Notre-Dame de Paris The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Part 13 out of 13
This is why the archdeacon was not interred in consecrated earth.
Louis XI. died a year later, in the month of August, 1483.
As for Pierre Gringoire, he succeeded in saving the goat,
and he won success in tragedy. It appears that, after having
tasted astrology, philosophy, architecture, hermetics,--all
vanities, he returned to tragedy, vainest pursuit of all. This
is what he called "coming to a tragic end." This is what is to
be read, on the subject of his dramatic triumphs, in 1483, in
the accounts of the "Ordinary:" "To Jehan Marchand and
Pierre Gringoire, carpenter and composer, who have made and
composed the mystery made at the ChŃtelet of Paris, at the
entry of Monsieur the Legate, and have ordered the personages,
clothed and dressed the same, as in the said mystery
was required; and likewise, for having made the scaffoldings
thereto necessary; and for this deed,--one hundred livres."
Phoebus de ChÔteaupers also came to a tragic end. He married.
THE MARRIAGE OF QUASIMODO.
We have just said that Quasimodo disappeared from Notre-
Dame on the day of the gypsy's and of the archdeacon's death.
He was not seen again, in fact; no one knew what had become
During the night which followed the execution of la
Esmeralda, the night men had detached her body from the
gibbet, and had carried it, according to custom, to the
cellar of Montfaušon.
Montfaušon was, as Sauval says, "the most ancient and the
most superb gibbet in the kingdom." Between the faubourgs
of the Temple and Saint Martin, about a hundred and sixty
toises from the walls of Paris, a few bow shots from La
Courtille, there was to be seen on the crest of a gentle,
almost imperceptible eminence, but sufficiently elevated to
be seen for several leagues round about, an edifice of strange
form, bearing considerable resemblance to a Celtic cromlech, and
where also human sacrifices were offered.
Let the reader picture to himself, crowning a limestone hillock,
an oblong mass of masonry fifteen feet in height, thirty wide,
forty long, with a gate, an external railing and a platform;
on this platform sixteen enormous pillars of rough hewn stone,
thirty feet in height, arranged in a colonnade round three of
the four sides of the mass which support them, bound together
at their summits by heavy beams, whence hung chains at intervals;
on all these chains, skeletons; in the vicinity, on the plain,
a stone cross and two gibbets of secondary importance, which
seemed to have sprung up as shoots around the central gallows;
above all this, in the sky, a perpetual flock of crows; that
At the end of the fifteenth century, the formidable gibbet
which dated from 1328, was already very much dilapidated;
the beams were wormeaten, the chains rusted, the pillars
green with mould; the layers of hewn stone were all cracked
at their joints, and grass was growing on that platform which
no feet touched. The monument made a horrible profile
against the sky; especially at night when there was a little
moonlight on those white skulls, or when the breeze of evening
brushed the chains and the skeletons, and swayed all these
in the darkness. The presence of this gibbet sufficed to
render gloomy all the surrounding places.
The mass of masonry which served as foundation to the
odious edifice was hollow. A huge cellar had been
constructed there, closed by an old iron grating, which
was out of order, into which were cast not only the human
remains, which were taken from the chains of Montfaušon, but
also the bodies of all the unfortunates executed on the other
permanent gibbets of Paris. To that deep charnel-house, where
so many human remains and so many crimes have rotted in company,
many great ones of this world, many innocent people, have
contributed their bones, from Enguerrand de Marigni, the first
victim, and a just man, to Admiral de Coligni, who was its last,
and who was also a just man.
As for the mysterious disappearance of Quasimodo, this is all
that we have been able to discover.
About eighteen months or two years after the events which
terminate this story, when search was made in that cavern for
the body of Olivier le Daim, who had been hanged two days
previously, and to whom Charles VIII. had granted the favor
of being buried in Saint Laurent, in better company, they
found among all those hideous carcasses two skeletons, one
of which held the other in its embrace. One of these skeletons,
which was that of a woman, still had a few strips of a
garment which had once been white, and around her neck was
to be seen a string of adrÚzarach beads with a little silk bag
ornamented with green glass, which was open and empty.
These objects were of so little value that the executioner had
probably not cared for them. The other, which held this one
in a close embrace, was the skeleton of a man. It was noticed
that his spinal column was crooked, his head seated on his
shoulder blades, and that one leg was shorter than the other.
Moreover, there was no fracture of the vertebrae at the nape
of the neck, and it was evident that he had not been hanged.
Hence, the man to whom it had belonged had come thither
and had died there. When they tried to detach the skeleton
which he held in his embrace, he fell to dust.
ADDED TO THE DEFINITIVE EDITION.
It is by mistake that this edition was announced as
augmented by many new chapters. The word should have been
unpublished. In fact, if by new, newly made is to be
understood, the chapters added to this edition are not new.
They were written at the same time as the rest of the work;
they date from the same epoch, and sprang from the same
thought, they have always formed a part of the manuscript of
"Notre-Dame-de-Paris." Moreover, the author cannot comprehend
how fresh developments could be added to a work of this
character after its completion. This is not to be done at
will. According to his idea, a romance is born in a manner
that is, in some sort, necessary, with all its chapters; a drama
is born with all its scenes. Think not that there is anything
arbitrary in the numbers of parts of which that whole, that
mysterious microcosm which you call a drama or a romance,
is composed. Grafting and soldering take badly on works of
this nature, which should gush forth in a single stream and
so remain. The thing once done, do not change your mind,
do not touch it up. The book once published, the sex of
the work, whether virile or not, has been recognized and
proclaimed; when the child has once uttered his first cry he
is born, there he is, he is made so, neither father nor mother
can do anything, he belongs to the air and to the sun, let
him live or die, such as he is. Has your book been a failure?
So much the worse. Add no chapters to an unsuccessful
book. Is it incomplete? You should have completed it
when you conceived it. Is your tree crooked? You cannot
straighten it up. Is your romance consumptive? Is your
romance not capable of living? You cannot supply it with
the breath which it lacks. Has your drama been born lame?
Take my advice, and do not provide it with a wooden leg.
Hence the author attaches particular importance to the
public knowing for a certainty that the chapters here added
have not been made expressly for this reprint. They were
not published in the preceding editions of the book for a very
simple reason. At the time when "Notre-Dame-de-Paris" was
printed the first time, the manuscript of these three chapters
had been mislaid. It was necessary to rewrite them or to
dispense with them. The author considered that the only
two of these chapters which were in the least important,
owing to their extent, were chapters on art and history which
in no way interfered with the groundwork of the drama and
the romance, that the public would not notice their loss,
and that he, the author, would alone be in possession of the
secret. He decided to omit them, and then, if the whole
truth must be confessed, his indolence shrunk from the task
of rewriting the three lost chapters. He would have found it
a shorter matter to make a new romance.
Now the chapters have been found, and he avails himself of
the first opportunity to restore them to their place.
This now, is his entire work, such as he dreamed it, such
as he made it, good or bad, durable or fragile, but such as he
These recovered chapters will possess no doubt, but little
value in the eyes of persons, otherwise very judicious, who
have sought in "Notre-Dame-de-Paris" only the drama, the
romance. But there are perchance, other readers, who have
not found it useless to study the aesthetic and philosophic
thought concealed in this book, and who have taken pleasure,
while reading "Notre-Dame-de-Paris," in unravelling beneath
the romance something else than the romance, and in following
(may we be pardoned these rather ambitious expressions),
the system of the historian and the aim of the artist through
the creation of the poet.
For such people especially, the chapters added to this
edition will complete "Notre-Dame-de-Paris," if we admit
that "Notre-Dame-de-Paris" was worth the trouble of completing.
In one of these chapters on the present decadence of
architecture, and on the death (in his mind almost inevitable)
of that king of arts, the author expresses and develops an opinion
unfortunately well rooted in him, and well thought out. But
he feels it necessary to say here that he earnestly desires that
the future may, some day, put him in the wrong. He knows
that art in all its forms has everything to hope from the new
generations whose genius, still in the germ, can be heard gushing
forth in our studios. The grain is in the furrow, the harvest
will certainly be fine. He merely fears, and the reason
may be seen in the second volume of this edition, that the sap
may have been withdrawn from that ancient soil of architecture
which has been for so many centuries the best field for art.
Nevertheless, there are to-day in the artistic youth so much
life, power, and, so to speak, predestination, that in our
schools of architecture in particular, at the present time, the
professors, who are detestable, produce, not only unconsciously
but even in spite of themselves, excellent pupils; quite the
reverse of that potter mentioned by Horace, who dreamed
amphorae and produced pots. ~Currit rota, urcens exit~.
But, in any case, whatever may be the future of architecture,
in whatever manner our young architects may one day solve the
question of their art, let us, while waiting for new monument,
preserve the ancient monuments. Let us, if possible, inspire
the nation with a love for national architecture. That, the
author declares, is one of the principal aims of this book;
it is one of the principal aims of his life.
"Notre-Dame-de-Paris" has, perhaps opened some true
perspectives on the art of the Middle Ages, on that marvellous
art which up to the present time has been unknown to some,
and, what is worse, misknown by others. But the author is
far from regarding as accomplished, the task which he has
voluntarily imposed on himself. He has already pleaded on
more than one occasion, the cause of our ancient architecture,
he has already loudly denounced many profanations, many
demolitions, many impieties. He will not grow weary. He
has promised himself to recur frequently to this subject. He
will return to it. He will be as indefatigable in defending
our historical edifices as our iconoclasts of the schools and
academies are eager in attacking them; for it is a grievous
thing to see into what hands the architecture of the Middle
Ages has fallen, and in what a manner the botchers of plaster
of the present day treat the ruin of this grand art, it is
even a shame for us intelligent men who see them at work and
content ourselves with hooting them. And we are not speaking
here merely of what goes on in the provinces, but of what is
done in Paris at our very doors, beneath our windows, in the
great city, in the lettered city, in the city of the press, of
word, of thought. We cannot resist the impulse to point out,
in concluding this note, some of the acts of vandalism which are
every day planned, debated, begun, continued, and successfully
completed under the eyes of the artistic public of Paris, face
to face with criticism, which is disconcerted by so much
audacity. An archbishop's palace has just been demolished, an
edifice in poor taste, no great harm is done; but in a block
with the archiepiscopal palace a bishop's palace has been
demolished, a rare fragment of the fourteenth century, which the
demolishing architect could not distinguish from the rest.
He has torn up the wheat with the tares; 'tis all the same.
They are talking of razing the admirable chapel of Vincennes,
in order to make, with its stones, some fortification, which
Daumesnil did not need, however. While the Palais Bourbon,
that wretched edifice, is being repaired at great expense,
gusts of wind and equinoctial storms are allowed to destroy
the magnificent painted windows of the Sainte-Chapelle. For
the last few days there has been a scaffolding on the tower of
Saint Jacques de la Boucherie; and one of these mornings the
pick will be laid to it. A mason has been found to build a
little white house between the venerable towers of the Palais
de-Justice. Another has been found willing to prune away
Saint-Germain-des-Pres, the feudal abbey with three bell
towers. Another will be found, no doubt, capable of pulling
down Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. All these masons claim to
be architects, are paid by the prefecture or from the petty
budget, and wear green coats. All the harm which false taste
can inflict on good taste, they accomplish. While we write,
deplorable spectacle! one of them holds possession of the
Tuileries, one of them is giving Philibert Delorme a scar across
the middle of his face; and it is not, assuredly, one of the
least of the scandals of our time to see with what effrontery
the heavy architecture of this gentleman is being flattened
over one of the most delicate fašades of the Renaissance!
PARIS, October 20, 1832.
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