By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Book of the Pyrenees
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Book of the Pyrenees" ***

generously made available by Internet Archive (https://archive.org)

      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See


      *      *      *      *      *      *




   (_Uniform with this Volume_)


      *      *      *      *      *      *

[Illustration: LA VALLÉE DU LYS]




Author of “A Book of Brittany,” “A Book of the Riviera,” etc.



With Twenty-Five Illustrations

Methuen & Co.
36 Essex Street W.C.

First Published in 1907


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
      I. THE PYRENEAN CHAIN                                            1

     II. GASCONY                                                      15

    III. BAYONNE                                                      30

     IV. S. JEAN-PIED-DE-PORT                                         51

      V. ORTHEZ                                                       66

     VI. PAU                                                          85

    VII. OLORON                                                      114

   VIII. THE VAL D’OSSAU                                             124

     IX. LOURDES                                                     134

      X. THE LAVEDAN                                                 152

     XI. LUZ AND CAUTERETS                                           162

    XII. TARBES                                                      175

   XIII. BAGNÈRES                                                    189

    XIV. THE VAL D’AURE                                              201

     XV. LUCHON                                                      214

    XVI. COUSERANS                                                   236

   XVII. FOIX                                                        245

  XVIII. LA CERDAGNE                                                 264

    XIX. THE CANIGOU                                                 272

     XX. PERPIGNAN                                                   286

         INDEX                                                       305


  LA VALLÉE DU LYS                                        _Frontispiece_
  MAP OF THE PYRENEES                                                  1

  NATIVES OF ROUSSILLON                                                4

  THE CASCADE, GAVARNIE                                                7
    From a photograph by Messrs. Levy and Sons, Paris

  THE CATHEDRAL, BAYONNE                                              32

  THE COAST, BIARRITZ                                                 44

  SAN SEBASTIAN                                                       48

  PAS DE ROLAND                                                       54

  THE BRIDGE, ORTHEZ                                                  66

  PAU                                                                 85

  THE CASTLE, PAU                                                     92

  ROOM OF JEANNE D’ALBRET, CASTLE OF PAU                             100

  BETHARAM                                                           112

  THE BASILICA, LOURDES                                              134

  THE TEMPLAR CHURCH, LUZ                                            167
    From a photograph by Messrs. Levy and Sons, Paris

  LA BRÈCHE DE ROLAND                                                169
    From a photograph by Messrs. Levy and Sons, Paris

  CHOIR OF S. BERTRAND DE COMINGES                                   220

  CLOISTERS, S. BERTRAND DE COMINGES                                 226

  LA CASCADE D’ENFER, LUCHON                                         232

  LE LAC D’OO                                                        234

  VERNET LES BAINS                                                   274

  CHÂTEAU DE ROUSSILLON                                              286

  GATEWAY OF THE CITADEL, PERPIGNAN                                  291

  CATHEDRAL INTERIOR, PERPIGNAN                                      294

  THE CLOISTERS OF ELNE                                              298

    NOTE.--The illustrations are from photographs by Messrs.
    Neurdein frères, of Paris, except where other acknowledgment is


This _Book of the Pyrenees_ follows the same lines as my _Book of
the Rhine_ and _Book of the Riviera_. It is not a guide, but an
introduction to the chain, giving to the reader a sketch of the History
of the Country he visits.

[Illustration: PYRENEES]




    The wall of division--A triple chain--Contrasts--Deforesting--
    The Catalan of Roussillon--The Basque of Navarre--Roman roads--
    The three ports--Central ridge--Trough to the north--Watershed--
    Glacial moraines--Lakes--Cirques--Abrupt termination of the
    lower valleys--Cave dwellers--Dolmens--That of Buzy--Landes of
    Pontacq--The Iberian stock--Development of language--Auxiliary
    verbs--The Basque villages and people.

The Pyrenees stand up as a natural wall of demarcation between two
nations, the French and the Spaniards, just as the mountains of
Dauphiné sever the French from the Italians. It has been remarked that
these natural barriers are thrown up to part Romance-speaking peoples,
whereas the mountain ranges sink to comparative insignificance between
the French and the Germans. Over the Jura the French tongue has flowed
up the Rhone to Sierre, above the Lake of Geneva, so the Spanish or
Catalan has overleaped the Pyrenees in Roussillon, and the Basque
tongue has those who speak it in both cis-Pyrenean and trans-Pyrenean
Navarre. The Pyrenees are the upcurled lips of the huge limestone
sea-bed, that at some vastly remote period was snapped from east to
west, and through the fissure thus formed the granite was thrust,
lifting along with it the sedimentary rocks.

Consequently the Pyrenees consist of from two to three parallel chains.
The central and loftiest is that of granite, but where loftiest is
hidden on the north side by the upturned reef of limestone. On the
south the calcareous bed is lifted in great slabs, but split, and does
not form so ragged and so lofty a range.

The Pyrenees start steeply out of the Mediterranean, which at a
distance of five-and-twenty miles from Cape Creuse, has a depth of
over 500 fathoms, and there the limestone flares white and bald in the
line of the Albères. But to the west the chain does not drop abruptly
into the Atlantic, but trails away for 300 miles, forming the Asturian
mountains, and then, curving south, serves to part Galicia from Leon.
The range of the Pyrenees dividing France from Spain is 350 miles in

The chain to the west wears a different aspect from that in the east.
The Basque mountains are clothed with trees, pines and birch, walnut
and chestnut, and above them are turf and heather. But the eastern
extremity is white and barren. This is due to the fact that the Western
Pyrenees catch and condense the vapours from the Atlantic, whereas the
Oriental Pyrenees do not draw to them heavy and continuous rains. The
boundary between the regions and climates is Mont Carlitte. In the
Western Pyrenees the snow line lies far lower than in the east. On the
former of these glaciers hang in wreaths, whereas there are none in the

The contrast between the northern and southern slopes is even more
marked than that between the extremities of the chain. On the French
side are snow, ice, running streams, fertile vales, luxuriant meadows
and forests, and valleys and hillsides that sparkle with villages
smiling in prosperity. But on the southern slope the eye ranges over
barren rocks, sun-baked, scanty pastures, and here and there at long
intervals occur squalid clusters of stone hovels, scarce fit to shelter
goats, yet serving as human habitations.

To the mountaineers the French side is _bach_, that in shadow; the
Spanish is _soulane_, the sunny. At one time this latter slope was
not as arid and desert as at present, but the thriftlessness of man
has shorn down the forests and the teeth of the goats have nipped
off or barked every seedling or sapling thrown up by nature to cover
its nakedness and redress the evil. Thereby the rainfall has been
diminished, and the soil is exposed to be carried away into the plain
by every storm that breaks over the heights.[A] Trees are the patient
workers that reconstitute the flesh over the bones of the mountains.
They derive their elements from the air and the rock, and they perform
transformations far more wonderful than those attributed to the
philosopher’s stone. As Victor Hugo sang:--

 “Les arbres sont autant de mâchoires qui rongent
  Les aliments épars dans l’air souple et vivant;
  Ils dévorent la pluie, ils dévorent le vent.
  Tout leur est bon: la nuit, la mort. La pourriture
  Voit la rose, et lui va porter sa nourriture.”

    [A] É. Reclus: _Géographie universelle_, II. “La France.”

When the trees disappear from a country it shows the thriftlessness
of the inhabitants--“sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”;
with the axe and the firebrand they destroy in a day what it will take
centuries to replace.

Two non-French races occupy the extremities of the chain and the
lowlands at its feet. In the Basses Pyrénées are the Basques, in
Pyrénées Orientales are the Catalonians, speaking a dialect of the
Spanish of Barcelona.

The whole of Aquitaine, from the Loire to the Pyrenees, the whole of
Western Spain and Portugal, was once occupied by the Iberians, of whom
the Basques are the shrunken residue. All Eastern France and Eastern
Spain were overflowed by the Celts. The Romans recognized that Spain
was in the possession of two races totally distinct, ethnographically
and linguistically, and they termed the population of the peninsula

When the Romans arrived on the scene they carried one main causeway
from Arles to Narbonne, and thence to Toulouse, and from Toulouse to
Dax. From this, roads branched to the south and crossed the Pyrenees
into Spain by three gaps, natural doorways--one to the east, the
easiest of all, by Le Perthus, where Pompey set up a trophy; one by
Somport leading from Iluro (Oloron) to Saragossa; a third by Roncevaux
to Pampeluna.

By the first of these ports Hannibal crossed from Spain on his way to
Italy; by it also poured the Saracens to devastate the fields of Gaul.
By Roncevaux Charles the Great passed to menace the Saracen power, and
on his return met there with disaster at the hands of the Basques,
which has been immortalized in song.

East and west were debatable lands. Navarre sat astride on the
ridge, with a foot in Spain and the other in Gascony. To the east
was Roussillon, that pertained to the kings of Aragon, till ceded
definitely to France in 1659.


But to revert to the geological structure of the Pyrenees. The central
chain is, as already said, composed of crystalline rocks, granite, and
micaceous schist, whereas the northern chain exhibits the upturned beds
of superincumbent deposits, and on the Spanish side the limestone
lies on the granite. In the department of Haute Garonne the chains are
soldered together by a transverse bar of mountain.

J. H. Michon, author of _Le Maudit_, says well:--

    “These mountains reveal to me almost the entire history of the
    successive periods in the terrestrial crust. I have but to
    follow the torrent of the Arbouste, and mount to the Lac de
    Seculéjo, and push farther to the Pic d’Espingo, to find myself
    on the crest of the ridge dividing France from Spain. Often at
    these altitudes, reaching to 3000 metres above the sea, the
    prodigious force which has rent the terrestrial crust in a
    fault of eighty leagues in breadth, which has upheaved, as in
    the Marboré, enormous masses of limestone that once formed the
    basin of seas succeeding each other at different epochs--often
    has this phenomenon filled me with amazement. There in the
    Marboré lie the beds, retaining their horizontality, as though
    the aqueous deposits had been formed at this great elevation.

    “But more commonly the central chain presents to our view
    masses of granite of astounding thickness. What a terrible
    cataclysm must that have been which thus reft and upset the
    globe, changing an extensive plain long submerged into a
    gigantic wall of granite shielded right and left with encasing
    masses of sedimentary formations which the upheaved granite has
    split and displaced in all directions.”

To the north of the Pyrenees lies a deep trough extending from the Bay
of Biscay to the Corbières that links the Pyrenees to the Cevennes, and
which at the present day forms the watershed between the Mediterranean
and the Atlantic. This gulf was gradually silted up by the torrents
from the Pyrenees. Masses of rubble may be seen backing and capping
isolated hills of sandstone, and forming long ridges, as that of the
Park at Pau. The drift was from east to west. All the low hills are
crowned with rolled stones. The boulders vary in size in proportion to
the distance they have travelled. At Pamiers, Tarbes, and Pau they are
of the size of a child’s head, but farther north dwindle to pebbles and
gravel, and finally we enter on a region of clay and sand, which heavy
rains convert into quagmires. Indeed, those of Armagnac, between the
Garonne and the Upper Adour, have hardly their equal in France. These
are not glacier deposits, for the stones and pebbles have been rolled,
and the clay or mud is the chewed or mumbled remains of boulders. At
a later period the entire basin thus choked was lifted high above its
original level.

That there was a glacial period in the south of France is certain,
and the glaciers have left their moraines behind them. The glacier of
Argelez extended in one stream to Lourdes, and then fanned out towards
Tarbes. At Argelez it filled the valley to the height of 4430 feet. To
morraine is due the desolate plain of detritus of Lannemezan. Separated
from the mountain spurs by the profound depression in which flows the
Neste, it is attached to the main chain solely by the isthmus that runs
out from the Pic d’Arneille towards the plains.

The true watershed, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, lies
far to the east, on the frontier between Ariège and the Pyrénées
Orientales. All the streams and rivers to the west of the insignificant
chain there flow into the Bay of Biscay. The rivers to the east are
comparatively unimportant, the Aude alone being of a respectable
size; and this does not derive its waters from the main chain of the
Pyrenees, its sources are in the spur that acts as the watershed.


The lakes of the Pyrenees are nothing more than mountain tarns; the
largest is the Lac Lanoux, in Pyrénées Orientales, lying below an
irregular cirque, commanded by the Pic Pédroux. It stands 6500 feet
above the sea-level, and is about two and a half miles long. It is
usually frozen over from September to the end of June.

But if the lakes be insignificant, the cirques are of the most imposing
character. There are none in Europe comparable to that of Gavarnie.
This consists of an immense cul-de-sac, a vast amphitheatre, the stages
of limestone capped with snow and ice, and above it tower five huge
snow-clad mountain crests. The arena is heaped up with rubble brought
down by the cascades. The mighty walls are wept over by water from
the thawing glaciers. The highest fall of all is that in the lap of
the cirque; it is a stream that precipitates itself from a height of
1270 feet, and, speedily resolving itself into spray, waves in the air
like an ostrich plume. Superb as is the Cirque de Gavarnie in summer
its appearance in winter is even more sublime. Especially is it so
when the mountain-tops are enveloped in vapour. Then the aspect is as
of a series of walls with snow bars intervening, mounting as a giant
staircase into heaven; and the cascades are transformed into crystal

There are other cirques deserving of notice, as that of Estaubé,
commanded by the Pic de Pinède, behind which rises the Mont Perdu, on
Spanish ground.

Troumousse, to the east of Estaubé, is a basin of pasture, girded about
by a rampart 3000 feet in height, above which soars the Munia, a mass
of snow and ice.

From the French side long lush valleys run to the roots of the first
chain between the buttresses, but above this the character of the
scenery changes abruptly. The melted snows descending from peak
and terrace have sawn their way through the barrier imposed by the
northern belt of limestone, feeling for and finding faults, through
which they have torn their way, and debouch abruptly on to the lower
broad valleys out of restricted ravines. Above these gorges we light
on basins, such as that of Luz, green, in spring a sheet of gold from
the crocuses. These were lake-beds, dried up when the torrents had
contrived their escape. The rich vale of Ossau, between monotonous
spurs, ends abruptly above Laruns, and there, through a cleft in the
precipice, rages forth the Gave. It is much the same with the other
Gave. Above Lourdes it glides through a broad, well-cultivated valley,
but at Pierrefite, the mountain barrier is cleft in two places, through
one of which roars forth the river from Luz, through the other the
Gave from Cauterets. The Val de Campan, the Val d’Arreau, and that of
Luchon, have much the same character.

Of the mountains, undoubtedly the Pic de Midi d’Ossau is the most
conspicuous, not on account of its height, for it attains only to 8700
feet, but from its form, resembling a dog’s tooth, cleft near the
summit, glittering with snow, and rising in singular majesty above the
Val d’Ossau, where the mountains fall back respectfully to allow a full
view of its majesty. There are many noble mountains,--the Pic de Midi
de Bigorre, 9436 feet; the Vignemale, 10,820 feet; Mont Perdu, 11,168
feet; Maladetta of the same height almost to a foot; but these last
hold themselves screened behind the inferior but snow-clad northern
range. The Canigou, however, belongs to this latter range, and is
afflicted with none of the retiring qualities of the crystalline range.
It steps boldly, ostentatiously forth above the plain of Roussillon,
and for long was supposed to be the highest peak of the Pyrenees,
though actually reaching only to 8360 feet. M. Élisée Reclus says of

    “Like Etna, the Canigou is one of those mountains which rise
    vigorous as masters over a wide stretch of country. From below
    this grey pyramid, cleft with ravines, streaked with detritus
    between salient ribs of rock, of every tint, is not a whit less
    striking in aspect than the Sicilian volcano.”

To the lover of flowers the Pyrenees present greater attractions
than even the Alps. They lie farther to the south, enjoy more sun,
and exhibit a greater luxuriance of vegetation and more variety in
species. We meet in the Pyrenees with all old Alpine friends and
make fresh acquaintances. Nowhere does the _Saxifraga longifolia_ or
_pyramidalis_ throw up such a _jet-d’eau_ of blossom. I have grown
it at home, but it does not equal the beauty and abundance of flower
as here wild. Nowhere are the geraniums in greater abundance and
variety, springing up among the tufts of sharp-scented box. The crimson
_Erodium manescavi_, the yellow _Hypericum mummularium_, the imbricated
_Dianthus monspessulanus_, and the still more tattered _Dianthus
superbus_, the purple toothwort, the blue stately aconite or monkshood,
the lemon-coloured _Adonis vernalis_, the violet _Ramondia pyrenaica_,
the _Primula viscosa_ and _P. auricula_, the _Lilium bulbiferum_,
the _Lilium pyrenaicum_, and a thousand more. Strange is it that the
Alpen rose, the _Rhododendron ferrugineum_, should be as capricious a
plant as it is. It luxuriates on the Alps, in the Pyrenees, and in the
Dauphiné Alps; but does not appear in the Cevennes, the mountains of
Auvergne, or Corsica. The great central plateau of France, though the
heights rise to considerable altitudes and the constituent rocks are
the same as those of the Pyrenees and the Alps, yet are totally devoid
of this beautiful shrub.

The earliest inhabitants of the chain of the Pyrenees have left their
traces in the limestone caverns. They were contemporary with the
reindeer, the cave-bear, and hyena. Hardly a grotto that has been
explored does not reveal that these men had lived there.

There are not many megalithic monuments to the north of the chain,
but sufficient remain to show us that the dolmen-builder occupied the
land from sea to sea. At Buzy, near the entrance to the Val d’Ossau,
is a fine dolmen. I saw it first in 1850; it had been recently dug out
by a treasure-seeker. A peasant told me that the man who had rifled
it had found a bar of gold so soft that he could bend it. In fact, it
consisted of pure gold without alloy. Near the dolmen lay a slab of red
sandstone, with circles carved on it, some concentric, much like the
carvings on the stones of Gavr’innis, in Brittany, and in the great
covered way at Drogheda, in Ireland. Not having a drawing book with me
nor a scale, all I could do at the time was to sketch the sculpture on
my cuff. Three weeks later I revisited Buzy to make a careful drawing
to scale of the slab, and found that in the meantime it had been broken
up by the road-menders.

The road from Pau to Tarbes traverses a vast plateau, rising 300 feet
above the plain of the Adour. It is composed of marshy moorland covered
with fern and gorse. This is actually the old moraine deposited by the
glacier of Argelez. It is made up of angular blocks brought down from
the mountains, excellent material from which to construct mortuary
cells. And on this plateau we find tumuli in remarkable abundance.
This, as well as Lannemezan, must have served as huge cemeteries. Of
late these cairns have been excavated, and prove to cover dolmens
and covered avenues; one, the Grande Butte of the lande of Pontacq,
contains a megalithic chamber, recalling the finest monuments of the
kind in Brittany.

The tumulus of La Hallade had been violated in the Iron Age, and used
then as a place of interment; but underneath the cinerary urns of the
Early Gaulish period was discovered the prehistoric monument intact--a
long low gallery of stones set on edge and covered with flat slabs. It
was subdivided into eight cells, and contained twenty-three vases, some
of which contained burnt bones, flakes of schist and quartz, a handful
of turquoise beads, and a little blade of gold.

That the people of the rude stone monuments have their modern
representatives in the Basques is probable. All this region was held by
the Vascones, who gave to it their name--Gascony. They were driven over
the Pyrenees by the Gauls, but in the sixth century they forced their
way back to their old dwelling places and the tombs of their fathers,
and falling on Novempopulania, as the territory was then called,
defeated the Duke Bladastus, in 581, and settled down on the plains.
But they were beaten in their turn, and, abandoning the plains, settled
in those districts known as Labourde, Soule, and Lower Navarre.

The Basques are a people of great interest to the ethnologist, as
the last shrunken remains of that Iberian race that once occupied
all Western Europe from Scotland to Portugal and Spain, and, indeed,
overleaped the Straits and spread as Kabyles and Berbers in Northern
Africa. Although overlapped by other races this Basque element forms
the main constituent of the French race in the south-west.

Every cook knows what “stock” is. It is the basis on which almost every
known kind of soup is built up, whether Julienne, soupe claire, à la
marquise, à la vermicelle, and Mrs. Beeton only knows how many more.
The Iberian has been the stock out of which the English, Irish, Welsh,
French, Italians, and Spaniards have been concocted. In France there
was a dash of Gaulish, a smack of the Roman, a soupçon of Frank, _et
voilà_; the Frenchman of to-day is at bottom an Iberian.

This same Iberian was an accommodating personage. He was ready to
abandon his own rudimentary tongue and adopt the language of his
conquerors. He cast his agglutinative tongue behind his back, took in
as much Latin as he could swallow, and produced the French language. In
Wales he adopted the British tongue, in Ireland the Gaelic.

He was wise in so doing, for his own language, as represented by
the Basque of the present day, is crude, unformed, and wanting in
flexibility. The first stage in the formation of speech is in the
utterance of nouns substantive. A child embraced by a stranger says,
“Man kiss baby.” Kiss is a noun substantive. The child has not as yet
arrived at the formation of a verb; and baby is a substantive, he has
not yet attained to the use of a personal pronoun. The Chinese language
remains in this primitive condition. In it the position of the words in
a sentence governs the signification.

The second stage is that reached by the agglutinative tongues, where a
differentiation of the parts of speech has taken place, and pronouns
and particles acting as prepositions are tacked on to the nouns and
verbs, but in such an elementary manner as never to become fused into
them so as to affect and alter them. Always their separate existence is
manifest. The third stage is where they are united and interpenetrate
each other. The soldering has been so close that only a skilled eye can
discover that an inflexion in a verb, a case in a noun, are composite

_Amo_, _amas_, _amat_, are actually formed of the root _ama_, love,
with primitive pronouns welded on to them so as to distinguish the
person who loves.

In Basque the auxiliary verbs alone undergo conjugation, and they
exhibit a peculiarity that deserves notice. Take an instance: the
auxiliary verb _izan_, to be. “I am” may be rendered in four different
ways, according to the person addressed. In speaking to a male
familiarly “I am” is _nuk_; but a woman addressed in like manner is
_nun_; “I am,” when used in address to a person highly respected of
either sex, is _nuzu_; “I am” spoken without any particular reference
to any one is _niz_. So “he or she is” may be rendered _duk_, _dun_,
_duzu_, _da_; and “we are” by _gaituk_, _gaitun_, _gaituzu_, _gare_.

The Basque language is capable of an incredible amount of agglomeration
in the formation of words, and of indefinite modification of times,
conditions, forms of words.

_Etche_ is a house; _argizagi_ is the moon; _elhur_ is snow; _chori_ is
a bird; _sagar_ an apple; _oski_ a shoe; _aurhide_ a child; _arrolze_,
an egg.

We feel at once that we meet here with a language which has no
relations that we can detect with any of the European tongues with
which we are familiar.

The Basque has not distinguished himself in literature. It is true that
a set of poems pretending to be ancient has been produced and published
as relics of Early Basque poetry, but they were forgeries, like
Macpherson’s _Ossian_.

The nucleus of the Basque country may be said to be S. Jean-de-Luz.
Formerly it was Ustaritz (i.e. the Oak of Judgment), where the Elders
assembled in Council; but at the French Revolution this oak was cut

The Basque villages have a character of their own. Erected by a people
who do not feel eagerness to look in at one another’s windows, a
people pushing independence to fanaticism, the villages consist rather
of isolated buildings loosely united than of close agglomeration of
houses. Like the Welsh, the Basques love whitewash, but paint their
shutters brilliant red. The churches stand in the midst of a clump
of trees, their towers surmounted by three points, symbolical of the
Trinity. They are a healthy people, clean in mind and clean in body,
religious and honest. The whole population has been described as “la
plus belle, la plus saine, la plus alerte, la plus joyeuse qui se
puisse se trouver en Europe.”



    The province of Gascony--Protest against inclusion in
    Aquitaine--Union of Béarn, Foix, and Bigorre--Navarre--
    Interest of Gascony to English people--Gascony annexed to the
    Crown of England--Viscounty of Béarn--The Fors--Independence
    of the people--A babe with open hands--An elderly wife--John
    of Béarn’s treatment of a Pope--Charles of Viana--Schemes of
    Juana--Murder of Blanche--The coveted crown--Death of Francis
    Phœbus--Choice of a husband--Gascon braggarts.

The province of Gascony included Labourde, of which Bayonne was the
capital; the viscounty of Soule, with Mauleon as its chief town;
Basse Navarre; Béarn, a viscounty, with its residential châteaux at
Orthez and at Pau, and its cathedrals at Lescar and Oloron; Bigorre, a
county with its capital at Tarbes; Cominges, and to the south of that
Couserans; and finally the county of Foix, on the frontier of Languedoc.

The whole of this stretch of land was included by Augustus in
Aquitaine. This the peoples of Vasconia did not like, and they sent to
him an embassy to request that they might be organized into a separate
province. To this the emperor agreed. Concerning this transaction
history is silent; but we know about it from a Roman inscription at
Hasparren, set up by the ambassador, to commemorate his journey and the
favourable reply he received.

In the thirteenth century the viscounty of Béarn was annexed to the
county of Foix, and the intervening county of Bigorre fell to Foix in
1425, through the marriage of an heiress. Finally, Navarre also was
united to Foix-Béarn-Bigorre in 1479. It furnished the holder with
a royal title, nothing more save the scrap of land on this side the
Pyrenees called Basse Navarre, of which the principal town was S.

Gascony should be of special interest to us English, as it was for so
long a possession of the English Crown.

Louis VII, before the death of his father, had contracted marriage with
Eleanor of Guyenne, heiress of Poitou and of the duchy of Aquitaine. He
obtained the most splendid dower that ever fell to the lot of a French
king. It consisted of nothing less than half of the south of France.
Eleanor was a passionate, frivolous girl; Louis, a pale, feeble prince,
a prey to petty religious scruples. He took the cross and started on
the disastrous and disgraceful crusade of 1147. He took Eleanor with
him. She made no secret of her contempt for her husband. “He is a
monk, and not a man.” She became over-intimate with her uncle, Raymond
of Antioch, the handsomest man of his time. She was accused also of
carrying on an intrigue with a Saracen. On her return to Europe she
insisted on being divorced from Louis, and she cast herself into the
arms of Henry Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, and heir
to the crown of England. Thus she detached all these provinces from
France and annexed them to the realm of England. Indeed, Henry, by the
marriage of one of his sons to the heiress of Brittany, found himself
master of nearly the whole of Western France. The House of Anjou had
sprung into domination on Gaulish soil equal to that of the French
king and his other vassals put together, and controlling the mouths of
the three great rivers. Add to all this the possession of the English
kingdom. The long protracted and desolating wars that ensued on French
soil was a struggle between the kings as to whether France should be
annexed to England, or Aquitaine to France.

    “By the peace between Henry III and Louis IX,” says Mr.
    Freeman, “Aquitaine became a land held by the King of England
    as a vassal of the French crown. From that time it became
    one main object of the French kings to change this feudal
    superiority over this great duchy into an actual possession.
    The Hundred Years’ War began through the attempt of Philip of
    Valois (1337) on the Aquitanian dominions of Edward III. Then
    the King of England found it politic to assume the title of
    King of France. But the real nature of the controversy was
    shown by the first great settlement. At the Peace of Bretigny
    (1360) Edward gave up all claim to the crown of France, in
    exchange for the independent sovereignty of his old fiefs
    and of some of his recent conquests. Aquitaine and Gascony,
    including Poitou ... were made over to the King of England
    without the reservation of any homage or superiority of any
    kind. These lands became a territory as foreign to the French
    kingdom as the territory of her German and Spanish neighbours.
    But in a few years the treaty was broken on the French side,
    and the actual possessions of England beyond the sea were cut
    down to Calais and Guines, with some small part of Aquitaine
    adjoining the cities of Bordeaux and Bayonne. Then the tide
    turned at the invasion of Henry V. Aquitaine and Normandy were
    won back; Paris saw the crowning of an English king, and only
    the central part of the country obeyed the heir of the Parisian
    kingdom. But the final result of the war was the driving out
    of the English from all Aquitaine and France except the single
    district of Calais.

    “The French conquest of Aquitaine (1451-3), the result of the
    Hundred Years’ War, was in form the conquest of a land which
    had ceased to stand in any relation to the French crown.”

Thus Aquitaine, including Gascony, had belonged to the crown of England
from 1152 to 1453, just three hundred and one years.

But, although nominally pertaining to England, it contained stubborn
and recalcitrant elements, notably the counts of Foix, who were
viscounts of Béarn.

Towards the close of the eleventh century the viscounty of Béarn had
enjoyed sovereign rights, admitting allegiance to none. Later, when
Louis XI went in pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Sarrance, he lowered
the sword of France on entering Béarn, as being no longer in his own
kingdom. This little territory during the Middle Ages was perhaps the
best governed corner of the earth, the freest and happiest in France,
and perhaps in all Europe. The _fors_ of Béarn were the liberties
to which the viscount was required to swear adhesion before he was
recognized as sovereign. The earliest of these _fors_ is that of Oloron
(1080), renewed in 1290, and it is one of the earliest monuments extant
of the Romance tongue. By these constitutions the inhabitants of the
viscounty governed themselves.

An instance or two of the independent spirit of the Béarnais may be

Marie, daughter of Peter, Viscount of Béarn, upon the death of her
brother, in 1134, became heiress. She had been reared at the Court of
Aragon, and had married William de Moncada, a Catalonian noble. She had
the weakness to do homage to the king for Béarn. The people rose in
revolt, deposed her, and elected as their viscount a knight of Bigorre,
well spoken of for his virtues. He, however, disregarded the _fors_,
and attempted to rule as a feudal lord, whereupon within a year he
was assassinated. Then a knight of Auvergne was chosen, and held the
viscounty for two years. But he also disregarded the constitution and
was put to death. Then his estates of Béarn sent a deputation to Marie
de Moncada, to inform her that it had come to their ears that she had
given birth to twin boys, and the people authorized their commissioners
to select one of the twins to be their viscount. The deputation were
shown the cradle in which the infants lay; one slept with his hands
open, the other held his fists clenched. “We will have the open-handed
lad,” said the Béarnais, and he became Viscount Gaston VI. On his death
in 1170 his brother, the close-fisted William Raymond, claimed the
inheritance, but the Béarnais refused to acknowledge his claim as one
of right, protesting that the viscountship was elective. They compelled
him to submit to their will, and accepted him only when he had granted
still greater liberties than they had hitherto enjoyed, and this not
till five years after the death of his brother.

William Raymond died in 1223, leaving a son, William, to succeed him,
but he was killed in battle against the Moors in 1229, and William’s
son Gaston succeeded under the regency of his mother Garsende. She is
described as having been so stout that only a large wagon could contain
her, and then she overlapped the sides. Gaston VII, son of this plump
lady, left an only child, a daughter Margaret, the heiress of Béarn,
which she carried with her when married to Roger Bernard, Count of
Foix. Thus it came about that Foix and Béarn were united in one hand.



                Roger Bernard = Margaret da. and heiress
                Count of Foix |  of Gaston VII of Béarn
                  _d._ 1302   |
         Gaston VIII
           of Béarn
         _d._ 1316
        |                                    |
     Gaston IX = Eleanor of            Roger Bernard
      of Béarn | Cominges             Visc. Castelbon
    _d._ 1343  |                         _d._ 1349
               |                             |
          +----+                             |
          |                                  |
  Gaston Phœbus X                            |
        of Béarn                       Roger Bernard
        _d._ 1391                            |
                         |                   |
                      Matthew             Isabella = Archibald de Gralli
                    Visc. Castelbon     heiress of |  Captal de Buch
                      _d._ 1398            Béarn   |    _d._ 1412
                                         _d._ 1426 |
                                             John of
                                            _d._ 1436
                                            Gaston XI = Leonora of
                                            of Béarn  |  Navarre
                                            _d._ 1472 |  heiress
                                                      | _d._ 1479
              +----------------+----------------------+ (_See Table II_)
              |                |
      Francis Phœbus     Catherine = Jean d’Albret
        K. of Navarre        heiress  |   _d._ 1516
          _d._ 1483         _d._ 1517 |
                    Marguerite = Henri d’Albret and Navarre
                    de France  |         _d._ 1555
          Antoine de = Jeanne d’Albret
           Bourbon   |    heiress
          _d._ 1562  |   _d._ 1572
                   Henri de Navarre
                     IV of France
                      _d._ 1610]



        Charles the Noble
          K. of Navarre
            _d._ 1425
         1. Blanche = Juan I, K. of Aragon = 2. Juana Henriquez
          _d._ 1441 |      _d._ 1479       |      _d._ 1468
                    |                      |
          +---------+----+------------+    +----------------------+
          |              |            |                           |
  Charles of Viana    Blanche       Leonora = Gaston XI of Béarn  |
  heir to Navarre   poisoned by   _d._ 1479 |  Count of Foix      |
     _d._ 1461       her sister             |                     |
                       1464          (_See Table I_)              |
                                Isabella = Ferdinand the
                               heiress of  Catholic, K. of
                                Castille     Aragon and
                                _d._ 1504     Castille
                                             _d._ 1516]

Roger Bernard and Margaret had a grandson, Gaston IX of Béarn. At
the age of eighteen he was married to Eleanor of Cominges, a lady
considerably older than himself. Some one without tact remarked to
the Countess on the disparity of their ages. “Disparity of ages!”
exclaimed she, “Why, I would have waited for him till he was born.”

The young husband fell fighting against the Moors in 1343. By his
elderly wife he left a son, Gaston Phœbus, of whom more when we come to

Gaston Phœbus was succeeded by a cousin, Matthew de Castelbon, who died
in 1398, without issue, and he was followed by his sister Isabella,
married to Archibald, Captal de Buch, a just and worthy ruler. They had
a son, John of Béarn, who succeeded his mother in 1426. He captured
the antipope, Benedict XIII, and threw him into a dungeon in one of
his castles, where he died of ill-treatment, and then John denied
Christian burial to his body. This so delighted Pope Martin, the rival
of Benedict, that he conferred on John the title of “Avenger of the
Faith.” Jean was succeeded by his son Gaston, who placed his sword
at the disposal of Charles VI. At Bordeaux with his aid the English
underwent a signal defeat. He was married to Eleanor of Navarre,
through whom the claim to the title of King of Navarre came to her
descendants. How that was, and the crimes that brought it about, must
now be told.

Charles the Noble, King of Navarre, died in 1425. Having lost his
only son, he bequeathed crown and kingdom to his daughter Blanche,
married to Juan of Aragon, brother of Alphonso, King of Aragon and the
Two Sicilies, and by reversion after her death to their son Charles,
Prince of Viana. Juan of Aragon acted as viceroy to his brother whilst
Alphonso was in Italy. On the death of Charles the Noble Juan and
Blanche assumed the titles of King and Queen of Navarre. Blanche died
in 1441, and by her will bequeathed the kingdom, in accordance with her
father’s desire, to her son Charles of Viana. But Juan had no thought
of surrendering the crown to his son. He married a young, handsome,
and ambitious woman, Juana Henriquez, daughter of the Admiral of
Castille, and she became the mother of Ferdinand, afterwards known as
“the Catholic.” Thenceforth she schemed to obtain all that could be
grasped for her own son Ferdinand.

Charles was an amiable, accomplished youth, fond of literature and
of the arts. Queen Blanche, in her will, had urged him not to assume
the government without the consent of his father; but when, in 1452,
the estates of Aragon recognized him as heir to the crown, and Juan
declined to resign, Charles openly raised the standard of revolt. Juan
marched against his son, and Charles was defeated, taken prisoner,
and consigned to a fortress. There he remained for a year, and would
have remained on indefinitely had not the Navarrese armed for his
deliverance. Juan was forced to yield, and as a compromise confirmed
Charles in the principality of Viana, and promised to abandon to him
half the royal revenues.

The reconciliation thus forcibly effected was not likely to last;
in fact, the compromise suited neither party. The father burned to
chastise sharply his rebellious son, and Charles chafed at being
defrauded of the crown which was his undoubted heritage. Hence in 1455
both prepared to renew the contest. The following year, 1456, the
prince was again defeated by his father, and was compelled to fly to
his uncle Alphonso, who was then at Naples. During his absence Juan
summoned the estates and declared that both Charles and his eldest
daughter Blanche were excluded from succession to the throne--Charles
on account of his rebellion, Blanche for having espoused his cause--and
Juan proclaimed his youngest daughter Leonora to be his heir. Blanche
had been married to, and then separated from, Henry the Impotent, King
of Castille. Leonora was married to the Count of Foix.

The inhabitants of Pampeluna, and the people generally throughout
Navarre, were indignant at the injustice committed by Juan; they
elected Charles to be their king, and invited him to ascend the throne.
Unfortunately for him, Alphonso, King of Aragon and the Two Sicilies,
died in 1458, whereupon Juan ascended the throne that had been occupied
by his brother. Charles now hoped for a reconciliation, which he had
reason to expect, as his father now wore three crowns which had come
to him by right; and he hoped that Juan would readily surrender to
him that of Navarre, which he had usurped, and to which he had no
legitimate claim. The Prince of Viana landed in Spain in 1459, and
dispatched a messenger to Juan entreating him to forget the past and to
recognize his claim to Navarre at present and his right to succession
to Aragon. But Juan would allow nothing further than restoration to
the principality of Viana, and expressly forbade his son setting foot
in Navarre. Had the misunderstanding ended here, it had been well for
Charles; but a new occasion of dispute arose.

Henry IV of Castille offered his sister Isabella, heiress to the crown
after his death, to Charles of Viana. This alarmed and enraged Juana,
the stepmother of Charles, who calculated on effecting this alliance
for her own son Ferdinand, and uniting under his sceptre the kingdoms
of Aragon and Castille. To obtain this end Charles must be got rid of.
Accordingly she induced his father Juan to invite him to a conference
at Lerida. The prince went thither unsuspiciously, and was at once
arrested and thrown into prison. The Estates of Aragon and Catalonia
were incensed at the harsh and unjust treatment of one whom they
hoped eventually to proclaim as their sovereign. They demanded his
liberation. The King refused. Insurrection broke out, became general,
and so menacing that Queen Juana was alarmed and herself solicited the
release of the Prince. She did more; she went in person to Morella,
whither the captive had been transferred, to open the prison gates.
He was conducted by her to Barcelona, which admitted him, but shut
its gates in her face. All Catalonia now recognized the Prince, and
proclaimed him heir to the thrones of Aragon, Navarre, and Sicily. But
the rejoicing of the people was of brief duration, as shortly after
his release from durance Charles fell ill, lingered a few days, and
died. By his testament he bequeathed the crown of Navarre to his sister
Blanche as next in order of succession to himself.

The death of Charles was too opportune for it not to have been
attributed to poison, administered by an agent of his stepmother. Soon
after a ray of sunlight focussed by a mirror set fire to Juana’s hair.
This was at once set down as a Judgment of Heaven falling on her, an
indication by the finger of God that she was the murderess of her

Charles was now out of the way; Blanche, however, obstructed the path,
and the will of her brother in her favour proved fatal to her. Juan
was resolved to retain the sovereignty of Navarre during his own life,
and none the less to transmit it at death to his favourite daughter
Leonora, Countess of Foix, or her issue. He determined to compel
Blanche to renounce her rights. To effect this she was sent across
the Pyrenees, closely guarded, under the pretext that she was about
to be given in marriage to the Duke of Berri, brother of the French
king. But she perceived clearly enough what was her father’s purpose,
and at Roncevaux, on her way, she caused a protest to be prepared in
all secrecy, in which she declared that she was being carried out of
Spain by violence, against her will, and that force would be used to
compel her to renounce her rights over Navarre; and now she declared
beforehand against the validity of such a renunciation. Upon reaching
S. Jean-Pied-du-port, she was, as she had anticipated, constrained to
make a formal surrender of all her rights, in favour of her sister and
brother-in-law, Gaston, Count of Foix. In a letter addressed to Henry,
couched in pathetic terms, she reminded him of the dawn of happiness
that she had enjoyed when united to him years before, of his promises
made to her, and of her subsequent sorrows. As she was well aware that
her father was consigning her to imprisonment, and perhaps death at
the hands of her ambitious and unscrupulous sister, she conferred on
him all her rights to the crown of Navarre, to the exclusion of those
who meditated her assassination, the Count and Countess of Foix. On
the same day that this letter was dispatched she was handed over to
an emissary of the Countess Leonora, 30 April, 1462, and was conveyed
to the Castle of Orthez. The gates closed on her, and she was seen no
more, but not long after they opened to allow a coffin to issue to be
conveyed to Lescar, there to be interred.

The secret of Blanche’s death was closely kept, till the Navarrese
Cortes took the matter up, and demanded her release as their rightful
queen. Then only was it announced that she was dead, but on what day
and in what manner she died was never revealed.

The Count and Countess of Foix now congratulated themselves on having
secured the crown of Navarre to themselves and to their descendants,
and their son Gaston was at once invested with the title of Prince
of Viana. But the crime committed brought but a barren gain. A few
years later Gaston of Viana, their hope, was killed by a lance in a
tournament at Lillebourne. Count Gaston never obtained the kingdom,
and died at Roncevaux in 1472. His widow, Leonora, was balked to the
very last. Her father retained the title of King and the rule over
Navarre up to his death in 1479, and when the coveted diadem fell to
her, she retained it but for fifteen days, and then died also. Her
grandson, Francis, called Phœbus on account of his beauty, was indeed
crowned at Pampeluna. He was a gallant and amiable boy, but the doom
of the ill-gotten crown was on him. Ferdinand the Catholic, son of
the wicked Joanna, would not allow a pretty boy to stand in his way.
One day, 29 January, 1483, after dinner, the prince, _adonné à toutes
gentillesses_, took a flute on which he was wont to play. Scarcely had
he raised it to his lips ere he turned deadly white and sank into a
chair. In two hours he was dead, at the age of sixteen. As he lay dying
he turned to his mother with a smile and said, “My kingdom is not of
this world.”

It was the conviction of all contemporaries that Ferdinand the Catholic
had contrived to have the lad poisoned.

The claim to the crown of Navarre now passed to Catherine, the
sister of Francis Phœbus, married to Jean d’Albret. This marriage is
interesting. It was determined by the Estates of Béarn. No sooner was
Francis Phœbus dead than Ferdinand of Castille, his supposed murderer,
sent to demand the hand of Catherine for his son, a child in the
cradle. But the mother, Magdalen of France, coldly replied that the
choice of a husband for her daughter was a matter for decision by the
Assembly of the delegates of Béarn. The Estates were convoked to Pau,
and the majority voted for Jean d’Albret, whose lands adjoined Béarn,
and who was himself then but a child. During the infancy of Catherine
and Jean d’Albret Magdalen acted as regent. The Count of Grammont
and others formed a plot to poison her in favour of Jean de Foix,
Catherine’s uncle. It was discovered, and the minor conspirators were
executed at Pau; the instigators, being grandees, escaped scot-free.

Catherine, on growing to woman’s estate, left no stone unturned in her
attempt to obtain the kingdom of Navarre, but feebly supported by her
amiable husband. “Would that I had been born John and you Catherine!”
exclaimed the impetuous princess; “and then we would have secured
Navarre.” In the end Catherine died of disappointment at the failure
of all her schemes, and in dying turned her eyes in the direction of

The rest of the story of the viscounts of Béarn, counts of Foix, and
titular kings of Navarre, shall be told when we come to Pau.

By some fatality, surely unjustly, the Gascons are credited throughout
France with being braggarts, cowards, the makers of bad bulls and
as bad jokes. This is what a writer says of them in _Le Passe-temps
Agréable_, Rotterdam, 1737:--

    “If in France you would speak of a braggart and swash-buckler,
    whose magnanimity and courage are discoverable in his speech,
    and in his speech alone; who speaks of war, without having been
    in it; say but, He is a Gascon, and this explains everything.
    Those friends at the table who are faithful so long as it is
    spread with good cheer, but who vanish when the platter and
    the beaker are empty--say that they are Gascons, and that
    explains all. Should you encounter a fellow who boasts of his
    gallantries and the favours he has received from fair ladies,
    intimate that he is a Gascon, and all will know the worth of
    his statements. The word Gascon suffices to comprehend various
    characters never estimable. But it must not be supposed that
    all Gascons are such sorry creatures as those spoken of above.
    There are to be found among them men of rare merit, and men
    with plenty of courage, men as honest as are any others. But,
    actually, all Gascons do not come from Gascony. Every nation
    under the sun breeds its braggarts and false braves. ‘The true
    Gascons,’ says a writer who knew them well in their own land
    washed by the Garonne, ‘the true Gascons possess a good deal of
    heart, and are desirous of making all the world aware of the
    fact.’ But I am not satisfied that they do not make display of
    more heart than they actually possess.”

A collection of bons-mots and blunders made by Gascons is found in
_Vasconia_, Lyons, 1730. The description of a Gascon, as given by
a fellow-countryman, is more flattering than that above. He says:
“To be a Gascon is to be a happy mixture of dazzling virtues and of
agreeable and convenient faults. Everything in us is charming, even our
imperfections. What if there be blemishes perceptible in us? There are
spots in the sun itself.”



    Approach to the Pyrenees--Colour of the mountains--Bayonne--
    Cathedral--Attachment of Bayonne to the English--Quarrels
    with Norman towns--Taken by the French--Bayonets--Meeting of
    queens--Wild Scotchmen--Napoleon lures the Infante and King
    of Spain to Bayonne--Dethrones the King--The crossing of the
    Pyrenees by Wellington--Battles--About Bayonne--Cemetery--
    Lakes in the Landes--Biarritz--The Refuge--S. Jean de Luz--
    Riding _en cacolet_--Heaving at Eastertide--The Bidassoa--
    Peace of the Pyrenees--Fontarabia--Passages--San Sebastian--
    Siege--Charges brought against the English.

Michelet, with florid eloquence, describes the approach to the Pyrenees
from Bordeaux in the first chapter of the second volume of his _History
of France_.

    “However beautiful and fertile may be the valley of the
    Garonne, one cannot lag there. The distant summits of the
    Pyrenees exercise on us a too powerful attraction. But it is
    a serious matter to reach them. Whether you take the way by
    Nérac, a doleful _seigneurie_ of the Albrets, or whether you
    follow the coast, it is all the same, you must either traverse
    or skirt an ocean of _landes_, covered with cork trees and vast
    pine forests, where nothing is met save black sheep under the
    conduct of a shepherd of the department, that have left the
    mountains for the plains in quest of warmth. The roving life of
    these shepherds is one of the most picturesque elements in the
    South. These nomads, companions of the stars in their eternal
    solitude, half astronomers, half sorcerers, carry their goods
    with them. Here in the West they continue to lead the Asiatic
    life of Lot and Abraham.

    “The formidable barrier of Spain now rises before us in all its
    majesty. The Pyrenees are not, like the Alps, a complicated
    system of peaks and valleys, they are simply a mighty wall
    that drops to lower elevations at its extremities. Two
    peoples, distinct from one another--the Basques at the west,
    the Catalans at the east--hold the doors of two worlds. These
    irritable and capricious porters open and shut at will, wearied
    and impatient at the incessant passage of the nations through
    these ports. They opened to Abderaman, they shut to Roland.
    Many graves lie between Roncevaux and the Seu d’Urgel.”

Certain it is that the approach to the Pyrenees across the long level
of the Landes lends to them an advantage only possessed by the Alps
when seen from the plains of Lombardy. I know nothing so impressive as
the scene from a swell on the surface of the Landes, when the eye sees
the great range in silver and cobalt stretching to the south from a dim
east, in which snowy peaks and silver clouds are indistinguishable, to
die away beyond the reach of the eye in the west, and all beheld over a
vast sheet of dark green forest, like a sea stretching to their roots.
Nowadays we whirl from Bordeaux to Dax and Bayonne by rail. I recall
the journey by carriage, when before our eyes for two days we saw that
blue ridge tipped with silver half-way up the sky, hour after hour
becoming more distinct. I have spoken of the colours of the mountains
as cobalt and silver. So they are in the remote distance, but when near
at hand the tints are richer. I had a drawing-master at Bayonne, to
whom I showed some water-colour sketches of English scenery. He shook
his head. “Cobalt!” said he; “that will not do for the shadows of our
Pyrenees. For them you must employ ultramarine and carmine.” He spoke
the truth. Such are the royal purples of Pyrenean shadows worn in
summer and autumn.

Bayonne is a trefoil. There are three towns, but the third is on the
north side of the Adour, and in the department of Landes. It has grown
up about the railway station and the citadel. Old Bayonne is a city
planted on both banks of the Nive, where it joins the Adour. Bayonne is
the capital of the Basque country, and the population of the town is
composed of Basques, Spaniards, Jews, with a sprinkling only of French.
The cathedral, the old castle, the Mairie, and the theatre are in Grand
Bayonne on the left bank of the Nive. In Petit Bayonne, on the right
bank, are the arsenal, the Châteaux Neuf, and the military hospital.

The old town, cramped within its fortifications, capable of expansion
upwards only, has narrow and gloomy streets.

The cathedral was left incomplete by the English when driven out
of Bayonne. It lacked a west front and towers; but these have been
supplied of late years. Externally the cathedral is not striking,
but within it is well-proportioned. Choir and apse pertain to the
thirteenth century, the nave to the fourteenth, all constructed when
the English were masters of the town. The arms of England, of Talbot,
and other noble families that are English, are emblazoned on the keys
of the vaulting ribs. On the south side of the church are the beautiful
cloisters, almost the largest in France. Their date is 1240.


A good many houses in the town have cellars vaulted with ribs to a key,
and on some of these latter are English arms. But few old buildings
in the town are of interest. The château dates from the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, and the new château is of the fifteenth and
sixteenth, but neither is architecturally remarkable.

Bayonne and Bordeaux were warmly attached to England during the three
hundred years that they pertained to the English crown. Their love was
not altogether sentimental; it sprang out of self-interest, as these
two ports furnished the wine that was supplied to Britain and Ireland.
Our kings did what they could to attach the citizens to their crown by
the grant of extensive privileges, and undoubtedly Bayonne reached its
greatest prosperity when under the sceptre of England. This prosperity
roused the jealousy of the commercial ports of Normandy, especially was
this the case when that duchy was detached from the English crown. To
avenge the death of a Rouen merchant killed in an affray in Bayonne the
Normands attacked and butchered a whole ship’s crew that had entered
one of their ports. On another occasion they surprised sixty-two
Bayonnais merchant vessels in the port of S. Malo, and hung from the
yardarm one of the crew of each side by side with dogs. This latter
insult was more keenly felt by the Bayonnais than the execution itself.
They appealed to Edward I “against these bad persons who have put
your subjects to death, hanging mastiffs alongside of Christians, in
defiance of Christianity and of your Majesty, and of your subjects.”

The outrage had to be chastised. Large armaments were equipped on both
sides, and in one engagement the Normands lost five thousand men. The
grim joke with the dogs proved costly to them in the end.

But at the close of the thirteenth century these petty quarrels between
rival cities were merged in the general war that raged between England
and France. Philip the Fair got possession of Bayonne in 1294. Edward I
hastened into Gascony, besieged the town, retook it, and thenceforth
the leopards of England waved from their battlements till July, 1451,
when the English were expelled from Bayonne by Charles VII. The
Bayonnais watched the entry of the French with sullen dissatisfaction,
and were only consoled for the change of master by a miracle. A
luminous white cross appeared in the sky, and this led them to suppose
that Heaven had decreed that the white cross of France should take the
place of the red cross of England. Bayonne has given its name to the
bayonet, which was invented there about the year 1647. Originally it
was a dagger with a round handle that fitted into the bore of a gun,
and was fixed only after the soldier had discharged his piece. The use
of the bayonet fastened on to the barrel was an improvement introduced
by the French. In the battle of Marsaglia in 1693 the success of the
French was mainly due to the employment of this weapon. The enemy were
unable to stand against so formidable a novelty.

In 1565 the queen-mother, Catherine de Medici, here met her daughter,
Isabella of Spain, who had just recovered from a severe illness.

    “Political motives were not forgotten, and among other
    matters to be considered between the sovereigns of France
    and Spain--for Catherine hoped that Philip would accompany
    his wife--was undoubtedly the repression of heresy. There
    exists among the state papers at Simancas what is called
    by diplomatists an ‘identical note’ of the subjects to be
    discussed at Bayonne. In it we read that the two powers engaged
    not to tolerate the Reformed worship in their respective
    states, that the canons of the Council of Trent should be
    enforced, that all nonconformists should be incapacitated for
    any public office, civil or military, and that heretics should
    quit the realm within a month, permission being accorded them
    to sell their property. Although Catherine gave her assent
    to these declarations, so far as the discussion of them was
    concerned, we have indisputable evidence that she did not
    intend to adopt them in the same sense as Philip of Spain.”[B]

    [B] White (H.), _The Massacre of S. Bartholomew_. London, 1868.

It has been supposed that on this occasion the massacre of S.
Bartholomew was planned. Such, however, was not the case. Catherine at
the time was indisposed to adopt violent measures. She sought to hold
the balance between the contending parties. Moreover, the massacre
did not take place till seven years later. The meeting at Bayonne in
1565 was rather one of rejoicing, with a series of magnificent fêtes,
and political business was transacted only at odd moments. Some years
later, when Walsingham referred to this Bayonne meeting as the occasion
of an inauguration of a general league against the Protestants,
Catherine replied that it had no such result at all, and that it
“tended to no other end but to make good cheer.”

One of the masques performed on this occasion was a representation of
“Wild Scotchmen.” The Duke of Guise and six others were equipped in
what was fondly believed to be the Highland costume. Over a white satin
shirt embroidered with gold lace and crimson silk they wore a jacket
of yellow velvet, with short skirts closely plaited “according to the
custom of these savages,” trimmed with a border of crimson satin,
ornamented with gold, silver, pearls, and other jewels of various
colours. Their yellow satin hose were similarly adorned, and their silk
boots were trimmed with silver fringe and rosettes.

    “On their heads they wore a cap _à l’antique_ of cloth of gold,
    and for crest a thunderbolt pouring out a fragrant jet of
    perfumed fire--the said thunderbolt being twined round by a
    serpent reposing on a pillow of green satin. Each cavalier wore
    on his arm a Scotch shield or targe covered with cloth of gold
    and bearing a device. The horses’ trappings were of crimson
    satin with plumes of yellow, white, and carnation. So much for
    the Frenchman’s ideal of a Scotchman!”--White.

We must pass on to the time of the First Empire, before Bayonne became
the scene of any political event of importance.

Napoleon had resolved on dethroning the King of Spain, and on
converting the peninsula into a kingdom for his brother Joseph. The
condition of affairs in Spain was favourable. The King, Charles IV,
was the feeblest of the fainéant race of the Bourbons. He retained a
tame confessor about his person, for whom he would whistle when he was
conscious of a twinge of conscience. The Queen, Louisa Maria of Parma,
had made a paramour of Manuel Godoy, a lusty private in the Guards. Him
she created Prince of the Peace and Prime Minister. His power over her
and over the mind of the poor King was complete.

The Infante, the Prince Ferdinand, was also feeble-minded. He was the
rallying point of the faction opposed to Godoy. Ferdinand appealed
by letter to Napoleon (11 October, 1807), and the Emperor at once,
through his agent Savary at Madrid, pressed him to throw himself on
his protection by coming to Bayonne, “where,” said Savary, “you will
hear him salute you as Ferdinand VII, King of Spain and the Indies.”
The stupid Bourbon prince walked into the trap. On 16 April, 1808,
he crossed the frontier. “Ha! is the fool actually come!” exclaimed
Napoleon, who was at Bayonne. “I could hardly have thought it possible.”

Napoleon received him graciously, but instead of hailing him as king,
endeavoured to induce him voluntarily to resign his pretensions to the
throne. But Ferdinand, though stupid, was stubborn, and he refused.
It was accordingly necessary for the Emperor to ensnare the old king
as well. He wrote to him and to the Queen, inviting them to Bayonne
so that he might settle the dispute between him and the Infante, in
order to place the throne of Charles beyond danger of usurpation by
Ferdinand. The King was also dull enough to walk into the snare.

On 30 April a huge, lumbering coach drawn by eight Biscayan mules
rolled over the drawbridge of Bayonne. It contained the monarch,
his queen, his youngest son, and some attendants. Two other
antiquated chariots discharged their cargoes of chamberlains
and ladies-in-waiting. Godoy, who had preceded the royal party,
welcomed it, and assured his sovereign that the intentions of the
Emperor towards him were most generous. This assurance was speedily
corroborated by Napoleon, who appeared in person. The childish king
threw himself, weeping, into the arms of Napoleon, and called him his
best friend and truest support.

As the infirm old man was unable to walk unassisted, Napoleon took him
under the arm to help him up the steps. Charles turned to the Queen and
said, “See, Louisa, he is sustaining me!”

The resentment of the old couple against their son had increased.
Ferdinand was summoned to their presence before Napoleon, and then
ensued a scene to which the Emperor afterwards looked back with
disgust. The King loaded his son with bitter reproaches, the Queen
broke out into invectives. Losing all command over herself, this royal
virago foamed at the mouth, called on her good friend the Emperor to
send him to the guillotine, and had the indecency to protest that this
son, though borne by her, had not the King for his father. Then the
old king, crippled with rheumatism, raised his shaking hand over the
prince and threatened him with his cane.

The main quarrel between the King and Ferdinand was due to Charles
having abdicated when a riot broke out in Madrid and Ferdinand having
been proclaimed. But Charles afterwards revoked his abdication, which
had been wrung from him by his terrors, and Ferdinand refused to
withdraw his claim to having succeeded his father on the surrender
of the crown by the old man. After the deplorable scene described,
Ferdinand gave way so far as to consent to resign the crown, on
condition that this renunciation was in favour of his father only, and
that it was ratified in Madrid. This did not satisfy Napoleon; it was
not what he wanted.

At this juncture Marbot, the aide-de-camp of Murat, who had been sent
to Madrid, arrived at full gallop to announce to the Emperor that
an insurrection had broken out in the capital, in consequence of an
attempt made to remove the remaining members of the royal family.

This furnished Napoleon with the excuse he wanted. “Unless,” said he to
Ferdinand, whom he accused of having provoked the riot, “unless between
this and midnight you have recognized your father as king, and have
sent information to this effect to Madrid, I will have you dealt with
as a rebel.”

The terrified prince yielded. On 6 May Ferdinand signed a formal
renunciation of the crown. But on the previous day Charles had been
induced also to surrender his claims. Ferdinand in return was to have
the palace of Navarre and an income of six hundred thousand francs;
Charles was accorded the châteaux of Chambord and Compiègne. The
despised and disinherited princes were to receive in all ten millions;
“but,” as Napoleon wrote, “we will reimburse ourselves out of Spain!”
Yet even this undertaking was not observed. Ferdinand was interned in

The stretch of country from Bayonne to the frontier is full of interest
to the Englishman as the scene of the contest between Wellington and
Soult, after the former had driven the French over the frontier and out
of Spain.

The autumn of 1813 had been passed by the greater part of the allied
army of English, Portuguese, and Spaniards under canvas on the cold and
cloudy summits of the Western Pyrenees. They endured great privations.
Their picket and night duties were incessant and harassing; the
weather, moreover, was stormy. The tedium of these camps, and the
sufferings from frost and sleet, exhausted the patience and shook the
constancy of the soldiers of weakest fibre.

But the fall of Pampeluna released the army on the Pyrenees from its
inactivity. It was known that Marshal Soult had prepared a defensive
position on the Nivelle stretching from ten to twelve miles from the
sea at S. Jean de Luz to the Petite Rhune before the village of Sare.

Soon after midnight, on the morning of 10 November, the columns of
the allies under Wellington wound down the passes of the mountains in
silence, lighted by the moon. At earliest dawn the attack was made on
the lines of the enemy, and by sunset, in a succession of brilliant
charges, the allies had broken the line. Soult had been out-manœuvred
and out-fought on his own long-prepared ground, and beaten at every
point. The French, numbering seventy thousand men, had been placed in
carefully selected positions. Strongly entrenched, they knew the roads,
and were fighting to protect their native land from invasion; yet they
suffered themselves to be dislodged from every point assailed with a
lack of spirit that surprised the allies.

Under cover of night Soult withdrew and concentrated his forces in
front of Bayonne. Wellington took up a position within two miles of
the enemy, his left resting on the sea and his right on Cambo. As the
weather was stormy and wet, all operations ceased. The roads were
execrable, the crossroads a quagmire. It was not possible at that
time of the year to move artillery over the sodden ground, and even
communication between the wings was difficult.

Sir Rowland Hill on the right crossed the Nive at Cambo, and the French
in front of him fell back on Bayonne; he then occupied the heights of
Villefranche. The forces of the allies were disposed in a semicircle,
their communications intersected by a river, and made difficult by the
muddy roads. The position of the French was central, with short and
easy communications, and was supported by the guns of the fortress.
Soult could fling himself with all his weight on any point where the
allies were weakest in his estimation, and that before they could bring
up reinforcements. This, in fact, is what he did. On 10, 11, and 12
December, the Marshal directed repeated attacks on Sir John Hope on
the left; but met with no success. Then hastily passing through the
town with his main force, on the night of the 12th, he hurled thirty
thousand men against the position held by Sir Rowland Hill on the
British right. Sir Rowland mustered but thirteen thousand men, British
and Portuguese. The French columns advanced steadily, disregarding the
crushing bullets of a well-served artillery, the grape and the musketry
of the light troops. They were gaining ground by sheer weight of
numbers, when the reserve advanced, arriving from the centre, and the
French were beaten back with terrible slaughter, all Bayonne looking on
from the ramparts.

The battle was fought by Sir Rowland Hill with his own corps,
unassisted. Wellington did not arrive on the field until the victory
was won.

Soult now strongly garrisoned Bayonne, and withdrew along the road to
Orthez and Pau, in order to defend the latter. Wellington followed him,
but not until the close of January, and he left Sir John Hope to watch
Bayonne. It was necessary for this gallant officer to cross the Adour,
as the citadel was on the right bank. The river was three hundred yards
wide at the point selected, one where a bend in its course concealed it
from the view of the garrison of Bayonne.

    “At one in the morning of 23 January Sir John Hope marched
    from his cantonments to direct and support this movement. The
    pontoons were unavoidably delayed by the depth and softness of
    the sandy road, therefore the design of sending a detachment
    across the river before daylight was defeated. However, the
    attention of the garrison was entirely occupied by the lively
    demonstrations upon their entrenched camp. Sir John Hope
    determined to commence passing the river as soon as ever a
    few boats and pontoons could be launched. Owing to light and
    baffling winds the bridge flotilla had not arrived off the bar.
    The pontoons from Bidart did not accomplish their march in the
    time expected, and at noon four jolly-boats and five pontoons,
    which the men took on their shoulders and carried over the
    sand-hills, were the only means of passage at the disposal of
    the general. To protect the launch of these boats some field
    guns were moved forward. At sight of the troops the enemy’s
    picket retired without firing a shot, and walked leisurely
    to the citadel. Fifty men were instantly rowed over to the
    right bank. A hawser was stretched across the river, the five
    pontoons were formed into rafts, and a detachment of the Guards
    was ferried over. When about 600 men had been put across, the
    tide flowed so strong that the rafts could no longer work;
    and, save a few sent over in the jolly-boats, the passage of
    troops ceased. At this time only six companies of the Guards,
    two of the 60th Rifles, and a small party of the rocket corps,
    had been passed to the right bank. All seemed quiet in their
    front; when, suddenly, about five o’clock in the evening, two
    columns issued from the citadel to attack this detachment.
    Colonel Stopford, in command, drew up his troops in a position
    that secured his flanks, and enabled him to avail himself of
    the support of the guns on the opposite bank. His right rested
    on the Adour, his left on a morass. The artillery could sweep
    his front with a defensive fire, and he judiciously placed
    his rocket men on each flank. The French had nearly 1500 men,
    and advanced to the attack with some show of resolution; when
    the rockets opened on them, and being well directed, swept
    through their ranks with so rushing a sound, and so destructive
    an effect, that the novelty startled and appalled them. They
    seemed paralyzed with astonishment, and a few quickly following
    discharges of the ground-rockets drove them back in haste and
    fear. More men were crossed over in the night at slack water;
    and on the following evening the first division, two guns, and
    a squadron of dragoons, were established on the right bank.”[C]

    [C] Sherer, _Military Memoirs of the Duke of Wellington_.
        London, 1832.

The flotilla appeared off the Adour on the morning of the 25th, the
bar was successfully passed, thirty-four _chasse-marées_ were brought
into position, and anchored head and stern upon the line selected;
the sappers worked all night, and by noon next day a solid bridge was
laid down. Troops and artillery now filed over it, and the citadel of
Bayonne was invested.

Upon the morning of 14 April the governor of the citadel made a furious
sortie upon the investing corps, which was wholly unprepared for the
attack, as peace had been declared, and Bonaparte had abdicated on 5
April. The news had reached Bayonne; the commandant of the citadel
was well aware of it, but could not resist the treacherous attempt to
retrieve his laurels by catching the British unprepared.

His assault was repulsed, with the loss of 830 men to the British, and
with the capture of Sir John Hope, who was wounded. The French attack
was supported by the fire of the gunboats on the river, which opened
indiscriminately on friend and foe. The French lost 910 men.

The cemetery where our gallant fellow-countrymen lie who thus fell
is on the edge of the Landes, on the north side of the Adour. When
Queen Victoria visited Biarritz, as also recently when King Edward VII
was there, this cemetery was duly visited by both monarchs. No one
who remains any length of time in Bayonne should omit a visit to the
beautiful lakes that lie embosomed in cork woods and pine forests in
the Landes, in the abandoned course of the Adour. The river, instead
of entering the sea where it does now, formerly turned north, and had
its mouth at Cape Breton, something like ten miles distant. But at the
close of the fourteenth century a violent tempest blowing from the west
threw up a barrier of sand and blocked the mouth of the Adour, which
then pursued its course northward, and finally discharged its waters
into the Atlantic at Vieux-Boucau, and that remained its mouth for two
centuries. But in 1579 the inhabitants of Bayonne, aided by a flood,
managed to pierce the isthmus of sand-hills which separated their town
from the sea, and thus created a new mouth for the river. The Adour,
however, pours into the bay in a contrary direction to the prevailing
winds, consequently there is an incessant struggle going on there
between the current and the waves, resulting in a deposit of mud, sand,
and pebble, and the building up of a bar which the sea is incessantly
driving towards the shore, whereas the river is as incessantly engaged
in repelling it. The existence of this bar makes the entrance to the
Adour difficult and even dangerous, and has necessitated expensive

The lakes in the Landes are a haunt of wild fowl, and afford good

Biarritz needs little more than a mention, though a place of some
antiquity. It is spoken of in the eleventh century, when some Basques
harpooned a whale in the Bay of Biscay. It throve on the whale fishery,
and so wealthy did it become that the tithe of its revenue constituted
the principal source of the income of the bishops of Bayonne. In course
of time the whales abandoned the coast and migrated to the north, and
then the prosperity of Biarritz declined, and it sank to being an
insignificant fishing village, till the Empress Eugénie took a fancy to
it, and a new era of prosperity began. It is now a fashionable resort,
especially for Spanish nobles. The heaths around in early summer are
lovely with the intensely blue _Lithospermum_, and the crimson _Daphne

[Illustration: THE COAST, BIARRITZ]

Visitors to Biarritz make an expedition to the “Refuge,” distant about
three miles, over a heath. The Abbé Céstac had founded an orphanage at
Bayonne for girls, and had placed it under the charge of the Servantes
de Marie. Not content with this good work he gathered about him a
number of penitents and lodged them in the attics of the orphanage.
Then in 1839 he bought a little property near Biarritz, and moved
his penitents to it and placed them under the control of his sister

    “Complete isolation, absolute silence, total abstinence from
    flesh meat, manual labour in the garden and graveyard, constant
    prayer in the church, or meditation in their cells, constitute
    their rule of life. Like the Trappists, their bed is a hard
    board, to which they retire at eight in the evening to rise at
    four in the morning. On Friday they take a meal which serves
    for dinner--unseasoned vegetables--on their knees. They never
    read a book, except one of devotion, and are entirely ignorant
    of the politics and changes of society. This holy Thebaid is
    shut out from all view of the external world; neither ocean nor
    river, nor plain nor hill, can be discerned from it, although
    Nature, immediately outside its limits, presents herself in
    her loveliest aspects of sea and mountain. Unbroken silence
    and solitude prevail, and the stranger who enters its sacred
    seclusion becomes involuntarily overpowered by the sentiment
    that pervades the atmosphere and fills the mind with awe and

    [D] Lawlor, _Pilgrimages in the Pyrenees_. London, 1870.

I should add, with indignation that human beings, even penitents,
should be reduced by this method to stultification.

S. Jean de Luz is a favourite bathing place for such as desire more
quiet and less heavy hotel charges than Biarritz affords. In 1660 the
church saw the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa, Infanta of
Spain. In commemoration of this event, the magistrates walled up the
door by which the bridal pair passed out, and it has remained thus shut
to this day. At S. Jean de Luz may be seen what is usual in Basque and
Béarnais churches, as also in Tyrol, the men occupying the galleries,
not infrequently in double tiers, whilst the women fill the body of the
church. In the Maison Lobobiagne, with turrets, lodged Louis XIV; the
Infanta and her mother, Anne of Austria, occupied the Maison Joanoëna.

I can recall rides _en cacolet_ as customary among the Basques some
sixty years ago, now quite obsolete. A horse was furnished with two
baskets, one on each side, and two persons were accommodated, one in
each basket. Inglis says in 1835:--

    “Morning, noon, and evening, the road between Bayonne and
    Biarritz is crowded with travellers _en cacolet_. The
    horses belong generally to the women who drive them; these
    women are generally young, many of them handsome. They
    generally speak French, Basque, and a little Spanish, and
    are rather intelligent than otherwise, always carrying on an
    unintermitting conversation during the whole ride. The horses
    are usually indifferent; they go at a small trot, and perform
    the _trajet_ in about forty minutes.”

One of the most puzzling facts in the study of mankind is the manner
in which the most unmeaning customs are found extended far and wide.
I shall have something to say of the _couvade_ in another chapter.
There is another which is met with in the Basque country, and which
is also, or was, usual in Yorkshire. On Easter Monday the girls seize
on lads and heave them up in the air, and hold them aloft till they
redeem themselves with a coin or a kiss. On Tuesday the boys enjoy the
same privilege with the girls. I have been so lifted up near Bayonne.
I recall an instance in Yorkshire, where H.M. Inspector of Schools,
a grave and reverend signor, came to a manufacturing town on Easter
Monday. As he was sedately walking from the station he encountered a
bevy of mill lasses, when at once he was uplifted by them and carried
in triumph, in vain expostulating, and a kiss from him was demanded by
each before he was released.

So with April Fools’ Day--_le poisson d’avril_--it is honoured in the
same fashion in Hindustan as in Europe.

Few visitors to Biarritz fail to take a run over the frontier into
Spain. The Bidassoa for about twelve miles forms the line of
demarcation between France and Spain. Near the bridge of Behobia are
the remains--they are nothing more--of the Ile des Faisans, on which
conferences were held between Cardinal Mazarin, plenipotentiary for
France, and Don Luis da Haro, acting for Spain, which led to the
conclusion of the famous Treaty of the Pyrenees, in 1659, cemented
by the marriage of Louis XIV with the daughter of Philip IV. At the
meeting on the Ile des Faisans each party advanced from its own
territory by a temporary bridge to this patch of neutral ground in
mid-stream. The death of Velasquez, the painter, was due to exposure
whilst superintending the decoration of the tent for the minister of
Spain--a duty more befitting an upholsterer than a great artist. By
the treaty France received la Cerdagne and Roussillon, but surrendered
Lorraine to Duke Charles IV, on condition that he should dismantle all
its fortresses. As he delayed doing this Louis retained his hold on the

Fontarabie (Fuenterrabia) does not signify the Fountain of Arabia,
and retains in its name no reminiscence of Moorish domination; the
derivation is from the Latin _fons rapidus_. It is a picturesque, dirty
town, malodorous; bearing as its arms in quarterings an angel holding a
key, to signify that the town holds the key of Spain--a squalid beggar
would be more appropriate than an angel; a whale and two syrens, the
whale to indicate the fishing of the leviathan, now long departed;
and lastly a castle between two stars. These arms were accorded to
Fuenterrabia by Philip IV in 1638, when the admiral of Castile repulsed
the Prince of Condé, who was besieging it. The church, Gothic in
style, has been modernized externally; within it is overloaded with
barbaric ornament. The castle, known as the palace of Charles V, dates
originally from the tenth century, but has undergone much rebuilding
and adaptation. The courtyard is picturesque, and the terrace commands
a beautiful view.

Fuenterrabia brings no pleasing remembrances to an Englishman. The
citizens begrudged a lodging to our sick and wounded during the
passage of the Pyrenees by the allied troops under Wellington when in
pursuit of Soult in the depth of winter. The town authorities even
wanted to take away the boards on which were stretched the disabled
soldiers. “These,” wrote the Duke, “are the people to whom we have
given medicines, etc., whose wounded and sick we have taken into our
hospitals, and to whom we have rendered every service in our power,
after having recovered their country from the enemy.”

Irun signifies in Basque “the good town,” but it contains little that
is good, nothing that is interesting. Passages, however, will arrest
the traveller, owing to its picturesque harbour, land-locked, and
the entrance commanded by the castles--reminding a Devonshire man of
Dartmouth. The port has been neglected and suffered to be silted up,
although the rock-bound coast possesses no better harbour of refuge for
storm-tossed boats.

[Illustration: SAN SEBASTIAN]

San Sebastian has suffered so severely from sieges that it has lost
its medieval character; but nothing can destroy its natural beauty of
situation. The Monte Urgull, on which is the castle, was originally
a rocky island, but it has been united to the land by the deposits
of the River Urumea, and the town now occupies this neck. Beyond is
the concha, a semi-lunar bay, with excellent sands, and with the
Isle of Sta. Clara breaking the force of the waves that roll in from
the Atlantic. San Sebastian is the most fashionable seaside resort
in Spain, and is much frequented by the nobility and by well-to-do
citizens of Madrid. The church of S. Vincent is a Gothic edifice of
1507. San Sebastian is memorable for its siege by Wellington. Mr. Ford

    “It was obtained in March, 1808, by Therenot, when the French
    got in under false pretences. They held it during the war, and
    being in the rear of the Duke when advancing in 1815 on the
    Pyrenees, it retarded his progress, and its possession became
    absolutely necessary. This was a work of great difficulty, for
    the naturally strong position was garrisoned by 3000 brave
    French veterans under General Rey, and the Duke, from the usual
    neglect of our Government, in spite of repeated applications to
    Lord Bathurst, was forced to wait from 25 July to 26 August for
    want of means even to commence operations, during which time
    the active enemy strengthened their defences, being supplied
    from France by sea.

    “In vain the Duke had warned Lord Melville, under whose fatal
    rule the navy of England was first exposed to defeat, and who
    now did his best to ensure a similar misfortune to the army.
    And to make matters worse, Graham, to whom the siege was
    entrusted, neglected the advice of Sir C. Felix Smith and of
    Sir R. Fletcher. Graham having failed in a night attack on 24
    August, the Duke was forced to come in person to set matters
    right. His arrival was, as usual, the omen of victory. Now the
    town was assaulted as it ought to have been at first, from
    the _chafres_ or sand banks, and was taken on 31 August. The
    French, after a most gallant defence, retired to the upper
    citadel, on which, by the almost superhuman efforts of the
    engineers, backed by the bluejackets, guns were brought to
    bear, and it surrendered on 9 September, two-thirds of the
    valorous garrison having perished, while nearly 5000 English
    troops were killed and wounded.”

Wellington--then only the Marquess Wellesley--had not bombarded the
town, so as to spare the inhabitants, but General Rey himself had set
fire to the town on 22 July, as is admitted by him in his own dispatch,
and it was done for the express purpose of hampering the progress of
the English, when he saw that the place must inevitably fall; and this,
when Wellington would not suffer his batteries to play upon the town.

When finally San Sebastian was taken, all control over the soldiers,
who were exasperated by the stubborn resistance, was for a while lost.
A thunderstorm burst at the same time that the soldiers broke in,
and a scene of riot and rapine ensued. In the midst of explosions of
thunder and lightning the city was sacked. Fires broke out in various
places, and flames waved over such houses as had been spared by Rey.
At the same time the garrison of the castle ploughed the streets with
their artillery, killing alike inhabitants flying from the English,
Spanish and Portuguese soldiery, as well as the soldiers themselves.
It was found impossible to extinguish the flames or to control the
soldiers. The most was made of this. Napoleon wrote: “Les Anglais
commettent des horreurs dont les annales de la guerre offrent peu
d’examples, et dont cette nation barbare êtait seule capable dans un
siècle de civilisation.” But Napoleon never minced words. The sack of
San Sebastian, though regrettable, was mild in comparison with the
atrocities committed by the French elsewhere in Spain. In justice it
must be said that it was not English alone who were guilty of these
excesses, but the far more lawless Spaniards and Portuguese who formed
our allies, and that the sack was stopped as soon as ever Wellington
was able to gain control over the maddened soldiery.



    Four valleys--The Basque land--Quarrels with Bayonne--The
    Sieur de Puyane--Cambo--Itxasson--Pas de Roland--Stalagmitic
    saint--S. Jean-Pied-de-Port--The first book in Basque--
    Patronal feasts--Roncevaux--The Song of Roland--The history of
    Turpin--Death of Roland--His horn--Convent--Canons--Virgin
    with diamonds in her eyes--Spanish kitchen--Smugglers--Escape
    of the Princess of Beira--The Couvade.

From the ridge of the Western Pyrenees descend four large valleys
towards the north, each with a river running at the bottom. The
westernmost and least important is that of the Nivelet, that flows
into the Bay of Biscay at S. Jean de Luz. The second thence is the
Nive, that discharges its waters into the Adour at Bayonne. The third
is the Bidouze, which reaches the Adour just below where that river
receives the mingled waters of the two Gaves. The last of these, and
the easternmost of these rivers, is the Cenon, that loses itself in the
Gave of Oloron, near Sauveterre.

In the ancient geography of France these four valleys were somewhat
irregularly divided into districts, of which the westernmost was called
Labourde, and the easternmost Soule, and the central portion was Lower
Navarre. Taken collectively these districts constitute the Basque land,
the population of which was closely related in language, habits, and
blood to the inhabitants of Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and Upper Navarre in
Spain. The narrow strip of land comprising the two cantons of S. Palais
and S. Jean-pied-de-Port was for many centuries regarded as forming
a parcel of the province of Gascony, but Alphonso the Noble took it,
together with Labourde, from the English King John, so that it became
a portion of the kingdom of Navarre, though Bayonne was recovered by
the English. Sancho, King of Navarre, strengthened his hold on it more
firmly, but eventually, when the claim to the crown of Navarre passed
to the Counts of Foix and Viscounts of Béarn, it was the sole portion
of that kingdom that these latter were able to retain, the Spanish
Navarre having been annexed by Ferdinand the Catholic.

The Basques never obtained political independence. They were always
subjected to Frank or English domination; they passed under the
rule of the kings of Navarre and counts of Foix, and finally under
the crown of France. Nevertheless they succeeded in maintaining a
communal right of self-government, and enjoyed great privileges,
notably that of conveying their wares and those of Spain free of duty
to the markets of Toulouse and Bordeaux; rights these that awoke the
jealousy of the citizens of Bayonne, who were incessantly at feud with
them. The Bayonnais claimed Villefranche as belonging to Labourde,
because the tide flowed through the arches of the bridge there. In an
affray over this the mountaineers killed several citizens of Bayonne.
In reprisal, in the reign of Edward III of England, Duke of Gascony
and Aquitaine, the mayor of Bayonne, a Sieur de Puyane, descended on
Villefranche on S. Bartholomew’s Day, when a fair was being held there,
caught five burgesses of note and fastened them to the arches of the
bridge, and let them drown to show by occular demonstration that the
tide did rise to Villefranche, and that therefore it was within the
jurisdiction of Bayonne. The Basques rose _en masse_ and massacred
the Labourdins wherever they caught them. Finally, both parties
appealed to the arbitration of the Sieur d’Albret, and the town of
Bayonne was condemned to pay a heavy sum as indemnity to the families
of the drowned men. The Bayonnais appealed to the King of England.
He mitigated the fine, but the Basques would only consent to his
adjudication on condition of reserving the right to pursue the sons of
the Sieur de Puyane till they had exterminated the family. This was the
last act by which the Basque nation manifested its political existence.
But they retained their special privileges till the French Revolution,
when the common law of France superseded all local independence of

Cambo is a pretty, pleasant place, that has of late years risen to
notice as a health resort. It takes its name from what has been
supposed to be an Euscaldunic, i.e. Basque camp. I planned this and
sent plan and description to the Archæologia, in 1852. But with
greater experience of ancient camps than I had then, I have come to
doubt whether it is what has been supposed. It consists of a platform
on a hillock with a network of trenches about it, and ridges between
them sharp as the back of a knife. It may have been used as a camp of
refuge, but it could not contain a large force, and the dykes around
appear to have been formed by currents of water.

Itxasson is an eminently Basque village. The church contains rich
ornaments of silver gilt for the altar, given in the eighteenth century
by an emigrant, Pedro d’Echegaray, on his return from America, where he
had realized a fortune. The Basques, it may be noticed, do not give
their names to houses and farms, but assume as surnames those place
names from which they came.

From Itxasson the Pas de Roland is reached in half an hour on foot.
It is an archway bored in the crag beside the river. Road and railway
have so maltreated the rock that the Pas is now hardly worth a special
visit. It was through this arch that the Roman road passed, and through
it Roland the Paladin went to his death at Roncevaux. According to
local legend Roland set his foot against the rock and burst a way
through it by pressure. Road and rail now enter the mountains following
the river.

At Bidarray, on the mountain-side, is a grotto, about thirty feet deep.
In one corner a ladder conducts to a cavity, at the back of which is
a stalagmitic incrustation three feet high, of a livid hue, rudely
representing a human torso. This is held in high veneration by the
peasantry, and is called “the Saint of Bidarry,” though who the saint
was whom it is supposed to represent nobody can say. A very similar
incrustation occupies a niche in the Gorge of the Ardèche, and is there
held to be a lively presentation of Charlemagne. Sick people seek this
cave and soak rags in the water that dribbles from the figure, and
which has in fact built it up. They apply the rags to the suffering
parts of their bodies, and depart believing themselves to be healed,
but the rags are left behind as _ex votos_.

[Illustration: PAS DE ROLAND]

S. Jean-Pied-de-Port was the key to the port or pass into Spain, and
especially to the communication between Upper and Lower Navarre. It
occupies a point where three streams fall into the Nive. There had been
a Gallo-Roman town three miles distant at S. Jean-le-Vieux, but it had
been destroyed by the Saracens. The present town was founded by the
Garcias, kings of Navarre, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. S.
Jean, from the Treaty of the Pyrenees to the Revolution, during three
reigns, was the capital of French Navarre. There are several old houses
in the town, some of the Renaissance Period, and owing to their being
built of red sandstone have a warm and pleasant aspect. The citadel was
constructed by Deville in 1668, but was remodelled by Vauban, as were
also the ramparts of the town.

The first book in Basque that was printed and published was by Bernard
d’Echepare, curé of S. Jean-Pied-de-Port, in 1545. It consists of two
parts. The first contains Christian doctrine, moral sentences, and
passages from Scripture, good for edification. But strangely united
with this, under the same cover and with continuous numeration of
pages, is a collection of the priest’s erotic poems.

      Si ... turpiter atrum
  Desinat in piscem mulier fermosa superne,
  Spectatum admissi risum teneatis, amici?

He frankly admits that he had had his love adventures. “I would not go
to heaven, not I,” he tells us, “unless I were sure of meeting women

He gives us a picture of female charms too highly coloured to bear
reproduction. He throws in episodes from his own experience. In one of
his escapades he got into such a scrape that he was incarcerated by
order of the king of Navarre. “Il est à regretter,” says Michel, “qu’il
se soit borné à nous parler de sa détention, sans en indiquer ni la
cause, ni le lieu, ni l’époque.”

S. Jean-Pied-de-Port should be visited at the time of its patronal
fête, 15 to 18 August, where day and night are given up to concerts,
games, masquerades, and allegorical dances performed by the peasants of
la Haute Soule.

But should a visitor be there at midsummer he should make an effort
to push on to Pampeluna for the fête of 7 July, when for over a
week the city keeps holiday--_les gigantes_ parade the streets,
monstrous figures, representing Moors; and the Alcalde and Corporation
dance in front of the cathedral in honour of S. Firmin, the patron
saint. He will, moreover, have an opportunity of seeing the pretty
Navarrese girls, who have come out of the country for the great annual

But the place of highest historic and romantic interest to be visited
from S. Jean-Pied-de-Port is Roncevaux. Here, on 15 August, 778, the
army of Charlemagne met with a crushing defeat, in which Roland and the
twelve peers of the emperor were overwhelmed by rocks hurled down on
them by the Basques.

The contemporary Eginhard tells us that the king invaded Spain at the
head of a huge army, pushed on as far as Saragossa, and there received
hostages from the Saracen chiefs. On his return, whilst entangled in
the Pyrenean pass, the Basques attacked his rearguard, which perished
to a man. Most of the officers of the palace, to whom Charlemagne had
confided the command of the troops, were among the slain, and with them
“Roland, prefect of the Marches of Brittany.”

No revenge could be taken for this disaster, as the light-footed
mountaineers dispersed, and could not be reached. This is all we know
for certain, but even in this account the existence of Roland among
the captains slain is doubtful, as the passage referring to him is an
interpolation, and is not found in the best MSS. copies.

In 810 Louis “le Debonaire,” at that time King of Aquitaine, on his
return from an expedition into Spain, took the precaution of securing
the wives and children of the Basques and retaining them as hostages
till he was safely through the pass. But in 824 the Frank army
descended to Pampeluna, under two counts, and on its way back was
surprised at Roncevaux by the Basques; the troops were slaughtered and
the counts taken. These two disasters in popular tradition were run
into one, and gave occasion to the composition of the “Song of Roland,”
one of the finest pieces of medieval poetry that we possess.

    “‘The Song of Roland,’” says Mr. Ludlow, “apart from any
    question of literary merit, has a peculiar interest for our
    country, not only as forming one of the treasures of the
    Bodleian, but from its connexion with one of the half dozen
    greatest events in our history--the Battle of Hastings. For
    there, as we are told by Wace, William of Normandy’s minstrel
    ‘Taillefer who full well sang, on a horse that was swift, went
    before them singing _Of Charlemagne and of Roland, and of
    Oliver and of the vassals who died at Roncevaux_.’”[E]

    [E] Ludlow, _Popular Epics of the Middle Ages_. London, 1865.

The very earliest text extant of this poem is in the Bodleian Library
at Oxford. All other songs of Roland are amplifications of later date.

Thus it appears that to the chanting of this ballad by a minstrel
William went forward to the conquest of England.

One of the most popular books of the Middle Ages was the _History of
the Life of Charlemagne and of his Nephew Roland_, which passed as
the composition of Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims, a man who died about
800. It was a historical romance based on old ballads, composed in the
twelfth century, and of no historic value whatsoever. Pope Callixtus II
formally decided, however, in 1122, that it was veracious history.

In this book we have the fully-developed story of the defeat at
Roncevaux. In it, declared by an infallible Pope to be authentic and
trustworthy, we are informed that Charlemagne was eight feet high,
measured by his own feet, “which were of the largest size,” that at a
meal he would consume a quarter of a sheep, and if that were not at
hand, then he would appease his appetite with two fowls, or a duck, a
peacock, a crane, or a hare.

The army had marched into Spain, and Roland and Ganilon the Traitor
had been sent forward to Saragossa on an embassage to the Soudan, who,
according to the counsel of Ganilon, spake fair and consented to all
Charlemagne’s demands. Consequently the host of the Franks returned
through the Pyrenees, unsuspicious of evil. Charles led the van, and
Roland and Oliver the rearguard. Meanwhile the Saracens had gone about
by bypaths, and they suddenly appeared to intercept the march of that
body of men which was under the command of Roland and Oliver. A furious
fight ensued, Oliver fell, and Roland alone survived. Then he put his
ivory horn to his lips and blew such a blast that Charles heard it,
though many leagues away, and he knew thereby that his nephew was in
danger. With the blast Roland broke a blood-vessel, and, sinking to the
ground, he dashed his good sword Durandal against the rocks with intent
to break it, lest it should fall into the hands of the paynim.

To this day at Roncevaux a mass is said in May above the tombs of
the paladins, in the little chapel supposed to have been founded by
Charlemagne, and this mass is for the repose of the souls of those who
fell in the massacre of Roncevaux.

Roncevaux itself consists of a few poor huts about a monumental
convent, from the midst of which rises the church with a massive
square tower. The “royal and illustrious collegiate church” was
considered in Spain to be the fourth in order of the holy spots on
earth. The other three were Jerusalem, Rome, and Compostella. The
chapter was under the special protection of the Holy See, and the King
of Spain nominated the prior. This dignitary and six canons are all
that remain of the ancient order of Roncevaux. Throughout the convent
may be seen its badge, a cross, the middle member curved at the head
like a pastoral staff, and with a sword at the feet.

Pilgrims from France, Germany, and Italy were wont to cross the
Pyrenees on their way to Compostella, and many lost their lives in
the snow. On this account, in 1131, the Bishop of Pampeluna founded a
hospital at Roncevaux for their accommodation, and he dispatched one of
the canons of his cathedral to attend to the requirements and comforts
of the pilgrims. This was the origin of the convent that grew rich
with the gifts of kings and princes who were lodged there. The canons
of Roncevaux wear a sleeveless surplice and a black amice over their
shoulders in summer, but in winter a thick black cloak and a furred
hood. When they go out they wear a short linen scapular over their

Under the tower is a Gothic hall. This, with the cloister and the
church, was erected by Sanchez the Strong, King of Navarre, in the
thirteenth century. He and his wife repose in the church under a marble

In this church is a Mater Dolorosa, the eyes of which are apparently
full of tears. This appearance is due to the insertion of diamonds,
but the ignorant peasantry are fully convinced that the eyes of the
Madonna really brim with tears for their sorrows, and out of profound

Near the convent formerly stood a pillar commemorative of the defeat of
Charlemagne’s rearguard, but the monument was destroyed in 1794 by two
commissioners of the French Republic, to the performance of a “musique
touchante.” These men headed a column called l’Infernale; it entered
Spanish territory, and carried fire and sword everywhere. They pillaged
the church and the convent, and wrecked all they could lay hands on.

Over this pass fled Joseph Bonaparte, without his crown, after the rout
of Vittoria. At Roncevaux is a little inn where the traveller has an
opportunity of seeing a Spanish kitchen, with a central hearth, about
which are ranged as many little saucepans as there are visitors to be
entertained, and of hearing the custom-house officers play the guitar,
and seeing the muleteers dancing the fandango.

Smuggling thrives in the Pyrenees, indeed it is impossible to suppress
it. The most daring and successful of all smugglers are the Basques,
and the mountains in their part not being of the loftiest, free trade
can be carried on with comparative ease. F. Michel, in _Le Pays
Basque_, says:--

    “Contraband is a veritable profession that employs a great many
    hands. Men thoroughly upright and strictly honest take part in
    it. The chiefs are well known, and one is certain of meeting
    with fidelity, integrity, and chivalrous devotion among them.
    This may be understood, because their profession depends mainly
    on the confidence which their character inspires, and without
    which the merchants would not venture to have recourse to them.”

Consider what the length of the chain is--350 miles as the crow flies,
500 if you follow the frontier line. Tobacco is a Government monopoly
in France, and French tobacco is execrable. There are in that 500 miles
a thousand passes: some easy, others difficult. The douane cannot be
everywhere; it can be planted at certain fixed points, but the officers
are not ubiquitous, cannot guard every port, for the ports are in the
region of perpetual snow, where, if stationed, the officers would
freeze at their posts. Besides, the douanier gravitates instinctively
towards the cabaret, where he can have his wine, his coffee, his
absinthe, about a stove. And none of the taverns are planted on the
more difficult cols. Consequently a very considerable traffic is done
across the frontier by these honourable and intelligent men, the

In November, 1835, the Princess of Beira was on her way from Naples
to Spain to be married to the Pretender, Don Carlos. She was his
sister-in-law, but at Rome dispensations are ever obtainable for money.

Ferdinand VII, by his third wife, Maria Christina, daughter of Francis
I, King of the Two Sicilies, had a daughter, Isabella, born in 1830.
Now Don Carlos was the brother of Ferdinand. When this latter died,
in 1834, Carlos claimed the crown. Queen Christina had become regent,
whilst Isabella was a minor. Carlos went to the north of Spain, and war
broke out between the Carlists and the Christinos. Spain, Portugal,
England, and France united in quadruple alliance to support the claims
of Queen Christina. Carlos was in the Spanish Biscay, and he summoned
to him his son by his wife Maria Frances, who was dead, and also his
intended wife, the Princess of Beira. This lady undertook to leave
Naples, traverse France, pick up on her way the Prince of the Asturias,
who was at Toulouse, and join her intended husband in the Basque
province of Spain.

Her journey had to be carried out with precaution, as France
opposed the pretensions of Don Carlos. She managed, attended by the
Count Custine and a Portuguese lady, to secure the Prince of the
Asturias and to make her way to Bayonne. There she remained awhile
in concealment till warned that her retreat was discovered, when she
fled and delivered herself up to the protection and guidance of some
smugglers. After a day spent in wandering through the forest of Mixe,
with which her guides were unfamiliar, she reached in the evening
the valley of Mìharin, between Hasparren and S. Palais. It had been
arranged that she should sup at the cabaret of Sallubria; but the place
was so squalid that Count Custine advised the Princess to throw herself
on the hospitality of the Viscount de Belsunce, who had a château hard
by. This she did, and was received with the utmost civility, though it
was not allowed to transpire who she was. Thence one of the smuggler
guides, Baptista Etchegoyen, was dispatched with instructions to the
contraband Captain Ganis to aid the Princess in her escape. He arrived
in the middle of the night with some of his band, and with horses
carrying bundles containing disguises.

In order to reach the frontier it was necessary to pass through
Hélitte, a station of douaniers, on the high road from Bayonne to S.
Jean-Pied-de-Port. In order to effect this, Ganis took advantage of
a funeral that was to take place at half-past ten in the morning. He
left Méharin at 9 a.m. attending the two ladies, dressed as mourners.
At a little distance from the place the Princess and her attendant
had to alight and go direct to the church, where Ganis informed her
they were to place themselves behind a tall woman in mourning, and to
follow her when she left the church. The ladies assisted at the office
for the dead, with hoods concealing their faces. They followed the
corpse to the cemetery, and passed the station of the douaniers without
attracting attention. On reaching a valley they found horses awaiting
them, and by evening they had reached Macaye, near Hasparren, where
they lodged in the house of Ganis.

Fatigued by the journey, the Princess hoped to pass a quiet night,
but soon after dark an alarm was given. Fifteen to eighteen hundred
men--soldiers, gendarmes, and douaniers--were patrolling the country in
quest of the Princess. A party of these men, suspecting that she was
under the protection of Ganis, approached the house with the purpose
of searching it. The smuggler roused the ladies, made them follow him
on foot, and under his conduct they reached the banks of a river that
was swelled by the rain then descending in torrents. Ganis took the
Princess on his back, and stepped into the water. He was followed by
his brother with the lady-in-waiting. The flood rose to his armpits,
and he had the utmost difficulty in struggling across. Before he had
reached the further bank he heard shouts, and looking back, saw a crowd
of uniforms on that he had quitted. The smugglers and their charges now
made for the road into Spain by Anhoue, and succeeded in passing the
frontier without further adventures.

Next morning the south wind bore to Bayonne the joyous clatter of the
bells of Urdase, and of all the Spanish villages over the frontier,
celebrating the marriage of the Princess of Beira with the Pretender,
Don Carlos of Bourbon. In the meantime the Count Custine had remained
with the Prince of the Asturias in the château of M. de Belsunce.
Baptista now returned for them. They were disguised as Basque peasants,
mounted horses, and departed under the conduct of the energetic and
indefatigable Etchegoyen, who conducted them by a different route from
that taken by the Princess, to where they met her and the Prince, his

It would be unpardonable to quit the Basques without a few words
on the Couvade, a custom once prevalent among them, but by no means
peculiar to them, as it has been found in Asia, Africa, and America.

Immediately after childbirth the woman rises and goes about the
business of the house, whereas the husband at once retires to bed
with the baby, receives the congratulations of the neighbours, and
is fed on broth and pap during ten days. Strabo mentions this usage
above eighteen hundred years ago as prevalent among the Iberians, the
ancestors of the Basques. “The women,” he says, “after the birth of a
child, nurse their husbands, putting them to bed instead of going to it
themselves.” That this custom was widely spread in the south of France
appears from the medieval tale of _Aucussin and Nicolette_. In it the
hero finds King Theodore _au lit en couche_, whereupon he takes a stick
and thrashes him till he vows to abolish the Couvade in his realms.
Diodorus Siculus, at the beginning of the Christian era, tells us that
this custom also prevailed in Corsica.

Marco Polo, in the thirteenth century, met with it in Eastern Asia, so
that the widow’s remark to Sir Hudibras was not amiss--

 “Chineses go to bed
  And lie-in in their ladies’ stead.”

The same custom is found among the American Indians.

What can be its meaning? What topsy-turvydom of the human brain can
have originated it? Mr. Tylor, in his _Early History of Mankind_, says
that it proceeded from a notion that the woman was a mere machine for
the turning out of babies, and that the babes were not in the least
supposed to belong to her, but to the father. Also that the child was
part and parcel of the father, a feeble and frail parcel, and that the
utmost precaution had to be taken to keep the male parent in health
lest the child should suffer. If the father were to take a pinch of
snuff, the infant would sneeze its brains away; if he were to eat
solid food, the babe would suffer indigestion. A missionary found it
impossible to persuade his Indian servant to eat anything but slops
directly after the birth of a son and heir, as he was persuaded heavy
diet would injure the child. Then the missionary belaboured his servant
with a stick, and sent him to look at his infant smiling in its sleep,
and so convinced the man of his delusion.

This may be the explanation. I cannot say. Mankind does many things out
of sheer cussedness.



    Court of the counts of Foix--Froissart--Gaston Phœbus--Kills
    his son--And a cousin--Death of Phœbus--Evan de Foix--The
    bastards of Phœbus--Tragic death of Evan--Bridge over the
    Gave--Jeanne d’Albret--Her despotic actions--Flight to La
    Rochelle--Charles sends La Terride into Béarn--Jeanne invites
    Montgomery to her aid--He enters Béarn--Takes Orthez--
    Massacre--The castle capitulates--Broken faith--Murder of
    ten barons--Slaughter of priests and monks--Catholic worship
    forbidden--Death of Jeanne--Castle of Belocq--Puyôo--
    Battlefield of Orthez--Retreat of Soult.

Orthez has little to occupy it save to brood over its past. It is
a dull town, without characteristic features, and it sulks because
Pau the parvenue is flourishing, and flaunting, whilst itself, the
venerable Orthez, the once capital, sits as a widow, desolate.

Till the fifteenth century it was the residence of the Court of the
counts of Foix and viscounts of Béarn, whose castle of Moncada occupied
the height above the town. A splendid pile it was, erected by Gaston
VII, in 1240, after the pattern of a Spanish castle of the name that he
had taken. This had proved to him a hard nut to crack, and he hoped to
make the new Moncada by additional works wholly uncrackable. But the
tooth of Time has broken it completely, and nothing of it now remains
save the keep.

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE, ORTHEZ]

The town was astir and aglow when Gaston Phœbus resided in the
castle. Froissart so describes it. Minstrels, merchants, knights,
adventurers, swarmed in the streets, and streamed into the castle,
which they did not leave empty-handed. “I have heard him say, when the
King of Cyprus was in Béarn proposing a crusade, that if the kings of
France and of England had gone to the Holy Land, he himself would have
been the most considerable lord in the host, second only to them, and
would have led the largest contingent.”

Gaston Phœbus, Count of Foix and Viscount of Béarn, was the son of
Gaston IX and the elderly Eleanor de Cominges. On account of his beauty
he was given the name of Phœbus, and he adopted the blazing sun as his
device. He was arrested by King John of France when at Paris because he
refused to do homage for his lands, but was released and given command
of an army in Guyenne to war against the English.

Froissart visited Orthez, and lodged at the tavern “La Lune,” now
rebuilt and renamed “La belle Hôtesse.”

    “I must say,” wrote he, “that although I have seen many
    knights, kings, princes, and other great men, I have never seen
    any so handsome as he, either in mould of limb and shape, or
    in countenance, which was fair and ruddy, lit up with grey,
    amorous eyes, that delighted whenever he chose to express
    affection. He was so perfectly formed that it is not possible
    to overpraise him. Gaston Phœbus was a prudent knight, full
    of enterprise and wisdom. He never allowed men of abandoned
    character to be about his person; he reigned prudently, and was
    constant at his devotions. He mightily loved dogs above other
    animals, and during the summer and winter amused himself with
    hunting. He employed four secretaries, whom he called neither
    John, Walter, nor William, but his Good-for-noughts, and to
    these he gave his letters to copy out.”

But this prince was no other than a lusty, handsome animal, incapable
of controlling his passions, and whilst profuse in largesses to
wandering _jongleurs_ and travellers, who would bruit abroad his
praises, mean in money matters in other particulars.

Gaston Phœbus succeeded his father in 1343, and in 1348 married
Agnes, daughter of Philip III of Navarre. By her he had one son,
Gaston, as beautiful as Phœbus himself, and an amiable youth. Before
long the Count and his wife fell out. The quarrel was sordid--it
concerned money. Phœbus had imprisoned the Sieur d’Albret. The King
of Navarre, Charles the Bad, brother of the Countess, interceded for
his liberation, and undertook to guarantee payment of fifty thousand
francs for his ransom. Accordingly Gaston released him, and d’Albret
paid the money into the hands of the King of Navarre, who pocketed
it, and declined to send it to the Count of Foix, under the plea that
he was trustee for his sister and reserved it as her dower. The Count
resented this upon his wife, whom he called by all the bad names in his
copious vocabulary. He had taken a mistress, and he openly favoured
her in the face of his wife for her humiliation. By this woman he had
three sons. Then he ordered Agnes to visit the Court of Navarre and use
her personal influence to obtain the money due. The Countess went, but
failed to induce her brother to disburse; and knowing how ungovernable
was the temper of her husband, how little he loved her, she shrank from
returning to Orthez.

The boy Gaston at the age of fifteen entreated leave to visit his
mother at Pampeluna. The lad was distressed at the estrangement, and
pined for his mother. Accordingly his father gave him a splendid
retinue of gallant youths, and the Bishop of Lescar as his chaplain.
Charles the Bad resolved on a diabolical act of treachery. When the
boy was leaving he drew him aside, assured him of his distress at
seeing the lad’s father alienated in heart from his mother, and gave
him a bag of arsenic, which he informed him was a love powder. This he
was to strew on his father’s meat, or drop into his cup, when Phœbus’s
love for his wife would infallibly revive. But on no account, said
Charles, was Gaston to breathe a word of this to any one, and he must
be cautious to seize the right moment for the administration of the
dose, when unobserved. Gaston, fully believing what his uncle said,
hung the bag round his neck under his dress, and returned to Orthez.

Now it happened that Gaston and his half-brother, the bastard Evan,
slept in the same room. They were nearly of the same age and size, and
dressed alike. Evan did not fail to notice the silk bag and questioned
Gaston about it, but was put off with evasive answers.

Three days after Evan and Gaston quarrelled over a game of tennis, and
Gaston boxed his half-brother’s ears. Evan ran to his father and told
him that Gaston carried in his bosom a mysterious pouch of which he
would give no account.

At dinner Phœbus was served by his son, Gaston, and looking hard at
him observed the string about his neck. Laying hold of him, he tore
open his vest, and discovered the bag of powder. He cut the string,
and gave some of the white contents on a piece of meat to a dog, that
ate it and died. Then in a paroxysm of rage, knife in hand, he leaped
over the table, swearing that he would kill Gaston, who had purposed to
poison him. He would have slain him on the spot had not his servants
interposed and disarmed him.

The Count then ordered the boy to be thrown into a dungeon. At the same
time he had all the attendants of the youth who had been with him in
Navarre arrested and tortured, and fifteen of them were forthwith hung.
“Which was a pity,” says Froissart, “for there were not in all Gascony
such handsome and well-appointed squires.” The Bishop of Lescar had
timely warning, and took to his heels.

The Count assembled the Estates of Béarn and laid before them his
charge against the boy, and they unanimously decided that the prince
must not be executed, but kept in durance for awhile; nor would they
separate till they had extorted from Phœbus a solemn undertaking to
submit to their decision.

But the poor lad, knowing his innocence, wounded to the quick at the
manner in which he had been duped by his uncle, at the blind conviction
of his guilt entertained by his father, at the barbarity with which his
companions had been racked, and strung up, refused all food. He was
confined in a narrow dungeon, badly lighted, and his gaoler at first
did not observe that the meals he brought him remained untouched. But
on the tenth day--I quote Froissart--

    “The person who served him, looking about the cell, saw all the
    meat unconsumed with which he had been previously supplied.
    Then, shutting the door, he went to the Count of Foix and said,
    ‘My lord, for God’s sake, look to your son, he is starving
    himself in his prison. I do not believe that he has eaten a
    morsel since his confinement.’ On hearing this the Count was
    enraged, and without saying a word went to his son’s prison. In
    an evil hour he had a knife in his hand, with which he had been
    paring his nails. He held it so close by the blade that of the
    point scarcely so much as the size of a groat showed.

    “Thrusting aside the tapestry that covered the door of the
    dungeon, through ill luck he struck his son on the jugular
    vein, as he shouted, ‘Ha, traitor! why dost thou not eat?’ and
    instantly flung out of the chamber without saying or doing
    more. The lad was frightened at his father’s violence, and was,
    moreover, weak through long fasting. The point of the knife,
    small though it was, had severed the artery, and when he felt
    what had been done, he turned himself on one side on his pallet
    and expired.

    “The Count had hardly returned to his apartment before his
    servants came running after him to announce the death of his
    son. ‘Dead is he? God help me!’ exclaimed the Count. ‘Dead he
    is, my lord.’ The Count was greatly affected, and said, ‘Ah,
    ha, Gaston! what a sorry business this has proved for me and

This was by no means his only crime. He induced his cousin, Pierre
Arnaut de Béarn, governor of the Castle of Lourdes, to visit him,
on the plea that he wished to discuss matters with him. Arnaut held
Lourdes for the English. Gaston Phœbus desired to acquire this
stronghold, which was the key to the Valley of Argelez. He received
Arnaut in a friendly manner, and they dined together. For three days
he showed him lavish hospitality, and then demanded the surrender of
the castle. Arnaut refused. “I hold it for the King of England. It has
been confided to my honour,” he replied, “and to no other person will
I surrender my trust.” Gaston Phœbus flew into one of his mad fits of
rage, rushed upon him, and stabbed him in five places with his dagger.
“My Lord,” said the gallant castellan, “this is ungentle treatment,
to summon me to your house as a guest, and therein to murder me.” The
Count ordered him to be flung into a dungeon, where he died of his

The crime availed Phœbus nothing, for Jean, the brother of Pierre, had
been left in charge of the castle, and he refused to give it up.

The Viscount of Châteaubon, the Count’s cousin-germain, heir to his
lands and titles, after the death of Gaston the younger, was greatly
hated by Phœbus. He retained him in prison for eight months, and only
released him for a ransom of fifty thousand francs. Froissart gives an
account of the end of Phœbus. He had been out hunting near Sauveterre,
in the month of August, when the heat was great. He had killed a boar,
that was brought to the inn at Riou, where the Count would dine.

    “The Count went to his chamber, that was strewn with rushes
    and green leaves; the walls were hung with boughs freshly
    cut for perfume and coolness. He had no sooner entered the
    room than he remarked, ‘These greens are agreeable to me, for
    the day has been desperately hot.’ When seated he conversed
    with Sir Espagne du Lyon (his chaplain) on the dogs that had
    best hunted. He called for water to wash, and two squires
    advanced. Ernaudin d’Espagne took the silver basin, and another
    knight, Sir Thibaut, the napkin. The Count rose from his seat,
    and stretched out his hands to wash; but no sooner had his
    fingers touched the cold water than he changed colour, from an
    oppression at his heart, and his legs failing him, fell back
    on his seat, exclaiming, ‘I am a dead man; but God have mercy
    on me!’ He never spoke after this. He was carried to another
    chamber, and laid on a bed and well covered.

    “The two squires who had brought the water, to free themselves
    from any charge of having poisoned him, said, ‘Here is the
    water; we have already drunk of it, and will now do it again
    in your presence,’ which they did, to the satisfaction of all.
    They put into the Count’s mouth bread, water, and spices, but
    all to no purpose, for in less than half an hour he was dead.”

No sooner was the breath out of his body than Evan de Foix, his
bastard, whom he loved dearly, galloped to Orthez to get possession
of the treasure in the tower. On his admission to the castle, before
it was known in the town that the Count was dead, he endeavoured to
open the chamber that contained the treasure, but failed; it was fast
behind three oak doors, and he could nowhere find the key. But in the
meanwhile the chaplain had found it upon the body of the Count, and
guessing the predicament in which was Evan, he also took horse and
raced off to Orthez.

By this time a vague rumour had reached the town that something had
happened to the Count, and the townsmen began to assemble in the
streets. The chaplain entered the castle, and now that he was provided
with the key Evan de Foix was able to reach the treasure. But it was
too late for him to make off with it. Before he could pack it up and
form plans for its transport, the death of Gaston Phœbus was known, and
crowds surrounded the castle and forbade egress. Evan was constrained
to show himself at a window and speak the citizens fair. They wished
him no ill, they replied, but they would neither suffer him to plunder
and carry off the treasure, nor leave the castle, till the Viscount of
Châteaubon, the lawful heir, had arrived--this latter was in Aragon at
the time. He at once started for Orthez, and a great assembly of the
Estates of Béarn was held. It was then determined that of the treasure,
the Viscount should have five thousand francs, and the bastards, who
had been put in chains till the will of the Estates was known, should
be set at liberty and allowed each two thousand francs.

    “The Viscount of Châteaubon, on his arrival at Orthez, set at
    liberty all prisoners confined in the castle. They were very
    numerous; for the Count of Foix was very cruel to any person
    who incurred his indignation, never sparing them, however high
    their rank, but ordering them to be flung headlong over the
    walls, or confined on bread and water during his pleasure; and
    such as ventured to speak for their deliverance ran the risk of
    being treated in like manner.”

Gaston Phœbus was born in 1331, and died in 1391. He left three
bastards; of these Bernard married Isabella de la Cerda, and became the
ancestor of the dukes of Medina-Celi. The eldest son, Evan, he who had
unwittingly brought about the death of his half-brother Gaston, met
with a tragic fate. A marriage was to take place between a squire in
whom the King, Charles VI, was interested and a damsel of the Queen’s
household, and it was arranged that there should be a masque of savages
in the evening, 29 January, 1392-3, in which the King was to take part.
There were to be six of these savages in chains, and they were to
perform a dance before the wedding party, and one of these maskers was
to be the Bastard of Foix. The performers were to be dressed in coats
of linen covered with flax, stuck on by means of pitch, and these linen
vests were to be stitched on so as to fit the person tight as a glove.
Sir Evan de Foix, with some foresight, entreated the King to forbid any
one approaching the dancers with torches. Such an order was accordingly
issued, and when the maskers entered the room, the serjeants commanded
all torch-bearers to withdraw. But, unhappily, whilst the savages were
capering, and producing much merriment, the Duke of Orleans entered
attended by four knights and six torches, they being not aware of the
King’s order, and so amused were those present with the dance that this
infraction of the royal command was not noticed. No one knew who the
maskers were, and various conjectures were offered. Happily for him
the King quitted the others, by unhooking his chain, and danced up to
the Duchess of Berri, who laid hold of him exclaiming, “You shall not
escape me till I have learned your name.”

At that very moment the Duke of Orleans, young and thoughtless, ran
forward with a torch to examine the savages more closely. In an instant
the flax on one ignited, in another moment the flame was communicated
to the others, for those five were chained together; only the King was
unlinked. The shrieks of those enveloped in flames were awful. Some
knights rushed forward and did their utmost to disengage the dancers,
but the pitch burnt their hands so severely, and so impossible did they
find it to rip away the habits, that they were constrained to desist.
One of the five, Jean de Nantouillet, recollected that the buttery was
near at hand. Exerting all his force, he snapped the chain, and flying
thither, plunged into a large tub of water prepared for the washing of
plates and dishes. This saved him, but he ever after bore the scars of
his burns.

The Duchess de Berri, the moment that she saw what had occurred, with
presence of mind, threw her mantle over the King, and retained him in
her arms, as he was rushing off in thoughtless generosity to endeavour
to save his companions. “Quick,” said she, “leave the room and assume
another dress.”

Evan de Foix, when enveloped in flames, cried aloud, “Save the King!
save the King!”

Of the four that were on fire, two died on the spot. The other two--the
Bastard of Foix and the Count de Joigny--died two days after in great

Orthez contains the Calvinist University established here by Jeanne
d’Albret, a building of the sixteenth century, now no longer used for
the purpose designed.

The bridge over the Gave is picturesque; it has one broad arch spanning
the river, and three pointed arches sustaining the road leading to it,
raised high to avoid floods. On the main pier is a tower, whence in
1569 the Calvinist soldiery of Montgomery precipitated the priests who
would not abjure the faith, upon the pointed rocks below.

Jeanne d’Albret, after the death of her husband, Antoine de Bourbon,
threw off the mask, and set diligently to work Protestantizing her
dominions. She put one of her pastors in the see of Oloron; her
kinsman, d’Albret, Bishop of Lescar, apostatized and married. She found
in many places that the people were ready for a change, especially such
as had been subject to exactions from the monasteries, which owned much
land and exercised extensive jurisdiction. In many, however, there was
strong resistance. In 1566 she was about to absolutely interdict the
exercise of the Catholic religion in Béarn, Foix, and Bigorre, when the
resistance of the Estates and the threatening attitude of the people
alarmed her and she withheld the edict for a time. In 1568, finding
that Charles IX was about to send troops into her land to protect the
oppressed Catholics, and fearing lest she should have her children
taken from her, she fled to La Rochelle, the Geneva of French Calvinism.

Charles IX announced his resolution to take possession of Béarn.
Bigorre was in revolt against her reforms, and a good many of the
seigneurs of Béarn could not endure them. The King commissioned the
terrible Monluc to pacify Bigorre, and the Baron de Terride to do
the same in Béarn. The Béarnais were in difficulties. They were to a
man loyal to their Viscountess, the titular Queen of Navarre, but a
considerable number of them were opposed to her religious policy, and
did not relish the taste of Calvinism. If they joined the forces of
the King they were rebels to their sovereign. If they took up arms for
her they fought for a religion that their soul abhorred. Nay, Pontacq,
Morlaas, shut their gates against the royal forces, and were reduced.
Lescar, Sauveterre, and Salies opened their gates to them.

Béarn was rapidly reduced. Clearly the object at which the King aimed
was to bring it completely under the crown of France. Two syndics of
Béarn addressed the King in the name of the Estates to declare that for
eight centuries the viscounty had been independent, that the King of
France was the protector but not the sovereign of the land. The Queen
of Navarre now gave commission to the Count of Montgomery to drive the
French out of her territories, and to establish throughout them the
reform of Calvin as the sole religion permissible. Montgomery was the
lieutenant of the Scottish Guard, who, in a tournament, in 1559, had
inadvertently killed Henry II, King of France. Obliged to fly the land,
he placed his sword at the disposal of any prince who was disposed to
smite the Catholics and the Royalists hip and thigh. Obeying the orders
of Jeanne, communicated to him from La Rochelle, Montgomery raised a
body of sturdy Huguenots and entered Béarn.

Alarmed at the rapidity of his movements, and himself at the head of
but a small body of men, the Baron de Terride retreated to Orthez, and
shut himself up in the Castle of Moncada.

Montgomery arrived at Pontacq on 6 August, 1562, crossed the Gave, and
advanced on Orthez. There, taking advantage of the gates being opened
to receive fugitives from the villages round, some of his soldiers
thrust in. Simultaneously the walls were escaladed, and the town was
given up to indiscriminate slaughter. In the name of their queen, all
the inhabitants were put to the sword.

The Gave rolled down the dead and flowed crimson with blood. The
Protestant historian Olhagaray says: “The river was full of blood,
the streets were heaped up with corpses. The convents were burnt. The
cries of the dying and the shouts of the murderers, the lamentations
of women and children filled the air with piteous sounds.” The Convent
of the Cordeliers offered a theatre for barbarities. The friars were
made to leap from the windows into the river, and were shot if they
endeavoured to gain the bank.

No excuse offered for this massacre will avail. The town was not taken
after a siege; it was not stormed by night; it was entered without
offering resistance, in broad day. The butchery at Orthez leaves an
indelible stain on the brow of Jeanne d’Albret.

A striking incident is remembered. One of the friars was at the altar
when the Huguenots burst in. He hastily took the monstrance, folded his
arms over it, and to save the Host from profanation, threw himself into
the Gave. The river swept his body into the Bidouze, and the Bidouze
into the Adour, and it was washed up under the walls of the Cordelier
Convent at Bayonne, still clasping in its rigid arms the vessel with
its sacred contents.

Terride, accompanied by the principal chiefs, had retreated into the
castle, but with such precipitation that they had forgotten to take in
a supply of provisions. Consequently in a few days they were forced to
surrender, under oath from Montgomery that their lives would be spared.

They were sent to Pau, ten barons of Béarn in all. One evening they
were invited by the Calvinist captain to dine with him at his table
in the Queen’s banqueting hall. During the meal they shook off their
despondency, and began to be merry over their cups, when, at a signal
from Montgomery, soldiers entered and butchered all the barons about
the table where they had been feasting.

“This cruel execution,” says Favyn, in his _History of Navarre_,
“took place on 24 August, the feast of S. Bartholomew.... The news
angered King Charles greatly, and it is supposed that he then formed
the resolution of making a second S. Bartholomew’s Day in expiation of
the first.” So one crime draws on another--a Nemesis, which, however,
does not fall on the criminals, but on the guiltless. Montgomery was
now master of Béarn. How many priests and monks were slaughtered none
knew. Nearly all the friars of Morlaas were shot down. The prior of
the Carmelites at Sauveterre was hung, and the rest of the brethren
thrown into a well till they choked it up. All the priests caught near
S. Sever were led to the brow of a precipice and forced at the point of
pikes to leap down. At Orthez the prior of the Augustines was ordered
to mount the pulpit and recant. He ascended, but it was to profess his
adherence to the Catholic faith, whereupon he was shot in the pulpit.
All his seven brethren met their fate with like heroism. They were made
to walk down a lane formed of Huguenot soldiers with swords drawn, and
were hacked to pieces, one after another.

The Calvinist soldiers did not even respect the dead. They broke open
the vault in which lay Gaston Phœbus, took his skull, and played
skittles with it. Great numbers of gentlemen and their families,
Catholics of every rank and sex, fled to the mountains or crossed into

Montgomery, having finished with Béarn, left the command with the
Baron d’Arros, and departed for more active work elsewhere. Jeanne
d’Albret now dispatched injunction after injunction, proclamation after
proclamation, in one continuous stream, into Béarn from her refuge
in La Rochelle. On 28 November, 1569, she required that Calvinistic
worship should be established everywhere, in every town and parish,
throughout her dominions; and in 1571 she forbade the celebration of
the Mass under pain of death. She would allow an amnesty to such as
had taken up arms during the late troubles, but only on condition that
they adopted her form of religion.

In 1572 Jeanne died in Paris, not without suspicions of poison. She had
gone there to negotiate the marriage of her son Henry with Marguerite
de Valois, sister of Charles IX.

An excursion may be made to the Castle of Belocq, whose towers are
visible from the high road to Bayonne, on the further side of the Gave.
It is situated on a height, at the feet of which the green river sweeps
past the wooded slopes on the farther bank.

The castle is ruinous. It consists of a large, irregular yard with
seven towers in the wall. The entrance gateway is under a donjon.
Through a little door one can mount to the top by a flight of stone
steps, disturbing the bats. On the same side of the enclosure is
a circular tower, octagonal within, with a vaulted chamber in the
basement. On the west side is a beautiful little chamber in a tower,
also vaulted. One tower towards the river, and commanding it, has
been blown up and a great solid mass has fallen into the river below;
on it sit the washerwomen of the village beating their linen. On the
right bank, opposite Belocq, is the village of Puyôo. Puyôo in patois
signifies a tumulus, and the place takes its name from a huge mound
hollowed out as a cup at the top. Certainly the substructure of a Frank
wooden castle, exactly like the tumps that are found in Southern Wales,
and the representations of fortresses in the Bayeux tapestry. The
hamlet of Puyôo is occupied mainly by Calvinists.

But that which will mainly interest an Englishman at Orthez will be to
go over the ground of the battle fought on 27 February, 1814, in which
Lord Wellington defeated Marshal Soult. It was, in fact, one of his
most brilliant victories.

Leaving Sir John Hope and Admiral Penrose to invest Bayonne,
Wellington, with the main force, had pushed on in pursuit of the French
under Soult. These were drawn up at Sauveterre, but whilst Wellington
demonstrated upon the front of the line on which Soult rested, and
whilst the attention of the marshal was wholly engaged by the movements
in his front, Sir Rowland Hill crossed the Gave d’Oloron at Villenave
without opposition on 24 February and turned his left. Upon this Soult
hastily abandoned his ground, transferred his headquarters to Orthez,
and took up a formidable position behind the Gave de Pau.

The position chosen by him was well selected and apparently
impregnable. A half-moon of heights of sandstone and rubble, steep
towards the west, and with gullies torn in the sides, was occupied by
him. His right rested on the bluff above the village of S. Boës. The
left flank rested on the town of Orthez. A reserve of two divisions
of infantry and a brigade of cavalry were drawn up on an elevated and
commanding height by the road to Sault de Navailles. The French marshal
disposed of eight divisions of infantry and one of cavalry, but these
had been wasted from their former strength, and hardly mustered forty
thousand sabres and bayonets, with forty guns.

Wellington was able, unopposed, to cross the Gave in three places, in
three advancing columns.

At daybreak on the 27th Beresford, with the left wing, commenced the
action by turning the enemy’s extreme right at S. Boës, whilst at the
same time Picton assaulted the centre. Hill, with the second British
and Le Cor’s Portuguese brigade, was to endeavour to force the passage
at Orthez and attack the enemy’s left. There was an interval of a mile
and a half between Beresford’s and Picton’s columns, and here was a
conical hill occupied by a Roman camp on the summit, and separated by
a marsh from the semilunar range held by the French. On this height
in the midst of the camp Wellington took his station with his staff,
having the whole battle spread out like a map before him. Beresford,
having overlapped the French right, commenced a vigorous attack in
front and flank on the village of S. Boës. At length the English
reached the top of the hill, and, pursuing the enemy, began to move
along the narrow ridge which stretched from S. Boës to the centre of
the French position. But they failed to dislodge the enemy, who kept
up a rolling fire upon their pursuers, and the artillery raked both
flanks, occasioning dreadful carnage, so that the English were brought
to a stand-still. At the same time a Portuguese brigade, completely
unnerved, turned and fled in disorderly rout, throwing our own men into

Happily a brigade was moved up to cover the retreat of the Portuguese
and allow our own men to recover and re-form. “At last I have him!”
exclaimed Soult exultantly. Wellington, from his point of observation,
saw that the effort to dislodge the French and roll them back on their
centre had failed. He then executed one of those sudden and masterly
changes of attack which exhibit the ready resource of a great general.
He at once ordered up the third and sixth divisions to assail the
centre of the enemy’s position, and turn and take the right wing in
flank. Simultaneously Picton was to mount the ridge where the French
had their right centre, and, breaking the line of formation, drive it
back on to the left. The gallant troops crossed the swamp, with the
water up to their knees, and mounting the hill through the brushwood
unperceived by the foe, amidst the smoke, with a loud shout and a
withering fire plunged into the opening at the very moment that the
French on the right were pressing their advantage against Beresford,
and were driving the fourth division before them.

At the same time Picton reached the summit of the ridge in the middle,
drove the French down the slope, and, planting his guns, plunged
through the enemy’s masses from one end of his position to the other.

Soult saw that the day was lost, and ordered the army to retreat, which
it did in regular echelons of divisions, and they held the several
positions taken up till the allies closed on their front and moved upon
their flank, Hill having by this time crossed above Orthez and cut off
the retreat by the road to Pau. Then the French broke their formation,
and ran for Sault de Navailles with such speed that the great body of
them passed over the bridge in a wild, terror-stricken crowd. However,
nearly two thousand prisoners were taken in the pursuit, and several
guns. The French loss in killed, wounded, and taken, exceeded six
thousand, and some hundreds afterwards deserted, or rather disbanded,
and went to their homes. The loss of the allies amounted to 2300.

It is pleasing to know what excellent discipline was maintained by
Wellington in his march through the Gascon land from Bayonne to
Toulouse. This was due not solely to humanity towards the peasantry,
but also as a precaution to obviate insurrectionary movements in his
rear. He issued a proclamation, authorizing the people of the country,
under the mayors of the villages, to arm themselves, and arrest all
stragglers and marauders from the army. Allison says:--

    “Nor did his proclamation remain a dead letter, for on the
    night of the 25th the inhabitants of a village on the high
    road leading from Sauveterre, having shot one British soldier
    who had been plundering, and wounded another, he caused the
    wounded man to be hung, and sent home an English colonel who
    had permitted his men to destroy the municipal archives of
    a small town on the line of march. ‘Maintain the strictest
    discipline; without that we are lost,’ said he to General
    Freyre. By this means tranquillity was preserved in his rear
    during this critical movement; and the English general reaped
    the fruits of the admirable discipline and forbearance he had
    maintained in the enemy’s country, by being enabled to bring up
    all his reserves, and hurl his undivided force upon the hostile



    Situation--Climate--Stillness of the air--Castle--Abd-el-Kader--
    Thackeray on his imprisonment--View of the Pyrenees--Henry II of
    Navarre--His escape from Pavia--Marguerite des Marguerites--What
    Henry II did for Béarn--Refugee Huguenot preachers--Solon and
    his many wives--Clement Marot--His Psalms--The Queen an odd
    mixture--Story of Mlle. de la Roche--Jeanne d’Albret--Marries
    the Duke of Cleves--Then Antoine de Bourbon--His murder
    planned--Birth of Henry IV--Cradle--Bilhère--Reared at Coarraze
    --Death of Antoine--Intolerance of Jeanne--Meeting with Charles
    IX--Gondin’s unfortunate pleasantry--Marguerite de France’s
    visit to Pau--The Count of Moret--A mysterious hermit--Henry IV
    tolerant--The Baron d’Arros--Demand for the columns of Bielle--
    La Poule au Pot--Lescar--Mosaics--A Roman villa--Gassion--
    A flying Virgin--Jurançon wine.

The situation of Pau is singularly favoured, and one can appreciate
the judgment of Henry II of Navarre in transferring thither the
court residence from Orthez. Pau occupies the back of a rubble ridge
stretching east and west, facing the south, and drinking in the
sunlight and warmth. It does not suffer from cold winds. The land rises
behind it to the north, and one may see the clouds fly overhead without
feeling the air stir at Pau. The calmness of the atmosphere often
persists for weeks together.

[Illustration: PAU]

In this it has an advantage over some of the towns of the French
Riviera, where the mistral cuts like a knife that has been frozen
in an ice-pail. The bitter winds that sweep down on the Riviera are
produced by the snows of the Maritime Alps. But there are no snows at
the back of Pau. When there is no breeding ground for icy winds, no icy
winds are hatched.

But, on the other hand, a good deal of rain is brought up and
discharged over Pau, coming from the Atlantic; and a whole month may
elapse without the promenaders on the terrace being able to catch a
glimpse of the Pic du Midi d’Ossau. The Girondin climate is notoriously
rainy, especially in spring; but nothing can surpass the splendour of
the days in summer and autumn.

Mrs. Ellis, who wrote her _Summer and Winter in the Pyrenees_ in 1841,

    “At the foot of the woody range of high ground forming the
    promenade runs the broad, shallow river Gave, with a perpetual
    low murmur that lulls the senses to repose. It is, in fact, the
    only sound we hear, for there is so little wind in this climate
    that not a leaf is seen to move, and we therefore distinguish
    at a greater distance the toll of the matin and vesper bell in
    the neighbouring villages, and the tinkling sounds which tell
    when the flocks are led to and from the fields. There appears
    at first a sort of mystery in this universal stillness. It
    seems like a pause in the breath of Nature, a suspension of
    the general throb of life, and we almost feel as if it must
    be followed by that shout of joy which the language of poetry
    has so often described as the grateful response of Nature for
    the blessings of light and life. And never, surely, could this
    response be offered more appropriately than from such a scene
    as this rich and fertile land presents.”

It was due to this climatic condition that in the first half of last
century patients in the early stages of consumption were dispatched
to Pau. Now that the treatment of phthisis is revolutionized, it is
no longer a resort for such as suffer from pulmonary complaints, but
serves as a refuge from the stormy English winters for those who desire
pleasant resting places where there are races, fox-hunting, and good
company. The climate, however, does not agree with all constitutions.
It is enervating, a land of lotus-eaters--

  “In which it seemed always afternoon.”

Pau, the old Pau, is attached on the north to the dreary _lande_ of the
Pont-long that has belonged from time immemorial to the inhabitants
of the Val d’Ossau, and which is strewn with tumuli. But from this
plateau it is in part cut off by the stream Hédas, that has cleft for
itself a valley dividing the town into two parts. New Pau has spread
and is spreading to north and east, so that its extremities have to be
reached by electric trams. Happily, to the west it cannot encroach on
the rubble ridge occupied by the park. Between this park and the castle
which occupies the extreme west of the town the ridge has been sawn
through by the stream, but the gap has been widened artificially, and
is now spanned by a bridge.

The Castle of Pau was built at various dates. The four towers and the
curtain uniting them, except the south and east faces, are the oldest
part, and were erected by Gaston Phœbus in or about 1363. The donjon to
the east is of brick, and is furnished with slots. The work begun by
Gaston Phœbus was continued by his successor, but the magnificent south
façade, the state buildings, and the enrichment of the court within, in
the style of the Renaissance, are due to Henry II of Navarre; and the
sixth tower was set up by Louis Philippe.

The whole castle, especially the interior, has gone through a
complete restoration, for it had been plundered and gutted by the
Revolutionists. The tapestries that now cover the walls were collected
from various places. The furniture, to a large extent modern, is a
clumsy imitation of old work; there are, however, some fine ancient
cabinets. In this castle was confined for a while Abd-el-Kader. In
1848 I visited him there several times. He had with him a suite and
his wives, all insensible to the stateliness of the castle and the
glorious panorama from the windows. They lounged about the rooms
silent and smoking, sulky, without occupation and without interests.
Their habits were so dirty that the tapestries and rich furniture had
all to be removed. Abd-el-Kader had maintained a long and gallant
resistance against the French, and when he surrendered to the Duc
d’Aumale and General Lamorcière, it was on the stipulation that he
should be allowed to retire in freedom to Egypt or into Syria. The
terms were accepted and broken. He was removed a prisoner to Toulon,
then to Pau, and in November, 1848, he was transferred to Amboise.
Napoleon III released him in 1852, and he finally settled in Damascus.
In the terrible massacre of the Christians at Damascus in the summer
of 1860, by Turks and Druses, Abd-el-Kader acted with such energy to
protect the Christians that the Emperor of the French sent him the gold
cross of the Legion of Honour. Possibly enough he may have been moved
to this intervention on behalf of the Christians by recollecting the
kindness that was shown him in his captivity by both English and French
residents at Pau, sending him fruit and flowers for the ladies of his

It was during his imprisonment at Toulon that Thackeray wrote his
stirring lines:--

 “No more, thou lithe and long-winged hawk, of desert life for thee;
  No more across the sultry sands shalt thou go swooping free;
  Blunt idle talons, idle beak, with spurning of thy chain,
  Shatter against the cage the wing thou ne’er mayst spread again.

         *       *       *       *       *

 “They gave him what he asked; from king to king he spake
  As one that plighted word and seal not knoweth how to break;
  ‘Let me pass from out my deserts, be’t mine own choice where to go,
  I brook no fettered life to live, a captive and a show.’

 “And they promised and he trusted them, and proud and calm he came,
  Upon his black mare riding, girt with his sword of flame:
  Good steed, good sword, he rendered unto the Frankish throng;
  He knew them false and fickle--but a Prince’s word is strong.

 “How have they kept their promise? Turned they the vessel’s prow
  Upon Acre, Alexandria, as they have sworn e’en now?
  Not so: from Oran northwards the white sails gleam and glance,
  And the wild hawk of the desert is borne away to France.

 “They have need of thee to gaze on, they have need of thee to grace
  The triumph of the Prince, to gild the pinch-beck of their race.
  Words are but wind, conditions must be construed by Guizot:
  Dash out thy heart, thou desert hawk, ere thou art made a show.”

With the exception of the castle there is nothing of architectural
interest in Pau. The churches are modern, and the predominant feature
of the place is hotels, monster hotels that even dwarf the castle.

But the great glory of Pau is the view of the chain of the Pyrenees
from the terrace and the park. That from the Schänzle above Berne of
the giants of the Oberland is beautiful, but not comparable with the
prospect from Pau. All the middle distance in the view from Berne is
filled up with rolling hills, and it is over them that one catches
glimpses of the snowy heads of the Alps. But from Pau one has in front
the broad trough of the Gave, beyond which are the coteaux, not too
high, and not obscuring the lower parts of the mountains. It is true
that an obnoxious swell to the south-west cuts off the prospect of
the range to the Bay of Biscay, but the mountain range can be traced
eastward till it fades into vapour, and the mountains on that side
are by far the boldest and loftiest. Moreover, one can look from Pau
right up the gap of the Val d’Ossau to the roots of the Pic du Midi, an
exquisitely beautiful mountain, only surpassed by the Matterhorn; and
it has this advantage over its rival, that it can be seen from a great
distance, which the other cannot.

Below the terrace of the castle rises the insignificant tower of la
Monaye, where the specie for circulation in Béarn and the annexed
counties was coined.

In the second chapter I told the story of the House of Foix and Béarn
down to the death of Catherine, who ate out her heart with rage because
she could not acquire the kingdom of Upper Navarre, to which she laid
claim. Her son and successor was Henry II of Navarre.

He obtained the name of Henry in a somewhat singular fashion. At his
birth a pilgrim was passing through Pau, of obscure origin, named
Henry, on his way to S. James of Compostella. Jean d’Albret, moved by
a sudden freak, summoned this man to be godfather to his boy, the heir
to the crown of Navarre, instead of inviting a prince to stand sponsor.
This occasioned much ridicule among the haughty Spaniards, who said it
presaged that the young Henry would be a stranger to his kingdom.

He was brought up with Francis I of France, and the two were warmly
attached to each other. He accompanied Francis in his disastrous
expedition to the Milanese, and shared captivity with the King at
Pavia. His ransom was fixed at a hundred thousand crowns. Henry did
not care to burden his little territory with such a charge, and he
devised means to escape. A lady in Pavia managed to convey to his
prison a rope ladder, and one night in December, 1525, when the moon
shone, he slipped out of the window of his cell and descended the
ladder. It was too short, and he fell into the moat. Happily this was
more full of mud than of water, and without loss of time he scrambled
out, plastered with slime, mounted a horse, held in readiness by his
accomplices, galloped away, and managed to reach Lyons. On the morning
after his evasion the commandant of the Castle of Pavia entered the
cell and bade his royal prisoner get up. A voice from the bed replied,
“For pity’s sake, let me sleep a little longer.” He who spoke was a
page of the King of Navarre, who had taken his place, so as to deceive
the guards and give his master time to escape.

The affection and esteem which Francis I had for Henry were shown
in that he gave him as wife his dearly-loved sister Margaret, the
“Marguerite des Marguerites, sa mignonne,” as Francis called her.
The marriage took place on 24 January, 1527. The Court of Paris was
inconsolable at the loss of the lively and charming princess. The
Parisian doctors remonstrated with her at going to so inclement a place
as Pau where, said they, “le gros air du pays lui serait mortel.”
However, go she would, with her beloved Henry, and on reaching Pau she
at once set to work to make herself happy, and to be beloved by the
people. She began by studying the patois and worked at it so diligently
that she was herself astounded at the progress she made.

    “The newly-married pair,” says an old historian, “deliberated
    how to put Béarn in a better condition from that in which they
    found it. This land, good and fertile by nature, was in a poor
    state, uncultivated and sterile through the negligence of the
    inhabitants. It soon changed its appearance.”

Henry devoted himself especially to agriculture; he invited farmers
and labourers from Brittany, Berry, and the Saintonge to settle in the
land and teach the natives improved methods of cultivation; and the
introduction of maize into Béarn was due to him. He set up a linen
factory at Nay, and a printing press at Pau. He collected, revised, and
edited the _fors_ of Béarn, and had them printed at his press in 1551.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE, PAU]

One of the most important pages in the life of the Queen of Navarre
in the Château of Pau was the part she played in receiving refugee
Huguenot preachers. But she never herself became a convert to
Calvinism; she entertained great pity for the innovators who were
driven from place to place, and subjected to cruel persecution. She
offered them an asylum, and listened to their harangues without the
impatience shown by her husband, who, when they began to preach,
retired to his bottle and his cards.

    “The Queen of Navarre,” says Florimond de Rémond, “gave ear
    to them, received their books at first by the hand of her
    ladies, has had the Latin prayers of the church translated into
    French ... out of kindness of heart she throws open her house
    to the proscribed and banished, and bids them regard it as a
    retreat and refuge. She exercises marvellous care in protecting
    those who are in danger on account of their religion, and in
    succouring the refugees from Strassburg and Geneva.

    “Roussel was received by this good princess into Béarn and
    given a state lodging in her house. She takes pleasure in
    listening to him as he discourses on religion. He persuaded
    her to read the Bible, then very uncouthly translated into
    French; and this so pleased her that she composed a tragi-comic
    translation of nearly the whole of the New Testament, and
    had it acted in the great hall before the King, her husband.
    For the purpose she secured the best comedians that could be
    procured from Italy; and as these buffoons are born only to
    afford amusement, and, monkey-like, to mimic what may meet the
    humours of their masters, so these people, recognizing the
    inclination of the Queen, interlarded the text of these plays
    with roundelays and virolais on the theme of the clergy. Always
    some poor monk or _religieuse_ was made the butt in one of
    these comedies or farces.”

Florimond de Rémond goes on to say that some of the preachers harboured
by Marguerite were not of high character. Among them was Solon, a
runaway Carmelite, a “brave et courageux moine,” who embraced the
doctrines of Calvin, and to make up for wasted opportunities in the
past married and buried five wives in succession.

Some of the sacred pieces enacted before the King and Queen were the
Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Flight into Egypt; and into
these plays scurrilous and indecent songs were introduced, without a
word of protest from the preachers.

Marguerite took as her valet Clement Marot, who had not the best of
characters, and scandal said that she liked him a little too well.

Unsuspectingly Marot did a great work for Calvinism in France.

He had translated the Psalms of David into popular rhythm. His metrical
version became the rallying songs of the Huguenots, and formed the
basis of their liturgy. They were set to popular folk-airs.

The French ladies, as he said himself, placed

  leurs doigts sur les espinettes
  pour dire saintes chansonettes.

So little heretical was his version regarded that in 1540, before it
was printed, Francis I made a present of it to Charles V. Florimond de
Rémond says:--

    “Each of the princes and courtiers adopted one or other of the
    psalms for himself. King Henry chose as his own Psalm XLII.,
    _Ainsi qu’on oyt le cerf bruire_, which he sang when hunting.
    Mme. de Valentinois (Diana of Poitiers), his mistress, took as
    hers Ps. CXXX., _Du fond de ma pensée_, which she sang when
    galloping. The Queen had selected V.; _Ne veuillez pas, O
    Sire_, set to a buffoon melody. The King of Navarre, Antoine de
    Bourbon, chose XLIII., _Revenge moy, prens la querelle_, which
    he sang to a branle (a dance tune) of Poitou; and so with the

But little by little these metrical psalms assumed an aggressive tone;
passed among the people, and these took them to heart more seriously
than did the courtiers.

Bordier, in his _Chansonnier huguenot_, says:--

    “It was soon seen with what energy the Huguenots assimilated
    this poetry, which responded so well to their burning faith.
    They knew the psalter by heart. It became one of the tokens by
    which they recognized one another at long distances, before
    coming in sight, when certain familiar melodies were borne
    to their ears. From the windows of the Louvre Henry II more
    than once saw a crowd flushed with enthusiasm fill the Pré aux
    Clercs, promenading in the evening with gravity, trolling out
    these psalms.”

The Queen of Navarre was certainly a strange mixture; she wrote
treatises of piety, composed a _Mirror of the Sinful Soul_, wrote
songs, and in her old age was the authoress of that book of indecent
tales, the _Heptameron_, which is still read, whereas the _Mirror of
the Sinful Soul_ is forgotten.

She took as her device the marigold turning to the sun, and as her
motto, “Non inferiora sequor,” hardly appropriate to the compiler of
the _Heptameron_.

A pretty story is told of her by Brantôme. She had as one of her
ladies-in-waiting Mlle. de la Roche, who had been the mistress of
Captain Bourdeille, but whom he had cast aside and forgotten. Mlle.
de la Roche died in the Queen’s service at Pau, and was buried in the
church of S. Martin. Three months later Bourdeille came to Pau, and was
received by the Queen, who invited him to attend her to the church.
When there, standing in a certain place, Marguerite said to him,
“Do you feel the ground heave under your feet?” “Not in the least,”
he replied. “Surely you do?” “Madame, I assure you that I do not.”
“That is strange,” said the Queen, “for beneath your feet lies your
poor, deserted Mademoiselle de la Roche, sighing because that above
her stands the man who deceived her. I leave you now alone to your

Marguerite entertained a horror of death, but on hearing that her
dearly-loved brother Francis was no more, her joy of life, her spirits
left her, her health failed, and she died at Odos in Bigorre in 1549.

Her daughter, Jeanne d’Albret, was left heiress of Navarre, Béarn,
Bigorre, Foix, and Armagnac, which had been part of her mother’s dower.
Jeanne was born in the Castle of Pau in 1528. At an early age she was
removed to the Court of the King of France, and was betrothed at the
age of twelve, and married in 1546, when eighteen years old, to the
Duke of Cleves, who was twelve years her senior. She was so burdened
with pearls and embroidery over brocade and gold lace at her wedding
that she was unable to walk, and had to be carried into the church from
the carriage in the arms of the Constable of France. But she did not
relish the union, and it was annulled. In 1548 Jeanne married Antoine
de Bourbon, a feeble, voluptuous, irresolute creature, “to one thing
constant never.” He was first a Catholic, then a Huguenot, under the
influence of the commanding intellect of his wife, and then a Catholic
again; it mattered not to him, for he had no fixed principles. But
Jeanne never forgave his rejoining the Church, for she was a bigoted

Jeanne was nearly deprived of her husband. Antoine de Bourbon, who was
suspected of taking part with his brother, the great Condé, in the
conspiracy of Amboise, 1550, was marked out for destruction. The two
brothers were arrested by Francis II. Olhagary, a Protestant writer,
gives what follows. He had it from the recital of Queen Jeanne herself;
but how far coloured by her prejudices we are unable to say.

    “The Prince of Condé was sentenced to have his head cut off
    before the King’s residence, on 10 December. Antoine de Bourbon
    was to be stabbed by the King himself. For this he was ordered
    to attend in the chamber of the King, who pretended to be ill.
    Francis was to stab him with his own hand, aided by the Guises
    who were hid behind the arras.”

Antoine was on the point of entering the presence chamber when the
Duchess de Montpensier caught him by the arm and revealed to him the
plot. He then withdrew. But again a messenger arrived from the King
ordering him to appear. Then he summoned to him Reuti, the captain of
his guards, and said--

    “I am going to where my death is planned, but never shall skin
    be sold so dearly as I will sell mine. I beseech you to render
    me this last service. If I die, take my shirt soaked in my
    blood, and carry it to my wife and son, and charge her--for my
    son is too young to be able to avenge me--to send the pierced
    and bloody shirt to all the foreign princes, and call on them
    to avenge my death.”

Antoine then entered the room where was the King, but his behaviour,
the frankness with which he met the charges laid against him, caused
the heart of Francis to relent, and he dismissed the King of Navarre
unhurt. It was then that the Cardinal of Lorraine exclaimed, referring
to the weakness of the King--“There is the heart of a poltroon!”

Jeanne had been the mother of two sons; the elder died of
over-coddling, the second of an accident. When she was again expecting
her confinement, her father, Henry II, roughly told her that she did
not know how to manage her children, and insisted on her coming to the
castle at Pau for confinement, under his eye. She obeyed, and arrived
on 4 December, 1553. Then the old King showed her a casket of gold,
attached to a chain long enough to go thrice round her neck. “Do you
see this?” said he; “I will give it you along with my will, that is
in this box, if you will sing a Béarnais song whilst in your pangs,
so that the child may not be a squaller.” She promised, and on 14
December, feeling her hour approach, sent for her father, and began to
sing a Béarnais hymn to Our Lady at Bridgend; for there was a chapel to
the Blessed Virgin on the ancient bridge over the Gave. Her song was:--

 “Nousté Dame deii cap d’eii poun
  Adjudat me à d’aqueste ore,” etc.

But as many of my readers do not understand the patois, I will give it
in English:--

    “Our Lady at the head of the bridge, assist me in this hour.
    Pray to God in Heaven, that He may deliver me, that the fruit
    of my body may see the light.... Our Lady at the head of the
    bridge, assist me in this hour.”

She gave birth--some say on 13 December, some on 14 December--still
singing, to a boy. Henry II took it from her, gave her the casket,
saying, “This is for you,” and as to the boy, “this is for me.” Then
he rubbed the child’s lips with garlic, and poured into its mouth some
drops of Jurançon wine, and said: “Va, tu serras un vrai Béarnais.”

When Marguerite had given birth to Jeanne the Spaniards had remarked,
“The cow has littered a lamb!” in reference to the cow in the Béarnais
arms. Now Henry d’Albret, taking the child in his arms, showed it to
his nobles and exclaimed: “See, the lamb has littered a lion!”

In the castle is shown the cradle in which the future king of France,
Henri Quatre, was rocked. It is a large tortoise-shell, inverted, and
suspended by silken cords. When the Sansculottes burst into and sacked
the château in 1793, they purposed to destroy this relic of royalty.
But the commandant of the castle had foreseen this, and had substituted
for the original another tortoise-shell, obtained from the cabinet of a
naturalist in the town. This latter was destroyed, but the original was
preserved in the attics of the castle.

At Bilhère, a little way out of Pau, on the road to Orthez, is the
cottage in which Henry was nursed by a peasantess. That cottage remains
much in the same condition as it was then, and is pointed out to
visitors with pride.

When only five years old his mother took him to Paris to present him
to Henry II, King of France. The King took the little prince in his
arms and asked him, “Veux-tu être mon fils?” The child, unable to
speak other than Béarnais patois, pointed to his father and answered,
“Aquet es lou seignou pay” (This is monsieur, my father). “You are
right,” said the King, “but as you will not be my son, will you be my
son-in-law?” To which the boy promptly replied, “Obé.” Marguerite de
Valois was then eighteen months older than Henri.

After a while in Paris he was taken back to Pau and committed to the
care of Suzanne de Bourbon Busset, Baroness Miossens, who was sent
with him to the Castle of Coarraze, near Nay, with instructions that
he should be reared among the children of the mountains on simple,
wholesome diet.

Accordingly he was treated like the peasant children--was clothed in
the same garb, and partook of the same athletic sports. His food was
often dry bread. Frequently he trod the mountain paths with bare feet,
or clattered about in sabots. For many years he knew no other tongue
than the patois, and in after life a bon mot, or a lively sally in his
maternal language, served as one of the most powerful means by which to
influence the young Gascons whom he led to battle.

Antoine de Bourbon fell at the siege of Rouen in 1562, fighting against
the Huguenots, and Jeanne was then left free to force Calvinism on
her subjects. Thenceforth she was able to rule despotically in her
own dominions, till interfered with by the French king. Beza, with
approval, records her declaration: “Sooner than ever again attend
Mass, or suffer any of my subjects or my children to do so, I would,
if possible, cast them into the depths of the sea.” And to Henry, when
young, she said passionately that should he at any time attend Catholic
worship, she would repudiate and disinherit him.

She began by confiscating Church property and appropriating to herself
monastic lands. Commissioners were appointed to go through the country,
wreck the churches, and sweep into her mint all the gold and silver
chalices, candlesticks, and crucifixes, to be coined into money. She
expelled the priests and put ministers in their place. At Pau she hung
two of the canons of S. Martin’s, and sent a Huguenot preacher into
the pulpit. The town council remonstrated. The Queen’s reply was that
she would with her troopers drive the councillors to be present at his
predications. She made it punishable with death as high treason not
only for a priest to say Mass, but for man, woman, or child to attend
at one.

Charles IX of France went to Nerac, in Gascony, to visit Jeanne.

    “In some respects,” says Mr. White, “the province of Gascony
    through which the Court was now travelling, had suffered more
    than any part of France from the effects of the war. The
    Protestants had succeeded in putting down Romanism, and at
    every step he took Charles was reminded of the outrages offered
    to his religion; he restored the old form of worship, but the
    scenes he then witnessed appear never to have been forgotten.
    As he rode along by the side of the Queen of Navarre he pointed
    to the ruined monasteries, the broken crosses, the polluted
    churches; he showed her the mutilated images of the Virgin and
    the saints, the desecrated graveyards, the relics scattered to
    the winds of heaven.”[F]

    [F] White (H.), _The Massacre of S. Bartholomew_. London, 1868.

Jeanne looked with sparkling eyes and with a heart that swelled with
exultation at this wreckage, but she noticed the pain it caused to the
young king, and thenceforth regarded him with distrust.


A Béarnais named Gondin ventured to remonstrate with Jeanne at her
high-handed dealings. “The King of France,” said she, “choses to have
but one religion in his realm. I am a queen, and I choose to have but
one.” “The King of France!” echoed Gondin; “that is another matter.
I could cross your majesty’s kingdom in a hop, skip, and jump.”
“Then I will trouble you, sir, to hop, skip, and jump out of my realm,
and that smartly,” was her prompt reply.

At the same time that Jeanne issued her order for the change of
religion, she forbade the dances of the peasantry and wailing at

Of Jeanne d’Albret it might be said in the words of Quintus Curtius:
“Nihil præter vultum fœmineum gerens.” Marguerite de France, sister of
Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III was married in 1572 to Henry of
Navarre. The union was not happy, neither cared for the other; and when
Marguerite came to Pau she was affronted at her treatment.

    “We came to Pau,” she wrote, “where no exercise of the Catholic
    religion is tolerated. However, I was allowed as a favour to
    hear Mass in a little chapel three or four paces in length, and
    so narrow that seven or eight persons filled it. At the hour
    of Mass, the drawbridge was raised to prevent the Catholics of
    the place from attending; for they were most desirous to do so,
    having been debarred from it for several years. But, it being
    Whit-Sunday, some of the citizens succeeded in slipping in
    before the drawbridge was raised. They were not detected till
    the end of the service, when some Huguenots who were spying
    perceived them. They instantly informed the king’s secretary,
    and in my presence were dragged out, whipped, and cast into
    prison, and were not released for long, and then not till they
    had paid a heavy fine.”

When Henry IV came to the throne of France the care of his hereditary
dominions in Gascony was confided to his sister Catherine. In the
Castle of Pau at that time was brought up Antoine de Bourbon, Count of
Moret, Henry’s son by Jacqueline de Bueil. There he studied, but proved
a sorry scholar. In later days he ventured on criticizing the works of
Gombaud, whereupon this latter retaliated with an epigram.

 “Vous chocquez la nature et l’art,
  Vous qui n’êtes né que d’un crime;
  Mais pensez vous que d’un bastard
  Le jugement soit légitime?”

Antoine fell in the battle of Castelnaudary, in 1631. Half a century
later, there appeared in Anjou an old hermit, who called himself John
Baptist, and whose face resembled Henri Quatre markedly. Moreover, he
admitted having been in the battle of Castelnaudary, and showed himself
to be intimately acquainted with Pau and with every part of the castle;
but he would never say who he was. Louis XIV, having heard of him, sent
to demand whether he was the Antoine de Bourbon, son of Henry IV, who
had been reported dead. He refused to answer, and on his death-bed,
when again questioned on this point, returned an evasive answer.

In matters of religion Henry IV was tolerant. He wrote in 1594:--

    “I have in my kingdom of Béarn two parishes separated only by a
    river. In one of these there has never during my reign been any
    (Calvinist) preacher; in the other, never a Mass said, yet the
    inhabitants of these parishes have not wronged one another to
    the value of a sou. You will see, that I will bring about such
    concord in my kingdom that there will be no further squabbles.”

But before this, when in Paris, under the surveillance of Catherine
de Medici, he was obliged to send the Count de Grammont and a
commission into Béarn to restore Catholic worship. D’Aubigné relates
an incident relative to this attempt that is characteristic of the
temper of the times. When the Baron d’Arros, who had been appointed
after Montgomery, by Jeanne d’Albret, to enforce the sole exercise
of Calvinistic worship in her states, heard of the coming of De
Grammont, he happened to encounter his father, aged eighty, and
blind, coming out of the Huguenot meeting-house. The old man led his
son home, placed in his hands a drawn sword, and bade him slay and
spare not the Lord’s enemies. Arros and thirty-seven followers went
to Hagetmau, where Grammont and the commissioners were, and entered
the castle unperceived. Then they fell upon and slaughtered officers,
soldiers, and servants, indiscriminately. De Grammont alone was spared.
His wife--Corisande d’Andouins, one of the loveliest women of the
time--threw herself between her husband and Arros, and with tears
implored the latter to spare Grammont.

When the Baron d’Arros returned to his father to receive a blessing
after this exploit, the old man bitterly reproached him for having
spared even one. “My son,” said he, “how, as a valiant Maccabee, have
you allowed this Nicanor to live? The crow you have spared will pluck
out your eyes.”

Calvinism, after having had complete mastery for over half a century,
seems not to have taken firm root. At the present day, out of a
population in Béarn of 426,350, there are but 5000 Protestants.

In one of his bear-hunting expeditions, when a lad, Henry of Navarre
had visited the church of Bielle in the Val d’Ossau, and had noticed
the columns of Italian marble in the church, the spoils of a
Gallo-Roman villa. When he was king he sent to Bielle to have these
pillars forwarded to him in Paris. The reply of the villagers was:
“Sire, our hearts and our properties are yours, dispose of them as you
will; but as to these columns, they belong to God. _Entendez vous-en
avec lui._”

As king, Henry said that his ambition was that every one of his
subjects, every peasant in Béarn, should be able every Sunday in the
year to put _la poule au pot_! A couple of centuries later an epigram
was written thereon.

 “Enfin, la poule au pot sera donc bientôt mise;
    On doit du moins le présumer;
  Car, depuis deux cent ans qu’on nous l’avait promise,
    On n’a cessé de la plumer.”

He did not forget the good things he had eaten in his native land when
far away in Paris, and he wrote to Pau to have sent to him “some good
melons, muscat grapes, figs, and peaches”; and again, “a dozen geese
of Béarn, the fattest that can be found, such as will do honour to my

The old cathedral church of Lescar occupies a very ancient site--a
Roman town, Beneharnum, on the great Roman road that ran from Narbonne
to Dax. The church deserves a visit. Although not large it is fine,
dating from the twelfth century. It was erected apparently on the site
of some Roman building, for the mosaic that surrounds the high altar,
and marks where stood the original apse of the first church, is Roman
work, and represents a tiger hunt. It was formerly covered by the floor
of the stalls; but these have been removed, and the mosaic, that was
much injured, has been restored carefully.

The whole of the low country, and the bottoms of the mountain valleys,
were occupied by Romans. Gallic nobles had their villas that studded
the land. At Bielle, already mentioned, is a mosaic pavement, and an
evidence of the luxury of the period is seen in this villa having had
pillars of marble brought from Italy. Other mosaic pavements have been
found at Biellan, near Lescar, and at Taron-Sadirac, in the garden
of the _presbytère_ and in an adjoining field. The high altar of the
church there is entirely formed of slabs taken thence. In 1847, when
I was a boy, I heard peasants romance about a “Palais des Fées,” that
lay underground in a field by the Lyss, in the commune of Jurançon. I
visited the spot and found numerous cubes of mosaic of diverse colours
in a ditch. I then saw the peasant proprietor and asked him whether
he had discovered anything when ploughing. “Mais oui!” he said; “five
years ago I uncovered a picture that represented men sitting about a
table drinking and playing cards.” I knew how to make allowance for
a Gascon’s imagination, so I bargained with the man to allow me to
institute a search. We cut a trench parallel to the stream and crossed
walls and mosaic pavements through a length of 150 feet. I then came to
terms with the owner of the field. He was to allow me to dig, and he
was to charge two sous at the gate for admission.

In a fortnight we had cleared out several rooms, and then, as my
pocket-money was exhausted, the English of Pau raised a subscription
to pay for the prosecution of the work. In the end we uncovered eleven
chambers with well-preserved mosaic floors, and two more of which the
floors had broken in upon the heating apparatus underneath, but which
had been very richly patterned. The villa consisted of a suite of
winter rooms and another for summer residence. In the former all the
floors and walls were warmed by a hypocaust. The villa was, moreover,
well furnished with baths.

In the middle, between the winter and the summer quarters, was the
atrium, a court with a tank, in the midst, of pure water, conducted
into it by a lead pipe from a well in the hill above. The bottom of the
tank was paved with mosaic, representing marine animals, fish, crabs,
etc., and the two containing walls were cased in slabs of coloured
marbles. Opening out of the atrium was the _tablinum_, the reception
room of the house; the walls skirted with alabaster, above which they
were painted. The most remarkable of the representations on the floors
was in the hall next the entrance porch; it showed a cross in mosaic,
with a monstrous bust of Neptune at the intersection of the arms,
surrounded by fish and lobsters.

When the villa was almost wholly excavated, the municipality of Pau
purchased the field, and built a shed over the foundations, but,
penny wise and pound foolish, neglected to cut a drain around the
remains. The consequence was that each room became full of water in
the winter, and, frost ensuing, split up the mosaics. When I revisited
Pau two years later most of the pavements were ruined. Now, shed and
every trace of the villa are gone; the whole is ploughed over, and
the only token that there was anything of interest in the field is a
notice-board set up to forbid trespassers invading it. On the farther
side of the stream is another villa, which I began to dig out, but
found the pavements nearer the surface and not so well preserved.
Moreover, the proprietor got it into his head that I had discovered and
appropriated a pot of gold coins, and he peremptorily forbade further

The bridge over the river, some quarter of a mile down, is called le
Pont d’Auly (_pons aulæ_), and on the height of Guindalos above are the
earthworks of a Roman camp.

Pau has produced several eminent men. Hardly had Henri Quatre closed
his eyes before the town gave birth to Gassion, born in 1609. His
father purposed making of him a lawyer; but, as a lad of sixteen,
rather than be chained to a desk, he started barefoot from Pau, with
his shoes slung to a stick over his back, and with twenty sous in
his pocket. He entered the army, and his life was spent in warfare,
beyond the Alps, on the Elbe, on the shores of the Baltic. He was
wounded seventeen times, and fell on the field of battle at the age of
thirty-six, a marshal of France and the greatest captain of his age.

More fortunate than he was Bernadotte, also a soldier risen from the
ranks, who became King of Sweden and Norway. He was born in the little
house, No. 6 Rue de Trau, and was the son of a needy scrivener. His
name in full was John Baptist Julius Bernadotte, and he was born on 26
January, 1764. He became a drummer-boy in the marines at the age of

He came to the front at an opportune time. The Revolution had turned
France topsy-turvy. The officers had fled the country to escape the
guillotine, and the corporals and serjeants stepped into their places.
The regiments elected their captains, and the history of the Republican
wars shows that the soldiers exercised their electoral rights with
discretion. In 1792 Bernadotte was a colonel.

The Directory appointed him ambassador at Vienna. The choice was
not happy; he had not the breeding of a gentleman, and behaved with
insolence in the most punctilious of courts. On the day upon which the
volunteers were enrolled for the defence of their country, Bernadotte
ostentatiously hoisted the tricolour, which the mob tore down. The
ambassador in vain demanded satisfaction. He quitted Vienna, but the
Directory disavowed him. Soon after his return to France he married
Eugènie, the daughter of the soap-boiler, Clary, of Marseilles, and
sister of the wife of Joseph Bonaparte. He lived for a while in
retirement, but was summoned by the Government to Paris and was given
the command of the army of observation in Germany.

After the revolution of the 30th Prairial, in the year VII (18 June,
1799), Bernadotte was appointed Minister of War; but the astute Siéyès
was meditating a _coup d’état_, and mistrusting Bernadotte, deprived
him of his portfolio. He accepted the title of Councillor of State from
the First Consul, and the command of the army of the West.

In 1804 Napoleon raised him to the dignity of Marshal of the Empire,
and gave him the command of the army in Hanover. In June, 1806, he
created him Prince of Pontecorvo, and employed him in the war that
broke out with Prussia. It is unnecessary here to follow his career in
the wars of Napoleon. The Emperor never liked him, and even thought of
depriving him of the title he had conferred upon him. He dispatched
him in disgrace to Rome; but before he reached it a deputation from
Sweden arrived (September, 1810) with the tidings that King Charles
XII had named him Crown Prince, and that the Estates of Sweden had
unanimously ratified the appointment, with the condition that he
should resign his French citizenship and adopt the Lutheran religion.
To this he consented, and landed at Helsingborg on 20 October, 1810,
and on 5 November was recognized as Crown Prince, and adopted the name
of Charles John. By arrangement with Russia Norway was detached from
Denmark and annexed to Sweden, much to the dislike of the Norwegians.

In 1813 Sweden declared war against France, and Bernadotte led 20,000
Swedes to join the allies; but his dilatoriness caused him to be too
late to take part in the Battle of the Nations at Liepzig. He was
naturally reluctant to cross swords with his old master.

In 1814 he marched in the same leisurely manner into France, and
arrived in Paris after it had been occupied by the allies. On 5
February, 1818, he succeeded his adoptive father, and was crowned King
of Sweden and Norway at both Stockholm and Drontheim. He was succeeded
by his only son, Oscar, in 1844.

It is a curious fact that both the two kings born at Pau abjured
their religions to obtain a crown. Henry IV abandoned Calvinism to
become a Catholic and receive the crown of France; John Baptist
Julius Bernadotte threw overboard such Catholicism as he had--a light
cargo--and accepted Protestantism to obtain the crown of Sweden and

Morlaas, six miles to the north-east of Pau, reached by a light
railway, was the ancient capital of Béarn. It has dwindled to a
poor village, but retains portions of its old fortifications and an
interesting church, founded in 1089, that has a Romanesque crypt and
west front. The church had fallen into decay and the portal was much
mutilated, but it has been restored. A side chapel contains one of the
very few specimens of church furniture spared by the Huguenots, because
overlooked--an altar-piece of the sixteenth century.

The Pont-long I have already mentioned, an elevated moor to the north
of Pau, beyond the racecourse, that belongs to the peasantry of the
Val d’Ossau. On it may be seen the shepherds pasturing their flocks
in winter, when the mountain herbage is buried under snow. These men
formerly wore their characteristic costume--a dark blue or brown
_beret_, like a tam-o’-shanter cap, a jacket of brown or scarlet, a
waistcoat of white wool, brown knee-breeches, and a bright-coloured
sash about the waist. They wore their hair long in curls flowing over
their shoulders. Now compulsory military service has deprived them
of their flowing locks, and the blouse is gradually displacing the
handsome traditional costume.

These men spend their time in knitting stockings whilst watching their
flocks. The sheep are horned, and have pronounced Roman noses. A
curious usage is for the dog to precede the sheep instead of driving

There are numerous tumuli on the Pont-long. I opened two in 1847,
and found that they pertained to the Iron Age, and were undoubtedly
Gaulish. The floor was formed of rolled stones, and on this were
placed urns, some of great size, containing burnt bones; they were red
outside, black within, and the clay was coarse; but with them was one
beautifully moulded little black vessel of the finest paste. Beside two
of the cinerary urns were hones of grit, rounded on one side and flat
on the other, with a groove running down the middle.

The peasants had a legend anent the larger of the two that I opened.
Three men resolved on digging into it, and chose for the purpose a
stormy day when no one was likely to be abroad and observe them.

They had not dug far before Pierre observed, “But we shall surely find
plenty of sous.”

“Des écus,” said Jacques.

“Des napoléons,” suggested Baptiste.

After some hours’ work they came on a flat slab, on raising which a
treasure of gold pieces was revealed. The men plunged their arms in and
could not reach the bottom of the store. Gold, gold, ever more gold.

It was decided that a cart must be procured to remove the treasure, and
lots were cast as to who was to remain on the tumulus, whilst the other
two returned to Pau for a cart. The lot fell on Pierre, and the others

Evening had settled down when they returned with a vehicle drawn by two
oxen. Jacques and Baptiste discerned a dark figure on the mound, which
they assumed to be that of their companion left to guard the treasure.

Then, mounting the tumulus, they asked whether any one had been there
during their absence. The dark figure said, “Look up!” The men turned,
the figure threw back his cloak, and they knew it was the devil, horns
and hoof complete. Before they could recover from their astonishment
and terror, with a switch of his tail he had whisked them into the
cart. He mounted himself, and instantly the oxen--their own oxen--rose
in the air with the vehicle, wheeled thrice about the mound, and then
suddenly descended, carrying cart, men, and Satan into the pit. The
earth closed over them and they were seen no more. Only Pierre lived to
tell the tale. At the first appearance of the Evil One he had crossed
himself. He was flung from the tumulus, and lay sprawling and blessing
himself till after his comrades had vanished.

Nay may easily be visited, as it is on the main road to Tarbes. It has
a church of the fifteenth century, and the frontage of a Renaissance
house in which Jeanne d’Albret delighted to reside.

Farther on is Coarraze, where are the remains of the château in
which Henri Quatre spent his early boyhood. Only the tower and the
portal are of the sixteenth century, the rest is a structure raised
in the eighteenth century. Over the doorway may be read the Spanish
inscription: “Lo que ha de ser no puede fallar.”

The church is early and fortified. The terrace in front of the castle
commands a beautiful and extensive prospect of the Pyrenees in their
ever-changing tints and lights and shades.

At the extreme limits of the department is Betharam. The name has been
supposed to be derived from the Arabic _Beit-Haram_, the Holy House,
and the place to have been a sacred spot during the Saracen occupation
of the land. If so, then they bequeathed their veneration for the
locality to the Christians, who drove them from it, for Betharam has
been esteemed a holy house for centuries, owing to the possession by
it of a miraculous statue of the Virgin, about which one of the usual
childish tales is told that have such a family likeness, and show such
lack of variety. A shepherd saw a blaze of light at the foot of a rock,
and discovered that it proceeded from an image. When the figure was
removed to the farther side of the Gave, with a leap into the air like
a field cricket it recrossed the river and returned to its station
under the rock. Then it was transferred to the high altar of the parish
church of Lestelle and locked in. But bolts and bars could not restrain
it; out it came through the key-hole and made for its rock shelter

A church and convent were erected under the rock. In 1569, by order
of Jeanne d’Albret, both were burnt; but were rebuilt in 1614. The
church is a barbaric structure, immediately below a hill, surmounted
by a Calvary. Here formerly dwelt a hermit, who maintained himself
by selling tooth-combs of boxwood that he had made. But he is gone,
and has left no successor. The bridge at Betharam is greatly admired,
wreathed as it is with ivy, which falls in long tresses and almost
touches the Gave.

I have spoken of the view from the park at Pau. Finer views may be had
from the heights on the farther side of the Gave, from Guindalos and
Gelos; and in early spring, when strolling among these hills, one may
gather handfulls of cyclamen, anemones, violets, and the white spires
of the asphodel.

[Illustration: BETHARAM]

On market-days at Pau may be purchased clumps of the beautiful
little scarlet anemone that formerly grew wild in the vineyards, but
has been so much in request that it has disappeared, except under
garden cultivation. And finally, we must taste the wine of Jurençon
and S. Faust, not in the hotels at Pau, but in the village cabarets.
It is much in request, and is largely bought up by the Bordeaux wine
merchants, who mix it with thinner wines to give them richness and
body. It is of an amber colour, is strong, heady, and delicious.



    Iluro--Road over the port--The _beret_--Three parts to the
    town--How the bishop got a cathedral--The porch--Ste. Croix--
    Bishop Roussel--Frightened to death--Escot--Independent
    Republic--Emigration--Sarrance--The _Heptameron_--Accous--
    Story of Loustaunau--Osse--Urdos, the French Gibraltar--

Oloron is the ancient Iluro, in Gallo-Roman times one of the twelve
cities of Novempopulania, and of importance as the key to the passage
of the Pyrenees by the Val d’Aspe over the Somport.

The Roman road branched off from the Via Aurelia at Lescar, crossed the
Gave de Pau, and struck direct for Oloron, where, doubtless, soldiers
and merchants and travellers in general rested before undertaking the
passage of the mountains. The Roman road, after crossing the chain,
descended to the plains, and ran straight as a bird-line for Saragossa.
At Escot a Latin inscription remains, cut in the rock by the wayside,
commemorating the remaking of the road under the direction of one,
Valerius Vernus.

Oloron is a busy town, carrying on the manufacture of the _beret_, the
tam-o’-shanter, wherewith every Basque and Béarnais covers his head.

The town is prettily situated at the junction of the Gave d’Aspe and
the Gave d’Ossau, which divide it into three parts. One, Ste. Marie,
was for long the communal centre and the residence of the bishops of
Oloron. The old feudal city is staged up a hill between the two rivers.
In it is the church of Ste. Croix, built in 1080 by the Viscount
Centule IV. Centule had married a distant cousin, Gisela. But he
coveted the fair lands of Bigorre, to which Beatrix, daughter of Count
Bernard II, was the heiress.

Amatus, Bishop of Oloron and the papal legate, was in want of a
cathedral; so they put their heads together, and Amatus undertook to
obtain the annulling of the marriage with Gisela by Pope Gregory VII.
The Pope wanted money, Centule wanted Bigorre, and Amatus a cathedral.
Gregory made no difficulties, so Gisela was repudiated, and sent to end
her days in a convent, as though she were the guilty party. Amatus was
paid for his help in this scandalous job by being given a cathedral,
and Centule, in the exuberance of his delight at becoming possessed of
the rich heiress, built as well the church of Ste. Croix.

It was easy for any man with means in those days to wriggle out of an
union that was inconvenient. The Popes had drawn up a catalogue of
relationships within which degrees marriage was prohibited, unless
a dispensation had been procured _argent comptant_. Kinship to the
seventh degree, affinity as well as consanguinity, could be pleaded.
Spiritual relationship through sponsorship at the font also served.
Right or wrong in the matter was not considered. It was a contrivance
of the Papacy for extortion of money.

The church of Ste. Marie is the ancient cathedral. The most ancient
portions belong to the eleventh century. Externally it is not a
striking edifice; nevertheless it is one of the most curious in the
South, and has just one splendid feature--the sculptured porch, which
is the basement of an enormous and massive tower, pierced by arches.
Beneath this is a beautiful portal, round-headed, containing a double
entrance, the doorways parted by a pillar. The sculpture of tympanum
and archivolt are excellent for their period. A man once caught,
plucked, and cooked a nightingale. With such a voice it ought to be
excellent eating, he argued. But when he set his teeth in it, his
judgment on the nightingale was, “Vox et præterea nihil.” So, with such
a throat one might reckon on a magnificent interior, but within the
church responds not at all to the conceptions raised by the portal, and
answers little to the idea formed of a cathedral.

But the diocese of Oloron was one of the poorest in all France, and was
just half the value of that of Lescar.

The quarter of Ste. Croix has narrow streets, with old houses, some
Romanesque, some Gothic, and others Renaissance. It had been cramped
within its walls, and could expand upwards only. Now the fortifications
have been demolished, and but a single flanking tower remains.

The church is remarkable only for its Byzantine cupola. In many points
it recalls the Romanesque structures of Auvergne. Anciently the only
access to the nave was through a richly ornamented door at the side.
The western entrance is a modern addition.

The third quarter of Oloron is modern, bright, and cheerful, but
uninteresting. In this quarter some houses bear the escutcheons
of foreign powers, for three states speaking Spanish have their
vice-consuls here--Spain, that entertains active relations with the
valleys of Ossau and Aspe; and the Argentine and Uruguay republics,
that are draining Béarn of so many of its natives for settlers.
Moreover, Oloron is the principal centre for the making of the _beret_,
as already said, also of bright-coloured handkerchiefs much affected by
Spanish women in the New as in the Old World.

Oloron was a bishopric as early as 506. Marguerite de Valois, Queen of
Navarre, appointed to it Roussel, the reformer, who began as a disciple
of Calvin, and finished by entering into unseemly wrangling with
him over some petty question in theology in a series of acrimonious
letters. Marguerite had to interfere, and entreat both to cease their
scurrility as an offence to religion. Roussel, as bishop, did his
utmost to detach the people from their ancient faith, which he had
sworn to maintain when consecrated, but which at the very moment when
he took oath he had resolved on overthrowing.

He was preaching one day at Mauleon, assailing Catholic doctrine with
vehemence. A gentleman named Matye was present, and unable to endure
this without a protest, and being armed with an axe, struck at the slim
pedestal of the pulpit with the butt-end, and with such force as to
send Roussel a bound into the air. When he came down, again descended
the axe, sending the bishop another leap, like a pea on a drum.
Roussel’s nerves were so shaken that he fled the church, and galloped
off to a Pyrenean watering-place, there to recover the shock. But
instead of recovering he died, 1549. A suit was brought against Matye
in the Parliament at Bordeaux, for having frightened the bishop into
his grave; but nothing came of it.

Under Jeanne d’Albret the bishopric was suppressed; however, a bishop
was appointed in 1599. Oloron ceased to be an episcopal seat at the

The Val d’Aspe begins at Escot. At the foot of the mountain of Narpayt
stands up a rocky needle, named after S. Nicolas, separated from the
road by a belt of tillage. From this point the valley narrows; a
bridge crosses the river, over which runs the road to the Val d’Ossau.
Pinnacles of rock and bare precipices pierced with caves border the
Gave, that flows between the green lips of rich pastures. A fine peak,
the Trône-du-Roi, stands up on the left bank. For the most part the
mountain slopes are bare, growing nothing but box shrubs, and yet at
one time hence came the tall pines that furnished the navy of France
with masts. They were improvidently hewn down, and floated in rafts
to Bayonne, and no thought was given to replanting, so that they were
completely exhausted in 1780.

At Sarrance the valley expands. The village borders a sweep of the
Gave, under the Signal de Sarrance, rising to the height of 4210 feet,
cleft by a ravine well wooded, and with sweet green pastures. To the
south is another peak, clothed in forest, rising to 4380 feet.

The Val d’Aspe formed one of those independent commonwealths of
which in the Middle Ages there were so many in the Pyrenees. It was
under the suzerainty of the viscounts of Béarn, but enjoyed complete
self-government. In 1477 the Procureur-Général of Béarn claimed the
forests as the property of the viscount, but the inhabitants protested
that the Val d’Aspe existed before the viscounty had been constituted.
The case was tried in the court at Pau, and judgment was given in
favour of the little republic. The Aspois always were proud and
independent. But unhappily a fever for emigration to South America
has set in and has depopulated the valley seriously. In 1862 the
inhabitants numbered 11,368, but in 1901 they had fallen to 7977. And
this is not due to poverty, for there is not a beggar to be found in
the valley.

Sarrance takes its name from the situation--_sarrada_ in Béarnais is
“narrow” and _ance_ is a “passage.” A bridge wreathed with ivy spans
the stream, near a chapel. A terrace shaded with plane trees has its
walls ablaze with snap-dragon, sprouting out of every crevice. From the
chapel a stair leads down to the riverside, where is a niche containing
a statue of the Virgin and Child, indicating the spot where, according
to tradition, the image of N. D. de Sarrance was found.

The old monastery stands on an elevation at the southern extremity
of the village. There is a little grass-grown square with a fountain
in it. On one side of the square are untenanted houses, formerly
guest-rooms of the convent; on the other is the monastery with its
church. This latter is of no interest, as the old church, considered to
be the finest in Béarn, was completely destroyed by the Calvinists. The
tower is absolutely hideous. In a side chapel is a rude black Madonna,
an object of superstitious devotion.

It was here that Marguerite, sister of Francis I and Queen of Navarre,
composed her _Heptameron_. This is what she says in the introduction:--

    “On the first day of September, when the baths of the Pyrenees
    begin to have their virtue, several persons--some of France,
    some of Spain, and others from elsewhere--were united at
    Cauterets, the marvellous waters of which have cured sick who
    were given up by the doctors. When the party was about to
    separate it was found that the floods were out so that there
    was no reaching Tarbes. So, having halted awhile at the Abbey
    of Saint Savin, the whole company met again at the monastery of
    Notre Dame de Sarrance, in Béarn. In order to reach Pau it was
    necessary that the bridge over the Gave should be repaired, and
    this occupied ten days. In order to relieve the tedium of our
    stay in the convent of monks, the company arranged a time-table
    for proceedings. In the morning we met in the rooms of the Lady
    Oysille, the eldest present. An hour was spent in reading the
    sacred Scriptures. Then we heard Mass. At ten o’clock came
    dinner; after that every one retired to his or her chamber
    about their own affairs. At noon no one failed to go to the
    beautiful meadow, by the side of the Gave, where the trees are
    so covered with foliage that the sun cannot pierce through nor
    take the freshness out of the air. There, seated at our ease,
    every one relates tales, either true or invented to amuse, as
    did Boccaccio. At four o’clock the merry tales are interrupted
    in order that we may pray; and no one fails devoutly to attend

There are certain points to be noted in this. In the first place,
neither here nor anywhere else, does the Queen let fall a word by which
one can see that she appreciated the beauty of the mountain scenery
through which she travelled. Yet the localities for some of her tales
are Cauterets, Sarrance, Odos, and Pau.

In the next place, the stories that these ladies told, and which the
Queen of Navarre collected, are so indecent, and contain such foul
expressions, that we are amazed to think that any woman, however
corrupt may have been the times, should not blush to hear, and be
ashamed to write them down.

And lastly, what a jumble of occupations! Bible-reading in the morning,
obscene stories in the evening, and then--prayers.

The meadow is there still, and one may sit in it now as then; but
now it is with thoughts of thankfulness on the change that has been
accomplished in manners and in sense of decency. A little above
Sarrance, on the east, opens the entrance to a cirque. The southern
wall, which is most precipitous, supports a plateau strangely regular
in form, like a cone with its head sliced off, 4700 feet high. On the
right bank of the Gave opposite Bedous are four little heights, two
pointed, one rounded, the other flattened at top. They are eruptive
dykes of ophite, a rock somewhat abundant in this valley.

Bedous is now the most considerable place in the valley, much more busy
and fuller of inhabitants than the cantonal capital Accous.

At Accous is an obelisk erected to the memory of the Béarnais poet,
Despourrins (1690-1759), who was a native of the place.

One day an English general, crossing from Spain and descending the
Val d’Aspe, encountered a little shepherd boy with quick eye and
intelligent face, whom he questioned about objects of interest in
the neighbourhood. Pleased with the lad, he invited him to enter his
service as valet, and the youth, who had a rough time at home, without
more ado clambered on to the box to travel to distant and unknown
regions. This little shepherd was called Loustaunau, and he followed
the officer to India. When his master died he sought to make his
fortune by starting a house of commerce in the territory of the Mogul.
Then war broke out between the Emperor of Delhi and the Nabob of Lahore.

Chancing to witness a battle between them from an eminence, Loustaunau
remarked to a Banian that the disposition of the Mogul army was faulty.
“If,” said he, “I had the command of 1200 horsemen, and had a couple
of cannon, I would soon determine the battle.” What he had said was
reported to the Great Mogul, who at once gave him what he desired. The
Béarnais jumped on the back of a horse, took the command of a troop,
and ranged it behind a bit of rising ground, placed his guns where he
could rake the enemy, and charged the centre of the enemy, and broke
it, whilst his cannon pounded the troops of the Nabob. The victory was

Loustaunau was richly rewarded, and given a princess to wife, by whom
he had several children. In a battle fought against the Maharattas he
lost his left hand, and had it replaced by one of silver.

A quarter of a century had elapsed since he left the Pyrenees; he had
amassed a fortune, and a longing came over him to revisit his native
valley. Accordingly he returned to France and invested his money in
factories, and in châteaux that he purchased within Béarn and in

But disaster came. His factories were burnt by the Spaniards, and
his fortune melted away. He meditated a return to India, and started
for the East. But unhappily he made the acquaintance of Lady Hester
Stanhope, who gained complete possession of his mind. Forgetting the
needs of his family, and the object of his journey, he stayed with
her at the foot of Lebanon, where he led the life of a prophet and
_illuminé_. Lamartine met him there, and there he died. He had left his
children at Tarbes. Three of his daughters were alive in 1860, living
in poverty, maintaining themselves by needlework, and looking back
sadly on their early days as a dream out of the _Arabian Nights_.

The village of Osse, planted between strangely shaped hills of ophite,
facing the south, is the last refuge of Protestantism in the valley.
The population is 560, the majority of whom are Calvinists, and they
maintain a pastor and have a “Temple.”

Urdos, the Forum Ligneum of the Ancients, is the last town in France.
The fortress commanding the pass is hewn in the natural rock, in a
buttress of the mountains rising in stages from the road to the height
of 500 feet. Externally the mountain gives little token of what it is,
honeycombed with galleries, batteries, stairs. A façade of masonry
battlemented and flanked by turrets at the foot of the rock, and a
few loopholes and embrasures for cannon, pierced in the face of the
cliff, are all that show that this is a French Gibraltar, capable of
containing a garrison of 3000 men.

Mauleon, the ancient capital of the little viscounty of Soule, that
passed to Béarn, is prettily situated on the banks of the Saison, at
the foot of a hill that is crowned by a castle reached by a bridge over
the moat or chasm artificially cut in the rock.

The huge roofs of the Hôtel d’Andurrain form the hat to a Renaissance

Mauleon, after remaining stagnant for centuries, has begun to stir, and
has become the centre of manufacture of the espadrillos, or shoe with
canvas top and twisted rope sole, so much in use in the Pyrenees and in

A dozen years ago the whole population of Mauleon was a thousand,
and now two thousand men and five hundred women are engaged in the
factories; for in Senegal the natives have all at once taken a fancy to
the espadrillos, and the fashion is spreading from Senegal; there is no
saying where it may end in wide Africa.

The workmen and women employed are not, however, Basques or Béarnais,
but are Spaniards. Here is trade, and that a growing trade, in their
midst, and the native population shrug their shoulders, leave it to
foreigners to carry on, and depart for South America in shoals.



    The gap of the Val d’Ossau--Gan--Original course of the Gave--
    Buzy--Gorges de Germe--Arudy--Destruction of forests--Boxwood--
    Cromlechs--Bielle--Independence of the Republic of Ossau--
    Costume--Dances--Laruns--Eaux Chaudes--Beggary--Gabas--Eaux
    Bonnes--Death of the Rev. Merton Smith.

Looking south from the terrace at Pau one sees a noble portal in
the mountain chain apparently leading to the roots of the Pic du
Midi d’Ossau. But it is a mistake to suppose that the drainage of
those snowy crests can descend at once into the Gave at one’s feet.
Between the Val d’Ossau and that of the Gave de Pau a region of hills
intervenes. Moreover, the valley that gapes does not lead to the foot
of that noble pyramid. It leads to Laruns only, and there the broad
trough ends, and above that the Gave descends through a cleft painfully
cut through intervening strata.

On the railway from Pau to Laruns the first station is at Gan. In this
village, as I remember it fifty years ago, there were but two houses
with glass windows, the parsonage and a Renaissance dwelling that
belonged to Corisande d’Andouins, one of the many mistresses of Henri
Quatre. When cold weather arrived, then the peasants closed their
shutters, perforated with a few holes--a heart, a cross, an S--and
through this opening derived their light. The train clambers up the
heights past Buzy, and then all at once bursts on the sight the broad
Val d’Ossau--rich, fertile, smiling with maize and vines, and villages,
and beyond the Pic du Midi. The Gave d’Ossau descending from the snowy
range on the frontier of Spain ran due north, as if to reach Pau in one
direct channel, but was arrested by the hills, and turned along the
depression at Buzy and turned westward where now goes the branch line
to Oloron. But dissatisfied with this bed, it tore at the rocks near
Arudy, and sawed for itself the Gorges de Germe, a savage ravine, very
tortuous, cut through hills covered with woods. The abandoned bed was
taken possession of by man. It lies at a lower level than the actual
channel, and the river must have been deflected by immense piles of
rubbish brought down from the mountains. At the west end of the church
at Buzy may be seen a huge boulder rounded by rolling, used as the
pedestal to the village cross. The ancient channel furnishes turf for
fuel, and in it are grown beds of rank bulrushes.

Beyond Buzy, on the way to Arudy, is a dolmen already referred to, but
not on its original site. When the road was altered it was removed and

The train halts again at Arudy, only interesting for the view, and for
the tomb of a bishop, and a fifteenth-century church with a reredos.

The Val d’Ossau in its lower parts is a wreck. The mountain spurs on
each side were once clothed with magnificent forests of pine.

    “The Pyrenees,” says Michelet, “exhibit to us the disappearance
    of the Old World. Antiquity is no more, the Middle Age is at
    the point of death. The mountains themselves, strange as it may
    seem, have their very existence attacked. The fleshless peaks
    reveal the fact that they are in their senile decay. It is not
    that they have failed to withstand the blows of the storm, it
    is man who has assisted in their ruin from below. That deep
    girdle of forests which veiled the nakedness of the ancient
    mother, has been plucked away by man. The vegetable soil, which
    the herbage retained on the slopes, is now carried below by
    the waters. The rock stands up bare; chapped, exfoliated by
    the glare of the sun, by the tooth of frost, undermined by
    the melting snow carried down by avalanches. In the place of
    succulent pastures nothing remains but a dry and ruined soil.
    The agriculturist who has driven away the hunter, gains nothing
    thereby. The water which formerly trickled down gently into
    the valley athwart pastures and forests, now roars down in
    devastating torrents, and covers the fields with the ruins it
    has made. A vast number of hamlets in the high valleys have
    been abandoned, through lack of fuel, and the inhabitants take
    refuge in the lowlands, flying from the results of their own

    “In 1673 the mischief done caused alarm. Orders were issued by
    Government that every inhabitant should annually plant at once
    one tree in the domain, and two in the communal lands. In 1669
    and 1756 and still later new regulations made give evidence
    to the panic caused by the progress of the evil. But, at the
    Revolution, every barrier gave way, the population being poor,
    set to work to enrich itself by completing the destruction
    of the forests. They climbed, axe and firebrand in hand, to
    the nests of the eagles, they swung over abysses, hacking
    and destroying. Trees were sacrificed to the most trivial
    needs. Two pines were cut down to make one pair of sabots. At
    the same time the sheep and goats, multiplying, fell on the
    forests, gnawed the trunks, devoured the young trees, destroyed
    the shrubs, killed the future. The goat above all, that most
    destructive of all creatures, and the most daring of all,
    introduced a reign of terror into the mountains. That was not
    one of the least of the labours of Bonaparte, when he set to
    work to control the ravages of this beast. In 1813 the number
    of goats had been reduced to a tenth of the number that they
    had been in the year X. But he was not powerful enough to put a
    finish to the war against Nature.”

The pines have been succeeded by boxwood that brings in a certain
revenue. It is not cut till the stem has attained a girth of three
inches; but it would be well if it were allowed to reach a girth of
four or five, as it serves as a valuable cover for young pines where
attempts are made to replant. The box never grows very high, but some
bushes arrive at the height of fifteen feet, and a girth of trunk of
fifteen inches. The wood is made use of for the turning the beads of
the rosaries, made at Betharam, Saumur, and Lalouvesc in the Boutierès.
It cannot be utilized till the stem has arrived at the diameter of a
two-franc piece. In 1892 the boxwood from Laruns sold for 3185 francs,
but in 1895 for not more than a thousand francs.

At Louvie Juxon and above Bielle and Bilhères, near the entrance of
Benon, are what the French call cromlechs, circles of stones, supposed
to be prehistoric monuments. These are, however, very small, the stones
insignificant, and the shepherds of the district state that precisely
similar stones are planted by themselves about temporary huts of
branches and turf that they erect when obliged to spend nights as well
as days on the mountain.

Bielle was the ancient capital of Ossau. This valley was a republic
under the suzerainty of the viscounts of Béarn. It governed itself, and
had its own courts of justice, and absolutely refused to suffer the
soldiers of the viscount to enter their little republic. He himself was
not recognized till he had sworn to respect its rights and privileges
as contained in the ancient _fors_.

At the present day a candidate for election to the Assembly addresses
the electors always as “Messieurs d’Ossau.” It was by this title that
the princes of Béarn spoke to them. In Ossau there were no nobles;
there was no appeal from the judgment of their court to Viscount of
Béarn or to the King of France.

The constitution of former days still exists in regard to communal
property. This is divided into two categories: the particular mountains
belonging to each separate commune, and the general mountains in the
canton of Laruns pertain to a syndicate formed of representatives
of seventeen parishes. In addition the Ossalois own the lande of
Pont-long, of which I have already spoken. In recognition of their
having ceded to Gaston Phœbus, or before him to the first viscount who
built a castle at Pau, sufficient ground for his castle and park, they
obtained the privilege to sit at table with their viscounts.

The valley bottom is fertile, but tillage is pursued only there. Cattle
and sheep spend the summer on the high pastures, and the sheep are
driven in winter to the Pont-long.

Costume is fast disappearing. On Sunday at Bielle and Laruns may be
seen the old women still wearing their scarlet _capulets_ lined with
silk and edged with black velvet; the black corset is faced on the
breast with crimson silk. A woollen skirt descends in symmetrical folds
to a little way below the calf; the leg is clothed in white stockings,
unfooted, that widen over the foot. The male costume is quite gone. The
only part retained is the _beret_. It is a pity, for the costume was
admirably adapted to the men’s life in the mountains. The thick, red,
brown, and white jackets, waistcoats, and breeches were of home make
and handloom weaving, from the wool of their own sheep, and lasted for
years without becoming threadbare.

Even the musical instruments general when there was a dance have gone,
the _tambouri_ of six strings, struck by a fiddlestick, whilst a piper
played a flageolet of four holes, from which he could draw six or seven
notes. The great fête at Laruns is on 15 August, and if the charm of
this is gone with the abandonment of the pretty costumes, it is still
an animated and gay scene.

At Laruns the broad trough of the Val d’Ossau comes abruptly to an
end. Here from the left comes down the Valentin of Eaux Bonnes in a
series of cascades, the drainage of the snows of the noble mountains
at the head of the Val d’Azun, where they spill westward. But the Gave
d’Ossau, that has its source under the Pic du Midi, has sawn for itself
a way through rocks, and gushes forth through a notable chasm directly
above Laruns. This, the ravine in which lies the thermal establishment
of Eaux Chaudes, is by far the most interesting, it gives access to
the elevated village of Gabas, and to the Col d’Aneou, by which one
can pass into Spain. All the upper part of the course of the Gave is
of surpassing beauty, and the Alpine pastures yield rich spoil to the
botanist, owing to the variety of geological formation, limestone,
schist, granite, and porphyry.

The road to Eaux Chaudes, made in 1847, has been in part superseded by
one made later, but for pedestrians it is the most pleasant, as it is
the shortest. It enters the Gorge du Hourat, and runs the whole way
between precipitous walls of rock, beside the torrent which roars down
with tremendous velocity. At one point the road has had to be built
up against the side of the precipice as a bridge, to allow a torrent,
which falls from a height of several hundred feet, to pass under it,
and so join the Gave, the river that has formed the cleft of the
valley. At Eaux Chaudes there is little space; in winter hardly any
sun, in summer there is a sense of oppression from the contraction of
the mountains and the exclusion of distant view. But many delightful
excursions may be made from it. Eaux Chaudes owes its origin to
Henri Quatre, who required his chancellor, the Bishop of Oloron, to
build there an establishment for one of Henri’s many mistresses, la
Fousseuse, that she might there drink the waters.

The sturdy independence and self-respect of the peasantry of Ossau
have been broken down sadly by the influx of visitors. Mr. Blackburn
observes truly enough:--

    “It is said that English visitors have completely demoralized
    the Valley of Chamounix, and that the _curés_ are in despair;
    but whatever sins we have committed in Switzerland, the French
    people have done worse, the difference between the two nations
    being this, that the latter enjoy indiscriminate almsgiving,
    and we do not. The result in this valley is demoralizing
    to an extent that would scarcely be credited excepting by
    eye-witnesses. As we drive along we see the peasantry leaving
    their work in the fields at the sound of approaching wheels,
    and crouching at the roadside in attitudes of pain and misery;
    girls and boys leave their play to follow the carriages, and
    whine for _quelquechose_; crops are half-gathered, and work of
    all kinds is neglected during the season of the sous; the cry
    is everywhere, ‘Give, give!’

    “A girl of sixteen, well dressed and evidently well-to-do,
    comes up with a bouquet of wild flowers; she asks ten sous for
    it (about the wages of a day’s work), but will take no less;
    and on receiving the money will immediately ask for the bouquet
    back again, to sell to some one else.

    “And this is not all, for those of the inhabitants who have
    not brought up their children to the liberal profession of
    begging, have invented another ingenious and profitable mode of
    life, that of turning the cascades in the neighbourhood into
    penny peepshows, shutting them off so that they can only be
    approached by a wicket gate kept by one of themselves.”[G]

    [G] Blackburn (H.), _The Pyrenees_. London, 1867.

One of the pleasantest short walks is to the Grotte des Eaux Chaudes,
passing before a little cave from which issues a stream that proceeds
at once to dash headlong down the crags into the Gave. Beyond this is
the large cave opening in the face of a cliff. This grotto is traversed
by a stream which may be crossed by a bridge of wood to where, in the
depth of the cave, it leaps down out of a fissure in the wall in a
cascade. It is probably fed by the drainage of the Plateau d’Anouillas,
where the water descending from the Pic de Gers disappears. When the
stream has left the cavern it again dives underground, and flows below
the rocks in stages that descend to the bottom of the valley, and
reappears only just before it enters the Gave. But the finest excursion
from Eaux Chaudes is to Bious-Oumettes, a plateau whence a superb view
is obtained of the Pic du Midi d’Ossau. This peak is 9800 feet high,
of porphyry and granite, cleft by a profound vertical fissure, and is
perhaps the finest, certainly the quaintest, of the Pyrenean mountains.

Gabas, the last village on the French side of the chain, is a
halting-place for travellers and for muleteers conveying goods from
Spain. It is a cantonment of custom-house officers; and here may be
seen picturesque groups of shepherds in their fleecy jackets, Spaniards
in their richly-coloured blankets, and the uniformed douaniers. The
path leading to the plateau is lined with fir trees, but on all sides
may be seen the ravages of fire, the axe, and winter storm, in charred
stumps, twisted or hewn-down trunks, thrown down to be floated by the
Gave through its stages to the lower valley.

The distance from Laruns to Eaux Bonnes is much the same as it is to
Eaux Chaudes. On reaching the former watering-place--“Je comptais
trouver ici la campagne,” wrote M. Taine. “Je rencontre une rue de
Paris et les promenades du Bois de Boulogne!” It is a place of big
hotels, baths, pensions, shops where toys, trinkets, and trumpery are
displayed for sale, and, of course, a casino.

    “In whichever direction we turn,” says Mr. Blackburn, “there
    are houses built into and often forming part of the mountain,
    resting on ledges of rock, like to eyries; but so cleverly
    contrived is the arrangement of the place, so admirably has
    space been economized, that there is a feeling of freedom about
    it, quite inconsistent with living in a bird’s nest.

    “Thus, with the mountains several thousand feet above our
    heads, and the Val d’Ossau stretching away for many miles at
    our feet, with rocks overhanging and tree-tops waving, through
    which we can see the blue sky--with scarcely a foot of level
    ground anywhere, save the Promenade Horizontale, with cascades
    and waterfalls at our windows, we find ourselves as comfortably
    and luxuriously housed as in any modern city.”

Speaking of the church Taine says: “Cette église est une boïte ronde,
en pierre et plâtre, faite pour cinquante personnes, ou l’on en met
deux cents.” This box of stone and plaster has disappeared to make room
for one of more suitable dimensions in what is caricature of Romanesque.

There is a good carriage road from Eaux Bonnes over a fine pass into
the Val d’Aruns and to Argelez. The chief excursion is to the Pic de
Gers, 8570 feet high.

The Eaux Bonnes springs have been known for centuries. The Béarnais
soldiers wounded in the battle of Pavia in 1525, were sent here to
be healed; and for some time after that the springs went by the name
of les Eaux d’arquebusades. But they owe their modern renown to the
works of Théophile Bordeu. There are seven sources of sulphurated
waters, which are good for throat disorders, wounds, sores, and morbid

The Eaux Bonnes was the scene of a sad accident in 1883, that happened
to the Rev. Merton Smith, vicar of Plympton S. Mary, in Devonshire.
He had gone to the Pyrenees for his month’s holiday, and visited this
watering-place. On 8 August he left his hotel at 3 p.m., in his usual
spirits, to walk to Eaux Chaudes, and never returned. He had intended
to return the same evening.

Nothing could be heard of him. Inquiries were made in all directions,
search parties were organized; he could nowhere be found. Months
passed, and his disappearance remained unexplained. The Bishop of
Exeter was in perplexity what to do. He could not institute to the
living without certain knowledge that Mr. Merton Smith was dead, and
this knowledge could not be obtained.

Uncharitable tongues wagged. Some said that he had fallen a victim to
the fascinations of a Pyrenean shepherdess, and that he was picking
edelweiss and playing a flute on some high Alp to the delectation of
the damsel. Some said that he had been captured by Roman Catholics and
interned in a monastery. Some said that he had been murdered by Ossau
mountaineers for the sake of his money.

Not till eighteen months after his disappearance was the mystery
cleared up. His body was found on the mountainside, buried among thick
bushes of box that had concealed it. He had apparently been stooping
to pick a flower and had fallen over a precipice and been killed
instantaneously. His watch and purse were intact. It was by chance only
that a woodcutter discovered the remains whilst clearing the boxwood.



    Line from Lourdes turns north--Argelez glacier--The Lavedan--
    The Seven Valleys--Lourdes of old--The castle--Held by the
    English--Attacked by the Duke of Anjou--Held by Saracens--
    Besieged by Charlemagne--The Grotto--Bernadette Soubirous--
    The _curé_ Ader--The apparition expected--The vision--
    Repeated--Crowds attend Bernadette--The spring--Mud--Price
    of the water--Je suis l’Immaculée Conception--Explanation--
    Compromising pamphlet suppressed--The Abbé Ader removed--La
    Salette--Similar visions seen by Huguenots--Doctor Dozous--The
    Empress and Prince Imperial--The Emperor patronizes the Grotto--
    Disappearance of documents--Laserre--His book a romance--The
    Jesuit Cros exposes it--The water of the spring--Drawn from
    the Gave--The Bishop’s commission--Pius IX appoints a festival
    in honour of the apparition--Removal of Bernadette to Nevers--
    Her brother refused permission to see her--Forces his way in--
    Last scene--The procession--Where the natural ends and the
    supernatural begins--No guarantee that the cures are permanent.

As the train sweeps into the station at Lourdes, on the right side, a
few feet above the Gave, may be seen the twinkling lights of the Grotto
of Massabielle, about which presently.

From the station of Lourdes the line turns north to Tarbes and
Toulouse, along what was the ancient course of the Gave, a course that
is patent to the eye, till the Argelez glacier threw up a barrier of
morraine that deflected the river, and sent it careering to the west.


Lourdes stands at the entrance to and is the key to the Lavedan, so
called from _abies_, the pines that once clothed the mountain-sides.
The Lavedan is fertile. It is the trunk whence branch out numerous
valleys that run up to the roots of the mountains and receive
their water. But Lavedan formed a republic of seven of these
valleys--Batsouriguère, Castelloubon (through which flows the Nès),
Estrom de Salles, Azun, Saint Savin, Devantaïgue, and Barèges.

“Count” Henri Russell-Killough, in his _Fortnight Among the Pyrenees_,
describes the Lavedan.

    “Vine, fig trees, cherry trees, poplars, willows, elms,
    walnuts, maize, all meet here, and vegetation rises nearly to
    the tops of the mountains. On a fine day the whole thing looks
    like a modern Eden.”

I remember Lourdes before it was “invented” by Bernadette Soubirous and
the _curé_ Peyramale. It was a dead place, with narrow streets, very
dirty, clustered about the rock on which stands the castle. Although
the true capital of the Lavedan, the market for all the produce of the
Seven Valleys, yet it seemed to be tenanted only by beggars.

Lourdes commands the roads which here unite from Argelez, Tarbes, Pau,
and Bagnères. It was a place of great military importance, and was
the last stronghold in Guyenne retained by the English. It did not
surrender till 1418. The castle had been given to the English by the
French king John as part of his ransom, in conformity with the Treaty
of Bretigny, 1360, when the towns and barons of Gascony were required
to swear allegiance to the Black Prince, as representative of the
English king. After awhile the country rose in revolt, exasperated by
the exactions of the English, and the Duke of Anjou, brother of Charles
V, supported the Bigorriens.

After that all the plain had been recovered by the French, nothing
remained to the English but the Castle of Lourdes, the Lavedan to
Barèges, far removed from their base at Bayonne. The Duke of Anjou took
the town easily, as it was defended merely by a pallisade, but could
not capture the castle, which bade defiance to him during six weeks.
He vainly endeavoured to buy the governor, and was forced to retire
discomfited. The attempt made by Gaston Phœbus and the murder of Pierre
Arnaut de Béarn by him has been already related.

But the castle has an earlier history. It is supposed to have been a
Roman castrum. It was occupied by the Saracens, who retained it after
their defeats at Poitiers and Tarbes, till the reign of Charlemagne.
He besieged it. According to legend an eagle, flying above the highest
tower of the castle, dropped a fish on the battlement at a spot still
called Pierre de l’Aigle. Thereupon the Moorish commandant Mirad sent a
messenger to Charlemagne to say that he might understand how vain were
his expectations of reducing the garrison by famine, as the Prophet
himself provided it with food.

Charlemagne did not accept this view of the incident, and continued
the investment till the castle surrendered. The Bishop of Le Puy had
promised Charles the aid of Our Lady of Puy, if properly considered.
“Give her something,” said he, “if it be but a tuft of grass from the
castle wall.”

Mirad and the garrison put wisps of hay about the points of their
lances, in token of submission. Then Charles bade the bishop open his
lap and threw into it all the hay from the spear-heads. This was in 778.

In the eighteenth century the castle (Mirabel is its name) was
converted into a state prison, and it became the Bastille of Gascony.
Since the empire it has served as a barrack for a small garrison.

But it is not the castle that now attracts visitors to Lourdes, but the
Grotto of Massabiel, the story of which must be told briefly.

Bernadette Soubirous was the daughter of a drunken, dishonest miller,
who had lost his mill through speculation, and had been imprisoned.
He and his family were living as pensioners on the Abbé Peyramale,
_curé_ of Lourdes, in a wretched cottage in a back street--five persons
huddled into one room. Bernarde, afterwards called Bernadette, was
an under-sized, ill-fed, unhealthy child of limited intelligence
and utterly uneducated. For some reason never explained she was
sent to Bartrès, where she was employed in tending sheep. There she
attracted the attention of the _curé_ Ader, who repeatedly declared
his conviction that she was just the sort of person to be vouchsafed a
vision like that seen by the shepherd children of La Salette.

At the end of January, 1858, the Abbé Ader sent Bernadette, then aged
fourteen, back to Lourdes, where she was at once taken in hand by
one of the _vicaires_ of the place, the Abbé Pomian, who became her
confessor and director.

Singularly, perhaps significantly, on 28 December, 1857, M. Falconnet,
_procureur général_ at Lourdes deemed it expedient to send a report to
the _procureur impériale_ at Pau, that something was brewing in the
place. This is his letter:--

    “I have been informed that manifestations of a supernatural
    character and of a miraculous aspect are being prepared for the
    end of this year. I would advise you to take measures that the
    facts should be closely watched. I must know the details so as
    to be aware under what articles of the penal code prosecution
    is possible. I fear that little help can be gained from the
    administration civil or religious. Our duty is to do all in our
    power to stop the recurrence of such scandals as those of La
    Salette, the more so as the religious intrigue is a means of
    hiding one that is political.”

It is evident from this letter that something was expected at Lourdes.
The magistrate was mistaken only as to when it would take place, which
was forty-five days after this letter was written. On 11 February,
1858, a cold day, Bernadette was dispatched along with her younger
sister, Marie, and a companion, Jeanne, to collect sticks for fuel
beside the Gave, under the rock of Massabielle. Bernadette suffered
from asthma, had a bad cough, and scrofulous sores on her head. To
reach their destination a small stream had to be crossed. Marie and
Jeanne slipped off their sabots and went through the water, which was
so cold that it made them cry out. Bernadette stopped to remove her
wooden shoes and thick stockings. Beyond the stream rose a limestone
rock with a cave in the face, the floor of which was level with the
bank of the Gave. An oval opening above it allowed light to penetrate
from aloft into the recesses of the grotto. At the entrance to this
hole grew a rose bush.

Whilst stooping to take off her stockings, the rush of blood to her
head made the child fancy that she heard a sound as of wind, and
looking up she imagined that she saw a light in the upper hole, and a
lady standing in it, robed in white, wearing a blue sash, a veil over
her head, with a rosary in one hand, and golden roses on her feet.

To her excited fancy it seemed that the apparition smiled and made the
sign of Redemption with the cross of the rosary. Bernadette uttered an
exclamation, traversed the stream, told her companions what she had
seen, and asked them if they observed the lady. “No,” they replied, “we
have seen nothing.” Then Bernadette said, “No more did I, either.”

On their return to Lourdes, Marie told her mother what Bernadette had
stated, and Mme. Soubirous treated it as idle fancy.

The matter, however, was noised about and provoked attention, the more
so as from the magistrate’s letter we are made aware that something of
the sort was expected in the place. On Sunday, 14 February, a party
accompanied the girl to the spot; whereupon she knelt down, fell into
an ecstasy, and declared that she again saw the apparition. All Lourdes
was now stirred. Three ladies next took Bernadette in hand, and were
almost constantly in attendance on her--Mme. Millet, Mlle. Peyret, and
Mlle. Pène, sister of one of the curates of Lourdes. In their presence
Bernadette had other visions. Peasants now came in crowds, surrounded
the girl, and accompanied her on each expedition to the grotto. At the
suggestion of her confessor she put questions to the figure, and it
replied, so Bernadette asserted, enjoining penance, and the building of
a chapel on the spot.

One day “Madame,” said the child, “if you have something to communicate
to me, have the goodness to write it down.”

“There is no need for writing what I have to tell you,” replied the
mysterious lady; “but do me the favour of coming here during fifteen

On one occasion the apparition bade the girl go into the grotto, grub
for water, wash in it, drink it, and eat a mouthful of grass.

    “The Grotto at this period,” said Mlle. Lacrampe, who was
    present on this occasion, “had not the depth that it possesses
    now. Pebbles and sand were heaped up in it to a considerable
    height, so much so that one speedily reached a point where it
    was necessary to bend double to get further. Bernadette, after
    having raised her eyes to the niche, put her hand to her hood
    to arrange it, and lifted her gown a little so as not to soil
    it. Then she stooped to the earth, and when she raised her head
    and turned her face towards the apparition, I saw that her face
    was all smudged with dirty water.”

Bernadette herself related:--

    “The lady told me to drink of the fountain and to wash in
    it. Not seeing any spring, I was going to the Gave, but she
    signed to me to enter the cave. I entered and saw only a little
    dirty water. I put my hand to it, but could collect none, so
    I scratched, and the water came, but it was muddy. Thrice I
    rejected it. Only on the fourth attempt could I swallow any.”

The Jesuit father Cros says with regard to this exhibition:
“Mademoiselle Lacrampe se retira si défavorablement impressionée, qu’il
a fallu des années et des miracles pour la convaincre.” M. Estrade,
receiver of indirect taxes, says with respect to this affair: “Je
commerçais à être dérouté, et ne savais que penser de tout ceci.”

Thus was the miraculous spring discovered, the water of which, or what
is supposed to come from it, is sent throughout the world, a case of
thirty bottles carriage paid to the station 7 fr. 45 c. One bottle,
“franco à domicile,” in France 1 fr. 80 c.

Now it is absolutely certain that the water was there before Bernadette
Soubirous scratched till she reached it. The Abbé Richard, a geologist,
says that it was there and it was known to be there by many individuals
in Lourdes.

On 25 March Bernadette made her seventeenth visit to the grotto. The
_curé_ Peyramale had been at her repeatedly insisting that she should
ask the apparition who and what she was.

Accordingly on this occasion she said: “Madam, kindly inform me who you

Then the figure crossed its hands over the breast, lowered the eyes,
and said: “Je suis l’Immaculée Conception, et je désire une chapelle

It is deserving of notice that the apparition did not state that
she was the Blessed Virgin, but that she was an abstraction, the
manifestation in visible form of a dogma.

Now Bernadette had been subjected for some time to strong suggestion.
She had been influenced by the Abbé Ader at Bartrès, who had announced
that she was just the sort of person to be chosen by the Blessed Virgin
to see her; then she had been under the direction of the _vicaire_
Pomian, and the strong personality of the _curé_ Peyramale, who
could mould such a feeble creature as wax. I do not imply that they
consciously provoked a fraud; far from it. I think that these clergy
had made up their minds that Bernadette was a suitable subject to be
favoured by a vision, and had let her understand what their opinion of
her was. Indeed, the schoolmaster at Bartrès, in his simplicity, wrote
as much in the _Guide du Pèlerin à Lourdes_. The fathers of Garaison,
who “ran the show,” to use a vulgar expression, were so alarmed at
this revelation, that they brought up and destroyed every copy of the
_Pèlerin_ on which they could lay their hands. According to J. de
Bonnefon, _Lourdes et ses tenanciers_:--

    “Somewhat later, the Abbé Ader, dissatisfied, neglected,
    forgotten, was filled with scruples, and told everything.”

What his authority for this statement is I do not know, but this is
certain, that Ader was hurriedly removed from his _curé_, and sent
hastily to the Benedictines, and kept in the abbey of Saint Benoît
for two years, without occupation, but lodged and fed and entertained,
not at his own cost. At the end of that time he was thought to be no
longer dangerous, and was appointed _curé_ of Oroix, a little place
with not two hundred inhabitants, in a remote corner of the diocese,
miles from every highroad. That Bernadette had heard of the apparition
at La Salette is certain, even if she had not heard Ader liken her to
one of those who saw that apparition, which took place in 1846, and was
preached about and talked of everywhere. I spent a summer in a château
in the valley of Argelez in 1850, and the _curé’s_ mind was full of
it. He lent me a book concerning it, and became hot in defence of the
veracity of the children.

Representations of the vision of La Salette were set up in
churches--statues and pictures and stained glass. Bernadette was a
constant attendant at church, and must have heard of this event.

Again, but three years previously, Pius IX had proclaimed the doctrine
of the Immaculate Conception as _de fide_, and every pulpit was ringing
with it. What it meant Bernadette did not know. But in her narrow,
uncultivated mind it took form as a prime verity of the faith which
was disputed by those who were weak in their belief--who were not good

What could have been expected under such influences, but that if the
child fancied she saw a vision, that vision would proclaim the doctrine
recently promulgated. Can it for a moment be doubted that if she had
heard the efficacy of a certain medicine vaunted, seen it everywhere
advertised, had it urged on her from the pulpit and in the class and
in the confessional, she would have heard the apparition say, “Je suis
l’infallible pilule pink.”

That Bernadette was an impostor cannot be admitted; no one who knew
her, none even of those who disbelieved in the apparition, had any
doubt on that score. But she was epileptic, hysterical, and subject
to hallucinations. She was very different from Melanie and Maximin
Mathieu of La Salette, whom the saintly _curé_ d’Ars saw, and was at
once convinced that they were liars. Very similar visions to that seen
by Bernadette had been seen by Huguenots. In the spring of 1668, near
Castres, a young shepherdess of La Capelle, aged ten, beheld an angel
who forbade her going to Mass. The news spread through the country,
and, just as at Lourdes, so at La Capelle, crowds assembled to see
her in an ecstasy, and hear her converse with the angel, who bade her
announce to all to avoid entering Catholic churches.

Roman Catholics would say that the girl was deceived by the devil, and
that Bernadette’s visions were from heaven. But in fact one was as
genuinely a delusion as the other.

Unfortunately the case of Bernadette was not examined coolly and
impartially. Very soon a doctor, Dozous, took up the cudgels for the
miracle. Here is what the _procureur impériale_ says of him, and from
that one can judge of the worth of his evidence.

    “Doctor Dozous was formerly physician at the hospital of
    Lourdes, but was dismissed his post two years ago. He has
    resented this bitterly, I understand. Nor was he pleased that
    he was passed over and three of his confrères were nominated
    by the prefect to report on the physical and moral condition
    of Bernadette Soubirous. Be that as it may, he has made a
    change in his opinions since then. He did call these visions
    farces, now they are something beyond the power of human nature
    to explain. On 7 April he was for the first time struck with
    a circumstance that had previously not struck him or any one
    else. Bernadette, during her ecstasy, held a lighted candle
    between her hands, and the flame licked her hands without
    burning them. Other spectators, quite as well situated as M.
    Dozous, assert that he saw incorrectly, or ill appreciated what
    he did see.”

On 12 March, 1858, the Emperor Napoleon III demanded information
relative to the affair of Lourdes. Somewhat later the Empress was
at Biarritz, and had with her as attendant Mme. Bruat, who had just
returned from Lourdes, bringing with her some of the grass that grows
in the grotto. It fell out one night that the Prince Imperial was ill,
and croup was feared. Mme. Bruat urged the application of the herb from
Lourdes. The Emperor was roused, and in his presence the bit of dried
grass was applied to the lips of the child, and he became easier.

The Emperor and Empress at once extended their protection to the
grotto, and all serious examination into the matter was at an end. This
was on 2 August. The consequences were immediately felt. None of the
civil authorities at Tarbes or Lourdes dared thenceforth express doubts
in the genuineness of the apparition. It had a further effect. There
existed a good number of documents in the _dossier_ at Tarbes relative
to what had been going on at Lourdes, very candid accounts--perhaps too
candid. One compromising packet disappeared, and was offered privately
for sale to several persons. The police were at once set to work, and
secured the stolen packet, which was _not_ restored to its place, but
totally and irretrievably disappeared.

In 1869 appeared Lasserre’s book, _Notre Dame de Lourdes_, which had
an enormous sale; it had reached its 126th edition in 1892. Henri
Lasserre had been a journalist, and his paper, the _Contemporaine_,
had utterly failed. He was in bad circumstances, when the bright idea
struck him to puff Lourdes. He went there in August, 1867, and placed
himself in the house of the _curé_ Peyramale, and took in without
criticism everything that he was told. He did more; he dressed up every
incident fantastically, turned the story into a romance, giving details
and conversations that could only have been obtained had he tracked
Bernadette from day to day with a camera snap-shotting her, and with
a note-book and pencil taking down everything heard in shorthand. He
made no scruple to falsify facts which did not suit him, and he had
his reward; the book sold with an unprecedented rapidity, and filled
his pockets with gold. Now the Jesuit Cros also wrote about Lourdes;
but his work, that appeared in 1901, while exposing many of Lasserre’s
falsehoods and exaggerations, had to be gone through and cut about by
his superiors before that it was suffered to be published.

It causes some surprise, and it convinces some people that miraculous
agency has worked in the grotto, in that so much water flows away from
the taps supposed to discharge that which issues from the spring in
the cave. This water is drawn off, evaporated, and sold in pastilles
(big boxes, 2 francs; _bonbonnières_, 75 cents). But does it really
come from the source pretended? The water of the cave is merely the
dripping and sweating of the walls and the oozing up of infiltration of
the Gave, that is little lower than the floor; but hence now issues a
copious spring.

An experienced scientist of Bayonne managed to break through the
wire netting at the end of the grotto that conceals the miraculous
spring from the public, and to pour in sufficient fluorescine to
discolour 10,000 litres of water. This would have revealed itself at
the taps infallibly, had this latter supply come from the grotto.
No discoloration, however, appeared. The gentleman who made this
experiment wrote to the superior of the Fathers of the Grotto to
inform him of the test he had applied. He received no answer. Then, in
a second letter, published in the _Reveil de Bayonne_, he offered to
pay the superior the sum of 40,000 francs if he would allow the matter
of the water to be properly investigated, and could prove that there
was no trickery. The water, he asserted, was drawn from the Gave higher
up stream. The Fathers shrank from the investigation.

My authority for this is Jean de Bonnefon. But I must add that I wrote
to that gentleman and also to the editor of the _Reveil de Bayonne_ to
learn the name of the man who offered the challenge, and also the date
when made, and that neither one nor the other has had the courtesy to
reply. The editor may, however, be dead, as the _Reveil_ has ceased to

Nevertheless, the charge of fraud has been made publicly by M. de
Bonnefon, and it is incumbent on the French Government to see that no
trickery is used to impose on the religious public, and obtain of it
money under false pretences.

The Fathers of Garaison are no longer nominally in charge of the
grotto and all its belongings, but this is nominally only. They are
now called _vicaires_, under authorization of the Bishop of Tarbes.
The name is altered, that is all. Monte Carlo is under the protection
of the French Government. A German, Captain Weihe, has brought charges
against the Company of fraudulent action, of having the balls loaded
and of employing magnets. The French Government should insist before
extending its patronage to the gambling hell at Monte Carlo and to
the grotto of Lourdes to have the proceedings in both thoroughly and
impartially investigated. But both bring vast sums of money into the
country, and consequently the Government shuts its eyes upon both.
When the inventories were taken in the spring of 1906 the Bishop of
Tarbes gave instructions that no sort of opposition was to be offered
at Lourdes to the Government authorities counting up the silver hearts,
and crutches, etc., in the basilica and grotto. It mattered not to him
to have the feathers of the goose counted, so long as the goose itself
was not killed that laid the golden eggs. He was careful not to provoke
opposition, lest an inquiry should be made that might lead to awkward

Not that any amount of exposure of trickery--if trickery has been
resorted to--would disabuse the minds of the credulous. Human stupidity
is too crass for that; but it would relieve the French Government of
the discredit of conniving at dishonest proceedings.

Before Lasserre’s book had appeared, the Bishop of Tarbes had appointed
a commission to investigate the alleged marvels at Lourdes, but there
was not a name on the commission that could command confidence, only a
vicar-general, canons of the cathedral, and the like, not a single man
of science and of independent mind. When the bishop was satisfied--and
most easy to satisfy he was--he gave his sanction to pilgrimages to the
grotto, and Pius IX accorded indulgences to such as made the visit.
He did more; he instituted a liturgical office for 11 February, to be
inserted in the Breviary, in commemoration of the first apparition.
Consequently the Church of Rome is irrevocably committed to this great

It was necessary to get rid of Bernadette; she was not indeed likely
to “faire des bêtises”; but, in her own interest, it was well that
she should be removed, lest her head should be turned, as people were
entreating her to perform miraculous cures. And it was quite possible
that she in her simplicity might let out compromising avowals--not
indeed that the whole thing had been got up as a fraud, for that it
was not, but might avow how greatly she had been influenced by the
suggestive action of the abbés Ader, Pomian, and Peyramale, all doing
their part in good faith, with no intent of deception but who, like
Ader, had become, conscious _après coup_ that they had brought this
affair about.

Bernadette was taken off and shut up in a convent at Nevers, at such
a distance from her home that there seemed no chance of relative or
acquaintance ever seeing her again. There she was retained very close;
hardly any one was permitted to visit her. Her health, always frail,
gave way in confinement, deprived of her mountain air, and she died
in 1879. When it was known that she was on her death-bed M. le Gentil
very kindly undertook to pay the expenses of her brother to Nevers,
so as to have a last look at his sister. Gentil accompanied him.
Nevers would seem to have been chosen expressly as a place where to
place Bernadette, so difficult is it to be got at from Tarbes--only by
cross lines and slow trains, with long waits at every change. However
difficult and tedious Gentil and Soubirous may have found it, making
their way thither by train, it was nothing to the difficulties caused
by wilful obstruction put in their way on reaching Nevers. Soubirous
went alone to the convent, and asked for the superior. She replied to
his demand for an interview with his dying sister, “It is against the
rules of the convent.”

Soubirous, timid as poor peasants are, returned to the hotel and told
M. Gentil his want of success. Soubirous went again to the convent and
was again refused. Then the two men called at the palace on the bishop.
He said, “I can do nothing. The superior is mistress in her house.”

Then Soubirous and his companion went again to the convent and entered
the parlour, where they declared firmly that they would remain till the
request was granted.

The superior in great agitation entreated them to depart and not
provoke a scandal. “I am but a feeble woman,” she said, “and the bishop
has forbidden me to allow you to see your sister.”

Throughout the day the two men remained at their post seated in the
parlour. Emissaries ran to and fro between the convent and the bishop’s
palace. The house was like a disturbed ant-heap. Sisters passed and
repassed, peeped in and withdrew. Voices were heard in discussion in
the passages. But the two men would not budge.

At last night drew on. It would never do to allow them to pass it in
this holy prison. At last, pale and trembling, the superior entered,
and said, “Monseigneur has consented.”

Soubirous was then conducted to the infirmary. The whole community of
twenty nuns, and all the serving sisters, were there crowded about the
bed. On it Soubirous caught a glimpse of the white face of his sister
with her great burning eyes looking at him, and tears rolling down her
cheeks. The dying girl in a feeble voice said, “The fathers will give
you work. They have promised it.” That was all. The head sank back on
the pillow, and more tears flowed. Soubirous was then hustled out of
the room, and he never more saw Bernadette.

To-day this man is well-to-do. He has a shop and a house, and fears
God and the Fathers of the Grotto. So ended this poor martyr to the
doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.[H] The annual number of pilgrims
who visit the grotto amounts to something over 600,000, and the
affluence increases every year. Trainloads of sick people leave Paris
in the month of August, when the principal pilgrimage takes place. But
all the festivals of the Blessed Virgin, and that of the Apparition,
inserted in the calendar with proper Mass, give occasion to solemnities
of exceptional grandeur, the most imposing feature of which is the
night processions so beautifully described by Zola. Hideous and vulgar
are basilica and chapel of the Rosary that have been erected over and
by the cave. The situation is exceptionally beautiful, and would lend
itself to a stately and well-proportioned church and pile of buildings;
but it has been used as an occasion for the display of architectural
ineptitude. Grotto and church are crowded with _ex votos_ memorials of
cures wrought there, cures that are reputed miraculous.

    [H] Bonnefon, _Lourdes et ses tenanciers_. Paris, 1906. The
        value of this book is in the second part, that contains
        the hitherto unpublished documents from the Paris and
        Departmental archives relative to the course of development
        of the Lourdes story.

But who is to decide where the natural ends and the miraculous begins?
In the present condition of science we cannot draw the line between
the natural and the supernatural. None can plant his walking-stick at
a certain point and say that he has reached “ubi defuit orbis,” and no
man can declare the exact point “ubi defuit scientia.” We know that the
Maladetta is in Spain, and that the Vingemale is in France, because the
mountain chain has been surveyed, and the line of demarcation drawn
between Spain and France. Such a tree, such a rock, such a hamlet,
we know for certain is in one or other of these countries. But there
is no such boundary in Nature. Where does the vegetable realm end
and the animal kingdom begin? Psychology and physiology overlap and
interpenetrate one another. The body acts on the mind, and the mind
on the body. Those who come to Lourdes come in a condition of nervous
exaltation, in a fever of faith and hope; not only so, but they come in
crowds, and the magnetic, electric influence exercised by great masses
of men and women on one another, is prodigious, when all are actuated
by the same impulse.

That cures have been wrought at Lourdes I do not doubt. Similar and as
many, and as genuine cures were wrought of old in pagan temples, which
were also crowded with _ex votos_.

And what guarantee have we that these cures have been permanent? A man
with a rheumatic leg prays at the cave, dips in the dirty pool, feels
that he can walk, and hangs up his crutches. Next day he is as much
crippled as before, but he has not the courage to go back to the grotto
and resume his crutch; he orders another from Paris.

But that some of the cures are permanent need not be doubted. The
effect of imagination on the body is immense. Every nervous person can
make himself ill by imagining himself to be ill; and a good many can
get well by persuading themselves that they are convalescent. There was
much truth in Mrs. Chick’s saying that Mrs. Dombey died because “dear
Fanny wouldn’t make an effort.”



    Pic de Gers--Argelez--Vieuzac--The Balandrau--Intermittent
    spring--Cave of Ouzous--Devantaïgue--Beaucens--Val d’Azun--
    Commissioners scared from it--Garrison frightened away--Queen
    Hortense--A miscalculation--Saint Savin--The Voisins--
    Palatium Æmilianum--Church--Paintings--S. Orens--Disorderly

A funicular railway takes a visitor to the top of the Pic de Gers,
whence he can obtain a fine comprehensive panorama of the mountains. A
cross surmounts the peak that is illuminated at night.

On quitting Lourdes to ascend the Valley of Argelez the mountain
sides are seen to be bare, having been denuded of their trees by the
ruthless axe of the peasant. Presently the train passes a mound on
which stands a solitary tower called after the Black Prince, who is
held to have ordered its construction to watch the upper portion of the
valley. Then the basin of Argelez opens up, with villages and culture,
vines, chestnuts, walnuts, running high up the sides of the mountains,
mainly on the right bank of the Gave, and maize in the plain standing
up as high as a man, or in the season sheets of forget-me-not-blue
waving flax, alternating with crimson stretches of the _Trifolium
incarnatum_. On the rubbly slopes the glistening box flourishes
luxuriantly. Argelez is a delightful resort in spring and summer. It
has its bathing establishment, to which the waters of Gazost are led,
its casino, and a park in which the bamboos grow rank, and the acacias
in spring flower and scent the air. Avenues, bordered by hotels, link
the Argelez of the tourist and those who go there for what the Germans
call “Sommerfrische” with the old Argelez. Among the villas is the
château of Vieusac, from which that scoundrel Barrère took a title,
that he dropped in the Reign of Terror, and reassumed as soon as he was
safe under Louis Philippe, when he represented Argelez in the Conseil

This place was formerly a Romano-Gaulish settlement; in a field
near the town a considerable number of cinerary urns have been dug
up. A mile below Argelez is the Balandrau, a huge block of stone
balanced at the edge of a crag, held from falling by a small stone of
different nature, that retains it in position, and looking as though
all it needed was a touch to send it hurtling down upon the roof of a
farmhouse planted beneath. A Mass is said annually in the church of
Argelez to invoke Divine intervention against such a catastrophe. The
Balandrau has been supposed to be a megalithic monument of the dolmen
builders, but it is natural, a relic of the Ice Age in the valley when
it was choked with glaciers. Farther down a stream flows into the Gave.
Here, at Ouzous, is an intermittent spring that turns a mill, when it
pleases it to flow. Before it bursts forth it is said to growl and
grumble. Here also, in the face of the limestone cliff, is a cave that
served as a church during the Reign of Terror, when priests were hunted
down like wolves; and here the peasants assembled to hear Mass. Fifty
years ago the rude stone altar, made like that of Gilgal, was standing;
I have not been to the grotto since.

Facing Argelez, the right bank of the Gave to the crest of the
mountains, from Préchac to the mouth of the Valley of Isaby constitutes
one of the seven valleys of the ancient confederation of the Lavedan.
It is not a valley at all, any more than is that of S. Savin, which
formed another, both being mountain slopes, one on the right, the other
on the left bank of the Gave. This was the Devantaïgue, which means
literally, “in face of the waters,” and comprised five communes. In
it is the Castle of Beaucens, the former residence of the counts of
Lavedan, before it passed into the hands of the King of Navarre. It
is an imposing ruin, with the little village clustered about the feet
of the rock on which it stands. Tradition is, as we were informed by
the peasants, that up to the Revolution a terrible toll was exacted of
this little commune; it was bound annually to supply a girl to become a
prostitute in Paris.

The Valley of Azun, next to that of Barèges, is the largest of the
seven of the confederacy. It is cut off from the basin of Argelez by a
barrier of rock, through which its steel-blue Gave has sawn a way. The
road to reach the valley has to mount high to surmount the barrier;
and this point was strongly defended by three fortresses, the most
considerable of which was Castelnau-d’Azun. The ruins are dominated
by a donjon and a square tower, of the fourteenth century, which
castle was held by the English till taken by assault by the peasants
in 1404. Above the ravine cleft by the river is a rock from which the
inhabitants hurled a collector of taxes into the abyss, a simpler
proceeding than paying their dues. But they were always an independent
people, self-governing, almost autonomous. Every householder, female
as well as male, voted to elect their consuls and representative at
the common parliament that sat at Argelez, comprising those sent from
each of the seven valleys to regulate such matters as concerned
all conjointly. One can understand how restive they were under the
English tyranny. The kings of Navarre respected the privileges of the
confederate little republics, and did not interfere with them, but sent
a bailiff to administer justice in his name.

The Valley of Azun had to be watched and well guarded, as down it came
one of the passages from Spain over a col. Accordingly, the castles
on the barrier were but one link in the defence. Arras, farther up,
had two more castles, now degraded to prosaic use. Above Arras again
is Aucun. The church contains two _bénitiers_, one, richly carved,
represents a wedding, with tumblers, and a musician playing the
bagpipes. The other, also of white marble, has on it rudely-sculptured
bears in various postures. Aucun was the capital of this miniature
republic. A little below it a road descends to and crosses the Gave,
and then mounting to the village of Bun leads up the narrow valley of
the Gave de Lebat to the pretty bottle-green lakelet of Estaing lying
at the foot of the Soum de Monné, behind which is Cauterets.

Farther up the valley of Azun is Arreins, whence started the track
leading into Spain by the Col de la Peyre S. Martin. The church served
as a refuge in time of danger. It still keeps its crenellated wall of

Hard by is the pilgrimage chapel of Puy-al-Hun, on a rock standing
boldly up out of the midst of the valley. A writer in 1837 thus
describes it:--

    “We went up to Notre Dame Pouey-la-Unt, beautifully set down
    upon a platform overlooking a world of sweet and serene aspect,
    and having for its rough pavement the rock on which it is
    built. A fissure runs through it, and when it rains, a stream
    through the fissure; but the walls are panelled brown and gold,
    the roof is azure starred with gold, the pillars of the high
    altar twisted like those of the baldaquin of S. Peter’s at
    Rome, gorgeously gilt and gracefully wreathed with vine leaves
    and tendrils and bunches of grapes, all gold or its likeness.”

The chapel is much the same now as it was when this was written, but
the stream no longer flows in the channel athwart the floor. The
Commissioners of the Directory visited the place to plunder the shrine
and destroy the image of the Virgin, but when they entered the church
they were scared by unearthly noises proceeding from above, and they
ran away. These noises were produced by some young peasants who had
secreted themselves between the vaulting and the roof. However, the
chapel was sold, and bought by a farmer’s widow in the place. Next a
small garrison was quartered in it, for the protection of the frontier
against the Spaniards, and the impression of their muskets on the
balustrades may still be seen. One evening the women of Arreins,
disguising themselves as Spanish soldiers, to the roll of drum, in
the dusk made an attack on the chapel, and the garrison, thinking
discretion the better part of valour, decamped, and did not halt to
take breath till they reached Argelez.

The chapel was visited by Queen Hortense in 1807; she had recently lost
her son, the Prince Royal of Holland, and she founded here a Mass to
be said in perpetuity for the repose of his soul. The Abbé Pome, then
owner and chaplain of the sanctuary, wrote to give the Queen an account
of the first anniversary Mass.

    “That day, which should have been one of mourning by recalling
    the memory of a prince born to be the successor of the great
    Napoleon, has become a day of joy and thankfulness through
    the birth of another prince, who, generated in our mountains,
    and, if I may presume to say so, under the special protection
    of the Virgin, has dried up all our tears, has reanimated our
    courage, and has become the object of our most flattering

This prince just born was Louis Napoleon, who became Emperor of the

In 1870 Mr. Lawlor published his _Pilgrimages in the Pyrenees_, and in
it says of Napoleon III:--

    “The protection of Our Lady of Poëy-la-hun would seem never to
    have deserted him through all his adventures and dangers.”

An unhappy sentence written shortly before the disaster of Sedan in

On a beautifully wooded height on the right as ascending the Valley of
Argelez are seen the tower and church and buildings of S. Savin, where
was an abbey of great importance, but of which now all that remain
are the church and the chapter-house. The abbot was Seigneur over the
so-called Valley of S. Savin, and that of Cauterets, then desert and
poor, which belonged to the confraternity. But although seigneur, the
abbot was by no means a despotic lord. The little republic of S. Savin
would not admit him into his monastery, let him even cross the bounds
of the “valley” till he had taken oath to respect the ancient rights
and liberties of the place. Its electors went by the name of _voisins_;
but the abbot alone represented S. Savin in the Estates of Bigorre,
and he presided over the deliberations of the assembly of _voisins_
and _voisines_, for women as well as men were the representatives of
the will and rights of the little republic, and a single veto would
suffice to prevent the execution of any measure voted. On one occasion
a _voisine_, named Galhardine de Fréchon, opposed her veto to the rest
of the assembly which was otherwise unanimous, and thus paralyzed their

The abbot and his monks doubtless lived well: hunted, and lounged
and slept in their comfortable quarters, without discharging their
religious duties other than in a perfunctory manner, for the Chevalier
Bestin, in his verses relative to a stay in the Pyrenees, boasted of--

 “Le long dîner, la courte messe
  Du bon abbé de Saint Savin.”

The abbey occupies, it is believed, the site of the Palatium Æmilianum,
which served as a retreat for Savinus, son of a Count of Barcelona, and
nephew of the Count of Poitiers, in the eighth century. The abbey was
erected by Charlemagne, and here, so goes the legend, Roland fought
and cleft from head to waist two Saracen giants, and constrained a
third to submit to baptism. In 843 the terrible Northmen destroyed
the monastery. Raymond I, Count of Bigorre, rebuilt it in 945; and he
it was who granted the Valley of Cauterets to the monastery. It also
possessed sole rights to the interment of the inhabitants of the Val
d’Azun. When, on one occasion, these people ventured to bury one of
their dead near the church of Arreins, the monks forced them to dig up
the body, although in an advanced state of putrefaction, and transport
it to S. Savin. It is probably in reference to this that Frossard, a
Protestant pastor, and one of the first writers on the Pyrenees, says
that the monks enjoyed “several privileges at once destructive to
individual liberty and to sound morals.”

The first appearance of S. Savin is eminently striking; the massive
walls, the large rude blocks of which they are constructed, the lofty
apse, the fine portal, and even the clumsy fifteenth-century tower,
with its ill-shaped spire, are all impressive.

The present church is of the beginning of the twelfth century, and
the architecture is of the plainest and most severe Romanesque.
On the tympanum of the west door is a figure of Christ between
the evangelistic symbols, but so weathered as to be scarcely

In the interior is the marble tomb of S. Savin; far more ancient than
the present church, it is a rude, early sarcophagus. But what is of
special interest are the two large paintings on wood, each in nine
compartments, representing the legend of the saint, the inscriptions
under each group are in patois. In the sacristy are preserved the hood
and comb of Savin.

A “bénétier des cagots” is a holy water vessel, near the entrance,
supported by figures, supposed to represent members of the proscribed
race. The organ case is of 1557, and is adorned with three faces that
loll their tongues and roll their eyes, hardly to the edification of
the congregation, when the bellows are worked.

The village itself of S. Savin is small, silent, and deserted, and
impresses one with a sense of melancholy. But the great beauty of S.
Savin is the view one enjoys from it, especially from the chapel of
the Pietà, of the upper portion of the basin of the Valley of Argelez.
Villages and hamlets are strewn thick over it and on the mountain side
opposite. One can see up the Valley of Isaby to the ruin of Saint
Orens, and the Pic de Viscos towering as a pyramid above Pierrefite,
where open the gorges of the Gave from Luz and from Cauterets.

A scramble up the Valley of Isaby to S. Orens will repay the trouble.

Orens was born at Huescar, in the marches of Aragon. He sold his estate
and retired as a hermit to the Valley of Lavedan. He was elected Bishop
of Auch about 419, and was dispatched as ambassador from Theodoric
the Ostrogoth to sue for peace from Aetius, the Roman general, and was
successful. He was the author of a religious poem, the “Commonitorium,”
still extant, and died in 439 at his monastery in the Lavedan, to which
he had retired at an advanced age from his see.

This monastery had fallen into bad ways in the eighteenth century,
and the repute of the monks was so evil that the Bishop of Tarbes
visited it in 1738. The prior took to his heels when he heard that an
investigation into his malpractices was to be held. At the time the
entire community was reduced to prior, sacristan, and a single monk,
and these no longer resided in the monastery, but lodged with the
_curé_ of Villelongue. In the _procès_ instituted against the convent
we read:--

    “One of the three above-mentioned is the craftiest and most
    dangerous man conceivable. He is the cock of the village. He
    attempted to murder the prior. He stole one of the chalices.
    The other monk is the most imbecile and stupid creature in the
    place. He has lived on in the house for the last fifty years,
    and does not know how to read.”

The ruins of the church stand boldly above the torrent that descends
in a series of cascades. The stream may be followed up to the Lake of
Isaby, from which it rises.

The basin of Argelez comes abruptly to an end at Pierrefite, surmounted
by a ruined castle; here the Pic de Viscos divides, with the chain
running from it, the valleys of Luz and of Cauterets; the Gaves from
these break out of the cleft rock, for that is what Pierrefite means,
on one side and on the other, and here unite. At this point terminates
the railway; but hence electric trams ply to Cauterets up one ravine,
and to Luz up the other.

The line to Cauterez rises rapidly up steep inclines and describing
curves that command views down the chasm where the Gave boils and
thunders. A tunnel is entered, passed through, and the view back of the
sun-bathed, fertile Valley of Argelez, of the walnuts and chestnuts of
S. Savin, is excluded. We have passed from one world into another; from
golden sunlight into mountain gloom, from one vegetation to another as
well. The rocks add to the effect of transition, for they are of dark
schist streaked with ferruginous stains, and there are long spreading
refuse slides from the lead mines of Pierrefite, too poisonous to allow
any shrub, even grass, to grow on them. There are no gaps up which the
eye can look to gleaming snow fields, till all at once we emerge on the
basin of Cauterets, where the mountains fall back and open and show us
the sunlit snow, and a river dancing down in a fine fall, and before us
a bit of Paris dropped out of the clouds into this solitude.

But Cauterets and Luz must be reserved for another chapter.

I cannot quit the radiant Valley of Argelez without a kindly tribute to
the simple, warm-hearted peasantry. As I have already said, we spent
a summer in a château on the mountain side, high up opposite Argelez.
My mother visited the poor cottagers, and where there was sickness did
what every English lady would do, sent relief, and did better than
that, showed tender sympathy. When we left, in the autumn, to return
for the winter to Pau, our carriage was surrounded by the poor people,
bringing their humble offerings of stewed pears, grapes, figs, apples,
cakes, and we were laden with their gifts, more than we could consume,
but were unable to refuse; and what was better still, as we whirled
away, were attended by their best wishes, and not a few sincere regrets
and tears.



    Springs of Cauterets--La Raillère--Taine on Cauterets--Double
    _clientèle_--Pont d’Espagne--Lac de Gaube--Drowning of Mr. and
    Mrs. Pattison--Avalanches--Ravine to Luz--Val de Barèges--
    Church of the Templars--Hermitage--Castle of Ste. Marie--
    S. Sauveur--Imagined accident--Brêche de Roland--Giants of
    Vizos--Gorge of the Gave--Gèdre--The Héas--Landslip--Cirque
    de Troumousse--Chaos--Cirque of Gavarnie--Skulls of Templars--
    Du Molay--Citation before God’s throne--Barèges--Defences
    against avalanches--Opposition of the peasantry to planting.

From an early period Cauterets enjoyed great repute. By a charter of
945 Raymond I, Count of Bigorre, granted the valley to the abbey of
S. Savin, on condition that they built there a church in honour of S.
Martin, and that they maintained at the hot springs a hospital for the
patients who visited them.

Of these springs there are two groups. The upper, La Raillère, is
at some distance from the town, but is reached by electric tram. It
takes its name from the avalanches (raillères) that have made their
pathway down the mountain side above it, and have left their white and
ghastly scars on the rocks, and heaped wreckage below. This is the most
abundant group of springs, but the space there is narrow, and lies in
a gorge. The thermal establishment has to be maintained on huge walled
terraces. There is no hotel there; but those who use the waters for
baths or for gargling come and go by the tram. The platform on which
the baths of La Raillère are constituted command a view of the deep
valley of Lutour, down which descends a stream issuing from a chain of
little lakes lying in the lap of the Pic de Mallerouge, 9740 feet, the
lowest of which, the Lac d’Estom, discharges its waters by a beautiful
cascade, and they further leap down into the basin of Cauterets at its
extremity in a white streak. Above the Lac d’Estom in a wild chaotic
cirque are the tarns that feed it; one of these retains its coat of ice
almost all the year through.

The Lutour joins the Gave de Jerret above La Raillère, and it is up
this latter that the way leads to the Pont d’Espagne and the Lac de
Gaube, about which more presently. Another Gave, that of Cambasque,
unites with the Gave of Pierrefite by the station of the electric tram
at Cauterets, and below the town itself.

The Thermes des Œufs, so designated from the smell of rotten eggs,
sulphuretted hydrogen, emitted by the waters, is one of the most
luxuriously furnished establishments of the kind in Europe. Six springs
contribute their water to the baths. Above these is the casino.

    “Cauterets,” said Taine, “is a bourg at the bottom of a
    valley, dismal enough, paved, and furnished with an _octroi_.
    Innkeepers, guides, all that ravenous population surround us.
    We are annexed by touts, children, donkey-drivers, by the
    first _garçons_ who can hitch on to us. We are handed cards,
    we receive recommendations to this hotel for its situation,
    to that for its cuisine. We are attended, cap in hand, by the
    crowd, elbowing one another out of the way, to the end of the
    village. ‘This is my traveller,’ shouts one, ‘come near him and
    I will horsewhip you.’ Every hotel has its herd of touts. Here
    all are hunters. In winter they hunt the chamois, in summer the

Cauterets has been considerably enlarged and improved since the above
was written, but the tout is ever with you. Something like ten thousand
persons visit Cauterets during the season to drink the waters or to
bathe in them. But in fact it has a double _clientèle_, one of patients
and the other of excursionists. The former move like clockwork to the
baths and back again, like a long black revolving chain; then to their
hotels or lodging-houses, to their meals, to their promenade, to their
beds; and throughout the day thus mechanically passed, the tick-tack
of their talk, always about their symptoms and their sufferings, their
progress or their relapses, is maintained without cessation. But the
second class of visitors are such as desire to climb the Vignemale, to
ascend to the highest tarns above Estom; at the least to see the Lac
de Gaube. These pertain to an order of beings very distinct from the
patients. They have no aches and pains. They turn away their noses from
the savour of the springs. They are quivering with energy, muscular,
and restless. They look upon the patients with undisguised contempt,
and the latter scowl at those who enjoy rude health with querulous
dissatisfaction. There is yet another category of visitors--the
pilgrims to Lourdes; they arrive fagged with their devotions and
overstrained emotions, to relax, laugh, and perhaps entertain some
incredulity as to the marvels of the Grotto of Massabielle. The market
at Cauterets is gay with stalls during the season, that lasts from 1
June to the end of September; every trifle is to be found in them,
from gay-coloured Merino shawls, rock-crystals, toys, rosaries, sacred
images to picture cards.

The Pont d’Espagne, that can be reached by a carriage, and the Lac de
Gaube, are points omitted by no excursionist who visits Cauterets. The
former is a stone bridge thrown over the river formed by the junction
of the Gave de Mascadou and that which issues from the Lac de Gaube.
Higher up the first of these is a picturesque wooden bridge thrown
across the torrent.

The path to the Lac de Gaube leaves the road just before reaching the
Pont d’Espagne. The lake is a lovely mountain tarn two miles and a half
in circumference. The sides are steep, in places clothed with dark
masses of pines; and in the background rises the Vignemale, 10,820
feet, with its crevassed glacier, that feeds the lake by a cascade.

By the water is a white marble monument to the memory of a Mr. Pattison
and his wife, who were drowned here whilst on their wedding trip,
within a month of their marriage, on 20 September, 1832. Mrs. Ellis
thus describes the accident. Her husband was acquainted with the
relatives of both:--

    “It is said to have been a bright and beautiful morning when
    the English bride and bridegroom went out upon this lake,
    in the fisherman’s rudely-constructed boat, the very same
    that we saw lying by the shore, than which a more unsafe or
    unmanageable vessel could scarcely be imagined. Little seems to
    be known of the awful event which followed, except what those
    who stood on the shore relate, that when the boat was about the
    middle of the lake, the figure of the man was seen stooping
    overboard--that the female, alarmed for his safety, rushed to
    the same side--and thus, the vessel being overbalanced, both
    were plunged into a watery grave. The bodies were both found,
    though one not till a month after. They were conveyed to
    England, and buried at Witham, in Essex.”

The recklessness of the villagers in times past had threatened
Cauterets with destruction. The forests had been cut down, and free
course given to the avalanches to fall into the valley and cover all
with stones and mud. If something had not been effected to bridle
the torrent above La Raillère, the springs there would have been
overwhelmed with rubble, and the thermal establishment utterly wrecked.
The ravine down which the avalanches fall is that of Péquère, and it
was not snow and small stuff only that was brought down, but huge
masses of rock.

Great pains have been taken, by means of replanting the slopes and the
erection of barriers, to protect the baths, and these efforts have
been happily crowned with success. Since 1897 another avalanche path
has been taken in hand, that of the Lizey, which menaced the road to
Pierrefite, and had in fact cut all communication during three weeks in

Even the esplanade of Cauterets was threatened. The winter of 1903-4
tried the place severely; in the month of January the masses of fallen
snow reached the town itself. In spite of themselves the inhabitants of
the basin have had to yield to the resolution of the Board of Forestry
and allow extensive replantation.

The journey up the ravine to Luz by electric tram presents a succession
of beautiful peeps of the bottle-green river thundering through the
gorge, breaking into masses of foam at every leap; waterfalls descend
the mountain sides right and left--everywhere is rich and luxuriant

The gorge opens to reveal the green meadows of Viscos, then contracts
again, once more to expand into the basin of Luz. High aloft on a
terrace stand the villages of Vizos and Esquièze, with their church
spires. In the background is seen a superb circle of snow-clad
mountains, those of the ridge of the Mont Perdu, nearer the Soum Blanc
on one side and the Pic Long on the other.


The whole of the district, from the opening of the gorge at Pierrefite
upwards, formed the Pays or Val de Barèges, which formerly enjoyed
to a high degree the rights of self-government. It was practically an
independent republic till the time of the Revolution, its liberties
accorded to it in acknowledgment of services rendered in wars with
Spain. Few taxes were imposed; that most severely felt elsewhere, on
salt, did not trouble the Barègois. They had entire liberty to chase
and to fish, rights so jealously reserved by the princes elsewhere.
Even in diplomacy Barèges preserved a sort of autonomy, and treated
with delegates from the Spanish valleys without reference to the counts
of Bigorre or the kings of France.

What strikes the eye at once on arriving at Luz is the old Castle of
Sainte Marie, now reduced to a ruin, perched on a height; and the
curious parish church, built and fortified by the Templars, who had a
commandery here. The crenellated walls now enclosing the small area
in which stands the church were built by the Knights of Malta, who
succeeded to the place that had been occupied by the Templars, after
the suppression of this latter order.

On each side of the apse is a tower, one of which resembles the keep of
a castle. The ramparts surrounding the old cemetery of the Knights are
passed through an embattled gateway.

There are two portals into the church, that on the north being
the main entrance, and it is Romanesque. The tympanum, surrounded
by inscriptions of the twelfth century, contains symbols of the
evangelists surrounding a figure of Christ. The bases of the columns of
the doorway also bear inscriptions. The interior of the church is dark,
dungeon-like, and the decorations and furniture are barbaric. On the
south side of the nave is a late chapel dedicated to S. Mary Magdalen.
A child’s stone sarcophagus serves as a _bénitier_ at the entrance to
the church. Here, as at S. Savin, is a Cagot’s door.

This is perhaps the best preserved Templar church in France. So far it
has not undergone restoration, but it is far too small for a growing
place, and a new church will have to be built elsewhere.

Above Luz, on a height, is a hermitage, formerly occupied by a Père
Ambrose, who died in the odour of sanctity in 1778. He was a Capuchin
friar, born in 1708, who had embraced the religious life at the age
of sixteen. He wrote some godly works, one on the Joy of the Soul,
one on the Peace of the Soul, and a third consisted of letters giving
spiritual advice.

The chapel is dedicated to S. Peter. Napoleon III had it rebuilt, and
entitled S. Pierre-de-Solférino. Near by is a cairn, under which lie
the bones of Ambrose, the last hermit to occupy the place. The ruins
of the Castle of S. Marie date from the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries. There are two keeps. This fortress was formerly the
principal stronghold commanding the Valley of Barèges. It was built by
the English originally, and held by them, terrorizing the inhabitants
of the basin, till the Barègois peasants rose in a body against them in
1404, stormed the castle, and put the garrison to the sword. After that
it was rebuilt and strengthened.

Saint Sauveur consists of a long street of hotels, and is occupied in
the summer alone. In winter and spring every door and window is barred.
It is reached from Luz over a bridge, erected in 1860 by order of
Napoleon III. The keystone of the arch is 198 feet above the torrent.

[Illustration: LA BRÊCHE DE ROLAND]

Another bridge, farther up, is that of Scia; like the former,
constructed of white marble, and thrown at an amazing height above the
Gave, where huge blocks of granite intercept its course, and it
roars and tumbles savagely over the obstruction. A French guide-book
asserts that at the spot an English lady, the Lady Clara, standing
on the bridge, recited the celebrated soliloquy of Hamlet, in this
fashion: “To die, to slip!” and then flung herself into the abyss. No
such an incident ever occurred there.

The Brêche de Roland, a gash in the high ridge of snow and rock above
Gavarnie, now becomes visible, as Pragnères is reached, but it is
invisible from Gavarnie itself.

The story goes that Roland hacked this opening in the rock with his
sword Durandal in the hopes of breaking the blade, so that the Saracens
might not get possession of it at his death. But the tale has been
transferred hither from Roncevaux. It is certainly curious to note how
that legends of Roland have attached themselves to numerous places in
the Pyrenees from west to east. He occupies there the place that King
Arthur does in England, Scotland, and Wales. We have seen how that at
S. Savin he was said to have fought with giants. Now it is a curious
fact that according to tradition Vizos, near Luz, was occupied by a
race of giants called Empresous, _les Preux_, and that representatives
of them remained on there till the end of the eighteenth century. The
Revolution seems to have cut them down, for we hear of no others since
then. In the Archives of Luz is a record of the death of an Empresou
named Barèque, in 1771, at the age of a hundred and ten. These giants
had a cemetery of their own, and a baptistery of their own. They seem
to have been regarded with something like the repulsion with which the
Cagots were considered. In the churchyard have been turned up human
bones of extraordinary size.

The valley or gorge of the Gave has been much belauded and often
described. This naturally has produced a revulsion. M. Ardouin-Dumazet
has led the way. He says:--

    “The road is fine, without exactly deserving all the
    hyperbolical praises lavished upon it. That which is the
    spoiling of this country is the extravagance of the admiration
    expressed for it. Since the time of Ramond no one who speaks
    of the Pyrenees can describe a site without declaring it to
    be incomparable. If they have judged it incomparable, it is
    because they have seen nothing with which to compare it. The
    panorama from Pau, truly marvellous, I admit, is not superior
    to that of the Alps, the Jura, and the Cevennes, seen from the
    hills above Lyons on a clear day. It is so with this country. I
    do not venture to use the expression Gasconading with reference
    to these descriptions, but I cannot pitch my note at the
    diapason of the Pyrenean infatuists.”

This may be true enough of the way to Gavarnie, but I do venture to
believe that the Cirque of Gavarnie--the end of this expedition up the
Gave--is, _pace_ Ardouin-Dumazet, incomparable.

Gèdre was a wretched hamlet some years ago, when I first knew it, but
now it has its hotels, and is a very convenient tarrying place whence
to explore the valley of the Héas, and visit the two cirques of Estaubé
and Troumousse; as also the valley of the Aspé, descending from the
glacier of Mallerouge.

The Héas issues from a narrow fissure, foaming over cascades. Higher up
in the ravine is the chapel of Notre Dame de Héas, planted on a huge
block fallen from the mountain above. It is held that the Virgin once
appeared to a shepherd at this spot.

This mass is but one portion of a landslip that took place in 1650,
which dammed up the river and formed a lake, which in its turn was
destroyed by a flood in 1788. Among the fallen rocks may be found the
beautiful _Saxifraga pyramidalis_ or _longifolia_, and the _Ramondia
pyrenaica_. Pilgrimages are made to the chapel on 15 August and 8

The Cirque de Troumousse is above Héas. It is less remarkable than
that of Gavarnie, though more extensive. It lacks the series of bold
escarpments capped with glacier that form the distinguishing feature of
the latter.

Above Gèdre, on the route to Gavarnie is a _chaos_, an agglomeration of
fallen gneiss rocks from above; it is as if half a mountain had been
precipitated into the valley from the Coumélie. Farther up may be seen
a cleft rock, between the jaws of which hangs a mass, arrested there
on its way down. The scenery becomes grander, but at the same time
more dreary; the cirque opens before one, and we reach the village of

The Cirque of Gavarnie has been already briefly described in my first
chapter. To see it to advantage it should be visited in spring or early
summer, when, from the melting of the snows, the great fall is full of
water. It resembles the Staubbach only in the long drop of the stream
and its resolution into fine spray. The setting of it is immeasurably
superior to that of the famous Swiss fall. The height is 1385 feet,
and is the highest in Europe, except one or two in Norway. If there
be plenty of water it shoots down in one single column; but in summer
it descends in two leaps. This is not the only cascade in the cirque;
down every part of the huge curve threads of water drop into the basin.
Towards the end of a hot summer many of these fail, and the great
cascade is much reduced.

The first sight of the cirque is disappointing. There is nothing by
which to scale it, and the appearance is only one of size, gloom, and
cold. The bottom of the great bowl is heaped with rubble brought down
from above. But at Gavarnie we are four miles from the foot of the
cirque, and it looks as if not more than a quarter of an hour’s stroll
was required to reach it. A thousand feet seems to be no more than
a hundred, and the huge rocks hurled down from above are reduced in
appearance to mere pebbles.

A stone dropped from the top of the Pic du Marboré, 10,600 feet, will
fall 5500 feet into the cirque. In the church of Gavarnie are to be
seen twelve skulls, held to have belonged to the Templars of Luz, who
fled hither, and were here executed. A story is current that on the
last night of the year, just before the clock strikes midnight, a
Templar clothed in white, and with a red cross on his breast, enters
the church at Gavarnie and cries, “Ho! who are there that will stand
up and fight for the temple?” Whereupon one skull after another
replies, “None; the temple is destroyed.” This white-robed Templar is
Du Molay, the Grand Master, burned alive at Paris, with four other
great dignitaries of the Order. King Philip the Fair coveted the great
possessions of the Knights, and Pope Clement V had obtained the tiara
by the help of the King; the price he paid for it was the dissolution
of the Order, and the sacrifice of the Knights to torture and death.
In the midst of the fire Du Molay cried out, “Clement, iniquitous and
cruel judge, I summon thee within forty days to meet me before the
throne of God.” According to some accounts he cited the King as well.
Du Molay was burnt on 18 March, 1314; on 30 April, Clement was dead;
and Philip the Fair on 29 November, in the same year.

The road over the pass of the Tourmalet branches off below Luz and
ascends the desolate Valley of Bastan, ravaged by avalanches, to
Barèges, a long street of hotels and lodging-houses closed during
the winter. The baths here have been famous for long. The waters
impregnated with sulphate of soda are the most powerful in the
Pyrenees, and are charged with a peculiar nitrogenous substance called
glairine that renders them oily to the touch. Their great use is for
the healing of wounds and ulcers, and for scrofula. They have been
employed for a military hospital since 1760. Barèges stands over 5000
feet above the sea, yet it is more bleak and inhospitable in appearance
than many a town such as Briançon, little short of it in altitude. A
covered tank for bathers was erected here in 1550; and hither, to take
advantage of the waters, came Mme. de Maintenon, in 1677 with the young
Duke of Maine.

The scourge of the place has been the avalanches, mainly those that
shoot down by four great paths from the Labas Blancs, the mountain to
the north, and which bring the town or village, call it which you will,
under 100,000 cubic feet of snow. Extensive works have been undertaken
to prevent the complete destruction of the houses, baths, and
hospitals. Huge barriers of masonry 40 feet high and 46 feet long by 18
feet wide have been drawn across the ravine of Le Theil, and extensive
replanting of the sides with pines has reduced the danger; but it will
take many years of growth before the trees attain a sufficient height
to be able to completely screen the place. The ravine of Le Theil may
be said to have been already rendered innocuous; but that of Midaou
caused disaster in July, 1897, when an avalanche carried away a portion
of the baths, and choked the valley as far as to Luz. Since 1900,
however, this trough of the avalanche has been blocked.

On the left bank also the work has been energetically pursued to arrest
the fall of torrents of snow from the Pic d’Ayré, where the avalanche
path is formed of glacial clay, hard as cement when dry, but in time
of rain forming a flood of mud falling 1200 feet. Here replanting has
proved efficacious, and barriers of masonry have been erected, that
have served the purpose intended. This work was begun in 1862, and
since 1869 no lava-like flood of mud has reached the Valley of Bastan.
The inspector Dellon says:--

    “The regulation of the system of the torrents of Rieulet and
    Bayet, the fixing of the glacial mud which constitutes to a
    large extent the banks of these torrents, and the foot of the
    slope of the mountains facing Barèges, the attenuation of the
    avalanches, so dangerous to this thermal station, all prove the
    efficacy of the means adopted. The contrast is most striking
    between the districts within the range of these torrents
    acquired by the State, and such others as have not, and still
    belong to the communes. In these latter the devastation
    increases every year, annually exposing the _route nationale_
    and the Bastan to ever magnifying dangers of obstruction.”

All the valley might be saved and reclaimed, but everywhere, here as
elsewhere, the Board of Forestation meets with sullen and stubborn
opposition from the peasantry.



    Tarbes an uninteresting place--A large village--Inglis on the
    view--Jardin Massey--Cloister of S. Sever--Horses--The Haras--
    Counts of Bigorre--Petronilla and her five husbands--Her will--
    Numerous claimants--A long contest--Tarbes fortified--Sack by
    the Huguenots--Massacre--The Leaguers--Battle of Tarbes--Retreat
    of Soult--Barrère--Macaulay on his character.

From Tarbes it is possible to escape in four directions, for from it
radiate lines to Paris, to Pau, to Bagnières, and to Toulouse, and
another is in prospect to Rustan and Mayonac.

No one presumably would stay in Tarbes for two days unless he were
an official tied to duties in it and enjoying a salary, or were
possessed with a passion for horses. For, indeed, in Tarbes itself
there is nothing to be seen save the Haras and the depot for remounts
to the cavalry. The cathedral is the most cumbrous, ungainly minster
in all France. The public buildings lack interest. One thing Tarbes
does possess, that it shares with the meanest village in the same
arrondisement--the view of the Pyrenees.

Inglis, who trudged the Pyrenees in 1830, thus describes the prospect:--

    “I have read in some book that the most beautiful part of
    every country is where the mountains sink down into the
    plains, and of this assertion the situation of Tarbes offers
    an excellent illustration. If I had never gone further into
    the Pyrenees than Tarbes I might have said that nothing can
    exceed the beauty of its neighbourhood. The charming plain that
    environs it--yet not altogether a plain--stretches to the foot
    of the mountains, rich in every production of the southern
    latitude, beautifully diversified with wood, and watered by
    the meanderings of the Adour and of several lesser streams.
    The celebrated Valley of Bagnères opens to the left, that of
    Lourdes to the right; while in the south, apparently at but a
    few leagues distant, the Pic du Midi towers above the range of
    mountains that extend to the right and to the left, as far as
    the eye can reach.

    “After the long continuation of carriage-travelling from
    Avignon to Tarbes--oh, how I enjoyed this morning! It was a
    glorious morning, and the magnificent range of the Pyrenees,
    rising sharply from the plain, was bathed in sunbeams, which
    gilded the eminences, reposed on the slopes, and gleamed in
    among the valleys. If this book should chance to be read by
    anyone who knows the scenery of Scotland, let him recollect the
    road from Stirling along the foot of the Ochill Hills, and he
    will have a better conception of the country through which I am
    now conveying him, than could be conveyed by a thousand minute
    descriptions. It is true his imagination must assist me; he
    must imagine the Ochills seven to eight thousand feet high in
    place of two thousand; he must substitute Indian corn of the
    most luxuriant growth, for oats and barley; and, in place of
    whin-blossoms covering the knolls, he must fancy them clothed
    with vine; he must add the charm of a southern sky, and the
    balminess of a southern clime.”

Tarbes is a huge, straddling city, a great village giving itself the
airs of a capital. On entering it from the station the town has an
unattractive aspect. An avenue has been driven from the Gave to the
Place Maubourguet, which is the centre of the town; but it has few
houses along it, and none of consequence, and these throughout Tarbes
have the appearance of villas in a suburb, surrounded with gardens.
Some effort has been made to retrieve the ugliness of the town by the
erection of fountains and statues, and by planting handsome promenades.
But it is a lifeless place, only acquiring animation on the occasion
of its fairs. The river strays in its vast bed, broken into several
streams by rubble banks. It has been drawn off above the town by
numerous channels of irrigation, so that when it reaches Tarbes it
is out of proportion to its bed, as might be an infant in the vast
fourposter of Ware.

But the Jardin Massey is the pride of Tarbes; it is a park extending
over thirty acres--space is no object in Tarbes--and is really
interesting. It was the gift to his native town by the man whose name
it bears. Massey left Tarbes as a journeyman gardener, and visited
Holland, where he obtained a situation as director of the gardens
of the king. Louis Philippe summoned him to France, and made him
manager of the gardens of Versailles. As he had amassed a good deal
of money, he resolved on spending it for the adornment of his native
town. He bought the land where now is the park, dug a lake, formed
water-courses, planted rare trees, laid out flower-beds and lawns,
and built a museum of natural history commanded by a lofty tower. In
fifty years the trees have grown to a considerable size; and later
benefactors have enriched the gardens with statues, busts, and the
museum with sculptures and paintings. In the park has been erected
the beautiful cloister of the fifteenth century removed from S.
Sever-de-Rustan, a monastery wrecked by the Calvinists, under Lizier,
who massacred all the inhabitants of the town, with the exception of
seven persons. The monks would have been also put to death but that
Queen Jeanne had already suppressed the abbey, and they had been
dispersed. Next to the Jardin Massey the Haras should be inspected.

In ancient days the horses of the county of Bigorre, the viscounty
of Béarn, and of Lower Navarre were highly esteemed; the race was
called Navarrine, and it owed its merits to the fact that it was a
cross between the Arab and the native Pyrenean stock. The Saracens had
crossed the mountains, overflowed Aquitaine, and threatened Northern
France, they were met at Poitiers and routed by Charles Martel in 731.
Three hundred thousand Saracens, say the old chroniclers, with their
usual exaggeration, fell on the field; the rest fled, the main body to
Narbonne, others to such passes as they knew that led to Saragossa. A
battle was fought near Tarbes, in which the flying remnant was utterly
routed and exterminated. A great number of their stallions and mares
remained in the hands of the victors, and it was from this capture that
sprang the so much coveted and esteemed race of the Navarrine horse.

By degrees the quality declined and degenerated, reverting to the
type of the Basque horse. This was due partly to lack of importation
of fresh Arab blood, and partly to the mountaineers neglecting the
breeding of horses for that of mules, specially serviceable to them
among the mountain passes where were tracks, but no roads. The evil
became so great that the Estates of Bigorre voted two thousand livres
annually for the maintenance of stallions. During the Revolution, when
there was great demand for mounts for the cavalry, the scarcity of good
horses attracted the attention of the Council of Five Hundred. Napoleon
took the matter in hand with his characteristic energy. In 1806 he
founded the Haras at Tarbes, and the introduction of English blood was
the basis of the transformation attempted. Later, during the campaigns
in Algeria, the finest stallions taken from the Arabs were sent to
Tarbes; and the result has been the production of a horse admirably
adapted to the use of light cavalry, that goes now by the name of the
Tarbes horse. Mm. Simonoff and Mörder, of the Russian haras, thus speak
of it:--

    “The three bloods of which the Tarbes horse derives--the Arab,
    the English, and the old Navarrin--are so near to each other,
    being all of Oriental origin, that the fusion took place easily
    and quickly; and although as yet the Tarbes horses are not of
    perfect homogeneity, it is quite possible to speak of them as
    forming a race which by its qualities, is rather full blood;
    than half blood.”

The stallions are in the Haras at Tarbes, but the mares are dispersed
within a radius of twenty kilometres around Tarbes; and the rearing of
colts is the industry, and makes the fortune of the department, at all
events of the plain and fertile valleys. Within the district where they
are reared there is not a village, not a farm, that has not its mares
for breeding. Even _curés_ supplement their scanty incomes by keeping
them, and rearing from them. One, the Abbé Turon, sold to the State his
stallion Mousquetaire for 20,000 francs. This roused a great outcry
among the Radicals, who denounced the Government for having bought
from a priest. Tarbes is the old capital of Bigorre, and here resided
the Count. I have already mentioned Centule I of Béarn, assassinated
in 1088, who put away his wife with the approval of Pope Gregory VII,
so as to marry the heiress of Bigorre. By this union Bigorre and Béarn
were not united, for his son Gaston by the repudiated Gisela became
Viscount of Béarn, and his son Bernard III inherited Bigorre. This
Bernard left issue, a daughter only, named Beatrice, who married Peter,
Viscount de Marsan, by whom she had Centule III, and he also left an
heiress, Stephanie, married to Bertrand, Count of Cominges, by whom
she had one child, a daughter Petronilla.

The story of the annexation of Bigorre to Foix and Béarn is complicated
through the matrimonial vagaries of this same Petronilla. And this was
further complicated by the action of a pious ancestor, Count Bernard
II, who in a fit of maudlin devotion placed his territory and family
under the protection of the black doll, Notre Dame du Puy, promising in
return for this protection that the county should annually pay tribute
to the church of Le Puy. Certainly Our Lady of Puy treated Bigorre
scurvily in return, allowing the inheritance to slip through heiresses,
five in all, and, moreover, to involve it in a lawsuit that lasted a
hundred and thirty-nine years.

Petronilla married Gaston, Viscount of Béarn, and when he died without
issue, in 1215, took as number two Nûnez de Cerdagne, but tired of
him speedily, got the marriage annulled, on the convenient plea of
consanguinity, and married in 1216 Guy, son of Simon de Montfort.
This was sharp work--three husbands in a twelvemonth. By Guy she had
two daughters, Alix and Perette. In 1228 she took a fourth husband,
Aimart de Rançon, and on his death, in the same year, she espoused her
fifth, Boso de Mastas, to whom she bore a daughter, Martha. By her will
Petronilla constituted Esquirat, eldest son of her daughter Alix, heir
to her estates and titles; but in default of male issue the succession
was to go to Jordan, the second son of Alix. Should he fail to have a
son, then the second substitution was in favour of Martha, her daughter
by Boso, who was married to Gaston VII of Béarn. Esquirat did have a
son, also named Esquirat, but this second Esquirat died childless,
and bequeathed the county of Bigorre to his sister Lore, as his uncle
Jordan had died without issue. Now Petronilla and her third husband
Guy de Montfort had left a second daughter, Perette, married to Raoul
de Teisson, and had by him a son William de Teisson, who conceived that
he had a right to the inheritance. Martha, wife of Gaston de Béarn, had
a daughter Constance, and she also put in a claim. In fact, these were
the claimants: Lore, Viscountess de Turenne; Constance, Viscountess de
Béarn; William de Teisson; and Mahut, daughter of Alix and Raoul de
Courtenay. But that was not all. The younger Esquirat had made over his
inheritance to Simon de Montfort by a first will, and then, offended at
the grasping nature of Simon, had revoked his will and constituted Lore
his heiress. But Simon refused to recognize the legality of this second
will, sold the viscounty to Thibalt II, King of Navarre, whose son
Henry gave his claim to it to Jeanne, his daughter, married to Philip
the Fair, King of France, and he was but too ready to acquire this rich
district of Gascony on any plea, bad or good. The church of Le Puy also
put in a claim, so did the King of England as overlord. Consequently
there were from eight to nine claimants.

By decree of Parliament, in 1290, the rights of the church of Le Puy to
the charge on the viscounty were confirmed.

Constance, Viscountess of Béarn, occupied Bigorre with her troops, and
assumed the title of Countess of Bigorre. Jeanne of France, however,
expelled her, adopted the title, and Philip the Fair asserted his right
to the territory, and was prepared to maintain it by force of arms.
Philip had already bought off the rights of the church of Le Puy.
Bigorre remained under the crown of France till Charles VIII in 1425
granted it to John, Count of Foix, in return for his services against
the English, and in consideration of his descent from Petronilla.

From 1425 to 1566 the county of Bigorre was wisely administered by the
viscounts of Béarn, who had become titular Kings of Navarre.

Tarbes was fortified in the tenth century by Raymond I. It suffered
destruction at the hands of the English in 1350 and 1406. But its
greatest disasters took place during the Wars of Religion. Jeanne
d’Albret was resolved on forcing the Reform on the Bigorriens, but
they ejected the Huguenot pastors as fast as they were sent to them,
and appealed to the King of France, who sent troops in 1569 to their
aid. Jeanne enlisted the services of Montgomery. He swept through the
country, ravaging it with fire and sword. He sent his lieutenant,
Montamat, to take Tarbes, and Montamat appeared under its walls on
20 January, 1570. The besieged, finding it impossible to hold out,
evacuated the city during the night. When the Huguenots entered they
found no one in the place, and they pillaged the houses and set them on

When he was gone the inhabitants returned and began to restore their
wrecked and gutted houses and to repair the walls. Montamat reappeared,
bringing cannons with him. François de Bennasse, commandant of the
garrison at Lourdes, had hastened to the defence of the capital at the
head of 800 men. Montamat attempted an assault, and was repulsed. But a
traitor in the town opened the gates to the Calvinists, and the captain
entered. Bennasse, all his soldiers, and many of the citizens were put
to the sword. The number massacred was so great that it took eight days
to bury them.

    “This took place,” says a contemporary writer, “about the feast
    of Easter, in the year 1570. After that the city of Tarbes
    remained without inhabitants, and the grass grew in the streets
    as in a field, a piteous sight to behold. And three whole years
    elapsed without there being a garrison in it; but indeed the
    town was incapable of defence on account of the ruins made by
    the cannon.”

Peace was concluded at S. Germain-en-Laye on 15 May, 1570, and it was
hoped that tranquillity would ensue. But this was not to be. Passions
had been wrought to frenzy, and the thirst for revenge was consuming.
The death of Jeanne d’Albret in 1579 did not allay the troubles. In
1592 the town became the prey of the Leaguers of Cominges, and from
it they issued to devastate the surrounding country, till expelled in
1594. Almost the whole population of Cominges had embraced the cause of
the League. “There was never before seen such disorder, such pillage,
from the beginning of these wars. Captains, soldiers, valets, and
volunteers were so laden with furniture that they were carrying off
that they complained it was a trouble to them to be encumbered with so
much spoil. Moreover, in despair, the peasants of Bigorre abandoned the
cultivation of the land, and many migrated into Spain.”

In 1594 the people themselves rose, and, assisted by Caumont de la
Force, delivered themselves from both Leaguers and Protestants, and
peace was celebrated at Tarbes.

On 12 March, 1814, a combat took place between the English and
Portuguese under Wellington, and the French under Soult. After the
defeat of Orthez Soult had withdrawn his dispirited soldiers along both
banks of the Adour, steadily pursued by Wellington.

    “A light division,” says Allison, “and hussars were on the
    right bank of the Adour; but when they approached the town, a
    simultaneous movement was made by Hill with the right wing,
    and Clinton on the left, to envelope and cut off Harispe and
    Villatte’s divisions, which formed the French rearguard in
    occupation of it.

    “The combat began at twelve o’clock by a violent fire from
    Hill’s artillery on the right, which was immediately re-echoed
    in still louder tones by Clinton on the left; while Alton, with
    the light division, assailed the centre. The French fought
    stoutly, and, mistaking the British rifle battalions, from
    their dark uniforms, to be Portuguese, let them come up to the
    very muzzles of their guns. But the rifles were hardy veterans,
    inured to victory; and at length Harispe’s men, unable to stand
    their deadly point-blank fire, broke and fled. If Clinton’s
    men on the left had been up at this moment, the French would
    have been totally destroyed; for Hill had, at the same moment,
    driven back Villate on the right, and the plain beyond Tarbes
    was covered with a confused mass of fugitives, closely followed
    by the shouting of victorious British. But Clinton’s troops,
    notwithstanding the utmost efforts, had not been able to get
    up; the numerous ditches and hedges which intersected the plain
    rendered all pursuit impossible; and thus the French, though
    utterly broken, succeeded with very little loss in reaching
    a ridge, three miles distant, when Clauzel, who, with four
    divisions, was drawn up to receive them, immediately opened
    fire from all his batteries upon the allies.”

During the night Soult retired in two columns, and such was the
rapidity of his retreat that he reached Toulouse in four days.

A native of Tarbes, of whom the town has no occasion to boast, was
Bertrand Barrère, born 10 September, 1755. He was educated for the Bar
at Toulouse, and became a scrivener at Toul. As his father owned a
pretty estate at Vieuzac, in the Valley of Argelez, he called himself
Barrère de Vieuzac, flattering himself that by this feudal addition
to his name he might pass for a gentleman. He was sent as deputy for
Bigorre to the States-General. Being totally devoid of principle,
when the result of a parliamentary struggle could not be foreseen he
took the precaution of having in his pocket two speeches, written
in opposed senses, so that he could always jump in the direction
taken by the cat. Barrère had affected the moderate principles of the
Girondists, till he saw that the extremists were the strongest, and
then he threw in his lot with the Mountain, and voted for the execution
of the King. Then seeing that the current ran strong against the
Girondists, he took the foremost place in procuring the condemnation to
the scaffold of those with whom he had previously acted in concert. He
it was who was set up in the convention to call for the blood of the
Queen. On the day on which Marie Antoinette was dragged to execution
Barrère regaled Robespierre and other Jacobins at a tavern.

    “In the intervals between the Beaume and the Champagne, between
    the ragout of thrushes and the partridges with truffles, he
    fervently preached his new political creed. ‘The vessel of the
    Revolution,’ he said, ‘can float into port only on waves of
    blood. We must begin with the members of the National Assembly
    and of the Legislative Assembly. That rubbish must be swept

The Reign of Terror began. The Jacobins had prevailed all along the
line. The Convention was reduced to silence. The sovereignty had passed
to the Committee of Public Safety. Six persons held the chief power
in the small cabinet which domineered over France: Robespierre, Saint
Just, Couthon, Collot, Billaud, and Barrère who had hastily divested
himself of his territorial appendix of De Vieuzac. Of the horrors of
those days it is unnecessary to speak. As guilty as Robespierre or
Couthon was the bland, timorous, unscrupulous Barrère. He it was who
proposed the burning of the towns and villages of the Vendéeans, the
total destruction of Lyons, the violation of the royal graves at S.
Denys, the deportation of all such as could not bring irrecusable
proof of patriotism since 1792. He became the declared adversary
of Danton when he found it safe to take that part, and proposed
his arrest on the 9th Thermidor. He contributed powerfully to the
fall of Robespierre; but he had made so many enemies, was so little
trusted, that instead of rising higher by the fall of Robespierre,
he found himself unable to maintain his balance. He was denounced
before the revolutionary tribunal, along with Collot d’Herbois and
Billaud-Varennes, and was sentenced to be deported to the pestilential
swamps of Cayenne, but obtained the change of his destination to
the Isle of Oléron. After having sacrificed his old allies, the
Hébertistes, the Dantonistes, and the Robespierristes, he himself
had fallen. When moved later from Oléron to Saintes, he succeeded in
escaping from prison. The _coup d’état_ of the eighteenth Brumaire
restored him to liberty. We need not follow in detail his further
adventures. When Louis XVIII gained the throne of his ancestors by the
aid of foreign bayonets, Barrère fled to Brussels. The revolution of
July put an end to his exile, and he returned to the south of France,
and settled at Argelez, where he died 14 January, 1841.

His memoirs in four volumes were published under the editorship of
Hippolyte Carnot and David d’Angers, in 1843. They are replete with
disingenuousness in the representation of the part he played, as also
of falsehoods, that can be proved to be such by reference to the
contemporary files of the _Moniteur_.

Macaulay, at the opening of his long and brilliant essay on Barrère,

    “Our opinion is this: that Barrère approached nearer than any
    person mentioned in history or fiction, whether man or devil,
    to the idea of consummate and universal depravity. In him
    the qualities which are the proper objects of hatred, and the
    qualities which are the proper objects of contempt, preserve
    an exquisite and absolute harmony. In almost every particular
    sort of wickedness he has had rivals. His sensuality was
    immoderate; but this was a failing common to him with many
    great and amiable men. There have been many men as cowardly as
    he, some as cruel, a few as mean, a few as impudent. There may
    also have been as great liars, though we never met with them or
    read of them. But when we put everything together--sensuality,
    paltroonery, baseness, effrontery, mendacity, barbarity--the
    result is something which in a novel we would condemn as a
    caricature, and to which, we venture to say, no parallel can be
    found in history.”

At the close of the article Macaulay says in reference to Hippolyte
Carnot, who states that Barrère was at no time a sceptic, that he was
the author of a pious treatise, entitled, _Of Christianity and its
Influence_, as also of a book of meditations on the Psalms:--

    “This makes the character complete. Whatsoever things are
    false, whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are
    unjust, whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are
    hateful, whatsoever things are of evil report; if there be any
    vice, and if there be any infamy, all these things, we knew,
    were blended in Barrère. But one thing was still wanting,
    and that M. Hippolyte Carnot has supplied. When to such an
    assemblage of qualities a high profession of piety is added,
    the effect is overpowering.

    “We have no pleasure in seeing human nature thus degraded.
    We turn with disgust from the filthy and spiteful Yahoos of
    the fiction; and the filthiest and most spiteful Yahoo of the
    fiction was a noble creature when compared with the Barrère of
    history. But what is no pleasure M. Carnot has made a duty.
    It is no light thing that a man in high and honourable public
    trust should come forward to demand approbation for a life
    black with every sort of wickedness, and unredeemed by a single
    virtue. This M. Hippolyte Carnot has done. By attempting to
    enshrine this Jacobin carrion, he has forced us to gibbet it;
    and we may venture to say that, from the eminence of infamy on
    which we have placed it, he will not easily take it down.”

Strange irony of fate. In Barrère’s native town, his victim, Danton,
only less detestable than himself, is glorified with a monument, a
statue in bronze. After Danton, perhaps Tarbes will erect one to



    Visitors and residents--Pic du Midi--Ramond--Springs--Captain
    Lizier--Observatory--Vaussenat and Nansouty--Death of the
    former--Val de Campan--Château d’Asté--The Grammont family--
    La belle Corisande--Philibert de Grammont--His memoirs--
    Larrey--Marbles--The Lac bleu--Slate quarries--The Cagots--
    Caput Mortuum--Lepers--Recuperative power of Nature--Efforts
    of the Church to break down the barrier--Crestiaas.

Bagnères de Bigorre is a town, but it is country as well; it has the
amusements and dissipations provided by a place of public resort, but
it has also lovely and quiet resting-places in mountain solitudes.

It swarms during the season with water-drinkers, bathers, loungers,
ladies who wear elegant toilettes, and bucks turned out by the best
Parisian tailors. But it also contains marble works, linen factories,
and women who are skilful at the knitting of the so-called Barèges
shawls. The wool is from Spain, the finest Merino, and this enables
them to make the shawls delicate as lace.

To the south lie the mountains rising steeply, and commanded by the Pic
du Midi. For long a rivalry existed between the Bigorriens and they
of Roussillon as to whether the Pic du Midi or the Canigou was the
loftiest mountain of the Pyrenean chain; indeed, some claimed for each
that it was the highest peak in Europe. In both cases the mistake was
due to the position of each mountain starting boldly out of the plain.

It was due to Ramond that the Pic du Midi was forced to lower its
pretensions. In 1787 this secretary of the Cardinal de Rohan ascended
the mountain, and on reaching the summit, and seeing before him to the
south the perpetual snows of the gleaming glaciers above the Cirque of
Gavarnie, he realized what had not before been suspected, that the Pic
du Midi was but a mountain of the second order. Then the inspiration
took him to explore the whole range. He was engaged for fifteen years
on the task, and he was the first to reveal to French people what the
Pyrenees really were. Till he had explored them they knew nothing about
the chains save what they saw from the plains, and from the passes
leading into Spain, for at that time no roads had been engineered up
the gorges. The visitor went no farther than to Laruns in the Val
d’Ossau, and Pierrefite in that of Argelez, unless he committed himself
to a guide, and mounted a mule, and was led over wild heights along
mere tracks.

The explorations of Ramond and his successors have been recorded with
humour by H. Béraldi in his book, _Cent ans aux Pyrenees_:--

    “He accomplished,” says Ardouin-Dumazet, “that which ought
    to have been done for the Alps; they also were undiscovered,
    scientifically, till the year 1787. For, be it observed, Ramond
    received his inspiration on the top of the Pic du Midi, in the
    same year in which Saussure reached the summit of Mont Blanc,
    along with Jacques Balmat.”

The mountains rising steeply to the south of Bagnères render the place
cool in summer, when some of the sun is cut off; but it is a dreary
residence in the winter, for the same reason.

There are springs of various temperatures and mineral components,
ferruginous, sulphurous, etc., advertised as good for nearly every
complaint under the sun. It was the Roman Aquæ Convenarum, and visitors
may now bathe in the marble basins in which Gallo-Roman ladies and
gentlemen dipped. Bagnères was always a town, and in the Hôtel de
Ville are preserved archives containing much relative to the history
of the place; among these is a charter of Esquirat, Count of Bigorre,
confirming the customs and liberties of Bagnères, dated 1251.

The history of the town is one of untroubled serenity till the times
of the Wars of Religion. Captain Lizier, the Huguenot, on occupying
Tarbes, imposed a heavy subsidy on the neighbouring towns, Bagnères
included. But Bagnères demurred to raising the contribution demanded.
Lizier marched to it, got hold of the governor, Beaudéan, and shot him.
The people of Bagnères resolved on revenge. They drew the terrible
captain into an ambuscade and killed him to the shout of “Remember

On the summit of the Pic du Midi is an observatory, erected by the
energy of two men: Vaussenat and General Nansouty. Vaussenat was a
native of Grenoble, born of a labouring family in 1837. He was admitted
into the school of arts, and traded at Aix, and on leaving it was
engaged in search for metals in Savoy. But summoned to the Pyrenees to
manage some mines there, he married a niece of a general at Bagnères,
and settled there. He saw, what indeed others had seen before him,
that the Pic was admirably suited for a meteorological observatory,
but he could not induce the Government to take any steps towards its
construction. However, he managed to communicate his enthusiasm to
General Nansouty, and between them the foundations were laid and
the work was begun. The general took up his abode in the cabin of
Sencours, just below the terminal cone, where he passed winter and
summer registering his observations, whilst Vaussenat travelled through
France, lecturing, exhorting, wringing money for the work out of
learned societies and from generous individuals. Nansouty underwent
great hardships. On one occasion, in December, 1874, a furious tempest
burst over the refuge of Sencours, and twelve feet of snow was heaped
on the roof, one of the windows was blown in, and the door gave way. It
was absolutely necessary to quit the place. Nansouty, aided by his two
companions, took seventeen hours struggling through the snow to reach
the bottom, a distance that can easily be mounted in two hours and a

The observatory was completed in 1882, and was made over by these two
energetic men to the State, whereupon Vaussenat was appointed director
of the observatory. He lived till 1891, when he fell ill in it. He was
being conveyed down the mountain, when one of the bearers slipped, and
Vaussenat was flung down a steep descent of ice. He was taken up and
carried to Bagnères, where he succumbed eight days after.

Bagnères is at the mouth of the Val de Campan. In it are the
ivy-mantled ruins of the Castle of Asté. They are inconsiderable, and
in themselves hardly deserve a visit. But they are of some historic
interest, as this Château d’Asté was the second cradle of the dukes of
Grammont. The barons d’Asté, early in the sixteenth century, became
viscounts, and Menard d’Aure, Viscount Asté, had the good luck to marry
the heiress of Grammont. Thenceforth his descendants assumed the title
of counts of Grammont and viscounts of Asté.

Their principal residence now became Grammont, in Labourde, on the
Bidouze; but for hunting the wolf and the bear, and in the heat of
summer they came to Asté. Here it was that the amorous Henri Quatre was
wont to visit la belle Corisande, wife of Philibert de Grammont, who
died at the age of twenty-eight, in 1580. Diana, or la belle Corisande,
was the only daughter of Paul, Viscount Louvigny. By her husband she
had Anthony, Count of Grammont, and Guiche, also of Louvigny, Seigneur
of Bidache, Viscount Asté, Viceroy of Navarre, Governor and Perpetual
Hereditary Mayor of Bayonne. One of his sons, Philibert, married
Elizabeth, daughter of George, Earl of Hamilton. Her picture is in the
National Portrait Gallery, and one wonders, looking at it, how she
could have been called “la belle Hamilton” in the French Court.

Philibert and Elizabeth had a daughter, Claude Charlotte, who married
Henry Howard, Earl of Stafford. It was of Philibert, born in 1621, and
who died in 1707, that the entertaining memoirs were written by Anthony
Hamilton. It has been well said:--

    “The history of Grammont may be considered as unique: there
    is nothing like it in any language. In drollery, knowledge
    of the world, various satire, general utility, united with
    great vivacity of composition, Gil Blas is unrivalled; but as
    a merely agreeable book, the _Memoirs of Grammont_ perhaps
    deserve that character more than any which was ever written;
    it is pleasantry throughout, and pleasantry of the best sort;
    unforced, graceful, and engaging. Some French critic has justly
    observed that if any book were to be selected as affording
    the truest specimen of perfect French gaiety, the _Memoirs of
    Grammont_ would be selected in preference to all others.”

In the church of Asté is a white marble statue of the Virgin that is an
object of great veneration; also a painting attributed to Philippe de
Champagne. The village of Beaudéan was the native place of the surgeon
Larrey, born in 1766, who behaved with great self-devotion in the
battle of Eylau and the retreat from Moscow. Napoleon I said that he
was the most honest man he had ever known, and the most disinterested.
He created him a baron, and bequeathed to him 100,000 francs. Larrey
died in 1847. The house in which he was born is a humble cottage; he
bequeathed it to the parish that it might be turned into a school.

Campan, that gives its name to the somewhat overpraised valley, is
chiefly known for the marbles it produces. The peristyle of the Grand
Trianon, the new and vulgar opera-house at Paris, have employed this
splendid marble. Even Berlin has had recourse to its quarries for
twenty-two columns of the royal palace.

There are several mountain tarns more or less accessible from Bagnères.
That most easily reached--but taking six hours--is the Lac Bleu, a
beautiful sheet of water of the most intense sapphire-blue, girded
about by rocks of a golden yellow. It covers 98 acres, and is 360 feet
deep. The spirit of utility has mounted to this height, and bridled the
outflow, and uses it for economic purposes. A tunnel 900 feet long has
been bored through the rocks on the north side of the lake, to draw off
the water as needed in times when the Adour has dwindled to a thread,
and cannot feed the channels of irrigation needed in the plain.

Other tarns are the Lac de Peyrelade, lying in a cirque under the Pic
du Midi, also the Lac d’Isaby.

Many delightful valleys open out into the Val de Campan, The longest of
these is that through which flows the Oussonet, that reaches the Adour
some way below Bagnères; but a good road takes directly from Bagnères
to the lateral valley of Labassere, famous for its slate quarries.
The excavations are in the flanks of the mountain, and are numerous.
The products are brought down by a funicular contrivance worked by
electricity, taking the place of the zigzag road by which oxen formerly
conveyed the slates below. The men who split the slates wear heavy
sabots scooped out of billets of beech that have not been shaped
externally, so as better to resist, should the sharp, cutting flakes
fall on the feet. The men’s legs are bound about thickly with rags to
protect them from the same danger, as the slate cuts like a razor. The
slate-splitters form the aristocracy of the trade, and although their
labour is less considerable than that of the quarrymen, they receive
double the pay of these latter. For a slate-cutter has to learn the
art before he is aged fourteen, whilst the muscles are most flexible.
At the age of twenty he has to undergo military service, and when he
returns to his shed and tools, at the age of twenty-four, finds it very
difficult to recover the skill he possessed before he donned uniform.

One of the most interesting and perplexing themes connected with the
Pyrenees is the origin of the Cagots, a “race maudit,” that was found
throughout the chain, but not there solely. It existed as well in

In a considerable number of churches may be seen the Cagots’ door,
through which alone they might pass into a portion of the church
reserved for them, and cut off from the rest, and where alone they
might assist at divine worship. In some of the towns are streets called
Rues des Cagots, in which these outcasts herded. At one time they were
not suffered to inhabit the villages, but were relegated to isolated
hamlets, and they had separate burial grounds. They might not associate
with the more privileged natives, and inter-marriages with them were
strictly interdicted. They were required to wear a distinctive
badge--a goose’s foot in red cloth attached to one shoulder. The
expression “Cagot” is still used as a term of opprobrium. But when one
asks to be shown a Cagot, after some hesitation, a _cretin_ or a poor
creature afflicted with a _goître_ is pointed out.

But the original Cagot was not such.

Jean Darnal, a solicitor in the Parliament of Bordeaux, thus describes
the Cagots, whom he calls Gahets, in his _Chronique Bourdeloise_, 1555.

    “The magistrates gave orders that the Gahets should reside
    outside the town on the side of S. Julien, in a little
    faubourg apart, that they should not leave it without wearing
    conspicuously a bit of red cloth. These are a sort of lepers,
    with the disease in an undeveloped condition, with whom it is
    ill to associate. They are carpenters by trade, and capital
    workmen, and gain their livelihood by this trade in the town
    and in the country.”

One notion concerning them was that they descended from the carpenter
who had made the cross of Christ; and most of them, though by no means
all, actually were carpenters. Florimond de Rémond, councillor of the
Parliament of Bordeaux, wrote concerning them in 1613:--

    “We see in Guyenne this race, commonly designated Cangots or
    Capots, one which although Christian and Catholic, holds no
    communication with others, and may enter into no alliance with
    other Christians; even to live in their towns is not allowed.
    They are not suffered to approach the Holy Table along with
    other Christians, and have a place set apart for them in the
    churches. The people are convinced that they are diseased,
    that their breath and sweat is malodorous, and that they are
    to some extent lepers. This is why that in many places, as at
    Bordeaux, they are constrained to wear a scrap of red cloth on
    one shoulder.”

Florimond goes on to say that he believes them to be descended from the
Arian Goths, and that Cagot is derived from _Canis Gots_, or Dogs of

Popularly they were held to have certain distinguishing
characteristics--ears furred like those of bears and destitute of the
lower lobe. That they had stinking breath, and white granular spots
under the skin in parts of the body, indicating undeveloped leprosy. In
parish registers they were always designated in entries of baptisms and
marriages and burials as Cagots or Capots.

F. Michel, in 1847, published a work upon them. He went through the
Pyrenees, and recorded how many families of Cagots remained, and where
they resided.

The theory of their origin as propounded by him was that they were
descended from the Spanish Christians who were driven over the Pyrenees
by the Moors, and whom the natives received with scant hospitality,
and continued to look upon as intruders. One reason for the adoption
of this wild theory was that in ancient documents they are frequently
called Crestiaas. Undoubtedly refugees from Spain did settle in parts
of the Pyrenees, but there exists no evidence to show that they were
looked down upon. Moreover, Cagots were found also in Brittany, and
Michel’s theory does not fit in with this fact.

Now the word _cagot_ is comparatively modern. A Cagot in old documents
is called _Capot_ or _Crestiaa_. Capot comes from _caput mortuum_, a
legal expression used of one who is outside the pale of the law; the
word is still employed in Germany for what is broken and of no further
use. _Es ist caput._

The original Cagots were probably lepers, gradually recruited from the
native population. A religious service was said over a man on whom were
discovered the marks of the disease. It was a form of funeral. Earth
was cast upon him, and he was declared to be legally and socially dead.

Precisely the same regulations were applied to the Cagots that were
made for lepers. They were forbidden to spit in the roads, and to walk
in them barefooted. If constrained to handle anything that had to be
used by those who were sound, they must wear gloves. They might not
marry out of their caste or company. They were relegated to live and be
buried apart from all others.

When we consider this identity of regulation, as also that the Cagots
are spoken of by all old writers as quasi-lepers, as that in popular
belief they were held to have on them marks of undeveloped leprosy;
when, further, we see that their old designation comes from _caput
mortuum_, I think it is hard not to arrive at the conclusion that the
Cagots were the descendants of sequestrated communities of lepers. But
such is the recuperative power of Nature, in the healthy surroundings
of the mountains, in its pure air and in wholesome diet, that the
descendants of the lepers in course of time shook off the disease and
became sound and robust men and women.

The Church in the eighteenth century made an effort to break down the
wall of separation, the occasion for the existence of which had ceased.

We hear of an archdeacon when visiting one church had his indignation
roused by seeing the Cagots huddled together in a side chapel apart
from the rest of the congregation. Taking the Blessed Sacrament in his
hands, he marched out of the church through the Cagots’ chapel and
door, and signed to the congregation to follow him. After a moment’s
hesitation they obeyed, and from that day the prejudice against these
outcasts failed in that parish. In the Middle Ages no Cagot could
become consul, mayor, juror, or be admitted to Holy Orders. But De
Romagne, Bishop of Tarbes, who died in 1768, ordained to the priesthood
several members of this proscribed race.

It was due to the French Revolution, that beat down all barriers, that
the distinction between Cagots and other men was wholly obliterated. In
the Val de Campan, between four and five miles from Campan itself, is a
hamlet, situated high up on the mountain side, that is occupied by six
families, all by descent Cagots. The place where they live is called
“Le Quartier des Cagots.” Doctor Abadie, about 1840, wrote concerning

    “I know the heads of these families. They are carpenters. Half
    a century ago these families intermarried among themselves,
    and were not suffered to contract unions outside their narrow
    circle. Now they are mingled with and are melted into the
    mass of the population. In physiognomy they have nothing
    peculiar. One remarks only that the individuals of the families
    Pescadère, Latoure, Lacôme, and Daléas have a white skin and
    grey eyes; but this is perhaps due to a lymphatic constitution,
    the result of living in a cold and damp locality.”

M. Dufresne, who filled an important, though subsidiary, post in the
administration of finances under Necker, and whose bust, under the
First Consul, was placed in the hall of the Treasury, in recognition of
the public services he had rendered, was by birth and ancestry a Cagot;
so we see that careers were open to these members of an outcast and
despised race even before the Revolution. What that great upheaval did
for them was to destroy the popular prejudice entertained against them.

The derivation of the word _cagot_ has been given; that of _crestiaas_
is not so simple. The name is never spelt with an _h_ in early
documents, as if it were derived from Christians. It probably comes
from these unfortunates having been originally compelled to wear a bit
of red cloth on the cap as a cock’s comb, or _crest_, and that later
this more conspicuous mark of infamy was modified into one placed upon
the shoulder. Still, however, the expression “the crested” was applied
to them.

It is in vain to look for a genuine Cagot at the present time, and in
the words of an old ballad sung by the people--

 “Encouere qué Cagots siam
  Nous noun dam;
  Tous qu’em hilhs deü pay, Adam.”

That may be rendered--

 “Then let them say just what they will, and call us Cagots vile,
  We all the sons of Adam are, on all God deigns to smile.”



    Mauvezin--Escaldieu--Lannemezan--The Neste--The lakes
    utilized--Lortet--Fortified caves--Marble quarries--
    Sarracolin--Canal--Val d’Arros--The rival lords--Arreau--
    Bordères--The Armagnacs--John IV and his sister--His
    ingratitude and death--Extinction of the race--Lac de
    Caillaouas--Cadéac--The deadly sins--Tramesaïgues--Lac

Before the train reaches the dreary moorland of Lannemezan, on its way
from Tarbes to Toulouse, a glimpse is obtained of a picturesque village
grouped about a castle on a pointed rock. This is Mauvezin, the Bad
Neighbour, _par excellence_. It witnessed many exploits during the
English occupation of Guyenne. It was besieged in 1374 by the Duke of
Anjou, at the head of 8000 men. The strength of the fortress was such
that it would have been impregnable had it not lacked a well within
the walls. The besiegers cut off communication with the water-supply,
and as not a drop of rain fell during the six weeks of the siege, the
garrison was constrained to come to terms. The Duke of Anjou allowed
them to depart, saying: “Get you gone about your business, each one of
you, to your several native lands, without entering any fort that holds
out against me; for if you do, I engage to get hold of you, and deliver
you up to Jocelin (the headsman), who will shave you clean without a

Upon the tower, which bears the arms of Béarn, may be seen the
device, “J’ay belle dame.” It was a fancy of the boy Gaston, son of
Gaston Phœbus, when he was affianced to Beatrix d’Armagnac, to whom
Mauvezin was given as a dower by her father, Count John II. But Gaston
was murdered by his father, as already told, before the marriage was
consummated, and Beatrix was afterwards married to a viscount of Milan.

Near Mauvezin are the remains of the once famous Abbey of Escaldieu.
The church was destroyed by the Huguenots, and rebuilt in the
seventeenth century. It is devoid of interest, and is now converted
into a coach-house. Only the chapter-house remains of the original
abbey, a structure of the fourteenth century, the vaulting sustained by
marble pillars.

The great mass of Lannemezan, lying across the threshold of the Val
d’Aure, diverts the Neste from flowing north, and turns it to the east,
just as the heap of the _lande_ of Pontacq acts at the mouth of the
Lavedan, but there deflects the Gave to the west. It falls into the
Garonne at the confines of the department, which also for the same
reason takes an easterly course for some way, then struggles to the
north-east, and only after passing Toulouse turns to take its direction
so as to empty itself into the Atlantic. The Neste is a river of very
great importance. It rises in two main branches under crests clothed
in eternal snows, discharging glaciers into a series of upland lakes.
These natural reservoirs have been artificially raised, and their
waters conducted into a canal that is carried high above the bed of
the river, so as to convey its fertilizing streams over the plateau
of Lannemezan. The lake of Caillaouas, under the Pic de Batchinale,
and the glacier cirque of the Gours Blancs has been captured at the
head of Neste de Luron, and the lakes of Aumar, Aubert, Caplong, and
Orredon, that feed the other Neste of Aure have also been utilized
for the same purpose, at an enormous expense and by remarkably daring
works of engineering. This has had a subsidiary advantage, that the
superb scenery at the sources of these streams is now accessible by
good roads, whereas formerly it could be reached only by difficult and
dangerous mule-paths.

At La Barthe the Neste debouches from the mountains through a deep
valley, the canal passing above it on the left bank; and although
the river has been thus tapped, it still continues to bring down a
considerable amount of water, the overflow from its reservoirs far away
in the laps of the high mountain ridge.

The Val d’Aure constituted a viscounty, and of the viscounts there were
several branches: one that of the Viscounts of Larbouste, another that
of the viscounts of Asté, one of whom, as already mentioned, married
the heiress of Grammont. The whole of Aure was under the overlordship
of the counts of Armagnac.

La Barthe, commanded by a castle of the end of the eleventh century,
will not long detain a visitor. But a short way above it is the village
of Lortet, where are caverns in the face of the limestone cliff that
have been occupied and fortified, it is thought, originally by the
Saracens and the Visigoths; but the structures that remain, notably the
tower, were the work of the Templars, to whom were confided the defence
of most of the passes of the Pyrenees. At Hèches is a picturesque,
ivy-clad tower occupying the summit by a rock. Here are quarries of
marble, rose-coloured, grey, and white, spotted with black; as also of
black marble veined with white. But the principal marble quarries are
farther up, at Sarrancolin on the left bank, others are on the right.
Those on the former are famous. The finest are red, veined with grey,
or flesh tint with yellow veins; other marbles are green, blue, violet.
Versailles was adorned with columns of Sarrancolin. Thence comes the
marble now employed in the Louvre for most of the pedestals.

The church of Sarrancolin was originally strongly fortified, and served
as the key to the valley; it is early of the twelfth century, with
Romanesque windows. There are no aisles, it is a cross church. The
choir grating is of the fifteenth century. In the church is the shrine
of a Spanish bishop, S. Ebbo, and is the sole specimen in the district
of Limoges work, and is of the thirteenth century. To the north of
the church is the chapter-house in ruins. Fragments of the town walls
remain, as does a gateway and tower of the fifteenth century. The
houses are all built of the marble of which the hill is formed on
which the place stands, and they are crowded about the church, in the
constrained area within the old walls. The place recommends itself to
the painter and to the archæologist.

The canal takes its waters from the Neste above the little town, and
the river accordingly has in the upper portion of the valley a freer
and fuller flow.

But before we have mounted so far up the Neste, a diversion may well be
made to the valley of the Arros, which rises in the mountains between
the Val de Campan and that of Aure. We might have supposed that it
would speedily throw itself into the Adour or the Neste. But not so.
It holds on its independent course far away to the north, and does not
condescend to unite with the Adour till it enters the department of

In this narrow valley, high up in the mountains, stand near each other
the two castles of Lomné and Espêche, concerning which the following
legend is told. I will give it in the words of Mr. Inglis:--

    “The lords of these two castles were enemies, and constantly
    disputed with one another the possession of the valley that
    lay between their castles; but along with the enmity each
    was enamoured of the wife of the other, though the ladies
    themselves loved their own lords, and gave no encouragement to
    the enemies of their husbands. At this time the Crusades were
    published, and both of the nobles resolved to forget private
    animosities for a time, and join the standard of the cross. It
    so happened, however, that after travelling during several days
    the devil entered into their hearts, and they both reasoned
    after this manner: ‘My enemy has gone to the Holy Wars, and
    has left both his lands and his wife. What hinders me from
    returning and making the most of his absence?’ And so both the
    Lord of Espêche and the Lord of Lomné returned and took the
    road not to their own castle, but to the castles of each other.

    “But it so happened that on the very night upon which these
    nobles left their own castles their ladies had a vision. Each
    was warned in a dream of the intention of her husband to return
    and go to the castle of his enemy. Accordingly the ladies left
    their own castles to cross the valley, and met each other by
    the way; and having communicated the mutual vision, resolved
    upon a method of avoiding the danger. They determined to change
    castles, and that very day they put their resolution into

    “Meanwhile their lords arrived under cover of the night, each
    at the castle of his enemy, and were greatly surprised to find
    that no wonder was expressed at their return, for the ladies
    had forewarned their household of what was to be expected; but
    still greater was their surprise when, upon being ushered into
    the castle hall, each beheld his own spouse. The explanation
    that followed wrought a miraculous change. Touched with the
    affection of their wives, they abjured their mutual enmity,
    swore unutterable fidelity to their own wives, and set out in
    company together for the Holy Land.”

Arreau stands at the junction of the two rivers called Neste, and also
where the Lastie enters the stream. It has a cheerful appearance. The
church of Notre Dame is of the fifteenth century, castellated, with
additions a century later, built on the foundations of a church of
the twelfth century, of which a good doorway remains. The chapel of
S. Exuperius is of the eleventh century, and has a Romanesque portal.
It stands above the Neste of Aure. The mairie is over the wooden
market-hall. The entrance to the valley of the Neste de Luron is
through a ravine with precipitous sides. Presently it opens out and
reveals the little bourg of Bordères, commanded by the ruined castle
of the Armagnacs. For now we are in Armagnac territory, and with this
castle is connected the story of the last of that evil and ill-omened
race. Michelet says of them:--

    “Frenchmen and princes as they were become, their diabolical
    nature broke out on every occasion. One of them married his
    brother’s wife, so as to be able to retain the dower, another
    married his own sister, by means of a false dispensation.
    Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac, who was almost king, and ended
    so ill, had begun by despoiling his kinsman, the Viscount of
    Frézenzaguet, flinging him into a cistern, along with his sons,
    his eyes plucked out. This same Bernard, pretending to be a
    servant of the Duke of Orléans, made war against the English,
    but only worked for his own ends, for when the Duke came into
    Guyenne he made no attempt to assist him. But no sooner was
    that prince dead than he posed as his avenger, brought up all
    the South to ravage the North, made the young Duke of Orléans
    marry his daughter, and gave her as dower his bands of robbers,
    and the malediction of France.

    “What made these Armagnacs specially execrable was their
    impious levity allied to their innate ferocity.”

The Armagnac territory extended as a strip from the Garonne to the
Pyrenees. It was a fertile and well-peopled land; its principal towns
were Auche, Mirande, Vic, and Lectoure.

The Armagnac family derived from a Garcias Sanchez, Duke of Gascony in
the early part of the tenth century. He was nicknamed the Hunchback,
and he seems to have bequeathed a moral distortion to his descendants.

John IV, Count of Armagnac, was especially associated with the castle
at Bordères; and his story must now be told.

This headstrong man fell in love with his own sister, Isabella, and
failing in his application to Rome for a dispensation to allow him
to marry her, he forged one, and presented it to the chaplain of
the castle, and demanded that he should unite them. When the priest
demurred, Count John threatened to throw him headlong from the window
into the river unless he obeyed. When others remonstrated, he drew
his dagger on them. The cowed chaplain submitted to celebrate the
incestuous nuptials.

The Pope now excommunicated the Count, and King Charles VII vainly
endeavoured to recall him to a better mind; but Armagnac resisted kind
instances, and defied force. Soon after he associated himself with the
insurrection of the Dauphin. The Duke of Clermont was sent against
him. His guilty passion had enfeebled the mind of John, and in place
of resisting the invasion, he abandoned his dominions, and fled with
Isabella to the protection of his relative, the King of Aragon. He was
summoned by the Parliament, and having been rash enough to appear, was
arrested and imprisoned. Soon after he managed to escape. The sentence
of perpetual banishment was passed upon him, and his dominions were
forfeited. The Valley of Aure was, however, exempted so far that it was
granted as a dowry to his sister.

Then, as his last place of refuge, he retired to the Castle of
Bordères, in the depths of the mountains. The once powerful and haughty
Count of Armagnac was reduced to the deepest destitution, shunned
by all, shrunk from even by his own subjects in the valley of the
Neste, as though he were a leper or a Cagot. At last, impelled by his
necessities rather than moved by remorse, he begged his way to Rome to
obtain absolution for himself and for his sister. This was granted, but
on hard conditions for himself, and that Isabella should retire into a
convent at Barcelona.

At this time Louis XI ascended the throne of France, and by him the
Count of Armagnac was restored to his former rank and possessions. He
now married Jeanne, daughter of the Count of Foix, and the past was
forgotten, or at least forgiven.

But this restless man, incapable of feeling gratitude for favours,
allied himself with the enemies of the King, Charles the Bold, the Duke
of Guyenne, and the King of England.

Louis XI took occasion of the first moment of tranquillity allowed him
by the ambitious projects of the Duke of Burgundy, to chastise John
of Armagnac. In 1473 he confided the task to the Cardinal of Albi,
who besieged him in Lectoure. The town, which was strongly fortified,
defended itself bravely. Proposals of surrender were made to the Count,
but whilst negotiations were in progress, one of the gates was forced,
and John’s son, of the same name as his father, was killed fighting
in the streets. John IV of Armagnac was stabbed in the presence of
his wife, who was pregnant at the time. By order of Louis XI, who had
no desire to see the line of Armagnac continued, she was thrown into
prison and poisoned.

The title and claim to the county now devolved on Charles, another son
of John IV; but Louis XI had him cast into prison, and retained there
till he died of chagrin. There existed at the time another branch of
the family, that had likewise received favours from King Louis, and
had repaid them with treachery. Jacques d’Armagnac had been given
by Louis XI vast estates in Meaux, Châlons, Langres, and Sens. The
king had married Jacques to Louise of Anjou, and had created him Duke
of Nemours. But Jacques was false to his benefactor, and joined in
the League of Public Good against him. At the Treaty of Conflans he
returned to his allegiance, swore fidelity on the relics in the Sainte
Chapelle, and had the governorship of Paris conferred upon him. The
very next year, 1469, he went over to the enemies of the King, and
sided with his cousin, John IV, entering with him into negotiations
with the English. But alarmed at the fate that befell John, he
solicited pardon, and took an oath of fidelity, the most solemn and
binding that could be devised.

Two years later, when Louis XI was in embarrassment, the Duke refused
the King the succour he demanded, and prepared to lay his hands on
Languedoc. No sooner was Louis delivered from his anxieties than he
besieged and took Nemours, in his Castle of Carlat, and confined him in
an iron cage in the Bastille. His wife, feeling confident that he would
experience no mercy at the hands of the justly incensed King, died
during her confinement at Carlat.

Jacques d’Armagnac’s hair turned white within a few days. He was not
mistaken about the gravity of his position. Louis was alarmed at these
incessant conspiracies, and indignant at the ingratitude of the Duke,
whom no oaths could bind. In vain did Nemours implore permission to
speak with the King face to face; Louis refused to see him, and gave
orders that he should be tortured. One day, hearing that the prisoner
had been treated with some consideration, he wrote sharply to the
gaoler, “Give him Hell (the extremity of torture); let him suffer Hell
in his own chamber. Take care not to let him out of the cage except to
be tortured.” Jacques d’Armagnac was executed on 10 July, 1477. The
assertion often made, that by the order of the King his children were
placed under the scaffold so that their father’s blood might fall over
them, is asserted by no contemporary writers. His sons died without
issue, and so ended this wicked family.

                         Bernard VII
                          _d._ 1418
  	  |                                 |
        John IV                      Bernard, Count of
       _d._ 1473                          Pardiac
          |                           _d._ after 1462
      +---+-----+                           |
      |         |                           |
    John     Charles                Jacques d’Armagnac
  _d._ 1473   _d._ 1497           created Duc de Nemours
                                        _d._ 1477
                                       |          |
                                     John       Louis
                                   _d._ 1500    _d._ 1503]

For some way above Bordères the Neste of Luron traverses a gloomy
ravine; but then all at once it opens out and we come on a basin well
cultivated, fringed with woods, and studded with twelve villages, about
their church spires. The road ascends steeply past slate quarries that
send down their avalanches of grey refuse over the base of the hill
surmounted by the donjon of Gélos. It is still a long way on to the Lac
de Caillaouas, that lies at the height of 3500 feet, and covers 120
acres; its blue waters are fed by some small tarns higher up under
the glaciers of the Gourgs Blancs. This is one of the scenes of most
savage grandeur in the Pyrenees. The lake is of great depth, and swarms
with trout. A tunnel has been driven fifty-five feet below the surface
through the rock that retains the lake, and through this the water can
be drawn off to supply the deficiencies in the Neste and the canal that
leads from it in time of drought. The work was completed in 1848.

The other Neste, that of Aure, is of even more economic importance.
It rises under the Pic de Campbieil, 9550 feet; but receives a large
influx of water from the Neste de Couplan that is supplied from a whole
series of lakes, the largest of which is Orredon.

Above Arreau is Cadéac, one of the most ancient sites in the valley.
Hither came the representatives of the various communes of the valley
of the Neste to discuss their affairs, and decide their policy; for
here, as in Lavedan, the people enjoyed great liberties, of which
the Armagnacs did not care to deprive them. Cadéac occupies a hill
surmounted by a feudal tower of the twelfth century. The church has an
early north doorway, and sculptures let into the walls. The road passes
up the valley under the porch of a chapel, Notre Dame de Penetaillade,
that has a curious fresco representing the death of the Virgin on the
façade. Vielle Aure is a village lying on both sides of the river,
with a church of the twelfth century, and is an excellent centre for
excursions. The road then crosses the river and reaches Bourespe, with
a church of the fifteenth century, but a much earlier tower. In the
porch are curious paintings of the date 1592, with representations of
the deadly sins as ladies (why as ladies, and not as men?), in the
costume of the period, mounted on strange beasts, and carrying behind
them demons with hideous faces on their stomachs and breasts. Pride
is riding on a lion, Avarice on a wolf, Gluttony on a pig, Luxury on a
goat, Anger on a horse, and Idleness on an ass.

Surely Gluttony, Avarice, Anger are traits of man’s intemperate
passions rather than of woman’s humours. _Vitium_ is neuter, it will
serve for either or none. But it is the old story of the sculptor and
the lion. He showed the King of the Beasts a group finely carved that
represented a man slaying a lion. “Ah,” said the royal beast, “if a
lion had been the sculptor, the figures in the group would have been in
reversed positions.”

It was men, not women, who wrought these representations of the
cardinal vices.

Tramesaïgues (between the waters) occupies a rock, the road passes
below it.

The cluster of lakes in the Néouville basin of mountains have been
taken in hand as well as the Lac de Caillaouas. The undertaking was
difficult, as work was possible there for only three months in the
summer; all the rest of the year the basin in which they lie is buried
in snow, and some of the tarns remain hard frozen. The largest of the
lakes is Orredon, lying 5600 feet above the sea; it is the lowest of
all, and receives the waters of the Lac d’Aubert and the Lac Aumar,
lying in one valley, separated by a gravelly ridge of glacial rubbish;
the Lac de Cap-de-Long reposes in another. The works were begun in 1901
and terminated in 1905.

The Four Valleys--Magonac, Neste, Aure, and La Baronne--formed another
of those confederate republics of which there existed so many in the
Pyrenees. Of these Magonac, with its chief town Castelnau, lay to the
north of Lannemezan, and was not properly a valley at all.

After the extinction of the Armagnacs, the overlordship passed to the
kings of France, and each and all from Louis XII to Louis XVI had to
recognize and allow their very extended privileges. From the year 1300
no seigneur could withdraw an inhabitant of the Four Valleys from the
jurisdiction of their own judges; every citizen could own land, marry,
create an industry, or carry on any trade without authorization. The
right to bear arms belonged to every one; and up to the eve of the
Revolution the Four Valleys were exempt from all war-tax and from the
obligation to have troops quartered on them.

La Fayette had no occasion to have gone to America to have seen what
republican self-government was. It existed at his doors.



    Montréjeau--A bastide--Grotto de Gargas--A cannibal--Blaise
    Ferrage--Taken and escapes--Final capture--Execution--S.
    Bertrand de Cominges--Sertorius--Gundowald--His coronation--
    Treachery of Boso--And of Mummolus--Murder of Gundowald--
    Destruction of the city--Bishops at Valcabrères--Church of
    S. Juste--Bertrand de l’Isle-Jourdain rebuilds the town--
    Bertrand de Got--Jubilee--The cathedral--Nonresident bishops--
    Counts of Cominges--Murder of a boy husband--Imprisonment of
    the Countess Margaret--Bequeaths the county to the Crown of
    France--The Garonne-Bagnères de Luchon--Its visitors--Its
    antiquity--Lac de Seculéjo--Description by Inglis--Cures for
    all disorders--_Le Maudit_--S. Aventin and the bear--Val de
    Lys--Val d’Aran--S. Béat and its quarries--The valley should
    belong to France--Viella--The Maladetta--Trou de Toro--Port
    de Venasque.

At Montréjeau the line branches off to Bagnères de Luchon from the
trunk to Toulouse. Montréjeau was Montroyal, then Montreal, and then
what it has now become through deformation by the Gascon tongue. It was
a bastide, one of those artificial towns, created first by Edward I,
and then copied by great nobles, and by the kings of France, in which
every street was either parallel to another, or cut it at right angles;
and the houses were built in blocks, the whole surrounded by walls, and
the church usually serving as part of the fortification.

Montréjeau was the capital of the Marquesate of Montespan. The site
is beautiful; and from the terrace, in clear weather, the giants of
the Pyrenees are seen to stand up due south, and the chain stretches
away into the vaporous distance, east and west. The church has a huge
octagonal tower that served as keep to the fortress. The town stands
a little away from the station, to its disadvantage. From it visitors
usually start to see the Grotte de Gargas, the finest in the Pyrenees;
it might be visited equally well from S. Bertrand de Cominges, but that
no carriage can be obtained in that decayed city. The train, moreover,
halts at Aventignan, the station next before reaching Montréjeau, to
allow of a visit to the grotto. The floor bristles with stalagmites,
and the stalactites from the roof have in several places united with
the stalagmites below. The strangest forms have been assumed by the
calcareous deposits, and the custodian points out an organ front, a
cascade, a bear, an altar, and the bed of the savage. A spring rises
in the cave. Excavations made in the floor have exposed two beds of
palæontological deposits of different epochs: human bones, flint tools,
and bones of long extinct animals.

The discovery of this grotto is due to a series of ghastly crimes
committed just ten years before the outbreak of the French Revolution.

A panic terror pervaded the neighbourhood. Among the rocks, somewhere,
none knew exactly where, a monster had his lair, fell upon those who
travelled along the roads, robbed them, maltreated them, carried
them off, and devoured them. And this monster was a man. In 1780
the Parliament of Languedoc was called upon to try and sentence the
cannibal, who was actuated by no other motive than a ravening appetite
for human flesh.

Soon after the first disappearance of his victims every one had come
to the conclusion as to who he was. He was Blaise Ferrage, commonly
known as Seyé, a native of Ceseau, born in 1757. He was a small man,
broad-shouldered, with unusually long arms, and was possessed of
extraordinary strength. By trade he was a stonemason, and had worked at
his trade till aged twenty-two. What induced him, in 1779, to throw up
his work, quit his home and human society, in order to abandon himself
in solitude to his wolfish appetite for blood, is not known; whether
it was originally due to his having committed some criminal act that
impelled him to fly to the rocks for refuge was never ascertained.

High up in a limestone cliff he discovered a cavern, the entrance to
which was at that time so small that it had to be passed through on all
fours. But within it was spacious, and provided with a running stream.

After he had spent the day in sleep Blaise would descend in the
twilight and ramble over the country through fields and gardens, and
appropriate to his use what he listed--fruit, fowls, sheep, pigs--and
bear them away in the darkness of night to his den. Luck favoured and
emboldened him, and his ferocity increased. He delayed his return till
dawn. Lurking behind a wall or a bush he watched for milkmaids who were
so unfortunate as to come in his way. There was no escaping him, for
he carried a gun and was a sure shot. When he pounced upon his prey
he tore it to pieces, or else carried it alive to his lair, and the
shrieks could be heard from afar, paralyzing the timorous peasantry
with fear.

His name was a terror to all the country round. In the evenings the
spinners about the fire, the topers at the tavern, spoke only of the
werewolf. It was thought that his tread could be heard at night among
the withered leaves of autumn; that his panting breath was audible
about the doors; that his gleaming eyes pierced the fog. Men pictured
him lying on a ledge of rock half the day peering into the valley,
motionless, watching for and selecting his prey. Imagination figured
what the life must be of this man converted into a wild beast, who had
renounced the society of his fellows to live among the rocks and tread
the snow-fields, hearing naught save the howl of the wind, the cry of
the birds of prey, and the baying of the wolves. As no single person
who had disappeared ever returned, as no bodies were ever found, it was
concluded that he was a man-eater.

Men he shot, strangled, or stabbed, and dragged their carcases to
his lair. But he preferred to fall on women, especially such as were
young; but the choicest morsels he selected were little children. On
one occasion he fell short of powder and shot, and had the temerity
to descend in full daylight, and in market time, to Montégu. He was
recognized, and immediately the market people fled from him right and
left; the dealers deserted their stalls, and the would-be purchasers
hastened to take refuge within doors. He leisurely possessed himself of
what he required and sauntered out of the place, not a man venturing to
stay him.

At last the officers of justice seized him, and conveyed him to prison.
But he broke loose the same night, and again disappeared among the
mountains. The peasants were convinced that he had a talisman concealed
in his hair, which enabled him to break the strongest chain and to open
every lock.

He was again secured, and this time his hair was cut and searched for
the supposed talisman there concealed, but, of course, ineffectually.
He again, nevertheless, effected his escape.

Fear of him now passed all bounds. Girls and grown women, even the
strongest men no longer ventured abroad after dark, not so much as to
cross the street.

Then occurred two acts of violence which stirred the magistrates to
greater activity.

Ferrage entertained a suspicion that a certain landowner in the
district had instigated the police to track him. He set fire to this
man’s barns, stables, and cowsheds; and most of the cattle and all his
grain were consumed in the flames. The other case was that of a Spanish
muleteer who was driving his beasts over the mountains of Aure. Ferrage
associated himself with the man on the way, volunteered to act as his
guide, and the muleteer was never seen again.

High rewards were offered for the apprehension of Blaise Ferrage, but
no dweller in the district dared attempt to earn it. Moreover, to track
and arrest the cannibal was not a light matter. None knew precisely
where he concealed himself, and it was certain that he would send a
bullet into the first man whom he saw approach his place of refuge and

Finally he was taken, but only by subtlety. There was a fellow who had
been guilty of more than one crime, and whom the officers of justice
desired to secure. In order to make his peace with them, this man
offered to assist in capturing Blaise, if he were assured of a free
pardon and a reward. This was promised. Accordingly he climbed the
rocks, yelling out the name of Seyé, by which Ferrage was commonly
known, and crying for help. The cannibal cautiously thrust his head
out of his cave, and seeing the man fleeing as for his life beckoned
him to approach. The refugee breathlessly told him that he was flying
from justice, that he had broken out of prison, and entreated to
be sheltered. Ferrage took him in, and the fellow gained Blaise’s
confidence. He lived with him for awhile in his cave. However solitary
a man may be, he yet craves for the society of a companion, and
Blaise and this man became intimate. They went together on predatory
excursions, and the betrayer finally lured Ferrage into an ambuscade
laid for him, where he was taken, and firmly secured by a body of
police. He was led to prison and kept there strongly guarded. The whole
country breathed with relief when it was known that he was in chains
and behind strong bars.

The trial was expedited and short. For three years this monster had
terrorized the countryside. The number of charges of robbery and murder
brought against him were innumerable.

On 12 December, 1782, the Parliament of Languedoc sentenced him to be
broken on the wheel. He was then aged twenty-five. On the following
13th December Ferrage was executed. The sentence was carried out in the
following manner. The culprit was fastened to a cart wheel, his limbs
twined in and out among the spokes. The executioner smote with an iron
bar on the limbs and broke them, one by one. Then came the _coup de
grâce_, given across the chest.

It was estimated that he had murdered and eaten eighty persons, the
majority of these were women and children. When he was executed crowds
attended, palpitating with alarm, for they expected that at the last
moment he would burst away and resume his murderous career.

He walked to death with florid countenance and with seeming
indifference to his fate. Whether the prison chaplain induced him to
express remorse for his guilt is not known. Only when the mangled
body was cast down from the wheel, and consigned for burial to the
grave-digger, did the crowd feel satisfied that they were relieved from
a nightmare of horrors.

A little way above the station of Montréjeau the two great Pyrenean
torrents of the Neste and the Garonne unite their waters and flow
towards the east. The line to Luchon does not follow the Garonne, that
issues from a gorge, but crosses it farther up at Barbazan, in a broad
basin studded with villages set in luxuriant verdure.

On an isolated hill, an outlier of the Pyrenees, rises a lofty and
beautiful church, with houses grouped about it; apparently a stately
medieval city, actually a poor village of less than four hundred
inhabitants. This is S. Bertrand de Cominges. At one time it was as
splendid a town as any in Gaul, and was the capital of an important
people, containing from 30,000 to 50,000 souls. These could not all be
accommodated on the rock, and the town flowed down the side into the
plain, where now stands Valcabrères, the Vale of Goats. S. Bertrand de
Cominges is one of the few towns in France of whose foundation we know
the precise date.

Sertorius was one of the most extraordinary men in the later times of
the Roman Republic. He was a native of Nursia, a Sabine village, born
of obscure but respectable parents, and a devoted son to his widowed
mother. In B.C. 83 Sertorius went to Spain to organize a national
revolt against the intolerable oppression of Rome. Availing himself of
the superstitious character of the people, he tamed a fawn, so that it
accompanied him in his walks, lived in his tent, and was regarded by
the Iberians as a tutellary spirit that communicated to him the will of
the gods.


He maintained a stubborn resistance against the power of Rome for many
years, defeating army after army. In B.C. 77 Pompey was appointed by
the Senate to command in Spain, along with Metellus. Sertorius, at
first, defeated both. Pompey was obliged to appeal to the Senate for
men and arms. Unless supported efficaciously, he declared that he
must infallibly be driven out of Spain. At length the tide of success
turned. Disaffection broke out among the troops led by Sertorius,
and a conspiracy was formed to destroy him among some of his most
trusted comrades. One of these invited him to a banquet, at which they
endeavoured to provoke him to anger and make an excuse for a fray by
the employment of obscene language, which they were well aware that he
detested; then by grotesque and undignified capers, as if they were
drunk. Sertorius turned on his couch so as not to see their buffoonery,
when they rushed on him with their daggers and slew him, B.C. 72. His
faithful adherents fled through the defiles, and over the passes of
the Pyrenees, and settled in the district afterwards known as the land
of the Convenæ, and built Lugdunum Convenarum as their capital in that
same year, B.C. 72.

Even after the fall of the Roman Empire this Lyons of the Convenæ
remained a rich and populous city. But a terrible disaster fell on it
in 584, that caused its utter and irretrievable ruin. This forms one of
the most striking and detailed episodes of the history of the Franks by
Gregory of Tours. In the words of Guizot:--

    “Southern Gaul, that is to say Aquitaine, Gascony, Narbonne,
    called Septimania, and the two banks of the Rhone near its
    mouths, were not comprised in the partition of the Frankish
    dominions. Each of the co-partners assigned to themselves,
    to the south of the Garonne and on the coasts of the
    Mediterranean, such and such a district, and such and such a
    town, just as heirs-at-law keep to themselves severally such
    and such a valuable jewel out of a rich property to which they
    have succeeded, and which they divide among themselves. The
    peculiar situation of these provinces, at their distance from
    the Frank settlements, contributed much to the independence
    of Southern Gaul, which was constantly striving and partly
    managed, in the tempestuous fortunes of the Frankish monarchy,
    to recover its independence. It is easy to comprehend how
    that these repeated partitions of a mighty inheritance, these
    domains incessantly changing hands, must have tended to
    increase the anarchy of the Roman and Barbaric worlds thrown
    pell-mell one upon another, and fallen a prey, the Roman to
    the disorganization of a lingering death, the Barbaric to the
    fermentation of a new existence, striving for development
    under social conditions wholly different from those of their
    primitive life.”

An opportunity seemed to offer for Aquitaine to establish its

The Merovingian dynasty was represented by an old man and by two
children, and the Aquitanians thought that their chance had come
to have a king of their own. They summoned from Constantinople one
Gundowald, reputed to be of royal Frank blood.


                     Clovis I
                  K. of the Franks
                     _d._ 511
        |                                      |
    Childebert I                           Clothair I
    K. of Paris                   K. of Soissons, Orleans, Metz,
     _d._ 558                          and finally of Paris
                                           _d._ 561
      |             |               |             |            |
  Charibert      Gunthram       Chilperie      Segebert    Gundowald
  K. of Paris  K. of Orleans  K. of Soissons  K. of Metz  _murdered_ 587
   _d._ 567      _d._ 593       _d._ 584       _d._ 575
                                            Childebert II
                                              K. of Metz
                                               _d._ 596]

Gregory of Tours says:--

    “Gundowald, who said he was the son of Clothair I, arrived at
    Marseilles, coming from Constantinople. He had been born in
    Gaul, had been carefully educated, taught letters, and, as is
    the custom with kings of the Franks, had his hair flowing in
    long curls over his shoulders. He was presented by his mother
    to King Childebert (his uncle, King of Paris), and she said to
    him, ‘Behold your nephew, the son of Clothair. His father ever
    hated him, but do you take him to you, for he is your own flesh
    and blood.’ And this Childebert did, as he had no son of his

This was the prince whom the Aquitanians invited to rule over them.
Clothair I had divided the kingdom of the Franks among his sons, but
three of these were dead; Sigebert, King of Metz, however, had left a
son, Childebert II. Gunthram, King of Orleans, still lived. Gundowald
visited his nephew, Childebert, at Metz, and was favourably received
by him. Childebert and Gundowald sent Duke Boso with a deputation to
Gunthram, King of Orleans, to demand the recognition of the prince,
and that he should be given Aquitaine as a kingdom. The deputation was
roughly received by Gunthram at Orleans, seated on his throne. “Pshaw!”
said he, “Gundowald’s father was a miller, or, to be more exact, a
carder of wool.”

Then one of the deputies said boldly, “Do you pretend that Gundowald
had two fathers--one a miller, the other a wool-carder? Who ever heard
of a man having two fathers?”

Another deputy broke out with--“Take care, King, the axe that cut off
the heads of your brothers has not lost its edge.”

In a fury Gunthram ordered the embassy to be driven out of the palace
and pelted with horse-dung and rotten vegetables.

The Aquitanians flew to arms; Gundowald was crowned at Brives, and
marched to secure Toulouse. The ecclesiastics of the south to a man
favoured the pretender. Gunthram was alarmed, and at once detached his
nephew Childebert from the side of Gundowald, by the bribe of an offer
of the succession to the kingdom of the Franks after his death.

The reconciliation of the two kings discouraged the party of Gundowald.
The fickle Aquitanians were as hasty in deserting him as they had been
in acknowledging him. As a large army of the Franks was pouring south,
Gundowald was constrained to throw himself into Lugdunum Convenarum,
along with the grandees most compromised, as Duke Mummolus, and two
bishops, Sagittarius and Waddo.

Duke Boso, who had been foremost in instigating the rising, secured
all Gundowald’s treasures and fled with them. Mummolus and the bishops
only waited for an opportunity to betray him. The army of Gunthram
surrounded the town, lying all along in the plain. Then Mummolus and
the bishops advised the prince to throw himself on the mercy of his
brother Gunthram. “It was at your invitation,” answered he, “that I
came to Gaul. I was in Constantinople with my little children, in high
honour with the Emperor, when Boso sought me out and informed me of
the death of all my brothers save Gunthram, without issue, and that
Childebert, my nephew, was a poor creature. I allowed myself to be
persuaded to return to Gaul; and now this same Boso has stolen the
treasures I had brought with me, and has gone over to my brother who
is warring against me.” Then said Mummolus, “Do as we bid you. Divest
yourself of your golden baldric and sword and go forth. We swear to you
that no harm will befall you.” Seeing that nothing else was open to
him, that he could trust none of those who had egged him on, he issued
from the gates, and at once Mummolus closed them behind him. Otto,
Count of Bourges, received the prince and surrounded him with armed
men. Gundowald raised his hands to heaven and said, “Judge Eternal,
Avenger of the innocent! To Thee I commit my cause, and I pray Thee to
avenge me on my betrayers.”

As he was descending the hill, Otto dealt him a sharp blow on the back
that made him fall, saying, “This dauber of the walls of churches and
oratories is down at last!” Then raising his spear he attempted to
transfix him, but failed, owing to the armour worn by the prince.

Gundowald sprang to his feet, and turned to reascend the hill, when
Duke Boso, as base as he was treacherous, dashed a stone at his head
and crushed in his skull. The prince fell, and the men at arms, after
making sure that he was dead, tied his feet together, and dragged him
around the camp with jeers.

The rock down which Gundowald was thrown is still pointed out. It is
called Mattacan, the place where the dog was slaughtered. It is some
satisfaction to learn that Mummolus gained nothing by his treachery.
When the town was entered by the troops of Gunthram he was put to
death. The city was delivered over to the soldiery of the King, and
the inhabitants--men, women, and children--were massacred, so that, to
use the expression of Gregory of Tours, there did not remain even a
dog alive in it--“ita ut non remaneret mingens ad parietem.” The city
was levelled, and the bishops of Cominges, finding no asylum among the
ruins, settled at Valcabrères, where they erected a church dedicated
to S. Justus. This is an interesting structure, standing alone in
the fields, built out of the ruins. The choir, very archaic in form
and of rude construction, probably dates from its erection after the
destruction of the Lyons of the Convenæ. The nave, less ancient, of the
eleventh century, has been also built of old materials. A delicious
lateral portal enriched with sculptured capitals, and fine statues of
life size, and a bas-relief of Christ between the evangelistic symbols,
is of the twelfth century. Within are ancient columns taken from the
Roman town, and a curious stone sarcophagus or shrine of the fourteenth
century, much mutilated, and reached by two stone flights of steps.
It is not known whose tomb this was. Against the wall at the end of
the nave is the tombstone of a priest named Patroclus, of the fourth

After five centuries of abandonment, one of the bishops of Cominges
resolved on the re-edification of the city of Lugdunum. He built
a cathedral on the height of the rock, in the midst of the ruins.
This was in the eleventh century, towards its close, when religious
fervour was at its height; and this new church is one of the most
beautiful monuments of medieval art in the south of France. About the
new cathedral canons were installed; the prelate erected for them a
residence and a cloister. He built himself a palace, and in every way
encouraged the people to resettle on the site of their ancient capital.


The man who did this, the second founder, was Bertrand de
l’Isle-Jourdain, and he has given his name to this new foundation, or,
to be more correct, the people have called the new city on the old site
after his name. Bertrand’s mother was daughter of William Taillefer,
Count of Toulouse. He was trained in the abbey of Escaledieu, but
quitted it for the profession of arms. However, before long he
abandoned the life of a camp to accept a canonry at Toulouse. He was
appointed Bishop of Cominges about 1073, and ruled the see for fifty
years. According to popular legend, he killed a dragon that infested
the neighbourhood; and the stuffed monster hangs in the church to this
day. It is a crocodile from the Nile. He died in or about 1120, and
his day of commemoration is on 17 October, when the decayed town is
thronged with pilgrims to visit his shrine.

At the time of the Papacy at Avignon Bishop Bertrand de Got was elected
Pope, and took the title of Clement V. He retained a liking for the
place, revisited it several times, and contributed sums towards its
completion; and to raise money without having to dip into his own
purse instituted a grand Pardon or Jubilee, charged with Indulgences,
for the Feast of the Invention of the Cross (3 May). This is still
celebrated, and attracts pilgrims to gain the Indulgences, during three
days. The vaulting of the church was begun in 1304, and completed by
Hugh de Châtillon in the middle of the fourteenth century. The apse
is surrounded by five chapels. The windows of the choir, very tall
and narrow, are partly walled up, and partly filled with fragments of
Renaissance glass. The magnificent Renaissance woodwork choir-stalls,
screen, organ-case, and altar-piece are due to Bishop Jean de Mauleon,
and date from 1525. In a chapel is the stately tomb of Bishop Hugh de
Châtillon, who died in 1352; it is of white marble, and was executed
at least a century after his death, probably at the expense of the
Cardinal de Foix, to whom also is due the mausoleum of S. Bertrand
behind the high altar.

But bishops cannot create a town, even though they enrich a site with a
superb cathedral. S. Bertrand de Cominges never thrived, and little by
little the bishops tired of it, and then abandoned it for their Château
of Alan, near Aurignac; they were rich men, enjoying large revenues,
for the diocese of Cominges, in addition to that part which is in
France, comprised also the whole of the Val d’Aran--that is to say,
thirty-three parishes under the Crown of Spain.

Some of them rarely visited S. Bertrand, some not at all. One of them,
Urban de S. Gelos, an ardent Leaguer, only went thither to dislodge
the Huguenots, who thrice between 1569 and 1593 entered the town and
committed great ravages.

At the Revolution the see was suppressed, and the small world of
canons, vicars-general, and diocesan functionaries who had inhabited
the capital of Cominges dispersed, and the little town sank to be a
_chef-lieu de Canton_, and then lost even that dignity, which was
transferred to Barbazan.

S. Bertrand would be abandoned altogether by its inhabitants, who would
settle on the plain were it not much resorted to by visitors from
Luchon, by artists and antiquaries, and by pilgrims.

There were counts of Cominges from a very early period, indeed from
900; but the county came to the Crown of France in 1442 through a
domestic quarrel.

Margaret de Cominges was left an heiress in 1376. She married John
III, Count of Armagnac Fézansac. He died in 1391, having had by her
two daughters. She then married Jean d’Armagnac Pardiac, who was
aged eighteen. As she treated him with contempt as a mere boy he was
offended, and left her so as to reside with his father. But after
awhile, finding that Margaret had installed a lieutenant in the county,
and refused him those rights in it which had been assured to him by the
marriage contract, he appealed to Count Bernard VII of Armagnac for
assistance. This treacherous man went over to the side of Margaret, and
when John hastened to Auch to urge the Count to assist him Bernard had
him arrested, carried to a castle in the Rouergue, and there blinded
by a red-hot basin applied to his eyes. The poor lad died in prison in
great misery. Margaret being free of her boy-husband, looked out for
one who was a man, and pitched on Matthew de Grailli, brother of the
Count of Foix, and married him.

But Matthew proved a little too much of a man for her. He treated
Margaret as roughly as she had treated Jean. He shut her up in the
Castle of Saverdun, where he retained her for fifteen to sixteen
years. At the end of that time she appealed to Charles VII when he was
at Toulouse, and Matthew was forced to surrender her into the King’s
hands. Then Margaret, to vent her spite against her husband, made over
the county of Cominges, in 1442, along with all her estates, to the
Crown of France. Next year she died at Poitiers at the age of eighty.

The Garonne does not rise in France, but in Spain, and, by what is
an apparent caprice, the frontier does not follow the crests of the
highest mountains, but runs north, making a loop so as to include the
Val d’Aran in Spain.

But though the valley is reached by a good carriage road from France,
and can communicate with Spanish neighbours only by a mule path over a
pass 8000 feet high and impassable for many months in the year, yet the
valley has pertained to Spain since 1192.

Of the Val d’Aran more presently. We must first, after the antiquity
and decay of S. Bertrand, refresh ourselves with the novelty and
up-to-datedness of Luchon; certainly one of the most delightful centres
from which to radiate in all directions, that is to be found in Europe.
All the comforts, distractions, and amusements that go to make a
watering-place pleasant are to be had there as elsewhere, and better
than elsewhere in the Pyrenees.

A Frenchman shall describe it, lest I should do it scant justice:--

    “Forty thousand visitors come every year to Luchon, bringing
    with them an atmosphere of luxury not to be found to the same
    degree in other Pyrenean stations. Their artificial existence
    has for corollary an artificial existence in the population
    living upon them:--Coachmen and postilions in the livery of the
    Opéra-Comique, guides who have adopted an imaginary Pyrenean
    costume. The hotel-keepers are not behindhand; correctly
    dressed cavaliers, spruce amazons, toilettes changed frequently
    during the day, toilettes the product of the best Parisian
    dressmakers, affectation of the extreme of fashion, such is the
    picture of life at Luchon. Even for mountain excursions there
    must be a faultless costume.

    “With the exception of a few guides worthy of the name and
    knowing the loftiest crests, these cicerones in costume conduct
    walkers to spots to which they could go perfectly well without
    them. The mountains are very much humanized here, there are
    plenty of carriage-drives, walks innumerable, well kept up,
    to reach even great altitudes. But beyond all this Luchon is
    one of the principal centres of Pyrenean-Alpine climbing, it
    is the point of departure for bold climbers who go to the Mont
    Maudit, the loftiest of all the chain, but on Spanish soil”

But even easy ascents lead to superb and savage scenery. The Lake of
Seculejo is easily reached, and is accessible even in a carriage.
It stands 6500 feet above the sea, and is the most visited of all
the Pyrenean sheets of water. It is a mere tarn, but is singularly
beautiful, lying amidst rugged mountains, with the eternal snows above
it spilling their melted waters into it in a fall of 620 feet, after
having paused to spread in two loftily situated tarns, one of which is
frozen almost throughout the year. Inglis thus describes it, at a time
when it was but occasionally visited:--

    “I dedicated a day to the Seculejo, and have seldom passed one
    more to my mind. I left Bagnères de Luchon about sunrise. The
    road to it is wild and pastoral, rapidly rising towards the
    south, and having constantly in view the majestic scenery that
    lies upon the Spanish frontier. The Lake of Seculejo is wild,
    solitary, and sombre. The low ripple of the water, the noise
    of the cataract, and the cry of a bird of prey, are the only
    interruptions of silence that are in keeping with the scene;
    and these were the only sounds that disturbed its tranquillity
    as I stood upon the margin of the water. The lake is entirely
    surrounded by high mountains, excepting where it finds egress;
    and its shores are generally bold and rugged. At the upper end,
    a cascade falls from the top of a perpendicular rock into the
    lake. After lingering upon the margin of Seculejo an hour or
    two, I climbed up the eastern bank, by a path which has almost
    the appearance of a ladder, and which, indeed, bears the name
    of Scala. Having reached the summit of the bank, I entered a
    gorge, through which I passed to a hollow lying at the base
    of the mountain, called the Espingo; and, still proceeding to
    ascend the first ridges of the mountain, I reached the two
    lakes of Espingo. These are very elevated mountain tarns lying
    almost in the region of snow. All is here sombre, melancholy,
    rude, and dismal--great rocks, a few stunted trees, and still,
    deep, dark water, are the features of the scene.”

We return to Luchon. Do you desire health? It is to be found there, if
we may believe the advertisements of the wonders wrought by its waters,
more potent than that from the lips of the Grotto of Lourdes: “Toutes
les maladies de la peau, comme d’autres de toute espèce, les maladies
occassionées par le lait répandu, quelques graves qu’elles soient, les
rheumatismes, maladies des yeux, maladies des parties conservatrices
des yeux, lésions d’oreille, maladie du système osseux, blessures; gale
ventrée, rougeole, maladies des articulations; maladies des glandes
salvaires; humeurs froides; maladies des voies urinaires; catarrhe
pulmonaire; asthme; phthisie pulmonaire, obstructions de toutes sortes,
et jaunisse.” And, nevertheless, there is a cemetery at Luchon.

Luchon was well-known to the Romans, as the number of _ex voto_ altars
to the god Ilixion that have been found go to prove. The name of this
god of healing is to be recognized in a very altered shape in the
modern Luchon. In 1036 Luchon, with Upper Cominges, passed as dower to
the Crown of Aragon. Later it was restored to the counts of Cominges.
In 1711 the valley was ravaged, and Luchon burned by Charles of
Austria, who was disputing Spain with the Duke of Anjou.

No one staying at Luchon should omit to read J. H. Michon’s powerful
novel, _Le Maudit_, the scene of which is mainly laid at S. Aventin
on the Neste d’Oucil, a picturesquely situated village, with an
interesting church of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It has two
towers--one at the west end, the other at the transept. The _grille_
is specially noticeable, as it is ironwork of the twelfth century. The
tomb of the patron saint is in the church. He is said to have died in
the year 538.

One stormy night a bear bounced against the door of his cell. Aventin
spent the night in great alarm, but on opening the door in the morning
he saw the bear still there, crouched on the threshold, and it
stretched forth a paw to him. Then the hermit perceived that a splinter
of wood had entered it. So he said, “Poor beast, thou wast in pain,
and didst seek relief, and I thought that thou wast raging for my
life.” Then he took the paw in his lap, drew out the splinter, bathed
and bandaged the wound, and let the bear depart. It is the story of
Androcles and the lion, without the termination.

Perhaps the finest excursion is up the Valley of Lys to the Cirque
of Crabioules, where the glacier sends down a fine fall, the Cascade
d’Enfer. Nothing can surpass the scenery in this valley.


The Val d’Aran should be visited on account of its magnificent scenery,
running up as it does to the roots of the gloomy Maladetta. On
the way to it S. Béat is reached, planted in a narrow defile, into
which the sun penetrates for little more than two hours in the day in
mid-winter. It owed its importance as a key to Spain, that is to say
to such part of Spain as is in the Val d’Aran; and it has a key for
its arms. It maintains a population of quarrymen. The marble there
has been exploited since Roman times with long intermission. A votive
altar has been discovered, erected by Q. J. Julianus and Publicius
Crescentinus to commemorate their having been the first there to cut
and dispatch columns twenty feet long. In the Middle Ages these white
marble quarries were abandoned, but were worked again under Louis XIV,
when hence were sent the marble basins for the gardens at Versailles.
S. Béat is commanded by a castle of the fourteenth century, with a keep
still more ancient. The castle is reached by steps, some hewn out of
the rock. A colossal statue of the Virgin in bronze has been erected on
the rock within the castle precincts.

From S. Béat it is not four miles to the frontier, at Pont-du-Roi,
where some speculators have built a casino; a restaurant, and gambling
tables are provided; but, of course, this fact is veiled, and it is
called La Société du Vélo Club du Pont-du-Roi.

The Maladetta with its glaciers now bursts on the sight.

It is somewhat absurd that the Val d’Aran should not pertain to France,
with which it has a natural connexion. Indeed the Spanish officials
who come to the valley arrive by train either from Bayonne or from
Perpignan, and leave it at the little station at Marignac near Luchon.
The people of Aran who drink Spanish wine have the barrels brought
round one way or the other by French lines, but do not pay duty, only
the long carriage; whereas French wine has to pay at the Customs,
coming only a few miles up from the level land.

The dialect is Catalan, but so is that of French Roussillon; and nearly
every man in Aran can speak French. The position of the inhabitants is
difficult, as for only two or three months in the year can they reach
a Spanish town beyond the mountains, so that they must purchase French
goods, and these have to be examined at the custom-house, and taxed,
some heavily.

Curiously enough, at the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 nothing was
said about annexing Aran to France. Napoleon alone saw the necessity
for it, and did annex it in 1808; but the treaty of 1815 restored it to
Spain. As Aran is now situated, inevitably smuggling thrives and cannot
be suppressed.

Viella is the capital of the district of Aran. Before reaching it a
monolith is passed, a prehistoric monument, supposed to be dedicated
to the presiding deity of the valley. Viella is planted on the banks
of the Rio Negro, and possesses a church and chapels of massive
construction, overcharged with gilded decorations, in accordance with
Spanish taste. The houses are provided with balconies.

[Illustration: LE LAC D’OO]

We are here at the roots of the Maladetta, the accursed mountain,
because devoid of vegetation, and near the Cirque of Sabourede. The
highest peak of the Maladetta is 10,230 feet, and in its flanks rises
the western branch of the Garonne. The melted waters of the glaciers
of the peak Aneto falls into a chasm, the Trou de Toro, and it was
long supposed that after an underground course the same waters broke
forth in the Goueil de Jouéou, which is the true source of the western
Garonne. But sufficient colouring matter has been poured into the gulf
to dye the water issuing from this spring, without its staining the
source any more than the dye poured into the _source_ in the Lourdes
grotto discoloured the water a few yards distant, that issues from
the taps from which the miraculous fluid is drawn. Where the stream
issues that precipitates itself into the Trou de Toro has not yet
been discovered. There is no doubt about the source of the eastern
Garonne. That rises at the foot of the Port de Béret, in two little
springs that go by the name of the Eyes of the Garonne, but which
is speedily lost in the turbulent and mightier stream of the Ruda
descending from the snows of Sabourede. From Luchon the passage into
Spain by the Port de Venasque is to be effected, disclosing views of
mountain crest and suspended glacier hardly to be surpassed in Europe.
A hospice is planted half-way, where is the custom-house. “It is,” says
the Commandant de Oliver-Copóns, “like a great barrack in disorder, a
muddle of hotel, pot-house, and workshop. There are stables that can
shelter sixty beasts, but hardly a room in which a traveller can lodge
comfortably.” However, there is no need to stay the night there; one
can push on to Venasque, and make that a centre of excursions to the
lakes clustering at the heads of the wild valleys that descend from the
Pic d’Eristé, the Pic des Posets and the Maladetta.



    Cobweb of lines--The Viscounty--S. Lizier--S. Girons--S.
    Lizier a double town--Two cathedrals--Bishop Bernard--His
    palace--S. Marie de la Sède--The other cathedral--Bridge and
    inscription--Ramparts--The training of dancing bears--Bear
    hunting--Mendicity--Improvidence--Factory of La Moulasse--Job
    cigarette papers--Vic--Sully tree--Oust--The Nine Springs--
    Aulus--The Planturel.

The railway lines in the central portion of the Pyrenees converge
on Toulouse, and to get across country from west to east is no easy
matter. In the Eastern Pyrenees they form a cobweb amidst which the
traveller gets entangled and spends a day unprofitably in endeavours to
extricate himself, for French railway directors ingeniously contrive
to make through travelling by branch lines most difficult, or at least
most tedious. To reach S. Girons it is necessary to run northwards from
S. Gaudens to Boussens, then change trains and turn the face due south,
following up the Salat, past the salt springs of Salies.

We now enter the old viscounty of Couserans, of which the civil capital
was Massat, and the ecclesiastical was S. Lizier. It pertained for
awhile to the counts of Carcassonne; Roger II gave both the district
and the bishopric to his younger son, Bernard, with the title of
viscount, in or about 990. But in 1257 Esquivat, Count of Bigorre,
inherited the land from Roger, Count of Pallier, and thus the
Couserans passed into the possession of the house of Foix-Béarn, and so
to the kings of Navarre.

The capital of the whole country in early days was Lugdunum
Consoranorum, now S. Lizier, and one of the nine cities of
Novempopulania. The Couserans, situated between the basins of the
Ariège and the Garonne, has much the shape of a vine-leaf, having the
valleys of the Arac, Garbet, Salat, and Lez converging at S. Girons
into the one broad stream of the Salat, as the stalk of the leaf. If S.
Bertrand de Cominges has fallen from its high estate to be a miserable
village, it is not alone in its fall, in that S. Lizier has shared
the same fate. But Lugdunum Convenarum went out in one tragic drama
of blood and flame. Lugdunum Consoranorum is dying of slow decline,
its life-blood sucked out of it by the parasitic growth of S. Girons.
Indeed, so low is it fallen that the railway does not afford it a
station, only a _halte_. Once the fifth in order of size and splendour
of the cities of Novempopulania, it now shelters within its walls not
more than five hundred inhabitants. This was a double town: one portion
was the city, the other the _ville_; and what is more, it possessed two
cathedrals--one in the city, Notre Dame; the other, S. Lizier, in the
town. As just before death a patient often brightens up, puts on an
appearance of renewed life, and enjoys buoyant hopes, only to sink in
relapse to death, so was it with this Lyons of the Couserans.

Bishop Bernard de Marmiesse (1653-80), not content with the medieval
residence of the prelates, erected an enormous and splendid palace,
commanding the whole town with its long façade flanked by semicircular
towers, embracing the cathedral of S. Marie de la Sède within its
walls. Where the bishops ruled and feasted in purple and fine linen
lunatics are now installed. Lazarus has crept into the shell of Dives.
The bishopric was suppressed at the Revolution and never restored.
There had been on the cathedral staff twelve canons and twenty-four
prebendaries, having under them a swarm of sacristans, _curés_ to
relieve them of burdensome duties, and workmen.

Ste. Marie de la Sède is a Renaissance church, but built when the
spirit of Gothic architecture had not gone out of the land; but the
portal is Romanesque. The interior woodwork is of the eighteenth
century, and is fine for its period. To the north is the chapter-house,
of the twelfth century. The materials of which cathedral and palace
were built proceeded from the ruins of the Gallo-Roman city.

The other cathedral is more interesting. It consists of a nave without
aisles, and an apse constructed out of fragments of Roman buildings,
and over a Roman gateway. The central tower is of the fourteenth
century: octagonal, lighted by windows with triangular heads, and the
whole crowned by a crenellated platform. It affects the Toulouse style,
and is of brick. The magnificent cloister of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries has thirty-two round-headed arches resting on alternate
single and double pillars with quaintly-carved and varied capitals.
Above it is an open walk or cloister, with the pantiled roof supported
on beams, dating from the fifteenth century. Probably the town would
expire altogether were it not kept alive by the lunatics installed in
the episcopal palace, which is lighted by electricity, and such light
as is not wanted in the asylum is distributed over the town.

Like S. Bertrand, this Lyons changed its name and assumes that of one
of the bishops, a native of Lerida, who is said to have saved the
city from destruction by the Visigoths by his intercession. The town
is built on the slopes of a hill above the Salat. It communicates
with the _halte_ by means of a steep-pitched bridge of the twelfth or
thirteenth century, consisting of three unequal arches. Into one of
the piers is built a votive inscription to the goddess Belisama, who
was identified by the Romans with Minerva. Another inscription to this
goddess has been found at Vaison. A tower formerly stood in the midst
of the bridge. Above, on the right bank of the Salat, is a square tower
that defended a fortified mill. This mill has been reconstructed. The
old city is enclosed in the Roman ramparts forming an ellipse, flanked
by a dozen towers, of which six on the north side are square, and the
rest on the south are semicircular. Against the rampart within is the
episcopal keep of the twelfth century, rectangular, and only to be
entered by a wooden bridge that led to the first story from the palace.
The lower rests on Roman foundations.

The valleys of the Couserans do not attract many visitors; they have
not the boldness of those farther west. The Pic de Crabère reaches to
7200 feet, that of Mauberme to 8650, that of Roujos to 8340. There is
a little lake, the Lac d’Arrainge, out of which flows the Isar, but it
is insignificant; others are above Aulus. The principal business of
the people in the upper valleys was the training of dancing bears, and
sometimes when a father married his daughter he would hand over to his
son-in-law as the _dot_ a well-trained Bruin. But the taste for seeing
these beasts led about and made to stand on their hind legs and plead
for coppers has died out. There is no further demand for bears, and
the industry is expiring, if not dead. Perhaps the last was seen by M.

    “No sooner had we entered the hamlet of Sérac, with its steep
    and muddy streets, than I asked after these strange educators.
    Alas! it was a lost tradition. In all the commune of Uston
    there was but a single little bear in training. Happily he
    inhabited Sérac, so I could see him.

    “A little girl conducted me to the grange in which the small
    animal was shut up. It was still a baby, but its mark of
    slavery was upon it, the ring through its nostrils, by means of
    which the tamer can control it. The little bear, sitting up on
    its hind paws, waddled and hopped incessantly, as if afflicted
    with S. Vitus’s dance. Our visit seemed to please it; it
    invited caresses, and rolled about at our feet. The people said
    that it would be easy to tame the poor little bruin.”

Bears are no longer hunted on the French side of the Pyrenees, and
those who seek for them must cross over the Spanish frontier, where a
good many are still to be found in the forests. But, as already said,
the demand for them has ceased, not only to be led about, but to show
in barber’s yards as evidence that genuine bears’ grease is sold on the

This industry having failed, the peasants have had to fall back on
cattle-rearing, and dairy-farming. But this hardly suffices for their
necessities, and many of the men turn into hawkers, and almost all
migrate at the time of the vintage to the Bordelais and to Languedoc.
Whether it be the bear association, or the migratory habits of the
fathers of the household, has given a rudeness and lack of self-respect
to the children cannot be said, but nowhere in the Pyrenees does
mendicity prevail with such persistency and effrontery as in the
valleys of the Couserans. The legend prevails in the plain that when
Christ was walking over the earth with S. Peter He found these valleys
unpopulated; so He took clay and moulded it into a man, and set the
figure on its feet before Him, and breathed into it the breath of
life; whereupon instantly the New Adam held out its hands and cried,
“Un p’tit sou, siou plaît, m’ssius!” Begging has ever since been the
predominant and all-prevailing instinct of the upper region of the

The population here as elsewhere in the mountains is dwindling owing
to emigration, mainly to South America, especially to the Argentine
Republic. This is largely due to the peasant seeing the comfort and
comparative wealth of his brother peasant in the plain, the proprietor
of vineyard and olive-yard, and of mulberry trees that feed silkworms.
He returns to his Alpine pastures sulky and dissatisfied with his
condition. He is unwilling to change his native, deeply-rooted customs
of farming, that are unscientific and wasteful, incapable maybe of
realizing that he might do better if he adopted newer methods.

    “Nevertheless,” says M. Ardouin-Dumazet, “he might lead a
    better existence if he could be brought to limit the quantity
    of his cattle to that number which he could rear suitably;
    if he would consent to make a practical use of the milk of
    his flocks. But everywhere in Ariège one finds every little
    property support three times as many beasts as the soil can
    well sustain; the result is lean cattle, giving poor meat and
    milk, giving consequently but an insufficient return of revenue.

    “However, nowhere has the problem of the renovation of the
    pastures and the animals that overrun it been more studied
    and theoretically resolved. The Board of Forestry has shown
    by example how that the extent of meadowland and the quality
    of the grass might be largely extended. But everywhere it
    encounters invincible routine.

    “Every hamlet, every farm has its stables, in which during
    the winter the beasts are crowded in conditions of hygiene
    absolutely deplorable. Air, light, litter are wanting; the
    fodder is measured out sparingly. If the winter be long there
    is dearth, for the number of beasts is out of all proportion to
    the resources of the forage.

    “So soon as the weather becomes mild, at once the animals are
    despatched to the pastures or the waste lands; too numerous
    for the space, they ruin the turf and trample up the soil. The
    high pastures are squandered, and, above all, are not kept up.
    Juniper and rhododendrons invade them without the mountaineers
    concerning themselves about it. The agents of the Forestry have
    shown them how to get rid of these shrubs by eradication and
    burning, and how to make the ashes fertilize the meadows; they
    have shown them how by irrigation to enhance the quantity and
    quality of the herbage. This has been seen, understood, but
    not followed. Channels for irrigation have been made by the
    foresters and abandoned. The watering places for the cattle are
    choked. The paths rendering access to the mountain pastures are
    not kept up. The carelessness of the herdsmen surpasses all
    that could be imagined. It makes one despair.”

And the only remedy for their poverty that they can conceive is to turn
their children out into the roads to beg for sous.

A watering-place at Aulus is coming into fashion. It is reached from S.
Girons by a good road, and is distant from it thirty-three kilometres;
Aulus lies high up in the valley of the Garbet.

On leaving S. Girons--about which I say nothing, as concerning it
nothing can be said--the factory of La Moulasse is passed, where
cigarette papers are manufactured in large quantities. The man who
started making them was named Jean Bardon, and he put his initials on
the little books of cigarette papers, with a lozenge between, thus
J.◊.B. This was read as Job, and such papers acquired the name and
became famous as Job’s cigarette papers. The name has been accepted on
the spot, and the sources of the Moulasse that feeds the factory are
now called “les sources de Job.”

Vic, now a little village of 150 inhabitants, was once a Roman station,
and remained of sufficient consequence in the Middle Ages to give to S.
Girons the name of Bourg-sous-Vic. It has a little church with three
Romanesque apses, and a ceiling of the sixteenth century with paintings
in squares. Beside the church is a Sully elm. Such elms were planted
throughout the country as token of rejoicing in 1593, when Henry IV
abjured Calvinism and joined the Catholic Church.

Oust also speaks of the Roman occupation; the name is derived from
Augusta. At Oust the road leaves the valley of the Salat to ascend its
tributary vale of the Garbet; to the south snowy crests appear and the
cascade of Arse comes in view. The Nine Springs is passed, supposed to
have an underground course from the marshy lake of Lhers, at a distance
of four miles. Usually it gives but little water; but after a storm the
source bursts forth suddenly with violence and pours down in cascade
over the rocks.

Aulus lies in an extremely agreeable situation, surrounded by
well-wooded mountains, above which soar snowy peaks. The place was
well known to the Romans, who worked there the mines of silver-lead.
As a watering-place it is furnished with a casino, a park, and theatre
in which every evening during the season comedies and farces are
performed; and in the park a band plays twice a day. Old Aulus lay on
the farther side of the river, but the new site is better exposed to
the sun. Aulus lies in a cul-de-sac; no road goes farther--at least
none that can be utilized by a carriage. Some little mountain tarns are
objects of a visit by those who spend a few days at Aulus, ascending
to them on the backs of mules. The largest of these lie in the valleys
scooped out of the mass of the Pic de Bassiès, 8165 feet.

But it must be allowed that in this portion of the chain the Pyrenees
go in for breadth rather than height. In fact, in Ariège they become
somewhat dishevelled, unwind, and straggle into separate threads.
The loftiest ridge is that along which runs the frontier; the second
is that which starts from the Pic de Camporeile, and is called the
Montagne de Tabe, attaining in the Pic de Campzas only to 7670 feet.
The third chain is the limestone Planturel that reaches its supreme
elevation in the Montagne de Roquefixade, 3010 feet. This is a curious
ridge running parallel with the Pyrenees, very regular, but cut through
in several places, and ending at Foix. Those who desire to visit a
portion of the Pyrenees less in resort than the mountains of the Haute
Garonne and the Hautes Pyrénées will not fail to find in this section
many delightful sites.



    Department of Ariège--Watershed--The counts of Foix--Raymond
    Roger--The Albigenses--Abuses in the Church--Manicheism--
    Council of Albi--Innocent III--Murder of Peter of Castelnau--
    Raymond VI of Toulouse--Crusade proclaimed--Simon de Montfort--
    Subtlety of the Pope--Massacre at Béziers--And at Cascassonne--
    Battle of Muret--Council of the Lateran--A second Crusade--
    Simon de Montfort killed--Count Roger Bernard--Béarn annexed--
    The town of Foix--The Castle--S. Volusinian--Nailmakers--
    Hermitage--Grotto de l’Herme--Mas d’Azil--The River Ariège--
    Tarascon--Richelieu--Ste. Quiterie--Iron mines--Sabarthès--
    Vicdessos--Iron industry--Cavern of Lombrive--Slaughter
    and smothering of heretics--Les Cabannes--Lordat--Talc--
    Ax-les-Thermes--Self-created nobles--Hôtel Dieu--Andorra--The
    Republic--The capital--Urgel--The Count of Spain--His death.

The county of Foix, now constituting the major portion of the
department of Ariège, is and always was in Languedoc. The Couserans
was, however, ever regarded as forming a part of Gascony. The ridge
between the Volp and the Salat separates two hydrographic basins
and two provinces. Geographically the department of Ariège belongs
nevertheless to the basin of the Garonne; all its streams, with the
exception of a few at the extreme east, flow into that great artery,
and finally discharge into the Atlantic. Linguistically only the
Couserans is Gascon; yet Foix from an early date was united to Béarn
and Bigorre.

Of the earliest history of the counts of Foix we know very little.
Roger Bernard, who died in 1188, was an excellent prince. His son,
Raymond Roger, lived in difficult times, and was involved in the
troubles arising out of the attempt of Pope Innocent III to stamp out
the heresy of the Albigenses.

To understand the spread of this heresy and the Crusade which
devastated these fair lands in the South, a few words must be said.

There can be little doubt that Christianity had not struck deep roots
in Languedoc. The clergy had acquired but a smattering of Latin, and a
meagre knowledge of doctrine in the monastic schools. They entered on
their cures not much raised above their parishioners in culture, and
in morals not infrequently sank below their level. Enforced clerical
celibacy was evaded, but this evasion left a scar on the conscience.
Bishoprics and abbacies were the provision of cadets of noble houses,
whether religiously or morally qualified was of no account.

In what is now the department of Ariège, no bigger than an ordinarily
sized English county, there were three episcopal sees--S. Lizier,
Pamiers, and Mirepoix--and many abbeys.

A persecution of the Manichees in the Byzantine Empire sent a stream
of refugees into Lombardy, Provence, and Languedoc, and these heretics
speedily acquired a strong hold on the popular imagination. The Church
had done so little to awaken the spiritual life in the souls of men,
that instinctively, but blindly, they turned to welcome such as
promised something better.

The Cathari, i.e. Puritans, as they called themselves, offered a
very simple creed and easy conditions of salvation. The fundamental
principle of this religion was a Dualism of Good and Evil principles,
equally matched; the Evil Principle, the author of the visible
Creation; the Good Principle, the author of the invisible, the
Spiritual world. The opposition of matter and spirit formed the
basis of their moral system. All that pertained to the body, all
its functions, its needs, its passions, were of the Evil One; all
the aspirations of the soul emanated from the Good Principle.
To the people of Provence and Languedoc and Gascony the Cathari
seemed to be inoffensive, self-denying enthusiasts. These had their
high-priests--the “Perfect” or “Very Elect”--and it was the function of
these men to “console” the believers; but the sacrament of Consolation
was never administered till it was supposed that a believer was on
his death-bed, for this reason, that after it had been administered
the recipient might not touch food under pain of committing the
unpardonable sin. If there should appear signs of convalescence after
the performance of the rite, the person consoled was bled to death, or
given pounded glass to swallow.

This new Manichæism offered to the people of the South just what they
wanted. They had set before them a class of enthusiasts, the Very
Elect, who led austere lives; but they themselves were not required
to adopt a life of abstinence, even of self-restraint, for at death
free justification was offered them by a simple formula. Moreover, the
theological system of the Cathari was simplicity itself.

The whole of the South was infected. A council, held at Albi in
1176, condemned the heresy, and thenceforth the heretics were called

The princes, notably the counts of Toulouse and of Foix, did not
interfere. The Albigenses were inoffensive people. If they held odd
opinions, that was their own affair, with which their feudal lords were
not concerned to meddle.

But the Court of Rome thought otherwise. The flow of contributions
into its treasury from the rich South dwindled to nothing. What to the
Pope was even more serious was that his authority was openly flouted.

Pope Innocent--is there not bitter satire in the name--in 1203 sent a
legate into the southern provinces, Peter of Castelnau by name. This
man visited Toulouse, but his efforts there to confute the heresy
failed completely. Hopeless of success and mortified in his vanity
Peter appealed to Pope Innocent to adopt drastic measures, and Innocent
bade him require Raymond, Count of Toulouse, to suppress Albigensianism
throughout his dominions by fire and sword. He was ordered, on pain
of excommunication, to become the inquisitor and executioner of his
subjects. At the same time he deposed Raymond, Bishop of Toulouse,
an amiable, liberal-minded man, and put in his place the firebrand
Foulques, who had been a troubadour, and notorious for his licentious

Raymond VI of Toulouse promptly refused to do what was required of him,
whereupon Innocent, in 1207, pronounced his excommunication.

Possibly the Count may have let slip some expression of disgust at the
conduct of the papal legate, and a wish to be well rid of him, as did
Henry II with reference to Becket. The result was the same; a knight
killed Peter of Castelnau in 1208 as he was crossing the Rhone. This
filled up the measure of Innocent’s wrath. He hurled the most dreadful
imprecations against the Count, and loudly summoned all Christendom
to a war of extermination against the Albigenses. “Anathema to the
Count of Toulouse! Remission of all sins to such as arm against these
pestilential Provincials. Go forward, soldiers of Christ! May the
heretics perish out of the land, and let colonies of Christians be
established in their room!”

Dukes and bishops, counts and viscounts, flew to the standard of the
Cross, eager to glut themselves on the spoil of the South, so rich
with merchandise, and at the same time to gain eternal salvation by
violation and murder. Three armies invaded the South under the supreme
command of a needy northern knight, Simon de Montfort.

The Pope was as subtle as he was remorseless. In order to weaken the
opposition in the South he had entered into negociation with Raymond
of Toulouse, and had deluded him into expectations of pardon, till the
Crusaders were on him. They began with Béziers, although the viscount
was known to be a Catholic. The city was taken and the inhabitants
massacred. The Abbot of Citeaux, the legate, wrote regretfully to
Innocent that he could only answer for having cut the throats of twenty

Then the papal host marched to Cascassonne, where they hung fifty
prisoners, and burned four hundred Albigenses alive.

Raymond was now offered pardon if he would dismiss his soldiers, level
his castles and the walls of his towns, give the Inquisition a free
hand in his domains, and make every householder pay a tax of four
deniers to the papal treasury. The Count indignantly refused, and the
legate again sounded the attack. Raymond was defeated at Castelnaudary,
and compelled to fly to Aragon. The conquerors seized on his territory,
which the needy knights of the north parcelled out among themselves;
and they diverted themselves in hunting out the heretics and burning

Urged on by his kinsman, the Count of Toulouse, Peter II, King of
Aragon, passed the Pyrenees with an army, and was at once joined by the
Count of Foix and many other nobles. A battle was fought at Muret in
1213, in which the King was killed, the army routed, and the nobles of
Languedoc dispersed. This sealed the fate of the country. The Council
of the Lateran, held two years later, ratified the deposition of
Raymond, who, along with the counts of Foix and Cominges, had appeared
before the Council, with bitter complaints in their mouths of the way
in which their subjects had been slaughtered wholesale and the country
laid waste. At once up sprang Foulques, Bishop of Toulouse. “Foix,”
said he, “swarms with heretics. The sister of the Count intercepted and
cut to pieces six thousand Germans, Crusaders, on their way to join the

“Soldiers of the Cross!” retorted the Count of Foix fearlessly. “They
were mere robbers, committing every possible outrage in the country.”

Then the Baron de Vilamour rose, and in a cold voice gave a detailed
account of the horrors, the rapes, the murders, the ravages committed
by the Soldiers of the Cross, those sent forth by the Holy See with
assurance of gaining Heaven thereby. As he spoke Innocent’s head sank
on his breast, and he heaved a sigh; some sense of shame stole into
his heart. He went to meet his account in 1216, and was succeeded by
Honorius III.

Toulouse, the whole South, writhed under the despotism of Simon
de Montfort, and called back its exiled count. A new Crusade was
preached. Remission of sins was offered to all who would glean what
the first locust swarm had left, and massacre such as had been spared.
Excommunication was again launched against the Count of Toulouse and
the Count of Foix. In an attack on Toulouse Simon de Montfort was
killed, and the command was taken by Prince Louis of France. Before
this vast army the cities of Languedoc opened their gates. Count
Raymond and he of Foix bowed to the storm. Louis died of exhaustion
on his return, after having secured the submission of almost the whole

Count Roger Bernard of Foix was excommunicated in 1228, and was forced
to subscribe to the most degrading terms. The truce lasted eight
years. In 1237 he was summoned to appear and answer for his orthodoxy
before the papal Inquisitors quartered in his own domains, and holding
their court in his own castle. Because he refused he was again
excommunicated. He was compelled to submit in 1240, and died in the
ensuing year.

The horrors of the extirpation of heresy continued till 1244, when the
last of the strongholds of the Albigenses was taken, and two hundred of
them were burnt alive without a trial.

After that all trace of them gradually disappears.

Bernard Roger III (1265) married Margaret de Moncada, second daughter
of Gaston de Béarn, and as she was heiress, he annexed her territories,
and thenceforth the history of Foix is merged in that of Béarn.

Foix, in local patois _Fouch_, is situated at the junction of the Arget
with the Ariège, and where, most conveniently for military purposes, a
rock shoots up, abrupt and bold, inviting the mediæval noble to plant
his castle on the summit. The castle never was a palace like that of
Pau; it never was anything but a stronghold. When the counts became
lords of Béarn they abandoned their ancient nest, which if secure was
inconvenient, and betook themselves to their own creations at Mazères,
Orthez, and Pau. The town occupies a triangle where the two rivers
already mentioned unite. It is a dull place, its sole feature being
the castle, like a very plain man with a very prominent nose. That
it should be capital of the department is due to association, not to
size, for Pamiers, where was a cathedral, exceeds it in population.
It has a theatre, in which but rarely a performance is given; a public
library, open for a few hours one day in the week, into which an
occasional reader saunters; baths, better known externally than within;
an abattoir, where oxen past work are slaughtered, for consumption
by those of the inhabitants who have digestions that could dissolve
leather; a promenade which lacks promenaders; a vast prefecture, in
which the prefect is dying daily of ennui. The Hotel des Gouverneurs
has become Palais de Justice--“un édifice banal, malgré ce nom

The rock of Foix is 178 feet above the river, and is surmounted by
three noble towers that served successively as keeps. In the donjons
the Inquisition had their court, their trials, and sentences, and the
Count had to resign his castle to them in pledge of submission to the
judgment of the Holy See. The loftiest of the towers is cylindrical,
and is attributed to Gaston Phœbus, but apparently it dates from the
fifteenth century. Between the noble towers appear the mean buildings
of a prison, in which those who are confined yawn their time away.
Below the rock, near the river, at the apex of the triangle, is the
church of S. Volusinian, of the fourteenth century, and, like most of
the great churches in this portion of the south of France, consists of
a nave without aisles. The choir is surrounded by radiating chapels.

Volusinian was Bishop of Tours, a native of Auvergne. When Alaric, King
of the Goths, invaded Gaul he carried Volusinian away with him south,
and as he proved to be uncompromising in his adherence to the Creed
of Nicæa, had him executed at Foix. His festival is on 11 February,
and he suffered in 491. Foix has no manufactures, no trade--hardly
an expectant _commis voyageur_ visits it; but I am in error. It has
perpetrated a joke, a miserable pun--Foix produces _patés de foie gras_.

Were there but coal-mines near at hand Foix would revive, for the whole
county is full of iron ore. Foix bleeds iron from its veins, but the
ferruginous springs run away into the river. The stars in their courses
fight against Foix; the valley of the Arget was full of nailmakers at
one time--in 1835 there were forty-seven forges. Now their fires are
put out: machine-made nails have killed the hand-made nails. Those made
in the Barguillère, the valley of the Arget, were for horseshoes, and
the makers dubbed themselves _chevaliers_. The extinction of the little
forges has led to depopulation; between 1891 and 1901 there was a loss
of 27,092 inhabitants in that district.

To the north of the town rises a steep hill, on the summit of which
is the hermitage of S. Sauveur, but the last hermit has departed
this life; his occupation also is gone, and he has no successor. The
Administration has put an end to the hermits.

In the neighbourhood of Foix is the Grotto de l’Herme, that has yielded
notable finds of prehistoric man. But the main curiosity is the Mas
d’Azil, where the river Arize has bored its way through the limestone
barrier of the Planturel. This long chain opposed a passage northwards
to the river descending from the mountains to the south. The Arize
discovered a fault in the barrier and pierced it, forming a noble
arch 250 feet high. Beside it is an artificial gallery bored for the
passage of the road. The length of the tunnel is 1250 feet. The road
follows the right bank of the Arize, separated from it by a wall of
rock. The river descends into the gallery, the average width of which
is ninety-five feet, breaking over masses of rock that have fallen from
the roof. Above the left bank, under the huge vault, rises a natural
column, called the Monk. Farther on in the gallery, a pillar thirty
feet in diameter sustaining the roof. There are lateral galleries, at a
higher elevation, that have yielded evidence of human occupation. The
guano produced by the innumerable bats that inhabit the cave actually
forms an article of commerce.

The opening to the north, through which the river effects its escape,
is less striking in appearance than that where it makes its plunge

The road from Foix to Ax leads up the river that gives its name to the
department, and penetrates deep into the recesses of the mountains.

The first town reached is Tarascon, prettily situated at the junction
of the Vicdessos with the Ariège, about a conical hill surmounted by a
round tower, which is all that remains of a castle that was blown up by
order of Richelieu. The great cardinal thought that the best means of
maiming the independence of the nobles, petty barons, and seigneurs,
was to destroy their nests. It was he, not the Revolutionists, who
made the worst havoc among the stately châteaux of France. He went
so far even as to insist on the pepper-castor roofed round towers
at the angles of every small squire’s mansion being lowered a story
to the level of the eaves of the main roof. Tarascon on Ariège is a
busier place than sleepy Tarascon on Rhone, that was drawn out of its
obscurity by the mythical Tastarin. It is the great centre of activity
to the country, “a land whose stones are iron.” Formerly it was more
prosperous than it is to-day. But the population remains stationary,
which in the midst of a universal shrinkage may be reckoned as good.
The town is divided into two parts. Old Tarascon clusters about the
decayed castle. New Tarascon forms the faubourg Sainte Quitterie,
where there is a ferruginous spring bearing the name of the saint,
and supposed miraculously to cure insanity. The wonder in this part of
the mountains is to find any springs that do not run red. Quiteria,
who has given virtue to this spring, is a person of problematical
existence. Once upon a time--the Bollandists even know not when--there
lived a King Katillas and his wife Calsia, who inhabited doubtlessly
a Château en Espagne. Queen Calsia gave birth to nine daughters at
once, and being afraid what the King would say, gave them to the nurse
with orders to drown them like puppies. But the nurse took them to her
home, and reared all in the Christian faith. In time of persecution the
nine damsels dispersed, but were caught and offered the alternative
of marriage or death. They accepted the latter. One of them, named
Wilgefortis, when pestered by a princely suitor, prayed, and lo! out
sprouted a thick beard and moustache. She was crucified. Quiteria’s
head was struck off with a sword. But unwilling to be less of an oddity
than her sister, after death she developed into three entire bodies.
One became the perquisite of the Portuguese, another of the Spaniards,
and the Gascons got hold of the third, and buried it at Aire. I have
little doubt that, when a man reputed insane was brought to Quiteria’s
well and made to drink eight tumblers full of the red water, he
remonstrated, and vowed that he was well; whereupon his relations cried
out, “A miracle! He has spoken sensibly. Thanks be to Quiteria.”

To Tarascon comes the iron ore from the mines in the Vicdessos valley
in carts and tumbrils, and is there smelted. There are here also
quarries of gypsum for the manufacture of plaster of Paris.

To the south of the town is the church of Notre Dame de Sabart,
so-called from Sabarthès, the name of the little region formed by
the Valley of Vicdessos and of the Ariège as far as Les Cabannes. The
church is Romanesque, and there are remains of an abbey founded for
an order of military knights, founded, it is said, by Charlemagne,
as a protection of the population and the valuable iron-mines.
This is a resort of pilgrims on 8 May and 15 September, when fairs
are held at Tarascon, and business, pleasure, and devotion can be
harmoniously combined. The Valley of Vicdessos is, and has been from
time immemorial, the great seat of iron-mining in the Pyrenees. The ore
is nearly pure, and lies in veins and pockets in the limestone of the
mountains of Rance, and the deposits form bands alternating with the
calcareous rock through a height of over 1800 feet.

The working of the mines is the privilege of the inhabitants of Sem,
Goulier, and Olbier, and natives of Vicdessos and other villages about
can only be admitted to this privilege by marrying a girl of one of the
three named. Otherwise they can be employed only as wagoners drawing
the ore to Tarascon.

The earliest mention of these mines is in a charter of the Count of
Foix in 1293. For centuries the counts found the utmost difficulty
in levying a toll on the iron carried out of the valley; the miners
exercised their ingenuity in evading it, and overriding all the
restrictions hampering their industry. Unhappily, for many hundred
years the mining was not carried on by companies, but by individuals
who grubbed where they would and carried on the works in the most
wasteful manner. Now the veins of ore are giving out; but the men who
have exclusive rights to the mines refuse obstinately and ignorantly
to admit of new methods in the extraction of the ore, and disapprove
of co-operation. The ancient medieval corporations have survived at
Sem, with their traditional rites and formulas. The law on mines of
1893 has somewhat modified some of the restrictions and extended the
rights of mining. But the men are stolidly opposed to improvement;
they retain the prejudices of their fathers. They have cut down the
trees, and the mountain torrents now devastate their little fields and
carry away the roads. The State has vainly endeavoured to replant,
and by so doing diminish the range of the ravages caused by goats and
sheep. The output of the mines dwindles and the impoverishment of the
villagers increases. From Usat may be visited the cavern of Lombrive,
only an hour’s walk from the baths of Usat. The last stronghold of
the unfortunate Albigenses was the Castle of Montségur, in the valley
of the Lasset, that flows into the Hers. Buried among the mountains,
hidden from most eyes, in an apparently inaccessible position, they
hoped to be forgotten and to remain in security. But they were scented
and tracked by the bloodhounds of the Papacy, and the army of the
Crusaders, reluctantly led by Raymond VII of Toulouse, constrained by
Innocent VI, who carried on the remorseless policy of Innocent III,
and as the sole means of obtaining forgiveness for himself, surrounded
it in 1244. The castle stands on and amidst tremendous precipices, and
is commanded by the Pic S. Barthélemy. The Albigensian chiefs held
out for long, and repulsed several assaults. Then, seeing that their
provisions were failing, and that they could not much longer maintain
their position, they dispatched four of their number to carry away
their treasures to some place of security. These four men crossed the
mountain spurs, and hid the treasure in one of the many caverns that
open in the cliffs above Usat, but where has not yet been discovered.

On 14 March Montségur was taken, and over two hundred heretics found
in it were thrown alive into a huge bonfire that had been erected,
and burnt alive to satisfy the implacable vengeance of the Papacy.
After that the horde of Crusaders went to Tarascon to search the
valleys for more on whom to glut their rage. All the Albigenses of
the country round had fled to the caves; they were hunted out and
massacred. Nevertheless, all had not been exterminated. In 1325, when
John XXII was reigning in Avignon, a fresh pursuit of the heretics was
instituted. It was reported that the Albigenses employed the cave of
Lombrive as their cathedral. The armies of the Papacy assembled anew
and filled the valley. From five to six hundred of the unfortunate
heretics--men, women, and children--took refuge in the cavern that
runs deep into the heart of the mountain. It has been explored for a
distance of three miles. To save themselves the trouble and risk of
pursuing the Albigenses in darkness through the winding recesses of
the cave, the entrance was walled up, and the miserable wretches were
all left to perish there of starvation in abysmal night. Their bones
still lie scattered about the pit. The treasures of the Albigenses,
supposed to have been hidden there, have never been recovered; but
the true treasure, for which they fought and for which they died, the
emancipation of the human soul from the fetters of slavery in which it
had been bound by Rome, has been won by nearly all Europe.

Les Cabannes lies in a beautiful basin formed by the junction of the
Aston with the Ariège. From hence the lateral valley branches off
that formed the seigneuries of the Lordadais. In it is planted one of
the mightiest fortresses of the counts of Foix, perched on a rock,
and commanding a most picturesque site. It was blown up in 1632, by
order of Louis XIII, but still retains portions of four concentric
oval-enclosing walls, and a square keep. From the castle can be
viewed the entire mass of the Tabe; its culminating point, the Pic S.
Barthélemy, shoots up superbly to the height of 7060 feet. At Vernaux
is a Romanesque church. This place has given its name to the talc that
is found in quarries near by, situated at a great elevation, some 6600
feet above the sea, and where the workmen can be employed only from
1 May to 15 November. The bed of talc is about 120 feet thick, and
extends for a length of 1500 feet, and is sent down to the station of
Luzenac by a wire rope.

Ax-les-Thermes is planted at the junction of the Oriège and the Ariège.
About it rise many bold crags; on the summit of one is Castel Maü,
supposed to have been a Moorish fortress. Another supports a huge
statue of the Virgin. The whole valley has been studded with castles,
of which now only the ruins remain. In troubled times, when warfare
was incessant between the counts of Foix and the counts of Urgel, or
between them and the Crusaders, every country gentleman was obliged
to pitch his house on the top of a rock, and give it the character
of a stronghold. Some of these are so small that they could not have
accommodated more than a little garrison; and the seigneurs must have
lived cramped and uneasy in them. Probably they had their houses in
the valley, and only retreated to these castles when the clash of arms
sounded. It is a pity that some of these picturesque ruins should
not be restored. On the Dordogne, the Lot, and the Vezère, some rich
wine merchant of Bordeaux buys up a castle, and makes it habitable
in the midst of a park. When in residence there M. Blom of Bordeaux
blossoms out into le Comte de Montréal, and M. Dois into le Marquis
de Beausejour. In England we have to pay heavy fees when we acquire
a title; it is not so in France. There a man dubs himself baron, or
count, or marquis. As to the armorial bearings that they assume--“Ma
foi!” exclaimed a painter, looking at the heraldic shield over one of
these châteaux, “what imaginations these _nouveaux riches_ possess!”

Ax (Aquæ) was probably a Roman thermal station. The place was
frequented in the Middle Ages, when the Hôtel Dieu was founded (in
1260) for the reception of patients. Even before that, in 1200, a
bath for lepers was constructed here. The Hôtel Dieu owes its origin
to King Louis IX, who had it constructed for the use of Crusaders who
had contracted leprosy in Palestine and Egypt. But it was not till the
beginning of the eighteenth century that Ax was much frequented. Now
it receives about ten thousand visitors in the year, seeking healing
in its water. The springs are so numerous, and so thickly strewn, that
the town seems as though erected over the rose of a fountain of thermal

From Ax Andorra may be reached by the Port de Saldeu. Andorra is the
sole remaining independent republic in the Pyrenees. It has a legendary
origin. In 805 Louis “le Débonnaire” was on his way to besiege Urgel,
and the Andorrans took up arms and materially aided him. In recognition
of their services Louis conferred on them a charter that accorded to
them the rights of self-government. Later, when Emperor, he conceded to
the Bishop of Urgel half the tithe of the six parishes in the valley,
as well as half his right of suzerainty over the diminutive republic.
Actually Andorra formed a lordship in the county of Urgel, and it was
the counts of that place who granted rights over it to the bishops of
the see of Urgel. Later on the seigneural rights passed to the counts
of Foix. Counts and bishops wrangled over their respective claims,
till in 1278 the feud was settled by a convention that accorded to the
republic the privileges that it still enjoys--local autonomy under the
double suzerainty of the bishops of Urgel and the counts of Foix, to
whom has succeeded the French Government. The Andorrans pay a tribute
to France annually of 950 francs, and to the Bishop of Urgel 450 francs.

This duodecimo republic has an area of 175 square miles, and a
population of six thousand. It is governed by a council of twenty-four,
elected by the householders, and two provosts--one nominated by the
French Government, the other by the Bishop of Urgel, exercising in
common judicial powers. These provosts are theoretically the captains
of the Andorran militia, which is composed of all the heads of houses.
Of the twenty-four councillors, elected every four years, one half are
renewable every two years. The republic consists of three valleys,
surrounded by mountains on every side save where in the south the
River Embaline issues and flows down to Urgel. The land is fertile for
the altitude at which the basin lies, but its principal products are
timber and iron, and its chief industry is smuggling. Some years ago a
proposal was made to the little republic to convert it into a monster
gambling hell. This was after the closing of the house at Homburg; but
although the sum offered was tempting, the Andorrans had the good sense
to refuse the offer, which accordingly was then made to the Prince of
Monaco, and by him seized.

The capital is a dirty, ill-built village; the principal buildings in
it are a Romanesque church and the palace, a fortified structure of
the fifteenth century, which serves as the seat of government, school,
Palais de Justice, and prison. On the ground-floor are stables for the
horses of the councillors.

In the council hall is a great oak chest containing the archives, and
fastened by six locks, the key to each being retained by each of the
six parishes. The town or village has a dismal look, the houses being
constructed of slate and schist rock.

The original capital was at S. Julien de Loria, where a cross marks the

On the heights are the remains of an old Moorish castle, called Carol,
a name derived from Charles the Great, who is supposed to have expelled
the infidel. The name of Andorra is supposed to be taken from the
Arabic _aldarra_, “a place thick with trees.” Mr. Ford says:--

    “The hills around the rich alluvial basin of Andorra abound in
    pine forests, which afford fuel; nothing can be prettier than
    the distant views of the villages, embosomed in woods; at Mont
    Melous are three lakes enclosed by lofty and fantastic walls of

A rough road leads from Andorra to Seo de Urgel, a distance of sixteen
miles. This is a quaint old Spanish town with an interesting cathedral
of the eleventh century, and a cloister of considerable beauty. The
town is commanded by the citadel on the height Las Horcas, “The
Gallows,” where the Bishop of Urgel, who was a sovereign prince, hung

Urgel was the headquarters of a Carlist insurrection in 1827. This
was put down by an adventurer of French origin; none knew his real
name, and what had been his position in life, before he turned up and
offered his services to Ferdinand VII and dubbed himself the Count of
Spain. He served the King well, was absolutely without scruples, and
remorselessly cruel. He was made by Ferdinand Governor of Catalonia.
But, on the death of his patron in 1833, he passed over to Don Carlos,
and fought under him for the very cause which a few years previously he
had put down. But his former cruelties were not forgotten. He made his
headquarters at Urgel. The Junta of the Carlists was summoned to meet
at Aira on 26 October, 1839, and the Count went to attend it. He was
received with expressions of pleasure and devotion by his aide-de-camp,
Mariano Orteu, who engaged him in conversation, whilst the _curé_,
Ferres, levelled a pistol at him, fired, and wounded him.

The Count fell, and pleaded for a drink of water. This was refused. He
was then mounted on a mule, his feet bound together under the belly,
and he was conducted from place to place, exposed to the insults and
derision of the people, till 1 November, when he found himself at
Ceselles; there, with cruel irony his former friend Orteu informed the
unfortunate man that he was to be speedily “sent to his own place.”
Then he deliberately shot him, and the rest of the company fell on him
and hacked him to pieces with their long knives.



    Col de Puy Morens--Etang de Lanous--Many lakes--Dreary country--
    River of Carol--Dam of Quès--County of Cerdagne--Divided at the
    Peace of the Pyrenees--Llivia--Ceretani--Bourg-Madame--Paradise
    of botanists--Relics of the Flood--Mont Louis--General Dagobert
    --Church of Planès--Font-Romeu--Image, object of Pilgrimage--
    Story of Othman and Lampagia.

From Ax-les-Thermes a good carriage road crosses the Col de Puy Morens
to the Cerdagne and to Puygcerda in Spanish territory. It passes
through most bald and weariful uplands, under the Pic de Carlitte,
which is the highest point of the watershed between the Atlantic and
the Mediterranean. The height of this peak is 9580 feet, and its flanks
are starred with lakes, many of which are frozen through a great part
of the year, more than are found in any other part of the Pyrenees.
The Etang de Lanous is three kilometres long and from 500 to 600 yards
across, pinched in the middle so as to form two basins. It is covered
with ice for about nine months. It swarms with red-fleshed _Salmo
alpinus_, which is excellent eating.

    “A frame of lofty mountains, reaching above 7500 feet surrounds
    this lake. Behind this barrier are other sheets of water; the
    most extensive lie on the north side, in the department of
    Ariège. Among these is the Etang d’En-Beys, whence issues the
    Oriège; the Etangs of Peyrisse from which the water descends
    in a series of cascades to form the large and beautiful Lake
    of Naguilles, a reservoir to be utilized some day for the
    irrigation of the plain of Pamiers, and any number of others
    lying asleep at the bottom of valleys, in which, with the
    exception of a few shepherds, no other face is seen.”

All this portion of the chain is almost barren and sad. The road leads
through a dreary country, where the snow lies long, and the scanty
grass is burnt with the frozen streams, and heaped with granitic blocks
thrown up by moraines of glaciers that no longer exist. A few miserable
villages are passed till the ruins are reached of the Castle of Carol,
of which two towers remain. This was at one time the chief place of the
valley, and it maintained independence in the midst of the county of

At Quès the river of Carol, flowing south, is arrested by a barrier
of rocks, formed to serve for irrigation by means of a canal, as far
as Puygcerda. It is, perhaps, the earliest recorded instance, at
least in medieval times, of such an economic undertaking. This canal
was constructed in 1318, by virtue of a charter of Sanchez, King
of Majorca. It was so well constructed that it serves its purpose
admirably to the present day, fertilizing the fields below it, whereas
above the life-giving stream the mountain side is barren. When the
Treaty of the Pyrenees was drawn in 1659 it was stipulated that this
barrier and the canal from it, though on territory ceded to France,
should be maintained in good order.

The Cerdagne became an independent state soon after the Moorish
invasion of 731. It was governed by a Berber chief, Munuza by name,
who threw in his lot with the Franks against the Yemenite Arabs of the
South, and even married a daughter of Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine. But he
was killed near Puygcerda; his head was salted, and sent to the Caliph
of Damascus.

About 928 Miro, Count of Barcelona, gave Cerdagne to his son Oliba
Cabréta, and it was ruled by its own counts till 1117, when the last
died childless, and then it was reannexed to the county of Barcelona,
and later went to Aragon. Finally, by the peace of 1659, it was
divided, much to the indignation of the inhabitants, who protested
ineffectually--half went to France, and half remained to Spain. France
thrust her frontier down the Spanish slope of the mountains, taking
in the rivers that flow south to feed the Ebro, just as Spain carried
her frontier beyond the highest crests of the range to include the Val
d’Aran and the head waters of the Garonne. But this acquisition on the
part of France was not as unreasonable as it would seem, for the object
was to secure communication between Foix and the Conflant and Valespir
valleys that opened unto the plain of Roussillon, which had also become
incorporated into the kingdom of France.

There is, however, a curious little _enclave_ of twelve square
kilometres, about the town of Llivia, completely surrounded by French
territory, that remains Spanish. The explanation of this anomaly is
as follows: At the Peace of the Pyrenees Spain agreed to surrender
to France thirty-three villages in Cerdagne. But Llivia haughtily
protested that she was not a village, but a town, once a city with
a bishop of her own, consequently did not come within the terms
of the agreement. This was admitted, and Llivia remains Spanish,
much to the inconvenience of the custom-house officers, who have to
maintain a cordon of douaniers about the petty territory. Now Llivia,
that possesses 330 inhabitants, regrets the past. Spain exacts of
her taxes to the amount of 30,000 francs, and gives her nothing in
return--neither a post office, nor telegraph, nor roads. The post
office has to be kept up by the citizens, so also the roads till they
reach the frontier. Llivia was a Roman town founded in honour of the
wife of Augustus, and some remains of the Roman walls exist. It is a
poor, decayed place. A castle in ruins occupies the highest point of
the hill on which it is built; the large church is planted on a terrace
above the cold, slated roofs of the sordid houses and narrow streets of
the town.

Cerdagne is the country of the Ceretani of Pliny, and the same people
occupied the Valespir, and have left their name in the town of Ceret.
The race was not Iberic, but purely Celtic, and their name is the same
as that given to Ceretica, or Ceredigion, Cardigan in Wales.

Whilst Llivia decays malodorously under Spanish neglect, a little
hamlet on French soil, Bourg-Madame, is growing into vigorous and fresh
life. Not many years ago it was nothing but a cluster of a couple of
taverns and a station of the customs, and it was called Guinguettes
d’Hix. But the situation favoured it, standing on the frontier at the
point where the high road from Barcelona is linked on to a network of
French main roads. Moreover, Barcelona derives much of its butter and
cheese from the French Cerdagne, and the trade consequently passes
through the place. In 1815 the Duke of Angoulême entered France by this
door on the frontier, and the inhabitants obtained from him leave to
alter the name of the growing town to Bourg-Madame.

The Pyrenees of this part of the chain is one of the most barren
mountain systems in Europe. The passes into Spain are mere notches cut
to a depth of 600 to 900 feet in the ridge, that rises to a height of
about 8000 feet above the sea. Even the mountain peaks have little
individual character, and from the high land whence seen do not show
their true elevation.

Nevertheless this portion of the range is a paradise for botanists;
plants are found here that are discoverable in no other part of the
Pyrenees. The granitic elevated plateau is strewn with lakes, already
alluded to, which are the sources of the Ariège, the Aude, the Segre,
and the Têt. The peasants believe that these are relics of Noah’s
flood, patches of water that loitered and were left behind when the
Deluge was past and the flood was engulfed. And they are further
convinced that the ark rested on the Puyg Péne. North and east of the
plateau the ground falls away in a series of terraces cleft by ravines;
the finest and best known of these latter is that of the Aude, visited
from the baths of Cascanières.

In this upland region is a fortress created by Vauban, Mont Louis, in
which a couple of companies are quartered, and spend a joyless time,
where the winter lasts ten months out of the twelve. The fortifications
enclose but a handful of houses. It stands at the height of 5280 feet
above the sea, and is commanded by mountains that rise to 6685 feet, as
the Pic de la Tausse, but they do not impress one with sense of height.
Mont Louis stands at the point of suture of the three little provinces
out of which Louis XIII formed that of Roussillon--the Conflent, the
Capcir, and Cerdagne.

In Mont Louis there is nothing to be seen of particular interest. The
church was built from designs of Vauban. On the terrace is the monument
of General Dagobert, who died in 1794. It consists of a pile of granite
surmounted by a bomb. Dagobert was, however, not a native of this
place, but of Saint Lô, in Manche. He had been sub-lieutenant in the
regiment of Touraine in the Seven Years’ War, and when the Revolution
broke out he was sent as General of Division with the army of Italy,
and met with some success. He was less fortunate when commanding an
army in the Pyrénées Orientales; he met with defeat at Trouillas, and
was relieved of his charge and arrested. But he succeeded in justifying
himself, before the Committee of Public Safety, by showing that his
failure was due to the jealousy and disobedience of the generals placed
under his orders. He was re-established in his position and allowed
to carry on the campaign according to a plan proposed by himself to
the Convention. He reached Perpignan in March, 1794, but could not
obtain from Dugommier more than a few battalions in place of the 12,000
infantry and 600 cavalry that had been ordered to be placed at his
disposal. At the head of a small body of men he went to Puygcerda and
invaded Catalonia, took the strong position of Monteska, and surrounded
Urgel. On 10 April he entered that city, which redeemed itself from
sack by paying a contribution of 10,000 francs. Then he attempted to
besiege the citadel, but found it to be too strong to be taken, and he
retreated on the morrow. He was conveyed ill to Puygcerda on 17 April,
where he died.

To the south-east of Mont Louis is Planès, where there is a curious
church, some suppose of Moorish constructure, by others attributed
to the tenth century, by others again set as late as the twelfth. It
consists of an equilateral triangle, surmounted by a cupola, and each
angle rounded off. That this curious monument should be of Moorish
origin is most improbable. The Arabs in France destroyed much, but
built nothing.

The hermitage of Font-Romeu is a pilgrimage resort with a Calvary,
situated at the height of 5330 feet, and commanding a wide panorama.

The way to it is through a pine wood, the old trees bearded with grey
lichen. A hermit takes charge of the shrine--a real hermit, one of the
rare survivals; they are now almost as extinct as the dodo and the
great auk. The sanctuary is the very Mecca of Cerdagne and Capcir. On 8
September as many as three thousand pilgrims assemble here; the place
is like a disturbed ant-heap. The visitors do not restrain themselves
to devotional exercises; they also dine, drink, sing. Then may be
seen the white caps, laced, of Conflent and Roussillon; the kerchief
of glaring colours--red, yellow, and blue--of the women of Cerdagne;
men wearing the red _barretina_ and the cord-soled _spadrillos_,
Catalonians these who have not abandoned their old costume. The
miraculous image is a seated Madonna, with head and hands out of all
proportion to the body. It spends the winter in the church of Odeillo,
but revisits Font-Romeu as soon as the rhododendrons begin to flush the
mountain sides.

In winter Mont Louis is a cold and wretched prison. Clouds envelop the
mountain-tops, cold rain and heavy falls of snow alternate with furious
and icy gales. In summer the vapours often fill the valley, and from
the ramparts of Mont Louis is seen the spectacle of a vast plain of
snow, recalling the scenes of winter; but the snow now is the surface
of cloud lying low, silvered by the light from above.

This wild country saw the end of Othman abu Nessu, the Moorish Governor
of Narbonne.

In 725 Ambessa, Moslem Governor of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees.
Cascassonne and Nîmes vainly endeavoured to resist him. In the midst
of his successes, however, death surprised him. But he left the Arabs
masters of Septimania, where they established themselves in force and
made Narbonne their capital. The struggle between Moslem and Christian
for the possession of the soil of France now became a struggle
desperate in its earnestness.

Eudes, Duke of Aquitania, was at the time hampered by an attack from
the North by Charles Martel, Duke of the Franks. In his extremity he
made overtures to Othman, Governor of Narbonne, who was not a Saracen,
but a Moor. The Moors were Berbers from Northern Africa, of the same
blood as the Iberians of Spain; they had been conquered by the Arabs
and forced to become Mahomedans. Eudes gave his beautiful daughter
Lampagia to Othman, who became deeply attached to his Christian wife,
and promised his assistance against the new Emir, Abderahman. This
latter came over the Col de Perche and threatened Narbonne. Othman
was deserted by his men, and fled to Llivia with his wife and a few
attendants. He soon perceived that it was not possible to defend the
little town, and he escaped and attempted to cross the Col de Morens.
In his flight he was entreated to halt by Lampagia, to slake her
thirst at a spring and rest on the turf by it. Othman and she were
surrendering themselves to the pleasing hope that they were safe, when
they saw a detachment of Saracens in full pursuit.

The servants took to flight, but Lampagia was too weary to join
them, and Othman would not abandon his wife. In a moment they were
surrounded, and Othman, rather than fall into the hands of his enemies,
flung himself down the precipice and perished. His head was cut off
and sent to Abderahman along with Lampagia. She was so lovely in the
eyes of the Emir that he sent her to Damascus to the Commander of the

Abderahman pursued his successes, but met with discomfiture on the
fields of Poitiers in October, 732, and he himself was among the slain.



    The Canigou a supreme effort of the Pyrenees before dying down--
    The Corbières--Ballad--_Goigs_--Catalonian dances--Prades--
    Priory of Serrabonna--S. Michel de Cuxa--Villefranche--Castle--
    Imprisonment there of two assistants of Mme. de Brinvilliars--
    Conspiracy--Betrayed by Mez de Llar--Castle taken by Gilly--
    Corneilla--Vernet--Ascent of the Canigou--Funicular railway--
    S. Martin de Canigou--Founded--Restored--Le Boulon--Main highway
    to Spain--Ceret--Legend of its bridge--Hazel-nuts--Gathering the
    crop--Hermitage of S. Ferreolus--Pallada--Amelie les Bains--
    Arles-sur-Tech--Church--Tomb of SS. Abdo and Senen--Miraculous
    flow of water--Cloister--Prats de Mollo--Spadrillos.

The Pyrenees, before expiring in the cliffs of Cerbère, that drop
abruptly into the Mediterranean, make a supreme effort and rise in the
Canigou, which, though not one of the first-class heights, is certainly
one of the finest. A certain bashfulness prevails among the giants. The
Vignemale, the Mont Perdu, the Maladetta retreat behind screens of less
elevation and conceal their majesty. But the Canigou makes the most of
herself. The height is but 9135 feet, yet it is a stately mountain,
grey with eternal snows, as its name implies, and yielding to none in

Comeliness in a woman is enhanced threefold when she is well set up.
Canigou is admirably set up. The fringe of subsidiary hills that
hitherto has intervened between the high ranges and the plain here
becomes detached and drifts away to the north-east, as the Corbières,
leaving the Canigou to reap the advantage of showing from head to foot.
It is not even the highest mountain of the Pyrénées Orientales; it is
surpassed by the Carlitte, which is 9780 feet, and the Puig Mal, which
is 9730 feet; but as these two summits are confounded among a number of
other heights rising out of the elevated plateau, it seems impossible,
at first sight, to suppose them to be as lofty as the Canigou. This
latter mountain is the termination of a chain that breaks away from the
main range in a north-easterly direction, built up of granite and mica
schist, and is composed of the junction of two ridges, which give to
the Canigou the appearance of having two heads. It dominates the whole
plain of Roussillon, and has inspired a song known to every peasant
there, who, if he does not sing all the words, warbles the air. This
song may be rendered into English thus:--

 “Of mountains that are wondrous fair
    Give me the Canigou!
  Where, in the glowing summer air,
    Bloom flowers red and blue.
      Give me thy love, sweet maid, give me thy love!

  “In autumn and in spring as well
    The flowers here unfold,
  Blush roses, many a purple bell,
    Red pinks, and broom all gold.
            Give me thy love, etc.

  “Her chestnut-brown and laughing eye
    Has ravishèd my heart,
  So neat and trim is she, but I
    Feel but my cruel smart.
            Give me thy love, etc.

  “White is she as the Canigou,
    Her face as cotton grass,
  That’s bathèd in the morning dew,
    Her eyes are clear as glass.
            Give me thy love, etc.

  “Her teeth are pearls, her lips are red,
    And archèd are her brows.
  She wounds my heart, she turns my head;
    Maid! hearken to my vows.
          Give me thy love, etc.”

The _Goigs_ are the “Joys,” sacred songs or carols in honour of the
Virgin and the Saints. The best known is that in praise of Our Lady of
Font-Romeu. The “Goigs dels Ous” “Carol of the Eggs,” sung everywhere,
an Easter song, is trolled in the streets and throughout the night on
the eve of that great festival. One of the chanters carries a basket,
to receive eggs and any other contributions accorded to the carolers.

On the Place at Vernet, on Sundays and on the local fête, may be seen
Catalan dances about the great elm tree. Unfortunately these dances
have lost much of their primitive character since the _cornet-à-piston_
has displaced the old bagpipe. The ancient _bals_, _sardanas_, and
_seguedillas_ are danced less frequently every year. The _bal_ is a
musical pastoral representing the love-making of a youth and his lass;
but this is changing its features, and degenerating into a gallop. The
_sardana_ and the _seguedilla_ were ballads, the tunes of which were
taken by the _joglars_, or minstrels, for country dances, but to which
formerly the performers sang.

Notwithstanding the degeneration of the dances, the tourist will see in
them some traits of the light-hearted character of the people, will be
interested in the traditional music, and be pleased with the quaintness
of the scene, like a bit out of an opera.

[Illustration: VERNET LES BAINS]

The peaks of Canigou may be reached by train either on the north or
on the south. The northern line from Perpignan leads to Prades and
Villefranche de Conflent for Vernet, whence the visitor will be able to
ascend the Canigou by a funicular railway in course of construction.
The other way is by the Valespir to Amelie les Bains and Arles-sur-Tech.

We will begin with the first, and not halt till we reach Prades, though
there is much on the way of interest. The plain of Prades is two and
a half miles wide by two long, not very extensive, but enjoying so
sweet a climate, and having such a fertile soil, and so well watered,
that fruit and vegetables grow there in marvellous abundance. Prades
is a pleasant little town, but without much of interest in its public
buildings. The church was completed in 1686 in the unattractive style
affected at that period. But if Prades itself lacks antiquities, it is
not so with the neighbourhood.

If the visitor likes to run back to the third station on the line by
which he has arrived, i.e. to Boule-Ternère, and ascend the lateral
valley for five miles, or else take a carriage from Vinca, he can see
one of the most interesting monuments of medieval architecture in
Roussillon. This is an Augustinian priory of Serrabonna, founded in
1082; Artal II, Bishop of Elne, consecrated the church in 1151. The
church consists of a nave and two side aisles, which are cut off from
the nave; that on the south, standing on the edge of a precipice, was
formerly open to sun and air, supported on columns of white marble, the
capitals sculptured with all the richness and quaintness affected in
the early twelfth century. The sun has mellowed the marble to a rich
golden hue. This aisle is now converted into a stable. The north aisle
communicated with the galilee or pro-naos, and with the choir. Between
the doorway into the cemetery and that into the nave is the galilee,
opening outwards, through a large portal covered with magnificent
sculptures. The galilee is composed of a hall supported by round-headed
arches resting on pillars, single and double, with richly sculptured
capitals all in white marble.

The priory is situated in a wild and desolate region, thinly populated.

Nearer to Prades, within an easy walk, is another ruined religious
house, S. Michel de Cuxa, founded in the ninth century. The abbot wore
the mitre and exercised quasi-episcopal jurisdiction over fifteen
parishes. The abbey obtained a high repute on account of the sanctity
of several of its members, as S. Romuald and Peter Orseolo, the latter
of whom had been Doge of Venice.

The situation is delightful. The monastery is planted on the summit of
a hill above the waters of the Riberetta. About it is an amphitheatre
of mountains, opening out to the south to afford a full view of the
Canigou. Springs of pure cold water gush forth in many places. The
great abbey is now in such complete ruin that it is difficult to
distinguish the parts of the monastic building. The splendid cloister
has been destroyed, and portions have been transferred to adorn the
baths at Prades. The church is Romanesque, with a pointed choir. The
nave is now roofless, and is used for a storehouse. The church formerly
possessed two towers: one fell in 1839, the other leans. The story goes
that the architect who built it, finding that his erection was out of
the perpendicular, ran away, and was never heard of again. The fine
Renaissance doorway of the abbot’s house is intact. It is richly carved
in white marble, yellowed by the sun, and is surmounted by a sundial,
on which is represented a Benedictine monk looking up at the sun, and
bearing the inscription, _Sub uno solis radio omnem mundum collectum

Five miles above Prades is Villefranche, the terminus of the railway.
It is a dreary little place built of grey marble that discolours and
stains black. Moreover, it consists of two streets only, usually empty;
and the houses are too many for the small population, numbering
less than five hundred. The town was built by William Raymond, Count
of Cerdagne, in 1095. He surrounded the town with a wall flanked by
towers. The castle was erected by Vauban, on a spur of the limestone
mountain of Belloch, 450 feet above the river Tet, and reached by a
subterranean staircase of 999 steps. In this castle were confined for
the rest of their lives two of the assistants of the infamous Marquise
de Brinvilliers. These were La Chappelain and Guesdon. A very brief
notice of the Marchioness and her crimes must suffice. She was a young
and beautiful woman, connected both by birth and marriage with some
of the noblest families of France, and was married to the Marquis de
Brinvilliers, a man of depraved conduct. She formed a guilty attachment
for Sainte Croix, a gay, handsome man, who had learned in Italy the
manufacture of slow poisons, especially the Succession Powder. The
Marquis and Marchioness separated, but were not divorced. Sainte Croix,
who had no fortune of his own, depended on what was given him by his
mistress, and as this did not suffice, he proposed to her to poison
her old father and brothers and sister, so as to gather into her own
hands all their succession. She agreed without hesitation, and herself
administered the fatal draught to her father. The brothers were next
got rid of, and the sister would have been similarly destroyed had
not her suspicions been roused, and she hastily quitted Paris. Others
who were inconvenient in one way or another were similarly got rid
of, but all was done with such caution that no charge could be made
against either. But the day of retribution was at hand, and a terrible
mischance brought the murders to light. The nature of the poisons was
so deadly that when Sainte Croix worked in his laboratory, he was
obliged to wear a mask, to preserve himself from suffocation. One
day the mask slipped off, and the miserable wretch perished in his
crimes. His corpse was found on the following morning in the obscure
lodging where he had fitted up his laboratory, and with it papers which
disclosed the whole series of murders perpetrated by the pair. The
Marchioness fled to England, where she remained for three years, but
went early in 1676 to Liège. There she was caught, brought to Paris,
executed, and her body burnt.

La Guesdon, along with her husband, had been in the service of Sainte
Croix, and before her marriage had been in that of the Marchioness. She
had been implicated in the poisonings. La Chappelain had acted in Paris
the part of a fortune-teller. By means of her supposed prevision of the
future she was able to presage the death of those marked down by Mme.
de Brinvilliers and Sainte Croix for destruction. La Guesdon died in
the prison at Villefranche in 1717, La Chappelain in 1724.

In the place itself is the opening into an extensive cavern. In 1674 a
conspiracy was raised to capture the citadel and deliver it over to the
Spaniards. It was widely ramified through the Cerdagne and Roussillon,
neither content at having been made over to France by the Treaty of the
Pyrenees. Some of the leading spirits in the plot were the men of the
family of Llar, in Villefranche, whose dilapidated and dingy _hôtel_
may be seen in the Rue des Juifs. The cavern mentioned served as a
place of meeting and a storehouse for arms. The conspiracy was betrayed
by Inez de Llar, daughter of the chief man in the plot, Charles de
Llar. He and her brother and relatives involved in it were executed.
The unfortunate Inez, broken-hearted at having brought ruin on her
family, ended her days in a convent.

In 1793 the Spanish general Crespo succeeded in making himself master
of Villefranche, on 4 August; but on 19 September, Gilly, at the head
of the second battalion of the Grenadiers of Gard, composed of 450
men, retook the place by an act of audacity. He disposed his men on
the heights as though the vanguard of an army, and then rode up to the
outposts with sixty grenadiers behind him, and haughtily summoned the
Spanish commandant to surrender to General Dagobert, whose army, he
said, was at hand, and who would give no quarter if the place were not
immediately given up.

The frightened Crespo consented, and an hour later Gilly entered
Villefranche at the head of the little army.

From Villefranche the distance is hardly five miles to Vernet, up the
valley of the Riu Major. The road passes Corneilla, where there is
a curious Romanesque church with a square tower and a fine marble,
sculptured doorway, as also, what is a rare feature, a retable of
carved marble of 1345, by an artist named Carcall de Berga. It
represents incidents in the life of our Lord. At the Revolution it
was pulled down, but was re-erected by an unintelligent mason, who
put it together badly, as may be seen by the disorder into which
the inscriptions have been thrown. The counts of Cerdagne were much
attached to Corneilla, and erected here a palace, which was abandoned
later and given up to the Augustinian canons.

Vernet is built in an amphitheatre of verdure, commanded by the
buttresses of the Canigou. It is composed of two distinct parts, of
very different aspect. The upper town is a tangle of little streets
between mean, black houses with broken windows and rickety doors, above
whose red tiled or slated roofs rise the church and the castle. New
Vernet lies along the road lower down, and there are found the baths,
the hotels, and the casino. The watering-places of Bagnères de Luchon,
Cauterez, S. Sauveur, etc., are frequented only in the months of June,
July, August, and rarely September; but at Vernet the season begins
in April, and bathers linger on to November. For the use of winter
residents a _jardin d’hiver_ has been formed. The cold here is never
great; and the salubrity of the spot has induced the erection of an
open-air cure sanatorium at the height of 2250 feet, in an isolated
position, for the use of consumptives.

From Vernet the ascent of the Canigou can be made on foot or by the
newly-constructed cog-railway. There is a station at S. Martin de
Canigou, an abbey founded at the edge of a precipice in 1007 by Count
Waifre of Cerdagne, and his wife Gisella. Tradition will have it that
he was engaged in warfare with the Moors, and had planned to surround
them. He committed one detachment of troops to his son, with strict
injunctions to delay attack till he himself should appear. But the
young man, in his impetuosity, fell on the unbelievers before the
arrival of the Count, and was defeated. Waifre in a rage killed him,
and then repenting of what he had done, went to Rome, where the Pope
required him to build and endow a monastery in expiation of his crime.
This is, however, mere fable. As a matter of fact, the foundation was
wholly voluntary, and Count Waifre, after having built it retired from
the world within its walls, and occupied his leisure in scooping out a
sarcophagus that was to contain himself eventually, which sarcophagus,
now empty, is still shown. He died in 1049. The abbey, having been
dismantled at the Revolution, fell into complete ruin, but has been
purchased, and the church restored by Bishop du Pont of Perpignan. He
has also revived the pilgrimage to it, which takes place on S. Martin’s
Day (11 November), when a procession winds up the mountain from Vernet.
Whether procession and pilgrims will henceforth go up in trucks by
the cog-railway remains to be seen. The church is a very interesting
example of earliest Romanesque, the aisles are separated from the
nave by granite columns very massive, with Byzantine ornament on the
capitals. Beneath the church is the crypt.

The second way to reach the roots of the Canigou, and, if it be
desired, to ascend it, is to take the branch line from Elne to
Arles-sur-Tech. At Le Boulou (lo Volo) the line crosses the Great
Eastern highway into Spain, the main pass from Narbonne to Barcelona
in Roman and medieval times, and used by Celts and Iberians before
ever Narbonne and Barcelona were thought of. Le Boulou did well as a
place through which travellers and merchandise streamed this way and
that. But then came the days of steam; the iron road was carried along
the coast from Perpignan to Barcelona, and Le Boulou’s occupation and
prosperity were gone never to return.

Beyond Le Boulou we reach Ceret, famous for its bridge, a daring
medieval structure, and for its nuts and cherry orchards. The architect
employed on the bridge, unable to throw the bold arch over the Tech,
put himself in communication with the Devil, who promised to complete
it for the usual consideration. As the fatal day approached the
architect became uneasy, and in the night went to the river with a
sack on his back, and waited till half-past eleven. Then he let loose
a cat with a kettle tied to its tail, and the Evil One, frightened at
the noise, let drop the last stone needed to complete the bridge and
fled. Thus the bridge never was finished; it lacks one stone to the
present day. The bridge spans the river with a single arch, and the
height from the key of the arch to the level of the water is 70 feet.
The opening of the arch between the piers is 128 feet. It remains the
boldest achievement in bridge-building accomplished in ancient France,
the only other approaching it was that of Brioude, which no longer
exists. This bridge was constructed in 1321. It marked the limit of the
Valespir, or upper basin of the Tech.

Ceret really flourishes on hazel-nuts. The plantations extend over
other communes, but Ceret is the centre of the industry. Three kinds of
nuts are grown; the best is thought to be indigenous; it has a russet
shell, pointed, and is contained in a cup divided into four lobes
delicately striated. The taste is superior to that of the other kinds,
and it is in greater request for the making of nougat. Inferior in
taste, but larger, is the second variety, usually sold to be served up
at dessert. The third kind is exotic, and is little cultivated.

The gathering of the nuts is done by women in the middle of August.
After that the nuts have been freed from their cases, they are dried,
and the sale begins in October. For the production of nougat the shells
are cracked and the kernel released, and this latter is alone sent to
the factories of that dainty. A hazel-nut tree will bear the third year
after it has been planted, but is not calculated to render a good crop
till the fifth. A hectare (2 acres, 1 r., 35 p.) is reckoned to render
a crop that will bring in 130 francs.

A little over two miles above the bridge of Ceret is the Hermitage
of S. Ferreolus, on the left bank of the Tech. Ferreolus was, so the
story goes, a robber chieftain who committed many murders. Seized
with compunction, he resolved on expiating his crimes by being rolled
downhill from where now stands the chapel, in a barrel, studded
internally with nails, a process the same as that which extinguished
Regulus. His festival is on 18 September, on which day the chapel is
visited, and there is much eating and drinking and dancing. On the
following Sunday is bull-baiting.

The line passes within sight of Pallada, most picturesquely situated,
at some distance from the iron road; but Pallada is best visited from
Amalie des Bains.

The baths were known to and used by the Romans, but were a dependency
of Arles-sur-Tech, and so remained till that needy little town in a
weak moment disposed of them in 1813, and has regretted the sale ever

Amelie, which takes its name from Queen Amelie, occupies a specially
favoured site. Mountains fold about it, it faces the sun, and is
screened from every wind. The terrible Tramontane, which has bowed the
olives and plane trees in Roussillon and Languedoc, is powerless to
reach this blessed valley. The north-east wind indeed can steal up the
ravine of the Tech, but not till it has been despoiled of its humidity,
which renders it so objectionable to the inhabitants of the plain.
Frost and snow rarely visit Amelie; the mean number of days when rain
falls in the winter is eleven, in spring thirty-two, sixteen in the
summer, and twelve in the autumn. There is a military establishment of
baths at Amelie, and the place is much frequented by officers during
the winter, so that it is never utterly deserted and dead, as is the
generality of watering-places.

Amelie has been formed as a commune out of scraps taken from others,
but mainly from Arles-sur-Tech, to which the springs originally
belonged. Arles is a very curious town, vastly ancient, and is the
terminus of the line. Its principal manufacture is chocolate. The
little town stands on a height, and is surrounded by mountains.
Arles owes its medieval revival to a Benedictine abbey of which a
considerable portion remains to this day. The abbot exercised almost
episcopal jurisdiction over several parishes, of which he was also
temporal lord. In the sixteenth century it was in full decay, and was
so poor that its finances had to be helped out by annexing to it the
funds of another abbey. The reason was that it was held _in commendam_,
the revenue eaten by a titular abbot who resided in Paris, and
discharged none of his duties.

The church of the monastery was finished in 1040, and is very archaic.
It underwent, however, additions in 1157, when the curious vaulting was
added. As a doubt was entertained whether the piers would sustain it,
they were strengthened, and smaller arches added beneath those first
erected. The church reminds one of the monolithic church of S. Emillon
on the Garonne. The same square, massive piers rising to a great
height, quite unadorned, support the round-headed unmoulded arches.
Above each arch is a small, round-headed clerestory window. The church
consists of five bays, and the nave has side aisles, out of which open
chapels of much later construction. There was in the church at one time
a richly carved altar-piece of the fifteenth century. But when the
present detestable roccoco retable was erected, this was destroyed.
Some of the panels were happily preserved and affixed to the pillars in
the nave.

Outside the church the western portal is early, with a triangular
lintel, on which is cut a shield with A.ω between A and A. The meaning
of these double A’s is not understood. In the diminutive yard without,
behind is a grating, of an early sarcophagus that contained the bodies
of saints Abdo and Senen. It possesses the curious property of filling
with water, which can be drawn off by a tap at the side to supply
bottles brought by pilgrims, who consider the water as efficacious in
many maladies. How it is that the sarcophagus thus fills with water is
not known; probably the clergy of the church do not themselves know, as
the heavy lid has not been removed for centuries, nor the stone coffin
shifted from the spot where it now stands.

But the greatest beauty of the church consists in the large cloister on
the north side, of the thirteenth century. The arches are pointed, and
rest on graceful pillars with dainty foliaged capitals, all of marble,
and coupled. The cloister is not vaulted. This cloister was begun
in 1261, but was not completed till the beginning of the fourteenth

The patrons of the church are SS. Abdo and Senen, Persian saints who
suffered under Decius in 252. In the reign of Constantine the Great
their relics were enshrined in Rome, and the marble sarcophagus that
contained them still exists there, and their remains are in the church
of S. Mark, Rome; but also here. Their day, 30 July, is a high festival
at Arles, when the sleepy town is full of animation, and dances take
place in the public square; then can be seen the red _barretina_ and
the gaily-coloured kerchiefs of the women.

Farther up the valley is a watering-place, Prats de Mollo. The name
Prats, as Prades, which occurs in so many parts of the south, derives
from the Latin _prates_, and signifies pleasant meadows by the
water-side. The industry of Prats is the making of the red caps worn
by the Catalans, and the rope-woven soles of _spadrillos_. The place
enjoyed great privileges under the kings of Aragon, among these was
freedom from duty on salt. Louis XIV sought to introduce it, but the
people rose and slaughtered the tax-collectors. Louis sent troops to
subdue them, and erected a fortress to intimidate them. On a mountain
above Prats le Coral is a pilgrimage chapel containing a miraculous
image of the Virgin. Crowds visit it--pilgrims from the country round,
and bathers from Amelie--to see the combined devotion and jollification
on 8 September.



    County of Roussillon--Devastated by war--Tortured by the
    Inquisition--United to France--Given up--Removal of the
    Bishopric from Elne--Final annexation to France--Capital
    of the kingdom of Majorca--The kings--Peter IV of Aragon--
    Takes possession--Ruscino--Hannibal--William de Cabestang--
    _Sirvente_--Fortified by Vauban--The Puig--Place de la
    Loge--Carnival on Ash Wednesday--Cathedral--Altar-pieces--
    Nave without aisles--Indulgenced Crucifix--Other churches--
    Castelet--Promenade des Platanes--Dancing--Gipsy quarter--
    Elne--Arrangement by Hannibal--Murder of Constans--Old
    cathedral--Bell--Cloister--Chapel of S. Laurence--
    Arles-sur-Mer--The fisherfolk--Fête of S. Vincent--Salses--
    Poussatin--Typical Gascon--Eastern Pyrenees.

The old county of Roussillon, between Languedoc and Catalonia, formerly
pertained to Spain; it was pledged to Louis XI of France by King John
of Aragon along with the Cerdagne. The stipulation was that these
counties should remain to France should John fail to redeem them in
nine years with the sum of three hundred gold crowns, which the crafty
Louis knew was a sum John could not raise. John, finding his inability
to pay, stirred up the people of Roussillon to revolt against French
domination, whereupon Louis poured thirty thousand men into the
country, and during fifteen years it underwent all the miseries of war.
Perpignan capitulated in 1475, and Roussillon remained in the hands
of the French till 1493, when the feeble Charles VIII restored it,
along with the Cerdagne, to the King of Aragon. At this time Aragon
and Castille, united by the marriage of Ferdinand the Catholic with
Isabella, formed from 1479 the kingdom of Spain.

In 1493 Ferdinand made his solemn entry into Perpignan, and brought
the Inquisition in his train. The already severely tried county was
further tortured by the Inquisitors, and the inhabitants were driven to
desperation. They appealed to Francis I for relief, and he was induced
to attempt the recovery of Roussillon, but was unsuccessful.


Under the fanatical Philip II the county was a prey to plague as well
as persecution, so that hatred against Spain became intense. Philip
III, sensible of this, endeavoured to cajole the citizens of Perpignan
by transferring to it the seat of the bishopric from Elne, and by
ennobling several of the leading citizens, but succeeded in doing no
more than in forming a small Spanish faction in the town.

In 1610 all Catalonia was in revolt against Philip IV, and the county
of Roussillon followed the example of Barcelona. The King of Spain sent
troops to Perpignan and massacred the citizens. Those who survived the
carnage appealed to Louis XIII, who sent an army into the county, and
in 1642 the French, entering Perpignan, were hailed as deliverers.
In 1659 the Treaty of the Pyrenees finally assured to France the
possession of Roussillon and half of Cerdagne, and since then these
have formed an integral portion of France.

But before all this for a while Perpignan was the capital of the
short-lived kingdom of Majorca. James I, King of Aragon, in 1229 had
expelled the Moors from that island, and in 1238 from Valencia; and
to the title King of Aragon he added those of King of Majorca and
Valencia, Count of Barcelona and of Roussillon and Urgel, and Seigneur
of Montpellier. To his eldest son Peter he left Aragon, and to the
younger, James, he gave the rest.

James I of Majorca was succeeded by his son Sanchez, who died without
issue in 1324, and the next and last king was James II, son of
Ferdinand, the brother of Sanchez. James married his cousin Constance,
sister of Peter IV of Aragon.

Peter was an ambitious man and insatiate in his greed. He resolved on
the destruction of his cousin and brother-in-law, and the annexation
of his dominions. James had made himself unpopular by his tyranny, and
the islanders complained to the Aragonese king. This was precisely what
Peter wanted; he summoned James to meet him in conference at Barcelona,
arrested his sister Constance, and would have done the same by his
brother-in-law had not James found means to escape. In the impotence of
his resentment he declared war against Aragon, and thereby sealed his
own fate. In 1343 Peter landed in Majorca, and was at once joined by
the islanders. Then he turned his attention to Roussillon and overran

The unfortunate James now solicited a safe conduct, and throwing
himself at the feet of the victor, implored forgiveness in
consideration of kinship. He might as well have appealed to a rock.
He was informed that if he would surrender Perpignan, that still held
out for him, he would experience his brother-in-law’s clemency. He
consented; but no sooner was Peter in possession that he declared
Roussillon annexed in perpetuity to Aragon. The estates met, and
offered James a miserable indemnity of 10,000 French crowns. He
indignantly refused the offer. The Pope so far interfered as to obtain
the release from prison of his wife Constance, and of James his eldest
son. Unable to bear adversity with patience, in 1349 he sold to the
French king his lordship of Montpellier, and with the money received
raised 3000 foot soldiers and 300 horsemen, in the wild hope of
reconquering his kingdom. With this small force he embarked, and made
a descent on Majorca, but was deserted by the mercenaries when his
funds gave out, and in a battle against great odds was killed, and his
son James was wounded and taken prisoner. This prince had been married
to Joanna I, Queen of Naples, who had murdered her first husband.
Fearing to meet with the same fate, and disgusted with her levity, he
had left Naples and had thrown in his lot with his father. For twelve
years he languished in prison, effected his escape in 1362, and died of
chagrin in 1375.


                                 James I
                               K. of Aragon
                    |                                    |
                Peter III                             James I
          K. of Aragon and Sicily                  K. of Majorca
                _d._ 1285                            _d._ 1311
                    |                                    |
          +---------+--------+                +----------+--------+
          |                  |                |                   |
     Alphonso III         James II          Sanchez           Ferdinand
  _d._ (_s.p._) 1291    K. of Aragon     K. of Majorca        _d._ 1318
                       resigned 1319    _d._ (_s.p._) 1324        |
                         _d._ 1327                                |
                             |                                    |
                        Alphonso IV                               |
                        K. of Aragon                              |
                         _d._ 1336                                |
                             |                                    |
                         +---+-------------------------+          |
                         |                             |          |
                     Peter IV                      Constance = James II
                   K. of Aragon                              |   K. of
                     _d._ 1387                               |  Majorca
                                                             | _d._ 1349
                                                     _d._ (_s.p._) 1375]

Roussillon takes its name from Ruscino, the ancient capital, which was
destroyed by the Northmen in 859. The site is now occupied by a tower
and a Romanesque chapel, a couple of miles from Perpignan. The name of
Ruscino appears for the first time B.C. 218, when Hannibal crossed the
Pyrenees on his march into Italy. The Roman Senate sent ambassadors to
the people of Ruscino to urge them to oppose the progress of the great
Carthaginian. They met where is now this castle, but were listened
to with impatient murmurs. The tower, that dates from the twelfth
century, is all that remains of the castle of the counts of Roussillon.
No one has as yet undertaken serious exploration of the site, which
infallibly would surrender very important relics of the ancient capital
of the Rusceni, one of the Nine Peoples, and where in all probability
the Phœnicians had a mercantile station; the plough, or mattock, has
repeatedly turned up Iberian, Greek, Punic, Roman, and Arabic coins.


One cannot quit Castell-Rossello, as the tower is now called, without
mention of William de Cabestang, who was châtelain of the neighbouring
village of Cabestang. Taken with the charms of Sirmonde, the wife of
Raimond, Count of Roussillon, he celebrated her in song. The husband,
transported with jealousy, had him waylaid and murdered, then tore out
his heart, had it roasted, and served at table. After Sirmonde had
partaken of the dish he revealed to her what she had eaten. Then said
she, “This meat has been to me so good and savoury that no other shall
pass my lips.” The Count at this drew his sword, and Sirmonde threw
herself from the window and perished by the fall. Alphonso II of Aragon
went to the place, ordered the arrest of the Count, and the burial of
the troubadour and the Countess before the western entrance of the
church of S. Jean at Perpignan.

A few lines from one of his _sirventes_ in her honour may be

 “Before my mind’s eye, lady fair,
  I see thy form, thy flowing hair,
    Thy face, thy iv’ry brow.
  My path to Paradise were sure
  Were love to God in me as pure
    As mine to thee, I trow.

  “Perchance thou wilt not bend an ear,
  Perchance not shed for me a tear,
    For me, who in my prayer
  To Mary Mother ever plead,
  To stead thee in thy hour of need,
    Sweet lady, passing fair.

  “Together from first childish days,
  As playfellows, I knew thy ways;
    I served thee when a child.
  Permit me but thy glove to kiss,
  That, that will be supremest bliss.
    Will still my pulses wild.”

Perpignan, with its vast and huge citadel, cramped within
fortifications planned by Vauban, was formerly a fortress of the first
order. To-day, under changed systems of defence and attack, citadel
and bastions have lost their value, and the walls and earthworks that
gird the town about are now being levelled, and the moat filled to form
a boulevard. When that red belt of bricks is completely demolished,
Perpignan will expand in all directions.

The little river Basse divides the town into two unequal parts: the
New Town, which is the ancient faubourg of the Tanneries, was included
within the circuit of the fortifications by Vauban; and the Old Town,
on the right bank of the river, comprises the hills of S. Jacques and
de la Réal; and in this the streets are narrow and tortuous. In 1859
the medieval wall of defence along the river front was demolished and
the Place Arago was made; a Palais de Justice and a Prefecture were
erected on its site. The citadel is on high ground above the town, and
contains the palace of the kings of Majorca. It is well to ascend the
belvedere that surmounts the palace chapel to obtain a good view of the
plain of Roussillon to the bald limestone range of the Corbières, to
the soaring mass of Canigou, and the Pyrenean range--here called les
Albères--and to the Mediterranean, blue as a peacock’s neck, and the
lagoons that lie along the coast. For what Perpignan sorely lacks is a
high terrace that would give a view of the surrounding country and of
the mountains.

Alphonso II, King of Aragon, to whom the last Count of Roussillon
bequeathed his county in 1172, did much for the place. As a
considerable part of the town lay low in marshy and unhealthy ground,
he desired to move it up the height, at the foot of which was a leper
hospital, and which for this reason is called the Puig des Lépreux.
But he met with opposition from the inhabitants, and abandoned his
intention. Nevertheless the Puig became peopled by artisans, and this
portion was soldered on to the Old Town, and included later within the

The Place de la Loge is the centre of animation to the town, the forum
of the capital of Roussillon. It derives its name from the Loge de la
Mer, a court for naval and mercantile affairs. This dates from 1397,
but was reconstructed in 1540; it is richly carved, but is somewhat
weak in design, and however elaborate is the ornamentation is not
effective. From the upper story is suspended a diminutive ship with
all its appointments. The lower story is given up to be a café. Before
this all the rollicking and fun of the carnival takes place, not, as
elsewhere, on Shrove Tuesday, but on Ash Wednesday. Before this pass
the fantastic cars bearing maskers representing various trades or else
allegorical groups. Here goes on the battle of the _dragées_, when
every one not masked, down to the baby in arms, wears a wire vizor
over his face, such as is employed by fencers, as a protection against
the _dragées_, which are as large as beans and as hard as pebbles.

It is somewhat startling to note the contrast presented on Ash
Wednesday between the scene in the cathedral, when the whole
congregation goes to the altar rails to have a cross of ashes marked on
each brow, with the words: “Remember, O man, that dust thou art, and
unto dust thou shalt return!” and that in the Place de la Loge in the
afternoon, when fun runs fast and furious, and every one is playing the

The cathedral was begun in 1324, and terminated in the beginning of
the sixteenth century. Externally it promises little, but the interior
is overwhelmingly beautiful. The church is built of tiles rather than
bricks, each 17 inches long by 1½ inches thick and 8 inches wide; with
bands of these tiles alternate belts of cobble-stones arranged in
herring-bone fashion.

The interior consists of one vast nave 56 feet wide, in seven bays
and with transepts. The whole ends in a magnificent apse. Between
the buttresses are chapels, 17 feet deep, in each of which is a
three-light window most of these blocked by retables, and this renders
the church unnecessarily dark. The high altar-piece of white marble,
of the seventeenth century, is an admirable composition, purely
Renaissance in character, executed by Bartholomew Soler, of Barcelona.
In the niches are statues of the Virgin, S. John, and SS. Julia and
Eulalia, patronesses of Elne. Particularly noticeable is a superb
carved oak and gilded reredos in the north transept, of the fifteenth
century, representing scenes of the Passion in eight compartments.
Another, enclosing fine paintings in place of sculpture, is in the
south transept. The huge organ-case is a splendid bit of work of the
sixteenth century.

In the south of Languedoc a taste prevailed for churches comprising
huge naves without side aisles--in fact, immense halls. At Carcassonne
such is the type; but there, in the two churches in the New Town, the
effect is unsatisfactory, as the chancels, or apses, bud out of the
flat east wall in an ungainly manner. Here in Perpignan we have the
hall interior, but leading up to and ending in an apse of the full
width of the nave.

On the south side of the church is a chapel with a highly favoured
crucifix in it, and Pope Leo XIII accorded plenary indulgence with
remission of all sins to such as should worship before it and pray
for the extermination of heresies, i.e. heretics on the Feast of the
Exaltation of the Cross.

The other churches of S. Mathieu and La Réal deserve a visit. Built
on the same lines as the cathedral, they have been sadly spoiled by
tasteless additions in the Barroque period. Over the high altar at
La Réal, as in a side chapel at S. Mathieu, are groups of coloured
statuary, on which light is also made to fall from above; and as the
churches are profoundly dark, this is in its way effective.


The ancient Palais de Justice, much purer in style than the Loge,
adjoins it, separated from it only by the old house of the consuls, now
the Hôtel de Ville. The old Palais has beautiful windows, with trefoil
heads cut in the block, unmoulded, supported by dainty columns. But
the most strikingly picturesque edifice of Perpignan is the Castelet,
erected between 1367 and 1369, with the town gate of Notre Dame (1481)
at one side of it, all constructed of tiles like the cathedral. The
bold projecting machicolations, and the octagonal turret surmounted by
a small cupola, have a pronounced Spanish character.

When one passes out of the Porte Notre Dame the Promenade des
Platanes is reached, a boulevard shaded by magnificent plane trees,
but all inclined from the north, from the terrible Tramontane wind,
which is the scourge of the plain of Roussillon. Here on Shrove Tuesday
evening hundreds of maskers dance under the leafless branches, and
sometimes in spite of the cutting wind and dropping rain. The promenade
is then railed in, and soldiers are stationed to act as sentinels to
prevent the crowd entering and interfering with the dancers. But the
waltz music is too exhilarating to allow these sentinels to soberly
pace their distances, and I have seen them holding their rifles and
pirouetting up and down their beats with them as if their firearms were
lovely partners.

Beyond the Basse, where it flows into the Tet, is the faubourg Notre
Dame, very animated and peopled in part with gipsies, or _gitanos_.
They speak a language of their own, a mixture of Arabic, Castillian,
and Catalan. They are first mentioned in Roussillon in an ordinance of
1512, that required them to be cudgelled out of the country. It does
not seem that this order produced the effect desired, for they have
been found, and still are found, throughout the department, mainly
engaged in selling mules.

The first station out of Perpignan on the line to Barcelona is Elne,
long the seat of a bishop. It was the ancient Illiberis. The name tells
its origin. It derives from the Iberian, and signifies the New City;
and shows that it was a town founded by these people before they were
expelled or subjugated by the Celts, who invaded the country in the
fourth century before Christ. When Hannibal crossed the Pyrenees he
planted his headquarters here, and hither came the heads of the Gaulish
tribe to make terms with him against Rome. At the same time they made
complaint of the conduct of some of his Carthaginian soldiery. Hannibal
listened to their grievances, and decided that in any further cases of
misconduct by his soldiers these should be tried by a court composed of
the wives of the Gauls.

The Romans, when they occupied the land, neglected Illiberis, and
planted a colony at Ruscino. The town dwindled to insignificance till
Constantine refounded it and called it after the name of his mother,
Helena; and this is the name it now bears, transformed into Elne. It
was the scene of the assassination of Constans, the son of the great
Constantine. He was an indolent, weak, and debauched prince, monarch
of the West. Whilst hunting in Gaul he received tidings of the revolt
of Magnentius, that the soldiers had mutinied, and that emissaries had
been dispatched to kill him. He fled to Illiberis, but was overtaken
here and put to death in 350, in the thirtieth year of his reign.

Devastated by the Arabs, we do not hear of a bishop of Elne till 783.
After that the lordship of Elne was shared between the bishop and the
chapter. The seat of the bishop was removed to Perpignan in 1602.

Elne occupies a sandstone rock, about which this town is built, and
is divided into the upper and the lower town. It is a dull and sleepy
place, that wakens into life only on the festival of SS. Eulalia and
Julia, when there is much merry-making with processions, music, and
dancing. Portions of the walls and some of the gates remain; but the
great object of interest is the cathedral, with its superb cloisters of
white marble. The exact date of the rebuilding is not known, but the
church was complete in 1069. Externally it is constructed of rubble
stone in herring-bone, set in mortar. The west front has a crenellated
gable between two towers of unequal size and height. The loftiest is
a bold structure that has had buttresses added to it much later, in
1415. The western doorway is unornamented. The plan of the church is
a nave with side aisles and no transepts. It is very plain within as
without, with huge piers supporting round-headed arches and vault. The
high altar was of silver, and dated from 1069, but was sent to the mint
at Perpignan to be coined into money in 1721. The new altar-piece is as
Prosper Mérimée described it--“a masterpiece of meanness and bad taste.”

The original choir stalls were fine. A writer in 1787 says of the
woodwork: “It is grand, and remarkable for the beauty of the stall-work
covered with sculpture of the end of the thirteenth century, as is
known by an inscription on one of the stalls.” All this has disappeared.

In the sacristy is preserved a little bell with the date on it, 1554,
ornamented with a figure of Apollo playing on the _rebec_, a monkey
doing the same, and dancing bears, an eagle, a rabbit, and a boar.

But the great glory of Elne is its cloister raised on a terrace of the
ancient acropolis of Illiberis, on the north side of the cathedral.
Entrance to it is obtained by a doorway, which for the purity of its
style and the sobriety of its ornamentation deserves notice. The arch
is pointed, and of marble, alternatively white and red, and dates
from the fourteenth century. The ironwork of the door is simple but
graceful. Alart, the historian and antiquary says: “Without dispute,
from the point of view of art, and from the historic reminiscences
attached to it, the cloister is the most remarkable and precious relic
that remains of Roussellonnaise architecture.” It was begun in the
twelfth century, but was continued and retouched in the fourteenth,
so that whereas some of the capitals and columns are of Byzantine or
Romanesque design, others have Gothic ornament. All is in white marble,
and the sculpture is of exquisite delicacy: foliage, figures of every
description are there in lavish profusion. The pillars are coupled,
some twisted, some plain. The very bases are enriched with ornament.

    “In the morning, in summer, when the sun lights up the
    galleries to north and west, all the details come out with
    extraordinary brilliancy. In the afternoon the eastern gallery
    is burnt by the solar rays that have turned the marble
    yellow.”--P. Vidal.

In the lateral wall on the north side open two doorways, one of which
must be entered with precaution, or one may fall below, for the stair
that led from it has disappeared. Underneath are two large vaulted
chambers paved with bricks, communicating one with another by a small
opening. Traces of fresco painting may be noticed. The popular opinion
is that these were the dungeons of the Inquisition, but actually
they were an old chapel dedicated to S. Laurence. The other door
gives access to a spiral staircase leading to a terrace, from which a
magnificent view is obtained of the plain, the Albères, and Canigou.


Arles-sur-Mer is a watering-place by the sea. Near it is the more
interesting port of Collioure, an Iberian name signifying the port of
the New Town; and Iberian coins have been found there. The fortress
of S. Elne was built by Charles V. The streets are narrow, the houses
dilapidated, and occupied mainly by fishermen and their families.

    “On the sea-coast these men enter into very hot discussions,
    use expressions somewhat rough and coarse, but rarely come to
    blows. Few scandals occur here, and they marry young. It is
    worthy of remark that among these good folk so free of tongue
    and freer still in opinion, these solid republicans, the
    religious sentiment is very developed. They pray to God and go
    to Mass; but they also go to the ball. The three last days
    of carnival are given up by the whole population to a wild
    frenzy. They cling to this poor carnival as though it would
    never return. Every café has its ball at night; if weather
    permit there is a general ball in the public square.”

A few yards from the beach on a rock stands a chapel dedicated to S.
Vincent, who is traditionally held to have been born at Collioure.
He was martyred at Valencia in Spain, 304. But Huesca also claims
the honour of his birth. His name is included in the English Church
calendar on 22 January. From the rock of S. Vincent on 16 August,
annually, at nine o’clock in the evening, starts a procession of boats
that brings the relics of the saint to the town. The sailing-boats and
fishing-vessels richly decked and illuminated with coloured lamps are
reflected in the still sea. An immense crowd is gathered about the
harbour, that is lighted by a bonfire made of vine twigs and barrels of

As soon as the vessel bearing the relics arrives at the quay, the
harbour-master calls out, “What boat is that?” To which the captain
replies, “A boat of Saint Vincent.” “Whence come you?” “From Saint
Vincent-de-l’Ile.” “With what are you laden?” “With the relics of the
Saint Vincent, of Saint Marinus, and of Saint Liberada.” “Are there
passengers, and are they according to rule?” “There are passengers, and
they are all according to rule.” “What do you require?” “To be allowed
to disembark.” “In the name of God, do so.”

Then the whole crowd shouts, “Sant Vincens béneit!” Whereupon the boat
is hauled ashore and dragged through the town. The crowd that separated
to allow of the passage then unites and follows in a dense mass,
elbowing one another. The boat halts before the “Vierge des quatres
coins,” the relics are removed from it, and carried processionally to
the church. The bonfire and the coloured lamps go out, and the scene
of movement is transferred from the harbour to the Place, where the
_joglars_, installed on an improvized platform, sound their instruments
to lively melodies, and all, young and old, in two minutes are in
full swing of a dance, that lasts from ten o’clock to midnight. “Si
réellement,” says a French writer, “la danse est un amusement, nulle
part au monde ou ne s’amuse autant qu’ ici.”

The train, as it traverses the flats and athwart arms of the lagoons
that lie along the coast, skirts a place called Salses, and if the
traveller be looking out of the window on the right hand, he catches
a glimpse of a rusty mass of building with towers, and wonders what
it is. This is the fortress of Salses, erected in 1497 by a Spanish
engineer named Ramirez, and it is sufficiently curious to merit a
study, for it was built at a time when the use of cannon was materially
altering the conditions of warfare, especially of sieges. The château,
though often menaced with destruction, indeed repeatedly ordered to
be levelled, has remained almost intact to the present day. It forms
a rectangle with a tower at each angle. These towers give evidence of
the hesitation of the engineer. He was hampered by tradition, and had
to introduce them without knowing exactly that they had a purpose any
longer. But, on the other hand, he adopted an innovation, destined to
revolutionize the defence of fortresses, by creating bastions isolated
and in advance of the walls, like the demi-lunes of modern citadels. As
far as we know, this was the first instance of their being employed.
The castle was of some strategic importance, as commanding the passage
between the vast Lagoon of Leucate and the barren ridge of the

The last governor of the fortress was a nephew of Voltaire, named La
Houlière, who grew vines and made wine on his wife’s estate; he sent
a cask of the latter to his illustrious uncle, and entreated him to
obtain a market for his wines in Russia. To which Voltaire replied, “I
am sorry not to be able to be of use to you in this matter, but the
Empress at this moment is too much occupied with the Turks who drink no
wine, and with the Germans who drink too much, to be able to turn her
attention to your generous liquor.”

When La Houlière, who commanded at Perpignan in April, 1793, learned
the defeat of the French troops by the Spaniards, he was so depressed
that he blew out his brains.

Throughout the plain of Roussillon vines grow, and the wine they
produce is excellent. The canals of irrigation bordered by trees
traverse the plain; and, thanks to this semi-aquatic condition, the
vineyards do not present the monotony of those of Narbonne and Beziers.

The dread of the cold winds over the snows of the Alps and the Cevennes
is everywhere apparent. Reeds grow in the dykes to a great height, from
twelve to fourteen feet, and even more, and these are cut and formed
into mats to barricade the fields and gardens, and give some shelter
to them from the piercing blast that has bent every tree from the
direction whence it blows. Round Perpignan every patch of flower or
vegetable garden is thus hedged about.

At Perpignan the Count de Grammont met the Abbé Poussatin, when he was
retreating with the Prince of Condé after the unsuccessful campaign in
Catalonia, in 1647. Grammont says:--

    “At last we arrived at Perpignan on a holiday; a company of
    Catalans, who were dancing in the street, out of respect to
    the prince, came forward to dance under his windows. Monsieur
    Poussatin, in a little black jacket, danced in the middle
    of this company, as if he were really mad. I immediately
    recognized him as my countryman, from his manner of skipping
    and frisking about. The prince was charmed with his humour and
    activity. After the dance I sent for him, and inquired who
    he was. ‘A poor priest, at your service, my lord,’ said he;
    ‘my name is Poussatin, and Béarn is my native country. I was
    going into Catalonia to serve in the infantry, for, God be
    praised, I can march very well on foot; but since the war is
    happily concluded, if your lordship pleases to take me into
    your service, I would follow you everywhere, and serve you
    faithfully.’ ‘Monsieur Poussatin,’ said I, ‘my lordship has
    no great occasion for a chaplain; but since you are so well
    disposed towards me, I will take you into my service.’

    “The Prince of Condé, who was present at this conversation, was
    overjoyed at my having a chaplain. Poor Poussatin was in a very
    tattered condition, and I had no time to provide him with a
    proper habit at Perpignan; but giving him a spare livery of one
    of the Marshal de Grammont’s servants, I made him get up behind
    the prince’s coach, who was like to die with laughing every
    time he looked at poor Poussatin’s uncanonical mien in a yellow

    “As soon as we arrived in Paris the story was told to the
    queen, who at first expressed some surprise at it; this,
    however, did not prevent her from wishing to see my chaplain
    dance; for in Spain it is not altogether so strange to see
    ecclesiastics dance, as to see them in livery.

    “Poussatin performed wonders before the queen; but as he danced
    with great sprightliness, she could not bear the savour which
    his violent motions diffused through the room; the ladies
    likewise began to pray for relief.”

The Eastern Pyrenees have, to my mind, been unduly neglected, and yet
they present scenes of great beauty, and are very easily reached. To
botanists they should be especially attractive. The Val d’Eyne, near
Mont Louis, is known to possess flowers found nowhere else in the
range. The ravine of the Aude is as fine as any in the Hautes Pyrénées.
There are peaks that run up to 10,000 feet, and are covered with snow
all the year, and if the glaciers be insignificant, glaciers are not
essential to beauty. There are more mountain tarns here than elsewhere,
and some of these the largest in the Pyrenees. In ecclesiastical
architecture this is by far the richest portion of the chain, as
the churches have not been wrecked by the Huguenots as in Béarn and
Bigorre. And what is more, there is less rain, there are clearer and
bluer skies. Some of the watering-places are sweet and sheltered nooks
where one can be in summer sunlight early in April, even at the end
of March, sheltered from every wind, and with excursions possible all
about them, and what is more, are not so fashionable, not so savouring
of Paris as Bagnères and Luchon, Cauterez, and Eauxbonnes. In the heats
of summer no more cool and invigorating climate can be found than in
some of those towns and villages on lofty plateaux, like Mont Louis.
As to the Pyrenees in general, many best able to judge and with widest
experience of mountain scenery, prefer them to the Alps of Switzerland
and of Tyrol, so overrun with the tripper and the herds conducted by
Cook. The colouring is richer and more varied, the foliage, the flowers
more abundant; and the peasantry have not lost their simplicity, as
have the Swiss.

I will conclude with the words of a Pyrenean poet, written in his
Gascon dialect, but rendered into French: “Puisse-je remonter sur ces
trônes flamboyants de porphyre et de glace, ou tout est froid, même
l’éclair; j’irai révoir du haut de ces nues, ces horizons grands comme
l’éternité, mais que je ne trouverais jamais assez illimités. Et quand
aura sonné l’heure fatale et cruelle du repos, j’irais m’assoir au bord
de l’Océan ou de la Méditerranée, mais toujours en vue des Pyrénées.”


  Abd-el-Kader, 88-9

  Abderahman, 271

  Abdo and Senen, SS., 284-5

  Adour River, 42-3

  Albigenses, 246-51, 257-8

  Amatus, Bishop of Oloron, 115

  Ambessa, 270

  Ambrose, Père, 168

  Andorra, 260-2, 264

  Antoine de Bourbon, 96-7, 99, 101-2

  Aquitaine, 15, 17, 18, 221-4

  Arabs, 265, 269, 270, 296

  Aragon, 4, 18, 266, 286-9

  Aran, Val d’, 229, 232-4, 266

  Argelez, 152-3, 161

  Arize, River, 253

  Arles-sur-Mer, 298

  Arles-sur-Tech, 281, 283-5

  Armagnac, 206-10

  Arms of Arros, 233

  -- of Béarn, 98

  -- of Fontarabia, 47

  Arras, 155

  Arreau, 206

  Arros, Baron d’, 102-3

  Arruns, 155-6

  Arudy, 125

  Ash Wednesday, 293

  Aspe, Val d’, 117-8

  Asté, 192

  Aucun, 155

  Aure, Val d’, 201-11

  Avalanches, 164-5, 173

  Azun, Val d’, 154-7

  Bagnères de Bigorre, 187-94

  -- de Luchon, 229-32

  Balandrau, 153

  Barcelona, 266, 281

  Barrèges, 167, 172-3

  Barrère, 184-8

  Basque language, 12, 55

  Basques, 4, 12-15, 52-4

  Bayonne, 32-43

  Béarn, 15, 18-28, 76, 90, 95, 97, 98, 102, 109, 122-3, 178, 179, 180-2

  Bears, 239-40

  Beaucens, 154

  Beaudéan, 194

  Bedous, 120-1

  Beggary, 130, 240-2

  Belocq, Castle of, 80

  Benedict XIII, 22

  Bernadotte, 107-9

  Bernard III, Count, 29, 179

  Berret, 116, 128

  Betharam, 111-12

  Biarritz, 44, 144

  Bidarry, Saint of, 54

  Bidassoa River, 46

  Bielle, 103, 127

  Bigorre, 15, 115, 178-9, 180-2

  -- Pic du Midi de, 189-92

  Bilhère, 98

  Blanche de Navarre, 23-6

  Bordères, 210

  Boulou, Le, 281

  Bourespe, 211

  Bourg-Madame, 267

  Boxwood, 127

  Brèche de Roland, 169

  Brinvilliers, Mme. de, 277-8

  Buzy, 10, 125

  Cabannes, Les, 256-7

  Cabestang, William de, 290-1

  _Cacolet_, riding _en_, 45-6

  Cadéac, 211

  Cagots, 195-200

  Calvinism, 75, 99, 103, 117, 177

  Cambo, 53

  Campan, Val de, 192-4

  Canigou, 8, 272-85

  Cannibal, 215-19

  Carlitte, Mont, 2, 273

  Carnival, 293, 295

  Carol, Castle, 265

  Castles, small, 259

  Catalans, 4, 270, 287, 295

  Catherine of Medici, 34-5

  -- of Navarre, 27-8

  Cauterets, 160, 161, 162-6

  Celts, 4, 267

  Centule I and IV, 115, 179

  -- II, 179

  -- III, 179

  Cerdagne, 264-71, 286

  Ceret, 281-2

  Chain of Pyrenees, 2

  _Chaos_, 171

  Charles IV of Spain, 36-8

  -- VII of Spain, 34

  -- IX of France, 76, 100

  -- the Noble of Navarre, 23

  -- of Viana, 22-5

  Cirque de Gavarnie, 7, 171-2

  Cirques, other, 7, 170

  Climate of Pau, 85-7

  Coarraze, 99, 111

  Collioure, 298-300

  Cominges, 15, 221, 226-8

  Constans, 296

  Constantine, 296

  Corisande d’Andouins, 124, 193

  Costumes, 128, 270

  Count of Spain, 262-3

  Couserans, 236-44

  Couvade, 46, 64-5

  _Crestiaas_, 199-200

  Cromlechs, 127

  Customs, curious, 46, 48, 64-5

  Dagobert, General, 268-9

  Dances, 128, 274

  Danton, 186, 188

  Deadly sins, 211

  Deforesting, 3, 125-6, 173-4, 257

  Eaux Bonnes, 131-3

  -- Chaudes, 129-30

  Eleanor of Cominges, 19

  -- of Guyenne, 16

  Elne, 295-8

  Emigration, 118, 123, 241

  Empressous, 169

  Escaldieu, 202

  Espadrillos, 123, 285

  Espèch, Castle, 205

  Estaubé, Cirque, 170

  Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine, 265, 270

  Ferrage, Blaise, 216-19

  Ferreolus, S., 282

  Flowers, 9, 44, 112-13, 170-1, 268, 302

  Foix, 16, 245-53

  Fontarabie, 47-8

  Font-Romeu, 269

  Fors, 18, 127

  Francis I, 90-1

  -- II, 96

  -- Phœbus, 27

  Froissart, 67, 70, 72

  Gabas, 131

  Gan, 124

  Gargas, 215

  Garonne, 229, 234, 245, 266

  Garsende the Fat, 19

  Gascon braggarts, 28-9

  Gascony, 15, 29, 50

  Gassion, 106

  Gaston VI, 19

  -- VII, 66

  -- IX, 19

  -- Phœbus, 22, 66-72, 128, 202

  -- son of Phœbus, 68-71, 202

  Gavarnie, 171

  Gave River, 86, 89, 125, 129, 134, 153, 163, 168, 169, 202

  Gèdre, 170

  Giants, 169

  Gipsies, 295

  Glaciers, 6, 134

  Goigs, 274

  Grammont, Dukes of, 192-3, 301-2

  Grotto de l’Herme, 253

  Gundowald, 221-5

  Hannibal, 4, 290, 295

  Haras at Tarbes, 177-8

  Hazel-nuts, 282

  Hèches, 203

  Henry II of England, 16

  -- III of England, 17

  -- IV of France, 98, 101-4, 109, 124, 243

  -- II of Navarre, 87, 90-2, 98

  _Heptameron_, 94, 119-20

  Horses, 178-9

  Hortense, Queen, 156-7

  Huguenots, 92-4, 117, 182, 191, 228.
    (_See also_ Calvinism)

  Hundred Years’ War, 17

  Iberians, 4, 12, 271

  Innocent III, 246-50

  Iron mines, 255-7

  Irun, 48

  Isaby, Val d’, 154, 159

  Jean d’Albret, 27-8, 90

  Jeanne d’Albret, 75-80, 95-101, 112, 117, 177

  Job, 242

  Joglars, 274, 300

  Juana, Queen, 21-5

  Jurençon, 113

  La Barthe, 203

  Labourde, 15, 51-2

  Lac de Caillaouas, 202, 210

  -- -- Gaube, 164-5

  -- -- Lanoux, 6, 264

  -- -- Seculéjo, 230-1

  Lakes, various, 6, 155, 194, 202, 212, 239, 243, 265

  Lampagia, 271

  Landslip, 170

  Lannemezan, 202

  Larrey, 194

  Laruns, 179

  Laserre, 144

  Lavedan, 135, 152-61

  League, the, 183

  Leonore, Countess, 23-6

  Lescar, 26, 104

  Leucate, 300

  Llar family, 278

  Llivia, 266-7

  Lombrive, 258

  Lomné, castle, 205

  Lordat, castle, 258

  Lortet, 203

  Louis VII, 16

  -- XI, 208-9, 286

  -- XIII, 268

  -- XIV, 47, 285

  Lourdes, 134-51

  Loustaunau, 121-2

  Luchon, 229-32

  Luz, 166-9

  Majorca, kingdom of, 287-9

  Maladetta, 233-4

  Manichees, 246

  Marble quarries, 203, 233

  Marguerite de Cominges, 228-9

  -- de France, 101, 117

  -- de Navarre, 91-5, 119-20

  Marot, Clement, 93

  Mas d’Azil, 253-4

  Massabielle, Grotto, 138-47

  Massey, 177

  Mater Dolorosa, 59

  Mauleon, 123

  Mauvezin, 201

  Merton Smith, Rev., 133

  Metrical psalms, 93-4

  Montespan, 214

  Montgomery, 75, 77-8

  Mont Louis, 268-70

  Montréjeau, 214

  Montségur, 257

  Moors, 270

  Morlaas, 189

  Mosaics, Roman, 104-6

  Nansouty, 191-2

  Napoleon I, 36-8, 50, 126

  Napoleon III, 88, 144, 157, 168

  Navarre, 4, 20, 24, 52, 155

  Nay, 111

  Neste, River, 202-4, 210-11, 220

  Noah’s Ark, 268

  Odos, 95

  Oloron, 4, 114-18

  Orthez, 26, 66-79

  -- Battle of, 80-4

  Osse, 122

  Osseau, Val d’, 8, 124-33

  -- peasants of, 109

  -- Pic du Midi d’, 124, 125, 131

  Othman abu Nessu, 270

  Oust, 243

  Ouzous, 153

  Pallada, 283

  Pamiers, 251-2

  Pampeluna, 56

  Pas de Roland, 54

  Pattison, Mr. and Mrs., 165

  Pau, 85-113

  -- Castle of, 87-9

  Pedigree of the Armagnacs, 210

  -- of the Viscounts of Béarn, 20

  -- of Gundowald, 222

  -- of the Kings of Majorca, 289

  -- of Leonore of Navarre, 21

  Perpignan, 286-94, 301

  Petronilla, Countess, 180-1

  Pierrefite, 160-1

  Planès, 269

  Planturel, 244

  Pont-long, 87, 109, 123

  Ports, 4, 235, 267, 281

  Poussatin, Abbé, 301-2

  Prades, 275

  Prats de Mollo, 285

  Princess of Beira, 61-3

  Puy-al-Hun, 155-6

  Puygcerda, 264

  Puyôo, 80

  Pyrenees, parallel chains, 2

  -- geological structure, 4

  -- approach to, 30-1

  -- Battles of the, 39

  -- Treaty of, 47, 55, 234, 265, 266, 287

  Quitteria, Ste., 255

  Ramond, 190

  Raymond I of Bigorre, 162, 182

  -- VI of Toulouse, 248-50

  “Refuge” by Biarritz, 44-5

  Republics, 127, 154, 212-13

  Roland the Paladin, 56-8, 169

  -- Song of, 57

  Roman Roads, 4, 54

  Roncevaux, 4, 27, 56-60

  Roussel, Bishop of Oloron, 92, 117

  Roussillon, 4, 273, 286-7, 290, 301

  Rubble, 5

  S. Aventin, 232

  S. Béat, 233

  S. Bertrand de Cominges, 220-9

  S. Girons, 236-7

  S. Jean de Luz, 45

  S. Jean-Pied-de-Port, 54-5

  S. Lizier, 237-9

  S. Martin de Canigou, 280-1

  S. Michel de Cuxa, 276

  S. Orens, 159-60

  S. Sauveur, 168

  S. Savin, 157-9

  S. Sebastian, 48-50

  S. Sever-de-Rustan, 177

  Salses, 300

  Sarracolin, 203-4

  Sarrance, 118-20

  Serrabonna, 275

  Sertorius, 220-1

  Simon de Montfort, 249-50

  Slate quarries, 195

  Smuggling, 60

  Solon and his wives, 93

  Soubirous, Bernadette, 135, 137-49

  Soule, 51, 123

  Sully elm, 243

  Talc mines, 259

  Tarascon, 254

  Tarbes, 175-88

  Tech, River, 281-2

  Templars, 167, 172

  Tourmalet, 172

  Troumousse, Cirque, 170

  Tumuli, 110

  Turpin, Chronicle of, 57

  Urdos, 122-3

  Urgel, 262, 269

  Ustaritz, 13

  Valcabrères, 220, 225

  Vaussenat, 191-2

  Vernaux, 259

  Vernet, 274, 279-80

  Vic, 243

  Vicdessos, 256

  Viella, 234

  Villefranche, 82, 276-9

  Vincent, S., 299-300

  Vizos, 166

  Voltaire, 300-1

  Watershed, 6


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; in most cases, they were
not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

Two occurrences of “Castile” were changed to the predominant “Castille”.

Text uses both “Cascassonne” and “Carcassonne”; both retained.

Page 49: “when advancing in 1815” should be “1813”.

Page 55: “Desinat in piscem mulier fermosa” should be “formosa”.

Page 100: “choses to have” was printed that way. As it could be either
“chose” or “chooses”, it has not been changed here.

Page 126: “In 1669” should be a later year.

Page 144: “quite as well situated as” was printed as “at”; changed here.

Page 147: “faire des bêtises” was printed as “”faire des bêtisses“;
changed here.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Book of the Pyrenees" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.