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of yet greater interest and beauty than the choir itself. Within an
old, very old, stone coffin - at the further circular end - are the
pulverized remains of one of the earliest abbesses. I gazed around
with mixed sensations of veneration and awe, and threw myself back
into centuries past, fancying that the shrouded figure of Maltilda
herself glided by, with a look as if to approve of my antiquarian

Having gratified my curiosity by a careful survey of the subterranean
abode, I revisited the regions of daylight, and made toward the large
building, now a manufactory, which in Ducarel's time had been a
nunnery. The revolution has swept away every human being in the
character of a nun; but the director of the manufactory showed me,
with great civility, some relics of old crosses, rings, veils,
lacrimatories, etc., which had been taken from the crypt I had
recently visited. These relics savored of considerable antiquity. Tom
Hearne would have set about proving that they must have belonged to
Matilda herself; but I will have neither the presumption nor the merit
of attempting this proof. They seemed, indeed, to have undergone half
a dozen decompositions. Upon the whole, if our Antiquarian Society,
after having exhausted the cathedrals of their own country, should
ever think of perpetuating the principal ecclesiastical edifices of
Normandy, by means of the art of engraving, let them begin their
labors with the Abbey aux Dames at Caen.


[Footnote A: From "A Tour Through the Pyrenees." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Henry Holt &
Co. Copyright, 1873.]


The river is so fine that, before going to Bayonne, I have come down
as far as Royan. Ships heavy with white sails ascend slowly on both
sides of the boat. At each gust of wind they incline like idle birds,
lifting their long wings and showing their black bellies. They run
slantwise, then come back; one would say that they felt the better for
being in this great fresh-water harbor; they loiter in it and enjoy
its peace after leaving the wrath and inclemency of the ocean.

The banks, fringed with pale verdure, glide right and left, far
away to the verge of heaven; the river is broad like a sea; at this
distance you might think you had seen two hedges; the trees dimly lift
their delicate shapes in a robe of bluish gauze; here and there great
pines raise their umbrellas on the vapory horizon, where all is
confused and vanishing; there is an inexpressible sweetness in these
first hues of the timid day, softened still by the fog which exhales
from the deep river.

As for the river itself, its waters stretch out joyous and splendid;
the rising sun pours upon its breast a long streamlet of gold; the
breeze covers it with scales; its eddies stretch themselves, and
tremble like an awaking serpent, and, when the billow heaves them, you
seem to see the striped flanks, the tawny cuirass of a leviathan.

Indeed, at such moments it seems that the water must live and feel; it
has a strange look, when it comes, transparent and somber, to stretch
itself upon a beach of pebbles; it turns about them as if uneasy and
irritated; it beats them with its wavelets; it covers them, then
retires, then comes back again with a sort of languid writhing and
mysterious lovingness; its snaky eddies, its little crests suddenly
beaten down or broken, its wave, sloping, shining, then all at once
blackened, resembles the flashes of passion in an impatient mother,
who hovers incessantly and anxiously about her children, and covers
them, not knowing what she wants and what fears.

Presently a cloud has covered the heavens, and the wind has risen.
In a moment the river has assumed the aspect of a crafty and savage
animal. It hollowed itself, and showed its livid belly; it came
against the keel with convulsive starts, hugged it, and dashed against
it, as if to try its force; as far as one could see, its waves lifted
themselves and crowded together, like the muscles upon a chest; over
the flank of the waves passed flashes with sinister smiles; the mast
groaned, and the trees bent shivering, like a nerveless crowd before
the wrath of a fearful beast. Then all was hushed; the sun had burst
forth, the waves were smoothed, you now see only a laughing expanse;
spun out over this polished back a thousand greenish tresses sported
wantonly; the light rested on it, like a diaphanous mantle; it
followed the supple movements and the twisting of those liquid arms;
it folded around them, behind them, its radiant, azure robe; it took
their caprices and their mobile colors; the river meanwhile, slumbrous
in its great, peaceful bed, was stretched out at the feet of the
hills, which looked down upon it, like it immovable and eternal.

The boat is made fast to a boom, under a pile of white houses; it
is Royan. Here already are the sea and the dunes; the right of the
village is buried under a mass of sand; there are crumbling hills,
little dreary valleys, where you are lost as if in the desert; no
sound, no movement, no life; scanty, leafless vegetation dots moving
soil, and its filaments fall like sickly hairs; small shells, white
and empty, cling to these in chaplets, and, wherever the foot is set,
they crack with a sound like a cricket's chirp; this place is the
ossuary of some wretched maritime tribe.

One tree alone can live here, the pine, a wild creature, inhabitant of
the forests and sterile coasts; there is a whole colony of them here;
they crowd together fraternally, and cover the sand with their brown
lamels; the monotonous breeze which sifts through them forever awakes
their murmur; thus they chant in a plaintive fashion, but with a far
softer and more harmonious voice than the other trees; this voice
resembles the grating of the cicadas when in August they sing with all
their heart among the stalks of the ripened wheat.

At the left of the village, a footpath winds to the summit of a wasted
bank, among billows of standing grasses. The river is so broad that
the other shore is not distinguishable. The sea, its neighbor, imparts
its influence; its long undulations come one after another against the
coast, and pour their little cascades of foam upon the sand; then the
water retires, running down the slope until it meets a new wave coming
up which covers it; these billows are never wearied, and their come
and go remind one of the regular breathing of a slumbering child. For
night has fallen, the tints of purple grow brown and fade away. The
river goes to rest in the soft, vague shadow; scarcely, at long
intervals, a remnant glimpse is reflected from a slanting wave;
obscurity drowns everything in its vapory dust; the drowsy eye vainly
searches in this mist some visible point, and distinguishes at last,
like a dim star, the lighthouse of Cordouan.

The next evening a fresh sea-breeze has brought us to Bordeaux.
The enormous city heaps its monumental houses along the river like
bastions; the red sky is embattled by their coping. They on one hand,
the bridge on the other, protect, with a double line, the port where
the vessels are crowded together like a flock of gulls; those graceful
hulls, those tapering masts, those sails swollen or floating, weave
the labyrinth of their movements and forms upon the magnificent purple
of the sunset. The sun sinks into the river; the black rigging, the
round hulls, stand out against its conflagration, and look like jewels
of jet set in gold.

Around Bordeaux are smiling hills, varied horizons, fresh valleys,
a river people by incessant navigation, a succession of cities and
villages harmoniously planted upon the declivities or in the plains,
everywhere the richest verdure, the luxury of nature and civilization,
the earth and man vying with each other to enrich and decorate the
happiest valley of France. Below Bordeaux a flat soil, marshes,
sand; a land which goes on growing poorer, villages continually less
frequent, ere long the desert. I like the desert as well.

Pine woods pass to the right and to the left, silent and wan. Each
tree bears on its side the scar of wounds where the woodmen have set
flowing the resinous blood which chokes it; the powerful liquor still
ascends into its limbs with the sap, exhales by its slimy shoots and
by its cleft skin; a sharp aromatic odor fills the air.

Beyond, the monotonous plain of the ferns, bathed in light, stretches
away as far as the eye can reach. Their green fans expand beneath the
sun which colors, but does not cause them to fade. Upon the horizon a
few scattered trees lift their slender columns. You see now and then
the silhouette of a herdsman on his stilts, inert and standing like a
sick heron. Wild horses are grazing half hid in the herbage. As the
train passes, they abruptly lift their great startled eyes and stand
motionless, uneasy at the noise that has troubled their solitude.

Man does not fare well here - he dies or degenerates; but it is the
country of animals, and especially of plants. They abound in this
desert, free, certain of living. Our pretty, cut-up valleys are but
poor things alongside of these immense spaces, leagues upon leagues
of marshy or dry vegetation, a level country, where nature, elsewhere
troubled and tortured by men, still vegetates, as in primeval days,
with a calm equal to its grandeur. The sun needs these savannas in
order properly to spread out its light; from the rising exhalation,
you feel that the whole plain is fermenting under its force; and the
eyes, filled by the limitless horizon, divine the secret labor by
which this ocean of rank verdure renews and nourishes itself.


[Footnote A: From a letter to his mother, written from the monastery
in 1739.]


We took the longest road, which lies through Savoy, on purpose to see
a famous monastery, called the Grande Chartreuse, and had no reason to
think our time lost. After having traveled seven days very slow (for
we did not change horses, it being impossible for a chaise to go fast
in these roads), we arrived at a little village, among the mountains
of Savoy, called Echelles; from thence we proceeded on horses, who are
used to the way, to the mountain of the Chartreuse.

It is six miles to the top; the road runs winding up it, commonly not
six feet broad; on one hand is the rock, with woods of pine-trees
hanging overhead; on the other, a monstrous precipice, almost
perpendicular, at the bottom of which rolls a torrent that, sometimes
tumbling among the fragments of stone that have fallen from on high,
and sometimes precipitating itself down vast descents with a noise
like thunder, which is made still greater by the echo from the
mountains on each side, concurs to form one of the most solemn, the
most romantic, and the most astonishing scenes I ever beheld.

Add to this the strange views made by the crags and cliffs on the
other hand; the cascades that in many places throw themselves from the
very summit down into the vale, and the river below; and many other
particulars impossible to describe; you will conclude we had no
occasion to repent our plans. This place St. Bruno chose to retire
to, and upon its very top founded the aforesaid convent, which is the
superior of the whole order. When we came there, the two fathers, who
are commissioned to entertain strangers (for the rest must neither
speak one to another nor to any one else) received us very kindly; and
set before us a repast of dried fish, eggs, butter, and fruits, all
excellent in their kind, and extremely neat. They prest us to spend
the night there, and to stay some days with them; but this we could
not do, so they led us about their house, which is, you must think,
like a little city; for there are 100 fathers, besides 300 servants,
that make their clothes, grind their corn, press their wine, and do
everything among themselves.

The whole is quite orderly and simple; nothing of finery; but the
wonderful decency, and the strange situation, more than supply the
place of it. In the evening we descended by the same way, passing
through many clouds that were then forming themselves on the
mountain's side.


[Footnote A: From "A Little Tour in France." By special arrangement
with, and by permission of, the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Co.
Copyright, 1884.]


When I say the town, I mean the towns; there being two at Carcassonne,
perfectly distinct, and each with excellent claims to the title. They
have settled the matter between 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 doormat, takes the name of the Cité.

You see nothing of the Cité 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 it, rather, and conducts you to a little
high-backed bridge over the Aude, beyond which, detached and erect, a
distinct medieval silhouette, the Cité presents itself. Like a rival
shop, on the invidious side of a street, it has "no connection" with
the establishment across the way, altho the two places are united
(if old Carcassonne may be said to be united to anything) by a vague
little rustic faubourg. Perched on its solid pedestal, the perfect
detachment of the Cité 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 summerish dusk over
the place, in which a few scattered remains of stout walls and big
bastions looked venerable and picturesque. A little boulevard winds
around 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 Doré, 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 fortified, 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,
Porte Narbonnaise, 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....

I should lose no time in saying that restoration is the great mark of
the Cité. 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
architects have had such a chance, and M. Viollet-le-Duc must have
been the envy of the whole restoring fraternity. 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 crenellations, the inserted patches, of the walls of the
outer circle sufficiently express this commixture.

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 occupation 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
substructions which appear to have been formed hastily, probably
at the moment of the Frankish invasion. The authors of these solid
defenses, tho occasionally disturbed, held Carcassonne and the
neighboring country, 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 Béziers 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
accustomed 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 Béziers; 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 Trineavel, baffled and repulsed, retired at the
end of twenty-four days. Saint Louis and Philip the Bold, in the
thirteenth century, multiplied the defenses of Carcassonne, which was
one of the bulwarks of their kingdom on the Spanish quarter; and from
this time forth, being regarded 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 capable....

My obliging friend the "mad lover" [of la Cité] handed me over to the
doorkeeper of the citadel. I should add that I was at first committed
to the wife of this functionary, a stout peasant woman, who conducted
me to a postern door and ushered me into the presence of her husband.

This brilliant, this suggestive warden of Carcassonne marched us about
for an hour, haranguing, explaining, illustrating, as he went; it was
a complete little lecture, such as might have been delivered at the
Lowell Institute, on the manner in which a first-rate "place forte"
used to be attacked and defended. Our peregrinations made it very
clear that Carcassonne 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 descended towers, crawled under
arches, peered out of loopholes, lowered ourselves into dungeons,
halted in all sorts of tight places, while the purpose of something or
other was described to us.

It was very curious, very interesting; above all, it was very
pictorial, and involved perpetual peeps into the little crooked,
crumbling, sunny, grassy, empty Cité. 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
positive, 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 inevitable repository of

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 Cité. 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 silhouette. 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.


[Footnote A: From "Castles and Châteaux of Old Navarre." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, L.C. Page &
Co. Copyright, 1907.]


If Bayonne is the center of commercial affairs for the Basque country,
its citizens must, at any rate, go to Biarritz if they want to live
"the elegant and worldly life." The prosperity and luxury of Biarritz
are very recent; it goes back only to the Second Empire, when it was
but a village of a thousand souls or less, mostly fishermen and women.

The railway and the automobile omnibus make communication with Bayonne
to-day easy, but formerly folk came and went on a donkey side-saddled
for two, arranged back to back, like the seats of an Irish
jaunting-car. If the weight were unequal, a balance was struck by
adding cobblestones on one side or the other, the patient donkey not
minding in the least.

This astonishing mode of conveyance was known as a "cacolet," and
replaced the "voitures" and "fiacres" of other resorts. An occasional
example may still be seen, but the "jolies Basquaises" who conducted
them have given way to sturdy, barelegged Basque boys - as picturesque,
perhaps, but not so entrancing to the view. To voyage "en cacolet" was
the necessity of our grandfathers; for us it is an amusement only.

Napoleon III., or rather Eugénie, his spouse, was the faithful
godfather of Biarritz as a resort. The Villa Eugénie is no more; it
was first transformed into a hotel and later destroyed by fire; but it
was the first of a great battery of villas and hotels which has made
Biarritz so great that the popularity of Monte Carlo is steadily
waning. Biarritz threatens to become even more popular; some sixteen
thousand visitors came to Biarritz in 1899, but there were thirty-odd
thousand in 1903; while the permanent population has risen from 2,700
in the days of the Second Empire to 12,800 in 1901. The tiny railway
from Bayonne to Biarritz transported half a million travelers twenty
years ago, and a million and a half, or nearly that number, in 1903;
the rest, being millionaires, or gypsies, came in automobiles or
caravans. These figures tell eloquently of the prosperity of this
"villégiature impériale."

The great beauty of Biarritz is its setting. At Monte Carlo
the setting is also beautiful, ravishingly beautiful, but the
architecture, the terrace, Monaco's rock, and all the rest combine
to make the pleasing "ensemble." At Biarritz the architecture of its
Casino and the great hotels is not of an epoch-making beauty, neither
are they so delightfully placed. It is the surrounding stage setting
that is so lovely. Here the jagged shore line, the blue waves, the
ample horizon seaward, are what make it all so charming.

Biarritz as a watering-place has an all-the-year-round clientèle; in
summer the Spanish and the French, succeeded in winter by Americans,
Germans, and English - with a sprinkling of Russians at all times.
Biarritz, like Pau, aside from being a really delightful winter
resort, where one may escape the rigors of murky November to March in
London, is becoming afflicted with a bad case of "sport fever." There
are all kinds of sports, some of them reputable enough in their place,
but the comic-opera fox-hunting which takes place at Pau and Biarritz

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