The Project Gutenberg eBook of Vanished Halls and Cathedrals of France

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Title: Vanished Halls and Cathedrals of France

Author: George Wharton Edwards

Release date: June 22, 2014 [eBook #46069]
Most recently updated: May 15, 2015

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Widger from page images generously
provided by the Internet Archive



By George Warton Edwards

Illustrated with 32 Plates in full Color and Monotone.


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Quis funera faudo Explicet, aut possit lacrymis aequare Labores? Urbs antiqua ruit, fnultos dominât a per annos; Plurima perque vias sternuntur inertia passim. Corpora, perque domos, et religiosa deorum Limina!

(Virgil, Æneid, II. v. 361.)

Surviving the ancient wars and revolutions in this, "the Cockpit of Europe," the great examples of architecture of the early days of France remained for our delight. The corroding fingers of time, it is true, were much more merciful to them, but certainly the destroyers of old never ventured to commit the crimes upon them now charged against the legions of the present invader. These fair towns of Picardy and Champagne are sacked, pillaged and burned even as were the beautiful Flemish towns of Ypres, Malines, Termonde, Dixmude, and Dinant on the Meuse....

Never again shall we enjoy them: the chalices are broken and the perfume forever vanished....

The catastrophe is so unbelievable that one cannot realize it. The Seven Churches of Soissons, Senlis, Noyon, Laon, Meaux, Rheims, St. Remi; these such as man probably never again can match, are either razed to the foundations, or so shattered that it will be impossible to restore them.

It is said that the Imperial Government has promised to rebuild these Gothic masterpieces....

One cannot trust one's self to comment upon this announcement.

Imagine these sacred ruins.... Rheims!... Rheims can never be restored to what it was before the bombardment. Let it rest thus.... A sacred ruin—the scarred, pierced heart of France!

Likewise "these fair sweet towns" of the middle ages; these wonderful little streets and byways, filled with the gray old timbered houses, "old in Shakespeare's day." Up to the outbreak of the war there were many of these throughout France, in spite of the wave of modernity which resulted in so much so called town improvement.

In Arras the two old Squares, the Grand Place and the Petit Place, survived until destroyed by bombs in 1914. Those double rows of Ancient Flemish gables, and the beautiful lace like tower of the Town Hall cannot be forgotten, although they are now but calcined beams and ashes. Between the Seine and the Flemish frontier lay a veritable storehouse of incomparable architectural monuments. Of these Rouen, with its famous Cathedral, is happily out of reach of the guns of the invader, and one hopes out of danger. Beauvais likewise has not yet suffered, nor Chalons, with its great church of St. Loup and St. Jean, but the Cathedral and the town of Noyon have been leveled, and the gray walls of incomparable coucy-le-Château, "that greatest of the castles of the Middle Ages," whose lords arrogantly proclaimed "Roi ne suys, ne prince, ne duc, ne conte aussi; je suys le Sire de Coucy," have vanished forever from the heights under the wanton fire of the invaders' shells, and twenty thousand pounds of powder placed in the walls and exploded in revenge on the day of the retreat (April 1917).

Amiens, for some reason, has been spared, but it too may yet receive its baptism of fire, even as Rheims. Amiens and Rheims! Never were there such miracles of art as shown in these temples! Rheims is now a ragged ruin of roofless leaning walls. So Amiens, miraculously preserved, is now the greatest existing example of Christian architecture in the world.

In the following chapters I have quoted extracts from accounts written by eyewitnesses of acts committed by the invader in the devastated towns of France. I am not responsible for these statements, nor can I vouch absolutely for their truth, or correctness. I give them for what they are worth as part of the setting—the frame work of the pictures I have made of the noble, now vanished monuments which can never be replaced....

If I have betrayed bitter feeling it is because of their destruction by whomsoever accomplished.

"Woe be unto him from whom offense cometh."

The Author.

Greenwich, Conn.

May 1917.



It was half-past six o'clock on a summer's morning, and a deep-toned bell in the cathedral sounded over the quaint gables of this really Flemish city of Arras. Although we were in France, little difference either in the people, costumes or architecture could be noted, so mingled here were the characteristics of the French and the Belgians. The sun was well up and gleamed hotly upon the old roof tops of the town, old many of them in Shakespeare's day, and flooded with golden light the quaint market place, now filled with swarming peasants. There were great heaps of flowers here and there, among the booths containing varied merchandise, and some of the market people were taking their morning bowls of hot café au lait, made fresh in green and yellow earthenware "biggins," over small iron braziers containing burning charcoal. The odor was inviting, and as the people are always kindly disposed towards the traveler who has savoir faire, one may enjoy a fragrant and nourishing bowl with them in profitable and friendly commune, for almost whatever he chooses to offer, and not rarely free of any fee whatever save a "thank you," which is always received with a gracious smile and a murmured "N'pas d'quoi, M'sieu," or an "Au plaisir."

It was perchance a market morning in Arras, and the long open square lined on either hand with strangely gabled Flemish houses, and closed at the upper end by the admirable lofty towered Town Hall, was filling fast with arrivals from the country round about.

Town Hall Arras


Everything was fresh and clean from the late rains, and the air was laden with the mingled perfume of flowers; with butter and cheese. Country carts of extravagant design and painted green were unloading, and the farmer's boys were fitting together the booths for the sale of their varied commodities. Here and there were active dark complexioned Hebraic looking men and women, hard faced and sinister, who presided over stalls for the sale of cloth, shoes and the trinkets of small value calculated to tempt the peasantry. A cinematograph booth, resplendent with gilding, mirrors, and red and white paint, towered over the canvas covered booths, and a "merry go round," somewhat shabby by contrast, stood near it, its motive power, a small fat horse, contentedly eating his breakfast out of a brass hooped pail. The shops were opening one by one, displaying agricultural tools, and useful articles desired by the peasants. One heard bargaining going on, sometimes in the Flemish tongue, proving how near we were to Flanders, and sometimes in Walloon. Both tongues are used here, and the costumes partake of their characteristics, the women in neat if coarse stuffs, and the men in stiff blue blouses, usually in wooden shoes, too. This was remarkable, for the wooden shoe was fast vanishing from the towns. We noted too, that women were abandoning the snowy white lace trimmed caps once forming such a quaint feature of market day gatherings. Now various hideous forms of black and purple bonnets, decked out with beads and upstanding feathers disfigured them, but with what pride they were worn!

This market place at Arras was a sight worth a long journey to witness, if but to see the display of animals, chickens, and flowers on a bright sunny morning in the square beneath the tower of the Town Hall. The fowls squawked and flapped their wings; dogs barked; horses neighed; and hoarse voiced vendors called out their bargains. Here and there the fowl were killed on the spot for the buyer, and carried off by rosy cheeked unsentimental housewives, carried off, too, often hidden in bunches of bright flowers.

Did I write unsentimental?—An error. Nowhere were the common people more given to sentiment. Does not one remember the large room that la belle madame at the 'Couronne d'or provided for the traveling painter, who occupied it for two weeks, and during the season too, and when he discovered on the morning of departure that it was not included in the bill, on pointing out the omission to madame, did she not, and with the most charming smile imaginable say, with a wave of her shapely brown hands—"One could not charge for a room used as M'sieur's studio. The honor is sufficient to the 'Couronne d'or." And how to repay such kindness?

In an hour the noise and chattering of a market morning was in full sway. And over all sounded the great bell of the Cathedral: other church bells joined in the clamor, and at once began an accompaniment of clattering wooden shoes over the rough cobbles towards the church doors. Following these people up the street, we entered the dim pillared nave of the old church. On Sundays and market days the interior formed a picture not to be forgotten, and one especially full of human interest. The nave was freer of modern "improvements" than most of the churches, and there was much quiet dignity in the service. A large number of confessional cabinets, some of very quaint and others of most exquisitely carved details, were set against the walls. Some of these had heavy green baize curtains to screen them instead of doors, and some of the cabinets were in use, for the skirt of a dress was visible below one of the curtains. The women before the altar knelt on the rush seats of small chairs, resting their clasped hands, holding rosaries, on the back, furnished with a narrow shelf between the uprights. They wore dark blue or brown stuff dresses, and small plaid shawls. We noted that not one of these wore wooden shoes or sabots. All on the contrary wore neat leather shoes.

The women, especially the older ones, all turned their heads and curiously examined us as we tip-toed about, without, however, interrupting their incessant prayers for an instant. And they did not seem to resent our presence in the church, or regard it as an intrusion.

In the subdued colored light from the painted windows, with the clouds of incense rising, the proportions of the columns and the lancet arches and windows were most impressive, and together with the kneeling peasants made a very fine effect.

While there was little to be found in Arras that was really remarkable, for the town was given over to the traffic in grain and the townspeople were all very commercial, there were bits of the town corners and side streets worthy of recording. Near the dominating Town Hall were many types of ancient Flemish gabled houses, of which we shall not find better examples even in Flanders itself. Arras was as noisy as any Belgian market town where soldiers are stationed. There was the passing of heavy military carts through the ill-paved streets; the clatter of feet; the sounds of bugle and rolling of drum at sundown. The closing of the cafés at midnight ended the day, while at dawn in the morning the din of arriving and passing market wagons commenced again, followed by the workmen and women going to their daily tasks at the factories.

"Do these people never rest?" asked Lady Anne, whose morning nap was thus rudely interrupted. Ma-dame's answer came:

"Ah, indeed, yes. But not in the summer. Mark you, in the dark short days of winter, there is little going on in Arras. Then we are very quiet."

Urselines Tower: Arras


The old town was old, very old. There were of course some modern looking white houses of stucco in which we were told some rich people live, and there were large blank walled factories with tall chimneys, from which heavy black smoke poured the livelong day. There were plate glass windows here and there, too, in some of the shops, with articles de Paris exposed for sale, and there were occasionally smooth pavements to be found, but mainly there were quaint old corners, high old yellow fronted, narrow windowed houses, and old, old men and older women passing to and fro in the narrow by streets.

In one corner of the market place sat an ancient dame in a wonderful lace cap, who presided over a huge pile of pale green earthenware pots of various sizes and fine shapes, who all unconsciously made for me a picture in sunlight and shadow; brown wrinkled hands busy with knitting; brown wrinkled face and bright shrewd greeny blue eyes, twinkling below the flaps of her lace cap; all against a worn, old, rusty-hinged green door! I could not resist the opportunity. So in a convenient doorway I paused to make a note of it without attracting much attention from the passers-by.

Entering the wide "place" (there were two of these) one was confronted by an astonishing vista of quaintly gabled Flemish houses on either hand, all built mainly after one model but presenting some variations of minor detail. These led to the Hotel de Ville. The houses were furnished with arcades below supported by monolithic sandstone columns. The Hotel de Ville, built in the sixteenth century (not a vestige of which remains at this writing, April, 1917), was one of the most ornate in France. Its fine Gothic façade rose upon seven quaintly different arcades, in the elaborate Renaissance style, pierced by ornate windows with Gothic tracery in the best of taste and workmanship. Overhead rose the graceful Belfry, terminating in a gilded ducal crown at the height of some two hundred and fifty feet. The weekly market fair was in full progress, and the old Grand' Place was swarming with carts, animals, booths, and chattering peasants. Before the Revolution, the Chapelle des Ardents and the spire of La Sainte-Chapelle on the Petit' Place commemorated the deliverance of Arras in the twelfth century from the plague called the "mal des ardents," when the Virgin is believed to have given a candle to two fiddlers, declaring that "water into which a drop of its holy wax had fallen would save all who drank it." *

Behind the dominating tower of the Hotel de Ville was the modern Cathedral, formerly the abbey church of St. Vaast, with an unfinished tower of 1735.

We found in the Chapel of the Virgin the tomb of Cardinal de la Tour d' Auvergne-Lauraguais, and the twelfth century tombs of an abbot, of Philippe de Torcy, a governor of Arras, and his wife. The treasury is said to have contained the blood-stained "rochet" worn by Thomas à Becket when he was murdered, but the sacristan refused to show it unless he was first paid a fee of two francs, which we thought exorbitant.

     *  Hare's "Northeastern France."

Arras was the capital of the Gallic tribe "Atrebates," and even in the dim fourth century was famous for the manufacture of woolen cloth, dyed with the madder which grows luxuriously in the neighborhood. The wearing of tapestry hangings gave Arras a high reputation, and examples are preserved in the museums of France and England, where the name of the town is used to identify them. The art has long since ceased to exist, needless to say.

Briefly, the town followed the fortunes of the Pays d' Artois, of which it was the capital, passing by marriage from the house of France to Burgundy, Flanders, Burgundy again, Germany and Spain. After the battle of Agincourt, the English and French signed the treaty of peace at Arras. The town was finally incorporated with France in 1640.

According to legend one of the ancient gates, of which no trace now remains, bore the proud distich

"Quand les souris prendront les chats,

Le roi sera seigneur d'Arras."

which is said to have so enraged Louis of France that he expelled the whole population, abolishing even the name of Arras, which he changed to that of Franchise.

Here was born the great Robespierre, but we were unable to find the house, or even the street in which it was situated, nor could any of the ecclesiastics to whom we applied for information enlighten us in regard to the matter.

The Cathedral, a romanesque structure, at an angle of the abbey buildings, and approached by high stone steps broken by a platform, was built in 1755. Perhaps if we had not seen it after having feasted our eyes upon the exquisite details of the Hotel de Ville, it might have seemed more impressive and interesting. It contained some good pictures, including a "Descent from the Cross," and "The Entombment," attributed to Rubens and Van Dyck respectively.

The high altar enshrined a notable bas-relief in gilt bronze. The Abbatial buildings were occupied by the 'Evéche, Seminary, Library, and the Musée, the latter containing a lot of modern paintings, badly hung, and seemingly indifferent in quality.

In the cloisters, however, were rooms containing an archaeological collection of sculptures and architectural fragments, and a small collection of Flemish pictures by "Velvet" Breughel, Heemskerk, N. Maes and others, and upstairs, a fine model of an antique ship, "offered" by the States of Artois to the American Colonies in the War of Independence. One wonders why it was never sent.

At the end of a quiet street which crossed the busy and crowded Rue St. Aubert, we came upon the remains of a remarkable old town gate, and the remains, too, of the ancient fortified walls, and farther on, the dismantled citadel constructed by the great Vauban in 1670, and called "La Belle Inutile." Here in this region, called the "cockpit of Europe," for ages incessant wars have been waged, covering the land with such a network of evidences of bitterly fought rivalries as no other portion of the earth can show, and when no foreign foe had to be baffled or beaten off, then the internecine wars of clan against clan have flooded the fair land with gore and ruin.

But all was peaceful here about this old town this bright morning in July, 1910. There was no evidence of the red waves of the wars which had rolled over and eddied about this very spot, save the old dismantled Vauban tower and the remains of the ancient wall, in which we were only mildly interested. It was the present day's wanderings which interested us more; the lives of the peasants, their customs and their daily occupations. Time seemed to stand still here without any consciousness of backwardness. Nothing hurried at Arras, and change for the sake of change had no attraction for it. The ways of the fathers were good enough for the children.

There was a newspaper here, of course, but yet the town crier held his own,—a strange looking old man in a long crinkly blue blouse, balloon like trousers of velveteen corduroy, wooden shoes and a broad brimmed felt hat. A drum hung suspended from his shoulder by a leather strap. He was followed by a small procession of boys and girls. He stopped and beat a vigorous tattoo on the drum; windows above and doors below were filled with heads as if by magic. He produced a folded paper from his pocket, glanced about him proudly conscious of the importance of the occasion, and read in a loud voice some local news of interest, and then announced the loss of something or other, with notice to hand whatever it was to the commissaire de Police, and then marched off down the street to repeat the performance at the next corner. The heads vanished from the windows like the cuckoos of German clocks, and the street was quiet again. Who could have believed that such a custom could have survived in the days of telegraph and telephone, and in a city of, say, thirty thousand inhabitants?

The old streets and highways about the town were indescribably attractive, and beyond in the country, the shaded ways beneath large trees offered charming vistas, and shelter from the sun. The people seemed to have an intuitive feeling for harmony, and little or nothing in or about the cottages, save an occasional odoriferous pig sty, offended one.

Colors melted into half tones in the most seductive fashion, and there was, too, an insistent harmony in the costumes of the peasants, the stain of time on the buildings or the grayish greens of the landscape.

But of all this the peasant was most certainly unconscious. The glories of nature and her marvelous harmonies were no more to him than to the beast of the field. He was hard of heart, brutal of tongue and mean of habit. Balzac has well described him in his "Sons of the Soil." Money was his god, and greed his pursuit. Yet all about him nature bloomed and fructified, while he toiled and schemed, his eyes ever bent earthwards. The peasant had no sentiment. It was best therefore to view him superficially, and as part of the picturesqueness of the country, like the roofs and gables of the old town, say, without seeking out secrets of the "menage" behind the walls.

We were interested in the various occupations of these semi-Flemish peasants, and the cries of the vendors in the streets in the early morning. Most of these cries were unintelligible to us because of the mixed patois, but it amused us to identify the cry of the vendor of eels, which was most lugubrious—a veritable wail of distress, seemingly. And when we saw her in the street below our windows, laden with two heavy baskets containing her commodity, her fat rosy face lifted to the sky, her appearance so belied the agonizing wail that we laughed aloud—and then—she heard us! What vituperation did she not address to us? Such a vocabulary, too! although we did not understand more than a few words she made it very plain that she regarded us as most contemptible beings.

"Miserable espece de Mathieux" she called up to us again and again. Whatever that meant, whatever depths of infamy it denoted, we did not know, nor did we ever find out. We were much more careful thereafter, and kept away from the window, for setting down her baskets she planted herself on the curb opposite and there presiding over the curious group of market people whom she had collected about her, she raged and stormed with uplifted fat red arms gesticulating at our windows, until the crowd, wearying of her eloquence, gradually melted away. We never saw her again.

There was also the seller of snails, whose cry was a series of ludicrous barks and cackles. I don't know how else to describe the extraordinary sounds he made. They quite fascinated us, for he varied them from time to time, taking seemingly much enjoyment in the ingenuity of his performance. His baskets, which hung by brass chains from a green painted yoke on his shoulders, contained a collection of very large snails, all, as he said, freshly boiled, and each shell being closed by a seal of fresh yellow butter, sprinkled, I think, with parsley (I never tasted them), and prettily reposing upon a bed of crisp pale green lettuce leaves. These seem to be highly esteemed by the people.

Our chief search in Arras, after valuing the ancient halls and the limited treasures of the museum, was for some examples of the wonderful tapestries known far and near by the name of "Arras." In vain we sought a specimen; there was none in the museum, nor in the town hall either. Those whom we thought might be able to assist us in our search professed ignorance of any such article, and the priest whom we met in the cathedral, directed us to the local furniture shop for what he called "belle tapis" So we gave it up, most reluctantly, however.

It is strange that not one example could be found in the town of this most renowned tapestry, for this ancient town enjoyed a reputation second to none in the low countries for art work of the loom. Cloth and all manner of woolen stuffs were the principal articles of Flemish production, but it was chiefly from England that Flanders drew her supply of wool, the raw material of her industry, and England was her great market as early as the middle of the twelfth century. There was a great guild established in London called the Flemish "Hanse," to which the merchants sent their manufacture. It was governed by a burgher of Bruges who was styled "Count of the Hanse."

"The merchants of Arras became so prosperous and powerful, that (says a chronicler), Marguerite II, called The Black, countess of Flanders and Hainault, 1244 to 1280, was extremely rich, not only in lands but furniture, jewels, and money; and, as is not customary with women, she was right liberal and right sumptuous, not alone in her largesses, but in her entertainments and whole manner of living; insomuch that she kept up the state of a queen rather than a countess." (Kervyn de Lettenhove, Histoire d' Flandre, t, ii. p. 300.)

To Arras, in common with the neighboring towns, came for exchange the produce of the North and the South, the riches collected in the pilgrimages to Novogorod, and those brought over by caravans from Samarcand and Bagdad,—the pitch of Norway and oils of Andalusia, the furs of Russia and dates from the Atlas, the metals from Hungary and Bohemia, the figs of Granada, the honey of Portugal, the wax of Morocco and the spices from Egypt: "Whereby" says the ancient manuscript, "no land is to be compared in merchandise to this land."

And so, even if the guide books do dismiss Arras at the end of a few curt details with the words "The Town is now given over to various manufactures, and its few attractions may be exhausted between trains," Arras certainly did offer to the curious tourist many quaint vistas, a Town Hall of great architectural individuality, and in her two picturesque squares, the "Grand' Place" and the "Petit' Place," a picture of antiquity not surpassed by any other town in Northern France.

Saint Jean Baptiste: Arras


Quoting that eminent architect, Mr. Ralph Adams Cram, "We may pause in spirit in Arras (it would not be well to be there now in body, unless one were a soldier in the army of the Allies, when it would be perilous, but touched with glory), for sight of an old, old city that gave a vision, better than almost any other in France, of what cities were in this region at the high-tide of the Renaissance. It is gone now, utterly, irremediably, and the ill work begun in the revolution and continued under the empire, when the great and splendid Gothic Cathedral was sold and destroyed, has been finished by Prussian shells.

"Capital of Artois, it had a vivid and eventful history, continuing under Baldwin of the Iron Arm, who became the first Count of Arras; then being halved between the Count of Flanders and the King of France; given by St. Louis to his brother Robert, passing to the Counts of Burgundy, reverting to Louis de Male, of Flemish fame, abandoned to the Emperor, won back by France;... coming now to its end at the hands of the German hosts.

"What Arras must have been before the Revolution we can only guess, but its glorious Cathedral, its Chappelle des Ardents, and its 'Pyramid of the Holy Candle' added to its surviving Town Hall, with its fantastically beautiful spire, and its miraculously preserved streets and squares lined with fancifully gabled and arcaded houses, it must have been a sanctuary of old delights. The Cathedral was of all styles from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, while the Chapel and the Pyramid were models of medieval art in its richest state. Both were destroyed by one Lebon, a human demon and an apostate priest, who organised a 'terror' of his own in his city, and has gone down to infamy for his pestilential crime. Both the destroyed monuments were votive offerings in gratitude to Our Lady for her miraculous intervention in the case of the fearful plague in the twelfth century, the instrument of preservation being a certain holy candle, the melted wax from which was effective in preserving the life of all it touched. The Pyramid was a slender Gothic tabernacle and spire, ninety feet high, standing in the 'Petit' Place,' a masterpiece of carved and gilded sculpture, unique of its kind. Every vestige has vanished,—Berlin has just announced that it has been completely and intentionally destroyed by gun-fire.

"The fine vigor of the Renaissance and its life were gone with the color and gold of the carved and painted shrines and houses, the fanciful costumes, the alert civic life.—Wantonly destroyed!"

Madeline Wartelle, a voluntary nurse, who was in Arras during the great bombardment in July, 1915, wrote in the volume "Les Cites Meurtries" the following account of her experiences during the destruction of the Cathedral and the other noble buildings.

"On July 2d, about six o'clock in the evening several shells fell upon the Cathedral. Then followed a calm for two hours. At half past eight, a bomb dropped from above, set fire to the house of M. Daquin in the rue de' l'Arsenal, and in a few moments the flames were mounting to a great height. When the firemen (pompiers) arrived, the fire had already spread to the house of Mme. Cornnan, and could not be confined even to the neighboring ones. During and following this catastrophe, at one o'clock in the morning, an avalanche of great bombs, those called 'Marmites,' fell all over this quarter of the town. This time, alas, we had no trouble in getting all the details of the happening, for our house collapsed, being struck by the second bomb dropped by the 'Taube,' which went through the roof to the cellar. Luckily, we had gone to R—s when the fire broke out, and thus we all escaped.

"Forced to leave (Arras) we did not see the demolishment of the Cathedral and the Palace of St. Vaast on Monday, July 5th, but I set down here what I have learned from the lips of a witness of the deplorable 'aneantisment.'

"From six o'clock on that date, the gun-fire of the 'Huns' was especially directed at the Cathedral, and the fire which ensued spread to the end of the Palace of St. Vaast, which contained the archives of the town, and which was entirely consumed, and spreading further likewise destroyed the Library and the Museum of the Seminary. The fire department did what it could to save the books and sacred objects, but their efforts were in vain, such was the rain of projectiles from the 'Taubes' above, and the shells from the great guns miles away. So the order to evacuate was given by the authorities.

"At one o'clock the following morning the smouldering fire in the Cathedral was fanned by a high wind which sprang up, and soon enveloped the whole interior; the two great organs, the large pulpit, and the Bishop's stalls were entirely consumed. The fire in the Cathedral burned two whole days, watched by a mourning throng of the townspeople, who thus braved death by the falling bombs. All was consumed but the great door on the rue des Charriottes, which did not fall until the week following. On the twelfth day, at five in the morning, the fire demolished the Bishopric, and the Chapel of the great Seminary. Nothing is now left but a heap of smoking cinders and ashes, from which some charred beams protrude. The treasured Chateau d'Eau is gone!"

Château, d'Eau: Arras


"Happily, the 'Descent from the Cross' by Rubens, which decorated the Cathedral was removed from its place some hours before the fire, when the first of the great shells fell upon the town, and secreted by the priests. Also two 'triptychs' by Jean Bellegambe were saved by M. Levoy, who buried them in the cellar of the Chateau of the Counte de Hauteclocque. Curiously enough, some little time after they were thus secreted, a shell penetrated this cellar, but it is said that the damage to the pictures is small and may easily be repaired.

"The Abbe Miseron, Vicar of the Cathedral, himself, at the peril of his life saved some of the most precious objects in the Treasury. He says (happily) that the great tombs of the Bishops, though buried beneath the ashes of the Cathedral, have suffered small damage.

"Of the four colossal statues of the Evangelists, not a trace remains; they are entirely pulverized by the great shells exploding before them.

"Of the Library, too, not a trace remains! Some of the archives have, I hear, been saved, together with a number of paintings, and M. Dalimeir, under secretary of Beaux Arts has decided to send them to Paris. All the rest has vanished. A fragment of the plan in relief of the old town of Arras, formerly in the Invalides was saved, but nothing remains of the Roman antiquities which were discovered in the caves beneath the town, nor of the old tapestries, nor the faience, nor of the objects which filled the galleries of Natural History in the museum.—All is gone!

"In eleven months since the bombardment began, one hundred and seventy-five of our citizens have been killed in the streets and in their houses, and the number of wounded is more than double that number. After the demolition of our charming home, we found shelter for three nights in the cellar of a kind neighbor, but on the fifth of July, in the early morning, we had to take in our turn 'le chemin d' 'Exil.' For nine months now we have had to retreat from place to place, each filled with possible dangers, and certain discomfort, but with hearts filled too with profound emotion, and the hope that we may soon return to our beloved town and to our charming old home, our house so beloved—so peaceful once in those happy days, when the pigeons cooed on the eaves in the warm sunlight, the swallows darting to their nests on the chimney—all the cherished souvenirs of those past days—my tears—"... Our poor town"—(ville Meurtrie).

"Around about Arras, the villages, once so smiling and prosperous, are now all in ruins.—Later on when glorious peace breaks upon the land of France, each hamlet shall be starred upon the pages of the golden book of history. And this black page of war once closed, that Arras-la-Morte shall rise from her ruins and ashes, more beautiful than ever, is my prayer."

(Signed) Madeline Wartelle.

July, 1915.

In the Journal Officiel, of Paris, is the following:

Ministère de la Guerre.

Citation à l' ordre de l' Armée.

Wartelle (Madeleine), Infirmière volontaire à l' ambulance 1/10 du Saint Sacrement: N'a cessé de prodiguer des Soins aux blessés et de fournir aux médicins la plus précieuse collaboration; a contribué par une action personnelle, lors du bombardment du 25 Juin, à sauver les blessés en les mettant hors d'atteinte des projectiles ennemis (27 Septembre 1915).

Ministère de l'Intérieur.

Le Gouvernement porte la connaissance du pays la belle conduite de Mlle. Wartelle (Madeleine): a fait preuve, dans des circonstances tragiques, du plus grand courage.

Alors que l'ambulance du Saint-Sacrement à Arras, où elle était infirmière voluntaire, venait d' etre violemment bombardée, que des soldats et des religieuses etaient tués, elle est demeurée résolument à son poste, ardent à descendre à la cave les blessés, prodignant à tous ses soins empressés. (28 Novembre 1915.)


OUR fruitless search in Arras for some examples of the ancient tapestries somewhat dampened the ardor of our tour at the very beginning. But in the train on our way to Lille we Had a charming view of suburban Arras lying basking in the sun, all girt by its verdant belt of dense dark green trees. From the window of the railway carriage we saw the horizon expand, and hill after hill unroll, covered with waving corn, and realized that France s great northern granary lay spread before our eyes, the fields like cabochon emeralds set royally in virgin gold.

Approaching Lille one got the impression of a region in which the commonweal formed the keynote, so to speak, and after the beauties surrounding quaint Arras, it seemed somewhat sordid. The embossed fair green hills were replaced by level plains; the smiling cornfields vanished before barren brown moors. The wealth of the earth here lay far below the plains, and man was busied in bringing it to the surface. Ceres gave way to Vulcan: Prosperous picturesque farmsteads were displaced by high black and ugly furnaces from which tremendous volumes of pitch black smoke issued the live-long day, and maybe the night as well. The stacks of grimy chimneys were seemingly as high as the spires of churches, and ashes and dust covered all. Lille is in the coal region. Somehow as we approached it we thought of our own Pittsburgh. The latter is no whit dirtier, but it is not so picturesque as was Lille. Roubaix, on the horizon, is even dirtier, so a traveling companion informed us, and gave us other information which kept us away from that Flemish town. Lille was said to be the administrative factor of northern France, in point of industry. The town had upwards of one hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants, among whom there were some possessed of great fortunes. These built for themselves houses of magnificent proportions on both sides of boulevards leading nowhere. In this region we found a café restaurant of princely aspect "as good as any in Paris," the townspeople proudly said, with a huge mansard roof, and a tower which did not fit it. On the river bank, lined with barges, were two fine promenades, brand new, and at the end of one was an artificial waterfall with plenty of water falling over artificial rocks in doubtful taste, of which the Lilleois were so pathetically proud that we could only smilingly agree to their extravagant joy in it as a work of art. Here we found American made tram cars running through the rather commonplace streets, which however were teeming with life and "business." In response to a question, a "cabby" urged as the greatest attraction a ride out to the hydraulic works situated on a plain, where a great engine pumped drinking water from a deep well inclosed in brick work. The whole atmosphere of the place was like unto that of one of our own Yankee towns. But there were, of course, some notable and picturesque buildings in Lille. There was the Exchange, the chief architectural ornament of the city, and really it was impossible to see it without pausing in admiration of its characteristics. Occupying, as it did, the great Market Place, I know of no other building like it save perhaps the Exchange in Antwerp, that lovely semi-Moorish hall with its shield-emblazoned frieze, and its lofty glass ceiling. This one at Lille was, of course, smaller, but it had the great advantage of being free from encroaching buildings, and standing quite alone, being visible from all four sides.

Then, too, it was a genuine example of its order of architecture, a beautifully preserved specimen of the ancient Spanish style, with an added touch here and there of Italian Renaissance which blended charmingly. The walls were of Flemish red brick, while the Atrium, open to the sky, and serving as an inner court, was pure Italian. Here was a fine bronze statue of Napoléon I, all clad in imperial robes, about which the busy, bustling merchants of Lille transacted some of their business in the afternoons. In the mornings we found most delightful solitude here in this court, which then by contrast seemed liker unto the cloisters of some abbey than the busy commercial center it was later in the day. Emblazoned here upon marble slabs one could read of the records of famous citizens of the town whose deeds were esteemed as precious and noteworthy. It is said that it was at either Lille or Tournai that Napoleon found the golden bees which he adopted for the Imperial insignia, these being taken from the tomb of a Frankish king.

We were further reminded of the Palais Royal in Paris, in the small shops, most brilliantly lighted at night, which formed the outer ring of the building. Here were displayed bijoux-or-et-argent, and also more or less exquisitely made robes for Madame de Lille.

The upper part of the building, which was two-storied, had dormer windows, and a quadrant of beautifully designed and executed interlaced stonework with a profusion of caryatides, pilasters, and bands of carved stone fruit and garlands of flowers, all of the greatest richness, within an astonishingly small space. Nowhere could we find the name of the architect, but it is said that the foundation was laid in 1652 by the Spanish. Workmen were busy cleaning a small turret of most graceful design which rose from above the walls of this quaint old Hispano-Flemish monument, and I noted the care with which the work was being done, a pleasing testimonial to the love of the people of Lille for their ancient work of art.

The Rihour Palace was far greater in size than the Exchange, but it did not match it in importance. The greater part of it was modern, for it was almost destroyed in the eighteenth century. Used as a town hall in the time of Louis Philippe, it became a sort of academy of art, wherein was displayed, and very well, too, a princely collection of paintings of Flemish and Dutch schools, and also the great collection of drawings known as the "Wicar Legacy," representing the Italian school, and containing a piece of sculpture of which all the museums of Europe envied that of Lille.

This in the catalogue was described as, "A waxen head of Raphael's time, titled thus by the hand of Wicar himself when in 1834 he drew up in Rome the inventory of the old Italian art collection." * Huet regards this as a marvel that one should not miss seeing. He says, "In truth, one fancies himself to be looking at the transparent, softly tinted face of one of Raphael's Madonnas. Innocence and gentleness dispute each other the palm in the expression of the features, they have settled on the pure brow, they play tranquilly and somewhat sadly around the mouth, they are crowned by the plaits of the fair tresses." We admired the head and treasured Wicar's description of it.

     * "The Land of Rubens," C. B. Huet.

Enumeration of the treasures contained in the Palais des Beaux Arts would take a volume in itself. Suffice it to say here that the collection contained in this edifice was among the most important in all France.

Rumors have appeared in print during the last two years, that this whole collection has been carefully packed and sent to Berlin. At this date of writing (May, 1917) Lille has not yet been evacuated by the Germans, and we are told that none of the buildings has been destroyed save some unimportant ones near the railway station. Just what will be the fate of the town may be conjectured when one reflects upon what happened to Noyon, to Rheims, to Soissons, and to St. Quentin, when the invaders were no longer able to hold them.

Let us pray that the Musée Wicar may be spared, by some happy chance. Wicar was an artist who died in 1834, who made a great deal of money by his work, and whose real hobby was the collection of the drawings by great masters, including nearly two hundred and fifty drawings by Michelangelo, sixty-eight by Raphael, and a large number by Francia, Titian and others, besides endless examples of the Renaissance.

Statue of Jeanne d'Arc: Rheims


Wandering about in Lille one came upon some handsome buildings behind the Hôtel de Ville in the Rue du Palais, which proved to be those of the Military Hospital, formerly a Jewish college. Here was an ancient chapel of the seventeenth century, containing a remarkable altar, and some huge dark paintings which may have been good, but the light was so dim, and they were hung so high that it was impossible to examine them. Continuing the wandering one reached the fine old town gate, the ancient Porte de la Barre, in a good state of preservation. There were a number of these gates. The old Porte de Paris was part of the fortifications, and built in the form of a sort of triumphal arch to the honor of Louis XVI. Some quaint streets as yet untouched by the march of commercialism, led from here into busy thoroughfares teeming with life and activity. One, running eastwards from the Porte de Paris, passed between a square and the old Hôtel du Génie, and this led one to the Gothic church of St. Sauveur, noteworthy for its double aisles, and most elaborate white marble high altar, carved in the Gothic style and with a bewildering detail and accompaniment of statues and alto-reliefs. There was also the great church of St. Maurice in the Flamboyant style, with a most notable west portal, most carefully restored in very good taste. An open-work spire of stone rose above it, all of admirable character. The interior proved to be distinguished by the width of the nave and the double aisles all of the same height, and by the richness of the effect lent by the remarkable lightness of the columns.

The handsomest streets of the old town were the Rue Esquermoise and the Rue Royale. Near the entrance to the latter was the ancient church of St. Catherine, founded in the twelfth century, and rebuilt in its present style in the sixteenth, and restored again in the eighteenth century. Here above the altar was a fine "Martyrdom of St. Catherine," by Rubens.

In common with the other Flemish cities of Douai, Cambrai, and Valenciennes, Lille suffered regularly from sieges and sackings, invasions and conquests from its very beginnings. "In June, 1297, Philip the Handsome, in person, laid siege to Lille, and on the 13th of August, Robert, Count of Artois, at the head of the French chivalry, gained at Furnes, over the Flemish army a victory which decided the campaign. Lille capitulated."

"The English reinforcements arrived too late and served no other purpose but that of inducing Philip to grant the Flemings a truce for two years. A fruitless attempt was made with the help of Pope Boniface VIII, to change the truce into a lasting peace. The very day on which it expired, Charles, Count of Valois, and brother of Philip the Handsome, entered Flanders with a powerful army, surprised Douai,... gave a reception to its magistrates who came and offered him the keys. 'The burghers of the towns of Flanders,' says a chronicler of the age, 'were all bribed by gifts or promises from the King of France, who would never have dared to invade their frontier had they been faithful to their Count.' The Flemish communes desired the peace necessary for the prosperity of their commerce; but patriotic anxieties wrested with material interests....

"In the spring of 1304 the cry of war resounded everywhere. Philip had laid an import extraordinary upon all real property in his kingdom; regulars and reserves had been summoned to Arras to attack the Flemings by land and sea. He had taken into his pay a Genoese fleet commanded by Regnier de Grimaldi, a celebrated Italian admiral; and it arrived in the North Sea, blockaded Zierickzee, a maritime town of Zealand.... The Flemish fleet was beaten. A great battle took place on the 17th of August between the two great land armies at Mons-en-Puelle, or Mont-en-Pévèle, according to the true local spelling, near Lille. The action was for some time indecisive, and even after it was over both sides hesitated about claiming a victory; but when the Flemings saw their camp swept off and rifled, and when they no longer found in it 'their fine stuffs of Bruges and Ypres, their wines of Rochelle, their beers of Cambrai, and their cheeses of Bethune,' they declared that they would return to their hearths; and their leaders, unable to restrain them, were obliged to shut themselves up in Lille, whither Philip, who had himself retired to Arras, came to besiege them. When the first days of downheartedness were over, and the danger which threatened Lille, and the remains of the Flemish army became evident, all Flanders rushed to arms.

"The labors of the workshop and the field were everywhere suspended; the women kept guard in the towns; you might traverse the country without meeting a single man, for they were all in the camp at Courtrai, to the number of twelve hundred thousand (!) according to popular exaggeration, swearing to one another that they would rather die fighting than live in slavery. Philip was astounded.

"'I thought the Flemings were destroyed,' said he, 'but they seem to rain from heaven.'

"The burghers of Bruges had made themselves a new seal whereon the old symbol of the bridge of their city on the river Reye was replaced by the Lion of Flanders, wearing the crown and armed with the cross, with this inscription: 'The Lion hath roared and burst his fetters' (Rugiit leo, Vincula fregit).

"During ten years, from 1305 to 1314, there was between France and Flanders a continual alternation of reciprocal concessions and retractions, of treaties concluded and of renewed insurrections without decisive and ascertained results. It was neither peace nor war; and after the death of Philip the Handsome, his successors were destined for a long time to come to find again and again amongst the Flemish communes deadly enmities and grievous perils." *

     * Guizot's "History of France."

What wonder then that Lille retains so few remarkable public monuments. Perhaps of all the Flemish towns she suffered most from pillage and fire. Farther on in the Rue Royale, beyond the statue of General Négrier, was the eighteenth century church of St. André, once belonging to the "Carmes déchaussés," where there were some good paintings by a native artist, Arnould de Vuez, who enjoyed considerable celebrity. Following the attractive quays along the river front, which was teeming with life and movement, one reached the small square of St. Martin, where was the church of "Notre Dame de la Trielle," which is said to have occupied the site of the ancient moated Chateau du Buc, which formed the origin of the city of Lille, and which the Flemish to this day call Ryssel. A fortress of the first class, Lille's citadel is said to have been Vauban's masterpiece, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why the invaders of 1914 surrounded it with the network of concrete trenches and galleries which formed the angle of the famous Hinden-burg line after the disastrous retreat from Arras in April, 1917. So far Lille has not suffered very much from the bombardment of this present year, but it is safe to say now that the invader will not spare it in retreat.


THERE was no better way of realizing the great bulk and height of the Cathedral than by proceeding to the banks of the river Somme northward, and from this point appraising its architectural wonder rising above the large and small old gray houses, tier above tier, misted in the soft clouds of gray smoke from their myriad chimneys, capped with red dots of chimney pots, "a giant in repose."

In approaching Amiens the traveler was offered no "coup d'oeil" like that of other cathedral towns; here "this largest church in the world except St. Peter's, at Rome," was hidden from view as one entered the town, and followed the Rue des Trois Cailloux, along what was formerly the boundaries of the ancient walls. It was difficult to obtain a good view of the façade, that of the west point was seen from a parvis, which qualified the difference in level between the east and west ends, and here was the central porch which took its name, "Porche de le Beau Dieu d'Amiens," from the figure of the Savior on its central pillar, and of which Ruskin wrote, "at the time of its erection, it was beyond all that had then been reached of sculptured tenderness."

It is not known at this time of writing (May, 1917) whether Amiens has suffered greatly at the hands of the Germans. Perhaps without its destruction there have been sufficient crimes committed against the church in the name of military necessity, and it thus has been spared.

For some reason or other Ruskin was not overenthusiastic over Amiens. He described the beautiful "flèche," which rose so gracefully from the great bulk against the sky, as "merely the caprice of a village carpenter," and he further declared that the Cathedral of Amiens is "in dignity inferior to Chartres, in sublimity to Beauvais, in decorative splendor to Rheims, and in loveliness of figure sculpture to Bourges." On the other hand, the great Viollet-le-Duc called it the "Parthenon of Gothic Architecture."

Of the two authorities, one may safely pin one's faith to the opinion of the eminent Frenchman, who spent his life in restoring great works rather than in abusing them.

Whewell says: "The mind is filled and elevated by the enormous height of the building (140 feet), its lofty and many colored clerestory, its grand proportions, its noble simplicity. The proportion of height to breadth is almost double that to which we are accustomed in English cathedrals; the lofty solid piers, which bear up this height, are far more massive in their plan than the light and graceful clusters of our English churches, each of them being a cylinder with four engaged columns. The polygonal E apse is a feature which we seldom see, and nowhere so exhibited, and on such a scale; and the peculiar French arrangement which puts the walls at the outside edge of the buttresses, and thus forms interior chapels all around, in addition to the aisles, gives a vast multiplicity of perspective below, which fills out the idea produced by the gigantic height of the center. Such terms will not be extravagant when it is recollected that the roof is half as high again as Westminster Abbey." Indeed this great height is only surpassed by that of one cathedral in all of France—Beauvais.

The vast arches here rose to nearly half the height of the structure, and then above these the architect placed a lovely band or frieze of carved foliage; then the triforium, and above this the glorious windows, separated from each other only by tall slender pillars springing gracefully from heavier ones. Nearly all the original painted glass was destroyed in the thirteenth century, but that which replaced it was of a certainty entirely satisfying.

Between two immense pillars at the entrance to the nave were the heavily ornamented gilded brass tombs of the Bishops who founded the Cathedral. That on the left was Geoffroi d'Eu, who died in 1236, and on the right was that of Evrard de Fouilloy, who died in 1223. Each shows a recumbent figure in full robes inclosed in Gothic canopies with pointed arches, and sustained by lions. The great organ loft was beneath the magnificent "rose de mer" window which was filled with the arms of the house of Firmin de Coquerel. In the choir were one hundred and ten carved stalls, said to have been designed and made by local artists of Amiens, and these alone would have made any cathedral noteworthy. According to that eminent authority, Mr. Francis Bond, the height of the nave and the aisles is three times their span, and this feature gave the effect for which the architect worked, that is, a splendid blaze of luminosity shining down into gloomy and most mysterious shadow. This blaze of light and color came not only from the clerestory, but also from the triforium, in which the superb blue glass shone with celestial splendor.

The meaning of the word "triforium" is perhaps somewhat obscure to all save architects. Herbert Marshall * defines the word as "Applied to the ambulatory or passage, screened by an arcade, which runs between the pier arches and clerestory windows and is considered to refer to the three openings, or spaces, 'trinae fores,' into which the arcading was sometimes divided. It probably has nothing to do with openings in multiples of three, nor with a Latinised form of 'thoroughfare' as suggested by Parker's Glossary, although the main idea is a passage running round the inside of a church, either as at Westminster, in the form of an ambulatory chamber, or of a gallery pierced through the main walls, from whence the structure may be inspected without the trouble of using ladders. M. Enlart in his 'Manuel d'Archéologie Française' derives the word from a French adjective, 'trifore,' or 'trifoire,' through the Latin 'transforatus,' a passage pierced through the thickness of the wall; and this idea of a passageway is certainly suggested by an old writer, Gervase, who, in his description of the new cathedral of Canterbury, rebuilt after the fire, alludes to the increased number of passages round the church under the word 'triforia.' 'Ibi triforium unum, hie duo in Choro, et in alâ ecclesiae tercium.'"

     * "Gothic Architecture in England."

Ruskin wrote in his diary under date of May 11th, 1857: "I had a happy walk here (Amiens) this afternoon, down among the branching currents of the Somme: it divides into five or six, shallow, green and not over-wholesome; some quite narrow and foul, running beneath clusters of fearful houses, reeling masses of rotten timber; and a few mere stumps of pollard willow sticking out of the banks of soft mud, only retained in shape of bank by being shored up with timbers; and boats like paper boats, nearly as thin at least, for costermongers to paddle about in among the weeds, the water soaking through the lath bottoms, and floating the dead leaves from the vegetable baskets with which they were loaded. Miserable little back yards, opening to the water, with steep stone steps down to it, and little platforms for the ducks; and separate duck staircases, composed of a sloping board with cross bits of wood leading to the ducks' doors; and sometimes a flower pot or two on them, or even a flower—one group of wall flowers and geraniums curiously vivid, being seen against the darkness of a dyer's backyard, who had been dyeing black, and all was black in his yard but the flowers, and they fiery and pure; the water by no means so, but still working its way steadily over the weeds, until it narrowed into a current strong enough to turn two or three 'wind mills,' (!) one working against the side of an old Flamboyant Gothic church, whose richly traceried buttresses sloped down into the filthy stream; all exquisitely picturesque, and no less miserable. (! ) We delight in seeing the figures in these boats, pushing them about the bits of blue water, in Prout's drawings; but as I looked to-day at the unhealthy face and melancholy mien of the man in the boat pushing his load of peat along the ditch, and of the people, men as well as women, who sat spinning gloomily at cottage doors, I could not help feeling how many persons must pay for my picturesque subject and happy walk."

The reader will probably exclaim: "Well, if this is Ruskin's idea of a 'happy walk,' what then would be his description of a gloomy one?"

We did not find the view of the town so squalid as this. Rising against the golden glow of the evening sky, the great bulk of the Cathedral massed itself in purple mist, its slender needle-like center tower and spire piercing the sky. Below lay the dull reds and slaty grays of the houses, concealed here and there by the massive foliage of the trees that lined the river bank. Barges of picturesque shape were tied up to the banks here and there, with lines of pink, white and blue freshly washed clothes strung along the decks, where children played, and there were brightly painted cabin deck houses, all white and green, from the chimney pipes of which ascended long pale lines of smoke from the galley stoves, showing that the evening meal was being cooked. On the decks of these barges nervous shaggy dogs ran up and down barking furiously at one thing or another; over all seemed to rest the air of well being and sweet content. If there were stagnant pools of filthy water, as Ruskin claimed, we saw them not, nor did the peasants seem unhealthy or miserable to our eyes.

Amiens was delightful to look upon, and we drove back to the hotel quite satisfied with our first view of it.

Day by day afterwards we haunted the great Cathedral, studying it from every viewpoint. Again and again we returned to the choir to gloat over the one hundred and ten magnificent stalls, carved as fluently as if modeled in clay, the forms so flowing and graceful as to suggest living branches, pinnacle crowning pinnacle, and detail of grace of design so exquisite as to be almost painful to follow—"Imperishable, fuller of leafage than any forest, and fuller of story than any book." (Ruskin.) The outside wall of the choir was quite concealed by the most richly Flamboyant Gothic archwork. In these arches were quantities of figures of saints, all emblazoned with gold and crimson and blue. These groups have been described by Lubke so well that I can do no better than quote him: "St. John is shown when he sees Christ and points him out to the multitude; then St. John preaching in the wilderness, and the Baptism of Christ, which is arranged with peculiar beauty and simplicity; lastly St. John as a preacher of repentance when the listening multitude is depicted with life. Then there are four scenes: the Apprehension of St. John; the Banquet, at which Herodias asks for the head of the Preacher of Repentance—a scene executed with genre-like style, the figures appearing in the costume of the period; the 'Beheading of St. John'; and, lastly, another banquet scene, in which the severed head appears on the table, and Herodias puts out the eyes, at which her daughter sinks in a swoon, and is caught up by a young man, while a page in horror runs away with the dish. Below these larger representations, in the one case in ten, in the other in five medallions, scenes from the youth of St. John are depicted. The relief is more shallow, and with simple arrangement is very attractive in expression."

The great blazing rose windows of the transept were named "Fire" and "Water," but which was which we never quite discovered, because of a difference of opinion held by those whom we questioned, but this did not in the least affect our opinion of their great artistic value, or interfere with our admiration.

In the south transept we readily found the gravestone in memory of the Spanish Captain Hernando Tiello, who captured Amiens in 1597, and just opposite, the great stone sarcophagus of the Canon Claude Pierre, who must have been a canon of great importance, to have been so favored and placed. In the Chapel of Notre Dame de Puy were a great number of marble tablets emblazoned with the names of the Fraternity of Puy, and bore reliefs in marble, showing scenes in the life of the Virgin Mary. Here there was much intricate Flamboyant tracery framing some scenes in the life of St. James the Great, of the sixteenth century style, presented by Canon Guillaume Aucouteaux.

The north transept contained the fine monument of the Canon Jehan Wyts, who died in 1523. This showed the temple at Jerusalem, in four scenes depicting the "Sanctum," the "Atrium," the "Tabernaculum," and "Sanctum-Sanctorum." In this transept was buried the remains of the comic poet "Gresset," who flourished in the eighteenth century, and a great shrine for the head of John the Baptist, said to be incased here, and to have been brought from the Holy Land and presented with imposing ceremonies, by the Crusader Wallon de Sarton, who was likewise Canon of Picquigny. Singularly enough there were several other heads incased in magnificent jeweled reliquaries which were to be seen in other churches, notably in the south of France, and in Genoa, each one claiming, with much documentary proof, to be the sole and only authentic head of the Great Preacher of Repentance.

In one of the chapels in the left aisle of the nave, that of St. Saulve, was a remarkable crucifix, which enjoyed great repute, for it was gravely alleged to have bowed its head upon the occasion of the installment of the sacred relics of St. Honoré.

Inside the great open porches the whole space was filled with the most delicate fourteenth century lacework in stone. The principal one showed on its frontal a statue of St. Michael conquering the dragon. The fine ironwork of the doors was made in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by natives of Amiens, whose names are forgotten. Walter Pater ("Miscellaneous Studies") says: "The builders of the church seem to have projected no very noticeable towers; though it is conventional to regret their absence, especially with visitors from England, where indeed cathedral and other towers are apt to be good and really make their mark.... The great western towers are lost in the west front, the grandest, perhaps the earliest, of its species—three profound sculptured portals; a double gallery above, the upper gallery carrying colossal images of twenty-two kings of the house of Judah, ancestors of our Lady; then the great rose; above it the Singers' Gallery, half marking the gable of the nave, and uniting at their topmost stories the twin, but not exactly equal or similar towers, oddly oblong in plan as if meant to carry pyramids or spires. In most cases these early Pointed churches are entangled, here and there, by the construction of the old round-arched style, the heavy Norman or other, Romanesque chapel or aisle, side by side, though in strange contrast, with the soaring new Gothic nave or transept. But of the older manner of the round arch, the 'plein-cintre,' Amiens has nowhere, or almost nowhere, a trace. The Pointed style, fully pronounced, but in all the purity of its first period, found here its completest expression."

Amiens, the ancient capital of Picardy, was one of the greatest of the manufacturing towns of France. There were many large factories engaged in the production of cashmere, velvet, linen, and woolens, and in the early morning, and again at night, thousands of the employees filled the streets of the town on their way to and from work. It was called by the Ambiani, before it was captured by Cæsar, Samarobriva, and was their chief town.

Christianity was introduced by St. Firmin in the year 301, which perhaps is as far back as any one cares to go in the matter. And history farther cautions the reader not to confound this St. Firmin with that other St. Firmin, who was only a "Confessor" or something of the sort.

The Normans seem to have had a strong desire to put an end to the town, for they regularly pillaged and burned it. The place was ceded to the Duke of Burgundy in 1435, but was recovered in 1463 by Louis XI. The Spaniards conquered it in 1597, but Henry IV retook it from them. The Peace of Amiens between France, Great Britain, Spain and Holland was signed here in 1802.

The battle of Amiens, in the Franco-Prussian War, resulted in the entry of the Germans in November, 1870. Its present fate is problematical, but it would seem, in view of the retirement of the invader northward of Arras and Lens, that the great and noble monuments of the ancient town are now safe.

Heinrich Heine long ago wrote the following prophetic words: "Christianity—and this is its highest merit—has in some degree softened, but it could not destroy, the brutal German joy of battle. When once the taming talisman, the Cross, breaks in two, the savagery of the old fighters, the senseless Berserker fury, of which the Northern poets sing and say so much, will gush up anew. That talisman is decayed, and the day will come when it will piteously collapse. Then the old stone gods will rise from the silent ruins, and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes. Thor, with his giant's hammer, will at last spring up, and shatter to bits the Gothic Cathedrals."


THE delightful banks of the river Somme are imprinted on one's memory among those "sweet places" where it would seem as though man could not but choose to be happy, so liberally had nature decked them with her gifts. Yet all of this region formerly known as Flanders, has from time immemorial been war's favorite playground, "the Cockpit of Europe."

Even in the intervals of wars, strife equally bitter, if less bloody, has raged here,—the struggle of industry against adequate reward. One could never forget the sight of women laboring early and late in the fields, or harnessed together at the end of long tow lines, painfully dragging barges against the current of the river, or in the factory yards, trampling with bare feet a mixture of coal dust and clay which, molded into briquettes, was used as fuel.

Strangely enough, these women and girls, some of them of tender age, seemed happy and content with their work. The sound of their singing as they labored could be heard for a long distance. As the barges passed on the river bank, with these women bending forward, straining at the yoked ends of the tow rope, moving slowly step by step, we noted that not seldom they were quite handsome of face, and of good figure. Invariably they saluted us good humoredly with smiles, but when I removed my hat in response, I could see that this courtesy struck them as unusual, and did not leave the impression I desired. Thereafter I modified the salutation.

At the inn in Péronne a young "commis-voyageur" with whom I made conversation, and related this incident, told me that I had better beware of offering such civilities in future, since these Amazons had been known to seize strangers for fancied offenses, and after giving them rough treatment, cast them into the river. He called upon the proprietor of the inn to substantiate his warning, and the latter satisfied me as to its truth, giving details which need not be set down here, and which quite decided the matter.

Péronne as an historic and notable town was second to none in all Picardy. Here the early kings had a great palace given to them by Clovis II.

Hotel de Ville: Péroinne


Erchinold, the Mayor, erected a monastery near by for Scotch monks, presided over by St. Fursy. Not a trace of this now remains. It is said to have contained the tomb of Charles the Simple, who died of famine at the hands of Hubert in a dungeon. When Philip d'Alsace, Count of Vermandois, was killed in the Crusades (1199) the towns of Péronne and St. Quentin were united to the crown of France, and so remained. Charles V, in 1536 unsuccessfully besieged Péronne, and during this siege a young woman named Marie Fourré performed prodigious deeds of heroism which history records.

The great Ligue of 1577 was proclaimed here, following its announcement at Paris. Until the Duke of Wellington captured it on his way to Paris' after the battle of Waterloo, Péronne-la-Pucelle had never been taken by an enemy.

In the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71, Péronne was sacked and burned after a most memorable siege, in which many of the remarkable old buildings were destroyed, but in 1910 the town, when I last saw it, was one of the quaintest in all Picardy. There was a remarkable old church here, that of St. Jean, which dated from the sixteenth century, which had a portal of three Gothic arches and arcades surmounted by a great flamboyant rose-window, the glass of which, though modern, was of fine quality and workmanship. It had a tower flanked by a "tourelle" of beautiful proportions, and in the interior the vaulting, pulpit, and the stained glass windows were pronounced by experts to be well-nigh faultless.

This church, and the most singular and picturesque Hôtel de Ville (sixteenth century), a sketch of which I made in 1910, the invaders took great pains entirely to destroy in April, 1917, when they made their celebrated "victorious retreat." The latest accounts say that not a trace of these two remarkable monuments now exists, that for a week or more before the retreat, the German engineers used tons of explosives to destroy them.

The gray old square before the Hôtel de Ville is now a yawning pit, bordered by shapeless piles of stone and ashes.

At this time we know not what other mischief the invader has committed in this neighborhood. There are endless opportunities for destruction and pillage, and we may be fully prepared for irreparable damage and losses in all of this region before the Iconoclasts are driven back to their last line of defenses.

All of Champagne, of Picardy,—all of Flanders were filled with exquisite villages, towns, and cities, each of which was unique in works of art and antiquity. These have shriveled like a garden of flowers before a heavy frost. This great catastrophe has so stunned humanity, that we are only beginning to realize what it means.

The invader says contemptuously that no cathedral is worth the life of one German soldier. So Rheims has been destroyed; so St. Peter's of Louvain; so—but why enumerate here?—The list is recorded in letters of fire.


THE "Cameracum" of ancient days of Roman occupation, holding this name up to the twelfth century, Cambrai, at the outbreak of the war in 1914, was entirely satisfying to the seeker of the charms of picturesqueness, as well as the historian. After what is known as the period of the Antonine Itinerary, it became the capital of a petty episcopal arrondisement, under the protection of the Dukes of Burgundy who, unable to hold it, gave it over "for privileges" to the German emperors, who thereafter retained it under the title of "Châtelains," as it was a fortified stronghold.

Situated on a hillside on the right bank of the river Scheldt, it was a busy and prosperous commercial town, with a semi-Flemish population of about twenty-five thousand. Its history in thumbnail form is as follows:

In 1508 the Emperor Maximilian, Pope Julius II, Ferdinand of Aragon, and Louis XII of France formed here the celebrated League of Cambrai, which was directed against Venice. In 1529 the so-called Paix de Dames was signed by Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria, who negotiated its provisions in the castle on the hill, for Francis I and Charles V. However, by the treaty of Nimwegen, Louis XV recovered it, and it was thus held by France until captured by the Duke of Wellington in 1815.

Many celebrated men were born at Cambrai, or became identified with the town, such as the chronicler, Enguer-rand de Monstrelet, who died in 1453. The great Fénelon was Archbishop of Cambrai, as was also Cardinal Dubois, who served as minister for Louis XV, and then follows an array of names that lent glory to the annals of Flanders.

Perhaps few know that the town gave name to that fine linen which was produced here in the fifteenth century, the invention of a native named Baptiste. The English named the cloth "Cambric," but to the Flemish and French it was known, and is still for that matter, as "Ba'tiste" after the inventor. At the outbreak of the war this linen cloth was the chief product of the town.

Entrance to the town was through the gate called "Porte Robert," near which was the citadel. There was a large and impressive square called the "Esplanade," where statues had been raised to "Batiste" and the historian "Enguerrand de Monstrelet." Then followed the "Place aux Bois," lined with handsome trees, and large "Place d'Arms," on which was the "Hôtel de Ville," which, while of comparatively modern construction and rebuilt in the last century, was sufficiently interesting even to a student of ancient Flemish architecture. Its most elaborate façade was sculptured by one Hiolle of Valenciennes. The tower bore two gigantic statues, much venerated by the townspeople, named respectively "Martin" and "Martine," but curiously enough there was a wide difference of opinion as to which was which, some saying that the left hand giant was Martin, and others protesting the contrary. The figures dated from the time of Charles V, and were presented by him to the town in 1510.

On the square at the opening of the Rue St. Martin was a fine Gothic belfry dated 1447, and attached to the church of that name. This contained a notable chime of bells, a carillon, the work of the Hemonys. * In the Rue de Noyon was the Cathedral of "Notre Dame," part of which had been rebuilt since a fire which consumed it about sixty years ago. The interior contained notably the fine marble and bronze monument of Fénelon, and a statue to this celebrity, the work of David d'Angers, all worth a considerable journey to see. The body of the church was of the eighteenth century and while of purity in detail, offered no very striking features. There were eight very large mural paintings "en grisaille" after the works of Rubens, by Geeraerts, a modern artist of Antwerp, but these, despite the obvious merit of the work, seemed somehow out of key with the interior.

     * See "Vanished Towers and Chimes of Flanders,"
       for chapter on bell founding.

Wandering about, we came upon a small street in which we found a remarkable collection of paintings of the Netherlands School owned by a private collector, who was pleased to show them, and delighted by our enthusiasm over their qualities. This gentleman insisted upon becoming our guide about the town, and showed us so many attentions that my Lady Anne became bored with him, and this led to our leaving Cambrai before the time we had set—but we left a letter of appreciation and thanks addressed to him.

He it was who brought us to the church of St. Géry in the Place Fénelon, on the site of one founded by St. Vaast in 520. This had a remarkable dome which was upheld by four very slender columns, of very unusual character, and there was also a magnificent renaissance "jube," or altar screen, of colored marble, and a transept containing a large painting of the "Entombment," attributed to Rubens. The "Episcopal Palace of Fénelon" was just across the street, or at least a fragment of the original building, with a very richly decorated triple portal in the Renaissance style.

It was this palace that Fénelon opened to the fugitives of the battle of Malplaquet, who thronged the town of Cambrai for protection and food. History states that every corner of the building was filled with the hapless people, and their small belongings hastily gathered together in the flight. The gardens and courts were crowded with cows, calves, and pigs, and the scene is said to have been indescribable. Emanuel de Broglie, who wrote the account ("Fénelon a Cambrai," de Broglie), says, "Officers to the number of one hundred and fifty, both French and prisoners of war, were received by Fénelon at his house, and seated at his table at one time."

"God will help us," said the Archbishop; "Providence hath infinite resources on which I can confidently rely. Only let us give all we have: it is my duty and my pleasure."

Over the side doors were inscriptions on "banderoles"—"A Clare Justitia" on one, and on the other "A gladio pax." The fine "Chateau de Selles," on the banks of the Scheldt River, was built in the fifteenth century. The beautiful reliefs of its gables, its statues, and the wrought iron grills of its balconies were still perfect, and the view from its green terrace was most enjoyable.

There was a curious sort of penthouse shown to us, near a building called "Vieux Château" of which pillars with rudely sculptured capitals remained. Near this was a well with some ancient rusty ironwork, and a stone which our quondam guide said had served in ages long ago as a block in executions. Somehow we thought that he lied, and with considerable skill withal, but we dismissed him with payment of a franc for his pains. He did not go, however, but followed us about at a distance muttering to himself and occasionally waving his hands in a most absurd manner, until at length we happily lost him.

There was a curious small building called the Grange aux Dimes, divided into two parts, one subterranean, the other on the level of the soil. Two staircases, one inside, the other outside, led to a hall on the first floor. This was divided by two ranges of pillars, with ornate capitals of foliage. The door to the subterranean passage was unfastened and we ventured down into the darkness and must for a short distance. I am convinced that we might have had some adventures below had we explored the tunnel. Near this was "Le Puits," supposed to be the entrance to other vast vaults, a subterranean town extending beneath the hill for miles, and formerly used for many purposes in the Middle Ages.

These vaults were to be found in many of the towns hereabouts, and during the occupancy of the country by the Germans since the invasion of 1914, the soldiers have used them to store away ammunition and supplies. Over these small towns for three years now have raged battles the like of which for fierceness and bloody loss the world has never seen.

The small town of Marcoing, about five miles from Cambrai, had one of these wonderful caverns of refuge dating from the Middle Ages, and there were others at Villers-Guizlain and at Honnecourt, where there were the ruins of a Roman town, and an immense church with a porch of the eleventh century. This was said to have been a famous place of pilgrimage in the twelfth century. Tradition has it that in that century three brothers of the family of Courcy le Marchais were taken prisoners during the crusades. In the power of the Sultan they languished, until at length he bethought him to send his young daughter to their dungeon, where they lay in chains, thinking that she might by the power of her beauty and eloquence bring them to the faith of the Mussulmans. But strange to relate, she it was who succumbed to the arguments of the three fair-haired brothers, and finally promised to become a Christian provided that they show her an image of the Holy Virgin of whom they had so eloquently told her. Now the three brothers had no image of the Virgin, everything having been taken from them when they were cast into the dungeon. But all at once, says the Chronicle, the image of the Virgin bathed in golden Celestial light appeared miraculously before them in a niche on the wall, so the Sultan's daughter, thus convinced, not only set the three fair-haired brothers free, but accompanied them, bearing in her bosom the sacred image, which henceforth was enshrined here on the altar and venerated.

The three brothers then built a church in the twelfth century, on the site of which this present one of the fourteenth century was erected. Its portal was fifteenth century, and at the cross was a spire with quaintly formed pinnacles. Inside, a remarkably rich "jube," or altar screen, divided the nave from the choir, almost hiding the sanctuary containing a singular coal black doll-like sort of image, and a large collection of "Ex-votos," with some other offerings most tawdry in character.

North of Valenciennes and very near the Flemish border was the old town of St. Amand-les-Eaux, famous for its mud baths for the cure of rheumatism and gout since the time of the Romans. The town was situated at the confluence of the rivers Elnon and Scarpe, and is said to have grown up around an abbey built by St. Amand in the seventh century. Save for the portal and the façade of the church nothing remained of the original structure. A tower containing a fine carillon of bells by Flemmish founders, perhaps the Van den Gheyns of Malines, is said to have been designed by Peter Paul Rubens. From the summit of the tower a wonderful view of the surrounding country was had, and for this reason the Germans blew it up in April, 1917, before their retreat.

Maison du Provost: Valenciennes


There was here a quaint Hôtel de Ville in the Flemish-Renaissance style, much floriated in parts. Let us hope that this has been spared. The site of the ancient abbey had been most charmingly covered with a blooming garden of brilliant flowers, and here children and nurses played, while "invalides" dozed on the benches in the sunlight. From the baths a very wild and beautiful park stretched across the country to the forest of Raismes through the forest of St. Amand.

Epehy is another small town now held by the Germans because of its strategical value. It is on the ancient Roman road, or "Chaussée Brunehaut," which runs from Arras to Rheims. Under the great church are subterranean galleries, which, it is said, stretch for unknown distances in every direction; indeed, it seems as if the whole country hereabouts were undermined by these ancient galleries, many of which were unexplored, and in some instances shunned by the peasants as haunted by evil spirits, and many and fantastic were the tales told of some of these caverns, during the summer days when wanderings about the countryside held us here in happy durance. It was delightful to watch the grave old men of the village playing bowls or skittles, and their pride over the skill which enabled one of them, a patriarch, to account for six pins at one shot. His cannoning was the very poetry of statics. As a foil the unskillful efforts of the present writer were not altogether unsuccessful, for they brought to the stolid faces of the players smiles not unkindly, but of considerable latitude.

In the little "estaminet" (Spanish estamento) at the foot of the hill, cutlets, broiled young chicken, and a rough and cheap but good sparkling wine, all graced by the good humor of the proprietor, raised our content to enthusiasm, so we saw and studied the locality, socially and mythologically, to the end of its possibilities.

We found that these peasants, seemingly so phlegmatic and commonplace, were really chimerical, and their tales and conversation skirted the borderland of fact and fancy. The two were so melted down and run into one mold as to be impossible of separation. I have listened to some of these tales with interest, until the splashes of golden light were gone from the valleys and a vast canopy of rose-shot lilac emblazoned the setting of the sun. In the woods hereabouts, as in other parts of this region of caverns, thin mysterious sounds were often audible at night to those who had ears to hear: the noise of a distant hunt, the sound of winding horns, the confused shouts of a troop of hunters, and the chime of hounds in full cry. Pious and superstitious peasants, listening indoors, crossed themselves, those who were abroad in the lanes hastened their steps, not glancing in the direction from which the sounds came. It was the Wild Chasseur. This is the story: St. Amand, Count of the Palatinate, lived hereabouts in the tenth century, in a great castle of which even the foundations have long since disappeared. He was known as a mighty hunter, but was a profane prince, caring naught for the worship of the Lord, nor the chant of the priest, but following ever the wild creatures, rather than the ways of truth and righteousness. There came one day in the autumn, and it was Sunday, long before the coming dawn disclosed the distant dome of the Cathedral. When this reckless count mounted his great horse, and at the head of an equally reckless band of merry hunters, started out on the chase, the great dim forests rang with the loud blasts of the horn, and the loud shouts of the young men broke the calm stillness of the holy day and scandalized the good priests, and the pious people of the neighborhood. Out came the noisy cavalcade into the open where four roads met. To them, one from the North and one from the South, and galloping furiously, came two horsemen; the one from the North was young, blonde and handsome, with an air of distinction, all clad in bright new cloak and bonnet of golden yellow.

The cavalier from the South seemed a man of temper, and was of sinister visage, bestriding a great horse of a temper to match that of its rider. His costume was of black velveteen save for his headpiece of scarlet cloth, which flowed scalloped down his back.

The Count at the head of his troop saluted these two strangers courteously and invited them bear him company in the chase.

"My lord," answered the rider from the North, removing his bonnet, and showing his fair hair in a golden mass about his shoulders, "the Sabbath bells are ringing in your church for the service in praise of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for'tis the hour in which the voices of men in holy canticle are sent on high asking forgiveness of our sins and iniquities. This day is sanctified to Him above. I do bid you now accompany me unto the throne of Grace, on bended knee, in all humility.—For upon the offender shall descend the vengeance of the Most High, forever and ever."

"In Satan's name, Sir Golden Locks!" answered St. Amand scornfully, "thou hast a tongue like a ranting priest. What right hast thou to wear a sword, pray?—I have no mind for canticles to-day!"

Loud laughed the troop of cavaliers at this, and then was heard the voice of the rider in black from the South, whose great horse champed the bit and tossed its head restlessly.

"Come, let us away, St. Amand! What care have we for monastery bells and sniveling priests!—Let us to the noble chase for mass, with sound of the winding horn for organ note!"

"Well said, Sir Red Crest," replied St. Amand, with a loud laugh and a wave of his gauntleted hand. "Ventre son gris! Let us away then!"

The whole troop sprang forward at the word. Over the hills, through the ravines and deep ditches, and into the dark woods, ever rode the strangers, one at the right and one at the left of St. Amand. On the right, the fair young golden haired knight, and on the left, the black clad sinister man with the crimson hood.

All at once appeared among the great trunks of the beech trees an antlered deer white as the driven snow, which after one startled look at the furiously riding troop of men, sped away like the wind. With winding horn the hunters pursued it over the green meadows and up and down the hills, trampling corn fields and peasant gardens under foot all unmindful of what ill they did. Naught counted for these men but the chase, and ever St. Amand headed the band, and on his right rode the fair young blonde rider from the North and on his left the swarthy knight from the South.

Finally, with trembling limbs the antlered deer slackened its speed before the open door of a chapel in the midst of the wildwood. Here stood the frightened animal, its fur flicked with bloody foam, unable to stir a step further. From the open door of the chapel stepped a holy friar, who placed a sheltering arm about the panting animal's neck, and stood with uplifted arm warning back the band of hunters. In vain did the fairhaired stranger plead with Amand to spare the deer, for the jeering voice of the knight of the scarlet hood urged him on, and dismounting from his horse Count St. Amand pushed aside the monk and was about to run the animal through with his hunting knife, when there came a burst of thunder sound that shook the earth as though the heavens had fallen.

The Count was stunned: When he came to himself he was alone in a clear space in the forest; the chapel, the deer, the monk, all his band, including the two strangers, had vanished as though they had never been. Over all was a terrible silence. When St. Amand attempted to call, no sound came from his parched lips. Then came a blinding flash of lightning, which split the darkness, and on the wings of the rushing wind he heard a terrible voice in judgment.—"Even as thou hast flouted and mocked at the Lord thy God, and have had no compassion upon man nor beast, so shalt thou fly before the wrath of the Most High! Pass on then, thou accursed Knight, forever be thou the hunted by evil spirits until the end of the world!"

"And so," continues the legend, "since that day the wraith of that sinful Count St. Amand has haunted these hills and dales by night, and these great caverns underneath by day, the fiends of hell at his heels. After him fly these hideous fiends, driving him ever on towards the judgment that waits him on the last day."

As may be surmised, with such tales as this to hold over the youth of the valleys, the people hereabouts were most devout and God fearing. Here in this region have raged battles innumerable from the earliest days of history, with fire, famine and pestilence. It was all prosperous, when I last saw it, and charming to look upon. But now the beautiful orchards have been cut down by the invader, the homesteads have been burned, and the once happy peasants transported to hard labor in another country.


UGLY and down at the heel," were the uncomplimentary terms used by an æsthetic fellow traveler to describe this prosperous manufacturing town situated rather picturesquely on a hill rising above the banks of the river Somme. And while it may be admitted that St. Quentin is not very clean looking when viewed from the railway station, certainly a later and more intimate inspection revealed charms which repaid leisurely investigation on our part, and even our first view of the gray walls and gables of the houses, and the quaint pinnacles of the town hall, and the tower of the church rising against the golden glow of the sunset sky was quite satisfying.

The road to the town on the hill was by way of the Rue de l'lsle, which brought us to the small square on which was the flamboyant Gothic Hôtel de Ville. It had a most charming and unusual pent roof, over which rose a slender tower with large clock face shining in the sunlight. On the ground floor of the façade was an open arcaded gallery above which were richly ornamented flamboyant Gothic windows divided by niches. The upper story had a quaint and ornate balustrade and three gables. From the central gable the campanile rose gracefully.

This much we were able to see on our way to the Hôtel du Cygne, the landlady of which gave us more comfort than our quondam traveling companion had led us to expect. This individual quite abandoned us to our fate thereafter, as impossible Yankees who gloated over picturesqueness and gables, and meekly ate whatever was set before them—even of an omelette which he scorned, and fussed about at the table d'hôte. He listened with a sarcastic grin to our admiring comment on the furnishings of the dining-room, with its paneled walls in the Flemish fashion, on which hung brass placques and some good old china plates, and after lighting a cigarette, noisily kicked back his chair, shrugged his shoulders, and vanished from our ken forever.

Madame told us that he was a "commis-voyageur" in the woolen trade, from Brussels, and "bien difficile."

St. Quentin was the ancient capital of the Gaulish Veromanduens, and took its present name from Caius Quintinus, a priest who came here to preach Christianity in the third century, and for his pains was martyred by the Prefect Rictius Varus.

Honor to his remains was encouraged by St. Eloi in the time of Dagobert.

Whilst here we may recall that the building of the Escurial was due to a vow which Philip II of Spain made in case of success, when he was besieging St. Quentin in 1557.

The town was given back to France in 1589, and in the following year was bestowed as a dowry upon Mary Stuart, who possessed its revenues till her death. On January 19, 1871, a great victory was gained near St. Quentin by the Prussian General Goeben over the French army of the north, * under Faidherbe.

     * Hare's "Northeastern France."

In the "Place du Huit Octobre" was a very good monument by Barrias, symbolizing the successful defense of the town against the first attack by the Germans on October 8, 1870. We found that the Hôtel de Ville contained a most unusual "Salle du conseil," a large well proportioned room, the roof of which rested upon two circular wooden vaults. This was furnished with a most elaborate mantel or chimney piece in the mixed Gothic and Renaissance styles, and of remarkable workmanship. In the great German retreat of April, 1917, this noble building was blown up with bombs. Perhaps they placed upon it, as they did upon other shattered structures, a sign bearing the inscription: "Nicht Argern, nur Wundern."

There was a noble "Collegiate Church of St. Quentin" near this Hôtel de Ville, considered by architects to be a splendid example of French Gothic of the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. This was unfortunately so shut in by small buildings as to make a study of it difficult. Its choir, nave, and portal, and its really vast height, formed unusual features, and added to these wonders were the beautiful triforium and terminal windows of the principal transept (there were two of these, "very rare in a Gothic church," says Hare).

The oldest part of the church was easily discovered between these transepts. There were seven absidal chapels; in that of St. Roch was the incised tombstone of "Mahaus Patrelatte," dated 1272.

Under the choir were crypts said to have been of the ninth century, and in one of these was a stone sarcophagus of St. Quentin and SS. Victorious and Gentianus, who were St. Quentin's companions in martyrdom. The west portal of the church was formerly adorned with a large number of statues, vestiges of which were plainly visible. A statue of Quentin Delatour, a famous draftsman in crayon of the eighteenth century, a native of the town, stood before the church; it was by Lauglet the sculptor, and of considerable merit. A collection of Delatour's crayon drawings were in the small museum in the rue du Petit-Origny....

Unfortunate St. Quentin, now once more in ashes, and this time so completely obliterated that nothing remains on the hill but some blackened ragged piles of masonry, was besieged by Philip II in 1558, when war broke out between Picardy and Flanders.

"Philip II had landed there with an army of forty-seven thousand men, of whom seven thousand were English. Never did any great sovereign and great politician provoke and maintain for long such important wars without conducting them in some other fashion than from the recesses of his cabinet and without ever having exposed his life on the field of battle. The Spanish army was under the orders of Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, a young warrior of thirty, who had won the confidence of Charles V. He led it to the siege of St. Quentin, a place considered one of the bulwarks of the kingdom.

"Philip II remained at some leagues' distance in the environs. Henry II was ill prepared for so serious an attack; his army, which was scarcely 20,000 strong, mustered near Laon under orders of the Duke of Nevers, Governor of Champagne; at the end of July, 1557, it hurried into Picardy, under the command of the Constable de Montmorency, who was supported by Admiral de Coligny, his nephew, by the Duke of Enghien, by the Prince of Condé, by the Duke of Montpensier, and by nearly all the great lords and the valiant warriors of France. They soon saw that St. Quentin was in a deplorable state of defense; the fortifications were old and badly kept up; soldiers and munitions of war, as well as victuals were all equally deficient. Coligny did not hesitate, however; he threw himself into the place on the 2nd of August during the night with a small corps of 700 men and Saint Remy, a skillful engineer, who had already distinguished himself in the defense of Metz. The Admiral packed off the useless mouths, repaired the walls at the points principally threatened, and reanimated the failing courage of the inhabitants.

"The Constable and his army came within hail of the place; and d'Andelot, Coligny's brother, managed with great difficulty to get 450 men into it.

"On the 10th of August the battle was begun between the two armies. The Constable affected to despise the Duke of Savoy's youth: 'I will soon show him,' said he, 'a move of an old soldier.'

"The French army, being very inferior in numbers, was for a moment on the point of being surrounded. The Prince of Condë sent the Constable warning. 'I was serving in the field,' answered Montmorency, 'before the Prince of Condé came into the world; I have good hopes of still giving him lessons in the art of war for some years to come.'

"The valor of the Constable and his comrades-in-arms could not save them from the consequences of their stubborn recklessness, and their numerical inferiority; the battalions of Gascon infantry closed their ranks, with pikes to the front, and made a heroic resistance, but all in vain, against repeated charges of the Spanish cavalry; and the defeat was total.

"More than 3,000 men were killed; the number of prisoners amounted to double this figure; and the Constable, left upon the field with his thigh shattered by a cannon ball, fell into the hands of the Spaniards, as was also the case with the Dukes of Longueville and Montpensier, la Rochefoucauld, d'Aubigné, etc.... The Duke of Enghien, Viscount de Turenne and a multitude of others, many great names amidst a host of obscure, fell in the fight. The Duke of Nevers and the Prince of Condé, sword in hand, reached La Fère with the remnants of their army. Coligny remained alone at St. Quentin with those who survived of his little garrison, and a hundred and twenty arquebusiers whom the Duke of Nevers threw into the place at a loss of three times as many. Coligny held out for a fortnight longer, behind walls that were in ruins and were assailed by a victorious army. At length, on the 27th of August, the enemy entered St. Quentin in shoals.

"The Admiral, who was still going about the streets with a few men to make head against them, found himself hemmed in on all sides, and did what he could to fall into the hands of a Spaniard, preferring rather to await on the spot the common fate than to incur by flight any shame or reproach. They took him prisoner, after having set him to rest a while at the foot of the ramparts, and took him away to their camp, where as he entered, he met Captain Alonzo de Cazieres, commandant of the old bands of Spanish infantry; when up came the Duke of Savoy, who ordered the said Cazieres to take the Admiral to his tent." *

     * Commentaire de François de Rabutin sur les Guerres entre
     Henri II., roi de France, et Charles Quint, empereur. Vol.
     I, p. 95, in the Petitot Collection.

"D'Andelot, the Admiral's brother, succeeded in escaping across the marshes. Being thus master of St. Quentin, Philip II, after having attempted to put a stop to the carnage and plunder, expelled from the town, which was half in ashes, the inhabitants who had survived, and the small adjacent fortresses of Ham and Catalet did not hesitate long before surrendering. Five years later, in 1557, after the battle and capture of St. Quentin, France was in a fit of stupor; Paris believed the enemy to be already beneath her walls; many of the burgesses were packing up and flying—some to Orleans, some to Bourges, some still further." * And now once more history repeats itself in the sacking and burning of this quaint town, in the retreat of the invader of 1914-5 after three years of agony endured by its people. "God makes no account of centuries, and a great deal is required before the most certain and most salutary truths get their place and their rights in the minds and communities of men," says Guizot, quaintly, and thus dismisses the record of Henry II: "On the 29th of June, 1559, a brilliant tournament was celebrated in lists erected at the end of the street of Saint Antoine, almost at the foot of the Bastile. Henry II, the Queen, and the whole court had been present at it for three days."

     * Guizot's "Histoire de France." Vol. Ill, p. 204.

"The entertainment was drawing to a close. The King, who had run several tilts 'like a sturdy and skillful Cavalier,' wished to break yet another lance, and bade the Count de Montgomery, captain of the guards, to run against him. Montgomery excused himself; but the King insisted. The tilt took place. The two jousters, on meeting, broke their lances skilfully; but Montgomery forgot to drop at once, according to usage, the fragment remaining in his hand; he unintentionally struck the King's helmet and raised the visor, and a splinter of wood entered Henry's eye; he fell forward upon his horse's neck."

All the appliances of art were useless; the brain had been pierced. Henry II languished for eleven days and expired on the tenth of July, 1559, aged forty years and some months. "An insignificant man and a reign without splendor, though fraught with facts pregnant of grave consequences," concludes the historian.

The fame of Henry Martin, noted as an historian, who died in 1883, was commemorated by a bronze statue "such as the chimes and the great bell of the Collegiate erected before the Lycée," a rather handsome building in the Rue du Palais de Justice. Before leaving St. Quentin in April, 1917, the invaders shipped this statue to Germany, it is announced in the German press, and melted it up at the gun works with other scrap metal, "such as the chimes and the great bell of the Collegiate Church of St. Quentin."

A few miles to the northeast on the river Oise was the small town of Guise, most picturesquely situated, and commanded by an ancient castle, or chateau, as these ruins are sometimes styled, which dated from the sixteenth century, and was occupied by a few soldiers as a sort of garrison. In this château in troublous times the nuns of the Guise, and those of the neighboring nunneries as well, took refuge. There was here, too, a most famous chapter of monks, but the nuns were of greater renown. These threw off the severe rules of St. Benedict in the twelfth century, and becoming "chanoinesses," lived apart with the utmost comfort, their abbess bearing a scepter rather than a cross. Endowed by successive ducal rulers, this chapter became one of the most illustrious of the province. "Its abbess, always chosen from a family of the most exalted rank, exercised almost sovereign authority over the domain, and furthermore in virtue of a document from the Emperor Rudolph (1290), bore the title of Princess of the Holy Empire. She was elected only by the united voice of the chapter, and went to Rome to receive consecration from the Pope himself in the Lateran. To him she is said to have offered in sign of homage, every three years, a white horse and a piece of purple velvet; and when after many years the Pope remitted this tax, she bore, in all solemn processions, a red silk banner sprinkled with gold and silver buds in remembrance of it. A double handed sword was carried before her in processions. She had the right of granting liberty to prisoners. In the choir of the cathedral she sat upon a throne placed upon a carpet of crimson velvet ornamented with gold leaves, and upon fête days she held 'grand-couvert,' as was the custom with sovereigns. The chapter counted sixty-four abbesses, of whom the last in line was Louise-Adelaide de Bourbon-Condé." *

     * Brantôme, Paris, 1822. Vol. I.

Considering its part in history, it is surprising how little interest was taken in Guise of late years. In 1339 the English, under John of Hainault, burned the town, but were unable to conquer the castle, owing to the courageous resistance of the small body of warriors who were commanded by the noble lady of its absent lord, the daughter of John of Hainault himself. In the curious old crypt were the tombs of several abbesses, and the shrine contained the relics of SS. Romaric, Arnat, and Idulphe, which the nuns brought with them in the tenth century from the old church on the hill. On one of the streets were ancient houses with stone arcades.

Guise was the birthplace of Camille Desmoulins, the revolutionary. Near the town, which was busy and prosperous, with a population of eight thousand or so, there was a sort of workmen's colony upon the communistic plan, and included a "phalanstère," or common dwelling place for the members, upon the Fourier plan, founded by some philanthropist. As far as we could judge superficially it was successful, and it is said the chance visitor was always welcomed most cordially by the members who happened to be present.

These inoffensive people have been shipped away, no one now seems to be able to say just where, and the little town, gutted by fire, has ceased to exist save in the memory of those who once knew its charm.

A few miles southwest of St. Quentin, on the river Somme, was a small town named Ham, which had, however, nothing in common with that excellent viand. Here was a famous château of the tenth century, of the Comtes de Vermondais. In 1374 it passed to the Coucy family, and then to the Comtes of St. Pol, from whom it came by marriage to the house of Bourbon-Vendôme. This great stronghold had a donjon, the walls of which were thirty-five feet thick, and the room inside it was one hundred and ten feet broad, and the same number of feet high. In shape it was a rectangle, flanked at each corner by a round tower, and with square towers on the north and west. Rising from a canal on the northeast angle was a huge round tower, named the Tour de Connétable, built by Louis de Luxembourg in 1490. Emblazoned on the stone over the portal was the motto of the founder: "Mon Myeulx" (My Best). The walls of this tower were said to have been of enormous thickness. The figures varied so much that I omit all of them, but from the appearance of the tower one might believe even the most exaggerated statements.

Its lower apartment was a vast hall of hexagonal shape, the vaulting of which was Gothic in style, and we were shown some curious arched spaces, said to be intended for furnaces or magazines to be blown up and thus destroy the castle in case of its capture. There was a great "Salle de Gardes," where the soldiers slept and ate in time of siege, and this contained an enormous fireplace, a well of considerable depth, and an oven where bread had been baked. Above this vast room was the "Chambre de Conseil," lighted by a single large window, and furnished with stone benches below it. Here Jeanne d'Arc was imprisoned by Jean of Luxembourg, and many other notables languished in the dungeons from the time of the Revolution down to the time of the capture of Prince Louis Napoléon, in August, 1840, at Boulogne, and from which he escaped disguised as a workman on the morning of May 22, 1846. He took refuge at St. Quentin, went thence to Belgium, and finally reached England.

Like all of the other great castles in the region occupied by the invaders, Ham was blown up before the German army "victoriously" retreated to the now celebrated "Hindenburg" line, in April, 1917.


THE town of lace," wrote William of Orange to the Estates on the 13th of April, 1677, "is lost to us. We are very sorry to be obliged to tell your High Mightinesses that it has not pleased God to bless on this occasion the arms of the State under our guidance." And then fell also to the troops of Louis XIV the towns of Cambrai, St. Omer, and the defense of Lorraine.

But there is now no lace made in Valenciennes. The larger part of the population of twenty-eight thousand worked in the iron foundries and the great machine shops surrounding the town, from which clouds of soft coal smoke rose, reminding one of our own Pittsburgh, but with the addition of much quaint antiquity, which was now (1910) unhappily rapidly disappearing through lack of interest on the part of not only the inhabitants but the authorities, whom one would think alive to their value as an attraction to the town.

Formerly strongly fortified and most powerful, this quaint semi-Flemish town, which was now given over thus to prosaic manufacture, was situated at the junction of the rivers Scheldt and Rhondelle. There were huge, ugly sugar factories as well as iron mills, indeed,'tis said that nearly all the sugar used in France was produced here.

Like all Flemish towns, Valenciennes had a good deal of drunkenness to contend with on the part of its working people, but I must confess I saw little of it.

It is said that Valentinian I, Roman Emperor, gave name to the town, which was at first the capital of a small independent principality. Later it passed into the hands of the Counts of Hainault; suffered and resisted sieges by Margaret of Hainault in 1254; by Louis XI, in 1477; by Turenne, in 1656; and by the Spaniards in the seventeenth century; and by Scherer in 1794. Since the treaty of Nymegen in 1678 it has belonged to France.

A great many celebrated men were born at Valenciennes, and all about the statue of Froissart their effigies are arranged in a series of medallions. Among these are Antoine, Louis and François Watteau, Pujol, the painters, Lemaire and Carpeaux, the sculptors, and Charles, Sire de Lannoy and Viceroy of Naples—all natives of the little town. Madame d'Epinay, the author, also was born here.

Valenciennes had a most attractive and picturesque square, which occupied the former glacis of the ancient fortifications demolished about twenty years ago, and there was a handsome street, called the Rue de Ferrand, upon which was the "Lycée," formerly a Jesuit college, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, in which was a museum of natural history, containing a fine collection of minerals of which the townspeople were inordinately proud. They quite ignored the value of a splendid collection of MSS., numbering nearly a thousand examples of mediaeval workmanship, contained in the Municipal Library, occupying part of the old Jesuit college. The custode wrung his hands in despair at the indifference of the authorities to its importance, and became positively and alarmingly affectionate over me when I showed enthusiasm for some of the specimens, so that I had to place myself behind one of the cases where he could not well reach me while I examined the illuminations. There was a fine statue of Antoine Watteau, the painter, by the sculptor Carpeaux, with four figures grouped about it representing Italian comedy. (This statue, I am informed, was shipped to Germany by the invaders in 1916, to be melted up and cast into cannon. An irreparable loss, as it was considered one of the finest examples of the work of Carpeaux.)

In the Square was the ancient Church of St. Géry, a remarkable example of Gothic workmanship dating from the thirteenth century, and much studied and valued by architects. In its choir were fine wood carvings illustrating events in the life of St. Norbert, who was the founder of the Præmonstratensian order. The handsome and noteworthy Place d'Armes contained some most quaint and ancient timber dwellings, which were dated variously during the seventeenth century, and in an astonishingly fine state of preservation. But by far the most interesting building in Valenciennes was the Hôtel de Ville, which though lately restored (1868), dated from the seventeenth century, the period of the Spanish occupation. The façade was quite imposing, consisting of a row of Doric columns, upholding a row of Ionic columns, which supported a number of caryatides and a sort of open gallery above. Carpeaux designed the sculptures ornamenting the pediment, which represented the Defense of Valenciennes.

Corner of Grand' Place: Valenciennes


This building was occupied by the Musée of Paintings and Sculpture, which was really one of the most important and extensive collections in France of examples of the Flemish school of painting. Here I saw in 1910 a large number of beautiful original drawings, and a collection of Flemish tapestries of incalculable value. There were nine or ten rooms devoted to the Flemish masters, and to mention only a few of the treasures they contained, I note here: "Hell-fire"; Breughel, Toil Devoured by Usury; Jordaens, Twelfth Night; Van Balen, Rope of Europa; P. A. da Cortona, Herodias; Seghers, St. Eloi and the Virgin; Neets, the younger, Church Interior; Vinckboons, Forest; Van Aelst, Still Life; Van Mieris, Pan and Syrinx; Al. Adriensis, Fish Merchant; Van Goyen, Landscape; "Velvet" Breughel, Landscape; Van de Velde, Sea Piece; Van Oost, Adoration of the Shepherds; Pourbus (younger), Marie de Medicis; Brouwer, Tavern Scene; Wouverman, Hunters; Teniers, Interior of Grotto; Rubens, Descent from the Cross; Guido (?), St. Peter; Metsys, Banker and His Wife.

The fate of this remarkable collection of Flemish and Spanish paintings is at present shrouded in mystery. It is said, and denied variously, that they were removed to Paris before the German army arrived. I understand from reports in the newspapers, which may or may not be authentic, that this old Hôtel de Ville was entirely destroyed by British shells early in the war, and that the venerable Maison du Prévost, built during the Spanish invasion, and the old timbered and slated houses at the corner of the Grand' Place, one of them occupied by the "Café Modeste," have been entirely destroyed. But at present (May, 1917) Valenciennes is behind the curtain of mystery drawn over its miseries by the Germans.

This little town played a small part in the peace of Cambrai, called the "Ladies' peace," in honor of the Princesses who while at Valenciennes had negotiated it there between Charles V and Francis I. "Two women, Francis I's mother and Charles V's aunt, Louise of Savoy, and Margaret of Austria, had the real negotiation of it; they had both of them acquired the good sense and the moderation which come from experience of affairs and from the difficulties in life; they did not seek to give one another mutual surprises and to play off one another reciprocally. They resided in two contiguous houses, between which they caused a communication to be made from the inside, and they conducted the negotiation with so much discretion that the petty Italian princes who were interested in it did not know the results of it until peace was concluded on the 5th of August, 1529.... These women, though morally different and of very unequal social status, both had minds of a rare order, trained to recognize political necessities and not to attempt any but possible successes. They did not long survive their work; Margaret of Austria died on the 1st of December, 1530, and Louise of Savoy on the 22nd of September, 1531." *

     * Guizot's "France," Vol. Ill, p. 94.

This peace lasted until 1536; incessantly troubled, however, by far from pacific symptoms, proceedings and preparations, but it was certainly a monument to the skill of these two princesses. Charles V, on his way through the kingdom, after passing a week at Paris, pushed on to Valenciennes, the first town in his Flemish dominions, where he rested in state. When his eyes rested upon all the wealth and cheerful industry that surrounded him here, he said (according to Brantôme), "There is not in this world any greatness such as that of a King of France."

Valenciennes, when I saw it before the outbreak of the great war in 1914, was a rather sleepy little town given over to most prosaic manufactures. There was little evident picturesqueness; most of the ancient buildings had given way to stupid looking stucco covered houses. In vain did my Lady Anne seek the lace makers; they were not to be found—if they existed. There were no bric-a-brac or antique shops, either, wherein one might browse, but there was a quaint and most comfortable hotel, presided over by a garrulous landlord whose (artful) innocence and unworldliness quite took us in, and whose bill, when presented, proved to be fifty per cent more than we had reckoned upon.

Valenciennes should have been an economical town to live in, but it was not so; at least in the delightful hotel, which was so well kept and apparently so clean. The day following our arrival two charwomen started at the top of the house with buckets of water and scrubbing brushes. The buckets, by the way, were not the ordinary iron ones, but immense affairs of rough earthenware of a rich buff color outside, and a most delicious bright green enamel inside. The women scrubbed the floors from attic to back door—except the parquet floors—ignoring the corners, for cleanliness comes evidently very near to godliness in these semi-Flemish towns of Northern France; they are not very thorough. Following these bare-armed amazons came the housemaid with a great cake of beeswax, which was fixed into a fork of wood at the end of the handle as long and thick as a broomstick. With this beeswax she rubbed the floor most energetically until the grain of the old oak floor came out clearly. Then followed the polisher with a large, thick, flat brush made in the form of a sort of sandal which was fastened to one foot by a wide strap of leather, the brushless foot was kept stationary; the other with deft slides backwards and forwards produced a most beautiful polish like varnish. There were few carpets to be found anywhere, and in the summer one did not miss them, but I should imagine that the houses would be very damp and cold in the winter, when there is little provision made for heating these old drafty rooms, and (if one might consider expense) wood for the grate fires is charged for at the rate of "F. 1.25 per basket of nine sticks." (Per published tariff.)

We were told that the proper way to study this part of the country is to take a small house for the summer. One could furnish cheaply here, it was urged, in the country style, no carpets, and with the furniture made hereabouts.

My Lady Anne was quite taken with the idea.

The furniture was in good taste, stained a dark brown; it made a charming foil for the bright yellows and pale greens of the crockery.

The bedrooms had alcoves for the beds, with a curious little door cut out of the wooden partition wall at the back of the bed: this was for the convenience of the housemaid, as it saved the necessity of pulling out the bed to get behind it. These walls were almost always made of boards, and thus the doors were easily cut, so that covered with wall paper one scarcely ever noticed them.

My Lady Anne discovered that the clothing sent to be washed was, unless otherwise ordered, sent home rough dried! Ironing is special. Following the custom here there was no weekly washing day, but washing was done once a month or even two months, and this is the reason why there were so many of the really fine oak or chestnut armoirs to be found. Some of these were most beautiful, made of polished wood, and had often unique brass hinges and locks. Every household had one or more, in spite of the fact that the dealers were on the quest for them. The peasants who lived off the beaten track of travel willingly parted with them for comparatively small prices. We thought it rather extraordinary to find in a poor laborer's cottage a specimen of these fine chests fit for the hall of a millionaire collector. There were also fine wardrobes to be found, with handsomely carved chestnut or applewood panels polished like glass, and with brass knobs and locks worn bright with the use of many generations.

Occasionally one could find the old fashioned double decked bed made of dark oak, and the long heavy Norman table, which was the household larder, for in its long and deep drawer were generally stored the household provisions of ham, bacon, or dried fish; never the bread, though, for this was kept overhead upon a well polished board, in the older houses, hung from the ceiling, well out of the way of the rats, the torment of the peasant. In these houses the clothes were hung on ropes high up against the sloping roofs to prevent these pests from gnawing them. The broken necks of bottles were fastened at the ends of these cords or ropes, and on these the rats jumped from the rafters and went spinning over onto the floor far beneath. In all the villages there were public washing pools, a feature of the country. No washing was done in the cottages. Hundreds of peasant women washed the clothes, kneeling in long lines at the sides of the streams, keeping up all the time a chattering and laughing that could be heard from a distance.

Sometimes there were shelters overhead for their protection from sun and rain, sometimes not. They washed the clothes on flat boards, and beat them when lathered with a flat wooden sort of paddle. The washing was well done too, surprising to tell, but although they say not, one would think that the process was rather hard upon the clothes.

These quaint customs quite charmed us, and we were inclined to shut our eyes to certain evidences of drunkenness and its accompanying sins among the lower classes which could not be concealed, and which perhaps need not be entered into here.

Valenciennes was a manufacturing town, and the condition of the artisan classes was said to be even worse than that in Belgium just over the border. The hours of labor were long—unquestionably too long—and said to be as a rule fixed by the employer. Children of tender age were employed in factory and warehouse, and this perhaps explains the stunted appearance of the poor people. The law says that no child under sixteen can be kept at work for more than twelve hours a day, but it is understood that this law was easily evaded. The result was inevitable. If the child could be kept at work for twelve hours a day, then it will be understood that an adult was assumed to be able to do more.

Of course the man did not really work as hard as our own men do, and that he did piece work, and also that a considerable portion of his time must be deducted for shirking, for gossip and for rest. Still, at the foundries the hours and the labor were both excessive. The thought had not occurred to these manufacturers and proprietors that a man might do more in sixty hours a week than he will do in seventy. The terrible "Borinage" district of the mines of Belgium, which extends as far west as Quevrain on the border, really runs over the line, and some of its conditions existed at Blanc Misseron, Fresnes, and at Bruay. The name "Borinage" signifies the place of boring. Here was to be found a state of society that does not exist in any other part of the country, and the miners and their wretched families were a type quite distinct from all the rest of their countrymen. By the character of their work and by the deficiencies or lack of education, supplemented by the poisonous effects of the fiery and deleterious potato brandy and other decoctions which they freely imbibe, they had sunk into a state of both physical and mental decay.

"A visit to these places is not a pleasant experience, and the closer the acquaintance made with the life of the mining population the less attractive does it appear. The employment of children of tender years lies at the root of the ignorance of the people of the province.... To the proprietors, with rare exceptions, the miners are mere beasts of burden, in whom they do not feel the least interest. No steps whatever are taken to improve the lot of the miners, to elevate their ideas, or even to provide them with amusement or recreations.... The only places of resort are the 'Estaminets' and cabarets that are to be found in every third or fourth house.... It is scarcely going too far to say that morality does not exist in the Borinage; but the great curse in this community is the large number of immature mothers, and the consequent inseparable deterioration of the whole race.... Ignorance and immorality explain the low condition to which the mining population has sunk, but even these causes would not have produced such an appalling result if they had not been supplemented by the prevalence of drunkenness. As there is no restriction upon the sale of drink, every house may retail intoxicating liquors, and in many places where it is procurable there is no external appearance of the place being a drinking shop. The room of the cottage will contain a few chairs and benches, besides a table, and the liquor comes from a cupboard or an inner room. In warm weather the table and chairs are placed outside, and on Sundays and feast days there is not one of these houses which will not be crowded with visitors. The only amusement known to these people is to drink and to get drunk.... The beer drinkers are the more reasonable drunkards of the two. Having soaked themselves with 'faro' (a thin sour beer) they sleep it off. Not so the spirit drinkers, for when they have finished their orgies they are half mad with the poisonous alcohol which they have imbibed.

"The true explanation of the evils that follow this spirit drinking is to be found in the character of the spirit itself. In name it is gin or 'genievre,' but it bears little or no trace of that origin. What it is, no one outside the place of manufacture—which appears to be unknown—can correctly declare, but by the smell it would seem to be mainly composed of paraffin oil. This beverage is called 'Schnick' and is the favorite spirit of the miners. It is sold for ten centimes (1 penny) for a large wine glass, and five centimes (1/2 penny) for a small, and official statistics show that a large majority of the miners drink a pint of this stuff every day of their lives, while it is computed that there are no fewer than fifty thousand who drink a quart.... Lest the reader should imagine that there is some exaggeration in the figures just given, it may be mentioned that the total consumption of spirits per head of the population (of Belgium) exceeds fifty quarts." *

     *  "Belgian Life in Town and Country." Demetrius C. Boulger, p. 76.

This is, of course, written of Belgium, but as this mining country extends beyond the border into France, as I have said, these conditions exist in the neighboring villages to the north and east of Valenciennes. It is a relief to turn from this terrible picture to the vistas southwards, but it is only just to add that the Belgian Government was doing its best to cleanse this region when the war broke out and put a stop to the work.

How could the people who dwell in this terrible spot be other than debased? Conditions were all against them. World welfare demands the product of the mines; so workers are automatically produced to supply it, and thus across this fair land stretches this great black belt, like a vast unhealed wound, that extends from the western boundaries of Picardy, far beyond the German Westphalian province, and digs deep into the bowels of the earth, its presence being detected from afar by the heavy clouds of pungent, evil smelling black and brown smoke of the furnaces, as one approaches, and by the great heaps of clay and ashes along the railway lines.

This is the territory coveted by the "war lord." This is the road to the Channel, and over this strip by day and by night fall the shells of the invaders and defenders alike.

Gone now are the peaceful farmsteads; the quaint old villages clustered about the gray towers of the churches and monasteries, and the many towered, white walled châteaux in the vine clad gardens. The quiet towns and villages which we explored in those memorable summer days of 1910 are swept from the face of the earth, and there are now long level wide roads stretching towards and into the horizon, upon which the whole day and night, two mighty lines of silent armed men linking together heavy wagons and immense shapeless masses of heavy guns and tractors, to and from the fighting lines, form endless processions.

The God of Efficiency in destruction now reigns where once peaceful thrift was enthroned.


BOTH Abelard and Thomas à Becket are identified with this venerable fortress town, which was lately noted for its haricot-beans, and whose people, steeped in trade with Paris, were entirely oblivious to the value and beauty of the great cathedral of Notre Dame, SS. Gervais and Protais, the equal of which was perhaps not in all France.

Here Abelard was imprisoned in a tower which was shown, to those who sought it out, by a lame old priest. This tower was surmounted by a small chapel; it contained nothing, however, which was identified with the prisoner. There was also to be seen the ancient Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes, in which Thomas à Becket "spent nine years." The chief and most interesting part of this was the west façade or "portail," in the style of the thirteenth century, and flanked by a great tower more than 200 feet high, some say 225 feet, which could be seen from a great distance.

The approach to the town by way of the river bank was all that could be desired for picturesqueness, and above the trees and the quaint red tiled roofs of the many gabled houses, the great tower of the venerable cathedral lifted its heavy gray mass against a fleecy sky. The river was full of quaintly fashioned barges, and heavily built boats with huge rudders painted with stripes of vivid green and red, something like those on the Maas in Holland. Here and there a small black steamer belched forth pungent sooty smoke, and there seemed to be a great deal of business going on all about, and an air of prosperity and alertness, entirely out of keeping in so venerable a town, and which one could not decide to be quite as it should be or not. There were modern shops also with windows dressed quite à la Paris, and a good hostelry, the Lion Rouge, where one was made extraordinarily comfortable for a rather small sum. The streets were filled with quaint and unusual characters, and now and again we saw costumes and some headdresses on the peasant women that we had not seen elsewhere.

An old traveler writing of Soissons said: "At a small inn, 'Des Trois Pucelles,' I had a noble salmon, that still excites emotions in me when I think of it. I have never met with its like since—and there was also venison, a whole haunch brought to table, and claret the like of which would grace the king's table."

I looked for "Des Trois Pucelles," but alas, it had been pulled down long since.

Cathedral: Soissons


In this pleasant town, one might have lingered indefinitely and not lacked entertainment.

Soissons was called Augusta Suessionum under the early Empire. The town has great notoriety among historians for the great number of sieges it has undergone, down to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when for three days it resisted all attempts to take it.

Here Pépin le Bref was proclaimed King, and Louis le Débonnaire's undutiful sons imprisoned him in the Abbey of S. Medard.

From the beginning of the eleventh century to the middle of the fourteenth century, Soissons was ruled by its hereditary counts, but one of these, Louis de Chatil-lon, who fell at the battle of Crécy, being imprisoned in England, to pay his ransom, sold his countship to En-guerrand VII de Coucy in 1367, and with all the rest of the appanage of Coucy, it was taken by the crown of Louis XII.

From Cæsar to Napoleon its importance from a military point of view has been of the greatest value from its splendid position on the banks of the river Aisne. For centuries it had to defend itself from continued attacks, and in these, although many times successful, the stronghold seems to have worn down to its walls and towers. It has been called by historians "The City of Sieges," and certainly few towns seem to have suffered more. Doubtless its magnificent strategic position on the river Aisne has been the reason for the successive attacks upon it. It was also a favorite seat of royalty, and the capital of a Roman king, Syagrius. Architects have pronounced the Cathedral's interior even more impressive than that of Rheims, and say that "the beautiful proportions of the nave, the simplicity and purity of the carved capitals, the splendid glass, rendered it one of the most beautiful cathedrals of France." ("Cathedral Cities of France," Herbert Marshall.)

It was a splendid example of mixed Romanesque and Gothic of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The west façade had three beautiful doors, and a great rose window of Gothic design containing glass, the equal of which cannot, in the writer's opinion, be found in all France. There is a great square tower on the south side, terminating in an apse.

Inside, I saw some tapestry of the fifteenth century in good condition, and the sacristan showed an "Adoration of the Shepherds," which he attributed to Rubens, but it was so badly lighted that little of the detail could be seen.

Soissons suffered much at the hands of the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it was besieged by a force under the command of the Duke of Mecklenburg, whose soldiers burned and destroyed to their hearts' content.

Even as late as 1910, when I visited the town, the sacristan of the Cathedral, in response to a question as to his knowledge of the siege, became quite incoherent in his denunciations of the enemy. One wonders what has become of this cultured and delightful old man, who was at once priest and patriot. The south transept is said to have been the oldest part of the Cathedral, and here was the sacristy (dated the end of the twelfth century). The sacristan showed us the choir (1212) which was surrounded by eight square, and the apse by five chapels of polygonal form. Of these "Fergusson" says, "Nothing can exceed the justness of the proportions of the center and side aisles, both in themselves and to one another."

Kneeling statues of the abbesses, Marie de la Rochefoucauld and Henriette de Lorraine d'Elbeuf were placed at either side of the west portal. These were from the royal abbey of Notre Dame, but the sacristan could not, or at any rate did not, give me any other information concerning them. In the west end was a lovely little chapel, in what is called the "Salle capit-ulaire," entrance to which is through an early Gothic cloister with graceful vaulting supported by two beautiful columns.

Very little remained of the once magnificent Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes, except two spires, and a ruined façade, and this is on an eminence near the station. In the bombardment of the town during the Franco-Prus-sian War these were greatly damaged, but not destroyed. Here Thomas à Becket lived in 1170. Some of the remaining buildings were being used as a military prison in 1910.

The beautiful remains of the royal abbey of Notre Dame were given over to the authorities as a soldiers' barracks, and admission to the premises was refused us at the gate by a sentry.

Behind the Cathedral was the Hôtel de Ville, which contained the Library and the Museum, neither of which was impressive.

Near the royal abbey of Notre Dame was the old Tour Lardier, in which, according to legend, Satan was put in chains and confined by St. Vaast.

Outside the town, to the north, was the ruined church of St. Crepin-en-Chaye, where in an abbey built in the eleventh century, the Saints Crepinien were burned at the stake as martyrs. The abbots of old were certainly militant personages, and their castles were strongholds. We saw the remains of the abbey of St. Medard, which is said to have been founded in 560 by Clotaire I. Here the Kings Clotaire and Sigebert were buried, and here Childeric III was deposed; Pépin of Heristal received his crown, and Louis le Débonnaire imprisoned by his heartless sons in 833. Abelard, condemned at the Council of Soissons, was confined here for years.

Cathedral: Noyon


The monastery was one of the richest in France, holding an appanage of two hundred and fifty villages, including manor houses and farmsteads. A warrior abbot headed one hundred and fifty armed vassals at the Battle of Bouvines.

Of the seven churches of St. Medard nothing remained, and the site was occupied by some nondescript buildings used as some sort of charitable institution.

In a crypt under the chapel of the abbey church we were shown a large stone coffin, alleged to be that of Clotaire, and a small vault contains a cell in which the unfortunate Louis le Débonnaire languished. There is an inscription supporting this as follows:

"Hélas, je suys bons prins des douleurs

que j'endure!

Mourir mieux me vaudrait:

la peine me tient dure."

(Fourteenth Century.)

Of the genuineness of this inscription some authorities are doubtful, but I include it here, nevertheless.

This whole region is now hidden behind the mask of smoke and mystery of the present infernal war.

Just what ruin lies behind this dropped curtain is uncertain. It has been reported that Soissons is in ashes, burned and sacked in revenge for the failure of the Verdun attack. At any rate its inhabitants are confined within the limits of the town, and it is understood that they are compelled to toil unceasingly for the invaders. The vast farmsteads and fields are understood to be worked to the utmost by the townspeople in regular "gangs" under the eyes of German officers, and that the crops have been regularly gathered and distributed under the remarkable system for which the Germans are noted. Other than these no details have been allowed to creep forth from this unfortunate town. That this sanctuary of architecture may perchance escape entire destruction at the hands of these barbarians is not too much to hope for, but that the Cathedral should be spared is inconceivable, when one remembers the fate of Rheims, Ypres, Louvain, Arras, Malines and Noyon, to mention but a few of the incomparable treasures that have vanished before their onslaught.

Soissons' magnificent monuments are now probably heaps of calcined stone and charred beams. Those marvels of painted glass will live henceforth only in the memory of those whose good fortune it was to have seen and valued them.

As I write this the Cathedral of Lâon is reported to be a wreck, and is thus added to the list. Words fail me.

These "murdered cities" are glorified forever more....

How one's imagination responds to their very names: Verdun, Amiens, Soissons, Rheims, Arras, Valenciennes!—and those others of Flanders: Bruges, Ghent, Louvain, Malines, Lille and Ypres—how full are these of grace and fancy. What ring of shield!—What clang of arms!

For forty years these towns have enjoyed peace and fancied security, while that once great power, with hypocritical words of good will towards all men, even while sending delegates to the conferences at The Hague, was deliberately planning the destruction of sleeping nations whose lands are now invaded; whose young manhood is disappearing in a storm of blood and iron; whose architectural treasures are now but smoldering heaps of ashes!

Rheims Cathedral, it is urged, was a landmark; a menace to the invader;—and this is true. It was a landmark, most certainly, and therefore it was a menace to the army of the invader, and was destroyed. This fact established, there followed the destruction of the other cathedrals, and it may be that before the invader is beaten off and pushed back over his own boundary line, those other great works of art still untouched will vanish under the rain of fire and shell—and none remain.

Such a catastrophe is appalling, and it may be realized before the war is over, for there is small reason why all should not suffer the fate of great St. Martin's at Ypres, and Rheims, at the hands of the descendants of the Huns and the Allemanni. As it is now six great cathedral towns lie inclosed within their iron clad battle lines—Soissons, Lâon, Senlis, Amiens, Noyon and Rheims; of these Rheims, Soissons, Noyon and Senlis have been ruined; Amiens remains (so we are told) intact. No such assurance is given of Lâon, with its wonderful square ended choir, the only one in France, and the remarkable effigies of oxen, carved in stone, on the tops of the twin towers.


NOYON is really a most beautiful little town asleep amid surrounding heavy verdure and, with its dominating cathedral towers of Notre Dame, half Romanesque, half Gothic, which architects pronounce one of the best specimens of the transition period in France, is a veritable storehouse of interest." (I find this in my notebook, dated July, 1910.)

It was named by the Romans "Noviodunam Veroman-duorum" and was notable as the residence of the great Bishops SS. Medard and Eloi.

Here Charlemagne was crowned King of the Franks in 768. Jacques Sarrazin was born here in 1592, and a monument to him by the sculptor Mohlknecht was placed on the promenade in 1851.

Just what the invaders have done to this sleepy, peaceful, little town, can not at this writing be ascertained, but it is reported that the great towers of the cathedral have been shot away, and that most of the town is a mass of shapeless debris. Mr. Ralph Adams Cram, the eminent architect who has made a study of the cathedral, says in his scholarly and informing book ("The Heart of Europe," p. 99), "The ancient cathedral was burned in 1131, and the present work begun shortly after, though it is hard to believe that much of the existing structure antedates the year 1150. The crossing and transepts date from about 1170, and the nave ten years later, while the west front and towers are of the early part of the next century. The certainty and calm assurance of the work is remarkable. Paris, which is later, is full of tentative experiments, but there is no halting here, rather a severe certainty of touch that is perfectly convincing.... In 1293 the whole town was destroyed by fire, and the cathedral wrecked; but it was immediately reconstructed, however; and at this time the sexpartite gave place to the quadripartite vaulting, while the west front with its great towers, very noble in their proportions and their powerful buttressing, was completed."

From the earliest days Noyon in common with its neighboring towns seems to have had a hard time of it, whether in war or peace. The communes constantly fought with each other, the ancient burghers of Noyon being at daily loggerheads with the established metropolitan clergy. A certain Baudri de Larchainville, a native of Artois who had the title of chaplain of the bishopric, "a man of wise and reflecting mind" who did not share the violent aversion felt by most of his order for the existing institutions of communes, realized that sooner or later all would have to bow to authority, and that it was better to surrender to the wishes of the citizens than to shed blood in order to postpone an unavoidable revolution.

Elected Bishop of Noyon in 1098, he found this town in the same state of unrest and insurrection as Cambrai. The registers of the church contained a host of documents entitled "Peace Made between Us and the Burghers of Noyon."

But no reconciliation was lasting. "The truce was soon broken either by the clergy or by the citizens, who were the more touchy in that they had less security for their persons and their property."

The new bishop believed that the establishment of a commune sworn to by both the rival parties might become a sort of compact of alliance between them, and he set about realizing this noble idea before the word commune had served at Noyon as the rallying cry of popular insurrection.

"Of his own mere motion he convoked in assembly all the inhabitants of the town, clergy, knights, traders, and craftsmen. He presented them with a charter which constituted the body of burghers, an association forever under magistrates called Jurymen, like those of Cambrai. 'Whosoever,' said the charter, 'shall desire to enter this commune shall not be able to be received as a member of it by a single individual, but only in the presence of the Jurymen. The sum of money he shall then give shall be employed for the benefit of the town, and not for the private advantage of any one whatsoever. If the commune be outraged, all those who have sworn to it shall be bound to march to its defense, and none shall be empowered to remain at home unless he be infirm or sick, or so poor that he must needs be himself the watcher of his own wife and children lying sick. If any one have wounded or slain any one on the territory of the commune, the Jurymen shall take vengeance therefor.'" The other articles guarantee to the members of the commune of Noyon the complete ownership of their property, and the right of not being handed over to justice save before their own municipal magistrates. The bishop first swore to this charter, and the inhabitants of every condition took the same oath after him. In virtue of his pontifical authority he pronounced the anathema, and all the curses of the Old and New Testament, against whoever should in time to come try to dissolve the commune or infringe its regulations. Furthermore, in order to give this new pact a stronger warranty, Baudri requested the King of France, Louis the Fat, to corroborate it, as they used to say at the time, by his approbation and by the great seal of the Crown. The King consented to this request of the bishop, and that was all the part taken by Louis the Fat in the establishment of the Commune of Noyon.

Fifteenth Century House: Noyon


The King's Charter is not preserved but, under the date of 1108, there is extant one of the bishop's own, which may serve to substantiate the account given. "Baudri, by the grace of God, bishop of Noyon, to all those who do persevere and go on in the faith:

"Most dear brethren, we learn by the example and words of the holy Fathers, that all good things ought to be committed to writing for fear lest hereafter they come to be forgotten.

"Know then all Christians present and to come, that I have formed at Noyon a commune, constituted by the council and in an assembly of clergy, knights and burghers; that I have confirmed it by oath, by pontifical authority and by the bond of anathema, and that I have prevailed upon our lord King Louis to grant this commune and corroborate it with the King's Seal. This establishment formed by me, sworn to by a great number of persons, and granted by the King, let none be so bold as to destroy or alter; I give warning thereof, on behalf of God and myself, and I forbid it in the name of Pontifical Authority.

"Whosoever shall transgress and violate the present law, be subjected to excommunication; and whosoever, on the contrary, shall faithfully keep it, be preserved forever amongst those who dwell in the house of the Lord."

Thus was formed the Commune of Noyon in the year of our Lord 1108.

At the end of the eleventh century the town had become one of the most important in the kingdom, filled with rich and industrious inhabitants; thither came, as to Lâon, the neighboring people for provisions or diversion; and such concourse led to many disturbances. Thierry says, "The nobles and their servitors, sword in hand, committed robbery upon the burghers; the streets of the town were not safe by night or even by day, and none could go out without running a risk of being stopped and robbed or killed."

"Let me give as example," says Guibert of Nogent, "a single fact, which had it taken place amongst the Barbarians or Scythians, would assuredly have been considered the height of wickedness, in the judgment even of those who recognize no law. On Saturday the inhabitants of the country places used to leave their fields, and come from all sides to get provisions at the market. The townsfolk used then to go round the place carrying in baskets or bowls or otherwise, samples of vegetables or grain or any other article, as if they wished to sell. They would offer them to the first peasant who was in search of such things to buy; he would promise to pay the price agreed upon; then the seller would say to the buyer, 'Come with me to my house to see and examine the whole of the articles I am selling you.' The other would go; and then when they came to the bin containing the goods, the honest seller would take off and hold up the lid, saying to the buyer, 'Step hither and put your head or arms into the bin to make quite sure that it is exactly the same goods as I showed you outside.' And then when the other unsuspecting, jumping on to the edge of the bin, remained leaning on his belly, with his head and shoulders hanging down, the worthy seller, who kept in the rear, would hoist up the thoughtless rustic by the feet, push him suddenly into the bin, and clapping down the lid as he fell, keep him shut up in this safe prison until he bought himself out."

This story, told of the Commune of Lâon, formed in imitation of that at Noyon, was typical of all such communities. Lâon elected one Gaudri, a Norman by birth, referendary of Henry I, King of England, and one of those churchmen who according to Thierry's expression, "had gone in the train of William the Bastard to seek their fortunes amongst the English by seizing the property of the vanquished." Of scarcely edifying life, he had the tastes and habits of a soldier; was hasty and arrogant; a fighter and also something of a glutton. He met at Langres Pope Pascal II, come to France to keep the festival of Christmas at the Abbey of Cluny. The Pope had heard of his reputation, for afterwards he asked the ecclesiastics who accompanied Gaudri, "why they had chosen a man unknown to them."

"The question being asked in Latin, none of the priests knew even the rudiments of the tongue, so they could not answer," (says Guibert de Nogent, who records the matter).

Gaudri certainly was scantily fitted for the bishopric, as the town soon discovered. "Scarcely had he been installed when he committed strange outrages. He had a man's eyes put out on suspicion of connivance with his enemies; and he tolerated the murder of another in the metropolitan church. In imitation of rich crusaders on their return from the East, he kept a black slave, whom he employed upon his deeds of vengeance. The burghers began to be disquieted and to wax wroth. So a commune was resolved upon like that at Noyon, and was speedily set up and proclaimed, to the manifest wrath of Gaudri, who for days abstained from entering the town. But the burghers, craftily acting upon his cupidity and avariciousness, 'offered him so large a sum of money as to appease the tempest of his words,' so he accepted the commune and swore to respect it.

"For the space of three years all went well, and the burghers were happy and proud of the liberty they enjoyed, but when in 1112 the Bishop had spent the money thus received, he meditated over and keenly regretted the power thus bartered away, and resolved to return the townspeople to the old condition of serfdom. Consulting with King Louis the Fat, he won his consent to the plan he had in mind, by promising him untold sums of money."

The Charter, sealed with the King's Seal, was annulled; and on the part of the King and the Bishop an order was issued to all the magistrates of the commune to cease from their functions, to give up the seal and the banner of the town, to ring no longer the belfry chimes which rang out the opening and closing of their audiences.

But at this proclamation, so violent was the uproar in the town, that the King, who had hitherto lodged in a private hotel, thought it prudent to leave, and go to pass the night in the Episcopal Palace, which was surrounded by high walls. Not content with this precaution, and probably a little ashamed of what he had done, he left the next morning at daybreak with all his train, without waiting for the celebration of the festival of Easter for which he had undertaken the journey. Such troubles and disorders marked the rise and fall of all the communes. Those who are interested in such history of the struggles of the people for liberty of person and action may read further the accounts of the communes in Guizot's admirable History of France, from which these are extracts. Suffice it to say here that all the towns of Cambrai, Beauvais, Amiens, Soissons, Rheims and several others displayed at this period a vast deal of energy and perseverance in bringing their lords to recognize the most natural and the most necessary rights of every human creature and community.

From this brief account some idea may be had of the ancient conditions.

Let us now turn to the terrible state of affairs under which the unfortunate inhabitants of these quaint towns of Northern France are suffering. In the book of Octave Beauchamp, "Le Tour de France aux Cités Meurtries," is the following letter (which I translate roughly) of Leonie Godfroy, a nurse, known as "Schwester" God-froy:

"During the night of the 28th to the 29th of August, the Mayor of Noyon advised the people, that as the situation had become critical because of the approach of the German army, all those who could do so should leave the town to escape the terrors of the invasion."

L' Ancien Eveche: Noyon


"In one of my school books, I remember a picture which, when I first saw it, filled me with horror. It represented the Exodus of the Gauls at the approach of the Huns, and was drawn, I think, by Gustav Doré,—the women half naked, dragged away by the savage soldiers; the terrified and crying children; the old men and women hurrying away, some empty-handed, others laden with all manner of objects which at any other time, or under different conditions would have seemed ridiculous, but which coupled with their terror, became pathetic. This picture now was enacted by my unfortunate fellow townspeople in their attempt to escape from the dangers of the bombardment and acts of the invaders. Crowds were running towards the railway depot, not realizing that the cars were already crowded to suffocation with half fainting women and terrified children. Others sat beside the ways, wailing and wringing their hands; here and there sat groups silent, staring as if they had lost their senses!

"The forests outside the town were filled with hiding, terrified women, and here the Uhlans gathered on the morning of the 30th, after the invasion and occupation of Noyon. During this flight from town many women became mothers by the roadside, and lay there helpless until attended to by the German Ambulance Corps. The Germans arrived on the 30th of August. They entered Noyon after having fired three great shells into the city, which met with no response. The silence of death was over the town, save for the howling here and there of an abandoned dog, shut indoors.

"We, the staff at the hospital, gathered about the president of our committee, with clasped hands, vowed solemnly that come what would, we should remain at our post, to do our duty to the end. With us stayed some courageous young women nurses, and several of the attendants.

"Some hours before we had received at the hospital some dozen or so wounded English soldiers from the front. We were in the midst of our work with these, when there came the sound of violent banging on the front door. Two Uhlans burst in past the attendant and entered the court.

"Catching sight of us ranged about the cot of a wounded soldier, these pushed us aside, examined the condition of the wounded men in the room and without saying one word to any of us, hurriedly took their departure.

"From this instant our wounded were prisoners of war, and must resign themselves to all the circumstances of such state. The smallest resistance (of course there could be no resistance whatever on their part, wounded unto death as they were) would be visited upon us all; we would be shot in groups, and the hospital burned. Shortly after this a 'section' (so-called) entered the hospital without any formality, pistols in hand. The officers at once commandeered the autos in the court, and demanded our entire supply of gasolene.

"Behind these advance soldiers, the German troops began to defile past the windows in plain sight. Then came weary men covered with dust and grime of the march, demanding food and drink. Some of these threw themselves upon the cots beside the lesser wounded, and seemed instantly to fall asleep.

"We were soon unable to reply satisfactorily to the questions of the officers. They asked us, Frenchmen, how we found the French; if the English were numerous; if they had burned the bridges. We answered as well as we could, and as briefly as possible without giving them offense. The rooms being full, we placed foot tubs in the court, and attended to them. For the most part they impressed us filled with a great anxiety, even fear...." (Here follow allegations that are untranslatable—ignoble—they are omitted.)

"We saw from the windows regiments of men in gray passing in great disorder, the men covered with dust and grime, and not always keeping step. Great army wagons passed, the drivers of which slept nodding on the seats. Some we saw fall as the wagons lurched. The horses seemed spent, and only kept going because of heavy blows and prods from bayonets.

"This army of invasion resembles more an army in retreat. Imagine the state of affairs in this little city of Noyon, once so happy and peaceful, now resounding with the noise of the great guns of the Germans both day and night—nights of terror!

"All the grocery shops are pillaged and gutted, so also the pharmacies and the bazaars.

"Many of the houses are turned into something like shops for the barter of objects stolen by the soldiers in the town. In these furniture, silver, objects of art and linen are exchanged and packed up to be sent to Germany. The inhabitants are commanded to deposit with the 'Kommandantur' not only all firearms, but also all photographic cameras and telephone instruments in their possession. All pigeons in the town have been killed to prevent their being employed as messengers by the people. In occupying Noyon, the Germans have attempted to strip the place thoroughly of everything of value. Their hospital ambulances, called 'lazarets,' are used to gather in the proceeds of their thefts.

"There is one at the theater, and others in the most important establishments. Here all that is collected by the soldiers each day is taken. The wine cellars have been emptied, it is said, and large quantities shipped to Germany. It has for days now been impossible for us to get a bottle of wine for our patients."

Retable in the Cathedral: Noyon


"In the great bombardment now going on of Noyon by the French endeavoring to drive out the enemy, the faubourgs have suffered greatly; that of d'Amiens, the boulevards and the Rue d'Oroire particularly. The gas works and the depot are both destroyed, as well as the military casernes. I have heard the officers say how much they admire the French cannon, and the artillery corps. They frequently repeat in our hearing the ancient 'blague'—the Germans and the French should be friends—they will be sooner or later—they should unite for the good of humanity and for the downfall of England!—From officer to soldier this is the shibboleth. It does not ring true! Now and then there are visits from princes and dignitaries, accompanied by tremendous excitement and troops blazing with color, bands of music, and all intended to impress and encourage the dusty, dirty troops of soldiers who are continually coming from and going to the front, and lend a factitious animation to the town. Each day the German 'Etat Major' sends out the 'communiqués,' which are placarded all over town. The people of Noyon who remain pay little attention to them.

"They do, however, study and commit to memory the rules of circulation. For instance, it is dangerous for one to pass twice on any given day in the same street; to stand talking with a friend without plausible reason, or to go to the railway station or walk upon a public promenade without permission. In the evening all are ordered to be in the house by four o'clock. The town is plunged in inky darkness at night, for the gas house and works are destroyed. Those who must have light use candles, but the price of these has risen beyond all belief. All lights at night are carefully hidden by blinds and heavy curtains, for at the least ray of light seen by the German patrol, suspicion is cast upon the inmates, and a 'crime' of this sort invariably brings arrest and a night in confinement under guard at the 'post' or even the risk of being sent to Germany. I have seen young and old, a priest and a sacristan thus sent away.

"Often even a gesture misunderstood by a patrol results in the banishment of the offender over the border into Germany.

"The Mayor of Noyon has carried on the difficult tasks entrusted to him with great skill and remarkable courage. Many times his administrations have placed him in grave danger, but so far he has not suffered for his demands for justice towards his unfortunate fellow townsmen.

"Every Sunday mass is celebrated in the untouched part of the Cathedral. A Protestant service also is given following it. The troops attend in two detachments, and the sight of these two bodies at once in the Cathedral is sufficiently curious, and certainly most unusual.

"In the afternoon the officers arrange a sort of concert, at which artists who are unlucky enough to be here are expected to perform. These are usually melancholy affairs.

"When the town was first occupied by the Germans, in September, 1914, it was to the Cathedral that they sent their prisoners for confinement. The inhabitants were ordered to bring provisions for them, but were not allowed access to them. It was necessary to intrust the food they brought to the sentinels, and no one knows whether the food reached the poor prisoners or not.

"As for the Cathedral, I can say truly that the two great towers were constantly used by the German soldiers as posts of observation. Our glorious dead have been laid at rest at the foot of an immense cross erected outside the town.

"The Germans have prepared for their dead a large 'fosse' in the middle of a field. An armed picket guard assists at the interments of both French and Germans, at which military honors are scrupulously observed and given. These ceremonies, often under the heavy fire of the great guns of the French, have made an impression upon me that I shall never forget.

"The morning of the 17th of October, as I was engaged in renewing the dressing of a lieutenant s wounds, two German policemen brusquely entered, and called out 'Schwester Godfroy!'

"Hearing my name I turned and prepared to follow the two men, but these rough men, deeming my movements not quick enough, seized me by the arms and pushed me towards the stairs leading to my chamber. In the hallway I perceived my companions, each grasped by a 'gendarme.' An officer and five men pushed me with them into my chamber and locked the door; then these men, with a brutality impossible here to describe, ransacked my bed, ripped open the mattress and pillows, after which they turned the contents of my valise out on the floor, threw my clothing about; even breaking off the legs of my 'table de nuit' to see if I had not letters or papers hidden therein. I kept my temper, remaining quiet.

"Seeing me so calm seemed to render them furious at finding nothing to incriminate me. My trunk in a corner of the room attracted their attention, and they roughly ordered me to open it. I made them understand that there was no key to it. One of them wrenched off the lid with his saber, to discover that the trunk was empty. They then questioned me minutely, after eyeing suspiciously several German newspapers lying on the table.

"'You speak German, and you refuse to admit it; but do not mistake—you and the others—we know you to be Belgians, and if you can get to Paris, it is not for the purpose of caring for the wounded...'

"This seemed so foolish to me that I refused to answer.

"For at least ten minutes they bent over my poor papers, my little souvenirs, and a piece of paper money which they examined minutely, thinking to find state secrets, I suppose.

"Afterwards, when they returned my money, they kept five or six letters which I had preserved and kept by me as dear relics, precious letters from my mother and sisters... Their gross impoliteness made no outward impression upon me, but the instant their attention was attracted from me, and they turned their heads in another direction, I threw adroitly in a corner of my valise, which remained open beside me, a small packet which I carried in the waist of my dress. In this I had written a sort of diary of my experiences since the beginning of the war, together with accounts given me by wounded Frenchmen of their personal impressions of the combats in which they had been wounded; a few sketches and such matters, all innocent of any military value, but which, if found upon me, would have but one quick result... I pushed the valise farther under the table with a stealthy movement of my foot. The men then left the room, shutting the door behind them. Almost instantly two horrible 'Schwestern' entered without knocking, and proceeded to undress me, examining even the lining of my clothes for concealed papers—Of course they found none. My companions suffered the same indignities at the hands of these horrible creatures, who seemed to us more brutes than women. When they had gone, and I was sure that no one observed, I again concealed the packet of papers in the waist of my dress as before."

Of her further adventures I can give no more here. She was taken away from Noyon shortly after the experience just related and sent to a detention camp of Holzminden in Germany with her companion nurses. Her experiences there were remarkable, and after serving with faithfulness until the following April, she was sent to Rastadt, the fortress, from which she obtained permission to leave, and return to Noyon by way of Switzerland. She finishes by writing: "Now, after more than a year has passed, I am once more in our dear little cottage, among those whom I had thought and feared never to see again. Alas—the war continues. Certainly I dreamed that war was very different from what I found it to be, and if my health returns to me, as I hope, I shall resume my work. I have seen the soldiers in the midst of battle at the front; I have attended them in the ambulances with undreamed of wounds; I have listened to and received their agonized confidences, and attended them to the end. They are all heroes to me... I have known them in captivity, famished for food, insulted, brutalized by their captors. Our brave boys!

"Their courage, the grandeur of their souls, their indifference to pain in the face of duty, imparts to me something of their courage which inspires me.

"A country defended by such an army has no right to doubt final victory.

"(Signed) Leonie Godfroy."

Hotel de Ville: Noyon


One revolts at these terrible pictures and accounts of the ravages of war in this former peaceful town, now so ravaged by the German army. Its picturesque town hall with the emblazoned coat of arms below the turret, where those flocks of white pigeons paraded the coping, cooing in the sunshine—now a mass of blackened ruin, behind a vast hole in the ground in what was once the town square, marking where one of the great shells fell and burst; and the shattered towers of the gray old Cathedral, the roof of which is gone, leaving the debris filled interior open to the rainy gray cloudy sky. Where now are the throngs of happy, apparently care-free peasants who thronged the "place" before the flag-hung old Town Hall that morning we last saw it in September, 1910?...

The Patron Saints' day—a day dear to the peasants. This festival which takes place but once a year, is an event in the peasant's life. On this day he invites his friends and his relatives to his house, each in turn. In such communities throughout France, where the church still preserves authority, the priest earnestly endeavors to protect the peasants from the wiles and temptations of sin—this is one of the few days when dancing is allowed. Thus in each section of the country or province the occasion is given a different name, although the circumstances of its celebration do not differ greatly.

In the North of France the day is known under the name of "La Dricasse," in the East as "La Rapport," in Savoy as the "Vogue"; in Touraine as the "Assemblée"; as the "Ballade" in Poitou; as the "Frairie" in Angoumois; and as the "Pardon" in Brittany.

The day before the fête, long lines of wagons with peddlers and mountebanks arrived in the "place" and each took up its station upon a position marked out with white stones, according to whatever license has been allotted to the showman at the Town Hall. There was no disorder whatever, no dispute with the Sergeant de Ville, whose word is law. The wagons were unpacked in the light of flaring naphtha torches under the excited eyes of the gamins who formed a wondering, pushing ring about the workmen until driven away by the police.

One may believe that during that night the peasants slept lightly for thinking of the joys of the feasting and dancing of the morrow. At dawn of day the chimes in the cathedral awakened them. Soon they thronged the streets, the men dressed in new blouses, or treasured wedding coats, the girls all in unaccustomed finery of stiff skirts and Sunday headdress.

All go to mass on a day of this sort as a sacred duty. The old Cathedral was crowded to the doors with the people; sitting and standing. Late comers fared badly and remained at the porch. Even there, they knelt piously at their devotions.

But it seemed to us that the whole congregation was nervously excited and impatient to be gone. We could not hear the words of the priest's sermon, but undoubtedly he counseled them to keep sober and to beware of the attractiveness of sin.

When the Amen was chanted how quickly the peasants left the old church! How they hastened to the square, where already flags were flying all about, and where the mountebanks were shouting out the attractions of their tented shows; where the booths displayed their attractive collections of brassy jewelry; and the firemen were gathered bravely in their brazen horsehair-plumed helmets, all ranged about the absurd diminutive fire pump, two feet in height and mounted on four twelve-inch scarlet wheels. How innocent, even pathetically ludicrous it seemed, yet what a charm it all had for us.

Everything was calculated to attract and excite the desires of these simple people, who know nothing of the luxuries to which free born Americans are so accustomed.

Here in the open square sharp-eyed Semitic merchants from Paris unpacked their paniers and heavy cases of cheap clothing, gaudy ribbons and flimsy varnished furniture, over which the women and girls crowded and pushed excitedly, fingering their lean purses, containing their hard earned "francs," and eagerly bargaining for the usually worthless articles. The "barkers" called out loudly the merits of the shows, before which, on elevated board platforms, hard faced girls in tights and motley clad buffoons paraded. Tinsel and glitter never failed to attract the peasant, and the clashing cymbal and the loudly beaten drum gives him delight.

Here, before the old Town Hall, built three centuries ago, a modern moving picture tent was set up, with a large sign over it reading thus: "Cinema—Américain. Phonograph—Edison. Entree f. 1.50"—but the peasants did not yet know what this meant and they seemed dubious about it. The fortune teller, however, was highly successful, and his long green canvas covered wagon was surrounded by an eager waiting crowd of women; the men did not seem to care for it.

An itinerant quack dentist, in a magnificently varnished open carriage hung with flags and diplomas from the "Crowned Heads of Europe," was extracting "an aching tooth," from the mouth of a frightened boy, who leaped away from the carriage, as the quack held up the offending tooth in a glittering forceps before the astonished eyes of the peasants. Spitting out blood, the boy, holding his jaw in his hands, and surrounded by other admiring "gamins," went away behind the back of a cart; following him I was just in time to see him display a bright new one franc piece to the others who were grouped about him. They all jumped away at my approach.

"Did your teeth ache badly?" I asked him.

"No, M'sieur, not at all, but he offered me one good silver franc for it, and Mère de Dieu, what would you?—a franc is a franc—and I have plenty of teeth left!"

In the gorgeous carriage stood the loud mouthed "quack" flourishing the teeth in the silver plated forceps, and calling for "amateurs" to come forward and have their teeth out.

There were booths filled with sweets about which the children lingered most longingly, and others where "fritters" were cooked in evil smelling grease, which were eagerly bought and consumed in large quantities by the young fellows and their girls.

The various small inns and drinking-places were filled to suffocation the whole day long. From the open windows and doors came the sounds of loud singing, mingled with the raucous tones of barrel organs, and the jingling of glasses and bottles. There was much shouting and laughing on the part of the peasants, who on ordinary occasions are serious enough, if not morose. That night the festival was in full swing. The two large "merry-go-rounds" with their gaudily painted wooden lions, tigers, and horses, were whirling about in blazing circles laden with excited boys and screaming girls, to the groaning strains of large barrel organs, filling the air with noise. These merry-go-rounds were ornamented thickly with squares and diamonds of mirror glass, and these made a magnificent whirling show in the square. There was, too, the town orchestra vainly endeavoring to play the popular music, and finally there were some sputtering fireworks, followed by a speech by the Mayor, and a "retraite aux Flambeaux," consisting of a dozen firemen with oil lamps, which, preceded by a drum corps, made the round of the adjacent streets.

After seeing this we returned to our little Hôtel du Nord, for it was near to midnight, but all night long the festivities went on in the square, and in the small dancing halls.

We thought it all most quaint, even somewhat pathetic then.

But the act of the aggressor which has swept away this pretty little town, leaving nothing but blackened, fire-eaten walls, and driving a simple innocent people into exile is nothing short of a crime against humanity.

Of the ruin wrought in the neighborhood of Noyon and Lassigny by the Teutons before they abandoned this part of their line a correspondent (Le Matin, Paris) states that it is difficult to speak without entering into details of the most sordid character.

What were once charming streets in Lassigny are now covered with masses of rubbish discarded by the Germans when they plundered the city. The beautiful old fifteenth century church, which was the Mecca for thousands of sightseers in times before the war, has been reduced to a heap of stones. Along the road from Lassigny to Noyon the spectacle of ruin is the same. Suzoy and many small villages were too far from the French lines to be damaged by the heavy artillery fire, but they bear, nevertheless, many traces of the barbarian rage. All furniture that could not be carried off by the Germans was battered and broken to prevent its use even for firewood.

Much of it was piled in heaps along the road and burned to ashes. In some parts of the road the French found carts loaded with household furniture which the Germans in their haste were unable to move or burn. Farm implements, curtains, carpets and most of the household goods of the villages were smashed and in some cases covered with offal.

At Noyon the houses have suffered comparatively little damage. The most noticeable wreckage was done in the vicinity of the bridges which had been blown up to prevent and delay pursuit. At some places the Germans exploded bombs and mines in the middle of the roadway, causing immense holes and ridges. The Cathedral is ruined; likewise the notable and remarkable old Town Hall, but the quaint old fountain in the Square has by some good fortune escaped damage. In March, 1917, on their departure from Noyon, the Germans delegated a staff of officers to visit the different banks in the town.

Several prominent citizens were brought along to accelerate the work of pillage, and the officers compelled the opening of all safes. Even the minute objects whose chief value lay in sentimental attachment were taken by the Germans.

Securities, jewelry and silver in the banks, amounting to $500,000 approximately, were taken before the town was evacuated.

M. Poiret, mayor of the village of Pimpres, who was separated from his family two years ago, and compelled to remain at Noyon, says of his treatment by the Germans: "The humiliations we had to put up with are indescribable. During the last few weeks our physical discomforts became unbearable. There was neither meat, nor coal, nor vegetables, nor fat. In addition the Germans cut all the mains, so that we had no gas. They were constantly requisitioning what little we had. They took even the bells from the ruins of the Cathedral, and the old Town Hall, and last week the great organ in the church (Sainte Chapelle of the old Bishop's Palace) was removed.

"We were joyous when we heard that the Germans were preparing to leave on Friday night. We were told to remain indoors on penalty of being shot if we stirred outdoors.

"During the night the Germans blew up mines in the streets and dammed up the river Verse so as to flood the town. The evacuation began the following night (Saturday) and was finished by daybreak.

"On Sunday at 11 o'clock the sight of French cavalry coming up the street toward my house was the most 'gorgeous' spectacle I have seen for more than two years."

During the nights of March 16 and 17, two companies of German infantry arrived at the village of Ham, where there was a famous château (tenth century) of the Counts of Vermandois and later of the family of Coucy. The infantry remained until the following day, pillaging systematically, under orders of their officers, everything in the neighborhood.

The ancient Château of Coucy furnished them with considerable valuable booty, and here four officers burned and broke up all the furniture they could not carry away. The château was in the form of a rectangle flanked at each corner by a round tower, and with great square towers on the north and east. The round tower at the northeast angle which rose from the canal was the work of Louis de Luxembourg in 1490. and was called the "Tour du Connetable," and bore above the portal the motto of its founder, "Mon Myeul." Its walls were of tremendous thickness and strength. The whole lower story was an immense hall of hexagonal form, and it had a number of strange pits, called furnaces, which were to be used to blow up the castle in case of capture. In this château many notable personages had been confined; for instance, Jeanne d'Arc; Condé, the Huguenot leader; Jacques Cassard of Nantes; and Prince Napoleon, after his failure and capture at Boulogne in 1840. This great and historical château they wantonly destroyed; after sacking it they blew it up with cases of explosives placed in the walls.

The officers took away from their sleeping quarters in the town all chairs, bed clothing and even the smallest toilet articles. Some of the soldiers excused their acts to the townspeople by informing them that all this was done "by order of the Emperor."

General von Fleck, commanding officer of the army corps stationed at Ham, took everything in the house he occupied from the cellar to the roof, using a wagon to carry away the objects. "After the wagon had gone with the last chair in the house, the general found himself in need of one on which to write a letter, so an orderly was dispatched to get one at the Mairie."


THE little town of Meaux on the banks of the Marne is only thirty miles or so from Paris, and was remarkable for its old mills on the bridge over the river bed, behind the Hôtel de Ville, as well as for the beautiful cathedral of St. Etienne. The beauties of the town could best be appreciated from the shady walk along the river side. Here were great shade trees overhanging the roadway, through the branches of which one got glimpses of the cream colored tower of the old cathedral, above the red tiled roofs of the town, all against a summer sky of pale blue.

Upon reaching the town, there were the two bridges over the Marne, both of them covered with some old mills with high wooden walls and quaint buttresses; almost theatrical and unbelievable in these practical days.

The town had about twelve or thirteen thousand inhabitants, and was busied with a trade in grain. Some rather handsome boulevards seemed entirely out of key with the rest of the town, but there were the remains of an ancient chateau of the Counts of Flanders, built during the thirteenth, or maybe the twelfth century, accounts differ, which seemed much more in keeping with the place, and a most delightful little hotel called the "Trois Rois" from which it was hard to get away, so ideal were its comforts, and so moderate its charges.

Meaux, says history, was the refuge of the noble ladies of France in the Jacquerie revolts of the thirteenth century, when the horrors of the rebel persecutions at Beauvais commenced. Once having reached the shelter of its walls, they dared not leave, and remained prisoners until the terror ended. Here remained the Duchesses of Orléans and Normandy among others no less famous and prominent, so that intrepid warrior, the Captai de Buch, accompanied by the Earl of Foix, gathered together a force of armed men for their rescue.

All the roads leading to the town, from Paris, from Beauvoisie, from Valois, were filled with bands of peasantry, all bound for the town, which they had heard contained great treasure. Arriving at Meaux, de Buch and Foix were welcomed with great joy, for the peasants had begun to pillage wherever they could. Then ensued a great slaughter in which the marauding peasants were rounded up and killed like rats by the armed warriors. "They flung them in great heaps into the river. In short, they killed upwards of seven thousand; not one would have escaped if they had chosen to pursue them."

Meaux, too, is famous for a great siege during the wars of Henry V, when he camped before the town walls in 1421. Monstrelet says, "The King of England was indefatigable in the siege of Meaux, and having destroyed many parts of the walls of the market place, he summoned the garrison to surrender themselves to the King of France and himself, or he would storm the place. To this summons they replied that it was not yet time to surrender, on which the King ordered the place to be stormed. The assault continued for seven or eight hours, in the most bloody manner; nevertheless, the besieged made a most obstinate defense, in spite of the great numbers that were attacking them. Their lances had been almost all broken, but in their stead they made use of spits, and fought back with such courage that the English were driven back from the ditches, which encouraged them much."

Eventually, however, not receiving help from the Dauphin, upon which they had counted, they capitulated to Henry's soldiers.

Under the treaty which followed, they agreed: "On the 11th day May, the market place, and all Meaux was to be surrendered into the hands of the Kings of France and England."

As a warning to the people against further insurrection the leader, one Vauras, "the bastard," who had in his career killed many English and Burgundians, was hanged, drawn, and quartered before the walls of the town.

After this, King Henry, who was very proud of his victory, entered the town in great pomp and splendor, remaining for some days with his princes and attendants, and left after giving orders that the town walls should be rebuilt and all other damages repaired.

The ancient building called the "Evêché" near the cathedral was the residence of Bossuet, the famous preacher, in 1681. He was nicknamed the "Aigle de Meaux," and renowned for his eloquence, even at a time when France was rich in such genius. Bossuet stood head and shoulders even above such contemporaries as Mas-silon and Bourdaloue, Arnauld, Fleury, and Fénelon. It was really he who established the privileges and liberty of the Gallican church.

Here in the little green garden behind the gray walls of the "Evêché," he sat, mused, and wrote his essays upon the encroachments of Papacy, which destroyed the remnants of Pope Innocent's power in France.

In his later years he remained in seclusion here at Meaux, leading the life of a simple parish priest, and here he died "full of honors and beloved by all," and was buried in the church in 1704. A handsome statue by Ruxtiel was erected in his honor on the south side of the choir.

Old Mills: Meaux


Here, too, was a fine kneeling statue of Philip of Castile, dated 1627.

But the great point of attraction for the stranger at Meaux was the bridge and the old timbered mills which overhung it, and the curious greeny water of the river Marne.

I could not ascertain what gave the water its green color; it did not seem natural, yet there were apparently no dye works near at hand—none of the inhabitants whom I questioned seemed able to answer my question; they had never noticed it, they said.

The morning upon which I made my sketches of the ancient mills and the old bridges, there were two of them over the river, the sky suddenly darkened, and a heavy shower of rain fell. I took refuge in the open doorway of one of the old mills, and sat on the lower step of a ruinous dusty steep stairway leading upwards into mysterious deep shadows. Somewhere in the interior sounded the rhythmic beating of heavy machinery, but save for this, the "drumming fingers of the rain," and an occasional tinkle of a bell high up in the tower of the cathedral, there were no signs or sounds of life. Meaux is not a large town, neither is it a very lively one, but it is charmingly situated. Were it farther away from Paris, I doubt not that it might attract the tourist, for it has a most delightful public promenade along the river Marne which is entered immediately before the railway station. But up to the time of the outbreak of the great world war, Meaux was comparatively unknown to the foreigner tourist, and were it not for the old mills of which I had heard, I should not have stopped there. The cathedral treasury possessed copies of nine of Raphaël's cartoons, and included two of the three "lost" ones, described as "Martyrdom of St. Stephen and Conversion of St. Paul." There were also copies of frescoes by Guido Reni and Dominichino, an "Adoration of the Magi" after Champaigne and an "Annunciation" after Stella. I had made notes concerning these in my pocket diary and as I sat on the step in the old doorway of the dusty mill, I mused over the pages while the raindrops fell outside.

All at once the door swung to slowly, and when I tried to open it, I found that it was fast and would not yield. There was no sort of knob visible in the gloom, nor was there any aperture in the door through which light could come. There seemed to be light somewhere above, so I mounted the steps, which stopped abruptly before another closed door which, however, was not fastened, for it yielded at once to my touch. There was a small window here of four panes thick with dust, through which some feeble light came. More steep steps led upward, and I continued to mount, judging that I should soon come to some sort of room where there were men at work.

But at the top of these stairs was a similar door and more steps, and still another flight brought me into an immense empty room with an uneven floor, the planks of which were loose here and there and gave alarmingly to my weight. Overhead huge beams crossed and recrossed the dimness, and on these beams perched countless numbers of rooks, who uneasily regarded my intrusion. The windows—there were five of them—I could not reach from the floor, nor could I by jumping up, try as I might, reach the sills, so that I might see out. Backwards and forwards I passed, and then along the blank wall which I judged adjoined the neighboring mill, seeking a doorway. I could find none. Finally I found a small door, not more than three feet from the floor in the blank wall. This was fastened by a hasp and opened readily. I got down on my hands and knees in the dust which lay thickly, and crept through it into a second large dim room, almost the counterpart of that which I had just left, save that it was lighted by only one window and this without glass. It, too, was high up in the wall like the others.

In the very middle of the uneven floor was an unguarded opening through which the heavy ropes of a pulley hung. I lost no time in feeling my way carefully down the steps at one side which were without any rail to hold on to. I found that there was a ladder here by which I might descend, which I did at once, but with some misgivings as to where it might land me.

Now I heard voices from below and, reassured, I put foot to the ladder. In a few moments I was on the floor below, but as I was about to walk away from the ladder in the darkness towards an opening on the farther end, I bethought me to put out a foot carefully to try the floor. To my horror there was no floor there, and retreating I lighted a match and threw it before me. The feeble flame was enough to show a great black chasm where I had thought to step a moment before, and the hair on my scalp rose in fright at my escape. I shouted aloud for help—I heard running footsteps—and right beside me a door opened letting in a flood of daylight and the figure of one of the millers, who regarded me with openmouthed astonishment, as well he might.

When I had explained my predicament, he and the other men who gathered about were loud in their expressions of wonder at my escape from a terrible death, for had I but stepped a foot farther, I had fallen forty or fifty feet into a sluiceway from which they vowed I never could have escaped alive. I invited all hands over to the café, and there I gave offerings to Bacchus in honor of my escape which were eagerly consumed by the millers of Meaux.

Cathedral: Meaux


M. Georges Montorgueil, writing in "La Cités Meurtries, 1916," his account of the early days of terror in Meaux, gives a picture of the old priest who so devotedly and courageously shepherded his little flock of women and children, helpless before the invasion and destruction of the town by the Germans:

"Where, meanwhile, was the venerable priest, an old man of seventy-five years, the Abbé Fossin, whose age and gray hairs was no protection, to him, nor the eighteen unfortunates who were seized with him by the Germans and thrown into jail, under the most atrocious circumstances, not matched by any of its most ancient barbarities when the Germans were known as 'Huns.'

"The Abbé Fossin kept a Journal of events during the tragic hours preceding his arrest:

"'5th of September, 1914. Saturday.

"'I read my breviary. An aéroplane passed above my head. The bodies of two pilots killed by a bomb were taken to the cemetery. A group of captured French soldiers are passing. "L'église en ambulance." The prisoners of Guerard have gone. All the electric lights in the town are out.

"'6th September. Sunday.

"'A bad night. Impossible to say Mass or hold funeral of the two aviators in the cemetery because of the falling shells. The cannonade began at nine o'clock and lasted until five o'clock without interruption. We are under a very rain of fire! The batteries of the Germans, placed behind the presbytery, have been located by the English. I believe my last hour has arrived. The din is frightful! I have thanked God that I am protected.

"'7th September. Monday.

"'The battle has recommenced. Still impossible to say the Holy Mass. I paid a visit to the Germans in the Church. These are the most terribly wounded. They gave me their hands. They are badly off. I cannot give them bread; all I had, all the fruits of my garden have disappeared! I have nothing left!—'

"The diary ends here. Here was a holy man of venerable years of known truth and great charity, visiting his enemies to give them what he had, his prayers. He had nothing else to give. He was fatigued for lack of sleep. He was hungry, but he had nothing to eat. All he had in his meager house and small garden had been either taken away or destroyed. Witness now his recompense: less than an hour after he had written those last notes in his diary, the Germans had seized and dragged him before a wrathful German officer.

"He was charged with having climbed the tower of the cathedral to signal to the British lines. He who so suffered from rheumatism that he could hardly walk from his doorway to the church, a few paces away, by the aid of a cane. He was insulted by the officer, the soldiers who held him up before his questioner spat in his face. At length his shoes and clothes were stripped from him, and with great brutality he was thrown into a cellar, where he spent the night, with some potato bags to cover him. In the morning the door above was flung open, and a number of captives were thrown down the steep steps of the cellar way. These were Milliardet, Jourdin, Vapaille, Therré, Croix, Eugene Leriche, Lacour, Jules Denis, Berthelemy Denis, Merillon, Combes, Mesnil, Liévin, Faure and his son, aged fifteen, who was baker's boy in the village of Vareddes, and known under the nickname of 'Marmiton.'

"To this group the Germans added later in the day Paul Lebel and Vincent Denis, arrested because the latter called out to a German soldier, 'Eh, well, old man, you are not yet at Paris!'

"On Saturday, without feeding them or allowing any one to visit them, all these unfortunates were divided into several groups, and surrounded by soldiers, hustled along the road to Lizy-sur-Ourcy, where they were halted.

"They numbered now fifteen in all, not counting the old priest, the Abbé Fossin.

"Père Leriche, who was himself seventy-four years old, relates that the Abbé, who lay prostrate on the ground beside him, said to him in a low voice, 'I believe that they are going to shoot me—take my watch and breviary, and try and get them to my family.' When the march was resumed the Abbé could not walk fast enough to suit the soldiers. He was pushed and struck by them, his soutane was torn to ribbons. Finally they threw him into a wagon which they seized on the road. In this he lay groaning. He died a short time later, and was left beside the road. The heat was atrocious; thus they marched, the younger ones sustaining the elders, through the long hours to the rear, without water or food, insulted and beaten constantly by their captors.

"At Coulomb, Père Jourdain fell in the road, unable to continue the march. He was immediately dispatched by a revolver shot.

"At Chézy-en-Orxois, another old man, Milliardet, eighty years old, was similarly disposed of. Any complaint was the signal of death. Both Terry and Croix were shot for whistling.

"Old Eugene Menie, who halted on the edge of a deep ditch, was struck by the butt of a gun in the hands of one of the soldiers, and his neck broken—they threw him into the ditch and went on.

"Père Liévin, aged sixty-one, who had heart disease, could not keep step with the others; he was purple in the face, and his eyes stuck out so comically that it amused the soldiers, who finally shot him and left his body at the cemetery gate in Chauny."

These are only haphazard extracts from the records of that terrible month of September, 1914, when unfortunate Meaux was the very center of affairs. Elsewhere we read of the aspects of the streets after each successive bombardment, the telegraph hanging in festoons on the footways, the trunks of huge trees felled by cannon barring the way; the carcasses of animals lying about amid strange débris, such as heavy leather shoes, broken guns, sticks and barrels, empty tin cans, torn and ragged clothing clotted with blood, strange piles of still smoking ashes containing small bones, and over all the odor of burning petroleum.

The houses with wide open doors and sashless window frames; gardens uprooted and despoiled; walls thrown down, and strewn about an immense quantity of broken glass bottles. These were the streets of Meaux, which I had explored on that peaceful morning in August, 1910, and made the sketches of the old bridge with its clustered mills, the fire blackened beams now hanging in grotesque ruins over the water of the little green river.

The bombardment began on Monday, the 7th of September, 1914. The first of the German shells fell upon the town at eleven in the morning, in the direction of the fauburg St.-Nicholas, then in the fauburg St.-Faron.

The bombardment followed the line of the railway. In the cemetery the ancient tombs were scattered in all directions; ten shells destroyed the hospital. The Grand Seminary fell next. Of the one hundred and twenty shells which on this Monday fell in the town, the first five did the greatest damage. Whole lines of houses were thrown down and set on fire. This lasted until six in the afternoon. The next day shells began to fall again in the early morning. The cathedral was encircled by shells, which did great damage, but by a special Providence with the exception of an enormous hole in the roof, and the destruction of the venerable cloisters, the ancient cathedral escaped the fate of its neighbors.

This is the chronology: Wednesday, September 2, the exodus; Thursday, the town lay deserted and helpless; Friday, the organization of all the available defensive forces; Saturday and Sunday, the battle; Monday, the bombardment; Tuesday, the enemy driven off, and the town saved.


FROM the railway station one could see the towers of the cathedral and the old church of St. Pierre, above the heavy trees of a short avenue which led to that part of the town, where formerly stood the old ramparts—and to the Porte Royale.

The best and most picturesque part of the town, of interest to the antiquary, was the western end, and here were tortuous and delightful crooked narrow streets, quaint little gabled houses, old mossy walls surrounding luxuriant gardens, and some remains of the remarkable chateaux of a bygone period.

Ancient stronghold in past centuries, it had become a little old sleepy town given over to churches and the priesthood. Of the ancient Gallo-Roman fortifications there were still to be seen, up to the outbreak of the war in 1914, sixteen of the Roman towers in a fair state of preservation. A small river, the Nonette, passes through it, winding most exquisitely. Situated some thirty-five miles from Paris, and on the edge of the Champagne district, its character could be best appraised from the charming public promenade along the river's bank, lined with fine trees and offering vistas of great picturesqueness.

The old cathedral dates back to the early days of the thirteenth century; its lace-like gray tower, covered with exquisite Gothic ornamentation, was a source of delight to artists and antiquarians. Usually covered with scaffolding, the tower was in a constant state of repair, but the spidery scaffolding seemed not at all to detract from the charm of its lines.

One of the architects in charge explained that the vaulting and the first stage of the choir, the "triform ambulatory" had been removed because of cracks developing in the masonry, but this alteration did not seem to have resulted in any loss to the interior artistically. Indeed, as it stood in 1910, the choir elevation was a most exquisite example of thirteenth century construction and design.

Ancient Ramparts: Senlis


Lying in the midst of the great forest lands of Chantilly and Hallette, Senlis, until the dissolution of the Carlo-vingian Empire, was the place of royal residence, and even thereafter, to the time of Henry of Navarre, the kings of France preferred it to all others. The Castle was built upon the site of the Roman Prætorium, the ruins of which were pointed out to tourists. The ancient Roman ramparts which still in part surrounded the town were also shown, and the walls were said to be thirteen feet thick. "They enclosed an area, oval in form, one thousand and twenty feet long from east to west and seven hundred and ninety-four feet wide from north to south. At each of the angles formed by the broken lines of which the circuit of two thousand seven hundred and fifty-six feet is composed, stands or stood a tower; numbering twenty-eight and now only sixteen, they are semicircular in plan, and up to the height of the wall are unpierced. The Roman city had only two gates; the present number is five."

The old cathedral was both curious and fascinating, as well as of great beauty. Begun in 1154 on really enormous lines, its original plan was never carried out for want of funds. Century after century it had been rebuilt, altered, extended and replanned, until it had become, as an American architect of renown styled it, "an epitome of French architecture from the middle of the twelfth to the middle of the fifteenth century."

Its companion unfinished, the great southwest tower is of the thirteenth century, and is said to be "unsurpassed by no other spire in France for subtlety of composition and perfection of detail."

One of its beautiful "crocketed" pinnacles was shot away in the bombardment by the Germans in 1915, and the loss left the world poor indeed.

It is certainly a strange sensation for us to watch from a distance the continuous destruction of the great works of art of the world, powerless to prevent it. For us all this loss is personal, poignant, unexampled; a horror that nothing can palliate nor time soften.

The ancient Renaissance tower of St. Pierre had been used as a public market, and also as a cavalry barrack because of its ruinous state. In form it was most curious, being very short and too wide for proportion. While the prevailing style was flamboyant, it contained a certain amount of early Gothic work of considerable interest and value. I regret that I did not make a sketch of it when I was there, for the scene at early morning with the crowds of market people, and the vegetable stalls all about, and rising above them the bare gray walls of the nave and the choir, formed a picture of much quaintness.

The glory of the old cathedral of "Notre Dame" was the beautiful spire upon the southwest tower. Of infinite grace and lightness with its detached pillars, it rose from an octagonal base which supported a sort of canopy in pyramidal form, the whole adorned with a wealth of delicate carving and tracery, and pierced by high dormer lancet shaped windows, about which flew clouds of ravens or starlings.

The great door in the west front reminded one of that at Chartres, and was adorned with figures of Our Lord and the Virgin, some of the figures of the angels being of remarkable character and grace. Inside in the ambulatory, behind the altar, are some of the twelfth century Romanesque capitals, and elsewhere are found other evidences of Roman influence.

All accounts agree that this beautiful edifice has now been entirely destroyed by the invader (1917).

Former wars have swept the little town from time to time in the past, but the cathedral remained practically untouched until the present day. Whatever the former causes, or however violent the onslaught of the opposing forces, these priceless records of art were spared by common consent, save perhaps when the Revolution swept over the cloisters, and even then the havoc wrought was reparable, but now comes one calling himself the anointed representative of God, and annihilates an innocent people and destroys the treasures of a land which he cannot conquer.

Just what remains at this time of Senlis cannot be ascertained, but all accounts agree that the huge gray Romanesque tower can no longer be seen upon the horizon, and that the bombardment of the ruins continues. Baron André de Maricourt has written a most complete monograph of Senlis. (Senlis. Baron André de Maricourt, ancien élève de l'école des Chartes. "Les Cités Meurtries." Paris. Librarie de l'Eclair.)

"Hidden away among the heavy trees which surround it upon all sides, lies the little town of Senlis, almost a suburb of Paris." According to the old proverb, "To live happily is to remain hidden." So Senlis remained comparatively forgotten. The very names of its streets were strange to modern ears and evoked smiles from the stranger, and its old houses, dating from the days of "la reine Berthe," enchanted the antiquary.

This little town of seven thousand inhabitants was indeed one of the capitals of ancient France during the times of the Capets, and in the royal château which sheltered the chiefs of the Merovingians, and royalties down to the days of Henry IV, were written many pages of the history of France. One recalls the days of Charles le Chauve, of d'Hugues Capet and St. Louis, the quarrel of the Armagnaces and the Bourguignons, recalled by the strange picture by Melingue, "Les Otages de Senlis," which was in the Hôtel de Ville up to the time of the bombardment by the Germans. Also may be recalled the passage of Jeanne d'Arc through the town, and then the wars of the "Ligue,"—all proving the importance of Senlis of the past.

In the eighteenth century, Louis XV, in order to render the town more accessible, constructed a fine roadway from Paris to the royal residence, and Senlis emerged from its quietude, amazed at the lines of gilded equipages and the prancing horses urged on the gallop by gorgeously dressed lackeys which daily thronged the way.

Cathedral: Senlis


This roadway, called formerly the "Rue Neuve de Paris," was the principal artery of the little old city, under the twenty-year-old name of "Rue de la République."

Sung by poets, such as Gérard de Nerval, and Maurice Barrés, M. André Haileys described Senlis as "tortueuse, taciturne et charmante," and dwelt lovingly upon its "mossy terraces," its ancient walls bathed in sunlight, and its grand old tower whose perfect bells sounded over the golden green fields.

In the early summer days of 1914, the Society of Amateurs held their celebration at Senlis, says Baron de Maricourt, "a few months ago, months which seem years now. The ceremony was to celebrate the Victory of Bouvignes. In the St. Rieul Hall, Madame la duchesse de Vendôme sat beside M. Odent, the mayor of the town, who spoke feelingly of ancient France, and of Flanders....

"One month later the Hall was occupied by cavalry; our own cavalry of France.... On the horizon lay the German army....

"Three weeks later M. Odent, the mayor, was killed in the bombardment; the Hall of Saint-Rieul was a hospital; the brother of the princess had become 'Albert le Brave,' the plain of Bouvignes was bathed in blood; Senlis was burning; the inhabitants had fled."

It would appear that Senlis was burned and sacked to inspire Paris with terror, and as an example of the fate that awaited her.

Nearly all the inhabitants fled when the news came that the Germans had crossed the border. A few of the citizens resolved to remain to support the mayor and magistrates in keeping the peace, to patrol the town to prevent looting, and to watch for fires. Some pieces of heavy artillery had been arranged before the Hôtel de Ville and under the towers of the Cathedral, but there was neither ammunition for these nor soldiers in the town to use them. The town was silent, the factories empty, the streets almost deserted. In the town hall, the few faithful ones remained on watch day and night grouped about the mayor. In some of the rooms were refugees from neighboring towns, old men and women with young children who had nowhere else to go. In the hospitals the nuns and nurses cared for the wounded who had been brought to the town in large numbers. There were no soldiers hereabouts. This is the truth (affirms the Baron de Maricourt). The Germans understood and saw a different picture, so they say. They heard the movement of vast bodies of armed men; they saw the "franc tireurs" in the trees firing upon them, they saw cannon protruding from the windows of the towers of the old cathedral.... So the knell of Louvain sounded for Senlis.... So wrote the Baron de Maricourt of Senlis, who remained in the town during the occupation by the Germans, who suffered at their hands all the indignities they could devise; who remained calm and heroic through all the terrors of the bombardment and destruction of his beloved town.

"The first German body of troops which entered the town carried with them a corps of incendiaries in regular formation upon bicycles, armed with tubes of metal containing, as was afterwards ascertained, picric acid, and others a kind of wick of cotton charged with gasoline or petroleum. Some of the men carried hand grenades strung around their waists or over their shoulders, and these they threw into open windows and doorways of designated houses. By midnight the sky was illuminated by fires in every quarter of the town."

It commenced in the faubourg St.-Martin. It is said that the soldiers warned the occupants of houses designated to leave before they set fire to them. "Let us be just to the German soldiers," says M. de Maricourt. "In the evening of the day of occupation, the Archdeacon was brought to the Hôtel du Grand-Cerf, by the concierge Boullay. He was paraded before the officers, but was not mistreated, except that he was compelled to stand, and no one addressed him. Finally he was ordered to return to his quarters, but hardly had he arrived there, before another order came for him to return at once to the Grand-Cerf. Already towards the south end of the town the houses were in flames, and he saw the soldiers carrying lighted torches. He was brought before an officer who spoke French and whose manner was not discourteous:—

"'Monsieur,' said he, 'attend to me,'—and he read from a paper charges that the priest had allowed citizens to fire upon the entering German troops.

"'It is not true,' replied the Archdeacon, 'I was alone in the church, and the keys were in my pocket.'

"The officer read upon the face of the priest the evident sincerity of his words.

"'Poor priest! Poor town!' he said pityingly, 'I believe you, but I must obey orders.'

"'How so?'

"'Because I am ordered to treat Senlis as was Louvain; by to-morrow there will remain not one stone upon another.'

"M. Douvlent pleaded eloquently for his parishioners, whose innocence he vouched for. The officer seemed impressed.

"'You are a Catholic priest, but alas, war is cruel, and orders are not to be ignored. This town merits chastisement.'

"'Take me before the General,' urged the priest, 'I am your prisoner, and I have the right to plead the cause of my innocent parishioners.'

"'No, sir,' retorted the officer frowningly, 'nothing of the sort; do you not realize that you are in great danger?'

"'Danger?' ejaculated the priest, 'I fear no danger, I have made my sacrifice; I have faced it all this morning.'

"'Very well,' said the officer, somewhat more gently, 'but I think it will be best for you to return to your house. If necessary I will call you.'

"A short time after this conversation, I saw the priest, with the few who remained of his household, standing in the Square. I saw them again at about one in the morning; they were still standing in the Square beneath the lamp which shone upon their anxious faces. A dozen or so German soldiers stood about. Two sentries paced up and down, one at each crossing. No one returned to their houses. The curtain had risen upon the drama of Senlis....

"At the end of this day, Thursday, M. Odent (the mayor of Senlis), left the Hôtel de Grand-Cerf accompanied by an officer, and entering a covered automobile was driven rapidly away, followed by five cavalrymen.

"They stopped at a place called 'le Poteari,' situated between Senlis and Chamont; there they found six captives whom the Germans had taken at hazard on the route.

"One of these, named Delacroix, had been arrested in company with two workmen named Quentin and Reck, the latter a mason by trade, at the corner of the Rue de Bordeaux and la République, at the moment when the firing was the hottest in that quarter. Reck had been hit in the jaw and in the arm. The German soldiers entering the town found him bleeding in the road and with the singular, the unexplainable attitude of the German, at one moment cruel to the last degree, at the next of lamblike gentleness, these soldiers conducted the wounded man Reck to the 'prefecture,' where his wounds were tenderly dressed by a German Major!

"Quentin and Delacroix were taken at Chamont with revolvers in their hands, together with a stranger who was visiting the house of his sister, and two others, Benoit Decrens, a domestic servant, and Boullet, a laborer.

"Up to eleven o'clock in the evening these unhappy captives were marched up and down the various streets and alleys of the village by their captors, until at length near the Bon Secours woods in a secluded spot, an officer ordered the mayor and the six captives to lie down on the grass. When this was done, he ordered the mayor, M. Odent, to rise and advance three paces.

"The soldiers presented arms.

"'You are the Mayor Odent?' called out the officer brusquely.


"'You have fired on our men?'


"'You have fired on our men,' insisted the ferocious voice, 'you are to be shot!'

"M. Odent handed his papers to Benoit and shook hands with his companions. He then clasped his hands in prayer, after which he stood with eyes calmly fixed upon the officer. The officer raised his hands, motioning to the soldiers.

"They shot the mayor with their revolvers....

"Afterwards, the officer made a little speech to the terrified men.

"'War is as sad for us as it is for you. It is France and your Poincaré that you must blame—they would have it. We Germans do not make war upon civilians, but those who fire upon us will be promptly shot.'

"These men were then used as guides by the officers, during their occupancy of the town. When no longer of use, they disappeared.

"There were others, too; I do not know how many. There was little Gabanel, the son of the butcher, a merry little chap, known throughout the neighborhood, he disappeared with his father's old white horse and the red, two-wheeled wagon. He was never heard of again... and there was the baker's boy Jaudin, whose mutilated body was found in a field at Villers-St. Frambourg.... There was the hunchback Cottreau, aged seventeen, a harmless cripple who was found hanging in the attic of an inn....

"Arthur Rigault, the stone cutter, Elisée Pommier, aged 67 years....

"Jean Barbier, wagon driver....

"Pierre Dewart, chauffeur.

"None of these can ever relate their terrible stories. We shall never know what happened to them."


THE château and the Chapel Palatine of Gèrbéviller were unique in many respects. Dating from the thirteenth century, the chateau served as appanage to the Cadets of Lorraine, to whom they were given by Charles the Bold, and transmitted in 1486 to Huet du Châtelet, whose illustrious family founded the Maison des Cannes.

In 1641 it came into the hands of Charles-Emmanuel de la Tornielle, step-brother of Christian du Châtelet of the powerful Tornielle family, thence it descended successively to the Lombartyes, in whose possession it remained until it was seized and sold by the state in the troublous times of 1796.

The chapel was restored, almost reconstructed and consecrated on the nineteenth of July, 1865, by Monsignor Lavigerie with great splendor and pomp in the presence of the Lombartye family and a score of dignitaries of the state.

The château itself, constructed in the eighteenth century, was possessed of what the French call "grand air," and was certainly imposing in size from a distance, shining among the dark green of the heavy foliage which surrounded it. Its façade on the road was somewhat marred by the narrowness of the approach. But the façade on the parkway, through which a small brook called the "Montagne" meandered most delightfully, was most impressive. The sketch which I made of it will serve to show the character of the great house better than many pages of written description.

The reputation enjoyed by this great typical château of France was not by any means confined to the country. It was known throughout Europe, and for this reason, I suppose, was a shining mark for the Teutons.

At the side of the château was the grand entrance, used only upon state occasions. This entrance was flanked by two immense "vasques" or vases of dark gray marble, a little too monumental, perhaps architects might think, but taken together with the "grand air" of the château entirely in keeping, to my mind. These it is claimed still stand unharmed amid the ruins all about.

Chapel of the Château: Gèrbéviller


The Chapel Palatine architecturally, perhaps, does not merit extended eulogy. Its towers are shot away, and some blackened calcined walls are all that remain. But the treasures which it contained, now either destroyed or carried off to Berlin, who shall say if they can ever be replaced? I am told that the family of Lombartye, and notably its last representative, who restored it in 1865, was long a resident of Rome, and being very wealthy had collected a vast store of most valuable objects of art of all kinds, including statuary and paintings, and these he had installed not only in the château, but had so enriched the chapel that it was a veritable storehouse of precious objects—even more than a museum, because most of them related to the history of the ancient families who had occupied Gèrbéviller.

Here then in this small chapel was a collection of marvels of decorative art, tapestries of Arras, examples of the jeweler's craft, illuminations upon vellum, a hundred or more priceless volumes, and notably a collection of funerary urns, containing the ashes of most illustrious personages, including some of the Saints. Among the treasures in this small chapel was a series of the tapestries of Gobelin, another of Beauvais, and a third complete pictorial set made in Antwerp after the cartoons of Nicolas Memling. These last, just before the destruction of Gèrbéviller, were presented to the Cathedral of Nancy. The others are among the ashes of the ruins.

The Master altar of the chapel was covered by a magnificent "ciborium," raised upon three columns of black marble, ornamented by "tears" of silver of twelfth century workmanship. The great candelabra, called "Flambeaux," were of Flemish work, and had twenty-four lusters; these were destroyed.

There were splendid tombs on all sides; one was a reproduction of that of Henry I, Count of Champagne, and of St. Etienne of Troyes; the tomb of Lombartye, of de la Vieufville, of Rochechourt-la-Rochefoucauld, of du Caylar, of Vieuville, of Gouy d'Arsy, and that of Père Jandel the Dominican. All these are mutilated and broken. Of the funeral urns, one contained the ashes of St. Auguste, the martyr; another of what is called "cipollin," the ashes of Ste Victoire; a red marble one those of St. Vital; a "chasse" held a portion of the petrified bones of Candide, presented by the Bishop of Nancy. Another one contained the bones of St. Felix Romain.

A great tall "ciborium" contained the "relique" of Tarcisius, the young martyr of the Eucharist. These, contained in a wonderful chest covered with vermilion enamel, bore an epitaph composed by Pope Damase, and were brought from Rome by the Dominicans. Overjoyed in the possession of such a treasure, the Marquis of Lombartye, sought an artist of renown who could make a fitting monument to contain it. His choice fell upon Fal-guière the sculptor. He it was who fashioned the exquisite statue in the Luxembourg. But it is not generally known that this is a replica of the original which was in the Chapel of Gèrbéviller, and which is now entirely destroyed.

I understand that in searching the ruins, certain fragments of precious objects have been found and removed to Paris.

M. Pigot in his report claims that the head of Fal-guière's statue of St. Tarcisius was found among the ashes, and, placed in a strong oaken box, has been given into the hands of M. le Sous-Préfet of Lunéville.

But the remarkable paintings which the chapel contained are of course entirely consumed in the fire caused by the bombs and shells which fell upon the chapel for days at a time. There was the painting by Lippo Lippi; a portrait of Prosper Lambartini (Pope Benoit XIV); a triptych by Fra Angelico; one by Sandro Botticelli; The Virgin, the infant and two angels; a copy of the "Femme Adultéré" by Titian; a Benozzo Gozzoli; a canvas by a pupil of Ferrare, and various others. There was a splendid statue of the Virgin in terra cotta of the sixteenth century; a life size St. Joseph by Lizier-Richie; and two statues of Christ and John the Baptist in bronze by Dubois. Of these the statue of Christ remains (says M. Pigot in his report) "unharmed."

The little town of Gèrbéviller itself is entirely destroyed, and the wretched inhabitants are scattered to the four winds. And for what good was all this, one asks?

M. Georges Goyan, writing in the Revue des Deux Mondes, of the heroic work performed by the nuns of France, relates a touching story of a Sister Julia of Gèrbéviller, who, when the village was in flames and a German officer was about to give the order to burn the Red Cross pavilion, stepped before the lieutenant and with the most superb courage defied him to commit the sacrilege. The officer, a Bavarian, taken aback for the moment, bowed his head, and the pavilion was spared.

Sister Gabriela of the little town of Clermont-en-Ar-gonne was no less courageous. She advanced to meet the army of the Crown Prince when it arrived, saying, "We will care for your wounded, if you will spare the town." She received a promise, which was not kept, however. Again, she sought the Colonel, and bravely said, "I see now that the word of a German officer is not to be relied on." Ashamed, he ordered the work of destruction stopped, and thus the town was spared. Twenty-five wounded French prisoners owed their lives to this devoted nun, who in April, 1916, received the decoration of the war medal. Goyan quotes verbatim from the report of the nun, "The Major made his congratulatory speech while I was completing the bandage of my poor 'poilu,' whose head rested on my lap."

Château: Gèrbéviller


Waldeck-Rousseau, the former Premier of France, in a speech before the French senate in 1903 stated that "Catholicism survives in France, if not as a religious law, faithfully observed by everybody, at least as a social statute respected by the vast majority." M. Goyan declares that the French church is indeed a moral power to be reckoned with, "and when the war-tocsin had rung throughout the land, when the hour of death had been welcomed as an old dear friend, all misunderstandings of the past melted away, and now for fully twenty-eight months the church could again place itself at the disposal of France."

With emotion and gratitude he relates the patriotic sacrifices made by the Protestant churches and the synagogues of France. Out of four hundred and ninety pastors of the Lutheran and Reformed churches, "one hundred and eighty are in the trenches: all students of the Paris Rabbinical Seminary and more than three-fifths of the officiating rabbis of the Republic left for the front; two of them were killed, one was missing.

"When after this war is over, our sister churches will write their own martyrology, Catholic witnesses will rise to glorify their dead. The whole Catholic press rendered a well deserved homage to Chief Rabbi Bloch of Lyons, who was mortally wounded by a German bullet while he attended a dying Catholic soldier, holding the cross to his livid lips."

After these prefatory remarks the author traces in his inimitable style a picture of the life and activity of the Catholic church from the unforgettable July days of 1914, to date. One-third of its priesthood followed the call of their country. *

     *  The Literary Digest, Feb. 17, 1917.

The Paris diocese alone has already buried forty-five of its members. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyons had to enlist laymen to fill the gaps in his decimated clergy. Bishops have become again parish priests.

"Eleven young French monks, surprised by the German invasion in their monastery in the grand duchy of Luxembourg, disguised themselves, walking stealthily into Belgium, and from there to France, immediately joining their barracks. Dominicans and Jesuits vie with each other in patriotic devotion. The Church, cheerfully accepting the abrogation of its time honored immunities, with a noble gesture commanded the young priests to shoulder their rifles: 'Your parish,' explained the Cardinal Archbishop of Rheims, Monseigneur Luçon, to his priests, is henceforth your regiment, your trench, your hospital. Love it as you have loved your church. Perhaps you will be buried on the battlefield. What of it? Why should we priests not give our blood?' Thus, the priest is no longer isolated from the people; he has become an integral part of it. The Dominican sergeants and Jesuit lieutenants have built the bridge. And who, on the other hand, would have believed, a short three years ago, that a company of French soldiers, educated in the godless school of the Republic, should, before preparing for assault, receive absolution on their knees?

"A parallel case to this kneeling company receiving absolution is the scene in the Bois d'Argonne, of March 7, 1916, when 'the successive waves of a regiment, marching to the attack, bowed themselves before the representative of God, de Chabrol, Chaplain of the division, whose hand, while the guns were thundering, made the sign of the redemption.'" (Quoted textually from an order of the day, by the commanding general.)

Fifty-nine priests and seminarists of the Paris diocese received crosses while practically under fire. "The natural love of the soil and the love of the church combined, produce heroic souls of a peculiarly noble blending. The olden days when bishops were the supreme lords of towns and countries were revived, if only for a short time, at Meaux, and elsewhere, shortly before the battle of the Marne. On September 3, 1914, the armies of von Kluck were expected any moment and the civil authorities fled. Bishop Marbeaux took possession of the City Hall, and with a rare skill organized the various municipal services. Generals Joffre and Galliéni had stopped the triumphal onslaught of the German troops. On September 9, the civil authorities returned to Meaux and Mayor Mar-beaux gave in his resignation. Similar was the situation in Soissons and Chalons-sur-Marne; the cathedrals again became civic centers.

"But our priests (continues M. Goyan) in the midst of the brutal butchery, are not unmindful of the Saviour's advice to love even our enemies—above all, if the latter are in great stress themselves. Thus Rev. Landrieux of the cathedral of Rheims, while the church was burning, saved from its ruins at the risk of his life a group of wounded German soldiers. The enraged population was about to lynch them. 'You will have to kill me first,' said the courageous priest. Words fail to describe as they deserve the deeds of Bishop Lobbedeye of Arras and his clergy.

"The tradition of the catacombs revived; a cellar was transformed into a church (while the town was under bombardment) and here the Bishop read his mass. The priests threw off their 'soutanes' to become police and firemen, moving men and grave diggers. One of them, de Bonnieres, of noble birth, went every morning, braving the bullets which whistled about his ears, into the suburbs begging the soldiers for the scraps, left over from their meals, to distribute these pittances among the starving poor of Arras."

Church: Gèrbéviller


"Thus, before the enemy the old union of church and state had been effected. The same population, the same government, which before had adopted the slogan, The priest's place is in the church,' requested the cooperation of the clergy. And the church obeyed the call. Everything was forgotten. 'Who cares now,' exclaimed Cardinal Savin, 'for the religious misunderstandings, political quarrels, and personal rivalries of the past! France first! United by the common danger, we learned to know and respect one the other, and after the war we will solve the grave problems which had separated us before the war. Our victory will be our main ally in this future work of pacification.'

"Forever memorable will remain that great religious manifestation at Paris during the week of the Battle of the Marne, in honor of St. Geneviève, the patron of the French capital. She and Joan of Arc became again the divine protectors of France.

"The people of Paris fell on their knees on the famous heights of Montmartre, the mountains of the Saint-Martyrs of the past, a place historical in the annals of France. Even the skeptics thanked the church for its resuscitation of the religious spirit. France again remembered that she had once been 'the eldest daughter of the Church.'" (Georges Goyan.)


WHEN the history of the war is written at least three names of women will be enshrined forever in the annals: Sister Julie, the fearless nun of Gèrbéviller; that heroic woman who took the place of and acted as mayor of Soissons when von Kluck's legions occupied and ravaged that unfortunate little city; and Marcelle Semmer, a young girl of eighteen, who showed such bravery and extraordinary fortitude in aid of France as to win encomiums from both the British and French officers, who recommended that she be decorated. She has just received both the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, and the War Cross as reward.

M. L. L. Klotz, Deputy from the war-ravaged department of the Somme, has told in glowing words the story of how at the outbreak of the war, these noble women, left defenseless and at the mercy of the invaders, proudly faced these savages and really defied them.

He told of Marcelle Semmer, a young orphan girl of eighteen, living in the little village of Eclusier, near Frise on the river Somme, at the beginning of the war.

This young girl who showed the most extraordinary bravery and fortitude in the service of France, is perhaps but one of many others whose stories may never be known to the world.

She was acting as bookkeeper and clerk in a factory, producing phosphates, which had been founded by her father, an Alsatian refugee.

The invaders, driving back the Allies at Charleroi, captured the town, taking many prisoners. The French fell back across a canal, near the home of Marcelle Sem-mer, where there was a drawbridge. The heroic girl, unmindful of her danger, succeeded in raising the drawbridge before the enemy came up, and threw the lever into, the canal. Without this lever the bridge could not be lowered again. The canal at this point was so deep that the invading army could not ford it, and seeing the fleeing figure of the girl, the soldiers fired volley after volley after her, without once hitting her.

By this audacious act, Marcelle Semmer held back the advance of an entire German army corps until the following day, for the Germans had to await the arrival of their engineers before they were able to put a temporary bridge in place, and this they made of boats, and pontoons hastily constructed, thus consuming hours which were of great value in enabling the hard-pressed French to escape from the hordes which far outnumbered them.

In spite of the danger of detection, the young girl insisted upon remaining in the village during its occupation by the Germans; happily they did not recognize her as the girl who raised the drawbridge against them or she would have been shot at once.

Near the factory where she worked was a shed covering a subterranean passage leading to the phosphate mine. She succeeded in concealing the entrance trap to this passage by means of some large tuns and bagging. During the night she managed to conceal in this passage no less than seventeen French soldiers who had been somehow left in the retreat from the towns of Mons and Charleroi. Not only did she succeed in keeping these men hidden, but she managed to secure for them both food and peasant clothing, and aided them to get away to the French lines to the south. Sixteen of these men succeeded in getting away, but one dark night in a furious rainstorm while she was piloting the seventeenth to a cross-country lane, she was detected by a sentry, who dragged both of them before the German lieutenant.

In the examination before the Commandant at headquarters she defiantly confessed to having aided the French soldiers to escape, crying out, "Yes, I did it for France, and I shall do it again and again, if I am able. Do with me what you will. I am an orphan, I have but one mother, France! For her, my life!"

The Commandant promptly sentenced her to be shot. She was taken out of the room into the courtyard, where they placed her against the wall facing the firing squad, her arms tied behind her.

Suddenly French artillery opened upon the German lines at Eclusier. Before the officer could give the word to fire upon the brave girl, a shell fell in the courtyard, and in the confusion, wonderful to relate, she escaped. While she had been assisting her fellow countrymen to escape the French had crept up, and routed the invaders from their position in the little town.

So Marcelle once more fled to the subterranean passage, and there took up her quarters, rendering great service to the army, through her knowledge of the surrounding country.

Between the lines of the opposing armies lay the river Somme, which here in the vicinity of Eclusier and Frise spreads out into a pond with marshy banks, and innumerable pitfalls and bogs. In these the soldiers frequently lost their way, and here Marcelle found a way to help France by her knowledge of the safe paths. Again and again she faced death; finally she was captured while leading a squad of men across the bogs to a trench at Frise. She was brought by the Germans to the village of Frise, and there confined in the parish church, now, alas, a mass of ruin. Once more her never departing good fortune was her salvation. Almost before the door of her prison was fastened upon her, the French artillery began a lively bombardment of Frise. One of the shells blew a great hole in the wall of the little church, and out of this hole, unperceived by her captors, Marcelle escaped, over the marshes and through the tangled roads into the French lines.

Enabled to give most valuable information as to the numbers and guns of the enemy, Marcelle's fame soon spread through the ranks. She was mentioned in the dispatches, and received the Cross of the Legion of Honor, and later, before the drawn up soldiers of the corps, she received the War Cross.

She was so useful in this region of the Somme that she asked to be allowed to remain at Frise to work for France, and so for a year and a half, despite the turn of the war, she stayed on, taking care of the wounded men, and protecting as far as possible women and children.

So beloved did she become that an English general ordered his soldiers to salute her on passing, and to refrain from addressing her unless she required it. Everywhere she went the soldiers both admired and honored this young girl.

The loss of her brothers, who died fighting for France, and the strain of her work told upon her health, and the doctors ordered her to Paris.

Here she asked to be allowed to work at the nurses' school and to aid the wounded soldiers. To this the authorities assented, as she was thus enabled to earn a livelihood, for all that she had was lost at Eclusier when the mill was destroyed. In the great hall of the Sorbonne at Paris, a short time ago Deputy Klotz (of the Somme) eulogizing this young girl, suddenly stretched out his arms in dramatic gesture, electrifying the great audience with these words:

"This little heroine of Picardy, this admirable girl; this incarnation of the qualities of the women of France; this girl of simple origin, flawless dignity, of serious mind and gentle ways; this girl of indomitable will power is here, ladies and gentlemen, here among you, in this room!

"And I feel that I am the spokesman for every one of you when I now extend to her the expression of our respect, our gratitude, our admiration!"

The vast audience, every man and woman of them, leaped to their feet, in enthusiasm, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the heroine.

Through the great Hall of the Sorbonne, where the most famous men of the world had been honored by France, swept a storm of cheers; a reward more splendid than the Cross of the Legion of Honor, than the War Cross, than the salutes of the soldiers at the front, had come to Marcelle Semmer, of Eclusier.


MOST travelers from Paris to Geneva will recall the brief stop of the train at the station, and a glimpse perhaps of the gaunt gray towers on the top of the great hill against the evening sky, looking much more like a fortress than a cathedral from the viewpoint below.

Called the "Rock of Lâon," it was in ancient days the Celtic Laudunam, and was known to the Romans as Lug-dunam Clavatum.

"Lâon is the very pride of that class of town which out of Gaulish hill forts grew into Roman and Mediaeval cities. None stands so proudly on its height; none has kept its ancient character so little changed to our own day" (says Marshall). It was here that Louis, or Lodo-wig, who was the famous son of Count Eudes, established an illustrious court, presided over by the "brave" Duchess Gerberga, and here afterwards Charles, their son, maintained a successfully defended siege against the onslaught by Hugues Capet on this stronghold. The treachery of Asceline the Bishop resulted in the capture of the town, and as a reward, Capet made him "the second Ecclesiastical Peer of France."

Henceforth the city was famed as the seat of the Capetian dynasty, whose bishops ruled it until it was captured by the Prussians in 1814, when it served as the headquarters of Blucher, in his operations against Napoleon I. After the Battle of Waterloo the French troops attempted to reform their shattered lines under its walls.

Lâon was the birthplace of the mother of Charlemagne, Lothaire, Louis IV, and Louis V.

Crowning royally the great hill which dominated the town and the plain, the remarkable Cathedral of Notre Dame with its many beautiful towers formed a picturesque feature that once seen could not be forgotten. One can only compare it to the towers of Mont St. Michel of La Manche, with its encircling battlemented walls, but Lâon in point of architecture was infinitely the finer of the two.

It is said to have been the work of Bishop Gauthier II (de Montagne) of the twelfth century, and built upon the site of a previous structure which had been burnt during an uprising in the early part of that century. Originally there were four great towers, one at each of the angles. Of these two remained lacking the spires. The façade was most remarkable for its extremely deep portals. The two towers, which were square at the base, terminated in octagonal belfries, and the angle buttresses supported light two-storied open-work turrets of most graceful design.

The cathedral was remarkable for the square apse, and there was a tall lanthorn tower in the center of the church, which had two windows separated by buttresses.

In the "chevet" a rose window was placed above three long openings, over which was a gallery between the turrets.

The pulpit was from the Abbey of Val-St.-Pierre.

From below, the cathedral, as I have already said, looked more like a fortress surmounted by a great chateau. Strange celebrations, seemingly lacking in religious character, were enacted in the cathedral, particularly those celebrated during the month of December. "This, the fête des Innocents, took place in the choir, when the children, wearing strange costumes with copes occupied the high carved stalls and chanted the £ offices' of the mass with every sort of buffoonery, to the great delight of the people.

"Eight days after this comes the 'day of Fools,' during which the chaplain and choristers meet to elect a 'pope,' who is styled the Patriarch of Fools. Those who neglect to participate in this election are expected to pay a fine. After a procession the Patriarch is offered a repast of wine and bread with great solemnity, and he in turn gives to each chorister a present of corn in payment. The whole troop wear the most fantastic ornaments, and during the two following days the entire cathedral is given over to their buffoonery. After many cavalcades by the townspeople the fête terminates in a great procession of the 'rabardiaux.'" (Viollet le Duc.)

This celebration degenerated into a simple custom of the giving wreaths of flowers following the celebration of mass on the Day of Epiphany.

It is strange that these towns, explored by the present writer, should have been so neglected by the tourist. Of course, it is chiefly to the artist that they seemed so quaint, entrancing and profitable. No such exquisite arrangements of composition were found in other countries as here in France, and really at the doorway of Paris. Of course now and then there was trouble for me, because I made sketches of these charming localities; and even as late as 1910, when the sketches reproduced in this book were made, forty years after the Franco-Prussian War, when there seemed to be no possible danger of war in France, I was many times in danger of arrest for drawing a church or an old wall. Several times my portfolio had been seized by officers at the frontier towns, and I had been "detained" with more or less brusqueness until the superior officer could be summoned, but I must say that these occasions usually ended by profuse apologies on the part of M. le Commissaire, who deplored the activity of his men and offered his cigarette case most graciously, begging that I should forget the incident and wishing me "good luck." But it is perhaps now unnecessary to warn the artist abroad to keep away from fortifications, or to carry his passports with him.

Lâon to-day is hidden behind a heavy black curtain of smoke from the great guns of the Germans. What has been the fate of that old gray town is problematical. It is said that the Germans have shot away the two great towers of the beloved old cathedral, and that the walls of the picturesque plateau upon which it rested have been razed. Beyond this nothing has been disclosed for the two years during which the invader has occupied it. Northeast of the cathedral was the thirteenth century Bishopric, used for a long time as the Hall of Justice. It was erected by Bishop Garnier in 1242. It was a rather dismal looking structure, and altogether lacking in architectural distinction. Whatever it may have been in former days, I ventured to say as much to an advocate with whom I chanced to converse at the table d'hôte, and I shall not soon forget the reproof my criticism called down upon me. I learned thereafter to govern my tongue, whatever my convictions. The Lâonaise bitterly resented adverse criticism of any one of their beloved monuments.

Along the edge of the hill below there were unusually delightful promenades, shaded here and there by thick heavy foliage, through which charming vistas appeared.

The long street on the ridge of the embattlemented hill wound along most delightfully, bringing the wanderer to the old church of St. Martin at the edge of the town. This, it is said, was once the appanage of a Premonstratensian Abbey of the twelfth century. It had two bays and a transept, and six small chapels of unique character. According to legend, the first bay was built to enclose the tomb of a Sire de Coucy, its benefactor. This Sire de Coucy had been excommunicated by the clergy, and being thus outside the pale of religion, he had been buried without ceremony outside the west door. This caused such remonstrance upon the part of the people, who loved him well for his great charities, if not for his sins, that the clergy relented, and it was necessary to enlarge the bay to accommodate his grave.

The twin towers from the last bay are of the thirteenth century. Near the entrance were a number of tombs, some of them of remarkable richness of design, notably that of Jeanne de Flandre, widow of Enguerrand IV, Sire de Coucy, Abbess of Saviour-sous-Lâon in the fourteenth century, and said to have been the work of the Flemish sculptor, Pierre de Puez. If this work of art has been destroyed as reported, another unnecessary crime is added to the list.

There was also the low relief figure of a knight in armor, evidently of the greatest antiquity, although it was dated twelve hundred and something, the first two figures being barely discernible.

The ancient suburb of Vaux has been under bombardment for more than two years. Little is known to us of the extent of the damage it has suffered, but I remember a lovely old church of the eleventh century, with a most beautiful old choir of a little later period, where the old priest, who was considerable of an antiquary, by the way, showed me a fragment of tapestry, done in silk and wool, and of considerable value, as a specimen of workmanship. He plainly was anxious that I should admire it, and to oblige him I did so. He showed me also his books, some with good bindings, others worn by use. He seemed an innocent sort of man and lonely for companionship, telling me with simple dignity of his daily life in the quiet parish and the details of his office.

The highest pay of a parish priest, he said, was fifteen hundred francs a year ($300); the lowest, eight hundred, of course in addition to his living quarters. He eked out his scanty income by the fees paid him at weddings, christenings, and burials. When I told him of the sums paid in America to ministers, his eyes bulged and his under lip bulged comically. Then he wagged his head, lifted his arms, shoulders and eyebrows, sighed heavily, and changed the subject.

Poor old fellow, I wonder what has become of him in these terrible days. When I left him I gave him a pencil sketch of his church which I had made, embowered in heavy trees, as a souvenir. I neglected to make another, so I cannot picture it here, in this chapter, to my great regret.

Château: Couey


Perhaps the greatest, or at any rate the most indefensible piece of vandalism perpetrated by the retiring armies of the invader, was the total annihilation of the great castle of Coucy-le-Château in March of this year. Coucy castle, legend says, was built upon the site given to St. Remi by Clovis, in the fulfillment of a condition that the former should walk around it while the King enjoyed his noonday siesta. Afterwards it was part of the property of the Chapter of Rheims for upwards of two hundred years. In the year nine hundred and twenty-nine King Charles the Simple was imprisoned in its donjon by Herbert, Count of Vermandois. Enguerrand I, founder of the house of Coucy, received the castle in fief from the Archbishop of Rheims, and from it departed with his knights in quest of the Holy Grail and was distinguished in the Crusades. His descendant, Enguerrand III, who was surnamed the Great, rebuilt the castle, and when he flouted the authority of the Chapter of Rheims, and they laid the matter before the king, he answered with the words: "Je ne puis faire autre chose pour vous que de priere le Sire de Coucy de ne point vous inquiéter." In the subsequent quarrel with the Chapter of Lâon, Enguer-rand at the head of his cohort stormed the Cathedral and carried off the dean a prisoner to Coucy, where he languished at the pleasure of the fiery knight.

The laws he promulgated and forced upon the barony were called "Le Coutume de Coucy."

The battle of Bouvignes, in which he performed many acts of prowess and valor, and also his successes during the Albigensian war of 1209 added to his great fame as a warrior and caused the league of nobles to propose the dethronement of Louis IX, then a child, whose crown they offered to Enguerrand.

So proud were his descendants that they abandoned their other titles and called themselves simple "de Coucy" and adopted the motto "Roi ne suys—ne prince, ne duc, ne compte aussi—je suys le Sire de Coucy."

Descendants sold the Château, as it was called, and Jie Seigneurie de Coucy to Louis d'Orléans in 1400, who made it a duchy, and so amplified and decorated it that it became noteworthy throughout the realm. In 1411 it was besieged and captured by the royal army, and retained until 1419, when it was taken by the troops of the Duke of Orleans. In 1423 it was captured by the English, and again in 1652 by the royal army and dismantled by order of Mazarin. At the outbreak it was an "historical monument" kept up by the state as a museum.

Coucy-le-Chateau was one of the greatest and most splendid relics of the thirteenth century. Nothing remains of it now. It has been utterly blasted away from the foundations. On the heights is only a series of great piles of crumpled masonry and pulverized rock. The oldest, the strongest, the largest and most historic of the castles of Europe is now only a memory.

So enraged were the French at this piece of wanton destruction, that they refused to bombard the ruins, even though they knew that the invader had intrenched machine gunners behind and beneath it.

Instead the infantry, unsupported by artillery, charged across a plain swept by gun fire and wrested the sacred ruin from the enemy.

So terrific was the assault that the Germans could make no counter attack.

Before they left the Germans boasted to the French villagers that more than thirty tons of explosives were used to destroy the castle. So great was the explosion, the peasants who witnessed it from a distance report that the great round tower, visible for miles around, seemed to rise in its vast bulk from the foundations, and slowly vanish in a cloud of whitish smoke. So fell Coucy. Another crime added to the already long list against the invader.

The official explanation for its destruction coming from Berlin, is that "the Castle was not worth more than the life of one German soldier, and there are plenty of other such castles in southern Germany."

The best view of the great chateau was that from the approach from the town of Lâon. My sketch shows the ruin in springtime, its battlements rising from the trees at its base, its magnificent pinkish gray mass against a sky of heavy white cumulous cloud just after a gentle rain.

The small town nestled below it, and still had some vestiges of the old walls that formerly protected it.

There was a small inn bearing the grandiose title: "Hotel des Trois Empereurs," whose landlady cooked for us the best omelette we ever tasted, and begged us to take her daughter to America with us as "maid for Madame." The daughter we never saw, by the way. She had gone to Lâon for the day and we left on the afternoon train before she returned, to the great chagrin of Madame.

My sketch shows the château on the end of a promontory. This was approached by a steep and narrow roadway. The great outer court was of irregular form, with what is styled a "curtain wall," of remarkable thickness; more than twenty feet, authorities claim. Beneath it was a subterranean passageway, "so arranged as to be mine proof" (Viollet le Duc). The wall was supported by ten remarkable towers, three of them circular in form. There was a great dry moat between this wall and the keep proper, paved with rounded stones, and there was a drawbridge lifted by heavy chains which completely shut off the inner court of the castle when lifted. On the arch of the great portal over this drawbridge was a rude sculptured scene depicting a combat between one of the "Sires of Coucy" and a lion which, according to legend, took place in the nearby wood of Prémontré. Near it was a sort of stone table supported by three couchant lions upon which stood a lion passant. Here each year, according to a pretty custom, a young girl of the peasant class gave cakes and flowers to the townspeople, after which there was a parade by the local fire company, and in the evening a "retraite aux flambeaux," in which the young men carried lighted torches through the town, headed by a drum and fife.

The tower of the chateau was more than one hundred and fifty feet high and three hundred feet in circumference. In the drawing by Viollet le Duc it is shown surmounted by a conical roof, and this must have made it quite two hundred feet in height.

"The interior was divided into three floors, once covered by ribbed vaulting, which has now perished. The upper floors and the platform at the top were reached by a winding staircase in the thickness of the wall. In the center of each vault was an opening through which men in armor could be let down quickly. The two lower floors were apparently used for the arms and provisions of the garrison." (Hare's "Northeastern France.")

The donjon, according to Viollet le Duc, was the finest specimen in Europe of mediaeval military architecture.

"Compared with this giant," he says, "the largest towers known appear mere spindles." So vanished from the face of the earth a great architectural treasure destroyed simply for revenge.


INSTEAD of being in appearance "a most venerable and aged town," as one might be led to expect from the accounts in the various guides, Rheims, or Reims (so variously spelled) was (1910) nothing of the sort. Situated on the right bank of the river Vesle in the midst of a vast plain encompassed by vine-clad hills, a most ideal setting, it was the busy and chief center of the champagne trade, and also otherwise occupied in the manufacture of both woolen and other fabrics. Until recently one of the most picturesque towns in France, it was intersected by wide and handsome streets reminding one of the Parisian boulevards, which although convenient gave it quite another character. And this "Haussmanization" (if one may so style it) did away with its former quaint mediævalness.

Formerly there was an ideally artistic approach to the great cathedral of "Notre Dame," in a quaint narrow street lined with strangely gabled houses and small shops shown in my sketch, but these have been demolished, and a wide straight street, lined with characterless buildings, now forms a very commonplace frame to hold one's first view of this noble and magnificent structure, the master work of the architects Rob. de Coucy and J. d'Orbais, which Fergusson justly names and qualifies as "perhaps the most beautiful structure produced in the middle ages." Far down this commonplace street one could see the exquisite recessed portals (there are three), with its rows of saints, surmounted by the great rose window, nearly forty feet in circumference, and above the forty-two exquisite lancets, each containing a colossal figure representing the Baptism of Clovis, and the Kings of France. All detail softened by distance, like unto carved tracery upon a jewel casket.

The three portals, so exquisitely recessed, were adorned with some five hundred and fifty statues of various sizes, some of them of great antiquity, and many of them on close inspection proving to be much worn by the action of the elements, or having suffered mutilation in the wars.

Without entering into a tiresome architectural description, which would be out of place in these pages, one may call attention to some of the remarkable details of the façade above the three portals pierced by large windows, which was so lavishly decorated with sculpture; to the left, Christ in the garb of a pilgrim; to the right, the Virgin, and the Apostles, David and Saul; and Goliath.

Place du Marché: Rheims


The twin towers, more than two hundred and fifty feet high, which were without spires, were none the less impressive. The north portal contained statues of the Bishops of Rheims from Clovis down, and there was here a doorway walled up containing a Gothic tympanum of the Last Judgment, the figures of which, however, with the exception of the Christ, were greatly mutilated.

History states that Rheims was known at the time of the Roman invasion as Durocortorum. Briefly, about the year 352 a. d. the worthy SS. Sixte and Sinice came here to preach Christianity, and converted the consul Jovinus, whose cenotaph is in the archevêché. The Vandals arrived forty years later, and captured the town, murdering St. Nicaise on the very steps of the cathedral which he had founded. The See of Rheims was occupied for seventy-five years after the Conquest of Champagne, by Clovis, by St. Remi, or Remigius, who was already a bishop at the age of twenty-two. He it was who baptised Clovis in the cathedral, which act gave such renown to the place that thereafter the kings came to be consecrated with the oil, which according to tradition was brought by a snow white dove in a holy phial (ampoule) for the baptism of the first Christian king, and was thereafter preserved in the Abbey of St. Remi.

Rheims was taken in 563 by Chilperic, and in 720 by Charles Martel, despite the great courage and resistance by the Bishop, St. Rigobert, who was exiled. Here took place, too, the interview of Pope Stephen III and Pepin, and Charlemagne and Leo III. Also the coronation of Louis le Debonnaire by Stephen IV in 816.

In the following years the Archbishops of Rheims became world famous, for instance the Scholar Hincmar, and Gerbert, who was afterwards Pope Sylvester II, and who as a simple monk under the great Adalbéron attained great celebrity for his lectures.

Until the fourteenth century Archbishops had temporal power over Rheims, coining their money and ruling as sovereigns.

Calixtus II in 1119 held here a council to excommunicate the Emperor, Henry V.

In 1429 Rheims was delivered from the English yoke by Jeanne d'Arc, who personally gave the keys of the town to Charles VII and assisted at his coronation in the Cathedral.

Lubke, writing of the sculptural details of the Cathedral, says, "All the dignity and grace of the style here reaches a truly classical expression. Nevertheless, even here, in one of the master works of the time, we find a great variety in the mode of treatment. There are heavy stunted statues with clumsy heads and vacant expression, like the earlier works of Chartres; others are of the most refined beauty, full of nobility and tenderness, graceful in proportion, and with drapery which falls in stately folds, free in movement and with a gentle loveliness or sublime dignity of expression; others again are exaggerated in height, awkward in proportion, caricatured in expression, and affected in attitude."

North Door of Cathedral: Rheims


Strange that Lubke could not realize that the sculptor produced these contrasts with design, so that the ugly and grotesque of some might make the grace and beauty of the others the more telling; but such is the quality of the Teutonic mind.

But he has written so appreciatively of the beauties of the figures, that we can overlook his shortcomings. He further says, "That different hands were employed on the same portal (the North Transept) may be seen in the forty-two small seated figures of bishops, saints and kings, which in three rows fill the hollows of the archi-volts. They are one and all of enchanting beauty, grace, and dignity; the little heads delightful; the attitudes most varied; the drapery nobly arranged, and so varied in conception that it would be impossible to conceive more ingenious variations."

Of the smaller portal which contained the beautiful figure of Christ in benediction, known as the "Beau Dieu," he says: "This is a work of such beauty that it may be considered the most solemn plastic creation of its time. It shows perfect understanding and admirable execution of the whole form in its faultless proportions, and moreover there is such majesty in the mild, calm expression of the head, over which the hair falls in soft waves, that the divine seriousness of the sublime Teacher seems glorified by the truest grace. The right hand is uplifted, and the three forefingers stretched out; the left hand holds the orb, and, at the same time the mantle, which is drawn across the figure, and the noble folds of which are produced by the advancing position of the right foot. The following of nature in this masterly figure is in all its details so perfect that not merely the nails of the fingers, but the structure of the joints is characterized in the finest manner."

Two years ago it was ablaze with all this sculptural splendor. Now the picture is replaced by a gray monotone of fire-swept portals empty of tracery; of gaping, blackened lancet window-panes destitute of glass; its perfectly designed Gothic arches laced with fantastically bent iron bars, and its nave buried in pulverized calcined heaps of ashes from which protrude here and there blackened, charred beams, while scattered about are the broken fragments of the great bronze bells which once pealed out pæons of sound in celebration of imperial coronations.

Although many have attempted the task, it is difficult if not impossible to analyze Rheims, or even adequately to describe its vital exquisite quality, its stimulating originality, or to explain clearly the well nigh incredible competence, beauty and delicacy of even its minor details. One may dwell upon the glory of its sculpture in pages of description, which fail to picture it. Rheims Cathedral was what may be styled a great consistency, that placed it quite in a category by itself.

It was quite completely without a fault.

All other cathedrals of France form a chronicle of splendor. They record changing epochs, times, and architectural impulse. The varying personalities of their great designers were wrought out in their details; they present the thoughts of many men, each expressing his highest thought and ideals, and the result is magnificent agglomeration, covering many years of work. With Rheims however, which was begun in 1211, the case is different. For it was finished within the same century, to be exact, in fifty years, and in perfect accordance with the original plan and conception. To say that its sculpture ranked with that of ancient Greece does not magnify its importance. To urge that the splendor and artistry of its painteld glass was unrivaled, means little now, for its disappearance is too recent, too grievous and painful. Its eulogy must be written by an abler pen than mine—and in a day far hence, when time has softened the blow.

(Paris, Jan. 10, 1917.) "Albert Dalimier, Under Secretary of Fine Arts, made a statement to-day regarding Rheims Cathedral, which, it has been reported, the Pope is anxious to have restored, having asked permission to this end from the German authorities."

"Orders were given by the French Government for provisional repairs to the roofs of the Cathedral in autumn of 1914," said M. Dalimier, "but we were unable to begin work without an agreement with the military authorities, and they begged us to do nothing. They pointed out that the Cathedral was still under German fire, that from Nogent to La Bassée, where the batteries firing on the town were installed, everything that passed could be distinctly seen by the Germans, and that workmen on the Cathedral would therefore be sure to be observed and fired upon."

The great interior was four hundred and sixty-six feet long and one hundred and twenty-one feet high. Both nave and transepts have aisles. Eight bays were in the nave, and each transept projected to the depth of a single bay. A triforium was above the aisles, and eight exquisite chapels radiated from the choir.

Apse of Cathedral: Rheims


The great capitals were covered with beautiful sculpture, beggaring description. Over the large west portal was shown the Martyrdom of St. Nicaise, and over the whole west wall was a multitude of small statues in niches ending in a display of the Massacre of the Innocents.

A myriad of these statues filled the whole church. Adoring angels too adorned the buttresses of the choir chapels. Rich tapestries, fourteen in number, the gift of Robert de Lénoncourt in 1530, hung on the chapel walls, and there were two magnificent pieces given by Cardinal Lorraine in 1570, called the "Tapisseries du fort roi Clovis," and others from Archbishop Henri de Lorraine in 1633, called the "Perpersack." Some Gobelins, also, designed in 1848 by Raffaelle, were hung here.

The large organ was dated 1481, and designed by Oudin Hestre, and in the chapel of St. Jean was the thirteenth century monument of Hugues Libergier, the architect of St. Nicaise.. (This is buried in the ashes, and is said to be uninjured.)

The Treasury included many reliquaries and holy objects of priceless value, such as the reliquary of Sanson (twelfth century); that of SS. Peter and Paul (fourteenth century); of the Holy Sepulcher (sixteenth century) which was given by the King, Henry II, at his coronation; the vessel of St. Ursula, given by Henry III; the Chasuble of Thomas à Becket; the Chalice of St. Remi; the Reliquary of St. Ampoule, and an immense quantity of gold and silver objects given by Charles X.

It is said that this treasure was removed to Paris when Rheims was first threatened with destruction, and that it is therefore intact, for which we may be thankful, but what of the incomparable shrine which held it?

More than a year and a half (1915) ago the roof was consumed by fire, and was held by authorities to be irreparable, but since then, perhaps daily the bombardment has continued mercilessly, simply to destroy what remains. Even the latest news from the front in France does not claim that the invader and iconoclast has been driven back fast enough to ensure safety to Rheims. In one day (April, 1917) the Germans are said to have poured seventy-five hundred shells into the city. Just how much of the incomparable fabric of the Cathedral, from which all the statuary, all the wonderful glass and framework have been pulverized by the blasts from the great shells, survives, is not known outside of the town, or is concealed by the authorities; but for one thing we pray fervently, and that is, that no so-called restoration may be attempted or allowed. Let no imitations of stone, glass or marble caricature its vanished glories.... Let it remain, we pray, the living, standing record of an infamous crime. Consumed by fire, soaked in blood, Rheims, which crowned and sheltered a hundred kings, has passed; deleta est Carthago.


AT the foot of a group of tall pointed limestone rocks, which seemed to be much higher than the seventy-five feet ascribed to them, nestled this most theatrical looking little town on the river Meuse, which winds in and out most charmingly through a district once covered with dense forests. All about were beautiful gorges between which the river rushed noisily, now following the base of a precipice of solid limestone, and again laving the roots of large trees growing luxuriantly on the slaty banks. Each of these valleys, each breach in the limestone wall, was overgrown with lush verdure, contrasting most strikingly with the dark brown or gray tones of the cliffs. Hereabouts small towns and hamlets, with scant room for the old houses and mills clinging to the steeps, thickly occupied the spaces between the rocks and the rushing stream.

This small town of St. Mihiel, with its population of about eight thousand inhabitants, is said to have grown up around an ancient abbey dedicated to St. Michael, established here by some pious monks in the eighth century, but the landlord of the Hôtel du Cygne told me, with a shrug of the shoulders, that the abbey was not so old as all that; that M. le Père had informed him that the abbey had been built in the seventeenth century; the same year as the church; that he wished to set M. le Voyageur (myself) right in the matter; not that he cared how old or how new it was, but that he, the proprietor of the Hôtel du Cygne, was a truthful man, and no one, least of all, a gentleman who had made such a long journey as Monsieur the American from New York—"bien intendu," should receive any but the most truthful information from him, proprietor as he was of the Hôtel du Cygne. Which long speech he delivered with appropriate shrugs, gesticulations, and uplifted eyebrows.

Mine host turned out to be an interesting personality. There were many such in these small towns on the banks of the Meuse. He was named Camille Robert Joseph Laroche, and not only was he a genial and valuable "raconteur," but he had a saint for a forebear. According to his tale, which I have no reason to discredit, more than three hundred years ago his ancestor bequeathed the entire family patrimony to the church, which in gratitude therefor promptly canonized him, insomuch that he now adorns the galaxy at St. Matthias Roche. For this great honor and distinction, said mine host, all the descendants had ever since been paying, for, deprived of their estates, they became "hoteliers" and "négociants," their only wealth being the good will and esteem of the countryside. Thus I had the high honor at St. Mihiel of lodging at an inn kept by the scion of a saint.

It was pleasant to arrive at this pretty hill-embosomed town when evening was drawing on and the stars, like unto glimmering altar tapers in a vast cathedral space, were shining forth one by one.

I sat before the inn door upon a bench with mine host» who had lapsed into silence, and watched the crystal disk of the moon over the "Falaise," shining, with that peculiar tint which has no name nor likeness on earth; that large mystic peace, the charm of a village at eventime, brooded in the air: Truly God is known in the breath of the still woods; a very frankincense.

Some passing girls in groups who had come to see the arrivals by train, that puffing, cautiously moving train that had come from Verdun, with the mail, the writer, and a few "commis-voyageurs," several soldiers on leave, and three shovel-hatted priests lent some animation to the street.

Each girl, chattering and laughing, was knitting industriously. Their eyes were bright and blue; their hair, gathered with gay ribbons into knots, was sunny: they seemed care-free.

The great gray limestone pointed rocks stand sentry over St. Mihiel. Upon one stands a Calvary. There were fragmented castles round about. Each dominated a ridge, stretching away like a line of bulwarks for the nestling towns between. I found, in the days of exploration that followed my arrival, that facing beyond the thread of the river, an amphitheater of great beeches, tier upon tier, ensconced all.

One might fancy a couchant lion on guard here, the old town lying snug between its outstretched paws, or to use another simile as if it had been cast down by giant hands and caught in the cleft.

The town lay in somewhat the shape of a T, the head-stroke turned downwards on both sides; the upright formed by the long nestling town of the valley, the cross bar by the bowed overspread of habitations at the valley's mouth, one thronged crescent of river, road, and terraced verdancy. Just at the point of junction in the nailhead was a small convent garden, all scarlet, pink, white and dazzling emerald green. One would think this quiet, rident town, looking down upon it by morning light from the Calvary on the limestone pinnacle, a very sanctuary home of dreams. On the contrary, it was only a more or less prosaic manufacturing town to the inhabitants who lived among all this picturesqueness without realizing it. Listening from my perch at the foot of the Calvary on the "Falaise," I could hear the hum of looms.

At the clang of the midday Angelus they stopped short for the brief hour of rest and repast. For a thousand years some of the old walls had lain much as I saw them, for St. Mihiel figures in territorial documents of a. d. 950. It is said that there was a time when the outstretched paws of the lion were joined by huge stone-turreted walls. These closed in the town and made a sanctuary. The Barons of St. Mihiel were greatly distinguished personages; they played a noble part in the Crusades. I found their records quaintly set forth upon tombs in archaic words, the meaning of which was often entirely puzzling and obscure. I made notes of these names and dates, but they were carelessly mislaid. Should one be curious about them, I doubt not that Froissart has recorded them in all their state and glory. St. Mihiel claimed the usual list of heroes and warriors, and her claim was granted without question.

The old market place was graced by lime trees, and the ruined walls were overgrown with ivy and vine of luxuriant leafage, hiding crack and gap cunningly. The aged towers still cleaved to the rock by leave of the roots of beech and fir tree, whose spreading roots are more lenient foes to masonry, perhaps, than German mines. Imagine the great empty shell of the donjon, with a rugged façade, ivy grown and rook-haunted, a ruined chapel-apse with its suspended "piscina and aumbry," (thus named for me correctly by a scholarly architect friend, else I should not have known how to call them), its Gothic columns and arches; this sheer wall overhung the town perilously.

There was a story told of the old bell's tolling at the death of a child. Within the donjon is the remains of the well, fifty feet deep. In olden days a young chatelaine threw herself down this well, her child in her arms, to escape the brutality of the besiegers, in the fourteenth—or was it the thirteenth?—century. There were twin brothers who did the same, in some remote period, after refusing to open the gates to Wenceslaus, or was it Baldwin of the Iron Arm*? There was a cavern at the bottom where the knights-proprietors hid their gains during the sieges. All these and many other tales of fear, blood and bravery were told at St. Mihiel.

Some years ago, they said, a young maid drawing water from the well, discovered a golden bracelet at the bottom of the bucket; but beyond a few fragments of bone and some pieces of rusty iron that is all that has been discovered of treasure.

It was said that the great hidden treasure is guarded by an immense serpent, which, when any one was so foolhardy as to attempt its recovery, blew out his candles and then devoured him at leisure. On the night before Maundy Thursday, at the hour of twelve, the master knight, clad all in his Templar's armor regalia, and bearing the scarlet cross upon his breast, rides the ruins with his cohort: but to no one save a true and devout Catholic was this vision vouchsafed, so it was said. St. Mihiel was unusually quaint in many ways.

One did not find sheep grazing anywhere. When by some rare chance they were brought to town by a drover, the sensation produced was equal to that which might be caused by the appearance of an elephant or a camel. Children ran after the poor frightened dusty things, tugging at their wool, some trying to climb upon their backs, and the whole square was in an uproar. There were plenty of pigs about, and these, curiously, were in charge of a professional pig handler, who took them to pasture, and cared for them for a weekly wage. It was not uncommon on a morning ramble to come upon a drove of them occupying the whole road to the limit of space: a symphony in pink amid a cloud of dust.

The little town was the residence of the great Cardinal de Retz, who is said to have written his memoirs here. The Rue Notre Dame, which led to the ancient abbey, and the church of St. Michael, had some very fine old fifteenth century houses, which were still (in 1910) in an excellent state of preservation. The great church dated in part from the seventeenth century, and contained a remarkable statue of the Madonna, attributed to Ligier Richier, a pupil of Michelangelo, who also carved the noted sepulchral monument of René de Châlons, Prince of Orange, in the church of St. Pierre at Bar-le-Duc. There was here too, a figure of a child surrounded by skulls, with two of which she was playing. Said to be by Jean Richier, this was a most beautiful piece of seventeenth century miniature work.

The Madonna mentioned above was depicted as fainting in the arms of St. John, the pose being most remarkable. One of the curiosities of the old church was the remains of a stone rood loft, a structure said by architects to be very rarely met with. The ruined remains of the abbey at the east end of the church were found near some sort of public offices, which should have been cleared away so that they might be seen the better. In the Rue des Ingénieurs was the house of the sculptor, Ligier Richier, dated 1538. And in the church of St. Sepulcré was the famous tomb by this master, consisting of thirteen figures, showing the Virgin, Mary Cleopas and John, and some dice players, all of great realism and character.

This whole region is filled with legend, related with such great circumstantial detail that one might not venture, on pain of giving offense, to show disbelief, no matter how fantastic the story. There was one curious old house which I saw in the Rue de la Vaux, which had a rude frieze of great animals below its roof, the effect being so singular as to be well nigh unbelievable. What its history or origin I was unable to discover. Indeed much mystery was made of it, when I inquired; much as if I had asked an indiscreet question. So I desisted.

In the neighborhood were the most delightful walks and rambles, overgrown with verdure, leading past small farmsteads embosomed in thick forests, in a region filled with myth and legend.

Following the course of the Meuse, dotted with small mills taking toll of her one by one, whose splashing mossy wheels she cheerfully spins; eddying here and there, bright gardens, one was led to a certain gushing fountain, under a shelving bay of ferny rock, and this was named "the Easter fountain." It would be strange indeed if a fountain in this region had not a story connected with it. This one was no exception, and here follows this story of the Easter fountain, as told by Brother Antoine of St. Mihiel.

In the thirteenth century of our redemption Count Reni, in the castle on the heights, governed this region; at Commercy reigned Count Alan. A common sorrow bound the two to friendship: their young wives had faded in their first bloom. The châtelaine of Reni had left a boy of four years, and the Lady Elsa a girl baby at the cost of her life. This babe, sweet souvenir, was also named Elsa by her mourning, inconsolable father. All fêtes and celebrations were thenceforth banished from the two castles, the lords of which sought comfort only in the high and holy offices of the Church, and in mutual companionship. Pope Honoré, at the call of John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem, summoned all knights to the Holy Crusade. In this call the two bereft counts found the command of the Most High. Burying their grief in the forests of St. Mihiel, they set their affairs in order, gave over their domains to the care of overseers, and taking down shield and great cross hiked sword, ranged themselves "cap à pie" beneath the banner of their high and knightly leader, the Emperor Frederic.

Count Reni leaves his little Elsa to the care of her godmother and the abbess under the protection of his faithful aged squire, Père Carol. So passes by the period of ten or more years, young boy and girl grow up even as brother and sister, ranging the paths of the scented wood, hand in hand; learning together the lore of God's wisdom of flower and bird, and with the pious help of the abbess, the wondrous stories of the lives of the saints in those great vellum bound, brass clasped office books of the altar. Occasionally to the castle comes a wandering singer, who teaches them in song the doughty deeds of the absent soldiers of the Cross, naming their fathers gloriously. To these songs the children, now grown tall in stature, listened with shining eyes and panting breath. Thus they dreamed of the brave fathers they had hardly known.

Now that the young Count had come almost to man's estate, the old esquire thought of presenting him at the Court of Rheims. It was summertime, and the time had come for the parting. Elsa wandered alone through the wooded paths of the forest. But the once loved scenes of nature had lost half their charm for her. To pass the time she set about acts of devotion and mercy; visiting the poor huts of the woodsmen, dispensing tender charities to their families and teaching the children to pray to the saints and the Holy Fathers.

So passed the long months of summer and then came autumn in a blaze of red and golden leaves. Now the young Count, learning at the Court of Rheims that the two Counts were shortly expected to return from the Crusades in the East, returned to the castle with his retinue, and passing a small cottage by the roadside on the river bank, caught a glimpse of his former playmate and companion, on her knees, binding up the wounds of a poor charcoal burner, who had been injured by the fall of a tree trunk. But, lo: there was something in the expression of her face that was all new to him. Dismounting from his horse, he knelt before her, as to a saint. She was to him, all at once, an aureoled angel; a burning reverence overcame him, surging from head to foot, and he knew in that instant that for him time had brought its fullness to him, and that henceforth they were to be inseparable.

Entranced, he studied her face, so different to him from those which he had seen at court at Rheims, exquisite as those faces were. But this one! Ah, now it was clear to him that he had all his life never had a soul.

Elsa had gazed into his eyes unable to speak, her hands clasped upon her bosom. Now she gave a cry of gladness, but stopped all at once, for a new and strange quickening in her heart: Young Alan is transfigured in her sight, like unto St. Michael.

Alan seizes her hand, he calls her his sweet flower of innocence, and so swears to be her loyal knight even unto death; thus they remained hand in hand in ecstasy, while she prayed that the blessed mother watch over them forever more. At the castle the pair knelt before the good abbot, and then the old Esquire and the Abbess joined their hands and blessed them.

When the news of the Count's arrival at the coast, and young Alan's home coming went forth, the whole region rejoiced, the bells rang in the churches, and the vassals assembled to greet the young seigneur. From her bower in the lofty tower of the castle Elsa watched the road along the river. It was eventide when the sounds of approaching cavalry broke the stillness. Soon the great drawbridge of the castle fell with a clang of chains, and young Alan was clasped in the arms of the returned Crusader.

In the great banquet hall, hung with flags and trophies of the chase, the retainers thronged to welcome and acclaim their returned lord and master. Great flagons and cups of wine were passed, and the vaulted stone roof rang with the loyal shouts of "Long live Count Alan!"

But, strange to say, all was not well with Alan the Crusader. A dark cloud sat upon his knitted brow, and his worn thin hand bent upon the knob of the great chair upon which he sat. Elsa, in a very heaven between the joys, plied him with questions which he answered vaguely, and finally bade the churls to bring the torches from the walls, and gave the word of dismissal to the throng.

Much troubled, Elsa gave her white brow to her father's kiss, bade him good night; and very shortly the castle was in darkness, and silent save for the measured tread of the sentinels on the parapet.

On the following day the Abbess told Elsa that the two counts, once so inseparable, had for certain reasons become enemies, that the young Count of Bré must never more be named within the hearing of her father; and that henceforth she must forget her love for Alan, which now was quite hopeless. Broken hearted but obedient, the young girl, bathed in tears, spent hours before the altar upon her knees, but devoted herself to her father whenever he would see her.

Autumn came, and brought winter in its train. Young Alan she had not seen since the day of his return when they met at the charcoal burner's cottage in the wood. The fête of Noël came in with a great snow storm. The Count no more went forth, nor did he attend at chapel. The abbot had admonished him upon one occasion—"If ye from your hearts forgive not those who—" whereupon the Count had struck the rail with his hand, arose, and left the chapel.

Affairs at the other castle were quite similar, and the lord had refused to offer his hand in friendship to his old friend Count Alan, swearing a terrible oath that he would wither away unshriven ere he did such a thing. Thus matters stood at the two castles, and two fond hearts were breaking, while pride held out. As to the young Alan, he had well-nigh lost his reason but for the kindly and wise advice of the old Abbot.

Then one day the aged châtelaine lay upon her death bed, with Elsa bathed in tears beside her.

"Call thee thy father, child," she said, "I have much to say to him before I go." Of the conversation between them nothing was ever known, but a marked change came over the old knight, after the chatelaine had been laid at rest beneath the altar in the chapel. He passed the whole night before the Stations of the Cross, and cried aloud for mercy, striking his breast with both hands.

In the morning he called Elsa and told her that he was to set out upon a long journey, and she begging that he allow her to accompany him he at length consented, and so together, with an escort, the old knight and the tender maiden set out through the forest.

It was the Holy Week of the Passion, and there were bands of pious pilgrims met upon the road, nearly all afoot, for that was the custom. Seeing this the old knight dismounted, and bidding the escort take the horses and return to the castle, they joined one of the processions, and continued on foot as far as the Calvary which was at the bend in the road toward St. Mihiel. Here they paused and let the procession proceed without them.

It was fair spring time; the fairest flowers bloomed all about them, and wild birds in the trees hymned the Resurrection of God. Elsa's heart sang in unison with the birds. She suspected the object of the old knight's pilgrimage.

When they were near the castle of Count Alan, all at once she saw on the road the Count and his son, arm in arm, approaching them. When they met there was an instant's silence, then cried out the old knight, "Alan! I come to thee!"

"And I was coming to thee to ask thy forgiveness," replied Count Alan with shining eyes; and they embraced, retiring arm and arm beneath the great beech trees, leaving Elsa and young Alan face to face. Elsa's hands were clasped upon her heaving bosom, her brimming eyes raised to the sky; then she knelt down beside the cliff in the moss, and young Alan knelt beside her. All at once Elsa's voice burst forth in the holy canticle, "Benedicite, opera Domini, Domino—fontes benedicite," and as she uttered the last words of the canticle, there burst forth from the limestone rock, just where their united tears had dropped, a tiny stream of crystal clear water. Soon this grew larger, bubbling forth like pearls into the sunlight, and making a channel for itself, flowed onward, dancing and leaping as for joy. And thus kneeling there at the fountain of their united tears the knights found them....

And this is the story of the fountain of the lovers' tears at St. Mihiel, where broken friendships were said to be healed by one draft of the waters, partaken of by both be it understood.

One wonders now as to the fate of St. Mihiel-on-the-Meuse; is that gray old church entirely destroyed by the rain of shells that has beaten upon it for more than two years? And what remains of the little town clustering against the two tall limestone peaks all clad with green verdure, where all was so prosperous and peaceful before the onslaught of the destroying legions?

Chatel Gate: Verdun



UPON well nigh every headland of any considerable size on the banks of the winding river Meuse, there glowered a vine clad castle in a more or less ruinous state, and usually at its foot slept a farmstead, a village, or a town. Over each stream-laved promontory and every high hill there have been fought great and small battles year in, year out, through the ages since the time of Charlemagne. One could not wander far here in any direction without lighting upon some shattered monument of human passion and pride. "Here might reigned supreme with fantastic honor as its handmaid; at ambition's footstool religion and right were vassals." One stands before one of these shattered, time-battered castle walls, and tries perchance to picture the siege of old, with the crowds of iron-armed men busily sapping the walls. Through the ragged breaches made by the great stone-hung rams, they discharged into the interior by quaint cumbrous machines large stones, blazing bundles of fagots, and even carrion, while from the besieged warriors on the battlemented walls above came streams of molten lead, and showers of heavy iron barbed bolts. The country about during these battles was considerably damaged, and there must have been an appalling noise over it all, but somehow one cannot picture any very great carnage as a result, at least nothing like that which took place here at Verdun in the great battle of 1916, nor any such destruction of property.

This town of Verdun, now upon every one's lips, was the ancient Roman "Verodunam" and ever has held a most important place in European affairs and history. Captured by Charlemagne, in the dim days of a. d. 843, it was divided among his three grandsons, Charles the Bald, Lothaire, and Lewis the German. Thus divided, the members of the Empire, Teutonic and Gallic, were never again united. Until the year 1552 the town, once the seat of a powerful bishop, remained free, and in 1648 it was formally united to France after the peace of Westphalia, when Austria relinquished the three great bishoprics of Verdun, Toul, and Metz. Verdun fell to the Prussians after a fierce bombardment lasting only five hours, and a story is told of how a bevy of fair young girls appeared in the public square before the Hôtel de Ville, where the conquerors were drawn up, and made peace-offering to them of the "bon-bons" for which, even up to the outbreak of the great world war, and invasion of 1914, Verdun was famous. These bon-bons were known locally as "Dragées."

Old House on the Meuse: Verdun


After the battle of Valmy, the revolutionists recaptured the town and, it is said, sought out these same young maidens and put them to death.

The town, which was rather attractive and picturesque, stood in a sort of plain, on the river Meuse, which divides here into several streams. It was surrounded by fortifications, considered impregnable, which were planted with large trees, and there was a very satisfying Mediaeval gateway flanked by two great towers, while an attractive street called the "Promenade de la Digne" followed the banks of the river. The sights of the town, however, were very soon exhausted. If one followed the Avenue de la Gare, one came to the Porte St. Paul, and just beyond it the Palais de Justice and a large new college building. Then there was the Porte Chaussée, which was very old and had two fine crenelated towers. There were several bridges crossing the river Meuse, and along its banks a collection of ancient many colored houses, all so battered, bewindowed, and balconied, as to be quite fascinating pictorially but certainly very dirty and "smelly." Ranged along the water washed walls of these quaint houses, were many barges and washing boats, painted in charming tones of green and brown, and these, reflected in the water, made delightful pictures for the painter and snap shots for tourists.

A very good regimental band played in the square once a week, and this formed an excuse for a promenade of the townspeople, and a social gathering at the small cafés, for the post prandial "bock."

There was a Hôtel de Ville of the seventeenth century, lacking however in character, in the courtyard of which were displayed some bronze cannon, given to Verdun by the government in recognition of its heroic resistance in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Near the cathedral were the remains of an ancient gate called the Porte Châtel. The Cathedral, the towers of which were high above the town, though lacking spires, was not unimpressive, but it had been so often rebuilt and changed, as to have few vestiges of the structure begun in the twelfth century. The two towers were square and topped by balustrades of little or no character. The buttresses of the apse were, however, of architectural value, and the apse had some curious and remarkable sculptures, while the triple nave was of noble proportions and had some Gothic vaulting.

A curious bas relief representing the Assumption was shown in the transept; but beyond these features the Cathedral had little or nothing to offer, save a very beautiful fifteenth century cloister, which we nearly missed seeing, connecting die Cathedral with the grand séminaire.

The great Citadel, renowned throughout Europe, upon which such high hopes centered in the beginning of the present war, and which resisted the efforts of the army of the Crown Prince, occupied the ancient site of the Abbey of St. Vannes, of the tenth century. It was so rigidly guarded that no one was permitted to enter it. From a roadway called the Promenade de la Roche one might idle away the hours appraising the picturesque valley of the Meuse.

Alost of those who visited Verdun, and stopped at "des trois Maures or du Cog Hardi," which were the rival hostelries, usually started to explore the town after "dejeuner," and brought up at the Cathedral as a finish. But to him who stayed awhile, and rambled about aimlessly outside the town, there was no end of curious beauties, of small scenic and antique discoveries, of quaint nooks, and groupings and surprises! all about were flowers and vines, and long white winding roads, past small mills embosomed in verdure, and wayside shrines where old women seemed rooted telling their beads.

And night beyond the town brought her own peculiar graces, when the mazy ravines lay hidden in the glimmering dusk, and the lights of Verdun twinkled across the valley, or answered to their images in the stream.

In towns of this region one was impressed with the prevalence of Colonels and Generals. Each hotel seemed to be provided with an officer, looking, too, much like all the others. They were invariably somewhat red faced and "puffy," bored in manner, and while slow of speech, were not mentally active or entertaining. Invariably, too, they were anglers, displaying in sporting knee breeches stockinged calves of the shape of "ten pins." They seemed mysterious as to their families, but were undisguisedly gallant in their attentions to the fair sex, and invariably headed the "table d'hôte" at which universal deference was accorded them.

Once, in a small town, I fancied that the spell was broken, and that no General or Colonel was in the hotel, but on the third day I learned that "M. le General was confined to his room with the gout." This room was on the floor above, and although the proprietor often assured us that "M. le General" would, in all probability, be able to come down on the morrow, and occupy his wonted seat at the head of the table, he did not come, and so we never saw him.

All about Verdun were charming small villages, particularly along the river Meuse, and if one liked one could take a slow moving train, which went through a long black tunnel, and at length entered the valley of the Moselle—but that was another adventure which is not to be set down in this volume.

Cathedral: Verdun


For this summer end of 1910, the valley of the Meuse was to us all sufficient. Here, while dozing among these small towns and villages, bordering on the vine clad river's splash and sparkle, resting by night in quaint clean and generally well kept inns, the world beyond became a figment. Curious fortresses still were to be found among these old rocks; and on the plateau the antiquarian, the geologist, the botanist may find much food for wonder and study, if they searched. But if they did, at least I never met them there. Should tourist by chance pass that way, it was by train, or swiftly speeding automobile all begoggled of eyes, and mummied by greatcoat, mindful only of the smoothness of the winding road, or the consumption of gasoline. But from all such doth Dame Nature hide her soul.

Then, tiring of this aloofness, one could always return to the bustle of Verdun, and find entertainment in the tortuous streets between the amorphous houses, with their aged carven doors surmounted by strange old trade-emblems, their overhanging gables; across the rough cobbled market place with the old town hall of pepperbox turret, its arcade, and its dusty hall where the "Échevins" held their courts of justice, and where the peasants chaffered their wares on market days, through the ancient gateways, and over the old bridges reflected in the eddying river.

I like to think of Verdun, as we saw it "en fête" that late summer morning. The town was gay with wreaths and flags and streamers, the windows aflame with flowers. In the Cathedral since five o'clock there had been scarce space to kneel for the toll of masses unbroken at the altar. White clad priests came and went through the aisles. The air was tense and restless with murmured prayer and the incessancy of "sacring-bells." When the last "housel" had been taken, the last "Ite" said, thousands of people filled the streets, lining the narrow ways in thick serried ranks, crowding the doors and windows, and stretching in a double row across the bridge.

Over all is a sense of waiting, as for a solemn thing about to happen, and this thrills the multitude. At the bridge end I could see the figure of a priest gesticulating, raised somewhat above the crowd, clad in a cope of gold and white, but I was too far away to hear his voice. Soon came a procession headed by a banner bearer, and I caught a glimpse of the scarlet of my lord the Archbishop, amid a cloud of filmy laced priestly cottas, and the violet surplices of chanting men, set in a great splash of white robes. Here and there a banner shone all red and gold, and at the end of the bridge was a great golden Crucifix.

Here a short sermon was preached, and this being over there came a stir and a heave in the crowd, which fell back along the ways. Forward moved the cross, twelve banners escorting it; tapers of wax tall and thick blazed, and from upcast censers sprang misty spirals of fragrance, blue as the hills beyond the town.

From a murmur which sweeps through the throng of people, a chant grows in volume until it is like the sound of a vast organ. All at once the gay burners, the smoking censers, and the gorgeously clad priests vanish around a turning in the street; the spell is broken; the crowd, before so orderly, swarms like bees in the hive, and here and there are couples dancing and jostling all unmindful of each other's proximity, but performing with stolid good humor. The spirit of the dance takes hold of the crowd, it spreads across the bridge, and sets of four, six and eight form in rows, holding one another at handkerchief length, eyes dancing with eyes to limbs' measure.

There was little of passion but much of poetry in this dance, a sort of polka with three steps forward and two back, a serpentine swinging unison. Words are poor painters of the scene: like unto a moving wheatfield swept by two winds, or the sea surge whose oscillant ebb and flow is so fascinating. And so throughout the day, and far into the night the celebration continued, with meetings—rejoicings—and mild potations sacramental of reunited friendships; but not until long after the celebration ended and common events regained dominion over the streets and square, did one cease to see mentally the swinging sway of that dance, or hear the pounding, insistent, snarling drone on the barrel organs of that reiterated tune.... And this is how one likes to recall old, old Verdun, now so pathetically battered and shell torn, its cathedral towers ragged against the sky, and its Citadel dismantled.


ALIGHTING from the ordinary train (none other stops here apparently) at the dismal little stucco station at Domremy-Maxey-sur-Meuse, in a downpour of rain, we asked the little roly-poly chef de la Gare, who wore a tall red cap ornamented with a band of gold lace, all a size too large for his round bullet head:—First, could we have a conveyance to Domremy?—Secondly, was there an inn there?—Thirdly, did he think that we could be accommodated there?

To the first question he returned explosively,—"No, there was no conveyance; there had never been a conveyance there of any sort." To the second: "No, there was no inn there—but there was one at Domremy-la-Pucelle, 'toute en face,' near the church; no great thing, you understand—M'sieur and Madame—but not so bad, and clean of a surety."

To the third: "Yes, possibly; stay, as it rains torrents, I shall go over there and enquire for M'sieur and Madame.'Tis but a short walk for me, and I have the paletot which resists the rain."

And go he did, in the driving rain, too; in spite of our remonstrances he trudged out into the rain-soaked road, and we watched him out of sight down the footpath leading from the station towards the river. And this is but one of the instances of consideration and kindness that one received in this charming countryside. Briefly, we were well housed at Domremy among the poplars, and though the sheets were damp from the rainy weather, a huge wood fire lighted for us by Madame at the inn soon dried them, and a good supper revived our spirits. Here charming days may be spent among the scenes filled with memories of la Pucelle.

There are two villages here, besides Vaucouleurs, which equipped Jeanne for her campaign, and whence she set forth aided by Baudricourt, the Governor. The larger is Gréoulx, perhaps half a mile away. The hamlet is probably much as it was during the time of Jeanne; a collection of small low white houses on either side of the roadway, squalid and odorous from the dung-hill before each doorway. Here sit Madame and the children, who play with the chickens and droves of small pink pigs running up and down in every direction, and in and out of the open doors.

The street now widens into a sort of "place" before the church with a square, pinnacled tower in which is a clock. The interior with low vaulting is rich with festoons of drapery, wreaths and some very ornate silk banners, all displayed with much taste in honor of la Pucelle, the sainted Jeanne. To right is a fine monument, dated fifteenth century, embellished with figures of Jacob and Didier Tierselin, who were the sons of her godmother, who, it will be remembered, was a witness in her behalf at the trial.

Here at Domremy the maid Jeanne is regarded and honored as a saint, and over the altar are large paintings of her representing her mission, and the events. One of them is of the appearance of the Archangel to the young girl.

Outside the door is a bronze statue of the Maid of Orleans by E. Paul (1855) and farther on is a very ill-kept little square in which is a most absurd monument erected by some one who is nameless, in 1820. Just opposite a sort of court guarded from the droves of little pink pigs by an iron railing, is the quaint "lean to" sort of cottage in which Jeanne la Pucelle, called by the English Joan of Arc, was born in 1411. Above the arched door is displayed the emblazoned royal arms of France, together with those assigned to Jeanne and her family by the King, Louis XI. Above is a Gothic canopied niche in which is a kneeling figure of la Pucelle, reproduced, it is said, from the one inside the cottage, bearing the date of 1456. Here the principal room is the kitchen, in which, however, only the middle beam of the ceiling is original.

It is said that the kneeling statue in armor was posed for by a niece of Jeanne.

Behind the kitchen is a dark little closet, in which Jeanne is said to have slept. It is lighted by a tiny window high up in the wall, and here against the wall is a chest said to have been used by Jeanne.

Domremy, in her honor, was, up to the time of the Revolution, exempted from any taxation.

The hill where Jeanne heard the mysterious voices is about a mile farther on, and a sort of basilica was being built here to mark the spot, to be further enriched by a statue of the Maid by Allard.

The house of Jeanne was cared for by the sisters of charity who conducted a school and a small shop where the pilgrims bought medals and souvenirs.

On the other side of the railway line was a small chapel, to which it is said Jeanne made a pilgrimage once a week on Saturday, placing a lighted wax taper before the altar.

House of Jeanne d'Arc: Domremy


On the 6th of January, 1428, this young girl, the daughter of simple peasants, humble tillers of the soil, of good life and repute, she herself a good, simple, gentle girl, no idler, occupied in sewing and spinning with her mother, or driving afield her father's sheep, and sometimes even, when her father's turn came round, keeping for him the whole flock of the commune, was fulfilling her sixteenth year. ("Jeanne d'Arc," by M. Wallon, Vol. I, p. 32.) It was Joan of Arc, whom all the neighbors called Joannette. She was no recluse; she often went with her companions to sing and eat cakes beside the fountain by the gooseberry bush, under an old beech, which was called the fairy-tree; but dancing she did not like. She was constant at church, she delighted in the sound of the bells, she often went to confession and communion, and she blushed when her friends taxed her with being too religious. In 1421, when Joan was hardly nine, a band of Anglo-Burgundians penetrated into her country and transferred thither the ravages of war. The village of Domremy and the little town of Vaucouleurs were French and faithful to the French kingship; and Joan wept to see the lads of her parish returning bruised and bleeding from encounters with the enemy. Her relatives and neighbors were one day obliged to take flight, and at their return they found their houses burnt or devastated. Joan wondered whether it could possibly be that God permitted such excesses and disasters. In 1425, on a summer's day, at noon, she was in her father's little garden. She heard a voice calling her, at her father's right side, in the direction of the church, and a great brightness shone upon her at the same time in the same spot.

At first she was frightened, but she recovered herself on finding that "it was a worthy voice"; and at the second call she perceived that it was the voice of angels. "I saw them with my bodily eyes," she said six years later to her judges at Rouen, "as plainly as I see you; when they departed from me I wept and would fain have had them take me with them."

The apparitions came again, and exhorted her "to go to France for to deliver the kingdom." She became dreamy, wrapt in constant meditation. "I could endure no longer," said she at a later period, "and the time went heavily with me as with a woman in travail."

She ended with telling everything to her father, who listened to her words anxiously at first, and afterwards wrathfully. He himself one night dreamed that his daughter had followed the King's men-at-arms to France, and from that moment he kept her under strict superintendence.

"If I knew of your sister's going," he said to his sons, "I would bid you drown her; and, if you did not do it, I would drown her myself."

Joan submitted: there was no leaven of pride in her sublimation, and she did not suppose that her intercourse with celestial voices relieved her from the duty of obeying her parents..

Attempts were made to distract her mind. A young man who courted her was induced to say that he had a promise of marriage from her and claim the fulfillment of it. Joan went before the ecclesiastical judge, made affirmation that she had given no promise and without difficulty gained her cause. Everybody believed her and respected her.

In a village hard by Domremy she had an uncle whose wife was near her confinement; she got herself invited to go and nurse her aunt, and thereupon she opened her heart to her uncle, repeating a popular saying which had spread indeed throughout the country:

"Is it not said that a woman shall ruin France and a young maid restore it?"

She pressed him to take her to Vaucouleurs to Sire Robert de Baudricourt, captain of the bailiwick, for she wished to go to the dauphin and carry assistance to him.

Her uncle gave way, and on the 13th of May, 1428, he did take her to Vaucouleurs.

"I come on behalf of my Lord," she said to Sire de Baudricourt, "to bid you send word to the dauphin to keep himself well in hand and not to give battle to his foes, for my Lord will presently give him succor."

"Who is thy Lord?" asked Baudricourt.

"The King of Heaven," answered Joan.

Baudricourt set her down and urged her uncle to take her back to her parents "with a good slap o' the face."

In July, 1428, a fresh invasion of Burgundians occurred at Domremy, and redoubled the popular excitement there. Shortly afterwards the report touching the siege of Orleans arrived there. Joan, more and more passionately possessed with her idea, returned to Vau-couleurs.

"I must go," said she to Sire de Baudricourt, "for to raise the siege of Orleans. I will go should I have to wear, off my legs to the knee."

She returned to Vaucouleurs without taking leave of her parents. "Had I possessed," said she to her judges at Rouen, "a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers and had I been a king's daughter, I should have gone." Baudricourt, impressed without being convinced, did not oppose her remaining at Vaucouleurs, and sent an account of this singular young girl to Charles, Duke of Lorraine, at Nancy, and perhaps even, according to some chronicles, to the King's court.

Joan lodged at Vaucouleurs in the house of a wheelwright, and passed three weeks there, spinning with her hostess and dividing her time between work and church. There was much talk in Vaucouleurs of her "visions" and her purpose.

John of Metz (also called John of Novelomport), a knight serving with de Baudricourt, desired to see her, and went to the wheelwright's.

"What do you here, my dear?" he said. "Must the King be driven from his kingdom and we become English?"

"I am come hither," answered Joan, "to speak to Robert de Baudricourt, that he may be pleased to take me or have me taken to the King; but he pays no heed to me or my words. However, I must be with the King before the middle of Lent, for none in the world, nor kings, nor dukes, nor daughter of Scottish king can recover the Kingdom of France; there is no help but in me. Assuredly I would far rather be spinning beside my poor mother, for this other is not my condition; but I must go and do the work because my Lord wills that I should do it."

"Who is your Lord?"

"The Lord God."

"By my faith," said the Knight, seizing Joan's hands, "I will take you to the King, God helping. When will you set out?"

"Rather now than to-morrow; rather to-morrow than later." Vaucouleurs was full of the fame and sayings of Joan.

Another knight, Bertrand de Poulengy, offered, as John of Metz had, to be her escort. Duke Charles of Lorraine wished to see her, and sent for her to Nancy. Old and ill as he was, he had deserted his duchess, a virtuous lady, and was leading anything but a regular life. He asked Joan's advice about his health.

"I have no power to cure you," she said, "but go back to your wife and help me in that for which God ordains me."

The Duke ordered her the sum of four golden crowns, and she returned to Vaucouleurs, thinking of nothing but her departure.

There was no want of confidence and good will on the part of the inhabitants of Vaucouleurs in forwarding her preparations. John of Metz, the knight charged to accompany her, asked her if she intended to make the journey in her poor red rustic petticoats.

"I should like to don man's clothes," answered Joan. Subscriptions were made to give her a suitable costume. She was supplied with a horse, a coat of mail, a lance, a sword, the complete equipment indeed of a man-at-arms; and a king's messenger and an archer formed her train.

Baudricourt made them swear to escort her safely, and on the 25th of February, 1429, he bade her farewell, and all he said was:

"Away then, Joan, and come what may."

Charles VII was at that time at Chinon, in Touraine. In order to reach him Joan had nearly a hundred and fifty leagues to go, in a country occupied here and there by English and Burgundians and everywhere a theater of war. She took eleven days to do this journey, often marching by night, and never giving up man's dress, disquieted by no difficulty and no danger, and testifying no desire for a halt save to worship God.

"Could we hear mass daily," said she to her companions, "we should do well."

They consented only twice, first at the Abbey of St. Urban, and again in the principal church of Auxerre. As they were full of respect though at the same time also of doubt toward Joan, she never had to defend herself against familiarities, but she had constantly to dissipate their disquietude touching the reality or the character of her mission.

"Fear nothing," she said to them; "God shows me the way I should go; for thereto I was born."

On arriving at the village of St. Catherine-de-Fierbois, near Chinon, she heard three masses on the same day and had a letter written thence to the King to announce her coming and to ask to see him; she had gone, she said, a hundred and fifty leagues to come and tell him things which would be most useful to him.

Charles VII and his councilors hesitated. The men of war did not like to believe that a little peasant girl of Lorraine was coming to bring the King a more effectual support than their own.

Nevertheless, some, and the most heroic amongst them, Dunuois, La Hire, and Xaintrailles, were moved by what was told of this young girl. The letters of Sire de Bau-dricourt, though full of doubt, suffered a gleam of something like a serious impression to peep out; and why should not the King receive this young girl whom the Captain of Vaucouleurs had thought it a duty to send? It would soon be seen what she was and what she would do. The politicians and courtiers, especially the most trusted of them, George de la Tremoille, the King's favorite, shrugged their shoulders. What could be expected from the dreams of a young peasant girl of nineteen? Influences of a more private character and more disposed toward sympathy—Yolande of Arragon, for instance, Queen of Sicily, and mother-in-law of Charles VII, and perhaps also her daughter, the young queen, Mary of Anjou, were urgent for the King to reply to Joan that she might go to Chinon. She was authorized to do so, and on 6th March, 1429, she, with her comrades, arrived at the royal residence.

At the very first moment two incidents occurred (says M. Wallon) still further to increase the curiosity of which she was the object.

Quite close to Chinon some vagabonds had prepared an ambuscade for the purpose of despoiling her and her train. She passed close by them without the least obstacle. The rumor went that at her approach they were struck motionless, and had been unable to attempt their wicked purpose. Joan was rather tall, well shaped, dark, with a look of composure, animation and gentleness. A man-at-arms, who met her on the way, thought her pretty, and with an impious oath, expressed a coarse compliment. "Alas," said Joan, "thou blasphemest thy God, and thou art so near thy death!" He drowned himself, it is said, shortly after.

Already popular feeling was surrounding her marvelous mission with the halo of instantaneous miracles.

On her arrival at Chinon she first lodged with an honest family near the castle. For three days longer there was a deliberation in the council as to whether the King ought to receive her. But there was bad news from Orleans. There were no more troops to send thither, and there was no money forthcoming; the King's treasurer, it is said, had but four crowns in the chest. If Orleans was taken, the King would be perhaps reduced to seeking refuge in Spain or in Scotland. Joan promised to set Orleans free.

The Orleanese themselves were clamorous for her; Dunois kept up their spirits with the expectation of this marvelous assistance. It was decided that the King should receive her. She had assigned to her for residence an apartment in the tower of the "Coudray," a block of quarters adjoining the royal mansion, and she was committed to the charge of William Bellier, an officer of the King's household, whose wife was a woman of great piety and excellent fame.

On the 9th of March, 1429, Joan was at last introduced into the King's presence by the Count of Vendôme, high steward, in the great hall on the first story, a portion of the wall and fireplace being still visible in the present day.

It was evening, candle light; and nearly three hundred knights were present. Charles kept himself a little aloof amidst a group of warriors and courtiers more richly dressed than he.

According to some chroniclers, Joan demanded that "she should not be deceived, and should have pointed out to her him to whom she was to speak." Others affirm that she went straight to the King, whom she had never seen, "accosting him humbly and simply, like a poor shepherdess," says an eye-witness, and according to another account, "making the usual bends and reverences, as if she had been brought up at court."

Whatever may have been her outward behavior, "Gentle dauphin," she said to the King (for she did not think it right to call him king, so long as he had not been crowned), "my name is Joan the maid; the King of Heaven sendeth you word by me that you shall be anointed and crowned in the city of Rheims, and shall be lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is King of France. It is God's pleasure that our enemies, the English, should depart to their own country; if they depart not, evil will come to them, and the kingdom is sure to continue yours."

Charles was impressed without being convinced, as so many others had been before, or were as he was on that very day. He saw Joan again several times. She did not delude herself as to the doubts he still entertained.

Gentle dauphin, she said one day, "why do you not believe me? I say unto you that God hath compassion on you, your kingdom and your people; St. Louis and Charlemagne are kneeling before Him making prayer for you, a thing which will give you to understand that you ought to believe me."

Charles gave her audience on this occasion in the presence of four witnesses, the most trusted of his intimates, who swore to reveal nothing, and according to others, completely alone. "What she said to him there is none who knows," wrote Allan Chartier a short time after (in July, 1429) "but it is quite certain that he was all radiant with joy thereat, as at a revelation from the Holy Spirit."

M. Wallon continues this fascinating and intimate account of the Maid's mission with most minute detail through her early triumphs and ordeal, down to the days of her capture, confinement at Rouen, the capital of the English in France, and her trial and execution in that town.

She arrived (in Rouen) on the 23rd of December, 1430. On the 3rd of January the following year, an order from Henry VI, King of England, placed her in the hands of the bishop of Beauvais, Peter Cauchon.

Some days afterwards, Count John of Luxembourg accompanied by his brother, the English Chancellor, and his Esquire, the Earl of Warwick, and Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, the King of England's constable in France, entered the prison where Joan was confined.

Had John of Luxembourg come out of sheer curiosity, or to relieve himself of certain scruples by offering Joan a chance for her life?

"Joan," said he, "I am come hither to put you to ransom, and treat for the price of your deliverance; only give us your promise here no more to bear arms against us."

"In God's name," answered Joan, "are you making a mock of me, Captain? Ransom me? You have neither the will nor the power; no, you have neither."

The Count persisted.

"I know well," said Joan, "that these English will put me to death; but, were they a hundred thousand more 'Goddams' than have already been in France, they shall never have the kingdom."

"What is to be thought of her? What is to be thought of the poor shepherd girl from the hills and forests of Lorraine, that like the Hebrew shepherd boy from the hills and forests of Judea—rose suddenly out of the quiet, out of the safety, out of the religious inspiration, rooted in deep pastoral solitudes, to a station in the van of armies, and to the more perilous station at the right hand of kings?

"The Hebrew boy inaugurated his patriotic mission by an act, by a victorious act, such as no man could deny. But so did the girl of Lorraine, if we read her story as it was read by those who saw her nearest. Adverse armies bore witness to the boy as no pretender; but so they did to the gentle girl. Judged by the voices of all who saw them from a station of good will, both were found true and loyal to any promises involved in their first acts.

"Enemies it was that made the difference between their subsequent fortunes. The boy rose to a splendor and a noon-day prosperity, both personal and public, that rang through the records of his people, and became a byword amongst his posterity for a thousand years, until the scepter was departing from Judah.

"The poor forsaken girl, on the contrary, drank not herself from that cup of rest which she had secured for France. She never sang together with the songs that rose in her native Domremy, as echoes to the departing steps of the invaders. She mingled not in the festal dances at Vaucouleurs which celebrated in rapture the redemption of France. No! for her voice was then silent; no! for her feet were dust. Pure, innocent, noble-hearted girl! Whom, from earliest youth, ever I believed in as full of truth and self-sacrifice, this was amongst the strongest pledges of thy truth, that never once—no, not for a moment of weakness—didst thou revel in the vision of coronets and honor from man. Coronets for thee! Oh, no! Honors if they come when all is over, are for those that share thy blood. Daughter of Domremy, when the gratitude of thy king shall awaken, thou wilt be sleeping the sleep of the dead. Call her, King of France, but she will not hear thee. Cite her by the apparitors to come and receive a robe of honor, but she will be found 'en Contumace.' When the thunders of universal France, as even yet may happen, shall proclaim the grandeur of the poor shepherd girl that gave up all for her country, thy ear, young shepherd girl, will have been deaf for centuries. To suffer and to do, that was thy portion in this life; that was thy destiny; and not for a moment was it hidden from thyself. Life, thou saidst, is short; and the sleep which is in the grave is long; let me use that life, so transitory, for the glory of those heavenly dreams destined to comfort the sleep which is long!

"This pure creature—pure from every suspicion of even a visionary self interest; even as she was pure in senses more obvious—never once did this holy child, as she regarded herself, relax from her belief in the darkness that was traveling to meet her. She might not prefigure the very manner of her death; she saw not in vision the aerial altitude of the fiery scaffold, the spectators without end on every road pouring into Rouen as to a coronation, the surging smoke, the volleying flames, the hostile faces all around her, the pitying eye that lurked here and there until nature and imperishable truth broke loose from artificial restraints—these might not be apparent through the mists of the hurrying future. But the voice that called her to death, that she heard forever.

"Great was the throne of France even in those days, and great was he that sat upon it; but well Joanna knew that not the throne nor he that sat upon it was for her; but on the contrary, that she was for them; not she by them, but they by her, should rise from the dust.

"Gorgeous were the lilies of France, and for centuries had they privilege to spread their beauty over land and sea, until in another century the wrath of God and man combined to wither them; but well Joanna knew, early at Domremy she had read that bitter truth, that the lilies of France would decorate no garland for her. Flower nor bud, bell nor blossom, would ever bloom for her." (Thomas De Quincey.)

And now comes in this, which is perhaps the final year of the great war, a strange story from a small town in the Loire region near Cholet, of another illiterate peasant girl named Clotilde Perchaud, seemingly the reincarnation of Jeanne, who likewise sees visions and hears voices. Brought up on one of the small farms on the edge of the hamlet of Puy-Saint-Bonnet, this girl, now about twenty years old, since the age of fourteen has been of a strange personality. Instead of following the fairs and dancing at the village festivals like the other young girls of the neighborhood, Clotilde has always kept aloof, avoiding the young men who would offer her attentions, and devoting herself to devotions at church, and prayers in her squalid room in the farmhouse granary, where she had constructed an altar. So strange were her actions at the village school that the good priest advised her parents to keep her at home, as she would not study her lessons, but preferred to sit with clasped hands, and her eyes fixed in a wrapt gaze at the ceiling, to the demoralization of the scholars, who at length came to believe her half witted, and ceased to consider her. Not so, however, the elders. Soon it became known that this strange girl was a clairvoyant, and the more credulous consulted her as to future events, but these became dissatisfied because all of the girl's prophecies had to do with events beyond the ken of the simple folk of the neighborhood; with kings and heavenly hosts, with saints in armor waving banners and leading armies on to victory. Thus passed the life of this young peasant girl during the peaceful years between fourteen and twenty, until the great war broke out and armed hosts led by princes indeed invaded her unhappy land.

So in the field below the red tiled roofs of her village of Puy-St.-Bonnet, Clotilde Perchaud erected to the Virgin a rude altar of field stones, which she trimmed with green boughs, and here she passed all her spare time, praying and seeing visions in the sky, while upon the horizon mighty guns boomed, and at night the flashes could plainly be seen.

Soon this altar became a rendezvous for the neighbors, and even for those of the more remote villages from which the young men had gone forth to fight for France, and to this young girl were brought pictures of the absent soldiers at the front in the trenches and written prayers for their safety. That she possessed some strange power was admitted by even the most skeptical, for her responses to those who had loved ones missing led to their being found in distant camps as prisoners, or wounded in hospitals in distant parts of the country. In some instances, it is reported, this strange girl was able to give the names in full of those long missing, and information so detailed and circumstantial as to be marvelous. These matters were brought to the attention of the priests, and were in turn reported by them to the heads of the church, finally reaching the ears of the Bishop of Angers, who had her brought to his palace. Here she confronted unabashed a conclave of priests. The Bishop is said to have dressed himself in the ordinary black cassock of a priest, in order to test the young girl's power of divination; an ordinary priest wearing the Bishop's robes, and being seated on the throne; but to the amazement of all in the room, the girl turned from him, and kneeling before the real Bishop, asked his blessing upon her and her mission.

To him she announced, then, that a white robed angel had appeared to her above her altar in the fields, and to the strains of heavenly music charged that she had, as a pure and blameless maid, been selected to deliver their beloved France from the hands of the invader.

She presented to the Bishop the book in which she had written the words spoken to her on many occasions by the "shining angel in white." This book, says the account from which this is taken, "is partly illegible and almost entirely illiterate; rudely illustrated in a sort of futurist style." Its contents are said to be most perplexing and wonderful.

"Savants and students of religion who have examined the book assert that it shows a knowledge of the primal principles of theology, which indicates that the author has the clearest insight into the fundamentals of Roman Catholicism, but is apparently not gifted with the power to translate those ideas into fluent French. Throughout the work are passages in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, yet she apparently had less than the usual schooling of a French child."

The Bishop of Angers was so impressed with her attitude and her evident earnestness that he sent her under escort by nuns, to the Archbishop-Cardinal Amette at Paris. To him she demanded that she be at once taken to the heights of Montmartre, so that she might see the sun rise there over Paris. In this she was humored, and standing with the nuns and priests before the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre, at sunrise, as the first beam shone upon the great gilded cross on the tower, she recited in a loud voice the vow which she had taken to deliver France from the invader.

Since this, it is said no one has been allowed to talk to Clotilde, and she is said to be at the convent in the Avenue Victor Hugo. Here she is under observation of the nuns, who each send reports of her prayers and prophecies to the Cardinal. A correspondent who was permitted to see her from a distance in the convent garden, where she walked, followed at a distance of several paces by the nuns, describes her as a rather tall girl, clad in somber baggy black robes, very light of step and walking with her head thrown back and her eyes directed heavenward. Her carriage reminded him of "Genee, Pavlowa, or some other dancer," and he speaks of her as having "a wealth of filmy hair, which because of its fineness, seemed to float about her like a cloud, and only partly covered by a religious headgear," and he could see, too, "her hands, which are lily white and tiny, and tender, as those of the most pampered lady, despite the fact that the girl has done chores which in peace times would belong to men even on the French farms where the women are accustomed to labor long and hard."

A strange story; but then these are strange times, and who shall say that this is unworthy of credence?


AESCITIS quâ horâ fur veniet" (Ye know not in what hour the despoiler cometh) were the words of an inscription carved on the capstone of a church porch in the fifteenth century by a monkish stonecutter, overlooking a smiling valley in Picardy. That valley is now a waste place; its once populous and peaceful villages are in ruins; its fruitful orchards are gone; its murmuring streams have overflown their banks, choked with the debris of war. No church towers are visible, nor are there any forests left in the blasted expanse of shell-torn earth. The joy felt by the people of this ravaged land over the retreat of the invader, is turned to bitterness by the sight of so much wanton destruction, for they realize that this once peaceful smiling land, the richest region of France, is now a great desert waste strewn with ruins of the priceless records of her glorious achievements in the world of art. And this loss of these irreplaceable monuments is especially bitter to a people so attuned to beauty. With a contemptuous disregard for the accumulated animosity of the whole world, the Imperial high command seems bent upon leaving its hall mark upon the evacuated country. Acknowledging its inability to hold Rheims any longer, it retires its great guns to a locality from which it sends hundreds of shells crashing into that hapless town, and these are mainly aimed at the ruins of the great Cathedral. "The ruin even of ruins," cries a correspondent of the Tribune; adding, "In so many of the military transactions of the Hun you may perceive the hatred of humanity that actuates him, his longing to glut upon some personal victim the passion for destruction that is in his soul."

Philip Gibbs, perhaps the fairest and most moderate of war correspondents, in describing the retreat of March, 1917, deals with the aspect of the country beyond the tract of shell craters, the smashed barns and country houses and churches, the tattered tree trunks, and great belts of barbed wire: "Behind the trenches are two towns and villages in which they had their 'rest billets,' and it is in these places that one sees the spirit and temper of the men whom the British are fighting.

"All through this war I have tried to be fair and just to the Germans, to give them credit for their courage and to pity them because the terror of war has branded them as it has branded the British.

"But during these last days I have been sickened and saddened by the things I have seen, because they reveal cruelty which is beyond the inevitable villainy of war. They have spared nothing on the way of their retreat. They have destroyed every village in their abandonment with systematic and detailed destruction. Not only in (the towns of) Bapaume and Péronne have they blown up or burned all the houses which were untouched by shell-fire, but in scores of villages they laid waste the cottages of poor peasants, and all their little farms, and all their orchards. At Bethonvillers, to name only one village out of many, I saw how each house was marked with a white cross before it was gutted with fire. The Cross of Christ was used to mark the work of the devil, for truly this has been the devil's work.

"Even if we grant that the destruction of houses in the wake of retreat is the recognized cruelty of war, there are other things which I have seen which are not pardonable, even of that damnable code of morality. In Baupaume and Péronne, in Roye and Neslé and Lian-court, and all these places over a wide area the German soldiers not only blew out the fronts of houses, but with picks and axes smashed mirrors and furniture and even picture frames.... There is nothing left in these towns. Family portraits have been kicked into the débris of the gutters. The black bonnets of old women who lived in these houses lie in the rubbish heaps, and by some strange pitiful freak these are almost the only signs left of the inhabitants who lived here before the soldiers wrecked their houses.

"The ruins of houses are pitiful to see when done deliberately even when shell-fire spared them in the war-zone, but worse than that is the ruin of women and children and living flesh.

"I saw that ruin to-day in Roye and Neslé. At first I was rejoiced to see how the inhabitants were liberated after being so long in hostile lines.... The women's faces were dead faces, shallow and mask-like and branded with the memories of great agonies. The children were white and thin, so thin that the cheek bones protruded, and many of them seemed to be idiot children. Hunger and fear had been with them too long."

This is the reverse of the pictures I found, during those calm and beautiful summer days of 1910, in that sunny and prosperous land. Pictures framed with quaint customs; the simple pleasures of fête days enjoyed by a happy and prosperous peasantry, all unmindful of the terrible days so soon to come upon them. "Nescitis qua horâ fur veniet." How prophetic the warning words of that old monk inscribed upon the capstone of that little church overlooking the green plains of Picardy!

And now what is left in place of the gray old churches, the quiet monasteries, the fruitful farms and flocks and the dense forests? Where now shall we look for the gleaming white walls of the turreted châteaux, the precious mossy towers of mediaeval ruined castles; the somnolent quaint towns with wandering streets filled with timbered, carved and strangely gabled houses of half forgotten periods; the sleepy deserted market places over which towered architectural treasures of town halls famed throughout the world.

Where shall the artist seek the matchless châteaux gardens, which took centuries in the making? Where seek the still reaches of silent canals crossed here and there by arched stone bridges, all shaded by great trees casting cool shadows in midday, or the vast dim interiors of cathedrals marked with the skill of many ages,—filled with the aroma of incense, and the inspiration of centuries of prayer?

"The old order changeth, giving place to new."

But at least one may be thankful now to have been privileged to know and to have seen these wonderful and beautiful remains of that "old order." And this feeling of gratitude tempers somewhat one's fury at the result of this invasion and destruction. But one would not have these sacred remains disturbed; there must be no attempt at restoration of these matchless monuments, at the hands of well-meaning municipalities. Rheims, Arras, Soissons, Lâon, must be left mainly as they now lie prostrate, lasting memorials for future ages.

Leave to Dame Nature the task of draping them with green clinging vines, and embossings of velvet moss. So let them remain in their solemn majesty, monuments to the failure of an imperial order unhampered by the love of mankind or the fear of God.