"They do, however, study and commit to memory the rules of circulation.
For instance, it is dangerous for one to pass twice on any given day
in the same street; to stand talking with a friend without plausible
reason, or to go to the railway station or walk upon a public promenade
without permission. In the evening all are ordered to be in the house by
four o'clock. The town is plunged in inky darkness at night, for the gas
house and works are destroyed. Those who must have light use candles,
but the price of these has risen beyond all belief. All lights at night
are carefully hidden by blinds and heavy curtains, for at the least ray
of light seen by the German patrol, suspicion is cast upon the inmates,
and a 'crime' of this sort invariably brings arrest and a night in
confinement under guard at the 'post' or even the risk of being sent to
Germany. I have seen young and old, a priest and a sacristan thus sent
away.

"Often even a gesture misunderstood by a patrol results in the
banishment of the offender over the border into Germany.

"The Mayor of Noyon has carried on the difficult tasks entrusted to him
with great skill and remarkable courage. Many times his administrations
have placed him in grave danger, but so far he has not suffered for his
demands for justice towards his unfortunate fellow townsmen.

"Every Sunday mass is celebrated in the untouched part of the Cathedral.
A Protestant service also is given following it. The troops attend
in two detachments, and the sight of these two bodies at once in the
Cathedral is sufficiently curious, and certainly most unusual.

"In the afternoon the officers arrange a sort of concert, at which
artists who are unlucky enough to be here are expected to perform. These
are usually melancholy affairs.

"When the town was first occupied by the Germans, in September, 1914, it
was to the Cathedral that they sent their prisoners for confinement.
The inhabitants were ordered to bring provisions for them, but were
not allowed access to them. It was necessary to intrust the food they
brought to the sentinels, and no one knows whether the food reached the
poor prisoners or not.

"As for the Cathedral, I can say truly that the two great towers were
constantly used by the German soldiers as posts of observation. Our
glorious dead have been laid at rest at the foot of an immense cross
erected outside the town.

"The Germans have prepared for their dead a large 'fosse' in the middle
of a field. An armed picket guard assists at the interments of both
French and Germans, at which military honors are scrupulously observed
and given. These ceremonies, often under the heavy fire of the great
guns of the French, have made an impression upon me that I shall never
forget.

"The morning of the 17th of October, as I was engaged in renewing
the dressing of a lieutenant s wounds, two German policemen brusquely
entered, and called out 'Schwester Godfroy!'

"Hearing my name I turned and prepared to follow the two men, but these
rough men, deeming my movements not quick enough, seized me by the arms
and pushed me towards the stairs leading to my chamber. In the hallway
I perceived my companions, each grasped by a 'gendarme.' An officer and
five men pushed me with them into my chamber and locked the door; then
these men, with a brutality impossible here to describe, ransacked my
bed, ripped open the mattress and pillows, after which they turned the
contents of my valise out on the floor, threw my clothing about; even
breaking off the legs of my '_table de nuit_' to see if I had not
letters or papers hidden therein. I kept my temper, remaining quiet.

"Seeing me so calm seemed to render them furious at finding nothing
to incriminate me. My trunk in a corner of the room attracted their
attention, and they roughly ordered me to open it. I made them
understand that there was no key to it. One of them wrenched off the
lid with his saber, to discover that the trunk was empty. They then
questioned me minutely, after eyeing suspiciously several German
newspapers lying on the table.

"'You speak German, and you refuse to admit it; but do not mistake--you
and the others--we know you to be Belgians, and if you can get to Paris,
it is not for the purpose of caring for the wounded...'

"This seemed so foolish to me that I refused to answer.

"For at least ten minutes they bent over my poor papers, my little
souvenirs, and a piece of paper money which they examined minutely,
thinking to find state secrets, I suppose.

"Afterwards, when they returned my money, they kept five or six letters
which I had preserved and kept by me as dear relics, precious letters
from my mother and sisters... Their gross impoliteness made no outward
impression upon me, but the instant their attention was attracted from
me, and they turned their heads in another direction, I threw adroitly
in a corner of my valise, which remained open beside me, a small packet
which I carried in the waist of my dress. In this I had written a sort
of diary of my experiences since the beginning of the war, together with
accounts given me by wounded Frenchmen of their personal impressions
of the combats in which they had been wounded; a few sketches and such
matters, all innocent of any military value, but which, if found upon
me, would have but one quick result... I pushed the valise farther under
the table with a stealthy movement of my foot. The men then left the
room, shutting the door behind them. Almost instantly two horrible
'Schwestern' entered without knocking, and proceeded to undress me,
examining even the lining of my clothes for concealed papers--Of course
they found none. My companions suffered the same indignities at the
hands of these horrible creatures, who seemed to us more brutes than
women. When they had gone, and I was sure that no one observed, I again
concealed the packet of papers in the waist of my dress as before."

Of her further adventures I can give no more here. She was taken away
from Noyon shortly after the experience just related and sent to a
detention camp of Holzminden in Germany with her companion nurses. Her
experiences there were remarkable, and after serving with faithfulness
until the following April, she was sent to Rastadt, the fortress, from
which she obtained permission to leave, and return to Noyon by way of
Switzerland. She finishes by writing: "Now, after more than a year has
passed, I am once more in our dear little cottage, among those whom
I had thought and feared never to see again. Alas--the war continues.
Certainly I dreamed that war was very different from what I found it to
be, and if my health returns to me, as I hope, I shall resume my work.
I have seen the soldiers in the midst of battle at the front; I have
attended them in the ambulances with undreamed of wounds; I have
listened to and received their agonized confidences, and attended them
to the end. They are all heroes to me... I have known them in captivity,
famished for food, insulted, brutalized by their captors. Our brave
boys!

"Their courage, the grandeur of their souls, their indifference to pain
in the face of duty, imparts to me something of their courage which
inspires me.

"A country defended by such an army has no right to doubt final victory.

"(Signed) Leonie Godfroy."


Hotel de Ville: Noyon

[Illustration: 0227]

One revolts at these terrible pictures and accounts of the ravages of
war in this former peaceful town, now so ravaged by the German army. Its
picturesque town hall with the emblazoned coat of arms below the turret,
where those flocks of white pigeons paraded the coping, cooing in the
sunshine--now a mass of blackened ruin, behind a vast hole in the ground
in what was once the town square, marking where one of the great shells
fell and burst; and the shattered towers of the gray old Cathedral, the
roof of which is gone, leaving the debris filled interior open to the
rainy gray cloudy sky. Where now are the throngs of happy, apparently
care-free peasants who thronged the "place" before the flag-hung old
Town Hall that morning we last saw it in September, 1910?...

The Patron Saints' day--a day dear to the peasants. This festival which
takes place but once a year, is an event in the peasant's life. On this
day he invites his friends and his relatives to his house, each in turn.
In such communities throughout France, where the church still preserves
authority, the priest earnestly endeavors to protect the peasants from
the wiles and temptations of sin--this is one of the few days when
dancing is allowed. Thus in each section of the country or province the
occasion is given a different name, although the circumstances of its
celebration do not differ greatly.

In the North of France the day is known under the name of "La Dricasse,"
in the East as "La Rapport," in Savoy as the "Vogue"; in Touraine as the
"Assemblée"; as the "Ballade" in Poitou; as the "Frairie" in Angoumois;
and as the "Pardon" in Brittany.

The day before the fête, long lines of wagons with peddlers and
mountebanks arrived in the "place" and each took up its station upon a
position marked out with white stones, according to whatever license
has been allotted to the showman at the Town Hall. There was no disorder
whatever, no dispute with the _Sergeant de Ville_, whose word is law.
The wagons were unpacked in the light of flaring naphtha torches under
the excited eyes of the gamins who formed a wondering, pushing ring
about the workmen until driven away by the police.

One may believe that during that night the peasants slept lightly for
thinking of the joys of the feasting and dancing of the morrow. At dawn
of day the chimes in the cathedral awakened them. Soon they thronged the
streets, the men dressed in new blouses, or treasured wedding coats, the
girls all in unaccustomed finery of stiff skirts and Sunday headdress.

All go to mass on a day of this sort as a sacred duty. The old Cathedral
was crowded to the doors with the people; sitting and standing. Late
comers fared badly and remained at the porch. Even there, they knelt
piously at their devotions.

But it seemed to us that the whole congregation was nervously excited
and impatient to be gone. We could not hear the words of the priest's
sermon, but undoubtedly he counseled them to keep sober and to beware of
the attractiveness of sin.

When the Amen was chanted how quickly the peasants left the old church!
How they hastened to the square, where already flags were flying all
about, and where the mountebanks were shouting out the attractions
of their tented shows; where the booths displayed their attractive
collections of brassy jewelry; and the firemen were gathered bravely
in their brazen horsehair-plumed helmets, all ranged about the absurd
diminutive fire pump, two feet in height and mounted on four twelve-inch
scarlet wheels. How innocent, even pathetically ludicrous it seemed, yet
what a charm it all had for us.

Everything was calculated to attract and excite the desires of these
simple people, who know nothing of the luxuries to which free born
Americans are so accustomed.

Here in the open square sharp-eyed Semitic merchants from Paris unpacked
their paniers and heavy cases of cheap clothing, gaudy ribbons and
flimsy varnished furniture, over which the women and girls crowded and
pushed excitedly, fingering their lean purses, containing their hard
earned "francs," and eagerly bargaining for the usually worthless
articles. The "barkers" called out loudly the merits of the shows,
before which, on elevated board platforms, hard faced girls in tights
and motley clad buffoons paraded. Tinsel and glitter never failed to
attract the peasant, and the clashing cymbal and the loudly beaten drum
gives him delight.

Here, before the old Town Hall, built three centuries ago, a modern
moving picture tent was set up, with a large sign over it reading
thus: "Cinema--Américain. Phonograph--Edison. Entree f. 1.50"--but the
peasants did not yet know what this meant and they seemed dubious about
it. The fortune teller, however, was highly successful, and his long
green canvas covered wagon was surrounded by an eager waiting crowd of
women; the men did not seem to care for it.

An itinerant quack dentist, in a magnificently varnished open carriage
hung with flags and diplomas from the "Crowned Heads of Europe," was
extracting "an aching tooth," from the mouth of a frightened boy, who
leaped away from the carriage, as the quack held up the offending tooth
in a glittering forceps before the astonished eyes of the peasants.
Spitting out blood, the boy, holding his jaw in his hands, and
surrounded by other admiring "gamins," went away behind the back of a
cart; following him I was just in time to see him display a bright
new one franc piece to the others who were grouped about him. They all
jumped away at my approach.

"Did your teeth ache badly?" I asked him.

"No, M'sieur, not at all, but he offered me one good silver franc for
it, and _Mère de Dieu_, what would you?--a franc is a franc--and I have
plenty of teeth left!"

In the gorgeous carriage stood the loud mouthed "quack" flourishing the
teeth in the silver plated forceps, and calling for "amateurs" to come
forward and have their teeth out.

There were booths filled with sweets about which the children lingered
most longingly, and others where "fritters" were cooked in evil smelling
grease, which were eagerly bought and consumed in large quantities by
the young fellows and their girls.

The various small inns and drinking-places were filled to suffocation
the whole day long. From the open windows and doors came the sounds of
loud singing, mingled with the raucous tones of barrel organs, and the
jingling of glasses and bottles. There was much shouting and laughing on
the part of the peasants, who on ordinary occasions are serious enough,
if not morose. That night the festival was in full swing. The two large
"merry-go-rounds" with their gaudily painted wooden lions, tigers, and
horses, were whirling about in blazing circles laden with excited boys
and screaming girls, to the groaning strains of large barrel organs,
filling the air with noise. These merry-go-rounds were ornamented
thickly with squares and diamonds of mirror glass, and these made
a magnificent whirling show in the square. There was, too, the town
orchestra vainly endeavoring to play the popular music, and finally
there were some sputtering fireworks, followed by a speech by the Mayor,
and a "retraite aux Flambeaux," consisting of a dozen firemen with oil
lamps, which, preceded by a drum corps, made the round of the adjacent
streets.

After seeing this we returned to our little Hôtel du Nord, for it was
near to midnight, but all night long the festivities went on in the
square, and in the small dancing halls.

We thought it all most quaint, even somewhat pathetic then.

But the act of the aggressor which has swept away this pretty little
town, leaving nothing but blackened, fire-eaten walls, and driving a
simple innocent people into exile is nothing short of a crime against
humanity.

Of the ruin wrought in the neighborhood of Noyon and Lassigny by the
Teutons before they abandoned this part of their line a correspondent
(_Le Matin_, Paris) states that it is difficult to speak without
entering into details of the most sordid character.

What were once charming streets in Lassigny are now covered with masses
of rubbish discarded by the Germans when they plundered the city.
The beautiful old fifteenth century church, which was the Mecca for
thousands of sightseers in times before the war, has been reduced to a
heap of stones. Along the road from Lassigny to Noyon the spectacle of
ruin is the same. Suzoy and many small villages were too far from the
French lines to be damaged by the heavy artillery fire, but they bear,
nevertheless, many traces of the barbarian rage. All furniture that
could not be carried off by the Germans was battered and broken to
prevent its use even for firewood.

Much of it was piled in heaps along the road and burned to ashes. In
some parts of the road the French found carts loaded with household
furniture which the Germans in their haste were unable to move or burn.
Farm implements, curtains, carpets and most of the household goods of
the villages were smashed and in some cases covered with offal.

At Noyon the houses have suffered comparatively little damage. The most
noticeable wreckage was done in the vicinity of the bridges which had
been blown up to prevent and delay pursuit. At some places the Germans
exploded bombs and mines in the middle of the roadway, causing immense
holes and ridges. The Cathedral is ruined; likewise the notable and
remarkable old Town Hall, but the quaint old fountain in the Square has
by some good fortune escaped damage. In March, 1917, on their departure
from Noyon, the Germans delegated a staff of officers to visit the
different banks in the town.

Several prominent citizens were brought along to accelerate the work of
pillage, and the officers compelled the opening of all safes. Even the
minute objects whose chief value lay in sentimental attachment were
taken by the Germans.

Securities, jewelry and silver in the banks, amounting to $500,000
approximately, were taken before the town was evacuated.

M. Poiret, mayor of the village of Pimpres, who was separated from his
family two years ago, and compelled to remain at Noyon, says of his
treatment by the Germans: "The humiliations we had to put up with are
indescribable. During the last few weeks our physical discomforts became
unbearable. There was neither meat, nor coal, nor vegetables, nor fat.
In addition the Germans cut all the mains, so that we had no gas.
They were constantly requisitioning what little we had. They took even
the bells from the ruins of the Cathedral, and the old Town Hall, and
last week the great organ in the church (Sainte Chapelle of the old
Bishop's Palace) was removed.

"We were joyous when we heard that the Germans were preparing to leave
on Friday night. We were told to remain indoors on penalty of being shot
if we stirred outdoors.

"During the night the Germans blew up mines in the streets and dammed
up the river Verse so as to flood the town. The evacuation began the
following night (Saturday) and was finished by daybreak.

"On Sunday at 11 o'clock the sight of French cavalry coming up the
street toward my house was the most 'gorgeous' spectacle I have seen for
more than two years."

During the nights of March 16 and 17, two companies of German infantry
arrived at the village of Ham, where there was a famous château (tenth
century) of the Counts of Vermandois and later of the family of Coucy.
The infantry remained until the following day, pillaging systematically,
under orders of their officers, everything in the neighborhood.

The ancient Château of Coucy furnished them with considerable valuable
booty, and here four officers burned and broke up all the furniture they
could not carry away. The château was in the form of a rectangle flanked
at each corner by a round tower, and with great square towers on the
north and east. The round tower at the northeast angle which rose from
the canal was the work of Louis de Luxembourg in 1490. and was called
the "Tour du Connetable," and bore above the portal the motto of
its founder, "Mon Myeul." Its walls were of tremendous thickness and
strength. The whole lower story was an immense hall of hexagonal form,
and it had a number of strange pits, called furnaces, which were to
be used to blow up the castle in case of capture. In this château many
notable personages had been confined; for instance, Jeanne d'Arc; Condé,
the Huguenot leader; Jacques Cassard of Nantes; and Prince Napoleon,
after his failure and capture at Boulogne in 1840. This great and
historical château they wantonly destroyed; after sacking it they blew
it up with cases of explosives placed in the walls.

The officers took away from their sleeping quarters in the town all
chairs, bed clothing and even the smallest toilet articles. Some of the
soldiers excused their acts to the townspeople by informing them that
all this was done "by order of the Emperor."

General von Fleck, commanding officer of the army corps stationed at
Ham, took everything in the house he occupied from the cellar to the
roof, using a wagon to carry away the objects. "After the wagon had gone
with the last chair in the house, the general found himself in need of
one on which to write a letter, so an orderly was dispatched to get one
at the Mairie."



MEAUX

|THE little town of Meaux on the banks of the Marne is only thirty miles
or so from Paris, and was remarkable for its old mills on the bridge
over the river bed, behind the Hôtel de Ville, as well as for the
beautiful cathedral of St. Etienne. The beauties of the town could best
be appreciated from the shady walk along the river side. Here were great
shade trees overhanging the roadway, through the branches of which one
got glimpses of the cream colored tower of the old cathedral, above the
red tiled roofs of the town, all against a summer sky of pale blue.

Upon reaching the town, there were the two bridges over the Marne, both
of them covered with some old mills with high wooden walls and quaint
buttresses; almost theatrical and unbelievable in these practical days.

The town had about twelve or thirteen thousand inhabitants, and was
busied with a trade in grain. Some rather handsome boulevards seemed
entirely out of key with the rest of the town, but there were the
remains of an ancient chateau of the Counts of Flanders, built during
the thirteenth, or maybe the twelfth century, accounts differ, which
seemed much more in keeping with the place, and a most delightful little
hotel called the "_Trois Rois_" from which it was hard to get away, so
ideal were its comforts, and so moderate its charges.

Meaux, says history, was the refuge of the noble ladies of France in
the Jacquerie revolts of the thirteenth century, when the horrors of
the rebel persecutions at Beauvais commenced. Once having reached the
shelter of its walls, they dared not leave, and remained prisoners until
the terror ended. Here remained the Duchesses of Orléans and Normandy
among others no less famous and prominent, so that intrepid warrior,
the Captai de Buch, accompanied by the Earl of Foix, gathered together a
force of armed men for their rescue.

All the roads leading to the town, from Paris, from Beauvoisie, from
Valois, were filled with bands of peasantry, all bound for the town,
which they had heard contained great treasure. Arriving at Meaux, de
Buch and Foix were welcomed with great joy, for the peasants had begun
to pillage wherever they could. Then ensued a great slaughter in which
the marauding peasants were rounded up and killed like rats by the armed
warriors. "They flung them in great heaps into the river. In short, they
killed upwards of seven thousand; not one would have escaped if they had
chosen to pursue them."

Meaux, too, is famous for a great siege during the wars of Henry V, when
he camped before the town walls in 1421. Monstrelet says, "The King of
England was indefatigable in the siege of Meaux, and having destroyed
many parts of the walls of the market place, he summoned the garrison
to surrender themselves to the King of France and himself, or he would
storm the place. To this summons they replied that it was not yet time
to surrender, on which the King ordered the place to be stormed. The
assault continued for seven or eight hours, in the most bloody manner;
nevertheless, the besieged made a most obstinate defense, in spite of
the great numbers that were attacking them. Their lances had been almost
all broken, but in their stead they made use of spits, and fought back
with such courage that the English were driven back from the ditches,
which encouraged them much."

Eventually, however, not receiving help from the Dauphin, upon which
they had counted, they capitulated to Henry's soldiers.

Under the treaty which followed, they agreed: "On the 11th day May, the
market place, and all Meaux was to be surrendered into the hands of the
Kings of France and England."

As a warning to the people against further insurrection the leader, one
Vauras, "the bastard," who had in his career killed many English and
Burgundians, was hanged, drawn, and quartered before the walls of the
town.

After this, King Henry, who was very proud of his victory, entered
the town in great pomp and splendor, remaining for some days with his
princes and attendants, and left after giving orders that the town walls
should be rebuilt and all other damages repaired.

The ancient building called the "Evêché" near the cathedral was the
residence of Bossuet, the famous preacher, in 1681. He was nicknamed the
"Aigle de Meaux," and renowned for his eloquence, even at a time when
France was rich in such genius. Bossuet stood head and shoulders even
above such contemporaries as Mas-silon and Bourdaloue, Arnauld, Fleury,
and Fénelon. It was really he who established the privileges and liberty
of the Gallican church.

Here in the little green garden behind the gray walls of the "Evêché,"
he sat, mused, and wrote his essays upon the encroachments of Papacy,
which destroyed the remnants of Pope Innocent's power in France.

In his later years he remained in seclusion here at Meaux, leading the
life of a simple parish priest, and here he died "full of honors and
beloved by all," and was buried in the church in 1704. A handsome statue
by Ruxtiel was erected in his honor on the south side of the choir.

Old Mills: Meaux

[Illustration: 0249]

Here, too, was a fine kneeling statue of Philip of Castile, dated 1627.

But the great point of attraction for the stranger at Meaux was the
bridge and the old timbered mills which overhung it, and the curious
greeny water of the river Marne.

I could not ascertain what gave the water its green color; it did not
seem natural, yet there were apparently no dye works near at hand--none
of the inhabitants whom I questioned seemed able to answer my question;
they had never noticed it, they said.

The morning upon which I made my sketches of the ancient mills and the
old bridges, there were two of them over the river, the sky suddenly
darkened, and a heavy shower of rain fell. I took refuge in the open
doorway of one of the old mills, and sat on the lower step of a ruinous
dusty steep stairway leading upwards into mysterious deep shadows.
Somewhere in the interior sounded the rhythmic beating of heavy
machinery, but save for this, the "drumming fingers of the rain," and an
occasional tinkle of a bell high up in the tower of the cathedral, there
were no signs or sounds of life. Meaux is not a large town, neither is
it a very lively one, but it is charmingly situated. Were it farther
away from Paris, I doubt not that it might attract the tourist, for it
has a most delightful public promenade along the river Marne which is
entered immediately before the railway station. But up to the time of
the outbreak of the great world war, Meaux was comparatively unknown to
the foreigner tourist, and were it not for the old mills of which I had
heard, I should not have stopped there. The cathedral treasury possessed
copies of nine of Raphaël's cartoons, and included two of the three
"lost" ones, described as "Martyrdom of St. Stephen and Conversion
of St. Paul." There were also copies of frescoes by Guido Reni and
Dominichino, an "Adoration of the Magi" after Champaigne and an
"Annunciation" after Stella. I had made notes concerning these in my
pocket diary and as I sat on the step in the old doorway of the dusty
mill, I mused over the pages while the raindrops fell outside.

All at once the door swung to slowly, and when I tried to open it, I
found that it was fast and would not yield. There was no sort of knob
visible in the gloom, nor was there any aperture in the door through
which light could come. There seemed to be light somewhere above, so
I mounted the steps, which stopped abruptly before another closed door
which, however, was not fastened, for it yielded at once to my touch.
There was a small window here of four panes thick with dust, through
which some feeble light came. More steep steps led upward, and I
continued to mount, judging that I should soon come to some sort of room
where there were men at work.

But at the top of these stairs was a similar door and more steps, and
still another flight brought me into an immense empty room with an
uneven floor, the planks of which were loose here and there and gave
alarmingly to my weight. Overhead huge beams crossed and recrossed the
dimness, and on these beams perched countless numbers of rooks, who
uneasily regarded my intrusion. The windows--there were five of them--I
could not reach from the floor, nor could I by jumping up, try as I
might, reach the sills, so that I might see out. Backwards and forwards
I passed, and then along the blank wall which I judged adjoined the
neighboring mill, seeking a doorway. I could find none. Finally I found
a small door, not more than three feet from the floor in the blank wall.
This was fastened by a hasp and opened readily. I got down on my hands
and knees in the dust which lay thickly, and crept through it into a
second large dim room, almost the counterpart of that which I had just
left, save that it was lighted by only one window and this without
glass. It, too, was high up in the wall like the others.

In the very middle of the uneven floor was an unguarded opening through
which the heavy ropes of a pulley hung. I lost no time in feeling my way
carefully down the steps at one side which were without any rail to hold
on to. I found that there was a ladder here by which I might descend,
which I did at once, but with some misgivings as to where it might land
me.

Now I heard voices from below and, reassured, I put foot to the ladder.
In a few moments I was on the floor below, but as I was about to walk
away from the ladder in the darkness towards an opening on the farther
end, I bethought me to put out a foot carefully to try the floor. To my
horror there was no floor there, and retreating I lighted a match and
threw it before me. The feeble flame was enough to show a great black
chasm where I had thought to step a moment before, and the hair on my
scalp rose in fright at my escape. I shouted aloud for help--I heard
running footsteps--and right beside me a door opened letting in a flood
of daylight and the figure of one of the millers, who regarded me with
openmouthed astonishment, as well he might.

When I had explained my predicament, he and the other men who gathered
about were loud in their expressions of wonder at my escape from a
terrible death, for had I but stepped a foot farther, I had fallen forty
or fifty feet into a sluiceway from which they vowed I never could have
escaped alive. I invited all hands over to the café, and there I gave
offerings to Bacchus in honor of my escape which were eagerly consumed
by the millers of Meaux.

Cathedral: Meaux

[Illustration: 0257]

M. Georges Montorgueil, writing in "La Cités Meurtries, 1916," his
account of the early days of terror in Meaux, gives a picture of the old
priest who so devotedly and courageously shepherded his little flock of
women and children, helpless before the invasion and destruction of the
town by the Germans:

"Where, meanwhile, was the venerable priest, an old man of seventy-five
years, the Abbé Fossin, whose age and gray hairs was no protection,
to him, nor the eighteen unfortunates who were seized with him by the
Germans and thrown into jail, under the most atrocious circumstances,
not matched by any of its most ancient barbarities when the Germans were
known as 'Huns.'

"The Abbé Fossin kept a Journal of events during the tragic hours
preceding his arrest:

"'5th of September, 1914. Saturday.

"'I read my breviary. An aéroplane passed above my head. The bodies
of two pilots killed by a bomb were taken to the cemetery. A group
of captured French soldiers are passing. "L'église en ambulance." The
prisoners of Guerard have gone. All the electric lights in the town are
out.

"'6th September. Sunday.

"'A bad night. Impossible to say Mass or hold funeral of the two
aviators in the cemetery because of the falling shells. The
cannonade began at nine o'clock and lasted until five o'clock without
interruption. We are under a very rain of fire! The batteries of the
Germans, placed behind the presbytery, have been located by the English.
I believe my last hour has arrived. The din is frightful! I have thanked
God that I am protected.

"'7th September. Monday.

"'The battle has recommenced. Still impossible to say the Holy Mass. I
paid a visit to the Germans in the Church. These are the most terribly
wounded. They gave me their hands. They are badly off. I cannot give
them bread; all I had, all the fruits of my garden have disappeared! I
have nothing left!--'

"The diary ends here. Here was a holy man of venerable years of known
truth and great charity, visiting his enemies to give them what he had,
his prayers. He had nothing else to give. He was fatigued for lack
of sleep. He was hungry, but he had nothing to eat. All he had in his
meager house and small garden had been either taken away or destroyed.
Witness now his recompense: less than an hour after he had written those
last notes in his diary, the Germans had seized and dragged him before a
wrathful German officer.

"He was charged with having climbed the tower of the cathedral to signal
to the British lines. He who so suffered from rheumatism that he could
hardly walk from his doorway to the church, a few paces away, by the aid
of a cane. He was insulted by the officer, the soldiers who held him up
before his questioner spat in his face. At length his shoes and clothes
were stripped from him, and with great brutality he was thrown into a
cellar, where he spent the night, with some potato bags to cover him. In
the morning the door above was flung open, and a number of captives were
thrown down the steep steps of the cellar way. These were Milliardet,
Jourdin, Vapaille, Therré, Croix, Eugene Leriche, Lacour, Jules Denis,
Berthelemy Denis, Merillon, Combes, Mesnil, Liévin, Faure and his son,
aged fifteen, who was baker's boy in the village of Vareddes, and known
under the nickname of 'Marmiton.'

"To this group the Germans added later in the day Paul Lebel and Vincent
Denis, arrested because the latter called out to a German soldier, 'Eh,
well, old man, you are not yet at Paris!'

"On Saturday, without feeding them or allowing any one to visit them,
all these unfortunates were divided into several groups, and surrounded
by soldiers, hustled along the road to Lizy-sur-Ourcy, where they were
halted.

"They numbered now fifteen in all, not counting the old priest, the Abbé
Fossin.

"Père Leriche, who was himself seventy-four years old, relates that the
Abbé, who lay prostrate on the ground beside him, said to him in a low
voice, 'I believe that they are going to shoot me--take my watch and
breviary, and try and get them to my family.' When the march was resumed
the Abbé could not walk fast enough to suit the soldiers. He was pushed
and struck by them, his soutane was torn to ribbons. Finally they threw
him into a wagon which they seized on the road. In this he lay groaning.
He died a short time later, and was left beside the road. The heat was
atrocious; thus they marched, the younger ones sustaining the elders,
through the long hours to the rear, without water or food, insulted and
beaten constantly by their captors.

"At Coulomb, Père Jourdain fell in the road, unable to continue the
march. He was immediately dispatched by a revolver shot.

"At Chézy-en-Orxois, another old man, Milliardet, eighty years old, was
similarly disposed of. Any complaint was the signal of death. Both Terry
and Croix were shot for whistling.

"Old Eugene Menie, who halted on the edge of a deep ditch, was struck
by the butt of a gun in the hands of one of the soldiers, and his neck
broken--they threw him into the ditch and went on.

"Père Liévin, aged sixty-one, who had heart disease, could not keep step
with the others; he was purple in the face, and his eyes stuck out so
comically that it amused the soldiers, who finally shot him and left his
body at the cemetery gate in Chauny."

These are only haphazard extracts from the records of that terrible
month of September, 1914, when unfortunate Meaux was the very center
of affairs. Elsewhere we read of the aspects of the streets after
each successive bombardment, the telegraph hanging in festoons on the
footways, the trunks of huge trees felled by cannon barring the way;
the carcasses of animals lying about amid strange débris, such as heavy
leather shoes, broken guns, sticks and barrels, empty tin cans, torn and
ragged clothing clotted with blood, strange piles of still smoking ashes
containing small bones, and over all the odor of burning petroleum.

The houses with wide open doors and sashless window frames; gardens
uprooted and despoiled; walls thrown down, and strewn about an immense
quantity of broken glass bottles. These were the streets of Meaux, which
I had explored on that peaceful morning in August, 1910, and made the
sketches of the old bridge with its clustered mills, the fire blackened
beams now hanging in grotesque ruins over the water of the little green
river.

The bombardment began on Monday, the 7th of September, 1914. The first
of the German shells fell upon the town at eleven in the morning, in the
direction of the fauburg St.-Nicholas, then in the fauburg St.-Faron.

The bombardment followed the line of the railway. In the cemetery the
ancient tombs were scattered in all directions; ten shells destroyed the
hospital. The Grand Seminary fell next. Of the one hundred and twenty
shells which on this Monday fell in the town, the first five did the
greatest damage. Whole lines of houses were thrown down and set on fire.
This lasted until six in the afternoon. The next day shells began to
fall again in the early morning. The cathedral was encircled by shells,
which did great damage, but by a special Providence with the exception
of an enormous hole in the roof, and the destruction of the venerable
cloisters, the ancient cathedral escaped the fate of its neighbors.

This is the chronology: Wednesday, September 2, the exodus; Thursday,
the town lay deserted and helpless; Friday, the organization of all the
available defensive forces; Saturday and Sunday, the battle; Monday, the
bombardment; Tuesday, the enemy driven off, and the town saved.



SENLIS

|FROM the railway station one could see the towers of the cathedral and
the old church of St. Pierre, above the heavy trees of a short avenue
which led to that part of the town, where formerly stood the old
ramparts--and to the Porte Royale.

The best and most picturesque part of the town, of interest to the
antiquary, was the western end, and here were tortuous and delightful
crooked narrow streets, quaint little gabled houses, old mossy walls
surrounding luxuriant gardens, and some remains of the remarkable
chateaux of a bygone period.

Ancient stronghold in past centuries, it had become a little old
sleepy town given over to churches and the priesthood. Of the ancient
Gallo-Roman fortifications there were still to be seen, up to the
outbreak of the war in 1914, sixteen of the Roman towers in a fair state
of preservation. A small river, the Nonette, passes through it, winding
most exquisitely. Situated some thirty-five miles from Paris, and on the
edge of the Champagne district, its character could be best appraised
from the charming public promenade along the river's bank, lined with
fine trees and offering vistas of great picturesqueness.

The old cathedral dates back to the early days of the thirteenth
century; its lace-like gray tower, covered with exquisite Gothic
ornamentation, was a source of delight to artists and antiquarians.
Usually covered with scaffolding, the tower was in a constant state of
repair, but the spidery scaffolding seemed not at all to detract from
the charm of its lines.

One of the architects in charge explained that the vaulting and the
first stage of the choir, the "triform ambulatory" had been removed
because of cracks developing in the masonry, but this alteration did not
seem to have resulted in any loss to the interior artistically. Indeed,
as it stood in 1910, the choir elevation was a most exquisite example of
thirteenth century construction and design.

Ancient Ramparts: Senlis

[Illustration: 0271]

Lying in the midst of the great forest lands of Chantilly and Hallette,
Senlis, until the dissolution of the Carlo-vingian Empire, was the
place of royal residence, and even thereafter, to the time of Henry of
Navarre, the kings of France preferred it to all others. The Castle
was built upon the site of the Roman Prætorium, the ruins of which were
pointed out to tourists. The ancient Roman ramparts which still in
part surrounded the town were also shown, and the walls were said to be
thirteen feet thick. "They enclosed an area, oval in form, one thousand
and twenty feet long from east to west and seven hundred and ninety-four
feet wide from north to south. At each of the angles formed by the
broken lines of which the circuit of two thousand seven hundred
and fifty-six feet is composed, stands or stood a tower; numbering
twenty-eight and now only sixteen, they are semicircular in plan, and
up to the height of the wall are unpierced. The Roman city had only two
gates; the present number is five."

The old cathedral was both curious and fascinating, as well as of great
beauty. Begun in 1154 on really enormous lines, its original plan was
never carried out for want of funds. Century after century it had been
rebuilt, altered, extended and replanned, until it had become, as
an American architect of renown styled it, "an epitome of French
architecture from the middle of the twelfth to the middle of the
fifteenth century."

Its companion unfinished, the great southwest tower is of the thirteenth
century, and is said to be "unsurpassed by no other spire in France for
subtlety of composition and perfection of detail."

One of its beautiful "crocketed" pinnacles was shot away in the
bombardment by the Germans in 1915, and the loss left the world poor
indeed.

It is certainly a strange sensation for us to watch from a distance the
continuous destruction of the great works of art of the world, powerless
to prevent it. For us all this loss is personal, poignant, unexampled; a
horror that nothing can palliate nor time soften.

The ancient Renaissance tower of St. Pierre had been used as a public
market, and also as a cavalry barrack because of its ruinous state. In
form it was most curious, being very short and too wide for proportion.
While the prevailing style was flamboyant, it contained a certain amount
of early Gothic work of considerable interest and value. I regret that
I did not make a sketch of it when I was there, for the scene at early
morning with the crowds of market people, and the vegetable stalls all
about, and rising above them the bare gray walls of the nave and the
choir, formed a picture of much quaintness.

The glory of the old cathedral of "Notre Dame" was the beautiful spire
upon the southwest tower. Of infinite grace and lightness with its
detached pillars, it rose from an octagonal base which supported a sort
of canopy in pyramidal form, the whole adorned with a wealth of delicate
carving and tracery, and pierced by high dormer lancet shaped windows,
about which flew clouds of ravens or starlings.

The great door in the west front reminded one of that at Chartres, and
was adorned with figures of Our Lord and the Virgin, some of the figures
of the angels being of remarkable character and grace. Inside in the
ambulatory, behind the altar, are some of the twelfth century Romanesque
capitals, and elsewhere are found other evidences of Roman influence.

All accounts agree that this beautiful edifice has now been entirely
destroyed by the invader (1917).

Former wars have swept the little town from time to time in the past,
but the cathedral remained practically untouched until the present day.
Whatever the former causes, or however violent the onslaught of the
opposing forces, these priceless records of art were spared by common
consent, save perhaps when the Revolution swept over the cloisters, and
even then the havoc wrought was reparable, but now comes one calling
himself the anointed representative of God, and annihilates an innocent
people and destroys the treasures of a land which he cannot conquer.

Just what remains at this time of Senlis cannot be ascertained, but all
accounts agree that the huge gray Romanesque tower can no longer be seen
upon the horizon, and that the bombardment of the ruins continues. Baron
André de Maricourt has written a most complete monograph of Senlis.
(Senlis. Baron André de Maricourt, ancien élève de l'école des Chartes.
"Les Cités Meurtries." Paris. Librarie de l'Eclair.)

"Hidden away among the heavy trees which surround it upon all sides,
lies the little town of Senlis, almost a suburb of Paris." According
to the old proverb, "To live happily is to remain hidden." So Senlis
remained comparatively forgotten. The very names of its streets were
strange to modern ears and evoked smiles from the stranger, and its
old houses, dating from the days of "la reine Berthe," enchanted the
antiquary.

This little town of seven thousand inhabitants was indeed one of the
capitals of ancient France during the times of the Capets, and in
the royal château which sheltered the chiefs of the Merovingians, and
royalties down to the days of Henry IV, were written many pages of
the history of France. One recalls the days of Charles le Chauve, of
d'Hugues Capet and St. Louis, the quarrel of the Armagnaces and the
Bourguignons, recalled by the strange picture by Melingue, "Les Otages
de Senlis," which was in the Hôtel de Ville up to the time of the
bombardment by the Germans. Also may be recalled the passage of Jeanne
d'Arc through the town, and then the wars of the "Ligue,"--all proving
the importance of Senlis of the past.

In the eighteenth century, Louis XV, in order to render the town
more accessible, constructed a fine roadway from Paris to the royal
residence, and Senlis emerged from its quietude, amazed at the lines
of gilded equipages and the prancing horses urged on the gallop by
gorgeously dressed lackeys which daily thronged the way.

Cathedral: Senlis

[Illustration: 0279]

This roadway, called formerly the "Rue Neuve de Paris," was the
principal artery of the little old city, under the twenty-year-old name
of "Rue de la République."

Sung by poets, such as Gérard de Nerval, and Maurice Barrés, M. André
Haileys described Senlis as "tortueuse, taciturne et charmante," and
dwelt lovingly upon its "mossy terraces," its ancient walls bathed in
sunlight, and its grand old tower whose perfect bells sounded over the
golden green fields.

In the early summer days of 1914, the Society of Amateurs held their
celebration at Senlis, says Baron de Maricourt, "a few months ago,
months which seem years now. The ceremony was to celebrate the Victory
of Bouvignes. In the St. Rieul Hall, Madame la duchesse de Vendôme sat
beside M. Odent, the mayor of the town, who spoke feelingly of ancient
France, and of Flanders....

"One month later the Hall was occupied by cavalry; our own cavalry of
France.... On the horizon lay the German army....

"Three weeks later M. Odent, the mayor, was killed in the bombardment;
the Hall of Saint-Rieul was a hospital; the brother of the princess had
become 'Albert le Brave,' the plain of Bouvignes was bathed in blood;
Senlis was burning; the inhabitants had fled."

It would appear that Senlis was burned and sacked to inspire Paris with
terror, and as an example of the fate that awaited her.

Nearly all the inhabitants fled when the news came that the Germans had
crossed the border. A few of the citizens resolved to remain to support
the mayor and magistrates in keeping the peace, to patrol the town to
prevent looting, and to watch for fires. Some pieces of heavy artillery
had been arranged before the Hôtel de Ville and under the towers of the
Cathedral, but there was neither ammunition for these nor soldiers in
the town to use them. The town was silent, the factories empty, the
streets almost deserted. In the town hall, the few faithful ones
remained on watch day and night grouped about the mayor. In some of the
rooms were refugees from neighboring towns, old men and women with
young children who had nowhere else to go. In the hospitals the nuns and
nurses cared for the wounded who had been brought to the town in large
numbers. There were no soldiers hereabouts. This is the truth (affirms
the Baron de Maricourt). The Germans understood and saw a different
picture, so they say. They heard the movement of vast bodies of armed
men; they saw the "franc tireurs" in the trees firing upon them,
they saw cannon protruding from the windows of the towers of the old
cathedral.... So the knell of Louvain sounded for Senlis.... So wrote
the Baron de Maricourt of Senlis, who remained in the town during
the occupation by the Germans, who suffered at their hands all the
indignities they could devise; who remained calm and heroic through all
the terrors of the bombardment and destruction of his beloved town.

"The first German body of troops which entered the town carried with
them a corps of incendiaries in regular formation upon bicycles, armed
with tubes of metal containing, as was afterwards ascertained, picric
acid, and others a kind of wick of cotton charged with gasoline or
petroleum. Some of the men carried hand grenades strung around their
waists or over their shoulders, and these they threw into open windows
and doorways of designated houses. By midnight the sky was illuminated
by fires in every quarter of the town."

It commenced in the faubourg St.-Martin. It is said that the soldiers
warned the occupants of houses designated to leave before they set fire
to them. "Let us be just to the German soldiers," says M. de Maricourt.
"In the evening of the day of occupation, the Archdeacon was brought to
the Hôtel du Grand-Cerf, by the concierge Boullay. He was paraded before
the officers, but was not mistreated, except that he was compelled to
stand, and no one addressed him. Finally he was ordered to return to his
quarters, but hardly had he arrived there, before another order came for
him to return at once to the Grand-Cerf. Already towards the south end
of the town the houses were in flames, and he saw the soldiers carrying
lighted torches. He was brought before an officer who spoke French and
whose manner was not discourteous:--

"'Monsieur,' said he, 'attend to me,'--and he read from a paper charges
that the priest had allowed citizens to fire upon the entering German
troops.

"'It is not true,' replied the Archdeacon, 'I was alone in the church,
and the keys were in my pocket.'

"The officer read upon the face of the priest the evident sincerity of
his words.

"'Poor priest! Poor town!' he said pityingly, 'I believe you, but I must
obey orders.'

"'How so?'

"'Because I am ordered to treat Senlis as was Louvain; by to-morrow
there will remain not one stone upon another.'

"M. Douvlent pleaded eloquently for his parishioners, whose innocence he
vouched for. The officer seemed impressed.

"'You are a Catholic priest, but alas, war is cruel, and orders are not
to be ignored. This town merits chastisement.'

"'Take me before the General,' urged the priest, 'I am your prisoner,
and I have the right to plead the cause of my innocent parishioners.'

"'No, sir,' retorted the officer frowningly, 'nothing of the sort; do
you not realize that you are in great danger?'

"'Danger?' ejaculated the priest, 'I fear no danger, I have made my
sacrifice; I have faced it all this morning.'

"'Very well,' said the officer, somewhat more gently, 'but I think it
will be best for you to return to your house. If necessary I will call
you.'

"A short time after this conversation, I saw the priest, with the few
who remained of his household, standing in the Square. I saw them again
at about one in the morning; they were still standing in the Square
beneath the lamp which shone upon their anxious faces. A dozen or so
German soldiers stood about. Two sentries paced up and down, one at each
crossing. No one returned to their houses. The curtain had risen upon
the drama of Senlis....

"At the end of this day, Thursday, M. Odent (the mayor of Senlis),
left the Hôtel de Grand-Cerf accompanied by an officer, and entering a
covered automobile was driven rapidly away, followed by five cavalrymen.

"They stopped at a place called 'le Poteari,' situated between Senlis
and Chamont; there they found six captives whom the Germans had taken at
hazard on the route.

"One of these, named Delacroix, had been arrested in company with two
workmen named Quentin and Reck, the latter a mason by trade, at the
corner of the Rue de Bordeaux and la République, at the moment when the
firing was the hottest in that quarter. Reck had been hit in the jaw and
in the arm. The German soldiers entering the town found him bleeding
in the road and with the singular, the unexplainable attitude of the
German, at one moment cruel to the last degree, at the next of lamblike
gentleness, these soldiers conducted the wounded man Reck to the
'prefecture,' _where his wounds were tenderly dressed by a German
Major!_

"Quentin and Delacroix were taken at Chamont with revolvers in their
hands, together with a stranger who was visiting the house of his
sister, and two others, Benoit Decrens, a domestic servant, and Boullet,
a laborer.

"Up to eleven o'clock in the evening these unhappy captives were marched
up and down the various streets and alleys of the village by their
captors, until at length near the Bon Secours woods in a secluded spot,
an officer ordered the mayor and the six captives to lie down on the
grass. When this was done, he ordered the mayor, M. Odent, to rise and
advance three paces.

"The soldiers presented arms.

"'You are the Mayor Odent?' called out the officer brusquely.

"'Yes.'

"'You have fired on our men?'

"'No.'

"'You have fired on our men,' insisted the ferocious voice, 'you are to
be shot!'

"M. Odent handed his papers to Benoit and shook hands with his
companions. He then clasped his hands in prayer, after which he stood
with eyes calmly fixed upon the officer. The officer raised his hands,
motioning to the soldiers.

"They shot the mayor with their revolvers....

"Afterwards, the officer made a little speech to the terrified men.

"'War is as sad for us as it is for you. It is France and your Poincaré
that you must blame--they would have it. We Germans do not make war upon
civilians, but those who fire upon us will be promptly shot.'

"These men were then used as guides by the officers, during their
occupancy of the town. When no longer of use, _they disappeared._

"There were others, too; I do not know how many. There was little
Gabanel, the son of the butcher, a merry little chap, known throughout
the neighborhood, he disappeared with his father's old white horse and
the red, two-wheeled wagon. He was never heard of again... and there
was the baker's boy Jaudin, whose mutilated body was found in a field
at Villers-St. Frambourg.... There was the hunchback Cottreau, aged
seventeen, a harmless cripple who was found hanging in the attic of an
inn....

"Arthur Rigault, the stone cutter, Elisée Pommier, aged 67 years....

"Jean Barbier, wagon driver....

"Pierre Dewart, chauffeur.

"None of these can ever relate their terrible stories. We shall never
know what happened to them."



THE CHATEAU OF GÈRBÉVILLER

|THE château and the Chapel Palatine of Gèrbéviller were unique in many
respects. Dating from the thirteenth century, the chateau served as
appanage to the Cadets of Lorraine, to whom they were given by Charles
the Bold, and transmitted in 1486 to Huet du Châtelet, whose illustrious
family founded the _Maison des Cannes_.

In 1641 it came into the hands of Charles-Emmanuel de la Tornielle,
step-brother of Christian du Châtelet of the powerful Tornielle family,
thence it descended successively to the Lombartyes, in whose possession
it remained until it was seized and sold by the state in the troublous
times of 1796.

The chapel was restored, almost reconstructed and consecrated on the
nineteenth of July, 1865, by Monsignor Lavigerie with great splendor and
pomp in the presence of the Lombartye family and a score of dignitaries
of the state.

The château itself, constructed in the eighteenth century, was possessed
of what the French call "grand air," and was certainly imposing in size
from a distance, shining among the dark green of the heavy foliage
which surrounded it. Its façade on the road was somewhat marred by the
narrowness of the approach. But the façade on the parkway, through which
a small brook called the "Montagne" meandered most delightfully, was
most impressive. The sketch which I made of it will serve to show
the character of the great house better than many pages of written
description.

The reputation enjoyed by this great typical château of France was not
by any means confined to the country. It was known throughout Europe,
and for this reason, I suppose, was a shining mark for the Teutons.

At the side of the château was the grand entrance, used only upon state
occasions. This entrance was flanked by two immense "vasques" or vases
of dark gray marble, a little too monumental, perhaps architects might
think, but taken together with the "grand air" of the château entirely
in keeping, to my mind. These it is claimed still stand unharmed amid
the ruins all about.

Chapel of the Château: Gèrbéviller

[Illustration: 0295]

The Chapel Palatine architecturally, perhaps, does not merit extended
eulogy. Its towers are shot away, and some blackened calcined walls
are all that remain. But the treasures which it contained, now either
destroyed or carried off to Berlin, who shall say if they can ever be
replaced? I am told that the family of Lombartye, and notably its last
representative, who restored it in 1865, was long a resident of Rome,
and being very wealthy had collected a vast store of most valuable
objects of art of all kinds, including statuary and paintings, and these
he had installed not only in the château, but had so enriched the chapel
that it was a veritable storehouse of precious objects--even more than
a museum, because most of them related to the history of the ancient
families who had occupied Gèrbéviller.

Here then in this small chapel was a collection of marvels of decorative
art, tapestries of Arras, examples of the jeweler's craft, illuminations
upon vellum, a hundred or more priceless volumes, and notably a
collection of funerary urns, containing the ashes of most illustrious
personages, including some of the Saints. Among the treasures in this
small chapel was a series of the tapestries of Gobelin, another of
Beauvais, and a third complete pictorial set made in Antwerp after the
cartoons of Nicolas Memling. These last, just before the destruction of
Gèrbéviller, were presented to the Cathedral of Nancy. The others are
among the ashes of the ruins.

The Master altar of the chapel was covered by a magnificent "ciborium,"
raised upon three columns of black marble, ornamented by "tears" of
silver of twelfth century workmanship. The great candelabra, called
"Flambeaux," were of Flemish work, and had twenty-four lusters; these
were destroyed.

There were splendid tombs on all sides; one was a reproduction of that
of Henry I, Count of Champagne, and of St. Etienne of Troyes; the tomb
of Lombartye, of de la Vieufville, of Rochechourt-la-Rochefoucauld, of
du Caylar, of Vieuville, of Gouy d'Arsy, and that of Père Jandel the
Dominican. All these are mutilated and broken. Of the funeral urns,
one contained the ashes of St. Auguste, the martyr; another of what is
called "cipollin," the ashes of Ste Victoire; a red marble one those of
St. Vital; a "chasse" held a portion of the petrified bones of Candide,
presented by the Bishop of Nancy. Another one contained the bones of St.
Felix Romain.

A great tall "ciborium" contained the "relique" of Tarcisius, the young
martyr of the Eucharist. These, contained in a wonderful chest covered
with vermilion enamel, bore an epitaph composed by Pope Damase, and were
brought from Rome by the Dominicans. Overjoyed in the possession of such
a treasure, the Marquis of Lombartye, sought an artist of renown who
could make a fitting monument to contain it. His choice fell upon
Fal-guière the sculptor. He it was who fashioned the exquisite statue in
the Luxembourg. But it is not generally known that this is a replica of
the original which was in the Chapel of Gèrbéviller, and which is now
entirely destroyed.

I understand that in searching the ruins, certain fragments of precious
objects have been found and removed to Paris.

M. Pigot in his report claims that the head of Fal-guière's statue of
St. Tarcisius was found among the ashes, and, placed in a strong oaken
box, has been given into the hands of M. le Sous-Préfet of Lunéville.

But the remarkable paintings which the chapel contained are of course
entirely consumed in the fire caused by the bombs and shells which fell
upon the chapel for days at a time. There was the painting by Lippo
Lippi; a portrait of Prosper Lambartini (Pope Benoit XIV); a triptych by
Fra Angelico; one by Sandro Botticelli; The Virgin, the infant and two
angels; a copy of the "_Femme Adultéré_" by Titian; a Benozzo Gozzoli;
a canvas by a pupil of Ferrare, and various others. There was a splendid
statue of the Virgin in terra cotta of the sixteenth century; a life
size St. Joseph by Lizier-Richie; and two statues of Christ and John the
Baptist in bronze by Dubois. Of these the statue of Christ remains (says
M. Pigot in his report) "unharmed."

The little town of Gèrbéviller itself is entirely destroyed, and the
wretched inhabitants are scattered to the four winds. And for what good
was all this, one asks?

M. Georges Goyan, writing in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, of the heroic
work performed by the nuns of France, relates a touching story of a
Sister Julia of Gèrbéviller, who, when the village was in flames and
a German officer was about to give the order to burn the Red Cross
pavilion, stepped before the lieutenant and with the most superb courage
defied him to commit the sacrilege. The officer, a Bavarian, taken aback
for the moment, bowed his head, and the pavilion was spared.

Sister Gabriela of the little town of Clermont-en-Ar-gonne was no less
courageous. She advanced to meet the army of the Crown Prince when it
arrived, saying, "We will care for your wounded, if you will spare the
town." She received a promise, which was not kept, however. Again, she
sought the Colonel, and bravely said, "I see now that the word of a
German officer is not to be relied on." Ashamed, he ordered the work of
destruction stopped, and thus the town was spared. Twenty-five wounded
French prisoners owed their lives to this devoted nun, who in April,
1916, received the decoration of the war medal. Goyan quotes verbatim
from the report of the nun, "The Major made his congratulatory speech
while I was completing the bandage of my poor 'poilu,' whose head rested
on my lap."

Château: Gèrbéviller

[Illustration: 0303]

Waldeck-Rousseau, the former Premier of France, in a speech before the
French senate in 1903 stated that "Catholicism survives in France, if
not as a religious law, faithfully observed by everybody, at least as a
social statute respected by the vast majority." M. Goyan declares that
the French church is indeed a moral power to be reckoned with, "and when
the war-tocsin had rung throughout the land, when the hour of death had
been welcomed as an old dear friend, all misunderstandings of the past
melted away, and now for fully twenty-eight months the church could
again place itself at the disposal of France."

With emotion and gratitude he relates the patriotic sacrifices made
by the Protestant churches and the synagogues of France. Out of four
hundred and ninety pastors of the Lutheran and Reformed churches,
"one hundred and eighty are in the trenches: all students of the Paris
Rabbinical Seminary and more than three-fifths of the officiating rabbis
of the Republic left for the front; two of them were killed, one was
missing.

"When after this war is over, our sister churches will write their own
martyrology, Catholic witnesses will rise to glorify their dead. The
whole Catholic press rendered a well deserved homage to Chief Rabbi
Bloch of Lyons, who was mortally wounded by a German bullet while he
attended a dying Catholic soldier, holding the cross to his livid lips."

After these prefatory remarks the author traces in his inimitable style
a picture of the life and activity of the Catholic church from the
unforgettable July days of 1914, to date. One-third of its priesthood
followed the call of their country. *

     *  The Literary Digest, Feb. 17, 1917.

The Paris diocese alone has already buried forty-five of its members.
The Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyons had to enlist laymen to fill the gaps
in his decimated clergy. Bishops have become again parish priests.

"Eleven young French monks, surprised by the German invasion in their
monastery in the grand duchy of Luxembourg, disguised themselves,
walking stealthily into Belgium, and from there to France, immediately
joining their barracks. Dominicans and Jesuits vie with each other in
patriotic devotion. The Church, cheerfully accepting the abrogation of
its time honored immunities, with a noble gesture commanded the young
priests to shoulder their rifles: 'Your parish,' explained the Cardinal
Archbishop of Rheims, Monseigneur Luçon, to his priests, is henceforth
your regiment, your trench, your hospital. Love it as you have loved
your church. Perhaps you will be buried on the battlefield. What of it?
Why should we priests not give our blood?' Thus, the priest is no longer
isolated from the people; he has become an integral part of it. The
Dominican sergeants and Jesuit lieutenants have built the bridge. And
who, on the other hand, would have believed, a short three years ago,
that a company of French soldiers, educated in the godless school of the
Republic, should, before preparing for assault, receive absolution on
their knees?

"A parallel case to this kneeling company receiving absolution is the
scene in the Bois d'Argonne, of March 7, 1916, when 'the successive
waves of a regiment, marching to the attack, bowed themselves before the
representative of God, de Chabrol, Chaplain of the division, whose
hand, while the guns were thundering, made the sign of the redemption.'"
(Quoted textually from an order of the day, by the commanding general.)

Fifty-nine priests and seminarists of the Paris diocese received crosses
while practically under fire. "The natural love of the soil and the
love of the church combined, produce heroic souls of a peculiarly noble
blending. The olden days when bishops were the supreme lords of towns
and countries were revived, if only for a short time, at Meaux, and
elsewhere, shortly before the battle of the Marne. On September 3,
1914, the armies of von Kluck were expected any moment and the civil
authorities fled. Bishop Marbeaux took possession of the City Hall, and
with a rare skill organized the various municipal services. Generals
Joffre and Galliéni had stopped the triumphal onslaught of the German
troops. On September 9, the civil authorities returned to Meaux and
Mayor Mar-beaux gave in his resignation. Similar was the situation
in Soissons and Chalons-sur-Marne; the cathedrals again became civic
centers.

"But our priests (continues M. Goyan) in the midst of the brutal
butchery, are not unmindful of the Saviour's advice to love even our
enemies--above all, if the latter are in great stress themselves. Thus
Rev. Landrieux of the cathedral of Rheims, while the church was burning,
saved from its ruins at the risk of his life a group of wounded German
soldiers. The enraged population was about to lynch them. 'You will have
to kill me first,' said the courageous priest. Words fail to describe as
they deserve the deeds of Bishop Lobbedeye of Arras and his clergy.

"The tradition of the catacombs revived; a cellar was transformed into
a church (while the town was under bombardment) and here the Bishop read
his mass. The priests threw off their 'soutanes' to become police and
firemen, moving men and grave diggers. One of them, de Bonnieres, of
noble birth, went every morning, braving the bullets which whistled
about his ears, into the suburbs begging the soldiers for the scraps,
left over from their meals, to distribute these pittances among the
starving poor of Arras."

Church: Gèrbéviller

[Illustration: 0311]

"Thus, before the enemy the old union of church and state had been
effected. The same population, the same government, which before had
adopted the slogan, The priest's place is in the church,' requested the
cooperation of the clergy. And the church obeyed the call. Everything
was forgotten. 'Who cares now,' exclaimed Cardinal Savin, 'for the
religious misunderstandings, political quarrels, and personal rivalries
of the past! France first! United by the common danger, we learned to
know and respect one the other, and after the war we will solve the
grave problems which had separated us before the war. Our victory will
be our main ally in this future work of pacification.'

"Forever memorable will remain that great religious manifestation
at Paris during the week of the Battle of the Marne, in honor of St.
Geneviève, the patron of the French capital. She and Joan of Arc became
again the divine protectors of France.

"The people of Paris fell on their knees on the famous heights of
Montmartre, the mountains of the Saint-Martyrs of the past, a place
historical in the annals of France. Even the skeptics thanked the church
for its resuscitation of the religious spirit. France again remembered
that she had once been 'the eldest daughter of the Church.'" (Georges
Goyan.)



A HEROINE

|WHEN the history of the war is written at least three names of women
will be enshrined forever in the annals: Sister Julie, the fearless nun
of Gèrbéviller; that heroic woman who took the place of and acted as
mayor of Soissons when von Kluck's legions occupied and ravaged that
unfortunate little city; and Marcelle Semmer, a young girl of eighteen,
who showed such bravery and extraordinary fortitude in aid of France
as to win encomiums from both the British and French officers, who
recommended that she be decorated. She has just received both the ribbon
of the Legion of Honor, and the War Cross as reward.

M. L. L. Klotz, Deputy from the war-ravaged department of the Somme, has
told in glowing words the story of how at the outbreak of the war, these
noble women, left defenseless and at the mercy of the invaders, proudly
faced these savages and really defied them.

He told of Marcelle Semmer, a young orphan girl of eighteen, living in
the little village of Eclusier, near Frise on the river Somme, at the
beginning of the war.

This young girl who showed the most extraordinary bravery and fortitude
in the service of France, is perhaps but one of many others whose
stories may never be known to the world.

She was acting as bookkeeper and clerk in a factory, producing
phosphates, which had been founded by her father, an Alsatian refugee.

The invaders, driving back the Allies at Charleroi, captured the town,
taking many prisoners. The French fell back across a canal, near the
home of Marcelle Sem-mer, where there was a drawbridge. The heroic girl,
unmindful of her danger, succeeded in raising the drawbridge before the
enemy came up, and threw the lever into, the canal. Without this lever
the bridge could not be lowered again. The canal at this point was so
deep that the invading army could not ford it, and seeing the fleeing
figure of the girl, the soldiers fired volley after volley after her,
without once hitting her.

By this audacious act, Marcelle Semmer held back the advance of an
entire German army corps until the following day, for the Germans had
to await the arrival of their engineers before they were able to put
a temporary bridge in place, and this they made of boats, and pontoons
hastily constructed, thus consuming hours which were of great value in
enabling the hard-pressed French to escape from the hordes which far
outnumbered them.

In spite of the danger of detection, the young girl insisted upon
remaining in the village during its occupation by the Germans; happily
they did not recognize her as the girl who raised the drawbridge against
them or she would have been shot at once.

Near the factory where she worked was a shed covering a subterranean
passage leading to the phosphate mine. She succeeded in concealing the
entrance trap to this passage by means of some large tuns and bagging.
During the night she managed to conceal in this passage no less than
seventeen French soldiers who had been somehow left in the retreat from
the towns of Mons and Charleroi. Not only did she succeed in keeping
these men hidden, but she managed to secure for them both food and
peasant clothing, and aided them to get away to the French lines to
the south. Sixteen of these men succeeded in getting away, but one dark
night in a furious rainstorm while she was piloting the seventeenth to
a cross-country lane, she was detected by a sentry, who dragged both of
them before the German lieutenant.

In the examination before the Commandant at headquarters she defiantly
confessed to having aided the French soldiers to escape, crying out,
"Yes, I did it for France, and I shall do it again and again, if I am
able. Do with me what you will. I am an orphan, I have but one mother,
France! For her, my life!"

The Commandant promptly sentenced her to be shot. She was taken out
of the room into the courtyard, where they placed her against the wall
facing the firing squad, her arms tied behind her.

Suddenly French artillery opened upon the German lines at Eclusier.
Before the officer could give the word to fire upon the brave girl, a
shell fell in the courtyard, and in the confusion, wonderful to relate,
she escaped. While she had been assisting her fellow countrymen to
escape the French had crept up, and routed the invaders from their
position in the little town.

So Marcelle once more fled to the subterranean passage, and there
took up her quarters, rendering great service to the army, through her
knowledge of the surrounding country.

Between the lines of the opposing armies lay the river Somme, which
here in the vicinity of Eclusier and Frise spreads out into a pond with
marshy banks, and innumerable pitfalls and bogs. In these the soldiers
frequently lost their way, and here Marcelle found a way to help France
by her knowledge of the safe paths. Again and again she faced death;
finally she was captured while leading a squad of men across the bogs
to a trench at Frise. She was brought by the Germans to the village of
Frise, and there confined in the parish church, now, alas, a mass of
ruin. Once more her never departing good fortune was her salvation.
Almost before the door of her prison was fastened upon her, the French
artillery began a lively bombardment of Frise. One of the shells blew
a great hole in the wall of the little church, and out of this hole,
unperceived by her captors, Marcelle escaped, over the marshes and
through the tangled roads into the French lines.

Enabled to give most valuable information as to the numbers and guns
of the enemy, Marcelle's fame soon spread through the ranks. She was
mentioned in the dispatches, and received the Cross of the Legion
of Honor, and later, before the drawn up soldiers of the corps, she
received the War Cross.

She was so useful in this region of the Somme that she asked to be
allowed to remain at Frise to work for France, and so for a year and
a half, despite the turn of the war, she stayed on, taking care of the
wounded men, and protecting as far as possible women and children.

So beloved did she become that an English general ordered his soldiers
to salute her on passing, and to refrain from addressing her unless she
required it. Everywhere she went the soldiers both admired and honored
this young girl.

The loss of her brothers, who died fighting for France, and the strain
of her work told upon her health, and the doctors ordered her to Paris.

Here she asked to be allowed to work at the nurses' school and to aid
the wounded soldiers. To this the authorities assented, as she was thus
enabled to earn a livelihood, for all that she had was lost at Eclusier
when the mill was destroyed. In the great hall of the Sorbonne at Paris,
a short time ago Deputy Klotz (of the Somme) eulogizing this young girl,
suddenly stretched out his arms in dramatic gesture, electrifying the
great audience with these words:

"This little heroine of Picardy, this admirable girl; this incarnation
of the qualities of the women of France; this girl of simple origin,
flawless dignity, of serious mind and gentle ways; this girl of
indomitable will power is here, ladies and gentlemen, here among you, in
this room!

"And I feel that I am the spokesman for every one of you when I
now extend to her the expression of our respect, our gratitude, our
admiration!"

The vast audience, every man and woman of them, leaped to their feet, in
enthusiasm, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the heroine.

Through the great Hall of the Sorbonne, where the most famous men of the
world had been honored by France, swept a storm of cheers; a reward more
splendid than the Cross of the Legion of Honor, than the War Cross, than
the salutes of the soldiers at the front, had come to Marcelle Semmer,
of Eclusier.



LÂON

|MOST travelers from Paris to Geneva will recall the brief stop of the
train at the station, and a glimpse perhaps of the gaunt gray towers
on the top of the great hill against the evening sky, looking much more
like a fortress than a cathedral from the viewpoint below.

Called the "Rock of Lâon," it was in ancient days the Celtic Laudunam,
and was known to the Romans as Lug-dunam Clavatum.

"Lâon is the very pride of that class of town which out of Gaulish hill
forts grew into Roman and Mediaeval cities. None stands so proudly on
its height; none has kept its ancient character so little changed to our
own day" (says Marshall). It was here that Louis, or Lodo-wig, who
was the famous son of Count Eudes, established an illustrious court,
presided over by the "brave" Duchess Gerberga, and here afterwards
Charles, their son, maintained a successfully defended siege against the
onslaught by Hugues Capet on this stronghold. The treachery of Asceline
the Bishop resulted in the capture of the town, and as a reward, Capet
made him "the second Ecclesiastical Peer of France."

Henceforth the city was famed as the seat of the Capetian dynasty,
whose bishops ruled it until it was captured by the Prussians in 1814,
when it served as the headquarters of Blucher, in his operations
against Napoleon I. After the Battle of Waterloo the French troops
attempted to reform their shattered lines under its walls.

Lâon was the birthplace of the mother of Charlemagne, Lothaire, Louis
IV, and Louis V.

Crowning royally the great hill which dominated the town and the plain,
the remarkable Cathedral of Notre Dame with its many beautiful towers
formed a picturesque feature that once seen could not be forgotten. One
can only compare it to the towers of Mont St. Michel of La Manche, with
its encircling battlemented walls, but Lâon in point of architecture was
infinitely the finer of the two.

It is said to have been the work of Bishop Gauthier II (de Montagne)
of the twelfth century, and built upon the site of a previous structure
which had been burnt during an uprising in the early part of that
century. Originally there were four great towers, one at each of the
angles. Of these two remained lacking the spires. The façade was most
remarkable for its extremely deep portals. The two towers, which were
square at the base, terminated in octagonal belfries, and the angle
buttresses supported light two-storied open-work turrets of most
graceful design.

The cathedral was remarkable for the square apse, and there was a
tall lanthorn tower in the center of the church, which had two windows
separated by buttresses.

In the "chevet" a rose window was placed above three long openings, over
which was a gallery between the turrets.

The pulpit was from the Abbey of Val-St.-Pierre.

From below, the cathedral, as I have already said, looked more like a
fortress surmounted by a great chateau. Strange celebrations, seemingly
lacking in religious character, were enacted in the cathedral,
particularly those celebrated during the month of December. "This, the
fête des Innocents, took place in the choir, when the children, wearing
strange costumes with copes occupied the high carved stalls and chanted
the £ offices' of the mass with every sort of buffoonery, to the great
delight of the people.

"Eight days after this comes the 'day of Fools,' during which the
chaplain and choristers meet to elect a 'pope,' who is styled the
Patriarch of Fools. Those who neglect to participate in this election
are expected to pay a fine. After a procession the Patriarch is offered
a repast of wine and bread with great solemnity, and he in turn gives
to each chorister a present of corn in payment. The whole troop wear the
most fantastic ornaments, and during the two following days the entire
cathedral is given over to their buffoonery. After many cavalcades
by the townspeople the fête terminates in a great procession of the
'rabardiaux.'" (Viollet le Duc.)

This celebration degenerated into a simple custom of the giving wreaths
of flowers following the celebration of mass on the Day of Epiphany.

It is strange that these towns, explored by the present writer, should
have been so neglected by the tourist. Of course, it is chiefly to the
artist that they seemed so quaint, entrancing and profitable. No such
exquisite arrangements of composition were found in other countries as
here in France, and really at the doorway of Paris. Of course now and
then there was trouble for me, because I made sketches of these charming
localities; and even as late as 1910, when the sketches reproduced in
this book were made, forty years after the Franco-Prussian War, when
there seemed to be no possible danger of war in France, I was many times
in danger of arrest for drawing a church or an old wall. Several times
my portfolio had been seized by officers at the frontier towns, and I
had been "detained" with more or less brusqueness until the superior
officer could be summoned, but I must say that these occasions usually
ended by profuse apologies on the part of M. le Commissaire, who
deplored the activity of his men and offered his cigarette case most
graciously, begging that I should forget the incident and wishing me
"good luck." But it is perhaps now unnecessary to warn the artist abroad
to keep away from fortifications, or to carry his passports with him.

Lâon to-day is hidden behind a heavy black curtain of smoke from the
great guns of the Germans. What has been the fate of that old gray town
is problematical. It is said that the Germans have shot away the two
great towers of the beloved old cathedral, and that the walls of the
picturesque plateau upon which it rested have been razed. Beyond this
nothing has been disclosed for the two years during which the invader
has occupied it. Northeast of the cathedral was the thirteenth century
Bishopric, used for a long time as the Hall of Justice. It was erected
by Bishop Garnier in 1242. It was a rather dismal looking structure, and
altogether lacking in architectural distinction. Whatever it may have
been in former days, I ventured to say as much to an advocate with whom
I chanced to converse at the table d'hôte, and I shall not soon forget
the reproof my criticism called down upon me. I learned thereafter
to govern my tongue, whatever my convictions. The Lâonaise bitterly
resented adverse criticism of any one of their beloved monuments.

Along the edge of the hill below there were unusually delightful
promenades, shaded here and there by thick heavy foliage, through which
charming vistas appeared.

The long street on the ridge of the embattlemented hill wound along most
delightfully, bringing the wanderer to the old church of St. Martin
at the edge of the town. This, it is said, was once the appanage of a
Premonstratensian Abbey of the twelfth century. It had two bays and
a transept, and six small chapels of unique character. According to
legend, the first bay was built to enclose the tomb of a Sire de Coucy,
its benefactor. This Sire de Coucy had been excommunicated by the
clergy, and being thus outside the pale of religion, he had been buried
without ceremony outside the west door. This caused such remonstrance
upon the part of the people, who loved him well for his great charities,
if not for his sins, that the clergy relented, and it was necessary to
enlarge the bay to accommodate his grave.

The twin towers from the last bay are of the thirteenth century. Near
the entrance were a number of tombs, some of them of remarkable richness
of design, notably that of Jeanne de Flandre, widow of Enguerrand IV,
Sire de Coucy, Abbess of Saviour-sous-Lâon in the fourteenth century,
and said to have been the work of the Flemish sculptor, Pierre de Puez.
If this work of art has been destroyed as reported, another unnecessary
crime is added to the list.

There was also the low relief figure of a knight in armor, evidently
of the greatest antiquity, although it was dated twelve hundred and
something, the first two figures being barely discernible.

The ancient suburb of Vaux has been under bombardment for more than
two years. Little is known to us of the extent of the damage it has
suffered, but I remember a lovely old church of the eleventh century,
with a most beautiful old choir of a little later period, where the old
priest, who was considerable of an antiquary, by the way, showed me a
fragment of tapestry, done in silk and wool, and of considerable value,
as a specimen of workmanship. He plainly was anxious that I should
admire it, and to oblige him I did so. He showed me also his books, some
with good bindings, others worn by use. He seemed an innocent sort of
man and lonely for companionship, telling me with simple dignity of his
daily life in the quiet parish and the details of his office.

The highest pay of a parish priest, he said, was fifteen hundred francs
a year ($300); the lowest, eight hundred, of course in addition to his
living quarters. He eked out his scanty income by the fees paid him at
weddings, christenings, and burials. When I told him of the sums paid
in America to ministers, his eyes bulged and his under lip bulged
comically. Then he wagged his head, lifted his arms, shoulders and
eyebrows, sighed heavily, and changed the subject.

Poor old fellow, I wonder what has become of him in these terrible days.
When I left him I gave him a pencil sketch of his church which I had
made, embowered in heavy trees, as a souvenir. I neglected to make
another, so I cannot picture it here, in this chapter, to my great
regret.

Château: Couey

[Illustration: 0335]

Perhaps the greatest, or at any rate the most indefensible piece of
vandalism perpetrated by the retiring armies of the invader, was the
total annihilation of the great castle of Coucy-le-Château in March of
this year. Coucy castle, legend says, was built upon the site given to
St. Remi by Clovis, in the fulfillment of a condition that the former
should walk around it while the King enjoyed his noonday siesta.
Afterwards it was part of the property of the Chapter of Rheims for
upwards of two hundred years. In the year nine hundred and twenty-nine
King Charles the Simple was imprisoned in its donjon by Herbert, Count
of Vermandois. Enguerrand I, founder of the house of Coucy, received the
castle in fief from the Archbishop of Rheims, and from it departed with
his knights in quest of the Holy Grail and was distinguished in the
Crusades. His descendant, Enguerrand III, who was surnamed the Great,
rebuilt the castle, and when he flouted the authority of the Chapter of
Rheims, and they laid the matter before the king, he answered with the
words: "Je ne puis faire autre chose pour vous que de priere le Sire de
Coucy de ne point vous inquiéter." In the subsequent quarrel with the
Chapter of Lâon, Enguer-rand at the head of his cohort stormed the
Cathedral and carried off the dean a prisoner to Coucy, where he
languished at the pleasure of the fiery knight.

The laws he promulgated and forced upon the barony were called "Le
Coutume de Coucy."

The battle of Bouvignes, in which he performed many acts of prowess and
valor, and also his successes during the Albigensian war of 1209 added
to his great fame as a warrior and caused the league of nobles to
propose the dethronement of Louis IX, then a child, whose crown they
offered to Enguerrand.

So proud were his descendants that they abandoned their other titles
and called themselves simple "de Coucy" and adopted the motto "Roi ne
suys--ne prince, ne duc, ne compte aussi--je suys le Sire de Coucy."

Descendants sold the Château, as it was called, and Jie Seigneurie de
Coucy to Louis d'Orléans in 1400, who made it a duchy, and so amplified
and decorated it that it became noteworthy throughout the realm. In 1411
it was besieged and captured by the royal army, and retained until 1419,
when it was taken by the troops of the Duke of Orleans. In 1423 it
was captured by the English, and again in 1652 by the royal army and
dismantled by order of Mazarin. At the outbreak it was an "historical
monument" kept up by the state as a museum.

Coucy-le-Chateau was one of the greatest and most splendid relics of
the thirteenth century. Nothing remains of it now. It has been utterly
blasted away from the foundations. On the heights is only a series of
great piles of crumpled masonry and pulverized rock. The oldest, the
strongest, the largest and most historic of the castles of Europe is now
only a memory.

So enraged were the French at this piece of wanton destruction, that
they refused to bombard the ruins, even though they knew that the
invader had intrenched machine gunners behind and beneath it.

Instead the infantry, unsupported by artillery, charged across a plain
swept by gun fire and wrested the sacred ruin from the enemy.

So terrific was the assault that the Germans could make no counter
attack.

Before they left the Germans boasted to the French villagers that more
than thirty tons of explosives were used to destroy the castle. So great
was the explosion, the peasants who witnessed it from a distance report
that the great round tower, visible for miles around, seemed to rise
in its vast bulk from the foundations, and slowly vanish in a cloud of
whitish smoke. So fell Coucy. Another crime added to the already long
list against the invader.

The official explanation for its destruction coming from Berlin, is that
"the Castle was not worth more than the life of one German soldier, and
there are plenty of other such castles in southern Germany."

The best view of the great chateau was that from the approach from the
town of Lâon. My sketch shows the ruin in springtime, its battlements
rising from the trees at its base, its magnificent pinkish gray mass
against a sky of heavy white cumulous cloud just after a gentle rain.

The small town nestled below it, and still had some vestiges of the old
walls that formerly protected it.

There was a small inn bearing the grandiose title: "Hotel des Trois
Empereurs," whose landlady cooked for us the best omelette we ever
tasted, and begged us to take her daughter to America with us as "maid
for Madame." The daughter we never saw, by the way. She had gone to Lâon
for the day and we left on the afternoon train before she returned, to
the great chagrin of Madame.

My sketch shows the château on the end of a promontory. This was
approached by a steep and narrow roadway. The great outer court was
of irregular form, with what is styled a "curtain wall," of remarkable
thickness; more than twenty feet, authorities claim. Beneath it was a
subterranean passageway, "so arranged as to be mine proof" (Viollet le
Duc). The wall was supported by ten remarkable towers, three of them
circular in form. There was a great dry moat between this wall and
the keep proper, paved with rounded stones, and there was a drawbridge
lifted by heavy chains which completely shut off the inner court of the
castle when lifted. On the arch of the great portal over this drawbridge
was a rude sculptured scene depicting a combat between one of the "Sires
of Coucy" and a lion which, according to legend, took place in the
nearby wood of Prémontré. Near it was a sort of stone table supported
by three couchant lions upon which stood a lion passant. Here each year,
according to a pretty custom, a young girl of the peasant class gave
cakes and flowers to the townspeople, after which there was a parade by
the local fire company, and in the evening a "retraite aux flambeaux,"
in which the young men carried lighted torches through the town, headed
by a drum and fife.

The tower of the chateau was more than one hundred and fifty feet high
and three hundred feet in circumference. In the drawing by Viollet le
Duc it is shown surmounted by a conical roof, and this must have made it
quite two hundred feet in height.

"The interior was divided into three floors, once covered by ribbed
vaulting, which has now perished. The upper floors and the platform
at the top were reached by a winding staircase in the thickness of the
wall. In the center of each vault was an opening through which men in
armor could be let down quickly. The two lower floors were apparently
used for the arms and provisions of the garrison." (Hare's "Northeastern
France.")

The donjon, according to Viollet le Duc, was the finest specimen in
Europe of mediaeval military architecture.

"Compared with this giant," he says, "the largest towers known appear
mere spindles." So vanished from the face of the earth a great
architectural treasure destroyed simply for revenge.



RHEIMS

|INSTEAD of being in appearance "a most venerable and aged town," as one
might be led to expect from the accounts in the various guides, Rheims,
or Reims (so variously spelled) was (1910) nothing of the sort. Situated
on the right bank of the river Vesle in the midst of a vast plain
encompassed by vine-clad hills, a most ideal setting, it was the busy
and chief center of the champagne trade, and also otherwise occupied in
the manufacture of both woolen and other fabrics. Until recently one
of the most picturesque towns in France, it was intersected by wide
and handsome streets reminding one of the Parisian boulevards,
which although convenient gave it quite another character. And this
"Haussmanization" (if one may so style it) did away with its former
quaint mediævalness.

Formerly there was an ideally artistic approach to the great cathedral
of "Notre Dame," in a quaint narrow street lined with strangely
gabled houses and small shops shown in my sketch, but these have
been demolished, and a wide straight street, lined with characterless
buildings, now forms a very commonplace frame to hold one's first
view of this noble and magnificent structure, the master work of the
architects Rob. de Coucy and J. d'Orbais, which Fergusson justly names
and qualifies as "perhaps the most beautiful structure produced in
the middle ages." Far down this commonplace street one could see the
exquisite recessed portals (there are three), with its rows of saints,
surmounted by the great rose window, nearly forty feet in circumference,
and above the forty-two exquisite lancets, each containing a colossal
figure representing the Baptism of Clovis, and the Kings of France.
All detail softened by distance, like unto carved tracery upon a jewel
casket.

The three portals, so exquisitely recessed, were adorned with some
five hundred and fifty statues of various sizes, some of them of great
antiquity, and many of them on close inspection proving to be much worn
by the action of the elements, or having suffered mutilation in the
wars.

Without entering into a tiresome architectural description, which would
be out of place in these pages, one may call attention to some of the
remarkable details of the façade above the three portals pierced by
large windows, which was so lavishly decorated with sculpture; to the
left, Christ in the garb of a pilgrim; to the right, the Virgin, and the
Apostles, David and Saul; and Goliath.

Place du Marché: Rheims

[Illustration: 0349]

The twin towers, more than two hundred and fifty feet high, which
were without spires, were none the less impressive. The north portal
contained statues of the Bishops of Rheims from Clovis down, and there
was here a doorway walled up containing a Gothic tympanum of the Last
Judgment, the figures of which, however, with the exception of the
Christ, were greatly mutilated.

History states that Rheims was known at the time of the Roman invasion
as _Durocortorum_. Briefly, about the year 352 a. d. the worthy SS.
Sixte and Sinice came here to preach Christianity, and converted the
consul Jovinus, whose cenotaph is in the archevêché. The Vandals arrived
forty years later, and captured the town, murdering St. Nicaise on the
very steps of the cathedral which he had founded. The See of Rheims
was occupied for seventy-five years after the Conquest of Champagne, by
Clovis, by St. Remi, or Remigius, who was already a bishop at the age
of twenty-two. He it was who baptised Clovis in the cathedral, which
act gave such renown to the place that thereafter the kings came to be
consecrated with the oil, which according to tradition was brought by a
snow white dove in a holy phial (ampoule) for the baptism of the first
Christian king, and was thereafter preserved in the Abbey of St. Remi.

Rheims was taken in 563 by Chilperic, and in 720 by Charles Martel,
despite the great courage and resistance by the Bishop, St. Rigobert,
who was exiled. Here took place, too, the interview of Pope Stephen III
and Pepin, and Charlemagne and Leo III. Also the coronation of Louis le
Debonnaire by Stephen IV in 816.

In the following years the Archbishops of Rheims became world famous,
for instance the Scholar Hincmar, and Gerbert, who was afterwards
Pope Sylvester II, and who as a simple monk under the great Adalbéron
attained great celebrity for his lectures.

Until the fourteenth century Archbishops had temporal power over Rheims,
coining their money and ruling as sovereigns.

Calixtus II in 1119 held here a council to excommunicate the Emperor,
Henry V.

In 1429 Rheims was delivered from the English yoke by Jeanne d'Arc, who
personally gave the keys of the town to Charles VII and assisted at his
coronation in the Cathedral.

Lubke, writing of the sculptural details of the Cathedral, says, "All
the dignity and grace of the style here reaches a truly classical
expression. Nevertheless, even here, in one of the master works of the
time, we find a great variety in the mode of treatment. There are
heavy stunted statues with clumsy heads and vacant expression, like the
earlier works of Chartres; others are of the most refined beauty, full
of nobility and tenderness, graceful in proportion, and with drapery
which falls in stately folds, free in movement and with a gentle
loveliness or sublime dignity of expression; others again are
exaggerated in height, awkward in proportion, caricatured in expression,
and affected in attitude."

North Door of Cathedral: Rheims

[Illustration: 0355]

Strange that Lubke could not realize that the sculptor produced these
contrasts with design, so that the ugly and grotesque of some might make
the grace and beauty of the others the more telling; but such is the
quality of the Teutonic mind.

But he has written so appreciatively of the beauties of the figures,
that we can overlook his shortcomings. He further says, "That different
hands were employed on the same portal (the North Transept) may be seen
in the forty-two small seated figures of bishops, saints and kings,
which in three rows fill the hollows of the archi-volts. They are one
and all of enchanting beauty, grace, and dignity; the little heads
delightful; the attitudes most varied; the drapery nobly arranged, and
so varied in conception that it would be impossible to conceive more
ingenious variations."

Of the smaller portal which contained the beautiful figure of Christ in
benediction, known as the "_Beau Dieu_," he says: "This is a work of such
beauty that it may be considered _the most solemn plastic creation of
its time_. It shows perfect understanding and admirable execution of
the whole form in its faultless proportions, and moreover there is such
majesty in the mild, calm expression of the head, over which the hair
falls in soft waves, that the divine seriousness of the sublime Teacher
seems glorified by the truest grace. The right hand is uplifted, and the
three forefingers stretched out; the left hand holds the orb, and, at
the same time the mantle, which is drawn across the figure, and the
noble folds of which are produced by the advancing position of the right
foot. The following of nature in this masterly figure is in all its
details so perfect that not merely the nails of the fingers, but the
structure of the joints is characterized in the finest manner."

Two years ago it was ablaze with all this sculptural splendor. Now the
picture is replaced by a gray monotone of fire-swept portals empty of
tracery; of gaping, blackened lancet window-panes destitute of glass;
its perfectly designed Gothic arches laced with fantastically bent iron
bars, and its nave buried in pulverized calcined heaps of ashes from
which protrude here and there blackened, charred beams, while scattered
about are the broken fragments of the great bronze bells which once
pealed out pæons of sound in celebration of imperial coronations.

Although many have attempted the task, it is difficult if not impossible
to analyze Rheims, or even adequately to describe its vital exquisite
quality, its stimulating originality, or to explain clearly the well
nigh incredible competence, beauty and delicacy of even its minor
details. One may dwell upon the glory of its sculpture in pages of
description, which fail to picture it. Rheims Cathedral was what may
be styled a great consistency, that placed it quite in a category by
itself.

It was quite completely without a fault.

All other cathedrals of France form a chronicle of splendor. They
record changing epochs, times, and architectural impulse. The varying
personalities of their great designers were wrought out in their
details; they present the thoughts of many men, each expressing his
highest thought and ideals, and the result is magnificent agglomeration,
covering many years of work. With Rheims however, which was begun
in 1211, the case is different. For it was finished within the same
century, to be exact, in fifty years, and in perfect accordance with the
original plan and conception. To say that its sculpture ranked with
that of ancient Greece does not magnify its importance. To urge that the
splendor and artistry of its painteld glass was unrivaled, means little
now, for its disappearance is too recent, too grievous and painful.
Its eulogy must be written by an abler pen than mine--and in a day far
hence, when time has softened the blow.

(Paris, Jan. 10, 1917.) "Albert Dalimier, Under Secretary of Fine Arts,
made a statement to-day regarding Rheims Cathedral, which, it has been
reported, the Pope is anxious to have restored, having asked permission
to this end from the German authorities."

"Orders were given by the French Government for provisional repairs to
the roofs of the Cathedral in autumn of 1914," said M. Dalimier, "but
we were unable to begin work without an agreement with the military
authorities, and they begged us to do nothing. They pointed out that the
Cathedral was _still under German fire_, that from Nogent to La Bassée,
where the batteries firing on the town were installed, everything that
passed could be distinctly seen by the Germans, and that workmen on the
Cathedral would therefore be sure to be observed and fired upon."

The great interior was four hundred and sixty-six feet long and one
hundred and twenty-one feet high. Both nave and transepts have aisles.
Eight bays were in the nave, and each transept projected to the depth
of a single bay. A triforium was above the aisles, and eight exquisite
chapels radiated from the choir.

Apse of Cathedral: Rheims

[Illustration: 0363]

The great capitals were covered with beautiful sculpture, beggaring
description. Over the large west portal was shown the Martyrdom of St.
Nicaise, and over the whole west wall was a multitude of small statues
in niches ending in a display of the Massacre of the Innocents.

A myriad of these statues filled the whole church. Adoring angels too
adorned the buttresses of the choir chapels. Rich tapestries, fourteen
in number, the gift of Robert de Lénoncourt in 1530, hung on the chapel
walls, and there were two magnificent pieces given by Cardinal Lorraine
in 1570, called the "Tapisseries du fort roi Clovis," and others from
Archbishop Henri de Lorraine in 1633, called the "Perpersack." Some
Gobelins, also, designed in 1848 by Raffaelle, were hung here.

The large organ was dated 1481, and designed by Oudin Hestre, and in
the chapel of St. Jean was the thirteenth century monument of Hugues
Libergier, the architect of St. Nicaise.. (This is buried in the ashes,
and is said to be uninjured.)

The Treasury included many reliquaries and holy objects of priceless
value, such as the reliquary of Sanson (twelfth century); that of SS.
Peter and Paul (fourteenth century); of the Holy Sepulcher (sixteenth
century) which was given by the King, Henry II, at his coronation;
the vessel of St. Ursula, given by Henry III; the Chasuble of Thomas à
Becket; the Chalice of St. Remi; the Reliquary of St. Ampoule, and an
immense quantity of gold and silver objects given by Charles X.

It is said that this treasure was removed to Paris when Rheims was first
threatened with destruction, and that it is therefore intact, for which
we may be thankful, but what of the incomparable shrine which held it?

More than a year and a half (1915) ago the roof was consumed by fire,
and was held by authorities to be irreparable, but since then, perhaps
daily the bombardment has continued mercilessly, simply to destroy what
remains. Even the latest news from the front in France does not claim
that the invader and iconoclast has been driven back fast enough to
ensure safety to Rheims. In one day (April, 1917) the Germans are said
to have poured seventy-five hundred shells into the city. Just how
much of the incomparable fabric of the Cathedral, from which all the
statuary, all the wonderful glass and framework have been pulverized by
the blasts from the great shells, survives, is not known outside of
the town, or is concealed by the authorities; but for one thing we pray
fervently, and that is, that no so-called restoration may be attempted
or allowed. Let no imitations of stone, glass or marble caricature its
vanished glories.... Let it remain, we pray, the living, standing record
of an infamous crime. Consumed by fire, soaked in blood, Rheims,
which crowned and sheltered a hundred kings, has passed; _deleta est
Carthago_.



ST. MIHIEL

|AT the foot of a group of tall pointed limestone rocks, which seemed to
be much higher than the seventy-five feet ascribed to them, nestled this
most theatrical looking little town on the river Meuse, which winds
in and out most charmingly through a district once covered with dense
forests. All about were beautiful gorges between which the river rushed
noisily, now following the base of a precipice of solid limestone, and
again laving the roots of large trees growing luxuriantly on the slaty
banks. Each of these valleys, each breach in the limestone wall, was
overgrown with lush verdure, contrasting most strikingly with the dark
brown or gray tones of the cliffs. Hereabouts small towns and hamlets,
with scant room for the old houses and mills clinging to the steeps,
thickly occupied the spaces between the rocks and the rushing stream.

This small town of St. Mihiel, with its population of about eight
thousand inhabitants, is said to have grown up around an ancient abbey
dedicated to St. Michael, established here by some pious monks in the
eighth century, but the landlord of the Hôtel du Cygne told me, with a
shrug of the shoulders, that the abbey was not so old as all that;
that M. le Père had informed him that the abbey had been built in the
seventeenth century; the same year as the church; that he wished to set
M. le Voyageur (myself) right in the matter; not that he cared how old
or how new it was, but that he, the proprietor of the Hôtel du Cygne,
was a truthful man, and no one, least of all, a gentleman who had
made such a long journey as Monsieur the American from New York--"bien
intendu," should receive any but the most truthful information from
him, proprietor as he was of the Hôtel du Cygne. Which long speech
he delivered with appropriate shrugs, gesticulations, and uplifted
eyebrows.

Mine host turned out to be an interesting personality. There were
many such in these small towns on the banks of the Meuse. He was named
Camille Robert Joseph Laroche, and not only was he a genial and valuable
"raconteur," but he had a saint for a forebear. According to his tale,
which I have no reason to discredit, more than three hundred years ago
his ancestor bequeathed the entire family patrimony to the church,
which in gratitude therefor promptly canonized him, insomuch that he
now adorns the galaxy at St. Matthias Roche. For this great honor and
distinction, said mine host, all the descendants had ever since been
paying, for, deprived of their estates, they became "hoteliers" and
"négociants," their only wealth being the good will and esteem of the
countryside. Thus I had the high honor at St. Mihiel of lodging at an
inn kept by the scion of a saint.

It was pleasant to arrive at this pretty hill-embosomed town when
evening was drawing on and the stars, like unto glimmering altar tapers
in a vast cathedral space, were shining forth one by one.

I sat before the inn door upon a bench with mine host» who had lapsed
into silence, and watched the crystal disk of the moon over the
"Falaise," shining, with that peculiar tint which has no name nor
likeness on earth; that large mystic peace, the charm of a village at
eventime, brooded in the air: Truly God is known in the breath of the
still woods; a very frankincense.

Some passing girls in groups who had come to see the arrivals by train,
that puffing, cautiously moving train that had come from Verdun, with
the mail, the writer, and a few "commis-voyageurs," several soldiers
on leave, and three shovel-hatted priests lent some animation to the
street.

Each girl, chattering and laughing, was knitting industriously. Their
eyes were bright and blue; their hair, gathered with gay ribbons into
knots, was sunny: they seemed care-free.

The great gray limestone pointed rocks stand sentry over St. Mihiel.
Upon one stands a Calvary. There were fragmented castles round about.
Each dominated a ridge, stretching away like a line of bulwarks for
the nestling towns between. I found, in the days of exploration that
followed my arrival, that facing beyond the thread of the river, an
amphitheater of great beeches, tier upon tier, ensconced all.

One might fancy a couchant lion on guard here, the old town lying snug
between its outstretched paws, or to use another simile as if it had
been cast down by giant hands and caught in the cleft.

The town lay in somewhat the shape of a T, the head-stroke turned
downwards on both sides; the upright formed by the long nestling town of
the valley, the cross bar by the bowed overspread of habitations at
the valley's mouth, one thronged crescent of river, road, and terraced
verdancy. Just at the point of junction in the nailhead was a small
convent garden, all scarlet, pink, white and dazzling emerald green.
One would think this quiet, rident town, looking down upon it by morning
light from the Calvary on the limestone pinnacle, a very sanctuary
home of dreams. On the contrary, it was only a more or less prosaic
manufacturing town to the inhabitants who lived among all this
picturesqueness without realizing it. Listening from my perch at the
foot of the Calvary on the "Falaise," I could hear the hum of looms.

At the clang of the midday Angelus they stopped short for the brief hour
of rest and repast. For a thousand years some of the old walls had lain
much as I saw them, for St. Mihiel figures in territorial documents of
a. d. 950. It is said that there was a time when the outstretched paws
of the lion were joined by huge stone-turreted walls. These closed in
the town and made a sanctuary. The Barons of St. Mihiel were greatly
distinguished personages; they played a noble part in the Crusades. I
found their records quaintly set forth upon tombs in archaic words, the
meaning of which was often entirely puzzling and obscure. I made notes
of these names and dates, but they were carelessly mislaid. Should one
be curious about them, I doubt not that Froissart has recorded them in
all their state and glory. St. Mihiel claimed the usual list of heroes
and warriors, and her claim was granted without question.

The old market place was graced by lime trees, and the ruined walls were
overgrown with ivy and vine of luxuriant leafage, hiding crack and gap
cunningly. The aged towers still cleaved to the rock by leave of the
roots of beech and fir tree, whose spreading roots are more lenient foes
to masonry, perhaps, than German mines. Imagine the great empty shell of
the donjon, with a rugged façade, ivy grown and rook-haunted, a ruined
chapel-apse with its suspended "piscina and aumbry," (thus named for me
correctly by a scholarly architect friend, else I should not have
known how to call them), its Gothic columns and arches; this sheer wall
overhung the town perilously.

There was a story told of the old bell's tolling at the death of a
child. Within the donjon is the remains of the well, fifty feet deep. In
olden days a young chatelaine threw herself down this well, her child
in her arms, to escape the brutality of the besiegers, in the
fourteenth--or was it the thirteenth?--century. There were twin brothers
who did the same, in some remote period, after refusing to open the
gates to Wenceslaus, or was it Baldwin of the Iron Arm*? There was
a cavern at the bottom where the knights-proprietors hid their gains
during the sieges. All these and many other tales of fear, blood and
bravery were told at St. Mihiel.

Some years ago, they said, a young maid drawing water from the well,
discovered a golden bracelet at the bottom of the bucket; but beyond a
few fragments of bone and some pieces of rusty iron that is all that has
been discovered of treasure.

It was said that the great hidden treasure is guarded by an immense
serpent, which, when any one was so foolhardy as to attempt its
recovery, blew out his candles and then devoured him at leisure. On the
night before Maundy Thursday, at the hour of twelve, the master knight,
clad all in his Templar's armor regalia, and bearing the scarlet cross
upon his breast, rides the ruins with his cohort: but to no one save a
true and devout Catholic was this vision vouchsafed, so it was said. St.
Mihiel was unusually quaint in many ways.

One did not find sheep grazing anywhere. When by some rare chance they
were brought to town by a drover, the sensation produced was equal to
that which might be caused by the appearance of an elephant or a camel.
Children ran after the poor frightened dusty things, tugging at their
wool, some trying to climb upon their backs, and the whole square was in
an uproar. There were plenty of pigs about, and these, curiously, were
in charge of a professional pig handler, who took them to pasture,
and cared for them for a weekly wage. It was not uncommon on a morning
ramble to come upon a drove of them occupying the whole road to the
limit of space: a symphony in pink amid a cloud of dust.

The little town was the residence of the great Cardinal de Retz, who is
said to have written his memoirs here. The Rue Notre Dame, which led to
the ancient abbey, and the church of St. Michael, had some very fine
old fifteenth century houses, which were still (in 1910) in an
excellent state of preservation. The great church dated in part from the
seventeenth century, and contained a remarkable statue of the Madonna,
attributed to Ligier Richier, a pupil of Michelangelo, who also carved
the noted sepulchral monument of René de Châlons, Prince of Orange, in
the church of St. Pierre at Bar-le-Duc. There was here too, a figure of
a child surrounded by skulls, with two of which she was playing. Said
to be by Jean Richier, this was a most beautiful piece of seventeenth
century miniature work.

The Madonna mentioned above was depicted as fainting in the arms of St.
John, the pose being most remarkable. One of the curiosities of the
old church was the remains of a stone rood loft, a structure said by
architects to be very rarely met with. The ruined remains of the abbey
at the east end of the church were found near some sort of public
offices, which should have been cleared away so that they might be seen
the better. In the Rue des Ingénieurs was the house of the sculptor,
Ligier Richier, dated 1538. And in the church of St. Sepulcré was the
famous tomb by this master, consisting of thirteen figures, showing
the Virgin, Mary Cleopas and John, and some dice players, all of great
realism and character.

This whole region is filled with legend, related with such great
circumstantial detail that one might not venture, on pain of giving
offense, to show disbelief, no matter how fantastic the story. There
was one curious old house which I saw in the Rue de la Vaux, which had
a rude frieze of great animals below its roof, the effect being so
singular as to be well nigh unbelievable. What its history or origin
I was unable to discover. Indeed much mystery was made of it, when I
inquired; much as if I had asked an indiscreet question. So I desisted.

In the neighborhood were the most delightful walks and rambles,
overgrown with verdure, leading past small farmsteads embosomed in thick
forests, in a region filled with myth and legend.

Following the course of the Meuse, dotted with small mills taking toll
of her one by one, whose splashing mossy wheels she cheerfully spins;
eddying here and there, bright gardens, one was led to a certain gushing
fountain, under a shelving bay of ferny rock, and this was named "the
Easter fountain." It would be strange indeed if a fountain in this
region had not a story connected with it. This one was no exception,
and here follows this story of the Easter fountain, as told by Brother
Antoine of St. Mihiel.

In the thirteenth century of our redemption Count Reni, in the castle
on the heights, governed this region; at Commercy reigned Count Alan. A
common sorrow bound the two to friendship: their young wives had faded
in their first bloom. The châtelaine of Reni had left a boy of four
years, and the Lady Elsa a girl baby at the cost of her life. This
babe, sweet souvenir, was also named Elsa by her mourning, inconsolable
father. All fêtes and celebrations were thenceforth banished from the
two castles, the lords of which sought comfort only in the high and holy
offices of the Church, and in mutual companionship. Pope Honoré, at the
call of John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem, summoned all knights to the
Holy Crusade. In this call the two bereft counts found the command of
the Most High. Burying their grief in the forests of St. Mihiel, they
set their affairs in order, gave over their domains to the care of
overseers, and taking down shield and great cross hiked sword, ranged
themselves "cap à pie" beneath the banner of their high and knightly
leader, the Emperor Frederic.

Count Reni leaves his little Elsa to the care of her godmother and the
abbess under the protection of his faithful aged squire, Père Carol. So
passes by the period of ten or more years, young boy and girl grow up
even as brother and sister, ranging the paths of the scented wood, hand
in hand; learning together the lore of God's wisdom of flower and bird,
and with the pious help of the abbess, the wondrous stories of the lives
of the saints in those great vellum bound, brass clasped office books
of the altar. Occasionally to the castle comes a wandering singer, who
teaches them in song the doughty deeds of the absent soldiers of the
Cross, naming their fathers gloriously. To these songs the children, now
grown tall in stature, listened with shining eyes and panting breath.
Thus they dreamed of the brave fathers they had hardly known.

Now that the young Count had come almost to man's estate, the old
esquire thought of presenting him at the Court of Rheims. It was
summertime, and the time had come for the parting. Elsa wandered alone
through the wooded paths of the forest. But the once loved scenes of
nature had lost half their charm for her. To pass the time she set about
acts of devotion and mercy; visiting the poor huts of the woodsmen,
dispensing tender charities to their families and teaching the children
to pray to the saints and the Holy Fathers.

So passed the long months of summer and then came autumn in a blaze of
red and golden leaves. Now the young Count, learning at the Court of
Rheims that the two Counts were shortly expected to return from the
Crusades in the East, returned to the castle with his retinue, and
passing a small cottage by the roadside on the river bank, caught a
glimpse of his former playmate and companion, on her knees, binding up
the wounds of a poor charcoal burner, who had been injured by the fall
of a tree trunk. But, lo: there was something in the expression of
her face that was all new to him. Dismounting from his horse, he knelt
before her, as to a saint. She was to him, all at once, an aureoled
angel; a burning reverence overcame him, surging from head to foot, and
he knew in that instant that for him time had brought its fullness to
him, and that henceforth they were to be inseparable.

Entranced, he studied her face, so different to him from those which
he had seen at court at Rheims, exquisite as those faces were. But this
one! Ah, now it was clear to him that he had all his life never had a
soul.

Elsa had gazed into his eyes unable to speak, her hands clasped upon her
bosom. Now she gave a cry of gladness, but stopped all at once, for a
new and strange quickening in her heart: Young Alan is transfigured in
her sight, like unto St. Michael.

Alan seizes her hand, he calls her his sweet flower of innocence, and so
swears to be her loyal knight even unto death; thus they remained hand
in hand in ecstasy, while she prayed that the blessed mother watch over
them forever more. At the castle the pair knelt before the good abbot,
and then the old Esquire and the Abbess joined their hands and blessed
them.

When the news of the Count's arrival at the coast, and young Alan's
home coming went forth, the whole region rejoiced, the bells rang in the
churches, and the vassals assembled to greet the young seigneur. From
her bower in the lofty tower of the castle Elsa watched the road along
the river. It was eventide when the sounds of approaching cavalry broke
the stillness. Soon the great drawbridge of the castle fell with a
clang of chains, and young Alan was clasped in the arms of the returned
Crusader.

In the great banquet hall, hung with flags and trophies of the chase,
the retainers thronged to welcome and acclaim their returned lord and
master. Great flagons and cups of wine were passed, and the vaulted
stone roof rang with the loyal shouts of "Long live Count Alan!"

But, strange to say, all was not well with Alan the Crusader. A dark
cloud sat upon his knitted brow, and his worn thin hand bent upon
the knob of the great chair upon which he sat. Elsa, in a very heaven
between the joys, plied him with questions which he answered vaguely,
and finally bade the churls to bring the torches from the walls, and
gave the word of dismissal to the throng.

Much troubled, Elsa gave her white brow to her father's kiss, bade him
good night; and very shortly the castle was in darkness, and silent save
for the measured tread of the sentinels on the parapet.

On the following day the Abbess told Elsa that the two counts, once
so inseparable, had for certain reasons become enemies, that the young
Count of Bré must never more be named within the hearing of her father;
and that henceforth she must forget her love for Alan, which now was
quite hopeless. Broken hearted but obedient, the young girl, bathed in
tears, spent hours before the altar upon her knees, but devoted herself
to her father whenever he would see her.

Autumn came, and brought winter in its train. Young Alan she had not
seen since the day of his return when they met at the charcoal burner's
cottage in the wood. The fête of Noël came in with a great snow storm.
The Count no more went forth, nor did he attend at chapel. The abbot had
admonished him upon one occasion--"If ye from your hearts forgive not
those who--" whereupon the Count had struck the rail with his hand,
arose, and left the chapel.

Affairs at the other castle were quite similar, and the lord had refused
to offer his hand in friendship to his old friend Count Alan, swearing
a terrible oath that he would wither away unshriven ere he did such a
thing. Thus matters stood at the two castles, and two fond hearts were
breaking, while pride held out. As to the young Alan, he had well-nigh
lost his reason but for the kindly and wise advice of the old Abbot.

Then one day the aged châtelaine lay upon her death bed, with Elsa
bathed in tears beside her.

"Call thee thy father, child," she said, "I have much to say to him
before I go." Of the conversation between them nothing was ever known,
but a marked change came over the old knight, after the chatelaine had
been laid at rest beneath the altar in the chapel. He passed the whole
night before the Stations of the Cross, and cried aloud for mercy,
striking his breast with both hands.

In the morning he called Elsa and told her that he was to set out upon
a long journey, and she begging that he allow her to accompany him he
at length consented, and so together, with an escort, the old knight and
the tender maiden set out through the forest.

It was the Holy Week of the Passion, and there were bands of pious
pilgrims met upon the road, nearly all afoot, for that was the custom.
Seeing this the old knight dismounted, and bidding the escort take the
horses and return to the castle, they joined one of the processions,
and continued on foot as far as the Calvary which was at the bend in the
road toward St. Mihiel. Here they paused and let the procession proceed
without them.

It was fair spring time; the fairest flowers bloomed all about them,
and wild birds in the trees hymned the Resurrection of God. Elsa's
heart sang in unison with the birds. She suspected the object of the old
knight's pilgrimage.

When they were near the castle of Count Alan, all at once she saw on the
road the Count and his son, arm in arm, approaching them. When they met
there was an instant's silence, then cried out the old knight, "Alan! I
come to thee!"

"And I was coming to thee to ask thy forgiveness," replied Count Alan
with shining eyes; and they embraced, retiring arm and arm beneath the
great beech trees, leaving Elsa and young Alan face to face. Elsa's
hands were clasped upon her heaving bosom, her brimming eyes raised to
the sky; then she knelt down beside the cliff in the moss, and young
Alan knelt beside her. All at once Elsa's voice burst forth in the holy
canticle, "Benedicite, opera Domini, Domino--fontes benedicite," and as
she uttered the last words of the canticle, there burst forth from the
limestone rock, just where their united tears had dropped, a tiny stream
of crystal clear water. Soon this grew larger, bubbling forth like
pearls into the sunlight, and making a channel for itself, flowed
onward, dancing and leaping as for joy. And thus kneeling there at the
fountain of their united tears the knights found them....

And this is the story of the fountain of the lovers' tears at St.
Mihiel, where broken friendships were said to be healed by one draft of
the waters, partaken of by both be it understood.

One wonders now as to the fate of St. Mihiel-on-the-Meuse; is that gray
old church entirely destroyed by the rain of shells that has beaten
upon it for more than two years? And what remains of the little town
clustering against the two tall limestone peaks all clad with green
verdure, where all was so prosperous and peaceful before the onslaught
of the destroying legions?

Chatel Gate: Verdun

[Illustration: 0379]



VERDUN

|UPON well nigh every headland of any considerable size on the banks of
the winding river Meuse, there glowered a vine clad castle in a more
or less ruinous state, and usually at its foot slept a farmstead, a
village, or a town. Over each stream-laved promontory and every high
hill there have been fought great and small battles year in, year out,
through the ages since the time of Charlemagne. One could not wander far
here in any direction without lighting upon some shattered monument
of human passion and pride. "Here might reigned supreme with fantastic
honor as its handmaid; at ambition's footstool religion and right were
vassals." One stands before one of these shattered, time-battered castle
walls, and tries perchance to picture the siege of old, with the crowds
of iron-armed men busily sapping the walls. Through the ragged breaches
made by the great stone-hung rams, they discharged into the interior by
quaint cumbrous machines large stones, blazing bundles of fagots, and
even carrion, while from the besieged warriors on the battlemented walls
above came streams of molten lead, and showers of heavy iron barbed
bolts. The country about during these battles was considerably damaged,
and there must have been an appalling noise over it all, but somehow one
cannot picture any very great carnage as a result, at least nothing like
that which took place here at Verdun in the great battle of 1916, nor
any such destruction of property.

This town of Verdun, now upon every one's lips, was the ancient Roman
"Verodunam" and ever has held a most important place in European affairs
and history. Captured by Charlemagne, in the dim days of a. d. 843, it
was divided among his three grandsons, Charles the Bald, Lothaire, and
Lewis the German. Thus divided, the members of the Empire, Teutonic and
Gallic, were never again united. Until the year 1552 the town, once the
seat of a powerful bishop, remained free, and in 1648 it was
formally united to France after the peace of Westphalia, when Austria
relinquished the three great bishoprics of Verdun, Toul, and Metz.
Verdun fell to the Prussians after a fierce bombardment lasting only
five hours, and a story is told of how a bevy of fair young girls
appeared in the public square before the Hôtel de Ville, where the
conquerors were drawn up, and made peace-offering to them of the
"bon-bons" for which, even up to the outbreak of the great world war,
and invasion of 1914, Verdun was famous. These bon-bons were known
locally as "Dragées."

Old House on the Meuse: Verdun

[Illustration: 0397]

After the battle of Valmy, the revolutionists recaptured the town and,
it is said, sought out these same young maidens and put them to death.

The town, which was rather attractive and picturesque, stood in a sort
of plain, on the river Meuse, which divides here into several streams.
It was surrounded by fortifications, considered impregnable, which were
planted with large trees, and there was a very satisfying Mediaeval
gateway flanked by two great towers, while an attractive street called
the "Promenade de la Digne" followed the banks of the river. The sights
of the town, however, were very soon exhausted. If one followed the
Avenue de la Gare, one came to the Porte St. Paul, and just beyond it
the Palais de Justice and a large new college building. Then there
was the Porte Chaussée, which was very old and had two fine crenelated
towers. There were several bridges crossing the river Meuse, and along
its banks a collection of ancient many colored houses, all so battered,
bewindowed, and balconied, as to be quite fascinating pictorially but
certainly very dirty and "smelly." Ranged along the water washed walls
of these quaint houses, were many barges and washing boats, painted in
charming tones of green and brown, and these, reflected in the water,
made delightful pictures for the painter and snap shots for tourists.

A very good regimental band played in the square once a week, and
this formed an excuse for a promenade of the townspeople, and a social
gathering at the small cafés, for the post prandial "bock."

There was a Hôtel de Ville of the seventeenth century, lacking however
in character, in the courtyard of which were displayed some bronze
cannon, given to Verdun by the government in recognition of its heroic
resistance in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Near the cathedral were
the remains of an ancient gate called the Porte Châtel. The Cathedral,
the towers of which were high above the town, though lacking spires, was
not unimpressive, but it had been so often rebuilt and changed, as to
have few vestiges of the structure begun in the twelfth century. The two
towers were square and topped by balustrades of little or no character.
The buttresses of the apse were, however, of architectural value, and
the apse had some curious and remarkable sculptures, while the triple
nave was of noble proportions and had some Gothic vaulting.

A curious bas relief representing the Assumption was shown in the
transept; but beyond these features the Cathedral had little or nothing
to offer, save a very beautiful fifteenth century cloister, which we
nearly missed seeing, connecting die Cathedral with the grand séminaire.

The great Citadel, renowned throughout Europe, upon which such high
hopes centered in the beginning of the present war, and which resisted
the efforts of the army of the Crown Prince, occupied the ancient site
of the Abbey of St. Vannes, of the tenth century. It was so rigidly
guarded that no one was permitted to enter it. From a roadway called
the Promenade de la Roche one might idle away the hours appraising the
picturesque valley of the Meuse.

Alost of those who visited Verdun, and stopped at "des trois Maures or du
Cog Hardi," which were the rival hostelries, usually started to explore
the town after "dejeuner," and brought up at the Cathedral as a finish.
But to him who stayed awhile, and rambled about aimlessly outside the
town, there was no end of curious beauties, of small scenic and antique
discoveries, of quaint nooks, and groupings and surprises! all about
were flowers and vines, and long white winding roads, past small mills
embosomed in verdure, and wayside shrines where old women seemed rooted
telling their beads.

And night beyond the town brought her own peculiar graces, when the
mazy ravines lay hidden in the glimmering dusk, and the lights of Verdun
twinkled across the valley, or answered to their images in the stream.

In towns of this region one was impressed with the prevalence of
Colonels and Generals. Each hotel seemed to be provided with an officer,
looking, too, much like all the others. They were invariably somewhat
red faced and "puffy," bored in manner, and while slow of speech, were
not mentally active or entertaining. Invariably, too, they were anglers,
displaying in sporting knee breeches stockinged calves of the shape
of "ten pins." They seemed mysterious as to their families, but
were undisguisedly gallant in their attentions to the fair sex, and
invariably headed the "table d'hôte" at which universal deference was
accorded them.

Once, in a small town, I fancied that the spell was broken, and that no
General or Colonel was in the hotel, but on the third day I learned that
"M. le General was confined to his room with the gout." This room was on
the floor above, and although the proprietor often assured us that
"M. le General" would, in all probability, be able to come down on the
morrow, and occupy his wonted seat at the head of the table, he did not
come, and so we never saw him.

All about Verdun were charming small villages, particularly along the
river Meuse, and if one liked one could take a slow moving train, which
went through a long black tunnel, and at length entered the valley of
the Moselle--but that was another adventure which is not to be set down
in this volume.

Cathedral: Verdun

[Illustration: 0405]

For this summer end of 1910, the valley of the Meuse was to us all
sufficient. Here, while dozing among these small towns and villages,
bordering on the vine clad river's splash and sparkle, resting by night
in quaint clean and generally well kept inns, the world beyond became
a figment. Curious fortresses still were to be found among these old
rocks; and on the plateau the antiquarian, the geologist, the botanist
may find much food for wonder and study, if they searched. But if they
did, at least I never met them there. Should tourist by chance pass that
way, it was by train, or swiftly speeding automobile all begoggled of
eyes, and mummied by greatcoat, mindful only of the smoothness of the
winding road, or the consumption of gasoline. But from all such doth
Dame Nature hide her soul.

Then, tiring of this aloofness, one could always return to the bustle
of Verdun, and find entertainment in the tortuous streets between the
amorphous houses, with their aged carven doors surmounted by strange old
trade-emblems, their overhanging gables; across the rough cobbled market
place with the old town hall of pepperbox turret, its arcade, and its
dusty hall where the "Échevins" held their courts of justice, and where
the peasants chaffered their wares on market days, through the ancient
gateways, and over the old bridges reflected in the eddying river.

I like to think of Verdun, as we saw it "en fête" that late summer
morning. The town was gay with wreaths and flags and streamers, the
windows aflame with flowers. In the Cathedral since five o'clock there
had been scarce space to kneel for the toll of masses unbroken at the
altar. White clad priests came and went through the aisles. The air
was tense and restless with murmured prayer and the incessancy of
"sacring-bells." When the last "housel" had been taken, the last "Ite"
said, thousands of people filled the streets, lining the narrow ways in
thick serried ranks, crowding the doors and windows, and stretching in a
double row across the bridge.

Over all is a sense of waiting, as for a solemn thing about to happen,
and this thrills the multitude. At the bridge end I could see the figure
of a priest gesticulating, raised somewhat above the crowd, clad in a
cope of gold and white, but I was too far away to hear his voice. Soon
came a procession headed by a banner bearer, and I caught a glimpse
of the scarlet of my lord the Archbishop, amid a cloud of filmy laced
priestly cottas, and the violet surplices of chanting men, set in a
great splash of white robes. Here and there a banner shone all red and
gold, and at the end of the bridge was a great golden Crucifix.

Here a short sermon was preached, and this being over there came a stir
and a heave in the crowd, which fell back along the ways. Forward moved
the cross, twelve banners escorting it; tapers of wax tall and thick
blazed, and from upcast censers sprang misty spirals of fragrance, blue
as the hills beyond the town.

From a murmur which sweeps through the throng of people, a chant grows
in volume until it is like the sound of a vast organ. All at once the
gay burners, the smoking censers, and the gorgeously clad priests vanish
around a turning in the street; the spell is broken; the crowd, before
so orderly, swarms like bees in the hive, and here and there are couples
dancing and jostling all unmindful of each other's proximity, but
performing with stolid good humor. The spirit of the dance takes hold of
the crowd, it spreads across the bridge, and sets of four, six and eight
form in rows, holding one another at handkerchief length, eyes dancing
with eyes to limbs' measure.

There was little of passion but much of poetry in this dance, a sort
of polka with three steps forward and two back, a serpentine swinging
unison. Words are poor painters of the scene: like unto a moving
wheatfield swept by two winds, or the sea surge whose oscillant ebb
and flow is so fascinating. And so throughout the day, and far into the
night the celebration continued, with meetings--rejoicings--and mild
potations sacramental of reunited friendships; but not until long after
the celebration ended and common events regained dominion over the
streets and square, did one cease to see mentally the swinging sway
of that dance, or hear the pounding, insistent, snarling drone on the
barrel organs of that reiterated tune.... And this is how one likes to
recall old, old Verdun, now so pathetically battered and shell torn, its
cathedral towers ragged against the sky, and its Citadel dismantled.



DOMREMY AND THE MAID

|ALIGHTING from the ordinary train (none other stops here apparently)
at the dismal little stucco station at Domremy-Maxey-sur-Meuse, in a
downpour of rain, we asked the little roly-poly _chef de la Gare_, who
wore a tall red cap ornamented with a band of gold lace, all a size too
large for his round bullet head:--First, could we have a conveyance to
Domremy?--Secondly, was there an inn there?--Thirdly, did he think that
we could be accommodated there?

To the first question he returned explosively,--"No, there was no
conveyance; there had never been a conveyance there of any sort." To
the second: "No, there was no inn there--but there was one at
Domremy-la-Pucelle, 'toute en face,' near the church; no great thing,
you understand--M'sieur and Madame--but not so bad, and clean of a
surety."

To the third: "Yes, possibly; stay, as it rains torrents, I shall go
over there and enquire for M'sieur and Madame.'Tis but a short walk for
me, and I have the paletot which resists the rain."

And go he did, in the driving rain, too; in spite of our remonstrances
he trudged out into the rain-soaked road, and we watched him out of
sight down the footpath leading from the station towards the river. And
this is but one of the instances of consideration and kindness that one
received in this charming countryside. Briefly, we were well housed
at Domremy among the poplars, and though the sheets were damp from the
rainy weather, a huge wood fire lighted for us by Madame at the inn soon
dried them, and a good supper revived our spirits. Here charming days
may be spent among the scenes filled with memories of la Pucelle.

There are two villages here, besides Vaucouleurs, which equipped Jeanne
for her campaign, and whence she set forth aided by Baudricourt, the
Governor. The larger is Gréoulx, perhaps half a mile away. The hamlet is
probably much as it was during the time of Jeanne; a collection of small
low white houses on either side of the roadway, squalid and odorous from
the dung-hill before each doorway. Here sit Madame and the children, who
play with the chickens and droves of small pink pigs running up and down
in every direction, and in and out of the open doors.

The street now widens into a sort of "place" before the church with
a square, pinnacled tower in which is a clock. The interior with low
vaulting is rich with festoons of drapery, wreaths and some very ornate
silk banners, all displayed with much taste in honor of la Pucelle, the
sainted Jeanne. To right is a fine monument, dated fifteenth century,
embellished with figures of Jacob and Didier Tierselin, who were the
sons of her godmother, who, it will be remembered, was a witness in her
behalf at the trial.

Here at Domremy the maid Jeanne is regarded and honored as a saint, and
over the altar are large paintings of her representing her mission, and
the events. One of them is of the appearance of the Archangel to the
young girl.

Outside the door is a bronze statue of the Maid of Orleans by E. Paul
(1855) and farther on is a very ill-kept little square in which is a
most absurd monument erected by some one who is nameless, in 1820. Just
opposite a sort of court guarded from the droves of little pink pigs by
an iron railing, is the quaint "lean to" sort of cottage in which Jeanne
la Pucelle, called by the English Joan of Arc, was born in 1411. Above
the arched door is displayed the emblazoned royal arms of France,
together with those assigned to Jeanne and her family by the King, Louis
XI. Above is a Gothic canopied niche in which is a kneeling figure of
la Pucelle, reproduced, it is said, from the one inside the cottage,
bearing the date of 1456. Here the principal room is the kitchen, in
which, however, only the middle beam of the ceiling is original.

It is said that the kneeling statue in armor was posed for by a niece of
Jeanne.

Behind the kitchen is a dark little closet, in which Jeanne is said to
have slept. It is lighted by a tiny window high up in the wall, and here
against the wall is a chest said to have been used by Jeanne.

Domremy, in her honor, was, up to the time of the Revolution, exempted
from any taxation.

The hill where Jeanne heard the mysterious voices is about a mile
farther on, and a sort of basilica was being built here to mark the
spot, to be further enriched by a statue of the Maid by Allard.

The house of Jeanne was cared for by the sisters of charity who
conducted a school and a small shop where the pilgrims bought medals and
souvenirs.

On the other side of the railway line was a small chapel, to which it is
said Jeanne made a pilgrimage once a week on Saturday, placing a lighted
wax taper before the altar.

House of Jeanne d'Arc: Domremy

[Illustration: 0419]

On the 6th of January, 1428, this young girl, the daughter of simple
peasants, humble tillers of the soil, of good life and repute, she
herself a good, simple, gentle girl, no idler, occupied in sewing and
spinning with her mother, or driving afield her father's sheep, and
sometimes even, when her father's turn came round, keeping for him the
whole flock of the commune, was fulfilling her sixteenth year. ("Jeanne
d'Arc," by M. Wallon, Vol. I, p. 32.) It was Joan of Arc, whom all the
neighbors called Joannette. She was no recluse; she often went with her
companions to sing and eat cakes beside the fountain by the gooseberry
bush, under an old beech, which was called the fairy-tree; but dancing
she did not like. She was constant at church, she delighted in the
sound of the bells, she often went to confession and communion, and she
blushed when her friends taxed her with being too religious. In 1421,
when Joan was hardly nine, a band of Anglo-Burgundians penetrated into
her country and transferred thither the ravages of war. The village of
Domremy and the little town of Vaucouleurs were French and faithful
to the French kingship; and Joan wept to see the lads of her parish
returning bruised and bleeding from encounters with the enemy. Her
relatives and neighbors were one day obliged to take flight, and at
their return they found their houses burnt or devastated. Joan wondered
whether it could possibly be that God permitted such excesses and
disasters. In 1425, on a summer's day, at noon, she was in her father's
little garden. She heard a voice calling her, at her father's right
side, in the direction of the church, and a great brightness shone upon
her at the same time in the same spot.

At first she was frightened, but she recovered herself on finding that
"it was a worthy voice"; and at the second call she perceived that it
was the voice of angels. "I saw them with my bodily eyes," she said six
years later to her judges at Rouen, "as plainly as I see you; when they
departed from me I wept and would fain have had them take me with them."

The apparitions came again, and exhorted her "to go to France for to
deliver the kingdom." She became dreamy, wrapt in constant meditation.
"I could endure no longer," said she at a later period, "and the time
went heavily with me as with a woman in travail."

She ended with telling everything to her father, who listened to her
words anxiously at first, and afterwards wrathfully. He himself one
night dreamed that his daughter had followed the King's men-at-arms to
France, and from that moment he kept her under strict superintendence.

"If I knew of your sister's going," he said to his sons, "I would bid
you drown her; and, if you did not do it, I would drown her myself."

Joan submitted: there was no leaven of pride in her sublimation, and she
did not suppose that her intercourse with celestial voices relieved her
from the duty of obeying her parents..

Attempts were made to distract her mind. A young man who courted her was
induced to say that he had a promise of marriage from her and claim
the fulfillment of it. Joan went before the ecclesiastical judge, made
affirmation that she had given no promise and without difficulty gained
her cause. Everybody believed her and respected her.

In a village hard by Domremy she had an uncle whose wife was near her
confinement; she got herself invited to go and nurse her aunt, and
thereupon she opened her heart to her uncle, repeating a popular saying
which had spread indeed throughout the country:

"Is it not said that a woman shall ruin France and a young maid restore
it?"

She pressed him to take her to Vaucouleurs to Sire Robert de
Baudricourt, captain of the bailiwick, for she wished to go to the
dauphin and carry assistance to him.

Her uncle gave way, and on the 13th of May, 1428, he did take her to
Vaucouleurs.

"I come on behalf of my Lord," she said to Sire de Baudricourt, "to bid
you send word to the dauphin to keep himself well in hand and not to
give battle to his foes, for my Lord will presently give him succor."

"Who is thy Lord?" asked Baudricourt.

"The King of Heaven," answered Joan.

Baudricourt set her down and urged her uncle to take her back to her
parents "with a good slap o' the face."

In July, 1428, a fresh invasion of Burgundians occurred at Domremy, and
redoubled the popular excitement there. Shortly afterwards the report
touching the siege of Orleans arrived there. Joan, more and more
passionately possessed with her idea, returned to Vau-couleurs.

"I must go," said she to Sire de Baudricourt, "for to raise the siege of
Orleans. I will go should I have to wear, off my legs to the knee."

She returned to Vaucouleurs without taking leave of her parents. "Had
I possessed," said she to her judges at Rouen, "a hundred fathers and a
hundred mothers and had I been a king's daughter, I should have gone."
Baudricourt, impressed without being convinced, did not oppose her
remaining at Vaucouleurs, and sent an account of this singular young
girl to Charles, Duke of Lorraine, at Nancy, and perhaps even, according
to some chronicles, to the King's court.

Joan lodged at Vaucouleurs in the house of a wheelwright, and passed
three weeks there, spinning with her hostess and dividing her time
between work and church. There was much talk in Vaucouleurs of her
"visions" and her purpose.

John of Metz (also called John of Novelomport), a knight serving with de
Baudricourt, desired to see her, and went to the wheelwright's.

"What do you here, my dear?" he said. "Must the King be driven from his
kingdom and we become English?"

"I am come hither," answered Joan, "to speak to Robert de Baudricourt,
that he may be pleased to take me or have me taken to the King; but he
pays no heed to me or my words. However, I must be with the King before
the middle of Lent, for none in the world, nor kings, nor dukes, nor
daughter of Scottish king can recover the Kingdom of France; there is no
help but in me. Assuredly I would far rather be spinning beside my poor
mother, for this other is not my condition; but I must go and do the
work because my Lord wills that I should do it."

"Who is your Lord?"

"The Lord God."

"By my faith," said the Knight, seizing Joan's hands, "I will take you
to the King, God helping. When will you set out?"

"Rather now than to-morrow; rather to-morrow than later." Vaucouleurs was
full of the fame and sayings of Joan.

Another knight, Bertrand de Poulengy, offered, as John of Metz had, to
be her escort. Duke Charles of Lorraine wished to see her, and sent
for her to Nancy. Old and ill as he was, he had deserted his duchess,
a virtuous lady, and was leading anything but a regular life. He asked
Joan's advice about his health.

"I have no power to cure you," she said, "but go back to your wife and
help me in that for which God ordains me."

The Duke ordered her the sum of four golden crowns, and she returned to
Vaucouleurs, thinking of nothing but her departure.

There was no want of confidence and good will on the part of the
inhabitants of Vaucouleurs in forwarding her preparations. John of Metz,
the knight charged to accompany her, asked her if she intended to make
the journey in her poor red rustic petticoats.

"I should like to don man's clothes," answered Joan. Subscriptions were
made to give her a suitable costume. She was supplied with a horse,
a coat of mail, a lance, a sword, the complete equipment indeed of a
man-at-arms; and a king's messenger and an archer formed her train.

Baudricourt made them swear to escort her safely, and on the 25th of
February, 1429, he bade her farewell, and all he said was:

"Away then, Joan, and come what may."

Charles VII was at that time at Chinon, in Touraine. In order to reach
him Joan had nearly a hundred and fifty leagues to go, in a country
occupied here and there by English and Burgundians and everywhere a
theater of war. She took eleven days to do this journey, often marching
by night, and never giving up man's dress, disquieted by no difficulty
and no danger, and testifying no desire for a halt save to worship God.

"Could we hear mass daily," said she to her companions, "we should do
well."

They consented only twice, first at the Abbey of St. Urban, and again in
the principal church of Auxerre. As they were full of respect though at
the same time also of doubt toward Joan, she never had to defend
herself against familiarities, but she had constantly to dissipate their
disquietude touching the reality or the character of her mission.

"Fear nothing," she said to them; "God shows me the way I should go; for
thereto I was born."

On arriving at the village of St. Catherine-de-Fierbois, near Chinon,
she heard three masses on the same day and had a letter written thence
to the King to announce her coming and to ask to see him; she had gone,
she said, a hundred and fifty leagues to come and tell him things which
would be most useful to him.

Charles VII and his councilors hesitated. The men of war did not like to
believe that a little peasant girl of Lorraine was coming to bring the
King a more effectual support than their own.

Nevertheless, some, and the most heroic amongst them, Dunuois, La Hire,
and Xaintrailles, were moved by what was told of this young girl. The
letters of Sire de Bau-dricourt, though full of doubt, suffered a gleam
of something like a serious impression to peep out; and why should not
the King receive this young girl whom the Captain of Vaucouleurs had
thought it a duty to send? It would soon be seen what she was and what
she would do. The politicians and courtiers, especially the most trusted
of them, George de la Tremoille, the King's favorite, shrugged their
shoulders. What could be expected from the dreams of a young peasant
girl of nineteen? Influences of a more private character and more
disposed toward sympathy--Yolande of Arragon, for instance, Queen of
Sicily, and mother-in-law of Charles VII, and perhaps also her daughter,
the young queen, Mary of Anjou, were urgent for the King to reply to
Joan that she might go to Chinon. She was authorized to do so, and on
6th March, 1429, she, with her comrades, arrived at the royal residence.

At the very first moment two incidents occurred (says M. Wallon) still
further to increase the curiosity of which she was the object.

Quite close to Chinon some vagabonds had prepared an ambuscade for
the purpose of despoiling her and her train. She passed close by them
without the least obstacle. The rumor went that at her approach they
were struck motionless, and had been unable to attempt their wicked
purpose. Joan was rather tall, well shaped, dark, with a look of
composure, animation and gentleness. A man-at-arms, who met her on the
way, thought her pretty, and with an impious oath, expressed a coarse
compliment. "Alas," said Joan, "thou blasphemest thy God, and thou art
so near thy death!" He drowned himself, it is said, shortly after.

Already popular feeling was surrounding her marvelous mission with the
halo of instantaneous miracles.

On her arrival at Chinon she first lodged with an honest family near the
castle. For three days longer there was a deliberation in the council
as to whether the King ought to receive her. But there was bad news from
Orleans. There were no more troops to send thither, and there was no
money forthcoming; the King's treasurer, it is said, had but four crowns
in the chest. If Orleans was taken, the King would be perhaps reduced
to seeking refuge in Spain or in Scotland. Joan promised to set Orleans
free.

The Orleanese themselves were clamorous for her; Dunois kept up their
spirits with the expectation of this marvelous assistance. It was
decided that the King should receive her. She had assigned to her
for residence an apartment in the tower of the "Coudray," a block of
quarters adjoining the royal mansion, and she was committed to the
charge of William Bellier, an officer of the King's household, whose
wife was a woman of great piety and excellent fame.

On the 9th of March, 1429, Joan was at last introduced into the King's
presence by the Count of Vendôme, high steward, in the great hall on the
first story, a portion of the wall and fireplace being still visible in
the present day.

It was evening, candle light; and nearly three hundred knights were
present. Charles kept himself a little aloof amidst a group of warriors
and courtiers more richly dressed than he.

According to some chroniclers, Joan demanded that "she should not be
deceived, and should have pointed out to her him to whom she was to
speak." Others affirm that she went straight to the King, whom she had
never seen, "accosting him humbly and simply, like a poor shepherdess,"
says an eye-witness, and according to another account, "making the usual
bends and reverences, as if she had been brought up at court."

Whatever may have been her outward behavior, "Gentle dauphin," she said
to the King (for she did not think it right to call him king, so long as
he had not been crowned), "my name is Joan the maid; the King of Heaven
sendeth you word by me that you shall be anointed and crowned in the
city of Rheims, and shall be lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is
King of France. It is God's pleasure that our enemies, the English,
should depart to their own country; if they depart not, evil will come
to them, and the kingdom is sure to continue yours."

Charles was impressed without being convinced, as so many others had
been before, or were as he was on that very day. He saw Joan again
several times. She did not delude herself as to the doubts he still
entertained.

Gentle dauphin, she said one day, "why do you not believe me? I say unto
you that God hath compassion on you, your kingdom and your people; St.
Louis and Charlemagne are kneeling before Him making prayer for you, a
thing which will give you to understand that you ought to believe me."

Charles gave her audience on this occasion in the presence of four
witnesses, the most trusted of his intimates, who swore to reveal
nothing, and according to others, completely alone. "What she said to
him there is none who knows," wrote Allan Chartier a short time after
(in July, 1429) "but it is quite certain that he was all radiant with
joy thereat, as at a revelation from the Holy Spirit."

M. Wallon continues this fascinating and intimate account of the Maid's
mission with most minute detail through her early triumphs and ordeal,
down to the days of her capture, confinement at Rouen, the capital of
the English in France, and her trial and execution in that town.

She arrived (in Rouen) on the 23rd of December, 1430. On the 3rd of
January the following year, an order from Henry VI, King of England,
placed her in the hands of the bishop of Beauvais, Peter Cauchon.

Some days afterwards, Count John of Luxembourg accompanied by his
brother, the English Chancellor, and his Esquire, the Earl of Warwick,
and Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, the King of England's constable in
France, entered the prison where Joan was confined.

Had John of Luxembourg come out of sheer curiosity, or to relieve
himself of certain scruples by offering Joan a chance for her life?

"Joan," said he, "I am come hither to put you to ransom, and treat for
the price of your deliverance; only give us your promise here no more to
bear arms against us."

"In God's name," answered Joan, "are you making a mock of me, Captain?
Ransom me? You have neither the will nor the power; no, you have
neither."

The Count persisted.

"I know well," said Joan, "that these English will put me to death; but,
were they a hundred thousand more 'Goddams' than have already been in
France, they shall never have the kingdom."

"What is to be thought of her? What is to be thought of the poor
shepherd girl from the hills and forests of Lorraine, that like the
Hebrew shepherd boy from the hills and forests of Judea--rose suddenly
out of the quiet, out of the safety, out of the religious inspiration,
rooted in deep pastoral solitudes, to a station in the van of armies,
and to the more perilous station at the right hand of kings?

"The Hebrew boy inaugurated his patriotic mission by an _act_, by a
victorious _act_, such as no man could deny. But so did the girl of
Lorraine, if we read her story as it was read by those who saw her
nearest. Adverse armies bore witness to the boy as no pretender; but so
they did to the gentle girl. Judged by the voices of all who saw them
_from a station of good will_, both were found true and loyal to any
promises involved in their first acts.

"Enemies it was that made the difference between their subsequent
fortunes. The boy rose to a splendor and a noon-day prosperity, both
personal and public, that rang through the records of his people, and
became a byword amongst his posterity for a thousand years, until the
scepter was departing from Judah.

"The poor forsaken girl, on the contrary, drank not herself from that
cup of rest which she had secured for France. She never sang together
with the songs that rose in her native Domremy, as echoes to the
departing steps of the invaders. She mingled not in the festal dances
at Vaucouleurs which celebrated in rapture the redemption of France.
No! for her voice was then silent; no! for her feet were dust. Pure,
innocent, noble-hearted girl! Whom, from earliest youth, ever I believed
in as full of truth and self-sacrifice, this was amongst the strongest
pledges of thy truth, that never once--no, not for a moment of
weakness--didst thou revel in the vision of coronets and honor from man.
Coronets for thee! Oh, no! Honors if they come when all is over, are for
those that share thy blood. Daughter of Domremy, when the gratitude of
thy king shall awaken, thou wilt be sleeping the sleep of the dead.
Call her, King of France, but she will not hear thee. Cite her by the
apparitors to come and receive a robe of honor, but she will be found
'_en Contumace_.' When the thunders of universal France, as even yet may
happen, shall proclaim the grandeur of the poor shepherd girl that gave
up all for her country, thy ear, young shepherd girl, will have been
deaf for centuries. To suffer and to do, that was thy portion in this
life; that was thy destiny; and not for a moment was it hidden from
thyself. Life, thou saidst, is short; and the sleep which is in the
grave is long; let me use that life, so transitory, for the glory of
those heavenly dreams destined to comfort the sleep which is long!

"This pure creature--pure from every suspicion of even a visionary self
interest; even as she was pure in senses more obvious--never once did
this holy child, as she regarded herself, relax from her belief in the
darkness that was traveling to meet her. She might not prefigure the
very manner of her death; she saw not in vision the aerial altitude of
the fiery scaffold, the spectators without end on every road pouring
into Rouen as to a coronation, the surging smoke, the volleying flames,
the hostile faces all around her, the pitying eye that lurked here and
there until nature and imperishable truth broke loose from artificial
restraints--these might not be apparent through the mists of the
hurrying future. But the voice that called her to death, that she heard
forever.

"Great was the throne of France even in those days, and great was he
that sat upon it; but well Joanna knew that not the throne nor he that
sat upon it was for her; but on the contrary, that she was for them; not
she by them, but they by her, should rise from the dust.

"Gorgeous were the lilies of France, and for centuries had they
privilege to spread their beauty over land and sea, until in another
century the wrath of God and man combined to wither them; but well
Joanna knew, early at Domremy she had read that bitter truth, that the
lilies of France would decorate no garland for her. Flower nor bud, bell
nor blossom, would ever bloom for her." (Thomas De Quincey.)

And now comes in this, which is perhaps the final year of the great war,
a strange story from a small town in the Loire region near Cholet, of
another illiterate peasant girl named Clotilde Perchaud, seemingly the
reincarnation of Jeanne, who likewise sees visions and hears voices.
Brought up on one of the small farms on the edge of the hamlet of
Puy-Saint-Bonnet, this girl, now about twenty years old, since the age
of fourteen has been of a strange personality. Instead of following the
fairs and dancing at the village festivals like the other young girls of
the neighborhood, Clotilde has always kept aloof, avoiding the young
men who would offer her attentions, and devoting herself to devotions at
church, and prayers in her squalid room in the farmhouse granary, where
she had constructed an altar. So strange were her actions at the village
school that the good priest advised her parents to keep her at home,
as she would not study her lessons, but preferred to sit with clasped
hands, and her eyes fixed in a wrapt gaze at the ceiling, to the
demoralization of the scholars, who at length came to believe her half
witted, and ceased to consider her. Not so, however, the elders. Soon
it became known that this strange girl was a clairvoyant, and the
more credulous consulted her as to future events, but these became
dissatisfied because all of the girl's prophecies had to do with events
beyond the ken of the simple folk of the neighborhood; with kings and
heavenly hosts, with saints in armor waving banners and leading armies
on to victory. Thus passed the life of this young peasant girl during
the peaceful years between fourteen and twenty, until the great war
broke out and armed hosts led by princes indeed invaded her unhappy
land.

So in the field below the red tiled roofs of her village of
Puy-St.-Bonnet, Clotilde Perchaud erected to the Virgin a rude altar of
field stones, which she trimmed with green boughs, and here she passed
all her spare time, praying and seeing visions in the sky, while upon
the horizon mighty guns boomed, and at night the flashes could plainly
be seen.

Soon this altar became a rendezvous for the neighbors, and even for
those of the more remote villages from which the young men had gone
forth to fight for France, and to this young girl were brought pictures
of the absent soldiers at the front in the trenches and written prayers
for their safety. That she possessed some strange power was admitted by
even the most skeptical, for her responses to those who had loved ones
missing led to their being found in distant camps as prisoners, or
wounded in hospitals in distant parts of the country. In some instances,
it is reported, this strange girl was able to give the names in full of
those long missing, and information so detailed and circumstantial as
to be marvelous. These matters were brought to the attention of the
priests, and were in turn reported by them to the heads of the church,
finally reaching the ears of the Bishop of Angers, who had her brought
to his palace. Here she confronted unabashed a conclave of priests. The
Bishop is said to have dressed himself in the ordinary black cassock
of a priest, in order to test the young girl's power of divination;
an ordinary priest wearing the Bishop's robes, and being seated on the
throne; but to the amazement of all in the room, the girl turned from
him, and kneeling before the real Bishop, asked his blessing upon her
and her mission.

To him she announced, then, that a white robed angel had appeared to
her above her altar in the fields, and to the strains of heavenly music
charged that she had, as a pure and blameless maid, been selected to
deliver their beloved France from the hands of the invader.

She presented to the Bishop the book in which she had written the words
spoken to her on many occasions by the "shining angel in white." This
book, says the account from which this is taken, "is partly illegible
and almost entirely illiterate; rudely illustrated in a sort of futurist
style." Its contents are said to be most perplexing and wonderful.

"Savants and students of religion who have examined the book assert
that it shows a knowledge of the primal principles of theology, which
indicates that the author has the clearest insight into the fundamentals
of Roman Catholicism, but is apparently not gifted with the power
to translate those ideas into fluent French. Throughout the work are
passages in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, yet she apparently had less than
the usual schooling of a French child."

The Bishop of Angers was so impressed with her attitude and her
evident earnestness that he sent her under escort by nuns, to the
Archbishop-Cardinal Amette at Paris. To him she demanded that she be at
once taken to the heights of Montmartre, so that she might see the sun
rise there over Paris. In this she was humored, and standing with the
nuns and priests before the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre,
at sunrise, as the first beam shone upon the great gilded cross on
the tower, she recited in a loud voice the vow which she had taken to
deliver France from the invader.

Since this, it is said no one has been allowed to talk to Clotilde, and
she is said to be at the convent in the Avenue Victor Hugo. Here she is
under observation of the nuns, who each send reports of her prayers and
prophecies to the Cardinal. A correspondent who was permitted to see her
from a distance in the convent garden, where she walked, followed at a
distance of several paces by the nuns, describes her as a rather tall
girl, clad in somber baggy black robes, very light of step and walking
with her head thrown back and her eyes directed heavenward. Her carriage
reminded him of "Genee, Pavlowa, or some other dancer," and he speaks
of her as having "a wealth of filmy hair, which because of its fineness,
seemed to float about her like a cloud, and only partly covered by a
religious headgear," and he could see, too, "her hands, which are lily
white and tiny, and tender, as those of the most pampered lady, despite
the fact that the girl has done chores which in peace times would belong
to men even on the French farms where the women are accustomed to labor
long and hard."

A strange story; but then these are strange times, and who shall say
that this is unworthy of credence?



CONCLUSION

|AESCITIS quâ horâ fur veniet" (Ye know not in what hour the despoiler
cometh) were the words of an inscription carved on the capstone of
a church porch in the fifteenth century by a monkish stonecutter,
overlooking a smiling valley in Picardy. That valley is now a waste
place; its once populous and peaceful villages are in ruins; its
fruitful orchards are gone; its murmuring streams have overflown their
banks, choked with the debris of war. No church towers are visible, nor
are there any forests left in the blasted expanse of shell-torn earth.
The joy felt by the people of this ravaged land over the retreat of
the invader, is turned to bitterness by the sight of so much wanton
destruction, for they realize that this once peaceful smiling land, the
richest region of France, is now a great desert waste strewn with ruins
of the priceless records of her glorious achievements in the world of
art. And this loss of these irreplaceable monuments is especially bitter
to a people so attuned to beauty. With a contemptuous disregard for
the accumulated animosity of the whole world, the Imperial high command
seems bent upon leaving its hall mark upon the evacuated country.
Acknowledging its inability to hold Rheims any longer, it retires its
great guns to a locality from which it sends hundreds of shells crashing
into that hapless town, and these are mainly aimed at the ruins of the
great Cathedral. "The ruin even of ruins," cries a correspondent of the
_Tribune_; adding, "In so many of the military transactions of the Hun
you may perceive the hatred of humanity that actuates him, his longing
to glut upon some personal victim the passion for destruction that is in
his soul."

Philip Gibbs, perhaps the fairest and most moderate of war
correspondents, in describing the retreat of March, 1917, deals with
the aspect of the country beyond the tract of shell craters, the smashed
barns and country houses and churches, the tattered tree trunks, and
great belts of barbed wire: "Behind the trenches are two towns and
villages in which they had their 'rest billets,' and it is in these
places that one sees the spirit and temper of the men whom the British
are fighting.

"All through this war I have tried to be fair and just to the Germans,
to give them credit for their courage and to pity them because the
terror of war has branded them as it has branded the British.

"But during these last days I have been sickened and saddened by the
things I have seen, because they reveal cruelty which is beyond the
inevitable villainy of war. They have spared nothing on the way of their
retreat. They have destroyed every village in their abandonment with
systematic and detailed destruction. Not only in (the towns of) Bapaume
and Péronne have they blown up or burned all the houses which were
untouched by shell-fire, but in scores of villages they laid waste the
cottages of poor peasants, and all their little farms, and all their
orchards. At Bethonvillers, to name only one village out of many, I saw
how each house was marked with a white cross before it was gutted with
fire. The Cross of Christ was used to mark the work of the devil, for
truly this has been the devil's work.

"Even if we grant that the destruction of houses in the wake of retreat
is the recognized cruelty of war, there are other things which I have
seen which are not pardonable, even of that damnable code of morality.
In Baupaume and Péronne, in Roye and Neslé and Lian-court, and all these
places over a wide area the German soldiers not only blew out the fronts
of houses, but with picks and axes smashed mirrors and furniture and
even picture frames.... There is nothing left in these towns. Family
portraits have been kicked into the débris of the gutters. The black
bonnets of old women who lived in these houses lie in the rubbish heaps,
and by some strange pitiful freak these are almost the only signs left
of the inhabitants who lived here before the soldiers wrecked their
houses.

"The ruins of houses are pitiful to see when done deliberately even when
shell-fire spared them in the war-zone, but worse than that is the ruin
of women and children and living flesh.

"I saw that ruin to-day in Roye and Neslé. At first I was rejoiced to
see how the inhabitants were liberated after being so long in hostile
lines.... The women's faces were dead faces, shallow and mask-like and
branded with the memories of great agonies. The children were white and
thin, so thin that the cheek bones protruded, and many of them seemed to
be idiot children. Hunger and fear had been with them too long."

This is the reverse of the pictures I found, during those calm and
beautiful summer days of 1910, in that sunny and prosperous land.
Pictures framed with quaint customs; the simple pleasures of fête
days enjoyed by a happy and prosperous peasantry, all unmindful of the
terrible days so soon to come upon them. "Nescitis qua horâ fur veniet."
How prophetic the warning words of that old monk inscribed upon the
capstone of that little church overlooking the green plains of Picardy!

And now what is left in place of the gray old churches, the quiet
monasteries, the fruitful farms and flocks and the dense forests? Where
now shall we look for the gleaming white walls of the turreted châteaux,
the precious mossy towers of mediaeval ruined castles; the somnolent
quaint towns with wandering streets filled with timbered, carved and
strangely gabled houses of half forgotten periods; the sleepy deserted
market places over which towered architectural treasures of town halls
famed throughout the world.

Where shall the artist seek the matchless châteaux gardens, which took
centuries in the making? Where seek the still reaches of silent canals
crossed here and there by arched stone bridges, all shaded by great
trees casting cool shadows in midday, or the vast dim interiors of
cathedrals marked with the skill of many ages,--filled with the aroma of
incense, and the inspiration of centuries of prayer?

"The old order changeth, giving place to new."

But at least one may be thankful now to have been privileged to know and
to have seen these wonderful and beautiful remains of that "old order."
And this feeling of gratitude tempers somewhat one's fury at the result
of this invasion and destruction. But one would not have these sacred
remains disturbed; there must be no attempt at restoration of these
matchless monuments, at the hands of well-meaning municipalities.
Rheims, Arras, Soissons, Lâon, must be left mainly as they now lie
prostrate, lasting memorials for future ages.

Leave to Dame Nature the task of draping them with green clinging
vines, and embossings of velvet moss. So let them remain in their solemn
majesty, monuments to the failure of an imperial order unhampered by the
love of mankind or the fear of God.

THE END





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