rier and the wall, gazed with great edification at the spec-
tacle of civil and criminal justice administered somewhat
pell-mell and quite at random by Master Florian Barbedi-
enne, auditor to the Chatelet, and lieutenant of Monsieur
It was a small, low, hall, with coved ceiling ; at the
further end stood a table studded with fleurs-de-lis, a large
empty arm-chair of carved oak, reserved for the provost,
and on the left a stool for the auditor, Master Florian.
Below was the clerk busily writing. In front were the
people, and before the door and the table a posse of the pro-
vost's men in frocks of purple camlet with white crosses.
Two sergeants of the Parloir aux Bourgeois, in their ker-
sey jackets half-scarlet and half-blue, stood sentry before a
low closed door, which was seen behind the table. A
single pointed window, of scanty dimensions, encased in the
thick wall, threw the faint light of a January morning on
two grotesque figures the fantastic demon of stone sculp-
tured by way of ornament to the groining of the ceiling,
and the judge seated at the extremity of the hall.
Figure to yourself seated at the provost's table, lolling
upon his elbows between two piles of papers, his feet upon
the skirt of his plain brown cloth robe, furred with white
lamb-skin, which encircled his jolly rubicund visage and
double chin, Master Florian Barbedienne, auditor to the
15S THE HUNCHBACK OF KOTRE-DAME.
XoW, the said auditor was deaf. A trifling defect this
in an auditor. Master Florian, nevertheless, gave judg-
ment without appeal, and very consistently too. It is most
certain that it is quite sufficient for a judge to appear to
listen ; and this condition, the only essential one for strict
justice, the venerable auditor fulfilled the more exactly in-
asmuch as no noise could divert his attention.
For the rest, he had among the auditory a merciless
comptroller of his sayings and doings in the person of our
young friend, Jehan Frollo du Moulin, who was sure to be
seen every where in Paris except before the professors'
" Look you," said he in a low tone to his companion
Robin Poussepain, who was grinning beside him while he
commented on the scenes that were passing before them
" there is the pretty Jehanneton du Buisson of the Marche
Neuf ! Upon mj soul he condemns her too, the old brute !
He must have no more eyes than ears. Fifteen sous four
deniers Parisis, for having worn two strings of beads !
*T is paying rather dear, though. Soho ! two gentlemen
among these varlets ! Aiglet de Soins, and Hutin de Mailly
two esquires, corpus Christi! Ha! they have been
dicing. When shall we see our rector here ? To pay a
fine of one hundred livres to the king ! Bravo Barbedienne I
May I be my brother the archdeacon, if this shall prevent
me from gaming ; gaming by day, gaming by night, gam-
ing while I live, gaming till I die, and staking my soul
after my shirt ! By 'r Lady, what damsels ! one after an-
other, pretty lambs ! Ambroise Lecuyere, Isabeau la Pay-
nette, Berarde Gironin, I know them all, by my fay !
Fined, fined, fined ! That will teach you to wear gilt
belts ! Ten sous Parisis, coquettes ! Oh ! the old deaf
imbecile ! Oh ! Florian ! the blockhead ! Oh ! Barbedi-
enne, the booby ! There he is at his feast ! Fines, costs,
charges, damages, stocks, pillory, imprisonment, are to him
Christmas cakes and St. John's marchpane ! Look at him,
the hog! Get on! what! another lewd woman! Thi-
baud la Thibaude, I declare ! For being seen out of the
Rue Glatigny ! Who is that young fellow ? Gieftroy Ma-
bonne, one of the bowmen of the guard for swearing an
THE HtTKCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 159
oath, forsooth ! A fine for you La Thibaude ! a fine for
you Gieffroy ! but ten to one the old stupid will confound
the two charges and make the woman pay for the oath, and
the soldier for incontinence! Look, look, Robin! what
are they bringing in now ? By Jupiter, there are all the
hounds in the pack ! That must be a fine head of game !
A wild boar surely ! And so it is, Robin, so it is ! And
a rare one too, God wot! Gramercy ! 'tis our prince,
our Pope of Fools, our bell-ringer, our one-eyed, hunch-
backed, bandylegged Quasimodo ! "
Sure enough it was Quasimodo, bound, corded, pinioned.
The party of the provost's men who surrounded him were
accompanied by the captain of the watch in person, having
the arms of France embroidered on the breast of his coat
and those of the city on the back. At the same time there
was nothing about Quasimodo, save and except his deform-
ity, which could justify this display of halberts and arque-
busses : he was silent, sullen, and quiet. His only eye
merely gave from time to time an angry glance at the bonds
which confined him.
Meanwhile Master Florian was intently perusing the in-
dorsement of a paper containing the charges alleged against
Quasimodo, which had been handed to him by the clerk.
By means of this precaution, which he was accustomed to
take before he proceeded to an examination, he acquainted
himself beforehand with the name, condition, and offence,
of the prisoner ; was enabled to have in readiness replies to
expected answers; and succeeded in extricating himself from
all the sinuosities of the interrogatory, without too grossly
exposing his infirmity. To him therefore the endorsement
was like the dog to the blind man. If, however, his in-
firmity chanced to betray itself now and then by some in-
coherent apostrophe or some unintelligible question, with the
many it passed for profoundness, with some few for imbe-
cility. In either case the honour of the magistracy re-
mained unimpeached ; for it is better that a judge should
be reputed profound or imbecile than deaf. Accordingly
he took great pains to conceal his deafness from observation,
and in general he was so successful as at last to deceive
himself on this point. This is more easily done than it
160 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE..DAME.
may be imagined. Every hunchback holds his head erect,
every stammerer is fond of making speeches, every deaf
person talks in a low tone. For his part he believed that
he was somewhat hard of hearing ; and this was the only
concession that he made on this point to public opinion in
moments of perfect frankness and self-examination.
After ruminating awhile on Quasimodo's affair, he
threw back his head and half closed his eyes, to give him-
self a look of the more majesty and impartiality, so that at
that moment he was both deaf and blind a two-fold
condition without which there is no perfect judge. In
this magisterial attitude he commenced his examination.
ie Your name ? "
Now, here was a case which the law had not provided
for the deaf interrogating the deaf.
Quasimodo, unaware of the question addressed to him,
continued to look stedfastly at the judge without answer-
ing. The deaf judge, equally unaware of the deafness of
the accused, conceiving that he had answered, as persons
in his situation generally did, went on, agreeably to his
mechanical routine : " Very well ; your age ? "
Quasimodo maintained the same silence as before. The
judge again supposing that he had answered his question,
continued : " Now your business ? "
Still Quasimodo was silent. The people who witnessed
this curious scene began to whisper and to look at one
" That will do," rejoined the imperturbable auditor,
when he presumed that the accused had finished his
third answer. " You are accused before us, in the first
place, of making a nocturnal disturbance ; secondly, of an
assault upon the person of a lewd woman ; thirdly, of dis-
loyalty, sedition, and resistance to the archers of the guard
of our lord the king. What have you to say for yourself
on these points? Clerk,, have you taken down the pri-
soner's answers thus far ? "
At this unlucky question, a roar of laughter burst from
both clerk and audience, so vehement, so loud, so conta-
gious, so universal, that neither of the deaf men could help
noticing it. Quasimodo merely turned about and shrugged
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTBE-DAME.
his hump with disdain ; while Master Florian, equally-
astonished, and supposing that the mirth of the spectators
had been provoked by some disrespectful reply of the pri-
soner's, rendered visible to him by the rising of his shoul-
ders, indignantly exclaimed : " For that answer, fellow,
you deserve a halter. Know you to whom you speak ? "
This sally was not likely to check the explosion of the
general mirth. So odd and so ridiculous did it appear to
all, that the fit of laughter spread to the very sergeants
of the Parloir aux Bourgeois, a sort of knaves of spades,
proverbial for stupidity. Quasimodo alone preserved his
gravity, for this very sufficient reason, that he had not the
least notion of what was passing around him. The judge,
more and more exasperated, thought fit to proceed in the
same strain, hoping thereby to strike the prisoner with a
terror that should react upon the audience.
u How dare you thus insult the auditor of the Cha-
telet, the deputy superintendent of the police of Paris,
appointed to enquire into crimes, offences, and misdemea-
nours ; to control all trades ; to prevent forestalling and
regrating ; to cleanse the city of filth and the air of con-
tagious diseases ; to repair the pavements ; in short to pay-
continual attention to the public welfare, and that too
without wages or hope of salary ! Do you know that
I am Florian Barbedienne, own lieutenant of Monsieur
the provost, and moreover, commissary, comptroller, ex-
The Lord knows when Master Florian would have
finished this flight of eloquence had not the low door be-
hind him suddenly opened and afforded passage to the pro-
vost himself. Master Florian did not stop short at his
entrance, but, turning half round upon his heel, and
abruptly directing to the provost the harangue which a
moment before he was launching forth against Quasimodo
u Monseigneur," said he, " I demand such punish-
ment as it shall please you to pronounce upon the prisoner
here present for audacious and heinous contempt of jus-
Out of breath with the exertion, he sat down and began
to wipe off the perspiration which trickled from his forehead
169. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
and fell in big drops upon the parchments spread out before
him. Messire Robert d'Estouteville knitted his brows
and commanded attention with a gesture so imperious and
expressive that Quasimodo had some inkling of what was
" What hast thou done to be brought hither, varlet ? "
said the provost sternly.
The prisoner, supposing that the provost was enquiring'his
name, broke his habitual silence, and in a harsh and gut-
tural voice replied, " Quasimodo."
The answer was so incongruous with the question as
once more to excite the risibility of the bystanders, when
Messire Robert, flushed with rage, exclaimed : i! Art thou
making thy game of me too, thou arrant knave ? "
" Bell-ringer at Notre-Dame," replied Quasimodo, con-
ceiving that the judge had enquired his profession.
c< Bell-ringer ! " roared the provost, who had got up
that morning, as we have observed, in such an ill-humour
as not to need the further provocation of these cross-
grained answers " bell-ringer ! I'll have such a peal
rung on thy back as shall make thee rue thy impertinence.
Dost thou hear, varlet ? "
" If you want to know my age," said Quasimodo, " I
believe I shall be twenty, next Martinmas."
This was too provoking the provost lost all patience.
" What, wretch ! dost thou defy the provost ! Here ver-
gers, take this fellow to the pillory of the Greve ; let him
be flogged and then turn him for an hour. S'death, he shall
pay for his insolence, and my pleasure is that this sentence
be proclaimed by four trumpeters in the seven castellanies
of the viscounty of Paris."
The clerk instantly fell to work to record the sentence.
" Ventre Dieu ! but that 's a just sentence ! " cried
Jehan Frollo du Moulin, from his corner.
The provost turned about, and again fixing his flashing
eyes on Quasimodo, " I verily believe," said he, " that
the knave has dared to swear in our presence. Clerk,
add a fine of twelve deniers Parisis for the oath, and let
half of it be given to the church of St. Eustache."
In a few minutes the sentence was drawn up. The
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. 163
language was simple and concise. The practice of the
provosty and viscounty of Paris had not then been laid
down by the president Thibaut Baillet, and Roger Barame,
king's advocate ; it was not then obstructed by that forest
of quirks, cavils, and quibbles, which these two lawyers
planted before it at the commencement of the sixteenth
century. Every thing about it was clear, explicit, expe-
ditious. It was all straightforward work, and you per-
ceived at once at the end of every path, uninterrupted by
bushes or roundabout ways, the pillory, the gibbet, and the
wheel. You knew at least what you had to expect.
The clerk handed the sentence to the provost, who af-
fixed his seal, and left the hall to continue his round of
the courts, in a mood which was likely to increase the
population of the gaols of Paris. Jehan Frollo and Robin
Poussepain laughed in their sleeve; while Quasimodo
looked on with an air of calm indifference.
While Master Florian Barbedienne was in his turn
reading the sentence, previously to his signing it, the clerk,
feeling compassion for the wretched victim and hoping
to obtain some mitigation of his punishment, approached as
near as he could to the ear of the auditor and said, point-
ing at the same time to Quasimodo " The poor fellow
He conceived that this community of infirmity might
awaken Master Florian's lenity in behalf of the culprit.
But, in the first place, as we have already mentioned,
Master Florian was by no means anxious to have it known
that he was deaf; and, in the next, he was so hard of
hearing as not to catch a single syllable of what the clerk
said to him. Pretending, nevertheless, to hear, he replied:
" Aha ! that is a different thing, I did not know that. In
this case let him have another hour in the pillory ;" and
,he signed the sentence with this alteration.
" That *s right ! " cried Robin Poussepain, who owed
Quasimodo a grudge : " this will teach him to handle
164 THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME.
THE TROU AUX RATS.
With the reader's permission, we shall conduct him back
to the Place de Greve, which we yesterday quitted with
Gringoire to follow La Esmeralda.
It is the hour of ten in the morning : the appearance of
the Place indicates the morrow of a festival. The pave-
ment is strewed with wrecks rags, ribands, feathers,
drops of wax from the torches, fragments of the public ban-
quet. A good many citizens are lounging about, kicking
the half- consumed cases of the fire-works, admiring the
Maison aux Piliers, extolling the beautiful hangings of the
preceding day, and looking at the nails which had held
them. The venders of cider and beer are trundling their
barrels among the groupes. A few pedestrians, urged by
business, bustle along at a quick rate. The shopkeepers
are calling to one another from their doors and conversing
together. The fete, the ambassadors, Coppenole, the Pope
of Fools, were in every mouth ; each striving to crack
the best jokes and to laugh the loudest. And yet four
Serjeants on horseback, who have just posted them-
selves at the four sides of the pillory, have already gathered
around them a considerable portion of the populace, who
were kicking their heels about the Place in the hopes of
enjoying the amusement of an execution.
Now, if the reader, after surveying this lively and noisy
scene which is performing all over the Place, turns his
eye toward the ancient half Gothic half-Roman building,
called Roland's Tower, which forms the corner of the quay
to the west, he may perceive at the angle of the facade a
large public breviary, richly illuminated, sheltered from
the rain by a small penthouse, and secured from thieves by
an iron grating, which, nevertheless, does not prevent your
turning over the leaves. Beside this breviary is a narrow-
pointed unglazed window, looking out upon the Place, and
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. l65
defended by two cross-bars of iron the only aperture for
the admission of air and light to a small cell without door,
formed in the basement of the wall of the old building,
and full of a quiet the more profound, a silence the
more melancholy, from its very contiguity to a public
place, and that the most populous and the most noisy in
This cell had been noted in Paris for three centuries,
ever since Madame Rolande of Roland's Tower, from
affection for her father, who had fallen in the Crusades,
caused it to be cut out of the wall of her own house, for
the purpose of shutting herself up in it for ever, keeping
no part of her mansion but this hole, the door of which
was walled up and the window open winter and summer,
and giving all the rest to the poor and to God. In this
anticipated tomb, the disconsolate lady had awaited death
for twenty years, praying night and day for the soul of
her father, lying upon ashes, without so much as a stone
for a pillow, habited in black sackcloth, and subsisting
solely upon the bread and water which the pity of the pas-
sengers induced them to deposit on her window-sill, thus
living upon charity, after giving away her all. At her
death, at the moment of quitting this for her last sepulchre,
she bequeathed it for ever to afflicted females, maids,
wives, or widows, who should have occasion to pray much
for themselves or others, and who should wish to bury
themselves alive, on account of some heavy calamity or
some extraordinary penance. The tears and blessings of
the poor embalmed her memory, but to their great disap-
pointment their pious benefactress could not be canonised
for want of patronage sufficiently powerful. Such of them
as were not most religiously disposed had hoped that the
thing would be more easily accomplished in Paradise than
at Rome, and had therefore at once prayed to God instead
of the pope in behalf of the deceased. Most of them had
been content to hold her memory sacred and to make relics
of her rags. The city, seconding the intentions of the lady,
had founded a public breviary, which was attached to the
wall near the window of the cell, that passengers might
stop from time to time, were it only that they might be
166 THE HUNCHBACK OP NCI RE-DAME.
induced to recite a prayer, that the prayer might make
them think of alms, and that the poor recluses, the succes-
sive inmates of Madame Rolande's cell, might not abso-
lutely perish of hunger and neglect.
In the cities of the middle ages tombs of this sort were
not rare. In the most frequented street, in the most
crowded and noisy market, in the midst of the highways,
almost under the horses' feet and the cart-wheels, you
frequently met with a cellar, a cave, a well, a walled and
grated cabin, in which a human being, self-devoted to some
everlasting sorrow, to some signal expiation, spent night
and day in prayer. And none of those reflections which
would be awakened in us at the present time by this
strange sight, this horrid cell, a sort of intermediate link be-
tween a house and a grave, between the cemetery and the
city ; that being cut off from all community with mankind,
and henceforth numbered among the dead ; that lamp con-
suming its last drop of oil in obscurity ; that spark of life
glimmering in a grave ; that voice of incessant prayer in a
cage of stone ; that face for ever turned towards the next
world ; that eye already lit by another sun ; that ear
pressed against the side of the tomb ; that soul a prisoner
in this body ; this body a prisoner in this dungeon, and
the moaning of that afflicted soul within this two-fold
envelope of flesh and granite *** none of these ideas pre-
sented themselves to the multitude in those days. The
unreasoning and far from subtle Piety of that period could
not see so many facets in a religious act. She took
the thing in the lump ; and honoured, venerated, upon
occasion sanctified, the sacrifice, but without analysing the
sufferings, or bestowing on them only a moderate degree
of pity. She carried from time to time a pittance to the
wretched penitent, peeping through the hole to see if he
were still alive ; but she knew not his name ; she scarcely
knew how many years it was since he had begun to die ;
and to the enquiries of the stranger respecting the living
skeleton, who was rotting in such a cabin, cave, or cellar,
the neighbours merely replied, " It is the recluse."
Thus at that day people saw every thing with the
naked eye, without magnifying glass, without exaggera-
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME. l67
tion, without metaphysics. The microscope had not yet
been invented either for material or for spiritual things.
Instances of this kind of seclusion in the heart of
cities, though they raised but little wonder, were yet fre-
quent, as we have just observed. In Paris there was a
considerable number of these cells for praying to God and
doing penance ; and almost all of them were occupied.
The clergy, it is true, disliked to see them empty, as that
implied lukewarmness in their flocks; and lepers were
placed in them when no penitents offered themselves. Be-
sides the cell of the Greve, there was one at Montfaucon,
another at the charnel-house of the Innocents ; a third, I
do not exactly remember where, at the logis Clichon, I
believe ; and others at various places, where you still find
traces of them in traditions, though the buildings have
been swept away. On the hill of St. Genevieve a kind of
Job of the middle ages sang for thirty years the seven
penitential psalms, upon a dunghill, at the bottom of a
cistern, beginning afresh as soon as he had finished, and
raising his voice highest at night : and to this day the
antiquary imagines that he hears his voice, as he enters
the street called Puits qui parte.
But to return to the cell of Roland's Tower. It is
right to mention that ever since the death of Madame
Rolande it had seldom been for any length of time with-
out a tenant. Many a woman had come thither to
mourn, some their indiscretions, and others the loss of
parents or lovers. Parisian scandal, which interferes in
every thing, even in such things as least concern it, pre-
tended that very few widows had been seen among the
According to the fashion of the age, a Latin legend
inscribed upon the wall indicated to the lettered passenger
the pious destination of this cell. Down to the middle of
the sixteenth century it was customary to explain the
object of a building by a short motto placed over the door.
Thus in France there may still be read over the postern of
the seignorial house of Tourville, Sileto et spera ; in
Ireland, beneath the coat of arms over the grand entrance
to Fortescue castle, Forte scutum salus ducum ; in
168 THE HUNCHBACK OP NOTRE-DAME.
England, over the principal door of the hospitable mansion
of earl Cowper, Tuum est. In those days every building
was a thought.
As there was no door to the cell of Roland's Tower,
there had been engraven in Roman capitals, underneath the
window, these two words :
Hence the people, whose plain common sense never looks
for profound meanings in things, and who scruple not to
attach to Ludovico Magno the signification of Porte St.
Denis, gave to this dark, damp, loathsome hole the name of
Trou aux Rats, an interpretation less sublime perhaps than
the other, but certainly more picturesque.
At the period of which we are treating the cell of Ro-
land's Tower was occupied. If the reader is desirous of
knowing by whom he has only to listen to the conversation
of three honest gossips, who, at the moment at which we
have directed his attention to the Trou aux Rats, were
going to the very spot, proceeding from the Chatelet
along the river-side towards the Greve.
Two of them were dressed like wives of respectable
citizens of Paris. Their fine white neckerchief; their
linsey-wolsey petticoat, striped red and blue ; their white
worsted stockings, with coloured clocks, pulled up tight
upon the leg ; their square-toed shoes of tawny leather
with black soles ; and above all their head-dress, a sort of
high cap of tinsel loaded with ribands and lace, still worn
by the women of Champagne, and also by the grenadiers
of the Russian imperial guard indicated that they be-