Page images



seems more fitting that she should now of coast from Toulon to Saint Tropez, rest at its foot than on the far-off rock so much less familiar to northern eyes of the Morvan; and one is glad that the than the more eastern portion of the belief was early enough established to Riviera, has a peculiar nobility, a Virproduce the picturesque anomaly of this gilian breadth of composition, in marked fine fragment of northern art planted contrast to the red-rocked precipitous against the classic slopes of the Mari- landscape beyond. Looking out on it time Alps.

from the pine-woods of Costebelle, above The great Gothic church was never Hyères, one is beset by classic allusions, finished, without or within; but in the analogies of the golden age- so divinely seventeenth century a renewal of devo- does the green plain open to the sea, tion to Saint Mary Magdalen caused the between mountain lines of such Attic interior of the choir to be clothed with purity. a magnificent revêtement of wood-carving After packed weeks of historic and in the shape of ninety-two choir-stalls, archæological sensation this surrender to recounting in their sculptured medallions the spell of the landscape tempts one to the history of the Dominican order, and indefinite idling. It is the season when, leading up to a sumptuous Berninies- through the winter verdure of the Rivique high-altar, all jasper, porphyry and era, spring breaks with a hundred tender shooting rays of gold.

tints pale green of crops, white snow Saint Maximin, though lying so re- of fruit-blossoms, and fire of scarlet motely among bare fields and barer tulips under the grey smoke of olivemountains, still shows, outside its church, groves. From heights among the corksome interesting traces of former activity trees the little towns huddled about their and importance. A stout old Dominican feudal keeps blink across the pine forests monastery extends its long row of ogival at the dazzling blue-and-purple indentawindows near the church, and here and tions of the coast. And between the there a vigorous bit of ancient masonry heights mild valleys widen down --- valjuts from the streets – notably in the leys with fields of roses, acres of budsprawling arcades of the Jewish quarter, ding vine, meadows sown with narcissus, and where certain fragments of wall at- and cold streams rushing from the chesttest that the mountain village was once nut forests below the bald grey peaks. a strongly-defended mediæval town. Among the peaks are lonely hermitages,

Beyond Saint Maximin the route na- ruined remains of old monastic settletionale bears away between the moun- ments, Carthusian and Benedictine; but tains to Nice; but at Brignoles a city no great names are attached to these of old renown, the winter residence of fallen shrines, and the little towns below the Counts of Provence

one may turn have no connection with the main lines southward, by Roquebrussanne and the of history. It is all a tranquil backwater, Chartreuse of Montrieux (where Pe

thick with local tradition, little floating trarch's brother was abbot), to the ra- fragments of association and legend; but diant valley of the Gapeau, where the art and history seem to have held back stream-side is already white with cherry- from it, as from some charmed Elysian blossoms, and so at length come out, at region, too calm, too complete to be Hyères, on the full glory of the Mediter- rudely touched to great issues. ranean spring.

One's first feeling is that nothing else It was the mistral that drove us from matches it that no work of man, no this Eden, poisoning it with dust and accumulated appeal of history, can con- glare, and causing us to take refuge tend a moment against this joy of the north of the sea-board Alps. There, in a eye so prodigally poured out. The stretch blander air and on a radiant morning,


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

we left Aix behind, and followed the ward to Orange. All this part of France
Durance to Avignon. Approaching the is thick with history, and in the ancient
papal city from the east, one may get a principality of Orange the layers are
memorable impression by following the piled so deep that one wonders to see so
outer circuit of its walls to the Porte de few traces of successive dominations in
l'Ouille, which opens on the Place Crillon the outward aspect of its capital. Only
just below the great rock of the palace. the Rome of the Emperors has left a
Seen thus from without, Avignon is like mark on the town which lived with so
a toy model of a medieval city; and vigorous and personal life from the days
this impression of artificial completeness when it was a Gaulish city and a trading
is renewed when, from the rock-perched station of Massaliote Greeks, and which,
terrace below the palace, one looks out when it grew too small for its adventur-
on the Rhone valley and its enclosing ous brood, sent rulers to both shores of
amphitheatre of mountains. In the light the North Sea; and the fact that the
Provençal air, which gives a finely-pen- theatre and the arch survive, while the
cilled precision to the remotest objects, Orange of Carlovingian bishops and
the landscape has an extraordinarily to- medieval princes has been quite wiped
pographical character, an effect of pre- out, and even Maurice of Nassau's great
senting with a pre-Raphaelite insist- seventeenth-century fortress razed to the
ence on detail its sharp-edged ruins, its ground — this permanence of the impe
turreted bridge, its little walled towns rial monuments, rising unshaken through
on definite points of rock. The river the blown dust of nearly a thousand
winding through the foreground holds years, gives a tangible image of the
its yellow curve between thin fringes of way in which the Roman spirit has per-
poplar and sharp calcareous cliffs; and sisted through the fluctuations of his-
even the remoter hills have the clear tory.
silhouette of the blue peaks in medieval To learn that these very monuments
miniatures, the shoulder of the Mont have been turned to base uses by bar-
Ventoux rising above them to the north barous Prince-bishops

the arch conwith the firmness of an antique marble. verted into a fortified Château de l'Arc,

This southern keenness of edge gives the theatre into an outwork of the main even to the Gothicism of the piled-up fortress — adds impressiveness to their church and palace an exotic, trans-Alp- mutilated splendour, awing one with the ine quality, and makes the long papal image of a whole reconstructed from such ownership of Avignon - lasting, it is

lasting, it is fragments. well to remember, till the general up- Among these, the theatre, now quite heaval of 1790 — a visible and intelli- stripped of ornament, produces its effect gible fact. Though the Popes of Avignon only by means of its size, and of the were Frenchmen Avignon is unmistake- beautiful sweep of its converging lines; ably, alınost inexplicably, Italian: its but the great golden-brown arch-standGothic vaguely suggests that of the Ponte ing alone in a wide grassy square Sant'Angelo, of the fortified arches and keeps on three sides a Corinthian mask of tombs of medieval Rome, and recon- cornice and column, and a rich embossciles itself as easily to the florid façade ing of fruit and flower-garlands, of sirens, of the seventeenth century Papal Mint trophies and battle-scenes. All this de in the square below as to the delicate coration is typically Roman - vigorousclassic detail of the west door of the ly carved and somewhat indiscriminately church.

applied. One looks in vain for the Rome — but Imperial not Papal Rome sensitive ornament of the arch of Saint

was still in the air as we left Avignon Remy, in which Mérimée's keen eye saw and followed the Rhone valley north- a germ of the coming Gothic: the sculp

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


ture of Orange follows the conventional in the plain, evokes a not too audacious lines of its day, without showing a hint comparison with the rock of Caprarola. of new forms. But that very absence of In France, at least, there is perhaps imaginative suggestion makes it Roman nothing as suggestive of the fortified and imperial to the core.

pleasure-houses of Italy as this gallant Ahead of us, all the way from Avig- castle on the summit of its rock, with the non to Orange, the Mont Ventoux lifted town clustering below, and the vast into the pure light its denuded Aanks terrace before it actually forming the and wrinkled silvery-lilac summit. But roof of its church. And the view from at Orange we turned about its base, the terrace has the same illimitable sunand bore away northeastward through washed spaces, flowing on every side a broken country rimmed with hills, into noble mountain-forms, from the passing by Tulette, the seat of a Cluniac Mont Ventoux in the south to the range foundation of which the great Rovere, of the Ardèche in the west. Julius II, was Prince and Prior – and The ancient line of Adhémar, created by Valréas, which under the Popes of Counts of Grignan by Henri II, had Avignon became the capital of the Haut long been established on their rocky Comtat, the French papal dominion in pedestal when they built themselves, France.

in the sixteenth century, the magnificent Like too many old towns in this part Renaissance façade of which only the of France, Valréas, once a strongly- angle towers now subsist. Later still fortified place, has suffered its castle they added the great gallery lined with to fall in ruins, and swept away its towers full-length portraits of the Adhémar, and and ramparts to make room for boule- under Louis XIV Mansart built the sovards, as though eager to efface all traces called Façade des Prélats, which, judgof its long crowded past. But one such ing from its remains, did not yield in trace nearer at hand and of more stateliness to any of the earlier portions intimate connotations — remains in the of the castle. From this side a fine flight hôtel de Simiane, now the hôtel de ville, of double steps still descends to a garden but formerly the house of that Marquis set with statues and fountains; and be de Simiane who married Pauline de yond it lies the vast stone terrace which Grignan, the grand-daughter of Madame forms the roof of the collegial church, de Sévigné.

and is continued by a chemin de ronde This is the first reminder that we are crowning the lofty ramparts on the sumin the Grignan country, and that a turn mit of the rock. of the road will presently bring us in full This princely edifice remained in unview of that high-perched castle where altered splendour for sixty years after the great lieutenant-governor of Pro- the house of Adhémar, in the person of vence, Madame de Sévigné's son-in-law, Madame de Sévigné's grandson, had dispensed an almost royal hospitality died out, ruined and diminished, in and ruled with more than royal arro- 1732. But when the Revolution broke, gance.

old memories of the Comte de Grignan's The Comte de Grignan was counted dealings with his people – of unpaid a proud man, and there was much to debts, extorted loans, obscure lives defoster pride in the site and aspect of his voured by the greedy splendour on the ancestral castle ce château royal de rock all these recollections, of which Grignan. If Italy, and Papal Italy, has one may read the record in various family been in one's mind at every turn of the memoirs, no doubt increased the fury way from Avignon to Tulette, it seems of the onslaught which left the palace actually to rise before one as the great of the Adhémar a blackened ruin. If ruin, springing suddenly from its cliff there are few spots in France where one more deeply resents the senseless havoc

way that ran through them to Paris. of the Revolution, there are few where, Paris! Grignan seems far enough from on second thoughts, one so distinctly it even now what an Ultima Thule, understands what turned the cannon on a land of social night, it must have the castle.

been in the days when Madame de SéThe son-in-law of Madame de Sévigné's heavy travelling-carriage had to vigné was the most exorbitant as he was bump over six hundred miles of rutty the most distinguished of his race; and road to reach the doors of the hôtel Carit was in him that the splendour and dis- navalet! One had to suffer Grignan for aster of the family culminated. But one's adored daughter's sake – to put

probably no visions of future retribution up, as best one could, with the clumsy disturbed the charming woman who civilities of the provincial nobility, and spent - a victim to her maternal passion to console one's self by deliciously ridi- her last somewhat melancholy years culing the pretensions of Aix society in the semi-regal isolation of Grignan. but it was an exile, after all, and the No one but La Bruyère seems, in that ruined rooms of the castle, and the long day, to have noticed the “swarthy livid circuit of the chemin de ronde, are hauntanimal, crouched over the soil, which he ed by the wistful figure of the poor lady digs and turns with invincible obstin- who, though in autumn she could extol acy, but who, when he rises to his feet, the "sugary white figs, the Muscats goldshows a human countenance" — certain- en as amber, the partridges flavoured ly he could not be visible, toiling so far with thyme and marjoram, and all the below, from that proud terrace of the scents of our sachets,” yet reached her Adhémar which makes the church its highest pitch of eloquence when, with footstool. Least of all would he be per- stiff fingers and shuddering pen, she ceptible to the eyes

on other lines so pictured the unimaginable February discerning! — of the lady whose gaze, cold, the “awful beauty of winter,” the when not on her daughter's face, re- furious unchained Rhone, and “the mained passionately fixed on the barrier mountains charming in their excess of of northern mountains, and the high- horror."

(To be continued.)

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

on the

THE storm that had threatened all the “How on earth did you ever get day now beat against the dirty window here ?” he stammered out bluntly. panes

of the forlorn little inn. Through “Oh! I came yesterday the driving rain-sheets Marshall could steamer. Could n't walk very well, you barely make out the black smoke-plumes, know!” far below on the rough sea, of the small She continued to smile, as though the coast steamer on its way back to the Cala- situation gave her mischievous amusebrian port. His spirits sank as he watched ment. the steamer and realized that for at least I came to-day,” he managed to say, twenty-four hours he was committed to finally seating himself opposite her. this dot of an island, to this storm, and “So I supposed." above all to this cheerless country inn. And then there was silence while the He doubted if that temple of Juno, so woman of the inn clattered in with two bepraised by all the belletristic guide- bowls of soup. books, could be worth the effort. The As her head bent over the soup he inn-keeper's wife was preparing places looked at her more closely. Ten years for two at the dirty table.

had touched the dark hair with a line of “Un'altra forestiere!” the woman ex- gray here and there, and the gentle curves plained proudly. “Una donna Inglese!” of the chin and neck had flattened a bit; An Englishwoman, also in quest of the but he was conscious that she had far famous temple, and storm-bound, too! less of an account with Time than he, The news did not gladden Marshall's with his heavy figure, his undisguised heart: the wandering Englishwoman of baldness. Ten years! It was exasperhis acquaintance was not a mitigating ating that they two who had striven so prospect. He went back to the rain desperately to separate themselves were driving over the tiled roofs of the little thus brought together at the end of the town below, while the woman of the inn earth — where there was no escape. completed her arrangements. Presently “You did n't think what a surprise there was a brisk footstep in the corridor, was awaiting you at Stromboli, when a flutter of skirts, and he turned reluc- you bought your tickets !” she remarked tantly just as the stranger, having seated coolly, sipping at a spoonful of the thick herself, looked up inquiringly.

minestra. In the surprise of their meeting eyes Hardly!” A struggling smile softhe was distinctly at a disadvantage. The ened the crudity of his tone. roguish smile, that gay manner of taking “Fate makes strange —” she caught the unexpected, which he had reason to herself in time, and blushed charmknow so well, carried her through even ingly. this.

“The padrona said an EnglishwoWith the air almost of having purposely arranged this impossible meeting, "We're all English to them — besides, she spoke first, while he still fumbled with do I look like a touristy American ?” the back of his chair.

To this touch of coquetry he replied "Well, Alfred, it is unexpected!" she clumsily, — murmured.

“Not exactly.”

353 VOL. 101 - NO. 3


« PreviousContinue »