The Rhine - Victor Hugo - ebook
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This work, composed of "Letters to a Friend," is the story of a merry archaeological journey. The form is a familar one, but it displays remarkable erudition. It is the chat of a witty savant who takes us from Aix-la-Chapelle to Cologne, and from Mainz to Frankfort, visiting all the monuments, recounting legends of towns, castles and hamlets, allowing himself to wander off into philosophic digressions, to indulge in picturesque recitals filled with incidents and surprises, and interspersed with serious or comic reflections. There are also prophetic pages in this book, and one cannot too much meditate upon some of the affirmations of Victor Hugo.

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The Rhine

 

 

 

VICTOR HUGO

 

 

 

 

 

The Rhine, V. Hugo

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9

Deutschland

 

ISBN: 9783849651473

 

English translation by David Mitchell Aird (d. 1876)

 

www.jazzybee-verlag.de

admin@jazzybee-verlag.de

 

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS:

PUBLISHER'S ADVERTISEMENT.1

Letter I. La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.2

Letter II. Montmirail—Montmort—Epernay.7

Letter III. Châlons— Sainte Ménéhould—Varennes.10

Letter IV. From Villers-Cotterets  to the Frontiers.19

Letter V.28

Letter VI. The Banks of the Meuse.— Dinant.—Namur.31

Letter VII. Banks of the Meuse.—Huy.—Liège.35

Letter VIII. Banks of the Vesdre—Verviers.40

Letter IX. Aix-la-Chapelle— The Tomb of Charlemagne.42

Letter X. Cologne.—Banks of the Rhine.54

Letter XI. Andernach.67

Letter XII. Musée Walraf.71

Letter XIII. Andernach.75

Letter XIV. Andernach.79

Letter XV. The Rhine.81

Letter XVI. La Souris.93

Letter XVII. By the Wayside.98

Letter XVIII.101

Letter XIX.107

Letter XX. Fire! Fire!111

Letter XXI.115

Letter XXII. Legend of the handsome Pecopin and the beautiful Bauldour.139

Letter XXIII. Bingen—Mainz.172

Letter XXIV. Mainz. 179

Letter XXV. Frankfort-on-the-Main.188

Letter XXVI. The Rhine.197

PUBLISHER'S ADVERTISEMENT.

 

The publication of Victor Hugo’s “Rhine” in Paris created a great sensation, which was immediately shared in England, where two translations of the work appeared in the same year. The best and most complete of these has been followed in the present, the first American edition of the work. The quaintness, point and brilliancy of the author it will be seen have not been lost sight of. In the original the “Tour” was accompanied by a long historical dissertation, an elaborate argument on the Affairs of Europe, which may find a more appropriate place hereafter in a volume of the Author's Miscellanies.

Oct., 1845.

 

 

LETTER I. La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.

 

July, 1839.

THE day before yesterday, at about eleven o'clock, I quitted Paris, and took the road to Meaux, leaving to my left St. Denis, Montmorency, and the chain of hills at the extremity of which lies St. Pierre; where, my dear friend, in contemplating that distant speck, I recalled you to my affectionate remembrance, till a sudden turn of the road concealed from my view the spot so dear to us both.

You know my taste for long journeys in easy stages, unencumbered with baggage, but accompanied by my friends Virgil and Tacitus; and will, therefore, readily understand my projects on the present occasion.

I took the Châlons road (being well acquainted with that of Soissons, which I traveled some years ago) and found that, thanks to the progress and activity of modern demolition, my new route retains little to interest the tourist. Nanteuil le Haudoin no longer boasts its castle, built under Francis I. Willers-Cotterets has converted the magnificent manor-house of the Dukes of Valois into a House of Industry; from whence, as from other interesting spots, the sculptures and paintings characteristic of the middle ages, as well as the curious ornaments of the sixteenth century, have disappeared under the innovations of bricklayers and plasterers. The grand tower of Dammartin, from the top of which Montmartre, though nine leagues off, was distinctly visible, has been pulled down. A fissure in the side of this turret gave rise to the well-known proverb (which I never exactly comprehended), “Such-a-one resembles the tower of Dammartin, which split its sides with laughing!"

Deprived of its ancient bastille, in which the Bishops of Meaux, when at variance with the Counts of Champagne, had a right to take refuge with seven of their dependants, Dammartin has ceased to be the origin of proverbs; but it gives rise to literary notices, such as the following, which I copy, word for word, from a little book I found on the table at the inn:—

“DAMMARTIN (Seine et Oise), a small town situated on a hill, contains a manufacture of lace. Principal hotel, the Ste. Anne. Curiosities, the parish church, market-place, and a population of 1600 souls."

The quarter of an hour conceded for dinner by that despot of the road, the conductor of the diligence, did not enable me to ascertain how far the sixteen hundred inhabitants were entitled to be called “curiosities;” and in journeying on to Meaux, before I reached Claye, my vehicle broke down.

You are aware that I am fond of pushing forwards on my road; and, as the cabriolet chose to be stationary, I hastened to ensconce myself in a diligence which luckily came up at the moment with a place vacant. I resumed my journey, perched upon the roof, betwixt a little hunchback and a gendarme. Here I am, therefore, at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre; a charming little town, which I hailed with pleasure, with its three bridges, its pleasant islands, and an old mill placed midway in the river, and connected with the bank by an arched way. The beautiful pavilion of La Ferté, of the time of Louis XIII., said to have formerly belonged to the Duke of St. Simon, though defaced by the bad taste of a grocer, its present proprietor, is deserving attention.

If the Duke of St. Simon ever did possess this ancient structure, I doubt whether his paternal manor-house of La Ferté-Vidame exhibited a more severely feudal aspect, or offered a fitter frame for the setting off of his aristocratically ducal face, than the charming and secluded little Château of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.

This is the very moment for traveling! The fields are alive with the business of the harvest-home. Here and there are rising immense stacks, resembling in construction the half-ruined pyramids so often found in Syria; while the ridges of cut corn lying on the sides of the hills resemble the back of a zebra.

I need not remind you, my dear friend, that renovation of ideas and sensation is the object of my journey, rather than mere adventure: for which purpose a succession of new objects suffices me. I am easily contented. Provided I have vegetation around me, and air above, a road in view, and a road in my rear-I have nothing to complain of. If the country be flat, the broad horizon delights me; if mountainous, I rejoice in the unexpected openings of landscape; and at the summit of every hill I am sure to find an extent of prospect truly delightful. A moment ago we traversed a beautiful valley, having to the right and left a thousand pleasing features: high hills, intersected by patches of cultivated ground, affording a pleasing prospect: while groups of cottages were interspersed here and there, their roofs almost level with the ground. Farther in the valley was a watercourse, defined by a long line of verdure, and crossed by a little stone moss-grown bridge, at a point meeting the high road. At the moment we arrived a wagon was crossing the bridge, so swollen with merchandize, and so tightly girded, that it resembled the bulky and cinctured body of Gargantua, dragged on four wheels by eight horses. Before us, following the undulation of the opposite hill, the high road was perceptible, under the rays of a brilliant sunshine; but varied by the dark shadows of its avenues of trees, falling at intervals athwart the road.

This little landscape, composed of trees, wagon, the white road, the old bridge, the humble cottages, sufficed to delight my heart. Laugh, if you will; but such a valley, with the blue sky above, is an object of real enjoyment. Yet I was the only person present who enjoyed the beautiful sight. The other travelers were yawning with weariness the whole time it was in view.

In changing horses, I am sure to be amused by the operations at the door of the inn. The horses clutter up to the door like a charge of cavalry. Poultry of every color is pecking about the yard and among the bushes; with an old broken wheel in a corner; and a tribe of dirty children playing merrily on a heap of sand above my head. Swinging from an iron gallows over our head, hangs Charles W., Joseph II., or Napoleon, mighty emperors in their day, now reduced to the ignoble duty of serving as signs to obscure inns. The house is distracted by voices giving contradictory orders; while the stable-boys and kitchen-maids are acting idylliums and pastorals at the door. The loves of the washtubs and the pitchfork are the only food for eclogues now extant. Meanwhile I profit by my elevated position upon the roof, to listen to the conversation between the hunchback and the gendarme, as well as to admire the little oasis of dwarf-poppies in full bloom upon the roof of the house. The gendarme and hunchback, by the way, are philosophers in their way, who give themselves no airs, but converse humanely with each other. The hunchback, it seems, contributes six hundred francs of taxes at Jouarre (the Jovis ara of the ancients, as he was kind enough to inform his companion); while his father, a resident in Paris, pays nine hundred; which does not prevent him from blaspheming against government every time he pays a half-penny toll in crossing the bridge over the Marne, betwixt Meaux and La Ferté.

The gendarme, on the other hand, has no taxes to boast of; but he gives us, instead, his autobiography. In the action of Montmirail, in 1814, he fought like a lion, though a mere recruit. In the Revolution of 1830, he ran away, merely because he was a gendarme. To him this appears more unaccountable than it does to me. As a recruit of twenty, unencumbered and without domestic cares, he fought without a drawback; as a gendarme, he possessed a wife, a child, and (as he himself added) a horse: and, with these cares on his mind, he became a coward. It was the same man under circumstances totally different.

Life is a dish that owes its charm to its sauce. There does not exist a braver man than a galley-slave. We do not estimate ourselves by our skin, but by our garments. The man stripped to the skin may be said to care for nothing. The two periods in question were, moreover, of wholly opposite interest. The soldier, like all other men, is affected by external influences; and energies are diminished or increased by circumstances. In 1830 the storm of a Revolution was blowing; and he found himself bowed down and overwhelmed by that foree of ideas which constitutes the soul of events. And then, what could be more discouraging than his duty. To fight in defense of inexplicable Orders in Council—mere shadows issuing from a disordered brain—for a dream, a fantasy; brother against brother—soldiers against mechanics—Frenchman against Frenchman. In 1814, on the contrary, the recruit stood up to repel the invader, from evident and simple motives: for himself, his hearth, his family; for the plough he quitted—for the thatched cottage smoking in the distance—for the ground under his feet—the dear bleeding country of his affections. In 1830 the soldier scarcely knew for whom he fought. In 1814 there was more than knowledge—there was feeling; there was the best of lessons— experience.

At Meaux my attention was taken by three objects: first, a delicious little porch against a dismantled church, to the right in entering the town; secondly, the cathedral; and thirdly, in its rear, an old half-fortified mansion, flanked by turrets, and a quadrangular court-yard, into which I boldly entered, undismayed by a woman who sat knitting at the entrance, but who did not interrupt me. I was much struck with an external staircase, having stone steps, and some curious wood-work, resting upon arches, and covered in with an arcaded roof. I had not time to sketch it; which I regret, it being the only one of the kind I ever saw. I suppose it to be of the fifteenth century.

The Cathedral, begun in the fourteenth century and continued in the fifteenth, is a noble structure, but deteriorated by injudicious restoration, and still incomplete. Of the two towers projected by the architect, one only is built; the other, which was newly commenced, remains covered in with a roof of slating.

The center door, as well as that to the right, are that of the fourteenth century: and that to the left, of the fifteenth. All three are beautiful, though composed of a stone honey-combed by the influence of the weather.

I tried to decipher the bas-reliefs. The key-stone of the porch on the left represents the history of St. John the Baptist; but the sun falling with dazzling force upon the front, prevented my examining it further. The interior of the church is superb. In the choir are some tri-lobed groinings of exquisite beauty. They are restoring, at the entrance of the choir, two altars of the most admirable wood-work of the fifteenth century, but they are injuring them by smearing them with a vile coat of painting in imitation of oak. Such is the taste of the natives of Meaux. To the left of the choir, close by the beautiful door, I came upon a kneeling statue of marble, a warrior of the sixteenth century; but without either escutcheon or inscription. Of the name and origin of the figure I am ignorant; though you, who know everything, would perhaps have made it out. On the opposite side is another, which fortunately bears an inscription; for you would otherwise never guess that the worn, severe face, was that of the immortal Bénigne Bossuet; to whom I fear I must attribute the destruction of the painted windows. I saw his episcopal throne, superbly carved in the style of Louis XIV.; but had not time to visit his well-known study at the palace.

It is a curious fact that Meaux possessed a theatre before Paris could boast of one; a neat theatre, built about 1547. A manuscript contained in the town library asserts that it was a circus in the style of the ancients, covered with a velarium; and so far resembling the modern theatre, that there were private boxes, of which certain of the inhabitants of Meaux possessed the keys. Mysteries were there performed, and a man named Pascalus acted the part of the devil, and retained the nickname.

In 1562 he made over the town to the Huguenots; the year following the Catholics hung him—partly for having surrendered the town, partly because of his appellation. Now-a-days, Paris has twenty theatres; Meaux boasts of having but one: which is much as if she were to exult in being a country-town instead of a metropolis.

This country abounds in remains of the age of Louis XIV. At La Ferté we find the Duke de St. Simon; at Meaux, Bossuet; at La Ferté-Milon, Racine; at Château Thierry, La Fontaine: the whole in a radius of twelve leagues. The haughty aristocrat elbows the puissant bishop: while Tragedy takes her place by the side of Fable.

On leaving the Cathedral, the sun being less powerful, I was able to contemplate the façade, of which the relief upon the central portal is the most curious. The lower compartment represents Joan, the wife of Philippe-le-Bel, to whose will this church owes its erection. The Queen of France, holding her cathedral in her hand, is represented standing at the gates of Paradise, which St. Peter throws open. Behind the queen stands the handsome monarch Philippe, in the most abject attitude. The queen, who is gracefully represented, points over her shoulder towards the poor devil of a king—as much as to say to St. Peter, “Give him admission into the bargain: I have paid the entrance for two.”

 

LETTER II. Montmirail—Montmort—Epernay.

At La Ferté-sous-Jouarre I hired the first vehicle I could procure, making only two inquiries — “Does it ride steady?”—and “Are the wheels good?"—which being satisfactorily answered, away I went to Montmirail. There is nothing remarkable about this little town, but a fresh landscape at the entrance, and two fine avenues. With the exception of the Castle, it consists of a collection of hovels.

At five in the afternoon I quitted Montmirail, taking the road from Sézanne to Epernay. In an hour I reached Vaux-Champs, traversing the field of battle. A moment before, I came up with a cart drawn by a horse and an ass, and laden with saucepans, coppers, old boxes, straw chairs, and other dilapidated furniture; on the fore part of the vehicle was a basket containing three half-naked children, and in the rear another basket full of poultry.

The carter, dressed in a smock-frock, carried an infant on his back; while a woman, trudging by his side, seemed likely to furnish another. They were proceeding towards Montmirail. “Just such objects must this spot have presented five and twenty years ago,” was my reflection. On inquiry I found it was not an ordinary move, but an expatriation, the family being on their way to America; not flying from a field of battle, but from the pursuit of want: or, in plain words, a poor family of Alsatian peasants, to whom a grant of land has been accorded in Ohio; and who quit their native country, little thinking that Virgil wrote beautiful verses about them two thousand years ago.

These poor people seemed little concerned as to their fate. The man was quietly attaching a thong to his whip, the woman humming a tune, while the children were amusing themselves with play. The furniture was painful to look at. The fowls alone appeared depressed by their journey.

This indifference astonished me, for I believed the love of country to be more deeply rooted in the heart of man. After all, these people abandon with indifference the trees under which they grew to maturity. I followed them some time with my eyes, wondering which road the wretched group would take; but, by the winding of the road, they suddenly disappeared. For some time afterwards I heard the smack of the man's whip and the hum of the woman's song, and all was over.

Soon afterwards I found myself upon the plains rendered glorious by Napoleon. The sun was sinking, the trees shot forth their shadows, so that the furrows were slightly defined here and there.

A grey mist was rising from the ravines, and the fields were deserted, so that nothing was to be seen but an occasional plough.

To my left was a stone-quarry, where the newly rounded millstones were strewed upon the ground, like the men upon an immense draught-board, of which giants had been playing the game.

As I much wished to see the Château of Montmort, about four leagues from Montmirail, at Armentières, I turned abruptly to the left, and took the road to Epernay, at the point where sixteen huge elms, bending over the road, exhibit their wild profiles and disheveled wigs. I delight in the elm. All other trees are monotonous and unmeaning. The elm seems imbued with a malicious spirit, and disposed to make game of its neighbors, and assume fantastic shapes to puzzle the evening traveler. The foliage of young elms expands in all directions, like the explosion of a firework. From La Ferté to the spot where stand the sixteen elms the road is lined only with poplars, interspersed with a few aspens and walnut-trees, which had disturbed my peace of mind.

The country is flat, and apparently boundless. But on suddenly emerging from a clump of trees, the traveler detects to the right, as if starting from the earth, a confused multitude of turrets, weathercocks, chimneys, and skylights, belonging to the Castle of Montmort.

I quitted the carriage at the entrance of the castle, which is a beautiful specimen of the castellated style of the sixteenth century, built of brick, and having a slated roof with ornamental weathercocks. It is moated and flanked with a double wall, besides three arched bridges communicating with the drawbridge.

All this is situated in a beautiful landscape, commanding seven leagues of horizon; and, on the whole, the edifice is in good preservation. The principal tower contains a winding staircase, as well as a slope for horses. There is a curious old iron door from the staircase, and in the embrasures are four little iron implements of the fifteenth century.

The garrison of the castle consisted of an old housekeeper, named Mademoiselle Jeanette, who received me graciously. Of the old apartments, there remains only the kitchen, which is spacious and vaulted; the old drawing-room, turned into a billiard-room; and a charming little boudoir, with gilt moldings, and a beautifully designed rosette on the center-piece of the ceiling.

The old drawing-room is unique; the cross-beams of the ceiling painted, gilt, and carved, still existing in a perfect state. The spacious chimney-piece, adorned with two noble statues, is in the grand style of Henri III. The walls were formerly hung with tapestry, representing family portraits; but during the Revolution the people of the village tore them down and burnt them—a worthy war to wage against feudality. The present proprietor has pasted up in their stead some old engravings of views in Rome and the wars of Condé, in honor of which magnificence I bestowed a sum of thirty sous on Mademoiselle Jeanette.

After a glance at the ducks swimming in the fosse, I went my way.

Having quitted Montmort by an execrable road, I met the mail which was to convey you my former letter, and I forwarded by it a thousand good wishes to my dearest friend.

The road now lay through a wood. Night was coming on, and nothing was to be seen but the huts of the charcoal-burners, smoking through the trees. The flames from an occasional furnace were at times visible through the dusk; the wind agitated the trees; and in the heavens the splendid chariot proceeded majestically above, escorted by myriads of stars, while my humble vehicle was jolting along solitarily below.

Epernay is the City of sparkling Champagne, and neither more nor less. It has three churches: the first, of Roman architecture, built in 1037, by Thibaut, first Count of Champagne, son of Eudes II; the second, a church of the middle ages, was built in 1540, by Pierre Strozzi, Field-Marshal of France, and Lord of Epernay, who was killed at the siege of Thionville, in 1558; the third, the church for divine service, appears to me to have been constructed upon the designs of the estimable grocer whose shop seems to form part of the building. The three names annexed to their history may suffice to describe them, viz.: Thibaut, Count of Champagne; Pierre Strozzi, Marshal of France; Poterlet Galichet, grocer; and I need scarcely inform you that this last is a disgraceful heap of lath and plaster. Of the first little remains; and of the second, a beautiful porch, and some stained glass, part of which represents the history of Noah, depicted in the most diverting manner. Both the porch and windows are half buried in this disgusting plaster, which reminded me of Odry, the actor, with his blue stockings and high shirt-collar, attired in the helmet and cuirass of Francis I.

I was advised to visit a cellar containing fifteen hundred thousand bottles of wine; but on my road I chanced upon a field so beautifully bespangled with wild flowers, and so bright with sunshine, that I could not tear myself away to proceed to a cellar.

The pomatum for regenerating the hair, which at La Ferté is called Pilogène, is called at Epernay Phyothrir, being a Greek importation. At the hotel of Montmirail, I had to pay forty sous for four fresh eggs; which, for the country, struck me as somewhat high.

I forgot to mention that Thibaut lies buried in his own church, and Strozzi in his; and I am inclined to exact a sepulture in the other for my friend the grocer. Strozzi was a fine fellow. Brisguet, the court jester of Henri II., affected one day to amuse the court by smearing his new velvet mantle with grease. The Countess laughed, but Strozzi exacted bitter tears by his vengeance on the unfortunate fool. For my part I should neither have laughed nor revenged myself; and I have always been inclined to hold cheap this sorry jest of the Renaissance.

 

LETTER III. Châlons—Sainte Ménéhould—Varennes.

July 25.

YESTERDAY, towards the evening, I was journeying on beyond Ste. Ménéhould, having just read those admirable lines—

“Mugitusque boum mollesque sub arbore somni.

Speluncae vivique lacus”

— and was leaning upon the eternal pages of the old poet, rumpling them with my elbow—my soul full of the vague ideas, at once sad and welcome, which sunset often awakens in the mind— when I was roused by a jolt upon the pavement. We were entering a town.

“What is the name of this town?“ I inquired. To which the coachman replied, “Warennes.” The carriage proceeded down a street of gloomy aspect, in which the grass is growing, and the shutters of the houses are closed. After passing a gateway of the time of Louis XIII., of blackened stones, beside which was an antiquated well, we reached a triangular space hemmed in with white stuccoed dwelling-houses, in an angle of which was a door guarded by two stunted trees. On one side of this triangle stands an old belfry; close to which Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette were arrested in their flight, the 21st of June, 1791, by Drouet, the postmaster of Ste. Ménéhould (there being no posting-house at Varennes in those days).

The king's carriage followed the hypotenuse of the triangle forming the Place; which I now took in my turn. Leaving my vehicle, I stood and gazed upon this insignificant space, which in so short a space of time was fated to become the fountain-head of the Revolution. The version of the arrest related by the inhabitants is, that the king stoutly denied his identity (which, by the way, Charles I. would never have done), and they were on the point of liberating him, when suddenly there came up a M. d’Ethé, who had some feeling of malice against the court. This M. d’Ethé—I know not whether I write his name correctly (but I am not particular about the orthography of the names of traitors)—this man, I say, advanced towards the king, with Judas-like cunning, accosting him with “Good day, SIRE.” This was enough. The king was denounced and arrested. There were five royal personages in the carriage, all lost by this single word. And “Good day, SIRE,” was the death-warrant of Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette, and Madame Elizabeth, besides a dungeon and early death to the Dauphin, and to Madame Royale long exile and the extinction of her race. To the observant man, Varennes has a mysterious aspect; to the reflective man, a sinister one!

I have already noticed to you, I think, that material nature often exhibits singular portraits. Louis was darting, at the moment of his arrest, down a rapid and dangerous descent, where my own horse was nearly falling. The quarry-ground strewed with huge millstones, which the other day appeared to me like a draught-board, was the site of the action of Montmirail —while the triangular Place of Warennes exactly represents the shape of the knife of the guillotine!

The man who aided Drouet in the capture of the king was named Billaud: why not Billot? Varennes is only fifteen leagues from Rheims, the coronation city of the ancient kings of France. But then, the Place de la Révolution, on which was acted the fatal tragedy of the 21st of January, is close to the palace of the Tuileries. How these approximations must have tortured the poor fallen king! Between Rheims and Varennes, between the coronation and the forfeiture of the throne, my coachman finds only fifteen leagues distance; but for the mind, there is the vast abyss produced by the Revolution.

I put up at an old established inn, the Grand Monarque, having for its sign the head of Louis-Philippe, which has probably succeeded to those of Louis XV., Bonaparte, and Charles X. It is exactly forty-eight years ago since the progress of the royal carriage was intercepted in this town, at which period the head suspended from that old twisted branch of iron was doubtless that of Louis XVI., who may have possibly put up at the Grand Monarque, and seen his own effigies suspended over the door. So goes the world!

This morning I strolled about the town of Varennes, which is charmingly situated on the banks of the river, the antiquated houses of the high town forming a picturesque amphitheater on the right bank. The church, in the low town, is insignificant.

The steeple bears the date 1776; it was consequently two years older than Madame Royale.

The royal disaster has left ineffable traces here—a rare instance in France. The innkeeper informed me that a gentleman of the town had written a comedy upon the subject; which reminds me that when they were disguising the Dauphin as a girl, in order to aid his escape, he inquired of Madame Royale if it “were to act a play?” I have just visited the church, to which I owe an apology; for the portal to the right was pretty enough. If my architectural descriptions do not weary you, allow me to confess that I was disappointed with the Cathedral of Châlons. Neither is the road so interesting as I expected. One obtains an occasional glimpse of the Marne, on the banks of which there are two or three pointed steeples, in the style of Fécamp; but the country consists of a succession of plains alive with flocks and shepherds; excellent features in a landscape—but one may have too much of a good thing.

The cathedral is an imposing structure, and possesses some beautiful stained glass. In a beautiful little chapel I detected the F and salamander of Francis I. Externally there is a Roman tower in the severest style, and an exquisite portal of the fourteenth century. But all is dreadfully dilapidated. The church is dirty; and the statue of Francis I. and the groinings of the roof are daubed with paint. The portal is a vile imitation of St.  Gervais in Paris; and as to the open worked steeples I was promised, there is nothing of the kind. Those I saw had heavy pointed caps of stone, with volutes intermingled with the spires.

I was greatly disappointed.

In compensation for not seeing all I expected, I met with what I did not expect at Châlons, viz., a splendid Lady-chapel. What have the antiquarians been about! They talk of St. Stephen's, but do not mention the Lady-chapel, which, with its lofty steeple, constructed of wood and covered with lead, is of the fourteenth century. This lofty shaft, the lead of which has a scale-like surface, resembling a serpent’s skin, has an ornamental skylight, with diminutive gables half-way up, into which I ascended. The view of the city and the river, seen from thence, delighted me.

The traveler has also to admire the rich windows and front entrance, built in the thirteenth century. In 1793 the people of the country demolished the statues and broke down the various ornamental sculptures throughout the edifice. Previous to this there were also four minarets, of which three were destroyed.

Nowhere has the idiotic frenzy of the Revolution left more disagreeable traces than here. The revolution of Paris was terrible; that of Champagne simply ridiculous.

On the lead of the little lantern, to which I ascended, I found an inscription in the hand-writing of the sixteenth century, to the following effect: “The 28th of August, 1580, Peace was proclaimed at Châlons."

This inscription, half effaced, is all that remains to record that important political event, the peace concluded between Henri III. and the Huguenots, through the influence of the Duke of Anjou, formerly Duke of Alençon; which duke, brother of the king, had views upon the Low Countries, and even aspired to the hand of Elizabeth of England. The religious feuds of France interfered with his projects; and hence the origin of that great event, the peace proclaimed at Châlons in 1580, and all but forgotten in 1839.

The man who helped me to scale the lantern is called the watchman of the tower; and from this eminence, exposed to all the winds of heaven, he surveys his universe, and constitutes the eye of the town, bedless and ever wide awake. To make sure of not being overtaken by sleep, he is compelled to repeat the hour every time it is struck by the clock, and make a pause between the last and preceding stroke. To be always awake would be impossible; and the assistance of his wife is accordingly permitted. At midnight she takes her post, and her husband goes to bed, returning at mid-day, when she retires again. These two human beings are devoted to this strange diurnal rotation, meeting only for a minute, once at mid-day, and once at midnight; and an imp, which they are pleased to consider a child, is the result of their strangely disunited union.

Châlons possesses three churches—St. Alpin, St. John, and St. Loup. The first has some beautiful stained windows. As to the town-hall, it possesses nothing remarkable, but four enormous dogs in granite, squatted before the façade.

About two leagues from Châlons upon the road to Ste. Ménéhould, where the eye encounters little besides boundless stubblefields and lines of dusty trees, a magnificent object suddenly strikes you—the abbey of “Our Lady of the Thorn.” It has a steeple of the fifteenth century, as light and open as lace; though coupled with a telegraph, which, like a fine lady, it seems to look down upon with supreme contempt. It is startling to come upon such a magnificent structure in such a wilderness. I passed two hours in this church, and wandered around it, in spite of a hurricane which shook the bells to vibration. From time to time a stone fell from the steeple, close at my feet. The water-spouts are most fantastically contrived: chiefly of a monster bearing another upon its shoulders. Those of the apsis seem to represent the Seven Deadly Sins. A voluptuous figure of Wantonness must have rather scandalized the monks.

So few are the dwellings in the neighborhood, that it seems difficult to account for the origin of a cathedral without town or even village. In the chapel, however, carefully padlocked, there is a miraculous well, plain and simple, as all miraculous objects ought to be. It is doubtless from this supernatural origin that the church sprang up, like a tulip from its bulb.

I journeyed on, till I reached a village which was celebrating its annual festival with most discordant music; on leaving which, I discovered a mean-looking building upon an eminence, crowned by an object resembling some monstrous insect. It turned out to be a telegraph, conversing in signs with its corresponding neighbor at Nôtre Dame de l'Epine. Evening approached, and the sunset was magnificent. I contemplated the distant hills from a plain or heath, purple with bloom as a bishop's robing. On a sudden I saw a road-mender raise his barrow, as if to shelter himself under the side, and inferred that rain was about to fall.

A heavy black cloud had overspread us; the wind was impetuous, and the hemlock, in full bloom, drooped its head. The trees seemed trembling with horror, while thistledown flew along the road swifter than the carriage. Threatening clouds rolled over our heads, till suddenly the storm burst forth with singular beauty; for a vast arch of light still occupied the western sky, so that the dark shadows of the storm were intermingled with the golden hues of sunset. Neither man nor brute was visible.

The thunder roared, and vivid flames of lightning served to reveal the features of the surrounding plains. The branches of the trees writhed under the tyranny of the whirlwind. All this lasted a quarter of an hour, when an awful gust of wind dispersing the concentrated clouds, the summits of the eastern hills peeped out, and the heavens became restored to peace and serenity.

Meanwhile twilight had come on; and the sun was dissolving in the west into streaks of red, which the approaching night gradually extinguished in the horizon.

It was starlight when I reached Ste. Ménéhould, which is rather a picturesque town, lying upon the declivity of a green hill, crested by a line of lofty trees. The kitchen of the Hôtel de Metz is a kitchen worth speaking of; being an immense hall, one side of which is decorated with rows of saucepans, the other with crockery. In the center, opposite the windows, is the fire.

place, a vast cavern, containing a splendid fire. The ceiling is traversed by blackened beams, from which are suspended the different household implements; while in the center is an ample rack, stored with hams and huge flitches of bacon. Under the chimney is a bright profusion of fire-irons and other household utensils; and the flaming hearth seemed to shoot its rays into every corner, and defining broad shadows on the ceiling, cast a roseate hue upon the crockery, and metamorphosed the display of copper into a brazen wall. Were I a Homer or a Rabelais, I should say that such a kitchen was a world, of which the fire was the sun; but if not a world, it is decidedly a republic of men, women, and animals. Stable-boys, chamber-maids, scullions, stoves, spits, the bubbling of saucepans, the hissing of frying-pans, pipes, cards, dogs and cats; all inspected by the vigilant eye of the host: “Mens agitat molem.” A grave-looking clock, placed in a remote corner, authoritatively warns the busy hive of the passing hour.

Among the endless articles hanging from the ceiling, a birdcage especially attracted my attention. This diminutive creature appeared to me the very type of domestic confidence. This den, this laboratory of indigestions, is full of discordant sounds both day and night, and yet the little creature sleeps quietly as in its nest. Wainly do the men swear, the women brawl, the children cry, the dogs bark, the cats mew, the clocks strike, the choppers clatter, the frying-pans sputter. The fountain may run, the jack may squeak, the wind howl, the diligences thunder under the archway; yet still this little ball of feathers sleeps with its head under its wing. God is great; inspiring even a bird with faith.

I must here remark that the world in general is unjust with regard to inns. I, for one, have often spoken harshly of them. An inn is an indispensable thing, which we should consider ourselves only too lucky to find when wanted; and which, generally speaking, contains a most meritorious woman in the shape of the hostess! Of the landlord let travelers say their worst. Mine host is generally as great a brute as the hostess is good-humored. Poor woman! often old and infirm, or young and a mother, or thereanent, she goes, comes, sees to everything, completes everything, scolds where scolding is wanted, wipes the children’s noses, whips the dogs, curries favor with the travelers, cajoles the head cook, smiles at one person, frowns at another, keeps an eye upon the stores, welcomes the newly-arrived guests, and bids farewell to the departing ones: her whole soul and senses ever on the alert! The hostess is the soul of that huge body called an inn; the host a mere cypher—a pot-companion for carters. Thanks to the hostess, we overlook the penalty of inn-hospitality. Her well-timed assiduities serve as a veil to the impositions of her bill and the venality of her welcome.

The hostess of the “City of Metz,” at Ste. Ménéhould, is a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, who manages the establishment to perfection, though a performer on the piano. Her father, the host, appears to be a worthy man, and the inn is excellent.

Yesterday I quitted Ste. Ménéhould for Clermont; the road to which is beautiful, being a continuous orchard. The villages have an aspect partly Swiss, partly German; the houses being built in the style of chalets. Already you foresee your approach to the mountains. The Ardennes are in fact at hand.

Before arriving at Clermont you pass through a beautiful valley, uniting the boundaries of the Marne and Meuse. The descent into this valley is enchanting. The road precipitates itself between two high hills; while above is a dense mass of foliage, overhanging the winding road, till, on a sudden turn, the valley presents itself.

A vast circle of hills, in the midst of which is an Italian-looking flat-roofed village, and to the right and left hamlets perched upon the wooded heights, distant steeples rising here and there, immense pastures with numerous herds, and finally a lively stream, form the features of the spot. I was a full hour passing through this valley. A telegraph placed at the extremity was actively employed during my transit; while the trees rustled, the stream murmured, and the cattle lowed in the sunshine; and I occupied myself in comparing the goodness of the Creator with that of the created.

Clermont is a beautiful village, overlooking a sea of verdure, just as Tréport appears to control the waves. Through a pleasing country of hills, plains, and streams, to the left, in two hours you reach Varennes. The unfortunate Louis XVI. followed this beautiful road to his ruin I must not close this letter without mention of the illustrious names belonging to Champagne: Amyot; La Fontaine; Thibaut IV., the poet prince, all but a king, who desired no better than to have been the father of St. Louis; Robert de Sorbon, the founder of the Sorbonne; Charlier de Gerson, who was Chancellor of the University of Paris; the Commander of Villegagnon, who nearly assigned Algiers to France in the sixteenth century; Amadis Jamyn; Colbert; Diderot; two painters, Dantara and le Valentin; two sculptors, Girardon and Bouchardon; two historians, Flodoard and Mabillon; two illustrious cardinals, Henri de Lorraine and Paul de Gondi; two eminent popes, Martin IV. and Urban IV.; to crown all, a king no less important than Philip-Augustus.

Those who hold to fitness of things, and translate Sézanne by sexdecim asini —as they used formerly to translate Fontanes by faciunt asinos —will rejoice to find that in the province of sparkling Champagne was born the author of the “Dictionary of Rhymes,” Richelet, and Poincinet, the most mystified of an age in which Voltaire mystified the whole world. You believe in sympathies, and that the mind and works of individuals assimilate with the nature of their parent soil; regarding as inevitable that Bonaparte should have been a Corsican, Mazarin an Italian, and Henri IV. a Gascon; you will be surprised to hear that Mirabeau is almost a native of Champagne; Danton really so. What have you to say in defense of your theory! After all, why should not Danton be a Champagnese? Is not Waugelas a native of Savoy The great Fabert was also of Champagnese origin; that famous marshal was the son of a bookseller, and chose never to rise too high or fall too low; a pure and meditative spirit, which kept studiously within the extreme limits of his singular fortune.

Tried by the successive ordeals of prosperity and adversity, he was unchanged by the humiliations as well as by the vanities of life; neither rejecting the one from pride, nor the other from abjectness, but both from the same unflinching self-possession. He refused to be the spy of Mazarin, and to accept the blue riband from Louis XIV.: replying to the latter, “I am a soldier, not a gentleman;” to Mazarin, “I am the arm of the state, but not its eye.” In the olden time Champagne was a powerful and important province. The Count of Champagne was Lord of Brie (which Brie itself is a little Champagne, just as Belgium is a minor France). The Count of Champagne was an hereditary prince, and bore the banner of the Lilies of Bourbon, at the coronation of the kings of Rome. He convened his own states, composed of seven peers, called the Peers of Champagne; viz. the Counts of Joigny, Réthel, Braine, Roucy, Brienne, Grand Pré, and Bar-sur-Seine.

Scarcely a town in this province but has an interesting origin, or a district but is the scene of some adventure. In the cathedral of Rheims Clovis received the rites of baptism. Troyes was saved from Attila by St. Loup in 878, and was the scene of the same ceremony solemnized in Paris in 1804—a pope crowning an emperor in France, in the coronation of Louis-le-Bégue by John VIII. It was at Attigny that Pepin, Mayor of the Palace, held his high court of justice, from whence he held at bay Gaiffer, Duke of Aquitaine. At Andelot the interview took place betwixt Gontran, king of Burgundy, and Childebert, king of Austrasia. Hincmar found refuge at Epernay; Abeilard, at Provins; Heloise, at Paraclete; and a Council was held at Fismes.

During the Lower Empire, Langres witnessed the triumphs of the two Gordians; and in the middle ages its inhabitants overthrew the seven formidable Castles of Changey, St. Broing, Neuilly-Coton, Cobons, Bourg, Humes, and Pailly. At Joinville, in 1584, was concluded the War of the League. Châlons afforded a refuge to Henri IV. in 1591; and at St. Dizier the Prince of Orange met with his fate. In Doulevant the Count of Moret sought refuge. Bourmont is the ancient stronghold of the Lingons; Sézanne, the military head-quarters of the Dukes of Burgundy. The Abbey of Ligny was founded by St. Bernard, in the patrimony of the Lords of Châtillon, to whom the saint promised, by an authentic deed, as many acres of land in Paradise as they granted him on earth! Manzon is the fief of the Abbey St. Hubert, bound to send an annual tribute to the Kings of France of six hounds and six hawks. Chaumont is the place where they pray to the devil on the festival of St. John, that they may be enabled to pay their debts; Château-Porcien is the town given by the Connétable de Châtillon to the Duke of Orleans. Bar-sur-Aube is the town which the king could neither sell nor alienate.

Clairvaux, like Heidelburg, is famous for its tun. Anconville still possesses the cairn of the Huguenots, which every peasant passing by increases by adding a stone. The signals of Mont-aigu corresponded with those of Mont-aimé, twenty leagues off. Vassy was twice burnt—once by the Romans in 211, and in 1544 by the Imperialists; and in like manner, Langres, by the Huns in 351, and by the Vandals in 407. Vitry, too, was burnt by Louis VII. in the twelfth, and by Charles W. in the sixteenth century. Ste. Ménéhould is that noble capital of Argonne which, sold by a traitor to Charles II., Duke of Lorraine, refused to surrender. Carignan is the Ivoi of the olden time; and Attila erected an altar at Pont-le-Roi. At Romilly a cenotaph was erected to Voltaire.

The local history of these places constitutes a portion of the history of France—small, it is true, but highly important.

Champagne teems with reminiscences of the sovereigns of our ancient kingdom. Their coronations took place at Rheims. It was at Attigny that Charles the Simple founded the royal fief of Bourbon. St. Louis and Louis XIV., the great saint and great monarch of the race, first trod the field of glory in Champagne; the first in 1228, at Troyes, of which he raised the siege; the second at Ste. Ménéhould, into which he entered by the breach, in 1652.

By a singular coincidence, both of these sovereigns were fourteen years of age at the time of the exploit.

Champagne has also some traces of Napoleon; for, alas! many towns of this province figure in the last fatal pages of his prodigious epic. Arcis-sur-Aube, Châlons, Rheims, Champaubert, Sézanne, Vèrtus, Méry, La Fère, Montmirail: as many triumphs as fields of action. Fismes, Vitry, and Doulevant had each the honor of being his head-quarters; Piney Luxembourg twice, and Troyes three times. Nogent-sur-Seine beheld five victories gained by the emperor in five days, maneuvering on the banks of the Marne with a handful of heroes. St. Dizier saw two victories in eight and forty hours. At Brienne, where he had been educated by a Benedictine, he was nearly slain by a Cossack!

The ancient annals of this portion of Belgic Gaul, which became Champagne, are not less poetical than those of more modern times. Her plains teem with memories of the past: of Merovens and the Franks: Aetius and the Romans; Theodoric and the Visigoths. Mount Julius, the tomb of Jovinus; the Camp of Attila, near La Cheppe; the military roads of Châlons, Gruyères, and Warcq; Voromarus, Caracalla, Eponinus, and Sabinus; the Arch of the two Gordians at Langres; the gate of Mars at Rheims; all these are so many attestations of history. Antiquity still lives and breathes, and from the dust of ages cries aloud, “Sta, viator!” Even Celtic antiquity sends forth her confused murmurs from the darkest night. Osiris was worshipped at Troyes; the idol Borvo Tomona has left its name at Bourbonneles Bains; and near Vassy, under the deep shades of the forest of Der, where the Haute Borne grimly rises like the specter of a Druid; and in the strange ruins of Noviomagus Wadicassium, Champagne exhibits its surviving link to the mysteries of the youth of time.

From the period of the Romans till the present, besieged in turns by the Alains, the Suevi, the Wandals, the Burgundians, and the Germans, the cities of Champagne have submitted to all extremities rather than surrender. The device of their rock-built cities is “Donec moveantur!” The blood of the ancient Gallia Comala, of the Catti, the Lingons, the Tricassii, the Catalaunians (who defeated the Vandals), and the Nervians (who conquered Siagrius), still flows in the veins of the Champagne peasantry. It was a soldier of Champagne, named Bertèche, who, single-handed, killed seven Austrian dragoons at the battle of Jemappes. In 451 the plains of Champagne were saturated with the blood of the Huns; and had it pleased God, might have equally imbibed that of the Russians in 1814.

Let us speak, therefore, with due respect of this devoted province, which, in the last invasion of France, sacrificed half its children to the defense of our native country. The population of the department of the Marne alone, in 1813, was 311,000 souls; in 1830, it had not yet re-accomplished 309,000! Fifteen years of peace had not sufficed to repair the sacrifices of the people.

 

 

LETTER IV. From Villers-Cotterets to the Frontiers.

Givet, July 29.

I HAVE been traveling more rapidly, my dear friend, and write to you from the little town in which Louis XVIII. gave his last order of the day, in his flight from France, and made his last pun: “St. Denis, Givet” (J'y vais). I arrived here at four o'clock, pummeled to death by the ingenious machine which the people persist in calling a diligence. Having slept in my clothes for a couple of hours, and the day having broken, I rise to write to you.

On opening my window to enjoy the view, I discerned the angle of a whitewashed wall, a moss-choked gutter, and an old cartwheel reclining against the wall. As to my room, it is a vast ward, furnished with four huge beds. The yawning chimney is surmounted with a wretched glass; while on the hearth lies a fagot, equally diminutive, a hearth broom, and a ferocious-looking bootjack, the aperture of which rivals the sinuosities of the Meuse, and wo betide the wretch who puts his foot into it—for once inserted, let him extricate it if he can. Others, like myself, have probably limped about the house with the bootjack affixed to their heel, crying aloud for help. To do justice to the view I just now maligned, let me admit that on leaning from my window I discovered a beautiful mallow in full bloom, standing on a plank, supported by two pipkins, and giving itself all the airs of a choice rose-tree.

Since my last letter a trifling incident, not worth relating, forced me to retrace my steps from Warennes to Willers-Cotterets; and the day before yesterday, dismissing my vehicle, I took the diligence to Soissons, which being empty, I was able to unfold my Cassini maps on the opposite seat.

Evening was closing as I approached Soissons; and the smoke-dispensing hand of night nearly concealed the beautiful valley in which is sunk the village of La Folie. The tower of the cathedral and the double spire of St. John of the Vineyards were also nearly effaced.

Through the vapors pervading the country, however, the mass of walls, roofs, and edifices, called Soissons, half surrounded by the steel crescent of the Aisne, like a sheaf to which the sickle is applied, was partly visible. I paused on the summit of the hill, to enjoy this beautiful scene. Crickets were chirping in the adjoining field; the trees murmured softly, and were trembling with the parting sighs of the evening breeze, as I gazed attentively, with the eyes of my mind, upon the profound calm of the mighty plain, which had witnessed a victory of Caesar, the rule of Clovis, and the wavering of Napoleon. Mankind—even Caesar, Clovis, and Napoleon—are but passing shadows. Even war is a shade that passes in their train; while the Almighty and the works of his hand, and the peace of nature by which they are overspread, abide in unchanged sublimity for ever and ever.

Intending to take the mail to Sédan, which arrives at Soissons at midnight, I allowed the diligence to proceed without me to the town—the distance being a pleasant walk. When near my journey’s close, I rested myself beside a neat-looking house, upon which was reflected the glare of a blacksmith's shop from the opposite side of the way: and there religiously contemplated the serenity of the heavens. The only three planets visible were in the south-east, in a confined space, as if in the same quarter of the heavens. The ever-resplendent Jupiter, whose movements of late have formed a somewhat complicated knot, appeared on a right line with two radiant stars. More to the east, the red and fiery Mars scintillated with a ferocious kind of light; while a little above, calmly shone, like a pale and peaceful influence, that monster planet, the mysterious and awful world which we call Saturn. On the other side, in the far part of the landscape, what appeared to be a magnificent revolving beacon of scarlet, white, and blue, seemed to shed its brilliant hues upon the gloomy hills that separate Noyon from the Soissonais. Just as I was considering what could be the origin of this beacon presiding over solitary plains, it appeared to desert the hills, and ascend slowly from the violet haze of the horizon towards the zenith; for this supposed beacon was neither more nor less than Aldebaran, that tri-colored sun, that enormous star of purple, silver, and turquoise, rising majestically through the vague and sinister mysteries of twilight.

Explain to me, my dear friend, what unaccountable influence is attached to these orbs of night, which every poet since the first creation of poets, every profound thinker, and every vague dreamer of dreams, has by turns contemplated, studied, worshipped; some, like Zoroaster, with confiding wonder; others, like Pythagoras, with trembling awe. Seth assigned names to the stars as Adam did to the animals of the earth. The Chaldeans, and the Genethliacans, Esdras and Zorobabel, Orpheus, Homer and Hesiod, Cadmus, Pherecydes, Xenophon, Hecataeus, Herodotus and Thucydides—those venerated eyes of the ancient world, long closed in extinction—have gazed from age to age upon the more immortal eyes of the heavens, still bright and sparkling as ever. The very planets and stars which we gaze upon were watched by all the sages of antiquity. Job speaks of Orion and the Pleiades. Plato affects to have heard distinctly the vague music of the spheres. Pliny conceived the sun to be God himself; and attributed the spots of the moon to the vapors of the earth.

The Tartar poets call the North Pole Semesticol, which means an iron nail. Men have been found presumptuous enough to be pleasant at the expense of the constellations. “The lion,” said Rocoles, “might just as well have been called a monkey.” Pacuvius, though with flattering self-possession, pretended to arraign the authority of astrologers; protesting that, if real, it would rival that of Jupiter: “Nam si qui, quae eventura sunt praevideant,

AEquiparent Jovi."

Favorinus proposes this startling question: “Are not all human events the work of the stars? —Si vita mortisque hominum rerumque, humanarum omnium et ratio et causa in caelo et apud stellas foret?" He supposes the flies and worms, “muscis aut vermiculis,” to be submitted to sidereal influence,—even to the very hedgehogs, “aut echinis.”

Aulus Gellius, on setting sail from Egina to the Piraeus, upon a calm sea, sat during the night on the poop of the vessel, contemplating the stars. “Nox fuit, et clemens mare, et anni astas, callumque liquide serenum; sedebamus ergo in puppi simul universi, et lucentia sidera considerabamus.” Horace, that practical philosopher, the Voltaire of the Augustan age, though a far greater poet, it is true, than the Voltaire of Louis XV.-Horace himself trembled while gazing at the stars. A strange anxiety overcame his heart, as he indited the following all but terrible verses:—

“Hunc solem, et stellas, et decedentia certis

Tempora momentis, sunt qui formidine nulla,

Imbuti spectant.”

For myself, I do not fear the stars, because I love them. Still, I never reflect without a certain depression of spirits, that the normal state of the heavens is night. What we call day, is the mere result of our vicinity to a star! It is painful to dwell too long upon infinite space. The immensity of the universe is overwhelming! Ecstasy is as much a portion of religion as prayer; but the one solaces, while the other fatigues the soul.

From the firmament, my eyes now descended to the cottage wall, against which I rested. Here again was food for reflection.

In this wall, the peasant had inserted an ancient stone, upon which were carved two indistinct letters, which the vibration of the forge did not permit me precisely to distinguish. I could make out only J. C.; the rest seemed defaced by the lapse of centuries. Now, was this inscription of ancient or modern Rome?—of Rome certainly; but was it the sacred or profane—the city of arts and arms, or the city of faith?

I know not whether it was the contemplation of the stars which had begotten my mood of philosophy, but these mysterious letters appeared to stand out in supernatural splendor. “J.C.:” initials, which in one instance depressed mankind to the earth; in the other, raised him to the skies. “Julius Caesar:” “Jesus Christ."

What greater names have been bequeathed us? Under an inspiration similar to the idea which now engrossed me, did Dante unite together in the lowest abyss of hell, to be devoured by the fearful gorge of Satan, the greatest traitor of mankind, and the greatest assassin–Judas and Brutus.

Three cities preceded Soissons on the same site: the Noviodunum of the Gauls; the Augusta Suessonum of the Romans; the old Soissons of Clovis, Charles the Simple, and the Duke of Mayenne. There remains nothing of the Noviodunum which checked the progress of Caesar. “Suessones,” says the Commentaries, “celeritate Romanorum permoti legatos ad Caesarem de deditione mittunt.” A few fragments only are left of Suessonium; among which is the ancient temple, converted during the middle ages into the chapel of St. Peter. Old Soissons is far better worthy of notice, possessing the church of St. John of the Vines, besides its ancient castle, and the cathedral in which Pepin was crowned, in 752. I could trace no vestige of the fortifications of the Duke de Mayenne, nor ascertain whether those which remained produced the remark of the emperor in 1814 (upon certain fossil remains in the wall), that those of St. Jean d’Acre were built of exactly the same materials: a curious observation, considering how it was made, by whom, and at what a moment.