A Little Tour In France
Henry James

Part 3 out of 5

doubtless, also, be struck with the grovelling vision
which, on such a spot as the ramparts of Poitiers,
peoples itself with carrots and cabbages rather than
with images of the Black Prince and the captive king.
I am not sure that in looking out from the Promenade
de Blossac you command the old battle-field; it is
enough that it was not far off, and that the great rout
of Frenchmen poured into the walls of Poitiers, leav-
ing on the ground a number of the fallen equal to
the little army (eight thousand) of the invader. I did
think of the battle. I wondered, rather helplessly,
where it had taken place; and I came away (as the
reader will see from the preceding sentence) without
finding out. This indifference, however, was a result
rather of a general dread of military topography than
of a want of admiration of this particular victory,
which I have always supposed to be one of the most
brilliant on record. Indeed, I should be almost
ashamed, and very much at a loss, to say what light
it was that this glorious day seemed to me to have
left forever on the horizon, and why the very name of
the place had always caused my blood gently to tingle.
It is carrying the feeling of race to quite inscrutable
lengths when a vague American permits himself an
emotion because more than five centuries ago, on
French soil, one rapacious Frenchman got the better
of another. Edward was a Frenchman as well as
John, and French were the cries that urged each of
the hosts to the fight. French is the beautiful motto
graven round the image of the Black Prince, as he
lies forever at rest in the choir of Canterbury: _a la
mort ne pensai-je mye_. Nevertheless, the victory of
Poitiers declines to lose itself in these considerations;
the sense of it is a part of our heritage, the joy of it
a part of our imagination, and it filters down through
centuries and migrations till it titillates a New Yorker
who forgets in his elation that he happens at that
moment to be enjoying the hospitality of France. It
was something done, I know not how justly, for Eng-
land; and what was done in the fourteenth century
for England was done also for New York.


If it was really for the sake of the Black Prince
that I had stopped at Poitiers (for my prevision of
Notre Dame la Grande and of the little temple of St.
John was of the dimmest), I ought to have stopped at
Angouleme for the sake of David and Eve Sechard,
of Lucien de Rubempre and of Madame de Bargeton,
who when she wore a _toilette etudiee_ sported a Jewish
turban ornamented with an Eastern brooch, a scarf of
gauze, a necklace of cameos, and a robe of "painted
muslin," whatever that may be; treating herself to
these luxuries out of an income of twelve thousand
francs. The persons I have mentioned have not that
vagueness of identity which is the misfortune of his-
torical characters; they are real, supremely real, thanks
to their affiliation to the great Balzac, who had invented
an artificial reality which was as much better than the
vulgar article as mock-turtle soup is than the liquid it
emulates. The first time I read "Les Illusions Perdues"
I should have refused to believe that I was capable of
passing the old capital of Anjou without alighting to
visit the Houmeau. But we never know what we are
capable of till we are tested, as I reflected when I
found myself looking back at Angouleme from the
window of the train, just after we had emerged from
the long tunnel that passes under the town. This
tunnel perforates the hill on which, like Poitiers,
Angouleme rears itself, and which gives it an eleva-
tion still greater than that of Poitiers. You may have
a tolerable look at the cathedral without leaving the
railway-carriage; for it stands just above the tunnel,
and is exposed, much foreshortened, to the spectator
below. There is evidently a charming walk round the
plateau of the town, commanding those pretty views
of which Balzac gives an account. But the train
whirled me away, and these are my only impressions.
The truth is that I had no need, just at that moment,
of putting myself into communication with Balzac; for
opposite to me in the compartment were a couple of
figures almost as vivid as the actors in the "Comedie
Humaine." One of these was a very genial and dirty
old priest, and the other was a reserved and concen-
trated young monk, - the latter (by which I mean a
monk of any kind) being a rare sight to-day in France.
This young man, indeed, was mitigatedly monastic.
He had a big brown frock and cowl, but he had also
a shirt and a pair of shoes; he had, instead of a
hempen scourge round his waist, a stout leather thong,
and he carried with him a very profane little valise.
He also read, from beginning to end, the "Figaro"
which the old priest, who had done the same, presented
to him; and he looked altogether as if, had he not
been a monk, he would have made a distinguished
officer of engineers. When he was not reading the
"Figaro" he was conning his breviary or answering,
with rapid precision and with a deferential but dis-
couraging dryness, the frequent questions of his com-
panion, who was of quite another type. This worthy
had a bored, good-natured, unbuttoned, expansive
look; was talkative, restless, almost disreputably human.
He was surrounded by a great deal of small luggage,
and had scattered over the carriage his books, his
papers, the fragments of his lunch, and the contents
of an extraordinary bag, which he kept beside him -
a kind of secular reliquary - and which appeared to
contain the odds and ends of a lifetime, as he took
from it successively a pair of slippers, an old padlock
(which evidently didn't belong to it), an opera-glass, a
collection of almanacs, and a large sea-shell, which he
very carefully examined. I think that if he had not
been afraid of the young monk, who was so much
more serious than he, he would have held the shell to
his ear, like a child. Indeed, he was a very childish
and delightful old priest, and his companion evidently
thought him most frivolous. But I liked him the better
of the two. He was not a country cure, but an eccle-
siastic of some rank, who had seen a good deal both
of the church and of the world; and if I too had not
been afraid of his colleague, who read the "Figaro"
as seriously as if it had been an encyclical, I should
have entered into conversation with him.

All this while I was getting on to Bordeaux, where
I permitted myself to spend three days. I am afraid
I have next to nothing to show for them, and that
there would be little profit in lingering on this episode,
which is the less to be justified as I had in former
years examined Bordeaux attentively enough. It con-
tains a very good hotel, - an hotel not good enough,
however, to keep you there for its own sake. For the
rest, Bordeaux is a big, rich, handsome, imposing com-
mercial town, with long rows of fine old eighteenth-
century houses, which overlook the yellow Garonne. I
have spoken of the quays of Nantes as fine, but those
of Bordeaux have a wider sweep and a still more
architectural air. The appearance of such a port as
this makes the Anglo-Saxon tourist blush for the sor-
did water-fronts of Liverpool and New York, which,
with their larger activity, have so much more reason
to be stately. Bordeaux gives a great impression of
prosperous industries, and suggests delightful ideas,
images of prune-boxes and bottled claret. As the focus
of distribution of the best wine in the world, it is in-
deed a sacred city, - dedicated to the worship of
Bacchus in the most discreet form. The country all
about it is covered with precious vineyards, sources of
fortune to their owners and of satisfaction to distant
consumers; and as you look over to the hills beyond
the Garonne you see them in the autumn sunshine,
fretted with the rusty richness of this or that immortal
_clos_. But the principal picture, within the town, is that
of the vast curving quays, bordered with houses that
look like the _hotels_ of farmers-general of the last cen-
tury, and of the wide, tawny river, crowded with ship-
ping and spanned by the largest of bridges. Some of
the types on the water-side are of the sort that arrest
a sketcher, - figures of stalwart, brown-faced Basques,
such as I had seen of old in great numbers at Biarritz,
with their loose circular caps, their white sandals, their
air of walking for a wager. Never was a tougher, a
harder race. They are not mariners, nor watermen,
but, putting questions of temper aside, they are the
best possible dock-porters. "Il s'y fait un commerce
terrible," a _douanier_ said to me, as he looked up and
down the interminable docks; and such a place has
indeed much to say of the wealth, the capacity for
production, of France, - the bright, cheerful, smokeless
industry of the wonderful country which produces,
above all, the agreeable things of life, and turns even
its defeats and revolutions into gold. The whole town
has an air of almost depressing opulence, an appear-
ance which culminates in the great _place_ which sur-
rounds the Grand-Theatre, - an establishment in the
highest style, encircled with columns, arcades, lamps,
gilded cafes. One feels it to be a monument to the
virtue of the well-selected bottle. If I had not for-
bidden myself to linger, I should venture to insist on
this, and, at the risk of being considered fantastic,
trace an analogy between good claret and the best
qualities of the French mind; pretend that there is a
taste of sound Bordeaux in all the happiest manifes-
tations of that fine organ, and that, correspondingly,
there is a touch of French reason, French complete-
ness, in a glass of Pontet-Canet. The danger of such
an excursion would lie mainly in its being so open to
the reader to take the ground from under my feet by
saying that good claret doesn't exist. To this I should
have no reply whatever. I should be unable to tell
him where to find it. I certainly didn't find it at
Bordeaux, where I drank a most vulgar fluid; and it
is of course notorious that a large part of mankind is
occupied in vainly looking for it. There was a great
pretence of putting it forward at the Exhibition which
was going on at Bordeaux at the time of my visit, an
"exposition philomathique," lodged in a collection of
big temporary buildings in the Allees d'Or1eans, and
regarded by the Bordelais for the moment as the most
brilliant feature of their city. Here were pyramids of
bottles, mountains of bottles, to say nothing of cases
and cabinets of bottles. The contemplation of these
glittering tiers was of course not very convincing; and
indeed the whole arrangement struck me as a high
impertinence. Good wine is not an optical pleasure,
it is an inward emotion; and if there was a chamber
of degustation on the premises, I failed to discover it.
It was not in the search for it, indeed, that I spent
half an hour in this bewildering bazaar. Like all
"expositions," it seemed to me to be full of ugly
things, and gave one a portentous idea of the quantity
of rubbish that man carries with him on his course
through the ages. Such an amount of luggage for a
journey after all so short! There were no individual
objects; there was nothing but dozens and hundreds,
all machine-made and expressionless, in spite of the
repeated grimace, the conscious smartness, of "the last
new thing," that was stamped on all of them. The
fatal facility, of the French _article_ becomes at last as
irritating as the refrain of a popular song. The poor
"Indiens Galibis" struck me as really more interesting,
- a group of stunted savages who formed one of the
attractions of the place, and were confined in a pen
in the open air, with a rabble of people pushing and
squeezing, hanging over the barrier, to look at them.
They had no grimace, no pretension to be new, no
desire to catch your eye. They looked at their visitors
no more than they looked at each other, and seemed
ancient, indifferent, terribly bored.


There is much entertainment in the journey through
the wide, smiling garden of Gascony; I speak of it as
I took it in going from Bordeaux to Toulouse. It is
the south, quite the south, and had for the present
narrator its full measure of the charm he is always
determined to find in countries that may even by
courtesy be said to appertain to the sun. It was,
moreover, the happy and genial view of these mild
latitudes, which, Heaven knows, often have a dreari-
ness of their own; a land teeming with corn and wine,
and speaking everywhere (that is, everywhere the phyl-
loxera had not laid it waste) of wealth and plenty.
The road runs constantly near the Garonne, touching
now and then its slow, brown, rather sullen stream, a
sullenness that encloses great dangers and disasters.
The traces of the horrible floods of 1875 have dis-
appeared, and the land smiles placidly enough while
it waits for another immersion. Toulouse, at the period
I speak of, was up to its middle (and in places above
it) in water, and looks still as if it had been thoroughly
soaked, - as if it had faded and shrivelled with a long
steeping. The fields and copses, of course, are more
forgiving. The railway line follows as well the charm-
ing Canal du Midi, which is as pretty as a river, bar-
ring the straightness, and here and there occupies the
foreground, beneath a screen of dense, tall trees, while
the Garonne takes a larger and more irregular course
a little way beyond it. People who are fond of canals
- and, speaking from the pictorial standpoint, I hold
the taste to be most legitimate - will delight in this
admirable specimen of the class, which has a very in-
teresting history, not to be narrated here. On the
other side of the road (the left), all the way, runs a
long, low line of hills, or rather one continuous hill,
or perpetual cliff, with a straight top, in the shape of
a ledge of rock, which might pass for a ruined wall.
I am afraid the reader will lose patience with my habit
of constantly referring to the landscape of Italy, as if
that were the measure of the beauty of every other.
Yet I am still more afraid that I cannot apologize for
it, and must leave it in its culpable nakedness. It is
an idle habit; but the reader will long since have dis-
covered that this was an idle journey, and that I give
my impressions as they came to me. It came to me,
then, that in all this view there was something trans-
alpine with a greater smartness and freshness and
much less elegance and languor. This impression was
occasionally deepened by the appearance, on the long
eminence of which I speak, of a village, a church, or
a chateau, which seemed to look down at the plain
from over the ruined wall. The perpetual vines, the
bright-faced flat-roofed houses, covered with tiles, the
softness and sweetness of the light and air, recalled
the prosier portions of the Lombard plain. Toulouse
itself has a little of this Italian expression, but not
enough to give a color to its dark, dirty, crooked streets,
which are irregular without being eccentric, and which,
if it were not for the, superb church of Saint-Sernin,
would be quite destitute of monuments.

I have already alluded to the way in which the
names of certain places impose themselves on the
mind, and I must add that of Toulouse to the list of
expressive appellations. It certainly evokes a vision,
- suggests something highly _meridional_. But the city,
it must be confessed, is less pictorial than the word,
in spite of the Place du Capitole, in spite of the quay
of the Garonne, in spite of the curious cloister of the
old museum. What justifies the images that are latent
in the word is not the aspect, but the history, of the
town. The hotel to which the well-advised traveller
will repair stands in a corner of the Place du Capitole,
which is the heart and centre of Toulouse, and which
bears a vague and inexpensive resemblance to Piazza
Castello at Turin. The Capitol, with a wide modern
face, occupies one side, and, like the palace at Turin,
looks across at a high arcade, under which the hotels,
the principal shops, and the lounging citizens are
gathered. The shops are probably better than the
Turinese, but the people are not so good. Stunted,
shabby, rather vitiated looking, they have none of the
personal richness of the sturdy Piedmontese; and I
will take this occasion to remark that in the course of
a journey of several weeks in the French provinces I
rarely encountered a well-dressed male. Can it be
possible the republics are unfavorable to a certain
attention to one's boots and one's beard? I risk this
somewhat futile inquiry because the proportion of mens ???
coats and trousers seemed to be about the same in
France and in my native land. It was notably lower
than in England and in Italy, and even warranted
the supposition that most good provincials have their
chin shaven and their boots blacked but once a week.
I hasten to add, lest my observation should appear to
be of a sadly superficial character, that the manners
and conversation of these gentlemen bore (whenever
I had occasion to appreciate them) no relation to the
state of their chin and their boots. They were almost
always marked by an extreme amenity. At Toulouse
there was the strongest temptation to speak to people,
simply for the entertainment of hearing them reply
with that curious, that fascinating accent of the
Languedoc, which appears to abound in final con-
sonants, and leads the Toulousains to say _bien-g_ and
_maison-g_, like Englishmen learning French. It is as
if they talked with their teeth rather than with their
tongue. I find in my note-book a phrase in regard to
Toulouse which is perhaps a little ill-natured, but
which I will transcribe as it stands: "The oddity is
that the place should be both animated and dull. A
big, brown-skinned population, clattering about in a
flat, tortuous town, which produces nothing whatever
that I can discover. Except the church of Saint-
Sernin and the fine old court of the Hotel d'Assezat,
Toulouse has no architecture; the houses are for the
most part of brick, of a grayish-red color, and have no
particular style. The brick-work of the place is in fact
very poor, - inferior to that of the north Italian towns,
and quite wanting in the richness of tone which this
homely material takes on in the damp climates of the
north." And then my note-book goes on to narrate a
little visit to the Capitol, which was soon made, as the
building was in course of repair and half the rooms
were closed.


The history of Toulouse is detestable, saturated
with blood and perfidy; and the ancient custom of
the Floral Games, grafted upon all sorts of internecine
traditions, seems, with its false pastoralism, its mock
chivalry, its display of fine feelings, to set off rather
than to mitigate these horrors. The society was
founded in the fourteenth century, and it has held
annual meetings ever since, - meetings at which poems
in the fine old _langue d'oc_ are declaimed and a
blushing laureate is chosen. This business takes place
in the Capitol, before the chief magistrate of the town,
who is known as the _capitoul_, and of all the pretty
women as well, - a class very numerous at Toulouse.
It was impossible to have a finer person than that of
the portress who pretended to show me the apart-
ments in which the Floral Games are held; a big,
brown, expansive woman, still in the prime of life,
with a speaking eye, an extraordinary assurance, and
a pair of magenta stockings, which were inserted into
the neatest and most polished little black sabots,
and which, as she clattered up the stairs before me,
lavishly displaying them, made her look like the
heroine of an _opera-bouffe_. Her talk was all in _n_'s,
_g_'s, and _d_'s, and in mute _e_'s strongly accented, as
_autre_, _theatre_, _splendide_, - the last being an epithet
she applied to everything the Capitol contained, and
especially to a horrible picture representing the famous
Clemence Isaure, the reputed foundress of the poetical
contest, presiding on one of these occasions. I won-
dered whether Clemence Isaure had been anything
like this terrible Toulousaine of to-day, who would
have been a capital figure-head for a floral game.
The lady in whose honor the picture I have just men-
tioned was painted is a somewhat mythical personage,
and she is not to be found in the "Biographie Uni-
verselle." She is, however, a very graceful myth; and
if she never existed, her statue does, at least, - a
shapeless effigy, transferred to the Capitol from the
so-called tomb of Clemence in the old church of La
Daurade. The great hall in which the Floral Games
are held was encumbered with scaffoldings, and I
was unable to admire the long series of busts of the
bards who have won prizes and the portraits of all
the capitouls of Toulouse. As a compensation I was
introduced to a big bookcase, filled with the poems
that have been crowned since the days of the trou-
badours (a portentous collection), and the big butcher's
knife with which, according to the legend, Henry,
Duke of Montmorency, who had conspired against the
great cardinal with Gaston of Orleans and Mary de ??????
Medici, was, in 1632, beheaded on this spot by the
order of Richelieu. With these objects the interest of
the Capitol was exhausted. The building, indeed,
has not the grandeur of its name, which is a sort
of promise that the visitor will find some sensible
embodiment of the old Roman tradition that once
flourished in this part of France. It is inferior in
impressiveness to the other three famous Capitols of
the modern world, - that of Rome (if I may call the
present structure modern) and those of Washington
and Albany!

The only Roman remains at Toulouse are to be
found in the museum, - a very interesting establish-
ment, which I was condemned to see as imperfectly
as I had seen the Capitol. It was being rearranged;
and the gallery of paintings, which is the least in-
teresting feature, was the only part that was not
upside-down. The pictures are mainly of the mo-
dern French school, and I remember nothing but a
powerful, though disagreeable specimen of Henner,
who paints the human body, and paints it so well,
with a brush dipped in blackness; and, placed among
the paintings, a bronze replica of the charming young
David of Mercie. These things have been set out in
the church of an old monastery, long since suppressed,
and the rest of the collection occupies the cloisters.
These are two in number, - a small one, which you
enter first from the street, and a very vast and ele-
gant one beyond it, which with its light Gothic arches
and slim columns (of the fourteenth century), its broad
walk its little garden, with old tombs and statues in
the centre, is by far the most picturesque, the most
sketchable, spot in Toulouse. It must be doubly so
when the Roman busts, inscriptions, slabs and sarco-
phagi, are ranged along the walls; it must indeed (to
compare small things with great, and as the judicious
Murray remarks) bear a certain resemblance to the
Campo Santo at Pisa. But these things are absent
now; the cloister is a litter of confusion, and its trea-
sures have been stowed away, confusedly, in sundry
inaccessible rooms. The custodian attempted to con-
sole me by telling me that when they are exhibited
again it will be on a scientific basis, and with an
order and regularity of which they were formerly
innocent. But I was not consoled. I wanted simply
the spectacle, the picture, and I didn't care in the
least for the classification. Old Roman fragments, ex-
posed to light in the open air, under a southern sky,
in a quadrangle round a garden, have an immortal
charm simply in their general effect; and the charm
is all the greater when the soil of the very place has
yielded them up.


My real consolation was an hour I spent in Saint-
Sernin, one of the noblest churches in southern France,
and easily the first among those of Toulouse. This
great structure, a masterpiece of twelfth-century ro-
manesque, and dedicated to Saint Saturninus, - the
Toulousains have abbreviated, - is, I think, alone worth
a journey to Toulouse. What makes it so is the
extraordinary seriousness of its interior; no other term
occurs to me as expressing so well the character of
its clear gray nave. As a general thing, I do not
favor the fashion of attributing moral qualities to
buildings; I shrink from talking about tender porticos
and sincere campanili; but I find I cannot get on at
all without imputing some sort of morality to Saint-
Sernin. As it stands to-day, the church has been
completely restored by Viollet-le-Duc. The exterior is
of brick, and has little charm save that of a tower of
four rows of arches, narrowing together as they ascend.
The nave is of great length and height, the barrel-roof
of stone, the effect of the round arches and pillars in
the triforium especially fine. There are two low aisles
on either side. The choir is very deep and narrow;
it seems to close together, and looks as if it were
meant for intensely earnest rites. The transepts are
most noble, especially the arches of the second tier.
The whole church is narrow for its length, and is
singularly complete and homogeneous. As I say all
this, I feel that I quite fail to give an impression of
its manly gravity, its strong proportions or of the lone-
some look of its renovated stones as I sat there while
the October twilight gathered. It is a real work of
art, a high conception. The crypt, into which I was
eventually led captive by an importunate sacristan, is
quite another affair, though indeed I suppose it may
also be spoken of as a work of art. It is a rich museum
of relics, and contains the head of Saint Thomas
Aquinas, wrapped up in a napkin and exhibited in a
glass case. The sacristan took a lamp and guided me
about, presenting me to one saintly remnant after an-
other. The impression was grotesque, but sorne of
the objects were contained in curious old cases of
beaten silver and brass; these things, at least, which
looked as if they had been transmitted from the early
church, were venerable. There was, however, a kind
of wholesale sanctity about the place which overshot
the mark; it pretends to be one of the holiest spots
in the world. The effect is spoiled by the way the
sacristans hang about and offer to take you into it for
ten sous, - I was accosted by two and escaped from
another, - and by the familiar manner in which you
pop in and out. This episode rather broke the charm
of Saint-Sernin, so that I took my departure and went
in search of the cathedral. It was scarcely worth find-
ing, and struck me as an odd, dislocated fragment.
The front consists only of a portal, beside which a tall
brick tower, of a later period, has been erected. The
nave was wrapped in dimness, with a few scattered
lamps. I could only distinguish an immense vault,
like a high cavern, without aisles. Here and there in
the gloom was a kneeling figure; the whole place was
mysterious and lop-sided. The choir was curtained
off; it appeared not to correspond with the nave, - that
is, not to have the same axis. The only other ec-
clesiastical impression I gathered at Toulouse came to
me in the church of La Daurade, of which the front,
on the quay by the Garonne, was closed with scaffold-
ings; so that one entered it from behind, where it is
completely masked by houses, through a door which
has at first no traceable connection with it. It is a
vast, high, modernised, heavily decorated church, dimly
lighted at all times, I should suppose, and enriched
by the shades of evening at the time I looked into it.
I perceived that it consisted mainly of a large square,
beneath a dome, in the centre of which a single person
- a lady - was praying with the utmost absorption.
The manner of access to the church interposed such
an obstacle to the outer profanities that I had a sense
of intruding, and presently withdrew, carrying with me
a picture of the, vast, still interior, the gilded roof
gleaming in the twilight, and the solitary worshipper.
What was she praying for, and was she not almost
afraid to remain there alone?

For the rest, the picturesque at Toulouse consists
principally of the walk beside the Garonne, which is
spanned, to the faubourg of Saint-Cyprien, by a stout
brick bridge. This hapless suburb, the baseness of
whose site is noticeable, lay for days under the water
at the time of the last inundations. The Garonne
had almost mounted to the roofs of the houses, and
the place continues to present a blighted, frightened
look. Two or three persons, with whom I had some
conversation, spoke of that time as a memory of horror.
I have not done with my Italian comparisons; I shall
never have done with them. I am therefore free to
say that in the way in which Toulouse looks out on
the Garonne there was something that reminded me
vaguely of the way in which Pisa looks out on the
Arno. The red-faced houses - all of brick - along the
quay have a mixture of brightness and shabbiness, as
well as the fashion of the open _loggia_ in the top-
story. The river, with another bridge or two, might
be the Arno, and the buildings on the other side of
it - a hospital, a suppressed convent - dip their feet
into it with real southern cynicism. I have spoken of
the old Hotel d'Assezat as the best house at Toulouse;
with the exception of the cloister of the museum, it is
the only "bit" I remember. It has fallen from the
state of a noble residence of the sixteenth century to
that of a warehouse and a set of offices; but a certain
dignity lingers in its melancholy court, which is divided
from the street by a gateway that is still imposing,
and in which a clambering vine and a red Virginia-
creeper were suspended to the rusty walls of brick

The most interesting house at Toulouse is far from
being the most striking. At the door of No. 50 Rue
des Filatiers, a featureless, solid structure, was found
hanging, one autumn evening, the body of the young
Marc-Antoine Calas, whose ill-inspired suicide was to
be the first act of a tragedy so horrible. The fana-
ticism aroused in the townsfolk by this incident; the
execution by torture of Jean Calas, accused as a
Protestant of having hanged his son, who had gone
over to the Church of Rome; the ruin of the family;
the claustration of the daughters; the flight of the
widow to Switzerland; her introduction to Voltaire;
the excited zeal of that incomparable partisan, and
the passionate persistence with which, from year to
year, he pursued a reversal of judgment, till at last he
obtained it, and devoted the tribunal of Toulouse to
execration and the name of the victims to lasting
wonder and pity, - these things form part of one of
the most interesting and touching episodes of the social
history of the eighteenth century. The story has the
fatal progression, the dark rigidity, of one of the tragic
dramas of the Greeks. Jean Calas, advanced in life,
blameless, bewildered, protesting. his innocence, had
been broken on the wheel; and the sight of his decent
dwelling, which brought home to me all that had been
suflered there, spoiled for me, for half an hour, the
impression of Toulouse.


I spent but a few hours at Carcassonne; but those
hours had a rounded felicity, and I cannot do better
than transcribe from my note-book the little record
made at the moment. Vitiated as it may be by
crudity and incoherency, it has at any rate the fresh-
ness of a great emotion. This is the best quality that
a reader may hope to extract from a narrative in
which "useful information" and technical lore even of
the most general sort are completely absent. For
Carcassonne is moving, beyond a doubt; and the
traveller who, in the course of a little tour in France,
may have felt himself urged, in melancholy moments,
to say that on the whole the disappointments are as
numerous as the satisfactions, must admit that there
can be nothing better than this.

The country, after you leave Toulouse, continues
to be charming; the more so that it merges its flatness
in the distant Cevennes on one side, and on the other,
far away on your right, in the richer range of the
Pyrenees. Olives and cypresses, pergolas and vines,
terraces on the roofs of houses, soft, iridescent moun-
tains, a warm yellow light, - what more could the dif-
ficult tourist want? He left his luggage at the station,
warily determined to look at the inn before committing
himself to it. It was so evident (even to a cursory
glance) that it might easily have been much better
that he simply took his way to the town, with the
whole of a superb afternoon before him. When I say
the town, I mean the towns; there being two at Car-
cassonne, perfectly distinct, and each with excellent
claims to the title. They have settled the matter be-
tween them, however, and the elder, the shrine of
pilgrimage, to which the other is but a stepping-stone,
or even, as I may say, a humble door-mat, takes the
name of the Cite. You see nothing of the Cite from
the station; it is masked by the agglomeration of the
_ville-basse_, which is relatively (but only relatively) new.
A wonderful avenue of acacias leads to it from the
station, - leads past, rather, and conducts you to a
little high-backed bridge over the Aude, beyond which,
detached and erect, a distinct mediaeval silhouette, the
Cite presents itself. Like a rival shop, on the in-
vidious side of a street, it has "no connection" with
the establishment across the way, although the two
places are united (if old Carcassonne may be said to be
united to anything) by a vague little rustic fau-
bourg. Perched on its solid pedestal, the perfect de-
tachment of the Cite is what first strikes you. To take
leave, without delay, of the _ville-basse_, I may say that
the splendid acacias I have mentioned flung a sum-
merish dusk over the place, in which a few scattered
remains of stout walls and big bastions looked vener-
able and picturesque. A little boulevard winds round
the town, planted with trees and garnished with more
benches than I ever saw provided by a soft-hearted
municipality. This precinct had a warm, lazy, dusty,
southern look, as if the people sat out-of-doors a great
deal, and wandered about in the stillness of summer
nights. The figure of the elder town, at these hours,
must be ghostly enough on its neighboring hill. Even
by day it has the air of a vignette of Gustave Dore, a
couplet of Victor Hugo. It is almost too perfect, - as
if it were an enormous model, placed on a big green
table at a museum. A steep, paved way, grass-grown
like all roads where vehicles never pass, stretches up
to it in the sun. It has a double enceinte, complete
outer walls and complete inner (these, elaborately forti-
fied, are the more curious); and this congregation of
ramparts, towers, bastions, battlements, barbicans, is
as fantastic and romantic as you please. The approach
I mention here leads to the gate that looks toward
Toulouse, - the Porte de l'Aude. There is a second,
on the other side, called, I believe, the Porte Nar-
bonnaise, a magnificent gate, flanked with towers thick
and tall, defended by elaborate outworks; and these
two apertures alone admit you to the place, - putting
aside a small sally-port, protected by a great bastion,
on the quarter that looks toward the Pyrenees.

As a votary, always, in the first instance, of a
general impression, I walked all round the outer en-
ceinte, - a process on the very face of it entertaining.
I took to the right of the Porte de l'Aude, without
entering it, where the old moat has been filled in.
The filling-in of the moat has created a grassy level
at the foot of the big gray towers, which, rising at
frequent intervals, stretch their stiff curtain of stone
from point to point. The curtain drops without a
fold upon the quiet grass, which was dotted here and
there with a humble native, dozing away the golden
afternoon. The natives of the elder Carcassonne are
all humble; for the core of the Cite has shrunken and
decayed, and there is little life among the ruins. A
few tenacious laborers, who work in the neighboring
fields or in the _ville-basse_, and sundry octogenarians
of both sexes, who are dying where they have lived,
and contribute much to the pictorial effect, - these
are the principal inhabitants. The process of con-
verting the place from an irresponsible old town into
a conscious "specimen" has of course been attended
with eliminations; the population has, as a general
thing, been restored away. I should lose no time in
saying that restoration is the great mark of the Cite.
M. Viollet-le-Duc has worked his will upon it, put it
into perfect order, revived the fortifications in every
detail. I do not pretend to judge the performance,
carried out on a scale and in a spirit which really
impose themselves on the imagination. Few archi-
tects have had such a chance, and M. Viollet-le-Duc
must have been the envy of the whole restoring fra-
ternity. The image of a more crumbling Carcassonne
rises in the mind, and there is no doubt that forty
years ago the place was more affecting. On the other
hand, as we see it to-day, it is a wonderful evocation;
and if there is a great deal of new in the old, there
is plenty of old in the new. The repaired crenella-
tions, the inserted patches, of the walls of the outer
circle sufficiently express this commixture. My walk
brought me into full view of the Pyrenees, which, now
that the sun had begun to sink and the shadows to
grow long, had a wonderful violet glow. The platform
at the base of the walls has a greater width on this
side, and it made the scene more complete. Two or
three old crones had crawled out of the Porte Nar-
bonnaise, to examine the advancing visitor; and a
very ancient peasant, lying there with his back against
a tower, was tending half a dozen lean sheep. A poor
man in a very old blouse, crippled and with crutches
lying beside him, had been brought out and placed
on a stool, where he enjoyed the afternoon as best he
might. He looked so ill and so patient that I spoke
to him; found that his legs were paralyzed and he was
quite helpless. He had formerly been seven years in
the army, and had made the campaign of Mexico with
Bazaine. Born in the old Cite, he had come back
there to end his days. It seemed strange, as he sat
there, with those romantic walls behind him and the
great picture of the Pyrenees in front, to think that he
had been across the seas to the far-away new world,
had made part of a famous expedition, and was now
a cripple at the gate of the mediaeval city where he
had played as a child. All this struck me as a great
deal of history for so modest a figure, - a poor little
figure that could only just unclose its palm for a small
silver coin.

He was not the only acquaintance I made at Car-
cassonne. I had not pursued my circuit of the walls
much further when I encountered a person of quite
another type, of whom I asked some question which
had just then presented, itself, and who proved to be
the very genius of the spot. He was a sociable son
of the _ville-basse_, a gentleman, and, as I afterwards
learned, an employe at the prefecture, - a person, in
short, much esteemed at Carcassonne. (I may say all
this, as he will never read these pages.) He had been
ill for a month, and in the company of his little dog
was taking his first airing; in his own phrase he was
_amoureux-fou de la Cite_, - he could lose no time in
coming back to it. He talked of it, indeed, as a lover,
and, giving me for half an hour the advantage of his
company, showed me all the points of the place. (I
speak here always of the outer enceinte; you penetrate
to the inner - which is the specialty of Carcassonne,
and the great curiosity - only by application at the
lodge of the regular custodian, a remarkable func-
tionary, who, half an hour later, when I had been in-
troduced to him by my friend the amateur, marched
me over the fortifications with a tremendous accompani-
ment of dates and technical terms.) My companion
pointed out to me in particular the traces of different
periods in the structure of the walls. There is a por-
tentous amount of history embedded in them, begin-
ning with Romans and Visigoths; here and there are
marks of old breaches, hastily repaired. We passed
into the town, - into that part of it not included in the
citadel. It is the queerest and most fragmentary little
place in the world, as everything save the fortifications
is being suffered to crumble away, in order that the
spirit of M. Viollet-le-Duc alone may pervade it, and
it may subsist simply as a magnificent shell. As the
leases of the wretched little houses fall in, the ground
is cleared of them; and a mumbling old woman ap-
proached me in the course of my circuit, inviting me
to condole with her on the disappearance of so many
of the hovels which in the last few hundred years
(since the collapse of Carcassonne as a stronghold)
had attached themselves to the base of the walls, in
the space between the two circles. These habitations,
constructed of materials taken from the ruins, nestled
there snugly enough. This intermediate space had
therefore become a kind of street, which has crumbled
in turn, as the fortress has grown up again. There
are other streets, beside, very diminutive and vague,
where you pick your way over heaps of rubbish and
become conscious of unexpected faces looking at you
out of windows as detached as the cherubic heads.
The most definite thing in the place was the little
cafe, where. the waiters, I think, must be the ghosts of
the old Visigoths; the most definite, that is, after the
little chateau and the little cathedral. Everything in
the Cite is little; you can walk round the walls in
twenty minutes. On the drawbridge of the chateau,
which, with a picturesque old face, flanking towers,
and a dry moat, is to-day simply a bare _caserne_,
lounged half a dozen soldiers, unusually small. No-
thing could be more odd than to see these objects en-
closed in a receptacle which has much of the appear-
ance of an enormous toy. The Cite and its population
vaguely reminded me of an immense Noah's ark.


Carcassonne dates from the Roman occupation of
Gaul. The place commanded one of the great roads
into Spain, and in the fourth century Romans and
Franks ousted each other from such a point of vantage.
In the year 436, Theodoric, King of the Visigoths,
superseded both these parties; and it is during his oc-
cupation that the inner enceinte was raised upon the
ruins of the Roman fortifications. Most of the Visigoth
towers that are still erect are seated upon Roman sub-
structions which appear to have been formed hastily,
probably at the moment of the Frankish invasion.
The authors of these solid defences, though occasionally
disturbed, held Carcassonne and the neighboring coun-
try, in which they had established their kingdom of
Septimania, till the year 713, when they were expelled
by the Moors of Spain, who ushered in an unillumined
period of four centuries, of which no traces remain.
These facts I derived from a source no more recondite
than a pamphlet by M. Viollet-le-Duc, - a very luminous
description of the fortifications, which you may buy
from the accomplished custodian. The writer makes
a jump to the year 1209, when Carcassonne, then
forming part of the realm of the viscounts of Beziers
and infected by the Albigensian heresy, was besieged,
in the name of the Pope, by the terrible Simon de
Montfort and his army of crusaders. Simon was ac-
customed to success, and the town succumbed in the
course of a fortnight. Thirty-one years later, having
passed into the hands of the King of France, it was
again besieged by the young Raymond de Trincavel,
the last of the viscounts of Beziers; and of this siege
M. Viollet-le-Duc gives a long and minute account,
which the visitor who has a head for such things may
follow, with the brochure in hand, on the fortifications
themselves. The young Raymond de Trincavel, baffled
and repulsed, retired at the end of twenty-four days.
Saint Louis and Philip the Bold, in the thirteenth cen-
tury, multiplied the defences of Carcassonne, which
was one of the bulwarks of their kingdom on the
Spanish quarter; and from this time forth, being re-
garded as impregnable, the place had nothing to fear.
It was not even attacked; and when, in 1355, Edward
the Black Prince marched into it, the inhabitants had
opened the gates to the conqueror before whom all
Languedoc was prostrate. I am not one of those who,
as I said just now, have a head for such things, and
having extracted these few facts had made all the
use of M. Viollet-le-Duc's, pamphlet of which I was cap-

I have mentioned that my obliging friend the
_amoureux-fou_ handed me over to the door-keeper of
the citadel. I should add that I was at first committed
to the wife of this functionary, a stout peasant-woman,
who took a key down from a nail, conducted me to a
postern door, and ushered me into the presence of her
husband. Having just begun his rounds with a party
of four persons, he was not many steps in advance. I
added myself perforce to this party, which was not
brilliantly composed, except that two of its members
were gendarmes in full toggery, who announced in the
course of our tour that they had been stationed for a
year at Carcassonne, and had never before had the
curiosity to come up to the Cite. There was something
brilliant, certainly, in that. The _gardien_ was an extra-
ordinarily typical little Frenchman, who struck me even
more forcibly than the wonders of the inner enceinte;
and as I am bound to assume, at whatever cost to my
literary vanity, that there is not the slightest danger
of his reading these remarks, I may treat him as public
property. With his diminutive stature and his per-
pendicular spirit, his flushed face, expressive protuber-
ant eyes, high peremptory voice, extreme volubility,
lucidity, and neatness of utterance, he reminded me of
the gentry who figure in the revolutions of his native
land. If he was not a fierce little Jacobin, he ought
to have been, for I am sure there were many men of
his pattern on the Committee of Public Safety. He
knew absolutely what he was about, understood the
place thoroughly, and constantly reminded his audience
of what he himself had done in the way of excavations
and reparations. He described himself as the brother
of the architect of the work actually going forward
(that which has been done since the death of M. Viol-
let-le-Duc, I suppose he meant), and this fact was more
illustrative than all the others. It reminded me, as
one is reminded at every turn, of the democratic con-
ditions of French life: a man of the people, with a
wife _en bonnet_, extremely intelligent, full of special
knowledge, and yet remaining essentially of the people,
and showing his intelligence with a kind of ferocity,
of defiance. Such a personage helps one to under-
stand the red radicalism of France, the revolutions,
the barricades, the sinister passion for theories. (I do
not, of course, take upon myself to say that the indi-
vidual I describe - who can know nothing of the
liberties I am taking with him - is actually devoted to
these ideals; I only mean that many such devotees
must have his qualities.) In just the _nuance_ that I
have tried to indicate here, it is a terrible pattern of
man. Permeated in a high degree by civilization, it
is yet untouched by the desire which one finds in the
Englishman, in proportion as he rises in the world, to
approximate to the figure of the gentleman. On the
other hand, a _nettete_, a faculty of exposition, such as
the English gentleman is rarely either blessed or cursed

This brilliant, this suggestive warden of Carcas-
sonne marched us about for an hour, haranguing, ex-
plaining, illustrating, as he went; it was a complete
little lecture, such as might have been delivered at
the Lowell Institute, on the manger in which a first-
rate _place forte_ used to be attacked and defended
Our peregrinations made it very clear that Carcassone
was impregnable; it is impossible to imagine, without
having seen them, such refinements of immurement,
such ingenuities of resistance. We passed along the
battlements and _chemins de ronde_, ascended and de-
scended towers, crawled under arches, peered out of
loop-holes, lowered ourselves into dungeons, halted in
all sorts of tight places, while the purpose of some-
thing or other was described to us. It was very
curious, very interesting; above all, it was very pic-
torial, and involved perpetual peeps into the little
crooked, crumbling, sunny, grassy, empty Cite. In
places, as you stand upon it, the great towered and
embattled enceinte produces an illusion; it looks as
if it were still equipped and defended. One vivid
challenge, at any rate, it flings down before you; it
calls upon you to make up your mind on the matter
of restoration. For myself, I have no hesitation; I
prefer in every case the ruined, however ruined, to
the reconstructed, however splendid. What is left is
more precious than what is added: the one is history,
the other is fiction; and I like the former the better of
the two, - it is so much more romantic. One is posi-
tive, so far as it goes; the other fills up the void with
things more dead than the void itself, inasmuch as
they have never had life. After that I am free to
say that the restoration of Carcassonne is a splendid
achievement. The little custodian dismissed us at
last, after having, as usual, inducted us into the inevi-
table repository of photographs. These photographs
are a great nuisance, all over the Midi. They are
exceedingly bad, for the most part; and the worst -
those in the form of the hideous little _album-pano-
rama_ - are thrust upon you at every turn. They
are a kind of tax that you must pay; the best way is
to pay to be let off. It was not to be denied that
there was a relief in separating from our accomplished
guide, whose manner of imparting information re-
minded me of the energetic process by which I have
seen mineral waters bottled. All this while the after-
noon had grown more lovely; the sunset had deepened,
the horizon of hills grown purple; the mass of the
Canigou became more delicate, yet more distinct. The
day had so far faded that the interior of the little
cathedral was wrapped in twilight, into which the
glowing windows projected something of their color.
This church has high beauty and value, but I will
spare the reader a presentation of details which I my-
self had no opportunity to master. It consists of a
romanesque nave, of the end of the eleventh century,
and a Gothic choir and transepts of the beginning of
the fourteenth; and, shut up in its citadel like a precious
casket in a cabinet, it seems - or seemed at that hour
- to have a sort of double sanctity. After leaving it
and passing out of the two circles of walls, I treated
myself, in the most infatuated manner, to another walk
round the Cite. It is certainly this general impression
that is most striking, - the impression from outside,
where the whole place detaches itself at once from
the landscape. In the warm southern dusk it looked
more than ever like a city in a fairy-tale. To make
the thing perfect, a white young moon, in its first
quarter, came out and hung just over the dark sil-
houette. It was hard to come away, - to incommode
one's self for anything so vulgar as a railway-train; I
would gladly have spent the evening in revolving
round the walls of Carcassonne. But I had in a
measure engaged to proceed to Narborme, and there
was a certain magic that name which gave me
strength, - Narbonne, the richest city in Roman Gaul.


At Narbonne I took up my abode at the house of
a _serrurier mecanicien_, and was very thankful for the
accommodation. It was my misfortune to arrive at
this ancient city late at night, on the eve of market-
day; and market-day at Narbonne is a very serious
affair. The inns, on this occasion, are stuffed with
wine-dealers; for the country roundabout, dedicated
almost exclusively to Bacchus, has hitherto escaped
the phylloxera. This deadly enemy of the grape is
encamped over the Midi in a hundred places; blighted
vineyards and ruined proprietors being quite the order
of the day. The signs of distress are more frequent
as you advance into Provence, many of the vines being
laid under water, in the hope of washing the plague
away. There are healthy regions still, however, and
the vintners find plenty to do at Narbonne. The
traffic in wine appeared to be the sole thought of the
Narbonnais; every one I spoke to had something to
say about the harvest of gold that bloomed under its
influence. "C'est inoui, monsieur, l'argent qu'il y a
dans ce pays. Des gens a qui la vente de leur vin
rapporte jusqu'a 500,000 francs par an." That little
speech, addressed to me by a gentleman at the inn,
gives the note of these revelations. It must be said
that there was little in the appearance either of the
town or of its population to suggest the possession of
such treasures. Narbonne is a _sale petite ville_ in all
the force of the term, and my first impression on ar-
riving there was an extreme regret that I had not
remained for the night at the lovely Carcassonne. My
journey from that delectable spot lasted a couple of
hours, and was performed in darkness, - a darkness
not so dense, however, but that I was able to make
out, as we passed it, the great figure of Beziers, whose
ancient roofs and towers, clustered on a goodly hill-
top, looked as fantastic as you please. I know not
what appearance Beziers may present by day; but by
night it has quite the grand air. On issuing from the
station at Narbonne, I found that the only vehicle in
waiting was a kind of bastard tramcar, a thing shaped
as if it had been meant to go upon rails; that is,
equipped with small wheels, placed beneath it, and
with a platform at either end, but destined to rattle
over the stones like the most vulgar of omnibuses.
To complete the oddity of this conveyance, it was
under the supervision, not of a conductor, but of a
conductress. A fair young woman, with a pouch sus-
pended from her girdle, had command of the platform;
and as soon as the car was full she jolted us into the
town through clouds of the thickest dust I ever have
swallowed. I have had occasion to speak of the activity
of women in France, - of the way they are always in
the ascendant; and here was a signal example of their
general utility. The young lady I have mentioned
conveyed her whole company to the wretched little
Hotel de France, where it is to be hoped that some
of them found a lodging. For myself, I was informed
that the place was crowded from cellar to attic, and
that its inmates were sleeping three or four in a room.
At Carcassonne I should have had a bad bed, but at
Narbonne, apparently, I was to have no bed at all. I
passed an hour or two of flat suspense, while fate
settled the question of whether I should go on to
Perpignan, return to Beziers, or still discover a modest
couch at Narbonne. I shall not have suffered in vain,
however, if my example serves to deter other travellers
from alighting unannounced at that city on a Wednes-
day evening. The retreat to Beziers, not attempted
in time, proved impossible, and I was assured that at
Perpignan, which I should not reach till midnight, the
affluence of wine-dealers was not less than at Nar-
bonne. I interviewed every hostess in the town, and
got no satisfaction but distracted shrugs. Finally, at
an advanced hour, one of the servants of the Hotel
de France, where I had attempted to dine, came to
me in triumph to proclaim that he had secured for
me a charming apartment in a _maison bourgeoise_. I
took possession of it gratefully, in spite of its having
an entrance like a stable, and being pervaded by an
odor compared with which that of a stable would
have been delicious. As I have mentioned, my land-
lord was a locksmith, and he had strange machines
which rumbled and whirred in the rooms below my
own. Nevertheless, I slept, and I dreamed of Car-
cassonne. It was better to do that than to dream of
the Hotel de France.

I was obliged to cultivate relations with the cuisine
of this establishment. Nothing could have been more
_meridional_; indeed, both the dirty little inn and Nar-
bonne at large seemed to me to have the infirmities
of the south, without its usual graces. Narrow, noisy,
shabby, belittered and encumbered, filled with clatter
and chatter, the Hotel de France would have been
described in perfection by Alphonse Daudet. For what
struck me above all in it was the note of the Midi,
as he has represented it, - the sound of universal talk.
The landlord sat at supper with sundry friends, in a
kind of glass cage, with a genial indifference to arriv-
ing guests; the waiters tumbled over the loose luggage
in the hall; the travellers who had been turned away
leaned gloomily against door-posts; and the landlady,
surrounded by confusion, unconscious of responsibility,
and animated only by the spirit of conversation, bandied
high-voiced compliments with the _voyageurs de com-
merce_. At ten o'clock in the morning there was a
table d'hote for breakfast, - a wonderful repast, which
overflowed into every room and pervaded the whole
establishment. I sat down with a hundred hungry
marketers, fat, brown, greasy men, with a good deal of
the rich soil of Languedoc adhering to their hands
and their boots. I mention the latter articles because
they almost put them on the table. It was very hot,
and there were swarms of flies; the viands had the
strongest odor; there was in particular a horrible mix-
ture known as _gras-double_, a light gray, glutinous,
nauseating mess, which my companions devoured in
large quantities. A man opposite to me had the dir-
tiest fingers I ever saw; a collection of fingers which
in England would have excluded him from a farmers'
ordinary. The conversation was mainly bucolic; though
a part of it, I remember, at the table at which I sat,
consisted of a discussion as to whether or no the maid-
servant were _sage_, - a discussion which went on under
the nose of this young lady, as she carried about the
dreadful _gras-double_, and to which she contributed
the most convincing blushes. It was thoroughly _meri-

In going to Narbonne I had of course counted upon
Roman remains; but when I went forth in search of
them I perceived that I had hoped too fondly. There
is really nothing in the place to speak of; that is, on
the day of my visit there was nothing but the market,
which was in complete possession. "This intricate,
curious, but lifeless town," Murray calls it; yet to me
it appeared overflowing with life. Its streets are mere
crooked, dirty lanes, bordered with perfectly insignifi-
cant houses; but they were filled with the same clatter
and chatter that I had found at the hotel. The market
was held partly in the little square of the hotel de
ville, a structure which a flattering wood-cut in the
Guide-Joanne had given me a desire to behold. The
reality was not impressive, the old color of the front
having been completely restored away. Such interest
as it superficially possesses it derives from a fine
mediaeval tower which rises beside it, with turrets at
the angles, - always a picturesque thing. The rest of
the market was held in another _place_, still shabbier
than the first, which lies beyond the canal. The Canal
du Midi flows through the town, and, spanned at this
point by a small suspension-bridge, presented a cer-
tain sketchability. On the further side were the venders
and chafferers, - old women under awnings and big um-
brellas, rickety tables piled high with fruit, white caps
and brown faces, blouses, sabots, donkeys. Beneath
this picture was another, - a long row of washerwomen,
on their knees on the edge of the canal, pounding
and wringing the dirty linen of Narbonne, - no great
quantity, to judge by the costume of the people. In-
numerable rusty men, scattered all over the place,
were buying and selling wine, straddling about in
pairs, in groups, with their hands in their pockets, and
packed together at the doors of the cafes. They were
mostly fat and brown and unshaven; they ground their
teeth as they talked; they were very _meridionaux_.

The only two lions at Narbonne are the cathedral
and the museum, the latter of which is quartered in
the hotel de ville. The cathedral, closely shut in by
houses, and with the west front undergoing repairs, is
singular in two respects. It consists exclusively of a
choir, which is of the end of the thirteenth century
and the beginning of the next, and of great magnifi-
cence. There is absolutely nothing else. This choir,
of extraordinary elevation, forms the whole church. I
sat there a good while; there was no other visitor. I
had taken a great dislike to poor little Narbonne,
which struck me as sordid and overheated, and this
place seemed to extend to me, as in the Middle Ages,
the privilege of sanctuary. It is a very solemn corner.
The other peculiarity of the cathedral is that, exter-
nally, it bristles with battlements, having anciently
formed part of the defences of the _archeveche_, which
is beside it and which connects it with the hotel de
ville. This combination of the church and the for-
tress is very curious, and during the Middle Ages was
not without its value. The palace of the former arch-
bishops of Narbonne (the hotel de ville of to-day
forms part of it) was both an asylum and an arsenal
during the hideous wars by which the Languedoc was
ravaged in the thirteenth century. The whole mass
of buildings is jammed together in a manner that
from certain points of view makes it far from apparent
which feature is which. The museum occupies several
chambers at the top of the hotel de ville, and is not
an imposing collection. It was closed, but I induced
the portress to let me in, - a silent, cadaverous person,
in a black coif, like a _beguine_, who sat knitting in one
of the windows while I went the rounds. The number
of Roman fragments is small, and their quality is not
the finest; I must add that this impression was hastily
gathered. There is indeed a work of art in one of
the rooms which creates a presumption in favor of the
place, - the portrait (rather a good one) of a citizen
of Narbonne, whose name I forget, who is described
as having devoted all his time and his intelligence to
collecting the objects by which the. visitor is sur-
rounded. This excellent man was a connoisseur, and
the visitor is doubtless often an ignoramus.


"Cette, with its glistening houses white,
Curves with the curving beach away
To where the lighthouse beacons bright,
Far in the bay."

That stanza of Matthew Arnold's, which I hap-
pened to remember, gave a certain importance to the
half-hour I spent in the buffet of the station at Cette
while I waited for the train to Montpellier. I had left
Narbonne in the afternoon, and by the time I reached
Cette the darkness had descended. I therefore missed
the sight of the glistening houses, and had to console
myself with that of the beacon in the bay, as well as
with a _bouillon_ of which I partook at the buffet afore-
said; for, since the morning, I had not ventured to
return to the table d'hote at Narbonne. The Hotel
Nevet, at Montpellier, which I reached an hour later,
has an ancient renown all over the south of France, -
advertises itself, I believe, as _le plus vaste du midi_. It
seemed to me the model of a good provincial inn; a
big rambling, creaking establishment, with brown,
labyrinthine corridors, a queer old open-air vestibule,
into which the diligence, in the _bon temps_, used to
penetrate, and an hospitality more expressive than
that of the new caravansaries. It dates from the days
when Montpellier was still accounted a fine winter re-
sidence for people with weak lungs; and this rather
melancholy tradition, together with the former celebrity
of the school of medicine still existing there, but from
which the glory has departed, helps to account for its
combination of high antiquity and vast proportions.
The old hotels were usually more concentrated; but
the school of medicine passed for one of the attrac-
tions of Montpellier. Long before Mentone was dis-
covered or Colorado invented, British invalids travelled
down through France in the post-chaise or the public
coach to spend their winters in the wonderful place
which boasted both a climate and a faculty. The air
is mild, no doubt, but there are refinements of mild-
ness which were not then suspected, and which in a
more analytic age have carried the annual wave far
beyond Montpellier. The place is charming, all the
same; and it served the purpose of John Locke; who
made a long stay there, between 1675 and 1679, and
became acquainted with a noble fellow-visitor, Lord
Pembroke, to whom he dedicated the famous Essay.
There are places that please, without your being able
to say wherefore, and Montpellier is one of the num-
ber. It has some charming views, from the great pro-
menade of the Peyrou; but its position is not strikingly
fair. Beyond this it contains a good museum and the
long facades of its school, but these are its only de-
finite treasures. Its cathedral struck me as quite the
weakest I had seen, and I remember no other monu-
ment that made up for it. The place has neither the
gayety of a modern nor the solemnity of an ancient
town, and it is agreeable as certain women are agree-
able who are neither beautiful nor clever. An Italian
would remark that it is sympathetic; a German would
admit that it is _gemuthlich_. I spent two days there,
mostly in the rain, and even under these circum-
stances I carried away a kindly impression. I think
the Hotel Nevet had something to do with it, and the
sentiment of relief with which, in a quiet, even a
luxurious, room that looked out on a garden, I reflected
that I had washed my hands of Narbonne. The phyl-
loxera has destroyed the vines in the country that sur-
rounds Montpellier, and at that moment I was capable
of rejoicing in the thought that I should not breakfast
with vintners.

The gem of the place is the Musee Fabre, one of
the best collections of paintings in a provincial city.
Francois Fabre, a native of Montpellier, died there in
1837, after having spent a considerable part of his
life in Italy, where he had collected a good many
valuable pictures and some very poor ones, the latter
class including several from his own hand. He was
the hero of a remarkable episode, having succeeded
no less a person than Vittorio Alfieri in the affections
of no less a person than Louise de Stolberg, Countess
of Albany, widow of no less a person than Charles
Edward Stuart, the second pretender to the British
crown. Surely no woman ever was associated senti-
mentally with three figures more diverse, - a disqualified
sovereign, an Italian dramatist, and a bad French
painter. The productions of M. Fabre, who followed
in the steps of David, bear the stamp of a cold me-
diocrity; there is not much to be said even for the
portrait of the genial countess (her life has been written
by M. Saint-Rene-Taillandier, who depicts her as de-
lightful), which hangs in Florence, in the gallery of
the Uffizzi, and makes a pendant to a likeness of
Alfieri by the same author. Stendhal, in his "Me-
moires d'un Touriste," says that this work of art
represents her as a cook who has pretty hands. I am
delighted to have an opportunity of quoting Stendhal,
whose two volumes of the "Memoires d'un Touriste"
every traveller in France should carry in his port-
manteau. I have had this opportunity more than once,
for I have met him at Tours, at Nantes, at Bourges;
and everywhere he is suggestive. But he has the de-
fect that he is never pictorial, that he never by any
chance makes an image, and that his style is per-
versely colorless, for a man so fond of contemplation.
His taste is often singularly false; it is the taste of the
early years of the present century, the period that
produced clocks surmounted with sentimental "sub-
jects." Stendhal does not admire these clocks, but
he almost does. He admires Domenichino and Guer-
cino, and prizes the Bolognese school of painters be-
cause they "spoke to the soul." He is a votary of the
new classic, is fond of tall, squire, regular buildings,
and thinks Nantes, for instance, full of the "air noble."
It was a pleasure to me to reflect that five-and-forty
years ago he had alighted in that city, at the very inn
in which I spent a night, and which looks down on
the Place Graslin and the theatre. The hotel that was
the best in 1837 appears to be the best to-day. On
the subject of Touraine, Stendhal is extremely refresh-
ing; he finds the scenery meagre and much overrated,
and proclaims his opinion with perfect frankness. He
does, however, scant justice to the banks of the Loire;
his want of appreciation of the picturesque - want of
the sketcher's sense - causes him to miss half the
charm of a landscape which is nothing if not "quiet,"
as a painter would say, and of which the felicities
reveal themselves only to waiting eyes. He even
despises the Indre, the river of Madame Sand. The
"Memoires d'un Touriste" are written in the character
of a commercial traveller, and the author has nothing
to say about Chenonceaux or Chambord, or indeed
about any of the chateaux of that part of France; his
system being to talk only of the large towns, where he
may be supposed to find a market for his goods. It
was his ambition to pass for an ironmonger. But in
the large towns he is usually excellent company, though
as discursive as Sterne, and strangely indifferent, for a
man of imagination, to those superficial aspects of
things which the poor pages now before the reader are
mainly an attempt to render. It is his conviction that
Alfieri, at Florence, bored the Countess of Albany ter-
ribly; and he adds that the famous Gallophobe died
of jealousy of the little painter from Montpellier. The
Countess of Albany left her property to Fabre; and I
suppose some of the pieces in the museum of his
native town used to hang in the sunny saloons of that
fine old palace on the Arno which is still pointed out
to the stranger in Florence as the residence of Alfieri.

The institution has had other benefactors, notably
a certain M. Bruyas, who has enriched it with an extra-
ordinary number of portraits of himself. As these,
however, are by different hands, some of them dis-
tinguished, we may suppose that it was less the model
than the artists to whom M. Bruyas wished to give
publicity. Easily first are two large specimens of
David Teniers, which are incomparable for brilliancy
and a glowing perfection of execution. I have a weak-
ness for this singular genius, who combined the delicate
with the grovelling, and I have rarely seen richer
examples. Scarcely less valuable is a Gerard Dow
which hangs near them, though it must rank lower as
having kept less of its freshness. This Gerard Dow
did me good; for a master is a master, whatever he
may paint. It represents a woman paring carrots,
while a boy before her exhibits a mouse-trap in which
he has caught a frightened victim. The good-wife has
spread a cloth on the top of a big barrel which serves
her as a table, and on this brown, greasy napkin, of
which the texture is wonderfully rendered, lie the raw
vegetables she is preparing for domestic consumption.
Beside the barrel is a large caldron lined with copper,
with a rim of brass. The way these things are painted
brings tears to the eyes; but they give the measure of
the Musee Fabre, where two specimens of Teniers and
a Gerard Dow are the jewels. The Italian pictures are
of small value; but there is a work by Sir Joshua Rey-
nolds, said to be the only one in France, - an infant
Samuel in prayer, apparently a repetition of the pic-
ture in England which inspired the little plaster im-
age, disseminated in Protestant lands, that we used to
admire in our childhood. Sir Joshua, somehow, was
an eminently Protestant painter; no one can forget
that, who in the National Gallery in London has looked
at the picture in which he represents several young
ladies as nymphs, voluminously draped, hanging gar-
lands over a statue, - a picture suffused indefinably
with the Anglican spirit, and exasperating to a mem-
ber of one of the Latin races. It is an odd chance,
therefore, that has led him into that part of France
where Protestants have been least _bien vus_. This is the
country of the dragonnades of Louis XIV. and of the
pastors of the desert. From the garden of the Peyrou,
at Montpellier, you may see the hills of the Cevennes,
to which they of the religion fled for safety, and out
of which they were hunted and harried.

I have only to add, in regard to the Musee Fabre,
that it contains the portrait of its founder, - a little,
pursy, fat-faced, elderly man, whose countenance con-
tains few indications of the power that makes distin-
guished victims. He is, however, just such a personage
as the mind's eye sees walking on the terrace of the
Peyrou of an October afternoon in the early years of
the century; a plump figure in a chocolate-colored coat
and a _culotte_ that exhibits a good leg, - a culotte pro-
vided with a watch-fob from which a heavy seal is
suspended. This Peyrou (to come to it at last) is a
wonderful place, especially to be found in a little pro-
vincial city. France is certainly the country of towns
that aim at completeness; more than in other lands,
they contain stately features as a matter of course. We
should never have ceased to hear about the Peyrou, if
fortune had placed it at a Shrewsbury or a Buffalo. It
is true that the place enjoys a certain celebrity at
home, which it amply deserves, moreover; for nothing
could be more impressive and monumental. It consists
of an "elevated platform," as Murray says, - an im-
mense terrace, laid out, in the highest part of the town,
as a garden, and commanding in all directions a view
which in clear weather must be of the finest. I strolled
there in the intervals of showers, and saw only the
nearer beauties, - a great pompous arch of triumph in
honor of Louis XIV. (which is not, properly speaking,
in the garden, but faces it, straddling across the _place_
by which you approach it from the town), an equestrian
statue of that monarch set aloft in the middle of the
terrace, and a very exalted and complicated fountain,
which forms a background to the picture. This foun-
tain gushes from a kind of hydraulic temple, or _cha-
teau d'eau_, to which you ascend by broad flights of
steps, and which is fed by a splendid aqueduct,
stretched in the most ornamental and unexpected
manner across the neighboring valley. All this work
dates from the middle of the last century. The com-
bination of features - the triumphal arch, or gate; the
wide, fair terrace, with its beautiful view; the statue
of the grand monarch; the big architectural fountain,
which would not surprise one at Rome, but goes sur-
prise one at Montpellier; and to complete the effect,
the extraordinary aqueduct, charmingly fore-shortened,
- all this is worthy of a capital, of a little court-city.
The whole place, with its repeated steps, its balus-
trades, its massive and plentiful stone-work, is full of
the air of the last century, - _sent bien son dix-huitieme
siecle_; none the less so, I am afraid, that, as I read in
my faithful Murray, after the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, the block, the stake, the wheel, had been
erected here for the benefit of the desperate Camisards.


It was a pleasure to feel one's self in Provence
again, - the land where the silver-gray earth is im-
pregnated with the light of the sky. To celebrate
the event, as soon as I arrived at Nimes I engaged
a caleche to convey me to the Pont du Gard. The
day was yet young, and it was perfectly fair; it ap-
peared well, for a longish drive, to take advantage,
without delay, of such security. After I had left the
town I became more intimate with that Provencal
charm which I had already enjoyed from the window
of the train, and which glowed in the sweet sunshine
and the white rocks, and lurked in the smoke-puffs
of the little olives. The olive-trees in Provence are
half the landscape. They are neither so tall, so stout,
nor so richly contorted as I have seen them beyond
the Alps; but this mild colorless bloom seems the
very texture of the country. The road from Nimes,
for a distance of fifteen miles, is superb; broad enough
for an army, and as white and firm as a dinner-table.
It stretches away over undulations which suggest a
kind of harmony; and in the curves it makes through
the wide, free country, where there is never a hedge
or a wall, and the detail is always exquisite, there is
something majestic, almost processional. Some twenty
minutes before I reached the little inn that marks the
termination of the drive, my vehicle met with an ac-
cident which just missed being serious, and which
engaged the attention of a gentleman, who, followed
by his groom and mounted on a strikingly handsome
horse happened to ride up at the moment. This young
man, who, with his good looks and charming manner,
might have stepped out of a novel of Octave Feuillet,
gave me some very intelligent advice in reference to
one of my horses that had been injured, and was so
good as to accompany me to the inn, with the re-
sources of which he was acquainted, to see that his
recommendations were carried out. The result of our
interview was that he invited me to come and look at
a small but ancient chateau in the neighborhood,
which he had the happiness - not the greatest in the
world, he intimated - to inhabit, and at which I en-
gaged to present myself after I should have spent an
hour at the Pont du Gard. For the moment, when
we separated, I gave all my attention to that great
structure. You are very near it before you see it; the
ravine it spans suddenly opens and exhibits the
picture. The scene at this point grows extremely
beautiful. The ravine is the valley of the Gardon,
which the road from Nimes has followed some time
without taking account of it, but which, exactly at the
right distance from the aqueduct, deepens and ex-
pands, and puts on those characteristics which are best
suited to give it effect. The gorge becomes romantic,
still, and solitary, and, with its white rocks and wild
shrubbery, hangs over the clear, colored river, in whose
slow course there is here and there a deeper pool.
Over the valley, from side to side, and ever so high
in the air, stretch the three tiers of the tremendous
bridge. They are unspeakably imposing, and nothing
could well be more Roman. The hugeness, the soli-
dity, the unexpectedness, the monumental rectitude of
the whole thing leave you nothing to say - at the time
- and make you stand gazing. You simply feel that
it is noble and perfect, that it has the quality of
greatness. A road, branching from the highway, de-
scends to the level of the river and passes under one
of the arches. This road has a wide margin of grass
and loose stones, which slopes upward into the bank
of the ravine. You may sit here as long as you please,
staring up at the light, strong piers; the spot is ex-
tremely natural, though two or three stone benches
have been erected on it. I remained there an hour
and got a cornplete impression; the place was per-
fectly soundless, and for the time, at least, lonely;
the splendid afternoon had begun to fade, and there
was a fascination in the object I had come to see. It
came to pass that at the same time I discovered in it
a certain stupidity, a vague brutality. That element
is rarely absent from great Roman work, which is
wanting in the nice adaptation of the means to the
end. The means are always exaggerated; the end is
so much more than attained. The Roman rigidity
was apt to overshoot the mark, and I suppose a race
which could do nothing small is as defective as a race
that can do nothing great. Of this Roman rigidity
the Pont du Gard is an admirable example. It would
be a great injustice, however, not to insist upon its
beauty, - a kind of manly beauty, that of an object
constructed not to please but to serve, and impressive
simply from the scale on which it carries out this
intention. The number of arches in each tier is dif-
ferent; they are smaller and more numerous as they
ascend. The preservation of the thing is extra-
ordinary; nothing has crumbled or collapsed; every
feature remains; and the huge blocks of stone, of a
brownish-yellow, (as if they had been baked by the
Provencal sun for eighteen centuries), pile themselves,
without mortar or cement, as evenly as the day they
were laid together. All this to carry the water of a
couple of springs to a little provincial city! The con-
duit on the top has retained its shape and traces of
the cement with which it was lined. When the vague
twilight began to gather, the lonely valley seemed to
fill itself with the shadow of the Roman name, as if
the mighty empire were still as erect as the supports
of the aqueduct; and it was open to a solitary tourist,
sitting there sentimental, to believe that no people has
ever been, or will ever be, as great as that, measured,
as we measure the greatness of an individual, by the
push they gave to what they undertook. The Pont du
Gard is one of the three or four deepest impressions
they have left; it speaks of them in a manner with
which they might have been satisfied.

I feel as if it were scarcely discreet to indicate the
whereabouts of the chateau of the obliging young
man I had met on the way from Nimes; I must con-
tent myself with saying that it nestled in an en-
chanting valley, - _dans le fond_, as they say in France,
- and that I took my course thither on foot, after
leaving the Pont du Gard. I find it noted in my
journal as "an adorable little corner." The principal
feature of the place is a couple of very ancient towers,
brownish-yellow in hue, and mantled in scarlet Vir-
ginia-creeper. One of these towers, reputed to be
of Saracenic origin, is isolated, and is only the more
effective; the other is incorporated in the house,
which is delightfully fragmentary and irregular. It
had got to be late by this time, and the lonely _castel_
looked crepuscular and mysterious. An old house-
keeper was sent for, who showed me the rambling
interior; and then the young man took me into a
dim old drawing-room, which had no less than four
chimney-pieces, all unlighted, and gave me a refec-
tion of fruit and sweet wine. When I praised the
wine and asked him what it was, he said simply,
"C'est du vin de ma mere!" Throughout my little
joumey I had never yet felt myself so far from Paris;
and this was a sensation I enjoyed more than my
host, who was an involuntary exile, consoling him-
self with laying out a _manege_, which he showed me
as I walked away. His civility was great, and I was
greatly touched by it. On my way back to the little
inn where I had left my vehicle, I passed the Pont
du Gard, and took another look at it. Its great arches
made windows for the evening sky, and the rocky
ravine, with its dusky cedars and shining river, was
lonelier than before. At the inn I swallowed, or tried
to swallow,a glass of horrible wine with my coach-
man; after which, with my reconstructed team, I drove
back to Nimes in the moonlight. It only added a
more solitary whiteness to the constant sheen of the
Provencal landscape.


The weather the next day was equally fair, so that
it seemed an imprudence not to make sure of Aigues-
Mortes. Nimes itself could wait; at a pinch, I could
attend to Nimes in the rain. It was my belief that
Aigues-Mortes was a little gem, and it is natural to
desire that gems should have an opportunity to sparkle.
This is an excursion of but a few hours, and there is
a little friendly, familiar, dawdling train that will con-
vey you, in time for a noonday breakfast, to the small
dead town where the blessed Saint-Louis twice em-
barked for the crusades. You may get back to Nimes
for dinner; the run - or rather the walk, for the train
doesn't run - is of about an hour. I found the little
journey charming, and looked out of the carriage win-
dow, on my right, at the distant Cevennes, covered
with tones of amber and blue, and, all around, at
vineyards red with the touch of October. The grapes
were gone, but the plants had a color of their own.
Within a certain distance of Aigues-Mortes they give
place to wide salt-marshes, traversed by two canals;
and over this expanse the train rumbles slowly upon
a narrow causeway, failing for some time, though you
know you are near the object of your curiosity, to
bring you to sight of anything but the horizon. Sud-
denly it appears, the towered and embattled mass,
lying so low that the crest of its defences seems to
rise straight out of the ground; and it is not till the
train stops, close before them, that you are able to
take the full measure of its walls.

Aigues-Mortes stands on the edge of a wide _etang_,
or shallow inlet of the sea, the further side of which
is divided by a narrow band of coast from the Gulf
of Lyons. Next after Carcassonne, to which it forms
an admirable _pendant_, it is the most perfect thing of
the kind in France. It has a rival in the person of
Avignon, but the ramparts of Avignon are much less
effective. Like Carcassonne, it is completely sur-
rounded with its old fortifications; and if they are far
simpler in character (there is but one circle), they are
quite as well preserved. The moat has been filled
up, and the site of the town might be figured by a
billiard-table without pockets. On this absolute level,
covered with coarse grass, Aigues-Mortes presents quite
the appearance of the walled town that a school-boy
draws upon his slate, or that we see in the background
of early Flemish pictures, - a simple parallelogram, of
a contour almost absurdly bare, broken at intervals by
angular towers and square holes. Such, literally speak-
ing, is this delightful little city, which needs to be seen
to tell its full story. It is extraordinarily pictorial,
and if it is a very small sister of Carcassonne, it has
at least the essential features of the family. Indeed,
it is even more like an image and less like a reality
than Carcassonne; for by position and prospect it
seems even more detached from the life of the present
day. It is true that Aigues-Mortes does a little busi-
ness; it sees certain bags of salt piled into barges
which stand in a canal beside it, and which carry their
cargo into actual places. But nothing could well be
more drowsy and desultory than this industry as I
saw it practised, with the aid of two or three brown
peasants and under the eye of a solitary douanier,
who strolled on the little quay beneath the western
wall. "C'est bien plaisant, c'est bien paisible," said
this worthy man, with whom I had some conversa-
tion; and pleasant and peaceful is the place indeed,
though the former of these epithets may suggest an
element of gayety in which Aigues-Mortes is deficient.
The sand, the salt, the dull sea-view, surround it with
a bright, quiet melancholy. There are fifteen towers
and nine gates, five of which are on the southern side,
overlooking the water. I walked all round the place
three times (it doesn't take long), but lingered most
under the southern wall, where the afternoon light
slept in the dreamiest, sweetest way. I sat down on
an old stone, and looked away to the desolate salt-
marshes and the still, shining surface of the _etang_,
and, as I did so, reflected that this was a queer little
out-of-the-world corner to have been chosen, in the
great dominions of either monarch, for that pompous
interview which took place, in 1538, between Francis I.
and Charles V. It was also not easy to perceive how
Louis IX., when in 1248 and 1270 he started for the
Holy Land, set his army afloat in such very undeveloped
channels. An hour later I purchased in the town a
little pamphlet by M. Marius Topin, who undertakes
to explain this latter anomaly, and to show that there
is water enough in the port, as we may call it by
courtesy, to have sustained a fleet of crusaders. I was
unable to trace the channel that he points out, but
was glad to believe that, as he contends, the sea has
not retreated from the town since the thirteenth century.
It was comfortable to think that things are not so
changed as that. M. Topin indicates that the other
French ports of the Mediterranean were not then _dis-
ponsibles_, and that Aigues-Mortes was the most eligible
spot for an embarkation.

Behind the straight walls and the quiet gates the
little town has not crumbled, like the Cite of Carcas-
sonne. It can hardly be said to be alive; but if it is
dead it has been very neatly embalmed. The hand
of the restorer rests on it constantly; but this artist
has not, as at Carcassonne, had miracles to accomplish.
The interior is very still and empty, with small stony,
whitewashed streets, tenanted by a stray dog, a stray
cat, a stray old woman. In the middle is a little _place_,
with two or three cafes decorated by wide awnings, -
a little _place_ of which the principal feature is a very
bad bronze statue of Saint Louis by Pradier. It is
almost as bad as the breakfast I had at the inn that
bears the name of that pious monarch. You may walk
round the enceinte of Aigues-Mortes, both outside and
in; but you may not, as at Carcassonne, make a por-
tion of this circuit on the _chemin de ronde_, the little
projecting footway attached to the inner face of the
battlements. This footway, wide enough only for a
single pedestrian, is in the best order, and near each
of the gates a flight of steps leads up to it; but a
locked gate, at the top of the steps, makes access im-
possible, or at least unlawful. Aigues-Mortes, however,
has its citadel, an immense tower, larger than any of
the others, a little detached, and standing at the north-
west angle of the town. I called upon the _casernier_,
the custodian of the walls, - and in his absence I was
conducted through this big Tour de Constance by his
wife, a very mild, meek woman, yellow with the traces
of fever and ague, - a scourge which, as might be ex-
pected in a town whose name denotes "dead waters,"
enters freely at the nine gates. The Tour de Con-
stance is of extraordinary girth and solidity, divided
into three superposed circular chambers, with very fine
vaults, which are lighted by embrasures of prodigious
depth, converging to windows little larger than loop-
holes. The place served for years as a prison to many
of the Protestants of the south whom the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes had exposed to atrocious
penalties, and the annals of these dreadful chambers
during the first half of the last century were written
in tears and blood. Some of the recorded cases of
long confinement there make one marvel afresh at
what man has inflicted and endured. In a country in
which a policy of extermination was to be put into
practice this horrible tower was an obvious resource.
From the battlements at the top, which is surmounted
by an old disused light-house, you see the little com-
pact rectangular town, which looks hardly bigger than
a garden-patch, mapped out beneath you, and follow
the plain configuration of its defences. You take
possession of it, and you feel that you will remember
it always.


After this I was free to look about me at Nimes,
and I did so with such attention as the place appeared
to require. At the risk of seeming too easily and too
frequently disappointed, I will say that it required
rather less than I had been prepared to give. It is a
town of three or four fine features, rather than a town
with, as I may say, a general figure. In general,
Nimes is poor; its only treasures are its Roman re-
mains, which are of the first order. The new French
fashions prevail in many of its streets; the old houses
are paltry, and the good houses are new; while beside
my hotel rose a big spick-and-span church, which
had the oddest air of having been intended for
Brooklyn or Cleveland. It is true that this church
looked out on a square completely French, - a square
of a fine modern disposition, flanked on one side by a
classical _palais de justice_ embellished with trees and
parapets, and occupied in the centre with a group of
allegorical statues, such as one encounters only in the
cities of France, the chief of these being a colossal
figure by Pradier, representing Nimes. An English,
an American, town which should have such a monu-
ment, such a square, as this, would be a place of
great pretensions; but like so many little _villes de
province_ in the country of which I write, Nimes is
easily ornamental. What nobler ornament can there
be than the Roman baths at the foot of Mont Cavalier,
and the delightful old garden that surrounds them?
All that quarter of Nimes has every reason to be
proud of itself; it has been revealed to the world at
large by copious photography. A clear, abundant
stream gushes from the foot of a high hill (covered
with trees and laid out in paths), and is distributed
into basins which sufficiently refer themselves to the
period that gave them birth, - the period that has
left its stamp on that pompous Peyrou which we ad-
mired at Montpellier. Here are the same terraces and
steps and balustrades, and a system of water-works
less impressive, perhaps, but very ingenious and charm-
ing. The whole place is a mixture of old Rome and
of the French eighteenth century; for the remains of
the antique baths are in a measure incorporated in
the modern fountains. In a corner of this umbrageous
precinct stands a small Roman ruin, which is known
as a temple of Diana, but was more apparently a
_nymphaeum_, and appears to have had a graceful con-
nection with the adjacent baths. I learn from Murray
that this little temple, of the period of Augustus,
"was reduced to its present state of ruin in 1577;"
the moment at which the townspeople, threatened
with a siege by the troops of the crown, partly
demolished it, lest it should serve as a cover to the
enemy. The remains are very fragmentary, but they
serve to show that the place was lovely. I spent half
an hour in it on a perfect Sunday morning (it is en-
closed by a high _grille_, carefully tended, and has a
warden of its own), and with the help of my imagina-
tion tried to reconstruct a little the aspect of things
in the Gallo-Roman days. I do wrong, perhaps, to
say that 1 _tried_; from a flight so deliberate I should
have shrunk. But there was a certain contagion of
antiquity in the air; and among the ruins of baths
and temples, in the very spot where the aqueduct that
crosses the Gardon in the wondrous manner I had
seen discharged itself, the picture of a splendid
paganism seemed vaguely to glow. Roman baths, -
Roman baths; those words alone were a scene. Every-
thing was changed: I was strolling in a _jardin francais_;
the bosky slope of the Mont Cavalier (a very modest
mountain), hanging over the place, is crowned with a
shapeless tower, which is as likely to be of mediaeval
as of antique origin; and yet, as I leaned on the
parapet of one of the fountains, where a flight of
curved steps (a hemicycle, as the French say) descended
into a basin full of dark, cool recesses, where the slabs
of the Roman foundations gleam through the clear
green water, - as in this attitude I surrendered myself
to contemplation and reverie, it seemed to me that I
touched for a moment the ancient world. Such mo-
ments are illuminating, and the light of this one mingles,
in my memory, with the dusky greenness of the Jardin
de la Fontaine.

The fountain proper - the source of all these dis-
tributed waters - is the prettiest thing in the world, a
reduced copy of Vaucluse. It gushes up at the foot
of the Mont Cavalier, at a point where that eminence
rises with a certain cliff-like effect, and, like other
springs in the same circumstances, appears to issue
from the rock with a sort of quivering stillness. I
trudged up the Mont Cavalier, - it is a matter of five
minutes, - and having committed this cockneyism en-
hanced it presently by another. I ascended the stupid
Tour Magne, the mysterious structure I mentioned a
moment ago. The only feature of this dateless tube,
except the inevitable collection of photographs to
which you are introduced by the door-keeper, is the
view you enjoy from its summit. This view is, of
course, remarkably fine, but I am ashamed to say I
have not the smallest recollection of it; for while I
looked into the brilliant spaces of the air I seemed
still to see only what I saw in the depths of the Roman
baths, - the image, disastrously confused and vague, of
a vanished world. This world, however, has left at
Nimes a far more considerable memento than a few
old stones covered with water-moss. The Roman arena
is the rival of those of Verona and of Arles; at a
respectful distance it emulates the Colosseum. It is a
small Colosseum, if I may be allowed the expression,
and is in a much better preservation than the great
circus at Rome. This is especially true of the external
walls, with their arches, pillars, cornices. I must add
that one should not speak of preservation, in regard
to the arena at Nimes, without speaking also of repair.
After the great ruin ceased to be despoiled, it began
to be protected, and most of its wounds have been
dressed with new material. These matters concern
the archaeologist; and I felt here, as I felt afterwards
at Arles, that one of the profane, in the presence of
such a monument, can only admire and hold his
tongue. The great impression, on the whole, is an
impression of wonder that so much should have sur-
vived. What remains at Nimes, after all dilapidation
is estimated, is astounding. I spent an hour in the
Arenes on that same sweet Sunday morning, as I
came back from the Roman baths, and saw that the
corridors, the vaults, the staircases, the external casing,
are still virtually there. Many of these parts are
wanting in the Colosseum, whose sublimity of size,
however, can afford to dispense with detail. The seats
at Nimes, like those at Verona, have been largely
renewed; not that this mattered much, as I lounged
on the cool surface of one of them, and admired the
mighty concavity of the place and the elliptical sky-
line, broken by uneven blocks and forming the rim of
the monstrous cup, - a cup that had been filled with
horrors. And yet I made my reflections; I said to
myself that though a Roman arena is one of the most
impressive of the works of man, it has a touch of that
same stupidity which I ventured to discover in the
Pont du Gard. It is brutal; it is monotonous; it is
not at all exquisite. The Arenes at Nimes were ar-
ranged for a bull-fight, - a form of recreation that, as
I was informed, is much _dans les habitudes Nimoises_,
and very common throughout Provence, where (still
according to my information) it is the usual pastime
of a Sunday afternoon. At Arles and Nimes it has a
characteristic setting, but in the villages the patrons
of the game make a circle of carts and barrels, on
which the spectators perch themselves. I was sur-
prised at the prevalence, in mild Provence, of the
Iberian vice, and hardly know whether it makes the
custom more respectable that at Nimes and Arles the
thing is shabbily and imperfectly done. The bulls
are rarely killed, and indeed often are bulls only in
the Irish sense of the term, - being domestic and
motherly cows. Such an entertainment of course does
not supply to the arena that element of the exquisite
which I spoke of as wanting. The exquisite at Nimes
is mainly represented by the famous Maison Carree.
The first impression you receive from this delicate
little building, as you stand before it, is that you have
already seen it many times. Photographs, engravings,
models, medals, have placed it definitely in your eye,
so that from the sentiment with which you regard it
curiosity and surprise are almost completely, and per-
haps deplorably, absent. Admiration remains, how-
ever, - admiration of a familiar and even slightly
patronizing kind. The Maison Carree does not over-
whelm you; you can conceive it. It is not one of the
great sensations of the antique art; but it is perfectly
felicitous, and, in spite of having been put to all sorts
of incongruous uses, marvellously preserved. Its slender
columns, its delicate proportions, its charming com-
pactness, seemed to bring one nearer to the century
that built it than the great superpositions of arenas
and bridges, and give it the interest that vibrates from
one age to another when the note of taste is struck.
If anything were needed to make this little toy-temple
a happy production, the service would be rendered by
the second-rate boulevard that conducts to it, adorned
with inferior cafes and tobacco-shops. Here, in a
respectable recess, surrounded by vulgar habitations,
and with the theatre, of a classic pretension, opposite,
stands the small "square house," so called because it
is much longer than it is broad. I saw it first in the
evening, in the vague moonlight, which made it look
as if it were cast in bronze. Stendhal says, justly,


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