Infomotions, Inc.Normandy Picturesque / Blackburn, Henry, 1830-1897



Author: Blackburn, Henry, 1830-1897
Title: Normandy Picturesque
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): pont audemer; audemer; normandy; caen; bayeux; avranches; rouen; pont; cathedral
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Title: Normandy Picturesque


Author: Henry Blackburn



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NORMANDY PICTURESQUE.

by

HENRY BLACKBURN,
Author of 'Travelling in Spain,' 'The Pyrenees,'
'Artists and Arabs,' Etc.

Travelling Edition.

With Appendix of Routes and List of Watering-Places.







[Illustration: JOAN OF ARC'S HOUSE AT ROUEN]



[Illustration: Map]




London: Sampson Low, Son, & Marston, Crown Buildings, Fleet Street.
1870.
London:
Printed by William Clowes and Sons,
Stamford Street & Charing Cross.





PREFACE

TO

"_TRAVELLING EDITION._"


In issuing the Travelling Edition of "Normandy Picturesque," the
publishers deem it right to state that the body of the work is identical
with the Christmas Edition; but that the APPENDIX contains
additional information for the use of travellers, some of which is not
to be found in any Guide, or Handbook, to France.

The descriptions of places and buildings in Normandy call for little or
no alteration in the present edition, excepting in the case of one
town, concerning which the Author makes the following note:--

     "The traveller who may arrive at Pont Audemer this year, with
     '_Normandy Picturesque_' in his hand, will find matters strangely
     altered since these notes were written; he will find that a railway
     has been driven into the middle of the town, that many old houses
     have disappeared, that the inhabitants have left off their white
     caps, and have given up their hearts to modern ways.

     "Such changes have come rapidly upon Pont Audemer, but we must not,
     in consequence, alter our description of it; for the old houses and
     the old customs are dear memories, and the more worth recording
     because the reality has faded before our eyes."

     _London, May, 1870._

  CONTENTS.

                                                                    PAGE
  CHAP. I.--ON THE WING                                                1

   "   II.--PONT AUDEMER                                              13

   "  III.--LISIEUX                                                   35

   "   IV.--CAEN--DIVES                                               51

   "    V.--BAYEUX                                                    83

   "   VI.--ST. LO--COUTANCES--GRANVILLE                             109

   "  VII.--AVRANCHES--MONT ST. MICHAEL                              135

   " VIII.--VIRE--MORTAIN--FALAISE                                   162

   "   IX.--ROUEN                                                    185

   "    X.--THE VALLEY OF THE SEINE                                  217

   "   XI.--ARCHITECTURE AND COSTUME                                 243

   "  XII.--THE WATERING PLACES OF NORMANDY                          265

            APPENDIX                                                 283




  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


  JOAN OF ARC'S HOUSE AT ROUEN _By_ S. PROUT.
  _Frontispiece_.


  CHAP.                                                             PAGE

   II.--Market-place at Pont Audemer S. P. HALL
        (_From a sketch by A. E. Browne._)                            14

   "   A Sketch at Pont Audemer M. TIBIALONG                          18

   "   Old Houses at Pont Audemer A. E. BROWNE                        29

  III.--Wood-carving at Lisieux A. E. BROWNE                          40

   IV.--Church of St. Pierre, Caen M. CLERGET                         54

   "    A Sketch, at Caen M. TIBIALONG                                64

   "    Old Woman of Caen M. TIRARD                                   69

    V.--Bayeux Cathedral H. BLACKBURN 83

    "   Corner of House at Bayeux A. E. BROWNE                        86

    "   Ancient Tablet in Cathedral H. BLACKBURN                      90

    "   Facsimile of Bayeux Tapestry A. SEVERN                       103

   VI.--A Sketch, at Cherbourg M. TIBIALONG                          110

   "    Exterior Pulpit at St. Lo _From a Photograph_                116

   "    A 'Toiler of the Sea' S. P. HALL 132

   "    Mont St. Michael H. BLACKBURN 135

  VII.--Church near Avranches H. BLACKBURN 144

   "    Ancient Cross H. BLACKBURN 147

 VIII.--Clock Tower at Vire H. BLACKBURN                             171

   IX.--Rouen Cathedral M. CLERGET 194

    X.--Market-women--Lower Normandy S. P. HALL
        (_From a sketch by A. E. Browne._)                           217

   XI.--Modern houses at Houlgate H. BLACKBURN                       253

   "   'The Wrestlers' GUSTAVE DORE                                  257




NORMANDY PICTURESQUE.




CHAPTER I.

_ON THE WING._


It is, perhaps, rather a subject for reproach to English people that the
swallows and butterflies of our social system are too apt to forsake
their native woods and glens in the summer months, and to fly to 'the
Continent' for recreation and change of scene; whilst poets tell us,
with eloquent truth, that there is a music in the branches of England's
trees, and a soft beauty in her landscape more soothing and gracious in
their influence than 'aught in the world beside.'

Whether it be wise or prudent, or even pleasant, to leave our island in
the very height of its season, so to speak--at a time when it is most
lovely, when the sweet fresh green of the meadows is changing to bloom
of harvest and gold of autumn--for countries the features of which are
harder, and the landscape, if bolder, certainly less beautiful, for a
climate which, if more sunny, is certainly more bare and burnt up, and
for skies which, if more blue, lack much of the poetry of cloud-land--we
will not stay to enquire; but admitting the fact that, for various
reasons, English people _will_ go abroad in the autumn, and that there
is a fashion, we might almost say a passion, for 'flying, flying south,'
which seems irresistible--we will endeavour in the following pages to
suggest a compromise, in the shape of a tour which shall include the
undoubted delight and charm of foreign travel, with scenery more like
England than any other in Europe, which shall be within an easy distance
from our shores, and within the limits of a short purse; and which
should have one special attraction for us, viz., that the country to be
seen and the people to be visited bear about them a certain English
charm--the men a manliness, and the women a beauty with which we may be
proud to claim kindred.

We speak of the north-west corner of France, divided from us (and
perhaps once not divided) by the British Channel--the district called
NORMANDY (_Neustria_), and sometimes, 'nautical France,' which
includes the Departments of _Calvados_, _Eure_, _Orne_, and part of _La
Manche_. It comprises, as is well known, but a small part of France, and
occupies an area of about one hundred and fifty miles by seventy-five,
but in this small compass is comprehended so much that is interesting
to English people that we shall find quite enough to see and to do
within its limits alone.

If the reader will turn to the little map on our title-page, he will see
at a glance the position of the principal towns in Normandy, which we
may take in the following order, making England (or London) our starting
point:--

Crossing the Channel from Southampton to Havre by night, or from
Newhaven to Dieppe by day, we proceed at once to the town of PONT
AUDEMER, situated about six miles from Quillebeuf and eight from
Honfleur, both on the left bank of the Seine. From Havre, Pont Audemer
may be reached in a few hours, by water, and from Dieppe, Rouen or Paris
there is now railway communication. From Pont Audemer we go to
LISIEUX (by road or railway), from Lisieux to CAEN, BAYEUX and ST. LO,
where the railway ends, and we take the diligence to COUTANCES,
GRANVILLE, and AVRANCHES. After a visit to the island of Mont St.
Michael, we may return (by diligence) by way of MORTAIN, VIRE, and
FALAISE; thence to ROUEN, and by the valley of the Seine, to the
sea-coast.[1]

The whole journey is a short and inexpensive one, and may occupy a
fortnight, a month, or three months (the latter is not too long), and
may be made a simple _voyage de plaisir_, or turned to good account for
artistic study.

But there is one peculiarity about it that should be mentioned at the
outset. The route we have indicated, simple as it seems, and most easily
to be carried out as it would appear, is really rather difficult of
accomplishment, for the one reason that the journey is almost always
made on _cross-roads_. The traveller who follows it will continually
find himself delayed because he is not going to Paris. 'Paris is France'
under the Imperial regime, and at nearly every town or railway station
he will be reminded of the fact; and, if he be not careful, will find
himself and his baggage whisked off to the capital.[2] If he wishes to
see Normandy, and to carry out the idea of a provincial tour in its
integrity, he must resist temptation, _have nothing to do with Paris_,
and put up with slow trains, creeping diligences, and second-rate inns.

The network of roads and railways in France converge as surely to the
capital as the threads of a spider's web lead to its centre, and in
pursuing his route through the bye-ways of Normandy the traveller will
be much in the position of the fly that has stepped upon its
meshes--every road and railway leading to the capital where '_M.
d'Araignee_' the enticing, the alluring, the fascinating, the most
extravagant--is ever waiting for his prey.

From the moment he sets foot on the shores of Normandy, Paris will be
made ever present to him. Let him go, for example, to the railway
station at any port on his arrival in France, and he will find
everything--people, goods, and provisions, being hurried off to the
capital as if there were no other place to live in, or to provide for.
Let him (in pursuit of the journey we have suggested) tread cautiously
on the _fil de fer_ at Lisieux, for he will pass over one of the main
lines that connect the world of Fashion at Paris with another world of
Fashion by the sea.[3] Let him, when at St. Lo, apply for a place in
the diligence for Avranches, and he will be told by a polite official
that nothing can be done until the mail train arrives from Paris; and
let him not be surprised if, on his arrival at Avranches, his name be
chronicled in the local papers as the latest arrival from the capital.
Let him again, on his homeward journey, try and persuade the people of
Mortain and Vire that he does _not_ intend to visit Paris, and he will
be able to form some estimate of its importance in the eyes of the
French people.

We draw attention to this so pointedly at the outset, because it is
altogether inconsistent and wide of our purpose in making a quiet, and
we may add, economical, visit to Normandy, to do, as is the general
custom with travellers--spend half their time and most of their money in
Paris.

Thus much in outline for the ordinary English traveller on a holiday
ramble; but the artist or the architect need not go so far a-field. If
we might make a suggestion to him, especially to the architect, we would
say, take only the first four towns on our list (continuing the journey
to Coutances, or returning by Rouen if there be opportunity), and he
will find enough to last him a summer.[4] If he has never set foot in
Normandy before we may promise him an aesthetic treat beyond his dreams.
He will have his idols both of wood and stone--wood for dwelling, and
stone for worship; at PONT AUDEMER, the simple domestic
architecture of the middle ages, and at LISIEUX, the more
ornate and luxurious; passing on to CAEN, he will have (in
ecclesiastical architecture) the memorial churches of William the
Conqueror, and, in the neighbouring city of BAYEUX (in one
building), examples of the 'early,' as well as the more elaborate,
gothic of the middle ages.

If the architect, or art student, will but make this little pilgrimage
in its integrity, if he will, like Christian, walk in faith--turning
neither to the right hand nor to the left, and shunning the broad road
which leads to destruction--he will be rewarded.

There are two paths for the architect in Normandy, as elsewhere--paths
which we may call the 'simple right' and the 'elaborate wrong,' and the
right path is sometimes as difficult to follow as the path of virtue.

But both artist and amateur will revel alike in the beauty of landscape,
in the variety of form and colour of the old buildings, and in the
costume of the people; and we cannot imagine a more pleasant and
complete change from the heat and pressure of a London season than to
drop down (suddenly, as it were, like a bird making a swoop in the air),
into the midst of the quiet, primitive population of a town like Pont
Audemer, not many miles removed from the English coast, but at least a
thousand in the habits and customs of the people. An artist of any
sensibility could scarcely do it, the shock would be too great, the
delight too much to be borne; but the ordinary reader, who has prepared
his mind to some extent by books of travel, or the tourist, who has come
out simply for a holiday, may enjoy the change as he never enjoyed
anything before.

In the following pages we do not profess to describe each place on the
route we have suggested, but rather to record a few notes, made at
various times during a sojourn in Normandy; notes--not intended to be
exhaustive, or even as complete and comprehensive in description, as
ordinary books of travel, but which--written in the full enjoyment of
summer time in this country, in sketching in the open air, and in the
exploration of its mediaeval towns--may perchance impart something of the
author's enthusiasm to his unknown readers, when scattered upon the
winds of a publisher's breeze.




[Illustration]

CHAPTER II.

_PONT AUDEMER._


About one hundred and fifty miles in a direct line from the door of the
Society of British Architects in Conduit Street, London (and almost
unknown, we venture to say, to the majority of its members), sleeps the
little town of PONT AUDEMER, with its quaint old gables, its
tottering houses, its Gothic 'bits,' its projecting windows, carved oak
galleries, and streets of time-worn buildings--centuries old. Old
dwellings, old customs, old caps, old tanneries, set in a landscape of
bright green hills.[5]

'Old as the hills,' and almost as unchanged in aspect, are the ways of
the people of Pont Audemer, who dress and tan hides, and make merry as
their fathers did before them. For several centuries they have devoted
themselves to commerce and the arts of peace, and in the enthusiasm of
their business have desecrated one or two churches into tanneries. But
they are a conservative and primitive people, loving to do as their
ancestors did, and to dwell where they dwelt; they build their houses to
last for several generations, and take pride and interest in the 'family
mansion,' a thing unknown and almost impossible amongst the middle
classes of most communities.

[Illustration: MARKET PLACE, PONT AUDEMER.]

Pont Audemer was once warlike; it had its castle in feudal times
(destroyed in the 14th century), and the legend exists that cannon was
here first used in warfare. It has its history of wars in the time of
the Norman dukes, but its aspect is now quiet and peaceful, and its
people appear happy and contented; the little river Rille winds about
it, and spreads its streamlets like branches through the streets, and
sparkles in the evening light. Like Venice, it has its 'silent
highways;' like Venice, also, on a smaller and humbler scale, it has its
old facades and lintels drooping to the water's edge; like Venice, too,
we must add, that it has its odours here and there--odours not always
proceeding from the tanneries.

In the chief place of the _arrondissement_, and in a rapidly increasing
town, containing about six thousand inhabitants; with a reputation for
healthiness and cheapness of living, and with a railway from Paris, we
must naturally look for changes and modern ways; but Pont Audemer is
still essentially old, and some of its inhabitants wear the caps, as in
our illustration, which were sketched only yesterday in the
market-place.

If we take up our quarters at the old-fashioned inn called the _Pot
d'Etain_, we shall find much to remind us of the 15th century. If we
take a walk by the beautiful banks of the Rille on a summer's evening,
or in the fields where the peasants are at work, we shall find the
aspect curiously English, and in the intonation of the voices the
resemblance is sometimes startling; we seem hardly amongst
foreigners--both in features and in voice there is a strong family
likeness. There is a close tie of blood relationship no doubt, of
ancient habits and natural tastes; but, in spite of railways and
steamboats, the two peoples know very little of each other.

That young girl with the plain white cap fitting close to her hair--who
tends the flocks on the hill side, and puts all her power and energy
into the little matter of knitting a stocking--is a Norman maiden, a
lineal descendant, it may be, of some ancient house, whose arms we may
find in our own heraldic albums. She is noble by nature, and has the
advantage over her coroneted cousins in being permitted to wear a white
cap out of doors, and an easy and simple costume; in the fact of her
limbs being braced by a life spent in the open air, and her head not
being plagued with the proprieties of May Fair. She is pretty; but what
is of more importance she knows how to cook, and she has a little store
of money in a bank. She has been taught enough for her station, and has
few wishes beyond it; and some day she will marry Jean, and happy will
be Jean.

That stalwart warrior (whom we see on the next page), sunning himself
outside his barrack door, having just clapped his helmet on the head of
a little boy in blouse and sabots, is surely a near relation to our
guardsman; he is certainly brave, he is full of fun and intelligence, he
very seldom takes more wine than is good for him, and a game at
dominoes delights his soul.

[Illustration]

But it is in the market-place of Pont Audemer that we shall obtain the
best idea of the place and of the people.

On market mornings and on fete days, when the _Place_ is crowded with
old and young,--when all the caps (of every variety of shape, from the
'helmet' to the _bonnet-rouge_), and all the old brown coats with short
tails--are collected together, we have a picture, the like of which we
may have seen in rare paintings, but very seldom realize in life. Of the
tumult of voices on these busy mornings, of the harsh discordant sounds
that sometimes fill the air, we must not say much, remembering their
continual likeness to our own; but viewed, picturesquely, it is a sight
not to be forgotten, and one that few English people are aware can be
witnessed so near home.

Here the artist will find plenty of congenial occupation, and
opportunities (so difficult to meet with in these days) of sketching
both architecture and people of a picturesque type--groups in the
market-place, groups down by the river fishing under the trees, groups
at windows of old hostelries, and seated at inn doors; horses in clumsy
wooden harness; calves and pigs, goats and sheep; women at fruit stalls,
under tents and coloured umbrellas; piles upon piles of baskets, a
wealth of green things, and a bright fringe of fruit and flowers,
arranged with all the fanciful grace of "_les dames des halles_," in
Paris.[6]

All this, and much more the artist finds to his hand, and what does the
architect discover? First of all, that if he had only come here before
he might have saved himself an immensity of thought and trouble, for he
would have found such suggestions for ornament in wood carving, for
panels, doorways, and the like, of so good a pattern, and so old, that
they are new to the world of to-day; he would have found houses built
out over the rivers, looking like pieces of old furniture, ranged side
by side--rich in colour and wonderfully preserved, with their wooden
gables, carved in oak of the fifteenth century, supported by massive
timbers, sound and strong, of even older date. He would see many of
these houses with windows full of flowers, and creepers twining round
the old eaves; and long drying-poles stretched out horizontally, with
gay-coloured clothes upon them, flapping in the wind--all contrasting
curiously with the dark buildings.

But he would also find some houses on the verge of ruin. If he explored
far enough in the dark, narrow streets, where the rivers flow under the
windows of empty dwellings; he might see them tottering, and threatening
downfall upon each other--leaning over and casting shadows, black and
mysterious upon the water--no line perpendicular, no line horizontal,
the very beau-ideal of picturesque decay--buildings of which Longfellow
might have sung as truly as of Nuremberg,--

  "Memories haunt thy pointed gables,
  Like the rooks which round them throng."

In short, he would find Pont Audemer, and the neighbouring town of
Lisieux, treasure houses of old mysterious 'bits' of colour and form,
suggestive of simple domestic usage in one building, and princely
grandeur in another--strength and simplicity, grace and beauty of
design--all speaking to him of a past age with the eloquence of history.

Let us look well at these old buildings, many of them reared and dwelt
in by men of humble birth and moderate means--(men who lived happily and
died easily without amassing a fortune)--let us, if we can, without too
much envy, think for a moment of the circumstances under which these
houses were built. To us, to many of us, who pay dearly for the
privilege of living between four square walls (so slight and thin
sometimes, that our neighbours are separated from us by sight, but
scarcely by sound)--walls that we hire for shelter, from necessity, and
leave generally without reluctance; that we are prone to cover with
paper, in the likeness of oak and marble, to hide their meanness--these
curious, odd-shaped interiors, with massive walls, and solid oak
timbers, are especially attractive. How few modern rooms, for instance,
have such niches in them, such seats in windows and snug corners, that
of all things make a house comfortable. Some of these rooms are twenty
feet high, and are lighted from windows in surprising places, and of the
oddest shapes. What more charming than this variety, to the eye jaded
with monotony; what more suggestive, than the apparently accidental
application of Gothic architecture to the wants and requirements of the
age.[7]

We will not venture to say that these old buildings are altogether
admirable from an architect's point of view, but to us they are
delightful, because they were designed and inhabited by people who had
time to be quaint, and could not help being picturesque. And if these
old wooden houses seem to us wanting (as many are wanting) in the
appliances and fittings which modern habits have rendered necessary, it
was assuredly no fault of the 15th-century architect. They display both
in design and construction, most conspicuously, the elements of common
sense in meeting the requirements of their own day, which is, as has
been well remarked, "the one thing wanting to give life to modern
architecture;" and they have a character and individuality about them
which renders almost every building unique. Like furniture of rare
design they bear the direct impress of their maker. They were built in
an age of comparative leisure, when men gave their hearts to the
meanest, as well as to the mightiest, work of their hands; in an age
when love, hope, and a worthy emulation moved them, as it does not seem
to move men now; in an age, in short, when an approving notice in the
columns of the 'Builder' newspaper, was not a high aspiration.

But in nothing is the attraction greater to us, who are accustomed to
the monotonous perspective of modern streets, than the irregularity of
the _exteriors_, arising from the independent method of construction;
for, by varying the height and pattern of each facade, the builders
obtained to almost every house what architects term the 'return,' to
their cornices and mouldings, i.e., the corner-finish and completeness
to the most important projecting lines. And yet these houses are
evidently built with relation to each other; they generally harmonize,
and set off, and uphold each other, just as forest trees form themselves
naturally into groups for support and protection.

All this we may see at a distance, looking down the varied perspective
of these streets of clustering dwellings; and the closer we examine
them, the more we find to interest, if not to admire. If we gain little
in architectural knowledge, we at least gain pleasure, we learn _the
value of variety in its simplest forms_, and notice how easy it would be
to relieve the monotony of our London streets; we learn, too, the
artistic value of high-pitched roofs, of contrast in colour (if it be
only of dark beams against white plaster) and of _meaning_ in every line
of construction.

These, and many more such, sheaves we may gather from our Norman
harvest, but we must haste and bind them, for the winds of time are
scattering fast. Pont Audemer is being modernised, and many an
interesting old building is doomed to destruction; whilst cotton-mills
and steam-engines, and little white villas amongst the trees, black
coats and parisian bonnets, all tend to blot out the memories of
mediaeval days. Let us make the most of the place whilst there is
time--and let us, before we pass on to Lisieux, add one picture of Pont
Audemer in the early morning--a picture which every year will seem less
real.[8]

There are few monuments or churches to examine, and when we have seen
the stained-glass windows in the fine old church of St. Ouen, and walked
by the banks of the Rille, to the ruins of a castle (of the twelfth
century) at Montfort; we shall have seen the chief objects of interest,
in what Murray laconically describes as, 'a prettily situated town of
5400 inhabitants, famed for its tanneries.'


_Early morning at Pont Audemer._

That there is 'nothing new under the sun,' may perhaps be true of its
rising; nevertheless, a new sensation awaits most of us, if we choose
to see it under various phases. The early morning at Pont Audemer is the
same early morning that breaks upon the unconscious inhabitants of a
London street; but the conditions are more delightful and very much more
picturesque; and we might be excused for presenting the picture on the
simple ground that it treats of certain hours of of the twenty-four, of
which most of us know nothing, and in which (such are the exigencies of
modern civilization) most of us do nothing.

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES, PONT AUDEMER.]

A storm passed over the town one night in August, which shook the great
rafters of the old houses, and made the timbers strain; the water flowed
from them as from the sides of a ship--one minute they were illuminated,
the next, they were in blackest gloom. In two or three hours it has all
passed away, and as we go out into the silent town, and cross the street
where it forms a bridge over the Rille (the spot from which the next
sketch was taken), a faint gleam of light appears upon the water, and
upon the wet beams of one or two projecting gables. The darkness and the
'dead' silence are soon to be disturbed--one or two birds fly out from
the black eaves, a rat crosses the street, some distant chimes come upon
the wind, and a faint clatter of sabots on the wet stones; the town
clock strikes half-past three, and the watchman puts out his lantern,
and goes to sleep. The morning is breaking on Pont Audemer, and it is
the time for surprises--for the sudden appearance of a gable-end, which
just now was shadow, for the more gradual, but not less curious,
formation of a street in what seemed to be space; for the sudden
creation of windows in dead walls, for the turning of fantastic shadows
into palpable carts, baskets, piles of wood, and the like; and for the
discovery of a number of coiled-up dogs (and one or two coiled-up men)
who had weathered the night in sheltered places.

But the grey light is turning fast to gold, the warmer tints begin to
prevail, the streets leading eastward are gleaming, and the hills are
glistening in their bright fresh green.[9] The sweet morning air
welcomes us as we leave the streets and its five thousand sleepers, and
pass over another bridge and out by the banks of the Rille, where the
fish are stirring in the swollen stream, and the lilies are dancing on
the water. The wind blows freshly through the trees, and scatters the
raindrops thickly; the clouds, the last remnant of the night's storm,
career through a pale blue space, the birds are everywhere on the wing,
cattle make their appearance in the landscape, and peasants are already
to be seen on the roads leading to the town.

Suddenly--with gleams of gold, and with a rushing chorus of insect life,
and a thousand voices in the long grass on the river's bank--the day
begins.[10] It is market-morning, and we will go a little way up the
hill to watch the arrivals--a hill, from which there is a view over town
and valley; the extent and beauty of which it would be difficult to
picture to the reader, in words. Listen! for there is already a
cavalcade coming down the hill; we can see it at intervals through the
trees, and hear men's voices, the laughter of women, the bleating of
calves, and the crushing sound of wheels upon the road. It is a peaceful
army, though the names of its leaders (if we heard them), might stir up
warlike memories--there are Howards and Percys amongst them, but there
is no clash of arms; they come of a brave lineage, their ancestors
fought well under the walls of Pont Audemer; but they have laid down
their arms for centuries--their end is commerce and peace.

Let us stand aside under the lime trees, and see them pass. But they are
making a halt, their horses go straight to the water-trough, and the
whole cavalcade comes to a stand; the old women in the carts (wearing
starched caps a foot high) with baskets of eggs, butter, cheeses, and
piles of merchandise, sit patiently until the time comes to start again;
and the drivers, in blouses and wooden sabots, lounge about and smoke,
or sit down to rest. The young girls, who accompany the expedition and
who will soon take their places in the market, now set to work
systematically to perform their toilettes, commencing by washing their
feet in a stream, and putting on the shoes and stockings which they had
carried during their wet march; then more ablutions, with much fun, and
laughter, and tying up of tresses, and producing from baskets of those
wonderful caps which we have sketched so often--_souffles_ of most
fantastic shape and startling dimensions. This was the crowning work,
the picture was complete: bright, fresh, morning faces, glowing under
white caps; neat grey or blue dresses with white bodices, or coloured
handkerchiefs; grey stockings, shoes with buckles, and a silver cross, a
rosary, or a flower. We must not quite forget the younger men (with
coats, not blouses), who plumed themselves in a rough way, and wore
wonderful felt hats; nor, above all, a peep through the trees behind the
group, far away down the valley, at the gables and turrets of Pont
Audemer, glistening through a cloud of haze. This is all we need
describe, a word more would spoil the picture; like one of Edouard
Frere's paintings of "Cottage Life in Brittany," the charm and pathos of
the scene lie in its simplicity and harmony with Nature.

If we choose to stay until the day advances, we may see more
market-people come crowding in, and white caps will crop up in the
distance through the trees, till the green meadows blossom with them,
and sparkle like a lawn of daisies; we may hear the ringing laughter of
the girls to whom market day seems an occasion of great rejoicing, and
we may be somewhat distracted with the steady droning patois of the old
women; but we come to see rather than to hear, and, returning to the
town for the last time, we take our station at the corner of the
market-place, and make a sketch of a group of Norman maidens who are
well worth coming out to see.

[Illustration]




CHAPTER III.

_LISIEUX._

     'Oh! the pleasant days, when men built houses after their own
     minds, and wrote their own devices on the walls, and none laughed
     at them; when little wooden knights and saints peeped out from the
     angles of gable-ended houses, and every street displayed a store of
     imaginative wealth.'--_La Belle France_.


We must now pass on to the neighbouring town of LISIEUX, which
will be found even more interesting than Pont Audemer in examples of
domestic architecture of the middle ages; resisting with difficulty a
passing visit to Pont l'Eveque, another old town a few miles distant.
"Who does not know Pont l'Eveque," asks an enthusiastic Frenchman,
"that clean little smiling town, seated in the midst of adorable
scenery, with its little black, white, rose-colour and blue houses? One
sighs and says 'It would be good to live here,' and then one passes on
and goes to amuse oneself"--at Trouville-sur-mer!

If we approach Lisieux by the road from Pont Audemer (a distance of
about twenty-six miles) we shall get a better impression of the town
than if riding upon the whirlwind of an express train; and we shall pass
through a prettily-wooded country, studded with villas and
comfortable-looking houses, surrounded by pleasant fruit and flower
gardens--the modern abodes of wealthy manufacturers from the
neighbouring towns, and also of a few English families.

We ought to come quietly through the suburbs of Lisieux, if only to see
how its 13,000 inhabitants are busied in their woollen and cloth
factories; how they have turned the old timber-framed houses of feudal
times into warehouses; how the banners and signs of chivalry are
desecrated into trade-marks, and how its inhabitants are devoting
themselves heart and soul to the arts of peace. We should then approach
the town by picturesque wooden bridges over the rivers which have
brought the town its prosperity, and see some isolated examples of
carved woodwork in the suburbs; in houses surrounded by gardens, which
we should have missed by any other road.[11]

The churches at Lisieux are scarcely as interesting to us as its
domestic architecture; but we must not neglect to examine the pointed
Gothic of the 13th century in the cathedral of St. Pierre. The door of
the south transept, and one of the doors under the western towers (the
one on the right hand) is very beautiful, and is quite mauresque in the
delicacy of its design. The interior is of fine proportions, but is
disfigured with a coat of yellow paint; whilst common wooden seats (of
churchwardens' pattern) and wainscotting have been built up against its
pillars, the stone work having been cut away to accommodate the painted
wood. There are some good memorial windows; one of Henry II. being
married to Eleanor (1152); and another of Thomas-a-Becket visiting
Lisieux when exiled in 1169.

The church of St. Jacques with its fine stained-glass, the interior of
which is much plainer than St. Pierre, will not detain us long; it is
rather to such streets as the celebrated '_Rue aux Fevres_' that we are
attracted by the decoration of the houses, and their curious
construction. There is one house in this street, the entire front of
which is covered with grotesquely carved figures, intricate patterns,
and graceful pillars. The exterior woodwork is blackened with age, and
the whole building threatens to fall upon its present tenant--the keeper
of a cafe. The beams which support the roof inside are also richly
decorated.

To give the reader any idea of the variety of the wooden houses at
Lisieux would require a series of drawings or photographs: we can do
little more in these pages than point out these charming corners of the
world where something is still left to us of the work of the middle
ages.

The general character of the houses is better than at Pont Audemer, and
the style is altogether more varied. Stone as well as wood is used in
their construction, and the rooms are more commodious and more
elaborately decorated. But the exterior carving and the curious signs
engraved on the time-stained wood, are the most distinctive features,
and give the streets their picturesque character. Here we may notice, in
odd corners, names and legends carved in wood on the panels, harmonizing
curiously with the decoration; just as the names of the owners (in
German characters) are carved on Swiss chalets; and the words 'God is
great,' and the like, form appropriate ornaments (in Arabic) over the
door of a mosque.[12] And upon heraldic shields, on old oak panels, and
amidst groups of clustering leaves, we may sometimes trace the names of
the founders (often the architects) of the houses in which several
generations lived and died.

[Illustration]

The strange familiarity of some of these crests and devices (lions,
tigers, dragons, griffins, and other emblems of ferocity), the English
character of many of the names, and the Latin mottos, identical with
some in common use in England, may give us a confused and not very
dignified idea respecting their almost universal use by the middle
classes in England. M. Taine, a well-known french writer, remarks that
'c'est loin du monde que nous pouvons jugez sainement des illusions dont
nous environt,' and perhaps it is from Lisieux that we may best see
ourselves, wearing 'coats of arms.'

It is considered by many an unmeaning and unjust phrase to call the
nineteenth century 'an age of shams,' but it seems appropriate enough
when we read in newspapers daily, of 'arms found' and 'crests designed;'
and when we consider the extent of the practice of assuming them, or
rather we should say, of having them 'found,' we cannot feel very proud
of the fashion. Without entering into a genealogical discussion, we have
plenty of evidence that the Normans held their lands and titles from a
very early date, and that after the Conquest their family arms were
spread over England; but not in any measure to the extent to which they
are used amongst us. In these days nearly every one has a 'crest' or a
'coat of arms.'[13] Do the officials of Heralds' College (we may ask in
parenthesis) believe in their craft? and does the tax collector ever
receive 13_s_. 4_d_. for imaginary honours? Such things did not, and
could not, exist in mediaeval times, in the days when every one had his
place from the noble to the vassal, when every man's name was known and
his title to property, if he had any, clearly defined. A 'title' in
those days meant a title to land, and an acceptance of its
responsibilities. How many "titled" people in these days possess the
one, or accept the other?

It would seem reserved for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to
create a state of society when the question 'Who is he?' has to be
perpetually asked and not always easily answered; in a word, to foster
and increase to its present almost overwhelming dimensions a great
middle-class of society without a name or a title, or even a home to
call its own.

It was assuredly a good time when men's lives and actions were handed
down, so to speak, from father to son, and the poor man had his '_locum
tenens_' as well as the rich; and how he loved his own dwelling, how he
decked it with ornament according to his taste or his means, how he
watched over it and preserved it from decay; how, in short, his pride
was in his own hearth and home--these old buildings tell us.

The conservative influence of all this on his character (which, although
we are in France, we must call 'home-feeling'), its tendency to
contentment and self-respect, are subjects suggestive enough, but on
which we must not dwell. It flourished during the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, and it declined when men commenced crowding into
cities, and were no longer 'content to do without what they could not
produce.'[14]

Let us stay quietly at Lisieux, if we have time, and _see_ the place,
for we shall find nothing in all Normandy to exceed it in interest; and
the way to see it best, and to remember it, is, undoubtedly, to
_sketch_. Let us make out all these curious 'bits,' these signs, and
emblems in wood and stone--twigs and moss, and birds with delicate
wings, a spray of leaves, the serene head of a Madonna, the rampant
heraldic griffin,--let us copy, if we can, their colour and the marks of
age. We may sketch them, and we may dwell upon them, here, with the
enthusiasm of an artist who returns to his favourite picture again and
again; for we have seen the sun scorching these panels and burning upon
their gilded shields; and we have seen the snow-flakes fall upon these
sculptured eaves, silently, softly, thickly--like the dust upon the
bronze figures of Ghiberti's gates at Florence--so thickly fall, so soon
disperse, leaving the dark outlines sharp and clear against the sky; the
wood almost as unharmed as the bronze.

But more interesting, perhaps, to the traveller who sees these things
for the first time, more charming than the most exquisite Gothic lines,
more fascinating than their quaint aspect, more attractive even than
their colour or their age, are the associations connected with them; and
the knowledge that they bear upon them the direct impress of the hands
that built them centuries ago, and that every house is stamped, as it
were, with the hall mark of individuality. The historian is nowhere so
eloquent as when he can point to such examples as these. We may learn
from them (as we did at Pont Audemer) much of the method of working in
the 14th century, and, indeed, of the habits of the people, and the
secret of their great success.

It is evident enough that in those old times when men were very
ignorant, slavish, easily led, impulsive (childlike we might almost call
them), everything they undertook like the building of a house, was a
serious matter, a labour of love, and the work of many years; to be an
architect and a builder was the aspiration of their boyhood, the natural
growth of artistic instinct, guided by so much right as they could glean
from their elders. With few books or rules, they worked out their
designs for themselves, irrespective, it would seem, of time or cost.
And why should they consider either the one or the other, when time was
of no 'marketable value,' when the buildings were to last for ages; and
when there were no such things as estimates in those days? Like the
Moors in Spain, they did much as they pleased, and, like them also, they
had a great advantage over architects of our own day--they had little to
_unlearn_. They knew their materials, and had not to endeavour, after a
laborious and expensive education in one school, to modify and alter
their method of treatment to meet the exigencies of another. They were
not cramped for space, nor for money; they were not 'tied for time;' and
they had not to fight against, and make compromises with, the two great
enemies of modern architects--Economy and Iron.

At Lisieux, as at Pont Audemer, we cannot help being struck with the
extreme simplicity of the method of building, and with the
_possibilities_ of Gothic for domestic purposes. We see it here, in its
pure and natural development, as opposed to the rather unnatural
adoption of mediaeval art in England, in the latter half of the 19th
century. This last is, to quote a well-known writer on art, 'the worship
of Gothic-run-mad' in architecture. It instals itself wherever it can,
in mediaevally-devised houses, fitted up with mediaeval chairs and tables,
presses and cupboards, wall papers, and window hangings, all 'brand-new,
and intensely old;' which feeds its fancy on old pictures and old
poetry, its faith on old legend and ceremonial, and would fain dress
itself in the garb of the 15th century--the natural reaction in a
certain class of minds against the mean and prosaic aspects of
contemporary work-a-day life.

The quiet contemplation of the old buildings in such towns as Pont
Audemer, Lisieux, and Bayeux, must, we should think, convince the most
enthusiastic admirers of the archaic school, that the mere isolated
reproduction of these houses in the midst of modern streets (such as we
are accustomed to in London or Paris) is of little use, and is, in fact,
beginning at the wrong end. It might occur to them, when examining the
details of these buildings, and picturing to themselves the lives of
their inhabitants, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, that the
'forcing system' is a mistake--that art never flourished as an exotic,
and assuredly never will--that before we live again in mediaeval houses,
and realise the true meaning of what is 'Gothic' and appropriate in
architecture, we must begin at the beginning, our lives must be simpler,
our costumes more graceful and appropriate, and the education of our
children more in harmony with a true feeling for art. In short, we must
be more manly, more capable, more self-reliant, and true to each other,
and have less in common with the present age of shams.

The very essence and life of Gothic art is its realism and truism, and
until we carry out its principles in our hearts and lives, it will be
little more to us than a toy and a tradition.




CHAPTER IV.

_CAEN._

     'Large, strong, full of draperies, and all sorts of merchandise;
     rich citizens, noble dames, damsels, and fine churches.'


The ancient city of Caen, which was thus described by Froissart in the
middle of the fourteenth century, when the English sacked the town and
carried away its riches, might be described in the nineteenth, in almost
the same words; when a goodly company of English people have again taken
possession of it--for its cheapness.

The chief town of the department of Calvados with a population numbering
nearly 50,000--the centre of the commerce of lower Normandy, and of the
district for the production of black lace--Caen has a busy and thriving
aspect; the river Orne, on which it is built, is laden with produce;
with corn, wine, oil, and cider; with timber, and with shiploads of the
celebrated Caen stone. On every side we see the signs of productiveness
and plenty, and consequent cheapness of many of the necessaries of life;
Calvados, like the rest of lower Normandy, has earned for itself the
name of the 'food-producing land' of France, from whence both London and
Paris (and all great centres) are supplied. The variety and cheapness of
the goods for sale, manufactured here and in the neighbourhood, testify
to the industry and enterprise of the people of Caen; there is probably
no city in Normandy where purchases of clothing, hardware, &c., can be
more advantageously made.

There is commercial activity at Caen and little sympathy with idlers.
If we take up a position in the _Place Royale_, adorned with a statue of
Louis XIV., or, better, in the _Place St. Pierre_ near the church tower,
we shall see a mixed and industrious population; and we shall probably
hear several different accents of Norman patois. But we shall see a
number of modern-looking shops, and warehouses full of Paris goods, and
even find smooth pavement to walk upon.

We are treading in the 'footsteps of the Conqueror' at Caen, but its
busy inhabitants have little time for historic memories; they will
jostle us in the market-place, and in the principal streets they will be
seen rushing about as if 'on change,' or hurrying to 'catch the train
for Paris,' like the rest of the world. A few only have eyes of love and
admiration for the noble spire of the church of St. Pierre, which rises
above the old houses and the market-place, with even a grander effect
than any that the artist has been able to render in the illustration.
'St. Pierre, St. Pierre,' are the first and last words we heard of Caen;
the first time, when--approaching it one summer's morning from Dives, by
the banks of the Orne--the driver of our caleche pointed to its summit
with the pride of a Savoy peasant, shewing the traveller the highest
peak of Monte Rosa; and the last, when Caen was en fete, and all the
world flocked to hear a great preacher from Paris, and the best singers
in Calvados.

Built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, in the best period of
Gothic art in Normandy, its beautiful proportions and grace of line
(especially when seen from the north side) have been the admiration of
ages of architects and the occasion of many a special pilgrimage in our
own day. Pugin has sketched its western facade and its 'lancet windows;'
and Prout has given us drawings of the spire, '_percee au
jour_'--perforated with such mathematical accuracy that, as we approach
the tower, there is always one, or more, opening in view--as one star
disappears, another shines out, as in the cathedral at Bourgos in Spain.

[Illustration: TOWER OF ST PIERRE. CAEN.]

In the interior, the nave is chiefly remarkable for its proportions; but
the choir is richly ornamented in the style of the renaissance.[15] It
has been restored at different periods, but, as usual in France, the
whole interior has been coloured or whitewashed, so that it is difficult
to detect the old work from the new. The sculptured pendants and the
decorations of the aisles will attract us by their boldness and
originality, and the curious legends in stone on the capitals of the
pillars, of 'Alexander and his Mistress,' of 'Launcelot crossing the Sea
on his Sword,' and of 'St. Paul being lowered in a Basket,' may take
our attention a little too much from the carving in the chapels; but
when we have examined them all, we shall probably remember St. Pierre
best as Prout and Pugin have shewn it to us, and care for it most (as do
the inhabitants of Caen) for its beautiful exterior.[16]

We should mention a handsome carved oak pulpit in the style of the
fifteenth century, which has lately been erected; it is an ornament to
the church in spite of its new and temporary appearance--taking away
from the cold effect of the interior, and relieving the monotony of its
aisles. The people of Caen are indebted to M. V. Hugot, cure of St.
Pierre, for this pulpit. 'A mon arrivee dans la paroisse,' he says (in a
little pamphlet sold in the church), 'un des premiers objets qui durent
appeler mes soins c'etait le retablissement d'une chaire a precher.' The
pulpit and staircase are elaborately carved and decorated with
statuettes, bas-reliefs, &c., which the pamphlet describes at length,
ending with the information that it is not yet paid for.

The most interesting and characteristic buildings in Caen, its
historical monuments in fact, are the two royal abbeys of William the
Conqueror--_St. Etienne_, called the 'Abbaye aux Hommes,' and _la Ste.
Trinite_, the 'Abbaye aux Dames'--both founded and built in the eleventh
century; the first (containing the tomb of the Conqueror) with two
plain, massive towers, with spires; and an interior remarkable for its
strength and solidity--'a perfect example of Norman Romanesque;'
adorned, it must be added, with twenty-four nineteenth-century
chandeliers with glass lustres suspended by cords from the roof; and
with gas brackets of a Birmingham pattern.

The massive grandeur, and the 'newness,' if we may use the word, of the
interior of _St. Etienne_, are its most remarkable features; the plain
marble slab in the chancel, marking the spot where William the
Conqueror was buried and disinterred (with the three mats placed in
front of it for prayer), is shewn with much ceremony by the custodian of
the place.

The Abbaye aux Dames is built on high ground at the opposite side of the
town, and is surrounded by conventual buildings of modern date. It
resembles the Abbaye aux Hommes in point of style, but the carving is
more elaborate, and the transepts are much grander in design; the
beautiful key-pattern borders, and the grotesque carving on the capitals
of some of the pillars, strike the eye at once; but what is most
remarkable is the extraordinary care with which the building has been
restored, and the whole interior so scraped and chiselled afresh that it
has the appearance of a building of to-day. The eastern end and the
chancel are partitioned off for the use of the nuns attached to the
Hotel Dieu; the sister who conducts us round this part of the building
raises a curtain, softly stretched across the chancel-screen, and shews
us twenty or thirty of them at prayers.

We can see the hospital wards in the cloisters, and, if we desire it,
ascend the eastern tower, and obtain a view over a vast extent of
country, and of the town of Caen, set in the midst of gardens and green
meadows, and the river, with boats and white sails, winding far away to
the sea.

'These two royal abbeys,' writes Dawson Turner, 'which have fortunately
escaped the storm of the Revolution, are still an ornament to the town,
an honour to the sovereign who caused them to be erected, and to the
artist who produced them. Both edifices rose at the same time and from
the same motive. William the Conqueror, by his union with Matilda, had
contracted a marriage proscribed by the decrees of consanguinity. The
clergy, and especially the Archbishop of Rouen, inveighed against the
union; and the Pope issued an injunction, that the royal pair should
erect two monasteries by way of penance, one for monks, the other for
nuns; as well as that the Duke should found four hospices, each for 100
poor persons. In obedience to this command, William founded the Church
of St. Stephen, and Matilda, the Church of the Holy Trinity.

It is usual on this spot to recount the pitiful, but rather apocryphal
story of the burial of William the Conqueror, by a 'simple knight;' of
its dramatic interruption by one of the bystanders, a 'man of low
degree,' who claimed the site of the grave, and was appeased with 60
sous; and of the subsequent disturbance and destruction of his tomb by
the Huguenots; but the artistic traveller will be more interested in
these buildings as monuments of the architecture of the eleventh
century, and to notice the marks of the chisel and the mason's
hieroglyphics made in days so long gone by, that history itself becomes
indistinct without these landmarks--marks and signs that neither armies
of revolutionists nor eight centuries of time have been able to destroy.

We speak of 'eight centuries' in two words (the custodian of the place
has them glibly on his tongue), but it is difficult to comprehend this
space of time; to realise the fact of the great human tide that has
ebbed and flowed through these aisles for eleven generations--smoothing
the pillars by its constant wave, but leaving no more mark upon them
than the sea on the rocks of Calvados.

The contemplation of these two monuments may suggest a comparison
between two others that are rising up in western London at the present
time,--the 'Albert Memorial' and the 'Hall of Science.' They (the old
and the new) stand, as it were, at the two extremities of a long line of
kings, a line commencing with 'William the Bold,' and ending with
'Albert the Good;' the earlier monuments dedicated to Religion, the
latter to Science and Art--the first to commemorate a warrior, the
latter a man of peace--the first endurable through many ages, the latter
destructible in a few years.[17]

The comparison is surely worth making, for is it not curiously typical
of the state of monumental art in England in the present day, that we
are only doing what our ancestors did better? They erected useful,
appropriate, and endurable monuments which are still crowning ornaments
to the town of Caen. Are either of our 'memorials' likely to fulfil
these conditions?

Not to go further into detail, there is no doubt that, elaborate and
magnificent as the 'Albert Memorial' may be, it is useless,
inappropriate, and out of place in Hyde Park; and that the 'Hall of
Science' at South Kensington (whatever its use may be) is not likely to
attract foreign nations by the external beauty of its design.

At Caen we are in an atmosphere of heroes and kings, we pass from one
historical site to another until the mind becomes half confused; we are
shown (by the same valet-de-place) the tomb of the Conqueror, and the
house where Beau Brummel died. We see the ruins of a castle on the
heights where le 'jeune et beau Dunois' performed historical prodigies
of valour; and the chapel where he 'allait prier Marie, benir ses
exploits.' But the modern military aspect of things is, we are bound to
confess, prosaic to a degree; we find the Dunois of the period occupied
in more peaceful pursuits, mending shoes, tending little children, and
carrying wood for winter fires.

[Illustration]

There are many other buildings and churches at Caen which we should
examine, especially the exterior carving of '_St. Etienne-le-vieux_;'
which is now used as a warehouse.

The cathedrals and monuments are generally, as we have said, in
wonderful preservation, but they are desecrated without remorse; on
every side of them, and, indeed, upon them, are staring advertisements
of 'magazines,' dedicated '_au bon diable_,' '_au petit diable_,' or to
some other presiding genius; of '_magasins les plus vastes du monde_,'
and of '_loteries imperiales de France;_' whichever way we turn, we
cannot get rid of these staring affiches; even upon the 'footsteps of
the Conqueror' the bill-sticker seems master of the situation.

We must now speak of Caen as we see it on fete days, but for the
information of those who are interested in it as a place of residence,
we may allude in passing to the very pleasant English society that has
grown up here of late years, to the moderate rents of houses, the good
schools and masters to be met with; the comparative cheapness of
provisions and of articles of clothing, and to the good accommodation at
the principal inns. The situation of Caen, although not perhaps as
healthy as Avranches, is much more convenient and accessible from
England.

_Caen, Sunday, August_, 186-. It is early on Sunday morning, and Caen is
_en fete_. We have reason to know it by the clamour of church bells
which attends the sun's rising. There is terrible energy, not to say
harshness, in thus ushering in the day. On a mountain side, or in some
remote village, the distant sound of bells is musical enough, but here
it is dinned into our ears to distraction; and there seems no method in
the madness of these sturdy Catholics, for they make the tower of St.
Pierre vibrate to most uncertain sounds. They ring out all at once with
a burst and tumble over one another, hopelessly involved, _en masse;_ a
combination terribly dissonant to unaccustomed ears. Then comes the
military _reveille_, and the deafening 'rataplan' of regimental drums,
and the town is soon alive with people arriving and departing by the
early trains; whilst others collect in the market-place in holiday
attire with baskets of flowers, and commence the erection of an altar
to the Virgin in the middle of the square. Then women bring their
children dressed in white, with bouquets of flowers and white favours,
and a procession is formed (with a priest at the head) and marshalled
through the principal streets and back again to where the altar to 'Our
Lady' stands, now decorated with a profusion of flowers and an effigy of
the Virgin.

All this time the bells are ringing at intervals, and omnibuses loaded
with holiday people rattle past with shouting and cracking of whips. The
old fashion and the new become mingled and confused, old white caps and
Parisian bonnets, old ceremonies and modern ways; the Norman peasant and
the English school-girl walk side by side in the crowd, whilst the
western door of the Church of St. Pierre, to which they are tending,
bears in flaming characters the name of a vendor of '_modes
parisiennes_' Men, women, and children, in gay and new attire, fill the
streets and quite outnumber those of the peasant class; the black coat
and hat predominate on fete days; a play-bill is thrust into our hands
announcing the performance of an opera in the evening, and we are
requested frequently to partake of coffee, syrop, and bonbons as we make
our way through the Rue St. Pierre and across the crowded square.

Stay here for a moment and witness a little episode--another accidental
collision between the old world and the new.

[Illustration]

An undergraduate, just arrived from England on the 'grand tour,' gets
into a wrangle with an old woman in the market-place; an old woman of
nearly eighty years, with a cap as old and ideas as primitive as her
dress, but with a sense of humour and natural combativeness that enables
her to hold her own in lively sallies and smart repartees against her
youthful antagonist.[18] It is a curious contrast, the wrinkled old
woman of Caen and the English lad--the one full of the realities and
cares of life; born in revolutionary days, and remembering in her
childhood Charlotte Corday going down this very street on her terrible
mission to Paris; her daughters married, her only son killed in war, her
life now (it never was much else) an uneventful round of market days,
eating and sleeping, knitting and prayers; the other--young, careless,
fresh to the world, his head stored with heathen mythology, the loves of
the Gods, and problems of Euclid--taking a light for his pipe from the
old woman, and airing his French in a discussion upon a variety of
topics, from the price of apples to the cost of a dispensation; the
conversation merging finally into a regular religious discussion, in
which the disputants were more abroad than ever,--a religion outwardly
represented, in the one case by so many chapels, in the other by so many
beads.

It is a '_fete_' to day (according to a notice pasted upon a stone
pillar) '_avec Indulgence pleniere_,'

  GRAND MESSE a 10 a.m.,
  LES VEPRES a 3 p.m.,
  SALUT ET BENEDICTION DU SACRAMENT,
  SERMON, &c.'

Let us now follow the crowd (up the street we saw in the illustration)
into the Church of St. Pierre, which is already overflowing with people
coming and going, pushing past each other through the baize door,
dropping sous into the '_tronc pour les pauvres_,' and receiving, with
bowed head and crossed breast, the holy water, administered with a
brush.

We pay two sous for a chair and take our places, under a fire of glances
from our neighbours, who pray the while, and tell their beads; and we
have scarcely time to notice the beautiful proportions of the nave, the
carving in the side chapels, or the grotesque figures that we have
before alluded to, when the service commences, and we can just discern
in the distance the priests at the high altar (looking in their bright
stiff robes, and with their backs to the people, like golden beetles
under a microscope); we cannot hear distinctly, for the moving of the
crowd about us, the creaking of chairs, and the whispering of many
voices; but we can see the incense rising, the children in white robes
swinging silver chains, and the cocked hat of the tall 'Suisse' moving
to and fro.

Presently the congregation sits down, the organ peals forth and a choir
of sweet voices chaunts the 'Agnus Dei.' Again the congregation kneels
to the sound of a silver bell; the smoke of incense curls through the
aisles, and the golden beetles move up and down; again there is a
scraping of chairs, a shuffling of feet, and a general movement towards
the pulpit, the men standing in groups round it with their hats in their
hands; then a pause, and for the first time so deep a silence that we
can hear the movement of the crowd outside, and the distant rattle of
drums.

All eyes are now turned to the preacher; a man of about forty, of an
austere but ordinary (we might almost say low) type of face, closely
shaven, with an ivory crucifix at his side and a small black book in his
hand. He makes his way through the crowded aisles, and ascends the new
pulpit in the centre of the church, where everyone of the vast
congregation can both see and hear him.

His voice was powerful (almost too loud sometimes) and most persuasive;
he was eloquent and impassioned, but he used little gesture or any
artifice to engage attention. He commenced with a rhapsody--startling in
the sudden flow of its eloquence, thrilling in its higher tones, tender
and compassionate (almost to tears) in its lower passages--a rhapsody to
the Virgin--

  'O sweet head of my mother; sacred eyes!'

         *       *       *       *       *

and then an appeal--an appeal for us 'true Catholics' to the 'Queen of
Heaven, the beautiful, the adorable.' He elevated our hearts with his
moving voice, and, by what we might call the electricity of sympathy,
almost to a frenzy of adoration; he taught us how the true believer,
'clad in hope,' would one day (if he leaned upon Mary his mother in all
the weary stages of the 'Passage of the Cross') be crowned with
fruition. He lingered with almost idolatrous emphasis on the charms of
Mary, and with his eyes fixed upon her image, his hands outstretched,
and a thousand upturned faces listening to his words, the aisles echoed
his romantic theme:--

  'With my lips I kneel, and with my heart,
  I fall about thy feet and worship thee.'

A stream of eloquence followed--studied or spontaneous it mattered
not--the congregation held their breath and listened to a story for the
thousandth time repeated.

The preacher paused for a moment, and then with another burst of
eloquence, he brought his hearers to the verge of a passion, which was
(as it seemed to us) dangerously akin to human love and the worship of
material beauty; then he lowered our understandings still more by the
enumeration of 'works and miracles,' and ended with words of earnest
exhortation, the burden of which might be shortly translated:--'Pray
earnestly, and always, to Mary our mother, for all souls in purgatory;
confess your sins unto us your high priests; give, give to the Church
and to the poor, strive to lead better lives, look forward ever to the
end; and bow down, oh! bow down, before the golden images [manufactured
for us in the next street] which our Holy Mother the Church has set up.'

With a transition almost as startling as the first, the book is closed,
the preacher has left the pulpit, the congregation (excepting a few in
the side chapels) have dispersed; and Caen keeps holiday after the
manner of all good Catholics, putting on its best attire, and disporting
itself in somewhat rampant fashion.

Everybody visits everybody else to-day, and a fiacre is hardly to be
obtained for the afternoon drive in _Les Cours_, the public promenade.
We may go to the Jardin des Plantes, which we shall find crowded with
country people, examining the beautiful exotic plants (of which there
are several thousand); to the public Picture Gallery, established at the
beginning of the present century, which contains pictures by Paul
Veronese, Perugino, Poussin, and a number of works of the French school;
and to the Museum of Antiquities, containing Roman remains, vases,
coins, &c., discovered in the neighbourhood of Dives. There are also
excursions to Bayeux, Honfleur, and Trouville for the day; and many
tempting opportunities of visiting the neighbouring towns.

But we may be most amused by mixing with the crowd, or by listening to
the performance on the _Place royale_ of a company of foreign
musicians--shabby and dingy in aspect, enthusiastic and poor--who had
found their way here in time to entertain the trim holiday makers of
Caen. They were of that ragged and unkempt order of slovenly brotherhood
that the goddess of music claims for her own; let them call themselves
'wandering minstrels,' 'Arabs,' or what not (their collars were limp,
and they rejoiced in smoke), they had certainly an ear for harmony, and
a 'soul for music;' a talent in most of them, half cultivated and
scarcely understood. A woman in a German, or Swiss, costume levied rapid
contributions amongst the crowd, which seemed to prefer listening to
this performance than to any other 'distraction,' not excepting the
modern and exciting performance of velocipede races outside the town.

The streets are crowded all day with holiday people, and somewhat
obstructed by the fashion of the inhabitants taking their meals in the
street. We also, in the evening, dine at an open cafe (with a marble
table and a pebble floor) amidst a clamour and confusion of voices,
under the shadow of old eaves--with creepers and flowers twining round
nearly every window, where the pigeons lurk and dive at stray morsels.
The evening is calm and bright and the sky overhead a deep blue, but we
are chattering, laughing, eating, and smoking, clinking glasses and
shouting to waiters; we drown even the sound of the church clocks, and
if it were not for the little flower girls with their '_deux sous,
chaque_' and their winning smiles, and for the children playing on the
ground around us, we might soon forget our better natures in the din of
this culinary pandemonium.

But we are in good company; three tall mugs of cider are on the next
table to our own, a dark, stout figure, with shaven crown, is seated
with his back to us--it is the preacher of the morning, who with two lay
friends for companions, also keeps the feast.


_DIVES._

Before leaving the neighbourhood of Caen, the antiquary and historically
minded traveller will naturally turn aside and pay a visit to the town
of DIVES, about eighteen miles distant, near the sea shore to
the north-east, on the right bank of the river Dives. It is interesting
to us not only as an ancient Roman town, and as being the place of
embarkation of the Conqueror's flotilla, from whence it drifted, with
favourable winds, to St. Valery--but because it possesses the remains of
one of the finest twelfth-century churches in Normandy. We find hardly
any mention of this church in 'Murray,' and it stands almost deserted by
the town which once surrounded it, and by the sea, on the shore of which
it was originally built. At the present time there are not more than
eight or nine hundred inhabitants, but we can judge by the size of the
old covered market-place, and the extent of the boundaries of the town,
that it must have been a seaport of considerable importance. Dives was
once rich, but no longer bears out the meaning of its name; in
comparison to the thriving town of Cabourg (which it joins), it is more
like Lazarus sitting at the gate.

The interior of the church at Dives has been restored, repaired, and
whitewashed; but neither time nor whitewash can conceal the lovely
proportions of the building; the pillars and aisles, and the carving
over the doorways which the twelfth-century mason fashioned so tenderly
have little left of his most delicate workmanship; half of the stained
glass in the chancel windows has been destroyed, and the pinnacles on
the roof have been broken down by rude hands. Nevertheless it is a
church worth going far to see; and it will have exceptional interest for
those who believe that their ancestors 'came over with the Conqueror,'
for on the western wall there is a list of the names of the principal
persons who were known to have accompanied him. Some of these names are
very familiar to English ears, such as PERCY, TALBOT, VERNON, LOVEL,
GIFFARD, BREWER, PIGOT, CARTERET, CRESPEN, &c.; and there are at
least a hundred others, all in legible characters, which any visitor may
decipher for himself. There is a small grass-grown church-yard
surrounded by a low wall, but the tablets are of comparatively modern
date.

If, before leaving Dives, we take a walk up the hill on the east side of
the town, and look down upon the broad valley, with the river Dives
winding southwards through a rich pasture land, flanked with thickly
wooded hills--and beyond it the river Orne, leading to Caen--we shall
see at once what a favourable and convenient spot this must have been
for the collecting together of an army of fifty thousand men, for the
construction of vessels, and for the embarkation of troops and horses,
and the _materiel_ of war; and, if we continue our walk, through one or
two cornfields in the direction of Beuzeval, we shall find, on a
promontory facing the sea, and overlooking the mouth of the river, a not
very ornamental, round stone pillar placed here by the Archaeological
Society of France in 1861; 'AU SOUVENIR DU PLUS GRAND EVENEMENT
HISTORIQUE DES ANNALES NORMANDES--LE DEPART DU DUC GUILLAUME LE BATARD
POUR LA CONQUETE DE L'ANGLETERRE EN 1066;' and, if the reader
should be as fortunate as we were in 1869, he might find a french
gentleman _standing upon the top of this column_, and (forgetting
probably that Normandy was not _always_ part of France) blowing a blast
of triumph seaward, from a cracked french horn.




[Illustration]

CHAPTER V.

_BAYEUX._


The approach to the town of Bayeux from the west, either by the old road
from Caen or by the railway, is always striking. The reader may
perchance remember how in old coaching days in England on arriving near
some cathedral town, at a certain turn of the road, the first sight of
some well-known towers or spires came into view. Thus there are certain
spots from which we remember Durham, and from which we have seen
Salisbury; and thus, there is a view of all others which we identify
with Bayeux. We have chosen to present it to the reader as we first saw
it and sketched it (before the completion of the new central
semi-grecian cupola); when the graceful proportions of the two western
spires were seen to much greater advantage than at present.

The cathedral has been drawn and photographed from many points of view;
Pugin has given the elevation of the west front, and the town and
cathedral together have been made the subject of drawings by several
well-known artists; but returning to Bayeux after an absence of many
years, and examining it from every side, we find no position from which
we can obtain a distant view to such advantage as that near the railway
station, which we have shewn in the sketch at the head of this chapter.

The repose--the solemnity we might almost call it--that pervades Bayeux
even in this busy nineteenth century, is the first thing that strikes a
stranger; a repose the more solemn and mysterious when we think of its
rude history of wars, of pillage, and massacres, and of its destruction
more than once by fire and sword. From the days when the town consisted
of a few rude huts (in the time of the Celts), all through the
splendours of the time of the Norman dukes, and the more terrible days
of the Reformation, it is prominent in history; but Bayeux is now a
place of peaceful industry, with about 10,000 inhabitants, 'a quiet,
dull, ecclesiastical city,' as the guide books express it; with an
aspect almost as undisturbed as a cathedral close. There are a few paved
streets with cafes and shops, as usual, but the most industrious
inhabitants appear to be the lacemakers--women seated at the doorways of
the old houses, wearing the quaint horseshoe comb and white cap with
fan-like frill, which are peculiar to Bayeux.

[Illustration]

Every building of importance has a semi-ecclesiastical character; the
feeling seeming to have especially pervaded the designers of the
thirteenth-century houses, as we may see from this rough sketch made at
a street corner. Many houses have such figures carved in _wood_ upon
them, and we may sometimes see a little stone spire on a roof top; the
architects appearing to have aimed at expressing in this way their love
and admiration for the cathedral, and to have emulated the Gothic
character of its decorations; the conventual and neighbouring buildings
harmonizing with it in a manner impossible to describe in words. Even
the principal inn, called the 'Hotel du Luxembourg,' partakes of the
quiet air of the place; the walls of the _salle a manger_ are covered
with pictures of saints and martyrs, and the houses we can see from its
windows are built and carved in stone.

The chief object of interest is, undoubtedly, the cathedral itself, for
although we may find many curious old houses, everything gives way in
importance and interest to this one central building. The noble west
front, with its pointed Gothic towers and spires, is familiar to us in
many an engraving and painting, but what these illustrations do not give
us on a small scale is the beauty of the carved doorways, the
clustering of the ornaments about them, and the statues of bishops,
priests, and kings. Later than the cathedral itself, and 'debased in
style' (as our severe architectural friends will tell us), the work on
these beautiful porches has exquisite grace; the fourteenth-century
sculptor gave free scope to his fancy, his hands have played about the
soft white stone till it took forms so delicate and strange, so
unsubstantial and yet so permanent, that it is a marvel of the
sculptor's skill.[19]

The interior is 315 feet long and 81 feet high, open from one end to the
other, and forms a very striking and imposing effect. 'The west end,' to
quote a few words from the best technical authority, 'consists of florid
Norman arches and piers, whose natural heaviness is relieved by the
beautifully diapered patterns wrought upon the walls, probably built by
Henry I., who destroyed the previously existing church by fire. Above
this, runs a blank trefoiled arcade in the place of a triforium,
surrounded by a clerestory of early-pointed windows, very lofty and
narrow. The arches of the nave, nearest the cross and the choir, ending
in a semi-circle, exhibit a more advanced state of the pointed style,
and are distinguished by the remarkable elegance of their graceful
clustered pillars. The circular ornaments in the spandrils of the arches
are very pleasing and of fanciful variety.'

We see in the interior of this cathedral a confusion of styles--a
conflict of grace and beauty with rude and grotesque work. The
delicately-traced patterns carved on the walls, the medallions and
pendant ornaments, in stone, of the thirteenth century, are scarcely
surpassed at Chartres; side by side with these, there are headless and
armless statues of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, which have been
painted, and tablets (such as we have sketched) to commemorate the
ancient founders of the church; and underneath the choir, the crypt of
Bishop Odo, the Conqueror's half-brother, with its twelve massive
pillars, which formed the foundation of the original church, built in
1077.

[Illustration]

In the nave we may admire the beautiful radiating chapels, with their
curious frescoes (some destroyed by damp and others evidently effaced by
rude hands); and we may examine the bronze pulpit, with a figure of the
Virgin trampling on the serpent; the dark, carved woodwork in the
chancel; the old books with clasps (that Haag, or Werner, would delight
in), and two quite modern stone pulpits or lecterns, with vine leaves
twining up them in the form of a cross, the carving of which is equal
to any of the old work--the rugged vine stem and the soft leaves being
wonderfully rendered.

The interior is disfigured by some gaudy colouring under the new cupola,
and the effect of the west end is, as usual, ruined by the organ loft.
There are very fine stained-glass windows, some quite modern, but so
good both in colour and design, that we cannot look at them without
rebelling in our minds, against the conventionality of much of the
modern work in english churches.[20] It seems not unreasonable to look
forward to the time when it shall be accounted a sin to present
caricatures of scriptural subjects in memorial church-windows. Let us
rather have the kaleidescope a thousand times repeated, or the simplest
diaper pattern on ground glass, than 'Jonahs' or 'Daniels,' as they are
represented in these days; we are tired of the twelve apostles, so
smooth and clean, in their robes of red and blue (the particular red and
blue that will come best out of the melting-pot), of yellow glories and
impossible temples.

The long-neglected art of staining glass being once more revived, let us
hope that, with it, a taste will grow up for something better than a
repetition of the grotesque.

But it is the exterior of Bayeux Cathedral that will be remembered best,
the beauty and simplicity of its design; its 'sky line,' that we pointed
out at a distance, at the beginning of this chapter, which (like the
curve of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, and many an english
nineteenth-century church we could name), leaves an impression of beauty
on the mind that the more ornate work of the Renaissance fails to give
us. It is an illustration in architecture, of what we have ventured to
call the 'simple right' and the 'elaborate wrong;' like the composition
of Raphael's Holy Family (drawn on the head of a tub), it was _right_,
whilst its thousand imitations have been wrong.

And if any argument or evidence were wanting, of the beauty and fitness
of Gothic architecture as the central feature of interest, and as a
connecting link between the artistic taste of a past and present age, we
could point to no more striking instance than this cathedral. It has
above all things the appearance of a natural and spontaneous growth,
harmonizing with the aspect of the place and with the feelings of the
people.

A silence falls upon the town of Bayeux sometimes, as if the world were
deserted by its inhabitants; a silence which we notice, to the same
extent, in no other cathedral city. We look round and wonder where all
the people are; whether there is really anybody to buy and sell, and
carry on business, in the regular worldly way; or whether it is peopled
only with strange memories and histories of the past.

On every side there are landmarks of cruel wars and the sites of
battles--nearly every old house has a legend or a history attached to
it; and all about the cathedral precincts, with its old lime trees--in
snug, quiet courtyards, under gate-ways, and in stiff, formal gardens
behind high walls--we may see where the old bishops and canons of Bayeux
lived and died; the house where 'Master Wace' toiled for many unwearied
years, and where he had audience with the travelling _raconteurs_ of the
time who came to listen to him, and to repeat far and wide the words of
the historian.[21]

The silence of Bayeux is peopled with so many memories, of wars so
terrible, and of legends so wild and weird, that a book might be
written about Bayeux and called 'The Past.' We must not trench upon the
work of the antiquary, or we might point out where Henry I. of England
attacked and destroyed the city, and the exact spot in the market-place
where they first lighted the flames of Revolution; but we may dwell for
a moment upon one or two curious customs and legends connected with
Bayeux.

The 'Fete of the three Kings' (a remnant of a custom in the time of the
Druids) is still religiously observed by its inhabitants, and
incantations and ceremonies are kept up by the country people around
Bayeux, especially on the eve of this fete. The time is winter, and
around the town of Bayeux (as many visitors may have noticed) a curious
fog or mist hangs over the fields and the neighbouring gardens, through
which the towers of the cathedral are seen like phantoms; it is then
that the peasants light their torches, and both priests and people
wander in procession through the fields, singing in a loud, but mournful
tone, a strange and quaint ditty. Thus their fields and the crops (which
they are about to sow) will be productive, and a good harvest bless the
land!

We are still in the middle ages at Bayeux, we believe implicitly in
witches, in good omens, and in fairy rings; we are told gravely by an
old inhabitant that a knight of Argouges, near Bayeux, was protected by
a good fairy in his encounter with some great enemy, and we are shewn,
in proof of the assertion, the family arms of the house of Argouges,
with a female figure in the costume of Lady Godiva of Coventry, and the
motto, _a la fee_; and we hear so many other romantic stories of the
dark ages, that history at last becomes enveloped in a cloud of haze,
like the town of Bayeux itself on a winter's night.

We must now pass from the region of romance and fable to its very
antipodes in realism; to the examination of a strip of fine linen cloth
of the colour of brown holland, which is exhibited in the Public Library
at Bayeux.

[Illustration]

This world-renowned relic of antiquity, which Dibdin half-satirically
describes as 'an exceedingly curious document of the conjugal attachment
and enthusiastic veneration of Matilda,' is now kept with the greatest
care, and is displayed on a stand under a glass case, in its entire
length, 227 feet. It is about 20 inches wide, and is divided into 72
compartments. Every line is expressed by coarse stitches of coloured
thread or worsted, of which this arrow's head is a facsimile, and the
figures are worked in various colours, the groundwork and the flesh
tints being generally left white. The extraordinary preservation of the
tapestry, when we consider, not only the date of the work, but the
vicissitudes to which it has been subjected, is so remarkable, that the
spectator is disposed to ask to see the 'original,' feeling sure that
this fresh, bright-looking piece of work cannot have lasted thus for
eight hundred years. And when we remember that it was carried from town
to town by order of Napoleon I., and also exhibited on the stage on
certain occasions; that it has survived the Revolution, and that the
cathedral, which it was originally intended to adorn, has long been
levelled with the ground, we cannot help approaching it with more than
ordinary interest; an interest in which the inhabitants, and even the
ecclesiastics of Bayeux, scarcely seem to share. It was but a few years
ago that the priests of the cathedral, when asked by a traveller to be
permitted to see the tapestry, were unable to point it out; they knew
that the '_toile St. Jean_,' as it is called, was annually displayed in
the Cathedral on St. John's Day, but of its historical and antiquarian
interest they seemed to take little heed.

The scenes, which (as is well known) represent the principal events in
the Norman Conquest, are arranged in fifty-eight groups. The legend of
the first runs thus:--

     Le roi Edouard ordonne a Harold d'aller apprendre au duc Guillaume
     qu'il sera un jour roi d'Angleterre, &c.

After the interview between the 'sainted' King Edward and Harold, the
latter starts on his mission to 'Duke William,' and in the next group we
see Harold, '_en marche_,' with a hawk on his wrist--then entering a
church (the ancient abbey of Bosham, in Sussex), and the clergy praying
for his safety before embarking, and--next, '_en mer_.' We see him
captured on landing, by Guy de Ponthieu, and afterwards surrounded by
the ambassadors whom William sends for his release; the little figure
holding the horses being one Tyrold, a dependant of Odo, Bishop of
Bayeux, and the artist (it is generally supposed) who designed the
tapestry. Then we see Harold received in state at Rouen by Duke William,
and afterwards, their setting out together for Mont St. Michael, and
Dinan; and other episodes of the war in Brittany. We next see Harold in
England, at the funeral of Edward the Confessor, and have a curious view
of Westminster Abbey, in red and green worsted. After the death of King
Edward, we have another group, where 'Edouard (in extremis) parle aux
hommes de sa cour;' evidently an after-thought, or a mistake in taking
up the designs to work in their proper order. Harold is crowned, but
with an ill omen (from the Norman point of view), as represented in the
tapestry by an evil star--a comet of extravagant size, upon which the
people gaze with most comical expressions of wonder and alarm.

Harold began his reign well, says an old chronicler, he 'stablysshed
good lawes, specyally for the defence of holy churche;' but soon he
'waxed so proud and covetouse,' that he became unpopular with his
subjects.

Then follows the great historical event, of 'THE INVASION OF
ENGLAND BY THE CONQUEROR,' and we have all the details portrayed of
the felling of trees, constructing ships, transporting of cavalry, and
the like; we see the preparations for the commissariat, and the curious
implements of warfare, shewing, amongst other things, the lack of iron
in those days; the spades, for use in earthworks and fortifications,
being only _tipped_ with iron. The bustle and excitement attendant upon
the embarcation are given with wonderful reality; and there is many a
quaint and natural touch in the attitudes and expressions of these red
and yellow men.

The landing in Pevensey bay is next given (the horses being swung out of
the ships with cranes and pulleys as in the present day), and soon
afterwards, the preparations for a feast; the artist at this point
becoming apparently imbued with the true British idea that nothing could
be done without a dinner. There must be a grand historical picture of a
banquet before the fight, and so, like Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon,
William the Conqueror has his 'night before the battle,' and, perhaps,
it is the most faithful representation of the three.

Of the battle of Hastings itself, of the consternation at one time
amongst the troops at the report of William's death, of the charge of
cavalry, with William on a tremendous black horse (riding as straight in
the saddle as in our own day), of the cutting to pieces of the enemy, of
the stripping the wounded on the ground, and of Harold's defeat and
death, there are several very spirited representations.

For our illustration we have chosen a scene where the battle is at its
height, and the melee is given with great vigour. These figures on the
tapestry are coloured green and yellow (for there was evidently not much
choice of colours), and the chain armour is left white. The woodcut is
about a third of the size, and is, as nearly as possible, a _facsimile_
of the original.

[Illustration: Facsimile of Bayeux Tapestry.]

The last group is thus described in the catalogue:--


     'ET FVGA VETERVNT ANGLI.

     'Et les Anglais furent mis en fuite. Des hommes a pied, armes de
     haches et d'ipies, combattent contre les cavaliers: mais _la
     defaite des Anglais est complete_; ils sont poursuivis a toute
     outrance par les Normands vainqueurs.

     'La scene suivante reprisentent des herauts d'armes a pied, et des
     cavaliers galoppant a toute bride pour annoncer probablement le
     succes du Conquerant; mais l'interruption subite du monument ne
     permet plus de continuer cette chronique figurie, qui allait
     vraisemblablement jusqu'au couronnement de Guillaume.

The _design_ of the tapestry is very unequal, some of the latter scenes
being weak in comparison, especially that of the _death of Harold_; the
eleventh-century artist, perhaps becoming tired of the work, or having,
more probably, a presentiment that this scene would be painted and
exhibited annually, by English artists, to the end of time. Perhaps the
most interesting and important scenes are:--first, when Harold takes the
oath of allegiance to William, with his hands leaning on two ark-like
shrines, full of the relics plundered from churches; next, the awful
catastrophe of the _malfosse_, where men and horses, Norman and Saxon,
are seen rolling together in the ditch; and, lastly, the ultra-grotesque
tableaux of stripping the wounded after the battle.

The borders on the latter part of the tapestry (part of which we have
shewn in the illustration) consist of incidents connected with the
battle, and add greatly to its interest. Some of the earlier scenes are
very amusing, having evidently been suggested by the fables of AEsop and
Phaedrus; there are griffins, dragons, serpents, dogs, elephants, lions,
birds, and monsters that suggest a knowledge of pre-Adamite life (some
biting their own tails, or putting their heads into their neighbours'
mouths), interspersed with representations of ploughing, and hunting,
and of killing birds with a sling and a stone.[22]

The most striking thing about the tapestry is the charming freshness and
_naivete_ with which the scenes and characters are depicted. The artist
who designed it did not draw figures particularly well, he was ignorant
of perspective, and all principles of colouring; but he gave, in his own
way, expression to his faces, and attitudes which tell their story even
without the help of the latin inscriptions which accompany them. Shade
is often represented by colour, and that not always strictly in
accordance with nature; thus, a red horse will be represented with one
leg worked in blue, and so on; the faces and naked limbs of the warriors
being worked in green or yellow, or left white, apparently as was found
most convenient by the ladies of the time.

Whether Queen Matilda, or the ladies of her court, ever really worked
the tapestry (there is good reason to doubt that she designed the
borders) is a question of so little importance, that it is wonderful so
much discussion has been raised upon it; it is surely enough for us to
know that it was worked soon after the Conquest. There is evidence of
this, and also that Odo, Bishop of Bayeux (the Conqueror's
half-brother), ordered and arranged the work to the exact length of the
walls of the church, round which it was intended that it should have
been placed.




CHAPTER VI.

_ST. LO--COUTANCES--GRANVILLE. (CHERBOURG.)_


On our way to ST. LO, COUTANCES, and GRANVILLE on the
western coast of Normandy, we may do well--if we are interested in the
appliances of modern warfare, and would obtain any idea of the
completeness and magnificence of the French Imperial Marine--to see
something of CHERBOURG, situated near the bold headland of Cap
de la Hague.

If we look about us as we approach the town, we shall see that the
railway is cut through an extraordinary natural fortification of rocks;
and if we ascend the heights of Le Roule, we shall obtain, what a
Frenchman calls, a _vue feerique du Cherbourg_. We shall look down upon
the magnificent harbour with its breakwater and surrounding forts, and
see a fleet of iron-clads at anchor, surrounded by smaller vessels of
all nations; gun-boats, turret-ships and every modern invention in the
art of maritime war, but scarcely any ships of commerce. The whole
energy and interest of a busy population seem concentrated at Cherbourg,
either in constructing works of defence or engines of destruction.

The rather slovenly-looking orderly that we have sketched--sauntering up
and down upon the ramparts, and sniffing the fresh breezes that come to
him with a booming sound from the rocks of Querqueville that guard the
west side of the bay--is justly proud of the efficiency and completeness
which everywhere surround him, and with a twinkle in his eye, asks if
'Monsieur' has visited the arsenals, or has ever seen a naval review at
Cherbourg. The pride and boast even of the boys that play upon these
heights (boys with '_La Gloire_' upon their hats, and dressed in a naval
costume rather different from our notions of sailors), is that
'Cherbourg is impregnable and France invincible,' and, if we stay here
long, we shall begin to believe both the one and the other.

[Illustration: A SKETCH AT CHERBOURG.]

There is a little difficulty, not insurmountable to an Englishman, with
the assistance of his consul, in obtaining permission to visit the
government works in progress, and now fast approaching completion; for
the Government is courteous, if cautious, in this matter. The French
people cannot help being polite; there is an English yacht riding in the
harbour this morning, and the ladies, who have just come ashore, have
every politeness and attention shewn to them; and the little yacht will
refit, as so many do here in the summer, and take refuge again and again
in this roadstead, with great convenience and many pleasant
recollections of their reception.

If we had been upon these heights in the summer of 1858, and later in
1865, we might have seen the combined fleets of England and France in
the roadstead; and, in the spring of 1865, with a good telescope, we
might have witnessed a miniature naval engagement between the famous
_Alabama_ and the _Kearsage_, which took place a few miles from the
shore.

The _Port Militaire_ and the _Arsenal de Marine_ at Cherbourg (which are
said to be five times as large as Portsmouth), and its basins, in which
a hundred sail of the line can be accommodated at one time, are sights
which we scarcely realize in description, but which almost overwhelm us
with their magnitude and importance, when seen from this vantage ground.

In three hours after leaving Cherbourg we may find ourselves settled in
the little old-fashioned inn, called the _Hotel du Soleil Levant_, at
ST. LO, which we shall probably have entirely to ourselves.

St. Lo, although the _chef-lieu_ of the department of La Manche, appears
to the traveller a quiet, second-rate manufacturing town, well-situated
and picturesquely built, but possessing no particular objects of
interest excepting the cathedral; although visitors who have spent any
time in this neighbourhood find it rich in antiquities, and a good
centre from which to visit various places in the environs. In no part of
this beautiful province do we see the country to better advantage, and
nowhere than in the suburbs of St. Lo, shall we find better examples of
buildings of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

But St. Lo is dull, and there is a gloom about it that communicates
itself insensibly to the mind; that finds expression in the worship of
graven images by little children, and in the burning of innumerable
candles in the churches. There is an air of untidiness and neglect
about the town that no trim military regulations can alter, and a repose
that no amount of chattering of the old women, or even the rattle of
regimental drums, seems able to disturb. They do strange things at St.
Lo in their quiet, dull way; they paint the names of their streets on
the cathedral walls, and they make a post-office of one of its
buttresses; they paste the trees all over with advertisements in the
principal squares, and erect images of the Virgin on their warehouses.
The master at our hotel calls to a neighbour across the street to come
and join us at table, and the people at the shops stand outside,
listlessly contemplating their own wares. There are at least 10,000
inhabitants, but we see scarcely anyone; a carriage, or a cart, startles
us with its unusual sound, and every footstep echoes on the rough
pavement. The arrival of the train from Paris; the commercial travellers
that it brings, and the red liveries of the government grooms, leading
out their horses, impart the only appearance of life to the town.

Nowhere in France does the military element seem more out of place,
never did 'fine soldiers' seem so much in the way as at St. Lo. There is
a parade to-day, there was a parade yesterday, and to-morrow (Sunday)
there will be a military mass for a regiment leaving on foreign duty. It
is all very right, no doubt, and necessary for the peace of Europe, the
'balance of power,' the consumption of pipe-clay, and the breaking of
hearts sometimes; but, in contrast to the natural quiet of this place,
the dust and noise are tremendous, and the national air (so gaily played
as the troops march through the town) has, as it seems to us, an
uncertain tone, and does not catch the sympathy of the bystanders. They
stand gazing upon the pageant like the Venetians listening to the
Austrian band--they are a peace-loving community at St. Lo.

But let us look well at the cathedral, at the grandeur of its spires,
at its towers with open galleries, at the rich 'flamboyant' decoration
of the doorways; at its monuments, chapels, and stained glass, and above
all at the _exterior_ pulpit, abutting on the street at the north-east
end, which is one of the few remaining in France.

[Illustration: Exterior Pulpit at St Lo.[23]]

If we ascend one of the towers, we shall be rewarded with a view over a
varied and undulating landscape, stretching far away westward towards
the sea, and southward towards Avranches and Vire; whilst here and
there we may distinguish, dotted amongst the trees, those curious
chateaux of the _ancienne noblesse_, which are disappearing rapidly in
other parts of France; and the view of the town and cathedral together,
as seen from the opposite hill, with the river winding through the
meadows, and the women washing, on their knees on the bank, is also very
picturesque.

We do not, however, make a long stay at St. Lo, for we are within
sixteen miles of the city of COUTANCES, with its narrow and
curiously modern-looking streets, its ecclesiastical associations, and
its magnificent cathedral. As we approach it, by the road, we see before
us a group of noble Gothic spires, and are prepared to meet (as we do in
nearly every street) ecclesiastics and priests, and to find the
'Catholic Church' holding its head high in this remote part of France.

Everything gives way to the Cathedral in point of interest and
importance. It is considered 'one of the most complete and beautiful in
France, free from exuberant ornament, and captivating the eye by the
elegance of proportion and arrangement. Its plan possesses several
peculiar features, comprising a nave with two west towers, side aisles,
and chapels, filling up what would in other cathedrals be intervals
between buttresses; north and south transepts, with an octagonal tower
at their intersection; a choir with a polygonal apse, double aisles,
with radiating chapels, and a Lady chapel at the east end. The nave,
which is 100 feet high, consists of six bays, with triforium and lofty
clerestory. The effect is exceedingly grand, and is enhanced by the
lateral chapels seeming to constitute a second aisle all round. The
whole of this part of the building is worthy of the closest
examination. The interior of the large chapel of the south transept is
very curious, circular at both ends. The choir has three bays in its
rectangle, and five bays in its apse, the latter being separated by
coupled piers outside each other (not touching), of wonderful lightness
and beauty. The double aisle of the choir has a central range of single
columns running all round it, and the effect of the intersection of so
many shafts, columns, and vaultings is perfectly marvellous. There is no
triforium in the choir, but only a pierced parapet under the clerestory
windows, which are filled with fine early glass. There is much good
glass, indeed, throughout the cathedral, and several interesting tombs.'

We quote this description in detail because the cathedral at Coutances
is a rare gem, and possesses so many points of interest to the architect
and antiquary.

The history of Coutances is like a history of the Roman Catholic Church,
and the relics of bishops and saints meet us at every turn. As early as
the third century there are records of its conversion to Christianity;
it has passed through every vicissitude of war, pillage, and revolution,
until in these latter days it has earned the guide-book appellation of
'a semi-clerical, semi-manufacturing, quiet, clean, agreeable town.'
There are about 9000 inhabitants, including a few English families,
attracted here by its reputation for salubrity and cheapness of living.

The beauty of the situation of Coutances can scarcely be exaggerated;
built upon the sides of a lofty hill commanding views over a vast extent
of country, it is approached on both sides up steep hills, by broad
smooth roads with avenues of trees and surrounding gardens, and is
surmounted by its magnificent old cathedral, which is the last important
building of the kind, that we shall see, until we reach Rouen; and one
the traveller is never likely to forget, especially if he ascend the
tower, as we did, one morning whilst service was being performed
below.[24]

It was our last morning at Coutances, the air was still and clear, and
the panorama was superb; on every side of us were beautiful hills, rich
with orchards laden with fruit, and fields of corn; and beyond them, far
away westward, the sea and coast line, and the channel islands with
their dangerous shores. The air was calm, and dreamy, but in the
distance we could see white lines of foam--the 'wild horses' of the
Atlantic in full career; beneath our feet was the open 'lantern dome,'
and the sound of voices came distinctly up the fluted columns; we could
hear the great organ under the western towers, the voices of the
congregation in the nave, and the chanting of the priests before the
altar,--

  'Casting down their golden crowns, beside the glassy sea.'

The town of GRANVILLE, built on a rock by the sea, with its dark granite
houses, its harbour and fishing-boats, presents a scene of bustle and
activity in great contrast to Coutances and St. Lo. There is an upper
and lower town--a town on the rocks, with its old church with five gilt
statues, built almost out at sea--and another town, on the shore. The
streets of the old town are narrow and badly paved; but there is great
commercial activity, and a general sign of prosperity amongst its
sea-faring population. The approach to the sea (on one side of the
promontory, on which the town is built) is very striking; we emerge
suddenly through a fissure in the cliffs on to the sea-shore, into the
very heart and life of the place--into the midst of a bustling community
of fishermen and women. There is fish everywhere, both in the sea and on
the land, and the flavour of it is in the air; there are baskets, bales,
and nets, and there is, it must be added, a familiar ring of
Billingsgate in the loud voices that we hear around us. Granville is
the great western sea port of France, from which Paris is constantly
supplied; and, in spite of the deficiency of railway communication, it
keeps up constant trade with the capital--a trade which is not an
unmixed benefit to its inhabitants; for in the '_Messager de Granville_'
of August, 1869, we read that:--


  'L'extreme chaleur de la temperature n'empeche pas nos marchands
  d'expedier a Paris des quantites considerables de poisson, _au
  moment meme ou il est hors de prix sur notre marche_. Nous ne
  comprenons rien a de semblables speculations, dont l'un des plus
  facheux resultats est d'ajouter--une _affreuse odeur_ aux desagrements
  de nos voitures publiques!'


All through the fruitful land that we have passed, we cannot help being
struck with the evident inadequate means of transport for goods and
provisions; at Coutances, for instance, and at Granville (the great
centre of the oyster fisheries of the west) they have only just thought
about railways, and we may see long lines of carts and waggons, laden
with perishable commodities, being carried no faster than in the days
of the first Napoleon.

But we, who are in search of the picturesque should be the very last to
lament the fact, and we may even join in the sentiment of the Maire of
Granville, and be 'thankful' that the great highways of France are under
the control of a careful Government; and that her valleys are not (as in
England) strewn with the wrecks of abandoned railways--ruins which, by
some strange fatality, never look picturesque.

Granville is a favourite place of residence, and a great resort for
bathing in the summer; although the 'Etablissement' is second-rate, and
the accommodation is not equal to that of many smaller watering-places
of France. It is, however, a pleasant and favourable spot in which to
study the manners and customs of a sea-faring people: and besides the
active human creatures which surround us, we--who settle down for a
season, and spend our time on the sands and on the dark rocks which
guard this iron-bound coast--soon become conscious of the presence of
another vast, active, striving, but more silent community on the
sea-shore, digging and delving, sporting and swimming, preying upon
themselves and each other, and enjoying intensely the luxury of living.

If we, _nous autres_, who dwell upon the land and prey upon each other
according to our opportunities, will go down to the shore when the tide
is out, and ramble about in the--

  'Rosy gardens revealed by low tides,'

we may make acquaintance with a vast Lilliput community; we may learn
some surprising lessons in natural history, and read sermons in shells.
But, amidst this most interesting and curious congregation of fishes--a
concourse of crabs, lobsters, eels in holes, limpets on the rocks, and a
hundred other inhabitants of the sea, in every form of activity around
us--we must not forget, in our enthusiasm for these things, the
treacherous tides on this coast, and the great Atlantic waves, that
will suddenly overwhelm the flat shore, and cut off retreat from those
who are fishing on the rocks.

This happens so often, and is so full of danger to those unacquainted
with the coast, that we may do good service by relating again, an
adventure which happened to the late Campbell of Islay and a friend, who
were nearly drowned near Granville. They had been absorbed in examining
the rocks at some distance from the shore, and in collecting the
numerous marine plants which abound in their crevices; when suddenly one
of the party called out--

'Mercy on us! I forgot the tide, and here it comes.'

Turning towards the sea they saw a stream of water running at a rapid
pace across the sands. They quickly began to descend the rocks, but
before they could reach the ground 'the sand was in stripes, and the
water in sheets.' They then ran for the shore, but before they had
proceeded far, they were met by one of the fisher-girls, who had seen
their danger from the shore, and hastened to turn them back, calling to
them--

'The wave! the wave! it is coming--turn! turn and run--or we are lost!'

They did turn, and saw far out to sea a large wave rolling toward the
shore. The girl passed them and led the way; the two friends strained
every nerve to keep pace with her, for as they neared the rock, the wave
still rolled towards them; the sand became gradually covered, and for
the last ten steps they were up to their knees in water--but they were
on the rock.

'Quick! quick!' said the girl; '_there_ is the passage to the Cross at
the top; but if the second wave comes we shall be too late.'

She scrambled on for a hundred yards till she came to a crack in the
rock, six or seven feet wide, along which the water was rushing like a
mill-sluice. With some difficulty they reached the upper rocks,
carrying the fisher-girl in their arms, and wading above their knees in
water. Here they rest a moment--when a great wave rolls in, and the
water runs along the little platform where they are sitting; they all
rise, and mounting the rocky points (which the little Granvillaise
assures them are never quite covered with water), cluster together for
support. In a few moments the suspense is over, the girl points to the
shore, where they can hear the distant sound of a cheer, and see people
waving their handkerchiefs.

'They think the tide has turned,' says the girl, 'and they are shouting
to cheer us.'

She was right, the tide had turned. Another wave came and wetted their
feet, but when it had passed the water had fallen, and in five minutes
the platform was again dry!

The fisherwomen of Granville are famed for their beauty, industry, and
courage; we, certainly, have not seen such eyes, excepting at Cadiz,
and never have we seen so many active hard-working old women. The women
seem to do everything here--the 'boatmen' are women, and the fishermen
young girls.

We may well admire some of these handsome Granvillaises, living their
free life by the sea, earning less in the day, generally, than our
Staffordshire pit girls, but living much more enviable lives. Here they
are by hundreds, scattered over the beach in the early morning, and
afterwards crowding into the market-place; driving hard bargains for the
produce of their sea-farms, and--with rather shrill and unpronounceable
ejaculations and many most winning smiles--handing over their shining
wares. It is all for the Paris market they will tell you, and they may
also tell you (if you win their confidence) that they, too, are one day
for Paris.

Let us leave the old women to do the best bargaining, and picture to the
reader a bright figure that we once saw upon this shining shore, a
Norman maiden, about eighteen years of age, without shoes or stockings;
a picture of health and beauty bronzed by the sun.[25] This young
creature who had spent her life by the sea and amongst her own people,
was literally overflowing with happiness, she could not contain the half
of it, she imparted it to everyone about her (unconsciously, and that
was its sweetness); she could not strictly be called handsome, and she
might be considered very ignorant; but she bloomed with freshness, she
knew neither ill health nor _ennui_, and happiness was a part of her
nature.

This charming 'aphrodite piscatrix' is stalwart and strong (she can swim
a mile with ease), she has carried her basket and nets since sunrise,
and now at eight o'clock on this summer's morning sits down on the
rocks, makes a quick breakfast of potage, plumes herself a little, and
commences knitting. She does not stay long on the beach, but before
leaving, makes a slight acquaintance with the strangers, and evinces a
curious desire to hear anything they may have to tell her about the
great world.

It is too bright a picture to last; she too, it would seem, has
day-dreams of cities; she would give up her freedom, she would join the
crowd and enter the 'great city,' she would have a stall at '_les
halles_,' and see the world. Day-dreams, but too often fulfilled--the
old story of centralization doing its work; look at the map of Normandy,
and see how the 'chemin de fer de l'Ouest' is putting forth its arms,
which--like the devil-fish, in Victor Hugo's '_Travailleurs de la
Mer'_--will one day draw irresistibly to itself, our fair 'Toiler of the
sea.'[26]

'What does Monsieur think?' (for we are favoured with a little
confidence from our young friend), and what can we say? Could we draw a
tempting picture of life in cities--could we, if we had the heart, draw
a favourable contrast between _her_ life, as we see it, and the lives of
girls of her own age, who live in towns--who never see the breaking of a
spring morning, or know the beauty of a summer's night? Could we picture
to her (if we would) the gloom that shrouds the dwellings of many of her
northern sisters; and could she but see the veil that hangs over London,
in such streets as Harley, or Welbeck Street, on the brightest morning
that ever dawned on their sleeping inhabitants, she might well be
reconciled to her present life!

[Illustration: A TOILER OF THE SEA.]

'Is it nothing,' we are inclined to ask her, 'to feel the first rays of
the sun at his rising, to be fanned with fresh breezes, to rejoice in
the wind, to brave the storm; to have learned from childhood to welcome
as familiar friends, the changes of the elements, and, in short, to have
realised, in a natural life the 'mens sana in corpore sano'? Would she
be willing to repeat the follies of her ancestors in the days of the
_Trianon_ and Louis XIV.? Would she complete the fall which began when
knights and nobles turned courtiers--and roues? Let us read history to
her and remind her what centralization did for old France; let us
whisper to her, whilst there is time, what Paris is like in our own day.

Do we exaggerate the evils of over-centralization? We only at present,
half know them; but the next generation may discover the full meaning
of the word. There is exaggeration, no doubt; some men have lived so
long in the country that they speak of towns as a 'seething mass of
corruption,' pregnant of evil; and of villages as of an almost divine
Arcadia, whence nothing but good can spring; but the evils of
centralization can scarcely be overrated in any community. The social
system even in France, cannot revolve for ever round one sun.




CHAPTER VII.

_AVRANCHES--MONT ST. MICHAEL._

There are some places in Europe which English people seem, with one
consent, to have made their own; they take possession of them,
peacefully enough it is true, but with a determination that the
inhabitants find it impossible to resist. Thus it is that
Avranches--owing principally, it may be, to its healthiness and
cheapness of living, and to the extreme beauty of its situation--has
become an English country town, with many of its peculiarities, and a
few, it must be added, of its rather unenviable characteristics.

The buildings at Avranches are not very remarkable. The cathedral has
been destroyed, and the houses are of the familiar French pattern; some
charmingly situated in pleasant gardens commanding the view over the
bay. The situation seems perfect. Built upon the extreme western
promontory of the long line of hills which extend from Domfront and the
forest of Audaine, with a view unsurpassed in extent towards the sea,
with environs of undulating hills and fruitful landscape; with woods and
streams (such as the traveller who has only passed through central
France could hardly imagine) we can scarcely picture to ourselves a more
favoured spot.

No district in Normandy (a resident assures us) affords a more agreeable
resting place than the hills of Avranches, excepting, perhaps, the
smiling environs of Mortain and Vire. Mortain is within easy distance,
as well as Mont St. Michael (which we have sketched from the terrace at
Avranches, at the beginning of this chapter), and Granville, also, on
the western shore of the Norman archipelago; to the extreme south is
seen the Bay of Cancale in Brittany, and the promontory of St. Malo; to
the north, the variegated landscape of the Cotentin--hills, valleys,
woods, villages, churches, and chateaux smiling in the sunshine,--the
air melodious with the song of the lark and innumerable nightingales.'

True as is this picture of the natural beauty of the position of
Avranches, we will add one or two facts (gathered lately on the spot)
which may be useful to intending emigrants from our shores. Within the
last few years house rent, though still cheap, has greatly increased;
and the prices of provisions, which used to be so abundant from
Granville and St. Malo, have risen, as they have, indeed, all over
France. The railway from Granville to Paris will only make matters
worse, and the resident will soon see the butter, eggs, and fowls, which
used to throng the market of Avranches, packed away in baskets for Paris
and London. The salmon and trout in the rivers, are already netted and
sold by the pound; and the larks sing no longer in the sky. Thus, like
Dinan, Tours and Pau, Avranches feels the weight of centralisation and
the effects of rapid communication with the capital; and will in a few
years be anything but a cheap place of residence.

However, from information gathered only yesterday, we learn that 'house
rent bears favourable comparison with many English provincial towns;
that servants' wages are not high, and that provisions are comparatively
cheap;' also that the climate is 'very cold sometimes in winter, but
more inclined to be damp; and that there is no good inn.'

Again,--'if any quiet family demands fine air, a lovely position, cheap
house-rent and servants, easy and cheerful society, regular church
services, and, above all, first-class education for boys, and good
governesses and masters for girls, it cannot do better than settle down
here.'

And again (from another point of view) that, 'after a year's residence
in Normandy, I can see but little economy in it compared with England,
and believe that sensible people would find far greater comfort, and but
little more expense, if resident in Wales, Ireland, or some of the
distant parts of our own country; if they would but make up their minds
to live with as few servants, and to see as little society as is the
custom abroad.'

These varying opinions are worth having, coming as they do from
residents, and giving us the latest information on the subject; but our
friend whom we have quoted last seems to put the case most fairly, when
he says, in so many words, 'English people had better live in their own
country, if they can.'

Life at Avranches is a strange contrast to Granville. In a few hours we
pass from the contemplation of fishermen's lives to a curious kind of
civilization--an exotic plant, which some might think was hardly worth
the transplanting. A little colony of English people have taken
possession of one of the finest and healthiest spots in Europe, and upon
this vantage ground have deposited, or reproduced as in a magic mirror,
much of the littleness and pettiness that is peculiar to an English
country town: they have brought insular prejudices and peculiarities,
and unpacked several of them at Avranches.

Do we overdraw the picture? Hear one more resident, who thus tersely,
and rather pathetically, puts his grievances to us, _viva voce_:--

'We quiet English people,' he says, 'generally dine early, because it is
considered economical--_which it is not!_

'We live exclusively and stiffly, because it is considered proper and
necessary--_which it is not!_

'We go to the expense and trouble of bringing out our families, because
living is supposed to be cheaper than in England--_which practically it
is not!_

'We believe that our children will be well educated, and pick up French
for nothing--_which they do not!_'--&c, &c.

An amusing book might be written about English society in French towns;
no one indeed knows who has not tried it, with what little society-props
such coteries as those at Avranches, Pau, &c., are kept up. It varies,
of course, every year, and in each place every year; but when we were
last at Avranches, 'society' was the watchword, we might almost say the
war cry; and we had to declare our colours as if we lived in the days of
the Wars of the Roses.

The old inhabitants are, of course, 'rather particular,' and, to tell
the truth, are sometimes rather afraid of each other. They are apt to
eye with considerable caution any new arrival; the 'new arrival' is
disposed to be equally select, and so they live together and apart,
after the true English model; and indulging sometimes, it must be added,
in considerable speculation about their new neighbours' business.

  'Why were they proud--because red-lined accounts
  Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?
  Why were they proud--again we ask, aloud,
  Why in the name of glory were they proud?'

And so on; but what we might say of Avranches would apply to nearly
every little English colony abroad. There are two sides to the picture,
and there is a good, pleasant side to the English society at Avranches;
there is also great necessity to be 'particular,' however much we may
laugh. English people who come to reside abroad are not, as a rule, very
good representatives of their nation; neither they nor their children
seem to flourish on a foreign soil, they differ in their character as
much as transplanted trees; they have more affinity with the poplars and
elms of France than with the sturdy oaks of England.[27]

Let us not be thought to disparage Avranches; if it is our lot to live
here we may enjoy life well; and if we are not deterred by the dull and
'weedy' aspect of some of the old chateaux, we may also make some
pleasant friends amongst the French families in the neighbourhood.

In summer time we may almost live out of doors, and ramble about in the
fields and sketch, as we should do in England; the air is fresh and
bracing, and the sea breeze comes gratefully on the west wind. We may
stroll through shady lanes and between hedgerows, and we shall hear the
familiar sound of bells, and see through the trees a church tower, such
as the following (which is indeed the common type throughout Normandy);
but here the similarity to England ceases, for we may enter the building
at any hour, and find peasant women at prayers.

[Illustration]

And we may see sometimes a party of English girls from a French school,
with their drawing master; sketching from nature and making minute
studies of the brandies of trees. They are seated on a hill-side, and
there is a charming pastoral scene before them,--wood and water,
pasture-land and cattle grazing,--women with white caps, and little
white houses peeping through the trees.

But the trees that they are studying are small and characterless
compared with our own, they are scattered about the landscape, or set in
trim lines along the roads: our fair artists had better be in England
for this work. There is none of the mass and grandeur here that we see
in our forest trees, none of the suggestive groups with which we are so
familiar, even in the parks of London, planted 'by accident' (as we are
apt to call it), but standing together with clear purpose of protection
and support,--the strong-limbed facing the north and stretching out
their protecting arms, the weaker towering above them in the centre of
the square; whilst those to the south spread a deep shade almost to the
ground. French trees are under an Imperial necessity to form into line;
the groves at Fontainbleau are as straight as the Fifth Avenue at New
York. There are no studies of trees in all Normandy like the royal oaks
of Windsor, there is nothing to compare in grandeur with the stems of
the Burnham beeches, set in a carpet of ferns; and nothing equal in
effect to the massing of the blue pines--with their bronzed stems
against an evening sky--in Woburn Park in Bedfordshire. We may bring
some pretty studies from Avranches and from the country round, but we
should not come to France to draw trees.

But there are studies which we may make near Avranches, and of scenes
that we shall not meet with in England. If we descend the hill and walk
a few miles in the direction of Granville, we may see by the roadside
the remnants of several wayside 'stations' of very early date. Let us
sit down by the roadside to sketch one of these (A.D. 1066), and depict
for the reader, almost with the accuracy of a photograph, its grotesque
proportions. It stands on a bank, in a prominent position, by the
roadside; a rude contrast to the surrounding scenery. Presently there
comes up an old cantonnier in a blouse and heavy sabots, who has just
returned from mending the roads; he takes off his cap, crosses himself
devoutly, and kneels down to pray. The sun shines upon the cross and
upon the kneeling figure; the soft wind plays about them, the bank is
lovely with wild flowers; there are purple hills beyond, and a company
of white clouds careering through space. But the old man sees nothing
but the cross, he has no eyes for the beauty of landscape, no ear for
the music of the birds or the voices of nature; he sees nothing but the
image of his Saviour, he kneels as he knelt in childhood before the
cross, he clasps his worn hands, and prays, with many repetitions,
words which evidently bring comfort to his soul. In a few minutes the
old man rises and puts on his cap, with a brass plate on it with the
number of his canton, produces a little can of soup and bread and sits
down on the bank to breakfast; ending by unrolling a morsel of tobacco
from a crumpled paper, putting it into his mouth and going fast asleep.

[Illustration]

Many more such scenes we could record, but they are more fitted for the
pencil than the pen; the artist can easily fill his sketch-book without
going far from Avranches.

But as autumn advances our thoughts are naturally turned more towards
'le sport;' and if we are fortunate enough to be on visiting terms with
the owners of the neighbouring chateaux, we may be present at some
interesting scenes that will remind us of pictures in the galleries at
Versailles.

'With good books, a good rod, and a double gun, one could never weary
of a residence at Avranches,' says an enthusiastic settler who has found
out the right corners in the trout-streams, and, possibly, the denizens
of the neighbouring woods. The truth, however, is that in spite of the
beautifully wooded country round, and the rivers that wind so
picturesquely beneath us; in spite of its unexampled situation and its
glorious view, Avranches is scarcely the spot for a sportsman to select
for a residence.

In the season there are numerous sportsmen, both English and French, and
occasionally a very fair bag may be made; but game not being preserved
systematically, the supply is variable, and accounts of sport naturally
differ very widely. We can only say that it is poor work after our
English covers, and that we know some residents at Avranches who prefer
making excursions into Brittany for a week's shooting. Trout may be
caught in tolerable abundance, and salmon of good weight are still to
be found in the rivers, but they are diminishing fast, being, as we
said, netted at night for the Paris market.[28]

It was in the shooting season of the year, when game had been unusually
scarce for the sportsman and provokingly plentiful to behold in the
market-place at Granville--when the last accounts we had of the success
of a party (who had been out for a week) was that they had bagged 'only
a few woodcocks, three partridges, and a hare or two'--that the
following clever sketch appeared in the newspapers. It was great fun,
especially amongst some of our French friends who were very fond of the
phrase 'chasse magnifique,' and resented the story as a terrible libel.

An enthusiastic French marquis offered one of our countrymen, whom he
met in Paris, a few days' shooting, in short, a 'chasse magnifique.' He
accepted and went the next day; 'the journey was seven hours by railway,
but to the true sportsman this was nothing.' The morning after his
arrival he was attended by the marquis's keeper, who, in answer to X.'s
enquiries, thus mapped out the day's sport:--

     'Pour commencer, monsieur, nous chasserons dans les vignes de M. le
     Marquis, ou a cette saison nous trouverons certainement des
     grives (thrushes).' 'Et apres?' says X. 'Eh bien! apres, nous
     passerons une petite heure sur la grande plaine, ou, sans doute,
     nous trouverons une masse d'alouettes (larks). En suite je
     montrerai a monsieur certaines poules d'eau (moorhens) que je
     connais; fichtre! nous les attraperons. Il y a la-bas aussi, dans
     le marais, un petit lac ou, l'annee passee, j'ai vu un canard, mais
     un canard sauvage! Nous le chercherons; peut-etre il y sera.'

     'But have you no partridges?' 'Des perdreaux! mais oui! je le crois
     bien! (il demande si nous avons des perdreaux!) Il y en a, mais ils
     sont difficiles. Nous en avions _quatre_, mais, le mois passe, M.
     le Marquis en a tue un et serieusement blesse un second. La pauvre
     bete n'est pas encore guerie. Cela ne nous laisse que deux. Nous
     les chasserons sans doute si monsieur le veut; _mais que feronsnous
     l'annee prochaine_? Si monsieur veut bien achever cette pauvre bete
     blessee, ca peut s'arranger.'

     'Well, but have you no covert shooting--no hares?'

     'Les lievres? mais certainement, nous avons des lievres. Nous irons
     dans la foret, je prendrai mes chiens, et je vous montrerai de
     belles lievres. J'en ai trois--_Josephine, Alphonse_, et le vieux
     _Adolphe_. Pour le moment Josephine est sacree--elle est mere. Le
     petit Alphonse s'est marie avec elle, comme ca il est un peu pere
     de famille; nous l'epargnerons, n'est-ce-pas, monsieur? Mais le
     vieux Adolphe, nous le tuerons; c'est deja temps; voila cinq ans
     que je le chasse!'


_MONT ST. MICHAEL._

From the terrace of the Jardin des Plantes, where we are never tired of
the view (although some residents complain that it becomes monotonous,
because they are too far from the sea to enjoy its variety), the grey
mount of St. Michael is ever before us, gleaming in the sunshine or
looming through the storm. In our little sketch we have given as
accurately as possible its appearance from Avranches on a summer's day
after rain;[29] but it should be seen when a storm passes over it, when
the same clouds that we have watched so often on summer nights, casting
deep shadows on the intervening plain--some silver-lined that may have
expressed hope, some black as midnight that might mean despair--come
over to us like messengers from the great rock, and take our little
promontory by storm. They come silently one by one, and gather round and
fold over us; then suddenly clap their hands and burst with such a
deluge of rain that it seems a matter for wonder that any little
creeping human things could survive the flood. And it does us good; we
are thoroughly drenched, our houses and gardens do not recover their
fair presence for weeks; our little prejudices and foibles are well
nigh washed out of us, and we are reminded of the dread reality of the
lives of our neighbours on the island, who form a much larger colony
than ourselves.[30]

'On no account omit a visit to Mont St. Michael,' say the guide-books,
and accordingly we charter a carriage on a summer's morning and are
driven in a few hours along a bad road, to the edge of the sands about a
mile from the mount--the same sands that we saw depicted in the Bayeux
tapestry, when William and Harold marched on Dinan. We choose a
favourable time of the tide, and approach the gates at the foot of the
mount dryshod.[31]

For a thousand years pilgrims have crossed these treacherous sands to
lay their offerings at the feet of the Archangel Michael; Norman dukes
and monks of the middle ages have paid their devotion at his shrine, and
troops of pilgrims in all ages, even to this day, when a party of
English school-girls come tripping across the bay, provided with a
passport and a fee, bent upon having the terrors of the prison-house
shewn to them as easily as the 'chamber of horrors' at Madame Tussaud's.

Before us, as we walk the last mile, the granite rock gradually becomes
a mountain surrounded by a wide plain of sand, covered with clustering
houses, towers, turrets, and fortifications, and surmounted by a Gothic
church nearly 400 feet above the sea. There is a little town upon the
rock, old, tumble-down, irregular, and picturesque, like Bastia in
Corsica--constructed by a hardy sea-faring people, who have built their
dwellings in the sides of this conical rock, like the sea-birds; and
there is a little inn called the _Lion d'or_, with windows built out
over the ramparts, from which we can see the shore.

On arriving at the island we pass under two ancient towers, and into
'the court of the Lion;' then to a third gate, with its towers and
battlements, and frowning portcullis; and we see, as we pass, the lion
(the insignia of the knights of Mont St. Michael) carved in stone, and
set into the wall. We are received in the ancient guard-room by a 'young
brother,' who has (shall it be repeated?) 'turned the guard-room into a
cheerful bazaar for the sale of photographs, ivory carvings and the
like.' We are on the threshold of the sanctuary, at the end of our
pilgrimage; we offer up no prayers, as of old, for safe deliverance from
peril, but we set to work at once, and 'invest in a pocketful of little
presents, which another brother (on business thoughts intent) packs for
us neatly in a pasteboard box.' We are shewn the apartments in the 'Tour
des Corbins,' with its grand staircase, called 'l'escalier des exils,'
and the crypt one hundred feet long, built by the monks in the eleventh
century; we see the great Gothic hall of the Knights of Mont St.
Michael, with its carved stone-work and lofty roof, supported by three
rows of pillars, beautiful in proportion, and grand in effect, although
the Revolution, as usual, has left us little but the bare walls; but, as
we look down upon it from a gallery, it is easy to picture the splendour
of a banquet of knights in the twelfth century, with the banners and
insignia of chivalry ranged upon the walls.[32] But it is now a silent
gloomy chamber, and the atmosphere is so close and the moral atmosphere
so heavy withal, that we are glad to leave it, and to ascend to another
story of this wonderful pile; through the beautiful Gothic cloisters,
and out upon the cathedral roof, where we suddenly emerge upon a view
more wonderful in its extent and flatness than anything, save that from
the cathedral tower of Chartres; before us an horizon of sea, behind us
the coast line, and the hills of Avranches; all around, a wide plain of
sand, and northward, in the far distance, the low dark lines of the
channel islands.

That 'Saint Michael's Mount has become a popular lion, and can only be
seen under the vexatious companionship of a guide and a party' is true
enough; nevertheless, we can stay at the inn on the island, and thus be
enabled to examine and make drawings of some of the most beautiful
thirteenth-century work in the cloisters that we shall meet with in
Normandy. These cloisters and open arcades (supported by upwards of two
hundred slender pillars) are carved and decorated with grotesque and
delicate ornament, the capitals to the pillars are richly foliated, and
the fringe that surrounds them has been well described as a 'wilderness
of vines and roses, and dragons, winged and crowned.'

Like the churches in Normandy, the architecture of these monastic
buildings is in nearly every style, from the simple romanesque of the
eleventh century to the rich _flamboyant_ of the fifteenth; and, like
many of the churches, its history dates from the time when the Druids
took possession of the island to the days when the storm of the
Revolution broke upon its shores.

The ordinary time for visiting the rock is when the tide is out, but we
have not seen Mont St. Michael to advantage until it is completely
surrounded by water, as it is during the spring tides; it is then that,
approached from the west, we may see it half-obscured by sea-foam, with
its turrets shining through the clouds, and the heavy Atlantic waves
booming against its foundations.

The little fishing population of Mont St. Michael, and the stories they
tell of the dangers of the quicksands, will while away the time in the
evening and reward us for staying; and we shall see such an exhibition
of hopeless _ennui_ on the part of the French officers in garrison as
will not soon be forgotten.

It would require a separate work to describe in detail all the buildings
on the rock;[33] (it takes a day to examine the fortifications and
dungeons alone); we have therefore only attempted to give the reader an
idea of its general aspect; of what M. Nodier, in his '_Annales
Romantiques_,' describes as 'l'effet poetique et religieux de la fleche
du Mont St. Michael;' and indeed we have hardly dared to picture to
ourselves the complete magnificence of the basilica of the Archangel, as
mariners who approached these shores must have seen it three hundred
years ago, with its lofty towers of sculptured stone; and the image of
its patron saint, turning towards the western sun a fiery cross of
gold.




CHAPTER VIII.

_MORTAIN--VIRE--FALAISE._


We now turn our faces towards the east, and starting again from
Avranches on our homeward journey, go very leisurely by diligence,
through Mortain and Vire to Falaise.

The distance from Avranches to Mortain is not more than twenty miles,
and takes nearly five hours; but the country is so beautiful, and the
air is so fresh and bracing, that a seat in the banquette of the
diligence is one of the most enviable in life. The roof is over-loaded
with goods and passengers, which gives a pleasant swaying motion to the
vehicle; but the road is so smooth and even that 'nobody cares'--the
rocking to and fro is soothing, and sends the driver to sleep, the
pieces of string that keep the harness together will hold for another
hour or two, and the crazy machine will last our journey at least.

We halt continually on the journey--once, for half-an-hour, literally
'under the lindens'--they are not yet in bloom, but they give out a
pleasant perfume into the dreamy air; we are again in the open country,
in the atmosphere of old historic Normandy, and bound, slowly it is
true, for the birthplace of William the Conqueror; and we can read or
sleep at pleasure, as our crazy diligence crawls up and creeps down
every hill, and stops at every cottage by the way.

On this beautiful winding road, which is carried along and between, the
ridge of hills on which Avranches stands, and commands views westward
over the bay to Mont St. Michael and eastward towards Alencon and the
plains of Orne, we only meet one or two solitary pedestrians. We are
nearly as much alone as in a Swiss pass; the scenery might be part of
the Tete Noire, and the _Hotel de la Poste_, at Mortain, which is built
on the side of a hill over a ravine, and at which our diligence makes a
dead stop, might, for many reasons, be a posada on the Italian Alps.

If we stroll out at once, before the evening closes, we shall have time
to visit the cemetery on the rocks, to see the remains of a castle of
the Norman dukes, and above all, the superb panorama from the heights;
and we may wander afterwards into the valleys to see the cascades, the
ivy-covered rocks, and the masses of ferns; scenes so exquisite and
varied that we are lost in wonder that all these things are to be seen
in France at small trouble and cost, and that French artists have
hardly ever told us of them.[34]

That 'the country round Mortain is not known as well as it deserves,' is
a remark that cannot be too often repeated; we cannot, indeed, imagine a
more delightful district for an English artist in which to spend a
summer, and we promise him that he shall find subjects that will look as
well on the walls of the Academy as the Welsh hills, or the valleys of
Switzerland.

We are at a loss to express in words the romantic beauty of the
situation of Mortain, where we may pitch our tent, and make studies of
rocks, which will tell us more in practice, than written volumes about
these wondrous geological formations; and the clusters of ivy in the
niches, the moss and lichen, the rich colour of the boulders, the trees
in the valleys below us, the clear sky, and the sweet air that comes
across the bay, make us linger here for the beauty of the scene alone;
regardless almost of the ancient history of Mortain, of the story of its
Pagan temples, of its thirteenth-century church, and almost unmindful of
the 'Abbaye de Savigny,' eight miles off, a building which is worthy of
a special visit.

And we come away, perforce, in the evening-time from all this lovely
landscape, from the pure air, from the cascades, the rocks, and the
ferns, from everything agreeable to the senses, to the most literal,
shameful, wallowing in the mire. We have spoken, so far, only of the
scene; let add a word in very truth, about 'man and his dwelling-place.'
How shall we describe it? We are at the _Hotel de la Poste_, and we are
housed like pigs; we (some of us) eat like them, and live even as the
lower animals. We--'_Messieurs et Mesdames_,' lords and ladies of the
creation--hide our heads in a kennel; our dirty rooms 'give' on to the
odorous court-yard; we turn our backs upon the valley which the building
almost overhangs; we can neither breathe pure air nor see the bright
landscape. Any details of the domestic arrangements and surroundings of
the _Hotel de la Poste_ at Mortain would be unfit for these pages;
suffice it that, we are in one of the second-rate old-fashioned inns of
France, the style of which our travelled forefathers may well
remember.[35]

We have more than once been censured for saying that the French people
have little natural love for scenery, and a stilted, not to say morbid,
theory of landscape; but whilst we stay in this inn, from which we might
have had such splendid views, we become confirmed in the opinion
(formed in the Pyrenees), that the French people _do not care_, and that
they think nothing of defiling Nature's purest places. At this hotel we
are in the position of the prisoners confined aloft in the tower at
Florence; the hills and valleys are before and around us, but we are not
allowed to see them.[36]

On our road to VIRE, twenty-three miles distant, it is tempting
to make a digression to the town of Domfront (which the reader will see
on the map, a few miles to the south-east); we should do so, to see its
picturesque position, with the ancient castle on the heights, and the
town, as at Falaise, growing round its feet; also an old church at the
foot of the hill, which is considered 'one of the best and purest
specimens of Norman work to be found anywhere.'

But the route we have chosen for description, now turns northward,
passing through a still beautiful land, studded with thatched cottages,
and lighted up with the dazzling white helmets of the women who are busy
in the fields, and in the farms and homesteads. As we approach the town
of Vire, the population has evidently been absorbed into the cloth and
paper mills, for, excepting in the morning and the evening, there are
very few people abroad; we see scarcely any one, save, at regular
intervals on the road, the old cantonniers occupied in their business of
making stone-pies,[37] or a village cure at work in his garden; but we
notice that the houses are neater and better built than those near
Mortain, where grass grows luxuriantly upon them, and the roofs are
covered with coloured mosses.

The situation of Vire is one of extreme beauty (reminding us again of
Switzerland), with hills and valleys richly wooded, the trees being
larger than any we have yet seen on our route. If we had approached Vire
from the west, by way of Villedieu and St. Sever, we should have had
even finer views than by way of Mortain; but Villedieu is at present
more deplorable than Mortain in its domestic arrangements, and the inn
is to be avoided by all cleanly people; however, with the completion of
the railway from Vire to Granville, we are promised much better things.

[Illustration: CLOCK TOWER AT VIRE.]

The chief architectural object of interest at Vire is the old
clock-tower of the thirteenth century, over the Rue de Calvados, with
its high gateway, formerly called 'the gate of the Champ de Vire.'
Over this gateway (which we cannot see from the position where we have
sketched the belfry) there is a statue of the Virgin, with the
inscription, '_Marie protege la ville_.' This tower has been altered and
repaired at several periods, and, like two others near it, is too much
built up against and crowded by, what the French call '_maisons
vulgaires_,' to be well seen.

We have not spoken of the castle first, because there is little of it
left besides the keep; and the part that remains seems no longer old.
The bold promontory on which it stood is now neatly kept and 'tidied'
with smooth slopes, straight walks, and double rows of trees, pleasant
to walk upon, but more suggestive of the Bois de Boulogne than the
approach to a ruin.

It is from this promontory, or rather from what Murray calls 'this dusty
pleasure ground,' that we obtain our best view of the country westward,
towards Avranches; and from whence we can see the bold granite
formation of the rocks in the neighbourhood. We may see where the
manufacturers of cloth and paper have established their mills; and also
where, in some cases, they have had to widen out the valleys, and to cut
roads through the rocks to their works. All the streams turn
waterwheels, and many of the surrounding rocks are disfigured with cloth
'tenters.'

There are some curious half-timbered houses at Vire, and some old
streets tempting to sketch; including the house of Basselin, the famous
originator of 'vaux de Vire'--or, as they are now called, _vaudevilles_.

The inhabitants number about 9000, they are for the most part engaged in
the manufactories of the place, too busy apparently to modernise either
their costume or their dwellings; but the railway is now bringing others
to the town who will work these changes for them. Happily for them and
for us, the hills are of granite and their sides most precipitous, and
the innovators make slow progress in modernisation. At the hotels
everyone drinks cider, rather than _vin ordinaire_; and at night we are
awoke with the clatter of sabots and the voice of the watchman.

The ancient town of FALAISE, to which so many Englishmen make a
pilgrimage, as being the reputed birthplace of William the Conqueror,
can now be reached, either from Caen, Vire, or Paris, by railway; but we
who come from the west, will do well to keep to the old road; and (if we
wish to preserve within us any of the associations connected with the
place) should not have the sound of '_Falaise_' first rung in our ears
by railway porters. Both the town and castle of Falaise are situated on
high ground; and the latter, being on the side of a precipitous
eminence, may be seen for a long distance before we approach it by the
road. At Falaise, as at Lisieux, the traveller who arrives in the town
by railway, is generally surprised and disappointed, at first sight,
with its modern aspect.

'The castle of Falaise,' says M. Leduc, 'consists of a large square
Norman keep of the tenth and eleventh centuries, standing at the
steepest and highest part of a rocky eminence, with a lofty and
exceedingly fine _circular_ tower, connected with it on the south-west
by a passage; and round the whole, a long irregular line of outer wall
following the sinuosities of the hill, fortified by circular towers and
enclosing various detached buildings used by the garrison. This line of
outer wall and the circular tower is of much later date than the keep,
and the greater portion of them is not older than the fourteenth or
fifteenth century, when the castle had to withstand attacks from the
English. In the keep (it is said) William the Conqueror was born, and
they pretend to show the remains of the very room where this event took
place, as well as the identical window from which his father "Duke
Robert the Magnificent," first saw Arlette, the daughter of the Falaise
tanner.'

Here, under the shadow of 'Talbot's tower,' we might prefer to muse
historically, and gather up our memories of facts connected with the
place; but we are treading again upon 'the footsteps of the Conqueror,'
and must pay for our indiscretion. From the moment we approach the
precincts of the castle, we are pounced upon by the inevitable spider
(in this instance, in the shape of a very rough and ignorant custodian)
who is in hiding to receive his prey. Before we have time for
remonstrance, we have paid our money, we have ascended the smooth round
tower (one hundred feet high, with walls fifteen feet thick) by a
winding staircase, we have been taken out on to the modern zinc-covered
roof, and shown the view therefrom; and the spots where the various
sieges and battles took place, including the breach made by Henry IV.
after seven days' cannonade, a breach that two or three shots from an
Armstrong gun would have effected in these days.

We are shewn, of course, 'the room where William the Conqueror was
born,' and from the windows of the castle keep we have just time to make
a sketch of the beautiful Val d'Ante,[38] and of the women, with their
curiously-shaped baskets, washing in the stream; and to listen to the
thrice-told tale of the tanner's daughter, and to the deeds of valour
wrought on these heights--when the performance is declared to be over,
and we find ourselves once more on the ramparts outside the castle.

We are so full of historical associations at Falaise--every nook and
corner of the castle telling of its nine sieges--that we are glad to be
able to examine the building thoroughly from without, and to remind
ourselves of the method of defensive warfare in the fifteenth century.
The whole of the precincts of the castle, the walls, ramparts, and the
principal towers, are (at the time we write, August, 1869) strewn with
mason's work, as if a new castle of Falaise were being built; everything
looks fresh and new, it is only here and there we discover anything old,
the remnants of a carved window, and the like. But, as a Frenchman
observed to us, if it had not been for all this nineteenth-century work,
the present generation would never have seen the castle of Falaise. The
work of restoration appears to be carried on in rather a different
spirit from the ecclesiastical restorations at Caen and Bayeux; here the
prevailing idea seems to be, 'prop up your antique _any how_' (with
timber beams, and a zinc roof to Talbot's tower, such as we might put
over a cistern), so long as devotees will come and worship, with
francs, at the shrine; whilst at Bayeux, as we have seen, the old work
is handled with reverence and fear, and the nineteenth-century mason
puts out all his power to imitate, if not to excel, the work of the
twelfth.

The churches at Falaise should not pass unnoticed; but we will not weary
the reader with any detailed description. Artists will especially
delight in the view of a fourteenth-century church close to the castle,
with its chancel with creepers growing over it, and peeping out between
the stones; and historians will be interested in the laconic inscription
on its walls, 'rebuilt in 1438, a year of war, death, plague, and
famine.' If such artists as Brewer, or Burgess, would only come here and
give us drawings of these streets (of one especially, taking in the
cathedral at the end, with its stone walls built over by shops, as at
Pont Audemer), they would be very interesting to Englishmen. Antiquaries
will regret to learn that in the year 1869, the west end of a church is
obliterated, as in the next illustration; that the shop of one 'M.
Guille, peruquier,' reposes against the window, and that two other,
quite modern, buildings lean against its walls. An old Norman arch is
carved immediately above the window we have sketched, and completes the
picture.

[Illustration]

It is, of course, not very easy to sketch undisturbed in the streets of
Falaise; and both in the churches and in the castle the showman is
perpetually treading on the traveller's heels. Everywhere we turn, in
the neighbourhood of the castle, we are reminded of historic deeds of
valour, and of deadly fights in the middle ages; and every day that we
remain in the town, we are reminded (by the crowds of farmers,
horsedealers, and others, who are busy at the great fair held here twice
a year) of our own, by comparison, very trifling business at Falaise. We
are making a drawing of the great rocks near the castle, and of the
valley below, every step of which is made famous by the memory of the
Conqueror; when our studies are disturbed, not by tourists but by
natives of the town; once by a farmer to see his good horses, which
indeed he had, at the stables at the 'hotel of the beautiful Star,'
where there were at least fifty standing for sale; and once, by a small
boy, who carries a tray full of little yellow books called '_La Lanterne
de Falaise_,' with a picture on the cover of the castle tower, and a
huge lantern slung from the battlements! We purchase a copy, to get rid
of the last intruder, and find it to be a '_Revue, satirique et
humouristique_,' treating of divers matters, including '_faits atroces
et chiens perdus_'!

Now without being accused of misanthropy, we may remark that there are
times and places when an Englishman would rather be 'let alone,' and
that the precincts of Falaise are certainly of them. These century-wide
contrasts and concussions, jar so terribly sometimes, that we are
half-inclined to ask with M. de Tocqueville, whether we do not seem to
be on the eve of a new Byzantine era, in which 'little men shall discuss
and ape the deeds which great men did in their forefathers' days.'[39]
The refrain in this nineteenth century is, 'still the showman, still the
spectator,' until we become almost tired of the song. 'Here some noble
act was achieved--there some valiant man perished.' Every nook and
corner of the place tells the same story; until we are tempted to
enquire 'What are _we_ doing (or are fit and capable of doing
personally, on an emergency, in the matter of fighting,) to compare with
the achievements of these Norman men of all ranks of life?'

But not only in Normandy, it is the same wherever we go: as far as our
own personal part in heroic actions is concerned, we live in an
atmosphere of unreality; we read of great deeds rather than achieve
them, we make shows of the works of our ancestors, we take pence
(readily) over the graves of our kinsmen, and live, as it seems to us,
rather unworthily, in the past.

With our nineteenth-century inventions, we could, it is true, mow down
these castle heights in half an hour, and we might well be proud of the
achievement as a nation; but our warfare is at best but poor mercenary
work, the heart of the nation--the life and courage of its people--are
not in it.[40] We civilians, are too much protected, and most of us do
not know how to fight. Like the Athenians, we are supposed to be
cultivating the arts of peace, but, as we endeavoured to show at Caen,
if judged by our monuments, we are making no great mark in our
generation. Perhaps this is a question rather wide of our subject, but
let us at least contend for one thing, viz.:--that if the mission of the
present generation is not to wield battle-axes, but rather to fight
social battles, say for the amelioration of the unhappy part of the
population; and if it is our fortune to be protected the while, by a
staff of policemen, and by strong laws against crime--that we should not
neglect, at the same time, to cultivate and preserve the personal valour
that is in us, by the use of arms. It may be that the day is shortly
coming (our engineers predict that we shall soon have hand-to-hand
fighting again), when every individual amongst us will have to put his
courage to the proof; and if this should ever happen, it will certainly
not diminish our interest in the construction and arrangement of these
mediaeval castles, or in the battles that have been fought beneath their
walls.




CHAPTER IX.

_ROUEN._


At a corner of the market-place at Rouen, there stood, but a few years
ago, one of the most picturesque houses in all Normandy, and with a
story (if we are to believe the old chroniclers) as pathetic as any in
history.

It was from a door in this house that, in the year 1431, the unfortunate
Joan of Arc was led out to be 'burned as a sorceress' before the people
of Rouen. We need not dwell upon the story of the 'fair maid of
Orleans,' which every child has by heart, but (mindful of our
picturesque mission) we should like to carry the reader in imagination
to the same spot just four hundred years later, when an English artist,
heedless of the crowd that collects around him, sits down in the street
to sketch the lines of the old building, already tottering to ruin.
Faithfully and patiently does the artist draw the old gables, the unused
doorway, the heavy awnings, the piles of wood, the market-women, and the
grey perspective of the side street with its pointed roofs, curious
archways and oil lantern swinging from house to house; and as faithfully
(even to the mis-spelling of the word 'liquer,' on a board over the
doorway) almost indeed, with the touch of the artist's pencil, has the
engraver reproduced, by means of photography, the late Samuel Prout's
drawing on the frontispiece of this volume.[41]

Few artists have succeeded, as Prout succeeded, in giving the character
of the old buildings in Normandy, and certainly no other drawings with
which we are acquainted, admit of being photographed as his do, without
losing effect. It is scarcely too much to say that in this engraving we
can distinguish the different washes of colour, the greys and warmer
tints, the broad touches of his pencil on the white caps of the women,
and the very work of his hand in the bold, decisive shadows.

It is pleasant to dwell for a moment on Prout's work, for he has become
identified with Normandy through numerous sketches of buildings now
pulled down; and they have an antiquarian as well as an artistic
interest. They are 'mannered,' as we all know, but they have more
_couleur locale_ than any of the drawings of Pugin; and are valued (we
speak of money value) at the present time, above the works of most
water-colour painters of his time.

But we must not dream about old Rouen, we must rather tell the reader
what it is like to-day, and how modern and prosaic is its aspect; how we
arrive by express train, and are rattled through wide paved streets in
an '_omnibus du Chemin de Fer_,' and are set down at a 'grand' hotel,
where we find an Englishman seated in the doorway reading 'Bell's Life.'

Rouen is busy and thriving, and has a fixed population of not less than
150,000; situated about half-way between Paris and the port of Havre,
there is a constant flow of traffic passing and repassing, and its quays
are lined with goods for exportation. In front of our window at the
Hotel d'Angleterre, from which we have a view for miles on both sides
of the Seine, the noise and bustle are almost as great as at Lyons or
Marseilles. The Rouen of to-day is given up to commerce, to the swinging
of cranes, and to the screeching of locomotives on the quays; whilst the
fine broad streets and lines of newly erected houses, shut out from our
view the old city of which we have heard so much, and which many of us
have come so far to see. As we approach Rouen by the river, or even by
railway, it is true that we see cathedral towers, but they are
interspersed with smoking factory chimneys and suspension bridges; and
although on our first drive through the town, we pass the magnificent
portal of the cathedral and the old clock-tower in the '_rue de la
Grosse Horloge_,' we observe that the cathedral has a cast-iron spire,
and that the frescoes and carving round the clock-tower are built up
against and pasted over with bills of concerts and theatres.

The streets are full of busy merchants, trim shopkeepers, and the usual
crowd of blouses that we see in every city in France. There are wide
boulevards and trees round Rouen; and if we look down upon the city from
the heights of Mont St. Catherine (perhaps the best view that we can
obtain anywhere) it may remind us, with its broad river laden with ships
and its cathedral towers, of the superb view of Lyons that we obtain
from the heights near the cemetery: the view so well known to visitors
to that city. The people of Rouen who have spread out into the enormous
suburb of St. Sever, on the left bank of the Seine,[42] are busy by
thousands in the manufactories,--the sound of the loom and the anvil
comes up to us even here; and down by the banks of the river, away
westward, as far as the eye can see, up spring clean bright houses of
the wealthy manufacturers and traders of Rouen,--rich, sleek, and portly
gentlemen with the thinnest boots, who never even pass down the old
streets if they can help it, but whom we shall find very pleasant and
hospitable; and with whom we may sit down at a cafe under the trees and
play at dominoes in the open street, in the middle of the day, without
creating a scandal.

But if Rouen will not compare with Lyons in size, or commercial
importance, it surpasses it in antiquarian interest; and we have chosen
our illustrations to depict it rather as it was, than as it is. We give
a drawing of Joan of Arc's house rather than of a building in the 'rue
Imperiale;' and a view of the old market-place in front of the cathedral
rather than of the trim toy-garden at the west end of the church of St.
Ouen; and we do this, not only because it is more picturesque, but
because the modern aspect of Rouen is familiar to the majority of our
readers.

But we must examine the old buildings whilst there is time, for (as in
other towns of Normandy) the work of demolition grows fast and furious;
and the churches, the _Palais de Justice_, the courts of law, and the
tower of the _Grosse Horloge_ will soon be all that is left to us. The
narrow winding streets of gable-ended houses, with their strange
histories, will soon be forgotten by all but the antiquary; for there is
a ruthless law that no more half-timbered houses shall be built, and
another that everything shall be in line.

We are surrounded by old houses, but cannot easily find them, and when
discovered they almost crumble at the touch--they fade away as if by
magic; and there is a halo of mystery, we might almost say of sanctity,
about them which is indescribable; it is as if the blossoms of an early
age still clung to the old walls and garlanded with time-wreaths their
tottering ruins.

Rouen is disappearing like a dissolving view--a few more slides in the
magic lantern, a few more windows of plate-glass, a few more '_grandes
rues_' and the picture of old Rouen fades away.

Let us hasten to the _Place de la Pucelle_, and examine the carving on
the houses, and on the _Hotel Bourgtheroude_, before the great Parisian
conjuror waves his wand once more. But, hey presto! down they come, in a
street hard by--even whilst we write, a great panel totters to the
ground--heraldic shields, with a border of flowers and pomegranates,
carved in oak; clusters of grapes and diaper patterns of rich design,
emblems of old nobility--all in the dust; a hatchment half defaced, a
dragon with the gold still about his collar, a bit of an eagle's wing, a
halberd snapped in twain--all piled together in a heap of ruin!

A few weeks only, and we pass the place again--all is in order, the
'improvement' has taken place; there is a pleasant wide _pave_, and a
manufactory for '_eau gazeuse_.'

The cathedral church of Notre Dame (the west front of which we have seen
in the illustration), and the church of St. Ouen, the two most
magnificent monuments in Rouen, are so familiar to most readers that we
can say little that is new respecting them. When we have given a short
description, taken from the best authorities on the subject, and have
pointed out to artistic readers that this west front with its
surrounding houses, and the view of the towers of St. Ouen from the
garden, at the _east_ end, are two of the grandest architectural
pictures to be found in Normandy, we shall have nearly accomplished our
task.[43]

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL OF 'NOTRE DAME' AT ROUEN.

"Like a piece of rockwork, rough and encrusted with images, and
ornamented from top to bottom."]

'The cathedral of Notre Dame occupies with its west front one side of a
square, formerly a fruit and flower market. The vast proportions of this
grand Gothic facade, its elaborate and profuse decorations, and its
stone screens of open tracery, impress one at first with wonder and
admiration, diminished however but not destroyed, by a closer
examination; which shows a confusion of ornament and a certain
corruption of taste.

'The projecting central porch, and the whole of the upper part, is of
the sixteenth century, the lateral ones being of an earlier period and
chaster in style. Above the central door is carved the genealogy of
Jesse; over the north-west door is the death of John the Baptist, with
the daughter of Herodias dancing before Herod; and above them, figures
of Virgin and Saints.

'The north tower, called St. Romain (the one on the left in our
illustration), is older in date, part of it being of the twelfth
century; the right-hand tower, which is more florid, being of the
sixteenth.' The central spire in the background is really of _cast
iron_, and stands out, it is fair to say, much more sharply and
painfully against the sky, than in our illustration.[44] We must not
omit to mention the beautiful north door, called the 'Portail des
Libraires,' which in Prout's time was completely blocked up with old
houses and wooden erections.

'On entering the doorway of the north porch (says _Cassell_), the
visitor will be struck with the size, loftiness, and rich colour of the
interior, 435 feet long and 89 feet high. The 'clerestory' of the
sixteenth century is full of painted glass. On each side of the nave
there is a series of chapels, constructed in the fourteenth century,
between the buttresses of the main walls; they are full of very fine
stained glass, and contain good pictures and monuments. The transepts
are remarkable for their magnificent rose-windows, and in the north
transept there is a staircase of open-tracery work of exquisite
workmanship.

'The choir, separated from the nave by a modern Grecian screen, was
built in the thirteenth century, the carving of the stalls is extremely
curious. The elaborately carved screen in front of the sacristy was
executed in the latter part of the fifteenth century, and its
wrought-iron door must not be passed unnoticed.'[45]

The Church of St. Ouen 'surpasses the cathedral in size, purity of
style, masterly execution, and splendid, but judicious decoration, and
is inferior only in its historic monuments. It is one of the noblest and
most perfect Gothic edifices in the world.' Thus it has been described
again and again; suffice it for us to mention a few details of its
construction. It is said that the abbey of St. Ouen was orginally built
in 533, in the reign of Clothaire I., and then dedicated to St. Peter.
Through various changes of construction and destruction, it holds a
prominent part in the history of the time of the Conqueror and the Dukes
of Normandy; and it was not for a thousand years after its foundation
that the present building was completed. 'During the troubles of the
times of the Huguenots in the sixteenth century, it suffered greatly,
especially in 1562, when the fanatics lighted bonfires inside, and burnt
the organ, stalls, pulpit, and vestments.' Again at the end of the
eighteenth century, 'the building was exposed to the fury of the
Revolutionists, when it was used as a manufactory of arms; a forge being
erected within it and the painted windows so blackened as to become
indecipherable; and later still, 'in the time of Napoleon I., a project
was laid before him, by the municipality of Rouen, for destroying the
church altogether!'

Perhaps there is no monument that we could point to in Europe which has
a more eventful history, or which, after a lapse of thirteen hundred
years, presents to the spectator, in the year 1869, a grander spectacle.
If we walk in the public gardens that surround it, and see its towers,
from different points, through the trees, or, better still, ascend one
of the towers and look down on its pinnacles, we shall never lose the
memory of St. Ouen. The beautiful proportions of its octagon tower,
terminating with a crown of _fleurs de lis_, has well been called a
'model of grace and beauty;' whilst its interior, 443 feet long and 83
feet wide, unobstructed from one end to the other, with its light,
graceful pillars, and the coloured light shed through the painted
windows, have as fine an effect as that of any church in France; not
excepting the cathedrals of Amiens and Chartres.

We should not omit to mention the beautiful church of St. Maclou at
Rouen, and several others that are being preserved and restored with the
utmost care. The great delights of this city are its ecclesiastical
monuments; for if Rouen has become of late years (as in fact it has) a
busy, modern town; if its old houses and streets are being swept away,
its churches and monuments remain. And if, as we have said, the
inhabitants are prone to imitate many English habits and customs, there
is one custom of ours that they do not imitate--they do not
'religiously' close nearly every church in the land for six days out of
the seven; their places of worship are not shut up like dungeons, they
are open to the breath of life, and partake of the atmosphere of the
'work-a-day' world.[46] In England we dust out our earthy little chapels
on Saturdays, and we complete the process with silken trains on
Sundays; we worship in an atmosphere more fit for the dead than the
living, and in a few hours shut up the buildings again to the spiders
and the flies!

We have little more to say to the reader about the churches in Normandy,
and we should like to leave him best at the south-west corner of the
square in front of the Cathedral (close to the spot from which M.
Clerget has made his drawing), where he may take away with him an
impression of the wealth and grandeur of the architecture of Normandy,
pleasant to dwell upon.

If we do not examine too closely into 'principles,' or trouble our minds
too much with 'styles' of architecture, the effect that we obtain here
will be completely and artistically beautiful, and satisfying to the
eye. It is not easy to point out any modern building that fulfils these
conditions; where, for instance, can we see anything like the work that
was bestowed on the lower portion of this facade? We may spend more
money and effort, but we do not achieve anything which seems to the
spectator more spontaneously beautiful (if we use the word aright);
anything displaying more wealth of decoration, combined with grandeur of
effect. Severe, we might say austere, critics speak of the 'confusion of
ornament,' and tell us that the over-elaboration of carving on the
exterior of this cathedral is a sign of decadence, and that the
principles on which the architects of Caen and Bayeux worked were more
noble and worthy; whilst architects will tell us that Gothic art was
generally 'debased' at Rouen,--debased from the time when people gave
themselves up to the luxury of the Renaissance, and 'pride took the
place of enthusiasm and faith, in art.'

We might, indeed, if we chose to make the comparison for a moment
between Christian and Mahommedan art, see a higher principle at work in
the construction of the mosques and palaces of the Moors, where
simplicity, refinement, and truth are noticeable in every line; we might
see it in mauresque work, in the absence of grotesque images, or the
imitation of living things in ornament; but, above all, in the severe
simplicity and grandeur of their _exteriors_, and in the decoration,
colour, and gilding of their interior courts alone,--carrying out, in
short, the true meaning of the words that, the king's daughter should
be--'all glorious within, her clothing of wrought gold.'

       *       *       *       *       *

On one Sunday morning at Rouen we go with 'all the world' to be present
at a musical mass at the cathedral, and to hear another great preacher
from Paris. It was a grander performance than the one we attended at
Caen; but the sermon was less eloquent, less refined, and was remarkable
in quite a different way. It was a discourse, holding up to his hearers,
as far as we could follow the rapid flow of his eloquence, the delight
and glory of 'doing battle for Right'--of fighting (to use the common
phrase) the 'fight of Faith.'

But he was preaching to a congregation of shopkeepers, traders, and
artisans, and his appeal to arms seemed to fall flatly on the trading
mind; whilst the old incongruity between the building and the dress of
the nineteenth century, was as remarkable as it is in Westminster Abbey;
and the contrast between the unchivalrous aspect of the speaker, and the
tone of his language, was more striking still.[47]

What priest or cure, in these days, stands forth in his presence or
influence, as the ideal champion of a romantic faith, the ceremonials of
which seem more and more alienated from the spirit of the nineteenth
century--at least in the north of Europe, where colour, imagination, and
passion have less influence? What real sympathy has the kind, fat,
fatherly figure before us with soldiers, saints, or martyrs?[48]

He preached for nearly an hour, with frequent pauses and strange changes
in the inflexion of the voice. We will not attempt a repetition of his
arguments, but must record one sentence in an extempore sermon of great
versatility and power; a sentence that, if we understood it aright, was
singularly liberal and broad in view. Speaking of the rivalry that
existed between the different sects of Christians, and making pointed
allusion to the colony of protestant Huguenots established at Beuzeval
on the sea-shore, he ended with the words, 'Better than all this rivalry
and strife (far better than the common result amongst men, indifference)
that, like ships becalmed at sea,--when a religious breeze stirs our
hearts--we should raise aloft our fair white sails and come sailing into
port together, lowering them in the haven of the one true church.'

He made a pause several times in his discourse, during which he looked
about him, and mopped his head with his handkerchief, and behaved, for
the moment, much more as if he were in his dressing-room than in a
public pulpit; but he held his audience with magic sway, his influence
over the people was wonderful--wonderful to us when we listened to his
imagery, and to the means used to stir their hearts.[49]

In the picturesque and moving times of the middle ages it must surely
have needed less forcing and fewer formulae to 'lift up the hearts of the
people to the Queen of Heaven;' if it were only in the likeness of the
black doll, which they worship at Chartres to this day. But until we
realise to ourselves more completely the lives of warriors in mediaeval
days, we shall never understand how chivalry and the worship of beauty
entered into their hearts and lives, and was to them the highest and
noblest of virtues; nor shall we comprehend their ready acceptance of
the adoration of the Virgin as the one true religion.

In such a building as the cathedral at Rouen, it is impossible to forget
the people who once trod its pavement; memories that not all the modern
paraphernalia and glitter can obliterate. If we visit the cathedral
after vespers, when the candles in the Lady-chapel look like
glowworm-lights through the dark aisles, we are soon carried back in
imagination to mediaeval days. The floor of the nave is covered with
kneeling figures of warriors, each with a red cross on his breast; the
pavement resounds to the clash of arms; there is a low chorus of voices
in prayer, a sound of stringed instruments, a silence--and then, an army
of men rise up and march to war. There is a pause of six hundred years,
and another procession passes through these aisles; the pavement
resounds to less martial footsteps,--they are not warriors, they are
'Cook's excursionists'!

Let us now leave the cathedral, and see something more of the town.

It is a fine summer's afternoon, in the middle of the week, the air is
soft and quiet; the busy population of Rouen seem, with one consent, to
rest from labour, and the Goddess of Leisure tells her beads. One, two
(decrepit old men); three, four, five (nurses and children); six, seven,
eight (Chasseurs de Vincennes or a 'noble Zouave),' and so on, until the
Rosary is complete and there are no more seats.[50] Every day under our
windows they come and wedge themselves close together on the long stone
seats under the dusty trees, to rest; and thread themselves in rows one
by one, as if some unseen hand were telling, with human beads, the
mystery of the Rosary.

Why do we speak of what is done every day in every city of France?
Because it is worth a moment's notice, that in the day-time of busy
cities men can, if they choose, find time to rest. There are gardens
open, and seats provided in the middle of the cities, so that the poor
children need not play on dustheaps and under carriage-wheels. There is
a small open square in the heart of Rouen, laid out with rocks and
trees, and a waterfall, which we should dearly like to shew to certain
'parish guardians.'

The modern business-like aspect of Rouen communicates itself even to
religious matters, and before we have been here long, we think nothing
of seeing piles of crucifixes, and 'Virgins and children', put out in
the street in boxes for sale, at a 'fabrique d'ornaments de l'eglise.'
We, the people of Rouen, do a great business in _chasublerie_, and the
like; we drive hard bargains for images of the Saviour in zinc and iron
(they are catalogued for us, and placed in rows in the shop windows); we
purchase _lachryma Christi_ by the dozen; and, for a few sous, may
become possessed of the whole paraphernalia of the Holy Manger.

We have been cheated so often at Rouen, that we are inclined to ask the
question whether we, English people, really possess a higher working
morality than the French. Are we really more straightforward and
honourable than they? Are there bounds which they overstep and which we
cannot pass? It has been our pride for centuries to be considered more
noble and manly than many of our neighbours; is there any reason to fear
that our moral influence is on the wane, in these days of universal
interchange of thought, free-trade, and rapid intercommunication?

In the course of our journey through Normandy, we have not said much
about modern paintings, but at Rouen we are reminded that there are many
French artists hard at work. The most prominent painters are those of
the school of Edouard Frere, who depict scenes of cottage life, with the
earnestness, if not always with the elevated sentiment of Mason, Walker,
and other, younger, English painters. The works of many of these French
artists are familiar to us in England, and we need not allude to them
further; but there is an exhibition of water-colour drawings at Rouen,
about which we must say a word.[51]

These sketches of towns in Normandy, and of pastoral scenes, have a
curious family likeness, and a mannerism which the French may call
'_chic_,' but which we are inclined to attribute to want of power and
patient study. There is an old-fashioned formality in the composition of
their landscapes, which does not seem to our eyes to belong to the world
of to-day, and a decidedly amateurish treatment which is surprising.
They repeat themselves and each other, without end, and evidently are
thinking more about _Beranger_ than the places of which he sang; they
would seek (as some one expresses it) to 'reconcile literal facts with
rapturous harmonies,' in short they attempt too much, and accomplish too
little. In form and feature, these pictures remind us (like Rouen
itself) of a bygone time, when travelling on the Continent was difficult
and expensive, and views of foreign towns were not easy to obtain; when
some distinguished amateur (distinguished, perhaps, more for his courage
and industry than for his art) visited the Continent at rare intervals,
and brought home in triumph a few hazy sketches of a people that we had
scarce heard of, and hardly believed in; and had them engraved and
multiplied, for the art-loving amongst us, as the best treasures of the
time.

The modernised aspect of Rouen is one that we (as lookers-on merely)
shall never cease to regret, because it is the town of all others which
should tell us most of the past; and it is, moreover, the one town in
Normandy which most English people find time to see.

But if most of its individuality and character have vanished, its
sanitary condition and its wealth, have, we must admit, improved greatly
under the new regime. 'When I walk through the enormous streets and
boulevards of new Paris,' says a well-known writer, 'I feel appalled by
the change, but unable to dispute with it mentally, for it bears the
imprint of an idea which is becoming dominant over Europe. For the
moment the individuality of man as expressed in his dwelling (as in the
house in our frontispiece) is gone--suppressed. The human creature no
longer builds for himself, decorates for himself; no longer lets loose
his fancy, his humour, his notions of the fitting and the comfortable.
Science and economy go hand in hand, and lay down his streets and erect
his houses.' Thus, although, from an artistic point of view, we shall
never be reconciled to the changes that have come over Normandy, we
cannot ignore the consequent social advantages. Mr. Ruskin, speaking of
the change in Switzerland during his memory of it (thirty-five years)
says:--'In that half of the permitted life of man I have seen strange
evil brought upon every scene that I best loved, or tried to make
beloved by others. The light which once flushed those pale summits with
its rose at dawn and purple at sunset, is now umbered and faint; the air
which once inlaid the clefts of all their golden crags with azure, is
now defiled with languid coils of smoke, belched from worse than
volcanic fires; their very glacier waves are ebbing, and their snows
fading, as if hell had breathed on them; the waters that once sunk at
their feet into crystalline rest, are now dimmed and foul, from deep to
deep, and shore to shore.'

But the clouds of smoke that defile the land, the shrieking of steam,
and the perpetual, terrible grinding of iron against iron (sounds which
our little children grow up not to heed) are part of a system which
enables Mr. Ruskin, one day to address a crowd in the theatre of the
British Institution, and on the next--or the next but one--to utter this
lament on the banks of Lake Leman. His remarks, with which so many will
sympathise, lose point and consequence from the fact of his own rapid
translation from one place to another, and from the advantages _we_ gain
by his travelling on the wings of steam. And there is a certain
consolation in the knowledge that in the days when the waters of Geneva
were of 'purest blue,' the accommodation for travellers at the old
hostelries was less favourable to peace of mind.




[Illustration]

CHAPTER X.

_THE VALLEY OF THE SEINE._


In the fruitful hills that border the river Seine, and form part of the
great watershed of Lower Normandy, Nature has poured forth her
blessings; and her daughters, who are here lightly sketched, dispense
her bounties.

It is a pleasant thing to pass homeward through this 'food-producing'
land--to go leisurely from town to town, and see something more of
country life in Normandy--to see the laden orchards, the cattle upon the
hills, and the sloping fields of corn. It is yet early in the autumn,
but the variety of colour spread over the landscape is delightful to the
eye; the rich brown of the buckwheat, the bright yellow mustard; the
green pastures by rivers, and the poppies in the golden corn; the
fields, divided by high hedges, and interspersed with mellowed trees;
the orchards raining fruit that glitters in the sunshine as it falls;
the purple heath, the luxuriant ferns. There is '_une recolte
magnifique_' this year, and the people have but one thought--'the
gathering in;' the country presents to us a picture--not like Watteau's
'_fetes galantes_,' but rather that of an English harvest-home.

We are in the midst of the cornfields near Villers-sur-mer, and the
hill-side is glorious; it is covered to the very summit with
riches--the heavily-laden corn-stems wave their crests against a blue
horizon, whilst, in a cleft of the hill, a long line of poppies winds
downwards in one scarlet stream. They are set thickly in some places,
and form a blaze of colour, inconceivably, painfully brilliant--a
concentration of light as utterly beyond our power of imitation by the
pencil, as genius is removed from ordinary minds. We could not paint it
if we would, but we may see in it an allegory of plenty, and of peace
(of that peace which France so urgently desires); we may see her
blood-red banner of war laid down to garland the hill-side with its
crimson folds, and her children laying their offerings at the feet of
Ceres and forgetting Mars altogether. The national anthem becomes no
longer a natural refrain--anything would sound more appropriate than
'partant pour la Syrie' (there is no time for _that_ work)--to our
little friend in fluttering blouse, who sits in the grass and 'minds'
fifty head of cattle by moral force alone; we should rather sing:--

  'Little boy blue, come blow me your horn,
  The orchards are laden, the cow 's in the corn!'

       *       *       *       *       *

We cannot leave this pastoral scene, at least until the evening; when
the sun goes down behind the sea--leaving a glow upon the hill-side and
upon the crowd of gleaners who have just come up, and casts long shadows
across the stubble and on the sheaves of corn; when the harvest moon
shines out, and the picture is completed--the corn--sheaves lighted on
one side by the western glow, on the other by the moon; like the famous
shield over which knights did battle,--one side silver, the other gold.

All this time we are within sight, and nearly within sound, of the
'happy hunting grounds' of Trouville and Deauville, but the country
people are singularly unaffected by the proximity of those pretty
towns, invented by Dumas and peopled by his following.[52] It is true
that on the walls of a little village inn, there is something paraded
about a 'Trouville Association, Limited,' and a company for 'the passage
of the Simplon,' with twenty-franc shares; but these things do not seem
to find much favour amongst the thrifty peasantry. They have, in their
time, been tempted to unearth their treasures, and to invest in bubble
companies like the rest of the world; but there is a reaction here, the
Normans evidently thinking, like the old Colonnae, that a hole in the
bottom of the garden is about the safest place after all. And they have,
it is true, some other temptations which come to them with a cheap
press, such as '_la surete financiere_,' '_le moniteur des tirages
financiers_,' '_le petit moniteur financier_,' &c., newspapers whose
special business it is, to teach the people how to get rid of their
savings, we are speaking, of course, of the comparatively uneducated
agricultural population--the farmers, all through the district we have
come, especially near Vire and Falaise, being rich _proprietaires_ and
investing largely; and there are many other things in these half-penny
French newspapers which find their way into these remote corners of
France, which must make the cure sometimes regret that he had taught his
flock to read. In a little paper which lies before us, the first article
is entitled '_Le miroir du diable_;' then follows a long account of a
poisoning case in Paris, and some songs from a _cafe chantant_,
interspersed with illustrations of the broadest kind. But let us not be
too critical; we have seen many things in France which would startle
Englishmen, but nothing, we venture to say, more harmful in its
tendency, than the weekly broad-sheet of crime which is spread out over
our own land (to the number, the proprietors boast, of at least a
hundred thousand[53]), wherein John and Jane, who can only sign their
names with a cross, read in hideous cartoons, suggestions of cruelty and
crime more revolting than any the schoolmaster could have taught them.

In these rich and prosperous provinces, the people (revolutionary and
excitable as their ancestors were) certainly appear happy and contented;
the most uneducated of them are quick-witted and ready in reply, they
are not boorish or sullen, they have more readiness--at least in
manner--than the germanic races, and are, as a rule, full of gaiety and
humour. These people do not want war, they hate the conscription which
takes away the flower of the flock; they regard with anything but
pleasure the rather dictatorial '_Moniteur_' that comes to them by post
sometimes, whether they ask for it or not, and would much rather be
'let alone.'[54]

Such is a picture of Lower Normandy, the land of plenty where we wander
with so much pleasure in the summer months, putting up at wayside inns
(where the hostess makes her 'note' on a slate and finds it hard work to
make the amount come to more than five francs, for the night, for board
and lodging for 'monsieur') and at farmhouses sometimes; chatting with
the people in their rather troublesome patois, and making excursions
with the local antiquary or cure, to some spot celebrated in history.
They are pleasant days, when, if we will put up with a few
inconveniences, and live principally out of doors, we may see and hear
much that a railway traveller misses altogether. We shall not admire the
system of farming, as a rule (each farmer holding only a few acres); and
we shall find some of the cottages of the labourers very primitive,
badly built, and unhealthy, although generally neat; we shall notice
that the people are cruel, and careless of the sufferings of animals,
and that no farm servant knows how to groom a horse. We shall see them
clever in making cider, and prone to drink it; we shall see plenty of
fine, strong, rather idle men and women in the fields carrying
tremendous burdens, but hardly any children; they are almost as rare in
the country as a lady, or a gentleman. Indeed, in all our country
wanderings the 'gentry' make little figure, and appear much less
frequently on the scene than we are accustomed to in England. There are,
of course, _proprietaires_ in this part of Normandy who spend both
their time and money in the country, and are spoken of with respect and
affection by the people; but they are _rarae aves_, men of mark, like the
founder of the protestant colony at Beuzeval on the sea.

Nearly every Sunday after harvest-time there will be a village wedding,
where we may see the bride and bridegroom coming to take 'the first
sacrament;' seated in a prominent place in front of the altar, and
receiving the elements before the rest of the congregation, the bride
placing a white favour on the basket which contains the consecrated
bread, and afterwards coming from the church, the bride with a cap
nearly a foot high, the bridegroom wearing a dress coat, with a
tremendous bouquet, and a wedding-ring on his fore-finger; and, if we
stand near the church porch, we may be deafened with a salute fired by
the villagers in honour of the occasion, and overwhelmed by the
eloquence of the 'best man,' who takes this opportunity of delivering a
speech; and finally, the bells will ring out with such familiar tone
that we can hardly realise that we are in France.[55]

These people are of the labouring class, but they have some money to
'commence life' with; the poorest girls seldom marry without a portion
(indeed, so important is this considered amongst them that there are
societies for providing portions for the unendowed), and they are, with
few exceptions, provident and happy in married life. They are so in the
country at least, in spite of all that has been said and written to the
contrary. A lady who has had five-and-twenty years' acquaintance with
French society, both in town and country, assures us that 'the
stereotyped literary and dramatic view of French married life is
wickedly false.' The corruption of morals, she says, which so generally
prevails in Paris, and which has been so systematically aggravated by
the luxury and extravagance of the second Empire, has emboldened writers
to foist these false pictures of married life on the world.

But we, as travellers, must not enter deeply into these questions; our
business is, as usual, principally with their picturesque aspect. And
there is plenty to see; a few miles from us there is the little town of
Pont l'Eveque; and of course there is a fete going on. Let us glance at
the official programme for the day:--

     'At 10 A.M., agricultural and horticultural meetings.

     From 11 to 12, musical mass; several pieces to be performed by the
     band of the 19th Regiment.

     At 12-1/2, meeting of the Orpheonists and other musical societies.

     1 P.M., ordering and march of a procession, and review of
     Sappers and Miners.

     2 P.M., ascension of grotesque balloons.

     2-1/2 P.M., race of velocipedes.

     3-1/2 P.M., climbing poles and races in sacks.

     5 P.M., performance of music in the _Place de l'Eglise_;
     band of the 19th Regiment.

     6 P.M., grand dinner in the College Hall, with toasts,
     speeches, and concert.

     8 P.M., general illumination with Chinese lanterns, &c.

     9 P.M., Display of fireworks; procession with torches to
     the music of the military band.'

     N.B. Every householder is requested to contribute to the gaiety by
     illuminating his own house--_By order of the Maire._

How the rather obscure little town of Pont l'Eveque suddenly becomes
important,--how it puts on (as only a French town knows how to do) an
alluring and coquettish appearance; how the people promenade arm and
arm, up the street and down the street, on the dry little _place_, and
under the shrivelled-up trees; how they play at cards and dominoes in
the middle of the road, and crowd to the canvas booths outside the
town--would be a long task to tell. They crowd everywhere--to the
menagerie of wild beasts, to see the 'pelican of the wilderness;' to the
penny peepshows, where they fire six shots for a sou at a plaster cast
of Bismarck; to the lotteries for crockery and bonbons, and to all sorts
of exhibitions 'gratis.' Of the quantity of cider and absinthe consumed
in one day, the holiday-makers may have rather a confused and careless
recollection, as they are jogged home, thirteen deep in a long cart,
with a neglected, footsore old horse, weighed down with his clumsy
harness and his creaking load, and deafened by the jingling of his rusty
bells.

But if we happen to be in one of the larger towns during the time of the
Imperial fetes (the 15th of August), or at a seaport on the occasion of
the annual procession in honour of the Virgin, we shall see a more
striking ceremony still. The processions are very characteristic, with
the long lines of fisherwomen in their scarlet and coloured dresses, and
handkerchiefs tied round the head; the fishermen, old and
weather-beaten, boys in semi-naval costume, neat and trim; and perhaps a
hundred little children, dressed in blue and white. A dense mass of
people crowding through the hot streets all day, impressive from their
numbers, and from the quiet orderly method of their procession, headed
and marshalled, of course, by the clergy and manoeuvred to the sound
of bells. There is such a perpetual ringing of bells, and the trains run
so frequently, that those who are not accustomed to such sights may
become confused as to their true meaning. We learn, however, from the
_affiches_ that it is all in honour of 'Our Lady of Hope,' that the
_externes_ from one school parade the streets to-day, wearing wreaths
and carrying banners and crowns of flowers; that others bear aloft the
'cipher of Mary,' the banner of the Immaculate Conception, baskets of
roses, oriflammes, &c.; that twenty grown-up men parade the town with
the 'banner of the Sacred Heart,' and that a party of young ladies, in
white dresses fringed with gold, brave the heat and the dust, and crowd
to do honour to the 'Queen of Angels.' A multitude with streamers and
banners, a confusion of colour and gilding, passing to and from the
churches all day; and at night, fire balloons, _feu d'artifice_, open
theatres, and 'general joy.'

Of one more ceremony we must speak, differing in character, but equally
characteristic and curious. We are in the country again, spending our
days in sketching, or wandering amongst the hills; enjoying the 'perfect
weather,' as we call it, and a little careless, perhaps, of the fact
that the land is parched with thirst, that the springs are dried up, and
that the peasants are beginning to despair of rain.

We see a little white smoke curling through the branches of the trees,
and hear in faint, uncertain cadence, the voices of men and children
singing. Presently there comes up the pathway between two lines of
poplars, a long procession, headed by a priest, holding high in the air
a glittering cross; there are old men with bowed heads, young men erect,
with shaven crowns, and boys in scarlet and white robes, carrying
silver censers; there is a clanking of silver chains, a tinkling of
little bells, and an undertone of oft-repeated prayer. The effect is
startling, and brilliant; the sunlight glances upon the white robes of
the men, in alternate stripes of soft shadow and dazzling brightness,
the wind plays round their feet as they march heavily along, in a whirl
of dust which robs the leaves of their morning freshness; whilst the
scarlet robes of the children light up the grove as with a furnace, and
the rush of voices disturbs the air. On they come through the quiet
country fields, hot and dusty with their long march, the foremost priest
holding his head high, and doing his routine work manfully--never
wearying of repeating the same words, or of opening and shutting the
dark-bound volume in his hand; and the children, not yet quite weary of
singing, and of swinging incense-burners--keeping close together two and
two in line; the people following being less regular, less apparently
enthusiastic, but walking close together in a long winding stream up the
hill.

What does it all mean? Why, that these simple people want rain on the
land, and that they have collected from all parts of the country to
offer their prayers, and their money, to propitiate the Deity. Could we,
but for one moment, as onlookers from some other sphere, see this line
of creeping things on their earnest errand, the sight would seem a
strange one. Do these atoms on the earth's surface hope to change the
order of the elements, to serve their own purposes? If rain were needed,
would it not come?

But we are in a land where we are taught, not only to pray for our
wants, but to pay for their expression; so let us not question the
motive of the procession, but follow it again in the evening, into the
town, where it becomes lost in the crowded streets--so crowded that we
cannot see more than the heads of the people; but the line is marked
above them by a stream of sunset, which turns the dust-particles above
their heads into a golden fringe. They make a halt in the square and
sing the 'Angelus,' and then enter the cathedral, where the priest
offers up a prayer--a prayer which we would interpret--not for rain, if
drought be best, but rather for help and strength to fight the battle of
life in the noblest way.

Such scenes may still be witnessed in Normandy (although, of course,
becoming less primitive and characteristic every year) by those who are
not compelled to hurry through the land.

In the country districts the habits of the peasant class are the only
ones that a traveller has any opportunity of observing; of the upper
classes he will see nothing, and of their domestic life obtain no idea
whatever. It is not to be accomplished, _en passant_, in Normandy, any
more than in Vienna. In the inns, the company at the public table
consists almost invariably of French commercial travellers, and the two
English ladies whom we meet with everywhere, travelling together. There
is hardly an hotel in Normandy, excepting, of course, at the
watering-places (of which we shall speak in the last chapter), that
would be considered well appointed, according to modern notions of
comfort and convenience. Ladies travelling alone would certainly find
themselves better accommodated in Switzerland or in the Pyrenees;
excepting in the matter of expense, for Normandy is still one of the
cheapest parts of Europe to travel in--the Russians and Americans not
having yet come.

We meet, as we have said, but few French people above the farming and
commercial class; our fellow-travellers being generally 'unprotected'
Englishwomen who may be seen in summer-time at the various railway
stations--fighting their way to the front in the battle of the
'_bagages_,' and speaking French to the officials with a grammatical
fervour, and energy, which is wonderful to contemplate[56]--taking their
places on the top of a diligence, amongst fowls and cheeses, with the
heroic self sacrifice that would be required to mount a barricade; in
short, placing themselves continually (and unnecessarily, it must be
admitted) in positions inconsistent with English notions of propriety,
and exposing themselves, for pleasure's sake, to more roughness and
rudeness than is good for their sex. These things arise sometimes from
necessity--on which we have not a word to say--but more frequently from
a rigid determination to 'economize,' in a way that they would not dream
of doing at home.

We would certainly suggest that English ladies should not elect to
travel by the diligences, and in out-of-the-way places, _unattended_;
and that they had better not attempt to 'rough it' in Normandy, if they
are able (by staying at home) to avoid the concussion.

To most men, this diligence travelling is charming--the seat on the
_banquette_ on a fine summer's day is one of the most enjoyable places
in life; it is cheap, and certainly not too rapid (five or six miles an
hour being the average); and we can sit almost as comfortably in a
corner of the banquette as in an easy-chair. In this beautiful country
we should always either drive or walk, if we have time; the diligence is
the most amusing and sometimes the slowest method of progress. Nobody
hurries--although we carry 'the mails' and have a letter-box in the side
of the conveyance, where letters are posted as we go along, it is
scarcely like travelling--the free and easy way in which people come and
go on the journey is more like 'receiving company' than taking up
passengers. As we jog along, to the jingling of bells and the creaking
of rusty iron, the people that we overtake on the road keep accumulating
on our vehicle one by one, as we approach a town, until we become
encrusted with human things like a rock covered with limpets. There is
no shaking them off, the driver does not care, and they certainly do not
all pay. It is a pleasant family affair which we should all be sorry to
see disturbed; and the roads are so good and even, that it does not
matter much about the load. The neglect and cruelty to the horses, which
we are obliged to witness, is certainly one drawback,[57] and the dust
and crowding on market days, are not always pleasant; but we can think
of no other objections in fine weather, to this quiet method of seeing
the country.

Much has been said in favour of 'a walking tour in Normandy,' but we
venture to question its thorough enjoyment when undertaken for long
distances; and it can scarcely be called 'economical to walk,' unless
the pedestrian's time is of no value to other people.

Let us be practical, and state the cost of travelling over the whole of
the ground that we have mapped out. We may assume that the most
determined pedestrian will not commence active operations until he
reaches Havre, or some other seaport town. From Havre to Pont Audemer by
steamboat; thence by road or railway to _all_ the towns on our route
(visiting Rouen by the Seine, from Honfleur), and so back to Havre, will
cost a 'knapsack-traveller' 46 francs 50 c., if he takes the banquette of
the diligence and travels third class, by railway. Thus it is a
question of less than two pounds, for those who study economy, whilst at
least a month's time is saved by taking the diligence.

One argument for walking is, that you may leave the high roads at
pleasure, and see more of the country and of the people; but the
pedestrian has his day's work before him, and must spend the greater
part of an August day on the dusty road, in order to reach his
destination. There are districts, such as those round Vire and Mortain,
which are exceptionally hilly, where he might walk from town to town;
but he will not see the country as well, even there, as from the
elevated position of a banquette. The finest parts of Normandy are
generally in the neighbourhood of towns which the traveller (who has
driven to them) can explore on his arrival, without fatigue; _chacun a
son gout_--these smooth, well-levelled roads are admirably adapted for
velocipedes--but we confess to preferring the public conveyances, to any
other method of travelling in France.

Let us conclude our remarks on this subject with an extract from the
published diary of a pedestrian, who thus describes his journey from
Lisieux to Caen, a distance of about twenty-six miles:--

     'It is nightfall,' he says, 'before I have walked more than
     half-way to Caen; to the left of the road I see a number of lights
     indicative of a small town, but I perceive no road in that
     direction, and so am compelled to trudge on. I was dreadfully
     fatigued, for I had walked about Lisieux before starting. In the
     faint light, I thought I saw a dog cross the road just before me,
     but soon perceived that it must be a spectral one, the result of
     excessive fatigue. At length I reach a lamp-post, with the light
     still burning, indicating that I am in the suburbs of Caen. The
     road proceeds down a steep hill. I don't know how long it would
     seem to the visitor in the ordinary way, but to myself, prostrated
     by fatigue, it appeared on this night a long and weary tramp.'--'A
     Walking Tour in Normandy!'




CHAPTER XI.

_ARCHITECTURE AND COSTUME._


In the course of our little pilgrimage through Normandy, it may have
been thought that we dwelt with too much earnestness and enthusiasm on
the architecture of the middle ages, as applicable to buildings in the
nineteenth century. Let us repeat our belief, that it is in its
_adaptability_ to our wants, both practical and artistic, that its true
value consists. Mediaeval architects in England are never tired of
insisting upon this fact; although hitherto they must confess to a
certain amount of failure, because, perhaps, they attempt too much.

If one were to judge by what appears to be going on in nearly every town
in England at the present time, we should say that there never was a
time when architecture was so much considered. 'Every town' (says a late
writer, speaking of the extent of this movement), 'that shares the
progress and character of the age, has a new town hall, a new exchange,
new schools, and every institution for which an honest pretence can be
found. A stranger, possessing an interest in the town, and with no claim
upon it excepting that it shall please his eye, must be charmed with the
profuse display of towers, turrets, pinnacles, and pointed roofs,
windows of all sorts, niches, arcades, battlements, bosses, and
everything else to be found in an architectural glossary. He may wonder
why a lofty tower--sometimes several towers--should be necessary to the
trying cases of assault and petty larceny, to the reading of newspapers,
to the inspection of samples of wheat, or to the drilling of little boys
in declensions and conjugations; but that is not his affair, and he has
nothing to do with it, except to be thankful for a good sky-line, and a
well-relieved, but yet harmonious, facade.' Nevertheless, we live in
certain hope of a more practical application of beauty and simplicity of
form, to the wants and requirements of our own day; and we believe that
it is possible to have both cheap and useful buildings, graceful in
form, and harmonious in colour and design.

But notwithstanding our admiration for the buildings of the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries, we are bound to confess that many of them,
both churches and dwellings, fail too often in essentials. Their
dwellings are often deficient in light and ventilation, and are built
with a lavish expenditure of materials; and their churches sometimes
fail in carrying out the very object for which they were constructed,
viz., the transmission of sound.

Still it is possible--as we have seen at Caen and Bayeux--to have
noble, gothic interiors which do not 'drown the voice' of the preacher;
and it is also possible--as we have seen in many towns in Normandy--to
build ornamental and healthy dwellings at a moderate cost. The
extraordinary adaptability of Gothic architecture over all other styles,
is a subject on which the general public is very ignorant, and with
which it has little sympathy. The mediaeval architect is a sad and
solitary man (who ever met a cheery one?), because his work is so little
understood; yet if he would only meet the enemy of expediency and
ugliness half-way, and condescend to teach us how to build not merely
_economically_, but well at the same time, he would no longer be 'the
waif and stray of an inartistic century.'

Shadows rise around us as we write--dim reproachful shadows of an age of
unspeakable beauty in constructive art, and of (apparently)
unapproachable excellence in design; and the question recurs to us
again--Can we ever hope to compete with thirteenth-century buildings
whilst we lead nineteenth-century lives? It may not be in our
generation, but the time will assuredly come when, as has been well
remarked, 'the living vigour of humanity will break through the monotony
of modern arrangements and assert itself in new forms--forms which may
cause a new generation to feel less regret at being compelled to walk in
straight lines.'

Here our thoughts, on the great question of architectural beauty and
fitness, turn naturally to a New World. If, as we believe, there is a
life and energy in the West which must sooner or later make its mark in
the world, and perhaps take a lead for a while, amongst the nations, in
the practical application of Science and Art; may it not rest with a
generation of Americans yet unborn, to create--out of such elements as
the fast-fading Gothic of the middle ages--a style of architecture that
will equal it in beauty, and yet be more suitable to a modern era; a
style that shall spring spontaneously from the wants and requirements of
the age--an age that shall prize beauty of form as much as utility of
design? Do we dream dreams? Is it quite beyond the limits of possibility
that an art, that has been repeating itself for ages in Europe--until
the original designs are fading before our eyes, until the moulds have
been used so often that they begin to lose their sharpness and
significance--may not be succeeded by a new and living development which
will be found worthy to take its place side by side with the creations
of old classic time? Is the idea altogether Utopian--is there not room
in the world for a 'new style' of architecture--shall we be always
copying, imitating, restoring--harping for ever on old strings?

It may be that we point to the wrong quarter of the globe, and we shall
certainly be told that no good thing in art can come from the 'great
dollar cities of the West,' from a people without monuments and without
a history; but there are signs of intellectual energy, and a process of
refinement and cultivation is going on, which it will be well for us of
the Old World not to ignore. Their day may be not yet; before such a
change can come, the nation must find rest--the pulse of this great,
restless, thriving people must beat less quickly, they must know (as the
Greeks knew it) the meaning of the word 'repose.'

It was a good sign, we thought, when Felix Darley, an American artist on
a tour through Europe (a '5000 dollar run' is, we believe, the correct
expression), on arriving at Liverpool, was content to go quietly down
the Wye, and visit our old abbeys and castles, such as Tintern and
Kenilworth, instead of taking the express train for London; and it is to
the many signs of culture and taste for art, which we meet with daily,
in intercourse with travellers from the western continent, that we look
with confidence to a great revolution in taste and manners.[58]

To these, then (whom we may be allowed to look upon as pioneers of a new
and more artistic civilization), and to our many readers on the other
side of the Atlantic, we would draw attention to the towns in Normandy,
as worthy of examination, before they pass away from our eyes; towns
where 'art is still religion,'--towns that were built before the age of
utilitarianism, and when expediency was a thing unknown. To young
America we say--'Come and see the buildings of old France; there is
nothing like them in the western world, neither the wealth of San
Francisco, nor the culture of its younger generation, can, at present,
produce anything like them. They are waiting for you in the sunlight of
this summer evening; the gables are leaning, the waters are sparkling,
the shadows are deepening on the hills, and the colours on the banners
that trail in the water, are 'red, white, and blue!'

       *       *       *       *       *

A Word or two here may not be out of place, on some of the modern
architectural features of Normandy. In some towns that we have passed
through it would seem as if the old feeling for form and colour had at
last revived, and that (although perhaps in rather a commonplace way)
the builders of modern villas and seaside houses were emulating the
works of their ancestors.

Prom our windows at Houlgate (on the sea-coast, near Trouville) we can
see modern, half-timbered houses, set in a garden of shrubs and flowers,
with gables prettily 'fringed,' graceful dormer windows, turrets and
overhanging eaves; solid oak doors, and windows with carved balconies
twined about with creepers, with lawns and shady walks surrounding--as
different from the ordinary type of French country-house with its
straight avenues and trimly cut trees, as they are remote in design from
any ordinary English seaside residence; and (this is our point) they are
not only ornamental and pleasing to the eye, but they are durable, dry,
and healthy dwellings, and are _not costly to build_.

Here are sketches of four common examples of modern work, all of which
are within a few yards of our own doors.

No. 1 is a good substantial brick-built house, close to the sea-shore,
surrounded by shrubs and a small garden. The whole building is of a rich
warm brown, set off by the darker tints of the woodwork; relieved by the
bright shutters, the interior fittings, the flowers in the windows and
the surrounding trees.

No. 2 is a common example of square open turret of dark oak, with slated
roof; the chimney is of brick and terra-cotta; the frontage of the
house is of parti-coloured brickwork with stone facings, &c.

[Illustration]

No. 3 is a round tower at a street corner (the turret forming a charming
boudoir, with extensive view); it is built of red and white brick, the
slates on the roof are rounded, and the ornamental woodwork is of dark
oak--the lower story of this house is of stone.

No. 4, which forms one end of a large house, is ornamented with
light-coloured wooden galleries and carving under the eaves, contrasting
charmingly with the blue slating of the roofs and the surface tiling of
the frontage--smooth tiles are introduced exteriorly in diaper patterns,
chiefly of the majolica colours, which the wind and rain keep ever
bright and fresh-looking, and which no climate seems to affect. The
ornamental woodwork on this house is especially noticeable.[59]

There may be nothing architecturally new in these modern 'chateaux' and
'chalets;' but it is as well to see what the French are doing, with a
climate, in Normandy, much like our own, and with the same interest as
ourselves, in building commodious and durable houses. It is pleasant to
see that even French people care no longer to dim their eyesight with
bare white walls; that they have had enough of straight lines and
shadeless windows; that, in short, they are beginning to appreciate the
beauty of thirteenth-century work.

[Illustration]

We have hitherto spoken principally of the architecture of Normandy, but
we might well go further in our study of old ways, and suggest that
there were other matters in which we might take a hint from the middle
ages. First, with respect to DRESS, let us imagine by way of
illustration, that two gentlemen, clad in the easy and picturesque
walking costume of the times of the Huguenots 'fall to a wrestling;'
they may be in fun or in earnest--it matters not--they simply divest
themselves of their swords, and see, as in our illustration, with what
perfect ease and liberty of limb they are able to go to work and bring
every muscle of the body into play. Next, by way of contrast, let us
picture to ourselves what would happen to a man under the same
circumstances, in the costume of the present day. If he commenced a
wrestling match with no more preparation than above (_i.e._ by laying
down his stick, or umbrella), it would befall him first to lose his hat,
next to split his coat up the back, and to break his braces; he would
lose considerably in power and balance from the restraining and
unnatural shape of all his clothes, he would have no firmness of
foothold--his toes being useless to him in fashionable boots.

Does the comparison seem far-fetched; and is it not well to make the
contrast, if it may lead, however slightly, to a consideration of our
own deformities? We believe that the time is coming when a great
modification in the dress of our younger men will be adopted, if only
for health and economy; it will come with the revival, or more general
practice, of such games as singlestick, wrestling, and the like, and
with an improved system of physical education. It sounds little better
than a mockery to speak of deeds of valour and personal prowess, whilst
we submit to confine our limbs in garments that cramp the frame and
resist every healthy movement of the body. We must not go farther into
the question in these pages, but we may ask--were there as many
narrow-shouldered, weak-chested, delicate men, in the days when every
gentleman knew how to use a sword?[60]

The extravagances and vagaries of modern costume (for which we can find
no precedent in the comparative ignorance and barbarism of the middle
ages) lead to the conviction that there must be a great change, if only
as a question of health. Travellers who have been in Spain, notice with
surprise that the men are wrapt literally 'up to their eyes,' in their
cloaks, whilst the women walk abroad in the bitter wind with only a lace
veil over their heads and shoulders; but the disproportionate amount of
clothing that modern society compels men and women to wear in the same
room seems equally absurd.[61]

And yet there must be some extraordinary fascination in the prevailing
dress, that induces nearly every European nation to give up its proper
costume and to be (as the saying is) 'like other people.' There is an
old adage that you cannot touch pitch without being defiled, and with
the people of whom we have been speaking, it certainly has its
application. What is the Normandy peasant's pride on high days and
holidays in the year 1869, but to put on a 'frock coat' and a _chapeau
noir;_ to throw away the costume that his fathers wore, to bid farewell
to colour, character, and freedom of limb, to don the livery of a high
civilization, and to become (to our poor understanding) anything but the
'noblest work of God.'

Again, in the little matter of WRITING, may we not learn
something by looking back three or four hundred years--were not our
ancestors a little more practical than ourselves? Did the monks of the
middle ages find it necessary, in order to express a single word on
paper or parchment, to make the pen (as we do) travel over a distance of
eight or ten inches?[62] Here are two words,

[Illustration: excellentis]

one written by a lady, educated in the 'pot-hook-and-hanger' school, and
another, the autograph of William of Malmesbury, an historian of the
twelfth century. Is the modern method of writing much more legible than
the old--is it more easily or quickly written; and might not we adopt
some method of writing, by which to express our meaning in a letter, at
less length than thirty feet?

We might add something about our misuse of words (as compared with the
habit of 'calling a spade a spade' in the writings of the old
chroniclers), about our unnecessary complications, and the number of
words required to express an idea in these days; and suggest another
curious consideration, as to how such prolixity affects our thoughts and
actions.[63] Is it of no moment to be able to express our thoughts
quickly and easily? Does it help the Bavarian peasant-boy to comprehend
the fact of the sun's rising over his native hills, that ten consonants,
in the poetic word morgenlandisch have to travel through his mind?

These things may be considered by many of slight importance, and that
if they are wrong, they are not very easily remedied; but in
architecture and costume we have the remedy in our own hands. Why--it
may be asked in conclusion--do we cling to costume, and prize so much
the old custom of distinctive dress? Because it bears upon its forehead
the mark of truth; because, humble or noble, it is at least, what it
appears to be; because it gives a silent but clear assurance (in these
days so sadly needed) that a man's position in life is what he makes it
appear to be; that, in short, there is nothing behind the scenes,
nothing to be discovered or hunted out. It is the relic of a really
'good old time,' when a uniform or a badge of office was a mark of
honour, when the _bourgeoisie_ were proud of their simple estate, and
domestic service was indeed what its name implies. We cling to costume
and regret its disappearance, when (to use a familiar illustration) we
compare the French _bonne_ in a white cap, with her English
contemporary with a chignon and the airs of 'my lady.'

But distinctive costumes, like the old buildings, are disappearing
everywhere, and with them even the traditions seem to be dying out.
Queen Matilda (we are soon to be told) _never worked the Bayeux
Tapestry_, and Joan of Arc _was not burnt at Rouen_! The old world
banners are being torn down one by one--facts which were landmarks in
history are proved to be fiction by the Master of the Rolls; we close
the page almost in despair, and with the words coming to our lips,
'there is _nothing true_ under the sun.'




CHAPTER XII.

_THE WATERING PLACES OF NORMANDY._

     'Trouville est une double extrait de Paris--la vie est une fete, et
     le costume une mascarade.'--_Conty._


The watering-places of Normandy are so well known to English people that
there is little that is new to be said respecting them; at the same time
any description of this country would not be considered complete without
some mention of the sea-coast.

The principal bathing places on the north coast are the following,
commencing from the east:--DIEPPE, FECAMP, ETRETAT, TROUVILLE
and DEAUVILLE, VILLERS-SUR-MER, HOULGATE, CABOURG, and CHERBOURG.
We will say a few words about Trouville and Etretat (as representative
places) and conclude with some statistics, in an APPENDIX, which may
be useful to travellers.

Life at Trouville is the gayest of the gay: it is not so much to bathe
that we come here, as because on this fine sandy shore near the mouth of
the Seine, the world of fashion and delight has made its summer home;
because here we can combine the refinements, pleasures, and
'distractions' of Paris with northern breezes, and indulge without
restraint in those rampant follies that only a Frenchman, or a
Frenchwoman, understands. It is a pretty, graceful, and rational idea,
no doubt, to combine the ball room with the sanatorium, and the opera
with any amount of ozone; and we may well be thankful to Dumas for
inventing a seaside resort at once so pleasant and so gay.

Of the daily life at Trouville and Deauville there is literally nothing
new to be told; they are the best, the most fashionable, and the most
extravagant of French watering-places; and there is the usual round of
bathing in the early morning, breakfast at half-past ten, donkey-riding,
velocipede racing, and driving in the country until the afternoon,
promenade concerts and in-door games at four, dinner at six or seven
(table-d'hote, if you please, where new comers are stared at with that
solid, stony stare, of which only the politest nation in the world, is
capable)--casino afterwards, with pleasant, mixed society, concert again
and '_la danse_.'

Of the fashion and extravagance at Trouville a moralist might feel
inclined to say much, but we are here for a summer holiday, and we
_must_ be gay both in manner and attire. It is our business to be
delighted with the varied scene of summer costume, and with all the
bizarre combinations of colour that the beautiful Parisians try upon us;
but it is impossible altogether to ignore the aspect of anxiety which
the majority of people bring with them from Paris. They come
'possessed,' (the demon is in those huge boxes, which have caused the
death of so many poor _facteurs_, and which the railway pours out upon
us, daily); they bring their burden of extravagance with them, they take
it down to the beach, they plunge into the water with it, and come up
burdened as before.

_Dress_ is the one thing needful at Trouville--in the water, or on the
sands. Look at that old French gentleman, with the cross of the Legion
of Honour on his breast; he is neat and clean, his dress is, in all
respects, perfection; and it is difficult to say whether it is the make
of his boots, the fit of his gloves, or his hat, which is most on his
mind--they furnish him with food for much thought, and sometimes
trouble him not a little. Of the ladies' attire what shall we say? It is
all described in the last number of '_Le Follet_,' and we will not
attempt to compete with that authority; we will rather quote two lines
from the letter of a young English lady, who thus writes home to quiet
friends,--'We are all delighted with Trouville; we have to make _five
toilettes daily_, the gentlemen are so particular.'

Of the bathing at Trouville, a book might be written on the costumes
alone--on the suits of motley, the harlequins, the mephistopheles, the
spiders, the 'grasshoppers green,' and the other eccentric _costumes de
bain_--culminating in a lady's dress trimmed with death's heads, and a
gentleman's, of an indescribable colour, after the pattern of a trail of
seaweed. Strange, costly creatures--popping in and out of little wooden
houses, seated, solitary on artificial rocks, or pacing up and down
within the limits prescribed by the keeper of the show--tell us,
'Monsieur l'administrateur,' something about their habits; stick some
labels into the sand with their Latin names, tell us how they manage to
feather their nests, whether they 'ruminate' over their food--and we
shall have added to our store of knowledge at the seaside!

It is all admirably managed ('administered' is the word), as everything
of the kind is in France. In order to bathe, as the French understand
it, you must study costume, and to make a good appearance in the water
you must move about with the dexterity and grace required in a ball
room; you must remember that you are present at a _bal de mer_, and that
you are not in a tub. There are water velocipedes, canoes for ladies,
and floats for the unskilful; fresh water for the head before bathing,
and tubs of hot water afterwards for the feet, on the sands; an
appreciating and admiring audience on the shore; a lounge across the
sands and through the 'Etablissement,' in costumes more scanty than
those of Neapolitan fish girls!

Yes, youth and beauty come to Trouville-by-the-sea; French beauty of the
dresden china pattern, side by side and hand in hand, with the young
English girl of the heavy Clapham type (which elderly Frenchmen
adore)--all in the water together, in the prettiest dresses, 'sweetly
trimmed' and daintily conceived; all joining hands, men and women having
a 'merry go round' in the water--some swimming, some diving, shouting,
and disporting themselves, and 'playing fantastic tricks before high
heaven,'--to the admiration of a crowded beach.

'_Honi soit qui mal y pense_,' when English ladies join the party, and
write home that 'it is delightful, that there is a refreshing disregard
for what people may think at French watering-places, and a charming
absence of self-consciousness that disarms criticism'! What does quiet
paterfamilias think about his mermaid daughter, and of that touch about
the 'absence of self-consciousness;' and would anything induce _him_ to
clothe himself in a light-green skin, to put on a pair of 'human fins,'
or to perch himself on the rocks before a crowd of ladies on the beach,
within a few yards of him? Yes, it _is_ delightful--the prettiest sight
and the brightest life imaginable; but is it quite the thing, we may
ask, for English girls to take their tone (ever so little) from the
Casino, and from the '_Guides Conty;_' which they do as surely, as the
caterpillar takes its colour from the leaf on which it feeds?

But the system of bathing in France is so sensible and good compared
with our own; the facilities for learning to swim, the accommodation for
bathers, and the accessories, are so superior to anything we know of in
England, that we hardly like to hint at any drawbacks. We need not all
go to Trouville (some of us cannot afford it), but we may live at most
of these bathing places at less cost, and with more comfort and
amusement than at home. They do manage some things better in France: at
the seaside here the men dress in suits of flannel, and wear light
canvas shoes habitually; the women swim, and take their children with
them into the water,--floating them with gourds, which accustoms them to
the water, and to the use of their limbs. At the hotels and restaurants,
they provide cheap and appetizing little dinners; there is plenty of ice
in hot weather, and cooling drinks are to be had everywhere: in short,
in these matters the practical common sense of the French people strikes
us anew, every time we set foot on their shores. Why it should be so, we
cannot answer; but as long as it is so, our countrymen and countrywomen
may well crowd to French watering-places.

The situation of Trouville is thus described by Blanchard Jerrold, who
knows the district better than most Englishmen:--'Even the shore has
been subdued to comfortable human uses; rocks have been picked out of
the sand, until a carpet as smooth as Paris asphalte has been obtained
for the fastidious feet of noble dames, who are the finishing bits of
life and colour in the exquisite scene. Even the ribbed sand is not
smooth enough; a boarded way has been fixed from the casino to the
mussel banks, whither the dandy resorts to play at mussel gathering, in
a nautical dress that costs a sailor's income. The great and rich have
planted their Louis XIII. chateaux, their 'maisons mauresques' and
'pavillons a la renaissance,' so closely over the available slopes,
round about the immense and gaudily-appointed Casino, and the Hotel of
the Black Rocks, that it has been found necessary to protect them with
masonry of more than Roman strength. From these works of startling
force, and boldness of design, the view is a glorious one indeed. To the
right stretches the white line of Havre, pointed with its electric
_phare_; to the left, the shore swells and dimples, and the hills, in
gentle curves, rise beyond. Deauville is below, and beyond--a flat,
formal place of fashion, where ladies exhibit the genius of Worth to one
another, and to the astonished fishermen.

Imagine a splendid court playing at seaside life; imagine such a place
as Watteau would have designed, with inhabitants as elegantly rustic as
his, and you imagine a Trouville. It is the village of the
millionaire--the stage whereon the duchess plays the hoyden, and the
princess seeks the exquisite relief of being natural for an hour or two.
No wonder every inch of the rock is disputed; there are so many now in
the world who have sipped all the pleasures the city has to give.
Masters of the art of entering a drawing-room, the Parisians crowd
seaward to get the sure foot of the mussel-gatherer upon the slimy
granite of a bluff Norman headland; they bring their taste with them,
and they get heartiness in the bracing air. The _salon_ of the casino,
at the height of the season, is said to show at once the most animated
and diverting assemblage of Somebodies to be seen in the world.'

DEAUVILLE, separated only by the river Touques, is a place of
greater pretension even than Trouville. It is, however, quite in its
infancy; it was planned for a handsome and extensive watering-place, but
the death of the Duc de Morny has stopped its growth,--large tracts of
land, in what should be the town, still lying waste. It is quiet
compared with Trouville, select and 'aristocratic,' and boasts the
handsomest casino in France; it is built for the most part upon a sandy
plain, but the houses are so tastefully designed, and so much has been
made of the site, that (from some points of view) it presents, with its
background of hills, a singularly picturesque appearance.

No matter how small or uninteresting the locality, if it is to be
fashionable, _il n'y aura point de difficulte_. If there are no natural
attractions, the ingenious and enterprising speculator will provide
them; if there are no trees, he will bring them,--no rocks, he will
manufacture them,--no river, he will cut a winding canal,--no town, he
will build one,--no casino, he will erect a wooden shed on the sands!

But of all the bathing-places on the north coast of Normandy the little
fishing-village of ETRETAT will commend itself most to English
people, for its bold coast and bracing air. Situated about seventeen
miles north-east of Havre, shut in on either side by rocks which form a
natural arch over the sea, the little bay of Etretat--with its brilliant
summer crowd of idlers and its little group of fishermen who stand by it
in all weathers--is one of the quaintest of the nooks and corners of
France.

There is a homelike snugness and retirement about the position of
Etretat, and a mystery about the caves and caverns--extending for long
distances under its cliffs--which form an attraction that we shall find
nowhere else. Since Paris has found it out, and taken it by storm as it
were, the little fishermen's village has been turned into a gay
_parterre_; its shingly beach lined with chairs _a volonte_, and its
shores smoothed and levelled for delicate feet. The _Casino_ and the
_Etablissement_ are all that can be desired; whilst pretty chalets and
villas are scattered upon the hills that surround the town. There is
scarcely any 'town' to speak of; a small straggling village, with the
remains of a Norman church, once close to the sea (built on the spot
where the people once watched the great flotilla of William the
Conqueror drift eastward to St. Valery), and on the shore, old worn-out
boats, thatched and turned into fishermen's huts and bathing retreats.

Etretat has its peculiar customs; the old fisher-women, who assume the
more profitable occupation of washerwomen during the summer, go down to
the shore as the tide is ebbing, and catch the spring water on its way
to the sea; scooping out the stones, and making natural washing-tubs of
fresh water close to the sea--a work of ten minutes or so, which is all
washed away by the next tide. At Etretat almost everybody swims and
wears a costume of blue serge, trimmed with scarlet, or other bright
colour; and everybody sits in the afternoon in the gay little bay,
purchases shell ornaments and useless souvenirs, sips coffee or ices,
and listens to the band. For a very little place, without a railway, and
with only two good hotels, Etretat is wonderfully lively and attractive;
and the drives in the neighbourhood add to its natural attractions.

The show is nearly over for the season, at Etretat, by the time we leave
it; the puppets are being packed up for Paris, and even the boxes that
contained them will soon be carted away to more sheltered places. It is
late in September, and the last few bathers are making the most of their
time, and wandering about on the sands in their most brilliant attire;
but their time is nearly over, Etretat will soon be given up to the
fishermen again--like the bears in the high Pyrenees, that wait at the
street corners of the mountain towns, and scramble for the best places
after the visitors have left, the natives of Etretat are already
preparing to return to their winter quarters.

It is the finest weather of the year, and the setting sun is brilliant
upon the shore; a fishing-boat glides into the bay, and a little
fisher-boy steps out upon the sands. He comes down towards us, facing
the western sun, with such a glory of light about his head, such a halo
of fresh youth, and health, as we have not seen once this summer, in the
'great world.' His feet are bare, and leave their tiny impress on the
sand--a thousand times more expressive than any Parisian boot; his
little bronzed hands are crystallized with the salt air; his dark-brown
curls are flecked with sea-foam, and flutter in the evening breeze; his
face is radiant--a reflection of the sun, a mystery of life and beauty
half revealed.

After all we have seen and heard around us, it is like turning, with a
thankful sense of rest, from the contemplation of some tricky effect of
colour, to a painting by Titian or Velasquez; it is, in an artistic
sense, transition from darkness to light--from the glare of the lamp to
the glory of the true day.




APPENDIX TO NORMANDY PICTURESQUE.

Sketch of Route, showing the Distances, Fares, &c., to and from the
principal Places in Normandy.


TRAVELLING EXPENSES over the whole of this Route (including the
journey from London to Havre, or Dieppe, and back) do not amount to more
than 4l. 4s. first class, and need not exceed 3l. 10s. (see p.
240). HOTEL EXPENSES average about 10s. a day.

Thus it is possible to accomplish month's tour for L20, and one of two
months for L35.

There are _no good hotels_ in Normandy (excepting at the seaside)
according to modern ideas of comfort and convenience. CAEN,
AVRANCHES, and ROUEN may be mentioned as the best places
at which to stay, _en route_.

Havre to Pont Audemer.--Steamboat direct.--Fare 2frs. Or via Honfleur
or Trouville, by boat and diligence.

Dieppe to Pont Audemer.--Railway (via Rouen and Glosmontfort) 65
miles. Fare, first class, 12frs. 50c. (10s.)

PONT AUDEMER (Pop. 6000). Hotels: _Pot d'Etain_ (old-fashioned in
style, but no longer in prices); _Lion d'Or_.

Pont Audemer to Lisieux.--Diligence. Distance, 22 miles.--Or by Ry. 43
miles; fare, 8frs. 50c. (7s.) Fare.[64]

LISIEUX (Pop. 13,000). Hotels: _de France_, (on a quiet boulevard,
with garden); _d'Espagne_, &c.

Lisieux to Caen.--Railway, 30 miles. Fare, 5frs. 50c. (4s. 6d.)

CAEN (Pop. 44,000). Hotels: _d'Angleterre_, (well-managed, central,
and bustling); _d'Espagne_, &c.

Caen to Bayeux.--Railway, 19 miles. Fare, 3frs. 40c. (2s. 9d.)

BAYEUX (Pop. 9,500). Hotels: _du Luxembourg, Grand Hotel_, &c.


  Bayeux to St. Lo.--Railway 28 miles. Fare, 5frs. (4s.)

    [Bayeux to Cherbourg. Rly. 63 miles. Fare, 11frs. 40s. (9s. 6d.)]

      [For Hotels, &c., see App., p. iv.]

        ST. LO (Pop. 10,000). Hotel: _du Soleil
          Levant_ (quiet and commercial.)

  St. Lo to Coutances.--Diligence, 16 miles.

        COUTANCES (Pop. 9000). Hotels: _de
        France, du Dauphin, &c._ (indifferent).

  Coutances to Granville.--Diligence, 18 miles.

        GRANVILLE (Pop. 17,000). Hotels: _du
        Nord_ (large and bustling, crowded with
        English from the Channel Islands);
        _Trois Couronnes, &c._ (See p. 123.)

  Granville to Avranches.--Diligence, 16 miles.

        AVRANCHES (Pop. 9000). Hotels: _d'Angleterre,
        de Bretagne, &c._ (accustomed
        to English people.)

    [Excursion to Mont St. Michel and back in one day; Carriage,
    15frs, (12s. 6d.). Distance, 10 miles; or by Pont Orson
    (the best route), 13 miles.]

  Avranches to Vire.--Diligence, 36 miles (via Mortain).

        VIRE (Pop. 8000). Hotel: _du Cheval
        Blanc_.

    [Mortain to Domfront. Diligence, 17 miles. (Pop. 3000.)
    _Hotel de la Poste_.]

  Vire to Falaise.--Diligence, 34 miles [or by Rly. 65 miles.
  Fare, 12frs. (9s. 9d.)]

        FALAISE (Pop. 9000). Hotels: _de Normandie,
        &c._ (All commercial.)

  Falaise to Rouen.--Rly. 83 miles (via Mezidon and Serquiny).
  Fare, 15frs. 50c. (12s. 6d.)

    [At Serquiny turn off to Evreux, 26 miles. Fare from Serquiny,
    4frs. 60c. (3s. 9d.) Hotel: _Grand Cerf_.]

        ROUEN (Pop. 103,000). Hotels: _d'Angleterre,
        d'Albion, &c._ (none first-rate,
        generally full of English people.)

  Rouen to Havre by the Seine; or by Rly.




_List of the_ WATERING-PLACES OF NORMANDY, _from east to west,
with a few notes for Visitors_.

Dieppe (Pop. 20,000).--Busy seaport town--fashionable and expensive
     during the season--good accommodation facing the sea--pretty rides
     and drives in the neighbourhood--shingly beach, bracing air.

HOTELS: _Royal, des Bains, de Londres, &c.      Ry. to Paris._

Fecamp (13,000).--A dull uninteresting town, inns second-rate and
     dear, in summer--situated on a river, the town reaching for nearly
     a mile inland.

HOTELS: _de la Plage, des Bains, Chariot d'Or.      Ry. to Paris._

Etretat (2000).--Romantic situation--bracing air--rocky coast--shingly
     beach--only two good hotels--a few villas and apartments--no
     town--very amusing for a time.

HOTELS: _Blanquet, Hauville, Dil. to Fecamp, and Havre._

Havre (75,000).--Large and important seaport on the right bank of the
     Seine--harbour, docks, warehouses, fine modern buildings, streets,
     and squares--picturesque old houses and fishing-boats on the
     quay--bathing not equal to Dieppe or Trouville.

HOTELS: _de l'Europe, de l'Amiraute, &c., and Frascati's on the
     sea-shore. Ry. to Paris; Steamboats to Trouville, &c._

Honfleur (10,000).--Opposite Havre, on the Seine--old and picturesque
     town--pleasant walks--English society--sea-bathing, "_mais quels
     bains_," says Conty, "_bains impossible!_" Living is not dear for
     residents.

HOTELS: _du Cheval Blanc, de la Paix, &c.      Ry. to Paris_.

Trouville (5000 or 6000).--Fashionable and very dear at the best
     hotels--ample accommodation to suit all purses--good
     sands--splendid casino--handsome villas, and plenty of apartments.
     Less bracing than Dieppe or Etretat.

HOTELS: _Roches-Noires, Paris, Bras d'Or, &c.      Ry. to Paris._

Deauville.--A scattered assemblage of villas and picturesque
     houses--very exclusive and select, and dull for a stranger--grand
     casino--quite a modern town--separated from Trouville by the river
     Touques.

HOTELS: _Grand, du Casino, &c.      Ry. to Paris._

Villers-sur-mer.--A pretty village, six miles from Trouville--crowded
     during the season--beautiful neighbourhood--good apartments, but
     expensive--inns moderate.

HOTELS: _du Bras d'Or, Casino, &c.      Ry. to Paris._

Houlgate.--One large hotel surrounded by pretty and well-built chalets
     to be let furnished; also many private villas in gardens--beautiful
     situation--good sands--small Casino--becoming fashionable and
     dear--accommodation limited. _Dil. to Trouville, 11 miles_.

Beuzeval.--A continuation of Houlgate, westward; lower, near the mouth
     of the Dives--one second-rate hotel close to the sands--quiet and
     reasonable--sea recedes half-a-mile (no boating at Houlgate or
     Beuzeval)--beautiful neighbourhood--a few villas and apartments--no
     Etablissement.       _Dil. to Trouville or Caen_.

Cabourg.--A small, but increasing, town in a fine open situation on
     the left bank of the Dives--good accommodation and moderate--not as
     well known as it deserves to be. HOTELS: _de la Plage,
     Casino, &c.      Dil. do. do_.

[Then follow nine or ten minor sea-bathing places, situated north of
Caen and Bayeux, in the following order:--Lies, Luc, Lasgrune, St,
Aubin, Coutances, Aromanches, Auxelles, Vierville, and Grandcamp;
where accommodation is more or less limited, and board and lodging need
not cost more than seven or eight francs a-day in the season. They are
generally spoken of in French guide-books as, '_bien tristes sans
ressources;_' 'fit only for fathers of families'! St. Aubin, about
twelve miles from Caen, is one of the best.]

  Cherbourg (42,000).--Large, fortified town--bold coast--good
    bathing--splendid views from the heights--wide
    streets and squares--docks and harbours--hotels--good
    and dear.
    HOTELS: _l'Univers, l'Amiraute, &c.      Ry. to Paris_.

  Granville.--See pp. 122 and following; also Appendix, p. ii.

       *       *       *       *       *

The average charge at seaside hotels in Normandy, during the season (if
taken by the week) is 8 or 9 francs a-day, for sleeping accommodation
and the two public meals; nearly everything else being charged for
'extra.' At Trouville, Deauville, and Dieppe, 10 or 12 francs is
considered 'moderate.' Furnished houses and apartments can be had nearly
everywhere, and at all prices. The sum of 10_l._ or 15_l_. a week is
sometimes paid at Trouville, or Deauville, for a furnished house.
Conty's guide-book, '_Les Cotes de Normandie_,' should be recommended
for its very practical information on these matters, but not for its
illustrations.

_London, May, 1870._




FOOTNOTES:

[1] We have not put CHERBOURG, DOMFRONT, or EVREAUX, as a matter of
course, on our list, although they should be included in a tour,
especially the two latter towns, for their archaeological interest.

[2] The same remark applies to Mantes, familiar to us from its
historical associations, and by its graceful towers, which so many have
seen from the railway in going to Paris. "All the world goes by Mantes,
but very few stop there," writes a traveller. "The tourist, on his way
to Paris, generally has a ticket which allows him to stop at Rouen but
not at Mantes. People very anxious to stop at Mantes, and to muse, so to
speak, amongst its embers, have had great searchings of heart how to get
there, and have not accomplished their object until after some years of
reflection."

[3] Trouville and Deauville-sur-mer.

[4] The architecture of Rouen, which is better known to our countrymen
than that of any other town in Normandy, is later than that of Caen or
Bayeux. Notwithstanding the magnificence of its cathedral, we venture to
say that there is nothing in all Rouen to compare with the norman
romanesque of the latter towns.

[5] 'I am not enthusiastic about gutters and gables, and object to a
population composed exclusively of old women,' wrote the author of 'Miss
Carew;' but she could not have seen Pont Audemer.

[6] The brightness and cleanliness of the peasant and market-women, is a
pleasant feature to notice in Normandy.

[7] It is worthy of note that the very variety and irregularity that
attracts us so much in these buildings does not meet with universal
approval in the French schools. In the _'Grammaire des Arts du Dessin_,'
M. Charles Blanc lays down as an axiom, that "sublimity in architecture
belongs to three essential conditions--simplicity of surface,
straightness, and continuity of line." Nevertheless we find many modern
French houses built in the style of the 13th and 14th century;
especially in Lower Normandy.

[8] There is a great change in the aspect of Pont Audemer during the
last year or two; streets of new houses having sprung up, hiding some of
the best old work from view; and one whole street of wooden houses
having been lately taken down.

[9] There is one peculiarity about the position of Pont Audemer which is
charming to an artist; the streets are ended by hills and green slopes,
clothed to their summits with trees, which are often in sunshine, whilst
the town is in shadow.

[10] We, human creatures, little know what high revel is held at four
o'clock on a summer's morning, by the birds of the air and the beasts of
the field; when their tormentors are asleep.

[11] The approach to Lisieux from the railway station is singularly
uninteresting; a new town of common red brick houses, of the Coventry or
Birmingham pattern, having lately sprung up in this quarter.

[12] There is something not inappropriate, in the printed letters in
present use in France, to the 'Haussmann' style of street architecture;
some inscriptions over warehouses and shops could scarcely indeed be
improved. We might point as an illustration of our meaning to the
successful introduction of the word NORD, several times repeated, on the
facade of the terminus of the Great Northern Railway at Paris.

[13] We lately saw an english crest, bearing the motto "Courage without
fear;" a piece of tautology, surely of modern manufacturer?

[14] The contrast between the present and former states of society might
be typified by the general substitution of the screw for the nail in
building; both answering the purpose of the modern builder, but the
former preferred, because _removable_ at pleasure.

It is a restless age, in which advertisements of 'FAMILIES REMOVED' are
pasted on the walls of a man's house without appearing to excite his
indignation.

[15] The 'renaissance' work at the east end of this church is considered
by Herr Luebke to be 'the masterpiece of the epoch.' 'It is to be found,'
he says, 'at one extremity of a building, the other end of which is
occupied by the loveliest steeple and tower in the world.'

[16] It is remarkable that with all their care for this building, the
authorities should permit apple-stalls and wooden sheds to be built up
against the tower.

[17] An architect, speaking of the Albert Memorial, now approaching
completion, says:--'In ten years the spire and all its elaborate tracery
will have become obsolete and effaced for all artistic purposes. The
atmosphere of London will have performed its inevitable function. Every
'scroll work' and 'pinnacle' will be a mere clot of soot, and the bronze
gilt Virtues will represent nothing but swarthy denizens of the lower
regions; the plumage of the angels will be converted into a sort of
black-and-white check-work. 'All this fated transformation we see with
the mind's eye as plainly as we see with those of the body, the similar
change which has been effected in the Gothic tracery of some of our
latest churches.'

[18] The old woman is well known at Caen, and her encounter with the
'_garcon anglais_' it matter of history amongst her friends in the town.

[19] It was lately found necessary to repair the south door; but the
restoration of the carved work has been effected with the utmost skill
and care: indeed we could hardly point to a more successful instance of
'restoring' in France.

[20] We might point, as a notable exception, to the memorial window to
Brunel, the engineer, in Westminster Abbey; especially for its
appropriateness and harmony with the building.

[21] The _raconteurs_ of the middle ages used to travel on foot about
Europe, reciting, or repeating, the last new work or conversation of
celebrated men--a useful and lucrative profession in days before
printing was invented.

[22] In the British Museum there is a book containing a facsimile of the
whole of this tapestry (printed in colours, for the Society of
Antiquaries), where the reader may see it almost as well as at Bayeux;
just as, at the Crystal Palace, we may examine the modelling of
Ghiberti's gates, with greater facility than by standing in the windy
streets of Florence.

[23] The sketch of the pulpit (made on the spot by the author) is
erroneously stated in the List of Illustrations to be from a photograph.

[24] At the cathedral at Coutances the service is held under the great
tower, and the effect is most melodious from above.

[25] In an article in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, on the 'woman of the
future,' the writer argues that:--'As beauty is more or less a matter of
health, too much can never be said against the abuse of it. Quite
naturally the fragile type of beauty has become the standard of the
present day, and men admire in real lift the lily-cheeked,
small-waisted, diaphanous-looking creatures idealized by living artists.
When we become accustomed to a nobler kind of beauty we shall attain to
a loftier ideal. Men will seek nobility rather than prettiness, strength
rather than weakness, physical perfection rather than physical
degeneracy, in the women they select as mothers of their children.
Artists will rejoice and sculptors will cease to despair when this happy
consummation is reached--let none regard it as chimerical or Utopian.'

[26] The railway from Paris to Granville is nearly finished; and another
line is in progress to connect Cherbourg, Coutances, Granville, and St.
Malo.

[27] If this were the place to enlarge upon the general question of
bringing children abroad to be educated, we might suggest, at the
outset, that there were certain English qualities, such as manliness and
self-reliance; and certain English sports, such as cricket, hunting and
the like, which have less opportunity of fair development in boys
educated abroad. And as to girls--who knows the impression left for life
on young hearts, by the dead walls and silent trees of a French
_pension_?

[28] It is well that sportsmen do not always make a good bag, for
another drawback to the pleasures of sport in France is the 'heavy
octroi duty which a successful shot has to pay upon every head of game
which he takes back to town.' For a pheasant (according to the latest
accounts) he has to pay '3f. 50c. to 4f.; for a hare, 1f. 50c. to 2f.;
for a rabbit, 75c. to 1f. 25c.; for a partridge, 75c. to 1f. 50c. the
pound; and for every other species of feathered game, 18c. the
kilogramme.'

[29] The island, in this illustration, appears, after engraving, to be
about two miles nearer the spectator, and to be less covered with
houses, than it really is.

[30] During the last few years the prisoners have all been removed from
Mont St. Michael.

[31] The sands are so shifting and variable, that it is impossible to
cross with safety, excepting by well-known routes, and at certain times
of the tide; many lives, even of the fishermen and women, have been lost
on these sands.

[32] It a irresistible, here, not to compare in our minds, with these
twelfth-century relics of magnificence and festivity, certain emblazoned
'civic banquets,' and the gay 'halls by the sea,' with which the child
(old or young) of the nineteenth century is enraptured--the former being
the realities of a chivalrous epoch; the latter, masquerades or money
speculations, of a more advanced century. The comparison may be
considered unjust, but it is one that suggests itself again and again,
as typical of a curiously altered state of society and manners.

[33] The latest, and perhaps the most complete, description of Mont St
Michael, will be found in the 'People's Magazine' for August, 1869.

[34] French artists flock together in the valleys of the Seine and the
Somme, like English landscape painters at the junction of the Greta and
the Tees--Mortain and Vire not being yet fashionable. It is hard,
indeed, to get English artists out of a groove; to those who, like
ourselves, have had to examine the pictures at our annual Exhibitions,
year by year, somewhat closely, the streams in Wales are as familiar on
canvas, as 'Finding the Body of Harold.'

[35] We speak of Mortain as we found it a few years ago; its sanitory
arrangements have, we understand, been improved, but people are not yet
enthusiastic about Mortain as a residence.

[36] Notwithstanding this apparent indifference to landscape, we
remember finding at a country inn, the walls covered with one of
Troyon's pictures (a hundred times repeated in paper-hanging); a pretty
pastoral scene which Messrs. Christie would have catalogued as 'a
landscape with cattle.'

[37] The neatness and precision with which they make their piles of
stones at the roadside will be remembered by many a traveller in this
part of Normandy. They accomplish it by putting the stones into a shape
(as if making a jelly), and removing the boards when full; and, as there
are no French boys, the loose pile remains undisturbed for months.

[38] Submitting to the exigencies of publishing expediency, we have been
unable to have this drawing reproduced on wood; although we were anxious
to draw attention to the bold forms of rocks which crown these heights,
and to the line old trees which surround the castle.

[39] There are' deeds of valour' (according to the _affiches_) to be
witnessed in these days at Falaise; we once saw a woman here, in a
circus, turning somersaults on horseback before a crowd of spectators.
The people of Falaise cannot be accused of being behind the age; one
gentleman advertises as his _specialite_,' the cure of injuries caused
by velocipedes'!

[40] Our peaceful proclivities may be noticed in small things; the
fierce and warlike devices, such as an eagle's head, a lion _rampant_,
and the like, which were originally designed to stimulate the warrior in
battle, now serve to adorn the panel of a carriage, or a sheet of
note-paper.

[41] It is rather a curious fact that Prout, notwithstanding his love
for historic scenes, seems to have had little sympathy with the poor
'Maid of Orleans.' In a letter which accompanied the presentation of
this drawing, the following passage occurs:--'I beg your acceptance of
what is miserable, though perhaps not uninteresting, as it is part of
the house in which Joan of Arc was confined at Rouen, and before which
the English, _very wisely_, burnt her for a witch!'

Mr. Prout evidently differed in opinion from Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of
Bauvais, who presided at the tribunal which condemned Joan of Arc to
death; for he founded a Lady Chapel at Lisieux, 'in expiation of his
false judgment of an innocent woman.'

[42] It is curious to note that the wealth of cities nearly always flow
westward,--converting, as in London, the market-gardens of the poor into
the 'Palace Gardens' of the rich; and, with steady advance, sweeps away
our landmarks,--turning the gravel pits of western London into the
decorum of a Ladbroke-square.

[43] It is no new remark that more than one Englishman of artistic taste
has returned to Rouen after visiting the buildings of Paris, having
found nothing equal in grandeur to this cathedral, and the church of St.
Ouen.

[44] The original spire was made of wood, and much more picturesque; our
artist evidently could not bring himself to copy with literal truth this
disfiguring element to the building.

[45] For a detailed description of the monuments in this Cathedral, and
of the church of St. Ouen, we cannot do better than refer the reader to
the very accurate account in Murray's 'Handbook;' and also to Cassell's
'Normandy,' from which we have made the above extracts.

[46] We must record an exception to this rule, in the case of the church
at Dives, which a kept closely locked, under the care of an old woman.

[47] Just as the words of our Baptismal service, enrolling a young child
into the 'church militant,' lose half their effect when addressed to men
whose ideas of manliness and fighting fall very short of their true
meaning.

It has a strange sound (to say the least that could be said) to hear
quiet town-bred godfathers promise that they will 'take care' that a
child shall 'fight under the banner' of the cross, and 'continue
Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end;' and it is
almost as strange to hear the good Bishop Heber's warlike imagery--'His
blood-red banner streams afar; who follows in his train?' &c., &c.--in
the mouths of little children.

[48] The incongruity strikes one more when we see him afterwards in the
town, marching along with a flat-footed shambling tread, holding an
umbrella in front of him in his clenched fist (as all french priests
hold it),--a figure as unromantic-looking as ungraceful.

[49] He could not be called naturally gifted, even in the matter of
speaking; but he had been well taught from his youth up, both the manner
and the method of fixing the attention of his hearers.

[50] On the quay at the front of the Hotel d'Angleterre, the public
seats under the trees are crowded with people in the afternoon,
especially of the poor and working classes.

[51] There seem to be few living French artists of genius, who devote
themselves to landscape painting; when we have mentioned the names of
Troyon, Lambinet, Lamoriniere and Auguste Bonheur, we have almost
exhausted the list.

[52] It is unfortunately different in the case of the inhabitants of the
neighbourhood of Fecamp and Etretat, who are certainly not improved,
either in manners or morals, by the fashionable invasion of their
province.

[53] The London 'Illustrated Police News.'

[54] The people in this part of Normandy are becoming less political,
and more conservative, every day (a conservatism which, in their case,
may be taken as a sign of prosperity, and of a certain unwillingness to
be disturbed in their business); they are content with a paternal
government--at a distance; they wish for peace and order, and have no
objection to be taken care of. They are so willing to be led that, as a
Frenchman expressed it to us, 'they would almost prefer, if they could,
to have an omnipotent Postmaster-General to inspect all letters, and see
whether they were creditable to the sender and fitting to be received'!

[55] In the matter of bells, the same voices now ring half over
Europe--the music is the same at Bruges as at Birmingham; church bells
being made wholesale, to the same pattern and in the same mould, another
link in the chain of old associations, is broken.

[56] We are tempted to remark, in passing, on the curious want of manner
in speaking French that we notice amongst English people abroad;
arising, probably, from their method of learning it. French people have
often expressed to us their astonishment at this defect, amongst so many
educated English women; a defect which, according to the same authority,
is less prominent amongst travelled Englishmen in the same position in
life. We will not venture to give an opinion upon the latter point; but
most of us have yet to learn that there are two French languages--one
for writing and one for speaking; and that the latter is almost made up
of _manner_, and depends upon the modulation of the voice.

[57] It is worthy of note that, in a cruel country like France, the
'blinkers' to the horses (which we are doing away with in England) are a
most merciful provision against the driver's brutality; and a security
to the traveller, against his habitual carelessness.

[58] We confess to a lively sympathy with the growth of artistic taste
in America; a sympathy not diminished by the knowledge that every
English work of credit on these subjects is eagerly bought and read by
the people.

[59] The carving may be machine-made, and the slate and fringes to the
roofs cut by steam; but we must remember that these houses are only 'run
up to let,' as it is called, some of them costing not more than 500_l._
or 600l.

[60] It is interesting to note how the changes in the modern systems of
warfare seem to be tending (both in attack and defence) to a more
practical and picturesque state of things. Thus in attack, the top boots
and loose costume of the engineers and sappers figure more conspicuously
in these days, than the smooth broad-cloth of the troops of the line;
and in defence (thanks to Captain Moncreiff's system), we are promised
guns that shall be concealed in the long grass of our southern downs,
whilst stone and brick fortifications need no longer desolate the
heights.

[61] In one of the west-end clubs a fresco has lately been exhibited as
a suggestion to the members, shewing the easy and graceful costume of
the fifteenth century.

[62] If the words in an ordinary letter in a lady's handwriting, were
measured, it would be found that the point of the pen had passed over a
distance of twenty or thirty feet.

[63] We are becoming so accustomed to the deliberate misuse of words,
that when a person (in London) informs us that he is going 'to dine at
the pallis,' we understand him at once to mean that he if going to spend
the day at the great glass bazaar at Sydenham.

[64] The fares by Diligence are not inserted because they are liable to
variation; but the traveller may safely calculate them, at not more than
2d. a mile for the best places, All _railway fares_ stated are _first
class_.




_Books by the same Author.

'ARTISTS AND ARABS.'

'TRAVELLING IN SPAIN.'

'THE PYRENEES.'_


_Published by Sampson Low and Co.,

Crown Buildings, Fleet Street, London._

_Crown 8vo._, 10s. 6d.


ARTISTS AND ARABS;

OR,

Sketching in Sunshine.


"Let us sit down here quietly for one day and paint a camel's head, not
flinching from the work, but mastering the wonderful texture and
shagginess of his thick coat or mane, its massive beauty, and its
infinite gradations of colour.

"Such a sitter no portrait painter ever had in England. Feed him up
first, get a boy to keep the flies from him, and he will remain almost
immoveable through the day. He will put on a sad expression in the
morning which will not change; he will give no trouble whatever, he will
but sit still and croak."--Chap. IV., '_Our Models_.'


WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS.



Opinions of the Press on "Artists and Arabs."


_'"Artists and Arabs" is a fanciful name for a clever book, of which the
figures are Oriental, and the sceneries Algerian. It is full of air and
light, and its style is laden, so to speak, with a sense of unutterable
freedom and enjoyment; a book which would remind us, not of the article
on Algeria in a gazetteer, but of Turner's picture of a sunrise on the
African coast.'_--Athenaeum.

_'The lesson which Mr. Blackburn sets himself to impress upon his
readers, is certainly in accordance with common sense. The first need of
the painter is an educated eye, and to obtain this he must consent to
undergo systematic training. He is in the position of a man who is
learning a language merely from his books, with nothing to recall its
accents in the daily life around him. If he will listen to Mr. Blackburn
he may get rid of all these uncongenial surroundings.'_--Saturday
Review.

_'This it a particularly pretty boor, containing many exquisite
illustrations and vignettes. Mr. Blackburn's style is occasionally
essentially poetical, while his descriptions of mountain and valley,
of sea and sky, of sunshine and storm, are vivid and
picturesque.'_--Examiner.

_'Mr. Blackburn is an artist in words, and can paint a picture in a
paragraph. He delights in the beauty of form and colour, in the perfume
of flowers, in the freedom of the desert, in the brilliant glow and
delicious warmth of a southern atmosphere.'_--Spectator.

_'This is a genuine book, full of character and trustworthiness. The
woodcuts, with which it is liberally embellished, are excellent, and
bear upon them the stamp of truth to the scenes and incidents they are
intended to represent. Mr. Blackburn's views of art are singularly
unsophisticated and manly.'_--Leader.

_'Interesting as are Mr. Blackburn's ascriptions of Algiers, we almost
prefer those of the country beyond it. His sketches of the little Arab
village, called the Bouzareah, and of the storm that overtook him there,
are in the best style of descriptive writing.'_--London Review.

_'Mr. Blackburn is an artist and a lover of nature, and he pretends to
nothing more in these gay and pleasing pages.'_--Daily News.

_'Since the days of Eoethen, we have not met with so lively, racy,
gossiping, and intellectual a book as this.'_--News of the World.

_'The reader feels, that in perusing the pages of "Artists and Arabs,"
he has had a glimpse of sunshine more intense than any ever seen in
cloudy England.'_--The Queen.

_'The narrative is told with a commendable simplicity and absence of
self display, or self boasting; and the illustrations are worthy the
fame of a reputable British artist.'_--Press.

_'The sparkling picturesqueness of the style of this book is combined
with sound sense, and strong argument, when the author pleads the claims
and the beauties of realism in art; and though addressed to artists, the
volume is one of that most attractive which hat been set before the
general reader of late.'_--Contemporary Review.

_&c. &c. &c._


       *       *       *       *       *


Second Edition, Crown 8vo., Six Shillings.

TRAVELLING IN SPAIN

In the Present Day.

WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATION'S

By THE LATE John Phillip, R.A., E. LUNDGREN, WALTER SEVERN,
AND THE AUTHOR.

ALSO, A NEW MAP OF SPAIN, AND AN APPENDIX OF ROUTES.


Opinions of the Press on "Travelling in Spain."

_'This pleasant volume, dedicated to the Right Hon. E. Horsman, M.P., by
his late private secretary, admirably fulfils its author's design, which
was "to record simply and easily, the observations of ordinary English
travelers visiting the principal cities of Spain." The travellers whose
adventures are here recorded were, however, something more than ordinary
observers. Some artists being of the party, have given graceful evidence
of their observations in some spiritedly sketches of Spanish scenes and
Spanish life. There are no less than nineteen of these illustrations,
some by John Phillip, R.A.; and the ornaments at the beginning and close
of each chapter are fac-similes of embroideries brought from Granada.
The whole volume, in its getting up and appearance, is most attractive;
and the descriptions of Spanish men and women are singularly
interesting._

_'At the end there is an_ APPENDIX OF ROUTES, &c., _which will
be invaluable to all intending travellers in Spain.'_--Sun.

_'Mr. Blackburn's charming volume is on a different principle from that
of Irving and Cayley. He does not aspire to present Spain as it affected
him,--but Spain as it is. His travelling party consisted of two ladies
and two gentlemen--an arrangement fatal to romance. To go out on a
serenading adventure in wicked Madrid is quite impossible for Mr.
Horsman's ex-private secretary, having in charge two English gentlemen.
So Mr. Blackburn wisely did not go in for adventures, but preferred to
describe in straightforward fashion what he saw, so as to guide others
who may feel disposed for Spanish travel--and he describes capitally. He
saw a couple of bull-fights, one at Madrid and one at Seville, and
brings them before his readers in a very vigorous style. He has
admirably succeeded in sketching the special character in each of the
cities that he visited. The book is illustrated by several well-known
hands.'_--Press.

_'A delightful book is Mr. Blackburn's volume upon "Travelling in
Spain." Its artistic appearance is a credit to the publishers as well as
to the author. The pictures are of the best, and so is the text, which
gives a very clear and practical account of Spanish travel, that is
unaffectedly lively, and full of shrewd and accurate notes upon Spanish
character.'_--Examiner.

_'Mr. Blackburn sketches the aspect of the streets with considerable
humour, and with a correctness which will be admitted by all who have
basked in the sunshine of the Puerta del Sol.'_--Pall Mall Gazette.

_'The writer has genuine humour, and a light and graceful style, which
carries the reader through the notes with increasing relish.'_--Public
Opinion.

_'Extremely readable,--a lively picture of Spain as it is.'_--London
Review.

_'A truthful and pleasant record of the adventures of a party of ladies
and gentlemen--an accomplished and artistic little company of
friends.'_--Era.

_'This unpretending but practical volume is very
readable.'_--Standard.

_'Not only to be admired, but read.'_--Illustrated London News.

_'A lively and interesting sketch of a journey through
Spain.'_--Builder.

_'Very useful as well as entertaining.'_--Observer.

_'A most amusing book, profusely illustrated.'_--John Bull.

_'The dullest of books--a thing of shreds and patches.'_--Morning
Star.

_Royal 8vo._ (_cloth_ 18_s._, _or morocco_ 24_s._)


       *       *       *       *       *


THE PYRENEES

_With One Hundred Illustrations by_ GUSTAVE DORE.


Opinions of the Press on "The Pyrenees."

_'This handsome volume will confirm the opinion of those who hold that
M. Dore's real strength lies in landscape. Mr. Blackburn's share in the
work is pleasant and readable, and is really what it pretends to be, a
description of summer life at French watering-places. It is a_ bona fide
_record of his own experiences, told without either that abominable
smartness, or that dismal book-making, which are the characteristics of
too many illustrated books.'_--Pall Mall Gazette.

_'The author of this volume has spared no pains in his endeavour to
present a work which shall be worthy of public approbation. He has
secured three elements favourable to a large success,--a popular and
fascinating subject, exquisite illustrative sketches from an artist of
celebrity, and letter-press dictated by an excellent judgment, neither
tedious by its prolixity, nor curtailed to the omission of any
circumstance worth recording.'_--Press.

_'Mr. Blackburn has accomplished his task with the ease and pleasantness
to be expected of the author of "Travelling in Spain." He writes
graphically, sometimes with humour, always like a gentleman, and without
a trace or tinge of false sentiment; in short, this is as acceptable a
book as we have seen far many a day.'_--Atheneum.

_'A general, but painstaking account, by a cultivated Englishman, of the
general impression, step by step, which an ordinary Englishman,
travelling for his pleasure, would derive from a visit to the
watering-places of the Pyrenees.'_--Spectator.

'_Mr. Blackburn has an eye for the beautiful in nature, and a faculty
for expressing pleasantly what is worth describing; moreover, his
pictures of men and manners are both amusing and life-like.'_--Art
Journal.

_'Readers of this book will gain therefrom a great deal of information
should they feel disposed to make a summer pilgrimage over the romantic
ground so well described by the author.'_--Era.

_'One of the most exquisite books of the present year is Mr. Henry
Blackburn's volume, "The Pyrenees;" it is brightly, amusingly, and
intelligently written.'_--Daily News.

_'Few persons will be able to turn over the leaves of the pretty book
before us, without a longing desire for a nearer acquaintance with the
scenes which it depicts.'_--Guardian.

_'A pleasant account of travel and summer life in the
Pyrenees.'_--Examiner.

_'The author has illustrated M. Gustavo Dore's engravings very
successfully.'_-The Times.

_'This is a noble volume, not unworthy of the stately
Pyrenees.'_--Illustrated London News.

_'A singularly attractive book, well written, and beautifully
illustrated.'_--Contemporary Review.


London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston.



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