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Terrace of Henri IV, Saint Germain Terrace of Henri IV, Saint Germain (See page 286)

Royal Palaces and Parks of France

By Francis Miltoun

Author of "Castles and Chateaux of Old Touraine," "Castles
and Chateaux of Old Burgundy," "Rambles in Normandy,"
"Italian Highways and Byways
from a Motor-Car," etc.

With Many Illustrations
Reproduced from paintings made on the spot

By Blanche McManus

 

 

 

BOSTON
L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
1910

Copyright, 1910.
By L. C. Page & Company.
(INCORPORATED)

All rights reserved
First Impression, November, 1910
Printed by
THE COLONIAL PRESS
C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, U. S. A.

[Pg i]


WORKS OF
FRANCIS MILTOUN

Rambles on the Riviera $2.50
Rambles in Normandy 2.50
Rambles in Brittany 2.50
The Cathedrals and Churches of the Rhine 2.50
The Cathedrals of Northern France 2.50
The Cathedrals of Southern France 2.50
In the Land of Mosques and Minarets 3.00
Royal Palaces and Parks of France 3.00
Castles and Chateaux of Old Touraine and the Loire Country 3.00
Castles and Chateaux of Old Navarre and the Basque Provinces 3.00
Castles and Chateaux of Old Burgundy and the Border Provinces 3.00
Italian Highways and Byways from a Motor Car 3.00
The Automobilist Abroad net 3.00
  (Postage Extra)

L. C. Page and Company 53 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass.


Preface

"A thousand years ago, by the rim of a tiny spring, a monk who had avowed himself to the cult of Saint Saturnin, robed, cowled and sandalled, knelt down to say a prayer to his beloved patron saint. Again he came, this time followed by more of his kind, and a wooden cross was planted by the side of the "Fontaine Belle Eau," by this time become a place of pious pilgrimage. After the monk came a king, the latter to hunt in the neighbouring forest."

It was this old account of fact, or legend, that led the author and illustrator of this book to a full realization of the wealth of historic and romantic incidents connected with the French royal parks and palaces, incidents which the makers of guidebooks have passed over in favour of the, presumably, more important, well authenticated facts of history which are often the bare recitals of political rises and falls and dull chronologies of building up and tearing down.

Much of the history of France was made in the great national forests and the royal country-houses of the kingdom, but usually it has been only the events of the capital which have been passed in review. To a great extent this history[Pg ii] was of the gallant, daring kind, often written in blood, the sword replacing the pen.

At times gayety reigned supreme, and at times it was sadness; but always the pageant was imposing.

The day of pageants has passed, the day when lords and ladies moved through stately halls, when royal equipages hunted deer or boar on royal preserves, when gay cavalcades of solemn cortèges thronged the great French highways to the uttermost frontiers and ofttimes beyond. Those days have passed; but, to one who knows the real France, a ready-made setting is ever at hand if he would depart a little from the beaten paths worn smooth by railway and automobile tourists who follow only the lines of conventional travel.

France, even to-day, the city and the country alike, is the paradise of European monarchs on a holiday. One may be met at Biarritz on the shores of the Gascon gulf; another may be taking the waters at Aix or Vichy, shooting pigeons under the shadow of the Tete de Chien, or hunting at Rambouillet. This is modern France, the most cosmopolitan meeting place and playground of royalty in the world.

French royal parks and palaces, those of the kings and queens of mediæval, as well as later, times, differ greatly from those of other lands.[Pg iii] This is perhaps not so much in their degree of splendour and luxury as in the sentiment which attaches itself to them. In France there has ever been a spirit of gayety and spontaneity unknown elsewhere. It was this which inspired the construction and maintenance of such magnificent royal residences as the palaces of Saint Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau, Versailles, Compiègne, Rambouillet, etc., quite different from the motives which caused the erection of the Louvre, the Tuileries or the Palais Cardinal at Paris.

Nowhere else does there exist the equal of these inspired royal country-houses of France, and, when it comes to a consideration of their surrounding parks and gardens, or those royal hunting preserves in the vicinity of the Ile de France, or of those still further afield, at Rambouillet or in the Loire country, their superiority to similar domains beyond the frontiers is even more marked.

In plan this book is a series of itineraries, at least the chapters are arranged, to a great extent in a topographical sequence; and, if the scope is not as wide as all France, it is because of the prominence already given to the parks and palaces of Touraine and elsewhere in the old French provinces in other works in which[Pg iv] the artist and author have collaborated. It is for this reason that so little consideration has been given to Chambord, Amboise or Chenonceaux, which were as truly royal as any of that magnificent group of suburban Paris palaces which begins with Conflans and ends with Marly and Versailles.

Going still further afield, there is in the Pyrenees that chateau, royal from all points of view, in which was born the gallant Henri of France and Navarre, but a consideration of that, too, has already been included in another volume.

The present survey includes the royal dwellings of the capital, those of the faubourgs and the outlying districts far enough from town to be recognized as in the country, and still others as remote as Rambouillet, Chantilly and Compiègne. All, however, were intimately connected with the life of the capital in the mediæval and Renaissance days, and together form a class distinct from any other monumental edifices which exist, or ever have existed, in France.

Mere historic fact has been subordinated as far as possible to a recital of such picturesque incidents of the life of contemporary times as the old writers have handed down to us, and a complete chronological review has in no manner been attempted.[Pg v]


  CHAPTER PAGE
I. Introductory 13
II. The Evolution of French Gardens 14
III. The Royal Hunt in France 43
IV. The Palais de la Cité and Tournelles 61
V. The Old Louvre and Its History 75
VI. The Louvre of Francis I and Its Successors 85
VII. The Tuileries and Its Gardens 106
VIII. The Palais Cardinal and the Palais Royal 131
IX. The Luxembourg, the Elysée and the Palais Bourbon 151
X. Vincennes and Conflans 168
XI. Fontainebleau and Its Forest 180
XII. By the Banks of the Seine 203
XIII. Malmaison and Marly 215
XIV. Saint Cloud and Its Park 229
XV. Versailles: The Glory of France 244
XVI. The Gardens of Versailles and the Trianons 260
XVII. Saint Germain-en-Laye 279[Pg vi]
XVIII. Maintenon 296
XIX. Rambouillet and Its Forest 309
XX. Chantilly 324
XXI. Compiègne and Its Forest 342
  Index 363

[Pg vii]


Terrace of Henri IV, Saint Germain Frontispiece
The Louvre, the Tuileries and the Palais Royal of To-day 12
"Jardin Français—Jardin Anglais" 15
Henri IV in an Old French Garden 20
Parterre de Diane, Chenonceaux 27
Plan of Sunken Garden (Jardin Creux) 30
A Parterre 32
Bassin de la Couronne, Vaux-le-Vicomte 42
A "Curée aux Flambeaux" 46
An Imperial Hunt at Fontainebleau 52
Rendezvous de Chasse, Rambouillet 56
Bird's Eye View of Old Paris (Map) 74
The XIV Century Louvre 82
The Louvre 90
Original Plan of the Tuileries (Diagram) 106
Salle des Marechaux, Tuileries 116
The Galleries of the Palais Royal 146
Bourbon-Orleans Descendants of Louis Philippe (Diagram) 146
Palais du Luxembourg 154
Door in Throne Room, Luxembourg 156
The Petit Luxembourg 156
The Luxembourg Gardens 158
The Throne of the Palais Bourbon 161
[Pg viii]Vincennes Under Charles V 168
Chateau de Vincennes 172
A Hunt under the Walls of Vincennes 174
Conflans 176
Original Plan of Fontainebleau 180
From Paris to Fontainebleau (Map) 180
Palais de Fontainebleau 186
Salle du Throne, Fontainebleau 190
Fragments from Fontainebleau 192
Cheminée de la Reine, Fontainebleau 194
Monument to Rousseau and Millet at Barbison 200
Chateau de Bagatelle 204
Chateau de Malmaison 218
The Gardens of Saint Cloud 236
The Cascades at Saint Cloud 240
Cour de Marbre, Versailles 264
The Potager du Roy, Versailles 270
The Bassin de Latone, Versailles 272
The Fountain of Neptune, Versailles 274
Petit Trianon 276
Laiterie de la Reine, Petit Trianon 277
Saint Germain (Diagram) 280
The Valley of the Seine, from the Terrace at Saint Germain 288
Fauteuil of Mme. de Maintenon 297
Chateau de Maintenon 300
Aqueduct of Louis XIV at Maintenon 306
Chateau de Rambouillet (Diagram) 309
Laiterie de la Reine, Rambouillet 312
Chateau de Rambouillet 316
Chantilly (Diagram) 325
Statue of Le Notre, Chantilly 326
Chateau de Chantilly 336
Compiègne (Diagram) 343
Napoleon's Bedchamber, Compiègne 352
Cours de Compiègne 356

[Pg 1]




Royal Palaces and Parks of France


CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

The modern traveller sees something beyond mere facts. Historical material as identified with the life of some great architectural glory is something more than a mere repetition of chronologies; the sidelights and the co-related incidents, though indeed many of them may be but hearsay, are quite as interesting, quite as necessary, in fact, for the proper appreciation of a famous palace or chateau as long columns of dates, or an evolved genealogical tree which attempts to make plain that which could be better left unexplained. The glamour of history would be considerably dimmed if everything was explained, and a very seamy block of marble may be chiselled into a very acceptable statue if the workman but knows how to avoid the doubtful parts.[Pg 2]

An itinerary that follows not only the ridges, but occasionally plunges down into the hollows and turns up or down such crossroads as may have chanced to look inviting, is perhaps more interesting than one laid out on conventional lines. A shadowy something, which for a better name may be called sentiment, if given full play encourages these side-steps, and since they are generally found fruitful, and often not too fatiguing, the procedure should be given every encouragement.

Not all the interesting royal palaces and chateaux of France are those with the best known names. Not all front on Paris streets and quays, no more than the best glimpses of ancient or modern France are to be had from the benches of a sight-seeing automobile.

Versailles, and even Fontainebleau, are too frequently considered as but the end of a half-day pilgrimage for the tripper. It were better that one should approach them more slowly, and by easy stages, and leave them less hurriedly. As for those architectural monuments of kings, which were tuned in a minor key, they, at all events, need to be hunted down on the spot, the enthusiast being forearmed with such scraps of historic fact as he can gather beforehand, otherwise he will see nothing at Conflans, Marly or[Pg 3] Bourg-la-Reine which will suggest that royalty ever had the slightest concern therewith.

Dealing first with Paris it is evident it is there that the pilgrim to French shrines must make his most profound obeisance. This applies as well to palaces as to churches. In all cases one goes back into the past to make a start, and old Paris, what there is left of it, is still old Paris, though one has to leave the grand boulevards to find this out.

Colberts and Haussmanns do not live to-day, or if they do they have become so "practical" that a drainage canal or an overhead or underground railway is more of a civic improvement than the laying out of a public park, like the gardens of the Tuileries, or the building and embellishment of a public edifice—at least with due regard for the best traditions. When the monarchs of old called in men of taste and culture instead of "business men" they builded in the most agreeable fashion. We have not improved things with our "systems" and our committees of "hommes d'affaires."

It is the fashion to-day to decry the cavaliers and the wearers of "love-locks," but they had a pretty taste in art and an eye for artistic surroundings, those old fellows of the sword and cloak; a much more pretty taste than their de[Pg 4]scendants, the steam-heat and running-water partisans of to-day. Louis XV and Empire drawing and dining-rooms are everywhere advertised as the attractions of the great palace hotels, and some of them are very good copies of their predecessors, though one cannot help but feel that the clientele as a whole is more insistent on telephones in the bedrooms and auto-taxis always on tap than with regard to the sentiment of good taste and good cheer which is to be evoked by eating even a hurried meal in a room which reproduces some historically famous Salle des Gardes or the Chambre of the Œil de Bœuf of the Louvre, if, indeed, most of the hungry folk know what their surroundings are supposed to represent.

Any chronicle which attempts to set down a record of the comings and goings of French monarchs is saved from being a mere dull chronology of dates and résumé of facts by its obligatory references to the architects and builders who made possible the splendid settings amid which these picturesque rulers passed their lives.

The castle builders of France, the garden designers, the architects, decorators and craftsmen of all ranks produced not a medley, but a coherent, cohesive whole, which stands apart from, and far ahead of, most of the contemporary work[Pg 5] of its kind in other lands. Castles and keeps were of one sort in England and Scotland, of still another along the Rhine, and if the Renaissance palaces and chateaux first came into being in Italy it is certain they never grew to the flowering luxuriance there that they did in France.

Thus does France establish itself as leader in new movements once again. It was so in the olden time with the arts of the architect, the landscape gardener and the painter; it is so to-day with respect to such mundane, less sentimental things as automobiles and aeroplanes.

Another chapter, in a story long since started, is a repetition, or review, of the outdoor life of the French monarchs and their followers. Not only did Frenchmen of Gothic and Renaissance times have a taste for travelling far afield, pursuing the arts of peace or war as their conscience or conditions dictated; but they loved, too, the open country and the open road at home; they loved also la chasse, as they did tournaments, fêtes-champêtres and outdoor spectacles of all kinds. Add these stage settings to the splendid costuming and the flamboyant architectural accessories of Renaissance times in France and we have what is assuredly not to be found in other lands, a spectacular and imposing pageant of mediæval and Renaissance life and manners[Pg 6] which is superlative from all points of view.

This is perhaps hard, sometimes, to reconcile with the French attitude towards outdoor life to-day, when la chasse means the hunting of tame foxes (a sport which has been imported from across the channel), "sport" means a prize fight, and a garden party or a fête-champêtre a mere gossiping rendezvous over a cup of badly made tea. In the France of the olden time they did things differently—and better.

Not all French history was made, or written, within palace walls; much of it came into being in the open air, like the two famous meetings by the Bidassoa, Napoleon's first sight of Marie Louise on the highroad leading out from Senlis, or his making the Pope a prisoner at the Croix de Saint Héram, in the Forest of Fontainebleau.

It is this change of scene that makes French history so appealing to those who might otherwise let it remain in shut-up and dry-as-dust books on library shelves.

The French monarchs of old were indeed great travellers, and it is by virtue of the fact that affairs of state were often promulgated and consummated en voyage that a royal stamp came to be acquired by many a chateau or country-house which to-day would hardly otherwise be considered as of royal rank.[Pg 7]

Throughout France, notably in the neighbourhood of Paris, are certain chateaux—palaces only by lack of name—of the nobility where royalties were often as much at home as under their own royal standards. One cannot attempt to confine the limits where these chateaux are to be found, for they actually covered the length and breadth of France.

Journeying afield in those romantic times was probably as comfortably accomplished, by monarchs at least, as it is to-day. What was lacking was speed, but they lodged at night under roofs as hospitable as those of the white and gold caravanserai (and some more humble) which perforce come to be temporary abiding places of royalties en tour to-day. The writer has seen the Dowager Queen of Italy lunching at a neighbouring table at a roadside trattoria in Piedmont which would have no class distinction whatever as compared with the average suburban road-house across the Atlantic. At Biarritz, too, the automobiling monarch, Alphonse XIII, has been known to take "tea" on the terrace of the great tourist-peopled hotel in company with mere be-goggled commoners. Le temps va! Were monarchs so democratic in the olden time, one wonders.

The court chronicles of all ages, and all ranks,[Pg 8] have proved a gold mine for the makers of books of all sorts and conditions. Not only court chroniclers but pamphleteers, even troubadours and players, have contributed much to the records of the life of mediæval France. All history was not made by political intrigue or presumption; a good deal of it was born of the gentler passions, and a chap-book maker would put often into print many accounts which the recorder of mere history did not dare use. History is often enough sorry stuff when it comes to human interest, and it needs editing only too often.

Courtiers and the fashionable world of France, ever since the days of the poetry-making and ballad-singing Francis and Marguerite, and before, for that matter, made of literature—at least the written and spoken chronicle of some sort—a diversion and an accomplishment. Royal or official patronage given these mediæval story-tellers did not always produce the truest tales. Then, as now, writer folk were wont to exaggerate, but most of their work made interesting reading.

These courtiers of the itching pen did not often write for money. Royal favour, or that of some fair lady, or ladies, was their chief return in many more cases than those for which their accounts were settled by mere dross. It is in the work[Pg 9] of such chroniclers as these that one finds a fund of unrepeated historic lore.

The dramatists came on the scene with their plots ready-made (and have been coming ever since, if one recalls the large number of French costume plays of recent years), and whether they introduced errors of fact, or not, there was usually so much truth about their work that the very historians more than once were obliged to have recourse to the productions of their colleagues. The dramatists' early days in France, as in England, were their golden days. The mere literary man, or chronicler, was often flayed alive, but the dramatist, even though he dished up the foibles of a king, and without any dressing at that, was fêted and made as much of as a record piano player of to-day.

One hears a lot about the deathbed scribblers in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but there was not much of that sort of thing in France. No one here penned bitter jibes and lascivious verses merely to keep out of jail, as did Nash and Marlowe in England. In short, one must give due credit to the court chroniclers and ballad-singers of France as being something more than mere pilfering, blackmailing hacks.

All the French court and its followers in the[Pg 10] sixteenth century shouted epigrams and affected being greater poets than they really were. It was a good sign, and it left its impress on French literature. Following in the footsteps of Francis I and the two Marguerites nobles vied with each other in their efforts to produce some epoch-making work of poesy or prose, and while they did not often publish for profit they were glad enough to see themselves in print. Then there were also the professional men of letters, as distinct from the courtiers with literary ambitions, the churchmen and courtly attachés of all ranks with the literary bee humming in their bonnets. They, too, left behind them an imposing record, which has been very useful to others coming after who were concerned with getting a local colour of a brand which should look natural.

It is with such guiding lights as are suggested by the foregoing résumé that one seeks his clues for the repicturing of the circumstances under which French royal palaces were erected, as well as for the truthful repetition of the ceremonies and functions of the times, for the court life of old, whether in city palace or country chateau, was a very different thing from that of the Republican régime of to-day.

Not only were the royal Paris dwellings, from[Pg 11] the earliest times, of a profound luxuriance of design and execution, but the private hotels, the palaces, one may well say, of the nobility were of the same superlative order, and kings and queens alike did not disdain to lodge therein on such occasions as suited their convenience. The suggestive comparison is made because of the close liens with which royalty and the higher nobility were bound.

It is sufficient to recall, among others of this class, the celebrated Hotel de Beauvais which will illustrate the reference. Not only was this magnificent town house of palatial dimensions, but it was the envy of the monarchs themselves, because of its refined elegance of construction. This edifice exists to-day, in part, at No. 68 Rue François Miron, and the visitor may judge for himself as to its former elegance.

Loret, in his "Gazette" in verse, recounts a visit made to the Hotel de Beauvais in 1663 by Marie Thérèse, the Queen of Louis XIV.

Mercredi, notre auguste Reine,
Cette charmante souveraine,
Fut chez Madame de Beauvais
Pour de son amiable palais
Voir les merveilles étonnantes
Et les raretés surprenantes.

Times have changed, for the worse or for the better. The sedan-chair and the coach have[Pg 12] given way to the automobile and the engine, and the wood fire to a stale calorifer, or perhaps a gas-log.


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The comparisons are odious; there is no question as to this; but it is by contrast that the subject is made the more interesting.

From the old Palais des Thermes (now a part of the Musée de Cluny) of the Roman emperors down through the Palais de la Cité (where lodged the kings of the first and second races) to the modern installations of the Louvre is a matter of twelve centuries. The record is by no means a consecutive one, but a record exists which embraces a dozen, at least, of the Paris abodes of royalty, where indeed they lived according to many varying scales of comfort and luxury.

Not all the succeeding French monarchs had the abilities or the inclinations that enabled them to keep up to the traditions of the art-loving Francis I, but almost all of their number did something creditable in building or decoration, or commanded it to be done.

Louis XIV, though he delayed the adjustment of Europe for two centuries, was the first real beautifier of Paris since Philippe Auguste. Privately his taste in art and architecture was rather ridiculous, but publicly he and his architects achieved great things in the general scheme.

[Pg 13]

Napoleon I, in turn, caught up with things in a political sense, in truth he ran ahead of them, but he in no way neglected the embellishments of the capital, and added a new wing to the Louvre, and filled Musées with stolen loot, which remorse, or popular clamour, induced him, for the most part, to return at a later day.

In a decade Napoleon made much history, and he likewise did much for the royal palaces of France. After him a gap supervened until the advent of Napoleon III, who, weakling that he was, had the perspicacity to give the Baron Haussmann a chance to play his part in the making of modern Paris, and if the Tuileries and Saint Cloud had not disappeared as a result of his indiscretion the period of the Second Empire would not have been at all discreditable, as far as the impress it left on Paris was concerned.[Pg 14]


CHAPTER II

THE EVOLUTION OF FRENCH GARDENS

The French garden was a creation of all epochs from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, and, for the most part, those of to-day and of later decades of the nineteenth century, are adaptations and restorations of the classic accepted forms.

From the modest jardinet of the moyen-age to the ample gardens and parterres of the Renaissance was a wide range. In their highest expression these early French gardens, with their broderies and carreaux may well be compared as works of art with contemporary structures in stone or wood or stuffs in woven tapestries, which latter they greatly resembled.

Under Louis XIV and Louis XV the elaborateness of the French garden was even more an accentuated epitome of the tastes of the period. Near the end of the eighteenth century a marked deterioration was noticeable and a separation of the tastes which ordained the arrangement of contemporary dwellings and their gardens[Pg 15] was very apparent. Under the Empire the antique style of furniture and decoration was used too, but there was no contemporary expression with regard to garden making.


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In the second half of the nineteenth century, under the Second Empire, the symmetrical lines of the old-time parterres came again into being, and to them were attached composite elements or motives, which more closely resembled details of the conventional English garden than anything distinctly French.

The English garden was, for the most part, pure affectation in France, or, at best, it was treated[Pg 16] as a frank exotic. Even to-day, in modern France, where an old dwelling of the period of Henri IV, François I, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, or Louis XV still exists with its garden, the latter is more often than not on the classically pure French lines, while that of a modern cottage, villa or chateau is often a poor, variegated thing, fantastic to distraction.

Turning back the pages of history one finds that each people, each century, possessed its own specious variety of garden; a species which responded sufficiently to the tastes and necessities of the people, to their habits and their aspirations.

Garden-making, like the art of the architect, differed greatly in succeeding centuries, and it is for this reason that the garden of the moyen-age, of the epoch of the Crusades, for example, did not bear the least resemblance to the more ample parterres of the Renaissance. Civilization was making great progress, and it was necessary that the gardens should be in keeping with a less restrained, more luxurious method of life.

If the gardens of the Renaissance marked a progress over the preaux and jardinets of mediævalism, those of Le Notre were a blossoming forth of the Renaissance seed. Regretfully, one cannot say as much for the garden plots of the[Pg 17] eighteenth century, and it was only with the mid-nineteenth century that the general outlines took on a real charm and attractiveness again, and this was only achieved by going back to original principles.

The first gardens were the vergers and preaux, little checker-board squares of a painful primitiveness as compared with later standards. These squares, or carreaux, were often laid out in foliage and blossoming plants as suggestive as possible of their being made of carpeting or marble. When these miniature enclosures came to be surrounded with trellises and walls the Renaissance in garden-making may be considered as having been in full sway.

Under Louis XIV a certain affluence was noticeable in garden plots, and with Louis XV an even more notable symmetry was apparent in the disposition of the general outlines. By this time, the garden in France had become a frame which set off the architectural charms of the dwelling rather than remaining a mere accessory, but it was only with the replacing of the castle-fortress by the more domesticated chateau that a really generous garden space became a definite attribute of a great house.

The first gardens surrounding the French chateaux were developments, or adaptations,[Pg 18] of Italian gardens, such as were designed across the Alps by Mercogliano, during the feudal period.

Later, and during the time of the Crusades, the garden question hardly entered into French life. Gardens, like all other luxuries, were given little thought when the graver questions of peace and security were to be considered, and, for this reason, there is little or nothing to say of French gardens previous to the twelfth century.

An important species of the gardens of the moyen-age was that which was found as an adjunct to the great monastic institutions, the preaux, which were usually surrounded by the cloister colonnade. One of the most important of these, of which history makes mention, was that of the Abbaye de Saint Gall, of which Charlemagne was capitular. It was he who selected the plants and vegetables which the dwellers therein should cultivate.

Of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there is an abundant literary record, and, in a way, a pictorial record as well. From these one can make a very good deduction of what the garden of that day was like; still restrained, but yet something more than rudimentary. From now on French gardens were divided specifically into the potager and verger.[Pg 19]

The potager was virtually a vegetable garden within the walls which surrounded the seigneurial dwelling, and was of necessity of very limited extent, chiefly laid out in tiny carreaux, or beds, bordered by tiles or bricks, much as a small city garden is arranged to-day. Here were cultivated the commonest vegetables, a few flowers and a liberal assortment of herbs, such as rue, mint, parsley, sage, lavender, etc.

The verger, or viridarium, was practically a fruit garden, as it is to-day, with perhaps a generous sprinkling of flowers and aromatic plants. The verger was always outside the walls, but not far from the entrance or the drawbridge crossing the moat and leading to the chateau.

It was to the verger, or orchard, curiously enough, that in times of peace the seigneur and his family retired after luncheon for diversion or repose.

"D illocques vieng en cest vergier
Eascuns jour pour s'esbanoier."

Thus ran a couplet of the "Roman de Thèbes"; and of the hundred or more tales of chivalry in verse, which are recognized as classic, nearly all make mention of the verger.

It was here that young men and maidens came in springtime for the fête of flowers, when they[Pg 20] wove chaplets and garlands, for the moyen-age had preserved the antique custom of the coiffure of flowers, that is to say hats of natural flowers, as we might call them to-day, except that modern hats seemingly call for most of the products of the barnyard and the farm in their decoration, as well as the flowers of the field.

Henri IV in an Old French Garden Henri IV in an Old French Garden

The rose was queen among all these flowers and then came the lily and the carnation, chiefly in their simple, savage state, not the highly cultivated product of to-day. From the ballads and the love songs, one gathers that there were also violets, eglantine, daisies, pansies, forget-me-nots, and the marguerite, or consoude, was one of the most loved of all.

The carnation, or œillet, was called armerie; the pansy was particularly in favour with the ladies, who embroidered it on their handkerchiefs and their girdles. Still other flowers found a place in this early horticultural catalogue, the marigold, gladiolus, stocks, lily-of-the-valley and buttercups.

Frequently the verger was surrounded by a protecting wall, of more or less architectural pretense, with towers and accessories conforming to the style of the period, and decorative and utilitarian fountains, benches and seats were also common accessories.

[Pg 21]

The old prints, which reproduced these early French gardens, are most curious to study, amusing even; but their point of view was often distorted as to perspective. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, perspective was almost wholly ignored in pictorial records. There was often no scale, and no depth; everything was out of proportion with everything else, and for this reason it is difficult to judge of the exact proportions of many of these early French gardens.

The origin of garden-making in France, in the best accepted sense of the term, properly began with the later years of the thirteenth century and the early years of the fourteenth; continuing the tradition, remained distinctly French until the mid-fifteenth century, for the Italian influence did not begin to make itself felt until after the Italian wars and travels of Charles VIII, Louis XI and Francis I.

The earliest traces of the work of the first two of these monarchs are to be seen at Blois and, for a time henceforth, it is to be presumed that all royal gardens in France were largely conceived under the inspiration of Italian influences. Before, as there were primitives in the art of painting in France, there were certainly French gardeners in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. One of these, whoever he[Pg 22] may have been, was the designer of the preaux and the treilles of the Louvre of Charles V, of which a pictorial record exists, and he, or they, did work of a like nature for the powerful house of Bourgogne, and for René d'Anjou, whom we know was a great amateur gardener.

The archives of these princely houses often recount the expenses in detail, and so numerous are certain of them that it would not be difficult to picture anew as to just what they referred.

Debanes, the gardener of the Chateau d'Angers, on a certain occasion, gave an accounting for "X Sols" for repairing the grass-plots and for making a petit preau. Again: "XI Sols" for the employ of six gardeners to trim the vines and clean up the alleys of the grand and petit jardin.

Luxury in all things settled down upon all France to a greater degree than hitherto in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and almost without exception princely houses set out to rival one another in the splendour of their surroundings. Now came in the ornamental garden as distinct from the verger, and the preau became a greensward accessory, at once practical and decorative, the precursor of the pelouse and the parterre of Le Notre.

The preau (in old French prael) was a symmetrical square or rectangular grass-grown gar[Pg 23]den plot. From the Latin pratum, or pratellum, the words preau, pré and prairie were evolved naturally enough, and came thus early to be applied in France to that portion of the pleasure garden set out as a grassy lawn. The word is very ancient, and has come down to us through the monkish vocabulary of the cloister.

Some celebrated verse of Christine de Pisan, who wrote "The Life of Charles V," thus describes the cloister at Poissy.

"Du cloistre grand large et especieux
Que est carré, et, afin qu'il soit mieulx
A un prael, ou milieu, gracieux
Vert sans grappin
Ou a planté en my un très hault pin."

It was at this period, that of Saint Louis and the apotheosis of Gothic architecture, that France was at the head of European civilization, therefore in no way can her preëminence in garden-making be questioned.

The gardens of the Gothic era seldom surpassed the enclos with a rivulet passing through it, a spring, a pine tree giving a welcome shade, some simple flowers and a verger of fruit trees.

The neighbours of France were often warring among themselves but the Grand Seigneur here was settling down to beautifying his surround[Pg 24]ings and framing his chateaux, manors and country-seats in dignified and most appealing pictures. Grass-plots appeared in dooryards, flowers climbed up along castle walls and shrubs and trees came to play a genuinely esthetic rôle in the life of the times.

An illustrious stranger, banished from Italy, one Brunetto Latini, the master of Dante, who had sought a refuge in France, wrote his views on the matter, which in substance were as above.

About this time originated the progenitors of the gloriettes, which became so greatly the vogue in the eighteenth century. Practically the gloriette, a word in common use in northern France and in Flanders, was a logette de plaisance. The Spaniards, too, in their glorietta, a pavilion in a garden, had practically the same signification of the word.

In the fourteenth century French garden the gloriette was a sort of arbour, or trellis-like summer-house, garnished with vines and often perched upon a natural or artificial eminence. Other fast developing details of the French garden were tree-bordered alleys and the planting of more or less regularly set-out beds of flowering plants.

Vine trellises and vine-clad pavilions and groves were a speedy development of these details, and[Pg 25] played parts of considerable importance in gardening under the French Renaissance.

In this same connection there is a very precise record in an account of the gardens of the Louvre under Charles V concerning the contribution of one, Jean Baril, maker of Arlors, to this form of the landscape architect's art.

"Ornamental birds—peacocks, pheasants and swans now came in as adjuncts to the French land and water garden." This was the way a certain pertinent comment was made by a writer of the fifteenth century. From the "Ménagier de Paris," a work of the end of the fourteenth century, one learns that behind a dwelling of a prince or noble of the time was usually to be found a "beau jardin tout planté d'arbres à fruits, de legumes, de rosiers, orné de volières et tapisé de gazon sur lesquels se promènent les paons."

French gardens of various epochs are readily distinguished by the width of their alleys. In the moyen-age the paths which separated the garden plots were very narrow; in the early Renaissance period they were somewhat wider, taking on a supreme maximum in the gardens of Le Notre.

Trimmed trees entered into the general scheme in France towards the end of the fifteenth[Pg 26] century. Under Henri IV and under Louis XII trees were often trimmed in ungainly, fantastic forms, but with the advent of Le Notre the good taste which he propagated so widely promptly rejected these grotesques, which, for a fact, were an importation from Flanders, like the gloriettes. Not by the remotest suggestion could a clipped yew in the form of a peacock or a giraffe be called French. Le Notre eliminated the menagerie and the aviary, but kept certain geometrical forms, particularly with respect to hedges, where niches were frequently trimmed out for the placing of statues, columns surmounted with golden balls, etc.

The most famous of the frankly Renaissance gardens developed as a result of the migrations of the French monarchs in Italy were those surrounding such palaces and chateaux as Fontainebleau, Amboise, and Blois. Often these manifestly French gardens, though of Italian inspiration in the first instance, were actually the work of Italian craftsmen. Pucello Marceliano at four hundred livres and Edme Marceliano at two hundred livres were in the employ of Henri II. It was the former who laid out the magnificent Parterre de Diane at Chenonceaux, where Catherine de Médici later, being smitten with the skill of the Florentines, gave the further commission[Pg 27] of the Jardin Vert, which was intended to complete this parterre, to Henri le Calabrese and Jean Collo.

"Parterre de Diane, "Parterre de Diane," Chenonceaux

The later Renaissance gardens divided themselves into various classes, jardins de plaisir, jardins de plaisance, jardins de propreté, etc. Parterres now became of two sorts, parterres à compartiments and parterres de broderies, names sufficiently explicit not to need further comment.

It is difficult to determine just how garden broderies came into being. They may have been indirectly due to woman's love of embroidery and the garden alike. The making of these garden broderies was a highly cultivated art. Pierre Vallet, embroiderer to Henri IV, created much in his line of distinction and note, and acquired an extensive clientele for his flowers and models. Often these gardens, with their parterres[Pg 28] and broderies were mere additions to an already existing architectural scheme, but with respect to the gardens of the Luxembourg and Saint Germain-en-Laye they came into being with the edifices themselves, or at least those portions which they were supposed to embellish. Harmony was then first struck between the works of the horticulturist—the garden-maker—and those of the architect—the builder in stone and wood. This was the prelude to those majestic ensembles of which Le Notre was to be the composer.

Of the celebrated French palace and chateau gardens which are not centered upon the actual edifices with which they are more or less intimately connected, but are distinct and apart from the gardens which in most cases actually surround a dwelling, may be mentioned those of Montargis, Saint Germain, Amboise, Villers-Cotterets and Fontainebleau. These are rather parks, like the "home-parks," so called, in England, which, while adjuncts to the dwellings, are complete in themselves and are possessed of a separate identity, or reason for being. Chiefly these, and indeed most French gardens of the same epoch, differ greatly from contemporary works in Italy in that the latter were often built and terraced up and down the hillsides, whereas[Pg 29] the French garden was laid out, in the majority of instances, on the level, though each made use of interpolated architectural accessories such as balustrades, statuary, fountains, etc.

Mollet was one of the most famous gardeners of the time of Louis XIV. He was the gardener of the Duc d'Aumale, who built the gardens of the Chateau d'Anet while it was occupied by Diane de Poitiers, and for their time they were considered the most celebrated in France for their upkeep and the profusion and variety of their flowers. This was the highest development of the French garden up to this time.

It is possible that this Claude Mollet was the creator of the parterres and broderies so largely used in his time, and after. Mollet's formula was derived chiefly from flower and plant forms, resembling in design oriental embroideries. He made equal use of the labyrinth and the sunken garden. His idea was to develop the simple parquet into the elaborate parterre. He began his career under Henri III and ultimately became the gardener of Henri IV. His elaborate work "Theatre des Plans et Jardinage" was written towards 1610-1612, but was only published a half a century later. It was only in the sixteenth century that gardens in Paris were planned and developed on a scale which was[Pg 30] the equal of many which had previously been designed in the provinces.

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The chief names in French gardening—before the days of Le Notre—were those of the two Mollets, the brothers Boyceau, de la Barauderie and Jacques de Menours, and all successively held the post of Superintendent of the Garden of the King.

In these royal gardens there was always a[Pg 31] distinctly notable feature, the grand roiales, the principal avenues, or alleys, which were here found on a more ambitious scale than in any of the private gardens of the nobility. The central avenue was always of the most generous proportions, the nomenclature coming from royal—the grand roial being the equivalent of Allée Royale, that is, Avenue Royal.

By the end of the sixteenth century the Garden of the Tuileries, which was later to be entirely transformed by Le Notre, offered an interesting aspect of the parquet at its best. In "Paris à Travers les Ages" one reads that from the windows of the palace the garden resembled a great checker-board containing more than a hundred uniform carreaux. There were six wide longitudinal alleys or avenues cut across by eight or ten smaller alleys which produced this rectangular effect. Within some of the squares were single, or grouped trees; in others the conventional quincunx; others were mere expanses of lawn, and still others had flowers arranged in symmetrical patterns. In one of these squares was a design which showed the escutcheons of the arms of France and those of the Médici. These gardens of the Tuileries were first modified by a project of Bernard Palissy, the porcelainiste. He let his fancy have full sway and the criss-[Pg 32]cross alleys and avenues were set out at their junctures with moulded ornaments, enamelled miniatures, turtles in faience and frogs in porcelain. It was this, perhaps, which gave the impetus to the French for their fondness to-day for similar effects, but Bernard Palissy doubtless never went so far as plaster cats on a ridgepole, as one may see to-day on many a pretty villa in northern France. This certainly lent an element of picturesqueness to the Renaissance Garden of the Louvre, a development of the same spirit which inspired this artist in his collaboration at Chenonceaux. This was the formula which produced the jardin délectable, an exaggeration of the taste of the epoch, but still critical of its time.

A Parterre A Parterre
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The gardens of the Renaissance readily divided themselves into two classes, those of the parterres à compartiments and those of the parterres de broderies. The former, under Francis I and Henri II, were divided into geometrical compartments thoroughly in the taste of the Renaissance, but bordered frequently with representations of designs taken from Venetian lace and various other contemporary stuffs. There were other parterres, where the compartments were planned on a more utilitarian scale; in other words, they were the potagers which rendered[Pg 33] the garden, said Olivier de Serres, one of "profitable beauty." Some of the compartments were devoted entirely to herbs and medicinal plants while others were entirely given over to flowers. In general the compartments were renewed twice a year, in May and August.

The Grand Parterre at Fontainebleau, called in other days the Parterre de Tiber, offered as remarkable an example of the terrace garden as was to be found in France, the terraces rising a metre or more above the actual garden plot and enclosing a sort of horticultural arena.

It was in the sixteenth century that architectural motives came to be incorporated into the gardens in the form of square, round or octagonal pavilions, and here and there were added considerable areas of tiled pavements, features which were found at their best in the gardens of the Chateau de Gaillon and at Langeais.

One special and distinct feature of the French Renaissance garden was the labyrinth, of which three forms were known. The first was composed of merely low borders, the second of hedges shoulder high, or even taller, and the third was practically a roofed-over grove. The latter invention was due, it is said, to the discreet Louis XIV. In the Tuileries garden, in the time of Catherine de Médici, there was a labyrinth[Pg 34] greatly in vogue with the Parisian nobles who "found much pleasure in amusing themselves therein."

In that garden the labyrinth was sometimes called the "Road of Jerusalem" and it was presumably of eastern origin.

In the seventeenth century grottos came to be added to the garden, though this is seemingly an Italian tradition of much earlier date. Among the notable grottos of this time were that of the Jardin des Pins at Fontainebleau, and that of the Chateau de Meudon, built by Philibert Delorme, of which Ronsard celebrated its beauties in verse. The art was not confined to the gardens of royalties and the nobility, for the bourgeoisie speedily took up with the puerile idea (said to have come from Holland, by the way), and built themselves grottos of shells, plaster and boulders. It was then that the chiens de faience, which the smug Paris suburbanite of to-day so loves, were born.

By the seventeenth century the equalized carreaux of the early geometrically disposed gardens were often replaced with the oblongs, circles and, somewhat timidly introduced, more bizarre forms, the idea being to give variety to the ensemble. There was less fear for the artistic effect of great open spaces than had formerly[Pg 35] existed, and the avenues and alleys were considerably enlarged, and such architectural and sculptural accessories as fountains, balustrades and perrons were designed on a more extensive scale. Basins and canals and other restrained surfaces of water began to appear on a larger scale, and greater insistence was put upon their proportions with regard to the decorative part which they were to play in the ensemble.

This was the preparatory period of the coming into being of the works of Le Notre and Mansart.

The Grand Siècle lent a profound majesty to royal and noble dwellings, and its effect is no less to be remarked upon than the character of their gardens. The moving spirit which ordained all these things was the will of the Roi Soleil.

Parterres and broderies were designed on even a grander scale than before. They were frequently grouped into four equal parts with a circular basin in the centre, and mirror-like basins of water sprang up on all sides.

Close to the royal dwelling was the fore-court, as often dressed out with flowers and lawn as with tiles and flags. From it radiated long alleys and avenues, stretching out almost to infinity. At this time the grass-plots were developed to high order, and there were groves, rest-houses,[Pg 36] bowers, and theatres de verdure at each turning. Tennis-courts came to be a regularly installed accessory, and the basins and "mirrors" of water were frequently supplemented by cascades, and some of the canals were so large that barges of state floated thereon. Over some of the canals bridges were built as fantastic in design as those of the Japanese, and again others as monumental as the Pont Neuf.

In their majestic regularity the French gardens of the seventeenth century possessed an admirable solemnity, albeit their amplitude and majesty give rise to justifiable criticism. It is this criticism that qualifies the values of such gardens as those of Versailles and Vaux, but one must admit that the scale on which they were planned has much to do with this, and certainly if they had been attached to less majestic edifices the comment would have been even more justifiable. As it is, the criticism must be qualified.

The aspect of the garden by this time had been greatly modified. Aside from such great ensembles as those of Versailles was now to be considered a taste for something smaller, but often overcrowded with accessories of the same nature, which compared so well with the vastness of Versailles, but which, on the other hand, looked so out of place in miniature.[Pg 37]

It was not long now before the "style pompadour" began to make itself shown with regard to garden design—the exaggeration of an undeniable grace by an affected mannerism. All the rococco details which had been applied to architecture now began to find their duplication in the garden rockeries—weird fantasies built of plaster and even shells of the sea.

By later years of the eighteenth century there came on the scene as a designer of gardens one, De Neufforge. His work was a prelude to the classicism of the style of Louis XVI which was to come. There was, too, at this time a disposition towards the English garden, but only a slight tendency, though towards 1780 the conventional French garden had been practically abandoned. The revolution in the art of garden-making therefore preceded that of the world of politics by some years.

There are three or four works which give specific details on these questions. They are "De la Distribution des Maisons de Plaisance," by Blondel (1773), his "Cours d'Architecture" of the same date, and Panseron's volume entitled "Recueil de Jardinage," published in 1783.

The following brief résumé shows the various steps through which the French formal garden passed. In the moyen-age the garden was a thing[Pg 38] quite apart from the dwelling, and was but a diminutive dooryard sort of a garden. The garden of the Renaissance amplified the regular lines which existed in the moyen-age, but was often quite as little in accord with the dwelling that it surrounded as its predecessor.

The union of the garden and the dwelling and its dependencies was clearly marked under Louis XIV, while the gardens of Louis XV tended somewhat to modify the grand lines and the majestic presence of those of his elder. These gardens of Louis XV were more fantastic, and followed less the lines of traditional good taste. Shapes and forms were complicated and indeed inexplicably mixed into a mélange that one could hardly recognize for one thing or another, certainly not as examples of any well-meaning styles which have lasted until to-day. The straight line now disappeared in favour of the most dissolute and irrational curves imaginable, and the sober majesty of the gardens of Louis XIV became a tangle of warring elements, fine in parts and not uninteresting, effective, even, here and there, but as a whole an aggravation.

Finally the reaction came for something more simple and more in harmony with rational taste.

The best example remaining of the Louis XV garden is that which surrounds the Pavillon de[Pg 39] Musique of the Petit Trianon, an addition to the garden which Louis XIV had given to the Grand Trianon. By comparison with the big garden of Le Notre this latter conception is as a boudoir to a reception hall.

The garden of Louis XVI was a composite, with interpolations from across the Rhine, from Holland and Belgium and from England even; features which got no great hold, however, but which, for a time, gave it an air less French than anything which had gone before.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century the formal garden was practically abandoned in France. It was the period of the real decadence of the formal garden. This came not from one cause alone but from many. To the straight lines and gentle curves of former generations upon generations of French gardens were added sinuosities as varied and complicated as those of the Vale of Cashmere, and again, with tiny stars and crescents and what not, the ground resembled an ornamental ceiling more than it did a garden. The sentimentalism of the epoch did its part, and accentuated the desire to carry out personal tastes rather than build on traditionally accepted lines. The taste for the English garden grew apace in France, and many a noble plantation was remodelled on these lines, or[Pg 40] rooted up altogether. Immediately neighbouring upon the dwelling the garden still bore some resemblance to its former outlines, but, as it drew farther away, it became a park, a wildwood or a preserve.

Isabey Père, a miniaturist, under Napoleonic stimulus, designed a number of French gardens in the early years of the nineteenth century, following more or less the conventional lines of the best work of the seventeenth century, and succeeded admirably in a small way in resuscitating the fallen taste. Isabey's gardens may have lacked much that was remarkable in the best work of Le Notre, but they were considerably better than anything of a similar nature, so far as indicating a commendable desire to return to better ideals.

Under the Second Empire a great impulse was given to garden design and making in Paris itself. It was then that the parks and squares came really to enter into the artistic conception of what a city beautiful should be.

Leaving the gardens of the Tuileries and the Luxembourg out of the question, the Parc Monceau and that of the Buttes Chaumont of to-day, the descendants of these first Paris gardens show plainly how thoroughly good they were in design and execution.[Pg 41]

The majority of professional gardeners of renown in France made their first successes with the gardens of the city of Paris, reproducing the best of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century work, which had endured without the competition of later years having dulled its beauty, though perhaps the parterres of to-day are rather more warm in colouring, even cruder, than those of a former time.

The jardin fleuriste and the parterre horticole of the nineteenth century appealed however quite as much in their general arrangement and the modification of their details and their rainbow colours, as any since the time of Louis XVI. According to the expert definition the jardin fleuriste was a "garden reserved exclusively to the culture and ornamental disposition of plants giving forth rich leaves and beautiful flowers." The above quoted description is decidedly apt.

The seventeenth century French garden formed a superb framing for the animated fêtes and reunions in which took part such a brilliant array of lords and ladies of the court as may have been invited to taste the delicacies of a fête amid such luxurious appointments.

The fashionable and courtly life of the day, so far as its open-air aspect was concerned, centered around these gardens and parks of the[Pg 42] great houses of royalty and the nobility. The costume of the folk of the time, with cloak and sword and robes of silk and velvet and gilded carriages and chaises-à-porteurs, had little in common with the out-of-door garden-party life of to-day, where the guests arrive in automobiles, be-rugged and be-goggled and somewhat the worse for a dusty journey. It is for this reason that Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte, in spite of the suggestion of sumptuousness which they still retain, are, from all points of view, more or less out of scale with the life of our times.

Bassin de la Couronne, Vaux-le-Vicomte

The modern garden, whether laid out in regular lines, or on an ornamental scale, as a flower garden purely, or in a composite style, is usually but an adjunct to the modern chateau, villa or cottage. It is more intimate than the vast, more theatrically disposed area of old, and is more nearly an indication of the personal tastes of the owner because of its restrained proportions.

[Pg 43]


CHAPTER III

THE ROYAL HUNT IN FRANCE

Just how great a part the royal hunt played in the open-air life of the French court all who know their French history and have any familiarity with the great forests of France well recognize.

The echo of French country architecture as evinced in the "maisons de plaisance" and "rendezvous de chasse" scattered up and down the France of monarchial times lives until to-day, scarcely fainter than when the note was originally sounded. Often these establishments were something more than a mere hunting-lodge, or shooting-box, indeed they generally aspired to the proportions of what may readily be accepted as a country-house. They established a specious type of architecture which in many cases grew, in later years, into a chateau or palace of manifestly magnificent appointments.

At the great hunting exposition recently held at Vienna the clou of the display was a French royal hunting-lodge in the style of Louis XVI,[Pg 44] hung with veritable Gobelin tapestries, loaned by the French government and picturing "The Hunt in France." It was called by the critics a unique painting in a beautiful frame.

In the days of Francis I and his sons, the royal hunt was given a great impetus by Catherine de Médici, wife of Henri II.

Francis, in company with his sons, had gone to Marseilles to meet the Médici bride, who was on her way to make her home at the Paris Louvre, and when he found her possessed of so lively manners and such great intelligence he became so charmed with her that, it is said, he danced with her all of the first evening. What pleased the monarch even more, and perhaps not less his sons, was that she shot with an arquebuse like a sharpshooter, and could ride to hounds like a natural-born Amazon. She was more than a rival, as it afterwards proved, of that arch-huntress, Diane de Poitiers.

History recounts in detail that last royal hunt of Francis I at Rambouillet, when he was lying near to death, the guest of his old friend, d'Angennes.

The old manor, half hunting-lodge, half fortress, and very nearly royal in all its appointments, proved a comfortable enough rest-house, and on the day after his arrival, in March, 1547, the[Pg 45] monarch commanded the preparations for a royal hunt to commence at daybreak in the neighbouring forest.

The equipage started forth in full ceremonial on the quest of stag and boar. The bugles blew and a sort of stimulated courage once more entered the king's breast, courage born of the excitement around him, the baying of the hounds and the tramping and neighing of impatient horses. He had forced himself from his bed and on horseback and started off with the rest, defying the better counsel of his retainers.

His strength proved to be born of a fictitious enthusiasm, and, speedily losing interest, he was brought back to the manor where he had his apartments, and put speechless and half dead to bed, actually dying the next day from this last over-exertion, scarce half a century of the span of his life accomplished.

Henri de Navarre also was a true lover of the open. Born in a mountain town in the Pyrenees he would rather camp on a bed of pine needles in the forest than lie on a tuft of down. He preferred his beloved Bayonne ham, spiced with garlic, to a sumptuous dinner in Jarnet house, a famous Paris tavern of the day; and had rather quench his thirst with a quaff of the wine of Jurançon than the finest cru in Paris cellars.[Pg 46]

A "Curée aux Flambeaux" A "Curée aux Flambeaux"

He hated the parade of courts, was dirty, unkempt and careless, a genuine son of the soil, heedless of fate, and an excellent huntsman.

Up to the seventeenth century the ladies of the French court showed a keener interest for falconry than for the hunt by horse and hounds.

The heroines of the Fronde, and the generation which followed, seemed to lose interest in this form of sport, and gave their favour to packs of hounds, and followed with equal interest the hunt for deer, wolves, boars, foxes and hares as they were tracked through forests and over arid wastes.

The old hunting horn, the winding horn of romance, still exists at the hunts of France, a relic of the days of Louis XIV. It sounds the conventional comings and goings of the huntsmen in the same classic phraseology as of old—the lancer, the bien allée, the vue, the changement de forêt, the accompagné, the bat l'eau, the hallali par terre, and the curée.

The "Curée aux Flambeaux" was one of the most picturesque ceremonies connected with the royal hunt in France. It began in the gallant days, and lived even until the time of the Second Empire.

The curée, that is the giving up to the hounds the remains of an animal slain in chase, does[Pg 47] not always take place at night, but when it does the torches play the part of impressive and picturesque accessories. When a curée takes place at the spot where the animal is actually killed the French sporting term for the ceremony is "forcé et abattu." This, however, is usually preceded by another called "le pied," which consists in cutting off one of the feet of the dead animal and offering it to the person in whose honor the hunt was held.

When the curée takes place by torchlight the body of the animal is carried beneath the windows of the chateau, a circle is formed by the "piqueurs," or head hunters, and all who have participated in the pursuit; and, to the sound of a trumpet, loaned by the sportsmen, one of the valets de venérie cuts up the stag. The meutes, that is to say, the hounds which are let slip last of all, and which terminates the chase—are then brought by the valet des chiens, who has great difficulty in keeping them from breaking loose. When the entrails have been cut away the valet sits astride the animal, holding up the nappe, or head and neck, shaking it at the already furious hounds. It is the care of the valet during this interval to conceal the pieces of flesh which are still under the body. The hounds are then loosened, but are kept within[Pg 48] bounds by the whips of the piqueurs and the valet des chiens. When the dogs are sufficiently exasperated the brutes are allowed to rush upon the remains of their victim; only, however, to be driven back again by whipping. When their docility has thus been proven the definite signal, "lachez tout," is given, and the hounds rush towards the stag.

The curée then presents a savage spectacle: the air is filled with growling, barking and yelling, while the ground is covered with scrambling dogs, their mouths reeking with blood.

The feminine costume for the hunt in the time of Louis XIII was of broadcloth or velvet, with a great feather-ornamented "picture" hat. Only now and again a lady on horseback after 1650 dared borrow doublet and jacket, and mount astride.

The ladies followed the hunt of Louis XIV on horseback, seldom, if ever, in the older manner of sitting behind their cavalier on the same steed. From the time of Catherine de Médici, indeed, the Italian side-saddle had become the fashion for women.

Under Louis XV the ladies sought a little more comfort, and followed the equipage sitting in a sort of hamper-like, diminutive basket, hung from the broad back of a sturdy quadruped.[Pg 49] Dresses became more fanciful, both in materials and colours. From this it was but a step to even more elaborate toilettes which necessitated a conveyance of some sort on wheels, but the most intrepid still clung to the traditionally classic methods. Marie Antoinette had her equipage de chasse, and Madame Durfort was constantly abroad in the forests of Montmorency and Boissy, directing the operation of eight or ten professional huntsmen. Among her guests were frequently the ambassadors of Prussia, Russia and Austria.

In the time of Louis XIV the Comtesse de Lude devoted herself to the hunt with a frenzy born of an inordinate enthusiasm. At the head of a pack of hounds she knew no obstacle, and, on one occasion, penetrated on horseback, followed by her dogs, into the oratory of the nuns of the Convent of Estival.

By the end of the seventeenth century the hunt in France had become no more a sport for ladies. Hunting was still a noble sport, but it was more for men than for women. The court hunted not only in royal company, but accepted invitations from any seigneur who possessed an ample preserve and who could put up a good kill; magistrates, financiers and bishops, indeed all classes, became followers of the hunt.[Pg 50]

Montgaillard tells of a hunt in which he took part on the feast day of Saint Bernard, with the monks of the Bernardin Convent in Languedoc. In the episcopal domain of Saverne six hundred beaters were employed on one occasion to provide sport for an assembled company of lords and ladies. These were the days when the bishops were in truth Grand Seigneurs.

The women of the court, while they played the game, ceded nothing to the men in bravery. Neither rain, hail nor snow frightened them. On the 28th of June, 1713, Louis XIV was hunting the deer at Rambouillet when a terrific, cyclonic storm fell upon the equipage, but not a man nor woman in the monarch's party quit. The Duchesse de Berry was "wet to the skin," but her ardour for the hunt was not in the least cooled.

To-day at Fontainebleau or Rambouillet the echo is sounded from the hunting horn of Labaudy, the sugar-king, who pulls off at least two "hunts," with his spectacular equipage, each year, and it is a sight too; a French hunting party was ever picturesque, and if to-day not as practical as the more blood-loving Englishman's hunt, is at least traditionally sentimental, even artificial to the extent, at any rate, that it seems stagy, even to the inclusion of the automobiles which bring and carry away the partici[Pg 51]pants. "Other days, other ways" never had a more strict application than to la chasse a courre in France.

Two accounts are here given of two comparatively modern figures in the French hunting field, which show the great store set by the sport in France.

In the annals of the Chateau de Grosbois, belonging to-day to the Prince de Wagram, are the accounts of an early nineteenth century hunt, which shows that the game cost dear. The "Grand Veneur" of the Napoleonic reign was a master sportsman, indeed, and to-day, in a gallery of the chateau, are preserved the guns of the master, his hunting crop and saddle, his "colours" and his hunting horn.

From the registers of the chateau, under date of December 10, 1809, the following, which concerned a hunting party given by the chatelain, is extracted verbatim.

Note of the Maitre d'Hotel for collations for the guests 8,226 francs
Illuminations 1,080 francs
Gratifications to the beaters 1,000 francs
Eau de Cologne for the ladies 30 francs
Gun-bearers 148 francs
Helpers (150) 600 francs
Aids (200) 315 francs

[Pg 52]

An Imperial Hunt at Fontainebleau An Imperial Hunt at Fontainebleau

Another hunt was given in 1811, in honour of Napoleon, when such items as three thousand francs for an orchestra, a like sum for bouquets for the ladies, a thousand or two for bonbons and fans, and twelve thousand for hired furniture, etc., to say nothing of the expenses of the hunt itself, made the bag somewhat costly. It was not always easy for the master of the hunt to get justice when it came to paying for his supplies, and in these same records a mention of a dozen leather breeches at a hundred and forty francs each was crossed off and a marginal note, Non, added in the hand of Maréchal Berthier, Prince de Wagram, himself.

The chief figure in the French hunting world of to-day is another descendant of the Napoleonic portrait gallery, Prince Murat. At the age of twelve the young Prince Joachim had already followed the hounds at Fontainebleau and Compiègne. In his double quality of relative and companion of the Prince Imperial he was one of the chiefs of the equipment of the Imperial Hunt. To-day, though well past the span of life, he is as active and as enduring in his participation in the strenuous sport as many a younger man and his knowledge of the grand art of vénerie, and his ardour for being always ahead with the hounds, is noted by all who may[Pg 53] happen to see him while jaunting through the Fôret de Compiègne, keeping well up with the traditions of his worthy elder, the "Premier Cavalier" of the First Empire, the King of Naples.

He won his first stripes in the hunting field at Compiègne in 1868, at a hunt given in honour of the Prince de Hohenzollern and the Princesse, who was the sister of the King of Portugal. It was a most moving event, so much so that it just escaped being turned into a drama, for one of the ladies of the court had a leg broken, and the minister, Fould, was almost mortally injured. A "dix cors," a stag with antlers of ten branches, had been run down at the Rond Royal where it had taken refuge in a near-by copse, and after an hour's hard chase was finally cornered in the courtyard of some farm buildings of the Hameau d'Orillets. A troop of cows was entering the courtyard at the same moment, and a most confused melée ensued. The Inspector of Forests saved the situation and the cows of the farmer, and the stag fell to the carabine of Prince de la Moskowa, with the young Prince Murat on his pony in the very front rank.

Thus early initiated in the chivalrous sport of the hunt the young man followed every hunt, big or little, which was held in the environs of Paris for many years, and by the time that he[Pg 54] came to possess the epaulettes of an Officier de Cuirassiers he was known to all the hunts from the Ardennes to Anjou.

For the past generation he has been retired to civil life by a Republican decree, and since that time has lived in his suburban Paris property, devoting himself to the raising of hunters. Here he lives almost on the borders of that great extent of forest which occupies the northern section of the Ile de France, occasionally organizing a hunt, which takes on not a little of the noble aspect of a former time, the prince following always within sound of the hunting horn and the baying of the hounds, if not actually always within sight of the quarry.

It is here, in his Villa Normande, near which Saint Ouen gave Dagobert that famous counsel which has gone down in history, that the Prince and Princesse Murat come to pass two or three months each year with their children, their allied parents and the "great guns" of the old régime who still gather about the master of the hunt as courtiers gather around their king.

At Chamblay there have been held magnificent gun shoots under the organization of the prince and his equipage. His kennels contain forty-eight of the finest bred hounds in France, and are guarded by three caretakers, the goader,[Pg 55] Carl, whose fame has reached every hunting court of Europe and a couple of valets des chiens. The prince's colours are distributed as follows: a huzzar jacket of blue, with collar, plaquettes, and vest of grenadine and breeches of a darker blue.

Formerly Prince Murat hunted the roe-deer in the valley of the Oise, but many enclosures of private property having made this exceedingly difficult in later years he is to-day obliged to go farther afield. In the spring the equipage goes to Rosny, near Mantes, and perhaps during the same season occasionally to Rambouillet.

The hunts at Chamblay are the perfection of the practice of the art. Seldom is the quarry wanting. The refrain of the Ode to Saint Hubert lauds the prowess of this great "Maitre d'Equipage."

"Par Saint Hubert mon patron
C'est quelque due de haut renom
*        *        *        *
Sonnez: écuyers et piqueux
Un Murat vien en ces lieux."

Chamblay fortunately being neither populous nor near a great town there is no throng of curious spectators hovering about to get in the way and scare the game and the hounds and their followers out of their wits. The Chasse de[Pg 56] Chamblay is the devotion of the vrais veneurs; the Prince Murat and his son, the Prince Joachim, (to-day at the military school at Saint Cyr), the Prince Eugene Murat, the Comte de Vallon, the Baron de Neuflize and a few famous veneurs in gay uniforms come from afar to give éclat to the hunt of the master. And the ladies: the following names are of those devoted to the prowess of the Prince Murat—Madame la Princesse, la Princesse Marguerite Murat, Mademoiselle d'Elchingen, the Duchesse and the Marquise d'Albufera, the Duchesse de Camestra, and Madame Kraft.

Rendezvous de Chasse, Rambouillet Rendezvous de Chasse, Rambouillet

From this one sees that romance is not all smouldering. If other proof were wanting a perusal of that most complete and interesting account of the hunt in France in modern times, "Les Chasses de Rambouillet" (Ouvrage offert par Monsieur Felix Faure) would soon establish it. This was not a work destined for the public at large. The hunt was ever a sport of kings in France, and though France has become Republican its Chasse Nationale at Rambouillet partakes not a little of the aspect of those courtly days when there was less up-to-dateness and more sentiment.

There were but one hundred copies of this work printed for the friends of the late president[Pg 57] of the Republic—"Other Sovereigns," as the dedication reads, "Princes, Grand Dukes, Ambassadors."

Rambouillet was the theatre of the most splendid hunts of the sixteenth century, and down through the ages it has ever held a preëminent place; holds it to-day even. Louis XVI in the Revolutionary torment even regretted the cutting off of his prerogative of the royal hunt, but he had no choice in the matter. In his journal of 1789 one reads: "the cerf runs alone in the Parc en Bas" (Rambouillet), and again in 1790: "Séance of the National Assembly at noon; Audience of a deputation in the afternoon. The deer plentiful at Gambayseuil."

The Revolution felled many French institutions; low, great, ecclesiastical and monarchial monuments, the trees of the forest, and the royal game, by a system of poaching, had become greatly diminished in quantity.

The nineteenth century, so frankly democratic in its latter years, was less favourable to the hunt than the monarchial days which had gone before. It had a considerable prominence under Charles X, more perhaps than it ever had under Napoleon, who in his infancy and laborious adolescence had few opportunities of following it; and in the later years of his life he was too busy.[Pg 58]

Napoleon III was not really a "good hunter," though he was something of a marksman and took a considerable pride in his skill in that accomplishment.

Entering the democratic era, Jules Grévy seems to have been only a pot-hunter of the bourgeoisie, who practiced the art only because he wanted a jugged hare for his dinner, or again simply to kill time.

Sadi-Carnot was still less a hunter of the romantic school, but assisted frequently at the ceremonial shootings which were arranged for visiting monarchs. On one occasion he was put down on the record-sheet of a hunt at Rambouillet as responsible only for the death of eighteen heads, whilst a visiting Grand Duke pulled down a hundred and fifty.

It was notably during the presidency of Felix Faure that Rambouillet again took on its animation of former times. The chateau had been furbished up once more after a long sleep, and, to the great satisfaction of the inhabitants of the town, there were more comings and goings than there had been for a quarter of a century.

In the summer and autumn the president made Rambouillet his preferred residence, and there received many visiting sovereigns and notables of all ranks. In one year a score[Pg 59] of "Official Hunts" were held, to which all the members of the diplomatic corps were invited, while there were two or three affairs of an "International" character in honour of visiting sovereigns.

All was under the control of the Grand Veneur of the Third Republic, the Comte de Girardin, and while a truly royal flavour may have been lacking the general aspect was much the same as it might have been in the days of the monarchy. The Captain of the Hunt under Felix Faure was the Inspector of Forests, Leddet, and the Premier Veneur was the Commandant Lagarenne.

The president himself was a marksman of the first rank, and never was there a reckoning up of the tableau but that he was near the head of the list. So accomplished was he with the rifle that on more than one occasion he was obliged to practically efface himself in favour of some visiting monarch, as it was said he did in the case of the King of Portugal in 1895, the Grand Ducs Vladimir and Nicolas in 1896.

Huntsmen not royal by virtue of title, or alliance, the Republican president beat to a stand-still. He had no pity nor favour for a mere ambassador, whether he hailed from England or Germany, nor for members of the Institute, Senators nor Deputies. With Prince Albert of[Pg 60] Monaco he held himself equal, and for every bird shot on the wing by the head of the house of Grimaldi the "longshoreman" of Havre brought down another.

La chasse à courre before the law in France to-day may be practiced only under strictly laid down conditions. The huntsman must legally have his dogs under such control, and keep sufficiently close to them, as to be able to recover the quarry immediately after it has been closed in upon by the hounds.

Like shooting, since the Decrée of 1844, hunting with hounds may only be undertaken under authority of a permis de chasse, and in open season, during the daytime, and with the consent of the owners over whose properties the hunt is to be held.

The ceremony of the hunt in France now follows the traditions of the classic hunt of the monarchy. The veneur decides on the rendezvous, whether the quarry be stag or chevreuil, fox or hare. The piqueur follows close up with the dogs, sets them on or calls them off, and recalls them if they go off on a false scent.[Pg 61]


CHAPTER IV

THE PALAIS DE LA CITÉ AND TOURNELLES

Not every one assumes the Paris Palais de Justice to ever have been the home of kings and queens. It has not, however, always been a tilting ground for lawyers and criminals, though, no doubt, when one comes to think of it, it is in that rôle that it has acted its most thrilling episodes.

The Saint Chapelle, the Conciergerie and the great clock of the Tour de l'Horloge mark the Palais de Justice down in the books of most folk as one of the chief Paris "sights," but it was as a royal residence that it first came into prominence.

This palace, not the conglomerate half-secular, half-religious pile of to-day, but an edifice of some considerable importance, existed from the earliest days of the Frankish invasion, and when occupied by Clotilde, the wife of Clovis, was known as the Palais de la Cité.

Under the last of the kings of the First Race this palace took on really splendid proportions.[Pg 62] When Hugues Capet arrived on the throne he abandoned the kingly residence formerly occupied by the Frankish rulers, the Palais des Thermes, and installed his goods and chattels in this Palais de la Cité, which his son Robert had rebuilt under the direction of Enguerrand de Marigny.

Up to the time of Francis I it remained the preferred residence of the French monarchs, regardless of the grander, more luxuriously disposed Louvre, which had come into being.

Philippe Auguste, by a contrary caprice, would transact no kingly business elsewhere, and it was within the walls of this palace that he married Denmark's daughter. His successors, Saint Louis, Philippe-le-Hardi, and Philippe-le-Bel did their part in enlarging and beautifying the structure, and Saint Louis laid the foundations of that peerless Gothic gem—La Saint Chapelle.

From the windows of the Palais de la Cité another Charles assisted at an official massacre, differing little from that of Saint Bartholemew's, which was conducted from the Louvre.

On the first floor of the Palais de Justice of to-day is the apartment paved in a mosaic of black and white marble, with a painted and gilded wooden vaulting, where Charles V received the Emperor Charles IV and the "Roi des Ro[Pg 63]mains." The three monarchs, accompanied by their families, here supped together around a great round marble table, a secret supper prolific of an entente cordiale which must have been the forerunner of recent ceremonies of a similar nature in France.

Known as the Salle de Marbre, this great chamber came later to be the Tribunal where the courts sat. It was only after the death of Charles VI, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, that the Palais de la Cité was given over wholly to the disciples of Saint Yves, the judges, advocates and notaries. It became also the definite seat of the Parliament and took the nomenclature of Palais de Justice, though still inhabited at intermittent intervals by French royalties. One such notable occasion was that when Henry V of England was here married to Catherine de France, and when Henry VI of England took up his temporary residence here as king to the French.

In the fourteenth century the precincts of the Palais de la Cité—the open courtyard one assumes is meant—were invaded by the stalls of small shopkeepers, some of which actually took root in wood and stone and became fixtures to such an extent that the courtyard was known as the Galerie des Merciers.[Pg 64]

The great marble chamber after becoming the meeting place of the Tribunal played a part at times dignified and at others banal. An incident is recorded where the clerks and minor court officials danced on the famous marble table and "played farces" with the judicial bench serving as a stage. It was said that, on account of the immoralities which they represented, the authorities were obliged to suppress the performances by law, as they have in recent years the flagrant freedom of the "Quat'z Arts."

Up to the times of Francis I but few events of importance unrolled themselves within the Palais de la Cité, but in 1618 a violent conflagration broke out leaving only the round towers of the Conciergerie, the tower and the church, and that part of the main structure which housed the great Salle de Marbre, unharmed. Apropos of this, a joyous rhymester of the time made the following quatrain:

"Certes ce fut un triste jeu
Quand a Paris Dame Justice
Pour avoir mangé trop d'épice
Se mit le Palais tout en feu."

Jacques Debrosse was charged with rebuilding the edifice after the fire and refitted first the Grand Salle, to-day the famous Salle des Pas[Pg 65] Perdus, crowded with the shuffling coming and going crowd of men and women whose business, or no business at all, brings them to this central point for the dissemination of legal gossip. It is a magnificent apartment, and, to no great extent, differs from what it was before the conflagration.

This Salle consists of two parallel naves separated by a range of arcades and lighted by two great circular openings with four round-headed windows at either end. Its attributes are practically the same as they were in 1622. The structure, take it as a whole, may be said to date only from the seventeenth century, but certain it is that the old Palais de la Cité is incorporated therein, every stone of it, and if its career was humdrum that was the fault of circumstances rather than from any inherent faults of its own.

The Conciergerie, that inelegant, inconsistent architectural mixture of the ancient and modern, considered apart, though it properly enough is usually considered with the Palais de Justice, was formerly the dwelling or guardhouse of the Concierge of the Palais de la Cité. His post was not merely that of the keeper of the gates; he was a personage at court and was as autocratic as his more plebeian contemporaries of to-day, for the Paris concierge, as we, who have for years lived[Pg 66] under their despotism well know, is a very dreadful person.

In addition to being the governor of the royal dwelling this concierge was the guardian of the royal prisoners. In 1348 he was further invested with the official title of Bailli and the post was, at times, occupied by the highest and the most noble in the land, among others Philippe de Savoie, the friend of Charles VI, and Juvenal des Oursins, the historian of this prince. The first to combine the two functions, that of Bailli and Concierge, was Jacques Coictier, the doctor of Louis XI.

As a virtual prison the Conciergerie only came to be transformed when Charles V quitted the residence of the Palais de la Cité, and the Conciergerie, as such, only figures on the Tournelles registers under date of 1391.

The fire of the latter part of the eighteenth century destroyed a large part of the building, but enough remained to patch together the most serviceable of Revolutionary prisons, for at one time it held at least twelve hundred poor souls, of whom two hundred and eighty-eight were killed off at one fell blow.

But one woman among them all actually came to her death within the prison walls. This was La Belle Bouquetière of the Palais Royal who,[Pg 67] in an access of jealous furor, horribly mutilated a royal guardsman, and for this met a most cruel death by being transfixed to a post and submitting to a trial of "le fer et le feu." In just what manner the punishment was applied one can best imagine for himself.

The Revolutionary rôle of the Conciergerie is a thing apart from the purport of this book, hence is not further referred to.

Going back to the time of Francis I, among the famous prisoners of state were Louis de Berquin, the Comte de Mongomere, the regicides Ravaillac and Damiens, the Maréchal d'Ancre, Cartouche, Mandrin and others. To-day, as a prison, the Conciergerie still performs its functions acceptably, safeguarding those up for the assizes, and those condemned to death before being sent on their long journey.

The three great flanking towers of the Conciergerie are its chief architectural distinction to-day. That of the left, the largest, is the Tour d'Argent, that of the middle, the Tour Bonchet, and the third, the Tour de César or the Tour de l'Horloge. This last is the only one which has preserved its mediæval crenulated battlements aloft. The great clock has been commonly considered the largest timepiece of its kind extant, but it is doubtful if this now holds good[Pg 68] with railways and insurance companies vying with each other to furnish the hour so legibly that he who runs may read.

Across the Pont au Change, from the Palais de la Cité, by the Louvre and out into the Faubourg Saint Antoine, one comes to the Place des Vosges, the old Place Royale, which occupies almost the same area as was covered by the courtyard of the Palais des Tournelles, so called from its many towers.

All around the Palais des Tournelles was located a series of splendid hotels privés of the nobility. In one of these, the Hotel de Saint Pol, the king once lodged twenty-two visiting princes of the quality of Dauphin (the eldest son of a ruling monarch), their suites and domestics.

Charles V in his time amalgamated with his royal palace three of these magnificent private dwellings, the Hotel du Petit Musc, the Hotel de l'Abbé de Saint Maur and the Hotel du Comte d'Étampes.

The palace proper really faced on what is now the Rue Saint Antoine, opposite the Hotel Saint Pol. Its historic and romantic memories of the sword and cloak period of gallantry were many, but the edifice was demolished by the order of Catherine de Médici.[Pg 69]

In the palace Charles VI was confined, during the period of his insanity, by order of the cruel Isabeau de Bavière. The Duke of Bedford, when regent for the minor Henry VI, lodged here, and upon the expulsion of the English it became the residence of Charles VII. Louis XI and Louis XII each inhabited it, and the latter died within its walls.

The Palais des Tournelles will go down to history chiefly because of that celebrated jousting bout held in its courtyard on the marriage day of the two princesses, Elizabeth and Marguerite.

Henri II and the elder princes, his sons, were to ride forth in tournament and break lances, if possible, with all comers. The court, including Catherine de Médici and the princess Elizabeth, wife of Philippe II, the late husband of Mary Tudor, the two Marguerites and other high personages were seated on a dais upholstered in damascened silk and ornamented with many-coloured streamers.

The time was July and the morning. At a signal from Catherine music burst forth and the bouts began.

The king rode forth at the head of his chevaliers, wearing a suit of golden armour, his sword handle set with jewels, and, in spite of the presence of his wife, his lance flying black[Pg 70] and white streamers, the colours of Diane de Poitiers, who had lately turned her affections from father unto son.

A herald proclaimed the opening of the combat, and before night the king had broken the lances of the Ducs de Ferrare, de Guise, and de Nemours, and was just about disarming when a masked knight approached from the Faubourg Saint Antoine and challenged the king, who, in spite of being implored to desist by his queen, entered the lists again and was ultimately wounded unto death by the sable knight.

Henri II expired the same night in a bedchamber of the Palais des Tournelles, whither he had been carried, at the age of forty-one, the victim of chance, or the wile of the Sieur de Montgomeri, the ancestor of England's present Earl of Eglinton. The captain of the Scotch Guards, Montgomeri, was not immediately pursued (he meantime had fled the court), but Catherine de Médici harboured for him a most bitter rancour. Pro and con ran his cause, for he had his partisans, but the Maréchal de Matignon finally caught up with him in Normandy and he was tortured and condemned to death for the crime of lèse majesté—beating the king at his own game.

The widowed queen angrily ordered Diane[Pg 71] de Poitiers from the court, and caused the Palais des Tournelles to be razed. This was her only means of showing her contempt for the woman who had played her royal spouse to his death as the Romans played the gladiators of old; and Tournelles, as a palatial monument of its time, blotted out the rest when it disappeared from view.

A forest of spirelets soared aloft from the gables and rooftrees of the Palais des Tournelles. There was no spectacle of the time more imposing than this sky-line silhouette of a Paris palace; not at Chambord nor Chenonceaux was the spectacle more fine. It was like a fairy castle, albeit that it was in the heart of a great city.

To the right of the Palais des Tournelles, beyond the Porte Saint Antoine, was the ink-black, frowning donjon of the Bastille, its severity in strong contrast with the more luxurious palaces of the princes which surrounded it not far away.

The charming Place des Vosges, which occupies the site of Tournelles to-day, is another of Paris's breathing spaces. Well may it be called a royal garden—a park virtually on a diminutive scale—since it was originally known as the Place Royale, under Henri IV.

With the advent of the gascon Henri de Béarn this delightful little unspoiled corner of old Paris[Pg 72] took on the aspect which it now has. Within this enclosure were the usual garden or park attributes, more or less artificially disposed, but making an ideal open-air playground for the court, shut in from outside surroundings by the outlines of the old palace walls, and not too far away from the royal palace of the Louvre.

The first and greatest historic souvenir of this garden was a Carrousel given in 1612, by Marie de Médici, two years after the tragic death of Henri IV, celebrating the alliance between France and Spain. Under Richelieu the square became known as the Place des Vosges, and, in spite of the law against duelling, which had by this time come into force, it became a celebrated meeting place for duellists like Ivry, the "Grand' Roué" or the "Vel' Hiver" of to-day.

It was on May 12, 1627, that the Comte des Chappell killed Bussy d'Amboise on this spot, and left a bloody souvenir, which was only forgotten by the historians when they had to recount another meeting, this time between the Catholic Duc de Guise and the Protestant Coligny d'Andelot.

"Monsieur," said the duke, "we will now proceed to settle that little account between our illustrious houses," and with that he drew[Pg 73] his sword and killed Coligny, as if he were but stamping the life out of a caterpillar.

Now, with all this bloody memory behind, the Place became one of the most elegant residential quarters of the capital, preferred above all by the nobility, the Rohans, the Alègres and Rotroux.

At No. 21 lived Victor Hugo, just before the Coup d'État, in the house first made famous as the habitation of the somewhat infamous Marion Delorme.

Among other illustrious names who have given a brilliance to these alleyed walks and corridors are to be recalled Corneille, Condé, Saint Vincent de Paul, Molière, Turenne, Madame de Longueville, De Thou, Cinq-Mars, Richelieu, D'Ormesson, the Prince de Talmon, the Marquis de Tessé and the Comte de Chabanne.

It is possible that this charming Paris square will remain as ever it has been, for a recent attempt of the owner of one of the houses which borders upon it to change the disposition of the façade brought about a law-suit which compelled him to respect the procedure which obtained in 1605 when it was ordained the Place Royale.

To prove their rights the civic authorities had recourse to the original plans still preserved in[Pg 74] the national archives. This is a demonstration of how carefully European nations preserve the written records of their pasts.

 BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF OLD PARIS BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF OLD PARIS
View larger image

The decision finally arrived at by the courts—that the Place des Vosges must be kept intact as originally planned—gave joy to the hearts of all true Parisians and archeologists alike.

[Pg 75]


CHAPTER V

THE OLD LOUVRE AND ITS HISTORY

A stroll by the banks of the Seine will review much of the history of the capital, as much of it as was bound up with Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Palais de la Cité (now the Palais de Justice), and that was a great deal, even in mediæval and Renaissance times.

The life of the Louvre was Paris; the life of Paris that of the nation; and the life of the nation that of the people. This even the Parisians of to-day will tell you. It is scant acknowledgment of the provinces to be sure, but what would you? The French capital is much more the capital of France than London is of England, or Washington of America—leaving politics out of the question.

Paris before the conquest by the Franks was practically only the Seine-surrounded isle known as Lutetia, and later as "La Cité," and the slight overflow which crept up the slopes of the Montagne de la Sainte Genevieve. From the Chatelet to the Louvre was a damp, murky[Pg 76] swamp called, even in the moyen-age, Les Champeaux, meaning the Little Fields, but swampy ones, as inferred by studying the evolution of the name still further.

A rapid rivulet descended from Menilmontant and mingled with the Seine somewhere near the Garden of the Tuileries.

Clovis and his Franks attacked the city opposite the isle, and, upon the actual achievement of their conquest, threw up an entrenched camp on the approved Roman plan in what is now the courtyard of the old Louvre, and filled the moat with the waters of this rivulet. The ensemble was, according to certain authorities, baptized the Louvre, or Lower, meaning a fortified camp. This entrenchment was made necessary in order that the Franks might sustain themselves against the Gallo-Roman occupants of Lutetia, and in time enabled them to acquire the whole surrounding region for their own dominion. This the Lower, or Louvre, made possible, and it is well deserved that its name should be thus perpetuated, though actually the origin of the name is in debate, as will be seen by a further explanation which follows.

Little by little this half-barbaric camp—in contradistinction to the more solid works of the Romans—became a placefort, then a château,[Pg 77] then a palace and, finally, as the young lady tourist said, an art museum. Well, at any rate, it was a dignified evolution.

Two Louvres disappeared before the crystallization of the present rather irregularly cut gem. From the Merovingians dates the Louvre des Champs, the hostile, militant Louvre, with its high wood and stone tower, familiar only in old engravings. After this the moyen-age Louvre, attributable to Saint Louis and Charles V, with its great tower, its thick walls of stone and its deep-dug moats, came into being. With Francis I came a more sympathetic, a more subtle era of architectural display, a softening of outlines and an interpolation of flowering gables. It was thus that was born that noble monument known as the New Louvre, which combined all the arts and graces of a fastidious ambition.

Nothing remains of the old Louverie (to which the name had become corrupted) which Philippe Auguste early in the thirteenth century caused to be turned into an ambitious quadrangular castle from a somewhat more humble establishment which had evolved itself on the site of the Frankish camp, save the white marble outline sunken in the pavement of the courtyard of the palace of to-day. By destiny this palace, set down in the very heart of Paris, was[Pg 78] to dominate everything round about. From the date of its birth, and since that time, it has had no rivals among Paris or suburban palaces. Its very situation compelled the playing of an auspicious part, and the Seine flowing swiftly by its ramparts added no small charm to the fêtes and ceremonies of both the Louvre and the Tuileries.

Never was a great river so allied with the life of a royal capital; never a stream so in harmony with other civic beauties as is the Seine with Paris. When Henri II entered Paris after his Sacrament he contemplated a water-festival on the Seine, which was to extend from the walls of the Louvre to the towers of Notre Dame, a festival with such elaborate decorations as had never been known in the French capital.

The kings of France after their Sacrament entered the Louvre by the quay-side entrance, followed by their cortège of gayly caparisoned cavaliers and gilded coaches with personages of all ranks in doublet and robe, cape and doublet. The scintillating of gold lace and burnished coats gave a brilliance which rivalled that of the sun.

No sooner had the cavalcade entered the gates of the Louvre than it came out again to participate in the day and night festival, which had the[Pg 79] bosom of the Seine for its stage and its bridges and banks for the act drop and the wings.

The receptions of Ambassadors, the baptisms of royalties, royal marriages and celebrations of victories, or treaties, were all fêted in the same manner.

Napoleon glorified the Peace of Amiens under similar conditions, and there is scarce a chronicler of any reign but that recounts the part played by the Seine in the ceremonies of the court of the New and Old Louvre.

It was amid a setting which lent itself so readily to all this that the Old Louvre, which was rebuilt by Francis I, first came to its glory.

The origin of the name Louvre has still other interpretation from that previously given. It seems to be a question of grave doubt among the savants, but because the note is an interesting one it is here reproduced. The name may have been derived as well from the word œuvre, from the Latin opus; it may have been evolved from lupara, or louverie (place of wolves), which seems improbable. It may have had its evolution from either one of these origins, or it may not.

Anglo-Saxons may be proud of the fact that certain French savants have acknowledged that the name of the most celebrated of all Paris[Pg 80] palaces is a derivation from a word belonging to their tongue and meaning habitation. This, then, is another version and one may choose that which is most to his liking, or may go back and show his preference for lower, meaning a fortified place.

A palace—something more elaborate than a mere habitation—stood on the same site in the twelfth century, a work which, under the energies of Philippe Auguste, in 1204 began to grow to still more splendid proportions, though infinitesimal one may well conclude as compared with the mass which all Paris knows to-day under the inclusive appellation of "The Louvre."

The Paris of Philippe Auguste was already a city of a hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants, with mean houses on every side and little pretense at even primitive comforts or conveniences. This far-seeing monarch laid hand first on the great citadel tower of the fortified lower, added to its flanking walls and built a circling rampart around the capital itself. It is recounted that the rumbling carts, sinking deep in mud and plowing through foot-deep dust beneath the palace windows, annoyed the monarch so much that he instituted what must have been the first city paving work on record, and commanded that all the chief thoroughfares[Pg 81] passing near the Louvre should be paved with cobbles. This was real municipal improvement. He was a Solon among his kind for, since that day, it has been a sine qua non that for the well-keeping of city streets they must be paved, and, though cobblestones have since gone out of fashion, it was this monarch who first showed us how to do it.

The Louvre of Philippe Auguste was the most imposing edifice of the Paris of its time. To no little extent was this imposing outline due to its great central tower, the maitresse, which was surrounded by twenty-three dames d'honneur, without counting numberless tourelles. This hydra-towered giant palace was the real guardian of the Paris of mediævalism, as its successor is indeed the real centre of the Paris of to-day.

The city was but an immense mass of low-lying gable-roofed houses, whose crowning apex was the sky-line of the Louvre, with that of Tournelles only less prominent to the north, and that of La Cité hard by on the island where the Palais de Justice and Notre Dame now stand.

Before the hand of Francis fell upon the Louvre it was but an isolated stronghold—a combined castle, prison and palace, gloomy, foreboding and surrounded by moats and ramparts almost impassable. Philippe Auguste built well and[Pg 82] made of it an admirable and imposing castle and a place of defence, and a defence it was, and not much more.

For its time it was of great proportions and of an ideal situation from a strategic point of view; far more so than the isolated Palais de la Cité in the middle of the Seine.

Four gates led out from the inner courtyard of the Old Louvre: one to the Seine; one to the south, facing Saint Germain l'Auxerrois; another towards the site of the later Tuileries; and the other to about where the Rue Marengo cuts the Rue de Rivoli of to-day.

With the endorsement given it by Philippe Auguste the Louvre now became the official residence of the kings of the Capetian race, whereas previously they had dwelt but intermittently at Paris, chiefly in the Palais de la Cité.

The monarch, as if to test the efficiency of his new residence as a stronghold, made a dungeon tower, his greatest constructive achievement until he built the castle of Gisors, and in the tower imprisoned the Comte de Flandre, whom he had taken prisoner at Bouvines. Louis IX (Saint Louis), in his turn, built a spacious annex to Philippe Auguste's Louvre, to which he attached his name.

Charles V totally changed the aspect of the[Pg 83] palace from what it had formerly been—half-fortress, half-residence—and made of it a veritable palace in truth as well as in name, by the addition of numerous dependencies.

Within a tower which was built during the reign of this monarch, called the Tour de la Librairie, he assembled his royal bibelots and founded what was afterwards known as the Bibliothèque du Louvre, the egg from which was hatched the present magnificently endowed Bibliothèque Nationale in the Rue Richelieu.

It is related that in 1373 the valet-de-chambre of Charles V made a catalogue of the nine hundred and ten volumes which formed this collection, an immense number for the time when it is known that his predecessor, Jean-le-Bon, possessed but seven volumes of history and four devotional books as his entire literary treasure.

This seems to be a bibliographical note of interest which has hitherto been overlooked. Charles V was evidently a man of taste, or he would not have built so well, though all is hearsay, as not a fragment remains of the work upon which he spent his talents and energies.

From the death of Charles V, in 1364, until 1557 the Louvre by some caprice ceased to be a permanent royal residence. At the latter[Pg 84] epoch the ambitious, art-loving Francis I conceived the idea that here was a wealth of scaffolding upon which to graft some of his Renaissance luxuries and, by a process of "restoration" (perhaps an unfortunate word for him to have employed, since it meant the razing of the fine tower built by Charles V), added somewhat to the splendours thereof, though in a fickle moment, as was his wont, allowed a gap of a dozen years to intervene between the outlining of his project and the terrifically earnest work which finally resulted in the magnificent structure accredited to him, though indeed it meant the demolition of the original edifice.

It was at this period that Charles V entered into the ambitious part which Francis was to henceforth play in the Louvre, so perhaps the interruption was pardonable.[Pg 85]


CHAPTER VI

THE LOUVRE OF FRANCIS I AND ITS SUCCESSORS

One can attribute the demise of the Old Louvre to the coming of Charles V to Paris in 1539. This royal residence, hastily put in order to receive his august presence, seemed so coldly inconvenient and inhospitable to his host, Francis I, that that monarch decided forthwith upon its complete reconstruction and enlargement. Owing to various combinations of circumstances the actual work of reconstruction was put off until 1546, thus the New Louvre as properly belongs to the reign of Henri II as to that of his father.

Francis I, more than any other European monarch of his time, or, indeed, before or since, left his mark as an architect of supreme tastes over every edifice with which he came into personal contact. His mania was for building—when it was not for affairs of the heart—and so daring was he that when he could not get an old fabric to remodel he would brave all, as did Louis XIV at Versailles, and erect a dream[Pg 86] palace in the midst of a desert. This he did at Chambord in the Sologne. At Paris his difficulties were perhaps no less, but he had his materials and his workmen ready at hand.

Francis's repairs and embellishments to the Old Louvre were by no means perfunctory, but he saw possibilities greater than he was able to perform with the means at hand. He first razed the central tower, or donjon, and scarce before the departure of his royal guest, was already dreaming of replacing the entire fabric with another which should bear the same name. One has read of the monarch's thoughts when he was awaiting the coming to Paris of his old enemy in the peninsula; how he regretted the moment when he should sally out to meet him and leave his new-found friend, the Duchesse d'Étampes, in spite of her pleadings for him to remain by her. All this is mere historic incident, and has little to do with Francis's art instincts and ambitions. He probably thought this very thing himself when he replied to the importunate lady: "Duchesse, I must tear myself away without more ado; I go to meet my brother monarch at Amboise on the Loire."

It was Francis I, the passionate lover of art, who collected the first pictures which formed the foundation of the present collections of the[Pg 87] Musée National du Louvre. He bought many in foreign parts, and many others were brought from Italy by Italian artists, whom he had commanded to the capital: Primaticcio brought with him, upon his arrival, more than a hundred antique statues. These art objects were first assembled at Fontainebleau and ornamented the apartments of the king. Among them were Da Vinci's "La Joconde" and Raphael's "Holy Family and Saint Michael."

Henri II, Henri IV, and Louis XIII did little to enrich the art collections of the palace, but Louis XIV charged his minister, Colbert, with numerous purchases. In 1661 he bought the fine collection left by Cardinal Mazarin, and ten years later purchased the contents of the celebrated gallery belonging to the banker Jacob of Cologne. The state expended for these acquisitions nearly six hundred thousand livres, and received for this sum six hundred paintings and six thousand drawings.

It was at this period that the royal collections were transferred to Paris, a little before the death of Colbert, when they were placed in the galleries of the Louvre; though it was a hundred years later that a national museum was actually created. This was virtually brought about from the fact that the royal collections were trans[Pg 88]ported in a great part to Versailles, only to be returned to Paris in 1750, transferred again to Versailles, and ultimately to be returned to Paris under the sheltering wing of the grand old Louvre.

The Museum of the Louvre, the Museum National et Central des Arts, is the outgrowth of a Decree of the Convention, dated July 27, 1793. It was aided and enriched considerably under Napoleon I, that passionate lover of the beautiful, who, none too scrupulously, would even seek to "make a campaign" in order to acquire art works for the museum of his capital.

Many of these abducted art treasures (like the horses of Saint Marc, for instance) were afterwards returned to their original owners, but the nucleus of this unrivaled art museum was chiefly due to the consul and emperor.

As soon as Charles V had left the Louvre demolition was at once begun by Francis, and in 1541 an Italian, Serlio, was bidden prepare a set of plans for the Renaissance glory that was to be. Serlio, refusing, or debating the price, was cast aside for the Frenchman, Lescot, whose plan was adopted.

The work can in no way be said to have suffered by the change of plans, for though Pierre[Pg 89] Lescot was as yet a name unknown in the world of architecture his talents were sufficiently great, magistrate and parliamentary counsellor though he was, to give to Paris what has ever been accounted its chief Renaissance glory.

Work was begun at once, a work which was not interrupted by intrigues of court, of love, of war, nor by the deaths of Francis I nor his successor, Henri II.

Although the work was begun in an energetic manner it was 1555 before the western wing was ready for the hand of the sculptors, but from this time on, judging from the interpolated monograms of Charles IX and Henri IV on the south wing, work progressed less hurriedly. The two other constructions, which were to enclose the quadrangle to the north and east, were completed under such circumstances that there has never been a question as to their period.

For fifteen years the work went on, when suddenly it was abandoned as were the plans of Lescot. A sole wing, that following the Seine and abutting at right angles against the Pavilion de l'Horloge, had resulted.

The sculptures of its south façade, as well as certain of its interior decorations, were entrusted to Jean Goujon (1520-1572), who became a victim of the horrible night of Saint Barthol[Pg 90]omew, planned in the same Louvre by the wily Médici.

The Louvre The Louvre

Henri II often dwelt over Lescot's plans and devices, and, on one occasion, when the poet Ronsard was present, demanded of the architect the meaning of the decorations surrounding a great œil-de-bœuf window, two kneeling figures, one blowing a trumpet, and the other extending a palm branch. "Victory and Fame," replied Lescot. And, in honour of the architect and his sentiment, Ronsard composed his "Franciade." The detail was actually by Goujon, whose design it was, under the oversight of the master architect. One may see this chef d'œuvre to-day just above the courtyard portal to the west.

At the death of Henri II, Catherine de Médici came here to live alone, and built the great extension, which stands to-day and joins the Old Louvre with that portion along the banks of the Seine by the double arch, through which swing the autobusses coming from the Rive Gauche with such a Juggernaut grind that fears for the foundation of the palace are ever uppermost in the minds of those responsible for its preservation.

It is in this Catherine de Médici portion of the Louvre (1578) that the present Galerie des[Pg 91] Antiques is installed, and which is usually thronged, in season and out, with globe-trotting sight-seers who give seldom a thought to its constructive elegance and its association with the Médici.

With the first years of the reign of Charles IX, there is to be remarked a notable slowness of procedure with regard to the construction of the New Louvre. This was brought about chiefly by the conception of the Tuileries and the work which was actually begun thereon. Soon a gigantic idea radiated from the ambitious mind of Catherine de Médici. In this connection it must be remembered, however, that Catherine, so commonly reviled as "the Italian," was not all Italian; French blood flowed through her veins through that of her mother, Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne. She came first to France, landing at Marseilles, whence she arrived from Leghorn, and forthwith commenced her journey Parisward, arriving finally at the Louvre as the bride of Prince Henri in the guise of a simple, clever girl, though indeed she was twenty years the elder.

Now she dreamed of uniting her chateau of the Tuileries with that of the king by a long, connecting gallery. She put action to the thought and under Pierre (II) Chambiges, a relative of the Chambiges of Fontainebleau and Saint Ger[Pg 92]main, the Petite Galerie, a mere means of communication between the two chateaux, and not the least to be likened to a defensive structure, was begun and work thereon carried out between 1564 and 1571, though it remained for Thibaut Metezeau, in 1595-1596, to carry it on a stage further under Henri IV.

This architect introduced the notorious mezzanine, which has so intrigued historians of the Louvre because of the unequal elevations of the various floors, a procedure which was unavoidable save by recourse to a substitution less to be objected to than the existing fault. Actually the connection with the Tuileries was made by the prolongation of this gallery by the Ducerceau brothers in 1595. The work existing to-day, but only in its reconstructed form, is the same as that completed by Napoleon III (1863-1868).

Charles IX and Henri III, though making the Louvre their residence, practically had no hand in its embellishment. The former gave his energies and ideals full play in the Saint Bartholomew massacres and shot at poor unfortunates who fled beneath the windows of his apartments on the quay-side of the Louvre. This, if not the chief incident of his association with the fabric, is at least the best remembered[Pg 93] one. Henri III, too, led a scandalous life within the walls of the Louvre and fled on horseback, smuggled out a back door, as it were, on a certain May evening in 1588, never more to return, for the Dominican monk Jacques Clément killed him with a knife-thrust before he had got beyond Saint Cloud.

The accepted tale of the part played by the famous window of the Louvre in the drama of Saint Bartholomew's night is as follows: As the signal tolled from the belfry of Saint Germain l'Auxerrois it was answered by another peal from the great bell of the Palais de Justice, where, within a small apartment over the watergate of the Louvre, the queen and her two sons were huddled together not knowing what might happen next. The multitude streamed by on the quay before the palace, and, finally, amid all the horror of Coligny's murder, and the throwing of his body from a window of the Louvre to the street below, Charles IX stood at his window regarding the fleeing Huguenots as so much small game, shooting away at them with an arquebuse as they went by, and with an unholy glee, even boasting that he had killed a score of heretics in a quarter of an hour.

Historians of those exciting times were perhaps none too faithful chroniclers and Charles's[Pg 94] "excellent shots" in his "royal hunt," and hideous oaths and threats such as: "We'll have them all, even the women and children," are not details as well authenticated as we would like to have them. Like Rizzio's blood stains they lack conviction.

The ambitious white-plumed Henri de Navarre, when he became Henri IV of France, set about to connect the tentacle which stretched southward from the Old Louvre with the Tuileries (a continuation of the project of Catherine de Médici), and, by the end of the sixteenth century, had built a long façade under the advice of the brothers Ducerceau. This work was added to on the courtyard side under the Second Empire, when a reconstruction, more likely a strengthening of underpinning and walls because of their proximity to the swift-flowing waters of the Seine, of the work of Henri IV was undertaken.

Joining the Tuileries and this work of Ducerceau was the celebrated Pavilion de Flore, a work of the Henri IV period rather than that of Catherine de Médici.

From the Pavilion de Flore to the Pavilion de Lesdiguières ran this long gallery of the Ducerceau and numerous interstices and unfinished vaults and arches leading towards the Old Louvre were, at this epoch, completed by Metezeau and[Pg 95] Dupaira. The chief apartment of this structure became known as the Galerie Henri IV, and was completed in 1608.

At the death of Henri IV, Richelieu, who at times builded so well, and who at others was a base destroyer of monuments, demolished that portion which remained of the edifice of Charles V. The work of Pierre Lescot was preserved, however, and to give symmetry and an additional extent of available space the rectangle facing Saint Germain l'Auxerrois to-day was completed, thus enclosing in one corner of its ample courtyard the foundations of the earlier work whose outlines are plainly traced in the pavement that those who view may build anew—if they can—the old structure of Philippe Auguste. In mere magnitude the present quadrangle is something more than four times the extent of the Louvre of the time of Charles V.

This courtyard of the Louvre is perhaps that spot in all Paris which presents the greatest array of Renaissance art treasures. From ground to sky-line the façades are embroidered by the works from the magic hand of the Siècle Italien. Jean Goujon himself has left his brilliant souvenirs on all sides, caryatides, festoons, bas-reliefs, statues and colonnades.

Enthusiasm and devotion knew no bounds[Pg 96] among those old craftsmen, but all is well-ordered, regular and correct. "He who mentions the Louvre to a Frenchman gives a greater pleasure than that of Méhémet-Ali when one praises the pyramids." In a way the Louvre is the most magnificent edifice in the universe; "four palaces one piled up on another, une ville entière." And when the Louvre was linked with the Tuileries in the real, what a splendour it must have been for former generations to marvel at! "La plus belle et la plus grande chose sous le soleil."

This work of aggrandizement of the quadrangle was carried out by the architect Lemercier on the basis of a project adopted in 1642, and, to a great extent, completed before the arrival of Anne d'Autriche, twenty years later.

This queenly personage had ideas of her own as to what sort of a residence she would have in Paris, and beyond her personal needs little was done for the moment towards actually linking up the various loose ends, each more or less complete in itself, which now composed the Paris palace of the French monarchs.

Her son, the king in person if not in power, was not likely to be endowed with instincts which would put him in the rank of the traditional castle or palace builders of his race; it was litera[Pg 97]ture, music and painting which more particularly flourished during his reign, and so the Austrian contented herself at first with merely putting the former apartments of Catherine de Médici into condition for her personal use and building a Salle-de-Spectacle, and—happy thought—a Salle-des-Bains.

Louis XIV, as he found time, after the war of the Fronde, actually did bethink himself of completing, in a way, the work of his elders, and charged the architect Levau to finish off the north wing, which was done in 1660. A year later the Galerie Henri IV was practically destroyed by fire and rebuilt by Levau, who gave the commission for its interior decoration to Lebrun.

Soon the south wing was completed, leaving only the gap for the eastern façade which was intended to be the chief entrance to the mass of buildings, which still bore the comprehensive name of "The Louvre."

For the accomplishment of this façade, the demolition of certain dwellings of the nobility which had clustered around the royal fabric was necessary, and the Hotels du Petit Bourbon, de Villequier, de Chaumont, La Force, De Créquy, de Longueville, and de Choisy fell before the picks of the house-breakers. Levau commenced[Pg 98] work on the façade at once, and made rapid progress until 1664, when an abrupt order came for him to stop all work. Political conspiracy, graft, if you like, was at work, and Colbert, little favourable towards Levau, made a proposition to the king to open a competition for the design and execution of the façade. Willingly enough, his mind doubtless more occupied with other things, Louis XIV agreed, and a general call was sent out to all French architects to enter the lists. Confusion reigned, and Levau was about to be recalled when Colbert spied an unrolled parchment in the corner and pounced upon it eagerly as the means of saving him from the dubious efforts of the former incumbent.

It was the "non-professional" plan submitted by a doctor in medicine, one Charles Perrault. Jealous competitors made all sorts of criticisms and objections, the chief contention being that if by any chance an architectural design by a "pill-roller" proved pleasing to the eye it was bound to be impracticable from an economic or constructive point of view, or both. This is often enough true, and it proved to be so in this case, for in spite of a certain amount of advice from an expert Italian builder, who had come to Paris to help the good doctor with his difficult task (for he actually received a commission for[Pg 99] the work and completed it in 1674), the façade did not fit the rest of the fabric with which it was intended to join up, and to-day it may be observed by the curious as being several feet out of line with the structure which faces on the Rue de Rivoli.

Louis XIV practically had no regard for the Louvre and its architectural traditions; his palatial garden-city idea, worked out at Versailles, shows what an innovator he was. He allowed the Louvre to be filled up with all sorts of riffraff, who were often given a lodging there in place of a money payment for some service rendered. The Louvre thus became a sort of genteel poor-house, while king and court spent their time in the more ample country-house behind the Meudon hills.

By 1750 the Louvre had become little more than an immense ruin, humbled and desecrated; a veritable orphan. The Marquis de Marigny, Surintendant des Batiments Royaux, obtained the authorization to chase out the parasites and clean up the Augean stable and put things in order as best pleased his esthetic fancy, but only with the early years of the nineteenth century did the Louvre become a real palace again and worthy of its traditions.

From 1803 to 1813 the architects Fontaine[Pg 100] and Percier were constantly engaged in the work of repairs and additions, and built (for Napoleon I) the gallery which extends from what is now the Place Jeanne d'Arc to the Pavillon de Rohan, along the Rue de Rivoli. This detached portion (bound only to the Tuileries) was finally joined to the seventeenth century work of Lemercier under Louis Napoleon in 1852. This gallery, the work of "moderns," is no mean example of palace-building, either. It was the work of Visconti and Lefuel, and with the adoption of this plan was finally accomplished the interpolation of that range of pavilions which gives the architecture of the Louvre one of its principal distinctions. Named after the principal ministers of former administrations—Donon, Mollien, Daru, Richelieu, Colbert, Turgot, etc., these pavilions break up what would otherwise be monotonous, elongated façades.

The inauguration of this last built portion of the palace was held on August 14, 1857, the occasion being celebrated by a banquet given by Napoleon III to all the architects, artists and labourers who had been engaged upon the work. In the same Salle, two years later, which took the name of Salle des États, the emperor gave a diner de gala to the generals returning from the Italian campaign.[Pg 101]

Still further résumé of fact with regard to the main body of the Louvre, as well as with respect to its individual components, will open never-ending vistas and pageants. It is not possible in a chapter, a book or a five-foot shelf to limn all that is even of cursory interest. The well-known, the little-known and the comparatively unknown mingle in varying proportions, according to the individual mood or attitude. To some the appeal will lie in the vastness of the fabric, to others in the varied casts of characters which have played upon its stage, still others will be impressed with the dramatic incidents, and many more will retain only present-day memories of what they have themselves seen. The Louvre is a study of a lifetime.

To resume a none too complete chronology, it is easy to recall the following important events which have taken place in the Louvre since the days of Henri III, the period at which only the barest beginnings of the present structure had been projected.

In 1591 a ghastly procedure took place when four members of the Conseil des Seize were hung in the Salle des Caryatides by orders of the Duc de Mayenne.

Like the horoscope which foretold the death of Henri III, another royal prophecy was cast[Pg 102] in 1610 that reminds one of that which perhaps had not a little to do with the making away with the last of the Valois princes.

The Duc de Vendome, the son of Henri IV by Gabrielle d'Estrées, handed the king a documentary horoscope signed by an astrologer calling himself La Brosse, which warned the king that he would run a great danger on May 14 in case he went abroad.

"La Brosse is an ass," cried the king, and crumpled the paper beneath his feet.

On the day in question the king started out to visit his minister, Sully, at the Arsenal. It was then in turning from the Rue Saint Honoré into the Rue de la Ferronière that the royal coach, frequently blocked by crowds, offered the opportunity to the assassin Ravaillac, who, jumping upon the footboard, stabbed the king twice in the breast.

After having been wounded the king was brought dying to the Louvre. His royal coach drew up beneath the vault through which throngs all Paris to-day searching for a "short cut" from the river to Saint Honoré. It was but a short, brief journey to the royal apartments above in the Pavilion de l'Horloge, but it must have been an interminable calvary to the gallant Henri de Navarre. The body was received by[Pg 103] Marie de Médici in tears, and the Ducs de Guise and d'Epernon clattered out the courtyard on horseback to spread the false news that the king had suffered no harm. Fearing the results of too precipitate publishing of the disaster no other course was open.

A gruesome memory is that the Swiss Guard at the Louvre surreptitiously acquired a "quartier" of the dismembered body of the regicide and roasted it in a fire set alight beneath the balcony of Marie de Médici as an indication of their faithfulness and loyalty.

It was Sully, the king's minister, who ran first up the stairs to acquaint the queen of the tragedy—faithful ever to the interests of his royal master. In spite of this, one of the first acts of Marie de Médici as regent was to drive the Baron de Rosny and Duc de Sully away. Such is virtue's reward—sometimes.


"Lying on his bed, his face uncovered, clad in white satin and a bonnet of red velvet embroidered with gold, was all that remained of Henri IV of France and Navarre. Around the bed were nuns and monks from all the monasteries of Paris to keep vigil of his soul."

So ends the chronicle closing the chapter of the relations of Henri IV with his Paris palace.[Pg 104]

No particularly tragic event took place here for some years. Henriette de France, widow of Charles I of England, taking refuge in France from the troublous revolt at home, lived in the Louvre in 1644. She had at first been graciously received by Mazarin, but was finally accorded only the most strict necessities of life, a mere lodging in the Louvre, a modest budget and a restricted entourage.

In 1662, under Louis XIV, Molière and his troup, in a theatre installed in the Salle des Caryatides, gave the first "command" performance on record. The plays produced were, "Nicodeme" and "Le Docteur Amoureux."

An "art note" of interest is that Sylvain Bailly, the first curator of the Musée du Louvre, was born within its precincts in 1736.

In the dark days of July, 1830, the populace attempted to pillage and sack the palace, but after a bloody reprisal retired, leaving hundreds of dead on the field. The parterre beneath the famous colonnade was their burial place, though a decade later the bodies were exhumed and again interred under the Colonne de Juillet in the Place de la Bastille.

Le Notre, the gardener of kings, laid out the first horticultural embellishments of the palace surroundings under Louis XIV, and with little[Pg 105] change his scheme of decoration lasted until the time of Louis Philippe, who made away with much that was distinctive and excellent.

Napoleon III came to the front with an improved decorative scheme, but the hard flags of to-day, the dusty gravel and the too sparse architectural embellishments do not mark the gardens of the Louvre as being anything remarkable save as a desirable breathing spot for Paris nursemaids and their charges.

The iron gates of the north, south and east sides were put into place only in 1855, and at the Commune served their purpose fairly well in holding the rabble at bay, a rabble to whose credit is the fact that it respected the artistic inheritance enclosed by the Louvre's walls. No work of art in the museums was stolen or destroyed, though the library disappeared.[Pg 106]


CHAPTER VII

THE TUILERIES AND ITS GARDENS

No more sentimental interest ever attached itself to a royal French palace than that which surrounded the Tuileries from its inception by Charles IX in the mid-sixteenth century to its extinction by the Commune in 1871.

The Palace of the Tuileries is no more, the Commune did for it as it did for the Hotel de Ville and many another noble monument of the capital, and all that remains are the gardens set[Pg 107] about with a few marble columns and gilt balls—themselves fragments of former decorative elements of the palace—to suggest what once was the heritage bequeathed the French by the Médici who was the queen of Saint Bartholomew's night.

It was a palace of giddy gayety that drew its devotees to it only to destroy them. "Crowned fools who wished to be called kings, and others." Even its stones were chiselled as if with a certain malignancy and fatalism, for they have all disappeared, and their history, even, has not been written as large as that of those of many contemporary structures.

Of the last five kings to which the Tuileries gave shelter—not counting the Second Emperor—only one went straightway to the tomb; one went to the scaffold and three others to exile. A sorry dowry, this, for an inheritor of a palace at once so noble and admirable in spite of its unluckiness.

With the court followers and the nobility of the last days of the monarchy it was the same thing; the Tuileries was but a temporary shelter. The scaffold accounted for many and banishment engulfed others to forgetfulness.

It was a commonplace at the time to repeat the warning: "O! Tuileries! O! Tuileries![Pg 108] Mad indeed are those who enter thy walls, for like Louis XVI, Napoleon, Charles X and Louis Philippe you shall make your exit by another door."

The origin of the name Tuileries is somewhat ignominiously traced from that of a tile factory which existed here in the heart of Paris, on the banks of the Seine, in the sixteenth century. The property, which comprised a manor-house as well as the tile fields, was known by the name of La Sablonnière, and came to the Marquis Neuville de Villeroy, Superintendent of Finances, who built on the spot a sort of fortified chateau, which, if not of palatial dimensions, was of a palatial prodigality of luxury.

Louise de Savoie, mother of Francis I, acquired the property in 1518 and nine years later gave it to Jean Tiercelin, the Maitre d'Hotel of the dauphin, who later was to become Henri II.

The lodge, or manor-house, had, by 1564, fallen into so ruinous a state that Catherine de Médici, the widow of Henri II, set about to lay the foundations of a new royal palace.

Catherine never resided in her projected palace, and in 1566 Charles IX, her son, gave the commission to Philibert Delorme to build a palace, "neighbouring upon the Louvre, but not to be connected therewith, on the site of the Tuileries."[Pg 109]

On July 11, work was begun, and the central pavilion and the two extremes were carried up two stories within a year. The central structure was a great circular-domed edifice, enclosing a marvellous Escalier d'Honneur. The façade, preceded by two terraced porticos, was on the courtyard, or garden, between the edifice and the Louvre. It sat back to the present Rue des Tuileries.

The Tuileries did not become a royal residence for some time after its completion, for Charles IX clung tenaciously to his well-guarded apartments in the Louvre; for the central structure of the Tuileries, because of its lack of comparative height, was hardly as much of a stronghold as he would have liked.

A contemporary note in connection with Charles IX and the Tuileries is found in Ronsard's "Épitre à Charles IX."

"J'ay veu trop de maçons
Bastir les Tuileries,
Et en trop de façons
Faire les momeries."

Work on the edifice so auspiciously planned by Delorme was practically discontinued during the reign of Henri III, owing to lack of funds.

The Renaissance of Delorme, Bullant, Lescot,[Pg 110] each of whom had a hand in the building of the Tuileries, expressed certain characteristic phases of architectural art in the reigns of Francis I and Henri II. The reign of Charles IX was only another phase of that long reign of Catherine de Médici, and architectural influences continued to follow along the same reminiscent Italian lines, particularly with reference to such edifices as the Médici herself caused to be built. In the dedication of Philibert Delorme's "Traite d'Architecture" he expressed himself thus with regard to the Tuileries:

"Madame, I see from day to day with an increasing pleasure the interest that your Majesty takes in architecture. The palace which you have built at Paris near the Pont Neuf and the Louvre is, according to its disposition, excellent and admirable to the extent that it pleases me beyond measure."

After Delorme considerable changes were made and successfully carried out under the architects Ducerceau, Duperac, Levau and Dorbay.

A distinct feature of the work of Delorme was his use of the column ornamented throughout its length, which, as he says in his written works, he first employed in the "Palais de la Majesté de la Royne-Mere à Paris."

Of the ability of Delorme there is no diversity[Pg 111] of opinion to-day, nor was there in his time. Besides the Tuileries he has to his credit the Chateau d'Anet, the Chateau de Saint Maur, that of Meudon—built for the Cardinal de Lorraine,—and his important additions to the Chateau de la Muette and the Chateaux of Saint Germain, Madrid and Fontainebleau.

As might be supposed Catherine de Médici professed a great admiration for Delorme and recompensed his talents with a royal generosity, even nominating him as Abbé of the Convent of Saint Eloi de Noyon, a fact which caused the poet Ronsard to evolve a political satire: "La Truelle Crossée."

At the same time that she was building the Tuileries Catherine de Médici caused additions to be made to the Louvre; at least she undertook the completion of the unfinished portion, which had been left for other hands to do.

The first historic souvenir which stands out prominently with regard to the Palais des Tuileries is the fête given four days before the fateful Saint Bartholomew's night. It was the marriage fête of the gallant Henri de Béarn, King of Navarre, and the wise and witty Marguerite de Valois.

Henri IV, coming to the throne a quarter of a century after the admirable first year's work[Pg 112] on the Tuileries had been completed, found that little had been done towards making it a really habitable place. It had been hurriedly finished off to the second story, and had served well enough for a temporary residence, or as an overflow establishment where balls and fêtes might be given without crowding, but to the ambitious Henri IV nothing would do but that the pavilions should be bound together with a more imposing ligature, and that the Pavillon de Flore should in turn be linked up with the Louvre by a gallery.

Under Louis XIII this latter really came to a conclusion according to the plans of the architect Ducerceau, but the inspiration of making the Louvre and the Tuileries one was due to Henri IV.

Under Louis XIV and Louis XV the palace in its still attenuated form was scarcely more than a rambling lodging, utterly lacking any of the noble apartments with which it was afterwards endowed. The court at this time practically made Versailles its headquarters. Neither of the above-mentioned monarchs made aught but cursory visits to the Tuileries and left its occupancy to officers of the household and ministers of state.

It was in the reign of Louis XV that the Florentine artist, Servandoni, who was at the same[Pg 113] time an eminent architect, a remarkable painter and a maestro of a musician, organized in the Palais des Tuileries the Theatre des Machines, the first installed at Paris, and there came the Comédie Française, the Opera and the Bouffes (the Comédie Italienne) and gave command performances before the court.

When the French resolved that Louis XVI should live in Paris, the Palais des Tuileries was actually offered him, but it was a rather shabby place of royal residence so far as its interior appointments were concerned, though in all ways appealing when viewed from without. Considerable repairs and embellishments were made, but warring factions did much to make difficult any real artistic progress.

With the advent of Louis XVI there came a contrast to gayety and freedom from care in royal hearts and heads. On October 5 Louis XVI and the royal family hid themselves behind barred doors, the convention taking up its sittings under the same roof and forthwith passing an act which allowed the completion of the palace according to the plans of Vignon at an expense of three hundred thousand livres. An almost entire transformation took place, the money being seemingly well spent, and the structure now first took its proper place among the monumental art treasures of the capital.[Pg 114]

A dramatic incident took place at the great gate of the Tuileries, which faced the courtyard, when, on May 28, 1795, the populace surged in waves against its sturdy barrier. The Deputy Féraud met them at the steps. "You may enter only over my dead body," he said. No reply was made but to crack his skull, behead the trunk and carry the head aloft on a pike to the very Tribune where Boissy d'Anglas was presiding.

The Salle de Spectacle of the Tuileries was, even at this period, the largest auditorium of its kind in Europe, having eight thousand stalls and boxes, which gave a seating capacity of considerably more than that number of persons.

In 1793 this playhouse, of which the parquet occupied the ground floor of the Pavillon de Marsan, underwent a strange metamorphosis when it became the legislative hall for the National Convention. All the names and emblems showing forth in its decorations and indicative of its ancient rule were changed into Republican devices and symbols. The Pavillon de Marsan was called the Pavillon de l'Egalité, the Pavillon du Centre became the Pavillon de l'Unité and the Pavillon de Flore the Pavillon de la Liberté, where was lodged the Committee of Public Safety.[Pg 115]

The Hall of the Convention, according to reports of the time, was an appalling mixture of grandeur and effeminacy with respect to its architectural lines. Surrounding that portion where the legislators actually sat was the great amphitheatre which for three years was occupied by a curious, vociferous public, more demonstrative, even, than those that had attended the former theatrical representations in the same apartment.

From the opening of the National Convention to the reaction of "Thermidor" it is estimated that more than three million people assisted at what they rightly, or wrongly, considered as a "spectacle" staged only for their amusement.

By the time Napoleon had come into power the Tuileries was hardly habitable, and before taking up his residence he was obliged to make immediate and extensive transformations.

On February 19, 1800, Napoleon, still First Consul, left the Palais de Luxembourg and took up his residence in the Tuileries, the Third Consul, Lebrun, being lodged in the Pavillon de Flore, in the "Petite Appartement," which Marie Antoinette had fitted up for her temporary accommodation when in town. Lebrun, however, gave up his lodging to the Pope when the Pontiff came to Paris at Napoleon's orders. Consul Cambacères, however, refused to shelter himself[Pg 116] beneath the roof of the Tuileries, and indicated a preference for the magnificent Hotel d'Elbœuf, which was accommodatingly put at his disposition.

Salle des Marechaux, Tuileries Salle des Marechaux, Tuileries

Napoleon entered the Tuileries in state, preceded and followed by an imposing cortège. At the gate of the Carrousel the consuls alighted from their carriages, and were received by the Consular Guard. On their arrival the consuls read the following inscription posted at the entrance: "On August 10th monarchy in France was forever abolished; it will never be restored." By the 20th of February the inscription had disappeared. Besides, orders were given to cut down the two liberty trees which had been planted in the courtyard. On August 10 a large quantity of cannon shot had been lodged in the façade of the Tuileries, and around the shot were written these words: "Tenth of August." The cannon balls disappeared, as well as the inscriptions, when the Arc de Triomphe was erected on the Place du Carrousel.

This alteration gave great satisfaction. It was important for the tranquillity of France that the new government should inherit rather the sword of Charlemagne than the guillotine of Marat.

The imperial court soon displayed its splendour[Pg 117] and magnificence in the Palais des Tuileries, as a foregone conclusion anticipated.

In a gorgeous and imposing Salle du Trone one might have seen in the deep casement of the central window, standing up, their hats off, the group of the Corps Diplomatique, the members of which, loaded with decorations, ensigns, and diamonds, trembled in the presence of the Little Corporal of other days; on the other side, the host of the Princes of the Rhine Confederation—all the personages that Germany, Russia, Poland, Italy, Denmark, Spain, all Europe, in one word, England excepted, had sent to Paris.

It is needless to say that the wedding reception of Napoleon and Marie Louise at the Tuileries was celebrated with unusual magnificence. Another event, on account of its peculiar moment, strongly excited the enthusiasm of the French. On March 20, 1811, at seven o'clock in the morning, the first salute of cannon announced that the empress had given birth to a child, the future Aiglon, the King of Rome.

After Napoleon's occupancy of the Tuileries it again served the monarch under the Empire, the Restoration, under Louis Philippe and under the Second Empire. The palace of unhappy memory saw successively the fall of Napoleon,[Pg 118] the entry of Louis XVIII, the file-by of the Allies, the flight of Louis XVIII, of Charles X, Louis Philippe and Napoleon III.

Up to the time of the Second Empire the Tuileries preserved, more or less, its original interior arrangement, and, to a great extent, the decorations with which it had been embellished under Louis XIV, Louis XVI, and Napoleon I.

The Pavilion de Flore, at the juncture of the Tuileries and the Louvre of Henri IV, was practically rebuilt during the Second Empire, but it followed closely the contemporary designs of the adjoining building. Here are quartered executive offices of the Préfecture de la Seine. That portion facing the Pont Royal contains a series of fine sculptures by Carpeaux, the sole modern embellishments of this nature to be seen in or on a Paris palace.

As the Commune mob was fleeing before the army of Versailles a conflagration broke out in the Tuileries and soon the whole edifice was in flames. Within what may have been the briefest interval on record for a conflagration of its size the Tuileries was but a smoking pile of half-calcined stones.

The Tuileries had another brief day of glory when the Prince President, Louis Napoleon, entered its gates, coming straight from his inauguration at Notre Dame.[Pg 119]

The cannon at the Hotel des Invalides blazed out a welcome and every patriot Republican shouted: "Vive Napoleon!" They little knew, little cared perhaps, that he would some day become the Second Emperor.

The throng poured forth from the cathedral after the Domine Salvum and the benediction, the clergy leading the way, followed by the president and his attendants. The orchestra played a lively march, and the great bell in the tower boomed forth a glorious peal.


The president's carriage drew up before the gates of the Tuileries and he entered the great apartment where a reception was given to various public and military bodies. Between seven and eight thousand naval and military officers paid their respects, and about half a battalion of the army saluted, among them two Mamelukes. While this ceremony was going on, the Place du Carrousel was occupied by several squadrons of cavalry and the inner courtyards were practically infantry camps. The government was taking no chances at the beginning of its career. The reception lasted until well on towards evening, when a banquet of four hundred covers was laid and partaken of by the invited guests.

The last days of the Tuileries may be said to[Pg 120] have commenced with that eventful September 3, 1870, at five o'clock in the afternoon, when the Empress Eugenie received a telegraphic despatch from Napoleon III announcing his captivity and the defeat of Sedan. It was the overthrow.

The evening and the night were calm; the masses, as yet, were unaware of the fatal news the journals would publish on the morrow. The following day was Sunday; the weather superb; the disaster was finally announced and the masses thronged from all parts to the Place de la Concorde, where a squadron of Cuirassiers barred the bridge leading to the Palais Bourbon where the deputies were in session.

On the arrival of the news the empress had called in General Trochu, the Military Governor of Paris, and asked him if he could guarantee order. He replied in the affirmative. Some hours later a group of deputies came to the empress and counselled her to sign, not an abdication, but a momentary renunciation of her powers as regent. Eugenie refused point-blank.

The throng, passing by the left bank, had arrived at the Chamber of Deputies, and the formal sitting became a revolutionary one. At three o'clock the imperial dynasty was proclaimed as at an end, and a provisionary government installed. Henri Rochefort, the present[Pg 121] editor of the "Intransingeant," was delivered from the prison of Sainte Pélagie and made a member of the government.

By this time the mob which had invaded the Place de la Concorde became menacing. The cry, "Aux Tuileries," first launched by the street gamins, soon became the slogan of the crowd. To say it was to do it; the great iron gates were closed, but in default of a protecting force of arms it was an easy matter to scale them.

Behind the curtained windows of the palace the empress witnessed the assault and murmured to her ladies-in-waiting: "It is then finished." She turned towards the Prince de Metternich and the Chevalier Nigra, and, in the voice of a suppliant, demanded: "Que me consillez vous?"

"You must leave at once, Madame; in a moment the palace will be invaded."

The empress became resigned and accompanied by Madame Le Breton, Metternich and Nigra started for the Pavilion de Flore, passing through the Galerie de Musée and the Galerie d'Apollon, finally leaving by the gate of the Louvre, which is opposite Saint Germain l'Auxerrois.

The empress was at last out of the palace, but not yet out of danger. A band of manifestants, making for the Hotel de Ville and shouting; "Vive la Republique," recognized the em[Pg 122]press, but she mounted an empty fiacre with Madame Le Breton, and giving the driver the first address that entered her mind thus escaped further indignities, and perhaps danger. Finally she found a refuge with Doctor Evans, the American dentist living in the Avenue Malakoff, from whose house she left for England on the following day.

This is the Frenchman's point of view of one of the picturesque incidents of history. It disposes of the legend that the empress left the Tuileries in the carriage of Doctor Evans, but this cannot be helped, with due regard for the consensus of French opinion. Doctor Evans was a family friend, besides being the dentist who cared for the imperial teeth, and it is not going beyond the truth to state that the fortunate American acquired not a little of his vogue and wealth by his association with Napoleon III and his family.

By this time the populace had invaded the palace and cursed with indignities unmentionable the marble halls, and the furnishings in general, and pillaged such portable property as pleased the individual fancies of the spoilsmen.

After the signing of the Peace Treaty by the Bordeaux Assembly, which now represented the governmental head, and Thiers had become presi[Pg 123]dent, that worthy would do away with the cannon of which the National Guard still held possession in their garrison on the Butte of Montmartre. The orders which he sent forth came to be the signal for another outbreak on the part of the populace. On March 18 the Commune was proclaimed and Citoyen Dardelle, an old African hunter, was appointed military governor of the Tuileries. Whatever this individual's military qualifications may have been, he delivered himself to the enjoyment of a high and dissolute life in his luxurious apartments in the palace; a fact which was speedily made note of by the still restless populace.

The Citoyen Rousselle, a member of the Communal Government, had the idea of organizing a series of popular concerts in the gardens of the Tuileries for the profit of the wounded in the late friction.

Hung on the walls, at the entrance of each apartment was a placard which read: "Fellow men, the gold with which these walls were built was earned by your sweat." "To-day you are coming to your own." "Remain faithful to your trust and see to it that the tyrants enter never more."

During one of these public concerts a poem of Hégésippe Moreau was read which termi[Pg 124]nated as follows, and set the populace aflame.

*        *        *        *        *        *
"Et moi j'applaudirai; ma jeuneusse engourdie
Se réchauffera a ce grand incendie."

He referred to the burning of the former abode of emperors and kings as a sort of sacrifice to the common good. The public had held itself in hand very well up to this moment, but applauded the verses vociferously. The last of the concerts was held on May 21, the same day as the Army of Versailles entered Paris. Night came, and with it the raging, red flames springing skywards from the roof of the Tuileries.

In a few moments the flames had enveloped the entire building. All the forces that it was possible to gather had been ordered upon the scene, but they were unable to save the old palace, and by one o'clock in the morning it was but a mass of smoking ruins. The Communards had done their work well. Before leaving its precincts they had sprinkled coal oil over every square metre of carpet, window-hangings and tapestries, and the slow-match was not long in passing the fire to its inflammable timber. The library of the Louvre was destroyed, but the museums, galleries and their famous collections fortunately escaped.[Pg 125]

For a dozen years the lamentable ruins of the old palace of the Tuileries reared their singed walls, a witness and a reproach to the tempestuosity of a people. Finally, in 1882, Monsieur Achille Picard undertook their removal for thirty-three thousand francs, and within a year not a vestige, not an unturned stone remained in its original place as a witness to this chapter of Paris history.

Two porticos of the Pavillon de l'Horloge, originally forming a part of the Tuileries, have been re-erected on the terrace of the Orangerie, facing the Place de la Concorde.

There remain but two survivors of the late imperial sway in France, the Empress Eugenie who lives in England, and Emile Olivier, "l'homme au cœur lèger," who lives at Saint Tropez in the Midi.

A Paris journalist a year or more ago, while sitting among a little coterie of literary and artistic folk at Lavenue's famous terrace-café, recounted the following incident clothed in most discreet language, and since it bears upon the Tuileries and its last occupants it is repeated here.

"Last night beneath the glamour of a September moon I saw a black shadow silently creep out from beneath the gloom of the arcades of[Pg 126] the Rue de Rivoli just below the Hotel Continental. It crossed the pavement and passed within the railings of the gardens opposite, one of the gates to which, by chance or prearranged design, was still open. It moved slowly here and there upon the gravelled walks and seated itself upon a solitary bench as if it were meditating upon the splendid though sad hours that had passed. Was it a wraith; was it Eugenie, late empress of the French?"

To have remembered such a dream of fancy for forty long years one must have been endowed with superhuman courage, or an inexplicable conscience.

The Rue des Pyramides, which has been prolonged to the banks of the Seine, will give those of the present generation who have never seen the Tuileries an exact idea of its location. If it still existed the façade of the palace would front upon this street.

The most moving history of the detailed horrors of the Commune, particularly with reference to the part played by the Tuileries therein, is to be found in Maxime Ducamp's "Les Derniers Convulsions de Paris."

One relic of the Tuileries left unharmed found a purchaser in a Roumanian prince, at a public sale held as late as 1889. This was the ornately[Pg 127] beautiful iron gate which separated the Cour du Carrousel from the Cour des Tuileries. Roumanian by birth, French at heart and Parisian by adoption, this wealthy amateur, for a trifle over eight thousand francs, became the owner of a royal souvenir which must have cost five hundred times that sum.

The eastern front of the Tuileries opened into a courtyard formed under the direction of the first Napoleon. It was separated from the Place du Carrousel by a handsome iron railing with gilt spear-heads extending the whole range of the palace. From this court there were three entrances into the Place du Carrousel, the central gate corresponding with the central pavilion of the palace, the other two having their piers surmounted by colossal figures of victory, peace, history and France. A gateway under each of the lateral galleries also communicated on the north with the Rue de Rivoli, and on the south with the Quai du Louvre. The Place du Carrousel was named in honour of a tournament held upon the spot by Louis XIV in 1662. It communicated on the north with the Rue Richelieu and the Rue de l'Echelle, and on the south with the Pont Royal and the Pont du Carrousel. To-day in the square stands the triumphal arch erected by Napoleon in 1806, after the designs of Percier and Fontaine.[Pg 128]

The newly laid-out and furbished-up gardens make the Place du Carrousel even more attractive than it was when set about with flagged areas, gravelled walks and paved road ways, and, while the monumental and architectural accessories excel the horticultural embellishments in quantity, the general effect is incomparably finer at present than anything known before.

Plans for rebuilding the Place du Carrousel provide for a division into three distinct parts, three grand pelouses, à boulingrins à la Français, or lawns of a circumscribed area, according to the best traditions of Le Notre, a border of flowers and a few decoratively disposed clumps of flowering shrubs, the whole combined in such a way that the perspective and vista down the Champs Elysées will in no manner suffer. The architect-landscapist, M. Redon, who has been charged with the work, has drawn his inspiration from a series of unexecuted designs of Le Notre which have recently been brought to light from the innermost depths of the national archives. It was a safe way of avoiding an anachronism, and this time a government architect has chosen well his plan of execution.

In later years the question of the reëmbellishment of the Garden of the Tuileries has ever been before the public, but little has actually[Pg 129] been changed save the remaking of certain garden plots, the planting of a few shrubs or the placing of a few statues.

The Garden of the Tuileries has a superficial area of 232,632 square metres. It is the most popular of all open spaces in the capital to the Parisian who would take his walks abroad not too far from the centre of things. The chief curiosity of the garden is the celebrated chestnut tree which burst into flower on the day of Napoleon's arrival from Elba—March 20. The precocious tree has ever been revered by the Bonapartists since, though the tree has never performed the trick the second time.

Statues innumerable are scattered here and there through the garden and give a certain sense of liveliness to the area. Some are by famous names, others by those less renowned, but as a whole they make little impression on one, chiefly, perhaps, because one does not come to the Garden of the Tuileries to see statues.

To the left and right are the terraces, first laid out by the celebrated Le Notre. Like the hanging gardens of Babylon, they overlook a lower level of parterres, gravelled walks and ornamental waters. Along the Rue de Rivoli is the Terrasse de l'Orangerie, and on the side of the river is the Terrasse de la Marine.[Pg 130]

According to the original plans of Le Notre the garden was set down as five hundred toises in length, and one hundred and sixty-eight toises in width, the latter dimension corresponding to that of the façade of the palace.

Along the shady avenues of this admirable city garden of to-day an enterprising concessionaire has won a fortune by renting out rush-bottomed chairs to nursemaids, retired old gentlemen with red ribbons in their buttonholes, and trippers from across the channel. It is a perfectly legitimate enterprise and a profitable one it would seem, and has been in operation considerably more than half a century.

It was from the Gardens of the Tuileries in 1784 that took place Blanchard's celebrated ascension in Montgolfier's balloon and brought forth the encomium from the British Royal Society that the body was not in the least surprised that a Frenchman should have solved the problem of "volatability." The French monarch, more practical, was so mightily pleased with the success of the experiment that he bestowed upon the author the sum of four hundred thousand francs from his treasury to be used for the perfection of the art.[Pg 131]


CHAPTER VIII

THE PALAIS CARDINAL AND THE PALAIS ROYAL

With the Louvre and the Tuileries the Palais Royal shares the popular interest of the traveller among all the monuments of Paris. No other edifice evokes more vivid souvenirs of its historic past than this hybrid palace of Richelieu. One dreams even to-day, of its sumptuousness, its legends, its amusing and extravagant incidents which cast a halo of romantic interest over so many illustrious personages. So thoroughly Parisian is the Palais Royal in all things that it has been called "the Capital of Paris."

Not far from the walled and turreted stronghold of the old Louvre rose the private palaces, only a little less royal, of the Rambouillets, the Mercœurs and other nobles of the courtly train. They lived, too, in almost regal state until Armand du Plessis de Richelieu came to humble their pride, by fair means or foul, by buying up or destroying their sumptuous dwellings, levelling off a vast area of land, and, in 1629, commencing work on that imposing pile which was first known[Pg 132] as the Palais Cardinal, later the Palais d'Orleans, then as the Palais de la Revolution and finally as the Palais Royal.

It was near, yet far enough away from the royal residence of the Louvre not to be overshadowed by it. The edifice enclosed a great square of ground laid out with symmetrically planted trees and adorned with fountains and statues.

From the great central square four smaller courts opened out to each of the principal points of the compass; there were also, besides the living rooms, a chapel, two theatres, ballrooms, boudoirs and picture galleries, all of a luxury never before dreamed of but by kings.

The main entrance was in the Rue Saint Honoré, and over its portal were the graven arms of Richelieu, surmounted by the cardinal's hat and the inscription: "Palais Cardinal." Like his English compeer, Wolsey, Richelieu's ardour for building knew no restraint. He added block upon block of buildings and yard upon yard to garden walls until all was a veritable labyrinth. Finally the usually subservient Louis saw the condition of things; he liked it not that his minister should dwell in marble halls more gorgeous than his own. As a matter of policy the Cardinal ceased to build more and at his death, as if to atone, willed the entire property to his king.[Pg 133]

As the Palais Cardinal, the edifice was subjected to many impertinent railleries from the public which, as a whole, was ever antagonistic to the "Homme Rouge." They did not admit the right of an apostolic prelate of the church to lodge himself so luxuriously when the very precepts of his religion recommended modesty and humility. Richelieu's contemporaries did not hesitate to admire wonderingly all this luxury of life and its accessories, and Corneille, in the "Menteur" (1642), makes one of the principal characters say:

"Non, l'univers ne peut rien voir d'égal
Aux superbes dehors du Palais Cardinal;
Toute une ville entière avec pompe bâtie,
Semble d'un vieux fossé par miracle sortie,
Et nous fais présumer à ses superbes toits
Que tous ses habitants sont des dieux ou des rois."

The ground plan of the Palais Cardinal was something unique among city palaces. In the beginning ground values were not what they are to-day in Paris. There were acres upon acres of greensward set about and cut up with gravelled walks, great alleyed rows of trees, groves without number and galleries and colonnades innumerable. Without roared the traffic of a great city, a less noisy traffic than that of to-day, perhaps, but still[Pg 134] a contrasting maelstrom of bustle and furor as compared with the tranquillity within.

After the edifice was finished it actually fell into disuse, except for the periodical intervals when the Cardinal visited the capital. At other times it was as quiet as a cemetery. Moss grew on the flags, grass on the gravelled walks and tangled shrubbery killed off the budding flowers of the gardens.

Richelieu's last home-coming, after the execution of Cinq-Mars at Lyons, was a tragic one. The despot of France, once again under his own rooftree, threw himself upon his bed surrounded by his choicest pictures and tapestries, and paid the price of his merciless arrogance towards all men—and women—by folding his wan hands upon his breast and exclaiming, somewhat unconvincingly: "Thus do I give myself to God." As if recalling himself to the stern reality of things he added: "I have no enemies but those of State."

In a robe of purple silk, supported by pillows of the finest down and covered with the rarest of laces, he rigidly straightened himself out and expired without a shudder, with the feeling that he was well beyond the reach of invisible foes. But before he died Richelieu received a visit from his king in person. This was another token of his invincible power.[Pg 135]

Thus the Palais Royal was evolved from the Palais Cardinal of Richelieu. Richelieu gave the orders for its construction to Jacques Lemercier immediately after he had dispossessed the Rambouillets and the Mercœurs, intending at first to erect only a comparatively modest town dwelling with an ample garden. Vanity, or some other passion, finally caused to grow up the magnificently proportioned edifice which was called the Palais Cardinal instead of that which was to be known more modestly as the Hotel de Richelieu.

Vast and imposing, but not without a certain graceful symmetry, the Palais Royal of to-day is a composition of many separate edifices divided by a series of courts and gardens and connected by arcaded galleries. The right wing enclosed an elaborate Salle de Spectacle while that to the left enclosed an equally imposing chamber with a ceiling by Philippe de Champaigne, known as the Galerie des Hommes Illustrés, and further ornamented with portraits of most of the court favourites of both sexes of the time. The architectural ornamentation of this gallery was of the Doric order, most daringly interspersed with moulded ships' prows, anchors, cables and what not of a marine significance.

In 1636, divining the attitude of envy of many[Pg 136] of the nobility who frequented his palace, Richelieu—great man of politics that he was—made a present of the entire lot of curios to Louis XIII, but undertaking to house them for him, which he did until his death in 1642.

At the death of Louis XIII the Palais Cardinal, which had been left to him in its entirety by the will of Richelieu, came to Anne d'Autriche, the regent, who, with the infant Louis XIV and the royal family, installed herself therein, and from now on (October 7, 1642), the edifice became known as the Palais Royal.

Now commenced the political rôle of this sumptuous palace which hitherto had been but the Cardinal's caprice. Mazarin had succeeded Richelieu, and to escape the anger of the Frondeurs, he, with the regent and the two princes, Louis XIV and the Duc d'Anjou, fled to the refuge of Saint Germain-en-Laye.

In company with Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who had been rudely awakened from her slumbers in the Luxembourg, they took a coach in the dead of night for Saint Germain. It was a long and weary ride; the Pavi du Roi was then, as now, the most execrable suburban highroad in existence.

When calm was reëstablished Mazarin refused to allow the regent to take up her residence[Pg 137] again in the old abode of Richelieu and turned it over to Henriette de France, the widow of Charles I, who had been banished from England by Cromwell.

Thirty odd years later Louis XIV, when he was dreaming of his Versailles project, made a gift of the property to his nephew, Philippe d'Orleans, Duc de Chartres. Important reconstructions and rearrangements had been carried on from time to time, but nothing so radical as to change the specious aspect of the palace of the Cardinal's time, though it had been considerably enlarged by extending it rearward and annexing the Hotel Danville in the present Rue Richelieu. Mansart on one occasion was called in and built a new gallery that Coypel decorated with fourteen compositions after the Ænid of Virgil.

Under the regency the Salon d'Entrée was redecorated by Oppenard, and a series of magnificent fêtes was organized by the pleasure-loving queen from the Austrian court. Richelieu's theatre was made into an opera-house, and masked balls of an unparalleled magnificence were frequently given, not forgetting to mention—without emphasis however—suppers of a Pantagruelian opulence and lavish orgies at which the chronicles only hint.[Pg 138]

In 1661, Monsieur, brother of the king, took up his official residence in the palace, enlarged it in various directions and in many ways transformed and improved it. Having become the sole proprietor of the edifice and its gardens, by Letters Patent of February, 1692, the Duc d'Orleans left this superb property, in 1701, to his son the too famous regent, Philippe d'Orleans, whose orgies and extravagances rendered the Palais Royal notorious to the utmost corners of Europe.

The first years of the eighteenth century were indeed notorious. It was then that Palais Royal became the head-centre for debauch and abandon. It is from this epoch, too, that date the actual structures which to-day form this vast square of buildings, at all events their general outline is little changed to-day from what it was at that time.

If the regent's policy was to carry the freedom and luxury of Richelieu's time to excess, replacing even the edifices of the Cardinal with more elaborate structures, his son Louis (1723-1752) sought in his turn to surround them with an atmosphere more austere.

A disastrous fire in 1763 caused the Palais Royal to be rebuilt by order of Louis Philippe d'Orleans, the future Philippe-Egalité, by the architect Moreau, who carried out the old tra[Pg 139]ditions as to form and outline, and considerably increased the extent and number of the arcades from one hundred and eighty to two hundred and seven. These the astute duke immediately rented out to shopkeepers at an annual rental of more than ten millions. This section was known characteristically enough as the Palais Marchand, and thus the garden came to be surrounded by a monumental and classic arcade of shops which has ever remained a distinct feature of the palace.

A second fire burned out the National Opera, which now sought shelter in the Palais Royal, and in 1781 the Theatre des Varietés Amusantes was constructed, and which has since been made over into the home of the Comédie Française.

The transformations imposed by Philippe-Egalité were considerable, and the famous chestnut trees, which had been planted within the courtyard in the seventeenth century by Richelieu, were cut down. He built also the three transverse galleries which have cut the gardens of to-day into much smaller plots than they were in Richelieu's time. In spite of this there is still that pleasurable tranquillity to be had therein to-day, scarcely a stone's throw from the rush and turmoil of the whirlpool of wheeled traffic which centres around the junction of the Rue Richelieu with the[Pg 140] Avenue de l'Opera. It is as an oasis in a turbulent sandstorm, a beneficent shelf of rock in a whirlpool of rapids. The only thing to be feared therein is that a toy aeroplane of some child will put an eye out, or that the more devilish diabolo will crack one's skull.

Under the regency of the Duc Philippe d'Orleans the various apartments of the palace were the scenes of scandalous goings-on, which were related at great length in the chronicles of the time. It was a very mixed world which now frequented the purlieus of the Palais Royal. Men and women about town jostled with men of affairs, financiers, speculators and agitators of all ranks and of questionable respectability. Milords, as strangers from across the Manche came first to be known here, delivered themselves to questionable society and still more questionable pleasures. It was at a little later period that the Duc de Chartres authorized the establishment of the cafés and restaurants which for a couple of generations became the most celebrated rendezvous in Paris—the Café de Foy, the Café de la Paix, the Café Carrazzo and various other places of reunion whose very names, to say nothing of the incidents connected therewith, have come down to history.

It was the establishment of these public ren[Pg 141]dezvous which contributed so largely to the events which unrolled themselves in the Palais Royal in 1789. This "Eden de l'Enfer," as it was known, has in late years been entirely reconstructed; the old haunts of the Empire have gone and nothing has come to take their place.

Then came another class of establishments which burned brilliantly in the second rank and were, in a way, political rendezvous also—the Café de Chartres and the Café de Valois. Of all these Palais Royal cafés of the early nineteenth century the most gorgeous and brilliant was the Café des Mille Colonnes, though its popularity was seemingly due to the charms of the maitresse de la maison, a Madame Romain, whose husband was a dried-up, dwarfed little man of no account whatever. Madame Romain, however, lived well up to her reputation as being "incontestablement la plus jolie femme de Paris." By 1824 the fame of the establishment had begun to wane and in 1826 it expired, though the "Almanach des Gourmands" of the latter year said that the proprietor was the Véry of limonadiers, that his ices were superb, his salons magnificent—and his prices exorbitant. Perhaps it was the latter that did it!

Another establishment, founded in 1817, was domiciled here, the clients being served by "oda[Pg 142]lisques en costume oriental, très seduisantes." This is quoted from the advertisements of the day. The café was called the Café des Circassiennes, and there was a sultane, who was the presiding genius of the place. It met with but an indifferent success and soon closed its doors despite its supposedly all-compelling attractions.

In the mid-nineteenth century a revolution came over the cafés of Paris. Tobacco had invaded their precincts; previously one smoked only in the estaminets. Three cafés of the Palais Royal resisted the innovation, the Café de la Galerie d'Orleans, the Café de Foy and the Café de la Rotonde. To-day, well, to-day things are different.

The Theatre du Palais Royal of to-day was the Theatre des Marionettes of the Comte de Beaujolais, which had for contemporaries the Fantoches Italiens, the Ombres Chinoises and the Musée Curtius, perhaps the first of the wax-works shows that in later generations became so popular. The Palais Royal had now become a vast amusement enterprise, with side-shows of all sorts, theatres, concerts, cafés, restaurants, clubs, gambling-houses and what not—all paying rents, and high ones, to the proprietor.

In the centre of the garden, where is now the fountain and its basin, was a circus, half under[Pg 143]ground and half above, and there were innumerable booths and kiosks for the sale of foolish trifles, all paying tribute to the ground landlord.

Gaming at the Palais Royal was not wholly confined to the public gambling houses. During the carnival season of 1777 the gambling which went on in the royal apartments became notorious for even that profligate time: in one night the Duc de Chartres lost eight thousand livres. Louis XVI, honest man, took all due precautions to reduce this extravagance, but was impotent.

Between the courtyard fountain and the northern arcade of the inner palace was placed the famous Cannon du Palais Royal, which, by an ingenious disposition, was fired each day at midday by the action of the sun's rays. All the world stood around awaiting the moment when watches might be regulated for another twenty-four hours.

The celebrated Abbé Delille, to whom the beauties of the gardens were being shown, deplored the lack of good manners on the part of the habitués and delivered himself of the following appropriate quatrain:

"Dans ce jardin tout se rencontrée
Exceptê l'ombrage et les fleurs;
Si l'on y dêregle ses mœurs
Du moins on y règle sa montre."

The Galerie de Bois was perhaps the most[Pg 144] disreputable of all the palace confines. It was a long, double row of booths which only disappeared when Louis-Philippe built the glass-covered Galerie d'Orleans.

Up to the eve of the Revolution the Palais Royal enjoyed the same privileges as the Temple and the Luxembourg, and became a sort of refuge whereby those who sought to escape from the police might lose themselves in the throng. The monarch himself was obliged to ask permission of the Duc d'Orleans that his officials might pursue their police methods within the outer walls.

It was July 12, 1789. The evening before, Louis XVI had dismissed his minister, Neckar, but only on Sunday, the 12th, did the news get abroad. At the same time it was learned that the regiment known as the Royal Allemand, under the orders of the Prince de Lambesc, had charged the multitude gathered before the gates of the Tuileries. Cries of "A Mort!" "Aux Armes!" "Vengeance!" were hurled in air from all sides.

At high noon in the gardens of the Palais Royal, on the 13th, as the midday sun was scorching the flagstones to a grilling temperature, the sound of a tiny cannon shot smote the still summer air with an echo which did not cease reverberating for months. The careless, unthinking promenaders suddenly grew grave, then violently[Pg 145] agitated and finally raving, heedlessly mad. A young unknown limb of the law, Camille Desmoulins, rushed bareheaded and shrieking out of the Café de Foy, parted the crowd as a ship parts the waves, sprang upon a chair and harangued the multitude with such a vehemence and conviction that they were with him as one man.

"Citizens," he said, "I come from Versailles * * * It only remains for us to choose our colours. Quelle couleur voulez vous? Green, the colour of hope; or the blue of Cincinnati, the colour of American liberty and democracy."

"Nous avons assez déliberé! Deliberate further with our hands not our hearts! We are the party the most numerous: To arms!"

On the morrow, the now famous 14th of July, the Frenchman's "glorious fourteenth," the people rose and the Bastille fell.

Revolutionary decree, in 1793, converted the palace and its garden into the Palais et Jardin de la Révolution, and appropriated them as national property. Napoleon granted the palace to the Tribunal for its seat, and during the Hundred Days Lucien Bonaparte took up his residence there. In 1830 Louis Philippe d'Orleans gave a great fête here in honour of the King of Naples who had come to the capital to pay his[Pg 146] respects to the French king. Charles X, assisting at the ceremony as an invited guest, was also present and a month later came again to actually inhabit the palace and make it royal once more.

The table herewith showing the ramifications of the Bourbon Orleans family in modern times is interesting—all collateral branches of the genealogical tree sprouting from that of Louis Philippe. The heraldic embellishments of this family tree offer a particular interest in that the armorial blazonings are in accord with a decree of the French Tribunal, handed down a few years since, which establishes the right to the head of the house to bear the écu plein de France—d'azur a trois fleurs de lys d'or, thus establishing the Orleans legitimacy.

[Pg 147]


View larger image

The Republic of 1848 made the palace the headquarters of the Cour des Comptes and of the État Major of the National Guard. Under Napoleon III the Palais Royal became the dwelling of Prince Jerome, the uncle of the emperor. Later it served the same purpose for the son of Prince Napoleon. It was at this epoch that the desecration of scraping out the blazoned lys and the chipping off the graven Bourbon armoiries took place. Whenever one or the other hated Bourbon symbol was found, eagles, phœnix-like, sprang up in their place, only in their turn to disappear when the Republican device of '48 (now brought to light again), Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité—replaced them.

During the Commune of 1870 a part of the left wing and the central pavilion suffered by fire, but restorations under the architect, Chabrol, brought them back again to much their original outlines. Through all its changes of tenure and political vicissitudes little transformation took place as to the ground plan, or sky-line silhouette, of the chameleon palace of cardinal, king and emperor, and while in no sense is it architecturally imposing or luxurious, it is now, as ever in the past, one of the most distinctive of Paris's public monuments.

To-day the Palais Royal proper may be said[Pg 148] to face on Place du Palais Royal, with its principal entrance at the end of a shallow courtyard separated from the street by an iron grille and flanked by two unimposing pavilions. The principal façade hides the lodging of the Conseil d'État and is composed of but the ground floor, a story above and an attic.

The Aile Montpensier, which follows on from the edifice which houses the Comédie Française, was, until recently, occupied by the Cour des Comptes. The Aile de Valois fronts the street of that name, and here the Princes d'Orleans and King Jerome made their residence. To-day the same wing is devoted to the uses of the Under Secretary for the Beaux Arts.

It is not necessary to insist on, nor reiterate, the decadence of the Palais Royal. It is no longer the "capitol of Paris," and whatever its charms may be they are mostly equivocal. It is more a desert than an oasis or a temple de la volupté, and it was each of these things in other days. Its priestesses and its gambling houses are gone, and who shall say this of itself is not a good thing in spite of the admitted void.

The mediocrity of the Palais Royal is apparent to all who have the slightest acquaintance with the architectural orders, but for all that its transition from the Palais du Cardinal, Palais Egalité,[Pg 149] Palais de la Revolution and Palais du Tribunat to the Palais Royal lends to it an interest that many more gloriously artistic Paris edifices quite lack.

There is a movement on foot to-day to resurrect the Palais Royal to some approach to its former distinction, which is decidedly what it has not been for the past quarter of a century. Satirical persons have demanded as to what should be made of it, a vélodrome or a skating-rink, but this is apart from a real consideration of the question for certain it is that much of its former charm can be restored to it without turning it into a Luna Park. It is one of the too few Paris breathing-spots, and as such should be made more attractive than it is at the present time.

It was sixty years ago, when Louis Philippe was the legitimate owner of the Palais Royal, its galleries, its shops, its theatre and its gardens, that it came to its first debasement. "One went there on tip-toe, and spoke in a whisper," said a writer of the time, and one does not need to be particularly astute to see the significance of the remark.

It was Alphonse Karr, the écrivain-jardinier, who set the new vogue for the Palais Royal, but his interest and enthusiasm was not enough to[Pg 150] resurrect it, and so in later years it has sunk lower and lower. The solitude of the Palais Royal has become a mockery and a solecism. It is virtually a campo santo, or could readily be made one, and this in spite of the fact that it occupies one of the busiest and noisiest quarters of the capital, a quadrangle bounded by the Rues Valois, Beaujolais, Montpensier and the Place du Palais Royal.

The moment one enters its portal the simile accentuates and the hybrid shops which sell such equivocal bric-a-brac to clients of no taste and worse affectations carry out the idea of a cloister still further, for actually the clients are few, and those mostly strangers. One holds his breath and ambles through the corridors glad enough to escape the bustle of the narrow streets which surround it, but, on the other hand, glad enough to get out into the open again.[Pg 151]


CHAPTER IX

THE LUXEMBOURG, THE ELYSÉE AND THE PALAIS BOURBON

The kings and queens of France were not only rulers of the nation, but they dominated the life of the capital as well. Upon their crowning or entry into Paris it was the custom to command a gift by right from the inhabitants. In 1389 Isabeau de Bavière, of dire memory, got sixty thousand couronnes d'or, and in 1501, and again in 1504, was presented with six thousand and ten thousand livres parisis respectively.

The king levied personal taxes on the inhabitants, who were thus forced to pay for the privilege of having him live among them, those of the professions and craftsmen, who might from time to time serve the royal household, paying the highest fees.

It was during the period of Richelieu's ministry that Paris flowered the most profusely. The constructions of this epoch were so numerous and imposing that Corneille in his comedy "Le Menteur," first produced in 1642, made his characters speak thus:[Pg 152]

Dorante: Paris semble à mes yeux un pays de roman
*        *        *        *        *
En superbes palais a changé ses buissons
*        *        *        *        *
Aux superbes dehors du palais Cardinal
Tout la ville entière, avec pomp bâtie
*        *        *        *        *

In 1701, Louis XIV divided the capital into twenty quartiers, or wards, and in 1726-1728 Louis XV built a new city wall; but it was only with Louis XVI that the faubourgs were at last brought within the city limits. Under the Empire and the Restoration but few changes were made, and with the piercing of the new boulevards under Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann the city came to be of much the same general plan that it is to-day.

In the olden time, between the Palais de la Cité and the Louvre and the Palais des Tournelles, extending even to the walls of Charenton, was a gigantic garden, a carpet embroidered with as varied a colouring as the tapis d'orient of the poets, and cut here and there by alleys which separated it into little checker-board squares.

Within this maze was the celebrated Jardin Dedalus that Louis XI gave to Coictier, and above it rose the observatory of the savant like a signal tower of the Romans. This centered upon what is now the Place des Vosges, formerly the Place Royale.[Pg 153]

To-day, how changed is all this "intermediate, indeterminate" region! How changed, indeed! There is nothing vague and indeterminate about it to-day.

The earliest of the little known Paris palaces was the Palais des Thermes. It may be dismissed almost in a word from any consideration of the royal dwellings of Paris, though it was the residence of several Roman emperors and two queens of France. A single apartment of the old palace of the Romans exists to-day—the old Roman Baths—but nothing of the days of the Emperor Constantius Chlorus, who founded the palace in honour of Julian who was proclaimed Emperor by his soldiers in 360 A.D. The Frankish monarchs, if they ever resided here at all, soon transferred their headquarters to the Palais de la Cité, the ruins falling into the possession of the monks of Cluny, who built the present Hotel de Cluny on the site.

Of all the minor French palaces the Luxembourg and the Elysée are the most often heard of in connection with the life of modern times. The first is something a good deal more than an art museum, and the latter more than the residence for the Republican president, though the guide-book makers hardly think it worth while to write down the facts.[Pg 154]

Palais du Luxembourg Palais du Luxembourg

The Palais du Luxembourg has been called an imitation of the Pitti Palace at Florence, but, beyond the fact that it was an Italian conception of Marie de Médici's, it is difficult to follow the suggestion, as the architect, Jacques Debrosse, one of the ablest of Frenchmen in his line, simply carried out the work on the general plan of the time of its building, the early seventeenth century.

Its three not very extensive pavilions are joined together by a colonnade which encloses a rather foreboding flagged courtyard, a conception, or elaboration, of the original edifice by Chalgrin, in 1804, under the orders of Napoleon. The garden front, though a restoration of Louis Philippe, is more in keeping with the original Médici plan; that, at any rate, is to its credit.

To-day the Luxembourg, the Republican Palais du Sénat, is but an echo of the four centuries of aristocratic existence which upheld the name and fame of its first proprietor, the Duc de Piney-Luxembourg, Prince de Tigry, who built it in the sixteenth century. From 1733 to 1736 the palace underwent important restorations and the last persons to inhabit it before the Revolution were the Duchesse de Brunswick, the Queen Dowager of Spain and the Comte de Provence, brother of Louis XVI, to whom it had been given by Letters Patent in 1779.

[Pg 155]

In 1791 the Convention thought so little of it that they made it a prison, and a few years later it was called again the Palais du Directoire, and, before the end of the century, the Palais du Consulat. This was but a brief glory, as Napoleon transferred his residence in accordance with his augmenting ambitions, to the Tuileries in the following year.

By 1870 the edifice had become known as the Palais du Sénat, then as the headquarters of the Préfecture of the Seine, and finally, as to-day, the Palais du Luxembourg, the seat of the French Senate and the residence of the president of that body.

The principal public apartments are the Library, the "Salle des Séances," the "Buvette"—formerly Napoleon's "Cabinet de Travail," the "Salle des Pas Perdus"—formerly the "Salle du Trone," the Grand Gallery and the apartments of Marie de Médici. The chapel is modern and dates only from 1844.

The Palais du Petit Luxembourg is the official residence of the president of the Senate and dates also from the time of Marie de Médici. The picture gallery is housed in a modern structure to the west of the Petit Luxembourg.

The façade of the Palais du Sénat is not altogether lovely and has little suggestion of the[Pg 156] daintiness of the Petit Luxembourg, but, for all that, it presents a certain dignified pose and the edifice serves its purpose well as the legislative hall of the upper house.

The Petit Luxembourg The Petit Luxembourg

The gardens of the Luxembourg form another of those favourite Paris playgrounds for nursemaids and their charges. It is claimed that the[Pg 157] children are all little Legitimists in the Luxembourg gardens, whereas they are all Red Republicans at the Tuileries. One has no means of knowing this with certainty, but it is assumed; at any rate the Legitimists are a very numerous class in the neighbourhood. Another class of childhood to be seen here is that composed of the offsprings of artists and professors of the Latin quarter, and of the active tradesmen of the neighbourhood. They come here, like the others, for the fresh air, to see a bit of greenery, to hear the band play, to sail their boats in the basins of the great fountain and enjoy themselves generally.

One notes a distinct difference in the dress and manners of the children of the gardens of the Luxembourg from those of the Tuileries and wonders if the breach will be widened further as they grow up.

The Jardin du Luxembourg is all that a great city garden should be, ample, commodious,[Pg 158] decorative and as thoroughly typical of Paris as the Pont Neuf. Innumerable, but rather mediocre, statues are posed here and there between the palace and the observatory at the end of the long, tree-lined avenue which stretches off to the south, the only really historical monument of this nature being the celebrated Fontaine de Médicis by Debrosse, the architect of the palace. It was a memorial to Marie de Médici.

The Luxembourg Gardens The Luxembourg Gardens

While one is in this quarter of Paris he has an opportunity to recall a royal memory now somewhat dimmed by time, but still in evidence if one would delve deep.

As a matter of fact, royalty never had much to do with this hybrid quarter of Paris, though, indeed, its past was romantic enough, bordering as it does upon the real Latin Quarter of the students. Bounded on one side by the immense domain of the Luxembourg, it stretched away indefinitely beyond Vaugiraud, almost to Clamart and Sceaux.

At No. 27 Boulevard Montparnasse is an elaborate seventeenth house-front half hidden by the "modern style" flats of twentieth century Paris. This relic of the grand siècle, with its profusion of sculptured details, was the house bought by Louis XIV about 1672 and given to the "widow Scarron," the "young and beauti[Pg 159]ful widow of the court," as a recompense for the devotion with which she had educated the three children of the Marquise de Montespan, who, in 1673, were legitimatized as princes of the royal house—the Duc de Maine, the Comte de Vexin and Mademoiselle de Mantes.

Madame Scarron, who became in time Madame de Maintenon, the "vraie reine du roi," died in 1719, and the house passed to La Tour d'Auvergne.

On this same side of the river are the Palais de l'Institut and the Palais Bourbon. The Palais de l'Institut, or Palais Mazarin, is hardly to be considered one of the domestic establishments, the dwellings of kings, with which contemporary Paris was graced. It was but a creation of Mazarin, the minister, on the site of the Hôtel de Nesle, and was first known as the Palais des Quatre Nations, where were educated, at the expense of the Cardinal, sixty young men of various nationalities.

The old chapel has since been transformed into the "Salle des Séances" of the Institut de France, the Five French Academies. The black, gloomy façade of the edifice, to-day, in spite of the cupola which gives a certain inspiring dignity, is not lovely, and tradition and sentiment alone give it its present interest, though it is undeniably picturesque.[Pg 160]

An inscription used to be on the pedestal of one of the fountains opposite the entrance which read:

"Superbe habitant du desert
En ce lieu, dis moi, que fais tu
—Tu le vois à mon habit vert
Je suis membre de l'institut."

If the inscription were still there it would save the asking of a lot of silly questions by strangers who pass this way for the first time. The Palais de l'Institut is one of the sights of Paris, and its functions are notable, though hardly belonging to the romantic school of past days, for at present poets often make their entrée via Montmartre's "Chat Noir," or are elected simply because some other candidate has been "blackbouled."

Still following along the left bank of the Seine one comes to the Palais Bourbon, the Chambre des Deputés, as it is better known. This edifice, where now sit the French deputies, was built by Girardini for the Dowager Duchesse de Bourbon in 1722, and, though much changed during various successive eras, is still a unique variety of architectural embellishment which is not uncouth, nor yet wholly appealing. Napoleon remade the heavily imposing façade, so familiar to all who cross the river by the Pont de la Concorde, but its grimness is its charm rather than its grace.[Pg 161]

The structure cost its first proprietor twenty million or more francs, and since it has become national property the outlay has been constant. Everything considered it makes a poor showing; but its pseudo-Greek façade, were it removed, would certainly be missed in this section of Paris.

The principal apartments are the "Salle des Pas Perdus," the "Salle des Séances," and the "Salle des Conferences"—where, in 1830, the Duc d'Orleans took the oath as king of France.

A recent discovery has been made in the lumber room of this old Palais Bourbon, where deputies howl and shout and make laws as noisily as in any other of the world's parliaments.

This particular "find" was the throne constructed in 1816 for Louis XVIII, with its upholstering of velvet embroidered with the golden fleur-de-lis. The records tell that this throne also served[Pg 162] Louis Philippe under the Second Empire, and also was used under the Monarchy of July. It was after the momentous "Quatre Setembre" that it was finally relegated to the garret, but now, as a historical souvenir of the first rank, it has been placed prominently where all who visit the Palais Bourbon may see it.

The history of the Palais de l'Elysée has not been particularly vivid, though for two centuries it has played a most important part in the life of the capital. In later years it has served well enough the presidential dignity of the chief magistrate of the French Republic and is thus classed as a national property. Actually, since its construction, it has changed its name as often as it has changed its occupants. Its first occupant was its builder, Louis d'Auvergne, Comte d'Evreux, who built himself this great town house on a plot of land which had been given him by Louis XV. Apparently the young man had no means of his own for the construction of his luxurious city dwelling, for he refilled his coffers by marriage with the rich daughter of the financier Crozat.

The new-made countess's mother-in-law apparently never had much respect for her son's choice as she forever referred to her as "the little gold ingot."[Pg 163]

"The ingot" served to construct the palace, however, though at the death of its builder, soon after, it came into the proprietorship of La Pompadour, who spent the sum of six hundred and fifty thousand livres in aggrandizing it. It became her town house, whither she removed when she grew tired of Versailles or Bagatelle.

History tells of an incident in connection with a fête given at the Palais de l'Elysée by La Pompadour. It was at the epoch of the "bergeries à la Watteau." The blond Pompadour had the idea of introducing into the salons a troop of living, sad-eyed sheep, combed and curled like the poodles in the carriages of the fashionables in the Bois to-day. The quadrupeds, greatly frightened by the flood of light, fell into a panic, and the largest ram among them, seeing his duplicate in a mirror, made for it in the traditional ram-like manner. He raged for an hour or more from one apartment to another, followed by the whole flock, which committed incalculable damage before it could be turned into the gardens. Such was one of the costly caprices of La Pompadour. She had many.

La Pompadour's brother, the Marquis de Menars et de Marigny, continued the work of embellishment of the property up to the day when Louis XV bought it as a dwelling for the[Pg 164] ambassadors to his court. Its somewhat restricted park, ornamented with a grotto and a cascade, was at this time one of the curiosities of the capital.

In 1773, the financier Beaujon bought the property from the king and added considerably to it under the direction of the architect Boullée, who also re-designed the gardens. Thanks to Beaujon, the wonderful Gobelins of to-day were hung upon the walls, and many paintings by Rubens, Poissin, Van Loo, Von Ostade, Murillo, Paul Potter and Joseph Vernet were added.

The death of the financier brought the property into the hands of the Duchesse de Bourbon, the sister of Louis Philippe, and the mother of the Duc d' Enghien, who died so tragically at Vincennes a short time after. The duchess renamed her new possession Elysée-Bourbon and there led a very retired and sad life among surroundings so splendid that they merited a more gay existence.

At the Revolution the palace became a national property, and, under the Consulate, was the scene of many popular fêtes, it having been rented to a concern which arranged balls and other entertainments for the pleasure of all who could afford to pay. Its name was now the Hameau de Chantilly, and, considering that the entrance[Pg 165] tickets cost but fifteen sous—including a drink—it must have proved a cheap, satisfying and splendid amusement for the people.

This state of affairs lasted until 1805, when Murat bought it and here held his little court up to his departure for Naples, when, in gratefulness for past favours, he gave it to Napoleon. The emperor greatly loved this new abode, which he rechristened the Elysée-Napoleon.

After his defeat at Waterloo Napoleon, limping lamely Parisward, down through the Forests of Compiègne and Villers-Cotterets, sought in the Elysée-Napoleon the repose and rest which he so much needed, the throng meanwhile promenading before the palace windows, shouting at the tops of their voices "Vive l'Empereur!" though, as the world well knew, his power had waned forever; the eagle's wings were broken. The throng still crowded the precincts of the palace, but the emperor fled secretly by the garden gate.

On the return of the Duchesse de Bourbon from Spain the magnificent structure became again the Elysée-Bourbon. The duchess ceded the palace to the Duc and Duchesse de Berry but, at the duke's death, in 1820, his widow abandoned it.

Some time after it was occupied by the Duc[Pg 166] de Bordeaux, and, in 1830, it became one of the long list of establishments whose maintenance devolved upon the Civil List, though it remained practically uninhabited all through the reign of Louis Philippe.

In 1848, the National Assembly designated the palace as the official residence for the presidents of the French Republic. Three years after, on the night of the first of December, as the last preparations were being made by Louis Bonaparte for the Coup d' État and the final strangling of the young republic, the residence of the president was transferred to the Tuileries, and the palace of the Faubourg Saint Honoré was again left without a tenant, and served only to give hospitality from time to time to passing notables.

After the burning of the Tuileries, and the coming of the Third Republic, the Elysée Palace again became the presidential residence, and so it remains to-day.

One of the most notable of modern events connected with the Elysée Palace was the diner de ceremonie offered by the president of the Republic and Madame Fallières to Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt in April, 1910. The dinner was served in the "Grand Salle des Fêtes" and the music which accompanied the repast was furnished[Pg 167] by the band of the Garde Republicain, beginning with the national anthem of America and finishing with that of France. Never had a private citizen, a foreigner, been so received by the first magistrate of France. The toast of President Fallières was as follows: "Before this repast terminates I wish to profit by the occasion offered to drink the health of Monsieur Theodore Roosevelt, an illustrious man, a great citizen and a good friend of France and the cause of peace. I raise my glass to Madame Roosevelt who may be assured of our respectful and sympathetic homage, and I am very glad to be able to say to our guests that we count ourselves very fortunate in being allowed to meet them in person and show them this mark of respect."[Pg 168]


CHAPTER X

VINCENNES AND CONFLANS

Vincennes is to-day little more than a dull, dirty Paris suburb; if anything its complexion is a deeper drab than that of Saint Denis, and to call the Bois de Vincennes a park "somewhat resembling the Bois de Boulogne," as do the guidebooks, is ridiculous.

In reality Vincennes is nothing at all except a memory. There is to-day little suggestion of royal origin about the smug and murky surroundings of the Chateau de Vincennes; but nevertheless, it once was a royal residence, and the drama which unrolled itself within its walls was most vividly presented. A book might be written upon it, with the following as the chapter headings: "The Royal Residence," "The Minimes of[Pg 169] the Bois de Vincennes," "Mazarin at Vincennes," "The Prisoners of the Donjon," "The Fêtes of the Revolution," "The Death of the Duc d'Enghien," "The Transformation of the Chateau and the Bois."

Its plots are ready-made, but one has to take them on hearsay, for the old chateau does not open its doors readily to the stranger for the reason that it to-day ranks only as a military fortress, and an artillery camp is laid out in the quadrangle, intended, if need be, to aid in the defence of Paris. This is one of the things one hears about, but of which one may not have any personal knowledge.

The first reference to the name of Vincennes is in a ninth century charter, where it appears as Vilcenna. The foundation of the original chateau-fort on the present site is attributed to Louis VII, who, in 1164, having alienated a part of the neighbouring forest in favour of a body of monks, built himself a suburban rest-house under shelter of the pious walls of their convent.

Philippe Auguste, too, has been credited with being the founder of Vincennes; but, at all events, the chateau took on no royal importance until the reign of Saint Louis, who acquired the habit of dispensing justice to all comers seated beneath an oak in the near-by Forest of Joinville.[Pg 170]

The erection of the later chateau was begun by Charles, Comte de Valois, brother of Philippe-le-Bel; and it was completed by Philippe VI of Valois, and his successor, Jean-le-Bon, between the years 1337 and 1370, when it became an entirely new manner of edifice from what it had been before. It was in this chateau that was born Charles V, to whom indeed it owes its completion in the form best known.

To-day, the outlines of the mass of the Chateau de Vincennes are considerably abbreviated from their former state. Originally it was quite regular in outline, its walls forming a rectangle flanked by nine towers, the great donjon which one sees to-day occupying the centre of one side. The chapel was begun in the reign of François I and terminated in that of Henri II. Its coloured glass, painted by Jean Cousin from the designs of Raphael, is notable.

The chapel at Vincennes, with the Saint Chapelle of the Palais de Justice at Paris, ranks as one of the most exquisite examples extant of French Gothic architecture. It was begun in 1379, but chiefly it is of the sixteenth century, since it was only completed in 1552. This chapel of the sixteenth century, and the two side wings flanking the tower of the reign of Louis XIV, make the Chateau de Vincennes a most precious[Pg 171] specimen of mediæval ecclesiastical and military architecture. If Napoleon had not cut down the height of the surrounding walls the comparison would be still more favourable. In the reproduction of the miniature from the Book of Hours of the Duc de Berry given herein one sees the perfect outlines of the fourteenth century edifice.

In later years, Louis XIII added considerably to the existing structure, but little is now to be seen of that edifice save the great tower and the chapel.

Charles IX, whose royal edict brought forth the bloody night of Saint Bartholomew in 1572, fell sick two years later in the Chateau de Vincennes. Calling his surgeon, Ambroise Paré, to his side he exclaimed: "My body burns with fever; I see the mangled Huguenots all about me; Holy Virgin, how they mock me; I wish, Paré, I had spared them." And thus he died, abhorring the mother who had counselled him to commit this horrible deed.

The donjon of Vincennes was carried to its comparatively great height that it might serve as a tower of observation as well as a place of last retreat if in an attack the outer walls of the fortress should give way. Here at Vincennes a certain massiveness is noted in connection with the donjon, though the actual ground area which it[Pg 172] covers is not very great; it was not like many donjons of the time, which were virtually smaller chateaux or fortresses enclosed within a greater.

Chateau de Vincennes Chateau de Vincennes

Vincennes, in comparison with many other contemporary edifices, possessed a certain regularity of outline which was made possible by its favourable situation. When others were of fantastic form, they were usually so built because of the configuration of the land, or the nature of the soil. But here the land was flat, and, though the edifice and its dependencies covered no very extended area, they followed rectangular lines with absolute precision.

As its walls were of a thickness of three metres, it was a work easy of accomplishment for Louis XI to turn the chateau into a Prison of State, a use to which the first chateau had actually been put by the shutting up in it of Enguerrand de Marigny. Henri IV, in 1574, passed some solitary hours and days within its walls, and Mirabeau did the same in 1777. The Duc d'Enghien, under the First Empire, before his actual death by shooting, suffered sorely herein, while resting under an unjust suspicion.

In 1814-1815 the chateau became a great arsenal and general storehouse for the army. It was attacked by the Allies and besieged twice, but in vain. It was defended against the armies of[Pg 173] Blucher by the Baron Daumesnil. Summoned to surrender his charge, "Jambe de Bois" (so called because he had lost a leg the year before) replied: "I will surrender when you surrender to me my leg." A statue to this brave warrior is within the chateau, and commemorates further the fact that he capitulated only on terms laid down by himself out of his humane regard for the lives of friends and foes.

The ministers of Charles X, in 1830, had cause to regret the strength of the chateau walls; and Barbés, Blanqui and Raspail, in 1848, and various Republicans, who had been seized as dangerous elements of society after the Coup d'État of 1851, also here found an enforced hospitality. The Chateau de Vincennes had become a second Bastille.

The incident of the arrest and death of the Duc d'Enghien is one of the most dramatic in Napoleonic history. The scene was Vincennes. Louis Antoine Henri de Bourbon, son of the Prince de Condé, born at Chantilly in 1772, became, without just reason, suspected in connection with the Cadoudal-Pichegreu plot, and was seized by a squadron of cavalry at the Schloss Ettenheim in the Duchy of Baden and conducted to Vincennes. Here, after a summary judgment, he was shot at night in the moat behind the guardhouse. The[Pg 174] obscurity of the night was so great that a lighted lantern was hung around the neck of the unfortunate man that the soldiers might the better see the mark at which they were to shoot.

A Hunt under the Walls of Vincennes A Hunt under the Walls of Vincennes
From a Fourteenth Century Print

Napoleon confided to Josephine, who repeated the secret to Madame de Remusat, that his political future demanded a coup d'État. On the morning of the execution, the emperor, awakening at five o'clock, said to Josephine: "By this time the Duc d'Enghien has passed from this life."

The rest is history—of that apologetic kind which is not often recorded.

In the chapel at Vincennes a commemorative tablet was placed, by the orders of Louis XVIII, in 1816, to mark the death of the young duke.

The Bois de Vincennes is not the fashionable parade ground of the Bois de Boulogne. On the whole it is a sad sort of a public park, and not at all fashionable, and not particularly attractive, though of a vast extent and possessed of a profoundly historic past of far more significance than that of its sweet sister by the opposite gates of Paris.

It contains ten hundred and sixty-nine hectares and was due originally to Louis XV, who sought to have a sylvan gateway to the city from the east. Under the Second Empire the park was considerably transformed, new roads and alleys[Pg 175] traced, and an effort made to have it equal more nearly the beauty of the more popular Bois de Boulogne. It occupies the plateau lying between the Seine and the bend in the Marne, just above the junction of the two rivers.

There are some forty kilometres of roadway within the limits of the Bois de Vincennes, and a dozen kilometres or more of footpaths; but, since the military authorities have taken a portion for their own uses as a training ground, a shooting range and for the Batteries of La Faisanderie and Gravelle, it has been bereft of no small part of its former charm. There are three lakes in the Bois, the Lac de Sainte Mandé, the Lac Daumesnil and the Lac de Gravelle.

A near neighbour of Vincennes is Conflans, another poor, rent relic of monarchial majesty. The Chateau de Conflans was situated at the juncture of the Seine and Marne, but, to-day, the immediate neighbourhood is so very unlovely and depressing that one can hardly believe that it ever pleased any one's fancy, least of all that of a kingly castle builder.

Banal dwellings on all sides are Conflans' chief characteristics to-day; but the old royal abode still lifts a long length of roof and wall to mark the spot where once stood the Chateau de Conflans in all its glory.[Pg 176]

Conflans was at first the country residence of the Archbishops of Paris, and Saint Louis frequently went into retreat here. When Philippe-le-Bel acquired the property, he promptly gave it to the Comtesse d'Artois who made of it one of the "plus beaux castels du temps." She decorated its long gallery, the portion of the edifice which exists to-day in the humble, emasculated form of a warehouse of some sort, in memory of her husband Othon. Here the countess held many historic receptions and ceremonies during which kings and princes frequently partook of her hospitality.

After the death of the countess, the French king made his residence at Conflans, and Charles VI, when dauphin, was also lodged here that he might be near the capital in case of events which[Pg 177] might require his presence. A contemporary account mentions the fact that his valet de chambre was killed by lightning at Conflans while serving his royal master.

Conflans was the preferred suburban residence of the Princes and the Ducs de Bourgogne, and Philippe-le-Hardi there organized his tourneys and his passes d'armes with great éclat, on one occasion alone offering one hundred and fifteen thousand livres in prizes to the participants.

This castle, for it was more castle than palace, was reputed one of the most magnificent in the neighbourhood of the Paris of its time, surrounded as it was with a resplendent garden and a forest in miniature, really a part of the Bois de Vincennes of to-day, where roamed wild boar and wolves which furnished sport of a kingly kind.

The view from the terrace of the chateau must have been wonderfully fine, the towers and roof-tops of old Paris being silhouetted against the setting sun, its windows dominating the swift-flowing current of the two rivers at the foot of the fortress walls.

The greatest event of history enacted under the walls of Conflans was the battle and the treaty which followed after, between Louis XI and the Comte de Charolais, in 1405.

Commynes recounts the battle as follows: "Four[Pg 178] thousand archers were sent out from Paris by the king, who fired upon the castle from the river bank on both sides."

Bows and arrows were hardly effective weapons with which to shoot down castle walls, but stragglers who left themselves unprotected were from time to time picked off on both sides and much carnage actually ensued. Finally a treaty of peace was arranged, by which, at the death of Charles-le-Téméraire, according to usage, Louis XI absorbed the proprietary rights in the castle and made it a Maison Royale, bestowing it upon one of his favourites, Dame Gillette Hennequin.

The kings of France about this time developed a predilection for the chateaux on the banks of the Loire, and Conflans was offered for sale in 1554. Divers personages occupied it from that time on, the Maréchal de Villeroy, the Connetable de Montmorency and, for a brief time, Cardinal Richelieu.

It was in the Chateau de Conflans that was planned the foundation of the French Academy; here Molière and his players first presented "La Critique de l'Ecole des Femmes"; and here, also, was held the marriage of La Grande Mademoiselle with the unhappy Lauzan.

At the end of the reign of Louis XIV Fr. de Harlay-Chauvallon, Archbishop of Paris, bought[Pg 179] the property of Richelieu, and, with the aid of Mansart and Le Notre, considerably embellished it within and without. Madame de Sévigné, in one of her many published letters, writes of the splendours which she saw at Conflans at this epoch.

Saint-Simon, the court chronicler, mentions that the gardens were so immaculately kept that when the Archbishop and "La Belle" Duchesse de Lesdiguières used to promenade therein they were followed by a gardener who, with a rake, sought to remove the traces of each footprint as soon as made.

Later, the Cardinal de Beaumont, the persecutor of the Jansenists, resided here.

"Notre archeveque est à Conflans
C'est un grand solitaire
C'est un grand so
C'est un grand so
C'est un grand solitaire."

The above verse is certainly banal enough, but the cardinal himself was a drôle, so perhaps it is appropriate. At any rate it is contemporary with the churchman's sojourn at Conflans.


[Pg 180]

CHAPTER XI

FONTAINEBLEAU AND ITS FOREST

Of all the French royal palaces Fontainebleau is certainly the most interesting, despite the popularity and accessibility of Versailles. It is moreover the cradle of the French Renaissance. Napoleon called it the Maison des Siècles, and the simile was just.

After Versailles, Fontainebleau has ever held the first place among the suburban royal palaces. The celebrated "Route de Fontainebleau" of history was as much a Chemin du Roi as that which led from the capital to Versailles. Ver[Pg 181]sailles was gorgeous, even splendid, if you will; but it had not the unique characteristics, nor winsomeness of Fontainebleau, nor ever will have, in the minds of those who know and love the France of monarchial days.


View larger image

Not the least of the charm of Fontainebleau is the neighbouring forest so close at hand, a few garden railings, not more, separating the palace from one of the wildest forest tracts of modern France.

The Forest of Fontainebleau is full of memories of royal rendezvous, the carnage of wild beasts, the "vraie image de la guerre," of which the Renaissance kings were so inordinately fond.

It was from the Palace of Fontainebleau, too, that bloomed forth the best and most wholesome of the French Renaissance architecture. It was the model of all other later residences of its kind. It took the best that Italy had to offer and developed something so very French that even the Italian workmen, under the orders of François I, all but lost their nationality. Vasari said of it that it "rivalled the best work to be found in the Rome of its time."

A charter of Louis-le-Jeune (Louis VII), dated at Fontainebleau in 1169, attests that the spot was already occupied by a maison royale which, according to the Latin name given in the docu[Pg 182]ment was called Fontene Bleaudi, an etymology not difficult to trace when what we know of its earlier and later history is considered.

Actually this fontaine belle eau is found to-day in the centre of the Jardin Anglais, its basin and outlet being surrounded by the conventional stone rim or border. After its discovery, according to legend, this fountain became the rendezvous of the gallants and the poets and painters and the "sweet ladies" so often referred to in the chronicles of the Renaissance. Rosso, the painter, perpetuated one of the most celebrated of these reunions in his decorations in the Galerie François I in the palace, and Cellini represented the fair huntress Diana, amid the same surroundings.

Under Louis-le-Jeune in 1169 was erected, in the Cour du Donjon, the chapel Saint-Saturnin, which was consecrated by Saint Thomas à Becket, then a refugee in France.

Philippe Auguste and Saint Louis inhabited the palace and Philippe-le-Bel died here in 1314. From a letter of Charles VII it appears that Isabeau de Bavière had the intention of greatly adding to the existing chateau because of the extreme healthfulness of the neighbourhood. The work was actually begun but seemingly not carried to any great length.[Pg 183]

Such was the state of things when François I came into his own and, because of the supreme beauty of the site, became enamoured of it and began to erect an edifice which was to outrank all others of its class. The king and court made of Fontainebleau a second capital. It was a model residence of its kind, and gave the first great impetus to the Renaissance wave which rose so rapidly that it speedily engulfed all France.

Aside from its palace and its forest, Fontainebleau early became a noble and a gracious town, thanks to the proximity of the royal dwelling. In spite of the mighty scenes enacted within its walls, the palace has ever posed as one of the most placid and tranquil places of royal residence in the kingdom.

All this is true to-day, in spite of the coming of tourists in automobiles, and the recent establishment of a golf club with the usual appurtenances. Fontainebleau, the town, has a complexion quite its own. Its garrison and its little court of officialdom give it a character which even to-day marks it as one of the principal places where the stranger may observe the French dragoon, with casque and breastplate and boots and spurs, at quite his romantic best, though it is apparent to all that the cumbersome, if picturesque, uniform is an unwieldy fighting[Pg 184] costume. There was talk long ago of suppressing the corps, but all Fontainebleau rose up in protest. As the popular chanson has it: "Laissez les dragons a leur Maire." This has become the battle cry and so they remain at Fontainebleau to-day, the envy of their fellows in the service, and the glory of the young misses of the boarding schools, who each Saturday are brought out in droves to see the sights.

Many descriptions of Fontainebleau have been written, but the works of Poirson, Pfnor and Champollion-Figèac are generally followed by most makers of guidebooks, and, though useful, they have perpetuated many errors which were known to have been doubtful even before their day.

The best account of Fontainebleau under François I is given in the manuscript memoir of Abbé Guilbert. Apparently an error crept into this admirable work, too, for it gives the date of the commencement of the constructions of François as 1514, whereas that monarch only ascended the throne in 1515. The date of the first works under this monarch was 1528, according to a letter of the king himself, which began: "We, the court, intend to live in this palace and hunt the 'betes rousses et noirs qui sont dans la forêt.'"[Pg 185]

An account of François I and his "young Italian friends" makes mention of the visit of the king, in company with the Duchesse d'Étampes, to the studio of Serlio who was working desperately on the portico of the Cour Ovale. He found the artist producing a "melody of plastic beauty, garbed as a simple workman, his hair matted with pasty clay." He was standing on a scaffolding high above the ground when the monarch mounted the ladder. Up aloft François held a conference with his beloved workman and, descending, shouted back the words: "You understand, Maître Serlio; let it be as you suggest." After the porticos, Serlio decorated the Galerie d'Ulysse which has since disappeared owing to the indifference of Louis XV and the imbecility of his friends; and always it was with François: "You understand, Maître Serlio; it is as you wish." The motif may have been Italian, but the impetus for the work was given by the esprit of the French.

The defeated monarch was not able to bring away from Padua any trophies of war; but he brought plans of chateaux, and gardens as well. He did more: he took the very artists and craftsmen who had produced many of the Italian masterpieces of the time.

The tracing of the gardens at Fontainebleau,[Pg 186] practically as they exist to-day, was one of François I's greatest pleasures. In their midst, on the shores of the Étang aux Carpes, was erected a tiny rest-house where the royal mistresses might come to repose and laugh at the jests of Triboulet.

Palais de Fontainebleau Palais de Fontainebleau

The edifice of François I is of modest proportions and of perfect unity; but it is with difficulty that it presents its best appearance, overpowered as it is by the heavier masses of the time of Henri IV, and suffering as it does because of the eliminations of Louis XIV and Louis XV when they made their additions to the palace.

Under the Convention, later on, Fontainebleau's palace again suffered. Under the Consulate it became a barracks and a prison, and finally, not less terrible, were the restorations of Napoleon and Louis Philippe. A castle may sometimes suffer less from a siege than from a restoration.

From every point of view, however, Fontainebleau remains an architectural document of the most profound interest and value, and, from the tourists' point of view, it is the most appealing of all European palaces of this or any other age. The expert, the artist and the mere curiosity-seeker all unite in their admiration in spite of the fact that the fabric has been denuded of many of its original beauties.

[Pg 187]

First, this royal dwelling is of the most ample and effective proportions; second, it possesses a remarkable series of luxurious apartments; third, it still contains some of the finest examples of furniture and furnishings of Renaissance and Napoleonic times; and, in addition, there is also to be seen that admirable series of paintings which represent the School of Fontainebleau. With such an array of charms what does it matter if the unity of the Renaissance masterpiece of François I is qualified by later interpolations? General impression is the standard by which one judges the workmanship of a noble monument, and here it is good to an extraordinary degree.

The palace of to-day sits at one end of the aristocratic little town of Fontainebleau. Beyond is the forest and opposite are many hotels which depend upon the palace as the source from which they draw their livelihood.

The principal entrance to the palace opens out from the Place Solferino and gives access immediately to the Cour du Cheval Blanc of Chambiges, which, since that eventful day in Napoleonic history nearly a hundred years ago, has become better known as the Cour des Adieux. At the rear rises the famous horseshoe stair, certainly much better expressed in French as[Pg 188] the Escalier en Fer à Cheval, from which the emperor took his farewell of his "Vieux Grognards" lined up before him, biting savagely at their moustaches to keep down their emotions.

This Cour du Cheval Blanc acquired its name from a plaster cast of Marcus Aurelius's celebrated steed which was originally placed here under a canopy or baldaquin held aloft by colonnettes. The moulds for this work were brought from Venice by Primaticcio and Vignole, but it was never cast in bronze and the statue itself disappeared in 1626. The courtyard, however, still kept the name until the last of Napoleonic days.

As a Napoleonic memory this Cour des Adieux shares popularity with the famous Cabinet of the Empire suite of apartments where Napoleon signed his abdication. Certainly most visitors will carry away the memory of these words as among the most vivid souvenirs of Fontainebleau.

"Le 5 Avril, 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte signa son abdication sur cette table dans le cabinet de travail du Roi, le deuxieme après la chambre à coucher à Fontainebleau."

The abdication itself (the document) is now exposed in the Galerie de Diane, transformed lately into the Library.[Pg 189]

On the right is the Aile Neuf, built by Louis XV, for the housing of his officers, on the site of the Galerie de Ulysse, originally one of the most notable features of the palace of François I. Opposite is the sober alignment of the Aile des Ministres, and still farther to the rear are the Pavillon des Aumoniers, or de l'Horloge; the Chapelle de la Trinité; the Pavillon des Armes; the Pavillon des Peintres; the Pavillon des Poëls; the Galerie des Fresques; and, finally, the Pavillon des Reines-Meres. All of these details are of the period of François I save the last, which was an interpolation of Louis XIV.

The Fer à Cheval stairway, however, most curious because of the difficulties of its construction, dates from the time of Louis XIII, and replaces the stairs built by Philibert Delorme. The tennis court, just before the Pavillon de l'Horloge, dates only from Louis XV.

The imposing entrance court is a hundred and twelve metres in width by a hundred and fifty-two metres in length, and to see it as it was originally, before the destruction of the Galerie d'Ulysse, one must imagine it as closed in by a series of small pavilions with their frontons of colonnettes preceded only by a staircase and two drawbridges crossing the moat, which at that time surrounded the entire confines of the[Pg 190] palace. The moat is to-day surrounded, where it still exists, by a balustrade, due to the rather shabby taste of Louis XV.

Salle du Throne, Fontainebleau Salle du Throne, Fontainebleau

An inner courtyard, known as the Cour de la Fontaine, is incomparably of finer general design than the entrance court, and the Cour Ovale, absolutely as Henri IV left it, is finer still. At the foot of this latter court is the Baptistry where were baptised, in 1606, the three "Enfants de France," the dauphin, afterwards Louis XIII; the Princesse Elizabeth, afterwards the Queen of Spain; and the Princesse de Savoie.

The Cour Ovale is practically of the proportions of the ancient Manor of Fontaine Belle Eau, built by Robert le Pieux. There, too, Philippe Auguste, Saint Louis, Philippe-le-Bel, Charles V and Charles VII frequently resided. François I had no wish that this old manor should entirely disappear and preserved its old donjon, a relic which has since gone the way of many another noble fane. There are several other notable courts or gardens, the Cour des Offices, the Jardin de Diane, the Orangerie, the Cour des Princes, etc.

All the original gardens were laid out anew by Louis XIV, and that of Diane underwent a considerable change at the hands of Napoleon, who also laid out a Jardin Anglais on the site[Pg 191] of the ancient Jardin des Pins, where originally sprang into being the rippling Fontaine Beleau, or Belle Eau, which gave its name to the palace, the forest and the town.

The park, as distinct from the great expanse of surrounding forest, is a finely shaded range of alleys, due chiefly to Henri IV, who cut the great canal of ornamental water and ordained the general arrangement of its details.

The principal curiosity of the park is the famous Treille du Roy, or the King's Grape Vine, which, good seasons and bad, can be counted on to give three thousand kilos of authentic chasselas, grapes of the finest quality. One wonders who gets them: Ou s'en vont les raisins du roi? This is an interrogation that has been raised more than once in the French parliament.

In general, the aspect of the exterior of the Palais de Fontainebleau, the walls themselves, the Cours, the alleyed walks are chiefly reminiscent of the early art of the Renaissance. François I is, after all, more in evidence than the Henris or the Napoleons. Within, the same is true in general, though to a less degree. The Renaissance is maitresse within and without; the other moods are wholly subservient to her grace.

There is hardly an apartment in all the world[Pg 192] of palaces in France, or beyond the frontiers, to rank with the great Galerie François I at Fontainebleau, though indeed its proportions are modest and its lighting defective to-day, for Louis XV blocked up all the windows on one side. It remains, however, one of the richest examples of the Franco-Italian decoration of its era, though somewhat tarnished by the heedlessness of Charles X.


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Never were there before, nor since, its era such mythological wall-paintings as are here to be seen. The aspirants for the Prix de Rome protest each year against such subjects being set them for their concours, but their judges, recalling how effective such examples are, are insistent. The best examples of the School of Fontainebleau are a distinct variety of French painting. The veriest dabbler in art can say with Michelet: "There is no reminiscence of anything Italian therein."

Frankly, these works were the product of secondary artists and their pupils. Leonardo da Vinci, too old to do anything more than direct, saw himself succeeded by Del Sarto, Rosso and Primaticcio. Cellini may have contributed, too, but his labours were doubtless blotted out to a great extent by the orders of the all-powerful Duchesse d'Étampes who feared his competition[Pg 193] with her protegé, Primaticcio. One of the masters of this coterie was Nicolo dell' Abbate, better known, perhaps, for his works painted at Bologna than for his frescoes at Fontainebleau.

The Galerie Henri II is notable also for its decorations, the harmonious juxtaposition of sculpture and painting, and, although "restored" in late years, presents an astonishing pristine vigour. This apartment ranks with the Galerie François I, all things considered, as one of the chief show apartments of the palace. Its length is thirty metres, its breadth ten, with five ample round-headed windows letting in a flood of light on either side, one set giving on the Cour Ovale, and the other on the Parterre and the magnificent façade of the Porte Dorée. The ceiling is broken up into octagonal caissons, their depths alternately laid with gold or silver, bearing the monogram of the monarch and his devise. The parquet is laid in divisions reproducing the design of the ceiling. On either side the walls are wainscoted in oak similarly emblazoned in gold and silver, with the initials of Diane de Poitiers, and of her admirer, Henri, everywhere interlaced. Again, a colossal monogram reproduces itself in the chimney-piece with the frescoes of Nicolo dell' Abbate, and fifty figures of mythological gods and heroes decorate the window casings.[Pg 194]

The chapel dates chiefly from the time of Henri IV, the altar and numerous embellishments belonging to later reigns.

A certain sentiment, not a little real beauty, and much unauthenticated history attach themselves to the Salon Louis XIII, the Salle du Trone, the Apartment of Madame de Maintenon, those of Napoleon I, of Pope Pius VII and of Marie Antoinette.

The Galerie de Diane is little reminiscent of the day of the huntress, being a reconstitution under the First Empire, though its decorations date from the Restoration, and the ceiling, and furniture, apparently of the best of Renaissance times, are merely copies made by Louis Philippe, who did not hesitate, on another occasion, to blue-wash the Salon de Saint Louis, and who hung worthless third-rate paintings, which even provincial museums of the meanest rank have since refused to house, in the admirably decorated apartments of the period of François and Henri.

Fontainebleau, to-day, is but a memory of what it was, a memory by no means fragmentary, by no means complete; but all sufficient.

Of later years there is actually little to single out in the way of remarkable additions or restorations. Under the Second Empire the Galerie François I was repainted, some false antiquities[Pg 195] added as furnishings, and various ranges of books were stored away in the Galerie de Diane, having been brought from the chapel which had ceased to serve as the Library. This apartment was now refitted as a chapel, and, to supplant six wall paintings which had been removed, Napoleon III ordered seven canvases from the painter Schopin, illustrating the life of Saint Saturnin.

Finally, the Salle de Spectacle completes the modern additions, and, while gaudily striking, is scarcely above the taste of a gilded café in some pompous Préfecture.

Henri IV was the creator of the park of the palace, which extended as far as the village of Avon and absorbed all the Seigneurie de Montceau, of which Mi-Voie (the dairy of Catherine de Médici) occupied a part. The acquisition of the Seigneurie was made in 1609. Across it was cut a "grand canal" in imitation of that already possessed by the Chateau de Fleury. It was a great rarity as a garden accessory, and was more than a quarter of a league long and forty metres wide. Bassompierre said in his memoirs that Henri IV made him a wager that it could be filled with water in two days. It actually took eight.

To the north of the park, Henri IV built, under the name of La Menagerie, what he called[Pg 196] a maison de plaisance, but which was really the forerunner of the animal house at Versailles.

To all these works of Henri IV in the gardens at Fontainebleau is attached the name of Francine. There were two brothers of the name, Thomas and Alexandre, and it was the latter who chiefly occupied himself with the Parterre, the Chaussée and the Grand Canal at Fontainebleau. In the Jardin de la Reine he erected the celebrated Fontaine de Diane which finally gave its name to the garden itself. The fountain was designed by Barthélemy Prieur, and was cast in 1603. The original bronzes are now in the Louvre, those seen at Fontainebleau to-day being later works (1684).

The Forest of Fontainebleau is a dozen leagues in circumference, and of an area of nearly thirty-five thousand acres. Its beauty, its natural beauty, is unrivalled. Rocks, ravines, valleys, patriarchal oaks and beeches, plains, woods, glades, meadows, lawns and cliffs, all are here. Its population of stag and deer was practically exterminated during the Revolution of 1830, but nevertheless it sustained its reputation as a great hunting-ground for long afterwards.

The Royal Hunt invariably centered at La Croix du Grand Veneur, a notable landmark of the forest even now, at the intersection of four[Pg 197] magnificent forest roads. Its name comes from a legend of a spectral black huntsman who was supposed to haunt the forest, and who appeared for the last time, in reality or imagination, to Henri IV shortly before his assassination.

In 1854, one of the last and most gorgeous of Fontainebleau hunts was given by Louis Napoleon. The emperor spent lavishly for the equipment of the hunt, and granted liberal stipends to the attendants that they might caparison themselves with some semblance of picturesque dignity; horses and dogs were furnished and cared for on the same liberal scale.

The costuming of a hunting party under such conditions was not the least appealing of its picturesque elements. Three-cornered hats, gold lace, knee breeches, silk stockings and other costly properties, when provided for a single special occasion, as they were in this case, were apt to suggest the life of centuries long gone by rather than that of modern times.

The Forest of Fontainebleau can best be briefly described as a rendezvous for tourists and "trippers," and as a vast open-air studio for the youthful emulators of "the men of Barbison."

Historic, romantic and artistic memories and realities are on every hand; the march of time and progress has not dimmed them, nor thinned[Pg 198] them out; the Forest of Fontainebleau remains to-day the best known and most delightful extent of wildwood in all the world.

The chief of the well-known names associated with the Forest of Fontainebleau, and one which will never die, is that of Denecourt, called also the "Sylvain de la Forêt," a mythological appellation which came from his abounding knowledge of its devious ways and byways. It was in 1841 that Denecourt began his original studies and catalogued its every stone and tree. He invented names and gave a historical setting to many a picturesque and romantic site which might not have been known at all had it not been for his enthusiasm.

After the vogue of Denecourt all the world followed in his footsteps until the Parisian knew as well the Longue Rocher, the Gorges d'Apremont and the Gorge de Franchard as he did the Rue de la Paix or the Champs Elysées. Denecourt's great work, "Promenades dans la Forêt de Fontainebleau" appeared in 1845, and if he is to be criticised for letting his fancy run away with him now and then, and for the opera bouffe nomenclature of many of the caves and mares and chènes and "fairy-bowers" and "tables of kings," he at least has enabled a curious public to become better acquainted with this great forest.[Pg 199]

The flora of the Forest of Fontainebleau is remarkably varied; Denecourt gives seventy varieties of plants and flowers which grow and propagate here naturally, to which are to be added a great number of nondescript vines, lichens and vegetable mosses.

Of the trees the list extends from the imposing and sometimes gigantic oaks, elms, beeches, and willows to shrubs and heather growth of the most humble species.

A score or more of the most commonly known feathered tribes people the forest to-day with almost the same freedom of life and abundance as in monarchial times. The songsters are all there, from the robin to the nightingale; as well as the partridge and the celebrated indigenous grouse.

Previous to 1830 the forest was well supplied with big game, deer and wild boar without number; but, in later times, as was but natural, these have been greatly thinned out. Rabbits and hares, to say nothing of foxes and the like, were formerly so abundant that, under Louis Philippe, it was necessary to carry out what was practically a war of extermination. To-day they exist, of course, but in no great numbers.

Another sort of publicity has been given the Forest of Fontainebleau by its association with[Pg 200] the painters of the thirties. Theodore Rousseau, in 1836, lived at Barbison, which at that time was but a hamlet of a few houses, with no encumbering hotels, garages and merry-go-rounds as to-day.

Monument to Rousseau and Millet at Barbison Monument to Rousseau and Millet at Barbison

A certain Père Ganne kept a sort of a lodging house where artists were made welcome at an exceedingly modest price. Not only the really famous and much exploited painters of the time gained fortunes here, but those of a more conservative school, who never rose to really great distinction, also drew much of their inspiration from the neighbourhood, among them Hamon, Boulanger and Célestin Nanteuil.

Without having to go far to hunt up their subjects, the Forest of Fontainebleau lying near Barbison offered to painters much that was not available within so small a radius elsewhere.

Diaz was here already when, in 1849, Jacque and Millet arrived upon the scene, and at more or less frequent intervals, and for more or less lengthy stays, there came Corot, Dupré and Daubigny.

Just what the Barbison school produced in the way of painting all the world knows to-day, but these men were originally the target of every prejudiced critic of the Boulevards and the Faubourgs. The present day has brought its[Pg 201] reward and appreciation, though it is the dealers who have profited—the men are dead.

In memory of the fame brought to this little corner of the forest in general, and to Barbison in particular, there was placed (in 1894), at the entrance to the village, a bronze medallion showing the heads of Millet and Rousseau. It was a delicate way of showing appreciation for the talents of those two great men who actually founded a new school of painting.

At the other end of the forest is the little village of Marlotte, also a haven for many painters of a former day, and no less so for those of to-day. The old forest in three quarters of a century has seen itself reproduced on canvas in all its moods. No painter ever lived, nor could all the painters that ever lived, exhaust its infinite variety. Hebert in his "Dictionnaire de la Forêt de Fontainebleau" says, rightly enough, that, with the coming of the men of Fontainebleau and its "artist-villages" the classic type of "Paysage d'Italie" has disappeared from the Salon Catalogues.

Art amateurs and the common people alike made the reputation of Fontainebleau; the mere "trippers" were brought thither by Denecourt, but the real forest lovers were those who were attracted by the masterpieces of the painters.[Pg 202] The town of Fontainebleau has changed somewhat under this double influence. At Fontainebleau itself are two monuments in memory of painters who have passed away. One of these is to the memory of Decamps, who was killed by a fall from his horse while riding in the forest; it is a simple bust, the work of Carrier-Belleuse. The other is of Rosa Bonheur who died at Thomery, a little village on the southern border of the forest, in 1902; it is an almost life-size bull from a small model by the artist herself and surmounts a pedestal which also bears a medallion of the artist.[Pg 203]


CHAPTER XII

BY THE BANKS OF THE SEINE

On the highroad to Saint Germain one passes innumerable historic monuments which suggest the generous part that many minor chateaux played in the court life of the capital of old.

To-day, Maisons, La Muette and Bagatelle are mere names which serve the tram lines for roof signs and scarcely one in a thousand strangers gives them a thought.

The famous Bois de Boulogne and its immediate environment have for centuries formed a delicious verdant framing for a species of French country-house which could not have existed within the fortifications. These luxurious, bijou dwellings, some of them, at least, the caprices of kings, others the property of the new nobility, and still others of mere plebeian kings of finance, are in a class quite by themselves.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the celebrated Bagatelle, within the confines of the Bois itself. The Chateau de Bagatelle was built in a month, thus meriting its name, by the Comte[Pg 204] d'Artois, the future Charles X, as a result of a wager with Marie Antoinette. On its façade it originally bore the inscription: "Parva sed apta"—"small but convenient."

Bagatelle occupied a corner of the royal domain and, after its completion, was sold to the Marquise de Monconseil, in 1747, who gave to this princely suburban residence a dignity worthy of its origin. Then came La Pompadour on the scene, the petite bourgeoise who, by the nobility acquired by the donning of a court costume and marriage with the Sieur Normand d'Étioles, usurped the right[Pg 205] to sit beside duchesses and be presented to the queen, if not as an equal, at least as the maitresse of her spouse, the king.

There is a legend about a meeting between La Pompadour and the king at Bagatelle, a meeting in which she established herself so firmly in the graces of the monarch that on the morrow she formed a part of the entourage at Versailles.

After having come into the possession of the heirs of Sir Richard Wallace, Bagatelle finally became the property of the State.

It is in the Chateau de Bagatelle that is to be installed the "Musée de la Parole"—"The Museum of Speech." The French, innovators ever, plan that Bagatelle shall become a sort of conservatory of the human voice, and here will be classed methodically the cylinders and disks which have recorded the spoken words of all sorts and conditions of men.

In this Musée de la Parole will be kept phonographic records of all current dialects in France, the argot of the Parisian lower classes, etc., etc.

Up to the present the evolution of the speech of man has ever been an enigma. No one knows to-day how Homer or Virgil pronounced their words, and Racine and Corneille, though of a time less remote, have left no tangible record of their speech. Monsieur Got of the Comédie Fran[Pg 206]çaise believes that Louis XIV pronounced "Moi," "le Roi" as "Moué" "le Roué"; and thus he pronounced it in a speech which has been recorded in wax and is to form a part of the collection at Bagatelle.

The Polo Grounds of Bagatelle, between the chateau and the Seine as it swirls around the Ile de la Folie, are to-day better known than this dainty little Paris palace; but Bagatelle will some day come to its own again.

Neuilly bounds the Bois de Boulogne on the north, and has little of a royal appearance to-day, save its straight, broad streets.

There is a royal incident connected with the Pont de Neuilly which should not be forgotten. It came about in connection with the return of Henri IV from Saint Germain in company with the queen and the Duc de Vendome. They were in a great coach drawn by four horses which insisted on drinking from the river in spite of the efforts of the coachman to prevent them.

The carriage was overturned and the royal party barely escaped being drowned. One of the aids who accompanied them recounted the fact that the impromptu bath had cured the king's toothache which he had acquired over a rather hasty meal just before leaving the palace. "Had I witnessed the adventure," said the Mar[Pg 207]quis de Verneuil, "I should have proposed the toast: 'Le Roi Boit!" As a result of this incident a new bridge was constructed, though it was afterwards replaced by the present stone structure over which a ceaseless traffic rushes in and out of Paris to-day. It was this present bridge over which Louis XV was the first to pass on September 22, 1772.

The Chateau de Neuilly was a favourite suburban residence of Louis Philippe. It was here that a delegation came to offer him the crown, and, after he had become king, he was pleased to still inhabit it and actually spent considerable sums upon its maintenance. When the Revolution of 1848 broke out, the sovereign took refuge at Neuilly and, when besieged by the multitude, took flight in the night of February 26 and left his chateau in the hands of a band of ruffians who pillaged it from cellar to garret, finally setting it on fire. It burned like a pile of brushwood, and it is said that more than a hundred drunken desperados perished when its walls fell in. This was the tragic end of the Chateau de Neuilly.

By a decree of the president of the later Republic the Orleans princes were obliged to sell all their French properties and the park of the Chateau de Neuilly was cut up into morsels and lots were sold to all comers. Thus was[Pg 208] born that delightful Paris suburb, with the broad, shady avenues and comfortable houses, with which one is familiar to-day. The aristocratic Parc de Neuilly, with Saint James, is the only tract near Paris where one finds such lovely gardens and such fresh, shady avenues.

Another quarter of Neuilly possesses a history worthy of being recounted. The district known as Saint James derived its name from a great suburban property which in 1775 belonged to Baudart de Saint James. He created a property almost royal in its appointments, its gardens having acquired an extraordinary renown. When he became a bankrupt a throng of persons visited the property not so much with a view to purchase as out of curiosity. A writer of the time says of this Lucullus that he was the envy of all Paris. He died soon after his ruin, from chagrin, and in apparent poverty, which seemingly established his good faith with his creditors. Under the First Empire the domain was bought by, or for, the Princesse Borghese, who here gave many brilliant fêtes at which the emperor himself frequently assisted. On the occasion of the marriage of Napoleon to Marie Louise a series of fêtes took place here which evoked the especially expressed encomiums of the emperor.

In 1815 Wellington made it his headquarters[Pg 209] and here had his first conference with Blucher. Upon Wellington quitting Saint James the property was pillaged by the Iron Duke's own troops and actually demolished by the picks and axes of the soldiery.

Near the Passy entrance of the Bois is La Muette, a relic of a royal hunting-lodge which took its name from the royal pack of hounds (meute) which was formerly kept here.

The Chateau de la Muette was the caprice of François I, who, when he came to Paris, wished to have his pleasures near at hand, and, being the chief partisan of the hunt among French monarchs, built La Muette for this purpose.

The Chateau de la Muette is thus classed as one of the royal dwellings of France though hardly ever is it mentioned in the annals of to-day.

Rebuilt by Charles IX, from his father's more modest shooting box, La Muette became the centre of the court of Marguerite de Navarre, the first wife of Henri IV; after which it served as the habitation of the dauphin, who became Louis XIII.

During the regency, Philippe d'Orleans took possession of the chateau until the enthronement of Louis XV. The latter here established a little court within a court, best described by the French as: "ses plaisirs privés." It was this[Pg 210] monarch who rebuilt, or at least restored, the chateau, and brought it to the state in which one sees it to-day.

In 1783 Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the court took up a brief residence here to assist at the aerostatic experiences of De Rosier, and in 1787, ceasing to be a royal residence, La Muette was offered for sale after first having been stripped of its precious wainscotings, its marbles and the artistic curiosities of all sorts with which it had been decorated. The chateau itself now became the property of Sebastian Erard, who bought it for the modest price of two hundred and sixty thousand francs.

Somewhat farther from Paris, crossing the peninsula formed by the first of the great bends of the Seine below the capital, is Chatou which has a royal reminder in its Pavilion Henri IV, or Pavillon Gabrielle, which the gallant, love-making monarch built for Gabrielle d'Estrées. Formerly it was surrounded by a vast park and must have been almost ideal, but to-day it is surrounded by stucco, doll-house villas, and unappealing apartments, until only a Gothic portal, jutting from a row of dull house fronts, suggests the once cosy little retreat of the lovely Gabrielle.

The height of Louveciennes, above Bougival, closes the neck of the peninsula and from it a vast[Pg 211] panorama of the silvery Seine and its coteaux stretches out from the towers of Notre Dame on one hand to the dense forest of Saint Germain on the other.

The original Chateau de Louveciennes was the property of Madame la Princesse de Conti, but popular interest lies entirely with the Pavilion du Barry, built by the architect Ledoux under the orders of Louis XV.

Du Barry, having received the chateau as a gift from the king, sought to decorate it and reëmbellish it anew. Through the ministrations of a certain Drouais, Fragonard was commissioned to decorate a special pavilion outside the chateau proper, destined for the "collations du Roi."

The subject chosen was the "Progres de l'Amour dans le Cœur des Jeunes Filles." Just where these panels are to-day no one seems to know, but sooner or later they will doubtless be discovered.

Fragonard's famous "Escalade," or "Rendezvous," the first of the series of five proposed panels, depicted the passion of Louis XV for du Barry. The shepherdess had the form and features of that none too scrupulous feminine beauty, and the "berger gallant" was manifestly a portrait of the king.

Perhaps these decorations at Louveciennes were[Pg 212] elaborations of these smaller canvases. It seems quite probable.

Sheltered snugly against the banked-up Forest of Saint Germain, on the banks of the Seine, is Maisons-Laffitte. Maisons is scarcely ever mentioned by Parisians save as they comment on the sporting columns of the newspapers, for horse-racing now gives its distinction to the neighbourhood, and the old Chateau de Maisons (with its later suffix of Laffitte) is all but forgotten.

François Mansart built the first Chateau de Maisons on a magnificent scale for René de Longueil, the Superintendent of Finance. In a later century it made a most effectual appeal to another financier, Laffitte, the banker, who parcelled out the park and stripped the chateau.

For a century, though, the chateau belonged to the family of its founder, and in 1658 the surrounding lands were made into a Marquisate. In 1671, on the day of the death of Philippe, Duc d'Anjou, Maisons may be said to have become royal for the court there took up its residence. Later, the Marquis de Soyecourt became the owner and Voltaire stayed here for a time; in fact he nearly died here from an attack of smallpox.

In 1778 the property was acquired by the Comte d'Artois and the royal family of the[Pg 213] time were frequent guests. The king, the queen and each of the princes all had their special apartments, and if Louis XVI had not been too busy with other projects, more ambitious ones, there is little doubt but that he would have given Maisons an éclat which during all of its career it had just missed. At the Revolution it was sold as National Property and the proceeds turned into public coffers.

With the Empire the chateau became more royalist than ever. Maréchal Lannes became its proprietor, then the Maréchal de Montebello, who here received Napoleon on many occasions. With the invasion of 1815 the village was devastated, but the chateau escaped, owing to its having been made the headquarters of the invading allies. After this, in 1818, the banker Laffitte came into possession. He exercised a great hospitality and lived the life of an opulent bourgeois, but he destroyed most of the outbuildings and the stables built by Mansart, and cut up the great expanse of park which originally consisted of five hundred hectares. His ideas were purely commercial, not the least esthetic.

The scheme of decoration within, as without, is distinctly unique. Doric pilasters and columns support massive cornices and round-cornered ceilings, with here and there antique motives and[Pg 214] even Napoleonic eagles as decorative features. To-day all the apartments are deserted and sad. The finest, from all points of view, is that of the Salle-à-Manger, though indeed some of the motives are but plaster reproductions of the originals. The chimney-piece, however, is left, a pure bijou, a model of grace, more like a pagan altar than a comparatively modern mantel. The oratory is in the pure style of the Empire, and the stairway, lighted up by a curiously arranged dome-lantern, gives a most startling effect to the entrance vestibule.

In general the design of Maisons is gracious, not at all outré, though undeniably grandiose; too much so for a structure covering so small an area. The Cour d'Honneur gives it its chief exterior distinction and the two pavilions have a certain grace of charm, when considered separately, which the ensemble somewhat lacks. The surroundings, had they not been ruthlessly cut up into building lots for over-ambitious Paris shopkeepers, would have added greatly to the present appearance of the property. As it is, the near-by race-course absorbed the orchard, the pelouse and many of the garden plots.[Pg 215]


CHAPTER XIII

MALMAISON AND MARLY

Out from Paris, by the cobbly Pavé du Roi, which a parental administration is only just now digging up and burying under, just beyond the little suburban townlet of Rueil (where the Empress Josephine and her daughter Hortense lie buried in the parish church), one comes to Malmaison of unhappy memory. It is not imposing, palatial, nor, architecturally, very worthy, but it is one of the most sentimentally historic of all French monuments of its class.

Since no very definite outlines remain of any royal historical monument at Rueil to-day the tourist bound towards Versailles by train, tram or road, gives little thought to the snug little suburb through which he shuffles along, hoping every minute to leave the noise, bustle and cobblestones of Paris behind.

Rueil is deserving of more consideration than this. According to Gregory of Tours the first race of kings had a "pleasure house" here, and called the neighbourhood Rotolajum. Not always did[Pg 216] these old kings stay cooped up in a fortress in the Isle of Lutetia. Sometimes they went afield for a day in the country like the rest of us, and to them, with their slow means of communication and the bad roads of their day, Rueil, scarce a dozen miles from Notre Dame, seemed far away.

Childerbert I, son of Clovis, is mentioned as having made a protracted sojourn at Rueil, and whatever may have existed then in the way of a royal residence soon after passed to the monks of Saint Denis, who here fished and hunted and lived a life of comfort and ease such as they could hardly do in their fortress-abbey. They, too, required change and rest from time to time, and, apparently, when they could, took it.

The Black Prince burned the town and all its dependencies in 1346, and only an unimportant village existed when Richelieu thought to build a country-house here on this same charming site which had so pleased the first French monarchs. Richelieu did his work well, as always, and built an immense chateau, surrounded by a deep moat into which were turned the swift-flowing waters of the Seine. A vast park was laid out, in part in the formal manner and in part as a natural preserve, and the neighbourhood once more became frequented by royalty and the nobles of the court.[Pg 217]

Richelieu bequeathed the property to his niece, the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, and Louis XIV became a frequent dweller there—as a visitor, but he did not mind that. Louis XIV was sometimes a monarch, sometimes a master, and sometimes a "family friend," to put it in a noncommittal manner.

The Revolution nearly made way with the property and the Duc de Massena, a few years afterwards, reëstablished it after a fashion, but speculating land-boomers came along in turn and royal memories meaning nothing to them the property was cut up into streets, avenues and house lots.

The Chateau de Malmaison, which is very near Rueil, is in quite a different class. Its history comes very nearly down to modern times. The memory of Malmaison is purely Napoleonic. Its historical souvenirs are many, but its actual ruins have taken on a plebeian aspect of little appeal in these later days.

In 1792 Malmaison was sold as a piece of national merchandise to be turned into écus, and a certain Monsieur Lecouteux de Canteleu, having the ready cash and a disposition to live under its roof, took over the proprietorship for a time. It was he who sold it to Josephine Beauharnais, and it was she who gave it a glory and splendour[Pg 218] which it had never before possessed, gave it its complete fame, in fact.

Chateau de Malmaison Chateau de Malmaison

Napoleon himself, as First Consul, was passionately fond of the place, but by the time he had become emperor, because of unhappy memories, perhaps, for he had them at times, came rarely to this charming suburban chateau.

It was at Malmaison that began the good fortune of Josephine, and it was at Malmaison that it flickered out like the dying flame of a candle.

In a beating rain, on Saturday, December 16, 1809, Josephine quitted the Tuileries, her eyes still red with the tears from that last brief interview. She arrived at Malmaison at the end of a lugubrious day, when the whole place was enveloped in a thick fog. She passed the night almost alone in this great house where she had previously been so happy. She could hardly, however, have been more sad than Napoleon was that same night. He had shut himself up in his cabinet, remorseful and alone.

The Sunday following was hardly less melancholy, for it was then Josephine learned that Malmaison had been endowed with an income of two millions for its upkeep, and that her personal belongings and the furnishings of her favourite apartments were already on the way thither from the Tuileries. The wound was not even[Pg 219] then allowed to heal, for she learned that Napoleon had ordained that she was to receive the visits of the court as if she were still empress.

Napoleon had already written his former spouse to the effect that he would give much to see her, but that he did not feel sufficiently sure of himself to permit of it. This historic letter closed thus; "Adieu, Josephine, bonne nuit, si tu doutais de moi, tout sera bien indigne."

On the 17th of December Napoleon actually did come to Malmaison to see her from whom he was officially separated. Josephine had confided to Madame de Remusat, her lady-in-waiting, "It almost seems as if I were dead, and only possessed of the faculty of remembering the past."

In this Malmaison, so full of souvenirs of other days, Josephine was obliged to content herself, for on January 12, 1810, the religious marriage of Josephine and Napoleon was annulled automatically because, as was claimed, it had not been celebrated with the necessary formalities.

Here at Malmaison Josephine even surrounded herself with the most intimate souvenirs of Napoleon: a lounging chair that he was wont to occupy stood in its accustomed place; his bed was always made; his sword hung upon the wall; his pen was in his inkwell; a book was open on[Pg 220] his desk and his geographical globe—his famous mappemond—was in its accustomed place.

Princes passing through Paris came to Malmaison to salute the former empress, and she allowed herself to become absorbed in her greenhouses and her dairy, the direction of her house, her receptions and her petite cour.

In time all came to an end. When Napoleon returned to Paris in 1815 he interrogated the doctor who had cared for Josephine during the illness which terminated in her death the year before and asked him: "Did she speak of me at the last?" The doctor replied: "Often, very often." With emotion Napoleon replied simply: "Bonne femme: bonne Josephine elle m'aimeit vraiment."

After Waterloo Napoleon himself retired to Malmaison, which had become the property of Josephine's children, Eugene and Hortense, and closed himself up in the room where she died, the library which he occupied when triumphant First Consul.

Here he lived five mortal days of anguish preceding his departure for Rochefort on that agonizing exile from which he never returned.

After the divorce Josephine preserved the property as her own particular residence, and in 1814 received there the celebrated visit of the[Pg 221] allied sovereigns. History tells of a certain boat ride which she took on a neighbouring lake in company with the Emperor Alexander which is fraught with much historic sentiment. It was this imprudent excursion, in the cool of a May evening, that caused the death of the former empress three days later. It was from this bijou of a once royal abode that Napoleon launched his famous proclamation to the army which the arrogant Fouché refused to have printed in the "Moniteur Officiel." Upon this Napoleon sent the Duc de Rovigo to Paris for his passports and the necessary orders which would enable him to depart in peace. The next moment he had changed his mind, and he changed it again a few moments afterwards. As the result of the Prussians' advance on Paris by the left bank of the Seine Napoleon was obliged to accept the inevitable, and with the words of General Becker ringing in his ears: "Sire, tout est pret," he crossed the vestibule and entered the gardens amid a painful calm on his part, and an audible weeping by his former fellows in arms who were lined up to do him honour. He embraced Hortense passionately, and saluted all the personages of his party with a sympathy and emotion unbelievable. With an eternal adieu and a rapid step down the garden walk to the driveway, he at last[Pg 222] entered the carriage which was awaiting him and was driven rapidly away. Some days after the Allies pillaged and sacked Malmaison. Its chief glory may be said to have departed with the Corsican.

Under the Restoration, Prince Eugene had a sort of "rag sale" of what was left. The lands which Josephine had bought of Lecouteaux were sold to the highest bidder and the exotic shrubs and plants to any who would buy, the pictures to such connoisseurs as had the price, those that were left being sent to Munich. A Swedish banker now came on the scene (1826) and bought the property—the chateau and the park—which he preserved until his death twenty years later. Then it went to Queen Christina, and was ultimately purchased by Napoleon III.

In October, 1870, during the siege of Paris, General Ducrot sought to make a reconnaissance by way of Malmaison, and so weak was his project that the equipages of the King of Prussia and his État Major invested the environs and made the property their official headquarters.

Near by is a fine property called "Les Bruyeres," a royal estate of Napoleon III. It was created and developed by the emperor and was always referred to as a Parc Impérial.

Perhaps the most banal of all the royal souvenirs[Pg 223] around Paris is that gigantic mill-wheel known as the Machine de Marly, down by the Seine a few miles beyond Malmaison, just where that awful cobblestoned roadway begins to climb up to the plateau on which sits the chateau of Saint Germain and its park.

Because it is of unesthetic aspect is no reason for ignoring the famous Machine de Marly, the great water-hoisting apparatus first established in the reign of Louis XIV to carry the waters of the Seine to the ponds and fountains of Versailles.

It was a creation of a Liègois, named Rennequin Sualem, who knew not how to read or write, but who had a very clear idea of what was wanted to perform the work which Louis XIV demanded. For a fact the expense of the erection of the "Machine," and the cost of keeping its great wheels turning, were so great that it is doubtful if it was ever a paying proposition, but that was not a sine qua non so far as the king's command was concerned. It had cost millions of livres before its wheels first turned in 1682, and, if the carpenter Brunet had not come to the rescue to considerably augment the volume of water raised (by means of compressed air), it is doubtful if there would ever have been enough water for the fountains of Versailles to play even one day a year, as they do now every happy Sunday, to the delight of the middle-class Parisian and the droves of Cook[Pg 224]ites who gaze on them with wonder-opened eyes.

The water was led from the Machine de Marly to Versailles by a conduit of thirty-six arches where, upon reaching a higher level than the gardens, it flowed by gravity to the fountains and basins below. This aqueduct was six hundred and forty-three metres long, and twenty-three metres high. It was a work which would have done credit to the Romans.

A far greater romantic sentiment attaches itself to the royal chateau of Marly-le-Roi than to the utilitarian "Machine," by which the suburb is best known to-day.

The history of Marly-le-Roi appears from the chronicles the most complicated to unravel of that of any of the kingly suburbs of old Paris, though in the days of the old locomotion a townlet twenty-six kilometres from the capital was hardly to be thought of as a suburb.

Marly-le-Roi, at any rate, with Marly-le-Bourg and Marly-le-Chatel, was a royal dwelling from the days of Thierry III (678). The neighbouring region had been made into a countship by the early seventeenth century, and Louis XIV acquired it as his right in exchange for Neuphle-le-Chateau in 1693, incorporating it into the domain of Versailles.

By this time it had become known as Marly-[Pg 225]le-Roi, in distinction to the other bourgs, and the king built a chateau-royal, variously known as the Palais and the Ermitage. For a fact it was neither one thing nor the other, according to accepted definition, but rather a group of a dozen dependent pavilions distributed around a central edifice, the whole straggling off into infinite and manifestly unlovely proportions. It was as the sun surrounded by the zodiac.

Isolated on a monticule by the river bank the chateau overlooked its brood of small pavilions, which in a way formed an entresol, or foyer, leading to the Pavilion Royal. All were connected by iron trellises, en berceau, and the effect must have been exceedingly bizarre; certainly theatrical.

The four faces of these pavilions were frescoed, and balustrades and vases at the corners were the chief architectural decorations.

The royal pavilion consisted within of four vestibules on the ground floor, each leading to a grand apartment in the centre. In each of the four angles was a "self-contained" apartment of three or four rooms. What this royal abode lacked in beauty it made up for in convenience.

Each of the satellite pavilions was occupied by a high personage at court. The Chapel and the Corps de Garde were detached from the chateau proper, and occupied two flanking wings.[Pg 226]

The plans of the "Palais-Chateau-Ermitage" of Marly-le-Roi were from the fertile brain of Mansart, and were arranged with considerable ingenuity, if not taste, generously interspersed with lindens and truly magnificent garden plots. There was even a cascade, or rather a tumbling river (according to the French expression), for it fell softly over sixty-three marble steps, forming a sort of wrinkled sheet of water, which must indeed have been a very charming feature. It cost a hundred thousand écus to merely lead the water up to it. The expenses of the Pavilion de Marly, in the ten years from 1680 to 1690, amounted to 4501279 livres, 12 sols, 3 deniers. From this one may well judge that it was no mean thing.

The honour of being accounted a person of Marly in those times was accredited as a great distinction, for it went without saying in that case one had something to do with affairs of court, though one might only have been a "furnisher." To be a courtier of Louis XIV, or to be a pensionnaire at Versailles, could hardly have carried more distinction.

The court usually resided at Marly from Wednesday until Saturday, and as "the game" was the thing it is obvious that the stakes were high.

The vogue of the day was gaming at table, and[Pg 227] Marly, of all other suburban Paris palaces, was an ideal and discreet place for it. "High play and midnight suppers were the rule at Marly." This, one reads in the court chronicle, and further that: "The royal family usually lost a hundred thousand écus at play at each visit." One "gentleman croupier" gained as much as three thousand louis at a single sitting.

Madame de Maintenon was the real ruler of Marly in those days; she had appropriated the apartments originally intended for the queen, from which there was a private means of communication to the apartments of the king, and another forming a sort of private box, overlooking the royal chapel.

Little frequented by Louis XV, and practically abandoned by Louis XVI, the palace at Marly was sold during the Revolution, after which it was stripped of its art treasures, many of which adorn the gardens of the Tuileries to-day; the great group of horses at the entrance to the Champs Elysées came from the watering place of Marly.

Actually, the royal pavilion at Marly has been destroyed, and there remain but the most fragmentary, unformed heaps of stones to tell the tale of its ample proportions in the days of Louis XIV and de Maintenon.

The park is to-day the chief attraction of the[Pg 228] neighbourhood, like the one at Saint Cloud, which it greatly resembles. Across the park lies the great highway from the capital to Versailles, over which so many joyous cavalcades were wont to amble or gallop in the days of gallantry. The pace is not more sober to-day, but gaily caparisoned horses and gaudy coaches have given way to red and yellow "Rois des Belges," the balance lying distinctly in favour of the former mode of conveyance, so far as picturesqueness is concerned.

The Forêt de Marly is very picturesque, but of no great extent. Formerly it enclosed many shooting-boxes belonging to the nobles of the court, of which those of Montjoie and Desert de Retz were perhaps the most splendid.

On the Versailles road was the Chateau de Clagny, a royal maison de plaisance, of an attractive, but trivial, aspect, though its architecture was actually of a certain massiveness. Its gardens and the disposition of its apartments pleased the king's fancy when he chose to pass this way, which was often. He is said to have personally spent over two million francs on the property. It must have been of some pretensions, this little heard of Chateau de Clagny, for in a single year ten thousand livres were expended on keeping the gardens. To-day it is non-existent.[Pg 229]


CHAPTER XIV

SAINT CLOUD AND ITS PARK

The historic souvenirs of Saint Cloud and its royal palace are many and varied, though scarcely anything tangible remains to-day of the fabric so loved by Francis I and Henri II, and which was, for a fact, but a magnificent country-house, originally belonging to the Archbishops of Paris.

To-day the rapid slopes of the hillsides of Saint Cloud are peopled with a heterogeneous mass of villas of what the Parisian calls the "coquette" order, but which breathe little of the spirit of romance and gallantry of Renaissance times. Saint Cloud is simply a "discreet" Paris suburb, and the least said about it, its villas and their occupants to-day, the better.

The little village of Saint Cloud which is half-hidden in the Forest of Rouvray, was sacked and burned by the English after the battle of Poitiers, and then built up anew and occupied by the French monarchs in the reign of Charles VI. It was he who built the first chateau de plaisance here in which the royal family might live[Pg 230] near Paris and yet amid a sylvan environment.

After this came the country-house of the Archbishops of Paris that Henri II, when he tired of it, tore down and erected a villa in the pseudo-Italian manner of the day, and built a fourteen-arch stone bridge across the Seine, which was a wonder of its time.

The banker Gondi, after huddling close to royalty, turned over an establishment which he had built to Catherine de Médici, who made use of it whenever she wished to give a country fête or garden party. By this time the whole aspect of Saint Cloud was royal.

It was within this house that the unhappy, and equally unpopular, Henri III was cut down by the three-bladed knife of the monk Jacques Clément. The incident is worth recounting briefly here because of the rapidity with which history was made by a mere fanatical knife-thrust. With the death of Henri III came the extinction of the House of Valois.

As the king sat in the long gallery of the palace playing at cards, on August 1, 1589, his cloak hanging over his shoulder, a little cap with a flower stuck in it perched over one ear, and suspended from his neck by a broad blue ribbon a basketful of puppies, an astrologer by the name of Osman was introduced to amuse the royal party.[Pg 231]

"They tell me you draw horoscopes," remarked the king.

"Sire, I will tell yours, if you will, but the heavens are unpropitious."


"Just over Meudon is a star which shines very brightly," continued the astrologer, "it is that of Henri de Navarre. But look, your Majesty, another star burns brilliantly for a moment and then disappears, mayhap it is your own."

"If ever a man had a voice hoarse with blood it is that astrologer," said the king. "Away with him."

"If the Valois Henri doesn't die before the setting of another sun, I'll never cast horoscope more," said the astrologer as he was hustled across the courtyard and out into the highroad.

As he left, a man in a monk's garb begged to be admitted to the king's presence. It was Jacques Clément, the murderous monk, a wily Dominican, bent on a mission which had for its object the extinction of the Valois race.

While the king was reading a letter which the monk had presented the latter stabbed him deep in the stomach.

Swooning, the king had just time to cry out: "Ha! le mechant moine: Il m'a tué, qu'on le tue."[Pg 232]

The murderer in turn was struck down forthwith and his body, thrown from the windows of the palace, was écartelé by four white horses, which is the neat French way of saying "drawn and quartered."

It was an imposing cortège which wound down from the heights of Saint Cloud and followed the river bank to Saint Germain, Poissy and thence to Compiègne, conveying all that was mortal of Henri III, the least popular of all the race of Valois. Following close behind the bier were Henri IV and his suite, the favourites d'Epernon, Laschant, Dugastz and an impressive soldiery.

After the death of Henri III, Henri de Navarre, who played a not unpicturesque part in the funeral ceremonies, installed himself in a neighbouring property known as the Maison du Tillet. Thus it is seen that the royal stamp of the little bourg of Saint Cloud was never wanting—not until the later palace and most of the town were drenched with kerosene and set on fire by the Prussians in 1871.

The "Maison de Gondi" came, by a process of acquisition, and development, in time, to be the royal palace of Saint Cloud. Its overloaded details of Italian architecture were brightened up a bit by the surroundings planned and exe[Pg 233]cuted by the landscapist Le Notre and the life of the court in its suburban retreat took on a real and genuine brilliance which under the restraint of the gloomy walls of the Louvre and Paris streets could hardly have been.

The brightest light shining over Saint Cloud at this time was the radiance shed by the brilliant Henriette d'Angleterre. Her reign as a social and witty queen of the court was brief. She died at the age of twenty-six, poisoned at the instigation of the Chevalier de Lorraine whom she had caused to be exiled. This was the common supposition, but Louis XIV was afterwards able to prove (?) his brother innocent of the crime.

The gazettes of the seventeenth century recount many of the fêtes given at Saint Cloud by Monsieur on the occasion of his marriage to the Princesse Palatine in 1671. One of the most notable of these was that given for Louis XIV, wherein the celebrated cascades—an innovation of Le Notre—were first brought to view.

Mansart was called in and a great gallery intended for fêtes and ceremonies was constructed, and Mignard was given the commission for its decorations.

Monsieur died within the walls of the palace to which he had added so many embellishments,[Pg 234] as also did his second wife. Three royalties dead of ambition, one might well say, for their lives were neither tranquil nor healthful. They went the pace.

The regent journeyed out from Paris to this riverside retreat to receive the Tzar Peter in 1717, and in 1752 Louis Philippe d'Orleans set about to give a fête which should obscure the memory of all former events of a like nature into oblivion. How well he succeeded may be a matter of varying opinion, for the French have ever been prodigally lavish in the conduct of such affairs. At all events the occasion was a notable one.

The predilection of royalty for Saint Cloud was perhaps not remarkable, all things considered, for it was, and is, delightfully environed, and about this time the Duc d'Orleans secretly married the Marquise de Montesson and installed her in a habitation the "plus simple," a mere shack, one fancies, costing six millions. The nouveau riche of to-day could scarcely do the thing with more éclat.

The Revolution took over the park of Saint Cloud and its appurtenances and donated them to the democracy—"for the pleasure of the people," read the decree.

On the eighteenth Brumaire, the First Re[Pg 235]public blinked itself out in the Palais de Saint Cloud, and the Conseil de Cinq Cents installed itself therein under the Directoire. Bonaparte, returning from Egypt, arrived at Saint Cloud just as Lemercier was dissolving the Conseil. Seeing trouble ahead he commanded Murat to clear the chamber by drawn bayonets. He kept his light shining just a bit ahead of the others, did Napoleon. His watchword was initiative. Deputies clambered over each other in their haste to escape by stairway, door and window, and Bonaparte saw himself Consul without opposition—for ten years—for life.

The royal residences were put at Napoleon's disposition and he wisely chose Saint Cloud for summer; Saint Cloud the cradle of his powers. As a restorer and rebuilder of crumbling monuments Napoleon was a master, as he was in the destructive sense when he was in the mood, and changes and additions were made at Saint Cloud which for comfort and convenience put it in the very front rank of French royal residences.

In March, 1805, Pope Pius VII baptised, amid a grand pomp and ceremony, in the chapel of the palace, the son of Louis Bonaparte, and five years afterwards (April 1, 1810), the same edifice saw the religious marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise.[Pg 236]

The Gardens of Saint Cloud The Gardens of Saint Cloud

On March 31, 1810, a strange animation dominated all the confines of the palace. It was the occasion of the celebration of Napoleon's civil marriage with Marie Louise. They did not enter the capital until three days later for the ceremonial which united the daughter of the emperors who were descendants of the Roman Cæsars, to the "Usurper," who was now for the first time to rank with the other crowned heads of Europe.

The cortège which accompanied their majesties from Saint Cloud to Paris was a pageant which would take pages to describe. The reader of these lines is referred to the impassioned pages of the works of Frederic Masson for ample details.

A hundred thousand curiosity seekers had come out from Paris and filled the alleys of the park to overflowing. Music and dancing were on every hand. Mingled with the crowd were soldiers of all ranks brilliantly clad in red, blue and gold. "These warriors were a picturesque, obtrusive lot," said a chronicler; "after having invaded Austria they acclaim the Austrian."

In 1815 the capitulation of Paris was signed at Saint Cloud. The gardens were invaded by a throng which gave them more the aspect of an intrenched camp than a playground of princes. A brutal victor had climbed booted[Pg 237] and spurred into the bed of the great Napoleon and on arising pulled the bee-embroidered draperies down with him and trampled them under foot. Was this a proper manifestation of victory?

At this period another great fête was given in the leafy park of Saint Cloud, a fête which French historians have chiefly passed over silently. The host on this occasion was the Prince of Schwartzenburg; the principal guests the foreign sovereigns, gloating over the downfall of the capital.

Louis XVIII, after removing the traces of this desolate invasion, took up his residence here on June 18, 1817, and in the following year built the stables and the lodgings of the Gardes du Corps. In 1820 the chapel begun by Marie Antoinette was finished and the Jardin du Trocadero constructed.

Charles X in his brief reign built, on the site of an old Ursulin convent, further quarters intended for the personnel of the court. The ensemble ever took on an increasing importance. At this time were laid out the gardens between the cascades and the river, which, to some slight extent, to-day, suggest the former ample magnificence of the park as it faced upon the river. Leading through this lower garden was the Avenue Royale extending to the chateau.[Pg 238]

Saint Cloud for Charles X, in spite of his first interest therein, could have been but an unhappy memory for here he signed the abdication which brought about his fall. He left his palace at Saint Cloud on July 30, 1830, at three o'clock in the morning, just as day was breaking through the mists of the valley. He succumbed, the last of the Bourbons, on the same spot on which Henri IV, as chief of the house, had first been saluted as king.

Louis Philippe divided his time between Neuilly and Saint Cloud, and lent his purse and his enthusiasm to elaborating to a very considerable extent both the palace and its surroundings.

Napoleon III made Saint Cloud his preferred summer residence, and was actually beneath the palace roof when the Prussian horde commenced its march on the capital of Clovis. He left Saint Cloud on July 27, to take personal command of the Army of the Rhine at Metz.

As did Charles X, Napoleon III ceased to be sovereign of the French by enacting the final scene in his royal career in the Palais de Saint Cloud. Never again was the palace to give shelter to a French monarch. The empress left precipitately after the disaster of Woerth, and two months after the torch of arson made a ruin of all the splendour of the palace and its[Pg 239] dependencies. The inhabitants of the little city, which had grown up around the confines of the palace, fled in refuge to Versailles during the armistice. Scarcely an old house was preserved in all the town.

Among the chefs d'œuvres of art which perished in the flames were the fine works of Mignard—above all, the magnificent Galerie d'Apollon—the paintings of LeMoyne, Nacret, Leloir, the marines of Joseph Vernet and innumerable objects of art which had been gathered together for the embellishment of Saint Cloud by the later monarchs. Some few treasures were saved by the care of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and some vases, chairs and statues were appropriated and packed off across the Rhine as the plunder of war.

The park of Saint Cloud to-day contains nearly four hundred hectares, the public park and the "preserve." From it spreads out one of the loveliest panoramas in the neighbourhood of Paris, alleyed vistas leading seemingly to infinity, with a sprinkling of statues still flanking the Jardin du Trocadero.

From the town one enters the park through a great iron gate from the Place Royale, or by the Avenue du Chateau, which lands one on the terraces where once stood the royal palace.[Pg 240]

The Cascades at Saint Cloud The Cascades at Saint Cloud

From Ville d'Avray and from Sevres there are also entrances to the great park, while to the latter runs an avenue connecting the "preserve" of Saint Cloud with the wilder, more rugged Bois de Meudon.

Actually the surroundings of Saint Cloud's great park are the least bit tawdry. Here and there are booths and tents selling trashy souvenirs, and even more unpleasant-looking articles of food and drink, while fringing the river, and some of the principal avenues approaching the cascade, are more pretentious restaurants and eating houses which are royal in name and their prices if nothing else.

The cascades are for the masses the chief sight of Saint Cloud to-day. Historical souvenir plays little part in the minds of those who only visit a monumental shrine to be amused, and so the falling waters of Saint Cloud's cascade, like the gushing torrents of Versailles' fountains, are the chief incentives to a holiday for tens of thousands of small Paris shopkeepers who do not know that a royal palace was ever here, much less that it had a history.

There is an upper and a lower cascade, an artificial water ingeniously tumbled about according to the conception of one Lepaute, an architect of the time of the reign of Louis XIV.

[Pg 241]

Mansart designed the architectural attributes of the lower cascade and scores considerably over his colleague. Circular basins and canals finally lead the water off to a still larger basin lower down where it spouts up into the air to a height of some forty odd metres at a high pressure. This is the official description, but it is hard to get up any sympathy or enthusiasm over the thing, either considered as a work of art or as a diversion. Frankly, then, Saint Cloud's chief charm is its site and its dead and half-forgotten history. The "Tramp Abroad" and "Rollo" and "Uncle George" knew it better than we, because in those days the palace existed in the real, whereas we take it all on faith and regret (sometimes) that we did not live a couple of generations ago.

Bellevue, on the banks of the Seine, just before reaching Saint Cloud, owes its origin (a fact which the great restaurant of the Pavillon Bleu has made the most of in its advertisements), to a caprice of Madame de Pompadour. She liked the point of view (as do so many diners on the restaurant terrace to-day), and built a "rendezvous-chateau" on the hillside, a half-way house, as it were, where Louis XV might be at his ease on his journeyings to and from the capital.[Pg 242]

The Pompadour was able to borrow a force of eight hundred workmen from the king for as long as was necessary to carry out her ambitious projects at Bellevue and on November 25, 1750, she had a house-warming in her modest villa (demolished in 1794) and pendit la cremaillère with a ceremony whose chief entertainment was the dancing of a ballet significantly entitled "L'Amour Architect."

Neighbouring upon Saint Cloud is a whole battery of hallowed, historical spots associated with the more or less royal dwellings of the French monarchs and their favourites. It was but a comparatively short distance to Versailles, to Saint Germain, to Maintenon and to Rambouillet, and the near-by Louveciennes was literally strewn with the most charming country-houses, which, in many cases, kings paid for and made free use of, though indeed the accounts for the same may not have appeared in the public budgets, at least not under their proper names.

At the summit of the hill which gives the town its name was a chateau belonging originally to Madame la Princesse de Conti, and opposite the railway station of to-day, with its prosaic and unlovely surroundings, was a magnificent property belonging to Maréchal Magnan, and the Pavillon du Barry, built by the architect[Pg 243] Ledoux to the orders of Louis XV, who would provide a convenient nest in the neighbourhood of Saint Cloud for his latest favourite. To-day the pavilion exists in name, somewhat disfigured to be sure, but still reminiscent of its former rather garish outlines, so on the whole it cannot be said to have suffered greatly from an esthetic point of view. The property came finally to be included as a part of the estate of Pierre Laffitte, though still known, as it always has been, as the Pavillon du Barry.[Pg 244]


CHAPTER XV

VERSAILLES: THE GLORY OF FRANCE

"Glorieuse, monumentale et monotone
La façade de pierre effrite, au vent qui passe
Son chapiteau friable et sa guirlande lasse
En face du parc jaune ou s'accoude l'automne.
*        *        *        *        *        *
Mais le soleil, aux vitres d'or qu'il incendie
Y semble rallumer interieurement
Le sursaut, chaque soir de la Gloire engourdi."

These lines of Henri de Régnier explain the aspect of the Versailles of to-day better than any others ever written.

Versailles is a medley of verdure, a hierarchy of bronze and a forest of marble. This is an expression full of anomalies, but it is strictly applicable to Versailles. Its waters, jets and cascades, its monsters, its Tritons and Valhalla of marble statues set off the artificial background in a manner only to be compared to a stage setting—a magnificent stage setting, but still palpably unreal.

Yes, Versailles is sad and grim to-day; one[Pg 245] hardly knows why, for its memories still live, and the tangible evidences of most of its great splendour still stand.

"Voici tes ifs en cone et tes tritons joufflus
Tes jardins composés où Louis ne vient plus,
Et ta pompe arborant les plumes et les casques."

It is not possible to give here either an architectural review or a historical chronology of Versailles; either could be made the raison d'être for a weighty volume.

The writer has confined himself merely to a more or less correlated series of patent facts and incidents which, of itself, shows well the futility of any other treatment being given of a subject so vast within the single chapter of a book.

The history of Versailles is a story of the people and events that reflected the glory and grandeur of the Grand Monarque of the Bourbons and made his palace and its environs a more sublime expression of earthly pomp than anything which had gone before, or has come to pass since.

Versailles, after its completion, became the perfect expression of the decadence and demoralization of the old régime. It can only be compared to the relations between du Barry and the young Marie Antoinette, who was all that was contrary to all for which the former stood.[Pg 246]

That the court of Louis XV was artificially brilliant there is no doubt. It was this that made it stand out from the sombre background of the masses of the time. It was a dazzling, human spectacle, and Versailles, with its extravagant, superficial charms, carried it very near to the brink of ruin, though even in its most banal vulgarities there was a certain sense of ambitious sincerity. The people of the peasant class lived as animals, "black, livid and scorched by the sun." The sense of all this penetrated readily even to Versailles, so that La Pompadour or Louis, one or the other of them, or was it both together, cried out instinctively: "Apres nous le deluge."

The intricacies of the etiquette of the daily life of the king, his follies and fancies, made the history of Versailles the most brilliant of that of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—certainly it was the most opulent. The manners of the time were better than the morals, and if good taste in art and architecture had somewhat fallen there is no doubt but that a charming fantasy often made up for a lack of estheticism.

The story of the palace, the park, the king and his court are so interwoven that no résumé of the story of one can ignore that of any of the others. The king and court present themselves against this background with an intimacy and a clearness[Pg 247] which is remarkable for its appeal to one's curiosity. It is a long, long day of life which begins with the petit lever and only ends with the grand coucher.

If there was ever a Castle of Indolence and Profligacy it was Versailles, though indeed it is regarded as the monarchy's brilliant zenith. The picture is an unforgetable one to any who have ever read its history or seen its stones.

In the year 1650, Martial de Lomenci, one of the ministers of Charles IX, was the Seigneur of Versailles, but at the will of Catherine de Médici he was summarily strangled that she might get possession of the property and make a present of it to her favourite, Albert de Gondi, Maréchal de Retz.

About 1625 Louis XIII had caused a small hunting pavilion to be built near by and, by degrees, acquiring more land took it into his head to erect something more magnificent in the way of a country-house, though the real conception of a suburban Paris palace only came with Louis XIV.

Levau, the latter's architect, made the necessary alterations to the structure already existing, and little by little the more magnificent project known in its completed form to-day was evolved. War not being actually in progress, or imminent, great bodies of soldiery were set at work with[Pg 248] pick and shovel, and at one time thirty thousand had laid aside their sabres and muskets for the more peaceful art of garden-making under the direction of Le Notre.

In three decades the sum total of the chief roll of expenses of the palace and its dependencies reached eighty-one million, one hundred and fifty-one thousand, four hundred and fourteen livres, nine sols and two deniers. It is perhaps even more interesting to know that of this vast sum more than three millions went for marble, twenty-one millions for masonry, two and a half millions for the rougher woodwork and a like sum for marquetry. Other additional "trifling" embellishments of Versailles and the Trianon during the same period counted up another six million and a half.

The expense of these works was enormous on all sides. Water being required for the purpose of supplying the fountains it was proposed that the waters of the Eure should be turned from their original bed and made to pass through Versailles, and the enterprise was actually begun. Beyond the gardens was formed the Little Park, about four leagues around, and beyond this lay the Great Park, measuring twenty leagues around and enclosing several forest villages. The total expenses of these works may never have been[Pg 249] exactly known, but they must have been immense, that is certain, and have even been estimated at as much as one billion francs. The works were so far completed in 1664 that the first Versailles fête was given to consecrate the palace. In honour of this event Molière composed "La Princesse d'Elide."

The improvements, however, were continued, and in 1670, Levau, dying, was succeeded by his nephew, Jules Hardouin Mansart, who wished to destroy the chateau of Louis XIII and erect one uniform building. Louis XIV, out of respect to his father, would not allow Mansart's project to be carried out and therefore alterations were only made in the court by surrounding it on the western side with the magnificent buildings now forming the garden front. The southern wing was subsequently added for the accommodation of the younger members of the royal family. In 1685 the northern wing was erected to meet the requirements of the attachés of the court. The chapel was commenced in 1699 and finished in 1710.

Louis XIV took up his residence in the palace in 1681 with Madame de Montespan, and, thirty-five years afterwards, died there, the reigning favourite then being Madame de Maintenon. During this time Versailles was the theatre of[Pg 250] many extraordinary scenes. Louis XV was born here but did not take up his residence here until after he was of age. Here it was that his favourites Madame de Chateauroux, Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry found themselves most at home. It was under the direction of this monarch that the theatre was built in the northern wing, and was formally opened on the occasion of the marriage of the dauphin, Louis XVI, in 1770.

Towards the end of the reign of Louis XV a new wing and pavilion were added on the northern side of the principal court, and it was proposed to build across the court a new front in the same uniform style. The idea could not be carried out in consequence of the troublous times of Louis XVI and the enormous estimated expense. The Revolution intervened and Versailles remained closed until it was reopened by the first Napoleon, who, however, was unable to take up his residence in it on account of his frequent campaigns afield.

At the Restoration Louis XVIII, as the representative of the ancient monarchy, wished to make Versailles the seat of the court, but was deterred from doing so by the appalling previous expense. During the reigns of both Napoleon and Louis XVIII considerable sums were expended in its refurbishing so that it was not wholly[Pg 251] a bygone when finally the French authorities made of it, if not the chief, at least the most popular monument historique of all France.

And yet the aspect of Versailles is sadly wearying. To-day Versailles is lonely; one is haunted by the silence and the bareness, if not actual emptiness. Only once in seven years does the old palace take on any air of the official life of the Republic, and that is when the two legislative bodies join forces and come to Versailles to vote for the new president. For the rest of the time it is deserted, save for the guardians and visitors, a memory only of the splendours imagined and ordained by Louis XIV.

For nearly a century the master craftsmen of a nation conspired to its beatification, and certainly for gorgeousness and extravagance Versailles has merited any encomiums which have ever been expended upon it. It was made and remade by five generations of the cleverest workers who ever lived, until it took supreme rank as the greatest storehouse of luxurious trifles in all the world.

One wearies though of the straight lines and long vistas of Versailles, the endless repetition of classical motives, which, while excellent, each in its way, do pall upon one in an inexplicable fashion. It possesses, however, a certain dignity and grace in every line. This is a fact which[Pg 252] one can not deny. It is expressive of—well, of nothing but Versailles, and the part it played in the life of its time.

The millions for Versailles were obtained in ways too devious and lengthy to follow up here. Even Louis XIV began to see before the end the condition into which he had led the nation, though he punished every one who so much as hinted at his follies. Vauban, "the hero of a hundred sieges," published a book on the relations between the king and court and the tax-paying masses and was disgraced forever after, dying within a few months of a broken heart that he should have been so impotent in attempting to bring about a reform.

The life of the king at Versailles had little of privacy in it. From his rising to his going to bed he was constantly in the hands of his valets and courtiers, even receiving ambassadors of state while he was still half hidden by the heavy curtains of his great four-poster. They had probably been waiting hours in the Salon de l'Œl de Bœuf before being admitted to the kingly presence.

It was at this period that Michael Chamillard, the Minister of War, introduced billiards into France by the way of Versailles. He played with Louis XIV and pleased him greatly, but Chamillard[Pg 253] was no statesman, as history and the following lines from his epitaph point out.

"Ci git le fameux Chamillard
De son Roy le pronotaire
Qui fut un heros au billard
Un zero dans le Ministère."

This apartment of the Œil de Bœuf was the ancient Cabi du Conseil. It is a wonderfully decorated apartment, and its furnishings, beyond those which are actually built into the fabric, are likewise of a splendour and good taste which it is to be regretted is not everywhere to be noted in the vast palace of Louis XIV. The garnishings of the chimney-piece alone would make any great room interesting and well furnished, and the great golden clock, finely chiselled and brilliantly burnished, is about the most satisfactory French clock one ever saw, marking, as it does, in its style, the transition between that of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

Versailles, in many respects, falls far short to-day of the ideal; its very bigness and bareness greatly detract from the value of the historic souvenir which has come down to us. Changes could undoubtedly be made to advantage, and to this point much agitation has lately been directed, particularly in cutting out some of the[Pg 254] recently grown up trees which have spoiled the classic vistas of the park, and the removal of those ugly equestrian statues which the Monarchy of July erected.

Versailles only came under Napoleon's cursory regard for a brief moment. He hardly knew whether he would care to make his home here or not, but ordered his architects to make estimates for certain projects which he had conceived and when he got them was so staggered at their magnitude that he at once threw over any idea that he may have had of making it his dwelling.

The Revolution had stripped the palace quite bare; no wonder that the emperor balked at the cost of putting it in order. Napoleon may have had his regrets for he made various allusions to Versailles while exiled at Saint Helena, but then it was too late.

Louis Philippe took a matter-of-fact view of the possible service that the vast pile might render to his family and accordingly spent much money in a great expanse of gaudy wall decorations which are there to-day, thinking to make of it a show place over which might preside the genius of his sons.

These acres of meaningless battle-pieces, Algerian warfare and what not are characteristic[Pg 255] of the "Citizen-King" whose fondness for red plush, green repp and horsehair sofas was notable. What he did at Versailles was almost as great a vandalism against art as that wrought by the Revolution.

Last scene of all:—Under Lebrun's magnificent canopied ceiling, where the effigy of Louis XIV is being crowned by the Goddess of Glory, and the German eagle sits on a denuded tree trunk screaming in agony and beating his wings in despair, William of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor of United Germany. It was almost as great an indignity as France ever suffered; the only greater was when the Prussians marched through the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. That was, and is, the Frenchman's—the Parisian's, at all events—culminating grief.

The apartment referred to is the Grand Galerie des Glaces (or Galerie Louis XIV), which is accredited as one of the most magnificently appointed rooms of its class in all the world. It is nearly two hundred and fifty feet in length, nearly forty feet in width, and forty-three feet in height. It is lighted by seventeen large arched windows, which correspond with arched niches on the opposite wall filled with mirrors—hence the name.

Sixty Corinthian columns of red marble with[Pg 256] bases and capitals of gilt bronze fill up the intervening wall spaces. The vaulted ceiling by Lebrun is divided into eighteen small compartments and nine of much larger dimensions, in which are allegorically represented the principal events in the history of Louis XIV, from the Peace of the Pyrenees to that of Nymeguen.

It was in this splendid apartment that Louis XIV displayed the grandeur of royalty in its highest phase and such was the luxury of the times, such the splendour of the court, that its immense size could hardly contain the crowd of courtiers that pressed around the monarch.

Several splendid fêtes took place in this great room, of which those of the marriage of the Duc de Bourgogne in 1697 and that given on the arrival of Marie Antoinette were the most brilliant.

Following are three pen-pictures of this historic palace.

The Versailles of Long Ago. It was to Versailles that the Grand Roi repaired after his stern chase of the Spaniards across Flanders; through the wood of Saint Germain and over those awful cobblestones which Parisians know so well to-day rolled the gilded carrosse of the king. He had already been announced by a runner who had also brought news of the latest victory. Courtiers and populace alike crowded[Pg 257] the streets of the town in an effort to acquire a good place from which to see the arrival of the king. Intendants and servitors were giving orders on all sides, frequently contradictory, and gardeners were furbishing up the alleyed walks and flower beds in readiness for Sa Majesté Louis Quatorze and all his little world of satellites. A majestic effervescence bubbled over all, and the bourgeoisie enjoyed itself hugely, climbing even on roof-tops and gables in the town without the palace gates.

The Roi Soleil came at last to his "well-beloved city of Versailles." "He arrived in a cloud of golden dust," said a writer of the time, and any who have seen Versailles blazing and treeless in the middle of a long, hot summer, will know what it was like on that occasion.

Cannons roared, and the sound of revelry and welcoming joy was everywhere to be heard.

The Versailles of Yesterday. The lugubrious booming of cannons came rolling over the meanderings of the Seine from the capital. The hard-heads of Paris would understand nothing; they would make flow never-ceasing rivers of blood. The national troops were well-nigh impotent; it was difficult to shoot down your own flesh and blood at any time; doubly so when your native land has not yet been evacuated by a ven[Pg 258]turesome enemy. It was the time of the Commune. Traffic at Versailles was of that intensity that circulation was almost impossible. In spite of a dismal April rain the town was full of all sorts and conditions of men. The animation of the crowd was feverish, but it was without joy. A convoy of prisoners passed between two lines of soldiers with drawn bayonets. They were Frenchmen, but they were Communards. It was but a moment before they were behind the barred doors of the barracks which was to be their prison, packed like a troop of sheep for the slaughter. Versailles itself, the palace and the town, were still sad. The rain still fell in torrents.

The Versailles of To-day. Roses, begonias, geraniums, the last of a long hot summer, still shed their fragrant memories over the park of Versailles. In the long, sober alleys a few leaves had already dropped from the trees above, marking the greensward and the gravel like a tapis d'orient, red and green and gold.

Flora and Bacchus in their fountains seemed less real than ever before, more sombre under the pale, trickling light through the trees. A few scattered visitors were about, sidling furtively around the Trianon, the Colonnade and the Bosquet d'Apollon; and the birds of the wood were even now bethinking of their winter pil[Pg 259]grimage. Versailles was still sad. The last rays of the setting sun shot forth reflected gold from the windows of the chateau and soon the silver blue veil of a September twilight came down like a curtain of gauze.

Versailles, the Versailles of other days, is gone forever. Who will awaken its echoes in after years? When will the Trianon again awake with the coquetries of a queen? When will the city of the Roi Soleil come again into its own proud splendour?

The sun has set, the great iron gates of the courtyard are closed, the palace and all therein sleeps.

"Allon nous en d'ici: laissons la place aux ombres."[Pg 260]


CHAPTER XVI

THE GARDENS OF VERSAILLES AND THE TRIANONS

Versailles without its court of marble, its fountains, its gardens and its park, and the attendant Grand and Petit Trianons, would hardly have the attraction that it has to-day.

The ensemble is something of more vast and varied extent than is to be seen elsewhere, though its aspect has somewhat changed from what it was of old, and the crowds of Sunday and holiday visitors give the courts and alleyed walks somewhat the aspect of a modern amusement resort.

The gardens of Versailles were but the framing of a princely dwelling created to respond to the requirements of a court which was attempting to do things on a grand scale. Everything was designed with most magnificent outlines; everything was royal, in all verity—architecture, garden-making, fêtes, receptions and promenades. What setting, then, could have been more appropriate to the life of the times?

Versailles, the town, had never prospered,[Pg 261] and has never proved sufficiently attractive to become a popular suburb; and, though to-day it passed the mark of half a hundred thousand population, it never would have existed at all had it not been for the palace of Louis XIV.

Were it not for the palace and its attributes, Versailles would have absolutely no memories for visitors, except such as may have lunched well at the Hotel des Reservoirs or the Hotel du Trianon. That is not everything, to be sure; but it is something, even when one is on an historic pilgrimage.

Even in the day of Louis XVI the popular taste was changing and Versailles was contemptuously referred to as a world of automota, of cold, unfeeling statuary and of Noah's Ark trees and forests. There was always a certain air of self-satisfaction about it, as there is, to-day, when the Parisian hordes come out to see the waters play, and the sight-seers marvel at the mock splendour and the scraps of history doled out for their delectation by none-too-painstaking guardians.

In spite of all this, no sober-minded student of art or history will ever consider Versailles, the palace and the park, as other than a superb and a spectacular demonstration of the taste of the times in which it was planned, built and lived in.[Pg 262]

Versailles was begun in 1624 by Louis XIII, who built here a humble hunting-lodge for the disciples of Saint Hubert of whom he was the royal head. So humble an erection was it that the monarch referred to it simply as a "petite maison" and paid for it out of his own pocket, a rare enough proceeding at that epoch.

The critical Bassompierre called it a "chetif chateau," and Saint-Simon referred to it as a "house of cards." Manifestly, then, it was no great thing. It was, however, a comfortable country-house, surrounded by a garden and a more ample park.

It was not Lemercier, the presiding genius of the Louvre at this time, but an unknown by the name of Le Roy, whom Louis XIII chose as his architect.

Boyceau traced the original parterres with a central basin at a crossroads of two wide avenues. Each of the four compartments thus made was ornamented with broderies and trimmed hedges, and the open spaces were ingeniously filled with parti-coloured sands, or earth. A parterre of flowers immediately adjoined the palace and rudimentary alleys and avenues stretched off towards the wood. Although designed by Boyceau, this work was actually executed by his nephew, Jacques de Menours, who, with diffi[Pg 263]culty, collected his pay. His books of account showed that in five years, from 1631 to 1636, he had drawn but once a year a sum varying from fifteen hundred to four thousand livres while in the same period the king had spent on the rest of the work at Versailles two hundred and thirty-eight thousand livres, thirty-two sols, six deniers, nearly one million one hundred thousand francs of the money of to-day.

The first of the outdoor embellishments of the palace at Versailles is the great Cour Royale, or the Cour d'Honneur, which opens out behind the long range of iron gates facing upon the Place d'Armes. At the foot of this entrance court is an extension called the Cour de Marbre. This Cour de Marbre, on January 5, 1757, was the scene of the infamous attack on Louis XV by Damiens, just as the king was starting out for the Trianon.

A thick redingote saved the king's life; but for "this mere pin-prick," according to Voltaire, the monarch went immediately to bed, and five times in succession sought absolution for his sins. Sins lay heavy even on royal heads in those days.

Damiens was but a thick-witted, superstitious valet, who, more or less persecuted by the noble employers with whom he had been in service[Pg 264] at various times, sought to avenge himself, not on them, but on their king, as the figurehead of all that was rotten in the social hierarchy. Louis, heretofore known as the "Bien Aimé," had become suddenly unpopular because of the disastrous war against England and Germany, and his prodigal dissipation of public moneys.

Cour de Marbre, Versailles Cour de Marbre, Versailles

Stretching out behind the palace are the famous gardens, the parterres, the tapis vert, the fountains and the grand canal, with the park of the Trianons off to the right.

Good fortune came to Louis XIV when he found André Le Notre, for it was he and no other who traced the general lines of the garden of the Versailles which was to be. He laid a generous hand upon the park and forest which had surrounded the manor of Louis XIII, and extended the garden to the furthermost limits of his ingenuity. Modifications were rapid, and from 1664 the parterres and the greensward took on entirely new forms and effects. The Parterre des Reservoirs became the Parterre du Nord, and an alley of four rows of lindens enclosed the park on all sides. The Parterre à Fleurs, or the Jardin du Roy, between the chateau and the Orangerie, was laid out anew.

By the following year the park began to take[Pg 265] on the homogeneity which it had hitherto lacked. The great Rondeau, as it was called, and which became later the Bassin du Dragon, was excavated, and the Jardin Bas, or the Nouveau Parterre, with an oval depression, was also planned.

At one end of the park was the celebrated Menagerie du Roy, where the rare and exotic animals collected by the monarch had "a palace more magnificent than the home of any other dumb animals in the world." This was the first period of formal garden construction at Versailles, and it was also the period when the first great impetus was given to sculptural decoration.

In 1679, following a journey in Italy, Le Notre took up again the work on the gardens at Versailles, devoting himself to the region south of the palace which hitherto had been ignored. This was Le Notre's most prolific period.

The creations at Versailles can be divided into two distinct epochs, that before 1670 and that coming after. After Le Notre's generous design, the king and queen were seemingly never satisfied with the endless plotting and planting which was carried on beneath the windows of the palace, and in many instances changed the colour schemes and even the outlines of Le Notre's original conceptions.[Pg 266]

The Versailles of to-day is no longer the Versailles of Louis XIII, so far as the actual disposition of details goes. Then there was very little green grass and much sand and gravel, a scheme of decoration which entered largely into the seventeenth century garden. This refers principally to the general effect, for Le Notre made much use of the enclosing battery of lindens, chestnuts and elms of a majestic and patriarchal grandeur which have since been cut and replaced by smaller species of trees, or not replaced at all.

No sooner were the ornamental gardens planned at Versailles than the Potager du Roy, or fruit and vegetable garden, was created. This same garden exists to-day with almost its former outlines. Here a soil sufficiently humid, and yet sufficiently well drained, contributed not a little towards the success of this most celebrated of all kitchen gardens the world has known.

The work of installing a further system of artificial drainage was immediately begun, and the Eaux des Suisses was created, to take the place of a former stagnant pool near by. Undoubtedly it was a stupendous work, like all the projects launched with regard to Versailles, but, like the others, it was brought to a speedy and successful conclusion. The details of the history[Pg 267] of this royal vegetable garden are fully set forth in a work published in 1690 by the son of the designer, the Abbé Michel de la Quintinye, in two bulky volumes. "It was meet that a royal vegetable garden should have been designed by a 'Gentleman Gardener,'" said the faithful biographer in his foreword, and as such the man and the work are to be considered here.

The work was accomplished by the combined efforts of a gracious talent and the expenditure of much money, put at La Quintinye's disposition by his royal master, who had but to put his hand deep into the coffers of the royal treasury to draw it forth filled with gold. Critics have said that La Quintinye's ability stopped with the preparation of the soil, and with the design of the garden, rather than with the actual cultivation, but at all events it was he who made the garden possible.

La Quintinye adopted Arnauld d'Andilly's method of planting fruit trees en espalier by training them against a wall-like background, and to accomplish this divided the garden plot, which covered an area of eight hectares (twenty acres), into a great number of subdivisions enclosed by walls, in order to multiply to as great an extent as possible the available space to be used for the espaliers. Again, these same walls[Pg 268] served to shelter certain varieties which were planted close against them. If this Potager du Roy was not actually the first garden of its class so laid out, it was certainly one of the most extensive and the most successful up to that time.

The great terraces of at least two metres in width surrounded the central garden, leaving a free area for the latter which approximated three hectares.

These terraces were divided into twenty-eight compartments, forming nine distinct varieties of gardens.

The celebrated gardener of Louis XIV sought not only to obtain fruits and vegetables of a superior quality and an abundant quantity, but was the first among his kind to produce early vegetables, or primeurs, in any considerable quantity, and, by a process of forced culture, he was able to put upon the table of the monarch asparagus in December, lettuce in January, cauliflower in March and strawberries in April. All these may be found at the Paris markets to-day, and at these seasons, but the growing of primeurs for the Paris markets has become a great industry since the time it was first begun at Versailles.

Of asparagus La Quintinye said, "It is a[Pg 269] vegetable that only kings can ever hope to eat."

The Potager du Roy was begun in 1678, and completed in 1683. It cost, all told, one million one hundred and seventy thousand nine hundred and eighty-three livres of which four hundred and sixty-seven thousand three hundred and sixty-four went for constructions in brick and stone, walls, enclosures and drains. Its annual maintenance (1685) amounted to twenty thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine livres. The effort proved one of great benefit to its creator, for La Quintinye, at the completion of this work, received further commissions of a like nature from the Prince de Condé, the Duc de Montansier, Colbert, Fouquet and others.

So great a marvel was this vegetable garden at Versailles that it was the object of a pilgrimage of the Doge of Venice in 1685, and of the Siamese ambassadors in the following year. The garden has been preserved as an adjunct to Versailles up to the present day. For two centuries its product went to the "Service de Bouche" of the chief of state, that is, the royal dinner table; but in 1875 the Minister of Agriculture installed there the French National Horticultural College, which to-day, with a widened scope, has admitted ornamental plants and trees to this famous garden. Nevertheless the general outlines have been[Pg 270] preserved, though certain of the terraces have disappeared, as well as many of the walls of the original enclosure, thus reducing the number of garden plots; in fact but sixteen distinctly defined gardens remain, including the Clos aux Asperges.

The Potager du Roy, Versailles The Potager du Roy, Versailles

The general lines of the garden design of Le Notre and Boyceau at Versailles are to be noted to-day, but if anything the maintenance of the gardens is hardly the equal of what it was in the time of Louis XIV and a seeming disaster has fallen upon Versailles as these lines are being written.

The military authorities have set aside, as a site for an aerostation camp, some twenty-five acres of the park near Rocquencourt. This is one of the loveliest parts, shaded by magnificent trees which, presumably, will have to be sacrificed, since, if left standing, they would certainly interfere with maneuvering with military aeroplanes, dirigibles and balloons.

At a time when deforestation is recognized to be one of the greatest dangers that menace a country's prosperity, one of its consequences being such inundations as those which recently devastated Paris and the Seine valley, it is regrettable that the forest surrounding Versailles should be depleted.

[Pg 271]

Furthermore, the realization of the project means a loss of revenue to the state which at present derives some sixty thousand francs a year from the farming lease of this portion of the park.

Therefore, for material considerations, as well as because Versailles and its surroundings should be preserved intact as a noble relic of one of the grandest periods of French history, one of the most beautiful creations of French genius, the project attributed to the military authorities is short-sighted. To diminish the attractions of Versailles would certainly prove an unwise policy, as the stream of tourists, which is the chief source of profit to Versailles and its population, would inevitably be diverted to some other channel.

Only a short time ago a Société des Amis de Versailles was created for the purpose of safeguarding its artistic and natural beauties. The government gave the organization its approbation and there is something delightfully ironical in the fact that the military authorities of the same government are planning to destroy what the society, fathered by the Ministère des Beaux Arts, was formed to preserve.

Another modern aspect of the park of Versailles was noted during the late winter when, after a sharp freeze, all the youth of Paris had[Pg 272] seemingly gone out to Versailles for the skating only to be met by a freshly-posted notice which read:

Defense
De Patiner Par
Arrêté du 17 Decembre, 1849

These signs were posted here and there about the park, in the courtyard, on the postern gate, on trees, everywhere. The authorities were bound that there should be no flagrant violation of the order of 1849.

The Bassin de Latone, Versailles The Bassin de Latone, Versailles

"You see," said one of the park guardians, "c'est defendu; but as we are only two and the crowd is very large we can do nothing." This was evident. Thousands overran the Grand Canal, which at its greatest depth was scarcely more than a yard to the bottom, and so, despite of monarchial decree, Republican France still skates on the ornamental waters of Versailles when occasion offers.

"N'oubliez pas le petit balayeur, s'il vous plait," was as often heard as "Allez vous-en."

On the whole it was rather a picturesque sight. A thick haze hung over the now white "Tapis Vert," and the nude figures of the Bassin d'Apollon were clothed in a mantle of snow, while the white-robed statues of the Allée Royale,[Pg 273] one could well believe, shivered as one passed.

The fountains of Versailles, the "Grands Eaux" and "Petits Eaux," which shoot their jets in air "semi-occasionally" for the benefit of Paris's "good papas" and their children, are distinctly popular features, and of an artistic worth neither less nor greater than most garden accessories of the artificial order. The fact that it costs something like ten thousand francs to "play" these fountains seems to be the chief memory which one retains of them in operation, unless it be the crowds which make the going and coming so uncomfortable.

The Orangerie lies just below the terrace of the Parterre du Midi, and a thousand or more non-bearing orange trees are scattered about. They are descendants of fifteenth century ancestors, it is claimed—but doubtfully.

The great basin of water known as the Eaux des Suisses was excavated by the Swiss Guard of Louis XIV to serve the useful purpose of irrigating the Potager du Roy, and as a decorative effect of great value to that part of the garden upon which faces the fourteen-hundred-foot front of the palace.

Still farther off towards the Bois de Satory, after crossing the Tapis Vert, lie the famous Bassins de Latone and Apollon, the Bassin du[Pg 274] Miroir and, finally, the Grand Canal, with one transverse branch leading to the Menagerie (now the government stud-farm) and the other to the Trianons.

The Fountain of Neptune, Versailles The Fountain of Neptune, Versailles

The satellite palaces known as the Grand and Petit Trianons are, like the Palace of Versailles itself, of such an abounding historical interest that it were futile to attempt more than a mere intimation of their comparative rank and aspect.

The rather sprawling, one-story, horseshoe-shaped villa built by Louis XIV for Madame de Maintenon, and known as the Grand Trianon, was an architectural conception of Mansart's.

It is worth remarking that the Grand Trianon, to-day, is in a more nearly perfect state than it has been for long past, for the restorations lately made have removed certain interpolations manifestly out of place.

It is due to M. de Nolhac, the Conservateur du Musée de Versailles, that this happy amelioration has been brought about and that Mansart's admirable work is again as it was in the days of Madame de Maintenon and those of the later Napoleon I.

In spite of all this the Trianon of to-day is not what it was in the eighteenth century. "Madame de Maintenon," said de Musset,[Pg 275] "made of Versailles an oratory, but La Pompadour turned it into a boudoir." He also called the Trianon: "a tiny chateau of porcelain." It was, too, the boudoir of Madame de Montespan.

Louis XV, too, built, or furnished, discreet boudoirs of this order on every hand. More than one great gallery in which his elders had done big things he divided and subdivided into minute apartments and papered the walls, or painted them, all colours of the rainbow, or hung them with silks or velvets.

"Don't you think my little apartment shows good taste," he asked one day of the Comtesse de Séran at Versailles.

"Not at all," she replied, "I would much rather that the walls were hung in blue."

That particular apartment was in rose, but, since blue was the favourite colour of the monarch, the reply was but flattering. The next time that his friend, the Comtesse, appeared on the scene the apartment had all been done over in blue.

The monarch soon began to turn his attention to the gardens. Bowers, labyrinths and vases and statues were inexplicably mixed as in a maze. He began to have the "gout pastoral," his biographer has said, a vogue that Madame du Barry[Pg 276] and Marie Antoinette came in time to push to its limits.

The king was too ready to admire all that was suggested, all that was offered, and the ultimate effect was—well, it was the opposite of what he hoped it to be, though doubtless he did not realize it.

Petit Trianon Petit Trianon

In the garden of the Grand Trianon is a great basin with a cascade flowing down over a sort of a high altar arrangement in red and white marble called the Buffet de l'Architecture, and evolved by Mansart. This architect certainly succeeded much better with his purely architectural conceptions than he did with interpolated decorative elements intended to relieve a formal landscape.

The Petit Trianon, the pride of Louis XV, was designed by the architect Gabriel, and its reigning goddess was Marie Antoinette. Souvenirs of the unhappy queen are many, but the caretakers are evidently bored with their duties and hustle you through the apartments with scant ceremony that they may doze again undisturbed in their corners.

The garden of the Petit Trianon is a veritable Jardin Anglais, that is, the decorative portion, where sweeps and curves, as meaningless as those one sees on banknotes and no more decora[Pg 277]tive, are found in place of the majestic lines of the formal garden when laid out after the French manner.

The Hameau, where is the dairy where the queen played housewife and shepherdess, is just to the rear of this bijou palace and looks stagy and unreal enough to be the wings and back-drop of a pastoral play.

Near Versailles was the Chateau de Clagny, with a garden laid out by Le Notre, quite the rival of many better known. Of it Madame de Sévigné wrote: "It is the Palais d'Armide; you know the manner of Le Notre; here he has done his best."

The Couvent des Recollettes, just across the Bois de Satory, was built by Louis XIV out of[Pg 278] regard for the religieux whom he displaced from an edifice which stood upon a plot which was actually needed for the palace gardens. The Chateaux of Noisy and Molineaux were also affiliated with Versailles.

The rest of the surroundings and accessories of Versailles are mere adjunctive details of those chief features here mentioned. To catalogue them even would be useless since they are all set down in the guidebooks.[Pg 279]


CHAPTER XVII

SAINT GERMAIN-EN-LAYE

Saint Germain has not the popularity of Versailles, nor the charm of Fontainebleau, but it is more accessible than either, and, if less known and less visited by the general mass of tourists, it is all the more delightful for that.

Saint Germain, the chateau, the town and the forest, possess a magnificent site. Behind is a wooded background, and before one are the meanderings of the Seine which in the summer sunlight is a panorama which is to be likened to no other on earth. Across the river bottom run the great tree-lined roadways, straight as the proverbial flight of the arrow, while on the horizon, looking from the celebrated terrace, one sees to-day the silhouetted outline of Paris with the Tour Eiffel and the dome of the Sacré Cœur as the culminating points.

The town itself is ugly and ill-paved, and heavy-booted dragoons make a hideous noise as they clank along to and from the cavalry barracks all through the day and night. Neither[Pg 280] are scorching automobiles making their ways to Trouville and Dieppe over the "Route des Quarante Sous" a pleasant feature. One can ignore all these things, however, for what is left is of a superlative charm.


View larger image

Saint Germain-en-Laye in the first stages of French history was but a vast extent of forest[Pg 281] which under Charlemagne came to the possession of the monks of the Abbaye de Saint Germain-des-Prés. The first royal palace here was built by King Robert in the tenth century, practically upon the site of the present edifice. In the eleventh century there came into being another royal dwelling, and in the twelfth century Louis-le-Gros built a chateau-fort as a protection to the royal residence and monastery. This did not prevent the Black Prince from very nearly burning them down on one of his bold raids, but by 1367, Charles V re-erected the "castel" of Saint Germain-en-Laye.

The English, by coercion, induced a monk of a neighbouring establishment at Nanterre to deliver up a set of false keys by which the great gates of the castle were surreptitiously opened, and, for a time, the descendants of the Conqueror held possession.

The establishment of Charles V in no way satisfying the artistic ambitions of Francis I, that monarch gave the task of reconstruction to the architect Pierre Chambiges, in 1539, preserving only the Saint Chapelle of Saint Louis and the donjon.

The building must have gone forward with an extreme rapidity for at the architect's death, in 1544, it had reached nearly the level of the rooftop.[Pg 282]

Chambiges' successor was his son-in-law, Guillaume Guillain, who, without changing the primitive plan, completed the work in 1548.

Saint Germain, above the first story, is essentially a construction of bricks, but the effect is even now, as Chambiges originally intended, an edifice with its main constructive elements of lower sustaining walls and buttresses of stone binding together the slighter fabric, or filling, above. Although it is Renaissance through and through, Saint Germain shows not the slightest reminiscence of anything Italian and must be considered entirely as an achievement of French genius.

This edifice of Francis I was more a fortress than a palace in spite of its decorative features, and Henri II, desiring something more of a luxurious royal residence, began what the historians and savants know as the Chateau Neuf—the palace of to-day which stands high on the hill overlooking the winding Seine, to which seducing stream the gardens originally descended in terraces.

Chiefly it is to Henri IV that this structure owes its distinction, for previously work went on but intermittently, and very slowly. Henri IV brought the work to completion and made the chateau his preferred and most prolonged[Pg 283] place of residence, as indeed did his successor.

It is the Chateau Neuf of the time of Henri IV which is to-day known as the Palais de Saint Germain-en-Laye. Of the Vieux Chateau only some fragmentary walls and piles of débris, the Pavillon Henri IV, and, in part, the old royal chapel remain.

Actually the structure of to-day includes that part of the Hotel du Pavillon Henri IV which is used as a restaurant.

Henri IV and Louis XIII gave Saint Germain its first great éclat as a suburban place of sojourn, and from the comings and goings of the court of that time there gradually grew up the present city of twenty thousand inhabitants; not all of them of courtly manners, as one learns from a recollection of certain facts of contemporary modern history.

During the days when Mazarin actually held the reins of state the court was frequently at Saint Germain. Louis XIV was born here, and until Versailles and Marly came into being he made it his principal dwelling.

It was in one of the magnificent apartments, too, midway between the angle turrets of the façade, Louis XIII ended his unhappy existence in 1642. His own private band of musicians played a "De Profundis" of his own composition to waft his soul on its long journey.[Pg 284]

The chroniclers describe one of the monarch's last conversations as follows: "When they transport my body to Paris after my soul has flown, Laporte, remember that place where the road turns under the hill; it is a rough road, Laporte, and will surely shake my bones sadly if the driver does not go slowly."

Those who have journeyed out from Paris to Saint Germain by road in this later century will appreciate the necessity for the admonition.

Louis XIV, unlike Louis XIII, detested Saint Germain beyond words, because the towers of the Abbaye de Saint Denis, where he was destined one day to be buried, were visible from the terrace. Louis XV was not so particular for he was so morbid that he even loved, as he claimed himself, the scent of new-made graves.

The arrival of Anne d'Autriche and the royal family at Saint Germain during the war of the Fronde was one of the most dramatic incidents of the period. They had travelled half the night, coming from the Palais Royal only to find a palace awaiting them which was unheated and unfurnished though the time was mid-January. Always drear and gaunt it was immeasurably so on this occasion. Mazarin had made no provision for the queen's arrival; there, were neither beds, tables nor linen in their proper[Pg 285] places, no servants, no attendants of any kind, only the guardians of the palace. The queen was obliged to take rest from her fatigue on a folding camp bedstead, without covering of any kind. The princes fared no better, actually sleeping on the floor.

There were plenty of mirrors and much gold gingerbread on the walls and ceilings, but no furniture. The personal belongings which the court had brought with them were few. No one had a change of clothing even; those worn one day were washed the next. However the queen good-naturedly smiled through it all. She called it "an escapade which can hardly last a week."

All Paris was by this time crying "Vive la Fronde": "Mort à Mazarin": but it proved to be something more than a little affair of a week, as we now know.

At this period, when Anne d'Autriche was practically a prisoner at Saint Germain, the picture made by the old chateau against its forest background was undeniably more imposing than that which one sees to-day. The glorious forest was not then hidden by rows of banal roof-tops, and the dull drabs of barracks and prisons.

In the warm spring mornings the glittering[Pg 286] façade of the chateau was brilliant as a diamond against its setting, and the radiating avenues of the park leading from the famous terrace stretched out into infinite vistas that were most alluring. This effect, fortunately, is not wholly lost to-day.

At night things were as idyllic as by day. The queen and her ladies, relieved of the dreary presence of the king who still remained at Paris, revelled in an unwonted freedom. Concerts, suppers and dances were the rule and moonlight cavalcades to the heart of the forest, or promenades on foot the length of the terrace, and by some romantically disposed couples far beyond, gave a genuine "begone, dull care" aspect to court life which was not at all possible in the capital.

The following picture, taken from a court chronicle, might apply as well to-day if one makes due allowance for a refulgence of myriad lamps gleaming out Parisward as night draws in.

"It is a rare moonlight night. The queen and her ladies have emerged late on the stately terrace of Henri IV which borders upon the forest and extends for nearly a league along the edge of the height upon which stands the chateau.

"The queen and her brother-in-law, Gaston, Duc d'Orleans, have seated themselves some[Pg 287]what apart from the rest beside the stone balustrade which overlooks the steep descent to the plain below. Vineyards line the hillside and the Seine flows far beneath, the fertile river-bottom rich with groves and orchards, villas and gardens. Still more distant sweeps away the great plain wrapped in dark shadows punctuated here and there with great splotches of moonlight. Of the great city beyond (the Paris of to-day, whose myriad glow-worm lights actually do lend an additional charm) not a vestige is to be seen. Scarcely a lantern marks the existence of a living soul in the vast expanse below, but the moon, high in the heavens, plots out the entire landscape with a wonderful impressiveness, and the stars topping the forest trees to the rear and the heights which rise on the distant horizon lend their quota of romanticism, and, as if by their scintillations, mark the almost indiscernible towers of the old Abbey of Saint Denis to the left.

"'Oh, what a lovely night,' said the queen to her companion. Again it is the old chronicler who speaks. 'Can the world ever appear so calm and peaceful elsewhere?'"

This Terrasse de Henri IV, so called, is one of the most splendid and best-known terraces in Europe, and is noted for its extent as well[Pg 288] as for its marvellous point of view, the whole panorama Parisward being spread out before one as if on a map, a view which extends from the Chateau de Maisons on the left to the Aqueduct de Marly and the heights of Louveciennes on the right, including the Bois de Vesinet, Mont Valerian, Montmartre and the whole Parisian panorama as far as the Coteaux de Montmorency.

The Valley of the Seine, from the Terrace at Saint Germain The Valley of the Seine, from the Terrace at Saint Germain

This terrace, too, was the project and construction of Le Notre in 1672. It is two and a half kilometres in length and thirty metres in width, upheld by a stone retaining wall which is surmounted by a balustrade. It extends from the Pavillon Henri IV to a gun battery well within the confines of the forest. Entrance from the precincts of the palace is by the great ornamental iron gateway known as the Grille Royale, from which an alleyed row of lindens leads to the heart of the forest.

The record of another merry party at Saint Germain is that which recounts that summer evening when the king and court scuttled about the park enjoying themselves as only royalty can—when some one else pays the bills. The terrace, the gravelled walks and the alleyed paths of the forest all led to charming and discreet rendezvous.

So preoccupied was every one on this particular[Pg 289] occasion that the merry-makers had hardly a thought for their king, who, left to his own devices, sought out four maids of honour gossiping in a bower, and, taking the mischief-loving Lauzan into his confidence, pried upon them in the ambush of the night. They were gossiping over the dancers at the ball of the night before when one of them proclaimed her fancy for the agility and grace of the king above all others. It was the first expression of "La Vallière" since she had come timidly to court. The rest is an idyll which is found set forth in all the history books at considerable length, and at this particular moment it was a genuine idyll, for the king had not then become the debauched roué that he was in later life.

After Anne d'Autriche, Henriette, the widow of Charles I of England, found at Saint Germain a comfortable and luxurious refuge.

From 1661 onward Louis XIV made frequent visits to Saint Germain and was so taken with the charms of the neighbourhood and the immediate site that he conjured six and a half million francs out of his Civil List, in addition to his regular stipend, for the upkeep of this palace alone. This was robbery: modern graft pales before this; candelabra by the pound and writing tables by the square yard were known before the days of machine politicians.[Pg 290]

James II of England, in 1688, found a hospitable refuge at Saint Germain, thanks to Louis XIV, and died within the palace walls in 1701, as did his wife, Maria d'Este, in 1718.

Louis XV and Louis XVI gave Saint Germain scarce a thought, and under the Empire it became a cavalry school, and later, under the Restoration, sinking lower still, it merited only the denomination of a barracks. Its culminating fall arrived when it was turned into a penitentiary.

Napoleon III, with finer instincts, here installed a museum, and restorations and rebuilding having gone on intermittently since that time the palace has now taken on a certain pretence to glory. Practically the palace in its present form is a restoration, not entirely a new building, but a rebuilding of an old one, first begun under the competent efforts of the architect Eugene Millet, who sought to reëstablish the edifice as it was under Francis I. The great tower has been preserved but the corner pavilions of the period of Louis XIV have been demolished in accord with the carrying out of this plan.

For forty years Saint Germain has been in a state of restoration, and like the restoration of Pierrefonds it has swallowed up fantastic sums. The western façade has been rebuilt from the chapel to the entrance portal and the last of[Pg 291] Mansart's pavilions, which he built to please either his own fancy or that of Louis XIV, have been demolished. Mansart himself made way with the old tourelles and the balustrade which rounded off the angles of the walls of the main buildings and substituted a series of heavy, ugly maisonettes, more like the bastions of a fortress than any adjunct to a princely dwelling.

The courtyard of the chateau is curiously disposed; "so that it may receive the sun at all times," was the claim of its designer. It, too, has been brought back to the state in which it was originally conceived and shorn of its encumbering outhouses and odds and ends which served their purposes well enough when it was a barracks or a prison, but which were a desecration to anything called by so dignified a name as a chateau or a palace. This courtyard is to-day as it was when the lords and ladies in the train of Charles IX strolled and even gambolled therein.

The Chapelle de Saint Louis (1240) is in every way remarkable, especially with respect to its great rose-window, which was found by Millet to have been walled up by Louis XIV.

The military museum of to-day, which is enclosed by the palace walls, possesses a remarkable collection of its kind, but has no intimate lien upon the history of the palace.[Pg 292]

The parterre before the palace is cut off from the forest of Saint Germain by three ornate iron gates. It was relaid, a transformation from designs originally conceived in 1676, by Le Notre, modified in 1750 and much reduced in size and beauty in the nineteenth century, though later enlarged by taking three hectares of ground from the forest and turning them into the accepted form of an English garden.

A peninsula of a superficial area of over ten thousand acres snugly enfolded in one of the great horseshoe bends of the Seine contains the Forêt de Saint Germain. A line drawn across the neck of the peninsula from Saint Germain to Poissy, following the Route de Poissy, completely cuts off this tongue of land which is as wild and wooded to-day as in the times of Francis, the Henris and the Louis.

The routes and allées of the forest are traced with regularity and precision, and historians have written them down as of a length of nearly four hundred leagues, a statement which a glance at any map of the forest will well substantiate.

High upon its plateau sits this historic wildwood, for the most part of a soil dry and sandy, with here and there some great mamelon (Druidical or Pagan, as the case may be) rising somewhat above the average level. Francis I, hunts[Pg 293]man and lover of art and nature, did much to preserve this great forest, and Louis XIV in his time developed its system of roads and paths, "chiefly to make hunting easy," says history, though it is difficult to follow this. At all events the forest remains to-day the most extensive unspoiled breathing-spot of its class near Paris.

Within this maze of paths and alleys are many famed historic spots, the Chêne Saint Fiacre, the Croix de Noailles, the Croix Saint Simon, the Croix du Main (erected in 1709 in honour of the son of Louis XIV), the Étoile des Amazones, the Patte d'Oie, the Chêne du Capitaine and many more which are continually referred to in the history of the palace, the forest of Saint Germain-en-Laye, and of the Abbaye de Poissy.

The forest is not wholly separated from the mundane world for occasionally a faint echo of the Rouen railway is heard, a toot from a river tug-boat bringing coal up-river to Paris, the strident notes of automobile horns, or that of a hooting steam-tram which scorches along the principal roadway over which state coaches of kings and courtiers formerly rolled. The contrast is not particularly offensive, but the railway threatens to make further inroads, so one hardly knows the future that may be in store for the patriarch oaks and elms and chest[Pg 294]nuts which make up this secular wildwood. Their ages may not in all cases approach those of the great Fontainebleau trees, and in point of fact the forest is by no means as solitary, nor ever was. One of the most celebrated, certainly one of the most spectacular, duels of history took place in the park at Saint Germain-en-Laye.

Gui Chabot de Jarnac lived a prodigal and profligate life at the expense—it was said—of the favours of the Duchesse d'Étampes. The dauphin, Henri, making an accusation, deemed wholly uncalled for, a "duel judiciaire" took place, with La Châtaigneraie as the dauphin's substitute as adversary of de Jarnac who sought no apology but combat.

It was because Henri meantime had become king and issued his first Letters Patent to his council concerning the "duel judiciaire," whereby he absolved himself of the right to partake, that he appointed his dear friend François de Vivonne, "Seigneur de la Châtaigneraie," to play the rôle for him.

Unfortunately the young man could not justify by victory the honour of his king and before the monarch and the assembled court he was laid low by his adversary.

This was one of the last of the "duels judiciaires"[Pg 295] in France. What Saint Louis and Philippe-le-Bel had vainly sought to suppress, the procedure having cost at least a hundred thousand livres, was practically accomplished by Henri II by a stroke of the pen.[Pg 296]


CHAPTER XVIII

MAINTENON

Out from Paris, on the old Route d'Espagne, running from the capital to the frontier, down which rolled the royal cortèges of old, lie Maintenon and its famous chateau, some sixty odd kilometres from Paris and twenty from Rambouillet.

Just beyond Versailles, on the road to Maintenon, lies the trim little townlet of Saint Cyr, known to-day as the West Point of France, the military school founded by Napoleon I giving it its chief distinction.

Going back into the remote past one learns that the village grew up from a foundation of Louis XIV, who bought for ninety-one thousand livres "a chateau and a convent for women," that Madame de Maintenon might establish a girls' school therein. She reserved an apartment for herself, and one suspects indeed that it was simply another project of the Widow Scarron to have a place of rendezvous near the capital. Certainly under the circumstances, tak[Pg 297]ing into consideration the good that she was doing for orphaned girls, she might at least have been allowed the right of a roof to shelter her when she wished. She was absolutely dominant within, though never actually in residence for any length of time. It was here that "Esther" and "Athalie," which Racine had composed expressly for Madame de Maintenon's pensionnaires, were produced for the first time.

When not actually living at Saint Cyr it was Madame de Maintenon's custom to come hither from Paris each day, arriving between seven and eight in the morning, passing the day and returning to town for the evening, much as a celebrated American millionaire journalist, whose country-house overlooks the famous convent garden, does to-day.

Madame de Maintenon actually went into retirement at Saint Cyr upon the death of Louis[Pg 298] XIV, and for four years, until her death, never left it. She died from old age, rather than from any grave malady, in this "Maison d'Education," which she had inaugurated, and was buried in the chapel, beneath an elaborate tomb which the Duc de Noailles, who married her niece, caused to be erected. The tomb was destroyed during the Revolution and the "Maison Royale de Saint Cyr," of which nothing had been changed since its foundation, was suppressed, the edifice itself being pillaged and the remains of Madame de Maintenon sadly profaned, finally to be recovered and deposited again in the chapel where a simple black marble slab marks them in these graven words:

Cy-Git Madame De Maintenon
1635-1719-1836

Napoleon I established the École Militaire at Saint Cyr, from which are graduated each year more than four hundred subaltern officers.

The ancient gardens of Madame de Maintenon's time now form the "Champs de Mars," or drill ground, of the military school.

South from Saint Cyr runs the great international highroad, the old Route Royale of the monarchy. It rises and falls, but mostly straight as the flight of the crow, until it crosses the great National Forest of Rambouillet. Following the[Pg 299] valley of the Eure almost to its headwaters it finally comes to Maintenon, a town of a couple of thousand souls, whose most illustrious inhabitant was that granddaughter of Theodore-Agrippa d'Aubigné, named Françoise, and who came in time to be the Marquise de Maintenon.

The Chateau de Maintenon was royal in all but name. The Tresorier des Finances under Louis XI, Jean Cottereau (a public official who made good it seems, since he also served in the same capacity for Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Francis I), had a single daughter, Isabeau, who, in 1526, married Jacques d'Angennes, who at the time was already Seigneur de Rambouillet.

As a dot this daughter acquired the lands of Maintenon. The property was afterwards sold to the Marquis de Villeray, from whom Louis XIV bought it in 1674 and disposed of it as a royal gift to Françoise d'Aubigné, the fascinator of kings, who was afterwards to become (in 1688) Madame La Marquise de Maintenon.

This ambitious woman subsequently married her niece to the Duc d'Ayen, son of the Maréchal de Noailles, and as a marriage portion—or possibly to avoid unpleasant consequences—turned over the property of Maintenon to the young bride and her husband to whose family, the Noailles, it has ever since belonged.[Pg 300]

To-day the Duc and Duchesse de Noailles make lengthy stays in this delightful seigneurial dwelling, and since the apartments are full to overflowing of historical souvenirs of their family it may be truly said that their twentieth century life is to some considerable extent in accord with the traditions of other days.

Chateau de Maintenon Chateau de Maintenon

The existence of this princely residence is an agreeable reminder of the life of luxury of the olden time albeit certain modernities which we to-day think necessities are lacking.

Maintenon is certainly one of the most beautiful so-called royal chateaux of France, if not by its actual importance at least by many of the attributes of its architecture, the extent of the domain and the history connected therewith. It bridges the span between the private chateau and those which may properly be called royal.

In the moyen-age Maintenon was a veritable chateau-fort, forming a quadrilateral edifice flanked by round towers at three of its angles, and at the fourth by a great square mass of a donjon, all of which was united by a vast expanse of solidly built wall which possessed all the classic attributes of the best military architecture of its time. Entrance was only over a deep moat spanned by a drawbridge.

Jean Cottereau made his acquisition of the[Pg 301] domain towards 1490 and immediately planned a new scheme of being for the old fortress which, according to a more esthetic conception, would thus be brought into the class of a luxurious residential chateau. He destroyed the courtines which attached the great donjon to the rest of the building, and opened up the courtyard so that it faced directly upon the park. He ornamented sumptuously the window framings, the dormer windows, and the turrets, and framed in the entrance portal with a series of sculptured motives which he also added to the entrance to the great inner stairway. In short it was an enlargement and embellishment that was undertaken, but so thoroughly was it done that the edifice quite lost its original character in the process. Like all the chateaux built at this epoch Maintenon was no longer a mere fortress, but a palatial retreat, luxurious in all its appointments, and shorn of all the manifest militant attributes which it had formerly possessed.

The shell was there, following closely the original outlines, but the added ornamentation had effectually disguised its primordial existence. Living rooms needed light and air, while a fortress or quarters for troops might well be ordained on other lines. The Renaissance livened up considerably the severe lines of the Gothic cha[Pg 302]teaux of France, and though invariably the marks of the transition are visible to the expert eye it is also true, as in the case of Maintenon, that there is frequently a homogeneousness which is sufficiently pleasing to effectually cover up any discrepancies which might otherwise be apparent. The warrior aspect is invariably lost in the transition, and thus a Renaissance residential chateau enters at once into a different class from that of the feudal fortress regardless of the fact that such may have been its original status.

The armorial device of Jean Cottereau—three unlovely lizards blazoned on a field of silver—is still to be seen sculptured on the two towers flanking the entrance portal which to-day lacks its old drawbridge before mentioned. Surrounding the edifice is a deep, unhealthful, mosquito-breeding moat which is all a mediæval moat should be, but which is actually no great attribute to the place considering its disadvantages. One wonders that it is allowed to exist in so stagnant a condition, as the running waters of the near-by Eure might readily be made use of to change all this. The site of the chateau at the confluence of the Eure and the Voise is altogether charming.

Madame de Maintenon did much to make the property more commodious and convenient[Pg 303] and built the great right wing which binds the donjon to the main corps de logis. Her own apartments were situated in the new part of the palace. She also built the gallery which leads from the Tour de Machicoulis to the pointed chapel, which was a construction of the time of Cottereau, an accessory which every self-respecting country-house of the time was bound to have. It was by this gallery that the open tribune in the little chapel was reached, thus enabling Louis XIV to pass readily to mass while he was so frequent a visitor at that period when, at Maintenon, he was overseeing the construction of his famous aqueduct.

Maintenon has had the honour, too, to count among its illustrious guests Racine, who came at the request of Madame de Maintenon, and here wrote "Esther" and "Athalie" which were later produced at Saint Cyr by Madame de Maintenon's celebrated band of "Demoiselles."

Louis XIV was not the last of royal race to accept the Chateau de Maintenon's hospitality for the unhappy Charles X was obliged to ask shelter of its chatelain for himself and fleeing family. They arrived a little after midnight of a hot August night, slept as well as possible in the former apartments of Madame de Maintenon, and attended mass in the chapel on the fol[Pg 304]lowing morning. The monarch then discharged the royal guard and the "hundred Swiss" and gave up, defeated at the game of playing monarch against the will of the people.

One enters the Cour d'Honneur by a great portal of the time of Louis XIV. Immediately before one is the principal façade, with its towers of brick and its slender little turrets framing in so admirably the entrance door. This façade is of the fifteenth century and on the tympan of the dormer windows one may still see the monogram of its builder, Cottereau. The drawbridge has been made way with, and the turrets over the portal have been bound together by a diminutive balcony of stone, which, while a manifest superfluity, is in no way objectionable.

Under the entrance vault are doors on either side giving access to the living apartments of the rez-de-chaussée. In the inner courtyard is to be found the most exquisite architectural detail of the whole fabric, the tower which encloses the monumental stairway, to which entrance is had by a portal which is a veritable Gothic jewel. In the tympan of this portal, as in the dormer windows, is the device of Jean Cottereau, except in this case it is much more elaborate—a Saint Michel and the dragon, surrounded by a "semis de coquilles" bearing the escutcheons[Pg 305] of the chatelain—d'argent à lezards de sable.

At the left of this stairway tower is the principal courtyard façade, supported by four arcades, pierced with great windows and surmounted by two fine dormer windows, all in the style of Louis XII, of which the same effects to be observed at Blois and in the Hotel d'Alluye are contemporary.

At the left of the inner court is the wing built by Cottereau which terminates in a great round tower, while to the right is that erected by Madame de Maintenon ending at the donjon. Directly opposite is a magnificent vista over the canal of ornamental water framed on either side by patriarchal trees and having as a background the silhouette of the arches of the famous aqueduct which was to lead the waters of the Eure to Versailles.

The interior of the chateau is not less remarkable than the exterior. Entering by the tower portal one comes at once to that magnificent grand escalier which is accounted one of the wonders of the French Renaissance.

The Salle à Manger of to-day was the old-time Salle des Gardes. It is garnished with a fine wainscoting and panels of Cordovan leather. The Chambre à Coucher of Louis XIV, to the left, is to-day the Salon, and here are to be seen[Pg 306] portraits of Louis XIV, Louis XII, Francis I, Henri IV, and Louis XIII.

A tiny rotunda contains a statue of Henri IV as a child, and portraits of Madame de Maintenon and Louis XIV in their youth. A portrait gallery of restrained proportions contains effigies of Madame de Maintenon and her niece Mademoiselle d'Aubigné, the Duc de Penthièvre, the Comtesse de Toulouse, the Duc de Noailles, the Duchesse de Villars and the Duchesse de Chaumont.

Aqueduct of Louis XIV at Maintenon Aqueduct of Louis XIV at Maintenon

The show-piece of the chateau, albeit of recent construction, is known variously as the "Grand Galerie" and the "Longue Galerie." Its decorations are due to the Duc de Noailles, the father of the present proprietor. Virtually it is a portrait gallery of the Noailles family, going back to the times of the Crusaders and coming down to the twentieth century.

The apartments of Madame de Maintenon form that portion of the chateau which has the chief sentimental interest. In an ante-chamber is a chaise à porteurs once having belonged to the Marquise, and her portrait by Mignard. Cordovan leather is hung upon the walls, and the restored sleeping-room is hung with a canopy and separated from the rest of the apartment by a balustrade in bois doré. Above the chimney[Pg 307]-piece is a portrait of Louis XIV, after Rigaud, and, finally, the oratory is ornamented by a series of elegant sculptures in wood and a magnificent Boule coffer.

In the left wing is found a beautiful chapel of the fifteenth century, which is very pure in style. It is decorated with a series of Renaissance wood panels of the finest workmanship. The coloured glass of the windows is of the sixteenth century.

The rebuilt monumental stairway connects directly with a passage leading to the entrance portico which opens on the garden terrace before the parterre.

The park of Maintenon is in every way admirable, with its pelouse, its great border of trees, its waterways and more than thirty bridges. Jean Cottereau himself planned the first vegetable and fruit garden, or potager, the same whose successor is the delight of the dwellers at Maintenon to-day.

The parterre, the Grand Canal and the two avenues of majestic trees were due to the conception of Le Notre, and their effect, as set off by the alleyed forest background and the pillars of the aqueduct of Louis XIV, is something unique.

The gardens at Maintenon were perhaps not[Pg 308] Le Notre's most famous work but they followed the best traditions of their time, and because of their vast expanse of ornamental water were, in a way, quite unequalled.

Ambling off towards the forest is a great avenue flanked with high overhanging shade trees known as the Allée Racine. It gets its name from the fact that the dramatist was wont to take his walks abroad in this direction and woo the muse while he was a guest of Madame de Maintenon.[Pg 309]


CHAPTER XIX

RAMBOUILLET AND ITS FOREST

Rambouillet is one of the most famous of the minor royal chateaux of France. Built under the first of the monarchies, in the midst of the vast forest of Yveline, it has always formed a part[Pg 310] of the national domain. Even now, under Republican France, it is still the scene of the hunts organized for visiting monarchs, and, within the last half dozen years alone, the monarchs of Spain and Belgium, Italy and England have shot hares and stags and pheasants in company with a Republican president.

The occasions have lacked the picturesque costumes of the disciples of Saint Hubert in other times; but the huntsman still winds his horn to the same traditional tune and the banquets given in the chateau on such occasions are, in no small measure, an echo of what has gone before.

It was in the old chateau of Rambouillet that Francis I died. In the month of March, 1547, Francis, coming from Chambord in the south, crossed the "accursed bridge" and arrived at the foot of the ivy-grown donjon which one sees to-day, the last remaining relic of the mediæval fortress. For a year the monarch had led a wandering life, revisiting all the favourite haunts of his kingdom, and, though scarce turned fifty, was prematurely aged and gray.

He was lifted tenderly from his royal coach, and by the winding stair, carried slowly to his apartments on the second floor, overlooking the three canals and the "accursed bridge" and the tangled forest beyond.[Pg 311]

Jacques d'Angennes, to whose ancestors Rambouillet one day belonged, acted as host to his royal master and cared for him as a brother, but Francis was dispirited, and growing weaker every moment. He complained bitterly of the death of his favourite son from the plague, and of that of the gay monarch across the channel, his old friend, Henry VIII of England.

He was restless and wished to move on to Saint Germain, but his condition made that impossible. After a feeble attempt to rouse himself for a hunt in the forest, he took to his bed again, with the admonition to his friend d'Angennes, who never left him: "I am dying, send for my son, Henri."

The prince joined the mourners around the royal bedside and heard his father's confession thus: "My son, I have sinned greatly; I have been led away by my passions; follow that which I have done that is accredited good, and ignore the evil; above all, cherish France; be good to my people."

That was all except the final counsel to "beware of the Guises; they are traitors." After that he spoke no more. Francis I, the gallant, art-loving monarch, the father of the Renaissance in France, was dead.

In 1562, Catherine de Médici, accompanied[Pg 312] by her son Charles IX, here awaited the results of the momentous battle of Dreux. In 1588, Henri III, fleeing Paris after the "journée des barricades" came here to rest, and so fatigued was he on his arrival that he went to bed "tout botté."

Laiterie de la Reine, Rambouillet Laiterie de la Reine, Rambouillet

The son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan came into possession of "the palace and lands" and in his honour the property was made, in spite of its limited area, a Duché-Pairie.

Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon, as was but natural, because of its proximity to Maintenon and to Paris, frequently honoured Rambouillet with their presence; and, a little later, Louis XV and the beautiful Comtesse de Toulouse followed suit.

The Duc de Penthièvre, to whom the property had by this time descended, at the instance of Louis XVI, ceded to that monarch the domain of Rambouillet.

Louis XVI built vast commons and outbuildings, all with some architectural pretence, to house the appanage of the royal hunt, and also built the Laiterie de la Reine and the model farm where, in 1786, he established the first national sheepfold.

To-day this is the famous École de Bergers, where is quartered the largest flock of moutons à laine[Pg 313] (merino sheep) in France, they having been brought chiefly from Spain.

The Laiterie de la Reine was a tiny sandstone temple with interior fittings chiefly of white marble, and with a great, round centre-table, and smaller tables in each corner, equally of marble, as becomes a hygienically fitted dairy. It was restored by Louis Napoleon during the Second Empire, and is still to be seen in all its pristine glory.

In addition, Louis XVI had at Rambouillet a private domain of a considerable extent which only the Constitution of 1791 united to the Civil List. This property, except the palace, the park and the forest, was sold later by the State. The Imperial Civil List, formed in 1805 by Napoleon, included these dependencies specifically, and the emperor frequently hunted in the neighbouring forest, though, compared to his predecessors, he had little time to devote to that form of sport. Here, too, was signed, in 1810, the decree which united Holland with the Empire.

Rambouillet has fallen sadly since the Revolution. A decree of the Representants du Peuple, of October 14, 1793, provided that "the furnishings of this palace, heretofore royal, shall be sold." Under the Consulate and Empire a certain citizen, Trepsat by name, received an injury in protect[Pg 314]ing Napoleon in an attack and, as recompense, was made the official Architect and Conservator of the Palace of Rambouillet.

Hardly had Trepsat entered upon his functions when he suggested the demolition of the chateau. Napoleon hesitated, but finally partially agreed, insisting, however, that enough should be left to form a comfortable hunting-lodge. Trepsat would have torn down all and rebuilt anew. Napoleon made an appointment with his architect to visit the property and discuss the matter in detail the following year (1805), but at that moment he was campaigning in Austria, so the interview was not held. This was Trepsat's chance, and he found a pretext to overthrow the entire east wing, but was stopped before he was able to further carry out his ignorant act of vandalism. Trepsat was severely reprimanded by the emperor himself, and was ordered to put things back as he found them. "Even the most battered and sickly architect who ever lived could hardly have had a worse inspiration," said Napoleon. Trepsat, be it recalled, had lost a leg.

The restoration was commenced, but Trepsat, committing one fault after another, and finally juggling with the accounts, was obliged to take on a collaborator by the name of Famin, a young[Pg 315] pensionnaire of the Académie des Beaux Arts, recently returned from Rome. It was he who saved Rambouillet from utter destruction.

The apartments of Napoleon, which were those given over to public functions in the time of the Comte de Toulouse, had been, and were, most luxuriously appointed. That which shows most clearly the imprint of the imperial régime is the curious Salle de Bains which was in direct communication with the study, or Cabinet de Travail.

It might have been a room in a Pompeian house so classic were its lines and decorations. There was a series of medallions painted on the wall representing portraits of members of the imperial family. These were chiefly portraits of the female sex, and Napoleon, the first time he entered his bath, in an excess of modesty and fury cried out: "Who is the ass that did this thing?" Immediately they were painted out, and, for the sum of nine hundred and fifty francs, another artist was found who filled the frames of the medallions with sights and scenes associated less intimately with Napoleonic history.

Under the Empire the architect Famin was commissioned to furnish a series of architectural embellishments to the gardens of Rambouillet. Various stone statues were added and an octagon pavilion on the Ile des Roches was restored and[Pg 316] redecorated. Two great avenues were cut through the parterre, and, as if fearing indiscretions on the part of his entourage, the emperor caused to be planted long rows of lindens and tulip trees, which were again masked by two rows of poplars. The peloux of the Jardin Français were reëstablished and the curves and sweeps of the paths of the Jardin Anglais laid out anew.

Chateau de Rambouillet Chateau de Rambouillet

This ancient government property, arisen anew from its ruins, now bore the name of the Pavillon du Roi de Rome, after the son of Napoleon. The Écuries, or stables, which had been built by Louis XVI, were transformed into kennels, and various "posts," or miniature shooting-boxes, were distributed here and there through the park.

Under the Restoration the transformation of the chateau, which had been projected ever since the time of Louis XVI, undertaken and then abandoned by Napoleon, was again commenced, but on a less ambitious scale than formerly. Chiefly this transformation consisted of opening up windows, thus making practically a new façade. It was not wholly a happy thought, and the spirit of economy of Louis XVIII, no less, perhaps, than other motives, arrested this mutilation and the architect was discharged from his functions.

[Pg 317]

Again the hand of fate fell hard upon Rambouillet and its definite eclipse as a royal abode came with the abdication of Charles X. The abdication was actually signed at Rambouillet, and here, in the same Salle du Conseil, the dauphin renounced the throne in favour of the young Duc de Bordeaux.

It was at Rambouillet that Charles X passed those solemn last days before the abdication. He had been unmercifully harassed at Paris and sought a quiet retreat, "not too far from the Tuileries," where he might repose a moment and take counsel. In view of later events this was significant; perhaps it was significant at the time, for the king speedily repented his abdication. It was too late, for he had classed as rebels all the royalists who would have accepted the "infant king" as their monarch, even though the following Revolution prevented this.

It was on the third of August that the commissioners, deputies of the Provisionary Government, were brought before the king at Rambouillet. They announced that twenty-five thousand armed Parisians were marching on the chateau to compel him to quit his kingdom. It was not a matter for debate, and at nine o'clock on the same night the monarch gave assent to being conducted to Cherbourg, where he embarked upon his fatal exile.[Pg 318]

After 1830, with a business-like instinct, the authorities rented the property for twelve years to the Baron Schickler, and, at the end of the Revolution of 1848, its career became more plebeian still; it was rented to a man who converted the palace into an elaborately appointed road-house, and the lawns and groves into open-air restaurants and dancing places.

Under the Gouvernement du Juillet the chateau, the park and the forest were removed from the Civil List, and entered upon the inventory of the Administration des Domaines.

Under the Second Empire Rambouillet appeared again on the monarchial Civil List. Napoleon III came here at times to hunt, but not to live, and of his rare appearances at the chateau but little record exists. Since 1870 Rambouillet has belonged to the Republican Government, and, since royalties no longer exist in France, Republican chiefs of state now take the lead in Rambouillet's national hunts.

The property, as it stands to-day, is divided readily into four distinct parts, the palace, the parterre, the Jardin Anglais and the park. The grove of lindens is remarkable in every respect, the ornamental waters are gracious and of vast extent, and the Laiterie and the Ferme are decidedly models of their kind; but the Chau[Pg 319]mière des Coquillages, a rustic summer-house of rocks and shells and questionable débris of all sorts, is hideous and unworthy.

Not the least of the charming features of the park is the great alley of Louisiana cypresses, one of the real sights, indeed, perfecting the charm of the great body of water to the left of the chateau.

Of the structure which existed in the fourteenth century, the chateau of Rambouillet retains to-day only a great battlemented tower, and some low-lying buildings attached to it. Successive enlargements, restorations and mutilations have changed much of the original aspect of the edifice, and modern structures flank and half envelop that which, to all eyes, is manifestly ancient. The débris of the old fortress, which was the foundation of all, adds its bit to the conglomerate mass of which the chief and most imposing elements are the two tall corps de logis in the centre.

Within, a rather banal Salle de Bal is shown as the chief feature, but it is conventionally unlovely enough to be passed without emotion, save that its easterly portion takes in the cabinet, or private apartment, where Charles X signed his abdication. Adjoining this is the bedroom occupied by that monarch, and a dining-room[Pg 320] which also served His Majesty, and which is still used by the head of the government on ceremonious occasions. Its decorative scheme is of the period of Louis XV.

The Salle de Conseil is of the period of Charles X, and has some fairly imposing carved wainscotings showing in places the monograms of Marie Sophie and the Comtesse de Toulouse.

A great map, or plan, of the Forest of Rambouillet covers the end wall, and, if not esthetically beautiful, is at least useful and very interesting.

It was executed under Louis XVI and doubtless served its purpose well when the hunters gathered after a day afield and recounted anecdotes of their adventures.

There is another apartment on the ground floor which is known as the Salle à Manger des Rendezvous de Chasse, whose very name explains well its functions.

The Cabinet de Travail of Marie Antoinette and the Salle de Bain of Napoleon have something more than a mere sentimental interest; they were decidedly practical adjuncts to the royal palace.

Napoleon's bath took the form of a rather short, deep pool. Its fresco decorations, as seen to-day—replacing that family portrait gallery which Napoleon caused to be painted out[Pg 321]—are after the pseudo-antique manner and represent bird's-eye views of various French cities and towns, while a series of painted armorial trophies decorates the ceiling.

On the second floor are the apartments occupied by the Duchesse de Berry and those of the Duchesse d'Angouleme.

In the great round tower is the circular apartment where Francis I breathed his last. It is this great truss-vaulted room that most interests the visitor to Rambouillet.

On the ground floor is another Salle de Bain, quite as theatrically disposed as that of Napoleon. Its construction was due to the Comte de Toulouse whose taste ran to Delft tiles and polychrome panels, framing two imposing marines, also worked out in tiles.

The parterre, extending before the main building, is of an ampleness scarcely conceivable until once viewed. It is purely French in design and is of the epoch of the tenancy of the Comte de Toulouse. Before the admirably grouped lindens was a boathouse, and off in every direction ran alleys of acacias, while here and there tulip beds, rose gardens and hedges of rhododendrons flanked the very considerable ornamental waters. This body of water, in the form of a trapezoid, is divided by four grass-grown islets and separates[Pg 322] the Jardin Anglais from the Jardin Français. One of the islets is known as the Ile des Roches and contains the Grotte de Rabelais, so named in honour of the Curé of Meudon, when he was presented at Rambouillet by the Cardinal du Bellay. It was on this isle that were given those famous fêtes in honour of the "beaux esprits" who formed the assiduous cortège of Catherine de Vivonne, mythological, pagan and outré.

The Jardin Anglais at Rambouillet is the final expression of the species in France. Designed under the Duc de Penthièvre, it was restored and considerably enlarged by Napoleon and, following the contours of an artificial rivulet, it fulfils the description that its name implies.

More remote, and half hidden from the precincts of the chateau, are the Chaumière and the Ermitage and they recall the background of a Fragonard or a Watteau. It is all very "stagy"—but, since it exists, can hardly be called unreal.

The park proper, containing more than twelve hundred hectares, is one of the largest and most thickly wooded in France. Between the parterre and the French and English garden and the park lie the Farm and the Laiterie de la Reine, the caprice of Louis XVI when he would content Marie Antoinette and give her something to think about besides her troubles. Napoleon stripped[Pg 323] it of its furnishings to install them, for a great part, at Malmaison, for that other unhappy woman—Josephine. Later, to give pleasure to Marie Louise, he ordered them brought back again to Rambouillet, but it was to Napoleon III that the restoration of this charming conceit was due.

In the neighbourhood of Rambouillet was the famous Chateau de Chasse, or royal shooting-box, which Louis XV was fond of making a place of rendezvous.

On the banks of the Étang de Pourras stood this Chateau de Saint Hubert, named for the patron saint of huntsmen, and within its walls was passed many a happy evening by king and courtiers after a busy day with stag and hound.

The hunt in France was perhaps at the most picturesque phase of its existence at this time. The hunt of to-day is but a pale, though bloody, imitation of the real sport of the days when monarchs and their seigneurs in slashed doublet and hose and velvet cloaks pursued the deer of the forest to his death, and knew not the maitre d'equipage of to-day.[Pg 324]


CHAPTER XX

CHANTILLY

Chantilly, because of its royal associations, properly finds its place in every traveller's French itinerary. Not only did Chantilly come to its great glory through royal favour, but in later years the French government has taken it under its wing, the chateau, the stables and the vast park and forest, until the ensemble is to-day as much of a national show place as Versailles or Saint Germain. It is here in the marble halls, where once dwelt the Condés and the Montmorencys, that are held each year the examinations of the French Académie des Beaux Arts. And besides this it is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of tourists who, as a class, for a couple of generations previously, never got farther away from the capital than Saint Cloud.

[Pg 325]

Many charters of the tenth century make mention of the estates of Chantilly, which at that time belonged to the Seigneurs of Senlis. The chateau was an evolution from a block-house, or fortress, erected by Catulus in Gallo-[Pg 326]Roman times and four centuries later it remained practically of the same rank. In the fourteenth century the chateau was chiefly a vast fortress surrounded by a water defence in the form of an enlarged moat by means of which it was able to resist the Bourguignons and never actually fell until after the taking of Meaux by the English king, Henry V.

Statue of Le Notre, Chantilly Statue of Le Notre, Chantilly

Jean II de Montmorency, by his marriage with Marguerite d'Orgemont, came to be the possessor of the domain, their son, in turn, becoming the heir. It was this son, Guillaume, who became one of the most brilliant servitors of the monarchs Louis XI, Louis XII, and Francis I, and it was through these friends at court that Chantilly first took on its regal aspect.

In turn the celebrated Anne de Montmorency, Connetable de France, came into the succession and finding the old fortress, albeit somewhat enlarged and furbished up by his predecessor, less of a palatial residence than he would have, separated the ancient chateau-fort from an added structure by an ornamental moat, or canal, and laid out the pelouse, parterres and the alleys of greensward leading to the forest which make one of the great charms of Chantilly to-day.

Here resided, as visitors to be sure, but for[Pg 327] more or less extended periods, and at various times, Charles V, Charles IX and Henri IV, each of them guests of the hospitable and ambitious Montmorencys.

Chantilly passed in 1632 to Charlotte, the sister of the last Maréchal de Montmorency, the wife of Henri II, Prince de Condé, the mother of the Grand Condé, the Prince de Conti and the Duchesse de Longueville.

With the Grand Condé came the greatest fame, the apotheosis, of Chantilly. This noble was so enamoured of this admirable residence that he never left it from his thoughts and decorated it throughout in the most lavish taste of his time, destroying at this epoch the chateau of the moyen-age and the fortress. These were the days of gallant warriors with a taste for pretty things in art, not mere bloodthirsty slaughterers.

On the foundations of the older structures there now rose an admirable pile (not that which one sees to-day, however), embellished by the surroundings which were evolved from the brain of the landscape gardener, Le Notre. The Revolution made way with this lavish structure and with the exception of the Chatelet, or the Petit Chateau (designed by Jean Bullant in 1560, and remodelled within by Mansart) the present-day work is a creation of the Duc d'Aumale,[Pg 328] the heir to the Condés' name and fame, to whom the National Assembly gave back his ancestral estates which had in the meantime come into the inventory of royal belongings through the claims established by the might of the Second Empire.

Back to the days of the Grand Condé one reads of an extended visit made by Louis XIV to his principal courtier. It was at an expense of two hundred thousand écus that the welcoming fête was accomplished. Madame de Sévigné has recounted the event more graphically than any other chronicler, and it would be presumption to review it here at length. The incident of Vatel alone has become classic.

To the coterie of poets at Rambouillet must be added those of Chantilly; their sojourn here added much of moment to the careers and reputations of Boileau, Racine, Bourdaloue and Bossuet. It was the latter, who, in the funeral oration which he delivered on the death of the Prince de Condé, said:

"Here under his own roof one saw the Grand Condé as if he were at the head of his armies, a noble always great, as well in action as in repose. Here you have seen him surrounded by his friends in this magnificent dwelling, in the shady alleys of the forest or beside the purling[Pg 329] waters of the brooks which are silent neither day nor night."

The Grand Condé died, however, at Fontainebleau. The heir, Henri-Jules de Bourbon, did his share towards keeping up and embellishing the property, and to him was due that charming wildwood retreat known as the Parc de Sylvie.

Louis-Henri de Bourbon, Minister of Louis XV at the commencement of his reign, had gained a fabulous sum of money in the notorious "Law's Bank" affair, and, with a profligate and prodigal taste in spending, lived a life of the grandest of grand seigneurs at Chantilly, to which, as his donation to its architectural importance, he contributed the famous Écuries, or stables. To show that he was persona grata at court he gave a great fête here for Louis XV and the Duchesse du Barry.

The last Prince de Condé but one before the Revolution built the Chateau d'Enghien in the neighbourhood, and sought to people the Parc de Sylvie with a rustic colony of thatched maisonettes and install his favourites therein in a weak imitation of what had been done in the Petit Trianon. The note was manifestly a false one and did not endure, not even is its echo plainly audible for all is hearsay to-day and no very definite record of the circumstance exists.[Pg 330]

Chantilly in later times has been a favourite abode with modern monarchs. The King of Denmark, the Emperor Joseph II and the King of Sweden were given hospitality here, and much money was spent for their entertainment, and much red and green fire burned for their amusement and that of their suites.

The Revolution's fell blow carried off the principal parts of the Condé's admirable constructions and it is fortunate that the Petit Chateau escaped the talons of the "Bande Noire." Immediately afterwards the Chateau d'Enghien and the Écuries were turned over to the uses of the Minister of War, and the authorities of the Jardin des Plantes were given permission to transplant and transport anything which pleased their fancy among the exotics which had been set out by Le Notre in Chantilly's famous parterres.

Under the imperial régime the Forêt de Chantilly was given in fee simple to Queen Hortense, though all was ultimately returned to the Condé heirs after the Restoration. It was at this period that Chantilly received the visit of Alexander, Emperor of Russia, and the historian's account of that visit makes prominent the fact that during the periods of rain it was necessary that an umbrella be carried over the imperial head as[Pg 331] he passed through the corridors of the palace from one apartment to another.

The host of the emperor died here in 1818 and his son, spending perhaps half of his time here, cared little for restoration and spent all his waking hours hunting in the forest, returning to the Petit Chateau only to eat and sleep.

The Duc de Bourbon added to the flanking wings of the Petit Chateau and cleaned up the débris which was fast becoming moss-grown, weed encumbered and altogether disgraceful. The moats were cleaned out of their miasmatic growth and certain of the grass-carpeted parterres resown and given a semblance of their former selves.

Some days after the Revolution of 1830 the Prince de Condé died in a most dramatic fashion, and his son, the Duc d'Enghien, having been shot at Vincennes under the Empire, he willed the Duc d'Aumale and his issue his legal descendants forever.

Towards 1840 the Duc d'Aumale sought to reconstruct the splendours of Chantilly, but a decree of January 22, 1852, banished the entire Orleans family and interrupted the work when the property was sold to the English bankers, Coutts and Company, for the good round sum of eleven million francs, not by any means an[Pg 332] extravagant price for this estate of royal aspect and proportions. The National Assembly of 1872 did the only thing it could do in justice to tradition—bought the property in and decreed that it be restored to its legitimate proprietor.

It was as late as 1876 that the Duc d'Aumale undertook the restoration of the Chatelet and the rebuilding of the new chateau which is seen to-day. The latter is from the designs of Henri Daumet, member of the Institut de France.

In general the structure of to-day occupies the site of the moyen-age chateau but is of quite a different aspect.

The Duc d'Aumale made a present of the chateau and all that was contained therein to the Institut de France. From a purely sordid point of view it was a gift valued at something like thirty-five million francs, not so great as many new-world public legacies of to-day, but in certain respects of a great deal more artistic worth.

The mass is manifestly imposing, made up as it is, of four distinct parts, the Eglise, dating from 1692, the Écuries, the Chatelet—or Petit Chateau, and the Chateau proper—the modern edifice.

Before the celebrated Écuries is a green, velvety pelouse which gives an admirable approach. The architecture of the Écuries is of a heavy[Pg 333] order and the sculptured decorations actually of little esthetic worth, representing as they do hunting trophies and the like. Before the great fountain one deciphers a graven plaque which reads as follows:

Louis Henri de Bourbon
Prince de Condé
Fut Construire Cette Écurie
1701-1784.

Within the two wings may be stabled nearly two hundred horses. The Grand Écuries at Chantilly are assuredly one of the finest examples extant of that luxuriant art of the eighteenth century French builder. Luxurious, excessively ornate and overpowering it is, and, for that reason, open to question. The work of the period knew not the discreet middle road. It was of Chantilly that it was said that the live stock was better lodged than its masters. The architect of this portion of the chateau was Jean Aubert, one of the collaborators of Jules Hardouin Mansart.

The characteristics of Chantilly, take it as a whole, the chateau, the park and the forest, are chiefly theatrical, but with an all-abiding regard for the proprieties, for beyond a certain heaviness of architectural style in parts of the chateau everything is of the finely focussed rel[Pg 334]ative order of which the French architect and landscape gardener have for ages been past masters.

The real French garden is here to be seen almost at its best, its squares and ovals of grassy green apportioned off from the mass by gravelled walks and ornamented waters. The "tapis d'orient" effect, so frequently quoted by the French in writing of such works, is hardly excelled elsewhere.

All this shocked the mid-eighteenth century English traveller, but it was because he did not, perhaps could not, understand. Rigby, "the Norwich alderman" as the French rather contemptuously referred to this fine old English gentleman, said frankly of Chantilly: "All this has cost dear and produced a result far from pleasing." He would have been better pleased doubtless with a privet or box hedge and an imitation plaster rockery, things which have never agreed with French taste, but which were the rule in pretentious English gardens of the same period. Rigby must indeed have been a "grincheau," as the French called him, for this same up-country gentleman said of Versailles: "Lovely surrounding country but palace and park badly designed." Versailles is not that, whatever else its faults may be.[Pg 335]

Chantilly is more than a palace, it is a museum of nature, a hermitage of art and of history. The fantasy of its tourelles, its lucarnes and its pignons are something one may hardly see elsewhere in such profusion, and the fact that they are modern is forgotten in the impression of the general silhouette.

The adventurer who first built a donjon on the Rocher de Chantilly little knew with what seigneurial splendour the site was ultimately to be graced. From a bare outpost it was transformed, as if by magic, into a Renaissance palace of a supreme beauty. The Duc d'Aumale said in his "Acte de Donation de Chantilly": "It stands complete and varied, a monument of French art in all its branches, a history of the best epochs of our glory."

Among all the palatial riches neighbouring upon Paris, not forgetting Versailles, Compiègne, Fontainebleau, Pierrefonds and Rambouillet, Chantilly, by the remarkable splendour of its surroundings, its situation and the artistic treasures which it possesses, is in a class by itself. It is a class more clearly defined by the historic souvenirs which surround it than any other contemporary structure of this part of France.

Its corridors and gravelled walks and the long alleys of the park and forest may not take on[Pg 336] the fête-like aspect which they knew in the eighteenth century, but they are not solitary like those of Fontainebleau and Rambouillet, nor noisily overrun like those of Versailles or Saint Germain.

The ornamental waters which surround the Chateau de Chantilly are of a grand and nearly unique beauty. It is a question if they are not finer than the waters of Versailles, indeed they preceded them and may even have inspired them.

Chateau de Chantilly Chateau de Chantilly

The Chatelet, the chateau proper and the chapel form a group quite distinct from the Écuries. The Cour d'Honneur is really splendid and one hardly realizes the juxtaposition of modernity. The pavilion attributed to Jean Bullant, the western façade, the ancient Petit Chateau, the Grand Vestibule, the Grand Escalier and the Gallerie des Cerfs and a dozen other apartments are of a rare and imposing beauty, though losing somewhat their distinctive aspect by reason of the objets de musée distributed about their walls and floors.

One of the landscape gems of Chantilly is the Pelouse, a vast esplanade of greensward now forming, in part, the celebrated race track of Chantilly. Sport ever formed a part of the outdoor program at Chantilly, but that of to-[Pg 337]day is just a bit more horsey than that of old, a good deal less picturesque and assuredly more vulgarly banal as to its cachet than the hunts, the tourneys and courses of the romantic age.

Thousands come to Chantilly to wager their coin on scrubs and dark horses ridden by third-rate "warned-off" jockeys from other lands, but probably not ten in ten thousand of the lookers on at the Grand Prix du Jockey Club in May ever make the occasion of the spring meeting an opportunity for visiting the fine old historic monument of the Condés.

The "Races" of Chantilly may be given a further word in that they are an outgrowth of a foundation by the Duc d'Orleans in 1832. The track forms a circuit of two thousand metres, and occupies quite the best half of the Pelouse, closed in on one side by the thick-grown Forêt de Chantilly and flanked, in part, on the other by the historic Écuries, with the Tribune, or grand stand, just to the south.

Many tourists arrive at Chantilly by auto, stop brusquely before the Grande Grille, rush through the galleries of the chateau, do "cent pas" in the park, give a cursory glance at the stables and are off; but more, many more, with slower steps and saner minds, drink in the charms which are offered on all sides and consider[Pg 338] the time well spent even if they have paid "Boulevard Prices" at the Restaurant du Grand Condé for their dejeuner.

It has been said that a museum is a reunion of objets d'art brought about by a methodical grouping, either chronologically or categorically. The Duc d'Aumale's Musée de Chantilly is more an expression of personal taste. He collected what he wished and he arranged his collections as suited his fancy.

The famous Musée de Chantilly, which is the lodestone which draws most folk thither, so admirably housed, was a gift of the Duc d'Aumale who, for the glory of his ancestors, and the admiration of the world, to say nothing of his own personal satisfaction, here gathered together an eclectic collection of curious and artistic treasures, certainly not the least interesting or valuable among the great public collections in France. The effect produced is sometimes startling, a Messonier is cheek by jowl with a Baron Gros, a Decamps vis à vis to a Veronese, and a Lancret is bolstered on either hand by a Poussin and a Nattier. Amid all this disorder there is, however, an undeniable, inexplicable charm.

There are three distinct apartments worth, more than all the others, the glance of the hurried[Pg 339] visitor to the Musée Condé at Chantilly. In the first, the Santuario, is the Livre d'Heures of Etienne Chevalier, by Jean Fouquet, considered as the most important relic of primitive French art extant.

The Cabinet des Gemmes comes second, and here is the celebrated "Diamant Rose," called the Grand Condé.

Finally there is the Galerie de Psyche, with forty-four coloured glass windows, executed for the Connetable de Montmorency in 1541-1542.

The great collection of historical and artistic treasures stowed away within the walls of Chantilly the Duc d'Aumale selected himself in order to associate his own name with the glorious memory of the Condés, who were so intimately connected with the chateau.

The Duc sought to recover such of the former furnishings of the chateau as had been dissipated during the Revolution whenever they could be heard of and could be had at public or private sale.

In this connection a word on Chantilly lace may not be found inapropos. The Chantilly lace of to-day, it is well to recall, is a mechanically produced article of commerce, turned out by the running mile from Nottingham, England, though in the days when Chantilly's porcelains[Pg 340] rivalled those of Sevres it was purely a local product. One may well argue therefore that the bulk of the Chantilly lace sold in the shops of Chantilly to-day is not on a par with the admirable examples to be seen in the glass cases of the museum.

A wooded alley leading to the great park runs between the main edifice and the Chateau d'Enghien, a gentle incline descending again to the sunken gardens in a monumental stairway of easy slope, the whole a quintessence of much that is best of the art of the landscape gardener of the time.

To the left extends the vast Jardin Anglais—a veritable French Jardin Anglais. Let not one overlook the distinction: On conventional lines it is pretty, dainty and pleasing, but the species lacks the dignified formality of the Italian garden or the ingenious arrangement of the French. Its curves and ovals and circles are annoying after the lignes droites and the right angles and the broderies of the French variety.

The Forêt de Chantilly covers two thousand four hundred and forty-nine hectares and extends from the Bois de Hérivaux on one side to the Forêt de Senlis on the other. The rendezvous-de-chasse was, in the old days, and is to-day on rare occasions, at the Rond Point, to which[Pg 341] a dozen magnificent forest roads lead from all directions, that from the town being paved with Belgian blocks, the dread of automobilists, but delightful to ride over in muddy weather. The Route de Connetable, so called, is well-nigh ideal of its kind. It launches forth opposite the chateau and at its entrance are two flanking stone lions. It is of a soft soil suitable for horseback riding, but entirely unsuited for wheeled traffic of any kind.

Another of the great forest roads leads to the Chateau de la Reine Blanche, a diminutive edifice in the pointed style, with a pair of svelte towers coiffed candle-snuffer fashion. Tradition, and very ancient and somewhat dubious tradition, attributes the edifice as having belonged to Blanche de Navarre, the wife of Philippe de Valois. Again it is thought to have been a sort of royal attachment to the Abbaye de Royaumont, built near by, by Saint Louis. This quaintly charming manor of minute dimensions was a tangible, habitable abode in 1333, but for generations after appears to have fallen into desuetude. A mill grew up on the site, and again the walls of a chateau obliterated the more mundane, work-a-day mill. The Duc de Bourbon restored the whole place in 1826 that it might serve him and his noble friends as a hunting-lodge.[Pg 342]


CHAPTER XXI

COMPIÉGNE AND ITS FOREST

One of the most talked of and the least visited of the minor French palaces is that of Compiègne. The archeologists coming to Compiègne first notice that all its churches are "malorientées." It is a minor point with most folk, but when one notes that its five churches have their high altars turned to all points of the compass, instead of to the east, it is assuredly a fact to be noticed, even if one is more romantically inclined than devout.

Through and through, Compiègne, its palace, its hotel-de-ville, its forest, is delightful. Old and new huddle close together, and the art nouveau decorations of a branch of a great Parisian department store flank a butcher's stall which looks as though it might have come down from the times when all trading was done in the open air.

Compiègne's origin goes back to the antique. It was originally Compendium, a Roman station situated on the highway between Soissons and Beauvais. A square tower, Cæsar's Tower,[Pg 343] gave a military aspect to the walled and fortified station, and evidences are not wanting to-day to suggest with what strength its fortifications were endowed.

View larger image

It was here that the first Frankish kings built their dwelling, and here that Pepin-le-Bref received the gracious gift of an organ from the[Pg 344] Emperor Constantine, and here, in 833, that an assembly of bishops and nobles deposed Louis-le-Débonnaire.

Charles-le-Chauve received Pope Jean VIII in great pomp in the palace at Compiègne, and it was this Pope who gave absolution to Louis-le-Begue, who died here but a year after, 879. The last of the Carlovingians, Louis V (le-Faineant), died also at Compiègne in 987.

The city is thus shown to have been a favourite place of sojourn for the kings of the Franks, and those of the first and second races. As was but obvious many churchly councils were held here, fourteen were recorded in five centuries, but none of great ecclesiastical or civil purport.

The city first got its charter in 1153, but the Merovingian city having fallen into a sort of galloping decay Saint Louis gave it to the Dominicans in 1260, who here founded, by the orders of the king, a Hotel Dieu which, in part, is the same edifice which performs its original functions to-day.

The first great love of Compiègne was expressed by Charles V, who rebuilt the palace of Charles-le-Chauve in a manner which was far from making it a monumental or artistically disposed edifice. It was originally called the[Pg 345] Louvre, from the Latin word opus (l'œuvre), a word which was applied to all the chateaux-forts of these parts. The same monarch did better with the country-houses which he afterwards built at Saint Germain and Vincennes; perhaps by this time he had grown wise in his dealings with architects.

Like all the little towns of the Valois, Compiègne abounds in souvenirs of the Guerre de Cent Ans, Jeanne d'Arc, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Napoleon I and Napoleon III, and as its monuments attest this glory, so its forest, one of the finest in France, awakens almost as many historical memories.

Wars and rumors of war kept Compiègne in a turmoil for centuries, but the most theatrical episode was the famous "sortie" made by Jeanne d'Arc when she was attempting to defend the city against the combined English and Burgundian troops. It was an episode in which faint heart, perhaps treason, played an unwelcome part, for while the gallant maid was taking all manner of chances outside the gates the military governor, Guillaume de Flavy, ordered the barriers of the great portal closed behind her and her men.

Near the end of the Pont de Saint Louis Jeanne d'Arc fell into the hands of the besiegers. An[Pg 346] archer from Picardy captured her single handed, and, for a round sum in silver or in kind, turned her over to her torturer, Jean de Luxembourg. A statue of the maid is found on the public "Place," and the Tour Jeanne d'Arc, a great circular donjon of the thirteenth century, is near by. Another souvenir is to be found in the ancient Hotel de Bœuf, at No. 9 Rue de Paris, where the maid lodged from the eighteenth to the twenty-third of August, 1429, awaiting the entry of Charles VII.

With the era of Francis I that gallant and fastidious monarch came to take up his residence at Compiègne. He here received his "friend and enemy," Charles V, but strangely enough there is no monument in Compiègne to-day which is intimately associated with the stay here of the art-loving Francis. He preferred, after all, his royal manor at Villers-Cotterets near by. There was more privacy there, and it formed an admirable retreat for such moments when the king did not wish to bask in publicity, and these moments were many, though one might not at first think so when reading of his affairs of state. There were also affairs of the heart which, to him, in many instances, were quite as important. This should not be forgotten.[Pg 347]

In 1624 a treaty was signed at Compiègne which assured the alliance of Louis XIII with the United Provinces, and during this reign the court was frequently in residence here. In 1631 Marie de Médici, then a prisoner in the palace, made a notable escape and fled, doomed ever afterwards to a vagabond existence, a terrible fall for her once proud glory, to her death in a Cologne garret ten years later.

In 1635 the Grand Chancellor of Sweden signed a treaty here which enabled France to mingle in the affairs of the Thirty Years' War.

During the Fronde, that "Woman's War," which was so entirely unnecessary, Anne d'Autriche held her court in the Palace of Compiègne and received Christine de Suede on certain occasions when that royal lady's costume was of such a grotesque nature, and her speech so chevaleresque, that she caused even a scandal in a profligate court. Anne d'Autriche, too, left Compiègne practically a prisoner; another ménage à trois had been broken up.

The most imposing event in the history of Compiègne of which the chronicles tell was the assembling of sixty thousand men beneath the walls by Louis XIV, in order to give Madame de Maintenon a realistic exhibition of "playing soldiers." At all events the demonstration was[Pg 348] a bloodless one, and an immortal page in Saint-Simon's "Memoires" consecrates this gallantry of a king in a most subtle manner.

Another fair lady, a royal favourite, too, came on the scene at Compiègne in 1769 when Madame du Barry was the principal artiste in the great fête given in her honour by Louis XV. She was lodged in a tiny chateau (built originally for Madame de Pompadour) a short way out of town on the Soissons road.

Du Barry must have been a good fairy to Compiègne for Louis XV lavished an abounding care on the chateau and, rather than allow the architect, Jacques Ange Gabriel, have the free hand that his counsellors advised, sought to have the ancient outlines of the former structure on the site preserved and thus present to posterity through the newer work the two monumental façades which are to be seen to-day. The effort was not wholly successful, for the architect actually did carry out his fancy with respect to the decoration in the same manner in which he had designed the École Militaire at Paris and the two colonnaded edifices facing upon the Place de la Concorde.

This work was entirely achieved when Louis XVI took possession. This monarch, in 1780, caused to be fitted up a most elaborate apartment[Pg 349] for the queen (his marriage with Marie Antoinette was consecrated here), but that indeed was all the hand he had in the work of building at Compiègne, which has practically endured as his predecessor left it. The Revolution and Consulate used the chateau as their fancy willed, and rather harshly, but in 1806 its restoration was begun and Charles IV of Spain, upon his dethronement by Napoleon, was installed therein a couple of years later.

The palace, the park and the forest now became a sort of royal appanage of this Spanish monarch, which Napoleon, in a generous spirit, could well afford to will him. He lived here some months and then left precipitately for Marseilles.

Napoleon affected a certain regard for this palatial property, though only occupying it at odd moments. He embellished its surroundings, above all its gardens, in a most lavish manner. Virtually, all things considered, Compiègne is a Palais Napoleonien, and if one would study the style of the Empire at its best the thing may be done at Compiègne.

On July 30, 1814, Louis XVIII and Alexander of Russia met at Compiègne amid a throng of Paris notabilities who had come thither for the occasion.

Charles X loved to hunt in the forest of Com[Pg 350]piègne. In 1832, one of the daughters of Louis-Philippe, the Princesse Louise, was married to the King of the Belgians in this palace.

From 1852 to 1870 the palace and its grounds were the scenes of many imperial fêtes.

Napoleon III had for Compiègne a particular predilection. The prince-president, in 1852, installed himself here for the autumn season, and among his guests was that exquisite blond beauty, Eugenie Montijo, who, the year after, was to become the empress of the French. Faithful to the memory of his uncle, by reason of a romantic sentiment, the Third Napoleon came frequently to Compiègne; or perhaps it was because of the near-by hunt, for he was a passionate disciple of Saint Hubert. It was his Versailles!

The palace of Compiègne as seen to-day presents all the classic coldness of construction of the reign of Louis XV. Its lines were severe and that the building was inspired by a genius is hard to believe, though in general it is undeniably impressive. Frankly, it is a mocking, decadent eighteenth century architecture that presents itself, but of such vast proportions that one sets it down as something grand if not actually of surpassing good taste.

In general the architecture of the palace presents at first glance a coherent unit, though in[Pg 351] reality it is of several epochs. Its furnishings within are of different styles and periods, not all of them of the best. Slender gold chairs, false reproductions of those of the time of Louis XV, and some deplorable tapestries huddle close upon elegant "bergères" of Louis XVI, and sofas, tables and bronzes of master artists and craftsmen are mingled with cheap castings unworthy of a stage setting in a music hall. A process of adroit eviction will some day be necessary to bring these furnishings up to a consistent plane of excellence.

One of the façades is nearly six hundred feet in length, with forty-nine windows stretching out in a single range. It might be the front of an automobile factory if it were less ornate, or that of an exposition building were it more beautiful. In some respects it is reminiscent of the Palais Royal at Paris, particularly as to the entrance colonnade and gallery facing the Louvre.

The chief beauty within is undoubtedly the magnificent stairway, with its balustrade of wrought iron of the period of Louis XVI. The Salle de Spectacle is of a certain Third Empire-Louis Napoleon distinction, which is saying that it is neither very lovely nor particularly plain, simply ordinary, or, to give it a French turn of phrase, vulgar.[Pg 352]

One of the most remarkable apartments is the Salle des Cartes, the old salon of the Aides de Camp, whose walls are ornamented with three great plans showing the roads and by-paths of the forest, and other decorative panels representing the hunt of the time of Louis XV.

Napoleon's Bedchamber, Compiègne Napoleon's Bedchamber, Compiègne

The Chambre à Coucher of the great Napoleon is perhaps the most interesting of all the smaller apartments, with its strange bed, which in form more nearly resembles an oriental divan than anything European. Doubtless it is not uncomfortable as a bed, but it looks more like a tent, or camp, in the open, than anything essentially intended for domestic use within doors. After the great Napoleon, his nephew Napoleon III was its most notable occupant, though it was last slept in by the Tzar Nicholas II, when he visited France in 1901.

The sleeping-room of the Empress Eugenie is fitted up after the style of the early Empire with certain interpolations of the mid-nineteenth century. The most distinct feature here is the battery of linen coffers which Marie Louise had had especially designed and built. The Salon des Dames d'Honneur, with its double rank of nine "scissors chairs," the famous tabourets de cour, lined up rigidly before the canapé on which the empress rested, is certainly a re[Pg 353]markable apartment. This was the decor of convention that Madame Sans Gene rendered classic.

Like all the French national palaces Compiègne has a too abundant collection of Sevres vases set about in awkward corners which could not otherwise be filled, and, beginning with the vestibule, this thing is painfully apparent.

The apartments showing best the Napoleonic style in decorations and furnishings are the Salon des Huissiers, the Salle des Gardes, the Escalier d'Apollon, the Salle de Don Quichotte—which contains a series of designs destined to have served for a series of tapestries intended to depict scenes in the life of the windmill knight—the Galerie des Fêtes, the Galerie des Cerfs, the Salle Coypel, the Salle des Stucs and the Salon des Fleurs, through which latter one approaches the royal apartments.

In the sixteenth century, or, more exactly, between 1502 and 1510, was constructed Compiègne's handsome Hotel de Ville, one of the most delightful architectural mixtures of Gothic and Renaissance extant. It is an architectural monument of the same class as the Palais de Justice at Rouen or the Hotel Cluny at Paris. Its frontispiece is marvellous, the rez-de-chaussée less gracious than the rest perhaps, but with the[Pg 354] first story blooming forth as a gem of magnificent proportions and setting. Between the four windows of this first story are posed statuesque effigies of Charles VII, Jeanne d'Arc, Saint Rémy and Louis IX. In the centre, in a niche, is an equestrian statue of Louis XII, who reigned when this monument was being built. A balustrade à jour finishes off this story, which, in turn, is overhung with a high, peaked gable, and above rise the belfry and its spire, of which the great clock dates from 1303, though only put into place in 1536. The only false note is sounded by the two insignificant, cold and unlovely wings which flank the main structure on either side.

It is a sixteenth century construction unrivalled of its kind in all France, more like a Belgian town-hall belfry than anything elsewhere to be seen outside Flanders, but it is not of the low Spanish-Renaissance order as are so many of the imposing edifices of occidental and oriental Flanders. It is a blend of Gothic and Renaissance, and, what is still more rare, the best of Gothic and the best of Renaissance. Above its façade is a civic belfry, flanked by two slender towers. Within the portal-vestibule rises a monumental stairway which must have been the inspiration of many a builder of modern opera-houses.[Pg 355]

Opposite the Hotel Dieu is the poor, rent relic of the Tour de Jeanne d'Arc, originally a cylindrical donjon of the twelfth century, wherein "La Pucelle" was imprisoned in 1430.

Between the palace and the river are to be seen many vestiges of the mediæval ramparts of the town, and here and there a well-defined base of a gateway or tower. Mediævalism is rampant throughout Compiègne.

The park surrounding the palace is quite distinct from the wider radius of the Fôret de Compiègne. It is of the secular, conventional order, and its perspectives, looking towards the forest from the terrace and vice versa, are in all ways satisfying to the eye.

One of the most striking of these alleyed vistas was laid out under the orders of the first Napoleon in 1810. It loses itself in infinity, almost, its horizon blending with that of the far distant Beaux Monts in the heart of the forest.

In the immediate neighbourhood of the palace are innumerable statues, none of great beauty, value or distinction. On the south side runs a Cours, or Prado, as it would be called in Catalonia. The word Cours is of Provençal origin, and how it ever came to be transplanted here is a mystery. Still here it is, a great tree-shaded promenade running to the river. The climate[Pg 356] of Compiègne is never so blazing hot as to make this Cours so highly appreciated as its namesakes in the Midi, but as an exotic accessory to the park it is quite a unique delight.

Within the park may still be traced the outlines of the moat which surrounded the palace of Charles V, as well as some scanty remains of the same period.

Cours de Compiègne Cours de Compiègne

Another distinctive feature is the famous Berceau en Fer, an iron trellis several thousands of feet in length, which was built by Napoleon I as a reminder to Marie Louise of a similar, but smaller, garden accessory which she had known at Schoenbrunn. It was a caprice, if you like, and rather a futile one since it was before the time when artistically worthless things were the rage just because of their gigantic proportions. Napoleon III cut it down in part, and pruned it to more esthetic proportions, and what there is left, vine and flower grown, is really charming.

The Forêt de Compiègne as a historic wildwood goes back to the Druids who practiced their mysterious rites under its antique shade centuries before the coming of the kings, who later called it their own special hunting preserve. Stone hatchets, not unlike the tomahawks of the red man, have been found and traced back—well, definitely to the Stone Age,[Pg 357] and supposedly to the time when they served the Druids for their sacrifices.

The soldiers of Cæsar came later and their axes were of iron or copper, and though on the warpath, too, their way was one which was supposed to lead civilization into the wilderness. Innumerable traces of the Roman occupation are to be found in the forest by those who know how to read the signs; twenty-five different localities have been marked down by the archeologists as having been stations on the path blazed by the Legions of Rome.

After the Romans came the first of the kings as proprietors of the forest, and in the moyen-age the monks, the barons and the crown itself shared equally the rights of the forest.

Legends of most weird purport are connected with various points scattered here and there throughout the forest, as at the Fosse Dupuis and the Table Ronde, where a sort of "trial by fire" was held by the barons whenever a seigneur among them had conspired against another. Ariosto, gathering many of his legends from the works of the old French chroniclers, did not disdain to make use of the Forêt de Compiègne as a stage setting.

During the reign of Clothaire the forest was known as the Forêt de Cuise, because of a royal[Pg 358] palace hidden away among the Druid oaks which bore the name of Cotia, or Cusia. Until 1346 the palace existed in some form or other, though shorn of royal dignities. It was at this period that Philippe VI divided the forests of the Valois into three distinct parts in order to better regulate their exploitation.

The Frankish kings being, it would seem, inordinately fond of la chasse the Forêt de Compiègne, in the spring and autumn, became their favorite rendezvous. Alcuin, the historian, noted this fact in the eighth century, and described this earliest of royal hunts in some detail. In 715 the forest was the witness of a great battle between the Austrasians and the Neustrians.

Before Francis I with his habitual initiative had pierced the eight great forest roads which come together at the octagon called the Puits du Roi, the forest was not crossed by any thoroughfare; the nearest thing thereto was the Chaussée de Brunhaut, a Roman way which bounded it on the south and east.

Louis XIV and Louis XV, in turn, cut numerous roads and paths, and to the latter were due the crossroads known as the Grand Octagone and the Petit Octagone.

It was over one of these great forest roads, that leading to Soissons, that Marie Louise,[Pg 359] accompanied by a cortège of three hundred persons, eighty conveyances and four hundred and fifty horses, journeyed in a torrential rain, in March 1807, when she came to France to found a dynasty.

A marriage had been consummated by procuration at Vienna, and she set out to actually meet her future spouse for the first time at Soissons. At the little village of Courcelles, on the edge of the forest between Soissons and Compiègne, two men enveloped in great protecting cloaks had arrived post-haste from Compiègne. At the parish church they stopped a moment and took shelter under the porch, impatiently scanning the horizon. Finally a lumbering berlin de voyage lurched into view, drawn by eight white horses. In its depths were ensconced two women richly dressed, one a beautiful woman of mature years, the other a young girl scarce eighteen years.

The most agitated of the men, he who was clad in a gray redingote, sprang hastily to the carriage door. He was introduced by the older woman as "Sa Majesté l'Empereur des Françaises, mon frere." The speaker was one of the sisters of Napoleon, Caroline, Queen of Naples; the other was the Archduchess Marie Louise, daughter of Franz II, Emperor of Austria.[Pg 360]

An imposing ceremonial had been planned for Soissons and the court had been ordered to set out from Compiègne with the emperor, in order to arrive at Soissons in due time. When the actual signal for the departure was given the emperor was nowhere to be found. As usual he had anticipated things.

For weeks before the arrival of the empress to be Napoleon had passed the majority of his waking hours at Paris in the apartments which he had caused to be prepared for Marie Louise. He selected the colour of the furnishings, and superintended the very placing of the furniture. Among other things he had planned a boudoir which alone represented an expenditure of nearly half a million francs.

Lejeune, who had accompanied Maréchal Berthier to Vienna to arrange the marriage, had returned and given his imperial master a glowing description of the charms of the young archduchess who was to be his bride. The emperor compared his ideal with her effigy on medals and miniatures and then worked even more ardently than before that her apartments should be worthy of her when she arrived.

It was just following upon this fever of excitement that Napoleon and the court had repaired to Compiègne. So restless was the emperor that[Pg 361] he could hardly bide the time when the archduchess should arrive, and it was thus that he set out with Murat to meet the approaching cortège.

The pavilion which had been erected for the meeting was left to the citizens of the neighbourhood, and the marvellous banquet which had been prepared by Bausset was likewise abandoned. Napoleon had no time to think of dining.

All the roadside villages between Soissons and Compiègne were hung with banners, and the populace appeared to be as highly excited as the contracting parties. It still rained a deluge, but this made no difference. Two couriers at full gallop came first to Compiègne, crying: "Place": "Place": The eight white horses and the berlin de voyage followed. Before one had hardly time to realize what was passing, Napoleon and his bride whisked by in a twinkling.

At nine o'clock an outpost in the park at Compiègne announced the arrival of the emperor and his train. At ten o'clock a cannon shot rang out over the park and the emperor and empress passed into the chateau to proceed with certain indispensable presentations; then to souper, a petite souper intime, we are assured.

On the morrow all the world of the assembled court met the empress and avowed that she had that specious beauté du diable which has ever[Pg 362] pleased the French connoisseur of beautiful women. They went further, however, and stated that in spite of this ravishing beauty she lacked the elegance which should be the possession of an empress of the French. The faithful Berthier silenced them with the obvious statement that since she pleased the emperor there was nothing more to be said, or thought.

Flying northward on the great highroad leading out from Paris to Chantilly and Compiègne gadabout travellers have never a thought that just beyond Pont Saint Maxence, almost in plain view from the doorway of the Inn of the Lion d'Argent of that sleepy little town, is a gabled wall which represents all that remains of the "Maison de Philippe de Beaumanoir," called the Cour Basse.

THE END

[Pg 363]


INDEX

[Pg 465]

[Pg 464]

[Pg 463]

[Pg 462]

[Pg 461]

[Pg 460]

[Pg 459]

[Pg 458]

 

Books

World

Index

Hellenica World