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Title: The Riviera of the Corniche Road
Author: Treves, Frederick
Language: English
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                           THE RIVIERA OF THE
                             CORNICHE ROAD



[Illustration: A RIVIERA GARDEN.]



                           The Riviera of the
                             Corniche Road


                                   BY

                      SIR FREDERICK TREVES, BART.
                         G.C.V.O., C.B., LL.D.

        Serjeant-Surgeon to His Majesty the King; Author of “The
         Other Side of the Lantern,” “The Cradle of the Deep,”
           “The Country of the Ring and the Book,” “Highways
                   and By-ways of Dorset,” etc. etc.


             _Illustrated by 92 Photographs by the Author_


                        CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD
                London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne
                                  1921



                                Preface


This book deals with that part of the French Riviera which is commanded
by the Great Corniche Road—the part between Nice and Mentone—together
with such places as are within easy reach of the Road.

I am obliged to the proprietors of the _Times_ for permission to reprint
an article of mine contributed to that journal in March, 1920. It
appears as Chapter XXXVII.

I am much indebted to Dr. Hagberg Wright, of the London Library, for
invaluable help in the collecting of certain historical data.

                                                      FREDERICK TREVES.
Monte Carlo,
  _Christmas, 1920_



                                Contents

          Chapter                                          Page
               1. Early Days in the Riviera                   1
               2. The Corniche Road                           8
               3. Nice: The Promenade des Anglais            14
               4. Nice: The Old Town                         19
               5. The Siege of Nice                          29
               6. Cimiez and St. Pons                        36
               7. How the Convent of St. Pons came to an     41
                    End
               8. Vence, the Defender of the Faith           49
               9. Vence, the Town                            59
              10. Grasse                                     67
              11. A Prime Minister and Two Ladies of         80
                    Grasse
              12. Cagnes and St. Paul du Var                 97
              13. Cap Ferrat and St. Hospice                104
              14. The Story of Eze                          118
              15. The Troubadours of Eze                    123
              16. How Eze was Betrayed                      127
              17. The Town that Cannot Forget               135
              18. The Harbour of Monaco                     143
              19. The Rock of Monaco                        151
              20. A Fateful Christmas Eve                   161
              21. Charles the Seaman                        165
              22. The Lucien Murder                         170
              23. How the Spaniards were got rid of         176
              24. A Matter of Etiquette                     181
              25. The Monte Carlo of the Novelist           187
              26. Monte Carlo                               191
              27. Some Diversions of Monte Carlo            195
              28. An Old Roman Posting Town                 206
              29. The Tower of Victory                      214
              30. La Turbie of To-day                       224
              31. The Convent of Laghet                     231
              32. The City of Peter Pan                     239
              33. The Legend of Roquebrune                  248
              34. Some Memories of Roquebrune               252
              35. Gallows Hill                              259
              36. Mentone                                   265
              37. The First Visitors to the Riviera         273
              38. Castillon                                 281
              39. Sospel                                    286
              40. Sospel and the Wild Boar                  294
              41. Two Queer Old Towns                       297
                  Index                                     305



                         List of Illustrations

           A Riviera Garden                       _Frontispiece_
                                                    FACING PAGE
           At the Bend of the Road                       8
           Nice: The Old Terraces                       16
           Nice: Rue du Sénat                           26
           Nice: A Street in the Old Town               32
           Cimiez: The Roman Amphitheatre               36
           Cimiez: The Marble Cross                     40
           Cimiez: The Monastery Well                   40
           Vence: The East Gate and Outer Wall          52
           Vence: The Church and Court of Bishop’s      58
             Palace
           Vence: Old House in the Place Godeau         62
           Vence: Rue de la Coste                       62
           Grasse: The de Cabris House                  68
           Grasse: The Cathedral                        72
           Grasse: The Place aux Aires                  76
           Grasse: Rue de l’Evêché                      80
           Grasse: Rue sans Peur                        90
           Cagnes                                       96
           Cagnes: The Town Gate                        98
           Cagnes: The Place Grimaldi                   100
           Cagnes: The Castle                           100
           St. Paul du Var                              102
           St. Paul du Var: The Entry                   102
           St. Paul du Var: The Main Gate               102
           St. Paul du Var: A Side Street               104
           St. Paul du Var: A Shop of the Mediæval      104
             Type
           Cap de St. Hospice                           108
           St. Hospice: The Madonna and the Tower       108
           Villefranche                                 110
           Villefranche: The Main Street                112
           A Road in Beaulieu                           114
           Eze                                          120
           Eze: The Main Gate                           124
           A Street in Eze                              134
           Eze: On the Way to the Castle                138
           Eze: All that Remains of the Castle          138
           Cap d’Ail, near Monaco                       144
           Monaco                                       148
           Monaco: The Sentry Tower on the Rampe        156
           Monaco: The Drawbridge Gate, 1533            156
           Monaco: The Palace                           162
           Monaco: The Old Hôtel de Ville               168
           Monaco: The Cliff Garden                     172
           The Gorge between Monaco and Monte Carlo     178
           The Chapel of St. Dévote                     184
           Monte Carlo from Monaco                      192
           Monte Carlo: The Terrace, Christmas Day      196
           Monte Carlo: The Casino Garden               202
           The Roman Monument, La Turbie                206
           A Corner in La Turbie                        210
           A Street in La Turbie                        216
           La Turbie: Old Window in the Rue Droite      216
           La Turbie: The Old Bakehouse                 224
           La Turbie: La Portette                       226
           La Turbie: The Fortress Wall, showing        226
             the Roman Stones
           La Turbie: The Nice Gate                     228
           Laghet                                       232
           Laghet: The Entrance                         234
           Laghet: One of the Cloisters                 236
           Roquebrune, from near Bon Voyage             240
           Roquebrune: The East Gate                    246
           Roquebrune: The Place des Frères             246
           Roquebrune: Showing the Castle               252
           Roquebrune: Rue de la Fontaine               256
           The Roman Milestones, “603”                  258
           A Piece of the Old Roman Road                258
           The Roman Fountain near La Turbie            260
           Gallows Hill                                 262
           Mont Justicier: The Two Pillars of the       262
             Gallows
           The Chapel of St. Roch                       264
           Mentone: The Old Town                        266
           Mentone: The East Bay                        268
           Mentone: Rue Longue                          272
           Mentone: A Doorway in the Rue Longue         274
           A Side Street in Mentone                     276
           A Side Street in Mentone                     278
           Mentone: Rue Mattoni                         278
           Castillon: (In the snow)                     280
           Castillon: The Entry to the Town             280
           Castillon: The Main Street                   282
           Castillon: The Main Street and Church        284
             Door
           Sospel: The Old Bridge                       286
           Sospel: The River Front                      288
           Sospel: The Place St. Michel                 290
           A Square in Sospel                           292
           Sospel: The Ruins of the Convent             292
           A Street in Sospel                           294
           Sospel: The City Wall and Gate               294
           A Street in Gorbio                           298
           A Street in Gorbio                           298
           A Street in St. Agnes                        300
           A Street in St. Agnes                        302



                           THE RIVIERA OF THE
                             CORNICHE ROAD



                                   I
                       EARLY DAYS IN THE RIVIERA


THE early history of this brilliant country is very dim, as are its
shores and uplands when viewed from an on-coming barque at the dawn of
day. The historian-adventurer sailing into the past sees before him just
such an indefinite country as opens up before the eye of the mariner.
Hills and crags—alone unchangeable—rise against the faint light in the
sky. The sound of breakers on the beach alone can tell where the ocean
ends and where the land begins; while the slopes, the valleys and the
woods are lost in one blank impenetrable shadow.

As the daylight grows, or as our knowledge grows, the forms of men come
into view, wild creatures armed with clubs and stones. They will be
named Ligurians, just as the earlier folk of Britain were named Britons.
Later on less uncouth men, furnished with weapons of bronze or iron, can
be seen to land from boats or to be plodding along the shore as if they
had journeyed far. They will be called Phœnicians, Carthaginians or
Phocæans according to the leaning of the writer who deals with them.
There may be bartering on the beach, there may be fighting or pantomimic
love-making; but in the end those who are better armed take the place of
the old dwellers, and the rough woman in her apron of skins walks off
into the wood by the side of the man with the bronze knife and the
beads.

There is little more than this to be seen through the haze of far
distant time. The written history, such as it is, is thus part fiction,
part surmise, for the very small element of truth is based upon such
fragments of evidence as a few dry bones, a few implements, a bracelet,
a defence work, a piece of pottery.

The Ligurians or aborigines formed themselves, for purposes of defence,
into clans or tribes. They built fortified camps as places of refuge.
Relics of these forts or castra remain, and very remarkable relics they
are, for they show immense walls built of blocks of unworked stone that
the modern wall builder may view with amazement. Nowhere are these camps
found in better preservation than around Monte Carlo.

In the course of time into this savage country, marching in invincible
columns, came the stolid, orderly legions of Rome. They subdued the
hordes of hillmen, broke up their forts, and commemorated the victory by
erecting a monument on the crest of La Turbie which stands there to this
day. The Romans brought with them discipline and culture, and above all,
peace. The natives, reassured, came down from their retreats among the
heights and established themselves in the towns which were springing up
by the edge of the sea. The Condamine of Monaco, for example, was
inhabited during the first century of the present era, as is made
manifest by the relics which have been found there.

With the fall of the Roman Empire peace vanished and the whole country
lapsed again into barbarism. It was overrun from Marseilles to Genoa by
gangs of hearty ruffians whose sole preoccupation was pillage, arson and
murder. They uprooted all that the Romans had established, and left in
their fetid trail little more than a waste of burning huts and dead men.

These pernicious folk were called sometimes Vandals, sometimes Goths,
sometimes Burgundians, and sometimes Swabians. The gentry, however, who
seem to have been the most persistent and the most diligent in evil were
the Lombards. They are described as “ravishing the country” for the
immoderate period of two hundred years, namely from 574 to 775. How it
came about that any inhabitants were left after this exhausting
treatment the historian does not explain.

At the end of the eighth century there may possibly have been a few
years’ quiet along the Riviera, during which time the people would have
recovered confidence and become hopeful of the future. Now the Lombards
had always come down upon them by land, so they knew in which direction
to look for their troubles, and, moreover, they knew the Lombards and
had a quite practical experience of their habits. After a lull in alarms
and in paroxysms of outrage, and after what may even be termed a few
calm years, something still more dreadful happened to these dwellers in
a fool’s paradise. Marauders began to come, not by the hill passes, but
by sea and to land out of boats. They were marauders, too, of a
peculiarly virulent type, compared with whom the Lombards were as babes
and sucklings; for not only were their actions exceptionally violent and
their weapons unusually noxious, but they themselves were terrifying to
look at, for they were nearly black.

These alarming people were the Saracens, otherwise known as the Moors or
Arabs. They belonged to a great race of Semitic origin which had peopled
Syria, the borders of the Red Sea and the North of Africa. They
invaded—in course of time—not only this tract of coast, but also
Rhodes, Cyprus, France, Spain and Italy. They were by birth and
inheritance wanderers, fighters and congenital pirates. They spread
terror wherever they went, and their history may be soberly described as
“awful.” They probably appeared at their worst in Provence and at their
best in Spain, where they introduced ordered government, science,
literature and commerce, and left behind them the memory of elegant
manners and some of the most graceful buildings in the world.

As early as about 800 the Saracens had made themselves masters of Eze,
La Turbie and Sant’ Agnese; while by 846 they seem to have terrorised
the whole coast from the Rhone to the Genoese Gulf, and in the first
half of the tenth century to have occupied nearly every sea-town from
Arles to Mentone. Finally, in 980, a great united effort was made to
drive the marauders out of France. It was successful. The leader of the
Ligurian forces was William of Marseilles, first Count of Provence, and
one of the most distinguished of his lieutenants was a noble Genoese
soldier by name Gibellino Grimaldi. It is in the person of this knight
that the Grimaldi name first figures in the history of the Ligurian
coast.

As soon as the Saracens had departed the powers that had combined to
drive them from the country began to fight among themselves. They fought
in a vague, confused, spasmodic way, with infinite vicissitudes and in
every available place, for over five hundred years. The siege of Nice by
the French in 1543 may be conveniently taken as the end of this
particular series of conflicts.

It was a period of petty fights in which the Counts of Provence were in
conflict with the rulers of Northern Italy, with the Duke of Milan, it
may be, or the Duke of Savoy or the Doge of Genoa. It was a time when
town fought with town, when Pisa was at war with Genoa and Genoa with
Nice, when the Count of Ventimiglia would make an onslaught on the Lord
of Eze and the ruffian who held Gorbio would plan a descent upon little
Roquebrune. This delectable part of the continent, moreover, came within
the sphere of that almost interminable war which was waged between the
Guelphs and the Ghibellines. In the present area the Grimaldi were for
the Guelphs and the Pope, and the Spinola for the Ghibellines and the
Emperor. The feud began in the twelfth century and lasted until the
French invasion in 1494.

This period of five hundred years was a time of interest that was
dramatic rather than momentous. So far as the South of France was
concerned one of the most beautiful tracts of country in Europe was the
battle-ground for bands of mediæval soldiers, burly, dare-devil men
carrying fantastic arms and dressed in the most picturesque costumes the
world has seen.

It was a period of romance, and, indeed—from a scenic point of view—of
romance in its most alluring aspect. Here were all the folk and the
incidents made famous by the writers of a hundred tales—the longbowman
in his leather jerkin, the man in the slashed doublet sloping a halberd,
the gay musketeer, the knight in armour and plumes, as well as the
little walled town, the parley before the gate, the fight for the
drawbridge and the dash up the narrow street.

It was a period when there were cavalcades on the road, glittering with
steel, with pennons and with banners, when there were ambushes and
frenzied flights, carousing of the Falstaffian type at inns, and
dreadful things done in dungeons. It was a time of noisy banquets in
vaulted halls with dogs and straw on the floor; a time of desperate
rescues, of tragic escapes, of fights on prison roofs, and of a general
and brilliant disorder. It was a delusive epoch, too, with a pretty
terminology, when the common hack was a palfrey, the footman a varlet,
and the young woman a damosel.

The men in these brawling times were, in general terms, swashbucklers
and thieves; but they had some of the traits of crude gentlemen, some
rudiments of honour, some chivalry of an emotional type, and an
unreliable reverence for the pretty woman.

It was a time to read about rather than to live in; a period that owes
its chief charm to a safe distance and to the distortion of an
artificial mirage. In any case one cannot fail to realise that these
scenes took place in spots where tramcars are now running, where the
char-à-banc rumbles along, and where the anæmic youth and the brazen
damosel dance to the jazz music of an American band.

When the five hundred years had come to an end there were still, in this
particular part of the earth, wars and rumours of wars that ceased not;
but they were ordinary wars of small interest save to the student in a
history class, for the day of the hand-to-hand combat and of the
dramatic fighting in streets had passed away.

So far as our present purpose is concerned the fact need only be noted
that the spoiled and petted Riviera has been the scene of almost
continuous disturbance and bloodshed for the substantial period of some
seventeen hundred years, and that it has now become a Garden of Peace,
calmed by a kind of agreeable dream-haunted stupor such as may befall a
convulsed man who has been put asleep by cocaine.



                                   II
                           THE CORNICHE ROAD


IT is hardly necessary to call to mind the fact that there are several
Corniche roads along the Riviera. The term implies a fringing road, a
road that runs along a cornice or ledge (French, _Corniche_; Italian,
_Cornice_).

The term will, therefore, be often associated with a coast road that
runs on the edge or border of the sea or on a shelf above it.

There are the Chemin de la Corniche at Marseilles which runs as far east
as the Prado, the Corniche d’Or near Cannes, the three Corniche Roads
beyond Nice, and—inland—the Corniche de Grasse.

The bare term “The Corniche Road” is, however, generally understood to
refer to the greatest road of them all, La Grande Corniche.

[Illustration: AT THE BEND OF THE ROAD.]

Of all the great roads in Europe it is probable that La Grande
Corniche—which runs from Nice eastwards towards Italy—is the best
known and the most popular. Roads become famous in many ways, some by
reason of historical associations, some on account of the heights they
reach, and others by the engineering difficulties they have been able to
surmount. La Grande Corniche can claim none of these distinctions. It is
comparatively a modern road, it mounts to little more than 1,700 feet,
and it cannot boast of any great achievement in its making. It passes by
many towns but it avoids them all, all save one little forgotten village
outside whose walls it sweeps with some disdain.

It starts certainly from Nice, but it goes practically nowhere, since
long before Mentone is in view it drops into a quite common highway, and
thus incontinently ends. It is not even the shortest way from point to
point, being, on the contrary, the longest. It cannot pretend to be what
the Italians call a “master way,” since no road of any note either
enters it or leaves it.

In so far as it evades all towns it is unlike the usual great highway.
It passes through no cobbled, wondering street; breaks into no quiet,
fountained square; crosses no market-place alive with chattering folk;
receives no blessing from the shadow of a church. Nowhere is its coming
heralded by an avenue of obsequious trees, it forces its way through no
vaulted gateway, it lingers by no village green, it knows not the scent
of a garden nor the luscious green of a cultivated field. Neither the
farmer’s cart nor the lumbering diligence will be met with on this
unamiable road, nor will its quiet be disturbed by the patter of a flock
of sheep nor by a company of merry villagers on their way to the fair.

La Grande Corniche is, in fact, a modern military road built by the
French under Napoleon I in 1806. It was made with murderous intent. It
was constructed to carry arms and men, guns and munitions and the
implements of war. It was a road of destruction designed to convey
bloodshed and desolation into Italy and beyond. He who conceived it had
in his mind the picture of a road alive, from end to end, with columns
of fighting men marching eastwards under a cloud of angry dust with the
banner of France in the van; had in his ears the merciless tramp of ten
thousand feet, the clatter of sweating cavalry, the rumble of unending
cannon wheels. It was a picture, he thought, worthy of the heart-racking
labour that the making of the road involved.

But yet, in spite of all this, the popularity of the road is readily to
be understood. It is cut out, as a mere thread, upon the side of a
mountain range which is thrown into as many drooping folds as is a vast
curtain gathered up into a fraction of its width. It is never
monotonous, never, indeed, even straight. It winds in and out of many a
valley, it skirts many a fearful gorge, it clings to the flank of many a
treacherous slope. Here it creeps beneath a jutting crag, there it
mounts in the sunlight over a radiant hill or dips into the silence of a
rocky glen.

It has followed in its making any level ledge that gave a foothold to
man or beast. It has used the goat track; it has used the path of the
mountaineer; while at one point it has taken to itself a stretch of the
ancient Roman road. It is a daring, determined highway, headstrong and
self-confident, hesitating before no difficulty and daunted by no
alarms, heeding nothing, respecting nothing, and obedient only to the
call “onwards to Italy at any cost!”

From its eyrie it looks down upon a scene of amazing enchantment, upon
the foundations of the everlasting hills, upon a sea glistening like
opal, upon a coast with every fantastic variation of crag and cliff, of
rounded bay and sparkling beach, of wooded glen and fern-decked,
murmuring chine. Here are bright villas by the water’s edge, a white
road that wanders as aimlessly along as a dreaming child, a town or two,
and a broad harbour lined with trees. Far away are daring capes, two
little islands, and a line of hills so faint as to be almost unreal. It
is true, indeed, as the writer of a well known guide book has said, that
“the Corniche Road is one of the most beautiful roads in Europe.”

Moreover, it passes through a land which is a Vanity Fair to the
frivolous, a paradise to the philanderer, and a garden of peace to all
who would escape the turmoil of the world. It is a lazy, careless
country, free from obtrusive evidence of toil and labour, for there are
neither works nor factories within its confines. Here the voice of the
agitator is not heard, while the roar of political dispute falls upon
the contented ear as the sound of a distant sea.

The Grand Corniche is now a road devoted to the seeker after pleasure.
People traverse it, not with the object of arriving at any particular
destination, but for the delight of the road itself, of the joy it gives
to the eye and to the imagination. Its only traffic is what the
transport agent would call “holiday traffic”; for when the idle season
ends the highway is deserted. In earlier days there would rumble along
the road the carriage and four of the traveller of great means; then
came the humbler vehicle hired from the town; then the sleek motor; and
finally, as a sign of democratic progress, the char-à-banc, the omnibus,
and the motor-brake.

No visitor to the Riviera of any self-respect can leave without
traversing the Corniche Road. Mark Twain says that “there are many
sights in the Bermudas, but they are easily avoided.” This particular
road cannot be avoided. The traveller who returns to his home without
having “done” La Grande Corniche may as well leave Rome without seeing
the Forum.

The most picturesque section of the road is that between Nice and Eze.
Starting from Nice it winds up along the sides of Mont Vinaigrier and
Mont Gros which here form the eastern bank of the Paillon valley. The
hills are covered with pine and olive trees, vines and oaks. There is
soon attained a perfect view over the whole town of Nice, when it will
be seen how commanding is the position occupied by the Castle Hill.
Across the valley are Cimiez and St. Pons. At the first bend, as the
height is climbed, is a tablet to mark the spot where two racing
motorists were killed. When the road turns round the northern end of
Mont Gros a fine view of the Paillon valley is displayed. This valley is
much more attractive at a distance than near at hand. By the river’s
bank on one side is St. André with its seventeenth-century château;
while on the other side is the Roman station of La Trinité-Victor, a
little place of a few houses and a church, where the old Roman road
comes down from Laghet. High up above St. André, at the height of nearly
1,000 feet, is the curious village of Falicon. Far away, at a distance
of some seven miles, is Peille, a patch of grey in a cup among the
mountains. Northwards the Paillon river is lost to view at Drap.

When the road has skirted the eastern side of Mont Vinaigrier the Col
des Quatre Chemins is reached (1,131 feet). Here are an inn and a
ridiculous monument to General Massena. The hills that border on the
road are now bleak and bare. Just beyond the col is a fascinating view
of Cap Ferrat and Cap de St. Hospice. The peninsula is spread out upon
the sea like a model in dark green wax on a sheet of blue. The road now
skirts the bare Monts Pacanaglia and Fourche and reaches the Col d’Eze
(1,694 feet), where is unfolded the grandest panorama that the Corniche
can provide. The coast can be followed from the Tête de Chien to St.
Tropez. The wizened town of Eze comes into sight, and below it is the
beautiful Bay of Eze, with the Pointe de Cabuel stretched out at the
foot of Le Sueil.

The view inland over the Alps and far away to the snows is superb. To
the left are Vence and Les Gorges du Loup, together with the town of St.
Jeannet placed at the foot of that mighty precipice, the Baou de St.
Jeannet, which attaining, as it does, a height of 2,736 feet is the
great landmark of the country round. Almost facing the spectator are
Mont Chauve de Tourette (2,365 feet) and Mont Macaron. The former is to
be recognised by the fort on its summit. They are distant about five
miles. To the right is Mont Agel with its familiar scar of bare stones.
Some two kilometres beyond Eze the Capitaine is reached, the point at
which the Corniche Road attains its greatest height, that of 1,777 feet.

The track now very slowly descends. When La Turbie (1,574 feet) is
passed a splendid view is opened up of Monaco and Monte Carlo, of the
Pointe de la Vieille, of Cap Martin, and of the coast of Italy as far as
Bordighera. Roquebrune—which can be seen at its best from the
Corniche—is passed below the town, and almost at once the road joins
the sober highway that leads to Mentone and ends its romantic career on
a tramline.



                                  III
                    NICE: THE PROMENADE DES ANGLAIS


NICE is a somewhat gross, modern seaside town which is beautiful in its
situation but in little else. It lies at the mouth of a majestic valley
and on the shores of a generous bay, open to the sun, but exposed at the
same time to every villainous wind that blows. It is an unimaginative
town with most excellent shops and a complete, if noisy, tramway system.
It is crowded, and apparently for that reason popular. It is proud of
its fine sea front and of the bright and ambitious buildings which are
ranged there, as if for inspection and to show Nice at its best.

The body of the town is made up of a vast collection of houses and
streets of a standard French pattern and little individuality. Viewed
from any one of the heights that rise above it, Nice is picturesque and
makes a glorious, widely diffused display of colour; but as it is
approached the charm diminishes, the dull suburbs damp enthusiasm, and
the bustling, noisy, central streets complete the disillusion. On its
outskirts is a crescent of pretty villas and luxuriant gardens which
encircle it as a garland may surround a plain, prosaic face. The country
in the neighbourhood of this capital of the Alpes Maritimes is
singularly charming, and, therefore, the abiding desire of the visitor
to Nice is to get out of it.

Along the sea front is the much-photographed Promenade des Anglais with
its line of palm trees. It is marked with a star and with capital
letters in the guide books and it is quite worthy of this distinction.
It appears to have been founded just one hundred years ago to provide
work for the unemployed. To judge from the crowd that frequents it, it
is still the Promenade of the Unemployed.

The Promenade has great dignity. It is spacious and, above all, it is
simple. As a promenade it is indeed ideal. It is free from the robust
vulgarity, the intrusions, and the restlessness of the parade in an
English popular seaside resort. There are no penny-in-the-slot machines,
no bathing-houses daubed over with advertisements, no minstrels, no
entertainments on the beach, no importunate boatmen, no persistent
photographers. If it gives the French the idea that it is a model of a
promenade of the English, it will lead to an awakening when the
Frenchman visits certain much-frequented seaside towns in England.

A little pier—the Jetée-Promenade—steps off from the main parade. On
it is a casino which provides varied and excellent attractions. The
building belongs to the Bank Holiday Period of architecture and is
accepted without demur as exactly the type of structure that a
joy-dispensing pier should produce. It is, however, rather disturbing to
learn that this fragile casino, with its music-hall and its refreshment
bars, is a copy of St. Sophia in Constantinople. That mosque is one of
the most impressive and most inspiring ecclesiastical edifices in the
world, as well as one of the most stupendous. Those who know
Constantinople and have been struck by the lordly magnificence of its
great religious fane will turn from this dreadful travesty with horror.
It is a burlesque that hurts, as would the “Hallelujah Chorus” played on
a penny whistle.

It is along the Promenade des Anglais—the Promenade of the
Unemployed—that the great event of the Carnival of Nice, the Battle of
Flowers, is held every year. The Carnival began probably as the modest
festa of a village community, a picturesque expression of the religion
of the time, a reverent homage to the country and to the flowers that
made it beautiful. It seems to have been always associated with flowers
and one can imagine the passing by of a procession of boys and girls
with their elders, all decked with flowers, as a spectacle both gracious
and beautiful.

It has developed now with the advancing ugliness of the times. The
simple maiden, clad in white, with her garland of wild flowers, has
grown into a coarse, unseemly monster, blatant and indecorous,
surrounded by a raucous mob carrying along with it the dust of a
cyclone. The humble village fête has become a means of making money and
an opportunity for clamour, licence and display. Reverence of any kind
or for anything is not a notable attribute of the modern mind; while
with the advance of a pushing democracy gentle manners inevitably fade
away.

It is pitiable that the Carnival has to do with flowers and that it is
through them that it seeks to give expression to its loud and flamboyant
taste. It is sad to see flowers put to base and meretricious uses,
treated as mere dabs of paint, forced into unwonted forms, made up as
anchors or crowns and mangled in millions. The festival is not so much a
battle of flowers as a Massacre of Flowers, a veritable St.
Bartholomew’s Day for buds and blossoms.

[Illustration: NICE: THE OLD TERRACES.]

The author of a French guide book suggests that the visitor should
attend the Carnival “at least once.” He makes this proposal with evident
diffidence. He owns that the affair is one of _animation incroyable_,
that the streets are occupied by _une cohue de gens en délire_ and
recommends the pleasure seeker to carry no valuables, to wear no clothes
that are capable of being spoiled, no hat that would suffer from being
bashed in, and to remember always that the dust is _énorme_.

Those who like a rollicking crowd, hustling through streets a-flutter
with a thousand flags and hung with festoons by the kilometre, and those
who have a passion for throwing things at other people might go even
more than once. They will see in the procession much that is ludicrous,
grotesque and puerile, an exaggerated combination of a circus car parade
and a native war dance, as well as a display of misapplied decoration of
extreme ingenuity.

On the other hand, the flower lover should escape to the mountains and
hide until the days of the Carnival are over, and with him might go any
who would prefer a chaplet of violets on the head of a girl to a laundry
basket full of peonies on the bonnet of a motor.

On that side of the old town which borders upon the sea are relics which
illustrate the more frivolous mood of Nice as it was expressed before
the building of the Promenade des Anglais. These relics show in what
manner the visitor to Nice in those far days sought joy in life.
Parallel to the beach is the Cours Saleya, a long, narrow, open space
shaded by trees. It was at one time a fashionable promenade, comparable
to the Pantiles at Tunbridge Wells. It is now a flower and vegetable
market. On the ocean side of this Cours are two lines of shops, very
humble and very low. The roofs of these squat houses are level and
continuous and so form two terraces running side by side and extending
for a distance of 800 feet.

These are the famous _Terrasses_ where the beaus and the beauties of
Nice promenaded, simpered, curtsied or bowed, and when this walk by the
shore was vowed to be “monstrous fine, egad.”[1] The terraces are now
deserted, are paved with vulgar asphalt and edged by a disorderly row of
tin chimneys. On one side, however, of this once crowded and fashionable
walk are a number of stone benches, on which the ladies sat, received
their friends, and displayed their Paris frocks. The terrace is as
uninviting as a laundry drying ground and these grey, melancholy benches
alone recall the fact that the place once rippled with colour and
sparkled with life as if it were the enclosure at Ascot.

-----

[1] The first of these terraces was completed in 1780 and the second one
in 1844.



                                   IV
                           NICE: THE OLD TOWN


LOOKING down upon the city from Mont Boron it is easy to distinguish
Nice the Illustrious from Nice the Parvenu. There is by the sea an
isolated green hill with precipitous flanks. This is the height upon
which once stood the ancient citadel. On one side is a natural
harbour—the old port—while on the other side is a jumble of
weather-stained roofs and narrow lanes which represent the old town. The
port, the castle hill, with the little cluster of houses at its foot,
form the real Nice, the Nice of history.

Radiating from this modest centre, like the petals of a sunflower
spreading from its small brown disc, are the long, straight streets, the
yellow and white houses and the red roofs of modern Nice. This new town
appears from afar as an immense expanse of bright biscuit-yellow spread
between the blue of the bay and the deep green of the uplands. It
presents certain abrupt excrescences on its surface, like isolated warts
on a pale face. These are the famous hotels. This city of to-day is of
little interest. It commends itself merely as a very modern and very
prosperous seaside resort. Within the narrow circuit of the old town, on
the other hand, there is much that is worthy to be seen and to be
pondered over.

It is said that Nice was founded by the Phocæans about the year 350
B.C., and that the name of the place, Nicæa, the city of victory,
records the victory of these very obscure people over the still more
obscure Ligurians. The Romans paid little heed to Nice. They passed it
by and founded their own city, Cemenelum (now Cimiez), on higher ground
away from the sea. Nice was then merely the port, the poor suburb, the
fishers’ town. After Cimiez came to an end Nice began to grow and
flourish. It was, in the natural course of events, duly sacked or burned
by barbarous hordes and by Saracens, and was besieged as soon as it had
walls and was besiegable. It took part in the local wars, now on this
side, now on that. It had, in common with nearly every town in Europe,
its periods of pestilence and its years of famine.

In the thirteenth century it fell into the hands of the Counts of
Provence, and at the end of the fourteenth century it came under the
protection of the Dukes of Savoy. Like many a worthier place it was
shifted to and fro like a pawn on a chess-board. It had for years a
strong navy and the reputation of being a terror to the Barbary pirates.
These tiresome men from Barbary interfered with the pursuits of Nice,
which consisted largely of robbery on the high seas. Nice did not object
to the Barbary men as pirates but as poachers on the Nice grounds. The
picture drawn by one writer who represents Nice in the guise of an
indignant moralist repressing piracy because of its wickedness, may be
compared with the conception of Satan rebuking sin. In 1250 Charles of
Anjou, Prince of Provence, built a naval arsenal at Nice. It occupied
the area now covered by the Cours Saleya but was entirely swept away by
a storm in 1516.

In 1548 Nice—then a town of Savoy—was attacked by the French and
sustained a very memorable siege, which is dealt with in the chapter
which follows. After this it became quite a habit with the French to
besiege Nice; for they set upon it, with varying success, in 1600, again
in 1691, in 1706, and again in 1744. Finally, after changes of ownership
too complex to mention, Nice was annexed to France, together with Savoy,
in the year 1860.

In Bosio’s interesting work[2] there is a plan of the city of Nice
published in 1610. Although bearing the date named it represents the
disposition of the city as it existed at a much earlier period. It shows
that the town was situated on the left or east bank of the Paillon and
that it was divided into two parts, the High Town and the Low Town. The
former occupied the summit of the Castle Hill, was strongly fortified
and surrounded by substantial walls. On this plateau were the castle of
the governor, the cathedral, the bishop’s palace, the Hôtel de Ville,
and the residences of certain nobles. The Low Town, at the foot of the
hill, was occupied by the houses and shops of merchants, by private
residences, and the humbler dwellings of sailors, artisans and poor
folk. In the earliest days the High Town, or Haute Ville, alone existed;
for Nice was then a settlement on an isolated hill as difficult of
access as Monaco. In the fifteenth century the castle was represented
only by the old keep or donjon, a structure, no doubt, massive enough
but not adapted for other than a small garrison. It was Nicode de
Menthon who enlarged the fortress of Nice and greatly increased the
defences of the town during the century named.

As years progressed the military needs of the time caused the High Town,
as a place of habitation, to cease to exist; for the whole of the top of
the hill was given up to fortifications, bastions, gun emplacements,
magazines, armouries and barracks. It is said by Bosio that the private
houses and public buildings within the walls of the High Town were
abandoned in 1518 to be replaced by the military works just named. The
whole of these works were finally levelled to the ground in the year
1706 by order of Louis XIV.

The Low Town, la Ville Basse, was bounded on the south by the sea, on
the east by the Castle Hill, and on the west by a line running from the
shore to the Paillon and roughly represented in position and direction
by the present Rue de la Terrasse. To the north the town extended as far
as the Boulevard du Pont Vieux. The town was surrounded by ramparts and
bastions. On the ruins of the bastions Sincaire and Païroliera the Place
Victor[3] (now the Place Garibaldi) was constructed in 1780. The
position of the two bastions on the north is indicated roughly by the
present Rue Sincaire and Rue Pairollière. On one side of the Rue
Sincaire there still stands, against the flank of the hill, a solid and
lofty mass of masonry which is a relic of the defences of old days.

There were four gates to the old town, Porte de la Marine, Porte St.
Eloi, Porte St. Antoine, and the Païroliera Gate. The St. Eloi and the
Païroliera gates were broken down during the great siege of 1543, and
the others have since been cleared away. Of these various gates that of
St. Antoine was the most important. It was at this gate that criminals
were pilloried. A faint trace of the old walls is still to be seen near
the end of the Fish Market.

The Bellanda Tower was built in 1517 by de Bellegarde, the then Governor
of Nice. It served to protect the city from the sea. The tower now
exists as a low round work which has been incorporated in the grounds of
an hotel and converted into a “belvedere.” It might, however, be readily
mistaken for a stone water-tank. There was another tower, called the
Malavicina, which was constructed to defend the town upon the land side;
but of this erection no trace remains. A little suburb, or small
borough, existed just outside the old town and on the other side of the
river. It was called St. Jean Baptiste, and was connected with the town
by a bridge in front of the St. Antoine Gate. Its position is indicated
by the present Quai St. Jean Baptiste.

The old town of Nice is small and well circumscribed. It occupies a damp
and dingy corner at the foot of the Castle Hill. It seems as if it had
been pushed into this corner by the over-assertive new town. Its lanes
are so compressed and its houses, by comparison, so tall that it gives
the idea of having been squeezed and one may imagine that with a little
more force the houses on the two sides of a street would touch. It is
traversed from end to end by an alley called the Rue Droite. This was
the Oxford Street of the ancient city. A series of narrower lanes cross
the Rue Droite; those on one side mount uphill towards the castle rock,
those on the other incline towards the river.

The lanes are dark, dirty and dissolute-looking. The town is such a one
as Gustave Doré loved to depict or such as would be fitting to the tales
of Rabelais. One hardly expects to find it peopled by modern mechanics,
tram conductors, newspaper boys and honest housewives; nor do electric
lights seem to be in keeping with the place. Its furtive ways would be
better suited to men in cloaks and slouched hats carrying rapiers, and
at night to muffled folk groping about with lanterns. One expects rather
to see quaint signboards swinging over shops and women with strange
headgear looking out of lattice windows. In the place of all this is
modern respectability—the bowler hat, the stiff collar and the
gramophone.

The only thing that has not changed is the smell. It may be fainter than
it was, but it must be centuries old. It is a complex smell—a mingling
of cheese and stale wine, of salt fish and bad health, a mouldy and
melancholy smell that is hard to bear even though it be so very old. The
ancient practice of throwing all refuse into the street has drawbacks,
but it at least lacks the insincere delicacy of the modern dustbin.

Strange and interesting industries are carried on in doorways and on the
footpath. Intimate affairs of domestic life are pursued with unblushing
frankness in the open and with a singular absence of restraint. Each
street, besides being a public way, is also a laundry, a play-room for
children and a fowl run.

The houses are of no particular interest, for, with a few exceptions,
they have been monotonously modernised. The lanes are so pinched that
the dwellings are hard to see as a whole. If the visitor throws back his
head and looks in the direction in which he believes the sky to be, he
will be aware of dingy walls in blurred tints of pink or yellow, grey or
blue with green sun-shutters which are swinging open at all angles. From
any one of the windows may protrude a mattress—like a white or red
tongue—or a pole may appear from which hang clothes to dry, or, more
commonly still, a female head will project. Women talk to one another
from windows all day long. Indeed, social intercourse in old Nice is
largely conducted from windows. If one looks along a lane, these dark
heads projecting at various levels from the houses are like hobnails on
the sole of a boot. The sun-shutters, it may be explained, are not for
the purpose of keeping out the sun, but serve as a protection from the
far more piercing ray of the neighbour’s eye.

A picturesque street is the Rue du Malonat. It mounts up to the foot of
the Castle Hill by wide, low steps like those on a mule-path. Poor as
the street may be, there is in it an old stone doorway, finely carved,
which is of no little dignity. At the bottom of the lane is a corner
house with three windows furnished with grilles. This is said to have
been at one time the residence of the Governor of Nice. The house in the
Rue de la Préfecture (No. 20) where Paganini died is featureless but for
its old stone entry, and its ground floor has become a shop where
knitted goods are sold.[4]

In the Rue Droite (No. 15) is an amazing house which one would never
expect to find in a mean street. It is the palace of the great Lascaris
family. Theodore Lascaris, the founder of the family, is said to have
been driven from his Byzantine throne in 1261 and to have taken refuge
in Nice. There he built himself a palace. It could not have been erected
in the Rue Droite, as so many writers repeat, since the Lower Town as a
retreat for ex-emperors, had no existence at this period. The
descendants of the exile, however, continued to live in Nice for some
centuries, and the present building dates, with little doubt, from the
early part of the seventeenth century.

The street is so narrow that it is difficult to appreciate the fine
façade of this palace; but by assuming the attitude of a star-gazer it
is possible to see that the great house of four stories would look
illustrious even in Piccadilly. It has a very finely carved stone
doorway which leads into a vaulted hall. In the road outside the door
are heaps of vegetable refuse, a pyramid of mouldy lemons and a pile of
pea husks. From the upper windows hang bedding and clothes to dry. It is
quite evident that the exposed garments do not belong to the family of
an ex-emperor. On the main floor, or _piano nobile_, are seven large and
ornate windows, each provided with a balcony.

From the hall a stone staircase ascends in many flights. It has a
vaulted ceiling, supported by large stone columns. On the wall are
niches containing busts of indefinite men and some elaborate work in
plaster. The staircase on one side is open to a well all the way and so
the lights and shadows that cross it are very fascinating. Still more
fascinating is it to recall for a moment the people who have passed up
and down the stair and upon whom these lights and shadows have fallen
during the last three hundred years. Among them would be the old count
on his way to the justice room, the faltering bride whose hand has
rested on this very balustrade, the tired child crawling up to bed with
a frightened glance at the fearsome busts upon the wall.[5]

The rooms on the _piano nobile_ have domed ceilings, which are either
covered with frescoes or are richly ornamented by plaster work. There is
a great display on the walls of gilt panelling and bold mouldings. The
rooms are dark and empty and so dirty that they have apparently not been
cleaned since the Lascaris family took their departure. Apart from the
filth and the neglect the place provides a vivid realisation of the town
house of a nobleman of Nice in the olden days.

[Illustration: NICE: RUE DU SENAT.]

A stroll through the town will reveal many reminiscences of the past,
which, although trivial enough, are still very pleasant to come upon
amidst squalid surroundings. For instance over the doorway of a house in
the Rue Centrale are carved, in a very boyish fashion, the letters
I.H.S. with beneath them the sacred heart, the date 1648 and the
initials of the owner of the building. Then again in the Rue Droite (No.
1), high up on the plain, deadly-modern wall of a wine-shop, is one very
exquisite little window whose three arches are supported by two graceful
columns. It is as unexpected as a plaque by Della Robbia on the outside
of a gasometer.

There are several churches in the old town but they cannot claim to be
notable. The cathedral of Sainte Réparate stands in an obscure and
meagre square. It became a cathedral in 1531 but was reconstructed in
1737 and its interior “restored” in 1901. Outside it is quite mediocre,
but within it is so ablaze with crude colours, so laden with extravagant
and restless ornament, so profuse in its fussy and irritating decoration
that it is not, in any sense, a sanctuary of peace. The old town hall of
Nice in the Place St. François is a small, simple building in the
Renaissance style which can claim to be worthy of the Nice that was.

There are two objects outside the old town which the visitor will
assuredly see—the Pont Vieux and the Croix de Marbre. The former which
dates from 1531 is a weary-looking old bridge of three arches, worn and
patched. Any charm it may have possessed is destroyed by the uncouth
structure of wood and iron which serves to widen its narrow mediæval
way. The cross stands in the district once occupied by the convent of
Sainte Croix which was destroyed during the siege of 1543. The monument
serves to commemorate the meeting of peace held in 1538 by Pope Paul
III, François I and the Emperor Charles V. The cross, which is very
simple, rises under a canopy of old, grey stone, supported by pillars
with very primitive capitals. The cross was hidden away during the
Revolution but was replaced in 1806 by the then Countess de Villeneuve.
The venerable monument, standing as it does in a busy street through
which the tramcars rumble, looks singularly forlorn and out of place.

The Castle Hill is now merely a wooded height which has been converted
into a quite delightful public park. Among the forest of trees are many
remains of the ancient citadel, masses of tumbled masonry, a half-buried
arch or a stone doorway. There are indications also of the foundations
of the old cathedral. The view from the platform on the summit is very
fine, while at the foot are the jumbled roofs of old Nice. It is easy to
appreciate how strong a fortress it was and how it proved to be
impregnable to the forces of Barbarossa in the siege of 1543. It is a
hill with a great history, illumined with great memories, but these are
not encouraged by the stall for postcards and the refreshment bar which
now occupy the place of the old donjon.

-----

[2] “La Province des Alpes Maritimes,” 1902.

[3] So named after King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia.

[4] The strange wanderings of Paganini after death are dealt with in the
account of Villefranche (page 114).

[5] A good photograph of this staircase will be found in Mr. Loveland’s
“Romance of Nice,” page 146.



                                   V
                           THE SIEGE OF NICE


NICE, as has been already stated, was many times besieged. If there be a
condition among towns that may be called “the siege habit” then Nice had
acquired it. The most memorable assault upon the place was in 1543. It
was so gallant an affair that it is always referred to as _the_ siege of
Nice.

It was an incident of the war between Charles V and François I, King of
France. A treaty had been entered into between these two sovereigns
which is commemorated to this day by the Croix de Marbre in the Rue de
France. Charles V thought fit to regard this obligation as “a scrap of
paper” and declared war upon the French king. The French at once started
to attack Nice which was conveniently near to the frontier and at the
same time an important stronghold of the enemy.

Now in these days business entered largely into the practical affairs of
warfare. A combatant must obviously have a fighting force. If he
possessed an inadequate army he must take means to supplement it. He
must hire an army on the best terms he could and in accord with the
hire-system arrangement of the time. Professional warriors were numerous
enough and were as eager for a temporary engagement as are “supers” at a
pantomime. They could not be obtained through what would now be called a
Registry Office; but there were contractors or war-employment agents who
could supply the men _en masse_.

François I, when the war began, found himself very ill provided with
fighting men and especially with seamen and ships, for Nice was a port.
He naturally, therefore, applied to the nearest provider of war material
and was able to secure no less a man than Barbarossa the pirate.

It is necessary to speak more fully about this talented man; for in all
popular accounts of the great siege of Nice two persons alone are
pre-eminent; two alone occupy the stage—a pirate and a laundress,
Barbarossa and Segurana. Hariadan Barbarossa was a pirate by profession,
or as some would style him who prefer the term, a corsair. His sphere of
activity was the Mediterranean and especially the shores of Africa. He
had done extremely well and, as the result of diligent robbery with
violence pursued for many years, he had acquired territory in Tunis
where he reigned as a kind of caliph. He was not a Moor nor was he
black. He was a native of Mitylene. The name Barbarossa, or Redbeard,
had been given him apparently in part on account of his hair and in part
from the fact that his real name was unpronounceable. His exploits
attracted the attention of the Sultan of Turkey who was so impressed
with his ability that he took him into his service and made him Grand
Admiral of the Ottoman fleet. It was, therefore, with Turkish ships and
with Turkish men that Barbarossa came to the aid of the King of France.

The leader of the French troops was the Comte de Grignan. He seems,
however, to have been a person of small importance. Barbarossa was the
commanding figure, the leader and the hero of the drama.

The governor of Nice was a grey-headed warrior, one Andrea Odinet, Count
of Montfort. Barbarossa commenced operations on August 9th but before
his attack was delivered he sent a formal message to the governor
demanding the surrender of the town. The governor replied enigmatically
that his name was Montfort. Barbarossa probably perceived that the name
was appropriate, for the hill held by the enemy was strong. He further
informed the pirate that his family motto was “Bisogno tenere,” which
may be rendered “I am bound to hold on.” Having furnished these
biographical details he suggested that the Turkish admiral had a little
more to do than he could manage.

The position of the town, with its walls, its bastions and its gates,
has been already set forth in the preceding chapter. The main assault
was made on the north side of Nice, the special object of attack being
the Païroliera bastion which faced the spot now occupied by the Place
Garibaldi. The batteries opened fire and poured no fewer than three
hundred shots a day upon the unhappy city. This cannonade was
supplemented by that of one hundred and twenty galleys which were
anchored off the foot of Mont Boron.

By August 15th a breach was made in the Païroliera bastion, and the
Turks and the French moved together to the assault. They were thrown
back with fury. They renewed the attack, but were again repulsed and on
the third violent onrush were once more hurled back. At last, wearied
and disheartened, they retired, having lost heavily in men and having
suffered the capture of three standards.

The poor, battered town of Nice, with its small garrison, could not
however endure for long the incessant rain of cannon balls, the anxiety,
the perpetual vigil and the bursts of fighting; so after eleven days of
siege the lower town capitulated, leaving the _haute ville_, or Castle
Hill, still untaken.

Barbarossa appears to have dealt with that part of the city which he had
captured in quite the accepted pirate fashion and with great heartiness.
He destroyed as much of it as his limited leisure would permit, let
loose his shrieking Turks to run riot in the streets, set fire to the
houses and took away three thousand inhabitants as slaves.
Barbarossa—whatever his faults—was thorough.

There yet remained the problem of the upper town on the Castle Hill. It
was unshaken, untouched and as defiant as the precipice on which it
stood; while over the tower of the keep the banner of Nice floated
lazily in the breeze as if it heralded an autumn fête day. The Turkish
batteries thundered not against walls and bastions but against a solid
and indifferent rock. To scale the side of the cliff was not within the
power of man. The garrison on the height had little to do but wait and
count the cannon balls which smashed against the stone with as little
effect as eggshells against a block of iron.

[Illustration: NICE: A STREET IN THE OLD TOWN.]

The view is generally accepted that little is to be gained by knocking
one’s head against a stone wall. The general in command of the French
was becoming impressed with this opinion and was driven to adopt another
and more effective method of destroying Nice. In his camp were certain
traitors, deserters and spies who had sold themselves, body and soul, to
the attacking army. Conspicuous among these was Gaspard de Caïs (of whom
more will be heard in the telling of the siege of Eze), Boniface Ceva
and a scoundrel of particular baseness named Benoit Grimaldo, otherwise
Oliva. These mean rogues assured the French general that Nice could be
taken by treachery. They had co-conspirators in the town who were
anxious to help in destroying the place of their birth and were masters
of a plan which could not fail. Three Savoyard deserters offered their
services as guides; and one day, as the twilight was gathering, Benoit
Grimaldo, the three guides, and a party of armed men started out
cheerfully for the Castle Hill. On gaining access to the town they were
to make way for the body of the troops. The French to a man watched the
hill for the signal that would tell that the impregnable fortress had
been entered and, with arms in hand, were ready to spring forward to
victory.

Unfortunately one of the deserters had a conscience. His conscience was
so disturbed by qualms that the man was compelled to sneak to his
colonel and “tell him all.” It thus came to pass that Benoit and his
creeping company were met by a sudden fusillade which killed many of
them. The survivors fled. Grimaldo jumped into the sea and saved himself
by swimming. Later on—it may be mentioned—he was taken by some of his
old comrades of the Castle Hill and was hanged within sight of his own
home.

In this way did the siege of Nice come to an end, leaving the city
untaken and the flag still floating over the gallant height; while the
discomfited pirate sailed away for other fields of usefulness.[6]

It is necessary now to turn to the case of the laundress who shared with
Barbarossa the more dramatic glories of the siege. She is said, in
general terms, “to have fought valiantly and to have inspirited the
defenders by her example.” As to her exact deeds of valour there is some
obscurity in matters of detail and some conflict of evidence as to the
scope and purpose of her military efforts. If her capacity for
destroying Turks may be measured by the capacity of the modern laundress
for destroying linen she must have been an exceedingly formidable
personage. The story, as given by Baring-Gould, is as follows:[7]

“Catherine Segurane, a washerwoman, was carrying provisions on the wall
to some of the defenders when she saw that the Turks had put up a
scaling ladder and that a captain was leading the party and had reached
the parapet. She rushed at him, beat him on the head with her washing
bat and thrust him down the ladder which fell with all those on it. Then
hastening to the nearest group of Nicois soldiers she told them what she
had done, and they, electrified by her example, threw open a postern,
made a sortie, and drove the Turks back to the shore.”

Apart from the fact that the picture of a washerwoman strolling about in
the firing line with a laundry implement in her hand is hard to realise,
it must be added that certain French accounts and the story of Ricotti
differ materially from the narrative given. Ricotti speaks of Segurana
as a poor lady of Nice, aged thirty-seven, who was so ill-looking that
she went by the nickname of Donna Maufaccia or Malfatta which may be
rendered as Madame Ugly Face. She is said to have been possessed of rare
strength, to have been masculine in bearing and _ingrate_ or unpleasing
in her general aspect. She is described as having performed some feat of
strength with a Turkish standard that she had seized with her own hands.
According to one account she threw the standard into the moat and
according to another she planted it upside down on the top of Castle
Hill—a somewhat childish display of swagger.

From the rather ridiculous elements furnished by the various records a
composite story comes together which is as full of charm as a beautiful
allegory. It tells of no Joan of Arc with her youth, her handsome face,
her graceful carriage, her shining armour and her powerful friends. It
tells of a woman in a lowly position who was no longer young, who was
ugly and, indeed, unpleasant to look upon, who was the butt of her
neighbours and was branded with a cruel nickname by her own townfolk.
When the city was attacked and in the travail of despair this despised
woman, this creature to laugh at, came to the front, fought with noble
courage by the side of the men, shared their dangers and displayed so
fine and so daring a spirit that she put heart into a despairing
garrison, put life into a drooping cause and made victorious what had
been but a forlorn hope. It was the fire and patriotism and high resolve
that she aroused that saved the city she loved and earned for her the
name, for all time, of the Heroine of Nice. Poor Madame Ugly Face the
butt of the town!

-----

[6] Nostredame, “History of Provence,” 1614. Durante’s “History of
Nice,” 1823. Vol. ii. Ricotti, “Storia della monarchia piemontese,”
1861. Vol. i.

[7] “Riviera,” by S. Baring-Gould, 1905.



                                   VI
                          CIMIEZ AND ST. PONS


BEHIND the city of Nice rises the well known hill of Cimiez, on the
gentle slope of which stand the great hotels. On the summit of the hill
was the Roman town of Cemenelum, which is said to have numbered 30,000
inhabitants and which was at the height of its glory before Nice itself
came into being. Through Cemenelum passed the great Roman road which ran
from the Forum of Rome to Arles. It approached Cimiez from Laghet and La
Trinité-Victor and traces of it are still indicated in this fashionable
colony of gigantic hotels and resplendent villas.

Few remains of the Roman settlement are now to be seen; for the Lombards
in the sixth century did their best to destroy it and after their
cyclonic passage the town became little more than a quarry for stones.
In the grounds of the Villa Garin is a structure of some size which is
assumed by the learned to have been part of a temple of Apollo, together
with minor fragments of walls which are claimed to have belonged to the
Thermæ.

The most important ruin in Cimiez is that of the amphitheatre. It is a
mere shell, but its general disposition is very clear. In addition to a
lower tier of seats there are remains of the upper rows which are
supported, as in the Coliseum, on arches. The vaulted porch at the main
entrance is in singular preservation. The arena measures 150 feet in one
axis and 115 feet in the other. It is, therefore, small and in the form
of a broad oval. A great deal of the structure is buried in the ground,
so that it is estimated that the original floor of the arena lies at
least ten feet below the existing surface. The ruins, much overgrown
with grass and brambles, have an aspect of utter desolation. It is said
that the natives call the spot _il tino delle fate_, or the fairies’
bath. If this be so there is assuredly more sarcasm in the conceit than
poetic merit, for the sorry parched-up ruin would better serve as a
penitentiary for ghosts. Through the centre of the amphitheatre passed
at one time the road from Cimiez to Nice. It is now closed and the
present road, with its tramlines, runs outside the walls of the
venerable building.

[Illustration: CIMIEZ: THE ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE]

Near the amphitheatre and on the crest of the hill is the monastery of
St. Francis of Assisi. It lies in a modest square, shaded by old ilex
trees. At one end of the square is the cross of Cimiez. It stands aloft
on a twisted column of marble. Upon the cross is carved the six-winged
seraph which appeared to St. Francis in a vision. This marvellous work
of art dates from the year 1477. The cross, like the column, is all
white and, standing up as it does against the deep green background of a
solemn elm, it forms an object of impressive beauty. Crosses in the open
are to be found throughout the whole of France, but there is no cross
that can compare with this.

The monastery was founded in 1543. The façade of the chapel, with its
bell towers on either side and its central gable over a pointed window,
is very simple. It is rather spoiled by a heavy arcade which, being
recently restored is harsh and crude. The interior of the chapel is
gracious and full of charm. It consists of a square nave flanked by
narrow aisles. The roof, vaulted and groined, is decorated with frescoes
and is supported by square columns of great size. At the far end, in a
deep and dim recess, is the altar. This chancel is cut off from the
church by a balustrade of white marble. Behind the altar is a high
screen of daintily carved wood, gilded and relieved by three niches. It
is a work of the sixteenth century.

Many churches offend by lavish and obtrusive ornament, by glaring
colours, by reckless splashes of bright gold, by excessive detail, all
of which give a sense of restlessness and discord. Such churches may not
unfitly be spoken of as “loud.” If that term be appropriate, then this
little shrine may be described as the chapel of a whisper. Its
fascination lies in its exquisite and tender colouring which conveys a
sense of supreme quietude and peace. It is difficult to say of what its
colouring consists for it is so delicate and so subdued. There is a
gentle impression of faint tints, of the lightest coral pink, of white,
of grey, of a hazy blue. The general effect is that of a piece of old
brocade, the colours of which are so faded and so soft that all details
of the pattern have been lost. The light in the church is that of summer
twilight. The altar is almost lost in the shadow. The screen behind it
is merely such a background of old gold as that upon which the face of a
saint was painted in the early days of art. The marble rail is a line of
white and in the gloom of the chancel is the light of one tiny red
lamp—a mere still spark.

In two of the side chapels are paintings by Ludovici Bréa of Nice of
about the year 1512. By the side of the church is the monastery which is
now deserted. A corridor leads to a little courtyard, with a well in the
centre, and around it a plain white-walled cloister. Beyond this is an
enclosed garden shut in also by a cloister of pale arches in the shadows
of which are the doors of the monastery cells. The garden is in a state
of utter neglect; but in it still flourish palms and bamboos, orange
trees and a few despondent flowers.

That side of the hill of Cimiez which looks towards the east is somewhat
steep, and the zigzag road which traverses it leads down to the broad,
open valley of the Paillon river. Near the foot of the hill and on a
little promontory just above the level floor of the valley stands the
Abbey of St. Pons. The name, St. Pons, is given to the district around
which forms a scattered suburb of Nice. The place is still green, for it
abounds with gardens and orange groves; but it is being “developed” and
is becoming a semi-industrial quarter, very devoid of attraction. There
are factories in St. Pons, together with workshops and depressing
houses, a tramline and—across the river—a desert of railway sidings.
It possesses many cafés which, on the strength of a few orange trees, a
palm or two and an arbour, make a meretricious claim to be rural. From
all these objects the abbey is happily removed; but its position is
neither so romantic nor so picturesque as its past history would
suggest.

The present abbey church is a drab, uninteresting building with a
prominent tower. It was built about the end of the sixteenth century.
The monastery is occupied by an asylum for the insane. The Abbey of St.
Pons is of great antiquity, since it dates from the eighth century and
it is claimed that Charlemagne sojourned there on two occasions. It
stands on the site of ancient Roman buildings, for numerous remains of
that period have been unearthed, among which are an altar to Apollo,
many sarcophagi and some inscribed stones.

There was also a convent at St. Pons long centuries ago. Its precise
position is a matter of doubt; for, so far as I can ascertain, no trace
of the building can now be pointed out with assurance. In the history of
St. Pons this convent plays a conspicuous, if momentary part. The
episode is deplorable for it concerns the dramatic circumstances under
which the convent came to an end.

[Illustration: CIMIEZ: THE MARBLE CROSS.]

[Illustration: CIMIEZ: THE MONASTERY WELL.]



                                  VII
               HOW THE CONVENT OF ST. PONS CAME TO AN END


ON a kindly afternoon in St. Martin’s summer, when the shadows were
lengthening and the beech woods were carpeted with copper and gold, a
party of gallants were making their way back to Nice after a day’s
ramble among the hills. It was in the year 1408, when this poor worried
world was still young and thoughtless. They were strolling idly down the
valley of St. Pons, loath to return to their cramped, dull palaces on
the Castle Hill, when a storm began to rumble up from the south and the
sky to become black and threatening. Slashed doublets and silken hose
and caps of miniver are soon made mean by the rain; so the question
arose as to a place of shelter.

At the moment when the first large ominous drops were falling the little
party chanced to be near by the convent of St. Pons. It is a bold thing
for a company of gay young men to approach a retreat of nuns; but the
wind was already howling, the blast was chill and these youths were
bold. The door was opened, not by an austere creature with a repellent
frown, but by a comely serving sister of joyous countenance. The youths,
adopting that abject humility which men assume when they find themselves
where they ought not to be, begged meekly for shelter from the rain.
Without demur and, indeed, with effusion the fair janitor bade them
welcome and asked them to come in. The young men, whose faces until now
were solemn, as was befitting to a sacred place, began to smile and to
appear normal. The serving sister, with a winning curtsey, said she
would call the abbess.

At this announcement the smile vanished from the lips of the refugees.
An abbess was a terrible and awe-inspiring thing, something that was
stout and red, imperious and chilling, inclined to wrath and very severe
in all matters relating to young men. A few turned as if to make for the
outer door; while one—who had held an outpost in a siege—whispered to
his friend “Now we are in for it!” After a period of acute suspense an
inner door opened and the abbess appeared. She was stout, it is true;
but it was a very comfortable, embrace-inviting stoutness. She was red;
but it was the ruddy glow of a ripe apple. Her face was sunny, her mouth
smiling and her manner warm. In age she was just past the meridian. She
was, indeed, the embodiment of St. Martin’s summer.

She greeted the new-comers with heartiness; laughed at their timidity;
asked them what they were frightened at and told them, with no
conventual restraint, that she was delighted to see them. When one
mumbled something about being driven in by the rain she said, with a coy
glance at her guests, that rain was much wanted just then about the
convent. She put them at their ease. She chattered and warbled as one
who loves to talk. Her voice rippled through the solemn hall like the
song of a full-breasted thrush. She asked them their names and what they
were doing. She wanted to hear the lighter gossip of Castle Hill and to
be told of the scrapes in which they were involved and of the bearing of
their lady loves. She twitted a handsome knight upon his good looks and
caused a shy seigneur to stammer till he blushed.

It must not be supposed that she was an ordinary abbess or a type of the
reverend lady who should control the lives and mould the conduct of
quiet nuns. Indeed the recorder of this chronicle viewed her with
disapproval and applied harsh terms to her; for in his description of
this merry, fun-loving and comfortable person he uses such disagreeable
expressions as _mondaine_ and _bonne viveuse_.[8]

As the rain was still beating on the convent roofs and as the young men
had travelled far the abbess invited them into the refectory, a white,
hollow room with bare table and stiff chairs. Here wine was placed
before them, of rare quality and in copious amount; while—sad as it may
be to tell the truth—nuns began to sidle timidly into the room, one by
one. Whatever might be the comment the fact cannot be concealed that the
grim refectory was soon buzzing with as merry a company as ever came
together and one very unusual within the walls of a convent.

The time was drawing near for the evening service. Whether the abbess
invited the young men to join in the devotions proper to the house, or
whether the young men, out of politeness, suggested that they should
attend I am unable to state, for the historian is silent upon this
point.

The service proceeded. The male members of the congregation were, I am
afraid, inattentive. They were tired; they had passed through an
emotional adventure and wine is soporific. They lolled in their seats;
some rested their heads on the bench before them; some dozed; some even
may have slept.

In a while the nuns began the singing of the “De Profundis” (Out of the
Depths). As they sang one voice could be heard soaring above the rest, a
voice clear and beautiful, vibrating with tenderness, with longing and
with infinite pathos. The young men remained unmoved save one. This one,
who had been lounging in a corner, suddenly awoke and was at once alert,
startled and alarmed. He clutched the seat in front of him as if he
would spring towards the spot whence the music came. His eyes, fixed on
the choir, glared as the eyes of one who sees a ghost. His countenance
bore the pallor of death. He trembled in every fibre of his body.

He knew the voice. It was to him the dearest in the world. It was a
voice from “out of the depths,” for it belonged to one whom he believed
to be dead. He could not see the singer; but he could see, as in a
dream, the vision of a piteous face, a face with eyes as blue as a
summer lake, with lips whimsical, tantalising and ineffable; could see
the tender cheek, the chin, the white forehead, the waving hair. He knew
that she who sang was no other than Blanche d’Entrevannes, whom he had
loved and to whom he was still devoted.

But a few years past he had held her in his arms, had kissed those lips,
and had thrilled to the magic of that voice. Her father had frowned upon
their hopes and had forbidden their union. The lad had been called away
to the wars. When he returned he had sought her out and was told that
“she is dead.” He haunted every spot where they had wandered together,
only to learn the truth that “no place is so forlorn as that where _she_
has been,” and only to hear again that she was dead.

Blanche was not dead, but, believing their case to be hopeless, she had
entered the convent of St. Pons and, in a few days’ time, would take the
veil.

After the service the youth—whose name was Raimbaud de
Trects—disappeared to find the singer at any cost. The search was
difficult. At last he met a sympathetic maid who said that Blanche
d’Entrevannes was indeed a novice in the convent and who, with little
pressing, agreed to convey a message to her. The message was short. It
told that he was there and begged her to fly with him that night. The
answer that the maid brought back was briefer still, for it was a
message of two words—“I come.”

The rain continued to pour, the harsh wind blew and the gallant knights
were still in need of shelter. How they spent the night and how they
were disposed of I do not know, for the strict narrative avoids all
reference to that matter.

By the morning the storm had passed away and as the sun broke out the
young men reluctantly prepared to take their leave. The abbess would not
allow them to go without one final ceremony. They must all drink the
stirrup cup together, “to speed the parting guest,” as was the custom of
the time. It was an hilarious ceremony and one pleasant to look upon. In
the road before the convent gate stood the cheery abbess in the light of
the unflinching day. In her hand she raised a brimming goblet and her
sleeve falling back revealed a white and comely arm. Around her was a
smiling company of young men whose many-coloured costumes lit up the
dull road and the old grey-tinted rocks. Behind her were the nuns in a
semicircle of sober brown, giggling and chatting, nudging one another
and a little anxious about their looks in the merciless morning light.
It was a noisy gathering but very picturesque; for the scarlet and blue
of the knights’ doublets and the glint of steel made a pretty contrast
with the row of white faces in white coifs and the cluster of
dark-coloured gowns. It was like a bunch of flowers in an earthenware
bowl.

The abbess, beaming as the morning, was about to speak when something
terrible came to pass. There appeared in the road the most
dread-inspiring thing that the company of knights and nuns could have
feared to see. It was not a lion nor was it a dragon. It was a bishop.
It was not one of those fat, smiling bishops with flabby cheeks and
ample girth, whose loose mouth breathes benevolence and whose hands love
to pat curly heads and trifle with pretty chins. It was a thin bishop
with a face like parchment and the visage of a hawk. He was frenzied
with rage. He stamped and shrieked. He foamed at the mouth. His arm
seemed raised to strike, his teeth to bite.

A word must here be said to explain how it was that the prelate had
“dropped in” at this singularly unfortunate moment, since bishops are
not usually wandering about in valleys at an early hour on November
mornings. It came about in this way. The old almoner of the place,
alarmed and horrified at the conduct of the abbess and the irreverent
and indeed ribald “goings-on” at this religious house, had hurried
during the night to the bishop and had given him an insight into convent
life as lived at St. Pons. He begged the bishop to do something, and
this the bishop did.

The arrival of the prelate at the convent gate had the effect of a
sudden thunder-clap on a clear day. The abbess dropped her cup; the
knights doffed their caps; the maids, peeping behind corners, fell out
of sight; while the nuns stood petrified like a row of brown stones.

The great cleric screamed out his condemnation of the abbess, of the
nuns, of the convent and of everything that was in it. He shrieked until
he became inarticulate and until his voice had sunk to a venomous
whisper like the hiss of a snake. He dismissed the young gallants with a
speech that would have withered a worm. Turning to the women he said
even more horrid things. He expelled the abbess and the nuns from St.
Pons and ordered them to repair at once to the convent of St. Pierre
d’Almanarre near Hyères, a convent notable for the severity of its
rules. Here, as the historian says, they would be able “to expiate their
sins with austerities to which they had long been strangers.”

It was in this way that the convent of St. Pons came to an end; for the
desecrated building was never occupied from that day. No nun ever again
paced its quiet courtyard; no pigeons came fluttering to the sister’s
hand nor did the passer-by hear again the sound of women singing in the
small grey chapel. In the course of centuries the building fell into
ruin and, year by year, the scandalised walls crumbled away, while
tender rosemary and chiding brambles crept over the place to cover its
shame.

On this eventful morning the bishop’s efforts did not end when he had
sentenced the lady abbess and had swept the convent from the earth. He
proceeded, before he left, to pronounce over the assembly the anathema
of the Church. He cursed them all from the abbess standing with bowed
head to the scullion gaping from the kitchen door. He cursed the nuns,
the novices, the lay helpers and the maids, and had there been a jackdaw
in the building, as at Rheims, he would, no doubt, have included the
bird in his anathema. So wide and so comprehensive a cursing, delivered
before breakfast, had never before been known.

Two of the party—and two only—escaped the curse of the Church,
Raimbaud de Trects and Blanche d’Entrevannes. It was not until the
morning, when the whole of the company were assembled about the convent
gate, that the two were missed.

The historian, in his mercy, adds this note at the end of his narrative:
“In the parish register of the village of Entrevannes, in the year 1408,
there stands the record of the marriage of the chevalier Raimbaud de
Trects to the noble lady Blanche d’Entrevannes.”

-----

[8] “Legendes et Contes de Provence,” by Martrin-Donos.



                                  VIII
                    VENCE, THE DEFENDER OF THE FAITH


VENCE is a very ancient place with a history of some merit. It is said
to have been, in its earliest days, the stronghold of a native tribe.
Since it stands on a hill convenient in position this statement may
probably be allowed. It had the usual infantile troubles of growing
towns in this area. It was occupied in turn by the Phœnicians, Phocæans
and Gauls, and was ravaged, in due course and in appropriate manner, by
both Saracens and Lombards. It played but a minor part in those later
turmoils which rent the rest of Provence, and was indifferently moved by
the upheaval and the downfall of neighbouring principalities and powers.
Vence, however, had concerns and troubles of its own, achievements to be
proud of and dissensions to deplore; for it was, first and foremost, a
religious town, and both its greatness and its trials had an origin in
religion.

When the Romans came they established on this secluded spot an imperial
city. It seems to have been not so much a military station as an outpost
of the picturesque faith of Rome, a kind of Canterbury in the backwoods
of Provence. They called the place Ventium, and some indication of its
ancient boundaries can still be traced. It is known to the historian by
its temples. How many of these buildings existed is a matter of doubt,
but certain it is that the pious Roman, toiling up to Ventium from the
coast, would see afar off, standing up against the hills, the white
columns of the temples to Cybele and to Mars. Of these shrines no
vestige now remains. The stones have been scattered and have become mere
material in the mason’s hands. Some have helped to build a Christian
church, others to found a city wall or to give dignity to the house of a
mediæval burgher.[9]

There are many Roman inscriptions still in Vence. They have been found
in all sorts of odd places, on street walls, in gardens, in cellars, as
well as on certain stones in the old church. From these fragments, as
disjointed and as incongruous as the mutterings of a sleeping man, a
broken history of Ventium, in the years before and just after Christ,
has been pieced together.

The inscriptions are, in a general way, commemorative. There is one, for
instance, to Lucius Veludius Valerianus, decurion of Vence, to record
the fact that he had filled the functions both of magistrate and of
priest. With his name is associated very prettily that of his wife
Vibia, for she no doubt shared both his honours and his trials. Vibia,
we may suppose, had left the gay and resplendent city of Rome to follow
her adventurous husband into the wilds of Gaul, and was not a little
proud of the position he had made in the lonely and solemn city. One
might guess that it was Vibia who suggested the inscription. It is
notable, moreover, that the most prominent word in the whole tablet and
the one in the largest letters is UXORI (wife). Indeed, this word
occupies an entire line to itself. It would seem as if Vibia wished to
make it emphatic that she was a wife, and not otherwise.

If any of the inhabitants of the old town could come back to life again
I should especially like to witness the meeting, in the main street,
between Vibia and her successor in office, the mayoress of Vence of
to-day. They would be a strange couple, strange in dress, in bearing and
in speech, as odd as if a person wore on one foot a dainty Roman sandal
and on the other an American boot. The two ladies would have, however,
this in common—the country they gazed across would be as familiar to
the one as to the other.

There is among the many writings in stone one which refers to the
goddess Cybele and the ceremony of the Taurobolium. This pagan ceremony
was both a sacrifice and an act of purification. Its symbolism is of
interest when viewed in connection with that of the Christian church
which directly followed upon the old faith. A bull was sacrificed to the
goddess. The animal was placed upon a grating or latticed stage over a
pit. In the pit crouched the penitent. The blood of the bull, as it
poured over the body of the penitent, washed away all sin, all
impurities and stains, and gave to the man thus made regenerate a new
and holier life.[10]

Vence was at an early period converted to Christianity. The identity of
the missionary who brought about this change is not clearly established;
but the work is generally ascribed to St. Trophime. The body of St.
Trophime lies in the old cathedral of Arles, in that church which bears
his name. Among the ruins of the abbey of Montmajour, near Arles, is his
cell, a little rock sanctuary buried in the very bowels of the earth.

A bishopric was founded in Vence as early as 374. The city became a
prominent and influential centre and its bishops were, with scarcely an
exception, illustrious men. Most of these prelates are buried in the
cathedral of the town. The tombs of two of the very earliest, viz. St.
Veran and St. Lambert, occupy chapels in that sanctuary.

A famous ecclesiastic was Bishop Godeau. He was born in 1605 and took
orders when he was thirty years old. He was a man of great learning and
one of the founders of the French Academy. He was highly esteemed, not
only by the people of Provence but also by the Papal Court and the
counsellors of the king. “The epitaph of Bishop Godeau,” writes Hare,
“commemorates the favourite of Richelieu, who obtained his good graces
by dedicating to him a paraphrase of the Psalms, which begins with the
words ‘_Benedicite omnia opera Domini_,’ on receiving which the powerful
cardinal said, ‘Monsieur l’Abbé, vous me donnez _Benedicite_, et moi je
vous donner _Grasse_.’ The Pope afterwards allowed Godeau to hold the
bishopric of Vence with that of Grasse.”[11]

The worthy bishop died as he would have wished to die. In Holy Week in
the year 1672 he was singing the Tenebræ before the altar of his
cathedral of Vence.[12] The Tenebræ represent a very beautiful service
of the Catholic Church. A candlestick bearing fifteen candles is placed
in the sanctuary. These are lit when the service begins. At the end of
each Psalm or Canticle one of the candles is extinguished to express the
desertion of Our Lord by His apostles and disciples. At last only one
candle remains. It signifies the Light of the World, and when it is
taken down and placed behind the altar it serves to symbolise the burial
of the Redeemer of Mankind. On the occasion of the celebration at Vence
as the last candle was being extinguished the good bishop fell dead upon
the altar steps.

[Illustration: VENCE: THE EAST GATE AND OUTER WALL]

Bishop Surian who succeeded to the see in 1727 had a somewhat romantic
career. He began life as a shepherd boy. Finding this existence
intolerable he ran away from home with the very inadequate sum of 35
sous in his pocket. Falling in with men who perceived his ability he was
educated by them and admitted, in due course, to the priesthood. It is
said that he lived as frugally when he was a bishop as he did when he
was tending sheep on the hillside.

On the outbreak of the French Revolution, the bishop of Vence, Bishop
Pisani, fled and joined that vast body of some 4,000 priests who left
the country in order to avoid the penalties which the Revolution
imposed. Pisani was the last bishop of Vence, for the see was never
restored.

In early days Vence belonged to the bishops, the Church being the ruling
power in the pious town. When Vence came into the possession of the
Villeneuves—the lords of Villeneuve-Loubet—the seigniorial rights over
Vence were divided between the bishopric and the Villeneuve family. The
Villeneuves fled from France at the time of the Revolution and although
they returned when the Terror had passed away it was only to rid
themselves of their lands in Provence and seek a habitation elsewhere.

Vence being a devout town and one prominent in all ecclesiastical
affairs it is no matter of surprise that it became deeply disturbed by
the “new religion” as taught and stoutly maintained by the Huguenots. It
is further no matter of surprise that the dissenters made this
stronghold of the Church a special object of attack and that Vence
became a conspicuous scene of their protestings.

The position assumed some gravity when the Huguenots did more than
protest against forms of worship and took to arming themselves with
weapons of war. They went further. They became clamorous and threatening
and made it clear that they were no longer to be put off by mere
academic arguments or quotations from the Fathers. Moreover this
conflict between the Protestant and the Catholic involved certain
political issues which were outside the burning questions of creed; and
thus it was that men were drawn into the quarrel to whom matters of
State were more important than matters of doctrine.

The trouble came to a head in 1560. The bishop at the time was a
Grimaldi, while the castle of Villeneuve was possessed by his uncle, a
Lascaris. On the Catholic side, therefore, Vence was solid and prepared
to take prompt action to crush the revolt. A body of some three hundred
men was raised to deal with the Huguenots, but, in spite of the
all-pervading power of the Church there were Huguenots in Vence and the
vicinity and they, in turn, raised men to support their cause. A
Huguenot gentleman, with the pleasant name of René de Cypières, also
collected a squadron of forty horse to help those who espoused the
reformed faith.

Vence thus became in this fair area of France the Defender of the Faith.
The governor of the town issued an order forbidding the citizens to
harbour or conceal a Huguenot in any house, garden or vineyard. The
bishop denounced the Protestants as “vagabonds and seditious men.” What
terms the Huguenots, on the other hand, applied to the bishop are not
known, but they were certainly not lacking in invective for the contest
was bitter.

Life in the cathedral town must have been very unpleasant about this
period. So keen was the dispute that everyone must, of necessity, have
taken sides. Friends broke from one another after an intimacy of a
lifetime; lovers parted; the Catholic wife left the husband who had
turned Huguenot; while families who were united by ties that had endured
for generations now found themselves scowling at one another from
opposite camps. Children were forbidden to speak to old playmates, and
the little girl who had been so sweet to her boy friend now put out her
tongue at him when they passed in the street.

In 1562 there seems to have been a lull in this unhappy quarrel and even
a sign of tolerance, if not of peace; for the Huguenots, although
forbidden the righteous city of Vence, were allowed to hold meetings
without its walls.

The fire was, however, only smouldering. The truce was little more than
a pretence. The quiet in the streets was ominous. Although the sun shone
upon the faithful town a black cloud that betokened a storm was rising
in the south. In 1582, with a rumble of thunder and a darkening sky, the
tempest burst. A Huguenot army was advancing upon Vence.

It is necessary to pause here for a moment to record the fact that ten
years before this time Vence was approached by a far more terrible and
crafty enemy than the Huguenot; for in the year 1572 the army of the
Black Death marched into the town. It crept through the open gates, for
no one saw it. It set out to strangle and kill without remonstrance, for
no one heard its footsteps. It spared neither the armed nor the
helpless. It struck down the captain of the guard as he strutted on
parade as well as the child who toddled up the cathedral steps to peep
in at the door. It felled the lusty armourer at his forge and the maiden
singing over her needlework.

As many as could flee from the town fled, including the bishop who
sought refuge in St. Paul du Var. Grass grew in the empty streets, the
silence of which was broken only by the rumble of a cart laden with dead
and the tolling of a weary bell. The passer-by, with his cloak drawn
over his face, slunk down a by-way when he saw another coming. The shops
were closed; the market-place still, or traversed by a starving dog
seeking his master whom he would never find. Here a door would be
standing open, day after day, because the very last dweller in the house
had crawled out into the street to die, while from an open window would
hang the head of a woman whose last cry for help had been unheeded.

One would have supposed that this common disaster would have made for
peace, but it only served to deepen the dissent; for the Catholics
ascribed the visitation to the heresies of the Huguenots, while they, in
turn, regarded the Black Death as a mission from God to punish the
Church for its misdeeds.

The position of affairs when the war burst upon Vence in 1582 was as
follows: That corner of Provence to the west which bordered on
Marseilles, and which would be behind a line drawn—let us say—from
Aix-en-Provence to Brignolles, was in the hands of the Church party. On
the east the Duke of Savoy, with 2,000 men, was moving from the Italian
frontier to the support of his friends at Marseilles. His concern in the
conflict was based upon political rather than upon religious grounds. He
was, in fact, taking advantage of the discord that raged on his borders.
Between these two forces was the open country, in the centre of which
was Vence.

Now the Huguenot army was advancing from the south, from the shelter of
the Esterel mountains. It was led by a very remarkable man, by name
Lesdiguières. He was young, brilliant, daring and ever victorious.
Nothing could stand in his way; nothing, indeed, dared stand in his way,
for his very name inspired terror.

He had two things to accomplish—one was to cut off the advancing army
of the Duke of Savoy and prevent it from reaching Marseilles, and the
other was to destroy the city of Vence, the outpost of Marseilles and
the holder of the pass.

Vence stood alone in the way as the Defender of the Faith. It was the
centre stone of the position. So long as Vence held it was well for
those who were fighting the battle of the Church. If the faithful city
fell the outlook was unthinkable.

Lesdiguières the invincible appeared before Vence, surrounded it with
his troops and his cannon and laid siege to it. It must have been a
terrific conflict, for so much depended upon the issue, and the Vençois
were well aware what would happen to them and their town if once the
Huguenot captain got possession of the gates.

Beyond the fact that the loss on the side of the besiegers was very
great, no details as to the actual storming of the city nor of the deeds
of the defenders have survived. What is known is that the great
adventure failed. The doughty Lesdiguières, hitherto invincible, raised
the siege and retired again to the south beyond the Esterels.

Vence was saved, the prestige of the Church upheld, and a turn was given
to events which can only be appreciated by imagining what would have
been the history of Provence, and possibly of France, had the faithful
city fallen.

Many of the Huguenot leaders and adherents rejoined the Church of Rome,
old family feuds were forgotten, old friends shook hands again who had
shunned one another for years, the Huguenot lover became Catholic and
led his bride to the very altar he had fought to destroy. Even that
hardy fighting man, the fierce, impetuous Lesdiguières, came back to the
Church of Rome. He was, it is true, long in coming, for his
reconciliation was not made until forty years had passed after the great
failure of his life before the walls of Vence.

-----

[9] “Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France,” by E. W. Rose.

[10] “Voyages dans les Départements du Midi de la France,” by A. L.
Millin, 1808. “La Chorographie et l’histoire de Provence,” by Honoré
Bouche, 1664, p. 283.

[11] “The Rivieras,” by Augustus J. Hare, 1897, p. 47.

[12] “The Maritime Alps and their Seaboard,” by Miss C. L. N. Dempster,
1885.

[Illustration: VENCE: THE CHURCH AND COURT OF BISHOP’S PALACE.]



                                   IX
                            VENCE, THE TOWN


ON the bend of a pleasant road some thirteen miles from Nice stands
Vence, 1,065 feet above the level of the Mediterranean. It is a little
place of about three thousand inhabitants, on the crown of a hill in a
land of hills. Behind it rise precipitous heights which shield it from
the north, while in front of it is an undulating country of pine wood
and dale that rolls lazily to the sea. Vence consists of two parts, the
old town and the new. The old town is a mere appendage to the new, and
may be compared to an ancient reliquary attached to a gaudy piece of
electro-plate in the modern taste.

The old town was entirely surrounded by ramparts built in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries. On the summit of these was a broad way, where
the defenders mustered when the town was attacked. Upon the northern
front a considerable portion of the ancient ramparts still exists, while
the terrace that capped them has become a modest promenade. Within and
above the ramparts rose the town, like a castle of stone elliptical in
shape. To the outer world it presented only a lofty and continuous wall,
entered by certain gates, and strengthened here and there by towers. The
wall represented the backs of the outer houses welded together in one
unbroken barrier. The fronts of these houses looked into narrow streets,
but the outer wall was blank and blind, being pierced only by a few
small windows, high above the reach of attack, and by long, narrow,
vertical slits as the ground was neared.

These ancient windows and these slits in the wall are still to be seen,
but the _enceinte_ has been broken in many places by casual windows of
recent date and even by doors. Still, the walls of Vence—as viewed from
the north of the town—have an aspect which has altered but little
during the last four hundred years. They have aged, of course, but the
gates are there and the towers still stand.

It is on the southern side of Vence that the hand of the town-improver
has fallen most heavily, but even here the ruin wrought by
“reconstruction” has not obliterated the ancient landmarks. The
Boulevard Marcelin-Maurel, where the tramways run, follows the course of
the southern ramparts. The wall on this side has been battered in to
provide up-to-date houses and up-to-date shops, but yet the line of the
old _enceinte_ remains unshaken, for the hustling, irreverent tram is
compelled to humbly follow the curve of the town wall as laid down six
centuries ago.

On reaching Vence by the Nice road the first gate that is come upon is
the Signadour Gate, which stands almost on the tramlines. It is a gate
of the fourteenth century, with a pointed arch, and it opens at the base
of a rough, old tower. Some way to the right of it is the East Gate,
which is much more ample, has a rounded arch, and passes directly
through the outer wall into the mysterious shadows of the town. It is
credited to the eighteenth century.[13] At the opposite end of Vence is
the Portail du Peyra, guarded by a very massive square tower of great
height. The gate belongs to the days of the good King René, who died in
1480, and the tower to the seventeenth century. The gate has evidently
been much restored and, indeed, reconstructed. It leads into the Place
du Peyra, a quiet square shaded by a chestnut tree and charmed by the
babble of a fountain in the form of a vase, from which issues four
streams. The name of this ancient lounging place has been recently (and
rather precipitately) changed to Place Wilson. A very picturesque little
gate, called the Portail Levis, opens on to the ramparts towards the
north. It has a pointed arch of the fourteenth century and a channel in
the masonry for a portcullis. It leads into the Rue de la Coste, one of
the oldest of the old lanes of the town. In the Boulevard
Marcelin-Maurel (which, as already stated, is laid on the site of the
mediæval ramparts) is a modern gate, with the date 1863. It has been
driven through the houses which here form the _enceinte_ of the town and
opens almost directly into the church square.

The church at Vence has many peculiarities, not the least being the way
in which it has hidden itself from the eyes of the world. It is so
surrounded by parasitic buildings that nothing of it can be seen from
the outside except a gable end, which projects fortuitously into another
square. Indeed, the only outward and visible sign of the church is a
door, surmounted by an image of the Virgin, jammed in between a café and
a blank wall. The blank wall belongs to a seminary, one of the buildings
with which the church is encrusted. This building directly faces the new
_mairie_, a very startling and effusive erection which stands where once
stood a wing of the bishop’s palace. Between the schoolhouse and the
exuberant _mairie_ are two dark, picturesque arches under a house. They
represent what remains of the court of the palace, while the building
above them is a part of the palace itself. The other side of this old
house, having been left undisfigured, serves to show how stately a
structure was this _évêché_ of the fifteenth century.

Now, on that wall of the seminary which immediately faces the unblushing
_mairie_ will be found the Roman inscriptions to which reference has
been made in the previous chapter (inscriptions dealing with the
Taurobolium and with Valerianus and his wife Vibia). Here also are
preserved certain carved tablets showing an interlacement of grapes and
roses, mingled with confused birds; while above is a smaller stone on
which is depicted an archaic eagle of doubtful anatomy. These carvings
are generally described as Merovingian (A.D. 500-750), but the author of
the Vence Handbook inclines to the view that they are Romano-Byzantine,
and suggests that they may have belonged to a church that stood on this
spot in the fifth century.

A Christian church of some kind has existed at Vence since the fourth
century, for the first bishop of Vence, St. Eusebius, held office in the
year 374. The present church dates from the tenth century, although that
which now stands belongs to a period between the twelfth and the
fifteenth. On entering the building there is at once a sense of being in
a place of great antiquity. No church in this part of France conveys so
striking an impression of old age. It is dark and crypt-like and, above
all, primitive. On each side of the nave are immense square pillars
supporting round arches. The pillars are without capitals and without a
trace of ornament. There are two side aisles roofed over by a wide
gallery which looks into the nave through the line of arches. The
galleries were erected in the fifteenth century to accommodate an
increasing congregation. On each side of these aisles is still another
aisle, which is narrow and dark and in which are the chapels. The
church, therefore, is represented by a nave and four aisles.

[Illustration: VENCE: OLD HOUSE IN THE PLACE GODEAU.]

[Illustration: VENCE: RUE DE LA COSTE.]

The side chapels are all old and beautifully decorated. One chapel
contains the body of St. Veran, who died in 492. The tomb—which forms
also the altar—is a Roman sarcophagus. It presents some mysterious
carving which is thus described in the Vence Handbook: In the centre are
the busts of a man and a young woman enclosed in a large sea-shell.
Below is a bird and three naked children playing. The rest of the
surface is occupied by the waves of the sea. It may be conjectured that
it was the last resting-place of a lover of the sea, who would wish to
sleep with the waves about him, with a bird in the blue and with
children at play on the sand. The high altar is of marble of many
colours and the tabernacle is surmounted by angels’ heads in white. By
the altar are the tombs of the Villeneuves, the Lords of Vence.

The west end of the church presents a very large gallery or _tribune_,
which was placed there at the close of the fifteenth century. Here are
the famous choir stalls which were transferred from the choir at the
same period. These stalls, fifty-one in number, are of dark oak and are
most elaborately wrought. Besides much architectural detail there are
innumerable carvings of animals and plants, of human figures and of
vague incidents. Some details, as the writer of the Handbook says, are
serious, others are amusing, and a few are not “_très convenables_.”
These exquisite stalls were the work of Jacques Bellot of Grasse. He
commenced the work, according to Mr. Kaye,[14] in 1455, when he was
twenty-five years of age, and completed it in 1495. He was, therefore,
twenty-five when the work began and sixty-five when it was finished.

In this gallery also is a very fine lectern, which is claimed to be even
an earlier work than the stalls. In one of the chapels of the church
(the Chapelle des Saints-Anges) is the wondrously carved door of the
_prévôté_ or chapter house. This work is older than the stalls and is
generally ascribed to the artist who fashioned the lectern. Certain
Roman figures or statuettes are to be found in the church, one let into
the pillar before the chapel of St. Veran, and another, that of a
senator, in the wall between this chapel and that of the Sacred Heart.

Behind the church is a poor, distracted-looking square, once the
cemetery, now the Place Godeau. It is shaded by three large chestnut
trees and contains some ancient houses, one notably with a two-arched
Romanesque window and another with the date 1524 carved above the
doorway. In the centre is a disconsolate column of bluish granite to
which is ignominiously fixed a brass water-tap. This column seems to
have wandered from some museum and to have lost both its way and its
label. There are those who affirm that it was a gift of the Phocæans to
the ancient town, others that it came from the temple of Mars; while
those who range less far believe it to be a Roman boundary stone or
_borne_. From this Place can be seen the great watch tower of Vence,
often called the tower of the castle. It is square and very severely
plain, and contains the belfry and a too modern clock. The tower belongs
to the fifteenth century, or to even an earlier period. From this square
can also be seen a little lancet window of the church which is perhaps
the oldest of its present lights.

The town of old Vence is small and cramped. Around the church, crushed
in between it and the city wall, is a maze of small streets. They still
maintain the lines they followed long before the day when—in
England—Elizabeth was queen. They are narrow, of course, and dark and
crowded with houses of great age, houses of such antiquity that no
modern mask can hide the hollow eyes or the shrunken cheeks. There are
among them handsome windows and fine entries, good mason’s work and some
decoration pitiable in its playfulness.

The place is almost empty. Certain houses are deserted; a few are
ruinous, and in these the black, blank windows glare like the
eye-sockets of a skull. Many show the tottering deformities of age and
have become crippled, wizened and bent.

This almost silent city once held seven thousand people. Its streets
were then crowded, full of life and colour, of fair women and stalwart
men. The wayfarer would need squeeze himself into a doorway to allow the
lady in a litter to pass by, or to make room for a company of young
gallants rollicking along arm in arm, or for the wedding party on its
way to the cathedral close. The place is now hushed like a house of
mourning, while in many a lane there may be no one to be seen.

He who strolls alone through the city of Vence may find himself carried
back into the past by some nightmare witchery, and imagine that he
wanders in a strange country, amid the scenes of a half-forgotten tale.
There is about the streets the faint, musty smell that clings to the
leaves of an ancient missal or that hovers about the worm-eaten chest
stuffed with lumber. To read the life of the town as it was in earlier
times is like the turning over of a bundle of old letters that are
fragmentary and partly illegible, that are strange in both the wording
and the script, but that show now and then a sudden light that illumines
the figure of a man or a woman who stands out amidst the gloom—alive.

-----

[13] “Vence,” by J. D., sold for the benefit of the Church and published
at Vence in 1914. It is referred to in the text as “The Vence Handbook.”

[14] “Grasse and its Vicinity,” by Walter J. Kaye, 1912.



                                   X
                                 GRASSE


GRASSE lies on a green slope at the foot of sheltering hills and in full
view of the sea. From its height of one thousand feet a glorious stretch
of undulating country sweeps down to the Mediterranean, some seven or
eight miles to the south. The position of the town is suggestive of
great ease. It is comparable to that of a man stretched out on a bank in
the sun, with his hands under his head, his hat tilted over his eyes and
with a rock behind him to ward away unkindly winds. It is a gentle and
contented place, quiet and yet busy in its own peculiar way.

The history of Grasse is modest and unemotional. It has always been a
shy town, glad to be left alone and to keep itself untroubled by the
world. It does not pretend to be very old. It is said that Roman coins
have been discovered in Grasse, but this means little, for that
imperious but careless people appear to have dropped money here and
there all over the country. One wonders whether, when England is dug up
by archæologists two thousand years hence, half-crowns and coppers will
be found among the ruins of its towns in anything like the profusion
with which the currency of Rome was scattered.

Grasse appears to emerge into the light of history some time in the
twelfth century in association with Raymond Berenger and his famous
seneschal Romée de Villeneuve. Its reputation has been largely
commercial. Terrin in the “Précis de l’Histoire de Provence”[15] says
that “this town in the twelfth century supplied the whole of France,
Italy and Spain with its famous leather, soap and oil skilfully
purified”; while another author goes further and affirms “that the whole
of Europe obtained its soap from Grasse.”

Grasse began its career in the twelfth century as a little republic in
alliance—for purposes of mutual protection—with Pisa. This form of
government was maintained until 1226. When wars were raging in the
country around and towns were being besieged, looted or burnt, Grasse
remained unmoved. It looked on from a distance, lifted its hands in
horror and went on with its soap-making. It was never a quarrelsome town
and never ambitious of power. It was more keenly concerned with the
purity of its oils and the sweetness of its scents. It took a motherly
interest in its unfortunate neighbours and became a place of refuge for
troubled people along the ever-troubled coast.

[Illustration: GRASSE: THE DE CABRIS HOUSE.]

It was fortified, but not in too serious or too aggressive a way. It was
besieged, but always in a comparatively gentle manner, without
unnecessary noise and battering of walls and doors and with casualties
that may almost be called complimentary. One siege in November, 1589, is
very fully described in the diary of a besieged resident, a certain
Monsieur Rocomare. Mr. Kaye quotes this record at some length. The
attacking general appears to have been wounded early in the fray and to
have “fallen into convulsions.” “Whereby,” says M. Rocomare, “the whole
camp was thrown into confusion.” The siege proceeded in spite of the
general’s fit. When things were not going well with the town the people
of Grasse proposed—as they always did—a treaty. It was accepted. By
this agreement the men-at-arms of Grasse and as many townsfolk as wished
were allowed to leave the city with the honours of war and with all
their baggage. Unfortunately the attacking army, demoralised, it may be,
by the sight of their general in convulsions, broke their compact,
seized all the baggage and horses and killed no fewer than seventeen
persons. The besiegers occupied the town and M. Rocomare had billeted
upon him a cornet, six soldiers, ten serving men, some horses and a
mule. This forced entertainment cost him 260 golden crowns; but, worst
of all, the ungrateful cornet, on taking leave of his host, robbed him
of his cattle and of “other things.”

In the bitter religious wars of the time which rent and racked the whole
adjacent country, Grasse took but little part. It was appropriately
shocked at the spectacle of Christians fighting and then went on with
its soap-making. The people of Grasse, however, had their local
religious quarrels which seem to have been concerned not with matters of
doctrine, but rather with questions of fees and emoluments and
especially with burial fees. In these disputes over money “the clergy,”
as Mr. Kaye remarks, “seemed strangely to have forgotten their high
calling,” for they actually fought for the possession of coffins
containing the dead, and there must have been regrettable scenes in the
graveyard when the clerics and their subordinates were engaged in what
was practically a tug-of-war over a coffin.

The more direct afflictions of Grasse arose from the passage through the
town of foreign troops. Over and over again the Cours or the Place Neuve
was occupied by bodies of armed men, who, although they had no especial
reason for hostile action against Grasse, yet behaved in a very trying
and unseemly manner. They would march up to the town and, without
adequate explanation, would demand a war bonus of as much as 36,000
livres or more. They would billet themselves in the town, would smash
windows, break tiles and carry off doors. For what purpose an army on
the march should need doors is not made clear; but that the intruders
should cause a rise in the cost of living is intelligible. A writer who
was in the town on the occasion of one of these visits says, with
disgust, that wine cost 40 centimes a pint, brown bread 25 centimes a
pound, and eggs actually 15 centimes each. He adds a remark which shows
how, even in little things, history may be anticipated, for he says:
“All our fruit trees have been burned save a few olive trees which have
been saved from the violence of the Germans.”

The old town of Grasse is very picturesque and abounding in interest.
Being placed upon a slope, it comes to pass that its ways are steep. The
houses are tall and the lanes are narrow, so the place is full of
shadows. The streets ramble and wind about in that leisurely manner
which is characteristic of Grasse, until they become a veritable tangle.
The stranger wandering through Grasse is apt, after traversing many
streets, to find himself in the exact spot whence he started. It is not
wise to ask one’s way in Grasse, but merely to drift about, from lane to
lane, until the object sought is stumbled on. It will be met with in
time. There are various old houses to be seen which appertain to many
periods. Some of them are disguised by modern plaster and paint, some
have been “restored” to the point of extinction, while not a few are
represented only by fragments. They illustrate the effect of putting new
wine into old bottles: “the bottles break and the wine runneth out and
the bottles perish.”

Of the old ramparts which surrounded the town in the fourteenth century
but a trace or two remain, although the line they pursued can still be
followed. The Boulevard du Jeu de Ballon represents the western side of
the _enceinte_, and the Passage Mirabeau its southern part. Where the
two met was the Porte du Cours. The eastern flank is indicated by the
Place Neuve and La Roque and the rounded northern end by the Rue des
Cordeliers and the Avenue Maximin Isnard. Of the seven original gates
two only survive—the Porte Neuve (rebuilt in 1793) and the Porte de la
Roque.

The chief feature of Grasse is the Cours, a charming promenade just
outside the confines of the old town. It is here that the band plays and
here that the idler can enjoy the superb view which opens out to the sea
and admire—if he will—the statue to Fragonard which adorns the spot.
Leading down from the Cours into the old town is the Rue du Cours, a
narrow lane of little shops. The first house in this street—a corner
house, No. 2—was the town mansion of the Marquis de Cabris and his
startling wife Louise. Some account of this mercurial lady is given in
the chapter which follows. The de Cabris came from the delightful
village of Cabris, five miles from Grasse. There stands what remains of
their castle, which was reduced to a heap of ruins at the time of the
Revolution.

The house in the Rue du Cours is a plain building of four stories,
rising from a base of stone. It is of considerable size and the back of
it forms a large block in the Passage Mirabeau. Its portal is prim and
severe and in a strict classical style. So dull is this entry that it is
hard to picture the frivolous and beautiful Louise standing on the door
step, buttoning up her gloves and meditating some fresh devilment. It is
a house that no one could associate with the thrilling scandal which
buzzed about it when the mocking laughter of the little marquise could
be heard ringing from the solemn windows. The house is now occupied by
offices and flats of the gravest respectability. As if some odour of old
days still clung to it, the walls, I noticed, were blazing with red and
yellow posters vaunting the attractions of a play dealing with the
allurement of women.

[Illustration: GRASSE: THE CATHEDRAL.]

Almost opposite to the de Cabris mansion, and at the extreme end of the
Boulevard du Jeu de Ballon, is the ancient house of the de Pontevès
family. It is a huge, square building, severely plain and free from any
pretence at decoration. It has on one side a little walled garden which
abuts on the Cours. The house has had a gloomy history. It was at one
time the headquarters of the executive council of Var. During the time
of the Terror (1793-4) it became the seat of the Revolutionary Tribunal.
It has sheltered Fréron—he who had the audacity to seek the hand of
Pauline Bonaparte—as well as Robespierre, who was himself guillotined
in 1794. In its salon the wretched victims denounced by the Revolution
were tried, cursed at, and condemned, and through its gate they were
marched to their death by the guillotine. The guillotine stood in the
Cours on the spot now occupied by the statue to Fragonard. The prisoners
who looked out of the west windows of the house would see this fearful
instrument only a few yards distant and would see also the howling,
savage mob that surged around it. Yet between the condemned and their
place of death was the comfort of the little quiet garden shut in with
its high wall. Thirty people in all were guillotined at Grasse during
the Terror, and among them a poor nun over seventy years of age, whose
name, by a strange coincidence, was de Pontevès.

When peace was restored to France the Hôtel de Pontevès became the
municipal library and later on (in 1811) it was swept and garnished and
made ready to receive the Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of
Napoleon I. This beautiful woman, the “Venus victrix” of Canova, was at
the moment forlorn and unhappy. She had been deserted by her second
husband, the Prince Borghese, and banished from the Court by her brother
on account of her disrespectful bearing towards the Empress. She was,
moreover, ill and weary both in body and mind, and yet she was only
thirty-one. “Out of consideration for the distinguished invalid the
silence of the early morning was disturbed neither by the ringing of
bells nor by the cries of milk-sellers in the streets; even the mules
went without their tinkling _sonnailles_.”[16] One may imagine that
Pauline sat often in the little garden with the high wall, and that her
sedan chair would now and then be carried to the Cours so that she might
by chance get a glimpse of the beloved island of Corsica where she was
born.

Near the Cours is the Boulevard Fragonard. In the house (No. 4) of the
Marquis de Villeneuve-Bargemon will be seen the beautiful carved door
that came from the old hotel of the Marquis de Gourdon. It was by the
removal of the Gourdon mansion in 1858 that the present Place du Marché
was made. No. 15 Boulevard Fragonard—with its curious iron window
cages—was the residence of the famous painter after whom the Boulevard
is named. The place of his birth was No. 2 Rue de la Font Neuve.

Turning out of the Rue du Cours is the Rue Tracastel with its vaulted
arch beneath an old tower. It is by way of this lane that the cathedral
square may be reached. The church, which is the most beautiful building
in Grasse, was completed in the twelfth century. It is small and low and
its western façade, which looks upon the square, is very simple. The
large pointed doorway is approached by an exquisite double flight of
steps with a white balustrade. The doors themselves are finely carved
and bear the date 1722. There are two lancet windows on this front and
traces of two doors of the same date as the principal one. The walls are
of light yellow-grey stone. The church within is as gracious as its
western front. The nave is surmounted by a handsome groined roof with
square ribs, supported by heavy pillars without capitals. The arches of
the nave are occupied by galleries with marble railings which are quite
modern and painfully out of keeping with the rest of the building. The
south transept is occupied by the chapel of the Holy Sacrament, which is
said to have existed since 1448. It is a beautiful chapel, but a little
marred by the too elaborate ornament of a later date. There are many
pictures of interest in the church, the most notable being Fragonard’s
“Washing of the Disciples’ Feet,” painted in 1754.

The church contains numerous treasures among which is a reliquary of St.
Honorat, shaped like a house and carved out of a solid block of walnut
some three feet in length. It dates from the middle of the fifteenth
century.[17]

The belfry of the church is in the form of a tall, white tower, square
and severely simple. It is one of the landmarks of Grasse. It dates from
1368, but was shattered by lightning in 1742 and rebuilt at that period.

Close to the cathedral is the tower of Grasse, the Tour du Puy, an
ancient watch tower raised on Roman foundations. It too is square and
plain, but almost black in colour and very menacing by reason of its
great height and its massive strength. It is a veritable bully of a
tower and forms a harsh contrast with the pale, delicately moulded and
fragile-looking little church. It has certain modern windows, made still
more incongruous by sun-shutters and by the ancient Romanesque windows
which find a place by the side of them.

There is a marble tablet on the Tour du Puy which is of some interest.
It is to the immortal memory of Bellaud de la Bellaudière. The holder of
this most sonorous name was a poet. He was born in 1532. He appears to
have played in Grasse the parts of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; for when he
was not engaged in writing emotional ballads he occupied himself with
thieving. He did well in both of these pursuits. As a poet he was
honoured by this tablet on the tower; as a robber he came to the gallows
and was hanged by the neck.

The Rue Droite, the main highway of old Grasse, is a narrow lane of
small shops that continues the Rue du Cours. It is not so straight as
its name suggests, being, indeed, a little unsteady. It contains many
old houses of interest with fine stone doorways, some with a rounded and
others with a pointed arch. Over one entry is the date 1527. At No. 24
lived Doria de Roberti who in 1580 had the distinction of being both
physician to the king and perfumer to the queen, a position which, at
the present day, would be one of great professional perplexity. The
house is not worthy of one who is described as “the earliest known
perfumer”; for it is quite modern in aspect and is given up jointly to a
café and to a shop where ready-made clothes for women are sold. No. 28
is a fine house, with an ancient doorway which is said to have borne the
date 1622; while the portal of No. 32 has a dignity which—as is often
the case—the rest of the building does not maintain.

From the Rue Droite the interesting Rue de l’Oratoire leads, after some
vacillation, to the Place aux Aires. This is a very charming little
square, occupied in the centre by a double row of trees and, at the far
extremity, by a fountain. The end of the tiny Place which faces the
fountain has an interest which is not apparent to the eye. It is
occupied by three quite modest houses, numbered 37, 39 and 41. No. 37 is
a ladies’ hat shop, No. 39 is a draper’s with the inviting name “Au
grand Paris” and No. 41 is tenanted by a butcher. These three humble
shops represent the spot upon which stood no less a building than the
palace of Queen Jeanne and, indeed, in the house No. 41 can be seen her
kitchen stairs—a poor relic but the only one. In the chapter which
follows some account is given of this remarkable and alarming woman and
of certain things that she did.

[Illustration: GRASSE: THE PLACE AUX AIRES.]

Of the many other interesting streets of Grasse it is impossible to
speak in detail, except to draw attention to the fine Romanesque windows
in the Rue Mougins-Roquefort and to those picturesque streets Rue sans
Peur and Rue Rêve Vieille which are more curious even than their unusual
names.

Most fascinating of all is the Rue de l’Evêché. It is a street of the
Middle Ages, little changed and little spoiled. It is a mystery street
full of romance and suggestion. It makes one draw one’s breath. It
recalls so vividly a score of tales of mediæval days; for it is just
that narrow, winding, dim and haunting lane where thrilling things
always happened—stabbings in the dark, pursuits with torches and the
clang of arms, whisperings of cloaked conspirators, the beckoning hand
and the lover with the panting lady in the hood.

The business of Grasse, as is well known, is the making of scent, soap
and refined oil. It is an ancient, famous and most prosperous industry.
The quantity of flowers consumed in the perfumeries is so vast as to be
hard to realise.

Mr. Kaye states, in a quiet way and without concern, that four million
pounds of orange blossoms and three million pounds of roses—to name no
others—are swept into the iron maw of the factory every year. Weight is
a little misleading when it deals with rose leaves and mimosa blossoms
so Mr. Kaye explains that, as regards jasmine alone, nine billions six
hundred millions of jasmine flowers are picked by hand every year to
provide the world with the _jasmin_ perfume.

“The flower harvest,” he writes, “lasts nearly the whole year round. It
begins in February with the violet which lasts till April. In March and
April also hyacinths and jonquils are plucked. May marks the greatest
activity in the harvest of roses and orange flowers, which harvest
terminates usually in June. Mignonette and carnations are also gathered
in this month. The jasmine is gathered in July, and the harvest lasts
generally till October 10th. The tuberose is also picked during August
and September.”

As the country for miles around Grasse is given up to the cultivation of
flowers it may be assumed that the town lies in a Garden of Eden,
dazzling with colour and laden with the perfumes of Araby. But it
realises no such vision; since flowers grown for commerce, drilled into
unfeeling lines and treated like the turnip of the field, are very
different from those grown for pleasure and those that blossom, by their
own sweet will, in the wilds. They differ as a crate of violets knocked
down to the auctioneer’s hammer at Covent Garden differs from the shy,
purple flowers that fringe a scented passage through a wood.

Those who have any regard for flowers should avoid a perfume factory as
they would a slaughter-house; for it is not pleasant to see a white
company of soft orange blossoms lying dead at the bottom of a pit,
sodden and macerated, nor to watch roses being slowly boiled alive, nor
jasmine flowers crushed to death upon the rack.

Many hundreds of day-tourists pour through Grasse during the months of
the winter. They come by char-à-bancs and motor-brakes. Their stay in
the town is very brief, for the “excursion to Grasse” embraces much in
its breathless flight. They are deposited at a scent factory by a not
disinterested driver, and there they purchase soap with eagerness, as if
it were the bread of life. Ninety-nine per cent. of these soap-questing
pilgrims do not go beyond the factory which they appear to regard as a
sort of shrine, even though its odour is not that of sanctity. To just
one out of the hundred the idea may occur that soap of quite fair
quality may be obtained in many places—even in Brixton in England—but
that in few places can there be found an old French city so full of
picturesque memories and possessed of so exquisite a cathedral as Grasse
provides. From a hygienic point of view the triumph of soap over
sentiment is commendable, but the hygienic attitude of mind is one of
rigour and offensive superiority. The one tourist out of the hundred
wanders into the ancient town, loses his way, loses his char-à-banc and
returns by the tramcar, with his mind full of charming recollections but
his pocket empty of soap. While he glories over the romance of mediæval
by-ways his fellow-tourists gloat over a wash-hand basin or a pungent
handkerchief.

-----

[15] Quoted by Mr. W. J. Kaye in his excellent work on “Grasse and Its
Vicinity,” published in 1912, a work which provides a good summary of
the history of the town.

[16] “Grasse and Its Vicinity,” by W. J. Kaye, 1912, p. 17.

[17] A photograph and description of this remarkable relic will be found
in Mr. Kaye’s book.



                                   XI
               A PRIME MINISTER AND TWO LADIES OF GRASSE


ROMÉE DE VILLENEUVE.—There is a somewhat picturesque story in the old
chronicles relating to one Romée de Villeneuve, seneschal of Grasse and
the _premier ministre_ of the Count of Provence.[18] The count with whom
the story deals was Raymond Berenger IV, who came into power in 1209 and
died in 1245. This Raymond was the husband of the beautiful Beatrix of
Savoy—the same Beatrix who inspired the passionate verses of the
troubadour of Eze.

Raymond the count when walking one day through the streets of Grasse
came upon a pilgrim. The pious man was dressed in the robe of his
brotherhood. In his hand was a long staff; upon his feet were sandals
and in his hat the cockleshell. The count was struck by his carriage and
by the nobility of his appearance. He stopped him and questioned him as
to his pilgrimage, as to the things that he had seen and learned in his
journey through many countries and by way of many roads. The answers
that the pilgrim gave pleased him. He was impressed by his intelligence,
by the gentleness of his manner and the graceful sentiment that
accompanied his talk. It was agreeable to converse with a man who had
seen strange cities and who had gleaned such curious grains of wisdom in
his tramp through valley and wood, by stony paths and smooth.

[Illustration: GRASSE: RUE DE L’EVÊCHÉ.]

The count talked longer with the pilgrim than the courtiers liked. They
frowned and fidgeted, scuffled with their feet, assumed attitudes of
weariness and talked among themselves rather audibly about “this
fellow.” Finally the count asked the pilgrim if he would come into his
service and the worthy man, after some hesitation and with proper
expressions of respect, consented.

Romée had not been long under the castle roof before Raymond recognised
his ability and his absolute uprightness. The count and the pilgrim
became more than master and servant; they became friends. Many a time
the two would sit in a corner of the terrace when the heat of the day
was over and Romée would tell of the wonders of the Eternal City, of the
street fighting he had seen in Florence between the Amidei and the
Buondelmonte, of the new church of San Giovanni at Pistoia, of the
wonderful bell tower they were building at Pisa, and of the ruins of the
palace of Theodoric the Great that he had wandered among at Ravenna. He
would talk too of strange things, of the savage, mist-enveloped island
of England where the cliffs were white, of the flight of birds, of
wondrous flowers that bloomed among the snow, of the hiving of bees, of
the curious ways of women.

Year by year the pilgrim rose in power; year by year he took a wider
part in the affairs of state; and year by year the affection that bound
the two men together deepened and gained in strength. Romée became the
count’s most trusted counsellor and confidant, and, in due course, was
raised to the position of _premier ministre_ and seneschal of Grasse.

This was a terrible blow to the courtiers, the last straw that broke the
back of their restraint. They had always been jealous of this interloper
and hated him heartily and openly. To see the most dignified office that
the Court of Provence could grant bestowed upon a stranger, a man
stumbled upon in the street, was beyond endurance. The count was
bewitched and befooled, they said, and must be awakened from his evil
dream.

The courtiers took the matter of the enlightenment of their prince in
hand. They began to hint at things, to sow suspicions, to raise subjects
for inquiry. Did the count know anything of this man, anything of his
parentage or antecedents? The count knew only that Romée was a man noble
in heart and mind, his trusted counsellor and esteemed friend.

No seed grows so quickly as the seed of doubt. No hint but gains
strength by repetition. Those about the Court, judging that the count’s
confidence must be shaken by their efforts, ventured to go beyond
hinting and whispering and the shrugging of shoulders. They came one day
boldly before him and said that Romée was taking money from the
treasury, was in fact robbing the State. The count was furious that so
disgraceful a charge should be made against his favourite, told the
informers that they lied and demanded instant grounds for their base
charges. The spokesman of the party replied that the minister kept, in
his private room, a coffer which he allowed no one to touch and which no
one had ever seen open. From sounds heard at night by listeners outside
the door there was little doubt that in this chest Romée was hoarding
money pilfered from the treasury.

The speaker, with a bow, humbly suggested that his lordship should come
with them at once to the minister’s room and request him to open the
coffer. The count stamped and swore. He would never subject his friend
to such an indignity. De Villeneuve was as far above suspicion as
himself. The proposal was monstrous. Some soft-voiced officer then
hinted that the minister would be glad to put an end to these
unfortunate but persistent rumours by simply opening the box. This
seemed reasonable to the count, but someone, more wily still, whispered
in his ear, “Would he be so glad?” The seed of doubt, long sown in the
prince’s mind, was beginning to break into baneful blossom. He cried,
“No more of this! Come with me, and we will bring this foul matter to an
issue.”

They all made for the minister’s room. Romée was sitting alone. He rose
with extreme surprise to see the count, flushed and hard of face, enter
with this company of solemn men—enemies all—who eyed him like a pack
of wolves. The count, avoiding the gaze of his favourite, pointed at
once to the coffer and said, “I beg you to open that chest.” To this
Romée replied, “My lord, I would prefer, by your grace, not to open it.”
“Why?” demanded the prince. “Because it contains a treasure of mine that
is dear to me and to no one else.” The courtiers began to whisper, to
laugh, to jeer under their breath. The count, stung by their scoffing
murmurs, lost his head, and turning to his minister said with some
sternness, “I bid you to open that chest.” Romée, looking with sadness
into his master’s eyes, said gently, “My lord, since _you_ no longer
trust me, I will open the box.” He withdrew a key from his gown, undid
the lock, and threw wide the lid. The chest was empty but for a few
sorry things—a dusty, tattered pilgrim’s frock, two worn sandals, a
coarse shirt and a weather-stained hat with a cockleshell in it. These
were the things he wore when Raymond Berenger met him in the street.
After a moment of dreadful silence the count, turning to his courtiers,
said in a voice of thunder, “Leave my presence, you scoundrels too mean
to live.”

When the two were alone the prince, placing his hands upon Romée’s
shoulders, said, “Dear friend! I am humbled to the dust. I am more sorry
than any words of mine can tell. Can you ever forgive me?” To which the
one-time pilgrim replied, “My lord, I forgive you a thousand times over;
but you have broken my heart, and now, in God’s name, leave me and let
me be alone.”

There and then Romée de Villeneuve took off his robes of office and,
having donned the pilgrim’s dress in which he had arrived at the castle,
made his way out of the gate into the open road. Raymond Berenger never
saw him again. Where the pilgrim wandered no one knows. All that the
chronicle relates is that he died in the castle of Vence and that his
will was dated 1250—five years after the death of the count, his
master.

Many a time in the days that followed Romée’s disappearance Count
Raymond would be found standing alone in a certain deserted room gazing
at an empty coffer.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Queen Jeanne.—As has been said in the previous chapter, there was in
the Place aux Aires at Grasse a palace of Queen Jeanne, who died in
1382. When Jeanne took refuge in Provence with her second husband—after
the murder of her first—she caused this palace to be built. All that is
left of it, at the present day, is the kitchen stair and a few
mouldings, but, writes Miss Dempster, “there is not a bare-foot child
but can tell you that those steps belonged to the palace of Queen
Jeanne.”[19]

There is no evidence that this meteoric lady ever lived in this house
that she had built, although she was Countess of Provence as well as
Queen of Naples. It was from no indisposition to travel on her part, for
she was never quiet and never in one place long, not even when she was
in prison. Flitting about from Provence to Naples took up no little of
her time, and when she was not occupied on these journeys she was either
pursuing her enemies or being, in turn, pursued by them.

In the language of the history book she “flourished” in the fourteenth
century. The expression is ineffective, for she “blazed” rather than
flourished. She was the political fidget of her time. A beautiful and
passionate woman, she traversed the shores of the Mediterranean like a
whirlwind. Her adventures would occupy the longest film of the most
sensational picture theatre. Tragedy and violent domestic scenes became
her most; but wherever she went there circled around her the makings of
a drama of some kind. All the materials for a moving story were present.
The scene was laid in feudal times when the license of the great was
unrestrained. The heroine was a pretty woman who fascinated everyone who
came in her path. She was, moreover, a wayward lady of ability and wide
ambitions who was quite unscrupulous, who felt herself never called upon
to keep her word and who was determined to get whatever she wanted.

She had a somewhat immoderate taste for matrimony, since she was a widow
four times and would probably have married a fifth husband had not a
friend of her youth strangled her when she was in prison. Her selection
of husbands was catholic, as the list of men she chose will show. They
were, in the order in which they died, Andrew of Hungary, Louis of
Tarentum, James of Majorca, and Otto of Brunswick.

She was charged with having murdered her first husband. The charge was
pressed by popular clamour and she was tried, in great state, in her own
town of Avignon, in Provence, in the year 1348. The Pope himself
presided. At the trial she is said to have made a deep impression on the
court. She startled this august assembly of solemn men. They saw in her
a woman full of the tenderest charm. They were moved by her grace, by
her ease of manner, by the sweetness of her voice, by her
pathos-stirring eloquence, and—strangest of all—by her remarkable
knowledge of Latin. She was acquitted and then publicly blessed by the
Pope.

Her loyal subjects at Naples were not satisfied with this tribunal. They
wanted their queen tried over again. They were rather proud of her and
they liked revelations of palace life. Probably too they knew a little
more than had “come out” at Avignon. Anyhow, the Pope was compelled
again to proclaim her innocent, and, being a man of the world and
anxious to put himself in the right, he added that even if she _had_
murdered her husband she had been the victim of witchcraft and sorcery
and so was not responsible for her actions.

Queen Jeanne the Unquiet was one of the most obstinate women that ever
lived. The only way to influence her was to put her in prison and her
experience of prisons was large. At one time she was disposed to hand
over Provence, or some part of it, to the King of France or other
neighbouring potentate. To stop this recklessness she was arrested by
the barons of Les Baux and of adjacent Provençal towns and locked up.
Having promised never to alienate Provence or any part of it, she was
let out of jail; but she had not long been free before she sold Avignon,
the chief town of Provence, to the Pope for 80,000 gold florins. As an
excuse she said, with a smile, that she was rather short of money.

The obstinacy of this irrepressible lady led to her dramatic ending. She
took a very decided part in the controversy known as the Great Schism of
the West. Her determined attitude led to many and varied troubles.
Finally she was besieged in Castel Nuovo and there had to surrender to
her kinsman and one time friend, Charles of Durazzo. He attempted to
make her renounce the errors—or reputed errors—to which she clung. He
failed, and “finding that nothing could bend her indomitable spirit, he
strangled her in prison on May 12th, 1382.”[20]

                 *        *        *        *        *

Louise de Cabris.—On a certain day, in the year 1769, there was great
commotion in and around the mansion of the Marquis de Cabris in the Rue
du Cours. The young marquis was bringing home his bride. The de Cabris
represented the pinnacle of society in Grasse. They were the great
people of the town. To know them was in itself a distinction. The bride
belonged to a family even more eminent, for she was the daughter of the
Marquis de Mirabeau, of Mirabeau, near Aix en Provence. She was a mere
girl, being only seventeen years of age.

The nice, worthy people of Grasse received her with effusive kindness.
They were sorry for her, because they knew the husband. He was young,
weak and vicious and came from a stock deeply tainted with insanity.
They took the gentle little marquise under their motherly wing. They
petted her, made much of her and comforted her in a warm, caressing way.
They knew as little what kind of innocent they were fussing over as does
a hen who fosters a pretty ball of yellow down that turns into a
duckling.

When Louise, Marquise de Cabris, reached her full stature, those who had
mothered her viewed with amazement the product of their care. They
beheld a lady who was not only the terror of Grasse, but a subject for
scandal far beyond anything that the virtuous town had ever dreamed of.
Louise, the full-grown woman, was beautiful to look at, was an adept in
the arts of seduction, was brilliant in speech and possessed of a
dazzling but dangerous wit. She was a woman of great vitality who loved
excitement and cared little of what kind it was. She was depraved in a
genial kind of way, picturesquely wicked, had a lover, of course—a
feeble youth named Briançon—had no heart and no principles. She could
claim, as one writer says, “the Mirabeau madness and badness and all the
Mirabeau brains.”[21]

When the good old ladies of Grasse gossiped together they no longer
discussed what they could do to help the poor marquise. Their sole
anxiety was to know “what on earth she would do next.” She did a great
deal. Incidentally she challenged another lady to fight a duel with
pistols. Think of it! The timid, clinging bride of a few years taking to
fighting with firearms! What next indeed!

Louise was much attached to her famous brother, the great Mirabeau, the
orator, statesman and roué. Whenever this illustrious man was in a
mess—and he was very often in a mess—he always came for help and
sympathy to his nimble-minded and wicked sister. Louise was the only
member of the Mirabeau family who attended his wedding with Mademoiselle
Marignane, and she had always regarded his shortcomings with indulgence
and even with admiration.

One visit that Mirabeau paid to his sister at Grasse became memorable.
The brother was in some trouble again. The affair had to do with his
wife’s lover and he came to his sister as to an expert in the treatment
of lovers.

Now shortly before his arrival the sober city of Grasse had passed
through a species of convulsion. Placards had been mysteriously posted
all over the town in which the characters of the ladies of Grasse were
attacked in the coarsest and plainest language. It was curious that one
lady’s name was not touched upon. Of all names the name of the Marquise
de Cabris alone was wanting. The inference naturally followed that the
libels had been propagated by the de Cabris. There was a violent and
confused uproar which was hushed at last by the payment to the injured
parties of a large sum by the foolish Marquis de Cabris. Louise, on the
other hand, who had no doubt written the abusive lampoons herself,
placidly disclaimed all knowledge of the matter. She said, with hauteur,
that they were beneath her notice and, at the same time, wished it to be
known that she was very cross with those who had the audacity to suspect
her.

Among the society folk who had “said things” about Madame de Cabris in
connection with the libels was her next-door neighbour, a certain Baron
de Villeneuve-Monans.

The gardens of the baron and the lady touched. These gardens ended in
two terraces one above the other, like two steps. On the upper terrace
the marquise had built a summer house which she called Le Pavillon des
Indes. It was her Petit Trianon, her quiet corner, and was surmounted by
a gilded goat’s head, the goat’s head being the “canting” arms of the
Cabris (_cabri_).

On the occasion of her brother’s visit Louise gave a quiet dinner in her
pavilion. The party consisted of her brother and herself, her lover
Briançon and an unnamed lady who was invited, no doubt, to entertain
Mirabeau. Before the meal was over the baron appeared on the upper
terrace of his garden, in order to take the air before the sun went
down. Louise pointed him out to her brother, told him what the baron had
done and what she would do with that nobleman if she had the strength.
Mirabeau at once jumped up from the table, stepped over into the baron’s
garden and fell upon the unsuspecting man with explosive violence.

[Illustration: GRASSE: RUE SANS PEUR.]

Now to introduce a comic element into a conflict of this kind it is
essential that at least one of the combatants should be elderly and
corpulent and that, by some means or another, an umbrella should be
brought into the affair. All these factors were present. The baron was
over fifty; he was very fat and, as the evening was hot, he carried an
umbrella. Excessive perspiration, also, is considered to be conducive to
humour.

Mirabeau, the statesman, flew at the fat man, bashed in his hat and,
seizing the umbrella, proceeded to beat him on the head with it. Further
he made the baron’s nose bleed and tore his clothes, especially about
the neck.

He also kicked him. The fat baron, who was shaped like a melon, clung to
the agile politician, with the result that they both rolled off the
terrace on to the ledge below, where sober gardeners, with bent backs,
were busy with the soil. These honest men were surprised to see two
members of the aristocracy drop from a wall and roll along the ground,
with an umbrella serving as a kind of axle, snarling like cats and using
language that would have brought a blush to the cheek of a pirate.

Louise, on the terrace above, was beside herself with joy. She screamed,
she clapped her hands, she stamped, she jumped with pure delight. She
was in an ecstasy; and when a fresh rent appeared in the baron’s coat or
when fresh mud appeared on his face as he rolled over and over, or when
Mirabeau’s fist sounded upon him like a drum she was bent double with
laughter.

Mirabeau was of course arrested for his part in this entertainment and
was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. The prison to which he was
sent was the famous Château d’If. In his confinement, however, he was
consoled by thinking that he had given his sister the merriest day in
her life.

The Mirabeau family was a peculiar one. The Marquis de Mirabeau hated
his daughter and she, as cordially, hated him. The basis of the enmity
was the fact that Louise sided with her mother in the constant quarrels
upon which her parents were engaged. The marquis, who called his
daughter Rongelime after the serpent in the fable, contrived to have her
sent to the Ursuline convent at Sisteron, as a punishment for her many
and scandalous misdeeds. The sisters were, no doubt, pleased to receive
so noble a lady; but their pleasure was short-lived, for at the dinner
table the marquise used such unusual language and told such improper
stories that the convent was soon divided into two parties—those who
were too horrified to associate with her and those who could not
withstand the lure of the beautiful woman who said such thrillingly
dreadful things.

Exile to Sisteron was rather a severe measure for the flighty Louise.
Although it is one of the most picturesque towns in this part of France
it lies far away among the hills, no less than 118 miles from Nice by
the Grenoble road. This road, which is as full of wonders and
enchantment as any road in an adventurous romance, did not exist in the
days of Madame de Cabris.

Sisteron stands in a narrow gorge through which rushes the Durance
river. The pass is bounded on either side by a towering precipice. The
town, which has only room for one long dim street, clings to a ledge
some few yards above the torrent and at the foot of the loftier cliff.
On the summit of this height stood the castle, the place of which is now
occupied by a modern military work. In the town, besides the exquisite
church of Notre Dame of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, are four
isolated and very lonely round towers. They were built about the year
1364. They are put to no purpose, but simply stand in a row on vacant
ground, looking disconsolate, as if they had been accidentally left
behind when the other ancient properties of the city were removed.

Across the river, at the foot of the gentler cliff, is a little wizen,
sun-bleached place called the Old Town. It is made up of gaunt houses
which show many traces of grandeur and of haughty bearing; but which are
now tenanted by a colony of poor and picturesquely untidy folk. At the
far end of this row of ghostly buildings is Louise’s convent, where she
chafed and fumed, said terrible things and told un-nun-like stories.

It was a bustling place in its day but it is now deserted and falling
into ruin. Those who would realise the pathos and the beauty of the last
days of an old convent should make a pilgrimage to Sisteron. The convent
buildings are tenanted by a few humble families who seem to have settled
here in the half-hearted mood of diffident intruders. There cannot be
many habitable rooms left in the rambling building, although there is
much space for hoarding rubbish. At one end is the little chapel, still
almost intact, but in a state of lamentable neglect. It is low, has a
curious rounded apse and a bell gable with two bells in it. One wonders
who was the last to ring these bells, for their ropes are gone and they
must have been silent for many years. The ringer may have been some
bent, grey-haired nun who loved the bells and, hearing them sound for
the last time with infinite sorrow, would have dropped the rope with
tears in her eyes.

The chapel is built of a warm, yellow stone and has a roof of rounded
tiles of such exquisite tints of ashen-grey, of dull red and of chestnut
brown that it may be covered with a rippled thatch of autumn leaves. At
the other end of the convent is a fine campanile of sturdy mason’s work.
It is still proud and commanding, although its base is occupied by a
stable and is stuffed with that dusty rubbish, that mouldy hay and those
fragments of farm implements that the poor seem never to have the heart
to destroy.

Behind the chapel is a tiny graveyard which is symbolic of the place;
for it is so overgrown that its few sad monuments are almost hidden by
weeds and scrubby bushes. The view from the convent is one of enchanting
beauty. It looks down the valley of the Buëch which joins the main river
just above the town. It might be a glade in Paradise.

The place is very silent. The only sounds to be heard are the same as
would have fallen upon the ears of the restless marquise—the child-like
chuckle of the river, the song of a shepherd on the hill, the clang of a
black-smith’s hammer far away and the tolling of the old church bell
across the stream.

Before long the illustrious Mirabeau was in another mess and needed once
more the help of his experienced sister. This time he was running away
with Madame de Monnier, the wife of a friend. Louise was still in the
convent; but she could not resist the temptation of assisting her
brother in this laudable and exciting enterprise. So she bolted from the
convent, assumed a man’s attire, armed herself and started on horseback
with her lover Briançon to join the runaway couple. The movements of the
party are a little difficult to follow. They went to Geneva, to Thonon
and to Lyons. They had difficulties at the frontier and other mishaps.
In some way Louise and Briançon failed Mirabeau at a critical moment.
The lady seems to have lost her nerve and to have unwittingly given a
clue as to her brother’s whereabouts, so that he narrowly escaped
capture.

Briançon and Mirabeau quarrelled, flew at one another’s throats, and
were parted, with difficulty, by the panting marquise. This episode led
to a coolness between brother and sister, a coolness which in time ended
in bitter enmity.

Then came the French Revolution which brought complete ruin to the de
Cabris family and destruction to their house. Louise and her husband
fled from the country during the Terror. When they returned to France
they found their home at Grasse gone and their affairs in a state of
dissolution. To add to the troubles of the irrepressible lady her
husband had lapsed into a state of hopeless insanity.

The once gay marquise, having lost estate, position and friends, retired
to a small _appartement_ in Paris with her sick husband. She had one
daughter who was married and had children.

The moralist may ask what was the end of this wild, rollicking and
reckless woman. She did not end her days—as some may surmise—in a
poor-house, a lunatic asylum or a jail. On the contrary she devoted the
last years of her life to the care of her poor imbecile husband whom she
nursed with a tenderness that the most loving wife could not exceed.
More than that she applied her fine talents to the teaching of her
grandchildren; so that the last we see of the flighty marquise is a
sweet-faced old lady, with white hair, who guides the finger of a child,
standing at her knee, across the pages of a book of prayer.

-----

[18] “Contes Populaires des Provençaux,” by Beranger-Feraud, 1887.

[19] “The Maritime Alps,” by Miss Dempster, 1885.

[20] “Old Provence,” by T. A. Cook, 1914, vol. 2, p. 298.

[21] “Life of Mirabeau,” by S. G. Tallentyre. “Les Mirabeau,” by L. de
Lomenie.

[Illustration: CAGNES.]



                                  XII
                       CAGNES AND ST. PAUL DU VAR


ALONG the road from Nice to Vence are two interesting little towns,
Cagnes and St. Paul du Var. Cagnes—or rather old Cagnes—is perched on
the top of a beehive-shaped hill on the confines of a plain. It looks
very picturesque from the distance and, unlike many other places, it is
equally attractive near at hand.

It is an odd town in the sense that it is made up of odd fragments.
There are no two things alike in Cagnes, nothing that matches. It is
indeed a pile of very miscellaneous houses inclined to set themselves
askew like the parts of a cubist picture. Mixed up with dwellings,
notable by their contrariness and their obvious revolt against all that
is conventional in the shape and arrangements of a house, are portions
of old ramparts, a ruined sentry tower and a gate that has got astray
from its connections. There is a church too that is apparently out of
drawing, that has a lane burrowing under its tower and that has become
wedged in among bits of a town on a precarious slope. It looks like a
very decrepit sick person who has slipped down in bed. Curious chimneys
(some of which are wonderful to see) form conspicuous features of the
dwellings of Cagnes. There are houses that seem to have rather overdone
their efforts to be picturesque; as well as others that have carried
their determination to be simple to excess. Of the super-simple house
the old _Maison commune_ affords a good example.

Cagnes is a quiet town with a total absence of traffic in its streets.
Indeed as if to show that the highway is not intended for traffic an old
lady has seated herself in the centre of the main road to knit, finding,
no doubt, the light better in that position than in a house. The sudden
way in which lanes drop headlong down the hill, to the right and to the
left, is quite disturbing. It is a place of pitfalls and hazardous
stairs that must be very trying to the village drunkard.

The centre of Cagnes—its Place de la Concorde—is a peasant-like little
place, humble and very still, called the Place Grimaldi. It is made
green by a line of acacia trees and is bounded on one side by a row of
modest houses, ranged, shoulder to shoulder, like a company in grey. The
buildings at the principal end are supported upon arches with sturdy old
pillars which give the spot an air of mystery. On the other side of the
square a double flight of stairs mounts pompously to the castle. The
square is approached by a lane which, to add to the fantastic character
of the Place, pops out unexpectedly through the base of the church
tower.

[Illustration: CAGNES: THE TOWN GATE.]

There was a time, long ago, when life in Cagnes was very gay and when,
indeed, Cagnes’ society was so lively and so exuberant as to bring down
upon the inhabitants a crushing reproof from the bishop of Vence. The
reprimand was conveyed to the young men and women of Cagnes in a message
of great harshness in which were unfeeling references to the pains of
hell. This was in 1678. It appeared that the people of Cagnes had
passion for dancing, a passion almost as uncontrolled as the craze of
the present day. They danced in the streets, the bishop stated. As there
are no level streets in Cagnes it is probable that the Place Grimaldi
was the scene of this display of depravity. The young people seem to
have favoured a kind of mediæval tango, for the bishop said some very
unpleasant things to the ladies of Cagnes about their “indelicate
postures and embraces.” As to the male dancers they are described as
“_forcenés_”; so they may be assumed to have introduced into these
street dances some of the violence and surprises of the madhouse.

The dancing took place, of course, principally on a Sunday and the
dancers excused themselves to the bishop by saying that the church was
so exceedingly dirty that they did not care to enter it and, therefore,
there was nothing for them to do on the Sabbath but either to sit in the
shade and yawn or to dance in the streets.

The bishop, who was clearly very “down upon” Cagnes, was severe too on
the subject of the ladies’ dress, or rather lack of dress. He especially
found fault with the low-necked costume and affirmed that women had been
seen in church “with bare throats and chests and without even a kerchief
or scarf to veil them.” It would be interesting to know what the bishop
of Vence would say about the low-necked dress of to-day, which is
carried down to the diaphragm in front and to the base of the spinal
column behind.

The castle of Cagnes stands at the top of the town on a wide platform
from which can be obtained a view of the sea, on the one hand, and of
the snow-covered mountains on the other. This is a castle of the great
Grimaldi family. It dates, Mr. MacGibbon[22] says, from the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries and is claimed to be the finest specimen of a
mediæval stronghold in this part of France. It is simply a vast, square
keep, as solid as a cliff and as grim as a prison. It is heavily
machicolated below the parapet. It is frankly ugly, brutal and
repellent, an embodiment of frightfulness, a frown in stone.

It is said that the great hall of the château possesses a ceiling
painted by Carlone in the seventeenth century. The fresco represents the
Fall of Phæton. The present state of this work of art is doubtful, for
in 1815 the castle was occupied by Piedmontese soldiers who, lolling on
sofas and divans, amused themselves by firing at the head of Phæton and
apparently with some success.

The castle has, however, been disfigured in such a way as to render it
pitiable and ridiculous. At some period huge modern windows have been
cut in its fearsome walls. These windows, brazen and aggressive, have
all the assurance of the windows of a pushing boarding house and to
sustain that character are furnished with sun-shutters and lace
curtains. The worst phase of this outrage is the cutting away of some of
the glorious machicolations in order to make room for the blatant plate
glass. This superb old castle, in its present plight, can only be
compared to the figure of a sun-tanned and scarred veteran with a helmet
on his grey head and a halberd in his hand and on his breast, in the
place of the steel cuirass, a parlourmaid’s pinafore trimmed with lace.

[Illustration: CAGNES: THE PLACE GRIMALDI.]

[Illustration: CAGNES: THE CASTLE.]

St. Paul du Var, on the way between Cagnes and Vence, affords a vivid
realisation of the fortified town of the middle ages. It is but little
altered and that only on the surface. Its fortifications, laid down in
1547, are still quite complete. Its circle of ramparts is unbroken.
There are still the old gates, the towers, the bastions and the
barbicans. The path along the parapet that the sentry patrolled is
undisturbed. One almost expects to hear his challenge for the password.
The town is as ready to withstand the attack of an army of bowmen or of
halberdiers as it ever was. It might even defy cannon if they were as
small and as weak as the old piece of ordnance that still occupies the
battery by the main gate.

The streets are disposed as they were in the days of the leathern jerkin
and the farthingale. There are more houses of obvious antiquity in the
place than will be seen in any town of its size in Provence. The hand of
improvement has of course passed clumsily over them. Whitewash can wipe
out the past and it has done much in this way in St. Paul. If the stone
wall of a house has become too rugged and worn it can be covered up with
plaster and paint. If the balcony crumbles away its balustrade can be
used in the fowl-house and can be replaced by something in cheap iron
from a shop in Nice. When the stone chimney falls down a tin stovepipe
can fill the void. If the Gothic window be too small it is easy to make
a fine square opening that will take lace curtains and be worthy of
Bermondsey, and when the oak door, whose black nails have been fumbled
over by ten generations of boys and girls, has become shabby a door of
deal, painted green and varnished and provided with a brass knocker will
make the whole town envious. Still, in spite of all these sorry
evidences of advance with the times, the town of St. Paul remains a rare
relic worthy (if it were possible) to be placed bodily in a museum, for
it is a museum specimen.

The visitor enters the town through the vaulted passage of the main gate
and then makes his way by the inner guard and under a tower, with a
channel for the portcullis, into the town. It is a rather terrifying
entry that belongs to the old days of romance. A gateway that the reader
of heroic tales has passed through, in imagination, many a time. It
should be held with flashing swords by such men as the Three Musketeers,
by Athos, Porthos and Aramis, but at the moment it is obstructed only by
an aged woman with a perverse and overburdened donkey.

The town is quiet and clean, full of picturesque lanes, of quaint
corners and of odd passages. As it was at one time a favourite resort of
the nobles of the country and at all times a place of much dignity it
contains still many houses with handsome stone staircases and elaborate
chimney-pieces; while over door after door will be found carved the
armorial bearings of old world tenants. The dates above many entries go
back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some of the old wooden
doors still standing are most beautiful, while examples of ancient
windows and of ancient archways are very numerous.

In St. Paul du Var will be seen, in almost every street, examples of the
little shop of the Middle Ages. Under a wide arch or in a square opening
will be found a door approached by a step and by the door a window. The
window only reaches to the level of the middle of the door. It there
ends in a stone counter upon which the goods for sale were displayed.
The window (which is, of course, not glazed) is closed by a shutter.
Both shutter and door are usually studded with heavy nails. These
curious little establishments are no longer used as shops, but through
them the dwelling is still entered.

[Illustration: ST. PAUL DU VAR.]

[Illustration: ST. PAUL DU VAR: THE ENTRY.]

[Illustration: ST. PAUL DU VAR: THE MAIN GATE.]

On the summit of the town is the church and, close to it, two great,
square towers of the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. The taller of
these is the belfry of the church, while the more sturdy is the tower of
the town. They are both severely plain and fine specimens of the period
to which they belong.

The church dates from the same era as the towers and is—as regards its
interior—one of the most beautiful churches in Provence and certainly
one of the most interesting. Among its notable features are certain
altar screens of exquisitely carved wood which date from between the
fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries. The chapel of St. Clement the
Martyr, completed in 1680, is a magnificent work of art, full of details
of great merit. It is classed as a national monument. On the north side
of the church is a bust of Saint Claire, carved in wood, a work of the
sixteenth century. It represents the head of a young woman with a
singularly beautiful and pathetic face. It is a haunting face, for
whenever the church of St. Paul is recalled to mind this face at once
comes back among the shadows of its aisles.

There is in the sacristy a collection of treasures which has made the
church famous throughout France. It includes marvellous crucifixes in
silver, silver statuettes of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, a
_tabernacle portatif_ and numerous old reliquaries, one of which—very
curious in shape—contains the shoulder-bone of St. George.

-----

[22] “Architecture of Provence,” 1888.



                                  XIII
                       CAP FERRAT AND ST. HOSPICE


CAP FERRAT is the name of a narrow tongue of land which is suddenly
thrust out into the sea between Villefranche and Beaulieu. It is one of
the great landmarks along the coast, is nearly a mile in length and
rises at one point to the height of 446 feet. It is a peninsula of rock
covered with trees and forms a pleasant strip of green athwart the blue
expanse of water. At its further end it breaks up into two capes which
spread apart like the limbs of a Y. One is Cap de St. Hospice, the
other Cap Ferrat.

Cap de St. Hospice is a very humble cape, small and low. All the present
dignity of the peninsula belongs to Cap Ferrat, which has a lighthouse
on its point and a great hotel, as well as a semaphore on a hill and a
number of villas of high quality. Cap de St. Hospice has none of these
things; but it possesses a little fishing village, a lonely church, an
ancient tower and a wealth of glorious memories. Cap Ferrat is modern.
It has no associations; for until the road-maker and the villa builder
came it was merely a strip of rough forest. The whole interest of this
would-be island centres around the promontory of St. Hospice.

[Illustration: ST. PAUL DU VAR: A SIDE STREET.]

[Illustration: ST. PAUL DU VAR: A SHOP OF THE MEDIÆVAL TYPE.]

In the early days the land, far and wide, that bordered on the cape was
buried in the gloom of paganism. It was as dark as a moonless night in
winter and as chill. Then, in a certain year, a spark of light appeared
on Cap de St. Hospice. It was very small, a mere isolated speck in the
overwhelming shadow. It glowed from a humble monastery of a few stone
huts which formed the first Christian settlement in this part of the
Mediterranean. With the passage of years the spark grew until the
darkness about the cape changed to day and the whole country beyond was
flooded with a light that men came to know as the Light of the World.

The missionary who established himself upon this remote point of land
was St. Hospice or St. Auspicius. He, with only a few followers, planted
on the cape, in the year 560, an outpost of the Christian religion. So
primitive and crude was the settlement that it was rather an
entrenchment than a monastery. Of the rough stone hovels that composed
it no trace, of course, exists.

St. Hospice is described as a man, eloquent of speech, whose presence
was commanding but whose heart was that of a child. He had the gift of
prophecy and the power of working miracles. He foretold the coming of
the Lombards and saw, as in a vision, the desolation that they would
leave in their track. He warned his converts to seek safety in strong
places and to take their goods with them. As for himself, when the news
reached Cap Ferrat in 572 that the Lombards had crossed the Col di
Tenda, he shut himself up in an old deserted tower on the crest of the
cape and—like St. Paul—hoped for the day.

When the barbarians arrived they were convinced that the tower, which
was so closely shut, must be the hiding place of treasure. One of the
robbers at once climbed to the top of the stronghold and peeped over. He
found it roofless and, looking down into the depth, saw not coffers
filled with silver and gold but a solitary man, emaciated and in rags,
sitting on the bare stones. They assumed him to be a miser who had vast
wealth buried beneath the flags on which he crouched. With violent
hammer blows they broke down the door and effected an entry.

The captain of the gang pushed through the opening and, confronting the
silent figure on the ground, demanded who he was and where his hoard was
concealed. To this the supposed man of wealth replied, “I am a murderer.
There is no crime that I am not guilty of, and with each misdeed I have
crucified anew the Son of God.” This was a dark saying very hard to
understand. The Lombard, although himself a practised murderer, felt
that he was in the presence of a criminal of unusual virulence, of a
malefactor whose wickedness was even riper than his own. His moral sense
was shocked by this revolting creature crouching on the earth, and moved
by an impulse of justice he proceeded to kill him. This was in accord
with the routine procedure adopted by Lombards in all cases of doubt.
“He raised his weapon to strike a deadly blow on the criminal’s head,
but, to the horror of all present, his arm remained dry and stiff in the
air and the weapon fell heavily to the ground.”[23]

This terrible occurrence filled those who had crowded into the tower
with shivering dread. They feared that they too might be punished in
this mysterious and abrupt manner. They felt their limbs all over to see
if they were still sound, looked at the placid figure on the floor with
awe and finally fell down upon their knees and implored mercy and
forgiveness. St. Hospice now arose, touched the withered arm, made over
it the sign of the cross and uttered some fervent words. At once the
limb became whole again.

So vivid was the impression made upon these rude men that two officers
and many of the company expressed a desire to be baptised then and
there. They never dreamt that the expedition would end in this way. They
had come to plunder and burn, not to be baptised. Those outside the
tower who had not seen the demonstration accomplished by the supposed
criminal promptly retreated. They were unfortunately met on the way by a
body of Ligurians who fell upon them and killed them. The attack on Cap
Ferrat thus proved a failure and the Lombards viewed the peninsula with
such mistrust that they left it in peace.

St. Hospice continued to live in the old tower as a hermit, beloved and
reverenced by all. In this tower he died in the year 580 and under the
grass at the foot of the tower he was buried. Some vestiges of this
Tower of the Withered Arm were still to be seen as late as 1650, but at
the present day no trace of it is to be discovered.

A sanctuary, in the form of a little chapel, was erected by the side of
the tower to keep green the memory of the saint. It is mentioned in a
Bull issued by Pope Innocent II in 1137. It was repaired by Charles
Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, about 1640 and was dignified by an
inscription in marble. Of this memorial chapel also no vestige now
exists.

In later years, when the Saracens came, they established a fortress—Le
petit Fraxinet—on Cap de St. Hospice and during the troubled centuries
that followed the promontory was strongly fortified and was the scene of
many assaults and numerous bombardments. Of these strongholds not a
stone is now standing, save alone the Emmanuel Philibert Tower, of which
an account is given on p. 110. Between the years 1526 and 1528 the cape
was occupied by the Knights of St. John who rendered great service
during the famine of 1527 and promoted, in many ways, the commerce along
the coast.

There is a curious legend of the cape which relates to the time of the
saint, for it belongs to the year 575 when St. Hospice was still living
in his old roofless tower. It is the Legend of the Stream of Blood.

On a certain day a party of honest folk—villagers and monks—started
from Cap Ferrat to walk up to Eze. Their purpose was peaceful and indeed
they seem to have been merely taking a stroll. When the evening came
they had not returned. They were never to return; for, as they climbed
up the cliff, they were set upon by a gang of miscreants and murdered to
a man. Plunder was not the object of the attack, for the victims were
poor but they were disciples of St. Hospice and the religion taught by
that good man was held in abhorrence by the profane. As no trace of the
murderers was ever discovered it is assumed that they were agents of the
devil and that they had come direct from the bottomless pit on this
especial mission.

[Illustration: CAP DE ST. HOSPICE.]

[Illustration: ST. HOSPICE: THE MADONNA AND THE TOWER.]

On the following morning some fishermen were starting in their boats
from the cove where now stands the village of St. Jean. The morning was
calm. The sea was smooth as a mirror and as blue as the petals of the
gentian. The boatmen were amazed to see a crimson stream coming towards
them on the surface of the deep from the direction of Eze. It was a
stream, narrow and straight, and as clear in outline as a ribbon of
scarlet satin drawn across a sheet of blue ice. As they approached it
they were horrified to perceive that it was blood, warm blood, thick and
gelatinous looking. It smelt of fresh blood and from it rose a sickly
steam.

As the men drew nearer the red streak began to recede in the direction
whence it came. They followed it. It led them to the beach at Eze. They
landed and saw before them the rivulet of blood trickling, in slow,
glutinous ripples, over the stones. It withdrew to the foot of the
cliff. They followed and as they advanced the stream still retreated.
Looking up they could see it coming down the path as a thick red band,
with clots hanging here and there from the steps and from low-lying
brambles. As they mounted up the cliff the stream withdrew before them.

Finally the fishermen came to a mossy ledge, where they found the bodies
of the dead villagers lying in a tangled heap. Beneath them was a cross
which they had never seen before. They proceeded at once to bury the
victims of this wicked outrage. The ground about was rocky; but, as they
dug, the rock softened and became as sand. They left the cross as they
had found it and, after offering up a prayer for those who had passed
away, they walked silently down the path to their boats.

St. Jean is a little place that hangs about a tiny harbour full of
fishing boats. It is quite modern or at least all that part of it that
is presented to the eye belongs to the period of to-day. It is popular
because it is supposed to be a fisher village away from the world, and
those who live in towns love fisher villages, since they suggest a
picturesque quietness, a place of nets and lobster pots and of
sun-tanned toilers of the deep, a primitive spot where people live the
simple life in vine-covered cottages.

Now there is little of the fisher village about St. Jean, not even the
smell. There are certainly nets and boats and an appropriate brawniness
about the people; but the fisher village element is wanting. St. Jean
is, in fact, a popular resort for the humbler type of holiday folk, a
place they can reach in the beloved tram and where they can eat and
drink and be merry. The whole quay front is occupied by bars, cafés and
restaurants, where _langouste_ can be enjoyed and that rare dish the
_bouillabaisse_ which is claimed to be a speciality of the place.

St. Hospice would not approve of St. Jean in its present guise and could
he find the way back to his tower he would be horrified by the placards
of “American drinks” and “Afternoon teas.” There is no missionary spirit
abroad in St. Jean, nothing of the old monastic life. The early morning
fishermen would never again expect to see a stream of blood creeping
over the tide. St. Jean, in fact, is no longer adapted for miracles;
while its romance goes little beyond the romance of a lunch in the open
air by a harbour-side.

[Illustration: VILLEFRANCHE.]

Beyond St. Jean is the point of Cap de St. Hospice, a low, rocky
promontory covered with firs, olive trees and cactus. On the extremity
of the cape is the tower erected by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy,
in 1561. It is a structure in yellowish stone, plain, round and squat,
with a few emplacements for small guns on its summit and a few narrow
slits in its uncompromising flanks. It is as insolent and as defiant a
structure as can be imagined. By its side is placed a most astonishing
object—a newly-made statue of the Virgin, some 28 feet in height and
nearly as tall as the tower itself. The statue stands on the grass
facing the east, is of a bilious tint but otherwise unpainted. Few more
incongruous things have ever been brought together in this world. The
statue is so very modern, so artificial and so frail; while the tower is
so old, so primitive and so coarse in its braggart strength. The statue,
it appears, was provided by the subscriptions of the faithful, but want
of funds or want of purpose has prevented its being placed on the top of
the tower where it was intended that it should ultimately stand.

The tower has walls of enormous thickness. An upper story can be reached
by a stair and there the visitor will be brought face to face with the
most substantial apparition that has ever been found in a mediæval
stronghold. He will find himself, when near the roof, confronted by the
ashen face of the Madonna, a face as big as a boulder, for the tower is
occupied by a model of the statue which is of the same proportions as
the stupendous image itself. To complete the anomalies of this
remarkable household the ground floor of the tower is occupied by a
family surrounded by the amenities of a cave dwelling.

Beyond the tower is the chapel of St. Hospice. It is a humble, barn-like
little church with a roof of red tiles and a bell gable. It is
comparatively modern, for it has been in existence for just one hundred
years. It is only opened once annually—viz. on October 16th—for the
celebration of the Mass.

The spot on which it may reasonably be assumed that the monastery of St.
Hospice stood is occupied by a café-restaurant where dancing is indulged
in on Sundays and holidays to the music of a pianola. One wonders what
the saint—who was eloquent and forcible of speech—would say if he
could visit again the cape that bears his name.

There are some half-buried fragments of old walls on the promontory, and
these the imaginative man, if free from scruples, can assume to belong
to whatever building and whatever period in the history of the place he
may particularly affect.

From the point of the spit is a fascinating view of the mainland and
especially of Eze which stands exactly opposite to St. Hospice. La
Turbie also can be seen at great advantage. It lies in the col between
Mont Agel and the Tête de Chien and marks the place of crossing of the
Roman road.

On the coast, on either side of Cap Ferrat, are respectively Beaulieu
and Villefranche. Beaulieu is a super-village of sumptuous villas. It
lies on an evergreen shelf by the sea, pampered by an indulgent climate,
made gorgeous by an extravagant vegetation and provided by all the
delights that the most florid house agent could invent. It breathes
luxury and wealth, languid ease and a surfeit of comfort. It can be best
viewed from the Mid-Corniche road on the way up to Eze. Here the envious
can lean over a wall and look down upon Naboth’s vineyard, upon a
village which is possibly the richest in Europe and upon gardens whose
glory is nowhere to be surpassed.

[Illustration: VILLEFRANCHE: THE MAIN STREET.]

Villefranche, the harbour town, lies across the blue lagoon. It is as
little like Beaulieu as any place could be, for whatever Beaulieu boasts
of Villefranche lacks. It is a very ancient town; but it has been so
persistently modernised that it has an aspect of the present day. It is
like an old face that has been painted and powdered and “made up” to
look young. The result as regards the town is like the result as regards
the face—an imperfect success; for in the dim lanes of Villefranche are
still to be traced the wrinkles of old age, while the grey of its
withered stones is still quite apparent even under a toupee of auburn
tiles.

There are boats everywhere, not only in the harbour and on the quay but
up the streets, where they are being patched and hammered at. The quay
is carpeted with nets and among them old women in straw hats are sitting
on low chairs repairing broken strands. Ducks are wandering about and
against any support that is solid enough a thoughtful mariner is
leaning.

At the south end of Villefranche is the citadel, a lusty, rambling
fortress built in 1560 by Emmanuel Philibert about the time that he
erected the very gallant fort which still stands on the summit of Mont
Alban, high above the town. The citadel is now grey and green with age,
is much humiliated by certain modern buildings, but still is cut off
from the world by a terrifying moat spanned by a timid bridge and is
still said to retain in its depths some dreadful dungeons.

Villefranche is on a slope and thus it is that all lanes leading up from
the quay are very steep and, indeed, are stairs rather than streets.
Some are quite picturesque, especially such as pass under archways and
through vaulted passages. There are a bewildering number of bars, cafés
and wine-shops along the sea front which bear testimony to that thirst
which is a feature in the physiology of the mariner. A well known author
has described an English village as made up of “public houses and
drawbacks.” He would probably speak of Villefranche as a compound of
bars and stairs.

One of the most exciting days in the history of Villefranche happened in
the year 1523 when “The Great Ship” was launched and when the people
either screamed themselves hoarse with elation or were rendered dumb by
surprise. This Leviathan of the Deep was built by the Knights Templars.
The dimensions of the fearsome vessel have probably grown with the
passage of time, but quite temperate historians describe her as
possessed of six decks and as furnished with a powder store, a chapel
and a bakehouse. She carried a crew of 300 men. Writers with a riper
imagination assert that she was covered with lead and that so terrific
was her weight that she could sink fifty galleys. Things grow as the
centuries pass. It would be of interest to learn to what proportions the
ephemeral image of the Virgin, on the opposite cape, will have attained
in the next four hundred years.

Villefranche and Cap de St. Hospice are both concerned in the astounding
journey that was made by the dead body of Paganini.

[Illustration: A ROAD IN BEAULIEU.]

Paganini, the immortal violinist, died at Nice on May 27th, 1840, in the
Rue de la Préfecture in a house which has been already indicated (page
25). He died of tuberculosis at the age of 56. His religious opinions
appear to have been indistinct and his religious observances even less
pronounced. In the closing hours of his life he was denied or failed to
receive the last rites of the Church and, after his death, the clergy
refused to allow his body to be buried in consecrated ground.

On the day following his decease the coffin was deposited in the cellar
of a house near by, a house that stands at the junction of the Rue de la
Préfecture and the Rue Ste. Réparate.[24] The cellar was in the
possession of a friendly hatter. The body then appears to have been
removed to an “apartment” in a hospital at Nice, but the facts at this
point in the narrative are confused.[25]

Paganini’s son took action against the bishop for refusing to permit the
body to be buried within the pale of the Church. In this action young
Paganini failed. He appealed against the decision of the clergy and the
matter was finally referred to the Papal Court at Rome. Pending judgment
the body was taken to Villefranche and placed in a lazaretto there. In
about a month the smell emitted by the corpse was complained of and
accordingly the coffin was taken out of the building and placed on the
open beach near the water’s edge.

This gave great distress to the friends of the dead artist and so one
night a party of five of them took up the coffin and carried it by
torch-light round the bay to the point of Cap de St. Hospice. Here they
buried it close to the sea and just below the old round tower which
still stands on this spit of land. Over the coffin was placed a slab of
stone. All this happened within a year of the maestro’s death.

In 1841 the son decided to take the body from the Cap de St. Hospice and
convey it to Genoa, because it was in Genoa that his father was born.
Here it was hoped he could be laid at rest. A ship was obtained and the
coffin was lifted from the grave near the old tower and placed on the
deck. When Genoa was reached the party with the coffin were not allowed
to land because the vessel had come from Marseilles and at that port
cholera was raging.

The ship thereupon turned back and sailing westwards brought the dead
man to Cannes. Here also permission to land a coffin, which was already
highly suspected, was refused. The position seemed desperate but near
Cannes are the Lerin Islands and among them the barren and lonely rock
known as Sainte Ferréol. Here the body was once more buried and again
covered with a stone. On this strange little desert island it remained,
in utter loneliness, for four years, in the company only of the seabirds
and of some blue iris flowers that made the rock less pitiable.

Now it seemed to Achillino Paganini a heartless thing to leave his
father’s body in this bleak, forsaken spot. The great musician had some
property at Parma and it was considered well that the body should be
taken there and buried in his own land and in his native Italy. So the
dead man was carried away from the island and was buried in a garden in
his own country and amid kindly and familiar scenes. This voyage was
accomplished without mishap in 1845.

For some unknown reason it was determined in 1853 that the body should
be re-embalmed. So the coffin was once more dug up and the gruesome
ceremony carried out. The wanderings of the dead man had, however, not
yet come to an end for in 1876 permission was granted by the Papal Court
to lay the body within the walls of a Christian church. So once more the
corpse was exhumed and conveyed, with all solemnity, to the church of
the Madonna della Staccata in Parma where it was placed in a tomb. By
this time no less than thirty-six years had passed since the poor dead
master commenced his strange journey.

But even now he had not come upon peace; for in 1893 a certain Hungarian
violinist suggested that the body in the church was not that of the
adored musician. Thus it happened that once again the corpse was exhumed
and once again the coffin opened. The son, who was still alive,
permitted an investigation to be made. Those who looked into the coffin
saw lying there the form of the man who had enchanted the world. The
black coat that he wore was in tatters, but it was his coat. The face,
too, they recognised, the gaunt, thin face, the side whiskers and the
long hair that fell over the neck and covered the white bones of the
shoulder and the gleaming ribs.

-----

[23] “Mentone,” by Dr. George Müller, 1910.

[24] The house is now a tailor’s shop. Neither of these houses is
indicated by any tablet or inscription, as has been sometimes stated.

[25] “The Romance of Nice,” by John D. Loveland, London, 1911.



                                  XIV
                            THE STORY OF EZE


EZE is a curious name and the name of a still more curious place. Eze,
indeed, by reason of its grim history and its astonishing position on a
lone pinnacle of rock, is one of the most fascinating towns in the
Riviera. Its past has been more tumultuous and more tragic than that
probably of any settlement of its size in Provence. It has seen much,
has done much and, above all, has suffered much, for its cup of sorrows
has been overflowing.

It is a place of extreme antiquity; since people lived within its
rampart of rocks before the dawn of history. Some maintain that the
Phœnicians, after expelling these raw natives, fortified Eze, but then
that ubiquitous and pushing people seems—at one time or another—to
have occupied every place on the seaboard of Europe that can admit of
some obscurity in its history.

Certain it is that the Romans when they landed possessed themselves of
this town on the cliff and established a harbour in the bay which lies
at its foot. When they, in their turn, had embarked in their galleys and
sailed away the Lombards appeared, murdered all they could find, burned
everything that would burn and robbed to the best of their exceptional
abilities. This episode is ascribed to the year 578. The death-rate at

Eze must always have been very high, but during the time that the
Lombards were busy in the district it must have risen almost to
annihilation.

The Lombards and their kin held on to Eze, in an unsteady fashion, for
nearly 200 years and when they had finished with it the Saracens entered
upon the scene. These talented scoundrels crept up the cliff in swarms
and, with such bloodshedding as the limited material at their disposal
would allow, settled themselves upon the point of rock and proceeded to
consolidate its position as a den of thieves. This disturbing change of
tenancy is said to have taken place in 740 and as the Saracens were not
driven from Provence until 980 they were longer in residence than the
Lombards. They are credited with having built the castle—or rather the
first castle—of Eze. They made slaves of as many of the natives as they
could capture, spoke in a strange tongue, made themselves a horror in
the land and, in general terms, did inconceivable things. Eze was one of
the last strongholds of the Saracens on the Riviera and in order to make
the evacuation of the place complete the town was razed to the ground.

After the last Saracens had clattered down the little zigzag path to
their boats Eze fell upon still more evil days. It entered upon a period
of unease so protracted that for centuries it was never certain of its
fate from one day to another. It was taken and retaken over and over
again. It was starved into submission at one time and burnt to the rock
edge at another. It was occupied now by the Guelphs and now by the
Ghibellines. It belonged one year to the House of Anjou and the next to
the Counts of Provence. It was at one time a dependency of Naples and at
another time of Monaco. It was bartered about like an old hat and sold
or bought with a flaunting disregard of the sentiment of the people who
were sold with it. Finally in the fourteenth century it was sold to
Amadeus of Savoy in whose family it remained—with the exception of
twenty-two years during the Revolution—down to its cession to France in
1860.[26]

It was visited by plague and devastated by fever. It had a varied
experience of assassination, of poisoning and of modes of torture; while
its information on the subject of sudden death and its varieties must
have been very full. In order—it would seem—that its knowledge of
every form of fulminating violence might be complete it was shaken by
earthquake and mutilated by lightning.

The vicissitudes of Eze were indeed many. At one period it was the
terror of the coast, supreme in villainy and unique in frightfulness;
while, at another time, it was a seat of letters frequented by poets. It
had its moments of exaltation as in 1246 when Rostagno and Ferrando,
Lords of Eze, had rights over Monaco and Turbia and its moments of
misery when it was little more than a howling ruin too bare to attract
even a starving robber.

[Illustration: EZE.]

Eze too has seen unwonted folk. Every type of scoundrel that Europe
could produce, during the Middle Ages, must, at one time or another,
have rollicked and drank and sworn within its walls. The strange
troopers who strutted up and down its astonished lanes in the spring
would often be replaced by still stranger blusterers before the winter
came. During the time that Eze was a favourite resort of pirates it
reached its climax in picturesqueness; for then its vaulted passages
must have been bright with strange goods, its streets with
curiously-garbed captives and its inns filled with seamen who roared
forth villainous songs and then fell to fighting with knives over some
such trifle as a stolen crucifix or a lady’s petticoat.

Southampton is a long way from Eze but, if certain records be reliable,
the association of the two sea towns is very close. During the
hostilities between France and England, in the time of Edward III, a
fleet consisting of 50 galleys—French, Spanish and Genoese—arrived at
Southampton in 1338 and landed a large body of men. The fleet was under
the general orders of the French admiral, but the Genoese division was
commanded by Carlo Grimaldi of Monaco, the famous seaman.

The landing party swarmed over the walls of the town or burst through
the gates; they “killed all that opposed them; then entering the houses
they instantly hanged many of the superior inhabitants, plundered the
town and reduced great part of it to ashes.”[27] According to Stowe, in
his “Annals,” this very effective assault took place at “nine of the
clock” and the townsmen ran away for fear. “By the breake of the next
day,” adds Stowe, “they which fled, by help of the country thereabout,
came against the pyrates and fought them; in which skirmish were slain
to the number of 300 pyrates, together with their captain, a young
soldier the King of Sicilis son.” The entry into the town was made at
the lower end of Bugle Street.

Now it is stated that the marauding party that attacked Southampton was
composed, for the most part, of men from the Genoese division of the
fleet and that the assault was led and the looting directed by Carlo
Grimaldi in person. Grimaldi’s share of the plunder was so substantial
that on his return to Monaco he purchased with the money the town of Eze
in 1341.

It thus comes to pass that some of the savings of honest Hampshire
citizens have been invested at one time in this very unattractive
property.

-----

[26] “The Riviera,” Macmillan, 1885.

[27] John Ballar, “Historical Particulars relative to Southampton,”
1820. John Stowe, “Annals,” London, 1631. J. S. Davies, “History of
Southampton,” 1883.



                                   XV
                         THE TROUBADOURS OF EZE


ABOUT the beginning of the thirteenth century there lived at Eze two
troubadours, Blacas and Blacasette by name, father and son. They were
Catalans by birth; but the family had settled in Provence and the two
singers found themselves in the suite of Raymond Berenger, the Count of
Provence. How it was that they came to Eze and how long they resided
there is not known. Durandy states that the Blacas were owners of the
manor of Eze and in describing the sack of the town in 1543 he speaks of
the castle as “the castle of the Blacas.”[28]

Certain it is that they were both men of position and were both much
esteemed. Blacas, his biographer asserts, was admired more for “the
nobleness of his manners” than for the merit of his poems.[29] The two
of them wrote and dreamed of love and of fair women, of gardens and
green fields. They formed for themselves a little literary circle, as if
they were living in Old Chelsea, held Courts of Love and meetings with
their poet friends in which they competed with one another. Indeed the
first known poem of Blacas (written before 1190) was a tanzon with the
troubadour Peyrols. A tanzon, it may be explained, was a competition in
verse, the rhymers concerned contributing alternate couplets.

For those who are curious as to the kind of poetry that rippled over the
walls of Eze I append a verse by Blacas translated into the French of a
later period from the Provençal in which it was written.

                     _“Le doix et beau temps me plait,_
                      _Et la gaie saison_
                      _Et le chant des oiseaux;_
                      _Et si j’etais autant aimé_
                      _Que je suis amoureux,_
                      _Me ferait grande courtoisie,_
                      _Ma belle douce amie._
                      _Mais puisque nul bien ne me fait_
                      _Hélas! eh donc que deviendrai-je?_
                      _Tant j’attendrai en aimant_
                      _Jusqu’à ce que je meure en suppliant,_
                      _Puisqu’elle le veut ainsi.”_

[Illustration: EZE: THE MAIN GATE.
The scene of the treachery of Gaspard de Caïs.]

The picture of a troubadour writing little love ditties in this most
woeful place is as anomalous, and indeed as incongruous, as the picture
of a lady manicuring her hands during the crisis of a shipwreck. The
sound of these songs as they floated—like a scented breeze—down the
lanes of the putrid town must have been interrupted, now and then, by
the shriek of a strangled man in a cellar or the shout of the trembling
watchman on the castle roof.

The two troubadours loved war. Blacasette penned enthusiastic verses
about it. He thought it an excellent pursuit, a measure much to be
desired, a thing of which it was impossible to have too much. Had he
lived at the present day he would probably have modified his views. He
was, however, no mere dreamer. He carried his theories into practice and
took to fighting when he could. He was engaged in the war which, in
1228, Raymond Berenger waged against the independent towns of Avignon,
Marseilles, Toulon, Grasse and Nice. He came out of the fray alive, for
he did not die until some time between the years 1265 and 1270.

Blacas was married. His wife was Ughetta de Baus. The marriage came to
an abrupt end; for one day Ughetta walked off with her sister Amilheta,
entered a convent and took the veil. This precipitate step caused Blacas
considerable distress, for he is described as being “plunged in profound
sorrow.”

Ughetta was probably not to blame; for Blacas as a husband and at the
same time a troubadour must have been very trying. From a professional
point of view he loved women as a body. That was a part of his business
and no doubt Ughetta became tired of his violent and continual ravings
about women with whom she was but slightly acquainted. Moreover her home
life in Eze must have been very unsettled. Blacas would one day be
humming songs about a new lady at the dinner table and the next day he
would be turning the house upside down in order to hold a Court of Love;
while, perhaps, on the third morning he would be off to a war he had
just heard of. Ughetta no doubt talked this over with her sister—who
may possibly have married a troubadour herself—and the two came to the
conclusion that the quiet of a convent would be a pleasant change after
life with a crazy poet in Eze.

Blacasette—who wrote with facile elegance—was more fortunate than his
father. He fell harmlessly in love with a _grande dame_ or imagined that
he had and most of the poems of his that survive are amatory sonnets
devoted to his “sweet lady.” The position was made awkward by the fact
that the sweet lady was already married and was, moreover, the wife of
no less a person than Blacasette’s master, Raymond Berenger. Nothing, of
course, came of this. The lady remained unmoved and was probably much
bored by the receipt of these florid effusions; while the troubadour did
not feel called upon to retire to a monastery, nor to take any action
that was excessive. In fact the love-making was purely academic and
little more than a display in verse making.

The “sweet lady” was truly a _grande dame_, for she was the famous
Beatrix of Savoy. She married in 1219 and had four remarkable daughters,
the most illustrious bevy of girls of almost any age. One, Beatrix,
succeeded her father and became the Countess of Provence; another,
Eleanor, married Henry III of England; a third, with the pretty name of
Sancia, married King Henry’s brother, Richard, Duke of Cornwall; while
Marguerite—the fairest of them all—became the wife of Louis IX.

-----

[28] Durandy, “Mon Pays, Villages, etc., de la Riviera,” 1918.

[29] “Histoire littéraire de la France,” t. xix, 1838. Reynouard, “Choix
des Poésies orig. des Troubadours,” 1816-21.



                                  XVI
                          HOW EZE WAS BETRAYED


IN August, 1543, the citadel of Nice was besieged by the French army of
Francis I aided by the Turkish fleet under the command of the corsair
Barbarossa. The siege failed as has been already recounted (page 29).
The next obvious step for the French was to attack and destroy Eze,
which lay behind Nice and was an obstacle to any further progress. It is
necessary to realise that—at this period—both Nice and Eze were beyond
the frontiers of France, were foreign towns and, at the moment, enemy
towns.

The Turkish fleet, supplemented by many French galleys, accordingly set
sail for the Bay of Eze, carrying with it irregular troops, both French
and Turkish, to the number, it is said, of 2,000. Now Barbarossa, being
a finished pirate of ripe experience, would be aware that the taking of
Eze from the sea was—as a military project—quite impossible. Eze stood
on a cone of rock 1,400 feet above the level of the Mediterranean and
could only be reached from the shore by a narrow path which was actually
precipitous. To bring cannon to bear upon the town from any point, high
or low, on either side of it, was impracticable. It could only be taken
by a body of infantry and to the attacks of such a force Eze was
impregnable.

Still Redbeard the pirate sailed on with complete content. He was not
only content; he was happy. He had a treasure in his galley, a treasure
in the form of a man who was probably sitting alone in the pirate’s
cabin, deep in thought. Barbarossa would take a peep at him now and
then, rub his hands and smile. The name of this man was Gaspard de Caïs
and he was one of the most poisonous scoundrels that had ever lived. He
was a native of the country the admiral was proceeding to invade. He was
a loathsome traitor who had gone over to the French and, for a certain
sum, had engaged to betray his country and the town of Eze together with
friends among whom he had spent his youth. The bribe might have been
large but, valued as a really corrupt ruffian, Gaspard was beyond price.

When the Bay of Eze was reached this sneaking hound was landed with a
few French and Italian soldiers—Italian because they spoke a language
more akin to the speech of Eze. Barbarossa would like to have kicked the
knave off the boat but he was not a censor of morals and he wanted to
take the town.

De Caïs and his small company proceeded to climb up to Eze. It was
September and, therefore, one of the hottest months of the year. What
with the heat and the burden of his conscience Gaspard must have found
the ascent trying; for even in modern times with a modern path the
clamber up to the town from the shore is a feat of endurance that the
hardiest tourist will scarcely undertake twice.

In due course the perspiring traitor reached the gate of Eze—the
identical gate that stands before the entrance of the town to this day.
He would be stopped by the guard and asked his business. Mopping his
face he would reply, with a smile, that he wished a word with the
governor. After some delay the governor, attended by an officer or two,
appeared and Gaspard, greeting him as an old comrade, whispered in his
ear that the Turkish fleet was in the Bay and would attempt to take the
town. This was possibly the only time that Gaspard ever spoke the truth;
for, in fact, the fleet was below and the admiral did undoubtedly desire
to capture the town. De Caïs then lapsed into lying which became him
better. He explained that as a patriot and a lover of Eze he had come to
warn the governor of the peril ahead and to place his poor services and
those of his humble followers at the disposal of the garrison. “Would he
come in?” He came in.

Now it must be explained that Gaspard had as a friend and co-partner in
crime no less a person than his fellow countryman, the Lord of Gorbio.
This prince was known by the unpleasing name of the Bastard of Gorbio
for he was a disreputable scion of the noble house of Grimaldi. He was,
if possible, a more contemptible rogue than Gaspard. He had confederates
in Eze and a number of traitorous men in his pay hidden among the rocks
about the entrance.

As soon as Gaspard de Caïs and his companions were well within the gate
they suddenly drew their swords and, with a shout, fell like madmen upon
the unsuspecting guard who were still standing at attention. This was a
signal to the Bastard and to his friends within and without the town.
These worthies all rushed to the gate and in a few moments the governor
and the gallant guard of Eze were dead or dying.

All this time the Turks, in single file, were crawling up the zigzag
path from the boats, like a great brown serpent, a mile long, gliding up
out of the water. They poured in through the gate, panting and yelling,
and continued to pour in for hours. Barbarossa now could laugh aloud and
did no doubt guffaw heartily enough for Eze the impregnable was taken
with scarcely the loss of a man.

What followed is, in the language of novelists, “better imagined than
described”; simply because it is easy to imagine but difficult to
describe.

Eze the betrayed became the scene of a blurred orgy of house burning,
murder and pillage. The town with all that was in it was to be wiped off
the face of the earth. The order could not have been carried out more
thoroughly or more heartily if it had been executed by the Germans of
the present day. There was no resistance. There was to be no quarter and
no prisoners. Everything went “according to plan.”

The narrowness of the lanes rendered the process of hacking a population
to death cramped, slow and very horrible. Every street and alley was
soon blocked with the dead and the dying. The first clatter of hurrying
feet was soon hushed; for those who pressed on and those who fled trod
upon yielding bodies. A whole family would be lying dead in an entry;
the man at the front, the baby and the mother behind.

Here would be the corpse of a Turk sprawling over the bundle of loot he
was in the act of carrying away. Here would be a woman’s dead hand cut
off at the wrist, but still clinging to the handle of a door. Here a
disembowelled man, still alive, trying to crawl into a cellar and there
a half-charred body dangling from the window of a burning house.

It is always customary to say, in the account of scenes like this, that
“the streets ran with blood,” but it is not so. The state is far more
hideous, since blood clots so soon that it will not run.

The noise must have been peculiarly dreadful, an awful medley of the
shouts of men, the shrieks of the butchered, the moans of the dying,
mingled with the roaring of flames and the fall of blazing timbers. Now
and then, among the din, would be heard the crash of an axe upon a
skull, the crack of a sword upon the tense bones of a bent back, the
muffled thud of a dagger, the hammer-blow of a club.

The sunlight and the blue of heaven were shut off by a pall of smoke;
while suffocating clouds filled many a lane with the blackness of night.

Such fortifications as could be destroyed were levelled to the ground,
and the castle that crowned the hill was blown up by its own magazine.
The gate—the fatal gate—was untouched and stands to this day to
testify to the supreme villainy of the traitor, Gaspard de Caïs.

The work was well done. Redbeard the pirate may have had his faults, but
in the business details of town-sacking he was thorough and singularly
expert. When he beached his galleys in the bay, Eze was a prosperous and
busy town, living at ease and confident in its strength. When the pirate
left it, it was a black, smouldering ruin, empty and helpless, stripped
of all that it possessed and occupied only by the dead, by such wounded
as survived and by the few who, hidden in vaults and secret places, had
escaped death from suffocation. There was no need to leave a guard in
the town for there was nothing to guard. Eze, as a stronghold had ceased
to exist.

After all was over the Turks and their ruffianly allies rattled down the
hill to the boats, tired no doubt, blood-bespattered and blackened by
smoke, but jubilant and disposed to bellow and sing. Every man was laden
with loot like a pack-horse. Even the wounded would grab the shoulder of
a friend with one hand and a bundle of booty with the other. They
chattered as they stumbled along, chuckling over the “fun” they had had
and announcing what they would have done if only they had had more time.
Others would be appraising the value of their respective spoils, would
draw strange articles half out of their pockets for inspection, or would
rub a sticky mess of blood and hair from a vase to see better the
fineness of its moulding. They reached the sea without further
adventure, boarded their galleys and sailed away towards the East, a
proud and happy company, pleased with their day’s work and grateful to
Allah for his abounding mercies.

It only remains to tell what happened to Gaspard de Caïs and his friend
from Gorbio with the unpleasant title. They were, of course, overjoyed
by the result of their labours and must have congratulated one another
fervently with hearty slaps upon the shoulder. They did not go down the
hill to join the ships. They had either been paid in advance for their
distinguished service or had got enough loot out of Eze to reward them
for their efforts. They had done with Barbarossa and were disposed to do
a little now on their own account.

Their action at Eze had been attended with such excellent results that
they proposed to try the same manœuvre at the gate of La Turbie. So
Gaspard and the Lord of Gorbio started in high spirits for this
well-to-do little town. They were to approach it as friends. They were
to warn the governor that the Turks were coming and were to offer their
patriotic services as they had done at Eze. They had with them a
substantial body of men—blackguards all of the first water—among whom
were no doubt some of Barbarossa’s crew who had reached the hill too
late to make a really good bag. Indeed La Turbie was to be Eze over
again.

The two gentle traitors, having hidden their men near by, advanced to
the gate of the town as the night was falling. Unhappily for them the
governor had been secretly warned of their coming and of their methods
for helping their fellow countrymen. The result was that they were
received, not with gratitude, but with bullets and stones.

They fled and, as it was dark, made good their escape. The Bastard of
Gorbio took refuge in a church. There he was found and seized by two
brave priests, Gianfret Mossen of Eze and Marcellino Mossen of
Villefranche. Gaspard de Caïs hid in a cave. He also was discovered and
arrested. Very probably his colleague from Gorbio revealed his hiding
place to those who were in pursuit. Anyhow these two snivelling ruffians
were both marched off to the Castle at Nice where they were tried for
high treason, convicted and sentenced to death.[30]

According to one account Gaspard was drawn and quartered and the Bastard
of Gorbio was hanged; while another record states that De Caïs was
broken on the wheel and that his friend committed suicide in his cell.
It matters little which account is true. They both came to a fitting end
and passed out into the darkness with the curses of their countrymen
ringing in their ears.

With the sacking and massacre of 1543 the story of Eze comes to an end.
It ceased to be a town to reckon with, to be cajoled or threatened, to
be bought or sold. It became a place of no account and has remained
humble and unhonoured ever since. The walls were not restored, the
fortifications were not remade and the castle was allowed to crumble
into dust. He who was Lord of Eze was lord over a hollow heap of tainted
ruins and his title was as much a shadow as was his town.

The new Eze, which in course of time came into being, had its
foundations set upon the ruins of 1543. The castle appears to have been
more completely dismantled in 1604. On February 23rd, 1887, the
earthquake which destroyed Castillon—a place singularly like Eze in its
position—did some damage to the hapless town and also to its castle.
But it would seem as if the forces of both heaven and earth were
conspiring to rid the world of this battered and ill-omened house, for
in the terrific storm of May, 1887, its remaining walls were so split by
lightning that the arrogant old stronghold was reduced to the mean
condition in which it is found to-day.

-----

[30] “Mentone,” by Dr. George Müller, London, 1910. Durante’s “History
of Nice,” Vol. 2, p. 313.

[Illustration: A STREET IN EZE.]



                                  XVII
                      THE TOWN THAT CANNOT FORGET


AMID the deep valleys and the titanic ridges of bare rock which slope
down to the sea from the Alps stands Eze. It stands alone in a scene of
wild disorder. From a huge gash in the flank of the earth, lined with
trees as with grass, rises a pinnacle of rock, a solitary isolated bare
pinnacle, 980 feet high, with sides sheer as a wall. It rises, clear and
grey, out of the abyss and on its summit is Eze. It seems as if some
fearful power had lifted the town aloft for safety; while, to compare
the stupendous with the trivial, it tops the cone like a tee-ed ball.

The most impressive view of Eze is obtained from the road that leads
from La Turbie to Cap d’Ail, at about the time of the setting of the
sun. It is then seen from afar as a tiny town on a crag among a tumbled
mass of mountains which lie deep in shade. It is the only sign of human
habitation in the waste. The sun shines full upon it.

Against the dark background of pines it appears as a brilliant object in
silver grey. Its houses, its church and its castle are as clean cut as a
many-pointed piece of plate lying upon folds of dark green velvet. No
visible road leads to it. It looks unreal, like a town in an allegory,
such a town as Christian saw in the Pilgrim’s Progress, such a little
city as is graved upon the background of an old print by Albert Dürer.

Eze is approached only from the north, from the side towards the
Corniche Road. Viewed from this nearer point it suggests a small Mont
St. Michel rising out of the land instead of the sea. The town seems a
part of the rock. It is not at once apparent where the rock ends and the
dwellings begin, for they are all of the same tint and substance. It is
easy, from the highroad, to pass the town by without perceiving it, for
its “protective colouring” is so perfect and its camouflage so apt that
it may be taken for the notched summit of the rock itself.

A closer inspection shows walls dotted with dark apertures. These are
windows; but they suggest the black nest-holes that sand-martins make on
the face of a cliff. There are faint touches of colour too, a heap of
rust-tinted roofs, a grey church tower, a splash of red to mark the
nave, the brown ruin of a castle like a broken and jagged pot, a tiny
ledge of green with a line of white stones to mark the burying place.

A zigzag path mounts up to an arched gateway in the face of the wall. It
is the only entrance into Eze. This portal will admit a laden mule or a
hand-cart but not a carriage; for no “vehicle” can find admittance into
this exclusive town. A curve of smoke alone shows that it is inhabited.
In the distance is the blue Mediterranean lying in the sun.

Before entering Eze it is well to remember that it is an ancient place
in the last stages of decrepitude and decay and that it has had a
terrible history and centuries of sorrow. It is poor, half empty and
partly ruinous. Those who expect to find a mediæval fortress will be
disappointed since its houses differ but little from such as exist in
many an old neighbouring town; while those who are unaware of its past
may adopt the expression of a tourist I met, leaving the rock, who
informed his friend—as a piece of considered criticism—that Eze was “a
rotten hole.” Such a man would, no doubt, describe Jerusalem also as “a
rotten hole.”

The gate of Eze—the Moor’s Gate as it is still called—is supported by
a double tower with evil-looking loop-holes. It is very old and very
worn. Its machicolations are covered with ferns which make its harsh
front almost tender. Within this entry is another gate and a second
tower upon which is a commonplace house reached by a flight of steps.
Here we stand in an ancient feudal fortress. Here is the station of the
guard and here has taken place such hand-to-hand fighting and such
slaughter of men as should make the walls shudder to all eternity. It
was here that the stand was made by the faithful garrison when the last
siege of Eze took place, the siege led by Barbarossa in 1543. It was at
this very gate that the traitor Gaspard de Caïs parleyed with the
governor.

Within the second gate is a platform for the inner guard, from the
ramparts of which one can look down into the chasm from which Eze arises
and judge of the formidable position of the place.

The streets of Eze are mediæval in arrangement being mere alleys—each
as narrow as a trench—between the houses. They are paved with cobble
stones at the sides and with red bricks in the centre and are lit—such
is the anomaly—by electric light. These lanes wander about in an uneasy
and disconsolate way. They sometimes mount upwards; they sometimes glide
down as if undecided. They dip under houses through black, vaulted ways:
they lead to stone stairs that disappear round a corner: they turn
warily to the right and then to the left, as if someone followed.

There comes upon the visitor the sense of being lost, of wandering in a
nightmare town, of being entrapped in a maze, of never being able to get
out again. They are dreadful streets for an ambush and there is many a
corner where an assassin in a cloak must assuredly have waited for the
unsuspecting step. They are full of ghosts, of reeling, bellowing men
rolling down the steep arm in arm, of half-awakened soldiers, buckling
on their arms and hurrying to the clamour at the gate, of clinging,
terror-stricken women and of the stalwart prince with his solemn guard.

As to the place itself it is a town, tumbled and deranged, made up of
rocks and ruins and of melancholy houses of great age. It is a sorrowful
town, for Eze is oppressed by the burden of a doleful past and bears on
every side traces of its woes and evidences of its manifold disasters.
It is a town, it would seem, that can never forget. It is a silent town
and desolate. On the occasion of a certain visit the only occupant I
came upon was a half-demented beggar who gibbered in an unknown tongue,
while the only sound that fell upon the ear was that of a crowing cock.
Many of the houses are shuttered close, many are roofless and not a few
are without doors. It recalls at every turn the words of Dante of “the
steep stairs and the bitter bread.”

[Illustration: EZE: ON THE WAY TO THE CASTLE.]

[Illustration: EZE: ALL THAT REMAINS OF THE CASTLE.]

It is a colourless town for there is nothing to break the ever abiding
tint of oyster-shell grey. There are two trees in Eze and, in a back
yard, a vine. With these exceptions there is hardly a green leaf within
its confines. The only thing that grows in Eze is a monstrous and
deformed cactus, a bloated and horrible thing covered with prickles. A
botanical ogre rather than a plant it seems to be a survival from an
extinct age and to belong to a world over whose plains saurians and
other obscene reptiles crawled. This senile and unlovely shrub would
appear to be appropriate in some way to the poor, sad town that cannot
forget.

There is by the way no water in Eze except such rain-water as is
collected in tanks by the provident. To obtain water it is necessary to
leave the town and journey to the bottom of the path. There, on the road
where the carriage of the tourist draws up, is the fountain.

Eze too is a place suggestive of craft and secret doings, a town which
might have been planned by a man with a guilty conscience, for it is a
veritable rabbit warren in which to burrow or to hide while its
shuffling lanes, which dodge so cunningly, would seem to have been
devised to favour the panting culprit with justice at his heels.

Rock crops up everywhere. Certain buildings would seem to be compounded
of the native rock below and of worked stones above. Caverns are cut out
of the cliff as well as curious paths, although some of these now lead
nowhere.

There are no two buildings alike. Many may be only a hundred years old,
but, in any case, they are incongruous dwellings with windows at odd
levels and with doors in unexpected places. There are, on the other
hand, buildings which show evidence of greater age and of much
distinction. There are towers which have been converted into common
habitations and relics of mansions of no little pretence. On a few of
these the corbels are still to be seen which once supported the
balconies from which fair ladies scattered flowers upon victorious
troops tramping up to the castle. There are many fine doorways in stone.
Some show traces of the Moorish taste, others belong to the thirteenth
century, while a few display the pointed arch of later years. There are
some beautiful stone windows and many stoutly worked doors of wood and
other odd details which recall a less squalid past. The lounger in the
streets of Eze will meet with crypt-like and cavernous stables for
goats, cellars open to the sky owing to collapse of the roof, and chilly
tunnels without apparent purpose. One or two passages are wide and
vaulted and provided with a long stone bench against the wall. Here, in
the shadow, soldiers will have sat to clean their arms and old men to
gossip.

The public buildings are, of course, few. The _Mairie_ is rather
pretentiously humble and is the least authoritative building I have ever
seen. The post office clings precariously to the side of a steep lane,
the Rue du Brek, and looks out upon a wall of rock covered with cactus.
It seems incongruous that from this half-unconscious place it is
possible both to telegraph and telephone. There is a dejected café but
it is closed.

The church is of little interest. It was enlarged and restored—that is
to say spoiled—in 1765. It contains, besides a font of the sixteenth
century and an old cross, a painting ascribed to the seventeenth century
in the left lower corner of which is a picture of Eze as it was. The
castle in the picture is intact, is solid, square and arrogant looking.
It quite overwhelms the jumbled-up little brown-red town at its foot.
From the top of the tower floats a red flag with a white cross on it.

The castle is on the highest point of the town and is reached by a path
fashioned out of the rock. This is a path with indeed a story to tell,
if only it could utter it; if it could but speak of the footsteps it has
listened to—the halting feet of men led up to be judged, the trembling
feet of men led down to be hanged, the heavy tread of the well-laden
robber, the nervous step of the spy, the rustle of the foot of the
damosel. Of this castle of the Lords of Eze nothing remains but a wall
and a fragment of a vaulted chamber. In the castle yard is a wretched,
shamefaced hut on which is painted “Bar des Touristes.” It is happily
derelict and a victim to the general coma which has spread over Eze, for
it is as out of place as a roulette table in a nunnery.

High up on the side of a house on the south of the town is a little old
window. It has a rounded arch of weathered stone and is probably the
oldest window in Eze, for it follows the mode that we in England call
“Norman.” It looks across the sea while on the sill is a bunch of
scarlet geranium in a broken jar. I like to think that this is the
window of Blacas, the troubadour, that he lived in this house on the
cliff and that from this casement he poured forth his songs of love and
of gallant deeds.

A love song—as I have said—would seem strange in Eze in its old
ruffian days. It may seem as strange even now. But love is eternal and
so long as men and women walk the alleys of this ancient town it will
linger within its walls. All the fiercer passions of Eze have died
away—the lust for power, the thirst for revenge, the mad fever for the
fray—but love, it would seem, still remains as, possibly, its only
heritage; for I came upon a document in the _Mairie_ that announced the
coming marriage of two young people in Eze. It was not a troubadour’s
sonnet, it is true; but it served to show that the old lanes near by may
still be paths for lovers, that there are still steep places where he
may help her down and still a parapet where the two may lean, gaze over
the sea and dream.

One walks down the path from the town as one would leave a chamber of
death; for Eze is slowly dying, dying like a doddering old man—once the
captain of a host—who is breathing his last in a garret, with around
him pathetic relics of his virile past and piteous evidences of his
present poverty.



                                 XVIII
                         THE HARBOUR OF MONACO


THE history of Monaco from its early days to the time when it came upon
peace is a breathless story full of incident, clamour and surprise. It
may not be unfitly compared to an account—from moment to moment—of the
flights and rebuffs of a football in a long contested game. Now and
again the bewildered ball is lost sight of in a mêlée of panting men. At
another moment it rolls quietly into the open to be at once pounced upon
by two furious packs. At times it is “out of bounds” and at peace, only
to be thrown again into the fight where it is harried and battered and
driven now to this quarter and now to that. Monaco was the ball in the
fierce game between the Grimaldi, on the one side, and the powers of the
Eastern Mediterranean on the other and in the end the Grimaldi won.

Until about the end of the twelfth century Monaco was merely a lonely
rock, almost inaccessible, uninhabited and waterless. Projecting as it
does into the sea it afforded so good a shelter for ships that the
little bay in its shadow became famous as a harbour of refuge. Fringing
the bay was a pebble beach where a galley could be hauled up or a
caravel unloaded.

Monaco was known as a port in Roman days. Indeed it was from this
unpretentious haven that Augustus Cæsar embarked for Genoa on his way to
Rome when his victories in southern Gaul had been accomplished. The
departure of the Emperor was, no doubt, a scene of much pomp, made
brilliant by many-coloured standards and flashing spears. As the Emperor
stepped on board his ship the blare of trumpets and the shout of the
troops drawn up on the plain must have been heard far beyond La Turbie.

The boats of Greek and Phœnician traders have made for this harbour and
have deposited their strange cargoes here to the amazement of gaping
natives. Here in Monaco Bay wild Saracens have tumbled ashore with such
unearthly shouts as to cause the sea birds on the rock to rise in one
fluttering cloud. The beach too has been lit often enough by a camp fire
around which a company of pirates would be drinking and singing, while
they waited for the return of the marauding party that had left at dawn.

Although the harbour was often alive with men the rock remained
untenanted. I should imagine that the first adventurer to set foot on
Monaco would be a Phœnician cabin boy. He would climb the cliff and
gaining the summit would explore it with all the curiosity and alert
imagination of a boy landed on a desert island.

It is said that in 1078 two pious men, who lived at La Turbie, built on
Monaco a tiny chapel to St. Mary. They built it with their own hands and
employed, in the making, stones from the Roman monument in their native
town. If this be true the only building that for a hundred years stood
upon this barren plateau was the child-like chapel, a speck of white on
the dark expanse of rock.

[Illustration: CAP D’AIL NEAR MONACO.]

In 1191 the Emperor Henry VI granted Monaco to the wealthy and
prosperous town of Genoa. The Emperor’s rights over this fragment of
territory might be questioned, but there was none to gainsay him. His
gift was coupled with the requirement that a fortress should be built on
Monaco which should be ready to serve the Emperor in his wars with the
pestilential people of Marseilles and of other towns in Provence.

In the same year an official party of noble Genoese came to Monaco and
formally took possession of the place in the name of their city. It was
a solemn occasion; for those who represented Genoa made a ceremonial
tour of the rock, carrying olive boughs in their hands. It was,
moreover, a trying occasion for the visit was made in the stifling month
of June.

Some of the noble commissioners who were stout and advanced in years (as
commissioners often are) must have been hauled, dragged and pushed up
the cliff side, like so many bulky packages. Burdened as they were with
official robes and olive branches, which had to be carried with decorum,
they would have found the ceremony very exacting. They did more than
merely stumble about on the top of the rock, panting and perspiring and
trying to look official under sweltering conditions. They laid down the
lines of a fort. It was to be a square fort and very large, with a tower
at each of the four angles, and it was to be designed in the Moorish
style.

This fort or castle was erected in the year 1215 on the site of the
present palace and was provided with a garrison by the Genoese. Outside
the fort the rudiments of a town appeared—the first huts and houses of
Monaco. That town, therefore, has already passed the seven hundredth
anniversary of its foundation.

The harbour of Monaco of to-day is a model harbour as perfect as the art
of the engineer can make it. Two stone piers guard the entrance and at
the end of each is a lighthouse. There are two wide quays where feluccas
and other rakish-looking ships land barrels of wine; while the basin
itself can accommodate a fleet of yachts.

This haven which has sheltered the very earliest forms of sea-going ship
now shelters—during the regatta season—the latest development of the
motor boat and the racing launch. History repeats itself. There was
amazement at Monaco when the first hydroplane dropped on to the water by
the harbour’s mouth: there was amazement also, centuries ago, when the
loungers about the beach saw enter the new ship, the astounding vessel
that was propelled not by paddles or oars, but by sails.

Above the pebble beach is a modest promenade and a road—the main road
to Nice. On the other side of the highway are genial hotels where people
lunch and dine out of doors, amid a profusion of white tablecloths and
green chairs and where the menu of the day is suspended from the
railings.

At the far end of this Boulevard de la Condamine are an avenue of trees
and the old Etablissement des Bains de Mer which, even as late as Hare’s
time, was “much frequented in summer.” The Etablissement is now little
more than a ghost. The sound of its gaiety has long since been hushed
into silence. There is a somewhat frivolous-looking building by the
water’s edge which has a rounded glass front and some suggestion that it
may once have been a palace of delight. It has now fallen into a state
of decrepitude and shabbiness and is given up to quite commonplace
commercial uses. It is like a dandy in extreme old age who, dressed in
the thread-bare clothes which were the fashion a generation ago, still
sits on a parade which once was rustling with happy people and which is
now as sombre as a cemetery lane.

Opening on to the margin of the harbour is a great gorge, a sudden
breach in the earth which serves to separate the sober town of Monaco
from the frivolous town of Monte Carlo. It is a strange thing—this
ravine. It is deep and full of shadows. Its walls, lit by the sun, are
sheer precipices of biscuit-coloured rock, tinted faintly with red as
with rust. From every crack and cranny on its towering sides something
green is bursting; while, here and there, a flower, yellow or blue,
clings to a ledge like a perching bird.

From the balustrade of a garden on its summit there hang festoons of
scarlet geraniums and a curtain of blue heliotrope. Along the bottom of
the chasm runs a fussy stream, with a noise like that of many flutes and
by its side—among a jumble of rocks, bushes and brambles—an
inconsequent path creeps up, out of pure curiosity, since it leads
nowhere.

This ravine, as wild and savage as it was a thousand years ago, is a
strange thing to find in the middle of a town, for houses crowd about it
on either side and press so far forward on its heights that they appear
likely to topple into the abyss. A huge railway viaduct crosses its
entrance, while its floor slopes to a road where motors and tramcars
rattle along, without heed to this quiet nook in the mountain side. It
is as incongruous and out of place as a green meadow with buttercups and
cows spread out by the side of the blatant traffic of Fleet Street.

There are other anomalies about this Ravin des Gaumates. It is so
reckless-looking and so theatrical a chasm that one is convinced that
duels have been fought here and that here conspirators in cloaks have
met, and buccaneers have stored their surprising spoils. At the present
day, however, the sea rover’s camp is occupied by a laundry shed, where
unemotional women, with red arms and untidy heads, are busy; and where,
in the place of brigands’ loot, sheets are spread upon the rocks to dry,
together with white articles of underclothing.

At the mouth of the gorge—standing quite alone—is the little chapel of
St. Dévote. It is a humble church, modern, plain as a peasant, and of no
intrinsic interest. It is notable only in its position. The building
seems to be as surprised at the place in which it finds itself as is the
visitor who finds it there. Possibly no more strangely situated house of
prayer exists in Europe. Behind it is a wild, disorderly glen; on each
side is a precipice and in front is a gigantic railway viaduct of such
immoderate proportions that it towers above the very steeple of the
church.

The building viewed from the road where the tramcars run looks like a
small shrinking figure enshrined in a niche provided by a vulgar,
overbearing and irreverent railway arch.

[Illustration: MONACO.]

St. Dévote is the patron saint of Monaco. The celebration held every
year in her honour is very picturesque and impressive; for then a long
procession winds down from Monaco to the little chapel to do homage to
her memory. The legend of St. Dévote takes many forms. The version here
given is that which appears to be generally accepted in Monaco.[31]

In the reign of the Emperor Diocletian there lived in Corsica a
Christian maiden whose name was Dévote. She was bitterly persecuted for
her religion; but found a friend in Euticius, a senator, who concealed
her in his house. Her hiding place was discovered by the Roman prefect
who was engaged in the hunting down of Christians. Euticius was killed
by poison. Dévote was dragged forth into the street, was mutilated with
the utmost brutality and finally expired while undergoing the torture of
the “chevalet.” She died praying for the soul of her friend and
protector, the noble Euticius.

During the night the body of the martyr was carried down secretly to the
seashore by her fellow Christians and placed, with solemn reverence, on
board a ship. As the day dawned the ship set sail for the coast of
Africa; but, after a while, a storm burst upon it and drove it, helpless
and hopeless, before a fierce wind towards the shores of Gaul.

The captain—one Gratien—felt that the ship was lost. His strength was
spent and he gave way to utter despair. As he clung wearily to the helm,
dazed and exhausted, a vision of the dead maiden appeared before him as
a small, white figure against a curtain of black cloud. She opened her
mouth to speak.

“Up! Gratien,” she said, “the tempest is passing away; your ship will
sail safely into the blue. Watch by me and when you see a dove fly forth
from my mouth, follow it with a good heart. It will take you to a quiet
haven, called in the Greek, Monaco, and in the Latin, Singulare. There
you will find peace and there, by the beach, bury my body.”

Her words came true. The wind ceased; the savage waves dropped into a
rippled calm and under an azure sky, made glorious by the sun, the
battered boat—bearing the wan maiden on its deck—sailed, like a
radiant thing, into a harbour of enchantment. At the mouth of the glen,
where the rosemary grew and by the side of the laughing stream the body
of the little maid was buried.

-----

[31] “Monaco et ses Princes,” par Henri Metivier, 1862.



                                  XIX
                           THE ROCK OF MONACO


MONACO is a bold, assertive mass of rock—long, narrow and blunt—which
thrusts itself out into the sea, as if to show that it held the ocean in
contempt and cared nothing for either winds or waves. The sea has tried
its strength against it since the world began, but Monaco has ever
remained bland and indifferent. The rock is cut off from the mainland by
a gorge through which the road to Nice slinks by as if glad to escape.
The sides of Monaco are everywhere precipitous, except towards the east.
It is from this side only that it can be approached. Its fortifications
are very massive and consist of high, unbroken walls which cover the
cliff from base to rampart like a cloak. The palace end of the rock has,
indeed, the appearance of one gigantic keep. The walls which surround
the palace gardens date from 1552 to 1560, while the fortifications that
surmount the Rampe belong to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The flanks of Monaco, when neither sheer cliff nor iron wall, are
covered with lavish green, for there is not a ledge nor a slope nor a
cranny that does not lodge some flower or some shrub.

Access to the town is gained by the Rampe Major, a broad and steep,
paved path which has been, in large part, hewn out of the side of the
rock. Up and down this path there is an endless procession of townfolk
and harbour folk, soldiers and priests, schoolboys and girls, hurried
officials and gaping visitors. Below the Rampe lies a carriage road up
to the town, traversed by a tram line. This way, the Avenue de la Porte
Neuve was constructed in 1828. Before that date Monaco could only be
reached on foot or on horseback.

Three gates are met with in ascending the Rampe. The first is a
ceremonial gate rather than a defence work. It was built in 1714 and
affects a faintly classical style, being fashioned of narrow bricks and
white stone. The Rampe beyond bends upon itself and, skirting a platform
surmounted by a sentry tower as yellow as old parchment, comes face to
face with the great battery (now bricked up) which stands at the foot of
the palace walls. It can be seen how perfectly this gun emplacement
commanded not only the Rampe but also the entrance to the harbour. On
the east side of the battery is an immense military work in the form of
a rounded buttress, very like the fold of a hanging curtain turned to
stone. This is the _oreillon_ which served to mask the battery from the
land side.

Below the battery the Rampe turns again upon itself and so reaches the
second gate. It is a gate in white stone, frail and ghostlike, and
inscribed with the date 1533. Beyond it was the drawbridge. Here the
Rampe bends sharply in its course for the third time and passes through
the main gateway by a vaulted passage of great solidity. This was the
famous Mirador or post of the guard.

The Rampe now ends in a bald square with the palace on one side and the
town on the other. On the remaining sides of the square are only a
parapet and the winds of heaven.

There are trees and seats in the square, for it is a place for idleness
where old women knit and young women sew, where children play and
ancients ruminate. There are cannon in the square pointing towards
innocent Cap d’Ail. They were presented to the reigning prince of the
time by Louis XIV. They are quite innocuous, but serve to remind the
careless that the place is a stronghold and to provide a plaything for
small boys who—with the happy imagination of the young—regard these
implements of war as horses (or more probably as donkeys), sit astride
of them, strike them with whips and urge them to “get up.”

The palace covers the whole of the northern extremity of the rock. It is
disappointing in that it fails to realise the emotional past of the
place, its dramatic and picturesque history, the dire assaults and
bloody frays without its gates, the tragedies within its walls. It has
been so mutilated in the past and so improved and modernised in the
present that it has become inexpressive. The strong, rigid lines, the
grim wrinkles, the determined frown have been so smoothed away that the
face has become vacuous. The new clock tower and the rows of modern
windows do not recall the stern halberdier who held the place against
all odds, nor the bull-necked men in armour who yelled damnation to the
Genoese.

The battlements are more suited for the display of flowers than for a
line of determined faces under steel caps glaring along the barrels of
their muskets. As the official residence of a prince it is becoming and
appropriate, but it is not that palace on a rock that bid defiance to
the world for flaming centuries. Monaco has a great and a glorious
history, but it is not written on the walls of the palace of to-day.

By the generosity of the prince the palace is thrown open to visitors on
certain days but it presents little that is of interest. It has been so
ruthlessly treated in days gone by and subjected to such base uses that
there is little left to recall the stirring days of the old Grimaldi.
In, or about, 1842 the palace was completely restored, so that it
assumes now all the characters of a modern structure. It is of little
concern to know that the south wing was built in this century or the
north wing in that, since the traces of age have been nearly all
removed. A full account of the lines of the palace, both old and new, is
given in M. Urbain Bosio’s excellent treatise “Le Vieux Monaco.”[32]
Between the gate that leads from the Rampe and the gate of the palace
itself is a curved wall, with machicolations of an unusual type. This
wall (now much restored) is said to date from the fourteenth century and
behind it was the hall for the main guard.

The palace is entered by a fine gateway bearing the Grimaldi arms and
erected in 1672. It leads into a court which is rather bare and cold.
Here is to be found a double staircase of marble which is a little out
of keeping with its surroundings. There are frescoes in the arcades
which line the court, but they have been recently and rather crudely
restored. The little chapel at the north end of this _Cour d’Honneur_ is
simple and dignified and in a modest way beautiful. It was built in 1656
and restored in 1884. The long range of reception rooms, with their
lavish gilt decorations and their florid frescoes, fulfil the average
conception of “royal apartments.” There are a few pictures of interest
but none of especial worth. There is an old renaissance chimney-piece of
carved stone which is, however, memorable.

The garden is very fascinating with its deep shade, its solemn paths,
its palm trees and its little orange grove. In one corner of the garden
are the ruins of an old defence work which surmounts the northern wall
and which may claim to be part of the palace in its fighting days.

Behind the chapel is an ancient tower with battlements of a forgotten
type upon its summit. It is square and plain and covered with ivy upon
one side. It has no windows, but presents a few square openings, about
18 inches in width, which are the _soupiraux_ which alone admitted light
and air into the interior. This tower is the only substantial part of
the original palace that is left and is said to date from 1215.
According to M. Bosio[33] it has two stories above the ground floor. On
each story is a single room lit and ventilated solely by means of the
small, square vents (_soupiraux_) already mentioned. He states that
these two rooms were used as prisons and that on the walls are to be
seen names cut in both Italian and in Spanish. The Italian would pertain
to the time of the wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines and the Spanish
to the period of the Spanish occupation (1549-1641).

On the other side of the square and directly facing the palace is a
large official building known, at one time, as the House of the
Governor. It has seen many changes. It was the headquarters of the
Revolutionists during the Terror. On the restoration of the Grimaldi it
became the seat of the Civil Tribunal and of the schools. It later was
occupied as a large hotel and café and finally by the Gambling Rooms
pending the completion of a casino at Monte Carlo in 1860.[34] On the
west side of the square is the Promenade Ste. Barbe, so called after the
chapel of Sainte Barbe which stood here. The chapel has been converted
into a dwelling house, but its door still stands and over the portal are
still the initials S.B. By no little ingenuity this entry has been
converted into a shop for the sale of picture postcards.

The town is pleasant, clean and orderly. It has the aspect of a place of
much content. Its few streets are parallel and follow the line of the
rock. They are narrow, so narrow, indeed, that the notice at the
entrance of the Rue des Briques to the effect that no motors are
admitted would seem to be an official jest based upon the more ancient
estimate of the camel and the eye of the needle. There are some
picturesque houses and fragments of old buildings in the town. In the
Rue du Milieu are certain beautifully carved doorways in stone of the
seventeenth century or earlier.

[Illustration: MONACO: THE SENTRY TOWER ON THE RAMPE.]

[Illustration: MONACO: THE DRAWBRIDGE GATE, 1533.]

The winter visitor is apt to pity the Monégasques for their narrow
streets which keep out the life-giving sun. When the mistral blows he
has less contempt for the sheltering lane and as the end of May is
reached—when the sun is shunned as if it were mustard gas—he bolts
across the square, like a man under fire, and diving into the cool, dim
ways of Monaco thanks his creator for the blessing of shade.

The old church of St. Nicolas has been replaced by a new cathedral which
was completed in 1897 and professes to be in the Romanesque-Byzantine
style. This cathedral is, no doubt, a worthy example of modern art, but
the building is so immense, so glaring and so ornate that it is quite
out of touch with the humble little dun-coloured town. It is as
inappropriate as would be the Albert Memorial if found by the duck-pond
of a village green.

The old church was a loss to Monaco much to be deplored. It dated from
the twelfth century, was in the form of a Latin cross and contained a
number of curious chapels. It was composed largely of stone from the
monument at La Turbie. M. Bosio describes it fully in his work and adds
that its disappearance is very regrettable from the point of view of
art.

Near the cathedral are two admirable museums, little as they may be
expected on this war-battered rock. One is devoted to anthropology and
the other to oceanography. They were instituted by the present prince
whose attainments as a man of science are known the world over.

Immediately opposite to the cathedral is the old Hôtel de Ville or
_Maison Commune_. It is a simple building of two stories, the door of
which on the upper floor is approached by a double staircase ending in a
modest balcony. It was constructed in 1660 and is, in spite of its
simplicity, the most charming house in Monaco. The lower floor—M. Bosio
states—was used for the storing of corn and meal for the people in
times of siege, while the upper and more dignified rooms were the
offices of the mayors, _échevins_ or consuls.

Opposite the side door of the cathedral is the Rue des Carmes. It was so
called because it contained a figure of the Madonna of Mount Carmel. “On
the eve of the fête of _Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel_ the old Monégasques
surrounded this hallowed figure with flowers and lighted candles and
sang hymns before it.”[35] The place of this figure is indicated by a
painting of the Madonna of Mount Carmel on a wall of one of the houses.

The Rue des Briques is worth following to the end. It leads to the
Mairie—a modern building of no interest—but just beyond the Mairie, on
the right side of the road, is a humble-looking old house with a wide,
round-arched doorway and square windows fitted with grilles. This was
the Mint where money was struck when the Principality of Monaco had its
own coinage. The use of the Mint appears to have been abandoned about
1840, although the currency of Monaco was not abolished until some years
after.

A little farther down the street, and still on the right hand side of
the way, is a long wall. This shuts in the famous Giardinetto or Little
Garden. It belonged to a house built by Charlotte de Grammont, wife of
Prince Louis I, who left the Court of France and retired to Monaco in
order to be near her daughter, who had taken the veil in the convent
adjoining. This convent—the Convent of the Visitation—is a large,
yellow, barrack-like building which occupies one side of the Place de la
Visitation, having on the other side the Hôtel du Gouvernment. The
convent was founded by Charlotte de Grammont in the middle of the
seventeenth century and here her heart is buried. On the chapel—which
is singularly plain—is an inscription to note that it was built in 1663
and restored in 1870.

The south-eastern extremity of the rock is occupied by the gardens of
St. Martin, which were designed by Prince Honoré V in 1816 to give
employment to the people during a year of dearth. These gardens are most
enchanting. They occupy the edge of the cliff and even climb some little
way down the side of the cliff by hesitating paths. They are represented
by a maze of shady walks with, here and there, a terrace overhanging the
sea or a sheltered look-out on a point of rock. It is a wild garden
partly tamed, a wilderness where every path is made smooth. Its
vegetation is partly Italian, partly African. Here are pine trees,
olives and palms, with prickly pear, aloes and agave, pepper trees and
mimosa, eucalyptus and the mastic bush, jasmine and myrtle, hedges of
choisya, banks of rosemary, beds of violets and cascades of scarlet
geranium. Below at the foot of the glowing cliff is the cool purple of
the sea with a fringe of white foam to show where the rock and the
waters meet.

Just beyond the Oceanographic Museum is a wide, paved platform on the
brink of the cliff with parapet and sentry house. Beneath it is the
Great Casemate built about 1709 to provide shelter for the people during
bombardment and to accommodate a cistern for the storing of water when
the outer world was cut off. This great underground “dug-out” is now
used as a prison.

At the end of the garden is the rugged old fort built by Prince Antoine
over 200 years ago. It is looking towards the casino of Monte Carlo,
just as a toothless, old brigand might look at a dancing girl. It is a
romantic spot with its winding stairs, its great gun embrasures, its
mysterious doorways and its deserted sentry walk. It no longer bristles
with armed men; it no longer thunders, with flashes of flame, across the
sea; it no longer awakens an echo that shakes the astonished hills; for
it is now a kind of “Celia’s Arbour,” a place of whispers where lovers
meet and ruffle the silence with nothing more unquiet than a sigh.

-----

[32] Published in Nice, 1907.

[33] “Le Vieux Monaco.”

[34] The present Casino at Monte Carlo was built in 1878.

[35] Bosio. “Le Vieux Monaco.”



                                   XX
                        A FATEFUL CHRISTMAS EVE


NOT many years after the building of the citadel or fort in 1215 (page
145) Monaco became involved in the war between the Guelphs and the
Ghibellines. The Guelphs were represented by the Grimaldi, the
Ghibellines by the Spinola. Each party twice besieged the other, when
entrenched within the citadel, and each was twice supplanted by its
opponents. Indeed such were the changes that a ship returning to Monaco
after a voyage of no more than a month or so did well to inquire, before
entering the harbour, whether the rock was in the hands of the Grimaldi
or the Spinola.

In 1306 the Ghibellines, or Genoese, held Monaco and felt sure of their
holding, for they had long remained undisturbed. They were represented
by the head of the Spinola family who had taken up his residence in the
citadel or, as it would by this time be termed, the palace.

On Christmas Eve 1306 a small party of men left Nice after sundown and
made their way to Monaco by way of certain paths across the hills. It
was not a conspicuous party, being formed only of a few armed men and a
monk. They would be taken for a body of retainers moving from one castle
to another. It might have been observed that they treated the monk with
great respect and deference. He himself was not notable, except that he
was an agile and powerful man and that he seemed rather more hilarious
than is becoming to a priest.

When they reached Monaco the night was at its darkest, the harbour
deserted and the rock merely a towering black mass. They then did a
curious thing. Without a word they parted. The armed men crept along the
foot of the cliff and were at once lost to sight. The monk, left alone,
sat down by the water’s edge and listened. He was listening for the
sound of a church bell. It would be the bell of St. Nicolas in Monaco
rung to announce the midnight Mass. As he waited he drew something from
the folds of his gown. It was not a rosary nor a crucifix. It was a
dagger with a long blade which he fingered affectionately.

When the first sound of the bell rang over the sea he rose and commenced
to ascend the steep path which led to the gate of the town. He walked
with his head bowed and with leisurely steps. His habit was that of the
Priory of St. Dévote, the little church which looked across the harbour.
Any who went by passed him unnoticed. If he stumbled on the path in the
dark he swore which is unusual among men of his cloth. Before the gate
was the sentinel, who recognising the garb of the priest, merely
inclined his head with a gesture of respect. The monk responded by
commending him to God. Before long this guardian of the gate had need of
that commendation. The monk, apparently deep in thought, passed through
the courtyard occupied by the guard. They were sitting around a small
fire on the ground and were playing at _minchiate_ or _tresetti_ or some
such game of cards.

[Illustration: MONACO: THE PALACE.]

He walked on unchallenged and entered the great square before the
palace. He drew a sigh of relief. It might have implied relief at having
reached the top of a steep hill. It might have implied more. He turned
to the left and, walking with the solemn step, appropriate to a priest
going to Mass, entered one of the narrow streets of the town that led to
the church. There were lights in some upper windows and people were
leaving their houses to attend the evening service. When he came upon
the last cross street he turned down it. It led not to the church but to
the ramparts.

On reaching the ramparts his manner suddenly changed; he became
intensely alert. He leaned eagerly over the wall and whistled. A
response came out of the black shadows into which he gazed. His friends
from Nice had kept their tryst. How these armed men got over the wall
into the town is not known. Very possibly the monk had a rope concealed
under his habit.

In a few moments all his followers were around him. The bell of the
church had ceased to toll and the celebration of the Mass had begun.
There was now no need for further disguise. The party rushed back
through the very street that the monk had traversed. They may have
passed a belated worshipper on his way to St. Nicolas who, as they tore
by, would fall back against the wall. They pressed on, headed by the
monk, who had now a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other.

On gaining the square a few of the party turned to the main gate. The
soldiers of the guard were still busy at their game of cards and were
butchered as they sat. The assault was so sudden that the man with the
winning “hand” fell back dead, with the cards still in his grip, spread
out from his thumb fan-like, but so spattered with blood that they
looked all red. The sentinel, who had been commended to God, was stabbed
in the back as he stood and so passed out of the world without knowing
how he had come to leave it.

The monk and the rest of the company made for the palace. The men at the
open door, who were drowsily awaiting the return of the Spinola from St.
Nicolas, were cut down as if by a blast of deadly wind and so the
citadel was won. Those within had no time to arm. They were killed or
made prisoners according to the attitude they assumed.

In the great hall lolled the Master of the House who, dozing in a chair,
was thunderstruck to see a body of violent men, headed by a monk, dash
in through the door. Jumping up he could only call out to the advancing
priest, “In the name of Heaven who are you?” and tremble as the answer
came, “I am Francis Grimaldi.”

The Spinola who were in the church at the time of the attack managed to
reach the harbour and escaped in their galleys to Genoa.[36] It was thus
that the great family of Grimaldi obtained a final hold upon Monaco and
it was by reason of what happened on this Christmas Eve that the figure
of a monk with a sword appears upon their coat of arms.

From this period, with the exception of an interval of eleven years,
1327-1338,[37] Monaco has remained in the hands of the Grimaldi who can
thus claim to have been masters of the stout little territory for no
less than six hundred years.

Francis Grimaldi—often spoken of as Francis the Crafty—was killed in a
fight in 1309.

-----

[36] “Monaco et ses Princes,” by H. Métivier, 1862, Vol. 1.

[37] Between these dates the Spinola were again in possession of the
rock.



                                  XXI
                           CHARLES THE SEAMAN


IT is needless, and indeed impossible within the limits of this book, to
follow the history of the long line of adventurous men who were in turn
Lords of Monaco. They lived through years of trouble and unrest with
varying fortune. They fought and schemed with varying success. They
mounted high and circled far. They came near to be draggled in the dust
and yet through all vicissitudes, through storm and calm, they kept the
red and white flag of the Grimaldi afloat over the tower of Monaco.

One of the most brilliant holders of the _seigneurie_ of Monaco was
Carlo I, otherwise known as Charles the Seaman. He was a restless and
violent man, as wild as a hawk, with an ambition as boundless as his
daring and with an ability of mind which raised him to the position of a
great power on the seas.

He began by choosing a wife from the family of his direst enemy; for he
married Lucinetta Spinola. The marriage, so far as the records tell, was
fortunate and Lucinetta bore him six children.

The great purpose of his life was to make Monaco a naval power and in
this aim he succeeded, for by his indomitable energy he raised the
Monégasque fleet to a position of high rank not only in the
Mediterranean but in the remoter waters of Europe. Although the harbour
at his command was small he was able, on one occasion, to collect a
fleet of no fewer than thirty galleys and a force of ten thousand
men-at-arms.

He devoted his fleet, in the first instance, to advance the prestige of
Monaco, to consolidate his territory and to expand his commerce. When
these needs were satisfied he went further afield. He was a free lance
and was prepared to offer his services to any prince who was in need of
help and was prepared to pay liberally for his assistance. Indeed when
any war, large or small, was impending it was desirable, as a
preliminary, to secure the strong arm of Charles the Seaman. He was
indifferent as to the merits of the quarrel or as to the side on which
he served so long as he saw his way to make a good thing out of it.

He began his fighting career in a quite modest fashion in the year 1331.
The Catalans, being unfortunately not aware of the character of the Lord
of Monaco, had the audacity to make a blundering attack upon that
citadel. Carlo fell upon them, scattered them, drove them back
panic-stricken and, dashing after them, sacked their town of Barcelona
as a warning not to meddle with the Grimaldi again.

Having a fine fleet and a period of leisure he now turned his forces
against his old enemies, the Genoese, harried them without mercy and
blockaded their city. He was doing well and likely to do better when war
broke out between France and England, between Philip of Valois on one
side and Edward III on the other. Philip at once sent to Monaco to beg
the help—on terms—of Carlo against the English. The invitation was too
attractive to be ignored; so the fleet of Monaco turned westward and set
sail for the remote and almost unknown island of England. It was a
venture of no little peril. The Gulf of Lyons and the Bay of Biscay are
not to the liking of seamen even at the present day, and to cross these
wastes of water in mere galleys was a venture that needed a stout
heart—such a heart as that of Carlo Grimaldi.

The Monégasque fleet, having joined with that of France, came up with
the English off the Channel Islands. A sea battle followed in which
Carlo and the French, aided very opportunely by a storm, defeated the
naval forces of England. This was in the year 1343. Charles the Seaman
gained from this expedition not only glory but profit; for he received
from Philip a very substantial recompense in money as well as certain
rights to trade in the Mediterranean which brought considerable
additions to his treasury.

Having disposed of the English navy Grimaldi’s services were no longer
needed by the French; so he returned to Monaco to resume his interrupted
fight with the Genoese. Fighting with the Genoese had become a habit
with the Lords of Monaco, an abiding passion, a kind of disorder which
would be described as chronic. Carlo was getting on extremely well, was
doing great damage to Genoa and inflicting still more gratifying injury
upon her fleet, when once more the King of France called for his aid and
this time gave the order—as a contractor would express it—for an
expeditionary force.

This force was to be employed in France in fighting the English. It
appears to have been a joint force of Genoese and Monégasque under the
combined command of Carlo Grimaldi and a Doria of Genoa.

The force arrived on the scene of action too late. Edward III of England
had already ravaged the coast of France and had advanced to within a few
miles of Paris. The battle of Crécy followed. The Genoese—as every
schoolboy will remember—wearied by forced marches, were sent to the
front by the French king. There had been a storm of rain and, having no
cases for their bows, the catgut that strung them was rendered soft and
useless. The men—thus hampered—were unable to withstand the English
archers and began to retreat. The king, seeing them waver, ordered his
own troops to set upon them. “Or tôt,” cried he, “tuez toute cette
ribandaille, car ils nous empêchant la voie sans raison.” A general rout
followed and the victory of the English was complete. The battle was
fought on August 26th, 1346. Both Doria and Grimaldi were wounded, but
whether by the English archers or the French pikemen, is unknown. In
spite of his wounds Carlo hastened to Calais which was hard pressed by
the English. His efforts, however, availed nothing and Calais fell.
Carlo Grimaldi, having completed his engagement, returned to Monaco.

Neither he nor his navy could be long idle. There was always lucrative
work for them somewhere, together with substantial pay and good
prospects of loot. Thus we find him fighting Greeks and Venetians, going
to the assistance of Don Jayme II of Majorca in his war with Pierre IV
of Aragon, and, later on, fighting on the side of this same Pierre of
Aragon against the Moors of Gibraltar. This last-named expedition was in
1349. Before that date, viz. in 1346, he had made peace with Genoa and,
as a compliment, the command of the Genoese fleet was given to his
brother.

[Illustration: MONACO: THE OLD HÔTEL DE VILLE.]

Wars were very profitable and Carlo was becoming a rich man. He had
extended the frontiers of Monaco; for he had acquired by purchase the
_seigneuries_ of Mentone, Roquebrune, Castillon and Eze. He had rich
fiefs in France as well as the towns of Cagnes and Villeneuve in the
vicinity of Nice and was, moreover, engaged in a lucrative commerce
along the coast.

All was well, but unfortunately the old chronic malady—the passion to
fight Genoa—broke out again as chronic maladies are apt to do. This
time the veteran seaman was not so fortunate and indeed fortune would
seem to have deserted him. The Duke of Genoa fell upon Monaco;
surrounded it; blockaded it and compelled the tough old fighter, who had
never owned defeat, to haul down his flag and surrender. There was never
a more pathetic moment in the history of Monaco than when the gallant
seaman walked down the path from his palace to the sea a beaten man and,
most bitter of all, beaten by Genoa. This was in 1356.

Carlo Grimaldi retired upon Mentone to collect forces with which to
fight the Genoese once more and so gain possession of his beloved rock.
For him the time never came. The ranks of armed men that he dreamed
about night and day were never mustered and in 1363 the great and heroic
seaman died.



                                  XXII
                           THE LUCIEN MURDER


IN 1457 a little girl, aged twelve, became, on the death of her father,
the ruling princess of Monaco. Her name was Claudine. The position of
this little maid was embarrassing and indeed pitiable. She would like to
have romped in the play-room or have spent the days in the garden with
her pets and her girl friends. Instead of that she had to sit for hours
on a throne with her hair done up in an unwonted and uncomfortable
manner, with robes about her which were much too large and with her feet
dangling a long way off the floor. Here she had to receive the obeisance
of venerable court officials and of burly fighting men who bowed gravely
as they approached and then knelt before those ridiculous small feet of
hers of which she was so conscious.

It was very amusing to play the queen in the garden with her friends and
with a tree trunk for a throne and a wisp of paper for a crown; but this
solemn ceremony, carried on without a smile, was merely a thing of
dread. She had always been “Claudine” or “Claudinetta” to her companions
when they played with her, chased her about and pinched her; but now
they bent their heads when she stepped on the lawn and called her
“Madam” and “Your Highness.” She had to learn that her youth had
vanished at the age of twelve and one can imagine her, when a function
was over, throwing off her robes and rushing to the arms of her old
nurse to cry until her tears were spent.

She had a worse trouble to face than to be dressed up like a puppet and
stared at. She was rich. She had what she was told were “prospects,”
with the result that she became infested by a crowd of people of whom
she had never dreamed—a crowd of would-be lovers and suitors for her
hand. They pestered her with languishing letters and with sickly
sonnets. They were all anxious to die for her. They sent her presents.
They remembered her birthday. They followed her to Mass. They played
lutes under her window and awoke her in the morning by singing
unseasonable ballads. She had to listen to insidious lords and ladies
who gurgled in her ear the praises of their sons, their grandsons and
their nephews. Before she was fourteen she must have been as sick of the
name “husband” as a tired man would be of the yelping of a locked-out
dog or the whine of a persistent hawker.

The more impetuous of her suitors seem to have proceeded to actual
excess in their efforts; for the faithful historian states that “they
endeavoured to secure her person by ruse or force.”[38] It may be trying
to be adored by one irrepressible young man, but to receive declarations
of love and offers of marriage from a hustling mob must have been
alarming. A love-sick man, as an individual, may be simply depressing,
but a crowd of love-sick men reproduces the nauseous features of an
out-patient room at a hospital.

In the end Claudine married her cousin, Lambert Grimaldi the son of
Nicolas, the Lord of Antibes, on the excellent grounds that both her
father and her grandfather had named this gentleman as a suitable
husband in their last wills and testaments.

Claudine and Lambert had children and among them two sons, Jean and
Lucien. Jean succeeded his mother as the ruling prince, but was
unfortunately murdered by his younger brother Lucien. This was a
regrettable episode in Lucien’s life; but he did something to repair it.
In 1506 Monaco was once more besieged by the Genoese. It was a great and
desperate assault, but Lucien defended the rock with such consummate
skill that the attack failed. The siege was memorable since it
represented the last occasion on which this much tried citadel was
beleaguered and it exalted Lucien to the position of a great military
leader.

Now Lucien had a nephew, Bartolomeo Doria by name, to whom he was much
attached and to whom he had shown great kindness. On a certain day in
August 1524 Bartolomeo was about to proceed from Ventimiglia to Lyons.
Lucien, wishing to do his nephew honour, placed a fine ship at his
disposal and begged him to stay at Monaco on his way westwards. Doria
accepted both the ship and the invitation with effusion for it occurred
to him that it afforded an excellent opportunity to murder his genial
old uncle.

In due course Bartolomeo landed at Monaco where he was given a hearty
welcome and was received by the prince with demonstrations of affection.
He was attended by an exceptionally large suite and this the indulgent
uncle ascribed to the natural swagger of youth. On reaching the palace
Lucien begged young Doria to accompany him to Mass. He declined; so the
prince went alone. During Lucien’s absence at the church it was noticed
that Bartolomeo was engaged for long in a whispered conference with
those who had accompanied him.

[Illustration: MONACO: THE CLIFF GARDEN.]

As soon as the heat of the day was over (it may be about six o’clock)
the party met at supper. Bartolomeo, who sat next to his uncle, was very
silent during the meal and—as it was remembered afterwards—was much
preoccupied and unnaturally pale. Lucien tried to rally him; made jokes;
dug him in the ribs; chaffed him and suggested that he was in love or
had lost heavily at cards. Bartolomeo could only reply with a faint
mechanical smile and a hollow effort to be jovial.

A moment came when a dignified chamberlain stood up and, with his goblet
raised, proposed “Health and long life to the Prince.” As Bartolomeo
responded to this toast it was observed that he became as livid as a
dead man and that the cup chattered against his teeth. It was with a
throttled gasp that he muttered the words “Long life to the Prince.”
Lucien acknowledged this kindly expression with a grateful smile and
pressed his own warm hand on that of his nephew.

Now hanging about his father’s chair was Lucien’s little boy. Bartolomeo
had often played with the child and was curiously attached to him.
Lucien, knowing the affection with which he regarded the lad, took him
up and placed him in Doria’s arms. The boy was delighted and began to
prattle of the doings of his little world and spoke, with breathless
rapture, of to-morrow when his father was going to take him, as a great
treat, to the shady beach at Cap d’Ail where they would build a hut,
light a fire and cook their own meal.

This talk was more than Bartolomeo could endure; for he knew that
to-morrow the boy would be fatherless and sobbing his heart out in a
darkened room. Bartolomeo, as he held the chattering little fellow in
his arms, shook to such an extent that even the child’s talk was stilled
and he began—moved by some subtle instinct—to be frightened. His
father lifted him from Doria’s lap and told him to run away. Lucien
could not understand his nephew this evening and ascribed his tremor to
a touch of ague.

After supper Lucien invited Bartolomeo to come into his private room. As
they walked along the corridor, with Lucien’s hand upon his nephew’s
shoulder, Doria—looking through the window—saw four galleys
approaching. He pointed them out to his uncle as the convoy of his
cousin Andrea and begged the prince to convey an important message to
him and to do his cousin the honour of sending an escort with it. Lucien
was only too pleased to gratify his guest and at once ordered some
fourteen men of his own bodyguard to welcome the on-coming fleet. In
this way Bartolomeo rid the palace of fourteen formidable armed men, of
nearly all, in fact, who were on duty that night. Andrea—it may be
explained—was aware of the purpose of Bartolomeo’s visit to Monaco and
was coming to his assistance.

Lucien and his nephew passed along the corridor, entered the prince’s
room and closed the door after them. Outside the door was stationed,
according to the routine of the palace, a page, a faithful negro, who
was devoted to his master. Hardly had the door closed than the page
heard the prince scream out “Ah! you traitor!” He burst into the room to
find his master felled to the ground and Bartolomeo bending over him,
stabbing him with a dagger.

He rushed back along the corridor to give the alarm; but the bodyguard
were already on their way to the harbour and when the page, with the few
men he could muster, returned to the prince’s room they found it already
filled with Doria’s friends armed to the teeth, and the prince dead.

The alarm soon spread to the town. From every door in the narrow streets
men poured forth and, armed with whatever weapon they could pick up,
rushed in a furious body to the palace. Bartolomeo—who had hoped to
seize the citadel—soon saw that his case was hopeless and his party
outnumbered. He and his friends escaped by a back stair, made their way
to the harbour and gained Andrea’s galleys which were now nearing the
beach. In this way Bartolomeo fled safely to France, leaving the little
town buzzing with disorder like a ravaged beehive and, in a silent room,
a sobbing boy lying prostrate on the body of his dead father.

-----

[38] “Monaco et ses Princes,” by H. Métivier, 1862.



                                 XXIII
                   HOW THE SPANIARDS WERE GOT RID OF


FOR a number of years Monaco, with that part of the Riviera which is
adjacent thereto, was under the protection of Spain. It is said that the
protectorate was sought and contrived by Hercules, Prince of Monaco. How
this mastery of a foreign power arose is not so much a matter of
interest as how it was got rid of.

Hercules, by the way, came himself to a tragic end. He was, in the
language of the history books, an “unprincipled libertine.” He outraged
the wives and daughters of certain of his subjects. The indignant
husbands and fathers had no means of redress. There was no authority to
appeal to above the prince; so they took the matter into their own good
hands. One night a grim and determined body of men turned out into the
streets, forced their way into the palace and into the prince’s
bedchamber. They dragged him from his bed, cut his throat and threw his
dead body over the cliff into the sea. This prompt and primitive act of
justice took place in the year 1604.

Honorius the First, who succeeded to the prince just named, found the
protectorate an insufferable burden and resented the presence of a
Spanish garrison within the walls of Monaco. He endured the insolence,
the exactions and the oppression of the foreigners for about forty years
when it came upon him that he could tolerate the sight of them no
longer. The Spaniards were lounging in his courtyard and his barrack
square and strutting about his battlements to protect him from the
supposed insidious enemy, France. He did not wish to be protected from
France. He desired protection from the swaggering upstarts from Spain
who patronised him, patted him metaphorically on the back and told him
that he need not be afraid for they would look after him. Honorius
preferred the possible hostility of France to the ever-present and
offensive guardianship of the Spaniards.

He was tired of being looked after; so one day he got into touch with
his enemy, the French, and had a genial, open-hearted talk with the
general. The general frankly confessed that this Spanish garrison on the
frontier was a menace and a hateful thing that grew, year by year, more
disgustful. No doubt in the course of the interview they “said things”
about these poltroons, these blusterers, these sneering braggarts and
vied with one another merrily in the invention of crushing and ingenious
terms of abuse. As a result of a pleasant chat they entered into a
secret compact, the conditions of which were simple. Honorius was
prepared to place Monaco under the French flag if only the French would
rid him of this abominable old man of the sea, the Spaniard.

The day was near at hand when the Spanish garrison would be removed to
Nice in order to be relieved by a fresh contingent. A very few of the
obnoxious foreigners would then be left in Monaco. This was the day,
therefore, arranged for the happy release. It was a certain day in
November 1641.

Before the time arrived Honorius introduced into Monaco some hundred
trusty men from Mentone. They came to the rock under all sorts of
pretexts. Some were to visit friends who did not exist; others were
coming to repair fortifications that needed no amendment, and a
strangely large body were called upon to help in the palace kitchen
which was already overstaffed. Anyhow they came; and, at the same time,
it was arranged that two hundred armed Mentonais were to find
hiding-places outside the walls, on the cliff side or in the huts about
the Condamine and the harbours; while a few, no doubt, would seek
shelter among the olive groves where Monte Carlo and its casino now
stand.

The main body of the Spanish garrison marched off to Nice, singing and
shouting, for they were on the way to their homes in Spain. The disposal
of the few who remained was left to the ingenuity of a priest, a man of
resource, one Pacchiero by name. He organised a special night service in
the church “to pray for the defeat of the French should they attack
Monaco.” The Spaniards could do no less than join in this pious
exercise. The little church was soon filled with men, kneeling row upon
row and pouring forth petitions for the destruction of the
ill-intentioned French.

[Illustration: THE GORGE BETWEEN MONACO AND MONTE CARLO.]

At 11 P.M. while the service was in progress, the glare of a bonfire, on
the point of the rock, shot suddenly over the sea. It was a good bonfire
for the light of its flames could be seen from Cap d’Ail to Cap Martin.
It was a signal to the French that “The Day” had come and not only the
day but the hour. The French captain, the Comte d’Alais, with a fine
body of men under his command was looking out eagerly for this flash of
fire and the moment he saw it he set off with his company to Monaco.

At the same time the Monégasques and the five-score absent-minded
visitors from Mentone fell upon the Spaniards, threw open the gate and
admitted the two hundred who had been shivering outside in the cold.
After a sharp fight the scanty garrison was overcome and were lodged in
a dungeon where they could continue their prayers for the ruin of the
French at greater leisure.

Next morning the French troops marched into Monaco with banners flying
and bands playing. They were welcomed by the people with songs and
cheers and noisy enthusiasm. The houses were hung with garlands of
flowers and all the women were decked out in their best. The cheering
must have penetrated to the dungeons and have been very bitter to the
Spaniards who had spent so much time in praying for the overthrow of
these very men whose swinging tramp they could hear overhead.

The prince behaved with much graciousness and generosity. He caused the
French troops and the Spaniards to be paraded in the square and, when
the crowd had been hushed to silence, he delivered an appropriate and,
no doubt, impressive address. At its conclusion he took from his neck
the order of the Golden Fleece and handed it to the Spanish captain with
the request that he would return it to His Majesty of Spain with the
late wearer’s compliments and thanks. He then, amid uproarious cheering,
donned the white scarf which betokened his allegiance to the King of
France. The Spaniards he treated with a fine liberality, inspired by the
grateful knowledge that he would never see them again. He allowed the
officers to retain their swords. He gave to all the soldiers double pay
and a generous supply of food for their journey. Furthermore he
presented to the captain a letter in which—with some excess of
fancy—he dwelt upon the bravery which both officers and men had shown
under the recent disturbing conditions.

Thus it was that the Spaniards left Monaco and that the people of the
rock saw the last of them. As they marched down the cliff to the high
road they were not only content but even disposed to be thankful. Some,
no doubt, were a little sad because they were leaving their sweethearts
behind in Monaco; while all—without question—were burning to wring the
neck of the priest who had organised that special night service at which
they had prayed for the undoing of their now jubilant enemies.

Louis XIII of France was much pleased with the part the Prince of Monaco
had played in ridding him of a Spanish outpost so near to his own
territories. “He arranged by the treaty of Péronne for the independence
of Monaco and the protection of a French garrison, together with
sufficient lands in France to compensate for the loss of any Italian
revenues confiscated by Spain. Grimaldi was rewarded by lands in France
which were called his Duchy of Valentinois.”[39]

It was in this manner that the princes of Monaco became possessed of the
title of Dukes of Valentinois.

-----

[39] “Old Provence,” by T. A. Cook, Vol. ii., p. 158, 1914.



                                  XXIV
                         A MATTER OF ETIQUETTE


AMONG the minor happenings in the ways of the world a disproportionate
interest always attaches to the breaking off of a marriage engagement.
The event excites surprise and florid speculation, together with a
tender and unreasoning sense of regret. It is, to the unknowing, as the
sudden slamming of a door that seemed to open into paradise. The rupture
may be due to many things, to ill-health or ill-temper, to discoveries,
to a change of heart, to mean matters affecting money or to the lure of
a brighter flame. It must be rare that the happiness of a devoted
couple, on the very eve of their wedding, is dangerously threatened by a
mere matter of etiquette; yet this happened at Monaco—or more precisely
in Monaco harbour—about the year 1751.

The reigning prince, Honorius III, became enamoured of the beautiful
Maria Caterina Brignole. This lady had not only a pretty face, but also
a great charm of character and of mind. The two became engaged. The
intricate arrangements that attend a princely espousal were completed
and the date of the wedding was agreed upon.

The day at last came when the bride would arrive at Monaco. It was a day
of feverish excitement. Every flag that the principality could produce
was fluttering in the breeze; the country around was stripped of its
flowers to deck the town; while every wardrobe was ransacked to furnish
the very gayest head-dress, tunic and gown that the owner could boast
of. All the inhabitants of Monaco—men, women and children—poured down
to the harbour, leaving the streets deserted and the houses empty of all
but the crippled or the sick. The quay was crammed; the beach was lined
to the water’s edge, while even on the crest of La Turbie was a cluster
of folk, who, if they could not come down to Monaco, were at least
determined to see what little they could.

By the harbour-side was the prince in his most princely dress,
surrounded by the gentlemen of the Court, bedecked with every medal,
ribbon and star that they possessed. Behind the Court officials was the
bodyguard, ranged in a line and as stiff as a row of gaudily painted tin
soldiers. On one side of the princely party were the musicians and on
the other that bevy of maidens dressed in white which should always
attend the coming of a bride.

The long expected ship swept into the harbour; came alongside the quay
in breathless silence and was made fast to the landing place. The
bodyguard stiffened to even more metallic rigidity; the crowd stood with
open mouths ready to cheer, while the musicians placed the trumpets to
their lips prepared to burst forth with the National Hymn they had
practised upon for so many weeks.

Nothing appropriate to the occasion happened. The silence remained
unbroken. The prince had sent an ambassador to conduct the bride to the
shores of Monaco. This over-dressed and over-heated official tumbled
ashore in some disorder and hurried to the presence of the motionless
prince. He had evidently something to say and indeed something startling
to say; for his speech led to a conversation that became more and more
excited until it rose to a veritable babel of voices. He hurried back to
the ship and there became involved in an equally flurried conversation
in which the Marchesa di Brignole, the mother of the bride, took a
prominent and decided part. He returned to the quay and set ablaze
another heated conflagration of words. Before it was quenched he leapt
back to the vessel and there induced, among the expectant company, a
second outburst of excited speech, attended by much gesticulation.
Whatever he was doing he was at least a man who encouraged conversation.

Still nothing effective took place. The prince had not moved; the bride
had not appeared; the band was still silent; the bodyguard still stiff
and the crowd still agape. Something evidently had gone wrong and indeed
very wrong.

The position—as the multitude came ultimately to learn—was this. The
question had arisen as to which of the august two, the bride or the
bridegroom, should make the first step towards a meeting. In the case of
ordinary human beings the man would, no doubt, have at once rushed to
the ship to embrace the lady; while the lady would have hurried to the
quay side to find herself in the arms of her lover. Possibly as a result
the two might have fallen into the water, but, at least, the meeting
would have had a proper emotional interest.

Now when princes and the brides of princes are concerned things are
quite different. They cannot tumble about like common folk. The prince
was advised that he must not advance to the ship, because such a step
would be unbecoming and indeed humiliating. He was the Prince of Monaco
with his feet upon his own territory and whoever came must advance to
him and not he to them. It was unthinkable that he should welcome a
visitor to his domain by jumping over the sides of ships. If he moved,
his honour, his dignity, his princely position would be at stake.

On the other hand the mother of the lady, a little red in the face,
insisted that it was the duty of the bridegroom to meet the bride. It
was against decorum for the bride to spring ashore as if she were a long
lost child. To show anxiety to meet her future husband was unmaidenly,
indelicate and indeed almost indecent.

The prince—as advised—could not give in and the marchesa, with head
erect and folded arms and a disposition to stamp on the deck, declined
to modify her views as a mother and a woman. So determined was this
virtuous peeress upon the point that sooner than let her innocent
daughter take one immodest step towards the shore she would break off
the engagement and regard the wedding contract as annulled. Indeed in
her indignation she went further. She ordered the captain of the ship to
cast off and set sail for the port whence she had come.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL OF ST. DÉVOTE.]

Now was the opportunity for the mediator, for the common-sense man with
no nonsense about him, for the person with a fertile brain. Some genius
among the disputing parties suggested a compromise and a plank. The
scheme was as follows. A broad plank was to be brought and sloped
between the vessel and the quay. The prince was to take a certain number
of steps along the plank towards the ship and, at the same moment, the
bride would take precisely the same number of steps towards the shore.
By this means the two would meet, face to face, exactly in the centre of
the plank; the bridegroom would then turn on his heels and he and the
lady would proceed to the shore side by side.

This ingenious manœuvre was agreed upon. Its execution was watched with
gasping interest, for the happiness of two fond hearts depended upon its
correct execution. If the prince took one more step than the lady he
would be humiliated for ever; whereas if the bride ventured an extra
pace she could never hide her blushes while she lived. The crowd was
thrilled; the courtiers trembling and the two chief performers as
nervous as if they had to walk on a tight-rope.

It ended well. The man and the maid met in the exact centre of the plank
and, keeping step, marched to the shore with the precision of two German
soldiers on parade. So admirable was the performance that the heavy
military boot of the prince and the little satin shoe of the lady
touched the soil of Monaco at the same moment.

The crowd shrieked till they were hoarse; the courtiers bowed to the
earth; the guard became so stiff that they nearly fell backwards, while
the band let loose that National Hymn which had been pent up so long.

And so—as the story books say—they married and lived happily ever
after.

It only remains to add one other particular. In the fullness of time the
prince died and the princess married again. She married Louis Joseph,
Prince of Condé. He had been devoted to her for thirty years and, in
spite of her age, still regarded her as the most beautiful creature in
the world.

They were married in London and under circumstances which rendered the
use of a plank unnecessary.



                                  XXV
                    THE MONTE CARLO OF THE NOVELIST


MONTE CARLO, they told me, was a place of great wickedness, where every
path—though lined with flowers—led headlong to the Pit. From the many
romances which deal with Monte Carlo I gathered that it was the seat of
an intensive culture in iniquity, that it specialised in subtle forms of
evil doing and that in its pleasances vice blossomed as the rose. Among
what writers always term “the motley crowd” in this fictitious borough
were men of quite exceptional depravity, women more accomplished than
Delilah and crafty foreigners of the yellow-skinned and black-haired
variety who are far too foreign to be real. Suicide, I understood,
prevailed as an endemic disease.

I arrived at the principality on Christmas Eve and, owing to some train
derangement, at an hour a little short of midnight. I approached this
place—which those who are careless of terms describe as “a Hell”—with
anxious interest. When the train came to a standstill I found myself in
a quiet, ill-lit station, precisely like fifty other stations on the
line. I resented this. I resented even the fact that the magic name
“Monte Carlo” was portrayed in quite homely and decorous letters. I
expected to see a number of peculiarly evil men alight from the train;
but they were not in evidence. They probably “slipped away in the
gloom,” as they do in the books. The only passengers I noticed were a
very weary old lady and her maid. The lady was respectable almost to
extinction and was absorbed by concern for her many hand bags and her
obtuse dog.

I had been led to think that at midnight the grosser revels of Monte
Carlo would be at their height; so in the drive to the hotel I expected
to be shocked and grieved. I found myself, on the contrary, passing
through pleasant streets as silent as those that encircle a cathedral
close. The streets, moreover, were practically empty and for the
morality and integrity of the few who passed by I was prepared to vouch
even in the dark.

I thought I might see through some open window a room glaring with light
and reeking with the ill odours, the ribald sounds and the drunken
antics of a supper table. Possibly, through another window, I should
behold wild-haired men and shamelessly dressed women bending over a
green cloth speckled with cards. I saw only sleeping villas and drowsy
gardens that breathed nothing but content and peace. With the romances
working in my mind it would have been hardly a matter of surprise had I
come upon a man in dress clothes, lying on his back in the pathway, with
a wet crimson patch spreading over the front of his white shirt. Happily
I saw no such thing. Monte Carlo, so far, had failed; failed in that it
was not the place I had been led to expect by the writers of fiction.

Next morning, before the sun rose, I stepped out of my bedroom window on
to the balcony to take a first look at the amazing city. It was now
Christmas Day and still very dark. From the height at which I stood I
appeared to be looking into a limitless vault with above a dome of the
deepest blue, dotted with stars, and below a floor flooded by a sea
whose surface was as ruffled metal.

The only light came from a gap in the east, at the uttermost limit of
the vast water. It was a rare and tender light that seemed to be
reflected up from the depths. A level band of orange stretched along the
sea and over it was a wash of cowslip yellow that, fading into the
half-suggested green of an opening leaf, was lost higher still in a
flood of blue. Against this ineffable glow stood up, in a black, hard
silhouette, the tops of houses.

It was evident that on the slope below me was a town and, at the foot of
the town, a harbour. The town was a mere dark mass, so confused that it
might have been a jumble of black rocks, save that, here and there, were
tiny lights—lights evidently in upper windows. From one hidden casement
near by, that must have been open and uncurtained, a gleam fell upon the
side of a villa revealing every detail of shutter and balcony as well as
a strip of bright ornament painted on the wall. The harbour was made
manifest by two black piers with a light at the end of each—one green,
one red—by a sheen, like that of quicksilver, on the water in the basin
and by a row of lamps upon the three sides of the quay.

Beyond the harbour was a towering dull mass that I knew to be Monaco. It
was picked out by a few dots of light which came, no doubt, from
scattered rooms and by vague towers scarcely visible before the sullen
curtain of the sky.

To the east there stood out, very cleanly cut against the delicate light
of the coming day, certain black pinnacles and domes. They looked like
the peaks of some fantastic oriental temple but I recognised them as
belonging to the Casino and the great hotel.

Clear in the heaven, above these pinnacles and domes, blazed one large,
brilliant star. It was, I imagine, the very Star in the East that two
thousand years ago shone over the stable at Bethlehem.



                                  XXVI
                              MONTE CARLO


MONTE CARLO[40] lies on the very edge of the sea at the foot of a broken
range of grey hills as if it were a patch of flowers at the foot of an
ancient wall. As a town it takes the form of a sloping pile of houses
and terraces which, when the sun falls on them, are a brilliant
maize-yellow with splashes of white, of russet-red for the roofs and of
green for the palms and the gardens. Viewed at sundown, from a long way
off, it would seem as if the foot of the cliff, where it touches the
sea, had been gilded with dull gold.

Compared with the old towns around it Monte Carlo is so new, so fresh,
so bright that it may be the city of youth, an embodiment of youth
itself, of careless, reckless, sensuous youth. It is so young that there
is not a wrinkle on its face, although the cheek may be a trifle tinted
and the lips unduly red. Its streets recall the gaiety of youth, its
lavish gardens proclaim the indulgence and the luxury of youth, its
crags and ravines the spirit of adventure, its clear sky the far vision
of youth and its blazing sun the fierce passion of youth.

The gorgeous white Casino would seem to realise, in such a city, the
fantasy of youth. It is so immense, so impossible, so unlike any
conception of sober middle age, so unreal, so daring. It conforms to the
type of no ordinary building. Its architecture is not of this world of
common things, although it may possibly approach that of the exuberant
temple in white on the top of a wedding cake.

The Casino, in its extravagance, is indeed just such a castle in the air
as a young man would build, a fabric of his dream, his palace of
delight. The very town tingles with life, with excitement, with
restlessness, with the playfulness of everything. It is a butterfly
town, for it lives only for a few gay months. The air is laden with the
scent of flowers, while the honeymoon wind lies asleep on the heaving
bosom of the deep.

Moreover it is a town of the south, of the warm, indolent south, where,
as Sancho Panza would say, there is—whatever happens—“still sun on the
wall.” Here in the south, as compared with the north, the seasons are
reversed. The winter is the time for pleasure; the summer for rest, for
seclusion within shut doors and, it may be, for forgetfulness of things.

The winter in the north is symbolic of the closing days of life and of
the weariness of old age; for the world has then become cold, dark and
cheerless, as well as indifferent and possibly unkind. The summer in the
south is, in its turn, the symbol of the end of the pageant of youth.
The gardens are faded and parched up, the flowers are withered and dead,
the grass is a waste of arid brown, the fountains are dry and the very
earth is cracked with thirst. The world, spent and panting, has sunk
into a drugged sleep like a man exhausted by a fever. The days of
riotous living have come to an end; passion has burnt itself out; the
rivers of pleasure are now beds of stone and the Dead Sea apple is the
only fruit left on the tree.

[Illustration: MONTE CARLO FROM MONACO.]

As the southern winter begins again the freshly-sown grass springs up;
the lawns become green; the buds open; the roses, the heliotrope, the
geraniums and the mimosa break into flower and the world is as gay as
the sun and a caressing wind can make it.

It is then a tempting time to think of the drab, mist-shrouded island of
England with its sodden fields and the rain dripping from the thatch, of
London, of those sad houses and those awful streets, of the
slush-covered roads, of the muffled faces and the blue hands, of the
hours of semi-darkness, of the sun that is seen as a red disc in a fog.

Because Monte Carlo, as a town, appears to be symbolic of all that is
young it must not be assumed that its inhabitants have acquired eternal
youth. Many attempt it, many struggle to attain it with an eagerness
which is pathetic and pitiable. They are like gaily-dressed ghosts, a
little stiff in movement, following a figure that dances before them
like a faun. There is a butterfly called “The Painted Lady” and perhaps
it will suffice to say that the existence of this fluttering thing will
come often to the minds of those who stroll along the Terrace in the
sun.

Apart from its suggestion of youthfulness Monte Carlo is a town full of
remarkable contrasts as extreme as the black shadow of a cypress on a
marble wall. On one side of the haven, with its chapel to Ste. Dévote,
rises the great rock of Monaco. On its summit stand the palace, the
fortress and the little town—all three so staid, so grey, so very, very
old—just as they have stood in company through some six hundred years.
On the other side of the chapel, on rising ground, lies Monte Carlo,
modern in every fibre of its being, a town that has sprung up in a night
like a gaudily-tinted fungus, a brilliant, vivid place, slashed with
colour like a jester’s coat, as ephemeral as a rainbow, since any change
in the public taste may cause it to fade into nothingness.

On the crest of the hill above Monte Carlo there stands, against the
skyline, the massive monument in stone set up by the Emperor Augustus to
mark the victory of Rome over a horde of savages; while below, by the
edge of the sea, are the pinnacles of the Casino, a monument in papier
mâché to mark the subjection of a cultured folk to the mastery of a
passion.

Climbing the mountain behind the town is still the ancient road that,
more than two thousand years ago, led from the Roman forum into Gaul;
while, by the water’s edge, on the other hand, are the railway, the
motor track and a hydroplane that has just flown over from Corsica.

All around Monte Carlo, from the east to the west, are the
cave-dwellings of prehistoric men, a brutish people clad in wolf skins;
while in the town itself are hotels of unparalleled luxury and, on the
Terrace, a company of pampered men and women decked in all the “purple
and fine linen” that the world can provide.

Still more curious is it that the great modern forts of Mont Agel and
the Tête de Chien actually look down upon a line of fortified camps and
stone strongholds built by the Ligurians before the dawn of history.

-----

[40] The name Monte Carlo is derived from Prince Charles III. of Monaco.



                                 XXVII
                     SOME DIVERSIONS OF MONTE CARLO


THE _General Atmosphere._—The atmosphere of Monte Carlo is the subject
of some comment. It is in fact complained of. The air over the town is
not said to be unpleasant in colour; it is not, for example, stated to
be green or yellow. The charge is that the atmosphere is “vitiated.” Now
in the dictionary “to vitiate” is said to mean “to corrupt, debase or
contaminate” and therefore the accusation is a grave one.

In defence it can be claimed that the moral atmosphere in Monte Carlo is
not so vitiated as it is in London or in Paris. There are visitors to
the principality—both men and women—who are indulgently described as
“undesirable”; but they are not peculiar to Monte Carlo, nor do they
form even a conspicuous item in its holiday population.

Moreover the innocent visitor to the town is not of necessity thrust
into the society of these people. If they are not desired they can be
avoided as easily as they can be at Trouville or at Brighton. Monte
Carlo may not be sanctimonious, but it does not flaunt its vices as some
towns do their virtues.

Moreover so well is Monte Carlo controlled that the young lady, when
necessity demands, can walk from the Opera House to her hotel without
fear of being incommoded, a venture that she would not essay in either
London or Paris; while she will see less to offend her on the Casino
Terrace than in the Bois de Boulogne. As for the young man he is more
free from molestation in the boulevards of Monte Carlo than he would be
in Regent Street.

Those who wish to live the plain, unemotional life of a French country
town will find that Monte Carlo fulfils their needs. They will meet with
neither shocks nor distractions unless they seek them; for the circle
within which the florid society of the town revolves is—like the
roulette wheel—extremely small; whereas the quiet streets of Monaco,
the olive groves, the hill paths, the lonely walks form a world that
opens far.

_The Gambling._—The strictures bestowed upon the gaming rooms are apt
to be a little violent and sweeping. I assume that no one can say a word
in favour of gambling, nor even excuse it. It is no doubt a feeble
apology to claim that there are degrees of gambling, that every
race-course and every Bourse exhibits a more pernicious and more
damaging form of “play” than can be laid to the charge of the Casino.
The gambler at Monte Carlo injures no one directly but himself. He knows
at least that the Administration is above suspicion and that the same
virtue cannot be claimed for the whole body of bookmakers. Gambling on
the public markets may implicate innocent people to their undoing and
when it deals with the necessaries of life and leads to the making of
“corners” in this commodity or in that it may involve a whole community
in loss and distress. There is indeed a wide difference between gambling
with plaques on a green cloth and gambling with corn.

[Illustration: MONTE CARLO: THE TERRACE, CHRISTMAS DAY.]

Play at the Casino is for the reckless rich and the foolish and these
happen to be two varieties of mankind peculiarly difficult to control.
When once it is understood that, in the long run, the Tables _must_ win
and do win then let the poor man be advised. The fool will not accept
advice, the rich man does not need it and so the game goes on.

It is, no doubt, an equally feeble defence to point out that the Casino
does great good with its gains. It keeps the little principality in
perfect order and makes it a reliable health resort. It is no vain boast
to say that Monte Carlo is the cleanest and trimmest town in France,
that it is dustless and that its sanitation is good. The Casino provides
the police and the public officers, maintains the roads and a garden
which is the delight of many, while it affords to its people a degree of
comfort and security which is not to be belittled at the present day.
Moreover through funds derived from the Administration churches and
museums are built, schools and hospitals are maintained and real poverty
is abolished. These facts do not make gambling a virtue, but they serve
to temper a slashing and wholly destructive criticism.

A large proportion of people gamble for what they call “the fun of the
thing.” The term is difficult to define, but if they find amusement and
can afford that amusement there is little to be said.

It is unnecessary to describe the _salles de jeu_. They have been
pictured—with exact or inexact details—a hundred times and have
figured more often in works of fiction than have any other actual
apartments in the world. The miscellaneous people who cluster round the
tables are said to provide an interesting study in faces. The study is
limited. All are supposed to be “playing”—playing, it may be assumed,
as children play at a game—but their countenances are so sad and so
serious that a stranger to the “games” of modern life might think that
they were sitting round a post-mortem table with a deceased person laid
out on the cloth. An observer, endowed with especial gifts might detect
evidences of greed, of anxiety, of despair, of forlorn hope, but to an
ordinary looker-on there is little to note beyond a general expression
of uneasy boredom.

_The Pigeon Shooting._—There is one blot on Monte Carlo—a large,
crimson blot—in the form of the pigeon shooting. This diversion takes
place on a pleasant green just below the terrace of the Casino, between
it and the sea. There lies a level lawn upon which one might expect to
see lads and lasses playing croquet; but in the centre of the grass are
certain slabs of concrete arranged in a curve with horrible precision.
They may be the marks upon which blindfolded criminals are stood when
ranged out to be shot, but this execution yard is used for a different
purpose.

On the concrete disks, when the sport is in progress, iron traps are
placed and into each of these a pigeon, half-crazed with fright, is
stuffed. The trap drops open with a clatter, the bird sees before it the
quiet blue of heaven, rises on its wings, and in a second is either
maimed or dead. If not too badly wounded it may flutter over the fence
and fall into the sea to be grabbed by a man in a boat, for some
half-dozen boats are always waiting under the lee of the rock for such
choice windfalls.

People in some numbers watch this vile massacre from the terrace, but
their concern—almost to a man—is with the pigeon. If the pigeon
escapes unharmed, as occasionally happens, there is a gasp of relief and
gratification. The bird so saved generally alights on the Casino roof
and, in course of time, no doubt joins the fearless crowd of pigeons who
haunt the roadway and strut among the out-of-door tables of the Café de
Paris. There is a curious bond uniting this community of birds, the
common tie of having been condemned to death and of having been by
accident reprieved.

In pigeon shooting from traps there is not the faintest element of
sport. It is merely an exhibition of mean brutality which is totally
opposed to the British conception of sport and it is gratifying to note
that among the competitors in this contemptible game an English name is
uncommon. The terrified pigeon pegged out to be shot at has practically
no chance, while the skill displayed by the most apt of the
pseudo-sportsmen is of a paltry order.

To realise a turning of the tables it should happen one day that the
sides of the trap would drop and reveal, not a shivering pigeon, but a
live man-eating tiger who, with his yellow and black stripes showing
well against the green, would stalk, snarling, towards the firing party.
It would be interesting to see these deadly marksmen bolt screaming
right and left and throw themselves into the sea to be picked up by the
boatmen on the look-out for wounded pigeons.

_The Theatre._—The opera, the concerts and the minor entertainments at
Monte Carlo are famous and are allowed to be of very high order. A
series of ballets also occupies the season and these too are approved by
heads of families. It is to be owned that in most of the ballets a love
element is prominent, but the love-making is conducted on such formal
and gymnastic lines that it is not likely to encourage imitators.

The young man, according to accepted practice, pursues the lady. In
doing so he revolves like a top, while she also gyrates after the manner
of that toy. He rubs his chest with his hand to show that his heart is
affected. She then lifts her foot above her head to show that she is
unmoved by the information. He pursues her again but this time with
bounds. She retreats with tiny steps and ultimately takes refuge in the
extreme corner of the stage by the footlights. Here she wriggles her
shoulders and puts a forefinger in the corner of her mouth. He is much
encouraged by these evidences of a dawning amiability and leaps
repeatedly into the air. They then dance together with some exuberance
and finally he grasps her by the waist and turns her upside down, so
that her head rests on the boards. This shows that they are engaged; a
conclusion which is approved by a sudden crowd of lightly clad villagers
in antics of bewildering violence.

_The Dog Show._—A feature of the season at Monte Carlo is the Dog Show.
It is held on the terrace and is unique of its kind. It is not really a
dog show but rather a dogs’ afternoon party or conversazione, where dogs
of both sexes meet, renew acquaintances, gossip after their fashion with
much tail-wagging and at times cut one another or quarrel. There are no
stands upon which the dogs are staged, no kennels, no baskets with rugs
in which they lie curled up and bored to death, no posts to which they
can be tied and howl. There are no placards, no cards, no advertisements
of dog biscuits, no straw and, indeed, none of the paraphernalia of an
actual dog show.

The affair is, in reality, a Show of Dog Owners held for the edification
and amusement of the dogs and, incidentally, of others. The dog owners
(mostly ladies) are dressed in their very best, as they should be when
on show, and are led about by the dogs through a cheerful, rambling
crowd. At intervals a man with a megaphone shouts from the bandstand the
names of certain dog owners. Whereupon the dogs lead their owners, thus
selected, into a circle beneath the megaphone and some judging takes
place. There is a general hubbub, much chattering and barking and some
craning of necks when an exceptionally pretty owner occupies the ring.

At the end rosettes, as badges of merit, are handed to the fortunate and
are affixed to the dogs’ collars. The dog who is pleased with what his
owner has won trots off with contentment and with the lady; but the dog
who is dissatisfied sits obstinately down, in spite of all protests, and
proceeds to remove the offensive emblem with his foot.

_Golf._—In the early hours of the day there is often a spectacle
provided in Monte Carlo which is difficult to appreciate. A number of
persons—young, middle-aged and ancient, male and female—will arise at
an unwonted hour, scramble through breakfast and start to climb up a
cliff of 3,000 feet. They cannot be making this arduous ascent to see
the sun rise, for the sun is already up. They can hardly be
contemplating a view from the height, for the hill may be hidden in
mist. They could not be hastening to a pilgrimage church to pray,
because they do not look devotional enough; nor is there a suggestion of
piety in their dress, for they wear boots heavy with nails,
knickerbockers and a reckless type of hat.

They are ascending some 3,000 feet under arduous conditions for the
purpose of knocking a ball—a small and expensive ball—along the ground
with a stick. This is golf; a proceeding that is with many one of the
rare joys of life. Golf has many charms and not the least is that it is
a game for everyone. It fires the youth with ambition and comforts the
aged, for it fosters the delusion that the end of their days is not yet.
The inefficient can play with the expert, without heartburnings and
without reproach and receive sympathy in the place of sarcasm. The lamb,
indeed, can lie down with the lion and now and then bleat, in the
golfer’s tongue, “like as we lie.” The man who wishes to be alone can
play alone. The man who loves company can “go round” in a party of four
and chatter to them all at once and all the time. Golf too is a
discipline, for the spirit of golf is hope. The golfer who has abandoned
hope is lost. Lost too is the fatalist who knows he is in a bunker
before he gets there.

[Illustration: MONTE CARLO: THE CASINO GARDEN.]

Golf, moreover, is played under pleasant conditions in the open air,
among sand dunes, or by sea beaches, or on breezy downs and in
light-hearted surroundings; for there are few links that are not
picturesque and cheery. It is besides a pleasant game to watch for the
human element in it is so interesting. There is, for example, that
fascinating disproportion between the effort made and the result that
may be attained. The man at the tee stands with rigid limbs, with every
muscle tense, with clenched teeth and a fixed glare in the eye. Then
comes a swish with a club that—if a sword—would decapitate an ox and,
as a result, the ball dribbles languidly a few mocking feet. If the man
fails by misapplied violence the lady is apt to fail by moulding her
action on the photographic pose of lady players in the society journals.
She wants to get to the “follow through” attitude, when her club will be
in the air, her face in a good light and the tip of her right shoe just
touching the ground.

The caddies too are an interesting company to watch. Being young they
are unable to restrain the expression of the emotions and this is often
disconcerting. When a fine shot is made the aspect of the caddie is that
of serious anxiety, for he has to keep the ball in sight. When a really
bad stroke is taken he _must_ laugh and when he is compelled—in order
to conceal his laughter—to bury his face in the breast of a
fellow-caddie the sight of the convulsed boy, hanging on to a friend,
calls for great restraint on the part of the player.

The fragments of English picked up by foreign caddies are always curious
and nearly always unhappy. I recall a caddie in Egypt who spoke nothing
but Arabic; but who, after a very woeful shot burst out, to my surprise,
with the petulant remark, “Hell’s own luck!” I learnt later that he used
to “carry” for a profane judge.

An excellent motor-bus service takes the golfer up to the links direct,
or, if he prefers it, he can ascend by train to La Turbie and climb the
rest of the way by the path. The links are on a breezy plateau just
below the peak of Mont Agel and at the height of some 3,000 feet above
the sea. It is a plateau that means well, that intends to be orderly but
is always backsliding and reverting to savagery. It is constantly
tempted to break out into a precipice or lapse into a gorge but
restrains itself just in time. Its praiseworthy efforts to become a
green plateau are almost pathetic but it gives way often and original
sin crops out in the form of horrible rocks.

The result is an area of rugged land of great variety and
picturesqueness, a beautiful medley of half-tamed meads and wild
boulders, of smooth lawns like sheets of green velvet amid grey and
wizened crags. The view is astounding. To the north are the Maritime
Alps, peak after peak, deep in snow; to the south is the warm, blue
Mediterranean and, often enough, the ghostly island of Corsica lying on
the sea like a lilac cloud. On either side is a stretch of coast of
immeasurable extent, leading far down into Italy on the east and, on the
west, ranging beyond the Lerin Islands and the Esterels to St. Tropez,
near Hyères, a distance of some fifty miles. The club house is a model
of modern comfort and as the restaurant is controlled by the Hôtel de
Paris the golfer and the crowd of visitors can obtain as good a lunch on
this bare mountain-top as they would obtain in Monte Carlo and that too
with a better appetite. The success of the club is largely due to the
untiring efforts of the secretary, Mr. Galbraith Horn, whose geniality,
capacity and kindness are held in grateful memory by every visitor to
Mont Agel.

Coming back from the links in the motor-bus the whispered conversations
that may be overheard are illustrative and will vary much according to
the speaker. A fat man may be saying, “The gravy was the best I ever
tasted,” and the lean man, “Although I did it in five I had to halve the
hole”; while a lady may remark, “Well! how she _could_ come out in that
hat I don’t know!”



                                 XXVIII
                       AN OLD ROMAN POSTING TOWN


AROUND Monte Carlo the mountains crowd down to the sea with such menace
as to threaten to push the light-hearted town into the deep, for the
sloping ledge to which it holds is narrow. Thus it is that hanging above
Monte Carlo is a steep mountain side, half slope, half precipice, green
wherever an olive tree or a pine can cling, grey where the rock lies
bare or where the cliff soars upwards.

On the summit of this stupendous barrier and at a height of 1,574 feet
is La Turbie. Gazing up from the streets of Monte Carlo the place can be
located, although neither its walls, nor its houses nor any part of it
are visible; but it is indicated by two remarkable objects which stand
out clear on the sky line. They are strange and ill-assorted. One of the
objects is a vast pillar or tower of stone, of the colour of a wheat
stalk. From the Casino garden, half a mile below, it looks like a
gigantic brick standing on end and turned edgeways. This is the Roman
monument of Augustus erected over 1,900 years ago. The other object,
placed by its side, is a coral pink hotel that may have sprung up in the
night. Its outline is intentionally fantastic for it is built in “the
Oriental style” in the belief that the simple might mistake it for a
mosque or a palace of the caliphs. In spite of its appearance it is
popular and well esteemed. It is a theatrical creation as gaudy as if it
were flooded by a rose-tinted limelight and as out of place on the top
of the stately cliff as a cheap Paris bonnet on the head of the Venus de
Milo.

[Illustration: LA TURBIE: THE ROMAN MONUMENT.]

There are many ways of reaching La Turbie from the lower ground. For
carriages there is the Cemetery road. It is so called, not because it is
dangerous to motorists, but because it passes a cemetery. It winds in
and out among the prehistoric fortifications of Mont des Mules and Mont
Justicier, but is so irresolute, so capricious, so inclined to go any
way rather than up hill to La Turbie that the route is exasperating. The
track of the road is like the track of a drunken man who has become
obstinate and deaf to all persuasions to go straight home.

There are two mule-paths up to the town, one on either side of the
Vallon des Gaumates, the Moneghetti path on the west and the Bordina on
the east. These paths are at least direct and know where they are going.
They are paved with cobble stones, are arranged in long steps, are as
monotonous as a treadmill and probably as tiring. They are paths that
might have climbed up the penitential heights in Dante’s “Purgatorio.”
Still they pass by pleasant ways among the shadows of the olives and the
slips of garden piled one above the other on green ledges. Moreover they
are the old primitive roads of the country, the roads trod by the
mediæval pedlar, by the wandering monk and by the errant knight. Of all
works of man throughout the ages they are among the oldest and the least
disturbed by change.

It is possible also to reach La Turbie from Monte Carlo by the
rack-and-pinion railway. The traveller sits in a carriage that slopes
like a roof and is pushed up hill from behind by an engine that puffs
like an asthmatic person overpowered by rage. There are three stations
to be passed on the way. Nothing happens at two of these stations except
that the train stops. It is merely a ceremonial act. There would be
anxiety and inquiries of the guard if anyone got in or got out. One
station is in a drear rocky waste, far removed from the haunts of men.
The only passenger that could be expected to alight here would be a
scapegoat laden with the sins of Monte Carlo and eager to get away from
the unquiet world and be lost in the wilderness.

La Turbie, or Turbia, was a Roman town. It stood on the famous road that
led from Rome into Gaul. It was a busy and prosperous place that
probably attained to its greatest importance about two thousand years
ago, for the town goes back to a period before the time of Christ. When
La Turbie was at the height of its vigour Monaco was a barren rock.
Indeed when the first building appeared upon Monaco La Turbie was
already more than twelve centuries old.

The ancient Roman road—the Aurelian Way as it was called—ran from the
Forum at Rome to Arles on the banks of the Rhone. Its total length,
according to Dr. George Müller, was 797 miles. It was commenced in the
year B.C. 241 and its construction occupied many decades.

Starting from the Forum it followed the coast northwards. It passed
through Pisa, Spezia and Genoa. Then turning westwards it came to
Ventimiglia, where it followed the line of the present main street. It
passed through Bordighera, along the Strada Romana of that town, and
creeping under the foot of the Rochers Rouges it entered Mentone. It
crossed the little torrent of St. Louis close to the beach and then
began to mount upwards. Its course through Mentone is indicated by the
Rue Longue. Thence it ascended to the Mont Justicier and so reached the
crest of the hill at La Turbie. Between Mentone and La Turbie there are
still to be found traces of this ancient highway which have been left
undisturbed among the olive woods.

The road entered La Turbie by that gate which is still called the
Portail Romain, made its way through the town with no little pomp and
passed out by the Portail de Nice on the west. It now crossed the
present Grand Corniche road, which it followed for a while, and then
dipped pleasantly into the valley of Laghet. Leaving the convent on its
right it turned to La Trinité-Victor and so moved onwards until it
reached the great and important Roman city of Cimiez, then known as
Cemenelum. Here we may take leave of it.

On this venerable highway La Turbie occupied a position of much
interest. It marked the highest point attained by the Via Aureliana in
its long journey. To the Romans it was the “Alpis summa.” It stands on
the ridge or col which connects Mont Agel with the Tête de Chien and
represents the summit of the pass between those heights. More than
that—as a landmark visible for miles—it pointed out to the world the
ancient frontier between Italy and Gaul and, in later years, the line
that divided Provence from Liguria.

To the Roman traveller by the Aurelian Way La Turbie was a place of some
significance. It was a goal to be attained. When once the weary man had
passed through the gate of Turbia he could sit himself down on a cool
bench in its shady street, wipe his brow, loosen his pack, let drop his
staff and feel that the worst of the journey was over. He had crossed
the frontier into Gaul and was almost within sight of the comforting
city of Cemenelum of which old travellers, gossiping in the Forum, had
told so much.

La Turbie was a posting town that marked a critical stage in the journey
from the Eternal City. It was a place of great bustle and commotion in
the spacious Roman days, for companies, large or small, were constantly
arriving or leaving and whichever way they went they must halt at the
col. How often children playing outside the gate would suddenly rush
back to their mothers, with shrill cries, to say that they could see a
party winding up the hill towards the town! How often the people would
hurry out to see what kind of folk they were and to guess as to their
means and their needs!

[Illustration: A CORNER IN LA TURBIE.]

Sometimes it would be a body of Roman soldiers, marching in rigid
column, under the command of a dignified centurion. At another time some
great patrician, with his vast retinue, would mount up to the town. He
would grumble, no doubt, at the steepness of the hill, but would be
coaxed by the bowing governor to come to the edge of the cliff and look
down upon Monaco Bay and upon the glorious line of coast spread out upon
either side of it. The patrician lady, alighting from her litter, would
thrill the little place with curiosity and excitement. The young women
of La Turbie would note keenly the fashion of her dress—the last new
_mode_ of Rome—and the manner in which her hair was “done” in order to
imitate both the one and the other when the _grande dame_ had swept on
to Arles. The suite at the patrician’s heels would be accosted by the
gossips of La Turbie and by the young men about town eager to glean the
latest news from the great city, news from the lips of men who but a
month or so ago had strolled about the Forum or had viewed some amazing
spectacle from the galleries of the Coliseum.

The slaves, who led the pack-horses and carried the litters, would chat
with the local slaves in the stables and in the meaner wine shops and
discuss the general trend of affairs in this outcast, deity-deserted
country and compare the vices of their respective masters and the
meanness or beauty of their respective ladies. Even the dogs in the
cavalcade would excite the interest of the dogs on the hill. One may
imagine the supercilious sniff with which the dog that had tramped all
the way from Rome would regard the dog stranded on this bleak col and
the snarl with which the La Turbie dog—more wolf than dog—would
challenge the pampered intruder.

At another time a company of traders would pass through the
town—strangely-garbed men speaking an unknown tongue and followed by a
train of mules and donkeys laden with bales of rare stuffs and with
panniers filled with mysterious and glittering things. One can see the
pretty girl of La Turbie coaxing a grey-bearded merchant in a black
burnous to open a pannier and let her have a peep and picture the
staring eyes of the crowd that would hang over her shoulder.

On another day a troupe of Roman dancing girls would trip through the
gate with a ripple of bright colour and with roguish glances, to the
great disturbance of the young men of La Turbie who would be too shy to
speak to them, too unready to reply to their city banter and too
conscious of their own _gaucherie_.

On occasion, too, a party of gladiators would swagger along on their way
to the arena of Cimiez, splendid men, perfect in form, firm of foot,
alert in carriage they would swing down the street with a rhythmical
step and would be followed by the children through the gate and far
along the road, and followed, too, by the eyes of every young woman in
La Turbie who could find a window or a gap on the wall that gave a view
of the highway.

The main street of the town, along which the great road bustled, must
have presented, on these days of coming or going, a scene of much
animation. Here were the chief inns and the wine booths, the little
local shops, the fruit stalls, the cobbler’s vaulted niche where sandals
were repaired, the cutler’s store very bright with bronze, the houses of
the dealers in corn and fodder and most assuredly some begrimed hut
where an old crone sold curiosities and souvenirs of the place, native
weapons and ornaments, a hillman’s head-dress, strange coins dug up
outside the walls, bright pieces of ore found among the mountains, the
local snake in a bottle, some wolf’s teeth and a shell or two from
Monaco beach. In the lesser streets would be the stables for the
pack-horses and the mules, the cellars for goods in transit, the hovels
for the slaves, the moneylenders’ dens, the compounds for the soldiers
and the huts of the wretched wild-eyed Ligurians who, under the lash of
their masters, did the mean work of the town.

La Turbie was indeed in these times a great caravanserai, a halting
place on the march of civilisation, a post by the side of the
inscrutable road that led from the wonder-teeming East to the dull,
unawakened land of the West, a road that carried with it the makings of
a people who would dominate the world when the power and the glory of
Rome had passed away.



                                  XXIX
                          THE TOWER OF VICTORY


OF Turbia of the Roman days practically no trace exists with the notable
exception of the Great Monument which is very much more than a trace.
After the Romans went away La Turbie—although well stricken in
years—was subjected to that pitiless discipline which straitened and
embittered the younger days of every town along the shores of the
Mediterranean. Its history differs but in detail from the early history
of Nice or Eze, or of Roquebrune. The Lombards and the Saracens in turn
fell upon it like wild beasts and shook it nearly to death. It was
burned to a mere heap of cinders and stones. It was looted with a
thoroughness that not even a modern German could excel. It was besieged
and taken over and over again. At one time the Guelphs held it and at
another the Ghibellines. It was bought and sold and had as many
successive masters as there were masters to have. It belonged now to
Genoa and then to Ventimiglia, now to Monaco and then to Eze.

Throughout the restless Middle Ages it was a small fortified town of
little military importance. It had its circuit of walls and its gates,
its keep and its battlements; but, at its best, it was a place with more
valour than strength. No doubt it looked sturdy enough on the top of the
hill, a neat compact town as round as a jar with the great white Roman
monument erect in its midst, like a dead lily in a stone pot.

During the intervals when it was not being looted or burned it was
treated with some dignity; for when the Counts of Provence were the
masters of La Turbie they nominated a _châtelain_ or governor from among
“the first gentlemen of Nice.” The distinction thus conferred was a
little marred by the fact that the gentleman was not required to reside
in the town. Gentlemen with very sonorous names and connected with “the
best families” were, from time to time, nominated for this post; but
they do not seem to have added much to the comfort of the place as a
residence.[41]

The visitor to La Turbie, whether he arrives by the rack-and-pinion
railway or by the mule-path, will assuredly make his way at once to the
Belvedere to see that view which has moved the guide books to such
unanimous rapture. He will probably be met on his way by a man—very
foreign in appearance—who will wish to sell him an opera glass on one
morning and a square of carpet on the next. He will also come upon a
camera obscura, set up for the benefit of those who prefer to see
through a glass darkly and who would sooner view a scene when reflected
on a white table-cloth in a dark room than gaze upon it with the naked
eye.

At the camera obscura kiosk postcards are sold together with articles
which the vendor asserts are souvenirs and mementoes of La Turbie. These
things for remembrance are hard to understand. One wonders why a
polished slate inkstand from Paris, a mineral from (possibly) a Cornish
mine, a sea-shell from the tropics or some beads from Cairo should call
to mind a mediæval town in Provence and the wars of the Guelphs and the
Ghibellines.

When the pilgrim in his progress has passed both the man with the carpet
and the things that will keep green the memory of La Turbie he can enjoy
the view that opens out on the edge of the cliff. It is a view that not
even a camera obscura can enhance. There is the line of coast that
sweeps from Bordighera on the east to the Esterels on the west; while
below, as a bright splash of yellow, white and red, is Monte Carlo. The
spectator looks directly down upon Monte Carlo as he would view a thing
on the pavement from the top of a tower. It is not often that one can
see at a glance an entire European state from frontier to frontier and
from seaboard to hinterland; but here is laid out before the eye every
foot of the principality of Monaco as complete as on a map.

Monte Carlo is largely a display of roofs among which it is possible to
pick out those of familiar hotels and those of the villas of friends.
There is an odd sense of indelicacy about the bold inspection of a
friend’s roof. There is nothing indecent about a roof but there is an
impression of spying, of looking down the chimneys and of taking
advantage of an exceptional position, for a roof is not the best part of
a house and in the case of friends it somehow comes into the category of
things that you ought not to see.

[Illustration: A STREET IN LA TURBIE.]

[Illustration: LA TURBIE: OLD WINDOWS IN RUE DROITE.]

The most precious object in La Turbie is the Monument, although it is
now in a state of woeful decay. It stands in a dismal waste where
clothes are spread out to dry and where fowls wander about scratching,
as if searching for Roman remains. It is surrounded by houses which
appear to have contracted the leprous complaint which has attacked the
great trophy. As a monument of melancholy it is not to be surpassed. As
a place of dreariness the spot where it is found can hardly be exceeded
in pathos. It needs only the solitary figure of Job, sitting on a broken
column with his face buried in his hands, to complete the picture of its
desolation.

The monument was erected, or was at least completed, in the year B.C. 6.
It was raised by the Roman senate to commemorate the victories of the
Emperor Augustus over the tribes of southern Gaul and to record the
final conquest of that tract of country. It was a colossal structure of
supreme magnificence that took the form of a lofty tower very richly
ornamented. It stood upon a square base formed of massive blocks of
stone which are still in place, for none but an uncommon power could
ever move them. The tower itself was circular and encased in marble upon
which, in letters of gold, was engraved an inscription, “IMPERATORI •
CÆSARI • DIVI • FILIO • AUGUSTO • PONT • MAX • IMP • XIV • TRIB • POT •
XVII • S.P.Q.R.” These words, which suggest a form of shorthand or a
crude telegraphic code, were followed by an account of the Emperor’s
triumph and the names of the forty-five Alpine tribes that he had
conquered. Of this imposing inscription nothing now remains. It is
replaced by the feeble initials of sundry shopboys from neighbouring
towns, cut with penknives in the presence of their admiring ladies.

About this tower was a round colonnade and above it another circle of
pillars with statues; while on the summit was a colossal effigy of the
victorious emperor, eighteen feet or more in height. The whole was a
stupendous work worthy of the amazing people who built it. It is now a
shapeless pile as devoid of art as a crag on a mountain-top. But it is
still impressive by its overwhelming height, by its massiveness, and its
suggestion of determined strength. High up on one side are two columns
recently put in place, which show how an arcade once circled around it;
but, apart from this, the whole mass looks more rock-like and more
supremely simple than any work of man. Everything that made it beautiful
in substance and human in spirit is gone—the colonnades, the statues,
the capitals, the friezes and the carved trophies of arms.[42]

The destruction of this exquisite fabric commenced early and was pursued
through successive centuries with peculiar pertinacity. As has been
already said La Turbie, throughout its long career, was the subject of
many onslaughts. No matter what may have been the purpose of the
attacking party or their nationality they did not leave the town until
they had devoted some time to the annihilation of the tower of Augustus.
To contribute something to the breaking up of this monument seems to
have been an obligation, a rite imposed upon every invading force, a
local custom that could not be ignored. The Lombards appear to have
commenced the work with great spirit and heartiness but with limited
means. Then the Saracens came and took bolder measures, but measures
founded upon imperfect scientific knowledge, for they attempted to
destroy this tower of victory with fire. The Guelphs and the
Ghibellines, during their intermittent occupation of La Turbie, built a
fort with stones obtained from the edifice. It was a strong fort in the
making of which much material was employed and the trophy became a watch
tower.

As the knowledge of destructive processes improved more powerful steps
were taken to uproot the tower. It was undermined and attempts were made
to blow it up. These efforts were attended with some results; but the
monument still stands. Finally, about the beginning of the eighteenth
century a very determined attempt was made by the French to clear this
arrogant pile from off the face of the earth. The work of destruction
was entrusted to the Maréchal de Villars and there is no doubt that he
did his best; but the monument still stands.

Quite apart from these periodic assaults the monument was, from the
earliest days, regarded as a quarry and was worked with regularity and
persistence age after age. In the twelfth century by permission of the
Lords of Eze the marble—or what remained of it—was stripped from the
walls by the Genoese and was carried away to decorate their palaces and
their shrines, to build cool courts, to form terraces in gardens, to
furnish the pillars for a pergola or the basin for a well. The marble of
the high altar in the old cathedral of Nice came from the Roman
monument. The present town of La Turbie is built in great extent from
the ruins of this tower of victory; while all over the country pieces of
stone, worked by the Romans in the year B.C. 6, will be found in villas,
in cottage walls, in motor garages, and in goat sheds. And yet the
monument still stands. This is the feature about it that inspires the
greatest wonder, this feature of determined immortality; for it would
seem that so long as the world endures the pillar of victory will crown
the everlasting hill.

It has been battered and worn by the wind, the hail and the rain of
nearly two thousand years. It has been gnawed at by snow and bitten by
frost. It has been slashed by lightning and shaken by earthquake. It has
been shattered by hammers and picks, has been torn asunder by crowbars,
cracked with fire and rent by gun-powder, but still it stands and still
it will stand to the end of time.

That this ruinous old tower should have become, in early days, a thing
of myths and mysteries can be no matter of surprise. That its colonnade
was haunted, that its black hollows were the abode of a god and that its
statues spoke in the local tongue was the belief of generations. That it
was a place to fear and to be avoided at night was a maxim impressed
upon every boy and girl as soon as they had ears to hear and feet that
could flee.

The most remarkable quality of the trophy was the intimate knowledge of
a certain kind that it was reputed to possess. Owing to this attribute
it became an oracle. One of the statues—that of a god—could speak and
was prepared (under conditions) to reply to appropriate questions. It
must not be supposed that the tower of the Emperor Augustus became a
mere inquiry office. It specialised in knowledge and the deity who
presided would deal only with matters that came within the province of
this particular phase of wisdom.

One might hazard the guess that the fullest information that the
monument had acquired during its many years of life would relate to
assault and battery, and, in a less exhaustive degree, to battle, murder
and sudden death. On all questions relating to violence as displayed by
man it could claim to speak as an expert. It is curious, however, that
on this subject the speaking statue was silent. It professed to have a
knowledge of one thing and one thing only and that was not violence but
human love. But even in this branch of learning it specialised for it
dealt exclusively with but a phase of the subject—the constancy and
sincerity of women.

The broken colonnade was no doubt a favourite resort for lovers and a
listening statue could learn much as to the value of vows and would
gain, during a life of centuries, experience on the topic of women’s
fidelity. It was upon this occult, most difficult and complex subject
that the oracle had the courage to speak.

It thus came to pass that doubting husbands were in the habit of
repairing to La Turbie in order to ask personal and searching questions
about their wives. How the oracle was “worked” is not known. That it was
susceptible to influences which still have a place in human affairs is
very probable. Light is thrown upon the methods of the oracle by the
writings of one Raymond Feraud, a troubadour, who in the thirteenth
century composed a poem on this very subject.[43] The morality revealed
by the writer—it may be said—belongs to that century, not to this.

It appears from the troubadour’s account that Count Aymes, a prince of
Narbonne, was a jealous man and probably, as a husband, very tiresome.
He had some doubts as to the fidelity of his wife Tiburge and one day
alarmed this cheerful lady by announcing that he proposed to drag her to
La Turbie and to ask the stone deity certain pertinent questions as to
her recent behaviour. Tiburge was a lady of resource and before the
inquiry at La Turbie took place she started for the Lerin Islands and
sought an interview with no less a personage than St. Honorat. What
exactly took place between the saint and the light-hearted lady, during
the meeting, the troubadour does not say. Anyhow Tiburge made such
confessions to St. Honorat as she thought fit, with the result that the
saint absolved her, cheered her up, called her “chère fille” and assured
her that all would be well. To make matters more certain St. Honorat
gave her the lappet of his hood and told her to wear it on her head
during the anxious inquiry at La Turbie. He assured her that with this
piece of cloth on her pretty hair the “idole” would not dare to make any
offensive observations. Furnished with this unfashionable head-dress the
countess, cheerful to the extent of giggling, joined her morose husband
and toiled up to La Turbie.

The Count Aymes asked the “idole” a number of most unpleasant questions
which might have been very trying to the lady had she not been comforted
by the brown rag on her head. The answers of the oracle—awaited with
anxiety by the husband and with a smile by the lady—were very
reassuring. Indeed the “idole” gave the lady a kind of testimonial and a
certificate of character that was, under the circumstances, almost too
florid. He said she was a _dame de grand mérite_ and treated the count’s
innuendoes as unworthy of a consort and as reprehensible when applied to
a woman of blameless life. He added that a lady whose head was covered
by a vestment belonging to so sainted a man as St. Honorat must be above
reproach. His manner of dealing with this delicate affair suggests to
the vulgar mind that there must have been some collusion between the
recluse on the island and the “idole” in this dilapidated old tower.

Anyhow the count and the countess returned home in the best of spirits
and one may assume that on the way she said more than once “I told you
so.” When he asked “Why don’t you throw that beastly bit of old cloth
away?” she would reply “Oh! I think I will keep it. I may want to use it
again.”

-----

[41] “Chorographie du Comté de Nice,” by Louis Durante, 1847.

[42] A further account of the trophy is given in the chapter which
follows.

[43] “Mon Pays, etc.,” by D. Durandy.



                                  XXX
                          LA TURBIE OF TO-DAY


LA TURBIE is a little compact town of the Middle Ages. Its narrow
streets are disposed as they have been for centuries. It is entered by
five gates. It has no straggling suburbs. It is complete in its tiny way
and captain of itself. It lies enveloped by its walls, a warm, living
thing whose heart has beaten within these encircling arms for over 2,000
years. It is quiet, for the world has left it alone. It stands by the
side of the Great Corniche Road, but those who pass by in an eddy of
dust heed it not. One might walk through it many times, from gate to
gate, without meeting a living creature.

Yet at the foot of the hill on which La Turbie stands is Monte Carlo,
the most modern of modern abodes of men. A town without walls, lying
scattered in all directions like a great drop of bright paint that has
fallen on a rock and spattered it. Here are the hubbub of Vanity Fair,
the frou-frou of silks, the flash of bold pigments, the scent-tainted
air.

[Illustration: LA TURBIE: THE OLD BAKEHOUSE.]

Let such as are tired of this Vanity Fair and of its make-believe
palaces, climb up to the hill town. As they pass through the old gateway
they enter into a world that was, into a town where the streets are
silent and the houses homely and venerable. The blaze of clashing
colours is forgotten, for all here is grey. The bold, imperious purple
of the sea is changed for the tender forget-me-not blue of a strip of
sky above the roofs. The dazzle of the sun is beyond the gate, but
within are shadows as comforting as “the shadow of a rock in a weary
land.” Such light as enters falls upon an old lichen-covered wall, upon
the arch of a Gothic window and upon simple things on balconies—a
garment hanging to dry, a bird-cage, a pot of lavender. To those who are
surfeited with riot and unreality La Turbie is a cloister, a place of
peace.

Outside the town, on the east, is the Cours St. Bernard, so named after
an ancient chapel to St. Bernard which stood here. The town is entered
by the gate called the Roman Gate, for it was by this way that the Roman
road passed into La Turbie. The gate, which dates from the Middle Ages,
has a plain, pointed arch and over it the remains of a tower. The old
road passed through the town from east to west along the line of the
present Rue Droite and left it by the Nice Gate which has also a pointed
arch and a tower and which belongs to the same period as the Portail
Romain. There are some fine old houses, strangely mutilated, in the Rue
Droite and one elegant window of three arches supported by dainty
columns. This pertains to a house at the corner of the Rue du Four.

The Rue du Four, or Bakehouse Street, enters the town from the Corniche
Road by a modern gate passing under the houses. In this street is the
ancient public bakehouse, a queer, little building, low and square, with
a tiled roof and on the roof a very solid cross cut out of a block of
stone. Within the building the ovens are still to be seen. M. Philippe
Casimir, the learned mayor of La Turbie, in his very interesting
monograph[44] states that in old days the inhabitants paid to the Lord
of La Turbie _un droit de fournage_ for the privilege of using the
bakehouse. The impost took the form of one loaf out of every eighty.
This mediæval _four_ became in time the property of the town, but its
use has now been long abandoned.

The Rue du Four leads to the Place Saint-Jean, the centre of the town.
It is a very tiny _place_—little more than a courtyard—which derives
its name from the chapel of St. Jean which stands here. The chapel has
been recently rebuilt (1844) and is of no interest. In the _place_ is a
large and still imposing house which was the old Hôtel de Ville. Passing
beneath it is a vaulted passage of some solemnity which leads to the
gate known as the Portail du Recinto. The arch at the entrance of this
vaulted way has a curious history. It was composed of blocks of marble
taken from the monument and from that frieze of the trophy which bore
the inscription. The great bulk of the inscribed stones had been removed
to the museum at St.-Germain-en-Laye, but it was found that the wording
was incomplete. Some letters from the list of the conquered tribes were
missing. An archæologist chancing to visit La Turbie in 1867 noticed on
the _voussoirs_ of this arch the very letters that were wanting.

The pieces of marble were therefore removed to complete the inscription
in the museum and their place was taken by common stones. To compensate
La Turbie for this loss the Emperor, Napoleon III, presented to the
church of St. Michael a copy of Raphael’s “St. Michael” from the Louvre
in Paris. This picture now hangs on the left wall of the church near to
the entrance.

[Illustration: LA TURBIE: LA PORTETTE.]

[Illustration: LA TURBIE: THE FORTRESS WALL, SHOWING THE ROMAN
STONES.]

The vaulted passage under the old Hôtel de Ville leads to a square
called the Place Mitto. This piazza is, I imagine, the smallest public
square in existence, for it is no larger than the kitchen area of a
London house. In it is the most beautiful gate of La Turbie. It has a
pointed arch and above it a low tower with three machicolations. The
gate is called the Portail du Recinto—a mixture of French and
Italian—which signifies the gate in the _enceinte_ or main wall. It
opens directly upon the Roman monument.

In order to appreciate the significance of this gate it is necessary to
refer once more to the history of the great trophy. Some time in the
thirteenth or fourteenth century the site of the monument was converted
into a fort. The trophy itself was stripped of all its original features
and was built up in the form of a round and lofty watch tower. It was
ornamented at its summit by two rows of arcading. These are still to be
seen and on the parapet will be observed three upright pieces of stone
which are the remains of the crenellations or battlements with which the
tower was surmounted. These details, which belong to the centuries
named, are shown in ancient prints. The ruin, therefore, now existing is
the ruin rather of the mediæval tower than of the original Roman
monument. The persistent attempts to destroy the tower of La Turbie were
due, in the first place, to the fact that it represented oppression and
an arrogant claim to victory, and, in later years, to the fact that it
was part of a fortress.

About the base of the great watch tower was a square and solid keep, of
which no trace remains and, beyond that, a great semicircular wall with
its back to the town. This wall shut in the stronghold on the north and
was terminated at the cliff’s edge by a pair of towers. Now the Portail
du Recinto was the gateway that pierced this encircling wall or
_enceinte_ and through it, and through it alone, could access to the
fort be attained.

To the right of the gate is a narrow street, the Rue Capouanne. It is
curved because it follows the line of the _enceinte_ and is, indeed, a
passage between the actual fortress wall on one side and houses on the
other. This mighty thirteenth century wall is one of the most
interesting relics in La Turbie. It has been cut into, here and there,
to make stables, but it is still a great wall presenting many huge
blocks of stone which show that it was constructed from the fabric of
the monument. The Rue Capouanne ends in a modest little gate with a
pointed arch green with ferns. This gate, called La Portette, gave
access to the old church which stood near the west corner of the present
cemetery and, therefore, above the level of the existing church. La
Portette is shown in the old prints of La Turbie. Beyond La Portette and
a modern house which joins it the great _enceinte_ or fortress wall is
continued for a little way as a curved but isolated line of masonry.
Between this isolated fragment and the main wall there is a wide gap.
This was cut about 1764 in order to obtain direct access to the monument
for the purpose of the building of the church, which was constructed out
of stones derived from the monument.

[Illustration: LA TURBIE: THE NICE GATE.]

M. Casimir gives an interesting explanation of the curious name, Rue
Capouanne. It was originally Gapeani and it is easy to understand how
the G has changed to a C. In 1332 La Turbie obtained local independence,
was allowed to manage its own urban affairs and to appoint a _bayle_,
governor or mayor. The first _bayle_ was one Jacques Gapeani and it is
in his honour that the street was named. Humble as the lane may be it
can at least claim an ancestry of nearly six hundred years.

Between the Place St. Jean and the Portail du Recinto is a narrow and
gloomy way called the Rue du Ghetto. The name serves to recall the fact
that during the troublous times of the Middle Ages Jews sought refuge in
this hill town and security in the shadow of its fortress. The street is
of interest on another account. During the Terror the monks of the
monastery of Laghet were in fear for the safety of their much revered
image of the Madonna. So in the dead of night they carried it up to La
Turbie and hid it in a house in the Rue du Ghetto. The house was
occupied by a pious man named Denis Lazare.[45] It is the first house in
the street on the left hand side and high up between the first and
second floors is an empty niche by means of which the house can be
identified. At the moment the house is unoccupied. It is very small. A
narrow stone stair leads up to the living room which takes up the whole
of the first story. It is a room that has probably been altered little
since 1793. There are the ancient fireplace, the massive beams in the
ceiling and, by the hearth, a curious trough or basin fashioned out of a
block of stone. So cramped is the house that it is hard to imagine where
the Madonna was hidden, unless in the stable which opens on the street
and constitutes the ground floor of the humble little dwelling.

The church of La Turbie is very simple and modest, subdued in its
decoration and in keeping with its place. It has a steeple whose summit
is shaped like a bishop’s mitre and is covered with brilliant tiles
which are very glorious in the sun. An inscription in the nave shows
that the building was commenced in 1764 and completed in 1777, that it
was constructed out of material from the monument and was erected by the
hands of the people themselves.

There are in the town the remains of fine houses solidly built of stone
but now turned into humble dwellings. One such house is conspicuous in
the Rue de l’Eglise. The type of house that is most characteristic of La
Turbie has the following features. It is narrow. Its ground floor is
occupied by a deep recess in the shadow of a wide rounded arch upon
which the front wall of the building is founded. Within the recess on
one side is a door leading to a stable and on the other a stone stair
which mounts up to the entry into the house.

There is one street with a name that always excites curiosity—the Rue
Incalat. M. Casimir states that the term “incalat” indicates a paved way
that is steep and it is to be noted that the Rue Incalat is the only
street in La Turbie that can make any claim to be steep.

-----

[44] “La Turbie et son Trophée Romain,” Nice, 1914.

[45] “La Turbie,” by Philippe Casimir, Nice, 1914.



                                  XXXI
                         THE CONVENT OF LAGHET


FROM the old Roman town of La Turbie a road dips down into a lonely
valley and is soon lost to view. It is an unfriendly highway that
appears to turn its face from the world as if to hide among the ascetic
hills. There are few signs of human life to make the road companionable,
while a row of cypresses on either side seem to impose upon it a
reverential silence.

At the end of the valley a great monastic building appears, with the
figure of the Virgin raised aloft on its summit. It is an unexpected
thing to come upon in this solitude; it is so immense, so aggressive
looking, so modern, so like a great barrack. Its walls are of
fawn-coloured plaster, its roof of rounded tiles of every gracious tint
of brown. Its windows would appear to have been inserted as occasion
required, without regard to any definite design. Some are in arched
recesses; many are no more than the simple square windows of a cottage,
while a few are like the lattice of a prison cell. It has a fine bell
tower, with a clock, surmounted by a dome on the crest of which is the
figure of Our Lady of Laghet. The building stands on a projecting rock
and is approached by a bridge over a puny torrent.

Wedged uncomfortably in the gorge above the bridge is a dun hamlet that
seems to be trying to efface itself. It is an apologetic little place,
standing in apparent awe of the great monastery which it scarcely dares
to approach. The huddled houses, hiding one behind the other, are like a
cluster of shy children before a schoolmaster’s door.

Various bolder and immodest objects, however, have thrust themselves
between the timid village and the monastery. These are certain
self-confident restaurants, a stable of almost offensive size, together
with many booths and stalls, all deserted it is true, but still very
assertive and unseemly. In the little square before the convent door are
a bazaar where postcards and souvenirs are sold, a café, and an old
fountain in a niche of the wall. Looking down upon the water in the
basin of stone is a graceful figure of the Virgin. The fountain,
recently restored, is said to have been erected in 1706. Mr. Hare[46]
gives the following translation of an inscription it bears:—

“Pilgrim, you find here two streams; one descends from heaven, the other
from the top of the mountains. The first is a treasure which the Virgin
distributes to the piety of the faithful, the second has been brought
here by the people of Nice; drink of both, if you thirst for both.”

[Illustration: LAGHET.]

No living creatures are in sight, except two children who are playing on
the bridge. In answer to a question they state that the booths and other
unclerical objects are for the pilgrims of whom they speak with pride.
The pilgrims, it appears, do not come regularly. They do not come in
ones and twos in the guise of weary men limping on staffs. They come on
occasions and in thousands, arriving in char-à-bancs, in motors, in
omnibuses, in gigs, in farm carts, on horses, on donkeys, on bicycles
and on foot, a crowd of cheerful men and women dressed in their best. A
photograph of one such pilgrimage day—exhibited as a postcard—shows
the single highway of Laghet as packed with people as any part of the
race-course at Epsom, with people too somewhat of the type that is found
at such a gathering. Incongruous as the crowd may be it is moved by a
fine and estimable spirit much to be respected. People journey to Laghet
from far and near to return thanks to Our Lady for preservation from
accident, for recovery from disease, for escape from trouble; while yet
a greater number come to place themselves under the protection of the
revered image which has made this quiet glen so famous.

It is said that the church of the monastery stands upon the site of a
little ancient chapel; that the new church was inaugurated in 1656 and
that the barefooted Carmelites were established here in 1674. Miracles
in the matter of recovery from sickness or of escape from dire mishap
commenced in 1652, when the little old ruined chapel was still standing.
From that moment the sanctuary in this remote and desolate valley was
much sought after. Eminent personages made their way to Laghet and among
those who came to offer homage were Charles Emmanuel II, Victor Amédée
and his wife, Anne of Orleans. Since then the crowd of pilgrims has
increased year by year so that on the great _festa_ of Laghet, on
Trinity Sunday, the little place is submerged by an overwhelming throng.

The monastery is entered through a portal of three arches which leads at
once into a cloister whose walls are covered by ex-voto pictures. These
pictures are small, being, as a rule, from one to two feet square. They
date from various periods; one of the oldest being ascribed to the year
1793. The majority belong, however, to the nineteenth century. Not a few
are so faded as to be scarcely discernible. Beneath each picture is a
brief account of the incident portrayed, a large proportion of the
descriptions being in Italian. Two or three out of the vast
collection—which includes many hundreds—possess some artistic merit;
but the mass are crude productions as simple as the drawings of a child
and as regardless of perspective and as lavish in colour as the
signboard of a village inn, while a few show but a little advance upon
the more earnest sketches in a prehistoric cave.

They deal with accidents and misfortunes from which the subject of the
picture has escaped through the intervention of the sweet-faced Madonna
of Laghet. The impression left by the gallery is that the dwellers in
this corner of Europe are peculiarly liable to fall from the roofs or
windows of houses, to slip over precipices, to drop into wells, to catch
on fire or to find themselves under the wheels of carriages and wagons.
Indeed it is a matter for marvel that they have not become extinct. It
is a gallery that might suitably deck the walls of a coroner’s court,
the corridors of a hospital or the offices of an accident insurance
company.

[Illustration: LAGHET: THE ENTRANCE.]

Here is depicted a man lying under a cart laden with immense blocks of
stone. A wheel of the cart rests poised upon his leg which would
normally be reduced to pulp. For his escape he has undoubted reasons to
be grateful and for the recording of the fact no little justification.
Here is a man under a train: the station clock shows with precision the
exact moment of the accident, while, as a writing on the wall, is the
sinister and suggestive word “sortie.” Here is a youth hurled from a
bicycle over a bridge and in process of falling down a terrific height.
In this, as, indeed, in all the pictures, the details of the victim’s
dress and the colour of his hair and even of his necktie are rendered
with great care. In a picture of 1903, showing a girl being knocked down
by a motor the details of the archaic machine of that period are so
exactly portrayed as to be of historical interest.

The number of people who are dropping from scaffolds and ladders is very
great. Complex horse accidents are rendered with a precision which is
usually lacking in the mere narrative of these confusing events. Thus a
lady and gentleman are represented as lying beneath an overturned
carriage. A grotesque horse, of the type seen in pantomimes, with a
vicious grin on its face, has kicked the driver from the box. This
outraged man is standing on his head in the road, his body and legs
being sustained, by some unknown force, in the vertical position. Here
is a motor accident: the motor has plunged into a swamp. The three
dislodged occupants are kneeling together, in the middle of the highway,
praying; while the more practical chauffeur is holding his hands aloft
and is apparently crying for help.

There are many shipwrecks in which the waves, fashioned apparently of
plaster of Paris, are very terrifying. Gun accidents are numerous and
troubles arising from fireworks not uncommon. Tramcar accidents,
including the collisions of the same, are frequent. There are incidents
also of a simpler type. In one, for instance, a gentleman is represented
as slipping—probably on a banana skin—on the Rampe at Monaco. He is
falling heavily. Another shows a lady of eighty-three, nicely dressed
and with a fan in her hand, walking indiscreetly at 7 P.M. on a plank
projecting over a precipice. There is a mansion in the background from
which a man—of the same size as the houses—is running to the scene of
this imprudent act.

There are also in the collection misadventures of an unusual character.
Thus on a mountain road huge rocks are falling, in some profusion, on an
omnibus. In a painting dated 1863 a child, aged fifteen months, is being
eaten by a pig. The pig seems to have dragged the infant out of a cradle
by its ear in order to consume it with greater ease.

Some accidents may be classified as vicarious. For example a man is
shown beating a mule. He does this without inconvenience to himself; but
the resentful mule, who is evidently no discerner of persons, is kicking
another (and probably quite innocent) man very cruelly in the stomach
with its fore hoof.

[Illustration: LAGHET: ONE OF THE CLOISTERS.]

Then too there are complex happenings which must have involved a great
strain upon the invention and resource of any artist who wished to be
accurate. For instance here is a house being struck by lightning. The
house, for the sake of clearness, is shown in section, like a doll’s
house with the front open. In an upper chamber are members of the family
engaged in cooking. The lightning passes ostentatiously through the
room, leaving the occupants unharmed; but it escapes by the front door
and there kills a donkey which is lying dead on the doorstep. Then again
the average artist if asked how he would proceed to paint a picture to
illustrate “recovery from inflammation of the right jaw” might find
himself perplexed since the subject is so lacking in tangible incident.
The ingenious limner of Laghet is, however, at no loss and proceeds to
carry out the commission, with a light heart and in the following
fashion. We see a bedroom with a bed in it and a chair. There are
pictures on the wall. There is a table on which are a candle, a cup and
a species of pot. On a cane sofa sits a solitary gentleman dressed in a
frock coat and light trousers. His face is tied up in a handkerchief.
The right side of the face is swollen. He appears to be about to leap
from the sofa, his eyes being directed to a vision of the Madonna in a
cloud on the wall. The picture clearly suggests that the sufferer has
been laid up in bed; the candle hints at restless nights; the cup and
pot at medical treatment. The fact that the patient is clothed in a
frock coat shows improvement, while his apparent intention to spring
from the sofa conveys the idea that the final cure has been sudden.

There are very many sick-room scenes, complete with puzzled doctors and
weeping relations around the bedside. In certain of these illustrations
individual and unpleasant symptoms are depicted with so conscientious a
determination and so complete a disregard for the feelings of the
onlooker as fully to support the dictum that “Art is Truth.”

One picture may have puzzled the hanging committee of Laghet. It depicts
a smiling man being released from prison. The occasion is one that no
doubt evoked thankfulness on the part of the captive, but the inference
that his incarceration was an “accident” opens up a legal point of some
delicacy. Curious presents have been bestowed upon Laghet. Among them is
the gift of the Princess Maria Josephina Baptista. It consisted of a
silver leg of the same size and weight as her own leg which was happily
cured at the convent.

In certain places on the walls of this strange Cloister of Calamity hang
crutches and sticks, discarded surgical appliances, boots for deformed
feet, spinal supports and splints. They speak for themselves. The little
crutches and the little splints speak with especial eloquence; while, as
a most pathetic object amid the grosser implements of suffering, is a
small steeled shoe which must have belonged to a very tiny pilgrim
indeed.

On the cross-piece of one crutch a swallow has built a nest. The crutch
and the swallow may almost be taken as symbolic of Laghet—the crutch
the emblem of the halting cripple, the swallow of the joyous heart
winging its way through the blue of heaven.

-----

[46] “The Rivieras,” by Augustus J. Hare, London, 1897, p. 80.



                                 XXXII
                         THE CITY OF PETER PAN


BETWEEN Monte Carlo and Mentone is the little town of Roquebrune. It
stands high up on the flank of that range of hills which follows the
road and which shuts out, like a wall, all sight of the world stretching
away to the north.

Certain conventional phrases are used in describing the site of a
village or small town. When it lies at the bottom of a hill it “nestles”
and when it approaches the top it “perches.” Roquebrune is distinctly
“perched” upon the hillside. Indeed it appears to cling to it as a
house-martin clings to sloping eaves and to keep its hold with some
difficulty. The town looks unsteady, as if it must inevitably slip
downwards into the road.

At some little distance behind Roquebrune is a great cliff from the foot
of which spreads a long incline. It is on a precarious ledge on this
slope that the place is lodged, like a pile of crockery on the brink of
a shelf and that shelf tilted.

An enticing feature about any town is the approach to it, the first
close sight of its walls, the glimpse of the actual entrance that leads
into the heart of it. Now the entrance to Roquebrune is strange, strange
enough to satisfy the expectation of any who, seeing the place from
afar, have wondered what it would be like near at hand. A steep path,
paved with cobble stones, mounts up between two old yellow walls and at
the end of the path is the town. It is entered by a flight of stone
steps which, passing into the shadow of a tunnelled way beneath high
houses, opens suddenly into the sunlight of the chief street of
Roquebrune.

It is a cheerful little town, clean and trim. It is undoubtedly curious
and as one penetrates further into its by-ways it becomes—as Alice in
Wonderland would remark—“curiouser and curiouser.” It is largely a town
of stairs, of straight stairs and crooked stairs, of stairs that soar
into dark holes and are seen no more, of stairs that climb up openly on
the outside of houses, of stairs bleached white, of stairs green with
speeds and of stairs that stand alone—for the place that they led to
has gone. It would seem to be a precept in Roquebrune that if a dwelling
can be entered by a range of steps it must be so approached in
preference to any other way.

[Illustration: ROQUEBRUNE, FROM NEAR BON VOYAGE.]

The streets are streets by name only, for they are mere lanes and very
narrow even for lanes. They appear to go where they like, so long as
they go uphill. They all go uphill, straggling thither by any route that
pleases them. The impression is soon gained that the people of
Roquebrune are living on a curious staircase fashioned out of the
mountain side. So far as the outer world is concerned Roquebrune would
be described as “upstairs.” The houses seem to have been tumbled on to
the giant steps as if they had been emptied out of a child’s toy-box
only that they have all fallen with the roofs uppermost. There results a
confusing irregularity that would turn the brain of a town planner.

Roquebrune has been piled up rather than built. The front doorstep of
one house may be just above the roof of the house below, with only a
lane to separate them; while two houses, standing side by side may find
themselves so strangely assorted that the kitchen and stables of the one
will be in a line with the bedrooms of the other.

The houses are old. They form a medley of all shapes and sizes, heights
and widths. They conform to no pattern or type. They can hardly be said
to have been designed. The majority are of stone. Some few are of
plaster and these are inclined to be gay in colour, to be yellow or
pink, to have little balconies and green shutters and garlands painted
on the walls.

The streets are delightful, because they are so mysterious and have so
many unexpected turns and twists, so many odd corners and so many quaint
nooks. In places they dip under houses or enter into cool, vaulted ways,
where there is an abiding twilight. There are intense contrasts of light
and shade in the by-ways of Roquebrune, floods of brilliant sunshine on
the cobble stones and the walls alternating with masses of black shadow,
each separated from the other by lines as sharp as those that mark the
divisions of a chess-board. There are suspicious-looking doors of
battered and decaying wood, stone archways, cheery entries in the wall
that open into homely sitting-rooms as well as trap-like holes that lead
into mouldy vaults.

One small street, the Rue Pié, appears to have lost all control over
itself, for it dives insanely under another street—houses, road and
all—and then rushes down hill in the dark to apparent destruction.
There is one lane that is especially picturesque. It is a secretive kind
of way, bearing the romance-suggesting name of the Rue Mongollet. It is
very steep, as it needs must be. It is dim, for it passes under
buildings, like a heading in a mine. It winds about just as the alley in
a story ought to wind and finally bursts out into the light in an
unexpected place. It is to some extent cut through rock, so that in
places it is hard to tell which is house and which is rock.

There is a piazza in Roquebrune, a real public square, a _place_, with
the name of the Place des Frères. It lies at the edge of the cliff where
it is protected by a parapet from which stretches a superb view of the
green slope to the road and, beyond the road, of Cap Martin and the sea.
It is a peculiar square, for on two sides there are only bald
precipices. In one corner are a café and a fountain, while on the third
side is a school. The piazza is, no doubt, used for occasions of
ceremony, for speech making and receptions by the mayor; but on all but
high days and holidays it is a playground for a crowd of busy children.

The church is placed near a point where the sea-path makes its entry
into Roquebrune. It is comparatively modern and of no special interest.
On the wall of a house near by is a stone on which is carved a monogram
of Christ with a “torsade” or twisted border. This is said to be a relic
of an ancient church which stood upon the site of the existing building.

There is, however, a delightful and unexpected feature about the present
church. A door opens suddenly from the sombre aisle into the sunshine of
a wondrous garden—wondrous but very small. The garden skirts the rim of
the rock upon which the church stands. It is a more fitting adjunct to
the church than any pillared cloister or monastic court could be. It is
a simple, affectionate little place and is always spoken of by those who
come upon it as “the dear little garden.” There are many roses in it, a
palm tree or two and beds bright with iris and hyacinth, narcissus and
candytuft and with just such contented flowers as are found about an old
thatched cottage. There is a well in the garden and a shady bench with a
far view over the Mediterranean. Old houses and the church make a
background; while many birds fill the place with their singing. In this
retreat will often be found the curé of Roquebrune. He is as picturesque
as his garden, as simple and as charming.

On the crown of Roquebrune stands the old castle of the Lascaris. It
still commands and dominates the town, as it has done for long centuries
in the past. It is disposed of by Baedeker in the following words “adm.
25c.; fine view.” It is a good example of a mediæval fortress and is
much less ruinous than are so many of its time. It is placed on the bare
rock which forms the top of the town and is surrounded by great walls.
It is a veritable strong place, with a fine square tower, tall, massive
and imposing. It is covered on one side with ivy and has thus lost much
of its ancient grimness, while about its feet cluster, in a curious
medley, the red, grey and brown roofs of the faithful town.

Within the keep are a great hall, many vaulted rooms and a vaulted stair
which leads to the summit of the castle. Those with an active
imagination will find among the ruins the guard-room, the justice
chamber, the ladies’ quarters and the dungeons, but the lines which
indicate such places have become exceedingly faint. Certain trumpery
“restorations” have been carried out in this lordly old ruin which would
discredit even a suburban tea-garden. The only apology that could be
offered for them is that they would not deceive a child of five.

It is impossible to regard Roquebrune seriously or to think of it as an
old frontier stronghold that has had a place in history. Roquebrune, as
a town, belongs to the country of the story book. It is a town for boys
and girls to play in. It is just the town they love to read about and
dream about and to make the scene of the doings of their heroes and
heroines and their other queer people. From a modern point of view this
happy little town is quite ridiculous. It is full of funny places, of
whimsical streets and of those odd houses that children draw on slates
when one of them has made the rapturous suggestion—“let us draw a
street.” It has an odd well too—a real well with real water—but it is
bewitched and haunted by real witches. At least the people about are so
convinced they are real that they are afraid to come to the well for
water. Now a well of this kind is never met with in an ordinary town.

There are walled places in Roquebrune where oranges and lemons are
growing side by side and where both lavender and rosemary are blooming.
The garden of the church is a child’s garden, for the paths are narrow
and roundabout and the flowers are children’s flowers such as are found
on nursery tables, while the whole place bears that pleasant form of
untidiness which is only to be found where children are the gardeners.
There is in the town—as everybody knows—a Place des Frères and with
little doubt there is also, somewhere on the rock, a Place des Sœurs
which is prettier and which only a favoured few would know about or
could find their way to.

Nothing that happens in any story book would seem out of place in
Roquebrune. Indeed one is surprised in wandering through its curious
ways to find it occupied by ordinary people, men with bowler hats and
women who are obviously not princesses. One expects to come upon blind
pedlars, old women in scarlet capes and pointed hats, mendicants who are
really of royal blood, hags—especially hags with sticks—ladies wrapped
in cloaks which just fail to conceal their golden hair, servants
carrying heavy boxes with great secrecy and mariners from excessively
foreign parts.

There is a steep, cobble-paved lane in Roquebrune up which Jack and Jill
must assuredly have climbed when they went to fetch the pail of water
which led to the regrettable accident. Indeed it is hardly possible for
a child, burdened with a bucket, not to tumble down in Roquebrune. By
the parapet in the Place des Frères there is a stone upon which Little
Boy Blue must have stood when he blew his horn; for no place could be
conceived more appropriate for that exercise. There are walls too
without number, walls both high and low, some bare, some green with
ferns, which would satisfy the passion for sitting upon walls of a
hundred Humpty Dumpties.

The town itself is—I feel assured—the kind of town that Jack reached
when he climbed to the top of the Beanstalk, for the entrance to
Roquebrune is precisely the sort of entrance one would expect a
beanstalk to lead to. In one kitchen full of brown shadows, in a side
street near the Rue Pié, is an ancient cupboard in which, almost without
question, Old Mother Hubbard kept that hypothetical bone which caused
the poor dog such unnecessary distress of mind; while in a wicker cage
in the window of a child’s bedroom was the Blue Bird, singing as only
that bird can sing.

As there are still wolves in the woods about Roquebrune and as red hoods
are still fashionable in the Place des Frères it is practically certain
that Little Red Riding Hood lived here since it is difficult to imagine
a town that would have suited her better. As for Jack the Giant Killer
it is beyond dispute that he came to Roquebrune, for the very castle he
approached is still standing, the very gate is there from which he
hurled defiance to the giant as well as the very stair he ascended.
Moreover there is a room or hall in the castle—or at least the remains
of it—which obviously no one but a giant could have occupied.

As time goes on archæologists will certainly prove, after due research,
that Roquebrune is the City of Peter Pan. There is no town he would love
so well; none so adapted to his particular tastes and habits, nor so
convenient for the display of those domestic virtues which Wendy
possessed. No one should grow up in this queer city, just as no place in
a nursery tale should grow old.

[Illustration: ROQUEBRUNE: THE EAST GATE.]

[Illustration: ROQUEBRUNE: THE PLACE DES FRÈRES.]

Peter Pan is not adapted to the cold, drear climate of England. He
stands, as a figure in bronze, in Kensington Gardens with perhaps snow
on his curly head or with rain dripping from the edge of his scanty
shirt. He should be always in the sun, within sight of a sea which is
ever blue and among hills which are deep in green. He could stride down
a street in Roquebrune clad—as the sculptor shows him—only in his
shirt without exciting more than a pleasant nod, but in the Bayswater
Road he would attract attention. He is out of place in a London park in
a waste of tired grass dotted with iron chairs which are let out at a
penny apiece. Those delightful little people and those inquisitive
animals who are peeping out of the crevices in the bronze rock upon
which he stands would flourish in this sunny hill town, for there are
rocks in the very streets among which they could make their homes.

Then again Captain Hook would enjoy Roquebrune. It is so full of really
horrible places and there are so many half-hidden windows out of which
he could scream to the terror of honest folk. The pirates too would be
more comfortable in this irregular city, for it is near the sea and
close to that kind of cave without which no pirate is ever quite at
ease. Moreover the Serpentine affords but limited scope to those whose
hearts are really devoted to the pursuit of piracy and buccaneering.

So far I do not happen to have met with a pirate of Captain Hook’s type
within the walls of Roquebrune; but, late one afternoon when the place
was lonely I saw a bent man plodding up in the shadows of the Rue
Mongollet. He was a sinewy creature with brown, hairy legs. I could not
see his face because he bore on his shoulders a large and flabby burden,
but I am convinced that he was Sindbad the Sailor, toiling up from the
beach and carrying on his back the Old Man of the Sea.



                                 XXXIII
                        THE LEGEND OF ROQUEBRUNE


THE position of Roquebrune high up on the hillside appears—as has
already been stated—to be precarious. It seems as if the little city
were sliding down towards the sea and would, indeed, make that descent
if it were not for an inconsiderable ledge that stands in its way. It
can scarcely be a matter of surprise, therefore, that there is a legend
to the effect that Roquebrune once stood much higher up the hill, that
the side of the mountain broke away, laying bare the cliff and carrying
the town down with it to its present site, where the opportune ledge
stayed its further movement.

Like other legendary landslips this convulsion of nature is said to have
taken place at night and to have been conducted with such delicacy and
precision that the inhabitants were unaware of the “move.” They were not
even awakened from sleep: no stool was overturned: no door swung open:
the mug of wine left overnight by the drowsy reveller stood unspilled on
the table: no neurotic dog burst into barking, nor did a cock crow, as
is the custom of that bird when untoward events are in progress. Next
morning the early riser, strolling into the street with a yawn, found
that his native town had made quite a journey downhill towards the sea
and had merely left behind it a wide scar in the earth which would make
a most convenient site for a garden. Unhappily landslips are no longer
carried out with this considerate decorum, so the gratitude of
Roquebrune should endure for ever.

This is one legend; but there is another which is a little more stirring
and which has besides a certain botanical interest. At a period which
would be more clearly defined as “once upon a time” the folk of
Roquebrune were startled by a sudden horrible rumbling in the ground
beneath their feet, followed by a fearful and sickly tremor which spread
through the astonished town.

Everybody, clad or unclad, young or old, rushed into the street
screaming, “An earthquake!” It was an earthquake; because every house in
the place was trembling like a man with ague, but it was more than an
earthquake for the awful fact became evident that Roquebrune was
beginning to glide towards the sea.

People tore down the streets to the open square, to the Place des
Frères, which stands on the seaward edge of the town. The stampede was
hideous, for the street was unsteady and uneven. The very road—the
hard, cobbled road—was thrown into moving waves, such as pass along a
shaken strip of carpet. To walk was impossible. Some fell headlong down
the street; others crawled down on all fours or slid down in the sitting
position; but the majority rolled down, either one by one or in clumps,
all clinging together.

The noise was fearful. It was a din made up of the cracking of
splintered rock, the falling of chimneys, the rattle of windows and
doors, the banging to and fro of loose furniture, the crashing of the
church bells, mingled with the shouts of men, the prayers of women and
the screams of children. A man thrown downstairs and clinging to the
heaving floor could hear beneath him the grinding of the foundations of
his house against the rock as the building slid on.

The houses rocked from side to side like a labouring ship. As a street
heeled over one way the crockery and pots and pans would pour out of the
doors like water and rattle down the streets with the slithering knot of
prostrate people.

Clouds of dust filled the air, together with fumes of sulphur from the
riven cliff. Worst of all was an avalanche of boulders which dropped
upon the town like bombs in an air raid.

The people who clung to the crumbling parapet of the Place des Frères
saw most; for they were in a position which would correspond to the
front seat of a vehicle. They could feel and see the town (castle,
church and all) skidding downhill like some awful machine, out of
control and with every shrieking and howling brake jammed on.

They could see the precipice ahead over which they must soon tumble.
Probably they did not notice that at the very edge of the cliff,
standing quite alone, was a little bush of broom covered with yellow
flowers.

The town slid on; but when the foremost wall reached the bush the bush
did not budge. It might have been a boss of brass. It stopped the town
as a stone may stop a wagon. The avalanche of rocks ceased and, in a
moment, all was peace.

The inhabitants disentangled themselves, stood up, looked for their
hats, dusted their clothes and walked back, with unwonted steadiness, to
their respective homes, grumbling, no doubt, at the carelessness of the
Town Council.

They showed some lack of gratitude for I notice that a bush of broom has
no place on the coat of arms of Roquebrune.



                                 XXXIV
                      SOME MEMORIES OF ROQUEBRUNE


ROQUEBRUNE is very old. It can claim a lineage so ancient that the first
stirrings of human life among the rocks on which it stands would appear
to the historian as a mere speck in the dark hollow of the unknown.
Roquebrune has been a town since men left caves and forests and began to
live in dwellings made by hands. It can boast that for long years it
was—with Monaco and Eze—one of the three chief sea towns along this
range of coast. Its history differs in detail only from the history of
any old settlement within sight of the northern waters of the
Mediterranean.

The Pageant of Roquebrune unfolds itself to the imagination as a
picturesque march of men with a broken hillside as a background and a
stone stair as a processional way. Foremost in the column that moves
across the stage would come the vague figure of the native searching for
something to eat; then the shrewd Phœnician would pass searching for
something to barter and then the staid soldierly Roman seeking for
whatever would advance the glory of his imperial city. They all in turn
had lived in Roquebrune.

[Illustration: ROQUEBRUNE, SHOWING THE CASTLE.]

As the Pageant progressed there would pass by the hectoring Lombard, the
swarthy Moor, a restless band of robber barons and pirate chiefs, a
medley of mediæval men-at-arms and a cluster of lords and ladies with
their suites. They all in turn had lived in Roquebrune. Finally there
would mount the stair the shopkeeper and the artisan of to-day, who
would reach the foot of Roquebrune in a tramcar.

This Pageant of Roquebrune would impress the mind with the great
antiquity of man, with his ceaseless evolution through the ages with an
ever-repeated change in face, in speech, in bearing and in garb. Yet
look! Above the housetops of the present town a company of swifts is
whirling with a shrill whistle like that of a sword swishing through the
air. They, at least, have remained unchanged.

They hovered over the town before the Romans came. They have seen the
Saracens, the troopers of Savoy, the Turkish bandits, the soldiers of
Napoleon. Age after age, it would seem, they have been the same, the
same happy birds, the same circle of wings, the same song in the air.

On the rock too are bushes of rosemary—“Rosemary for remembrance.” The
little shrub with its blue flower has also seen no change. The caveman
knew it when he first wandered over the hill with the curiosity of a
child. The centurion picked a bunch of it to put in his helmet. The
pirate of six hundred years ago slashed at it with his cutlass as he
passed along and the maiden of to-day presses it shyly upon her parting
lover.

In the Pageant of Roquebrune man is, indeed, the new-comer, the upstart,
the being of to-day, the creature that changes. The swifts, the rosemary
and the hillside belong to old Roquebrune.

The following are certain landmarks in the tale of the town.[47] It
seems to have belonged at first to the Counts of Ventimiglia, about in
the same way that a wallet picked up by the roadside would belong to the
finder. In 477 these Counts sold it to a Genoese family of the name of
Vento. In 1189 the town is spoken of as Genoese and as being in the
holding of the Lascaris. It was indeed for long a stronghold of this
house. About 1353 Carlo Grimaldi of Monaco purchased Roquebrune from
Guglielmo Lascaris, Count of Ventimiglia, for 6,000 golden florins. The
union of Monaco, Roquebrune and Mentone thus accomplished lasted for 500
years with unimportant intervals during which the union was for a moment
severed or reduced to a thread. From 1524 to 1641 the little town was
under the protection of Spain.

In 1848 Roquebrune, supported by Mentone, rebelled against the Grimaldi,
after suffering oppression at their hands for thirty-three years, and
declared itself a free town or, rather, a little republic. It so
remained until 1860 when it was united with France at the time that Nice
was ceded to that country. An indemnity of 4,000,000 francs was paid to
the Prince of Monaco in compensation for such of his dominions as
changed hands in that year.[48]

Roquebrune, of course, did not escape the disorders which befell other
towns in its vicinity. Its position rendered it weak, exposed it to
danger and made it difficult to defend. It was sacked on occasion,
notably by the Turks about 1543 after they had dealt with Eze in the
manner already described (page 127). It met with its most serious sorrow
in 1560 when it was assaulted, set on fire and gravely damaged.

At this date the history of Roquebrune ended or at least changed from
that of a fortified place to that of a somewhat humble hill town. So it
sank, like Eze, into obscurity. The ruins that remain date from this
period and it is upon the wreckage of that year that the present town is
founded. The castle would appear to have been restored, for the last
time, in 1528 when the work was directed by Augustin Grimaldi of Monaco
and bishop of Grasse.

By the manner in which Roquebrune bore the stress of years and faced the
troubles of life the little town differed curiously from her two
neighbours of Monaco and Eze. Monaco and Eze were distinctly masculine
in character. They were men-towns. They were, by natural endowment, very
strong. They boasted of their strength and took advantage of it. They
fought everybody and every thing. They seemed to encourage assault and
indeed to provoke it. If hit they hit back again. Their masculinity got
them into frequent trouble. Moreover they loved the sea and were masters
of it.

Now Roquebrune was feminine. She was a woman-town. She was
constitutionally weak. She was little able to defend herself. When hit
she did not hit back again, because she was not strong enough. She was
bullied and was powerless to resent it. She was afraid of the sea, as
many women are, and cared not to venture on it.

She showed her feminine disposition in more ways than one. Roquebrune
had been under the harsh tyranny of Monaco for a number of years, but
she endured her ill treatment in silence. She bent her back to the blow.
She crouched on the ground, passive and apparently cowed. Women will
endure oppression patiently and without murmuring for a very long time.
But a moment comes when they revolt, and it is noteworthy that they
revolt generally with success, for the issue depends not only upon a
masterly patience, but upon the choice of the proper time to end it. A
town of the type of Eze would have had neither the patience to wait nor
the instinct to select the moment for an uprising. Eze, after a year or
so of hardship, would have flown at the throat of Monaco and would
probably have been annihilated in the venture.

Roquebrune waited a great deal more than a year or so. She waited and
endured for thirty-three years and when instinct told her that the right
time had come she turned upon the enemy, but not with a battleaxe in her
hand. She quietly placed herself under the protection of Italy and when
she had secured that support she boldly declared herself a free city and
a free city she remained until she was received into the open arms of
France.

An episode that happened in 1184 will, perhaps, still better illustrate
the feminine character of Roquebrune. In that year the town was besieged
by the Ventimiglians. The reason for the assault is not explained by the
historian. It is probable that mere want of something to do led to this
act of wickedness. One can imagine the Count of Ventimiglia bored to the
verge of melancholia by idleness and can conceive him as becoming
tiresome and unmanageable. One morning, perhaps, a courtier would
address his yawning lord with the remark, “What! nothing to do, sir! Why
not go and sack Roquebrune?” To which the count, quite cheered, would
reply, “An excellent idea. Send for the captain.”

[Illustration: ROQUEBRUNE: RUE DE LA FONTAINE.
View of Castle.]

Anyhow, whatever the reason, the count and his men, all in good spirits,
appeared before the walls of the town and prepared for an assault. Now
the state of affairs was as follows. Roquebrune, owing to its position,
could not withstand a siege. Its fall was inevitable and merely a
question of time. The governor would, however, be compelled to defend
the town to the very last. He would man the walls and barricade the
gates and, calling his company together in the Place des Frères would
remind them of their duty, would tell them, with uplifted sword, that
Roquebrune must be defended so long as a wall remained; that the enemy
must not enter the town except over their dead bodies and that, in the
defence of their homes, they must be prepared to die like heroes.

Now things seemed rather different to the governor’s wife. She was a
shrewd and practical woman not given to heroics. She knew that
Roquebrune could not withstand a siege and must assuredly be taken. She
probably heard the stirring address in the square and did not at all
like her husband’s talk about dying to a man and about people walking
over dead bodies and especially over his body. She knew that the more
determined the resistance the more terrible would be the revenge when
the town was taken. She did not like people being killed, especially her
nice people of Roquebrune. Besides, as she paced to and fro, a couple of
children were tugging at her dress and asking her why she would not take
them out on the hill-side to play as she did every morning.

So when the night came she put a cloak over her head, made her way out
of the town, found the enemy’s camp and told the count how—by certain
arrangements she had made—he could enter the town without the loss of a
man.

Before the day dawned the bewildered inhabitants, who had been up all
night fussing and hiding away their things, found that the Ventimiglians
were in occupation of the town; for, as the historian says, “the
besiegers entered the town without striking a blow.”

Thus ended the siege of Roquebrune. It ended in a way that was probably
satisfactory to both parties and, indeed, to everyone but the governor
who had, without question, a great deal to say to his lady on the
subject of minding her own business.

As she patted the head of her smallest child and glanced at the
breakfast table she, no doubt, replied that she _had_ minded her own
business.

-----

[47] As to the name “Cabbé Roquebrune,” Dr. Müller says that _cabbé_
means a little cape (the Cap Martin).

[48] Durandy, “Mon pays, etc., de la Riviera,” 1918. Dr. Müller,
“Mentone,” 1910. Bosio, “La Province des Alpes Maritimes,” 1902.

[Illustration: THE ROMAN MILESTONES “603”.]

[Illustration: A PIECE OF THE OLD ROMAN ROAD.]



                                  XXXV
                              GALLOWS HILL


THE hills that overshadow the coast road between Cap d’Ail and
Roquebrune are perhaps as diligently traversed by the winter visitor as
any along the Riviera, because in this area level roads are rare and
those who would walk far afield must of necessity climb up hill.

The hill-side is of interest on account of the number of pre-historic
walled camps which are to be found on its slopes. These camps form a
series of strongholds which extends from Cap d’Ail to Roquebrune. There
are some seven of these forts within this range. The one furthest to the
west is Le Castellar de la Brasca in the St. Laurent valley on the Nice
side of Cap d’Ail. Then come L’Abeglio just above the Cap d’Ail church,
the Bautucan on the site of the old signal station above the
Mid-Corniche, the Castellaretto over the Boulevard de l’Observatoire, Le
Cros near the mule-path to La Turbie and lastly Mont des Mules and Le
Ricard near Roquebrune.

Of these the camp most easily viewed—but by no means the most easy to
visit—is that of the Mont des Mules, on the way up to La Turbie. This
is a bare hill of rough rocks upon the eastern eminence of which is a
camp surrounded by a very massive wall built up of huge unchiselled
stones. It is fitly called a “camp of the giants,” for no weaklings ever
handled such masses of rock as these. The Romans who first penetrated
into the country must have viewed these military works with amazement,
for competent writers affirm that they date from about 2,000 years
before the birth of Christ.

Along this hill-side also are traces of the old Roman road, fragments
which have been but little disturbed and which, perhaps, are still paved
with the very stones over which have marched the legions from the
Imperial City. To the east of La Turbie and just below La Grande
Corniche are two Roman milestones, side by side, in excellent
preservation. There are two, because they have been placed in position
by two different surveyors.

They stand by the ancient way and show clearly enough the mileage—603.
The next milestone (604) stood on the Aurelian Way just outside La
Turbie, at the point where the road is crossed by the railway, but only
the base of it remains. Between it and the previous milestone is a Roman
wayside fountain under a rounded arch. It is still used as a water
supply by the cottagers and the conduit that leads to it can be traced
for some distance up the hill.

The first Roman milestone to the west of La Turbie (No. 605) is on the
side of the Roman road as it turns down towards Laghet.[49] This
milestone is the finest in the district and is remarkably well
preserved. Those who comment on the closeness of these _milliaires_ must
remember that the Roman mile was 142 yards shorter than the English.

[Illustration: THE ROMAN FOUNTAIN NEAR LA TURBIE.]

Above the Mont des Mules is Mont Justicier. It is a hill so bleak and so
desolate that it is little more than a wind-swept pile of stones. It has
been used for centuries as a quarry and much of the material employed in
the building of the Roman trophy at La Turbie came from its barren
sides. Its dreariness is rendered more dismal by its history and by the
memories that cloud its past. These memories do not recall a busy throng
of quarrymen who roared out chanties as they worked at their cranes and
whose chatter could be heard above the thud of the pick and the clink of
the chisel. They recall the time when this dread mound was the Hill of
Death and a terror in the land.

On the summit of Mont Justicier is a tall, solitary column. It appears,
at a distance, to be a shaft of marble; but it is made up of small
pieces of white stone cemented together. It is a large column nearly
three feet in diameter and some fifteen feet in height. Near it is the
base of a second column of identical proportions to the first. The
distance between the two pillars is twelve feet and they stand on a
platform which faces southwards across the sea. These columns were the
posts of a gigantic gallows. Their summits were connected by a cross
beam and from that beam at least six ropes could dangle. This is why the
mound is named Mont Justicier, or, as it would be called in England,
Gallows Hill.

The Mount became a place of execution in the Middle Ages and towards the
end of the seventeenth century there would never be a time when bodies
could not be seen swinging from the beam of the great gallows, since it
was here that the brigands known as the Barbets were hanged.

The term “Barbet” has a somewhat curious history. It was originally a
nickname given by the Catholics to the Protestant Vaudois and later to
the Protestants of the Cevennes and elsewhere. The name had origin in
the circumstance that the Vaudois called their ministers “_barbes_” or
“uncles,” in somewhat the same way that the Catholics call their priests
“fathers.”

The term was later applied to Protestant heretics generally and notably
to the Albigensians who held to the mountains of Piedmont and Dauphiné.
They refused baptism, the Mass, the adoration of the Cross, the traffic
in indulgences. “What was originally a logical revolt of pure reason
against dogmatic authority soon took unfortunately varying forms, and
then reached unpardonable extremes.”[50] These men were outlawed, were
hunted down and massacred and treated as rogues and vagabonds of a
pernicious type. For their ill name they were themselves not a little to
blame. They kept to the mountains from which great efforts were made to
dislodge them about the end of the seventeenth century.

The term Barbets was subsequently given to the inhabitants of the
valleys of the Alps who lived by plunder and contraband and finally to
any brigands or robbers who had their lairs among the mountains. “In the
year 1792,” writes Rosio,[51] “irregular bands were formed, under the
name of Barbets, which were trained and commanded by military officers
devoted to Sardinia. These bands of men harassed the French army,
pillaged the camps and held up convoys. When the House of Savoy lost its
hold on the Continent the Barbets divided into smaller companies and
gave themselves up to open brigandage. Their habitat was in the
mountains of Levens, of L’Escarene, Eze and La Turbie. Near Levens the
unfortunates who fell into their hands were hurled into the Vesubie from
a rock 300 metres high which is still called Le Saut des Français.”

[Illustration: GALLOWS HILL.]

[Illustration: MONT JUSTICIER: THE TWO PILLARS OF THE GALLOWS.]

At the foot of Mont Justicier, near to the gallows and by the side of
the actual Roman road, is the little chapel of St. Roch. It is a very
ancient chapel and its years weigh heavily upon it, for it has nearly
come to the end of its days. It is built of rough stones beneath a
coating of plaster and has a cove roof covered with red tiles. The base
of the altar still stands, traces of frescoes can be seen on the walls
and on one side of the altar is an ambry or small, square wall-press. It
was in this sorrowful little chapel that criminals about to be executed
made confession and received the last offices of the Church.

A sadder place than this in which to die could hardly be realised. The
land around is so harsh, the hill so heartless, the spot so lonely. And
yet many troubled souls have here bid farewell to life and have started
hence on their flight into the unknown. Before the eyes of the dying men
would stretch the everlasting sea. On the West—where the day comes to
an end—the world is shut out by the vast bastion of the Tête de Chien;
but on the East, as far as the eye can reach, all is open and welcoming
and full of pity. It is to the East that the closing eyes would turn, to
the East where the dawn would break and where would glow, in kindly
tints of rose and gold, the promise of another day.

There is one lonely tree on this Hill of Death—a shivering pine; while,
as if to show the kindliness of little things, some daisies and a bush
of wild thyme have taken up their place at the foot of the gallows.

-----

[49] The ancient road lies above and to the west of the modern road to
the convent.

[50] “Old Provence,” by T. A. Cook, Vol. 2, p. 169.

[51] “Les Alpes Maritimes,” 1902.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL OF ST. ROCH.]



                                 XXXVI
                                MENTONE


MENTONE is a popular and quite modern resort on the Riviera much
frequented by the English on account of its admirable climate. Placed on
the edge of the Italian frontier it is the last Mediterranean town in
France. It lies between the sea and a semicircle of green hills upon a
wide flat which is traversed by four rough torrents. It is, on the
whole, a pleasant looking place although it is not so brilliant in
colour as the posters in railway stations would make it. It is seen at
its best from a distance, for then its many dull streets, its prosaic
boulevards and its tramlines are hidden by bright villas and luxuriant
gardens, by ruddy roofs and comfortable trees. Standing up in its midst
is the old town which gives to it a faint suggestion of some antiquity.

This old town, together with the port, divides Mentone into two
parts—the West and the East Bays. The inhabitants also are divided into
two sections—the Westbayers and the Eastbayers, and these two can never
agree as to which side of the town is the more agreeable. They have
fought over this question ever since houses have appeared in the two
disputed districts and they are fighting on the matter still. The
Westbayer wonders that the residents on the East can find any delight in
living, while the Eastbayer is surprised that his acquaintance in the
other bay is still unnumbered with the dead. I had formed the opinion
that the Western Bay was the more pleasant and the more healthy but
Augustus Hare crushes me to the ground for he writes, “English
doctors—seldom acquainted with the place—are apt to recommend the
Western Bay as more bracing; but it is exposed to mistral and dust, and
its shabby suburbs have none of the beauty of the Eastern Bay.” So I
stand corrected, but hold to my opinion still.

Hare is a little hard on Mentone by reason of its being so painfully
modern. “Up to 1860,” he says, “it was a picturesque fishing town, with
a few scattered villas let to strangers in the neighbouring olive
groves, and all its surroundings were most beautiful and attractive; now
much of its two lovely bays is filled with hideous and stuccoed villas
in the worst taste. The curious old walls are destroyed, and pretentious
paved promenades have taken the place of the beautiful walks under
tamarisk groves by the sea-shore. Artistically, Mentone is vulgarised
and ruined, but its dry, sunny climate is delicious, its flowers
exquisite and its excursions—for good walkers—are inexhaustible and
full of interest.”[52]

There can be few who will not admit that the modern town of Mentone is
commonplace and rather characterless, but, at the same time, it must be
insisted that a large proportion of the Mentone villas are—from every
point of view—charming and free from the charge of being vulgar.

Some indeed, with their glorious gardens, are serenely beautiful. With
one observation by Mr. Hare every visitor will agree—that in which he
speaks of the country with which Mentone is surrounded. It is
magnificent and so full of interest and variety that it can claim, I
think, to have no parallel in any part of the French Riviera.

[Illustration: MENTONE: THE OLD TOWN.]

Mentone is a quiet place that appears to take its pleasure demurely, if
not sadly. It is marked too by a respectability which is commendable,
but at the same time almost awe-inspiring. Perhaps its nearness to Monte
Carlo makes this characteristic more prominent. If Monte Carlo be a town
of scarlet silks, short skirts and high-heeled shoes Mentone is a town
of alpaca and cotton gloves and of skirts so long that they almost hide
the elastic-side boots.

There is a class of English lady—elderly, dour and unattached—that is
comprised under the not unkindly term of “aunt.” They are propriety
personified. They are spoken of as “worthy.” Although not personally
attractive they are eminent by reason of their intimate knowledge of the
economics of life abroad. To them those human mysteries, the keeper of
the _pension_, the petty trader and the laundress are as an open book.
They fill the frivolous bachelor with reverential alarm, but their
acquaintance with the rate of exchange, the price of butter and the
cheap shop is supreme in its intricacy. These “aunts” are to be found in
larger numbers in Mentone than in any other resort of the English in
France.

The old town of Mentone is small and circumscribed. It stands in the
centre of the place as a low hillock or promontory. In relation to the
rest of Mentone it is like the brown body of a butterfly whose gaudy
wings are spread over the West Bay on the one side and the East Bay on
the other.

The history of Mentone is meagre and of little interest. Compared with
neighbouring towns it is of no great antiquity. The Romans passed by the
site on which it stands without a halt. The Lombards and the Saracens
left the spot alone for it offered no attractions to the neediest
robber. According to Dr. Müller, whose work on Mentone is above praise,
there is no mention of the town in the old chronicles until the
commencement of the thirteenth century. It was a small place but poorly
fortified and therefore little able to protect itself. It became in
consequence the victim of any tyrant in the country round and its
experience of tyranny must have been long-enduring and acute.

It seems to have belonged first to Ventimiglia and then to have been the
property of the Vento family of Genoa. Later it came under the rule of
the Counts of Provence and in 1346 was purchased by Carlo Grimaldi of
Monaco for sixteen thousand gold florins. It remained a part of the
principality of Monaco for some hundreds of years. It was but slightly
disturbed by the wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
because it was so little worth fighting about. In 1848 the whole
population of Mentone, under the leadership of the Chevalier Trenca,
rose against the oppression of the Grimaldi and the town became, with
Roquebrune, a republic. Finally it was sold by Monaco to France in 1861
for the sum of four million francs and there its story ends.

[Illustration: MENTONE: THE EAST BAY.]

The best general view of Mentone is to be obtained from the pier.
Between the East Bay and the West stands the old town, a heap of drab
houses and red roofs, piled up in the form of a mound on the summit of
which are St. Michael’s Church and the plume-like cypresses of the old
cemetery. Behind this drab town are two green hills, round and low—St.
Vincent and Les Chappes; and beyond again—shutting out the world—are
the ash-grey slopes of the Maritime Alps. To the west is the _massif_ of
Mont Agel and the crag of St. Agnes; while to the east is the towering
height of the Berceau.

The old town is small, but it has the merit—rare in these parts—of
being clean and free from “the evil smell” of which Mr. Hare has
complained. It is Italian in character and, owing to its place on a
hill, is made up of steep lanes and many stairs, of headlong passages
and vaulted ways. The numerous arches that cross the streets are the
outcome of an experience of earthquakes painfully acquired in years gone
by. At the foot of the town is the Place du Cap out of which certain
undecided old lanes ramble to the sea, with the rolling gait of unsteady
mariners. Among these the Ruelle Giapetta and the Rue du Bastion are
notable by their picturesqueness.

The way up to the old town is by the steps of the Rue des Logettes. The
first street encountered is the Rue de Bréa. It is a mean street, but it
is occupied by houses which have been, at one time, among the most
pretentious in Mentone. At No. 3 Napoleon lodged during the Italian
campaign. It is a large building of four stories with a fine doorway in
white stone. It is now given up to poor tenants who hang their washing
out of the windows. At No. 2, a private house in comfortable state,
General Bréa was born in 1790. He was one of Napoleon’s generals, was at
Leipzig and Waterloo and was assassinated in Paris on June 24th, 1848.
On the wall of a garden in the Rue Bréa is a marble tablet to
commemorate the visit of Pius VII in 1814. The Pope was returning to
Rome after his long exile in France and it was from the terrace of this
garden that he blessed the people crowding in the street. While dealing
with famous people it may be noted that in the Rue St. Michel (No. 19)
is the house in which the Chevalier Carlo Trenca was born, the president
of the short-lived Republic of Mentone.

The most important and most interesting street of old Mentone is the Rue
Longue. It runs athwart the east side of the hill, mounting very easily
to the St. Julien Gate which is just below the old cemetery. The street
is paved, is some twelve feet in width and is entered from the Logettes
by a dim passage. The street is a little dark, because the houses on
both sides of it are tall. This Rue Longue follows the route of the old
Roman road. Until 1810 it was the only carriageable street between the
East and the West Bays and the only coast road between Italy and
Provence.

It was the Park Lane of Mentone, the fashionable street in which were
the palaces of the nobles and the houses of the rich. The humbler
dweller in Mentone would hardly dare put foot in it, because it was so
grand and so exclusive. Here “before the great Revolution, the ladies of
Mentone used to sit out and work in the open air, just as the peasants
do now, before the doors of the houses or (one is expected to say)
palaces. A letter of the last century describes the animated appearance
which this gave to the place in those days, the gentlemen stopping to
chat with each group as they passed . . . while the nights were
enlivened by frequent serenades, which were given under the windows of
pretty girls by their admirers.”[53]

This picture is very difficult to realise for the Rue Longue is now a
humble street that the fastidious would probably call a slum. There are
one or two little shops in it, but the houses are, for the most part
turned into tenements for a very densely packed population. The
buildings are of stone covered unhappily with plaster; but they nearly
all show traces of an exalted past. There are many fine entries of stone
with either a pointed or a rounded arch and a few windows which recall
better days. The typical house has an arched doorway from which ascends
a stone stair whose summit is lost in darkness. It leads obviously to
the door of the dwelling, the ground floor being devoted, in old days,
to stables or offices. There is in the Rue Longue a shop of the mediæval
type, such as has been described in the account of St. Paul du Var (page
101). Over the portal of one house is the date 1542 and over another
that of 1543. The house No. 123 was the palace of the princes of Monaco.
It bears the initials of Honorius II and the date 1650. Within is a fine
stone stair with a vaulted ceiling. Among the more picturesque streets
of the town may be mentioned the Rue du Vieux Château, the Rue de la
Côte and the Rue Lampedouze.

The Rue Longue ends at the main gate of the town—the Porte St. Julien.
The gate itself has been modernised and is represented only by an
archway of a quite unassuming type. Leading up from this portal to the
old cemetery is a wall in which are traces of the _enceinte_ of the old
fortress. The stronghold, built (Dr. Müller states) between 1492 and
1505, occupied the summit of the hill on which the old cemetery now
stands. Here can be seen portions of the castle wall which have become
incorporated with the structure of this strangely placed burial ground.

A flight of steps from the Rue Longue leads to St. Michael’s Church. The
original church was built in 1619, but was almost entirely destroyed by
the great earthquake of 1887, after which date the present church was
constructed. It is an ambitious building in an indefinite “classic”
style and presents no features of interest. The same may be said of the
two other churches in the old town—those of the Pénitents Blancs and of
the Pénitents Noirs.

The gallant old fort that, in the seventeenth century, guarded Mentone
on the side of the sea has been almost engulfed in the building of the
new pier. It is now merely a grey, patched-up ruin, standing on the
rocks by the water’s edge and ignominiously held up behind by the
officious pier. Its little barred windows are curious, while on its
summit can still be seen some traces of its sentry towers.

-----

[52] “The Rivieras,” London, 1897, p. 82.

[53] “A Winter at Mentone.”

[Illustration: MENTONE: RUE LONGUE.]



                                 XXXVII
                   THE FIRST VISITORS TO THE RIVIERA


THERE is great fascination about a very ancient human dwelling-place. It
stands out among the blank shadows of the past as a warm reality, a
lingering spark still aglow among the ashes of things that once had
been. There is about it the charm of a memory that is partly real and
partly only dreamed about. Strange as the venerable place may be it
comes quite naturally into the story of our common ancestry. It seems,
in some indefinite way, to be a family possession which we can regard
with a personal interest and a legitimate curiosity. Amidst the changes
and upheavals of everyday life there is about the old house a
comfortable assurance of the continuity of human existence and of our
individual claim upon those who have trod before us the great highway.

Such an ancient abode of men is to be found at Mentone, at a spot
called, in the local speech, the Baoussé-Roussé. The English would term
the place the Red Cliff. The Red Cliff is just beyond the tragical
looking chasm, with its babyish stream, that marks the frontier of
France. It stands, therefore, in Italy. It is a formidable cliff of
great height, as erect as a wall, as defiant as a Titanic bastion. It
rises sheer from the rugged beach and is as old as the sea. It has been
scraped smooth by the wind of a million years, and may have been once
scoured clean by the rain of Noah’s deluge. It is bare of vegetation,
except that, here and there, a pitying weed, lavish with yellow
blossoms, clings tenderly to its scarred surface. About its foot are a
few palms, a tall aloe, and some bushes with scarlet flowers. The colour
of the cliff is a tawny grey, stained with red of the tint of ancient
rust. There are long seams, too, on its surface which suggest the
wrinkles of extreme old age.

At the bottom of the precipice are certain caverns which were once the
abodes of men. These caves are about nine in number; so that at one time
the Red Cliff must have been quite a little town, for the caverns are
capacious. The entrances to the caves are, for the most part, in the
form of huge clefts in the rock from twenty feet to sixty feet high.
They face towards the south, so that at noon a streak of light can
penetrate into the vast stone hall and illumine its floor. When the sun
has passed each portal becomes no more than a black gap in the
precipice, very mysterious to look upon.

The people who inhabited these caves belong to our earliest known
ancestors. They stand at the root of the family tree. They represent the
Adam and Eve of human history. Behind these people stretches the void of
the unknown. It is in their likeness that the first human being steps
out of the everlasting darkness into the light of the present world.

[Illustration: MENTONE: A DOORWAY IN THE RUE LONGUE.]

They are known as the Palæolithic folk—the cavern people, the men and
women of the rough Stone Age. Their finest implements and most cunning
weapons were of unpolished flint. They had a knowledge of fire. These
two possessions express the meagre progress they had made in the march
of civilisation.

There are certain skeletons of these cliff-folk in the Museum at Monaco.
It is a memorable moment when one first has sight of men who were alive
some 50,000 years ago, and who, after interminable centuries, have just
come again into the light of day and the company of their kind. It is at
least—in the records of the human family—a curious meeting, a meeting
rendered almost dramatic when one sees a dainty French lady in the mode
of 1920 peering through a glass case into the face of an ancestor who
walked the shores of France in an age so remote as to be almost
mythical.

There is an impression with some that these people of long ago were
brutish creatures, ape-like and uncouth, being little more, in fact,
than gorillas with a leaven of human craft. The Red Cliff skeletons,
however, are not the skeletons of brutes. They show, on the contrary,
the characteristic features of the bones of the man and woman of modern
times. Such differences as exist are slight. There are the same straight
back, the broad shoulders, the well-balanced head, the finely
proportioned limbs, the delicate feet and hands. This skeleton of a Red
Cliff man might have been that of a modern athlete, but with a muscular
development that the modern would envy; while this shapely woman, from
the depths of a cave, might have graced in life the enclosure at Ascot.
There are some peculiarities in the shinbone, but I doubt if they would
be noticeable even through a silk stocking. The skull is different, the
face is flat, the nose broad, the forehead low, the jaws prominent. From
the Ascot standpoint it must be allowed that the cave folk had ugly
faces, coarse and unintellectual no doubt, but not the aspect of the
gorilla.

Among the skeletons from the colony at Mentone is one of especial
interest. It is that of an old woman whose body was found in the deepest
part of the cavern, and who, therefore, may be assumed to have belonged
to the earliest or most ancient of the inhabitants. She is perfectly
and, indeed, finely formed. Her age would be about seventy. It is to be
noted incidentally that the bones show no evidences of gross rheumatic
changes nor of other disabling trouble. That an old lady could live for
seventy years in a damp cave, in a chilly climate, and escape such
inconveniences is a sign of her time and of ours.

It is not known at what age Eve died, but if she reached the term of
three score years and ten these perfect and undisturbed bones may be
imagined to be those of the Mother of Men. Eve is generally depicted by
the sculptor as an elegant lady with a noble Greek face, in which is
realised the extreme of refinement. It would probably be more exact if
our first mother were shown in the form of a stalwart woman with the
countenance of the Australian aborigines or of a Hottentot.

[Illustration: A SIDE STREET IN MENTONE.]

The lady of Mentone has around her forearm two bracelets. They are made
of sea shells and are just such as an ingenious child might make while
sitting on the beach in an idle summer. One might suppose that the
wearer was proud of them, and it may be that vanity in woman and love of
dress—or, at least, of jewellery—are born with her. If this be so, it
is a pity that the wearer of the bracelets could not have known, in her
lifetime, that her cherished ornaments would still be on her arm and
would still be gazed upon by men 50,000 years after she had ceased to
be.

It is a matter of interest and indeed of present envy to note how
perfect are the teeth of these early folk, how strong they are, how
solidly they are ground down. They must have gnawed the bones of the
mammoth, of the cave bear, and of the woolly rhinoceros, for the remains
of such animals are abundant in the dust heaps of these caverns. The
standard of comfort in the commune of Red Cliff was low, for it has to
be recognised that not only did whole families occupy one apartment, but
in that apartment they cooked their food, deposited their refuse, and
buried their dead.

In looking at these very venerable ancestors it is the face that
naturally attracts the greater attention. There is some expression in a
skull, an expression of melancholy and surprise, with a suggestion of
ferocity. Conspicuous, especially, is the look of wonder, the open
mouth, the staring teeth, the solemn, hollow eye sockets. What images
must have been formed within those sunken orbits! Upon what a world must
the vanished eyes once have gazed, upon what strange beasts, upon what
fantastic glades and woods!

When the Red Cliff was inhabited the sea was probably at some distance.
From the entry to the cave one would have looked, at one age, over a
luxurious subtropical country, glaring with heat, and at another era
over a land chilled with ice and deep in snow. During the lifetime of
the old lady of the bracelets the climate is assumed to have been cold
and damp, the climate, indeed, of England at its worst. There must be,
therefore, a bond of sympathy between the aged dame and the present day
migrant, who has fled to the Riviera to escape a British winter.

The dwelling places of these very early Riviera visitors are still
practically unchanged. We enter by the same portal as they did; we tread
the floor they trod, and, looking up, we see the very roof of rock that
sheltered them and that they knew so well.

The great cave—the Barma-Grande—has a fine entry, sixty-five feet in
height and some thirteen feet in breadth. The cave is still deep,
although its length has been curtailed by the callous quarryman, who has
cut away much of the outer face of the cliff to find stone for villas,
railway bridges, and motor garages. The cave narrows down to a
smooth-sided cleft a few feet wide. This must have been a favourite
spot, a cosy corner, an easy lounge after a day’s hunting.

The sun passes over the cavern wall as over the face of a dial, moving
inch by inch just as it has moved, day by day, for unknown thousands of
years. The creeping light serves to record on the rock the passing of
time. The cave-wife, busy with flint scraper and unwieldy lumps of
mammoth flesh, would note, perhaps with concern, that the sun had
already reached a certain grey boss on the wall which told that the
height of the day was near and yet that the daily meal was not ready.
The sun still falls on the same spot on the wall at the same moment of
time, for neither the sun nor the cave has changed.

[Illustration: A SIDE STREET IN MENTONE.]

[Illustration: MENTONE: RUE MATTONI.]

Just in front of the caves of the Baoussé-Roussé, between their entries
and the sea, runs the old Roman road. Compared with the colony of Red
Cliff it is a modern affair, for it is only a little more than two
thousand years old. It ran from the Forum of Rome to Arles, a distance,
it is said, of 797 miles. It carried the Roman legions into Gaul. It
carried the merchant adventurers from the East, together with as
miscellaneous a crowd of wanderers as any road in Europe bears witness
of. Many a Roman centurion must have rested in these caves, many an
Oriental pedlar laden with strange wares, many a man of arms seeking his
fortune in the West, with perhaps a troubadour or two, a jester bound to
other Courts, or the aimless man who followed the Wandering Jew. Pirates
have used these caves for their tragic affairs, as well as wreckers and
honest fishermen. In more recent times smugglers found hereabout
convenient depots from which to run their goods across the border; while
frontier guards have been posted in these shadows with flintlocks to
watch for the unwary buccaneer. Still nearer to the present day one can
imagine that the dolorous lover has carved his lady’s name upon the wall
of the cave by means of a flint implement which his uneasy foot had
unearthed from among the ancient dust of the deserted dwelling-place.
Could the life and times of the occupants of the Red Cliff be written,
from the days of the first inhabitant to the period of to-day, a history
of Europe would be provided which could never be excelled for
picturesqueness nor for vivid detail.

The environment of the old colony is at the moment singularly
incongruous. The entrance to the principal cave is walled up and
admission thereto can only be obtained by the payment of 2f. per person.
A small museum, full of precious bones, stands on the Roman road; a
railway tunnel penetrates the very heart of the cliff, so that the
rumble of express trains disturbs the peace of the dead who still lie on
the very spot where their bodies were laid long centuries ago. There is
a fashionable hotel on the summit of the cliff, and at its foot a
popular restaurant. From the depths of the cave the sound of music can
be heard when the restaurant is very exuberant and is offering especial
cheer.

If the old lady with the bracelets were now to stand at the door of her
cave on a starry night she could see, beyond Mentone, a strange glow in
the sky, the glow from the thousand lights of the gaming-rooms of Monte
Carlo.

[Illustration: CASTILLON (IN THE SNOW).]

[Illustration: CASTILLON: THE ENTRY TO THE TOWN.]



                                XXXVIII
                               CASTILLON


AMONG the mountains behind Mentone is a saddle of rock wedged in between
two heights and named the Col de la Garde. If a Colossus sat astride of
this saddle one leg would be in the Valley of the Careï, leading towards
Mentone, and the other in the Merlanson Valley which descends to Sospel.
The col or ridge of the saddle is 2,527 feet above the level of the sea.
On a cone of rock in the centre of this ridge is the ghostly town of
Castillon. The distance from Mentone to Castillon is four miles, if
measured by the flight of a bird, and nine and a half miles if reckoned
by the ingenious road. From Castillon to Sospel by road is four and a
half miles, but the descent is not great for Sospel is still 1,148 feet
above the Mediterranean.

The Valley of the Careï is picturesque and of no little grandeur. It is
a prodigious V-shaped gash in the earth, some half a mile wide where it
opens to the heavens, some few feet wide at its deepest depth where the
torrent cuts its way. The colouring of its walls is beautiful in its
simplicity. Below the blue of the sky is a cinder-grey slope of bare
cliff that dips into the faded green of the olive belt and the
sprightlier green of the pines; then comes a strip of claret-red tinged
with yellow, which marks the terrace of the autumn vines, and at the
very foot are the deep shadows by the banks of the stream.

The Careï follows the valley all the way. It begins among the vast
silence of the everlasting hills and ends by running under the tramlines
and the bandstand at Mentone. The road mounts up the west bank of the
valley by spasmodic turns and twists. These are so repeated and so
abrupt as to render any who live where paths are straight dazed and
despairing.

As the col is approached Castillon stands up against the sky line like a
piece of dead bone sticking out of the mound of a grave. Few habitations
of man occupy a position quite so surprising as this silent and deserted
village. It is the village of a nightmare, of a fairy story, of the
country of the impossible. “The town,” writes the author of “A Winter at
Mentone”, “is as unlike a town as possible . . . so that we should
scarcely believe it to be a town at all.” It stands on the summit of a
pinnacle of stone which is, in turn, balanced on the knife edge of a
dizzy col. From this isolated crag a horrible ridge of rock trails down
the valley towards Sospel like the backbone of some awful reptile.

It is a very ancient place for it was occupied in the time of the
Romans. People have lived in Castillon for over 2,000 years and yet on a
certain day not long ago it was suddenly deserted and not a human being
has ever returned to make a home in it since that dire occasion.

[Illustration: CASTILLON: THE MAIN STREET.]

On February 23rd, 1887, Castillon was shaken by an earthquake and
reduced in great part to ruin. No one appears to have been killed in the
crash, but such was the terror of the inhabitants that they fled down
the cliff side and never came back to the town again. It has remained
ever since as empty as a skull.

In the Middle Ages Castillon was maintained as a fortified place by the
governor of Sospel. It guarded the pass that led to the town and stood
in the way of Sospel’s most restless enemy, the Count of Ventimiglia.
During the wars of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines the fortress of
Castillon suffered much. It was a woeful day when Charles of Anjou
obtained possession of it in 1261 and a still more dismal day when he
sold it to that detested ruffian, Pierre Balbo of Ventimiglia, since, in
the eyes of Sospel, Castillon was the keeper of the pass, the angel with
the flaming sword that stood in the way. For no vain reason did the
ridge gain the name of the Col de la Garde.

Castillon did not remain long in the hands of Ventimiglia. It shared in
the vicissitudes of endless conflicts, was in due course taken by the
Genoese and then retaken by the redoubtable seneschal of Provence.
Castillon was ever a sturdy little place; for even in its earliest days,
when it was captured by the Saracens, the hardy natives turned upon the
invaders, cast them out and threw them headlong down the hill. It was
not always so very little, since there was a time when it could boast of
no fewer than seventy-five houses and five churches. Where these
buildings found a foothold it is hard to say. They must have clung to
one another with linked arms, like a crowd of men caught by a rising
tide on a steep and very meagre rock.

The old Castillon is approached from the present village by a steep
cart-road which winds round the rock, or by a still steeper mule-path
which labours up with many zigzags. Both road and path are overgrown
with grass. They lead to a flight of wide steps which ascends to the
town. It forms quite a ceremonial entry. There is but a single street.
It is a sorrowful street, because it is so forlorn and so still. It is
as green with grass as a lane in a wood and around the doorsteps of the
houses and in every court and alley nettles and brambles flourish with
heartless luxuriance.

Half way along the street is the church. It is small and plain with a
roof of tiles and a bell gable that lacks a bell. Over the door is the
date 1712. The church is locked; but so far as can be judged from the
outer walls it has escaped damage. The “pointed campanile,” however,
which is described and figured in older accounts is now no longer to be
seen. At the end of the street, on the point that looks towards Sospel,
are the ruins of the castle. Only some vaults and some crumbling walls
remain; but a gateway of stone with a pointed arch still stands unmoved
amidst the chaos of destruction. Many houses are little more than a
shell of bricks, but the greater number seem to have suffered little.
They are closed. The doors, the window frames and the sun-shutters are
grey, because in thirty-three years every trace of paint has vanished.
Many of the windows are still glazed.

To one house clings a precarious balcony of wood with half of its rail
intact. A few of the dwellings are doorless and it is possible to mount
stairs laden with débris, to enter rooms which seem to have been but
recently left and to climb down into hollow chambers echoing with
mystery and suspicion. One front door has a slit for letters—open as if
awaiting the postman. It is a trivial feature and yet it seems the most
pitiable mockery in the whole of this street of dead things.

[Illustration: CASTILLON: THE MAIN STREET AND CHURCH DOOR.]

The desolation of the little town is unutterable. If it were a total
ruin the human element would be lost; but it is so little a ruin, so
like a living village of to-day—with the ashes of the kitchen fire
still on the hearth—that it remains even now a vivid embodiment of a
place dumb with panic and the fear of death.



                                 XXXIX
                                 SOSPEL


SOSPEL lies at the bottom of a vast basin-shaped valley by the banks of
the ever-chattering Bevera river. The sides of the valley are lined from
base to summit with olive trees. It is not a pretty valley, for the
green of the olive, being sad and wan, suggests rather the shabby
dreariness of old age. In this sombre hollow Sospel appears as a patch
of chocolate-brown. The valley is so immense and the town so small that
it is little more than a dark stain at the bottom of a huge bowl. Sospel
has fallen far from its high estate. It was once domineering and haughty
and now it has become so humble and so insignificant. It once had the
splendour of a soft-petalled rose, but it has dwindled in these days to
a mere pinch of dry and shrivelled leaves. In Roman times it was a town
of importance. It was a military station fully garrisoned and strongly
fortified. It represented the mailed fist of Rome thrust defiantly into
the land of Gaul. Those who are learned in these matters state that the
lines of the Roman ramparts can still be traced about the outskirts of
Sospel, but they are no longer visible to the eyes of the vulgar.

[Illustration: SOSPEL: THE OLD BRIDGE.]

After the glory of Rome had passed away Sospel still remained a
commanding city and, throughout the Middle Ages and for century after
century, it held its place as a most influential town in this domain of
France. It became the seat of a bishop as early as 1337 and Alberti, the
historian of Sospel,[54] tells of its high clerics, of its consuls, of
its judges and of its other exalted men. In the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries it was a city with many thousands of inhabitants.
It was surrounded by high walls, had five gates and many strong towers.
It could boast of no fewer than one hundred and sixty-two shops and two
_monti di pietà_. It had a cathedral and as many as twenty churches and
chapels, fifteen squares, many convents and monasteries, an academy and
a college for lawyers.[55] A great fair was held every year on St.
Luke’s Day in October in the Piazza di San Michele, for Sospel was a
centre of commerce and of industry for miles around.

The town has seen much trouble and has endured periods of stress and
times of calamity. Indeed so sad have been some phases of its history
that, although it can boast of years of flamboyant glory, it is probable
that its happiest days are now, when it has become a village of no
account. About the end of the eighth century Sospel was almost entirely
destroyed by fire. In 1516 it was ravaged by the Gascons and reduced,
for the time, to a smouldering waste. In the sixteenth century the town
became prominent as a place of horror by reason of the wholesale burning
of heretics in the Piazza di San Michele.

Possibly the most terrible calamity that befell Sospel was through the
visitations of the plague. The most disastrous of these visits was in
the year 1688. The people died as if the very air were poisoned. The
streets were deserted; the shops were closed. Those who knelt in the
church to pray could hear above their cries to heaven the thud of the
mattock and the spade in the graveyard near at hand. It seemed as if
Sospel was to be left desolate and that in a few dire weeks the river
would be babbling seawards through a lifeless town.

The elders of the city met and resolved that all the inhabitants of the
place, those whom the Terror as yet had spared, should make a pilgrimage
to Laghet to confess their sins and implore the Madonna to intercede
with heaven on their behalf. At sunrise one pleasant day in July the
procession formed up outside the walls and started on its penitential
march. It was a hard journey and very pitiable. The distance was great;
for even as the bird flies it is no less than ten miles from Sospel to
Laghet.

There was no road to follow, only a rough path that struggled over hills
and vales, over rocks and stony slopes. The poor distracted company
would climb first to Castillon, thence probably to Gorbio, then on to La
Turbie and so to Laghet. It would be an arduous journey for a sturdy
man, but for these panic-stricken folk it was as cruel a passage as the
most relentless could devise.

In front of the column would walk the priests clad in white and bearing
a cross. Then would come the great officers of the city with the nobles
of Sospel, then the soldiers and after them the people of the town.
Along the length of the column would break forth, again and again, the
cry, “In the name of God on to Laghet!”

[Illustration: SOSPEL: THE RIVER FRONT.]

There would be old and young in the crowd, boys clinging to their
mothers’ gowns, girls perched on their fathers’ shoulders and pleased
for a while with the unwonted ride. The buxom maid would give an arm to
her grandfather, the young husband a hand to his faltering wife. There
would be some on mules and some on donkeys and at the wavering end of
the procession would stumble the stragglers who were failing with every
step.

Not a few would be smitten with death as they walked, would drop out of
the throng and roll among the brambles by the way. None could linger
behind to bear them company, for still the cry would ring forth along
the line, “In the name of God on to Laghet!”

Think then of the town left behind! Silent but for the heartless chatter
of the stream, empty save for the very old, the very weak, the dying and
the dead.

Sospel, when viewed from a height, appears (as already stated) as a
splash of chocolate-brown on the floor of a grey valley, chocolate-brown
being the colour of its roofs. It is a small place of 3,500 inhabitants
languidly busy in the construction of a railway which seems disinclined
to develop and still more feebly concerned in a golf course which
declines to “open.”

The town is divided into two parts by the Bevera river. The quarter on
the north bank is poor and resigned to a damp and musty squalor; while
the south side of the town contains all that Sospel can boast of in the
matter of present prosperity and departed greatness. Two bridges—one
old and one new—connect the towns. The old bridge is picturesque, being
composed of two very ancient arches which have never come to an
agreement as to what should be their common level. In the centre of the
bridge is a little, old, surly tower which forms an arch over the road
after the manner of a village Temple Bar. The tower has been converted,
with marked unsuccess, into a dwelling house with a bow window and
balcony on its less dejected front and with gaudy advertisements on its
other sides. Since no one appears to have the courage to live in this
impossible dwelling it is empty. As a tower to defend the ford it is a
monument of incompetence and as a house on a bridge of the type of those
on the Ponte Vecchio at Florence it is a sorry thing. It is indeed
neither a tower nor a house. It is merely a failure.

The north town is made up of old buildings and narrow lanes which are
filled with gloom and with a smell so pressing that it can almost be
felt with the hand. The main lane, and the most pungent, is called the
Rue de la République. If it be intended by its title to flatter the
Republic of France the compliment is doubtful.

The fronts of the houses that look into the lane are of great antiquity,
but the backs that look on to the river are unreasonably modern. This
river front of Sospel is one of its most curious sights. The houses are
of four stories and each floor of each house is provided with a balcony.
Except that they all look fragile and unsafe and the work of a rash
amateur builder, no two balconies are quite alike. One may pertain to a
kitchen, another to a sitting-room and a third to a bedroom and each
balcony will contain the paraphernalia proper to its particular
apartment. The united display of utensils shows how complex and exacting
human life has become since the days of the cave man. I never before
realised that so many buckets are required to satisfy the needs of a
modern community.

[Illustration: SOSPEL: THE PLACE ST. MICHEL.]

Each balcony gives a demonstration of some phase of domestic life,
conducted without any prudish pretence at concealment. Viewed as a whole
they form a series of little stages upon which every episode of the home
is being displayed in the open air. On a fourth floor balcony a woman
will be cooking, while in the balcony below a young woman is “doing” her
hair—a curious operation to watch since she tugs at her hair as if it
belonged to a person she did not like. On a third balcony a woman may be
stuffing a chair or mending a stocking; while on yet another may be
witnessed in detail the whole tiresome process of dressing a child. One
balcony has been turned into a fowl-house and another is devoted to the
cultivation of a vine. On all these little galleries washing in some
stage is in progress for washing among these people is like a familiar
air running, with endless repetitions, through the music of a comedy of
life.

The main town of Sospel is full of all the interest and charm that
surrounds a relic of the Middle Ages. It is made up of unmanageable
little streets that _will_ run where they like, of lanes so dim that
they suggest the light of a dying lamp and of gracious houses whose
beauty is soiled by grimy hands and marred by the patchwork of poverty,
like a fine piece of tapestry that has been darned as uncouthly as a
labourer’s sock. There are black passages as well as brilliant little
squares, unaccountable stairways and mysterious arcades. Some of the
streets are so narrow as to be mere cracks in a block of houses, while
two at least, the Rue Pellegrini and the Rue du Château, are no more
than moist, obscure gutters.

Many of the houses, although they stand now in mean streets, have
evidently been public buildings of importance or palaces of the great
people of Sospel. These houses are built of stone, have noble entries
and fine windows, some of which still parade pointed arches and delicate
columns. There is an old mansion of this type in the Rue St. Pierre
which is still magnificent in spite of the humiliating indignities to
which it has been subjected. Less ambitious houses show traces of
light-hearted decoration in the form of arcading or other fanciful work
in stone.

The centre of the town is the Place St. Michel, a small, irregular
square with the church on one side and, elsewhere, a medley of houses
built over arcades. This piazza is quite Italian in character, is rather
dissolute-looking and bears many evidences of having come down in the
world.

The church, which is approached by a flight of wide steps, belongs to
the seventeenth century, has been judiciously restored and has a façade
of no little beauty. By its side is a very ancient campanile of dingy
grey stone surmounted by a curious pyramidal steeple. It has stood in
this square for hundreds of vivid years and if it could tell of all that
it has seen it would recount a story tragic enough. Its bells have many
times clanged forth the alarm. Its watchman has often screamed from the
tower that armed men were swarming down the hill. It has seen the ladies
of the town, in silks and satins, step daintily across the Place on
their way to Mass through a crowd of cap-doffing citizens. It has heard
the consul read out a proclamation to a sullen mob, while yells of
dissent have belched forth from the dark arcades like a volley of
musketry; and more lamentable than all it has seen a sinister column of
smoke rise out of the square from the blaze of crackling faggots upon
which shrieking heretics, bound hand and foot, were thrown like bundles
of fuel.

[Illustration: A SQUARE IN SOSPEL.]

[Illustration: SOSPEL: THE RUINS OF THE CONVENT.]

Beyond the church, in an untidy garden, are the ruins of an old convent
which still show the long colonnade of the cloisters and the windows of
the upper rooms. Near by is one of the old square towers of the town, a
mere shell of masonry that the sun of centuries has bleached as white as
a bone. Alongside the tower runs a section of the city wall, pierced by
a stone gateway with a pointed arch. This mediæval entry is very
picturesque; for it serves to show how Sospel looked to the approaching
traveller when it was a fortified city girt about by a great wall with
many gates and many towers.

-----

[54] “Istoria della citta de Sospello,” by S. Alberti, Torino, 1728.

[55] “Mentone,” by Dr. George Müller, London, 1910.



                                   XL
                        SOSPEL AND THE WILD BOAR


IT may be of some interest to state how the affairs of Sospel became
involved with so curious a creature as a wild boar, and how the people
of Sospel were led to have a kindly regard for this particular species
of pig. In the year 1366 a respected citizen of Sospel named Guglielmo
Viteola started off with his son to go to Mentone. On the way they were
attacked by a gang of robbers and the lad was killed. The robbers spared
Viteola because they considered that he would be of more value to them
living than dead.

So they dragged him to a cave, bound him hand and foot, and left him in
a doleful heap on the wet ground. They explained, with sarcastic
apologies, that they must leave him for a time as they had to proceed to
Mentone on urgent business; but cheered him by saying that they would
look him up on their return and would then do dreadful things to him
unless he made agreeable terms for his ransom. Failing a comfortable sum
of money they explained that they would either leave him to starve or
would cut him up in a leisurely way with knives of peculiar grossness
that they showed him. With a cheerful “a rivederci” they departed.

[Illustration: A STREET IN SOSPEL.]

[Illustration: SOSPEL: THE CITY WALL AND GATE.]

Being in grievous pains both of body and mind Viteola began to pray to
his particular saint, St. Theobald of Mondovi. (Mondovi, it may be
explained, is a town some fifty miles from Sospel on the way to Turin.)
Viteola had hardly finished his prayer when something or somebody rushed
into the cave and fell at his feet. The darkness of the place rendered
the identity of the intruder difficult. From his knowledge of natural
history and possibly from his sense of smell Viteola decided that this
visitor was a wild boar. The boar seemed fatigued and anxious to be
quiet.

The animal’s rest was, however, soon disturbed for in a few moments five
armed men burst into the cave. The cavern was becoming crowded. Odd
things are often found in caves, but these new arrivals seemed very
surprised at the combination of an ancient man tied up like a parcel in
company with a languid boar. They requested Viteola to explain the
unusual position. He did. The aged man further informed them that he had
prayed to St. Theobald for help, but hardly expected that the relief
would take the copious form of five men and a boar. He, at the same
time, begged to be released from his bonds. This was promptly done.
Whereupon the more prominent of the visitors introduced himself as the
Lord of Gorbio and added that he was out hunting, that he had wounded a
wild boar and had followed the animal to the cave.

The boar became extremely amiable. He may have been a little cool to the
Lord of Gorbio, but towards the old man he made such demonstrations of
affection as a weary boar is capable of making.

The party then proceeded to Sospel. Their arrival caused some amazement,
for even in 1366 it was unusual to see a reigning prince walking down
the High Street followed by armed men and an esteemed citizen at whose
heels a wild boar was limping like a faithful dog. The animal became a
great pet, but it was probably a long time before Viteola’s wife was
accustomed to the sight of a wild boar stretched out in front of the
sitting-room fire.

When the robbers returned from Mentone and entered the cave with
derisive cheers and coarse laughter they were surprised to find
themselves seized by armed men from Gorbio and their valued citizen
gone. These wicked men were, without any tedious inquiry, hanged from a
tree which the chronicle states, with topographical precision, “stood by
the pathway leading from Sospello to Mentone.”



                                  XLI
                          TWO QUEER OLD TOWNS


A LUXURIANT valley of pure delight mounts inland from the sea by
Mentone. It is a happy, friendly-looking valley, richly cultivated, full
of orange groves and vineyards, of comfortable gardens and of merry
mills. The valley ends suddenly in a vast amphitheatre of bare heights
which shuts out all the world beyond. As if by a stroke of magic
vegetation ceases and the green becomes grey. In the centre of the
semicircle and on a steep promontory that commands the valley stands
Gorbio, like a monument at the end of an avenue. It is eight kilometres
by road from Mentone, for the way to it twists about like a wounded
snake.

It is difficult to determine what adjective should be applied to Gorbio.
The guide book says that it is picturesque, but the “Concise Oxford
Dictionary” defines “picturesque” as “fit to be the subject of a
striking picture.” Now there is nothing about Gorbio that is fit for a
striking picture. It may be fit for pieces of a picture as they lie in a
toy-box as parts of a puzzle town waiting to be put together. Then a
visitor told me that Gorbio was “awfully quaint”; but there is little in
Gorbio to excite awe and the dictionary says that “quaint” means that
which is “piquant in virtue of unfamiliar, especially old fashioned,
appearance.” This town is happily of unfamiliar appearance and is also
without pretence to any fashion old or new, but yet it is not piquant,
except in its smell.

It would rather be called a whimsical town, a medley, a _revue_ of
mediæval towns made up of selected fragments, an ancient mongrel of a
town of involved and bewildering parentage. It is like three people all
talking at once and in different languages. Those who regard a town as a
place of habitation made by man, a place with streets, ordered
residences, a square, a church and public buildings would maintain that
Gorbio is not a town.

It begins well. It commences with an orthodox square containing a café
on either side, an aged tree, a fountain, a postcard shop and a sleeping
dog. All this is reassuring and in order. At one corner of the Place a
few steps slope up to a gateway with a pointed arch. This also is quite
a normal entry to a town. But once inside the gate everything is
topsy-turvy and unexpected. You find yourself in a lane, but it is more
like a passage through rocks than the high street of a town. The road at
once dives under buildings and comes up in a narrow square on one side
of which is an official-looking _Mairie_, very modern, with walls of a
fashionable yellow, green sun-shutters and a flag pole. Opposite to it
are some deserted houses of great age which are in a state of advanced
decomposition.

[Illustration: A STREET IN GORBIO.]

[Illustration: A STREET IN GORBIO.]

You then come to a damp and dark tunnel. As there is a gleam of light at
the end of it you enter and are at once seized by a smell—a smell of
Augean stables. This is no “perfume wafted on the breeze”; but a smell
that comes upon you like a shriek, grips you by the throat like a
highwayman and throttles you. You rush forward to the open air and
stumble among houses made up of loose rocks and superfluous doors
propped up by outside stairs.

To the right are some steps climbing up through another tunnel that may
be a passage in a mine. The exploring spirit urges you to mount this
dark ascent. You come out into a real street with real houses and even a
shop, but the street is narrow and the way is entirely occupied by a
live cow. The cow is standing patiently outside a house that has white
steps and a knocker and seems to be waiting for an answer to a message.
It has a pleasant and motherly face, but appears, as to its body, to be
of unreasonable size. As it is impossible to pass the cow without
pushing it into a house you return by the tunnel to the original route.
This route now takes the form of a country lane lined with boulders on
which grow ferns and other plants of interest and here incontinently
appears a church—a fine and ancient edifice bearing the date 1683.
Beyond the church you find yourself—not in a cemetery but—on the
ramparts of a fortified town and finally by the side of a quite new
building of great height, clean and formal, which, at first sight, may
be a barrack or a soap factory, but there are neither soldiers nor (I
think) soap in Gorbio.

From this point the town becomes merely incoherent. It expresses itself
in terms of delirium. There are streets that go up and down like the
hump of a camel, streets that form parts of circles and streets that
form parts of squares. A map of all the lanes, passages, stairs and
tunnels of Gorbio would look like all the diagrams of Euclid mixed up
together. The surface of the town reproduces the undulations of the
waves of the sea. A man walking before you disappears and appears again
as if he walked on the ocean. The path may now be on a level with the
belfry of the church and now with the main door. Indeed the church goes
up and down as if it were a pier seen from the deck of a rolling ship.

It would seem as if, at one time, Gorbio had been in a plastic
condition, like a town made of wax, and that it had then been ruffled by
a hot and mighty wind and its streets and foundations thrown into
ripples which have hardened into stone. It would also seem as if this
convulsion had had the effect of mixing up the component parts of a
mediæval town with more modern structures. Thrown up on the summit of
Gorbio is the square tower of the old castle; but it is so fused with
stables and poor dwellings that, but for its exquisite window, it might
be a hayloft over a cow-house. Mule-paths are mixed up with vaulted
passages and narrow lanes with cellar stairs, a prison wall with a
grilled window has become the wall of a cottage, bits of a feudal
fortress have been melted up with hovels, a fine arch of stone leads to
a donkey-shed, the portal of a chapter house to a mean kitchen, while
the hall of a _palazzo_ has become a pen for goats. Forever above this
jumble of buildings there rises, like the steam from a witches’
cauldron, the smell of a stable of so horrible a kind that not even a
Hercules could cleanse it.

[Illustration: A STREET IN ST. AGNES.]

Gorbio is a town of five hundred and fifty inhabitants, placed at a
height of 1,425 feet above the sea. It is a very ancient place, for Dr.
Müller finds an account of its castle as far back as the year 1002. The
town has had its full share of misfortunes and horrors. It has been
possessed, in turn, by the Counts of Ventimiglia, by the Genoese, by the
Grimaldi and by the great family of the Lascaris. Each change of tenancy
meant a more or less liberal amount of bloodshed. At one time, namely in
1257, it was the property of the beautiful Beatrix of Provence, she who
was platonically beloved by the troubadour of Eze (page 126). It may be
sure that under the rule of this gentle lady Gorbio had at least some
days of peace. It is no wonder that with all its troubles and with all
the assaults it has received it has been battered out of shape and has
become, in its old age, so very queer.

A ragged mule-path mounts up from Gorbio to St. Agnes. It is very steep
and its length is measured not by metres but by minutes; for if you ask
how far it is to St. Agnes the answer is an hour to an hour and a half.
St. Agnes as a town is not simply queer, it is frankly ridiculous. It is
perched on the sharp point of a cone of precipitous rock and, from afar,
looks like a brown beetle clinging to the top of a grey sugarloaf. How
it came to be placed there no one can say, for a cautious eagle would
hesitate to make its home at such a height. If it wanted to get away
from the world it has succeeded, for it is nearly out of it. It can
scarcely be said to be on the face of the earth, but rather on the tip
of its nose.

There are no means of reaching St. Agnes except by a mule-path or a
balloon. Nothing on wheels has ever entered the precincts of the town.
Thus it happens that the most curious “sights” at St. Agnes are a piano
and a great chandelier in one of the two excellent restaurants of the
place. The interest inspired by these articles is not intrinsic, but is
aroused by the wonder as to how they got there. The spectacle of a mule
toiling up a path, as steep as a stair, with a piano on its back,
followed by another mule bearing a wide-spreading chandelier and perhaps
by a third laden with a wardrobe is a spectacle to marvel at.

St. Agnes is a town of about five hundred inhabitants standing at an
altitude of 2,200 feet. How the people live and why they live where they
do is an economic and social problem of the profoundest character, for
the country just around St. Agnes is as bare as a boulder. The town
itself is of the colour of sackcloth and ashes, being drab and brown. In
general disposition it is very like Gorbio, being as old, as deranged
and as inconsequent. There are the same arcades, the same vaulted
passages, the same erratic lanes. The church resembles the church at
Gorbio. It bears the date 1744 but represents a building many centuries
older. High up above the town, on a point of apparently inaccessible
rock, are the ruins of the castle which was, at one time, a famous
Saracen stronghold. It is represented now by a few broken and jagged
walls which can hardly be distinguished from the crags out of which they
spring. It is needless to say that the views from St. Agnes, both
towards the mountains and towards the sea, are superb.

[Illustration: A STREET IN ST. AGNES.]

The place is of great antiquity. Its early years are legendary, but from
the twelfth century onwards it played a part—and no small part—in the
affairs of the world around it. The details of its life and times differ
but slightly from those of Gorbio; for the fortunes of the two queer
towns were closely linked together.

To explain how St. Agnes ever came to exist it is necessary to resort to
legend and to the very hackneyed subject of the princess who lost her
way. The name of this particular royal lady was Agnes. She was unwisely
making a tour in this barren and impossible country, when the usual
terrific storm appeared with the usual result—the lady lost her way.
She must have lost it badly, for she found herself near the summit of
the crag upon which St. Agnes now stands. This is equivalent to a person
climbing up to the dome of St. Paul’s in the hope of finding there a way
that would lead to Fleet Street. The lady called upon her patron saint,
St. Agnes, to guide her to shelter and was miraculously directed to a
grotto near the spot where the town is now established. Hence the town
and hence the name.



                                 INDEX


          A

“A Winter at Mentone,” 271, 282

Agel, Mont, 13, 112, 194, 204, 209, 269

Alban, Mont, Fort on, 113

Alberti, S., “Istoria della citta de Sospello,” 287

Alps, view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13

Amadeus of Savoy, Eze sold to, 120

Amilheta de Baus, 125

“Annals,” by John Stowe, 121

Anne of Orleans pays homage to “Our Lady of Laghet,” 233

Antoin, Prince, builds fort at Monaco, 169

Arabs (_see_ Saracens)

“Architecture of Provence,” by MacGibbon, 100

Arles, burial place of St. Trophime at, 51
  Roman road to, 36, 194, 208, 279
  Saracens at, 4

Augustus Cæsar at Monaco, 143, 144
  monument at La Turbie, erected by, 194, 206, 214 _et seq._, 227, 260

“Aurelian Way” (_see_ Via Aureliana)

Avignon, sold by Queen Jeanne to the Pope, 87
  trial of Queen Jeanne at, 86

Aymes, Count (Prince of Narbonne), story of, 221, 222


          B

Balbo, Pierre, of Ventimiglia, purchase of Castillon by, 283

Baller, John, “Historical Particulars Relative to Southampton,” 121

Baoussé-Roussé, the, Mentone, Barma-Grande Cave at, 278
  prehistoric caves at, 274 _et seq._

Barbarossa, Hariadan (Redbeard), attack on Eze by, 127, 128, 130, 131, 137
  siege of Nice and, 28, 30, 127

Barbary pirates at Nice, 20

“Barbet,” history of term, 262

Barcelona, sacked by Carlo I, 166

Baring-Gould, S. “Riviera,” 34

“Bastard of Gorbio,” and betrayal of Eze, 129
  attempt to betray La Turbie by, 133
  capture and death of, 133

Bautucan, pre-historic camp of, 259

Beatrix of Provence, and Gorbio, 301

Beatrix of Savoy, marriage and children of, 126
  story of, 80 _et seq._

Beaulieu, 112

Bellaudière, Bellaud de la, memorial tablet to, at Grasse, 75

Bellegarde, de, and Bellanda Tower, Nice, 23

Bellot, Jacques (of Grasse), carvings by, at Vence, 64

Beranger (IV), Raymond, and troubadours of Eze, 123, 126
  story of, 80 _et seq._
  war against Riviera towns by, 125

Beranger-Feraud, “Contes Populaires des Provençaux,” by, 80

Bevera River, 289

Blacas, troubadour of Eze, 122 _et seq._, 141
  marriage of, 125

Blacasette, troubadour of Eze, story of, 123 _et seq._

“Black Death” at Vence, 56

Bonaparte, Princess Pauline, at Grasse, 72, 73

Bordighera, Via Aureliana at, 208
  as seen from La Turbie, 216

Borghese, Prince, 73

Boron, Mont, 31

Bosio, Urbain, “La Province des Alpes Maritimes,” 21, 22, 254
  “Le Vieux Monaco,” 154, 155, 157, 158, 262

Bouche, Honoré, “La Chorographie et l’Histoire de Provence,” by, 51

Bréa, General, House of, at Mentone, 270

Bréa, Ludovici, paintings by, at Cimiez, 39

Briançon and Louise de Cabris, 88, 89
  quarrel with Mirabeau, 95

Brignole, Marchesa di, at reception of her daughter at Monaco, 183

Brignole, Maria Caterina, marriage with Honorius III of Monaco, 181 _et
  seq._
  marriage with Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé, 186

Burgundians, invasion of Riviera by, 3


          C

Cabris, Castle of, 72

Cabris, Louise de, at convent of Sisteron, 95
  flight from France, 95
  House of, at Grasse, 71, 72
  story of, 87 _et seq._

Cabris, Marquis de, death of, 95
  House of, in Grasse, 71

Cagnes, Castle of, 99
  description of, 97 _et seq._
  inhabitants reproved for dancing by Bishop of Vence, 98
  Place Grimaldi, 98

Caïs, Gaspard de, and siege of Nice, 33
  attempt to betray La Turbie by, 133
  betrayal of Eze by, 128 _et seq._, 137
  capture and death of, 133

Calais, siege of, 168

Cannes, Corniche d’Or, near, 8
  Paganini’s body taken to, 116

Capitaine, the, La Grande Corniche at, 13

Careï, Valley of the, 281, 282

Carlo I of Monaco (“Charles the Seaman”) and Monaco, 143, 165
  at Gibraltar, 168
  at siege of Calais, 168
  attack on Southampton by, 121, 122
  blockades Genoa, 166, 167
  death of, 169
  defeated by Duke of Genoa, 169
  defeats Catalans, 166
  defeats English Fleet, 167
  Don Jayme III and, 168
  fights Greeks and Venetians, 168
  fleet of, 165 _et seq._
  marriage with Lucinetta Spinola, 165
  peace with Genoa and, 169
  Pierre IV of Aragon and, 168
  purchase of Mentone by, 268
  sacks Barcelona, 166
  sells Roquebrune to Guglielmo Lascaris, 254
  wounded at Crécy, 168

Carlone, Fresco by, of “Fall of Phæton,” at Cagnes, 100

Carnival at Nice, 16, 17

Carthaginians in Riviera, 1

Casimir, Philippe M., “La Turbie et son Trophée Romain,” 226, 228, 229,
  230

Castellar de la Brasca, Le, 259

Castellaretto, the, 259

Castillon, captured by Charles of Anjou, 283
  captured by Genoese, 283
  captured by Saracens, 283
  church at, 284
  description of, 281 _et seq._
  earthquake at, 134, 282
  Romans at, 282
  sold to Pierre Balbo of Ventimiglia, 283

Catalans, attack on Monaco by, 166

“Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France,” by E. W. Rose, 50

Cemenelum (Cimiez), Roman city of, 20, 36, 209, 210

Ceva, Boniface, and siege of Nice, 33
Charlemagne and Abbey of St. Pons, 40

Charles V, Emperor, meeting between Pope Paul III and François I and, 28
  siege of Nice and, 29 _et seq._

Charles Emmanuel II, homage by, to Our Lady of Laghet, 233

Charles of Anjou, Prince of Provence, builds Naval Arsenal at Nice, 20
  captures Castillon, 283

Charles of Durazzo and Queen Jeanne, 87

“Charles the Seaman” (_see_ Carlo I)

Château d’If, imprisonment of Mirabeau in, 91

Chauve de Tourette, Mont, 13

Chemin de la Corniche, Marseilles, 8

“Choix des Poésies Orig. des Troubadours,” Reynouard, 123

“Chorographie du Comté de Nice,” by Louis Durante, 215

Cimiez, 12
  amphitheatre at, 36
  foundation of, by Romans, 20, 36, 209
  Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi at, 37

Claudine, Princess, of Monaco, story of, 170 _et seq._

Col d’Eze, La Grande Corniche at, 13

Col de la Garde, 281, 283

Col des Quatre Chemins, La Grande Corniche at, 12

“Contes Populaires des Provençaux,” Beranger-Feraud, 80

Cook, T. A., “Old Provence,” 180, 262

Corniche, derivation of, 8

Corniche de Grasse, 8

Corniche d’Or, near Cannes, 8

“Corniche Road, The” (La Grande Corniche), 8 _et seq._
  approach to Eze from, 136
  at La Turbie, 224
  Via Aureliana and, 209

Corniche roads, 8

Cours Saleya at Nice, 17, 20

Crécy, Battle of, 168

Cros, Le, pre-historic camp of, 259

Cypières, René de, and Huguenots at Vence, 55


          D

Davies, J. S.,”History of Southampton,” 121

D’Ail, Cap, pre-historic camps at, 259

d’Alais, Comte, and capture of Monaco by French, 179

d’Entrevannes, Blanche, story of, 44, 45-48

Dempster, Miss C. L. N., “The Maritime Alps and their Seaboard,” by, 52,
  85

Dévote (_see_ St. Dévote)

“Donna Maufaccia” (_see_ Segurana)

Doria, Bartolomeo, at Monaco, 172
  murder of Prince Lucien by, 175

Doria, of Genoa, wounded at Crécy, 168

Drap, 12

Durandy, “Mon Pays, Villages, etc., de la Riviera,” by, 123, 221, 254

Durante, Louis, “Chorographie du Comté de Nice,” 215
  “History of Nice,” 34


          E

Edward III defeats French at Crécy, 168
  war between Philip of Valois and, 166

Emmanuel Philibert Tower, on Cap de St. Hospice, 108, 110, 111

Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, and Chapel of St. Hospice, 107

Eze, attack by French on, 127
  attack by Turks on, 127
  Bay of, 13
  betrayal of, 127 _et seq._
  capture by Turks of, 130
  castle of, 119, 134, 140
  ceded to France, 120
  church of, 140
  earthquake at, 134
  La Grande Corniche at, 12, 13
  legend of the Stream of Blood and, 109
  Lombards at, 118, 119
  Lords of, 120
  _Mairie_ of, 140
  “masculinity” of, 255
  Moors’ Gate at, 137
  new town of, 134, 135 _et seq._
  Phœnicians at, 118
  pirates of, attack Southampton, 121
  plague at, 120
  purchased by Carlo Grimaldi, 122
  Romans at, 118
  Rue du Brek, 140
  Saracens at, 4, 119
  sold to Amadeus of Savoy, 120
  story of, 118 _et seq._
  troubadours of, 80, 123 _et seq._
  Ughetta de Baus’ life in, 125
  view of, from Cap de St. Hospice, 112
  view of, from La Turbie—Cap d’Ail Road, 135


          F

Falicon, 12

Ferrando, Lord of Eze, 120

Ferrat, Cap, 12, 104
  attack by Lombards on, 107
  St. Hospice at, 105

Flower harvest at Grasse, 78

Flowers, Battle of, 16, 17

Fourche, Mont, La Grande Corniche and, 13

Fragonard, birthplace of, at Grasse, 74
  statue to, at Grasse, 73
  “Washing the Disciples’ Feet,” 75

François I, attack on Eze by, 127
  meeting between Pope Paul III and Emperor Charles V and, 28
  siege of Nice and, 29 _et seq._, 127

Fréron and Pauline Bonaparte, 72


          G

Gauls, occupation of Vence by, 49

Gaumates, Ravin des, 147, 148

Gaumates, Vallon des, 207

Genoa, blockaded by Carlo I, 166, 167
  Monaco granted to, 145, 161
  Paganini’s body taken to, 116
  peace with Carlo I and, 169
  stones from monument at La Turbie at, 219
  Via Aureliana at, 208

Genoa, Duke of, capture of Monaco by, 169

Ghibellines, war between Guelphs and, 5, 155, 161, 214, 218, 282

Gibraltar, Carlo I attacks Moors at, 168

Godeau, Bishop, death of, 52-3

Gorbio, description of, 297, 298
  old castle of, 300

Gorbio, Lord of (_see_ “Bastard of Gorbio”)

Gorges du Loup, Les, 13

Goths, invasion of Riviera by, 3

Gourdon, Marquis de, mansion of, at Grasse, 74

Grammont, Charlotte de, House of, at Monaco, 158
  founds convent at Monaco, 158

Grasse, history of, 67 _et seq._
  Avenue Maximin Isnard, 71
  Bellaudière memorial tablet at, 75
  Boulevard de Jeu de Ballon, 71, 72
  Boulevard Fragonard, 74
  Cabris House in, 71, 87
  church of, 74, 75
  Cours, the, 70, 71, 73
  flower harvest at, 77
  Fragonard statue at, 73
  Fragonard’s birthplace, 74
  House of Marquis de Villeneuve-Bargemon at, 74
  Mirabeau at, 89, 90, 91
  old town of, 70 _et seq._
  Passage Mirabeau, 71, 72
  Place aux Aires, 76, 84
  Place du Marché, 74
  Place Neuve, 70, 71
  Pontevès, Hôtel de, 72, 73
  Porte de Cours, 71
  Porte de la Roque, 71
  Porte Neuve, 71
  Queen Jeanne’s Palace at, 77
  reliquary of St. Honorat at, 75
  Revolutionary Tribunal at, 72
  Roberta’s house at, 76
  Robespierre at, 73
  Rue de l’Evêché, 77
  Rue de l’Oratoire, 76
  Rue des Cordeliers, 71
  Rue Droite, 76
  Rue du Cours, 71, 72, 76, 87
  Rue Tracastel, 74
  Rue Mougins-Roquefort, 77
  Rue Rêve Vieille, 77
  Rue Sans Peur, 77
  siege of, 67, 68, 69
  soap and scent factories at, 77
  Tour du Puy at, 75

“Grasse and its Vicinity,” by Walter J. Kaye, 65, 68, 69, 73, 75, 77

“Great Schism of the West,” 87

Greeks at Monaco, 144

Grignan, Comte de, and siege of Nice, 30, 31

Grimaldi, Augustin, restores Roquebrune Castle, 255

Grimaldi, Bishop, and Huguenots at Vence, 54

Grimaldi, Carlo (_see_ Carlo I)

Grimaldi, Francis, capture of Monaco by, 161 _et seq._
  death of, 164

Grimaldi, Gibellino, defeats the Saracens, 4

Grimaldi, Lambert, marriage of, with Princess Claudine of Monaco, 171-2

Grimaldi, Nicolas, Lord of Antibes, 172

Grimaldi, the, war between the Spinola and, for Monaco, 161, 164, 165
  and Gorbio, 300

Grimaldo, Benoit (Oliva), and siege of Nice, 33

Gros, Mont, La Grande Corniche and, 12

Guelphs, war between Ghibellines and, 5, 155, 161, 214, 218, 282


          H

Hare, Augustus J., “The Rivieras,” by, 52, 146, 232, 266, 269

Henry VI, Emperor, grants Monaco to Genoa, 145

Hercules, Prince, of Monaco, and Spain, 176
  murder of, 176

“Histoire Littéraire de la France,” 123

“Historical Particulars Relative to Southampton,” by John Ballar, 121

“History of Nice,” by Durante, 34

“History of Provence,” Nostredame, 34

“History of Southampton,” J. S. Davies, 121

Honoré V, Prince of Monaco, and Gardens of St. Martin at Monaco, 159

Honorius I, of Monaco, and Spanish protection, 176

Honorius II, palace of, at Mentone, 271

Honorius III, wedding ceremony of, 181 _et seq._

Horn, Mr. Galbraith, secretary of Monte Carlo Golf Club, 204

Huguenots in Vence, 54-58


          I

Innocent II, Pope, and Chapel of St. Hospice, 107

“Istoria della citta de Sospello,” by S. Alberti, 287

Italy, coast of, view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13


          J

Jayme II, of Majorca, Carlo I and, 168

Jean, Prince, of Monaco, murder of, 172

Jeanne, Queen, death of, 87
  palace of, at Grasse, 77
  story of, 84-87

Justicier, Mont, Chapel of St. Roch at, 263
  gallows at, 261
  quarry at, 261
  Via Aureliana at, 209


          K

Kaye, Walter J., “Grasse and its Vicinity,” by, 63, 68, 69, 73, 75, 77

Knights Templars, “The Great Ship” of, 114


          L

L’Abeoilo, prehistoric camp of, 259

“La Chorographie et l’Histoire de Provence,” by Honoré Bouche, 51

“La Province des Alpes Maritimes” (Bosio), 21, 22, 254, 262

La Trinité-Victor, Roman station at 12, 36, 209

La Turbie, attempted betrayal of, 133
  Bakehouse Street, 225
  Belvedere at, 215
  Bordina path to, 207
  Cemetery road to, 207
  Church of, 230
  Corniche Road at, 13, 224
  Cours St. Bernard, 225
  description of, 224 _et seq._
  history of, 214 _et seq._
  hotel at, 206
  Hôtel de Ville of, 226
  La Grande Corniche at, 13, 224
  La Portette, 228
  Lazare’s house at, 229
  Moneghetti, path to, 207
  Place Mitto, 227
  Place St. Jean, 226
  Portail de Nice, 209, 225
  Portail du Recinto, 226, 227, 228
  Portail Romain, 209, 225
  railway to, 204
  Roman gate at, 209, 225
  Roman monument at, 2, 144, 147, 214 _et seq._, 227
  Roman town at, 208, 209, 213
  Rue Capouanne, 228
  Rue de Ghetto, 229
  Rue de l’Eglise, 230
  Rue Droite, 225
  Rue du Four (Bakehouse Street), 225
  Rue Incalet, 230
  St. Michael’s Church, 30
  Saracens at, 4
  secures local independence, 229
  seen from Monte Carlo, 206
  Via Aureliana at, 209
  view of, from Cap de St. Hospice, 112

“La Turbie et son Trophée Romain,” by M. Philippe Casimir, 226, 228, 229,
  230

Laghet, Convent of, 229, 231 _et seq._
  fountain at, 232
  Madonna of, 229, 231
  miracles at, 233
  monastery at, 233; ex-voto pictures at, 234, 238
  pilgrimage to, from Sospel, 288
  Roman road at, 12, 36, 209, 260

Lascaris, Guglielmo, purchases Roquebrune, 254

Lascaris, the, and Gorbio, 301
  and Huguenots at Vence, 54
  and Roquebrune, 243
  castle of, at Roquebrune, 243

Lascaris, Theodore, palace of, at Nice, 25, 26

Lazare, Denis, house of, at La Turbie, 229

Le Sueil, 13

“Le Vieux Monaco,” by Urbain Bosio, 154, 155, 157, 158

“Legendes et Contes de Provence,” by Martrin-Donos, 43

“Les Mirabeau,” by L. de Lomenie, 88

Lesdiguières, leader of Huguenot army, 57
  before Vence, 58

“Life of Mirabeau,” by S. G. Tailentyre, 88

Ligurian coast, the, Grimaldi and, 4, 5

Ligurians, defeat of, by Phocæans, 20
  defeat of Lombards by, at Cap Ferrat, 107
  in Riviera, 1, 2

Lombards, and St. Hospice, 105-107
  at Eze, 118, 119
  at La Turbie, 214, 218
  at Roquebrune, 252
  attack on Cap Ferrat by, 107
  invasion of Riviera by, 3
  occupation of Vence by, 49

Lomenie, L. de, “Les Mirabeau,” 88

Louis XIII confers Duchy of Valentinois on Prince of Monaco, 180

Louis XIV and Monaco, 153

Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé, marriage with Princess Maria Caterina, 186

Loveland, John D., “The Romance of Nice” (footnote), 26, 115

Lucien, Prince, of Monaco, and Bartolomeo Doria, 172
  defeats Genoese, 172
  murder of, by Doria, 175
  murder of his brother by, 172


          M

Macaron, Mont, 13

MacGibbon, “Architecture of Provence,” 100

Marignane, Mdlle., marriage with Mirabeau, 89

Maritime Alps, 204, 269

Marseilles, Chemin de la Corniche at, 8
  Duke of Savoy marches on, 57

Martin, Cap, seen from Roquebrune, 243
  view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13

Martrin-Donos, “Legendes et Contes de Provence,” 43

Massena, General, monument to, at the Col des Quatre Chemins, 12

Mentone, Baoussé-Roussé, the, 273
  birthplace of General Bréa at, 270
  Carlo Trenca’s house at, 270
  description of, 265 _et seq._
  East Bay, 265, 268, 269, 270
  fort at, 272
  Napoleon I at, 269
  old town of, 267, 269
  Palace of Princes of Monaco at, 271
  Place du Cap, 269
  Pope Pius VII at, 270
  road to, from La Grande Corniche, 13
  Rue de la Côte, 271
  Rue des Logettes, 269
  Rue du Bastion, 269
  Rue du Bréa, 267
  Rue du Vieux Château, 271
  Rue Lampedouze, 271
  Rue Longue, 209, 270, 271
  Rue St. Michel, 270
  Ruelle Giapetta, 269
  Saracens at, 4
  St. Julien Gate, 271
  St. Michael’s Church, 269, 272
  Via Aureliana at, 209
  Villas at, 266
  West Bay, 265, 268, 269, 270

“Mentone,” by Dr. George Müller, 208, 254, 268, 272, 287, 300

Merlanson Valley, 281

Merovingian carvings at Vence, 62

Métivier, Henri, “Monaco et ses Princes,” 149, 164, 171

Millin, A. L., “Voyages dans les Départements du Midi de la France,” 51

Mirabeau at Grasse, 89, 90, 91
  elopement of, with Madame de Monnier, 94, 95
  imprisonment in Château d’If, 91
  marriage of, with Mdlle. Marignane, 89

Mirabeau, Marquis de, 88, 92

Mirabeau, Rongelime (_see_ Cabris, Louise de)

Mistral, at Monaco, 156

“Mon Pays, Villages, etc., de la Riviera,” by Durandy, 123, 221, 254

Monaco, Avenue de la Porte Neuve, 152
  Boulevard de la Condamine, 2, 146
  captured by Duke of Genoa, 169
  captured by Francis Grimaldi, 161 _et seq._
  captured by French, 178, 179
  Carlo I and, 166
  Catalan attack on, 166
  Chapel of St. Dévote, 148, 149, 162, 193
  Chapel of St. Mary at, 144
  Convent of the Visitation at, 158
  Etablissement des Bains de Mer, 146
  fateful Christmas Eve at, 161 _et seq._
  Gardens of St. Martin at, 159
  Genoese attack on, 172
  Genoese fort at, 145
  Giardinetto of, 158
  Grammont, Charlotte de, house of, at, 158
  Great Casemate at, 159
  harbour of, 143 _et seq._
  history of, 143 _et seq._
  Honorius III, wedding ceremony of, at, 181
  Hôtel du Gouvernement at, 158
  House of the Governor at, 155
  Lucien murder at, 170 _et seq._
  Madonna of Mount Carmel at, 158
  _Mairie_ at, 158
  _Maison Commune_, 157
  “masculinity of,” 255
  Mint at, 158
  mistral at, 156
  museums at, 157, 159, 275
  old church at, 157
  old fort at, 159, 161
  palace at, 152, 153, 154, 155
  Palace of, at Mentone, 271
  Place de la Visitation at, 158
  pre-historic skeletons in museum at, 275
  Prince of, as man of science, 157
    indemnity from France to, 254
  Promenade Ste. Barbe, 156
  Rampe Major, at, 151, 152
  Ravin des Gaumates, 147, 148
  Rock of, 151 _et seq._
  Rue des Briques, 156, 158
  Rue des Carmes, 158
  Rue du Milieu, 156
  St. Nicolas Church at, 157, 161
  seen from Monte Carlo, 189, 193
  Spanish dominion of, 176 _et seq._
  Spinola and Grimaldi at, 161 _et seq._
  view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13

“Monaco et ses Princes,” by Henri Metivier, 149, 164, 171

Monnier, Madame de, elopement with Mirabeau, of, 94, 95

Monte Carlo, “atmosphere” of, 195
  Casino at, 156, 190, 191, 192, 194, 196, 197
  description of, 191 _et seq._
  diversions of, 195 _et seq._
  Dog Show at, 200
  false impressions of, 187, 188
  gambling at, 196-198
  golf at, 201-205
  mountains round, 206
  origin of name of, 191
  pigeon shooting at, 198
  pre-historic camps round, 2
  rack-and-pinion railway from, 207
  Roman monument at, 194
  seen from La Turbie, 216, 224
  terrace of, 194
  theatre at, 199
  view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13

Montfort, Count of (_see_ Odinet, Andrea)

Montmajour, Abbey of, St. Trophime’s cell in, 52

Moors (_see_ Saracens)

Mossen, Gianfret and Marcellino, capture of Gaspard de Caïs by, 133

Mules, Mont des, pre-historic camp at, 259

Müller, Dr. George, “Mentone,” 208, 254, 268, 272, 287, 300


          N

Napoleon I. and his sister, Princess Pauline, 73
  at Mentone, 269
  builds La Grande Corniche, 9

Napoleon III presents copy of Raphael’s “St. Michael” to La Turbie, 226

Nicæa, Phocæan city of, 20

Nice, annexed by France, 21
  Barbary pirates and, 20
  Bellanda Tower at, 23
  Boulevard du Pont Vieux, 22
  captured by Counts of Provence, 20
  carnival at, 16, 17
  Castle Hill at, 12, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 28, 32, 33, 35, 41
  Cathedral of St. Réparate, 27
  Charles of Anjou builds Naval Arsenal at, 20
  Cours Saleya, 17, 20
  Croix de Marbre, 28
  Dukes of Saxony and, 20
  French sieges of, 5, 20, 21, 29 _et seq._
  High Town of, 21
  Jetée-Promenade, 15
  La Grande Corniche and, 9, 12
  Lascaris Palace in Rue Droite, 25, 26
  Low Town of, 21, 22
  Malavicina Tower at, 23
  Nicode de Menthon and defences of, 21
  Old Town of, 19 _et seq._
  Paganini’s house at, 25, 115
  Païroliera Bastion at, 22, 31
  Païroliera Gate, 22
  Place Garibaldi, 22
  Place Victor, 22
  Pont Vieux, 28
  Porte de la Marine, 22
  Porte St. Antoine, 22, 23
  Porte St. Eloi, 22
  Promenade des Anglais, 14 _et seq._
  Quai St. Jean Baptiste, 23
  Rue Centrale, 27
  Rue de la Préfecture (No. 20), 25
  Rue de la Terrasse, 22
  Rue Droite, 23, 24, 25, 27
  Rue du Malonat, 25
  Rue Païroliere, 22
  Rue Sincaire, 22
  sacking of, by Saracens, 20
  Sainte Croix, Convent of, 28
  sieges of, 5, 20, 21, 28, 29, _et seq._, 127
  Sincaire Bastion at, 22
  stones from La Turbie in Cathedral at, 219
  Town Hall of, 27

Nicode de Menthon, and defences of Nice, 21

Nostredame’s “History of Provence,” 34


          O

Odinet, Andrea (Count of Montfort), and siege of Nice, 31

“Old Provence,” by T. A. Cook, 180, 262

Oliva (_see_ Grimaldo, Benoit)


          P

Pacanaglia, Mont, La Grande Corniche at, 13

Paganini, Achillino, 116

Paganini, body of, taken to Genoa and Cannes, 116
  burial of, at Parma, 116
  buried at Cap de St. Hospice, 116
  buried on Sainte Ferréol, 116
  death of, 114
  embalmment of, 117
  exhumation of, 117
  house of, at Nice, 25
  wanderings after death of, 25 (footnote)

Paillon River, 12, 21, 22, 39

Paillon Valley, 12

Palæolithic remains at Mentone, 273

Parma, burial of Paganini at, 116, 117

Paul III, Pope, meeting between François I, Emperor Charles V, 28

Peille, 12

Philibert Emmanuel, fortifications erected by, at Villefranche and Mt.
  Alban, 113
  tower of, at Cap de St. Hospice, 108, 110, 111

Philip of Valois, war between Edward III and, 166

Phœnicians at Eze, 118
  at Monaco, 144
  at Roquebrune, 252
  in Riviera, 1
  occupation of Vence, by, 49

Phocæans in Riviera, 2
  occupation of Vence by, 49
  reputed foundation of Nice by, 19, 20

Pierre IV of Aragon, and Carlo I, 168

Pisa, Via Aureliana at, 208

Pisani, Bishop, last Bishop of Vence, 53

Pius VII, Pope, at Mentone, 270

Pointe de Cabuel, 13

Pointe de la Vieille, 13

Pontevés, Hôtel de, at Grasse, 72, 73

“Précis de l’Histoire de Provence,” Terrin, 68

Pre-historic men, remains of, at Monte Carlo, 194

Provence and Mentone, 268
  conflicts of, with rulers of Northern Italy, 5
  Counts of, capture of Nice by, 20
  La Turbie and, 215

Provence, Saracens in, 4


          R

Redbeard (_see_ Barbarossa)

Red Cliff, the (_see_ Baoussé-Roussé)

René, King, death of, 61

Reynouard, “Choix des Poésies orig. des Troubadours,” 123

Ricard, Le, pre-historic camp at, 259

Ricotti, “Storia della Monarchia Piemontese,” 34

“Riviera,” by S. Baring-Gould, 34

Riviera, early history of, 1 _et seq._

Roberti, Dorla de, house of, at Grasse, 76

Robespierre at Grasse, 73

Rochers Rouges, Via Aureliana at, 209

Rocomare, M., account by, of siege of Grasse, 68-9

Romano-Byzantine carvings at Vence, 62

Romans at Castillon, 282
  at Eze, 118
  at Monaco, 143, 144
  at Roquebrune, 252
  at Sospel, 286
  foundation of Cimiez by, 20
  foundation of Vence by, 49
  in Riviera, 2
  milestones of, 260
  remains of, at Grasse, 75

Roquebrune, “Cabbé Roquebrune,” meaning of, 254
  Castle of the Lascaris at, 243
  church at, 242
  description of, 239 _et seq._
  “femininity” of, 255
  history of, 252 _et seq._
  legend of, 248 _et seq._
  Place des Frères at, 242, 244, 245, 249, 250, 257
  Rue Mongollet, 242
  Rue Pié, 241, 246
  view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13

Rose, E. W., “Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France,” 50

Rostagno, Lord of Eze, 120


          S

St. Agnes, Church of, 302
  description of town of, 301, 303
  legend of, 303
  Saracens at, 4

St. Agnes, hill of, 269

St. André, 12

St. Auspicius (_see_ St. Hospice)

Sainte Barbe, Chapel of, at Monaco, 156

St. Bernard, Chapel of, at La Turbie, 225

St. Clare, bust of, at St. Paul du Var, 103

St. Dévote, Chapel of, at Monaco, 148, 149, 162, 193
  legend of, 148, 149

St. Eusebius, first Bishop of Vence, 62

Sainte Ferréol, Island of, burial of Paganini on, 116

St. George, relics of, at St. Paul du Var, 103

St. Honorat, reliquary of, at Grasse, 75
  story of Tiburge and, 222, 223

St. Hospice, as miracle-worker, 106
  as prophet, 105
  death of, 107
  landing of, on Cap de St. Hospice, 105
  Lombards and, 105-107
  Memorial Chapel of, 107, 114, 115

St. Hospice, Cap de, 12, 104
  Emmanuel Philibert Tower on, 108, 110, 111
  first Christian settlement at, 105
  Knights of St. John at, 108
  “Legend of the Stream of Blood” and, 108, 109
  Paganini buried at, 115
  Saracen fortress on, 108

St. Hospice, Monastery of, 112

St. Jean, Chapel of, at La Turbie, 226

St. Jean (town of), description of, 109-110
  legend of, 108

St. Jeannet, view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13

St. Jeannet, Baou de, as landmark, 13

St. John, Knights of, at Cap de St. Hospice, 109

St. Lambert, tomb of, Vence Cathedral, 52

St. Laurent Valley, pre-historic camp in, 259

St. Mary, Chapel of, at Monaco, 144

St. Paul du Var, 97
  Bishop of Vence takes refuge at, 56
  Church of, 103
  description of, 101 _et seq._
  relics of St. George at, 103

St. Pons, 12
  Abbey of, 39
  Charlemagne at, 40
  convent at, 40;
    story of, 41 _et seq._

St. Roch, Chapel of, at Mont Justicier, 263

St. Theobald of Mondovi, 294

St. Tropez, 13

St. Trophime, burial place of, at Arles, 51
  cell of, in Montmajour Abbey, 52

St. Veran, tomb of, Vence Cathedral, 52, 63

Saracens, at Eze, 119
  at La Turbie, 214, 218
  at Monaco, 144
  at Roquebrune, 252, 253
  Castillon captured by, 283
  defeat of, 4
  fortress of, on Cap St. Hospice, 108
  invasion of Riviera by, 4
  occupation of Vence by, 49
  sacking of Nice by, 49

Savoy annexed by France, 21

Savoy, Dukes of, and Nice, 20
  invasion of Riviera by, 57

Segurana (“Donna Maufaccia”) and siege of Nice, 30, 34, 35

Sisteron, description of, 92, 93
  Rongelime de Mirabeau at Convent of, 92
  ruins of convent of, 93, 94

Sospel, 281
  Bishopric of, 287
  bridges at, 289
  Church of, 292
  description of, 286 _et seq._
  fair at, 287
  fire at, 287
  Piazza di San Michele, 287
  pilgrimage to Laghet from, 288
  Place St. Michel, 292
  plague at, 287, 288
  river front of, 291
  Rue de la République, 290
  Rue du Château, 291
  Rue Pellegrini, 291
  Rue St. Pierre, 292
  wild boar and, 294 _et seq._

Southampton, attack on, by pirates from Eze, 121

Spain, Domination of Monaco by, 176 _et seq._
  Saracens in, 4

Spezia, Via Aureliana at, 208

Spinola, Lucinetta, marriage with Carlo I, 165

Spinola, the, war between the Grimaldi and, for Monaco, 161, 164

“Storia della Monarchia Piemontese,” Ricotti, 34

Stowe, John, account of attack on Southampton by, 121
  “Annals,” 121

Surian, Bishop, story of, 53

Swabians, invasion of Riviera by, 3


          T

Tallentyre, S. G., “Life of Mirabeau,” 88

Taurobolium, ceremony of, 51, 62

_Terrasses_ at Nice, 18

Terrin, “Précis de l’Histoire de Provence,” 68

Tête de Chien, 13, 112, 194, 209, 263

“The Maritime Alps and their Seaboard,” by Miss C. L. U. Dempster, 52, 85

“The Riviera,” 120

“The Rivieras,” by Augustus J. Hare, 52, 146, 232, 266, 269

“The Romance of Nice,” by John D. Loveland, 26, 115 (footnotes)

“The Vence Handbook,” 61, 62, 63, 64

Tiburge, wife of Count Aymes, story of, 221-223

Treets, Raimbaud de, story of, 44-48

Trenca, Chevalier Carlo, and Mentone, 268, 270

Turbia, Roman town of, 208 (_see_ La Turbie)

Turks, attack on Eze by, 127
  sacking of Roquebrune, 254


          U

Ughetta de Baus, wife of Blacas, 125


          V

Valentinois, Duchy of, conferred on Prince of Monaco, 180

Valerianus, Lucius Veludius, commemorative inscription to, at Vence, 50,
  51, 62

Vandals, invasion of Riviera by, 3

Vence, as Defender of the Faith, 49 _et seq._
  Bishop Godeau of, 52, 53
  bishopric founded at, 52
  Black Death at, 56
  Boulevard Marcelin-Maurel, 60, 61
  Church of, 61, 62
  converted to Christianity, 51
  description of, 59 _et seq._
  East Gate of, 60
  history of, 49 _et seq._
  Huguenots in, 54-58
  Merovingian carvings at, 62
  old town of, 65
  Place du Peyra at, 61
  Place Godeau, 64
  Place Wilson, 61
  Portail du Peyra, 61
  Portail Levis at, 61
  Roman inscriptions at, 50, 51, 62
  Romans at, 49, 50
  Rue de la Coste, 61
  St. Eusebius, first Bishop of, 62
  siege of, by Lesdiguières, 58
  Signadour Gate at, 60
  tomb of St. Veran at, 63
  tombs of bishops in Cathedral of, 52
  tombs of Villeneuves at, 63
  view of, from La Grande Corniche, 13
  Villeneuves and, 53, 63
  watch tower of, 65

“Vence,” by J. D., 61

Ventimiglia and Mentone, 268

Ventimiglia, Counts of, 254, 256, 283, 301
  Via Aureliana at, 208

Ventium (Vence), Roman station of, 49

Vento, the, and Mentone, 268
  Roquebrune sold to, 254

Via Aureliana, as frontier boundary between Italy and Gaul, 209
  highest point of, 209
  milestones on, 260
  route of, 36, 194, 208, 279

Vibia, commemorative inscription to, at Vence, 50, 51, 62

Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, 22 (footnote)

Victor Amédée pays homage to “Our Lady of Laghet,” 233

Villars, Maréchal de, and monument at La Turbie, 219

Villefranche, 112, 113
  citadel of, 113
  Paganini and, 114
  “The Great Ship” launched at, 114

Villeneuve, Romée de, story of, 80 _et seq._

Villeneuve-Bargemon, Marquis de, House of, at Grasse, 74

Villeneuve-Loubet, Lords of, 53

Villeneuve-Monans, Baron de, and Louise de Cabris, 90

Villeneuves, the, and Vence, 53, 54
  tombs of, at Vence, 63

Vinaigrier, Mont, La Grande Corniche and, 12

Viteola, Guglielmo, story of wild boar and, 294 _et seq._

“Voyages dans les Départements du Midi de la France,” by A. L. Millin, 51


          W

William of Marseilles, Count of Provence, defeats the Saracens, 4

 Printed by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C.4
                               F. 25.221

                 *        *        *        *        *

Transcriber’s Notes:

The Roquebrune referred in this book is now known as
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

Spelling and hyphenation have been left as in the original. A few
obvious typesetting and punctuation errors have been corrected without
note. Some illustrations have been moved slightly from their original
locations to keep paragraphs intact.


[End of _The Riviera of the Corniche Road_ by Frederick Treves]





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